Sunday, April 24, 2016

More deadlines

I've often said in my blog that I don't like quilting under deadlines. Well, I still don't like it, even if I sometimes have to!

The first deadline was getting ready for the Fibre Fling 5 Show & Sale earlier this month. It was a huge success. The art was fabulous and I got everything done on time.

My two next deadlines are the Sew full of love quilt show with the Common Threads Quilt Guild (CTQG) from May 6 to 8 and the Art with Fabric Blog Hop (May 9th).

Sew full of love Quilt Show

Our guild's quilt show is every second year. It's always great to look back over the last two years to see what I've made and decide what to enter in the show. I've registered 5 quilts for this year's show. Thank goodness I've been productive. There's only one item in the show that I haven't completed yet.

Here's a glimpse of Floral Fantasy. My next post will be about the process of making this lovely lady.
Floral Fantasy - a wholecloth quilt
WIP (Work in progress) Floral Fantasy - a wholecloth quilt
I still need to finish beading it and then bind it. I'm actually going to block this one like we're supposed to. I hope it'll be worth it. I'll let you know how it goes.

Of course, after finishing the quilt comes the label and hanging sleeve. I know that 2 of the 5 quilts in the show are ready since they were in the Fibre Fling 5 show, but I suspect that I'll have to attach a sleeve and label on at least two of the other three.

Art with Fabric Blog Hop

I've been thinking about this project for a while now but only started choosing my fabrics as I was finalizing the pieces for Fibre Fling 5. I can't trust myself to start a new project before finishing something with a deadline. My middle name could be Procrastinate!

I don't want to spoil the surprise, but here's the background of the piece.

Background of the Art with Fabric Piece
Background of the Art with Fabric Piece
The project is based on a painting. Not a famous one - since I own it! It doesn't look like much now, but it's the foundation with lots more to come.
It would seem that I don't naturally notice details in paintings. Even if I've been looking at this lovely work since I was 18, I didn't realise how complex it was until I started really looking at it to plan this project. Not to give too much away but what I saw were the vivid colours and the mouvement. Although I won't be reproducing the painting, there is still a crazy amount of detail in it that I don't want to loose. It will be to find that "juste milieu" between detail and impression.

Since I'm on a deadline (Yikes!!!) I need to stop writing this blog (i.e. procrastinating) and finish piecing it tonight or tomorrow at the latest. I haven't decided how much thread sketching to do vs. quilting. I still have trouble with this part. I will have next weekend to thread paint, quilt and bind it since I need to have a photo of the finished product by May 2nd. 

What I learned:
  • Saying yes to projects with deadlines is easy when it's a few months into the future. Deadlines are not a bad thing - it's just that I don't really take them seriously unless they are looming! 
  • I'm looking forward to summer and being deadline-free, until I find something else to do!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Learning to write - again

Colour Me Positive Challenge
Like most of you, I've been writing since I was 5 or 6 years old. At different stages of my life, what I wrote and why I wrote has changed. At first, I wrote mostly for school - homework, math, essays, posters and stories. As a mom, I wrote lists of things to do and buy, notes for sick or late kids and the occasional letter or card to family. Since working on a computer, I only write when I'm at meetings or when I have no idea what I'm doing - then I'll take out a pencil and a pad of paper and write until I have some sense of what I should do, or at least what I should ask. It's my personal brainstorming session.
Week 6 of Colour Me Positive
Week 6 of Colour Me Positive
My penmanship has never been great, but not as bad as some. I've never had a reason to worry about it until I started making art. As I participate in the Colour Me Positive Journal Challenge, it's become obvious that if I want to use words in my free motion quilting (FMQ), then I had better learn to write - again!

These first couple of efforts weren't too bad. The large writing in my "kindness to all always" pieced was fine, but the words on the fingers needed a little help, especially since I misspelled Smiling (I've always had problems with cursive "n" and "m").

Week 3 of Colour Me Positive
Week 3 of Colour Me Positive
In the "be here now" piece, the link between the letters isn't great, particularly between the "o" and "w" in "now". Since I was mostly practicing my FMQ stitches, I wasn't paying much attention to the letters.

