Sunday, January 31, 2016

Quilting with Rulers - Egg Carton Sashing

I took a class through Craftsy, outfitted my machine with a special ruler foot, got a few rulers, and tried it out.  It helps that I just happen to have 2 quilts in need of quilting ...

Patsy Thompson offers a review of the class here by Amy Johnson, with a link to sign up, if you're interested.  

It's not hard, if you take your time.  Once you get used to the idea of placing the ruler 1/4 - 1/2 away from where you want the stitching to go, it makes a big difference.  I've been doing free-motion quilting for years, but sometimes you want more precise and straight lines, instead of the "hand-drawn" look.

Here's the egg carton pattern.  I've used this in the past with a template (plastic or cardboard).

Inevitably, you run over the edges of the template, and stitch into the substrate by mistake.    That's not a problem with the proper set-up for ruler work.  There are star template rulers for this purpose.

Minimal marking, too!  The only thing I marked was the midpoint of the sashing block(with my new Crayola washable markers, which I tested for washability--so much cheaper than any of the official quilting marking tools).

I stitched in the ditch down one edge of the block (for stability).  Then I ran a curved edge from a corner to the opposite midpoint.  Easy-peasy!
Re-position and repeat until all 4 lines of the block are stitched.
Then I ran down the other long edge (again for stability).

It's a small enough block that I can turn a much smaller section of the quilt (as opposed to the whole thing) to get things lined up properly.

Still need to work out something for the borders, but quite please with the way this turned out!

I love to learn something new. ;-)

I'm including this photo just because I love the way the quilting thread shows up on the fabrics.

Testing Washable Markers on Fabric


I'm starting a Craftsy Class for doing Ruler Work in Quilting.  This type of quilting requires some quilt marking before you sew.  As usual, the washable fabric marking pens designed and marketed to quilters are expensive, and don't seem to last long ...   I thought why not try the Crayola washable markers designed for kids?  I picked these up at the local Fleet Farm for under $3.  That's right -- a whole box of washable markers that I want to use for marking quilts.

So I did a test by marking fabric above ...  Then I threw it in the wash with a regular load of laundry, with the result that the markings washed out perfectly clean.  Voi la!

The black was done in indelible ink, which I did not expect to wash out.  Further, this piece was pressed with a hot iron - a test to show the marks won't come back with heat.  They did not!

The black was done in a Sharpie that I expected to be permanent, and NOT wash out.

Further, this swatch was left in below-freezing temps for 3 days to test weather cold temps would cause the marks to reappear.   No marks reappeared with cold. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Gelli Printing to Fabric : Class with Toni Bergeon

Gelli Printing to Fabric
I took a second class with Toni Bergeon last week at Piece-by-Piece Quilt Shop in Appleton, WI.
The lady next to me had a wonderful wooden bird chop  that must have been designed for batiks.  She was kind enough to let others use it.  It was a hit!  This is probably my favorite print from the day. 

Although I dabbled with gelatin printing last summer on cardstock, it never occurred to me to gelli print to fabric. 

It took a little while to get used to the mediums (as always)--fabric vs. paper ; textile paints vs regular acrylic craft paint ; and how much paint to use on the plate.  And then of course mixing colors : What looks good together, where on the plate, what order, and how NOT to make mud.

I will say the official Gelli Plates are more durable than my DIY gelatine plate.  I do like the fact that my own plate is bigger.

Here are some of my favorite prints from the workshop :

 Here I was starting to layer prints on the same piece.   

 More layering.

I definitely want to play more with this technique - on both paper and fabric!

Nothing like a class to inspire!

Cattails : Fused Quilt Class with Toni Bergeon

Last weekend, I took a quilt fusing class with Toni Bergeon at Piece by Piece in Appleton, WI.

Although I've done fusible applique before, I've never fused the entire background of a quilt before.    This was something new ...   The class projects had us fusing strips of coordinating fabrics.  Really -- no need to buy any new fabric with this (but did that stop me?)   It's a great way to use up scraps!

This quilt is only 10 x 13 (or so).  Small enough to finish in a single day--which is a blessing.  You doenough to learn the technique, but it won't be hanging around your quilt studio as a UFO (unfinished object).

