Thursday, September 26, 2013

Art Quilting

After-- My Finished Piece

Finished Wendy Butler Berns Art Quilting 101 Craftsy Course...and absolutely loved it!  She presented so many beautiful art quilts and demonstrated so many fun techniques to add texture and movement into your quilts.  

I really liked the couching technique and decided to use one skein of ombre yarn to experiment with lines and movement.  I started to play and create these rays that flare out with different colors.  But I was at a loss as to what to do for that center section. I finally just pulled out some thread and it had a little wiggle to it from the way it was rolled in the skein, that created a stipple I covered it all with Sulky water dissolvable stabilizer and worked on couching all the yarn bits down with invisible thread.

Once the stabilizer was removed and the piece was dry again, I loved the look but decided it would be fun to incorporate some free motion quilting in and around the yarn couching.  I had no quilting plan and simply started with some simple outline quilting.  But then I started to add the bubbles between the yarn rays, and loved it.  From there I just moved from section to section doodling away by adding rays, wiggles, wavy lines and more!  I think I used almost an entire bobbin on this one piece (and I have the ginormous Bernina bobbins-so that's a whole lotta thread play!).

Once squared up, I wanted to use the ombre fabric for the binding and needed to do some creative maneuvering to have the ombre colors mirror on both sides...not difficult, but needed some advanced planning.

I forsee lots more yarn and thread play in my quilting future!
Skippy and my Yarn/Threadplay Art Quilt

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Feeling Artsy

My quilting mojo has been on the decline lately.  I've got 4 quilts queued up for quilting, but not sure on the design or if my FMQ skills are up to par yet.  And all Craftsy classes are on sale.  There were a few classes that were on my radar, but then I came across Wendy Butler Burn's Art Quilting 101 class for only $9.99.  How could I resist such a deal?!?  It's turning out to be an amazing deal!  Only halfway into the course material and my mind is swirling with new ideas and visions for future art quilts.  Last night I stayed up late, pulling out this fun line up of scraps and adding Wonder Under fusible in preparation for one art quilt vision.  But I wondered whether I had the skills to create this vision.  The quilt was so perfect in my mind, that I feared it would go all wrong once I started to cut.  So I procrastinated and continued to progress through class, without touching a scrap of fabric.  But once I saw the yarn couching technique demonstration, I simply couldn't stay on the couch any longer.  I was ready to head to the studio and dive into the world of Art Quilting.

I started with a simple heart fused in the center of my fabric.  And then the chaos ensued with yarn, thread, stabilizers and quilting...oh my!
I had some fun ombre yarn that I layered down first.  Initially, I was all fussy about the ends matching perfectly.  But once I started to layer on more threads, I liked the chaotic look and just piled it on  keeping a looser heart shape.  I pulled all different threads in teals, purples and pinks, especially all the threads that gave me tension woes, like Superior's Glitter thread for a little bling!  Then I covered it up with a sheet of Sulky dissolvable stabilizer and a few pins to keep everything in place while I moved to my machine.  Using invisble thread on top and black aurofil in the bobbin, I used a large zig zag stitch and went around the heart 3 or 4 times, to hold all the threads in place.  Off to the shower to wash away all the stabilizer and then lots of ironing as I was too excited to just wait for it to air dry!

Once dry...I did a narrow satin stitch around the heart and decided to do some more satin stitching around the heart.  I first did the pink narrow lines, but thought it needed another pop of something.  I added some shorter but thicker zig zags in teal and then layered and bound it all.  I really liked working small (only 11"x11") and trying some new techniques, materials and just letting the project evolve.

While I will not criticize the end project, I need to find a way to work neater without losing my creative mojo.  While it was a small project, there is a whole lot of texture going on in that 11"x11" square.  It started with pulling out several fabrics to audition for the background.  Then all the fusible.  Then all the threads.  Then backing and batting!  My studio looked like a tornado rolled through!  At first it was fine to work this way.  But as each phase involved more and more materials, soon my work spaces were all cluttered that I couldn't continue without the risk of injuring myself or my project.  I was just moving stuff from the cutting table onto the iron board, where it would then be in the way when I needed to iron...and vice versa!

Despite the sheer madness or managing my work space, it certainly was a liberating experience.  No pattern, no limits...just fun and experimentation!  I love my Electric Heart and look forward to future art quilting.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Fabric and Project Organization

My one completed project per week streak is over...but I continue to steadily make progress in the studio on a few fun projects.  Unfortunately, none are at blog-worthy phase to share pics of progress.

Moreoever, with all these projects, my quilt studio has been just a whirlwind.  I simply have too many projects going on and in order to work on just one of them, requires me to constantly relocate all the other projects and related tools, accessories, etc.  So I feel like I'm just moving stuff around and not making much forward movement.  And of course, after most quilt finishes, I like to treat myself to some new fabric and visiting some of the local quilt shops.  So it was time for some serious quilt studio reorganization so I can resume some tidiness to my creative sanctuary.

Baskets to organize my fabric yardage
Precuts, embellishments and notions
Once again, IKEA to the rescue.  I love, love, love their Antonius Basket System for organizing my fabric stash and quilty projects.  The racks can be 4 or 6 layers high and can be safely stacked on top of each other to reach new heights.  The racks can support wire baskets, similar sized plastic bins and double deep plastic bins.

The wire baskets are the perfect dimension to fold my fabric from selvage to selvage in half twice and then fold/roll to the height of the baskets--almost 6" deep.  I can pull out a drawer and see all the top folds for easy identification.  While the quilt shop staff cuts my fabric, I take it and start folding it and organizing it into piles, so putting it away is fast and efficient.  The staff doesn't mind, as it means they are able to help the next customer faster.  And bonus for me is I can fit more fabric into my stash!

The plastic bins are perfect for containing smaller bits that might otherwise fall through the wire baskets.  I have a few smaller ones that contain my fabric embellishment supplies and smaller notions such as ribbon, buttons, etc.  The  larger 2-deep bins can store an amazing amount of stuff, but I find they are too deep for typical fabric/notions organization.  So I only have two that are a bit of a blackhole of fabric/tools.

First I started by reorganizing my yardage.  Currently, I have at least one basket for each of ROYGBIV, along with my neutrals (white, grey and black--sorry I don't really do brown), then my special collectsions:  ombres and rainbows, magical fabrics, novelties and other fun multicolored fabrics.  I bumped out all pre-cuts and relocated them closer to my cutting table so I can continue adding scraps as I finish up projects, along with my fabric embellishments and notions.
The newest unit---for UFOs

The new 4-basket unit was installed at my other work station to contain my UFOs.  I am a little nervous about banishing my UFOs to the far corner...but they always seem to be in the way of forward progress with current projects as I have to push them around to make space for the current project.  And now I don't have to face the sad memories of these abandoned projects.  Out of sight, out of mind, until I am ready to tackle them and make them my priority.  Have no fear--its not a warehouse as it currently only houses 2 or 3 UFOs, although I have a feeling a few more are lurking around my studio that will be added today as I continue the reorganization adventure!