Leslie at Marveles Art Studios has totally inspired me in so many ways with her quilty, crafty goodness. She is one talented lady, best best of all is she is an encourager! So this post is for her. Leslie has turned me onto sunprinting with Setacolor paints and while I have bought them, I haven't quite done it yet, mainly I want to give it a go without the kiddos around first. But we have managed to do some sun printing with special paper last week. Please ignore the neglected garden beds and the 'free' Craigslist boat in the background. Sigh....

The special paper worked like magic right before the kids' eyes, but you also had to rinse it and let it dry after printing which was a bit of a pain. We also used some black construction paper to print which worked fine but a little slow for the kids.

We used some flower shaped foam stickers, redbud leaves for hearts, maple and hemlock leaves too. As the sun hit the sunprinting paper, the exposed paper turned white and the shaded portion stayed blue, but when it was rinsed, the colors reversed which was surprising.

And below is the new wall quilt or table runner for the shop. I am really itching to quilt this! I even have some ribbon yarn that I might try to free motion couch on this too.

Obviously still in the beginning stages. I used my Sizzix to cut the flower centers and petals. To the left are four floral postcards or miniquilts for the shop.

I am trying to keep my blog focused on quilting, but I have to share this bit of craftiness below that I did for the kids. A door on one of our maple trees! The kids aren't fooled that there really are fairies or anything but it sure helps fuel the imagination.

And Irene followed behind our earthquake and brought some much needed rain so everything is really looking nice again outside. We are too far inland to get more than some wind and rain thank goodness!

Humble Pie on a Quilt

I am eating humble pie today and it doesn't taste good.

The very day after giving a talk to my local quilt group about some of my time-saving techniques and especially how I've been finishing some of my binding with machine stitching and getting great results, I sew the binding to the wrong side of my quilt for the technique I use and the easiest way to fix it is to give up and finish it by hand.

And as I showed a few of my quilts around, I got very good remarks from one of the newer ladies and she sounded very knowledgeable about quilting so I asked when she might bring in some of her work. She had a cheshire cat grin on her face and responded very kindly but she definitely wasn't too keen on showing off. Later someone mentioned that she did pretty well at the machine quilting class and that she supposedly had done some quilt judging before. So I was intrigued and looked her up on Google and found enough info to realize I had just done the equivalent of showing a crayon drawing to Michelangelo and saying, "Look what I can do!".

She's new to the area and I don't think anyone really knows her or her background so I'm not a complete idiot, but I feel foolish. She was very complimentary though so maybe I'm not too bad. I really hope I can talk her into being a mentor or at least offer some critique of my work because I really need a mentor and it doesn't look like anyone else in the group has much experience.

Goodies in the Mail

Look what came in the mail today! These paints and things were so much more fun than the other thing that came today; math curriculum. Craftiness tempered by reality. Which is as it should be I suppose since my creating side wars with my homeschooling mom side at times. Don't get me wrong, teaching my kids at home is going great. The education part is fabulous, but the being with them 24/7 sometimes drives me batty. Then I see the neighbor kid gone to school for nearly 8hrs plus an hour or more of homework and I either crave the free time for me or feel glad that my kids aren't part of that system depending on the day I've had.

So I look for opportunities to combine my creativity with the schooling! Sun printing with Setacolor? Oh yes! But first I have to finish this boy baby quilt for the shop. Boring.

It's half way done. And then I get to play with these wonderful things.

Lumiere and Setacolor paints, Iridescent Paintstiks and linoleum blocks for stamp making. Well, I won't get to play with the linoleum blocks yet as I apparently did something wrong at the computer and the cutter tools didn't get ordered. I wasn't sure what kind of blocks to order (should have gone back to some of my favorite blogs to see what they use) so I'm not sure I'll like these. They seem very hard and the particle wood that they're stuck to is dusty and crumbly. But you never know until you try.

And here's my latest crafty effort for the kids; a fairy or animal house door in one of the maples in our front yard. It's just glued on but it turned out fabulously.