I have long-been fascinated by Cynthia St. Charles' fused and printed quilts with layer after layer.  I'm just in awe of her work, so perhaps I'll try a few with fused blocks instead of strips ...

Detail of the cattails - fused and stitched

She also went over 4 ways to do bindings :
1) Envelope (That's the one I used here.) aka an invisible binding.
2) Artist Binding -which is just kind of a facing at the edges that is turned to the back.
3) Tight Zig-Zag all around the edges
4)  Regular Binding - single-fold

Toni Bergeon is just starting to teach more quilting classes, and is currently working on a professional website for her wonderful art quilts.  If I could, I would point you to her, but she doesn't have much of a web presence yet.  Be on the lookout for her work ... Great stuff!

Possibilities : Liberate Your Art 2016

Here are some possibilities for the Liberate Your Art 2016 Post Card exchange.
[Click on the image above to see a larger view.]

I still need to work up some proofs and make the final picks.  I usually order my postcards from -- just waiting for a coupon.  They do a beautiful job, much better than I can print at home.   So neat to see your work professionally printed!  Really kicks it up a notch ... and then to send it out into the world and share your work, well, that's the whole point of Liberate Your Art.

If you like what you see, feel free to contact me for an extra-curricular side-swap. I always have a few more cards printed, so I'll have more to give away.  ;-)

Please consider joining us!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Celtic Harp with Texture

I'm getting used to PhotoShop Elements 14.  So far, I seem to be able to do what I know how to do.   There are a few things that drive me nuts, though :  The toolbar options window that pops up along the bottom and obscures what you're working on.  Anyone know how to move that toolbar options panel off to the side, where it doesn't cover up your working image?   I haven't gotten any good answers from Mr Google.

Here's the Photo Processing Recipe for the above image :
Layer 1) Background Image
Layer 2) 2 Little Owls Texture : Cracked 10 - Soft Light 100% opacity
Layer 3) Copy Layer 2 with layer mask over wooden harp frame - Soft Light 100%
Layer 4) 2 Little Owls Texture : Broken 2 (with layer mask brushed off of harp) - Soft Light 100%

Monday, January 04, 2016

Jumping Trout Mug Rug

My Mom gave me this wonderful wool mug rug for Christmas.  I absolutely love it!

I'd seen it in her sewing room in November, and blatantly attached a note to it saying : "I want this.--Michele."  I guess she got the hint.  ;-)

She didn't make it, but it is worth sharing.  The quilt shop in her town was selling off 25 years-worth of samples and down-scaling for a different focus.   She must have gotten a deal on it.

Labels for Quilts

At Quilt Camp in November, one of my main objectives was to actually FINISH a pile of quilts by finally affixing labels to them.  This is always the last thing to do, and because it involves a bit of hand-sewing, I tend to put it off and procrastinate.  All these years, those quilts have had an index card pinned to the back with the label info.  Tacky, but it preserved the info -- until they get ripped off (which happened to at least one of them, proving that hack is not ideal).

A year ago, I acquired a color printer  (the pigment ink type) that would allow me to print to fabric for things like Quilt Labels.   Previously, I always wrote them by hand.   And although my penmanship is not bad, they just didn't look "professional."  But that leads to the next question : What fabric to print on?

Quilt Rat's Recipe for DIY Printing to Fabric

Jill Buckley over at The Quilt Rat blog offered a recipe to prepare your own fabric for printing.  

2 T alum
2 T Soda Ash (the kind dyers use, not washing soda)
2 cups hot water

Let your fabric soak in this for 20 minutes.  Save the "brine" and reuse it again at a later date.

See Jill's excellent instructions for the full explanation / tutorial. 

This would be great for printing quilt labels and perhaps someday even some of my own texture photography.   It's expensive to purchase the printer sheets (averaging about $3 per page).   And I normally have the fabric and soda ash and alum on hand for hand-dying anyway.    There are other recipes out there for DIY Bubble Jet Set, but I trust Jill when she says this works.  So far, so good!

I printed out several labels on several types of fabric with the idea to test and see what fabric would become the standard.  I thought it would be Dharma's sandwashed cotton (which is no longer available), however, once it washed up, it no longer had that nice finish, nor the sizing.  In truth, the nicest fabrics for printed quilt labels were the most easily available :

     Dharma's Mercerized Cotton Print Cloth
     Joann's Muslin

Read more about the making of this quilt at : Taking it Lightly Flying Geese.

