Thursday, June 30, 2011

Crosses II - Top Done!

Well this is the layout I finally picked.  You might think - how hard could it possibly be to put together these little cross blocks.  Well, let me tell ya, plenty hard.  Still after about 20 different layouts - I settled on this one and sewed it up before I could change my mind.  Once I was done - I really liked it.  So guess they're right when they say "Nothin' that's worth having comes easy "  (grin)

I was going to layer these up and start quilting on them, but I think I need a small break.  There is a local challenge that is due the end of August and I've learned that  my work is better when I'm not rushing the process.  I better get going on that!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hand dyeing the Colors of Summer

Well finally took a break from making the crosses and my machine altogether.  I didn't mean to - honest!  But I totally forgot what a big job hand dyeing 6 yards of fabric was.  OMG!  It seem like it took forever. . . it didn't help that I only do it a couple of times a year so I forget exactly what I'm doing and had to research it all over again.  Plus this year, when I started looking at recipes and such . . . well. . .I just wasn't in the mood.  So I decided to wing it!  I mean, like, everyone needs a bit of surprise in their life right?

Anyways, I did know that I needed some reds, some dark and yellow greens and I wanted to try out the turquoise. I really  had started this dyeing session because I wanted to test out the new fabrics I had ordered recently.  I needed some for Quilting by the Lake (which is in three weeks!!!!!) so I ordered a bit extra.  I ordered some from Testfabrics.  Yesterday I ended up dyeing up yardage of Testfabrics 400 and 419.  I like the 419 way better since it dyed better and the hand is so nice.  It, of course, has a higher thread count. 

I'm really happy with yesterday's results.  I scoured (prewashed with a perfume, color free detergent) the fabric even though it was PFD (prepared for dyeing) and all fabric was mercerized.  Because both of those I think I got a deeper richer color.  Besides, the colors I needed, I also saved some quarters for left over dye.  I just poured the dye into the cups - layering each color.  Because I wanted a more uneven texture I only "stirred" the fabrics once in the 6 hours they sat.

By the way, if you wondering how I do my dyeing - I blogged about it last summer so just click here.  Its nice that this year I had all the stuff ready to go - all I had to do was pull it out and play!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Crosses II - Playing with Value - Design Board Monday

Well, I made it through to my second in the Crosses series.  I checked and yes - 2 - does make a series!!  This has been a lot of fun studying value and shape this week.    My big sewing table is a mass of green, blue, yellows and now. . . a touch of orange.

For the second one I decided to play with a 4" block and keep the crosses to just the simple 2 line minimum.  I also decided to add another color - orange - as an accent.  This one seemed harder to layout.  I tried about 6 layouts till I decided on this one.. . .at least for now!!    Once I got it up - it seemed right - but just to make sure I did a black and white version of it.  You can see at once from the photo that the values are right.  Makes it much easier and I would highly suggest to do this to study the value of a quilt.  Remember, "Value does the work, while color takes the creditStill I might end up changing it - it seems a bit chaotic!

As an update on Cross I, I've decided to cut the edges off of it and make it into a rectangle.   While making the squares for the second quilt, I kept it up on the design board "cooking".  The more I looked at it, the more I felt that the uneven edges were a distraction and taking the eye away from the focal point.  Just to prove my hunch, I took flannel strips I keep on the edge of my design board and placed them around the quilt to "frame" it off.  Immediate improvement.  So I'm going to have to go back and finish it off before I layer it quilt.

Ohhhh speaking of quilting. . . .been steadily machine quilting the memorial quilt and will start quilting on Crosses I this week!

See more great design boards on Judy's Patchworks!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Crosses. . . The Beginning of an Abstract Quilt Series

Okay here is the finished quilt top - the edges need to be trimmed a bit but for the most part I'm going to be leaving them uneven.  As you recall it was my first assignment for my Quilt University class "Working in Series" with Elizabeth Barton.  The whole abstract designing is a bit addicting.  Its going to be fun to study value and shape this way.  It really wasn't too hard either - 45 blocks and 11 hours in this quilt top!  I'm not quite sure where the free motion quilting is going to go but I'll leave that for another time.  I'm sure that Elizabeth is going to say, "Okay Nina - get going on the next."  See how she is???  (grin)

One thing I wanted to share with you is a quick piecing tip.  I used little stickers I bought at the dollar store to help keep the blocks in the right order.  In the past, whenever I had blocks like this that needed to be pieced exactly in the right order and the right side side up - they were forever getting switched around.  So this time, I numbered the stickers and placed them on the blocks.  Worked like a charm.  Everything was easily kept in the same order and when I was done - I just tossed them out.  I imagine you could keep them for another use but since they were only a buck for  300 - why?

