16 Mar

More follies

I couldn’t help it. I just had to try a few more sweets. Here’s my muffin after a few false starts, and a hot cross bun with pailette raisins on top and polka dotted fabric on the bottom:

Muffin and Bun1

I wasn’t totally happy with Bun1, so I tried another construction method. Here’s Bun2 with with it’s Brit compatriot, a slightly lumpy pudding (what do you think Dorothee?).
Christmas Pudding and Bun2
I had to buy more stuffing today to fill out all the felt I still have. I can just see having to buy more felt to go with the left-over stuffing next week.

14 Mar

Start to (Almost) Finish

I can see the light at the end of the hexagon tunnel and at the suggestion of my Tech Support & World’s Greatest Husband, I thought I’d review the steps it took to get there. Lucky you get to go along for the ride.

I started by composing the shapes and blocking in the basic color on the computer:

Hex template

Then I basted the appropriate fabrics to the cut out hexagons and taped them to an un-cut version of the printout on my hallway wall.

Hexagon quilt in progress

As I sewed groups of hexagons together I removed the paper templates and stuck the groups on my design wall.

Hexes half done

Yippee, the hexagons are all sewn together! Along the way I embroidered some “wild flowers” in the bottom, green section. I sewed carefully measured and pinned twill tape to the edges to square everything up.

Hexes all done

Then I auditioned border fabrics. This went through many variations before I got to this point.

Hex Quilt  auditioning borders

After I sewed on the border and added a little more embroidery, I fused the top to my batting and pin-basted it to the backing. Then I machine quilted parallel undulating lines with my walking foot and a few cotton threads.

Hex quilt quilted

Now the self doubt sets in. It’s not as square as it was before I added the border. The parallel lines are not quilt-police parallel. Should I have made them closer? Should I have used different thread? There’s a lot of hexagons, but not enough to make it all about the hexagons like so many Japanese quilts. Although there’s no puckers and little distortion, it does have that puffy, quilty look… OK. This is the point at which I catch myself and say, “but it IS a quilt!” Anyways, I’m quite happy with this quilt, but I always doubt myself and my abilities as I near the end of a project.

So, on to things I don’t worry about. The first is a crafty apron for my son’s best girl-buddy at school’s birthday. Luckily, she’s quite a bit taller than Katja and should be able to reach the pockets.

Craft Apron

And while I was at it, I made another one for one of our neighbor’s birthday next month. (The last apron I posted was for the other 6 year old girl in our row.)

Craft Apron

Oh, Katja’s face looks dirty because she was painted like a kitty today.

13 Mar

Almost something to post about

I keep putting off blogging because I haven’t really had anything “finished” to post about. I downloaded some of the pictures on my camera today and decided that maybe I need to post regardless of any actual accomplishment.

With the kids back in school you’d think I’d have more to show. Two weekends ago, I spent both days at the Arts and Crafts Center on post helping our local quilt group use up squares that had been cut over a year ago. We whipped out about 6 cot-sized quilt tops to donate to Operation First Response to be added to backpacks of essentials for critically wounded soldiers passing through Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. We have enough squares to make another half dozen quilts, and I expect to do some machine quilting soon…

As soon as I finish quilting the hexagon madness! It’s actually not so mad anymore. I added a border last week between shuttling TS&WGH to the afore-mentioned medical facility for PRK surgery (no more glasses!) and the regularly scheduled after-school activities. I think I even squeezed in a morning shopping for art and sewing supplies — happy, happy, happy!

I knew the hexagons would be predisposed to moving around on me, but I didn’t relish the thought of quilting a stiff, fused quilt. I had remembered Judy Coates Perez mentioning Misty Fuse on her blog and decided that if it was good enough for an amazing, award-winning quilter, it was good enough for me. I spent the better half of Sunday fusing the strips of Misty Fuse to the back of my pieced quilt top, to secure it to the batting. When all was said and done, it has held together nicely and is still soft in the hand. Quilting today came to a screeching halt this evening when my daughter threw up three times in as many hours. I’m not sure how much progress I’ll make tomorow as she’s obviously staying home from Kindergarten. I hope it was just something she ate and nothing more serious.
Hexagons; quilting in progress

Since I’m all done hand sewing hexagons together (yippee!), I needed something to work on in front of the TV. Given my recent obsession with all things felted, it’s no suprise that I’ve been making felt pincusions. These are not felted, but are made of regular old felt. Blame www.sewdorky.com for making such cute donut pincushions. I couldn’t bring myself to actually buy one since I could so easily make them myself. Of course, once I got to thinking about donuts, my mind naturally wandered over to cupcakes, hot cross buns, Christmas puddings and the like. I was going to wait to post until I worked out my muffin idea, but decided that I could whet your appetite with these and then bring out the muffins later since I always need new blog fodder.

Sweet shop pincushions

One day I may actually take pictures during the day for more natural lighting, but in the meantime you’ll have to live with late-night blogging and photographing.

04 Mar

This and That

I love getting mail, so I’ll start with this. Mary M. wrote:

Wow! “Corn Rows” is awesome…I’d hang it on a wall. Love the colors and all the movement going on…And I like the Sue Benner finishing. I’m going to try that soon, too.

