Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Itching to Sew

You know how it is...we're all enjoying the holidays with family, friends, food and good times, and in the middle of it all, I can't wait to get back to my sewing machine too. Happy times spawn creativity. For now I'm sketching and reading quilt art magazines in the free moments. I already have some ideas for gifts in 2011!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


On December 15th my younger son who just got out of Afghanistan after a year-long deployment flew to Alaska to check out his proposed new state and the University of Alaska--Anchorage. A wonderful blogger buddy who lives in Alaska, Deb, offered to have Bryan and his buddy Brandon over for dinner--such a kind offer. The guys took her up on the offer right away. Here is Deb's blog about the trip! Thank you so much Deb.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

It's Quilted

I finally finished quilting Jim's quilt. The mid-arm machine is humming along and working well following the cleaning and timing adjustment.

It's not the best meandering you've ever seen, but it looks good. I'm off to make the binding.

This week our #1 son is working hard before the holiday break when we'll be able to meet his lovely girlfriend, Krystle for the first time. Can't wait!

Our #2 son is in Anchorage, Alaska checking out the University of Alaska with his Army buddy and then they will be joining the rest of us for Christmas week!

All is well.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Up n' Running

Ah, finally feel 90% well today after five days of being sick. Same goes for my mid-arm machine. Her timing was off and was causing lots of shredded thread. Poor baby. She's all fixed now and we're finally working on quilting this one for Jim.

Friday, December 10, 2010


I already put this on Facebook, but it's too pretty not to share; this morning's sunrise.

Monday, December 6, 2010

More DSP

Last evening I screen printed with the screens that were designed earlier in the week. They turned out well, I think.

What do you think of the layering of the prints? The three in the top right look like they're out of focus; they were layered with the second print askew.

Later on I used the palm print with the leaf prints here and there.

These were layered quite a few times; the next one is my favorite...

It's hard to see the detail, but maybe it will show up when you click on the photo.

Things I've learned:
1) I'm using too much dye when setting the design. Each of these screens still has quite a lot of dye on it.
2) I love deconstructed screen printing!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Deconstructed Screen Printing

Today was a fun art day with Mary Ann as we experimented with deconstructed screen printing. We each made our own thickened dye designs on our screens. The screen above was the only one I made and haven't had time to use yet. The design is made with a plastic fern (top left), plastic leaf (tr), rubbing plate (bl) and plastic palm leaf (br).

The first screen I used was a tiny screen made from mat board, screen and duct tape...

The screen area was about 4" x 6" and was a good size to start with. Here are the prints I made with it--the order goes from top left to bottom right. With each print there was less dye and less detail, but more interest.

The next screen was quite a bit larger and the print was more detailed with plastic palm leaves and paper doily. I got 13 (!) prints out of this screen already and there is still more dye on the screen! Here are the prints in order...

Prints 1 & 2, dark color, lots of detail, and it's obvious what the imprints were

3 & 4, lighter color, a little less detail

5 & 6, I used some of the "dirty" print paste (with dye in it) to keep the color darker

7, 8 & 9, clean print paste, layered prints, less background detail

10 & 11, more dirty print paste to make them darker, less detail

12 & 13, not a lot of detail, but some really cool prints

Here's the screen that made these prints...

...and there's plenty more dye on it for more printing.

Here are two more fabric pieces that were printed with design objects before they went to the sink for cleaning.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Preparation for DSP & Some Holiday Gifts

Recently Judy Simmons and Mary Stori blogged about their art group's day of deconstructed screen printing (DSP)--using thickened dye and assorted items to "mark" a screen with designs. The screen with the dye design is then dried and, one print at a time, the dye is dissolved and screen printed onto fabric using a sodium alginate mixture to dissolve it. If you're totally confused, go to Kerr Grabowski's You Tube video here to see how it's done.

The process and end product were so interesting that our Quilting Arts Alliance group took notice and decided that we wanted to learn how to DSP. We've met a couple of times to watch Kerr Grabowski's DVD on DSP and to make screens and collect supplies.

Today I soda soaked some fabric...