I realized that I could add some of the fabric from the quilt top as a frame around the label and hold it down with some fancy stitches as a hem.  I also discovered that I didn't need to hand stitch all four sides of the label, where just two sides would do the trick.  That saved me some time!

Here are a few other labels from the productive weekend :

 Just simple text with this one, finished way back in 2011.

Usually when I do quilt labels, I include the following info (at the very least) :
1) Quilt Name
2) Date it was completed
 3) My name as the maker
4) Place it was completed

I've also heard that it's a good idea to write this info directly on the quilt, or even sew it into the quilt.  A label can be ripped out, and credit to the maker is lost.   

I got a little fancier with this one, adding additional info about the inspiration for the quilt, including song lyrics and referencing the blog post where you can read more about the making of this particular quilt :

For this one, I suddenly remembered, my printer can do color, and I wanted to further test the fabric sheets.   This one uses a purchased fabric printer sheet :
Because this one was heat set (not rinsed in water), it retained whatever stabilizer was in it. 

Read more about the making of this quilt at Mama Let You Lick the Spoon.

This one used one of the sheets I made with Quilt Rat's recipe above.  The colors are reasonably bright, but the fabric lost the nice finish it had before it was rinsed.  Still a success, in my mind, but I don't think I'll be using Dharma's sand-washed cotton sateen for this purpose.

 Read more about the making of this quilt at :  Spark in the Back of My Mind.

How do you do your quilt labels?
Do you write them by hand?
Do you embroider them?
Do you stitch them?

There are many options ...

Thursday, December 31, 2015

From Gramma's Kitchen : Egg Beater

From Gramma's Kitchen - Made with Love : Vintage Egg Beater

Gramma Matucheski used to make home made eggnog for me and my brother all year long.  
She would mix up eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla and we had a tasty, foamy snack to drink. 
Now, my mom (a Public Health Director for 25 years) would have a bird knowing we were eating raw eggs!  Somehow we survived our childhoods. ;-)

I found this treasure in my friend Karla Seaver's kitchen.  She was kind enough to let me take a photo.  It's been a while since I've played around with PSE and texture layers.  I am in the process of upgrading from PSE10 to PSE14, so I wanted to remind myself that I can still do it, before everything changes in the new version and I get bogged down in frustration ...  Wish me luck!

Here's the processing recipe for the above image :

Layer 1) Background Image
Layer 2) Copy background image for RadLab : Prettyizer - El Captain Crunch - Bullet Tooth
Layer 3) 2 Lil Owls Texture  - Artisan Collection - Big Set 2-1(4)    - Soft Light 82%
Layer 4) Sweet Leaf Alcahol Ink Texture #43 (Mine!) - Soft Light 69%
Layer 5) Kim Klassen Texture Serendipity - Soft Light 72%

From the Deli : Board Basting a Quilt Sandwich Revisited

Right Sides Together created a handy infographic to explain board basting a quilt sandwich :

In her post about it, RST describes board basting as a "game-changer."  I have to agree.  It was never my favorite part of quilting--trying to find an open space large enough to work, not wanting to be on the floor hunched over and uncomfortable in more ways than one ...  Board Basting is so much easier and quicker!  And it can be done on a table-top.

Here are some pics from the most recent quilt I board basted on our dining room table (not on the floor -- yeah!).  I did have to add the 2 leaves to the table as the quilt was a twin size :

Winding on the quilt top face up (backwards on the board).  
On the board, you see the wrong-side (seam side) up/out.  That's what we want.
Wind it on until the whole quilt top is wound around the board.
Set aside.

Using painter's tape to secure the leading edge onto the basting board.
A good start helps keep the fabric winding on straight.

Winding the quilt backing onto the basting board - wrong-side up -- which means, right-side shows on the wound board.   I like to use the wide quilt backings so I don't have to piece backings to be large enough to fit.  These work very well!

Turn the boards around to UNwind them.  Here the backing unwinds with wrong-side up.

