This week's Gem is from Rene Iannarelli. This is a departure from the quilts we are accustomed to seeing from Rene and but it's no less striking. She made this in a class with Elizabeth Barton. The greens are all hand dyed fabric and she used a variety of green Shades Packs including Juniper and Pine.
If you have made anything with my hand dyed fabric I hope you will consider sharing it in the Customer Gallery. In appreciation you will receive a 20% shop coupon that's good for 3 months!
I occasionally teach a new longarm owners class at Virginia Longarm, my local Innova dealer. The class has 2 goals. First is to get everyone over any apprehension by getting them on the machines quilting. The second goal is to get their mind-set right about what it takes to become proficient at longarming. Just because someone can quilt free-motion on a domestic machine doesn't mean that they will be able to immediately quilt beautiful feathers on the longarm. It's a very different technique and, like with anything new, it takes practice.
The analogy I like to use is driving a car. When we first learned to drive a car we didn't expect to race at NASCAR in the first week......or even the first year. So why do we get frustrated with quilting if we can't create a ribbon-worthy quilt in the first month? We get frustrated because we have set unreasonable expectations. It takes hundreds of hours of practice to be able to quilt a Best of Show quilt.
That brings me to my friend, Marcy. Marcy loves longarm quilting but doesn't get to do it all that often because she rents time to longarm. When I injured my arm I knew that longarming was out of the question for weeks so I asked Marcy if she might want some practice. We struck a deal. She could get practice if she would practice on some of the backlog of veterans quilts and then she could quilt a couple of her own quilts.
I picked Marcy because she's had the Innova renters class and has some experience under her belt. She needed a little help at the beginning but she's totally independent now. I simply didn't have time to teach a totally new longarmer so this worked out perfect.
As I mentioned, Marcy has some experience quilting but when you go months between quilts there's a big learning curve every time you start to quilt. This time she has access to the machine for about 4 weeks so she can get a lot of hours in. She wanted to focus on learning to quilt with pantographs which, luckily, are perfect for veterans quilts. Let's see how she did.
This photo is the first corner that she quilted using the Popcorn pantograph. Like any new quilter, she struggled with getting smooth curves.
But just after one quilt you can already see marked improvement! No more flat line curves and more even spacing.....just in one small quilt! We load 2 veterans quilts at once time so the first 2 were done with Popcorn.
eFor the second 2 quilts we switched to that Burning Bush pantograph and by the end of her 4th quilt she had the pantograph nailed! Also by this point she had everything else about longarming nailed: winding bobbins, threading the machine, tension, aligning the pantograph....everything. She didn't need any more help after that. She's now on her own and having a blast quilting.
Here are the first 4 quilts that she quilted.
The first 2 quilts were made by my blog friend, Patty.
The quilt on the left was made by our member who lives near Seattle and the one in the right was made by a local member. That one is going to give us another lesson! We discovered that it has a major tension issue in one area and we didn't see it until after the quilt was trimmed. DOH!
But we are going to get that fixed next week.
I'm really grateful to Marcy for helping me catch up on veterans quilts and she seems happy to have the practice time. She's proving that you can take dozens of classes but if you don't take the time to practice you will never get better.
My life these days is almost 100% focused on dyeing fabric for the AQS Virginia Beach show in October. Since I haven't done a big show before I'm going in totally blind about what I need so I'm trying to make sure that I have too much. That means that every day is either a dyeing day, ironing day or planning day. Last week had 3 dyeing days because I decided to add in some ice dyeing and I thought I'd share my process for anyone who hasn't seen it before.
To be perfectly honest I don't really like ice dyeing but I love the results and there's really no other way to get them. Ice dyeing a pain in the neck. It's messier than regular dyeing, takes a lot longer to set up and wastes a TON of dye. I really couldn't abide the dye loss so a few years ago I started putting extra fabric in the bottom of the bin to catch the runoff dye and that's how I accidentally created some of my favorite fabrics, the Galaxies. It's a Galaxy fabric that is the feature fabric in my Antelope Canyon quilt.