...and dried it on the line. It was cold today, so it took a while to dry.

Here is one screen that's nearly done...

and another that's ready for use...

Tonight I'll mix the sodium alginate (thickener) and make thickened dye mixtures and print paste for tomorrow's print day. I found some wonderful plastic fern leaves and palm leaves for designs. The organic designs are my favorite. More on the finished product later.

I've also been working on some holiday gifts. My friend Jude doesn't have a computer so I can show hers here without worry. She lives in cold country and this little rice pack will warm her feet on cold winter nights. I pop mine into the microwave for one minute and then put it under the sheets at the foot of the bed a few minutes before I hop in. Mmmmmm, nice & warm.

Isn't this Japanese fabric lovely? It comes from my favorite fabric shop,Waechter's Fine Fabrics (pronounced Wockters) in Asheville, NC. Here's the rice packet that goes inside...

It's slipped inside the little case...

I'm off to light a fire in the fireplace and prepare for tomorrow.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Batter Up!

Here's the next quilt to step up to the sewing machine...

It's our friend Jim's quilt and it just got spray basted on the basting wall this morning. Less than 20 minutes to baste the quilt top, batting and backing together for quilting--I LOVE spray basting on the wall.

That's a $1 shower curtain under the quilt sandwich; it will be in the washer soon to remove the excess adhesive spray. More on this quilt soon.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Quilting with a Walking Foot plus Basting

Today, Vicki from the blog Sew Inspired asked a question about how to avoid shifting of the quilt when doing straight line I thought I'd blog about the answer to that question.

It's best to use a "walking foot" or "even feed foot" to sew many layers together. When using the walking foot (below) to quilt the quilt sandwich together (top, batting and backing fabric), it gives another set of feed dogs on top of the fabric; it helps to move those three pieces through smoothly, as one piece, while you quilt.

The white arm of the walking foot (top right) is placed over the needle screw on your machine, so that while the machine is running, the arm will go up and down and make the walking foot work.

The next important step is to baste your quilt very well. There are quite a few ways to baste:

1) Thread baste using a long needle and thread. I feel that basting should be no more than 3" apart to avoid shifting. Starting at the center baste horizontal and vertical lines.
: works well Con: Takes forever to do it, knees hurt like the dickens if you're on the floor

2) Pin baste using safety pins. I pin baste with no more than 4" between my pins.
Pro: works fine Con: Takes a long time and pins must be removed as you quilt (this can be tricky)

3) Send it out to a long arm quilter to baste.
Pro: Easy Con: not all long arm quilters will do it and it usually costs at least $25

4) **My favorite way to baste: Spray basting. Here is a video by the wonderful Patsy Thompson on how to spray baste a quilt on a "insulation" wall (my insulation wall is 8' x 8' in the garage). The only thing I do differently is to use a shower curtain instead of newspaper to cover the wall first. The shower curtain can then be removed from the wall and washed to eliminate the excess adhesive.

Spray basting can also be done on your clean driveway. Lay down the backing fabric (wrong side up) and tape it down so that it's completely flat with no lumps. Then spray it and use a buddy to help lay your batting on top. Start at the center and, a little at a time, press it down (see the video). Then do the same with your quilt top.

My favorite adhesive is 505 Spray and Fix
. It sticks like no other spray baste. If your spray isn't sticking, use that spray for another project and do as I say :) and buy the 505.
Pros: fairly easy once you have a wall, very quick, excellent basting if done right with a good spray adhesive Con: ***wear a mask & don't breathe in the spray***, the wall method doesn't work well with high loft (thick fluffy) batting; this method requires a dense, low loft batting--thin cotton batting works great (thick does too but it's soooooooo heavy to sleep under).

I have spray basted 3 lap quilts with newbie students this week and each one took less than 20 minutes to baste. How great is that?!!!

The most important part of quilting is the basting, so choose a method that works well for you. If the quilt is not basted well, it will shift while sewing and you will have a long, frustrating headache.

Okay, now on to straight line quilting. Now that you have basted your quilt well and you have a walking foot...

