Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Walking Foot WOW!

This past two months, I have been quilting up a storm...while using my walking foot.  Yes, I feel terribly guilty for cheating on my free motion quilting foot, but it's for a wonderful cause as I've been whipping up class samples for my new "Walking Foot WOW!" workshop.  

In this workshop, you will  create a walking foot sampler as you learn how to create beautiful, modern quilted texture--all with your walking foot!!  We'll move beyond the basic stitching in the ditch and explore decorative stitches, repeat patterns and even gentle curves to create drama and eye catching quilting designs to your unfinished quilt tops!!  In this jam-packed workshop, we'll start with some walking foot basics to set you up for quilting success, before moving onto four groupings of designs:  
  • Walk the Line (lines, stars, rays and starbursts)
  • Hot Lines (matchstick, grids and chevrons)
  • Fancy Lines (decorative stitches)
  • Spinning Lines (spirals)  

Preview of Walking Foot Possibilities!!
Now that I have piqued your interest, you are probably wondering how you can join the fun!?!  I am scheduled to teach several Walking Foot WOW! workshops/classes in the greater Bay Area, which have been posted on my calendar.  More dates/times/locations are in the works, so be sure to keep checking as I hope to see you for some Walking Foot WOW!!
Walking Foot WOW!  Class Sampler

Friday, August 26, 2016

Free Motion Mastery in a Month: Week 4 Progress

All my motif blocks (nesting dolls) and sashing blocks (green dots) are completely quilted!  For the nesting dolls, I aimed to incorporate circle motifs into each background fill, combined with some of the other basic shapes:  S-curves, C-curves, Spirals, Teardrops and Lines.  It was easy coming up with cool combinations for the first few blocks, but then I needed to start getting creative.  I also aimed to incorporate the floating gold motifs into my quilting pattern, which required me to slow down and look ahead.

Once all the blocks were quilted, it was time to square them up into 10" squares.  I tried my best not to decapitate any of the nesting dolls during the trimming phase, but other parts may have been sacrificed as a result.

The next leap of faith was trimming up all my sashing blocks into 2.5"x10" strips and 2.5" squares for the intersections.  I was a little sad to chop up some of my quilted motifs.  But once I laid out the blocks and strips into their grid formation, I just loved how all the beautiful textures created so much interest.

Next up is quilting my borders and putting it all together with thin connecting strips.  But first, I need to decide on fabrics/colors.  My motif and sashing blocks are two sided--so the borders and connecting strips will need to play nicely with both the front (right side below) and the back (left side below).

Here are two EQ7 Mock Ups of the front side only...     
Red border with blue connecting strips        OR         Blue border with yellow connectiong strips
Either choice will involve a visit to one of my local quilt shops...as I have very limited yardage in the yellow and blue.  That will give me plenty of time to doodle some designs for quilting up the borders...oh the possibilities!!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Free Motion Mastery in a Month: Week 3 Progress

Time for some more free motion mastery in a month fun, as part of RaNae Merrill's online laboratory.  
This week we completed the free motion quilting of our sashing blocks, using different feather motifs.  Below are my three blocks, with the feathered fillers in the right sections.  I will confess that I was a little sad once my blocks were complete, as these doodles were such a liberating experience!
Feathered Fillers Finished
My sadness was short lived as we moved onto Doodle Dice, a fun game involving dice and doodles!!  Each side of the die (1 through 6) correlated to a different free motion shape:  1:  Lines, 2:  C-Curves, 3:  Circles, 4:  Teardrops, 5:  S-Curves and 6:  Spirals.  Our challenge was to roll a pair of dice and use the numbers rolled to create a new filler that combines both rolled shapes.  I managed to stop myself after playing twelve rounds of this game and filling two entire pages in my Free Motion Quilting Journal.
Doodle Dice Doodles
We also started to quilt the backgrounds of our motif blocks.  I chose to focus on circles for my background fills, but incorporated some fun variations.  Every once in a while I would either fill in one of my larger circles with several C-Curves, S-Curves or a Spiral or throw in an occasional teardrop shape.  I have five more block backgrounds left to fill in and will continue to experiment with some different combinations.
Background Circle Fillers

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

August Art After Dark: Terrariums

Last week, Doug and I attended an Art After Dark, adult-only program offered by our local library.  This month's fun craft project was small terrariums.  Upon arrival, we each received our own glass bowl and found different colored gravel, moss and small rocks stationed at each table.  The library staff/host did a great job outlining the steps for the project. and then we were off to layer our terrariums with gravel and soil in preparation for transplanting a small succulent plant.  The final touch was embellishing our terrariums with moss, rocks, and other decor provided by the staff.  The host showed off her finished terrarium which included a Lego minifigure, which greatly appealed to Doug (who is a big ole AFOL--Adult Fan of Lego).  The program concluded with some tips and tricks for caring for our little succulent plants.

