I'm just checking in for a quick post today to share an applique update. I've gotten started on the second border. I like to start them in the center so I can get that center dot in place. I've got a special fondness for the center dot for some reason. But that's not the headline.
The headline is that I'm 27% done! I'm over 1/4 done with the borders! I think that if football season is good that I might get all 4 borders stitched before the Super Bowl.
Tomorrow I finally have a finish to share!
That's a conversation that Mom and I had this past weekend specifically related to hand made items. Why are we suddenly talking about this?
It's because of this.
This is what's left of a pillow cover that my Grandmother, Lura Dove, embroidered around 1930. When Grandma had to go (unwillingly) into assisted living Mom took the pillow cover and framed it for her room. After Grandma died my Aunt had it for a while and then gave it to me. It's been hanging in my sewing room until a week ago.
When it fell off the wall and the frame shattered. Usually in this case I run right off to my favorite frame shop and spend a small fortune to have it re-framed.
When Mom framed this she wasn't loaded with a ton of extra cash and she was dealing with the stress of convincing her Mother that assisted living really was the right answer for someone prone to falling. So she did what most of us did 25 years ago, she used one of those mats with the stick edge. I started peeling the back edge of the piece (the front is not stuck) and realized that this fabric is incredibly fragile. It also has some pretty strong age staining.
So, what to do? For me the answer was to call Mom for a consultation.
Chris and I re-drafted our wills last year so I've been think a lot about what we leave behind. The result of my pondering is that we are leaving a pretty heavy burden of stuff on the next generation. That's especially true in my case where 2 kid will get stuff from their parents, from me and from Mom. Frankly, that's a lot of crap. Written into our special bequest lists of our wills is a comment that I added to tell the recipients of my stuff that they are under no obligation to take anything or to feel they must take special care of anything. They can refuse it, sell it, give it to someone else or keep it. It doesn't matter to me. I will not be there to pass judgement.
So Mom and I discussed it and agreed that this piece has served it's purpose in life. It made Grandma Dove happy to make it and enjoy it during her long life. I enjoyed seeing it while it was hanging on the wall but it's OK to let it go and that's what I'm going to do.
Not to worry, I still have some treasures from Grandma Dove like this dresser scarf.
This is my favorite piece. I had 2 of these bed covers. I know I gave the other one to someone in the family but don't remember. I kept this one and think I may quilt it some day.
In the first house that Chris and I owned I used this on top of the guest bed bedspread and my Grandma got to see it there once.
Oh my gosh, my next sentence was supposed to be "So I'm OK letting the pillow cover go." but just as I was typing I realized exactly what I will do with it. I'll be back in a week or so to show you.
The fabric of the week this week is Geranium. For 2 days (or until supplies last) this fabric is on sale 25% off! If you want some for your stash get it before it sells out.
I think of the Geranium gradient as Christmas in July. I made these holiday placemats using the Geranium Gradient. Click on the image for the tutorial.
In other news there's a brand new gradient called Golden Hour. It coordinates with Claret and Sunset Stash packs.
Two popular gradients are back in stock!
I didn't get a lot done this weekend because I was teaching all day Saturday and ironing most of yesterday. But I am slowly getting through all of the sun printing that I want to do.
Sun printing with stencils is really cool but when you want 20 prints of one stencil it's going to take a while. I want 20 of the house and the stag. They are both going to be Christmas cards. If I'm going to do 2 I might as well do enough to fill the printing board, right?
So, I've set up a sun printing station to make this as fast as possible. I premixed the colors in some old containers so that the paints are ready to go.
I even thought to pull out a larger pair of gloves so that I didn't have to get a new pair every time I set up a new print. Because I'm allergic to the VOCs from the paint I have to wear a respirator. I have it upstairs and put it on just before I go the basement and spend 10 minutes setting up a new print. Then I wear it back upstairs and get on with something else. I can get about 4 prints a day in between doing other things. Maybe I'll have all of my prints done by the end of the week.
I did get to reveal this fabric yesterday. This is a piece that I dyed as a back for one of my quilts and I love it.
Recently there has been a lot of internet angst over a fiber art exhibit called Threads of Resistance. I have no intention to get into any discussion or to share my thoughts about the concept or the exhibit but I am excited to share this piece that was juried into the exhibit.
I'm excited to share it for 2 reasons. Of course, primarily it's because Susan Bianchi used the Gray Skies gradient for her background. But I'm also excited to share what I consider to be an unusually well-done piece of protest art. I understand the visceral need of artists to create art that speaks about their opinions on current issues but, honestly, I think that most of it is crudely made and crudely messaged. I don't mean crude, like crude language. I simply mean poorly done with screaming messages and none of it actually influences anyone. Most of it serves to further entrench people into their existing believes. There's no room for dialogue in most protest art. That is not the case with this piece.
