Saturday, June 30, 2012

"Poured Out" v.2

The dates for the Sacred Threads exhibit and entry period have come out, so it's really, really time for me to follow through on my goal to make a new version of my "Poured Out" quilt. I am using a computer graphics program to design some of this quilt instead of pencil and paper. Below is the pitcher I made with the free version of Serif Draw Plus. I think I need to go back and raise the bottom line a bit. I think it looks a bit saggy.

I am inspired by graphic art so I am trying to learn how to make my own. I downloaded a photo into the graphics program and then used the tools to trace the shape. I still have a lot to learn and I am unsure if I want to pay for the full version of this program or get the Adobe Illustrator program that is the industry standard for work of this kind.
 I bought a nice range of fabrics from my local quilt shop in a grey batik for the background. Though I haven't quite figured out how I want to do it. For this version, I want the quilt to be more about my personal journey during my husband's cancer, thus the dark background represents my struggle with depression during that time. I may use a solid or close-to-solid black or dark grey, I may piece it, or I might even paint a background, which will take some experimenting for sure. I'm still thinking on it.
 Above is the gradation going from dark down to light, and below is light going down to dark. I think I like the light going down to the dark. It's always darkest before we reach out to the Lord.
 And now is a shot, below of a blue that is somewhat like what the water will be like, though it will be appli-pieced in a curving tumult of water. This quilt will be more vertical in format and smaller than the original version.
Above, you can see one of my new long arm rulers I bought on a recent shopping trip. I had so much fun doing the quilting with the one ruler I had that I decided to get some more. Perhaps I'm a bit dirty-minded, but doesn't it have a shape that reminds you of some anatomy? I'll show you the rest of the rulers in my next post.

Anybody have any opinion on the background for Poured Out v.2? Now, I am off to quilt before quiet time is over.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Quilt Studio

I thought I'd show you some pics of my quilting space along with my current project.  I've been working on quilting this jelly roll race quilt, made with a pack of Tonga Treats, or maybe it's Bali Pops. I'm not too crazy for it and wish I had pulled out some of the darker reds and substituted some blues and greens instead. But it's great practice and a big enough size to demonstrate to my new quilting group how to puddle up a larger quilt.
 This is my sewing/quilting space! It's a mess but it's my own little space. Look at all my pretty threads! My husband opened up the awkward closet under the stairs and we tucked my counter top right in. (See here) I sometimes forget about the slanted ceiling when I reach for thread on the far left, ouch! There's just enough space for me to work at both machines, or most often, quilt at the big machine and use my computer. I have tucked in all kinds of storage everywhere I can below and above my counter top.
Above is my cutting/pressing table, design wall, and more quilty stuff. I really need to do some tidying up here, don't I? The design made up of quarter circles in the design wall is courtesy of my 5yo daughter. There's also the start of a quilt featuring Riley Blake's Rainy Days and Mondays fabric. I think I need a different arrangement of the blocks. To the left is my original drawing/painting of "Poured Out", which I am in process of redesigning so I can make a new version. I would like to point out that the big bins under this table are filled with trains and other toys, not my quilty excesses.

I do share this room with my kids. It's the "play room". When I'm not quilting much, we have company, or there's extra kids coming over, I slide the table either up against the design wall or against my counter top area, depending on if I need to guard my machines from curious fingers. But mostly, it's my sewing space.  I'm a bit loathe to admit I took over their play space, so I like to think of it as the family play room!

So when the kids are not in the room, I can spread out a bit, giving myself room to work with larger pieces of fabric and quilts. I can even set the table up so I can press fabric, cut it, and run it through my Sizzix without having to move anything.

Now I need to get some quilting done before my 2yo wakes up! I hope you enjoy what you see here and I'd love to read a comment from you.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

How to Keep your Rulers from Slipping

Here's my cheap and easy method to keep my rulers from sliding and slipping on my fabrics. I mentioned it in my post on free motion quilting with rulers and the technique is so easy it almost doesn't rate a tutorial, but here it is anyway.

First, all you need is clear nail polish and salt. It certainly doesn't have to be clear, but it sure makes it easier to read any markings through the nail polish. I use the quick drying because it's what I have on hand and because I'm an impatient kind of gal. My 5 year-old daughter would prefer that I use purple glitter polish, but she's out of luck.
 
In the above pic, you can see where I've used this technique on this ruler already. I did it maybe two years ago and it's still quite grippy. But when I was cutting some narrow strip sets yesterday, I realized my gripper spots were too far apart.