Then came my latest piece for week 14. From the start, the letters were a problem - and there's only one word and four letters!!!

"Once you choose hope, anything can happen" Week 14 of Colour Me Positive
There are a couple of reasons for the problem. The first is that I didn't plan my project. I'm a "jump right in" kind of gal and that's what I did. I made my quilt sandwich, threaded the sewing machine with maroon thread and started outlining the letters.

I really could have removed the letters' stitching and started over, but where's the fun in that! I love fixing things and adapting - and that's what I did. (ok, the sorry truth is that I always hope that it won't be that bad and I'll be able to ignore it!)

So of course, at first I ignored the letters and did some pretty nice FMQ around them. That was fun. Then came the challenge and fixing part. What was I going to do with those letters outlined in maroon?

I decided to hide the sewing by covering the letters with organza and then beading around them. It sure would have been quicker to have removed the thread at the beginning of the project and have started over :-) Placing a few beads here and there is fun. Outlining the word HOPE was painful. I'm just not that patient. After doing one letter, I get in the "Been there, done that" mode. I was SO happy when I finished the outlines.

Title page of my lettering journal
Back to my original thought. This work made it pretty obvious that I needed to learn to write - again. Since looking at everyone's amazing creations on the Facebook page of Colour Me Positive, I've become very impressed with the writing in their art. So how can I do that? Many participants have mentioned Joanne Sharpe, whimsical art maker extraordinaire. I have seen her book and was tempted, but what convinced me was her free video series that goes with the book.

I'm not quite ready to translate my letters to a quilt yet, but it won't be long. I also get to practice my lettering and FMQ every time I have access to a paper and pen. How cool is that?
Applying the Pencil Sketch Technique

Here are a couple of my practice pages. This first one is the pencil sketch technique from her book. I used it to write her mantra - "Play, practice, write, repeat." Replace the word "write" with the word "quilt" or "FMQ" and the saying now applies to quilting.
I found this quote by Ray Bradbury in the book Quilt of Belonging: The Invitation Project by Esther Bryan and Friends. It describes courage, hope and/or faith so well - you still experience fear but you know that you can walk or jump off the cliff and your wings will support you.

I'll be writing about the Quilt of Belonging project after I visit it with my daughter, between June 9-12, in Kingston, Ontario.

What I learned:

  • A little planning when using words in a quilt is not an option - it's necessary. I really hope I remember this!
  • Beading is fun in moderation.
  • Learning from artists in other disciplines is great. It can all be relevant to quilting. It's a great way to broaden my horizons and learn all kinds of new things.
  • My new lettering journal will also be used for free motion quilting designs and for creating writing exercises. What a wonderful journey.

Hope you keep learning and passing it on.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Fibre Fling 5 Show

It was amazing to see my art quilts hanging beside other wonderful art and feel that they fit right in! I have to admit that I didn't expect this to happen to me, at least before I retired and got to play and create full time.

It was great to help set up the Out of the Box Fibre Fling 5 art show and sale. Some of the larger pieces were hung on the wall, but there were a dozen free-standing structures to hang the art pieces. I worked with one of the artists to set up the pieces on the structures. What a great learning experience.

I learned what pieces played well together and would look good hanging on the same surface while others did not play nice. See my "What I learned" section below for some basic tips on choosing which pieces should hang out together.

Here is the video of my interview with Liana Voia.

Envelope for "Imagine"
"Imagine" 26½” x 30½”
Even before the show, it was quite the job getting my pieces ready. Each piece needed a good label, a card with information and a photo for display purposes as well as a hanging rod. I always use a dowel, but had to attach eye hooks and then a length of wire to each dowel.

Each piece also needed a container or envelope for transportation to the show. If the piece was for sale then the container needed to look good in case it sold and was taken home by a customer. Here are the envelopes I created as well as the pieces that were in the show.

The envelope for "Imagine" was the largest since it had 2 sections - one for the quilt and the other for a piece of cardboard so that the quilt could stay rigid and not get folded and creased. I couldn't roll it up since it was three-dimensional.

