June 29, 2012

Beagle blog?

Anita and Kelly, bloggers at Rhinestone Beagle, chose my Stain-proof Table runner as one of their favorite projects of all those featured on their Linky Party yesterday. That was soooo cool. You guys have got to check out their blog! It has lots of great craft ideas, for humans and dogs alike...

June 28, 2012

Online shopping

I just got in the mail a package with charm packs (Blueberry Crumb Cake by Moda) I need to finish a quilt I designed in May. I ordered the fabric through www.equilter.com and it was fulfilled by http://papasoldshirts.danemcoweb.com/. The package arrived so quickly! And the best part: they were running a special on Moda pre-cuts, so I got 25% off.

I am h-a-p-p-y!!!

June 27, 2012

The process of quilt design

Nature is a constant source of inspiration for my quilts, whether traditional or artsy. Once I get an idea, it stays with me for a while until I finally get a chance to work on it. For art quilts, I start the design process by choosing the fabrics I would like to work with, instead of sketching the layout!

I am not quite sure why, but paper and pencil do not work for me when composing art quilts, probably because I do not know how to draw... So, I go straight from brain to fabric. Occasionally, if I am having difficulty putting to fabric a particular aspect of the design, I will look elsewhere for drawings of that element, and compose from there (see my quilt 'Refuge' under the post http://www.piecedbrain.com/2012/05/home-machine-quilting-show.html).

In her book Quilts from Nature, Joan Colvin gives a detailed and very instructive account of the design process for one of her beautiful quilts. It is as if her thoughts were recorded as they happen, and immediately printed for our evaluation. I loved it! Published in 1993, this book is just as relevant now as it was then: Joan explains well the elements of design (unity, visual movement, contrast, spatial relationships, negative space, etc), with objective, one or two paragraphs per topic. You will not be bored, just more inclined to compose eye-pleasing art.

Her work is beautiful and very inspirational. I am so glad for artists who share their art-making process with us... Hooray for books!!!

June 26, 2012

New Favorite Quilt

quilts with medallions

My first medallion quilt is complete, and I think it is my new favorite quilt! Although the top has been done for weeks, I needed a block of hours to quilt it. Yesterday, I lost sleep at 4 am. Huhmm... the house is quiet, my brain is already running at 400 mpg... I might as well tackle it!

First, I quilted in the ditch using the walking foot, monofilament (polyester) on top and green thread in the bobbin. Then, I ventured echo quilting around the scalloped border. However, I stopped after two rows. I decided to add flowers, so I switched to the quilting foot (Bernina # 29), and started to doodle. I did not mark anything, just went for it.

I turned my attention to the middle of the quilt, quilting pebbles in the green squares (below). That is when I had the idea to add pebbles in the middle of the second echo row around the scallops. I liked the result, as you can see above.

Some tiny squiggles in the black blocks around the medallion star...

... and a motif in the star.

Yeah! I really like it, although my pictures don't make it justice... This quilt measures 45" x 45", and can be used as a wall hanging, or table quilt.

What do you think?

June 25, 2012

Flower Block

This iris was completed during a class I took at Thimbles and Threads in Draper, Utah. The class was taught by Lea Hardee, using Ruth McDowell's straight line method of piecing. Although not for beginners, it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Batiks are so awesome, aren't they?

Ruth has published many books. The one I have is called Design Workshop, and I find it indispensable in my library. If you also enjoy creating landscape quilts, you may want to have at least one of her books.

This will be the center block of my next quilt. I wonder what will surround it... I will post a picture as soon as I start working on it.

June 22, 2012

Landscape Mini quilt

nature quilts

My latest landscape quilt is finished. This quilt was created for a class on art quilts so my friends can practice selecting fabrics, composing a scene, painting with thread, etc., always keeping in mind that art quilts can be as true to nature or as abstract as one desires.

This one measures 15 1/2" x 17", a good size project for an all day class. I would like to add an animal, but will need to let it hang on my designing wall for a few more days before I figure out what animal, its size, and where it will go.

Crystallized elements bring light to the flowers on the forest floor. As you can see from this detail, I used raw applique technique, first gluing the pieces of fabric to a pieced background. Once the sandwich was assembled, I worked with my favorite threads by Superior Threads. I used 6 different variegated colors from the Rainbows line.