So I start by arranging 2 - 3 yards of fabric in the bottom of my bins. The sheer fabric over it is cut from old sheer curtains and helps to keep dye powder dots off the fabric and it works great.
I had folded and soaked the fabric in soda ash several days before so I was ready to arrange the fabric on my screens. These screens are made with PVC pipe, plastic landscape cloth and zip ties. Next I surrounded the fabric with a wide plastic collar. Some people use cardboard but I had a roll of this heavy duty vinyl in the basement and this was a opportunity to use it. Don't ask where it came from because I don't know! Clothes pins keep it upright. Now it's ready for dye.
For my regular dyeing I use dye concentrates. The most, and probably only, dangerous part of dyeing is working with the dye powder because it gets airborne easily. I start my dye sessions by mixing the concentrates that I need for that day and then put the powders away. Ice dyeing requires working with powder so I load up some spice shakers with each of my colors and have them ready to go. While I'm using the powders I ALWAYS wear a mask. A caveat about safety, if you are a klutz like me the whole process can be fraught with danger.
Because of my arm Chris had to help me out with this session. While he went to buy the ice I planned out the colors for each bin. He did all of the heavy lifting. I think that most people apply the dye directly to the fabric and then cover with ice. I like to put down a layer of ice, then sprinkle on the dye powders and the cover with more ice. I think it reduces the appearance of dye powder dots on the fabric. If you haven't figured out yet, dye powder dots are a giant pet peeve for me. This particular tray had 40 lbs of ice!
Here are 6 of the 7 trays hanging out in the sun doing their business. I like doing this outside because the ice melts faster and rinsing with the garden hose is so much easier! As soon as I get caught up on my ironing I'll have the new ones to share. The fabrics in the bottom of the bins turned out great too!
Yep, that's what I'm calling this new quilt. Because I'm determined to drive myself insane with some of these quilt ideas that I pursue and it might as well be this one that takes me over the edge.
Every time I dye new shibori fabrics for the shop I add a fat eight on each pole for my personal collection. I've created quite an impressive collection of fabric and, so far, have only used them in Lura's Choice quilt and that was a few years ago. I've been wanting to do a quilt with appliqued circles and now is as good a time as any to start.
I began by dyeing a selection of black/shades of gray fabrics and cut out some chunks of shibori for the moons.
Estelle kindly came over this weekend and cut some square out for me so I could get started. (By the way, my arm is finally MUCH better! I can drink with the glass in my right hand. That's big!)
I used the Go! Cutter to cut out some fusible applique sheets. I'm using a 5" circle simply because that's the largest Go! die that I have. While Estelle cut I fused these to the back of my shibori chunks.
I'm working on another post to show you how I shaped the circles but here's the first one. Man, I love these fabrics!
I made a little paper template to help me position the moon in the center of the block. Later, when I put the quilt together, I'll cut these blocks down to a smaller size. I know I'm not going to use the blocks this big but until I can get several done and see them together I won't know what size I want.
After the moon is centered on the fabric I tack it to the back with some Mistyfuse.
I seriously love the moodiness of the background fabric. This quilt will basically use a combination of the Black and Gray Skies Gradients.
OK, I know this basically looks the same but in this photo it's actually stitched! On another block I'll show you the back and the tiny stitches that Becky taught me to stitch. I did the first block just to make sure I enjoyed it and want to continue.
Who was I kidding? It's tedious and there are dozens of them to do. Of course I'll continue!
The last step in setting up this project was to put together a dedicated sewing kit with the needles, scissors, Bottom Line threads (because that's what I have), magnifying glasses and a folder. I"m ready to go!
I still have lots of the circles to prepare (for this and the other applique project) and I'm slowly working on these a bit each day. But I'm ready to start stitching the second block and I think it's pretty stunning....if I do say so myself.
The fabric of the week this week is the Walnut Shades Pack and it's on sale 20% off through Sunday! 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. Orders received by Wednesday morning (EST) will be shipped by June 18. All other orders will be shipped June 25.