Inspiration: Musical Challenge for the CTQG representing the song “Imagine” by John Lennon. The people are holding hands around the crazy-quilted world. Each fabric represents a culture or part of the world.
Materials: Cotton fabric, ribbons, beads, embroidery floss
Techniques: Hand embroidered, machine appliquéd, free-motion quilted, beaded

I made the envelopes for the next two quilts out of a pillow case. You can see that "Woven Landscape" got the edge of the pillow case while "Yellow Kayak" got the end part.

Yellow Kayak
Inspiration: Quilt based on a friend’s photograph of her kayak in the river.
Materials: Cotton fabrics, shoe lace, metal clasp, button 
Techniques: raw-edge appliquéd, free-motion quilted

Yellow Kayak 11½” x 12½”

Envelope for Woven Landscape
Envelope for Woven Landscape

Woven Landscape
Inspiration: Playing around with a woven background and creating a whimsical landscape.
Materials: cotton, organza, jute-cotton ribbon, beads, embroidery floss
Techniques: woven background, raw edge appliqué, beaded, embroidered and hand-quilted

Woven Landscape 13" x 17½"

Hockey Day in Canada
Inspiration: Playing with fabric in a winter theme. I finished it on Hockey Day in Canada 2016.
Materials: Cotton fabrics, beads, buttons, tulle
Techniques: raw-edge appliquéd, free-motion quilted, beaded

Hockey Day in Canada  12½ " x 9½"
The envelope for "Hockey Day in Canada" was made from lovely snow flannel with a blue border to extend the envelope. 
Envelope for Hockey Day in Canada
Envelope for Hockey Day in Canada

A very practical envelope

I didn't make anything special for the "Memories of the South-West" piece since it was small enough to fit into a plastic pouch and it wasn't for sale. Some duct tape to secure the information to the envelope and it was done! 

Memories of the South-West 12" x 9½"

Memories of the South-West
Inspiration: After a trip to the American south-west, I wanted to create a landscape art quilt, however the photo used as inspiration is from Ayers Rock in Australia.
Materials: cotton, wool and acrylic yarns, embroidery thread, tulle
Techniques: hand appliquéd, embroidery, machine sewing.

During the Fibre Fling 5 show, we had the privilege of being interviewed for a short YouTube video of our work. I was interviewed this morning. After a couple of false starts, it went really well. As soon as it's ready, I will link it to this post and possibly to my blog page - something else to learn to do :-)

What I learned
While helping to put up the show on Thursday, I learned some tips about placing art pieces together. Here is what I surmised:
  • A face in a piece will always attract the most attention. Our eyes are drawn to it. To be placed with such a piece, the second piece has to be visually strong enough to command its own attention without distracting from the face. 
  • Similar colours in two pieces may help them to "play nicely with each other". There still needs to be enough contrast so that they don't just blend into each other.
  • Shapes in both pieces are important. A piece with straight lines may not play nicely with a piece that is mostly curves or more flowing. 
  • I also learned that I have pretty good colour instincts. It's great though to know why something works or doesn't work since saying "that it doesn't feel right" isn't the best way to express your opinion.
  • As I write these tips down, I realise that these also applies to auditioning fabrics for a project. On the other hand, breaking the rules will often create stress, contrast and interest. It just depends on the effect the artist is going for.
I have linked this post to the following linky parties. Please check them out to see what others are doing. Thanks for stopping by.
Off the Wall Friday; Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? Fabric Frenzy Friday; and Lessons Learned Linky

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Woven Landscape Finished

Completed Woven Landscape - 13" x 17.5"
Here is my completed Woven Landscape.

My last post introduced my latest landscape art quilt. I talked about my inspiration, my love of weaving and my struggle with the design of the trees.

Once I finished the trees with matching fabric and organza, I stitched them on with embroidery thread. I then added more embroidered flowers and changed some of the original appliqued flowers.
Getting the trees right

It was then time to consider how I was going to finish the quilt. I really liked the woven pieces sticking out at the edges, and didn't want to loose these by adding a binding.