June 21, 2012

Stain-proof, self-binding table runner - Tutorial

table runners
Today my middle name is 'problem-solver'! I am so excited! My family loves having my quilts all around the house, but they are sometimes afraid to handle them at the dinner table. I have beautiful table quilts and runners which are confined to the dining room as the kitchen table is disaster prone...

This morning I tackled this challenge and created a table runner that is pretty, quilted, and stain proof, using vinyl fabric from Moda and Riley Blake Designs, originally purchased for a bag.

It was fast - under 2 hours from conception to completion! Now, the inevitable spills will not stop me from displaying my work and adorning my kitchen.

Here is what you will need:

1/2 yard vinyl fabric for top
1/2 yard vinyl fabric for backing
1/2 yard X length of top fabric: Warm and Natural batting
Walking foot
Quilting thread
Binding clips
Rotary cutter
Cutting mat

Strawberries fabric from Moda, polka dots from Riley Blake. 1/2 of each. Trim the top fabric so that it is one inch narrower than the bottom fabric. In my case, the strawberries fabric was cut to measure 17" wide and the backing fabric measured 18" wide.
With right sides together, stitch down one long side (Seam allowance: about 1/2"). Do not worry about salvages - they will be trimmed soon. Using a walking foot helps the fabrics move smoothly, although you will need to use your right hand to pull the fabrics gently as they are stitched.

Stitch all the down that side.
Now sew down the other long side. Use paper clips to hold fabrics together, as pins will leave holes.
Since fabrics have different widths, once you sew them you will notice this difference. Not to worry. That is how this table runner will be self-binding!
Trim salvage off both ends using rotary cutter.
Flip this long tube inside out. It is looking pretty already!!!
Cut batting one inch narrower than the tube.
Slip it inside the tube and trim it shorter than tube by one inch.
Turn backing inside and over the batting, then fold top fabric and clip it, making sure the bottom fabric shows.
Do the same on the other end, and clip all around the table runner, so that the backing fabric shows on top (about 1/4 inch all around). That is your binding.
Top stitch all around. I found it was better to roll the runner and unroll it as I stitched it, as it did not get stuck on the extension table. Watch how I gently pull the runner to help move it under the walking foot.
I rolled the part that was stitched already, and the whole project was very easy to manage.
Last step: quilting. I used simple straight lines with the walking foot, holding the runner in the same manner as when I top stitched it.
Final measurements: 17" wide X 40" long.
I am one happy girl! Next runner will be finished very soon, before I am tempted to use the vinyl fabrics to make yet another bag!!! What do you think? Super easy, huh?

June 20, 2012

Fall Decor Tutorial

fall decor

Fall in June?

Well... I just had an inspiration, dropped what I was doing, and created it. I love decorating the house with miniature squashes and pumpkins, but I do not like throwing them away afterwards. Problem solved!

The tutorial below will help you, and in no time at all you will have a fun decorating project for the harvest time. Can you think of all the people who might enjoy these as gifts?

Yellow and green felt or wool
Green Floral wire
Quilting thread
Decorator Needle
Glue gun and glue stick
Silky Soft Fiber 

My kitchen is like the tool section of Home Depot: so many possibilities! Grab a bowl and use it to trace circles on felt (or wool). Mine measures 7.5 inches across.

Cut circles and 4-pointed stars (I drew the stars and cut them out of green felt).
Using quilting thread and running stitch, sew around the circle (double thread).
Gather the stitches to make a giant yo-yo.
Fill the yo-yo with Silky Soft Plush Fiber, or any other material you use to make stuffed animals.
Gather the yo-yo tight, and secure the ends together, to close the opening.
Using a decorator needle, or any other long needle, thread it with quilting thread (double thread).
Starting at the top of the yo-yo, or squash!, pull the needle through it, pulling the thread tight so as to start marking the sections on the squash.
You will do it four times, and will end up with 4 sections.

Can you see what I mean? As you pull it tight, the thread will be buried on the felt and won't show.
Cut floral wire into 3 4-inch sections and wrap it around a pencil, leaving a 3/4-inch tail.

You should end up with three curly things like this one.
Cut a tiny hole in the middle of the four-pointed star and pass the curly wires through it.
Now is the time to use the glue gun. Since I purchased this one I have not burned my fingers!
Place the green felt piece with the wires over the top of the squash, carefully flip each corner and add glue underneath, making sure the glue catches the wires.
This is what the squash looks like. Cool, huh?

What do you think? My boys thought they were real!!! Enjoy...


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