This quilt draws you in with, at first, subtle messages but you have to take a closer look to get all of the meaning in this piece. Regardless of how you feel about her message you've got to admit that the piece is brilliantly done. She writes about the making of this piece on her blog. Check out her website while you are there to see more of her work. I believe that she printed her images directly to the gradient fabric and then wove the piece. I'm very happy that she chose to share it with us!
As a general rule I don't make any of the veterans quilts that Country School donates, I just quilt them. But occasionally I have just the right amount of leftovers to put one together and that's the case with this one. Some of you may remember my Crossing The Drunkard's Path quilt-along that I hosted in 2015. I made a few DP quilts and one of them was in every shade of brown hand dyed that I had in my stash. You can see the original quilt top on the old blog. I had spent a lot of time making all of these DP blocks and I wasn't going to waste them. There weren't enough by themselves for a veteran's size quilt so I dyed a gradient for a border and even had a 4-patch for the top corner. I really love how this one turned out. I love the big one too and will quilt it soon.
My rule is that veterans quilts get simple quilting and that's what I wanted with this. But I also wanted something that would at least reference the curves in the block. Baptist Fans came immediately to mind but that is not a fast quilting motif. Then I remembered a filler design that I learned from Leah Day's book. She calls it Echo Shortcut. I use it a lot in tiny fill quilting but is there any reason it can't be done big?
Any fill pattern can be done big and I know I'll use this one again and again.
Here's a photo of it on the frame. The only thing the least bit fiddly about this is that I worked each row left to right. I quilted the whole thing in about an hour and a half.
The back of this one is a nice bit of serendipity. I custom dyed a back for a customer and, once done, realized that I had mixed one color wrong. I made another for her and got the nice one to keep for myself. It worked out perfect for this quilt.
I know that this topic is coming out of the blue but it's July and my thoughts always turn to sun printing at some point in the summer. Estelle and I usually do this together and we skipped last year, mostly because we both have a nice stockpile of sun prints. But sometimes you've just got to scratch the itch and this was the week for that particular itch. We'll forget all about all of my other itches for today.
Of course I had absolutely no plan about what I wanted to print. I wasn't all that interested in printing botanicals this time so before she came over I searched the basement for all the things I've collected for screen printing and settled on 2 things: lace and stencils. I intended to do more lace but I got a little side tracked with the stencils. But I found this one lace shower curtain panel and cut a FQ size to print.
Now you are going to see a lot of stencils in this post. I can't look each one up on the internet but I can tell you that there are 3 sources:
Artist Cellar for water, diamonds and whimisical flowers for sure
TSC Designs for most of the single image designs like the cat, stag, birthday cake, etc. I buy them at the Mancuso Quilt Show in Hampton each year but it looks like they are getting them on their web site although you have to page through all of the big stencils before yo get to the smaller ones at the end.
Jenny Mae Designs for some of the single image designs. I also buy them at the quilt show and I can't find a web presence for them.
Another great source for stencils is Stencil Girl. I didn't use any of theirs with this but I do have some.
If you want to learn how we do sun printing you can check out my Sun Printing Tutorial.
I also wanted to test using stamps and did this one small piece. I was pleasantly surprised by how well it worked.
Since I was printing pieces for postcards I had to pay attention to the size of the stencil. The stencils in the bottom of the photo are 6" so they were perfect. The fist and birthday cake are smaller and had holes for hanging the stencils. I solved both issues by adding borders of duct tape in the same way we tape up screen printing screen. It worked like a charm.
Now, let's get to the good stuff and look at the prints.
This is my shower curtain piece. I'm printing a set of 6 of these for placemats. I envision stitching around the motifs to highlight the designs. These fat quarters are big enough that I'll have plenty of leftover fabric to make binding.
This is a FQ that Estelle printed with clock parts, grids and other found objects. She's an art quilter and uses a lot of her sun prints to cut up small elements for her art quilts.
These 3 sets turned out great and I have enough of each to do sets of postcards. I envision the water ones with a orange koi fish (see stencil above) stenciled on them. The diamond ones will probably just get a bunch of crystals and maybe no stitching at all. I'm not sure about the lace ones. I have a couple of ideas going for those.
The real problem with printing with stencils is that you can only do one at a time. So I picked 8 that I liked (because that's how many fit on my printing board). I've only printed 2 sets so far so I'll continue working on these over the next few weeks. Since there's a wait time between prints this would be a good thing to do while I'm cutting glass for mosaic fish. I won't have to worry about the mess with either project. Any paint that I get on glass will burn off in the kiln.
The rest of these are Estelle's. Looking at these I can see that we were both fully in character in choosing our color palettes!
For you cat lovers, and I know there are a LOT of you, this stencil came from TCS Designs.
I think I'm going to do a series of the stag to use as one of my 2017 Christmas card designs.
I think she is going to use these for Christmas postcards that she sells at the Virginia Quilt Museum gift shop.