I fluff the batting in the dryer after I take it out of the package.  This helps to release the wrinkles and smooth it out.  Layer the batting on top of the backing and let it free float over the backing and the backing board -- after smoothing it out.   The excess batting flows over the edge of the table onto a couple of dining room chairs.  I use Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 Batting.  It "sticks" to the fabrics, which helps keep things in place until I pin baste.  Then start unwinding the top - again, smoothing everything as you go. 
Here the quilt top board is unwound until it meets the backing board underneath the batting where they kind of nest together for the duration ...

After the backing, batting, and quilt top are layered and smoothed, it's time to start basting the layers together.  I prefer to use safety pins for this step.

Pin Basting.

Move the pin-basted section to the edge of the table.  You can roll it up, or let it hang over the edge. Then flip the batting up and out of the way so that you can unwind a new section of backing. The boards will help make sure things stay flat and straight--that's assuming your boards are straight to begin with.

Smooth the free-floating batting over the newly opened backing.  This batting "sticks" to the fabric, which I've always found very helpful.

Unwind a new section of the quilt top to correspond with the "opened" batting and backing.  Smooth things out as you go.  The boards make this remarkably hassle-free!

Here's the last little bit of the quilt top.  I cut it close with the batting.  Ideally, I should have a little more batting to hang over the edges.  But you see how nice and straight things stay with the basting boards.  It's so nice!

Here you can see the already pin-basted sectioned rolled up on the upper left side of this picture.
Sandwiched, basted and reasonably stable.


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Free-Motion Quilt Suspension System and Other Pain-Free Quilting Modifications

Yesterday, my husband helped me set up a Free-motion Quilt Suspension System, designed to reduce the drag of quilting a bed-size quilt on a domestic sewing machine.  

I just love Pinterest for all the great DIY ideas you can glean.   I came across this idea a few years ago when Chris Lynn Kirsch shared a quilt floating system on her blog, but I wasn't crazy about using chains.  Then more recently, Leah Day came up with a different take on the idea, stemming back to Caryl Bryer Fallart's Quilt Suspension Thingie (really, that's what she calls it).     Patsy Thompson talks about her hang-it-up system.

This lady even used dog grooming arms to pick up the quilt and stop the drag.   I also like her idea of using muslin clamps from the world of photography.

This lady used PVC pipe to build a frame around her work space.  Although, I didn't really have room for the frame, I liked the idea of the canvas leaders and the flexibility to clip the quilt anywhere along the lead ...

Everyone has some good ideas, and in the end, mine in a hybrid of all those, with some modifications to take advantage of the materials and tools available to me.

*  The wooden bar was the simplest and most elegant solution for my given space.   I wanted it to be more of an angle against the corner, rather that even with the window--which would have made it more like a curtain/window shade.
*  The black walnut stick was in the scrap wood stash in the basement (= FREE).
*  I've had the clamps for a while now.  I used to use them for layering and pin basting quilts ... but now I have a new and easier method (See Board Basting) for that task.  So the clamps were re-purposed (=FREE).
*  The only thing I purchased was the bungee cords -- 6 of them in a bundle for $7 in varying lengths.

Such a cheap solution, which makes me wonder why I haven't done this sooner.   I guess I should wait to say that until I've tried it out ...

I currently have 2 quilts waiting to be free-motion quilted.  A few years ago, my husband made me a sewing table custom-built for my sewing machine and the space I have to work with.  It made the job of quilting a whole quilt much easier.  That was when I started doing them at home, and not taking those projects to Quilt Camp or renting time on a long-arm.

Here's another tip that should improve the process yet again (Thank you, Pinterest):
Using a teflon oven sheet to help the quilt slide more easily under the needle.  It covers a lot of space and $8 is such a reasonable price, too!     I taped it down with blue painter's tape, and cut a small hole for the needle and thread to pass through. 

Now the hardest part is deciding just what to quilt into these quilts ...

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Handwork : Sparkly and Lacey Cowl

I recently finished this crocheted cowl.  The house is cold enough in winter that I need a little extra something around my neck to ward off the drafts.  And I like the bling!

The Yarn :
3 skeins of Yarn Bee Diva Sequins- Maui
I don't think this is available anymore, but I did find a page of alternative sequined yarns.

The pattern is from here.  Very easy.  This is the third one I've made, so far.  You get into a nice meditative state while crocheting this pattern.