I have no idea where I got the inspiration to find ribbon to frame the picture while keeping the edges intact. Off I went to my local craft shop and I found the perfect ribbon of jute and cotton.

However, if I was going to finish it this way, I had to figure out how to add the backing and batting to the quilt without the binding. I ended up tucking in the backing edges between the batting and the quilt top. I then attached the backing and batting to the top by sewing on the ribbon. It wasn't quite as neat as I would have liked, but not bad for a first attempt. I hope to make more of these woven pieces and perfecting the backing.
Quilted and beaded sky
The entire piece is densely hand-quilted, mostly echoing the shapes. There are also a few beads in the sun and within the flowers.
Close-up of the flowers with beading
Foundation paper pieced label
The finishing touch was the label. It's a 4" foundation paper pieced block in the same colours as the trees and backing.

I'm thrilled to have the piece ready for next week's Out of the Box Fibre Artists' Fibre Fling 5 Show & Sale. If you're in Ottawa, I hope you'll consider attending. The artists are incredibly talented. It should be a great show.

What I learned:
  • As always, when I get frustrated with a piece, it's important to let it sit for a few days. Inspiration will eventually come!
  • I was lucky to find the jute/cotton ribbon for the border and even luckier to have somehow thought of that as an option.
  • I really like the look of the dense quilting. It's very effective.

Check out these linky parties: Oh Scrap!, Linky Tuesday, Let's Bee Social, Needle & Thread Thursday, MOP Monday, Monday Making, Main Crush Monday, Off the Wall Friday, Fabric Frenzy Friday,

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Woven Landscape - Part 1

Did you know you can weave the background of your art quilt with strips of fabric? That's exactly what I did in this project.

Before discovering quilting, I used to be a weaver. I absolutely adored creating cloth, but it's such a long, long process. Since learning to quilt, I've always wanted to somehow incorporate weaving into my quilting. I now know that there are all kinds of ways of doing this - and this is my first attempt.

Cover of Quilting Arts Magazine - Dec 2015 / Jan 2016
Quilting Arts Magazine
My background is based on Jude Hill's article in Quilting Arts Magazine (Dec 2015/ Jan 2016). It's actually a reprint of the article from the Aug/ Sept 2010 issue, to celebrate Quilting Art Magazine's 15th anniversary. Happy Birthday!

I decided that I would create the woven background using scraps. I chose primarily neutral strips left-over from my Bali Back Flip quilt and my Orange Peel Table Runner.

I picked the warp strips (the vertical pieces) and taped them to the top edge of my work table to keep them in place. I then wove the weft strips (the horizontal pieces) as closely as possible to ensure that there were no holes in my background. I very carefully slid the woven background onto a piece of beige Kona solid that was slightly larger than the background. Once it was to my liking, I pinned the edges of the background to the solid fabric and stitched them together. It was flimsy to work with, but I took my time and stitched very carefully. I only had to pick out and re-stitch one weft strip that had bunching up.

The beginning of the process
Although I knew that I wanted to weave the background, I didn't know where I was going with this project. Jude Hill's examples in the article are all quite abstract. I tried that, but I'm not quite ready. It seems that my art quilt has to represent something specific and I'm still thinking too literally to add blocks and shapes that have no meaning to me. So, I did what I seem to be doing well - I made a landscape art quilt!

Again, digging into my scraps, I added the beautiful fussy-cut sun and a sky. It's my favourite part. The foreground of flowers and then narrow strips of different teal fabric where the warp and weft meet were the hardest to work on. The strips were supposed to represent trees, but they looked more like tree trunks. I wanted to add something to them, but didn't want to hide the background. I spent more time agonizing over the trees than any other part of the quilt.

Experimenting with the trees
The Trees

In my first attempt at the trees, I used wool and other fibres to create the tree tops. I then covered the tops with green organza to keep everything together. I embroidered around the fibres. After the first tree, I was pretty sure that I didn't like it, but since nothing better came to mind, I kept going. That's the great thing about working with textile - almost everything can be undone, or covered up!