My little terrarium hangs out in my studio, while Doug took his to work to hang out in his office (complete with a Lego minifigure...of course!).  
August Art After Dark:  Terrariums

Saying "I Do"

The San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles will be hosting their "Tying the Knot" fundraising gala on Saturday, August 27th (from 6-10 PM) and you are all invited to purchase tickets to attend!  Join us as we celebrate fiber art with music, dance, food and fun!  Some program highlights include live performances by Winds in the Strings (a harpist and flutist duo) and Folklorico Dancers from Fuego Nuevo of San Jose.  Later in the evening, you can dance under the stars to music provided by Party Pump DJ.  There will be a silent auction featuring artwork made by local artisans, as well as novel items and experiences.

Your attendance at "Tying the Knot" goes a long way to support the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles' mission, and your mutual love & commitment of celebrating Fiber Art here in the Bay Area.  You help say "I Do" to the following...
  • "I Do"...to experiencing textile art exhibits that are compelling, innovative and bring both beauty and meaning to our lives.
  • "I Do"...to making fiber art be accessible, appreciated and enjoyed by all, as SJMQT is open and free to the public from 7 pm to 9 pm on the first Friday of each month.
  • "I Do"...to celebrating Fiber Artists (many of whom live and create here in the Bay Area) and have the opportunity to both have their works mounted in a professional gallery setting as part of the FiberSpace Exhibition program, as well as connect with other fiber artists during programs and workshops offered through SJMQT.
  • "I Do"...to preserving historic and contemporary art quilts and garments as part of the museum's permanent collection, so that future generations can enjoy the beauty and historic/cultural significance of these pieces.
  • "I Do"...to providing quality art education to 5,000 K-12 students and their families that participate in the museum's in-school programs annually.
  • "I Do"...to teaching quilting to women and children whose lives have been affected by domestic violence as part of the Quilts as Women's Shelter partnership with Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence and the Santa Clara Valley Quilt Association.
  • "I Do"...to supporting the team of dedicated staff and volunteers who make all this possible!
  • "I Do"...to celebrating the museum's approaching 40th Anniversary (and many more to come thanks to your financial support)
"I Do" sincerely hope to see you on August 27th!!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Free Motion Mastery in a Month: Week 2 Progress

So Much Fun Stitching Up My Sashing Blocks
This past week, I continued my month long adventure with RaNae Merrill's Free Motion Mastery in a Month online lab.  All of my Russian nesting doll blocks have been outline stitched, and have been set aside as we moved onto quilting our sashing blocks. 

As you can see from my blocks, I am having a lot of fun experimenting with the various designs:  straight lines, curves and circles!!  The fun continues as there are still a few areas to be filled in.  I look forward to the weeks ahead as we add more beautiful quilted texture and put together our quilts!    

Friday, August 12, 2016

Meadow Mystery Quilt Along 2016: Cutting

The Meadow Mystery Quilt Along continues with this month focused on cutting our fabric into the units needed for future assembly instructions.  I am always in awe of the participants that manage to get all their fabrics cut and organized within hours of the instructions being revealed!  Given all the different measurements involved, I opted to wait until my mind was clear to process the instructions and minimize cutting errors.  

This morning was the day and I celebrated the occasion by replacing my rotary blade with a brand new one!!!  Some days, it is the little things that bring such joy to my quilting world.  With a new blade installed, I was able to easily slice through layers and layers of fabric "like buttah!"  

I did have a small moment of panic when I opened up one of my fabrics that I thought was 3/4 of a yard, and learned that there a few chunks cut out from a previous project.  Luckily the Quilt Along host, Cheryl, does an amazing job writing clear, concise instructions that include some wiggle room.  With some careful planning, I still managed to have extra fabric left over after I cut out all my units.  Phew:  Crisis averted!

Here are all my units cut, stacked, labelled and ready for the next round of instructions come September.  After a lot of input from my fellow quilters and quilt along participants, I opted for the firework print (vs. pink polka dots).  It is one of my favorite prints and I am super excited to incorporate it into such a fun fabric palette.    
Meadow Mystery Quilt Along Units Cut and Ready for Sewing Come September...
There is still time to join the Meadow Mystery Quilt Along fun...hint-hint!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Slice & Shuffle Improvisation

Back in May, I started to experiment with Slice & Shuffle improvisation, as the final row in my Slice of Improv sampler.  Four layers of purple fabric background squares were layered, sliced and then additional purple strips were inserted during the reassembly process.  This technique was further disguised once they were cut up for piecing or applique.
Slice & Shuffle Prototypes
As this is one of the 32 variations covered in my Slice of Improv workshop, I made sure to incorporate more contrast in the fabrics used during the demonstration.  I started with background squares in neutral greys (using both solids & prints), sliced in Pi symbols and inserted bright colored strips from the same color (ie.  3 different red strips or 3 different teal strips).  After teaching a couple of classes, my collection of demonstration blocks was growing.  I whipped up a few more pieced Pi blocks here and there, adding variety in prints and colors.           
Collection of Slice & Shuffle Blocks Multiplying
Detail of Blocks & Quilting
There are forty-nine blocks in my quilt top, each featuring a bright colored Pi symbol.  Having pieced several blocks in each colorway, I was able to create a rainbow gradation starting and ending with red-violet in both the top left and bottom right corners.