Below is a pic of three spots of nail polish awaiting a sprinkling of salt. Make sure to apply the polish in a small puddle on the wrong side of the ruler! It'll spread on its own.
 

And thanks to a new camera from a generous friend, here's a close up of the salt! Now let it dry thoroughly. .
Don't rush it!

Once it's dry, you can go slice up some yummy fabric without slippage.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think. If you want to keep reading what I'm sharing here, might I suggest you add me to your feed reader, subscribe via email or any other service? It just takes a click or two.

Now that I have a better camera (Thank you dear friend!) I'll be able to post better pictures on the blog. I had such fun taking macro shots in the garden this past weekend.


Blog Update

I've been mucking about with my blog and its settings. I really have no idea what I am doing so please let me know if something is giving you trouble and I will blindly start hitting buttons in an attempt to fix it.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Quilting Tools Part 4

So you don't have the Janome convertible foot set? You can still use a darning foot. You can even make it better! Leah Day has another great post on how to break your foot. Your standard darning foot that is! Actually, it's how to fix the foot to make it work better.

I need to figure out if I should break a foot for the ladies at my quilting group. I'm teaching them how to free motion quilt. Thursday we are all bringing our machines and we're going to see what I can do to help them and their machines do FMQ. I am having so much fun with this group!

Another tool I love is the June Tailor Shape Cut Ruler . I am not a huge piecing fan, possibly because my skills need work and because a more wholecloth type quilt lets me have more free motion quilting fun. But this ruler of sorts helps me get accurate strips cut. Since you can cut multiple strips without moving the ruler, it can go pretty fast. You run your rotary cutter through the slots on the ruler to cut.

It made short work of cutting the pieces for my new quilt. I thought I'd do a rather simple pieced quilt on which I could showcase some quilting that is typical on a pieced quilt instead of my usual over the top quilting. It will end up being a large throw size to put on my couch. I wanted it to be bigger, but I just didn't have enough of this Rainy Days and Mondays fabric. Bigger because I want to have more bigger quilts under my belt for when I am asked how big a quilt can I comfortably quilt under my Janome.

Now I need to get breakfast on the table. I have a sitter coming and I am getting away for a little "Me" time.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Quilting with Rulers on a Domestic Sewing Machine


August 1, 2016 Edited to add: In the years following this post which started it all, I have created two classes with Craftsy on this technique. This special instructor's affiliate link will take you to them and allow you to purchase them at a 50% discount all the time. No need to wait for a Craftsy sale! There are multiple sources for ruler feet and ruler for use with this technique as well,and I now have an online shop where I sell a well-tested selection of rulers and supplies I use.


In my post on my butterfly wall hanging, I mentioned that I had done free motion curved cross-hatching using a long arm ruler. I had heard that some folks were trying this on the bigger sit down machines like APQS George (Love!) or the HQ Sweet 16. But I had not actually found anyone who was doing it. After purchasing Karen McTavish's book, Custom Curves and the accompanying DVD, I was disappointed to see that the demonstration of  crosshatching on a domestic machine was done with a walking foot. (Love this woman's work and her books!) I thought at least it could be done by following the marked lines free motion.
Then I came across the Janome Free Motion Frame Quilting Feet Set, made for use with the Convertible Free Motion Quilting Feet Set. It has a foot/toe made to do ruler work! I picked this up at the Janome booth at the Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival this year. I had no idea they made such a foot. It is for use on the larger Janomes that one can use with a frame and table system. (To be clear, I do not have a frame system.) Since the Quilter's Rule was at the show too, I picked up a double S curve ruler by Rhonda Beyer, Karen's partner in the Custom Curves book.

The two essential things for ruler work on your sewing machine after the ruler toe is to have a good smooth surface to glide your quilt over as you stitch and to have a "grippy" ruler. I used my cheap ruler grip method-- clear nail polish and a sprinkle of salt. It worked like a charm!

Since the ruler foot is a 1/4" foot; meaning the distance from the needle to the outside edge of the foot, place the ruler 1/4" away from where you want the line to be stitched. Then I rested my left hand on the ruler with my pinky and ring fingers off the far side of the ruler (onto the quilt) and slide the quilt and ruler along the side of the foot as a single unit. At first I tended to press too hard down on the ruler and quilt, making it difficult to move, but I soon got the hang of it.