While making up my mind about the trees, I added a few embroidered flowers, knowing that I could finish them later.

At this point, I took a photo of the landscape and printed it up in both colour and black and white. By then, I was a little discouraged because the only part I liked about the piece was the sky. I loved that sky so much, that I wasn't going to give up!

New and improved trees!
Still not knowing what to do, I went on Pinterest to check out different styles of quilted or embroidered trees. Finally I was inspired by my own piece, The Lone Tree.
The Lone Tree

It couldn't be the same because I was only working with the trunk, and I didn't want to make the trees too wide.

I drew a few options for the trees on the printed photos. Once I had an idea of what I wanted, I cut fabric that matched the tree trunks as well as organza for the 5 trees. I used two different colours of organza to give the trees variety and stitched around each of the trees.

At this point, I took another picture to see what I needed to add as well as to figure out how I was going to quilt and finish the project.

What I learned:

  • Taking photos of the project so far has really helped me "see" the piece differently. It's also great to be able to draw onto the image to try something out.
  • The woven background was flimsy to work with, but adding the Kona solid fabric underneath added stability - but also thickness. More about that later.
  • So far I like the woven background. It's adding a bit of whimsy to a landscape that I hope is fun and whimsical!

Please come back soon to see how the project ends! I'll be finishing this piece soon since it will be shown along with some of my other landscape art quilts on April 8 and 9, 2016 at the Fibre Fling 5 Show & Sale with the Out of the Box Artists Group.

I will also be participating in the Art with Fabric blog hop. I'm really excited. This is the first time that I've been asked to participate in something like this on the internet. I see this as a milestone in my blogging life!

So, I hope you'll join me, Alida (our host from Tweety Loves Quilting and MOP Monday Linky Party) and about 20 other quilters on this blog hop. It's from May 9th to 13th, 2016. Here's the link if you want more information.

Linky Parties: Oh Scrap!, Monday Making, Main Crush Monday, Fabric Tuesday

Friday, February 19, 2016

More FMQ Practice

butterfly appliqué and embroiderly
Still flitting like a butterfly
Here I am, flitting again! Oh well, there could be worse things than flying around from project to project like a butterfly.

I've discovered a great way to practice my free motion quilting (FMQ) while doing something creative and fun. What more can a quilting gal ask for?

It's a weekly Journal Challenge called Colour Me Positive, sponsored by Lulu Art store in Australia. It's mostly for artists who create art in their art journals, but any medium is welcome.

Every week they have a positive theme or quote to encourage creativity and art. Just my kind of positive, loving space. The weekly post includes the latest weekly prompt as well as a link to ideas and examples of art and techniques related to it. It really is lovely and wonderful.

Week 3 of Colour Me Positive
All participants are encouraged to post a picture of their work, and write a few words on Facebook. There is absolutely no stress about participating every week. If your art work is ready by the end of the week, you post it and are included in a draw. Otherwise, everyone is encouraged to post whenever they are ready. The participants are very encouraging in their comments and "likes".

This was my first post for Week 3. The prompt was: “Make today so awesome that yesterday gets jealous.” For me, this means that if I want to make today awesome, then I have to be present. I have to enjoy each moment of today, because there is only today. I remind myself to do this with the statement "Be here now".

FMQ the sun
It took me a while to figure out how I wanted to interpret this. I chose the sun because it symbolizes life (and I can draw it!) For the writing, I used stencils, outlined the letters with thicker thread and then FMQ inside of them with finer thread.

I drew the sun's outline with iron-off marker and then quilted feathers within the sun shape and its rays. This gave me an outline to follow but left space between the sun and the rays. I like the open look of it.

After I added the wording, I didn't know if I should leave it as is, or keep FMQ. You may notice in the right hand corner, the word "Today". I was thinking of including some key words, but I didn't really like the look of it. That's why it's just there, not connected to anything.

As you can see, I decided to stitch close lines in the background (they are called match sticks). To make sure I didn't get totally off track, I drew the odd line with a ruler with my iron-off marker.