Spending a day sun printing is like having a vacation from everything.
Last week's post about showing how I staple my quilt back to zippers brought a lot of comments to see how I use the zippers and I'm here to please.
On the longarm, the backing is attached to rollers by canvas leaders. When I got my first longarm the only way that people did this was by pinning the backing directly to the leader and that's how I did it for years. Then some smart woman figured out that she could sew half a long zipper (like those used in sleeping bags) to the canvas and pin her backing to the other half and then easily zip the backing to the canvas.
In this photo I have a white zipper on the canvas and my backing is stapled to a black zipper.
When I pinned toe leaders I had 3 problems:
- I had to stand over the machine to do it and that causes some back strain
- I used corsage pins and I got stuck - a lot
- If I needed to remove the quilt to work on another I had to unpin and re-pin. Zipping on and off is so much easier!
The other side of the backing has one too!
I'm really just including this photo because I like to look at this backing fabric. It was a fabric I custom dyed for a customer and I made a mistake in one of the colors. I dyed her a new one and kept this one for myself. I love it.
I have several sets of zippers and I keep them paired properly because I've marked a center mark on each pair. When I staple the backing to the zipper I start in the center and work my way out. That way I know the quilt will stay square on the frame.
Stapling is not a very popular method of attaching backing to the zippers. Most people worry about getting a staple caught in the quilt. But do 2 things to help prevent that. I staple the back to the leaders in my sewing room on my cutting table. (This saves my back and is much easier than doing it at the machine). I remove the staples in the living room while watching TV so that keeps them away from either sewing space. I don't rip them out. I use a staple remover so I can keep up with each one.
The trick is finding the stapler. This one is a vintage Swingline that my Mom gave me and I bought a spare one in case this one dies. These are called "hand grip staplers" and you can find then where vintage things are sold, like Etsy and Ebay. I think Swingline actually still makes a "soft grip" curved stapler. You have to have the curved bottom so that it can accommodate the zipper teeth when you press the staple in. A regular flat bottom stapler will not work.
Staples are not required. At The Longarm Network, where I teach, they use giant safety pins. Some people still use corsage pins. Others stitch their backs to the zippers with a machine basting stitch or a chain stitch on the serger.
Different strokes for different folks.
The biggest advantage is that I can prep several quilt backs at a time and, if I wanted, I could baste them all and then quilt them in any order. I could even zip 2 back together if I wanted to baste 2 quilts at once and then remove both and load whichever one I wanted to quilt first.
The downside is that if I get stuck on a quilt it's rally easy to unzip it and let it sit unfinished for a year or more. That happened with my Non Unus Pluma quilt. It hung over the back of a chair using up a set of zippers for over a year before I got the nerve to finish quilting it.
There you have it. The mystery of the zippers is solved!
People looking for a third option should check out Red Snappers. A lot of people like them too.
This week I'm celebrating a major accomplishment in the shop. I've re-photographed all of the Shades Packs and added comparison photos. I want you to be able to pick your color in confidence and I hope these comparison photos will help.
To celebrate completing that big project I'm putting one of the most popular Shades packs on sale! Indra is on sale 20% off through Thursday! Shades Packs are dyed when ordered so there's no limit to what you can buy. If you order multiple quantities it comes as one cut. For example, order 2 quantities for 1/2 yard cuts. Ordered received by Wednesday morning (EST) will be shipped July 17. Ordered placed after Wednesday morning will be shipped July 24.
But that's not all! Sea and Sky Gradient is the same blue as Indra so it is also on sale 20% off through Thursday. This will also be shipped Monday, July 17.
Want to see this blue in action? Here are 2 quilts that I've made using Sea and Sky Gradient. Click on the quilt image to see more detail photos.
It was my sewing weekend with Country School Quilters this weekend and, of course, I worked on the postage stamp quilt. What I didn't expect was to actually get the top finished! I cannot believe that this behemoth is finally done....well, except for the quilting.
Here are the answers to some questions I expect to hear:
Yes, the postage stamps are 1" finished
There are approximately 3970 pieces (including the black pieces)
Once quilted it will probably be about 94" square
I stated it in 1998 right after we moved into this house
Quilting it will be a lot more fun than piecing it
I freaking LOVE this quilt.
You won't see it again until I start quilting it but hopefully it will not be too long now for that.
I always have a dedicated project for CSQ sewing days so when I came home I searched out the next one. I'm happy to report that my UFO shelves are getting a little thin! I did find a box with these crumb blocks. The are leftover from the Fractured Fragments quilt which is leftover from a king size Fractured quilt.
At least I'm consistent!
Anyway, I found a big piece of purple and a piece of yellow and found a wonky star pattern in a book. I put it into EQ and adjusted for the size I needed. I'm ready for the next CSQ sewing weekend (in September). This will probably be a donation quilt.
I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.
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