I continued my BSR-free streak as I free motion quilted the top a little over a day (in 2-3 sessions).  A light color grey Aurifil 50-weight was used to stitch a variation of Leah Day's Zippling, which makes for a great dense background fill, allowing the strip inserts to pop with color and loft.  My focus was on creating consistent stitch length and I was very pleased with the results!  

A bright cheery dragonfly print (featuring many of the colors used on the quilt top) was pulled from my stash for the quilt back.  
Dragonfly Quilt Back & Label
"Slice & Shuffle Improv", Finished 35" x 35"

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Free Motion Mastery in a Month: Week 1 Progress

Two summers ago, I participated in RaNae Merrill's online laboratory to test and refine her Sideways Spirals quilt designs and techniques.  The first Sideways Spiral Quilts book came out earlier this year, and her second book is undergoing final edits and should be available for purchase in just a few weeks!  

And just as RaNae is wrapping up her Sideways Spirals books, she has already started working on her next book project.  As with her past four book endeavors, RaNae invited students to submit an application to be considered for the online laboratory, and I got mine submitted within hours of the announcement!  RaNae is trying something new with this new laboratory in that participants were not required to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement.  In fact, she has given us permission to share our experiences with our fellow quilters...so here it goes!!

This book is focused on "Free Motion Mastery in a Month"...which RaNae has dubbed "The Scaredy-Cat's Guide to Free-Motion Quilting.  This book project is designed for quilters who are intimidated by free motion quilting.  RaNae has developed some really innovative training tools and exercises designed to maximize free motion quilting success. 
Nesting Matryoshka Doll Sandwiches Ready for FMQ

The first few days were spent preparing for free motion success as we tackled a few projects:
  • Ready our sewing machines for Free Motion Quilting:  cleaning, work space set up and machine settings. 
  • Start to develop muscle memory by completing exercises focused on the basic shapes found in most free motion motifs.
  • Prepare our quilt sandwiches.  I selected this super fun Alexander Henry Matryoshka dolls print for my focus fabric, with a smaller green dot for the sashing, and an all over Matryoshka print and brighter green dot print for the reverse side.  I may have gone a little overboard with my pin basting!

While I do not consider myself a FMQ Scaredy-Cat, my big goal for participating in this month long adventure is to wean myself off of relying on my Bernina Stitch Regulator (BSR).  I equate the BSR to "training wheels" as this foot automatically matches stitch length to the speed to which you move the sandwich.  So while I am very comfortable with the eye-hand coordination, I became dependent on the BSR to achieve beautiful and consistent stitch length.  In order for me to tackle the last piece of the FMQ puzzle and be in full control of my FMQing, I would need to work on my eye, hand and foot coordination.  So I resolved to complete all the exercises with a basic free motion foot.  

Procrastination and self-doubt set in when it came time to start stitching our samples.  I had convinced myself that I was entirely dependent on the BSR and that once my training wheels were gone, my quilting would be hideous!  And so to protect myself from certain failure, I focused my energy and time on tackling all the other projects on my list, including a ton of housework and laundry!!  Around dinner time...it was time to face my fears, as I swapped out my BSR and placed my first sandwich under the needle.  I slid the speed bar slightly to the left and held my breath as I took my first few stitches.  

Much to my relief and total delight, I found my FMQing groove almost immediately as the stitches were fairly smooth and fairly consistent.  Once the stitching was complete, I pulled out my sandwich for a closer look.  While there were certainly a few bobbles here and there, my block turned out so much better than I had imagined!!  I was just amazed at how seamlessly I had transitioned to stitching sans BSR!!  I continue to build confidence and comfort as I embrace the opportunity to outline stitch one block per day as part of our daily assignments.           
I am in Complete Control as I Cut the Cord to my Bernina Stitch Regulator
I am looking forward to the remaining three weeks of this program, and will be sure to share my progress along the way.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Creative Strength Training: Wrap It Up!

Two weeks ago, I was delighted to attend Jane Dunnewold's Fiber Talk at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles.  Jane spoke to the importance of artists engaging in routine cross training and creative strength training.  Her talk inspired me to renew my commitment about being more intentional about incorporating creative strength training into my daily routine.  To help with this endeavor, I purchased a copy of her new Creative Strength Training book along with a set of her Creative Strength Training Prompt Cards.

