New on the BlogRoll

Pam RuBert!

Pam Rubert is one of the artists featured in Quilt National. She does comic like quilts that show a great sense of humor. She had a quilt in PIQF 2004, which is where I first saw her.

Art Quilt Reviews is also new. I put it on the list, because it looks like a great source of new work. I will take it off if it doesn’t live up to the hype I have created. πŸ˜‰

You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide

In years past, I have seen art quilts evolve from linear, grid based designs to organic swirly pieces with blobs (int he best sense of the word!) of design elements strategically placed. It is always a mystery to me why the linear, grid based designs went out of fashion. I suppose block quilts were just not ‘in’; too old fashioned, not new enough or fresh enough, boring. Too bad, too, because a linear, grid based designs make it easy to incorporate many of the principles of design.

-Unity? No problem. Put the same color in each block.
-Repetition? No problem. Put the same type of design element in each block.
-Balance? Put three design elements approximately equal distance from each other in the grid. Easy to measure or eyeball, because you have a grid.

Well, kids, they are back. Many of the quilts at the Quilt National exhibit at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, had some kind of underlying grid. Sue Benner’s piece Fugue XI, had a grid of stitching as part of the design. Lisa Call’s Structures #31 was also grid based. These are definitely art quilts and not the classical block based designs, but they also most definitely show that the design features of a grid works well in art quilts.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against the organic, swirly designs. However, I do have problem if the general design is poor. Good design is everything. You can have ugly fabrics, a saggy structure, poor stitching, but if the design is good, fewer people will care about the other problems of the quilt. I also don’t think it is ok to just adhere fabrics to a backing and call it a quilt. You have to think about the design and be deliberate about placement. (Playtime quilts don’t count. If you are just working through ideas, by all means, just adhere blobs to fabric and get it out of your system. When you go to make something for Quilt National, then get your design board and principles out and spend some time thinking about the overall design.

One design book I like is called Design Basics by Pentak and Lauer. They update the edition every year or so so you should be able to easily find a used copy, which is just as good as the latest and greatest edition.

Good Day with Fabric

I spent the day at home doing laundry and minor household chores. Since nobody else was here (what bliss!), I was also able to get the left side, yes the ENTIRE left side!, of Thoughts on Dots finished. I am thrilled and love the way it looks thus far.

The above photo shows the bottom right corner. Trying to strike when the iron was hot (metaphorically and in reality), the design wall had not cooled before I already had moved the right hand two rows over to the left and was putting more squares up. I tried to use many of the squares I had cut previously, but had not yet made it into the quilt. Many of them, however, I had to remove in short order as the colors were too depressing for this happy, sherbety quilt.

I had dreams of actually picking out all of the colors for this section today and sewing it together. I realized that was only a pipe dream. I ended up cutting more squares, which meant pulling fabrics out of the fabric closet, always an exercise in time and patience. Though not my favorite part, it was worth it because I found some very nice dots that have not been used yet in this piece. I also really want to have the right fabrics after all the work I have done on this piece so far.

Happy Hand

I was fairly depressed about the first hand, but Deirdre kept me going. I would have bailed, but she kept prodding sweetly, so I made a new hand. She said I should send the old and the new hands, but the old hand is too ugly. I love the new hand.

I realized the problems with the old hand: a) the batting. The batting was old and had no scrim; b) the tension on my sewing machine sucks; and c) I ran out of topstitch needles. I can’t say that the old hand was a waste of time, however. By doing the old hand I was able to construct a beter process with the second hand and, thus, make a beter finished product.

First, I sewed the fabric into a tube, pressing the seam allowances open rather than to the dark:

Next I inserted a piece of batting into the tube and pinned a paper pattern to the top:

I considered drawing around the hand with pencil or chalk, but decided that the paper pattern would be best. I had to take the pins out as I went along, so as to avoid puckering. I also considered using free motion stitching, but ended up using a regular straight stitch with the clear foot so as not to run into tension problems:

You can see the outline of the stitching on the hand:

Next I fused a spiral to one side:

And a heart to the other side. I love the symbol of a spiral and the hearts are for “Heart in Hand.” I found one problem with this part of the project that I did not run into with the first hand. That was that I couldn’t sew the designs on without it going through. This is why I chose to fuse.

By the way, I updated the “Show of Hands” post.

:-( – Not so Happy with the Hand

Afer looking at this hand last night and this morning, I am not so happy with it. The quilting looks off and weird. I think it was the batting that I used. My plan now is to make another one – same design, etc, but better batting and quilting.

I really had trouble with the quilting, because there was nothing to grab on to. I really wanted to use the Glitter, but, as I mentioned, couldn’t get the tension right. My machine better behave or I am junking it and getting a new one! I will try again with straight lines and the Glitter.