When we first moved here 20 years ago I didn't expect to find a vibrant quilting community in my little village of Montpelier. I joined the Richmond Quilt Guild and there was the Country School Chapter in Montpelier. I came to the first meeting expecting about 5 people. I was surprised to find a very active and vibrant quilting group. We have traditional quilters, applique quilters, art quilters, scrap quilters, charity quilters, beginner quilters and everything in between. More importantly, it's a wonderful community as evidenced by my weekend.
Marcy is still keeping FloMo occupied while I can't quilt. She's finished 4 veterans quilts so far and will probably finish the 5th and 6th today! This has been a huge help to me and she has been so happy to get in some practice. When I can get these on the design wall to photograph I'll be able to show you how much she has improved just in 4 quilts! She's totally independent on the machine new and doesn't need my help at all. I'm absolutely certain that there's an Innova in her future.
Estelle wanted to borrow some threads and offered to do any cutting that I wanted. I had just dyed these fabrics for a new hand quilting project so I got them ironed (left handed) and she cut enough squares for me to get started. She also found a few threads to use in her latest art quilt.
Becky came over Sunday and cut these pastel solid fabrics for my next flower applique project. She also trimmed the veterans quilts that Marcy quilted. While she was cutting I looked through my personal stash and found some great hand dyed fabric bits for leaves in her current applique project.
I'm so grateful to all of them and very excited to have some hand sewing to do. My arm it getting better but I'm a week or more away from sewing and longer from quilting. Having a little hand sewing might save my sanity. Fortunately I can do my fabric dyeing, if I'm careful, so I'm getting lots of that done. Ironing is coming along a little slower but I'm getting my left arm slowly trained!
All in all, I'm doing great. It jut takes time and now I have some other activities to fill that time.
Today's featured project is a quilt made by Mari Heidt as part of the Rainbow Scrap Challenge making 3 blocks each month in that month's color theme. Mari used Kona for the background and hand dyes for all of the color blocks.
Mari made this quilt as a homage to her Great Grandmother. She has a treasured block in this pattern from her Great Grandmother and that was the inspiration for the quilt.
This photo shows off the great texture that she got using wool batting. You can follow Mari and read more about this quilt at her blog, The Academic Quilter.
If you have made anything with my hand dyed fabric I hope you will consider sharing it in the Customer Gallery. In appreciation you will receive a 20% shop coupon that's good for 3 months!
It's a real bummer to be in a situation where the only sewing that I could do is hand sewing and I just finished my last epic hand sewing project! Instead I've been spending my time planing the next TWO hand sewing project. I will not be caught empty handed again. My first project is almost ready to go.
The first step in planning the new project was to take inventory of what's left from the last one and there's a lot of inventory!
I have 10 appliqued blocks left over from the finished quilt.
Plus 30 more multi-colored flowers still to be appliqued!
But that's not all! There are 54 flowers in blue!
AND dozens of loose petals!
Can you imagine one person basting all of these? There's enough here for at least 3 more large quilts and I'm pretty sure that I gave a whole set of flowers to a friend a few years ago. I wonder if this person ever made a quilt the themselves from all of this work? They had to have had access to some sort of dress factory because the variety of prints is astounding. In the quilt that I finished there were no duplicate fabrics in the large flowers. I'm pretty sure the blue set that I have also contains no duplicates.
Amazing! And I only paid $15 for the whole lot.
I felt that I had 3 choices here. I could continue with more multi flowers on white fabric and stitched in black. Or I could do a project with the blue flowers or maybe a strippie quilt with rows of vines and petals/leaves.
Becky was over visiting the day I was pondering what to do so I consulted with her and we decided to do the blue ones and to do them on pastel colors instead of white for a change of pace. After all I have over 1000 yards of white fabric. Why would I want to use that?
We thought about 3 or 4 pastel colors that would read the same value and to use a bigger block size. A bigger block size could eliminate the need for sashing and also give me more quilting space. I considered dyeing some fabric but decided that solids would be more in keeping with the time period of these prints. So I was off to the fabric store for the first time in AGES.