1) Use the edge of the walking foot when you can as a guide for straight lines (follow a straight line on the quilt). Otherwise, mark the quilt with straight lines before starting

2) Start in the center of your quilt, especially if it's a large one, and work outward.

3) Don't be afraid to use your walking foot for wavy lines...

This miniature (about 10" x 12") was quilted edge to edge with a walking foot and pivoted when necessary to make sharp points, like at the bottom of the quilt. Practice to see what you can do.

4) Edge to edge quilting can be done on wall quilts too. The one below (approx. 24" x 30") was quilted edge to edge, but in doing so each line had to be sewn in the opposite direction from the last. See this blog entry for a better description.
Pros: there's no need to bury knots in edge to edge quilting because the stitches are run off the side into the excess batting & backing.

Here's a quilt that was free motion machine quilted in the windows and "straight" stitched with waves using a walking foot in the sashing and borders (sorry that the picture doesn't show all the quilting).

Hint: If you're going to stitch in the ditch, only do it using a stitch-in-the-ditch foot. Using a walking foot to stitch in the ditch will be frustrating and bring on stiff shoulders and a headache.

Last hint: NO BACKSTITCHING on a quilt top, please. Leave longish threads, make a knot, and use a self threading needle to bury those knots. Your quilt will look oh so pretty with no backstitching on it.

Let me know if you have questions.


Saturday, November 20, 2010


Today Catalina and Lola were here for the Beginner Quiltmaking class and they started to machine quilt. Mary stopped by to spray baste her quilt. This is Lola's quilt...

...and this is Catalina's quilt.

While they worked I was able to finish the binding on my little blue wall quilt, so it's finished!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Another One Quilted

On Tuesday I free-motion machine quilted this small rail fence quilt. It was made using the string piecing method (with tapered pieces of fabric, rather than strips of fabric).

The binding is not on yet, but I'll get to that this weekend. This piece measures about 30" x 24".

Here's the quilting close up...

The thread color was perfect because it didn't take away from the quilt design.

I was also invited to give my "Stretching the String" program/lecture to the Yellow Daisy Quilters in Stone Mountain, GA this week. Jessie is showing a couple of her quilts below...

The Yellow Daisies are a lively group of fine quilters.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


This weekend I quilted the Blue Water string quilt which will be a base for applique and embellishment...

Using the walking foot, I quilted it edge to edge.

This quilt is at least 30" wide, so when quilting edge to edge on a large quilt, be sure to change sewing directions with each line: sew from left to right on one line, then sew from right to left on the next line, and so on. Otherwise the quilt will warp as you sew.

I haven't quilted the borders yet and I'm not sure what to do there, so after the binding is sewn down I'll hang it on the wall for a look-see.

These corners were at odd angles, but our mitered corner method still works...

Today I'll put the borders on this piece...

The colors go from light yellow to dark green, but purple seems to work well with them all.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Machine Quilting Thread Trick

Isn't it irritating when the bobbin runs out as you're machine quilting and you have no idea? Makes me crazy.

So, this week I figured out that if I wound two bobbins with quilting thread and put one in the bobbin race and one where my top thread should go, that they would run out of thread at about the same time.

It worked!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

He's Home in Germany!

We had some wonderful news this afternoon from Germany...our son, who is in the Army and has been deployed to Afghanistan for a year, just arrived home in Germany after being en route out of the war zone since November 6th.

I can't tell you the relief I feel after 5 1/2 years of worrying about him. This should be his last deployment as he'll be out of the Army soon.

I'm giving a big woooooooo hooooooo! Welcome home, Bry! We've missed you .

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thanks to our Veterans and Troops

Words are never enough on this special day of thanks for our veterans and troops...but thank you.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Rainy Quilting Day

With Native American flute music playing in the background and gray and rainy weather outside, I finished quilting this attic windows wall hanging today...

The windows were quilted months ago, but today I quilted the rest of the piece. Below is a photo printed on paper on which I drew the quilting lines to see how they'd look...

There's minimal quilting, but I like it that way.

One top quilted...fifteen to go.

Today the unquilted tops came out of storage and into my studio to get in line to be quilted. The blue water quilt will be next.