This method can be done with a regular darning or free motion quilting foot and/or rotary cutting rulers, but you run the risk of sliding the ruler up under the needle. This would break your needle and possibly mess up the timing of your machine.

I found the method to be easier than I thought it would be, and since I did this ruler work in the corners of my quilt, I found that the ruler helped control the edges as I stitched, keeping them from bunching up as I stitched back in toward the quilt. I found it to give much better results than following a marked line.

Give it a try and let me know how it turns out for you!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Quilting Tools Part 3

 One thing I love about my Janome machines is the wonderful free motion quilting foot set that is made for these machines. Above, from left, the standard darning foot that comes with the machine (altered to open toe by my husband), the convertible free motion quilting set with it's 3 toes, and on the far right, the ruler work toe I bought separately (along with a open toe with the opening oriented to the end of the machine for use with a frame system).
In the above picture, the ruler work toe is attached to the convertible FMQ foot. You can also see that the big plastic bull's eye toe looks different than what you may have. That's because I altered it for some experimenting with free motion couching of yarn. You can read about the how and why I altered this foot here.

This convertible foot is so fabulous for free motion quilting! No annoying clackity clack as it goes up and down. There's an adjustment screw too that raises or lowers the height of the foot for the thickness of your quilt sandwich or to help ease in fullness. I have also noticed that the rounded shape of the ruler work toe doesn't 'push' the fullness as much as the open toe and though I don't use it much I think it does better than the regular closed toe. Though of course, it is harder to see your work with the ruler toe.

Janome makes the convertible FMQ foot set in both high and low shank versions, so you should be able to use it on some non-Janome machines.

Look for my post on using the ruler work toe soon. Also a post on working with a commonly available darning foot and how to make it better.

If you have found these posts useful or if you have a question on how I use these tools, leave me a comment please.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Machine Quilted Butterfly

 I thought I'd share what I'm working on here and link up also at Leah Day's Vacation Link Up. As usual, forgive the crappy photos. I have finally figured out that the focus adjustment doesn't seem to work, but I just might be getting a new one! I was mentioning it to a friend at the local quilt shop and she mentioned that she had been hanging onto a camera that she had found at a resort 2 years ago, hoping to get a call from the owner. The resort didn't want to take responsibility for it. So she offered it to me!

This is a wall hanging, about 24x24 inches, with a butterfly in the middle. There's plenty of pebbling and feathers going on. But what really thrills me about this work is that I did some curved crosshatching in the corners and I didn't mark any of it! Instead I used a ruler like the long armers do!
This was so stinking fun! I love this toe for the Janome convertible FMQ foot. I enjoyed every moment of it.

Art Quilt Explorers

I started attending a group in the nearby city for those interested in surface design and art quilting. It's an off-shoot of the guild there and since it's all about learning and exploring new techniques, it's called the Explorers.

It's a bit difficult for me to make the meetings since it requires a day time babysitter. I have had two friends tell me that after seeing my work on "Poured Out" that I need to pursue my quilting and they are interested in helping me do that by watching the kids sometimes for these meetings. Love my friends!

The small local group that I am a part of is very traditional and it seems that many are at a  beginner to intermediate skill level, so I am not able to find too much instruction or mentoring there, not because I am so advanced (I'm not), but because I am a bit "out of the box". They are however a friendly group and I hate that I can't attend more of the meetings. I have talked to the owner of the quilt shop who is the group's leader and we are beginning a new offshoot group that will meet at night. I'll be the main leader of this group, and while it won't be an art quilters group, we will be trying some new techniques and trying to appeal to the more adventurous and hopefully, some younger quilters.

But the Explorers group is quite fun! Last time we met, we decided on a challenge, to make a quilt inspired by a single photo and then we did some playing with fabric paint and stamping. And I really played! I've had a collection of paints for a while, Setacolor and Lumiere, but hadn't really played with them. There's a line from one of the homeschooling methods that I employ, which is, "Let the mother come out to play!" That line was in my head as I painted and stamped, ran my fingers across my painted work surface to make a design and printed it. Fun!

I haven't officially joined the  Explorers group as I need to attend a meeting of the main guild and pay dues. Something I'm willing to do, but just haven't arranged for yet. That group is larger and has more talented quilters in it, still nobody my age, and when a group leader asked if anyone was interested in Modern Quilting, the consensus was, "What's that?"

My point of all this? If most of your quilting interaction is via internet or magazines, get out and try to find a guild! There may not be a perfect fit, but it will stretch you as a quilter and it can be a lot of fun!