Ready to Rock & Roll
Speaking of CST Prompt cards, this week's CST Summer Camp Prompt instructed participants to find a smooth stone and wrap it in paper, thread or twine, serving as an opportunity embrace and meditate.  I went out to my backyard in search of a rock, and located one next to the house.  I was drawn to its mottled grey coloring, smooth texture and interesting shape.  As I washed away the mud and dirt with warm water and my own hands, I explored its many contours and subtle color changes.  I laid it in the sun to dry off and watched as patterns emerged as the water evaporated with the hot sun beating overhead.  Once dry, I held it in my hand, feeling the warmth radiate outwards.

Rock On!

Returning to my studio, I located a skein of violet ombre yarn to use to use for the wrapping.  With no plan or design in mind, I slowly wrapped the yarn around the circumference of my rock, watching as each new line interacted with both the rock and previously wrapped yarn lines.  Just as I started to lose myself in the wrapping process, I suddenly realized that the yarn was taking over the rock underneath.  I unwrapped a few passes and stopped once balance had returned:  hard and soft, bright color next to dull greys, straight lines and gentle curved outlines...

My meditative state continued as I photographed my wrapped rock from various angles, watching as the light interacted with the contours of the rock, wrapped yarns and my hand dyed fabric backdrop!

Before beginning this week's prompt, I figured it would be a quick 5-10 minute experience.  By using all my senses and allowing myself to become totally immersed in the process, I've enjoyed both the process and the many discoveries along the journey.  As a result, I've become rather attached to my meditation rock, and it now lives in my studio as a personal reminder to slow down and look for balance in my art, work and life!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Kicking Off August with Hand Dyed Treasures

Christmas Eve & Easter

It's been entirely too long since my last day of fabric dyeing.  My original plan was to schedule one for early July--but alas other projects demanded my time and attention.  So I decided to kick start the month of August and a new week by treating myself to a morning of dyeing!!  The night before I prepped a bunch of fat quarters and started pulling out my dye supplies.

Around 9 AM, I went to work setting up my outdoor dye studio and mixing up my dye baths.  I prepared a quart each of yellow, orange, red, red-violet, eggplant, blue, teal and green, and replaced select colors as I ran short.  To help get my creative juices flowing, I started by dyeing a few fat quarters of fabric.  The next thing I knew, 2 hours had lapsed and there I was admiring how all my mixing containers were now rinsed and drying in the sun on one table, with the other table covered with an odd assortment of plastic containers concealing my newly dyed bundles of fun sitting in the warm sun for the batching process!

And while I was dripping with sweat--mostly from working in the hot summer sun that was glowing overhead, the hardest part was still ahead...waiting!!  The anticipation of unwrapping each bundle is almost too much for me.  I find myself just as giddy as on Christmas Eve!!  I distracted myself by doing laundry, cleaning and quilting, but I kept thinking about my little hand dyed presents just waiting to be revealed.  My mind kept drifting back to my hand dyed goodies throughout the day and night...even at 2 AM, 3 AM and still at 4 AM.

Finally it was morning (almost a full 24 hours to batch), and I jumped out of bed and once the pups were fed, I proceeded to the backyard where I started unwrapping my bundles for a quick sneak peak before loading them into the washing machine for the rinsing process!

Are you ready for a little show and tell...or would you rather wait 24 hours for the big reveal?!?  No, I wouldn't dare...

Hand Dyed Fashion:
During my mother's visit, she purchased an In-N-Out Burger T-shirt for my brother, who had lived in California for several years.  He has fond memories of the restaurant and the amazing food, and asked me if I would add some more color to the bright white t-shirt.
California Fashion For My Brother
Also during my mother's visit, we did some clothes shopping where I found some white tank tops and t-shirt to dye. 
Hand Dyed Fashion for Me!!
Hand Dyed Stash:
I was sad to finish up another bolt of Pimatex cotton, but pleased with my end of the bolt creations...
Color Bursts
Cool Color Creations
Fiery Explosions
Unexpected Creations
My Favorites:  Explosions of Hot & Cold
Secret Project Hand Dyes:
Hand Dyed Swaddling Fabric
I picked up several yards of swaddling fabric for a secret sewing project.

Here are two sneak previews of the newly transformed yardage.

Dog Days of Summer:
Susie Q and Panda had their assignments and performed their duties beautifully:
-keeping me company as I worked in the backyard
-providing security detail as my fabrics were batching in the backyard
-extraordinary modeling with the finished goods!!

Of course, they were compensated well with treats and massages galore!!
Top Model Pro:  Panda
Susie Q is new to the modeling arena and required a bit of coaching (and treats) while it was her turn to work the runway.  She can be such a goofball at times...but is eager to please!
Susie Q's Quirky Runway Poses
It is now my turn to return to the studio and paw at my newly dyed pretties!!