My latest creation is for Week 6. It's based on a quote by His Holiness the Dali Lama, "Be kind wherever possible. It is always possible.” I wasn't going to write all that, so as you see I abbreviated it!
Week 6 - Colour Me Positive (11 ½" x  9 ¼")
Since kindness includes many concepts, I used the outline of my hand (I can trace that!). I also wanted to include a representative from the plant, animal and people world - since kindness extends to all. I am very partial to the Buddhist concept of "Do no harm" - which for me can be translated into kindness to all.
Drawing the flower

I drew the bird from an image and created the heart-shaped flower. Here is a picture that I drew of the flower, before quilting it. I had a template of people that I outlined and quilted around.

The background quilting is made up of small swirls. I tried to use muted colours to go with the pink. That wasn't an easy thing for me to do!

What I learned:

  • Writing on fabric using FMQ is not easy, and there's no spell check. Oops!
  • I used one of my previous lessons learned by applying painter's tape around the project so that I would know where to stop quilting. It worked out well, but I need to be a little more accurate in the placing of the tape.
  • It's taking me about 2 weeks to create one of these. The hardest part is figuring out what to draw and the most tedious part is finishing it off (binding etc.)
  • I'm hoping to use more than free motion quilting in my next one. Will it be appliqué, beading, or paint? I don't know yet - it'll depend on which week I decide to interpret. I really want these fun pieces to help me learn, try and practice new things.

I've linked these to awesome linky parties: Free Motion Mavericks, Needle and Thread ThursdayLinky TuesdayLet's Bee Social, Fabric Tuesday

Monday, February 08, 2016

Hockey Day in Canada Landscape Quilt

Did you know (or care) that Saturday was Hockey Day in Canada? I found out when my husband wished me a Happy Hockey Day! I know that it's a big deal in many places in Canada, with special games and events. I don't personally follow any of it, but I appreciate that people care about our national sport.

The green and blue stripped background fabric is from Paris.
The shiny green and blue stripped background fabric is from Paris.
A few weeks ago I decided to play with fabric that my brother got for me from Paris. He found a store that was going out of business and got some lovely samples, remnants and a couple of yards of some great fabric. The fabric is mostly upholstery weight in linen and other fibers. I'm sure I'll be able to incorporate them into art quilt projects eventually.

I chose a piece that had a cool vibe to it - something that might be used for a winter project. I played with the fabric and got very frustrated, so I did what I usually do then, I left it there overnight to get a fresh perspective in the morning. It worked!  I started working with the little bit of winter scene fabric that I have, and then raided my Christmas stash.

From my stash and bag of scraps, I found the little bit of hockey fabric as well as some interesting blue-grey for the ice.

An old fashioned winter scene
An old fashioned winter scene
The winter scene fabric I bought last summer has an old fashion winter landscape with houses, barns and trees. In my Christmas fabric stash were these wonderful deer and the trees.

To try and get it to work together, I created sections within the piece by using a blue-green fussy cut fabric.

I had a lot of fun with the sky. I found a couple of pieces of an interesting night sky and then found this tulle with stars in my stash. I had used it years ago to decorate my cubicle for a Christmas cubicle decorating contest.
Tulle sky and snowflakes
After free motion quilting the piece, I added some more wooden fabric as the binding and quilted that too.

In my stash I found snowflakes, trees and added a snowman. As I told my daughter, I'm not sure how I feel about the landscape. It was fun to play with and is really a collage. Art quilts don't all have to be serious, do they?

What I learned:

  • I didn't plan this piece (what else is new), so I ended up unstitching the long blue-green columns sticking out of the picture to put the wooden border around the piece. 
  • As I mentioned, if things are not working out, it's best to just leave the project and come back to it later. So far, it always works!
  • When I make a collage type landscape, I feel like I'm cheating, but really trying to pull all of these different elements together is probably more work than creating a landscape from scratch.
  • I haven't decided if I pulled it off - if you want to offer me some constructive criticism, I would certainly appreciate it.
So, Happy Hockey Day in Canada! May your favourite team win. :-)