I'm starting to machine quilt the Memorial quilt and start working on the next in the series.  Wow - don't I sound serious about my work? (grin)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

More Crosses Created

Well made enough crosses to get up on my board.  For now I've just sorta been making them randomly - whatever fabric my fingers fell on - that's the one I used.  As you can see, I ended up with more dark than light.  So I'll need to add more light blocks tomorrow.  They really are a little mindless to make and a little addicting since I'm using my favorite colors and they end up looking all pretty.

Still this isn't anywhere near done - just wanted to get up two days of sewing. One thing about it right now - it seems so busy!!  No quiet places to rest your eye.  I'm sure I'll have to address that.  Also I'm thinkin' its going to need more yellow in the darker blocks to help move your eye around the piece.  The new added light blocks though will help with that too!

Its so much different doing a class at home like this - I mean - everyone still expects me to get the car inspected, do the shopping, make dinner etc. etc. etc.  Geesh - you'd think Janome would come out with a model of sewing machine that came with its own shirtless houseboy. . . sighhhhhhhh . . . .  Guess I'll have to write them with that suggestion.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The value of the Cross - Design Board Monday

Every once in a while I get the question - "How do you come up with the color for your quilts?"  For a while I used to use a color wheel.  But a couple of times I picked colors that I didn't want to really work with because they didn't appeal to me at that moment in time.  So now the way I do it is that I get out my art books and start looking all the pretty eye candy.  I start marking the pages that make me say WOW! At the end of the session, I go back and look at the color palettes.

That's exactly what I did yesterday when I was picking out my colors for the first in my cross series.  All the pictures that popped out at my were green, blue and yellow.  That settled that.  I then went into my stash to start pulling fabrics and realized that I'm definitely a yellow/green kind of a person - got a ton of it!  The yellows were hard  - had to put back all the cool yellows and went for a more buttery feel.  Of course you're going to have leaves and sun -  you gotta do water sky blue!  With them all pulled they needed staged by  value.  It makes it so much easier to do the blocks.

What a change it is stitching these little cross blocks compared to the memorial quilt top!  Feels great to be working with fabrics and colors that I love.  These are only two of the blocks layouts - I'm going to add one more.  I have no idea where this abstract is going - so guess you're going to have to check back and see!

See more great design board's at Judy's Patchworks!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Design. . . Its a process - Crosses at the Beginning

Some Sample Cross ideas
Well after spending the last couple of weeks totally immersed in traditional quilting and clothing scraps up to my elbows, I'm totally ready to get back to my artsy side.  All this month, I've been taking the Quilt University class by Elizabeth Barton - Working in Series.  Now if you haven't taken a design class with this woman - let me tell you - she's serious about what she does.  Each week we've been getting a 20+ page lesson on design principals and how to apply them to working in series.

Its so hard for me to work in series - so many ideas - so little time.  But still how else are you going to get to know a topic thoroughly if you don't?  One piece is only a little intro - you need to hang out with the theme - put it through its paces - argue with it - coax it - get all touchy-feely . . . .anyways - you get the picture!  This is the third class, I've taken with Elizabeth and have gotten to know her and her me.  She knows that I usually need a good push shove to step even a toe out of my own little box.  So in that light, she's guided me into making my next series a study in abstract..

Value Sketches - Placement  ideas for the Cross blocks
ABSTRACT???  Me???  I mean I didn't even start liking abstracts till the last 5 years and I'm not ashamed to say that sometime they just look like a mass of value and shape!    But -- as Elizabeth said - What did I have to lose?  So started designing a series using the simple shape of the cross.  I want to explore value - I want to engage the edge - I want to limit my color palette - I want to really study how the blocks interact. . . .WOW! just realized that's a lot of things to want.

So I started by freely sketching out blocks that I might make up into quilts.  I also did some value studies using gray pencils.    Then I copied over the little blocks - cut them up- and played with their relationship on paper.  Really - these are all the same steps I do with my figurative work but was surprise that you do them for abstract too LOL! After a whole afternoon of playing, these little cross blocks are starting to grow on me!

The next step???  picking out a palette - putting them in values - and finally - sewing some up!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Memorial Quilt Top Finished! Getting Militant About Borders

You know I hate doing borders.  I hate everything about them - cutting them, sewing them on, quilting on them.  I wonder why do all the traditional quilts I see have borders?  Is it that we see the quilt tops as pictures needing to be framed?  Geesh I don't know - and at this stage in my quilting life - I don't really care.  All I do know is that the fewer borders I need to do. . . .the better!