Paints and Pigments on Cloth

I am so excited; last night I finally got the nerve up to place an order for several types of paints and things for doing some surface design on my quilts!

I ordered some Setacolor paints, Jacquard Lumiere paints, some Paintstiks, and some blocks and tools for making my own stamps!

I can't wait to see what I can do with them. I also plan on using the Setacolor to do some sun prints with my kids after we do some sunprints with special sunprint paper. This works so well into their section on the sun and planets this year.

But I do need to make sure I don't get carried away!

Gotta sew,

Using Monofilament Thread

As I mentioned on my last post, I used monofilament for the first time on a binding. Other than having to wind a bobbin twice because the end didn't stay put on the first one, it worked fabulously! I used it in the top and bottom and it made such a fine machine finished binding on a multicolored striped binding.

I used Sulky's monofilament, which is a polyester with a Topstitch 80/20 needle and at a tension of almost 1. Yes, that's right almost 1. This thin thread stretches and causes a lot of it's own tension, so you really have to use very little tension from the machine. I also had to rig my machine so the spool wound off the side instead of over the top, which adds so much twist that the thread could break easily.

This might be the start of something wonderful as there are times I want to secure edges on machine applique better, but have trouble finding a good thread color match.

Gotta sew,

Tree Quilt

Anothe wall quilt for the shop. This first shot is of the striped binding that I finished by machine with Monofilament! This was the first time I tried monofilament and it worked beautifully! The background is natural linen and while it was a bit fiddly, trying to keep the grain lines from getting out of whack, I love the look.

The leaves were cut with my Sizzix. I should have placed them closer together I think. Other than that and figuring out a better way to handle all the thread ends for each leaf, I love this one. I usually knot and bury all ends, but on this the amount got overwhelming, so I secured the stiches with backstitching and/or tiny stitches, and then cut the ends, but I fear the trilobal poly threads will come undone.

Free Motion Couching Foot Tutorial

Here's how to modify a free motion quilting foot into a free motion couching foot so you can make beautiful curvy designs on your quilts or quilted projects with beautiful yarns or cords. First, you need an 'echo quilting foot'. This is one of the feet attachments that come with the Janome free motion quilting set. It's a lovely set, that doesn't make a bunch of hopping, clackiness. Next, cut a piece of clear plastic into a circle about 3/4 inch in diameter, just big enough to lie in the flat part of the foot. I used a lid from a Pringles chip can and my Sizzix die cutter to cut a nice smooth circle from it.

Now find a yarn darning needle or something similar and use the heat from a stove burner to carefully heat the needle hot enough to melt a hole slightly larger than 1/16th of an inch in diameter in the center of your plastic circle. Be sure to use pliers or an oven mitt to hold the needle so you don't get burned. The hole may need to be a bit larger depending on your couching fiber of choice and the size of your machine's needle. Try to keep it as small as you can to keep the yarn from escaping being couched down. If you make it too big, you can't make it smaller and will need to try again. Smooth any rough edges with an emery board or fine sandpaper.

I don't have photos of this next step, but you now center the plastic circle onto the foot and glue it in place with super glue. Be careful! The echo quilting foot has crossed lines on it indicating the center so I center the hole right there in the middle. Get it positioned just right before glueing. I didn't the first time and while I was able to pry the plastic off the foot, the superglue turned a bit opaque. If you get it right the first time, it is nearly completely clear!

Now put your fabulous foot on your machine and run the yarn or other fiber across your machine like this:

I made sure that there was plenty of lose yarn between the skein and my machine and kept all curious kids/animals away while stitching. My very first try, I was able to form this feather with the yarn. There were a few missed areas, but those can be stitched again and a feather is probably the most extreme manipulation of the couching fibers so it was a tough test!

Thanks so much to Leslie, http://marvelesartstudios.blogspot.com/ for inspiring this hack with her beautiful work!

Now, I need to hit the local yarn shop!