The good thing about doing something over is that the second time goes faster. I don’t feel it is a waste; I feel that I am improving the process.

Hands Down

As promised, I made the hand today – mostly. Here is a progression of pictures.
Back of first side:
I did the drawing of my hand before I thought of the wrist. Something caught my eye and made me think of the glove edging, so I added it afer I had already cut the Tear-Away stabilizer.

Pieced first side ready for applique’.

When I saw the challenge, I could only think of Hearts in Hands.

Preparing the second side. I wasn’t sure how to do it, but sort of figured it out as I went along.

I decided to put a spiral on the back. It seems to be a powerful sign for me. This side is evolving into the front. I used some glue to keep the spiral down and flat before stitching.

Both pieces ready for quilting.

First bit of quilting. I had to rip it out, because the Libby magic has worn off and the tension was terrible. I wanted to use Glitter, but couldn’t get it to work no matter what I did. I did not have a 90/14 topstitch needle, which is what Libby recommends, so that may have been the problem.

Quilted and ready for binding. I plan to do a blue satin stitch around the edge tomorrow. I hope I can.

Show of Hands by Karey Bresenhan

Karey is always thinking of interesting things to spur us on creatively. I was sent an e-mail about this exhibit, which will be held at Houston. Subsequently, the hands will be sent to the Creative Spirit Center to become part of their permanent collection. It would be great to have a piece in a museum!

I was reminded when Deirdre over at Deirdre’s Sloppy Studio mentioned it again and showed her hand. I decided that I will make one tomorrow. I picked the fabric and have a design. Wait and see!

Final Layout for the Bottom of Thoughts on Dots?

As you can see, I have worked a lot on Thoughts on Dots. Mostly, as is my current mode of working, moving the fabrics around. However, this time, I also replaced a number of fabrics that weren’t working for me. This arrangement has been up on the wall for a week with none of the fabrics really bothering me. It may be the final layout.

Visiting My Fabric

I spent the weekend of 8/10-8/14 visitng the fabric that I sent to Seattle with TFQ. I sent it to Seattle to visit its cousins and have its spa treatment (read: washing and ironing). Of course, visiting TFQ was much more important than the fabric. πŸ˜‰

We spent the weekend immersed in fabric related activities, eating, sleeping and chatting a mile a minute. It was fantastic! I left my house stressed, catching a cold and in pain and returned refreshed, no cold in evidence and pain-free. it was a good reminder that fabric fun is good for my soul and good friends who don’t judge my whacky, and sometimes misguided ideas, are invaluable.

One of our main activities was visitng the Association of Pacific Northwest Quilters Show held at Seattle Center. The layout of the quilts was the same as 2004 and I was disappointed. I really thought that they should have returned to the layout they used in previous years. Despite my problems with the layout there were a number of wonderful quilts. Good colors, great execution of patterns, wonderful choices of fabric combinations. Unfortunately, however, nothing that made me say WOW! Photos of some of the quilts are posted at:
APNQ 2006 quilts pt.1
APNQ 2006 quilts pt.2

We also got started on an auction quilt that St. JCN promised to an organization, The Healing Center, which helps adults, children and families deal with grief. The quilt started out as multi-colored half square triangles so that it would appeal to parents of boys as well as girls, but St. JCN thinks that she will stick with predominantly blue and green and perhaps change the white to a light green. Even if she doesn’t use any of the squares we made together, it is always great to work together.

Here is a picture of the design as I left in Seattle:

As usual, I purchased a number of pieces of fabric. Many dot designs were purchased in order to add to my dots collection. Other fabrics were purchased with some specific projects in mind. I bought nearly the entire line of Denyse Schmidt fabrics. These were new designs to me – not design types and colors that I normally buy- but interesting none the less and it is always good to branch out form the norm. You can see the fabrics I bought in my Weekend Photos post. I also saw a quilt by Sugata Shah at the Quiltworks Northwest booth (for which they were selling the pattern) that I will probably make from the Denise Schmidt fabric — or at least start out with that idea! I didn’t buy the pattern, because it was just squares and I can manage something similar without a pattern. I have been thinking about that pattern, though and whether I should have purchased it for the inspiration. We’ll see. I will certainly credit Ms. Shah. No, there is no creativity involved, but I think it is important to get sewing. Of course, as projects move along, I tend to deviate from my original plans quite frequently, so who knows how the project will end up? In any case, I still need to get some browns for background.

Mostly St. JCN and I talked, caught up, shared tips and tricks for various things, shopped, did car required errands and relaxed. The worst part was the airport. I spent so much time in the airport that it was a major time sink for the trip, despite the fact that there were no real holdups. Earlier in the day there were major delays, especially at SeaTac once the British terrorist story broke. Fortunately, my flight was later, most people were well behaved. The no-water rule is really a problem for me, though. I was extremely thirsty after both flights.