I picked up Mom and we headed off to a fabric store near her apartment. I can take her fabric shopping because she would NEVER say "you don't really need more fabric". At the first fabric store we found this light pink and vanilla. They are very pale and read as the same value. Although I generally hate pink I think these are perfect background colors for these blocks. I couldn't find any other colors to go with these but there are other fabric stores to check out.
This fabric, by the way, is Michael Miller's Cotton Couture and it is fabulous! It's very soft and has a lovely sheen. I know that Kona is all the rage but I used it once and it was way too "ravelly" for me. This project is going to be around for a long time and the blocks will be handled a lot. Kona would just make me mad every time I touched it. I think the Michael Miller fabric will be a joy to work with.
We also picked out this gold and red for the centers of the flowers and several different blue floss samples so I could decided in a color for the stitching. A few days later Marcy came over and we picked DMC 791 for the stitching thread and decided that the red and gold might be a little too bold.
Yesterday Mom and I headed off to another store to see if they had more fabric options. The second store has loads of Michael Miller!
While there were lots more colors of the Michael Miller fabric there weren't any other pastels that I liked and we decided to stick with the pink and vanilla. I did find a better yellow and a pretty green to use with the red for centers. The gold will get filed in the stash for another project. I bought all of their 791 DMC floss, then went to an AC Moore and bought all of theirs then back to the first fabric shop to get more of the pink and vanilla. I probably have enough fabric for 2 quilts and that's about perfect for a quilt with no actual plan. No matter when I finish this I should have enough fabric to do whatever I want with it. I also have 25 skeins of floss and that should be plenty too!
Next I need to get the fabrics washed, some blocks cut and fuse on some flowers so I can start stitching. I might even ask Marcy or Becky to help me with some cutting so I can start stitching soon. I'm pretty sure I could do a little stitching while my arm heals.
Then there's also the second applique project and I dyed fabric for that yesterday. It will be ready to cut next week.
I haven't been as wise about my arm the past 2 days as I should and I'm going to do my best to be better this weekend.....
Great news! My arm is getting better. It's taking it's sweet time doing that but at least we are heading in the right direction. I still can't do any sewing or quilting or kayaking, for that matter. I think I'll probably be able to paddle before I can sew or quilt. It's the forward motion that's limited. But it's better thanks to magic healing treatments of time and ice.
I spent yesterday carefully preparing a lot of fabric for dyeing and plan to do some dyeing today. I find that I'm OK if I just take frequent ice breaks so today's word of the day will be "discipline". I'm going to try to be very disciplined about those breaks. I tend to get in a deep groove when I'm dyeing and then next thing I know it's 5 hours later.
Marcy will be here to quilt so maybe she can police me. Marcy has been a huge help this week. She's working diligently on the giant backlog of veterans quilts. She's enjoying the practice and is getting better with every quilt. Her points are pointy and her curves are smooth and after loading and quilting 2 sets she doesn't really need help with anything. It's true for quilting as with everything else: there's no substitute for practice! Thanks to her I'll actually have some content for upcoming blog posts because, for sure, I'm not creating any.
Except mosaic! I can do mosaic left handed so I'm been working on the wall a bit at a time and expect to hit this pretty hard Friday and Saturday since I can't sew.
Here's the whole wall. I'll add a couple more beads and then fill in the white background for this section before moving on.
I'll probably not post tomorrow but will be back Friday with progress on something!
I have a big session of ice dyeing planned soon. These 3 of the trays of fabric that are ready for they day under ice. As I was preparing these I realized that I had a little problem....where to put all the new fabrics. Then I came up with the perfect solution.
All Crystals on Sale!
The fabrics of the week this week are all of the in stock Crystals!
All Crystals are 20% off. Just use coupon code CRYSTALS20 at checkout. Sale ends Saturday.
Stay tuned for new Crystals in the shop in the next 2 weeks.
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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