I’m glad someone likes “Corn Rows.” I am ambivilant about it. I approached the challenge knowing that I REALLY needed to be working on the hexagon quilt and other impressions of Germany for my possible show. But I was excited at the notion of making an ugly fabric work. Well, it ends up I actually have a reputation around here as the one who consistently makes ugly fabric into beautiful quilts. Anyways, it seems that many of the other ladies are laboring over their quilts trying to make something work, and a few are really putting a lot of time and love in as this is simply their current project. I just wanted to see what I could do, and not buy any new fabric to do it (now there’s a challenge!). I did it, and there it is. Now back to our regularly scheduled hexagons…

For the informative part of my posting: Between the two projects I posted, I’ve learned a bit about Sue Benner Renegade Binding. It DOES work best on a quilt with several fused layers. On the spaceship piece, the black is fused and the white is not. That made for a big difference in how the zig zag worked on the edges. I do not recommend mixing fused and non fused areas near a zig zagged border. “Corn Rows” worked better since I fused the whole top to fusible batting for more stability. It still did more of that lettuce edge stuff than I would have liked. Of course, the pieces I did in Sue’s workshop at AQT worked well as they had at least two layers of fused fabric at the edges. This made for a pretty stiff quilt which zig zagged nicely. (Although, I personally, didn’t enjoy cramming a stiff quilt into my machine for the quilting part.)

And for quilted cuteness, I got this picture from my friend today. I love to see my baby quilts being used. The green one is Cashel’s Fields of Green, which I posted about last month. The blue one is Kaffe for Calvin (I like alliteration) and I made it last year. It is basically Kaffe Fasset’s pennants pattern with a chinese coin border. Both have snuggly flannel backs and both were made completely from stash fabrics.
La Flamme quilts in action

Kaffe for Calvin

03 Mar

Why

Lisa Call had an interesting post about fads in art quilts, and recently Melody posted a bit about the “why” behind her art. This morning, I had a somewhat related epiphany. I love, and totally agree with, Lisa’s comment about trends not mattering when it comes to her facing her design wall. I love to try new techniques, and all this blog talk about wax resist and gelatin prints, and the bi-monthly surface design temptation I get from Quilting Arts makes me want to dive into all of it. But, I keep coming back to piecing with commercial fabrics. My epiphany today is that I am not a painter, I am an assembler.

I had my chance to go down the painting or illustration path, but chose not to. As my mother has previously attested, I have always been artistic. I went to UCLA for a year for my undergrad basics and a life drawing class and sculpture class, then I enrolled in the four year Graphic Design degree program at Otis Art Institute. The last year in High School and my year at UCLA served to help me decide if I wanted to go the fine art path or the design one. I liked the problem solving and assemblage aspects of design. It suited me.

After school, I worked for six years as a designer. During this time I met the man who would eventually become my husband (TS&WGH), and through his mother and sisters, I was introduced to quilting. I realized right away that I liked drafting patterns and choosing fabrics. It was that putting together of disparate pieces to make a cohesive whole that appealed to me, just as combining type, color and illustration in graphic design appealed to me. I also loved the idea of telling a story with color and symbols through traditional blocks.

So, I’ll dabble with surface embellishment, dying, painting and the like, but I think I will always return to some sort of piecing with commercial fabrics because that is the graphic designer in me. And, as I search for my personal style, I think this is where I will find it, not in painting on or with fabric, but in assembling a story with it.

03 Mar

Life Got In The Way

Remember last week when I was so excited to get the last of my hexagons off the wall and sewn together? Well, Murphy’s Law kinda happened. All I really wanted to do is hide in my sewing room for a few days and sew the groups of hexagons together, then square the top up, add a few borders and fuse the whole thing to some batting. What actually happened was that the Sonic costume needed some tweeking before the parade, the witch needed a pair of pants converted into a Grinch costume for school on Thursday, my boy had 5 days off school and my girl, three (needless to say, kids and concentration don’t go together). The house needed cleening too, but I’m still procrastinating on that! Doesn’t it always happen that when you’re really excited about doing something, life comes along for an interception?!

What I did manage to squeeze in was a little quilt related house cleaning. I put together my four line and shape exercises from the Color and Composition book a while ago, and finally got around to photographing them. If a group of three is a triptych, can I call this a quadtych? I’m titling it “And Then the Spaceship Landed,” because that is what TS&WGH always says to me to get my attention when he thinks I’m not listening to him.

The American quilt group I belong to is doing an Ugly Fabric challenge. This is the fabric I ended up with. I actually love the colors, and don’t find the fabric too offensive, although it is so representational that it feels a little limiting.

I didn’t want to cut it on a diagonal because it was so directional, I figured it would look best in strips or rows, so eventually the concept of “Corn Rows” came to me. I love strippy quilts and flying geese, so here’s my somewhat wacky interpretation. The ladies have decreed that this is a table runner and needs a Hopi or gourd bowl in the center for a nice fall centerpiece. I’m inclined to agree. Mostly, I’m just pleased to not have it hanging over my head anymore.