With that in mind, I've decided that I am NOT going to put a border on this memorial quilt.  As it was creating, I noticed more and more how the whole thing started looking very homespun - its adapted this very homey, warm, country charm.  I really didn't mean for it to go that way - but sometimes, I swear, quilts just create themselves.  And this one has definitely taken on a look of its own.  As anybody who knows me, I am NOT a country chick.  I like my colors to be bold, saturated, in your face. . . but this quilt was about the man - who was blue collar, down to earth, fun.  So hopefully the quilt has captured that.

The top is now in three columns so that I can attempt a method of quilt as you go.  I never tried this method - but its been in my head for about a year so I might as well give it a shot.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Almost Done! Design Board Monday

Well the saga of the commissioned memorial quilt continues.  I did a bunch of sewing this week and have lots of the pieces done - just really have to get them together in the final set.  Its been a bit of a trial though because I haven't done a traditional quilt in so long - at least not one that I designed.  I've had to rip unsew quite a few seams because I'm not following my original draft closely - sighhhhhhh! hate that!!  Still, it seems I'm on the right track and should finish up this week.

One thing I did get to try was a new kind of inkjet photo transfer paper.  In the past, I haven't been too impressed with the prepackaged fabric, so I've gone through the hassle of using bubble jet and doing my own fabric.  This time though I used June Tailor's Colorfast Inkjet fabric sheets.  Wow!  They worked really nice.  The colors came much crisper than other brands I used.  Also, I followed the directions on the packaging and they colors actually didn't fade when I put water to them - very nice!  So happy since I spent quite a bit of time working on the photos using Photoshop Elements.  

Anyways. . . .next decision. . . do I send it out to be machine quilted or do I work on doing a quilt as you go method  - always somethin' isn't it?! 

More great design walls at Judy's Patchworks!

Monday, June 6, 2011

48 Geese & 24 Four Squares. . . . Design Board Monday

Wowowowowow!!!  Busy sewing week!  Its been a while since I've tackled a bedsize traditional quilt and the numbers are a little staggering.  Managed to get the 48 flying geese done along with  24 four squares. . . Only 48 more to go!!  All of that added up to 15 hours and a TON of scraps.  Is anybody else amazed at how many scraps you can accumulate in one project???  Anyways - as you can see - I'm making progress - plussssssssssss a lot more is cut up and in process of getting sewn together.  Actually I would say right now I'm really half way pieced!

But wait!!!!!  That's not all I did this week.  I also started my Quilt University class, Working in Series.  So I also almost finished  the first lesson on that - which is due Friday.  Ohhhhhhhhh and also spent a few hours getting my supply list together for this year Quilting by the Lake class with Jane Dunnewold (more on that to come).

I love productive weeks . . . .don't you????

Check out more great walls at Judy's Patchwork!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Working in Series . . . A Quilt University Class

My husband Paul's Sculptural  Table Series
I'm taking my first on-line class at Quilt University this month; its Elizabeth Barton's  "Working in Series" .   Now I took this at QBL in a 5 day format - LOVED IT - but only did one of the series of 6 I was suppose to do!  Sighhhhhhhhhhh!  So thought I would take a refresher and have the whole month to explore the topic.  If you are looking for a good design teacher I would HIGHLY recommend Elizabeth.  I've taken 2 - 5 day classes and read her amazing blog -  and learned a ton!

We have homework and exercises each week - sooooooo thought I would post my work here.

The first exercise was learning what exactly is a series.  Its basically a body of work that is pulled together through design elements in common - it could be subject matter - but also technique - color choices - use of shape and line etc etc - I mean honestly - the sky's the limit.  Our assignment was to pick 2 each of quilters, painters and other craftsmen and analyze their series.  Here are my results: 

note: due to copyrights and such didn't post the works here - but please just click on the name and it will take you to the series

Quilters – My favorites – left out Elizabeth ‘cause don’t want her to get a big head!

Linda Levin New York Series
Elements that are consistent in this series – content of New York buildings, technique (form), color choices, vertical feel movement, medium – hand dyed fabrics

Jeannette DeNicolis Meyer -   Windows and Storylines
Elements that are consistent in this series – content of ribbons (storylines), feel of movement (most horizontal, some vertical – no diagonal) - Each piece limits color choices – value is used to emphasis the focal point – form (technique) – medium – hand dyed fabrics

Painters – Again a couple of my favorites

War Series – Elements that are consistent – topic - figures in War – use of limited color palettes – use of simple shapes to form figures – repetition of shapes

Another of Paul's Sculptural  Table Series
Elements that are consistent – Use of line (curves) – Use of Value (dark/darks help create movement) – Chaotic feeling of the pieces


Elements that are consistent – Its all about form – curves and fluidity

Paul Sayre (my husband) – he’s in the middle of this sculptural curved fine furniture series – he started with a Maloof style rocker and than has designed about 6 pieces
Element that are consistent – form that matches function - curves and fluidity - tables