Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Snip, Sew, Carve, Print

Accidentally disabling my touch pad put a crimp in things a week (or more?) ago. 
My fingers hit the wrong combination of keys and - BAM - locked out! 
So much for that blog post - ha!

That's what comes of writing in the dark, I guess. Which I do all the time. But maybe I shouldn't.

Luckily one of my sons already knew the fix. (This mayyyy have happened once before . . .)

Anyway, tonight I'm trying again - with the lights on!


I've been working my way from this:

Just call me a stripper!

 To this:

Strippy panel

To this!

Strippy block

Soon I'll get to the artsy part of my project, but in the meantime - on I sew!

Laina has been working on her Youth Challenge entry. 
It's so much fun to watch her project take shape and see her excitement grow! 

This year she is using all the tools herself, including the rotary cutter and the iron. She is growing up. (sob, sob!)

Laina, hard at work

In the interest of fair play, I'll keep her project under wraps until after the Viewer's Choice vote. 
She won last year, and was tickled pink about having done it fair and square! 

As usual, I'm encouraging her to make something she will enjoy on her wall even if she doesn't win.

This year, ALL of the youth entries get to hang at Quilt Canada in celebration of Canada's 150th year. She's pretty stoked about that idea, too! Not every kid has their work hang in a national show for two years in a row!

Why, yes, that is a heat register in my purse!

Not the strangest thing I've had in my purse!

Getting ready to sell our home of 20 years involves random tasks like replacing registers and updating tired cabinet knobs. 

Between the new place and the old, I make lots of trips to the hardware store every week!

Hello brushed nickel, goodbye brass
Another lino cutting workshop, you say?

In a moment of insanity, I thought sign me up!
And then I was committed.

A sensible person might have hesitated to add one more thing to her already busy weekend, but nope. Not me! 

Once there, I decided to try a complicated idea with a high risk of failure. Of course. 
(Is there any other way? ha!)

Lino cut printed on special paper #1

Working from my own photo, I split the image at the horizon line and carved the top portion in the positive, and the bottom in the negative. (or, maybe the other way around? doesn't matter!)

Lino cut printed on special paper #2

We learned (in theory) how to make a "key block" and a complementary background block to go with it. 

I may clean up the "chatter marks" (messy lines) in the top portion of this block and try carving a background block, just for the experience. (Can't learn if ya don't try!)

Last time I had carved a horse block (which I love!). It printed beautifully on paper, but I wondered how it would do on fabric.

Lino cut printed on white paper

Well. It looks worse than it is. With a little work and imagination, I think I can save this mess!

Lino cut printed on fabric

Fresh off the Frame

Client quilt - Drunken Feathers panto

Client quilt - Bountiful Feathers

Client quilt - Ebb and Flow panto

House Update

New kitchen, March 1st.

Before cabinets arrived

Kitchen, March 15th.

Cabinets! (no counters yet, tho)

That's our hard working contractor back there. I'm certainly glad he is managing this project!

Have a happy day!

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

SheBANG - cram it all into a single post! (ha!)

O Canada! 

My client requested veins in the leaves and a swirly maple leaf filler in the colourful blocks of this quilt - and the rest was up to me.

Half a plan is better than no plan, so I dove in!

Client Quilt - very Canadian!

First I ditched the white blocks, stitched down the applique, and then added stylized veins to harmonize with the stylized leaves.

. . . well, okay . . . that's not *exactly* how it happened . . .
I ripped out my first attempt at veins because (yup) I hated them. They were too organic, and I didn't think they worked very well in this situation.

After sketching several different options I came up with Plan B.
Much better!

Love the look of Plan B!

Next, I filled the white background using loopy lines, alternating their direction in each block. I like how they add movement and soften all the straight lines of the design without being too curvy.

Soft and curvy complements strong and straight.

Meanwhile, I'd been considering the filler design for the coloured blocks.

It would have been tricky to freehand maple leaves that *look* like maple leaves, so I decided to use a pantograph instead. That meant I had to turn the quilt. (I also had to modify the panto to fit the space, but it was worth the time it took!)

Starting with half a plan sometimes means an extra step (or two), but it always leads to a finish - and I think this worked out beautifully!

Swirly (and leafy) adds another complementary texture to the mix.

BEFORE quilting:

The flimsy

AFTER quilting:

The quilt!

What a FUN finish!

Also Fresh off the Frame

Client quilt - Fantasy Flame pantograph

Client quilt - Hearts in Bloom panto

And a couple more that will have to wait until their owner sees them first!

Other Artsy Adventures

Adventure ONE:

I spent a whole, delightful weekend in a lino cutting and printmaking workshop with Mary Parslow!

It was my first time using carving tools, so I had much to learn.
I'm happy to report I only suffered one accidental finger jab, and it didn't even bleed all that much!

First up, I carved lines of many thicknesses - willy nilly, with no plan in mind - to try and get used to the tool.

As it turns out, I'm quite happy with this carving - it reminds me of a tree root or a seed pod,
depending on how you look at it!

I also decided to make ghost prints alongside the original - definitely not a printmaking technique, but it made sense to my fabric loving brain!

Other people created masterpieces with their first attempts.
I like to think of my work as "expressive". Ha! ;-)

So then I decided to try a butterfly from one of my photos.
I still couldn't wrap my head around the positive/negative aspect of the lines, but I figured, what the heck. I'll dive in and try stuff! (It's how I roll!)

Gotta start somewhere!

Still not a masterpiece, but I learned A LOT from making it!

Mary suggested that I could fine tune the wings, but I'd decided not to bother investing more energy into this piece. I had learned, and was ready to move on.

Chine colle technique incorporates thin Chinese or Japanese paper into the print.

After day one, I came home and browsed my photos from last summer.

My brain had grasped the positive/negative concept and I was eager to find an image that could become a strong composition.

I landed on a photo I'd taken from the back of a horse and knew it would be perfect as a line drawing!

I get it now! I love this image.

We used baby wipes to clean our lino blocks, and wouldn't you know - - - I couldn't resist lifting a print to see if it would work (and it did!).

Experimental print on a baby wipe - why waste perfectly good ink, right???

Now I have a little stack of baby wipe prints, too - Oh, my happy, quilty heart!

Once we had mastered the printing aspect of the process (well, practiced it, anyway...), we "graduated" to coloured ink, and learned how to create ombre effects using a single colour (dark to light), or a whole rainbow!

I pulled baby wipe prints every time I cleaned my block - heh, heh!. :-)

A wooden jig hooked over the edge of the table offered a corner to prevent the lino block from slipping during printing (or carving, for that matter). Very handy.

Curvy carving - trying circles and line variations

I quite enjoyed the whole process, and am excited to apply what I've learned to my quilted art.

Adventure TWO:

Laina has decided to enter the CQA Youth Challenge again this year. She has a vision involving local landmarks, so we traipsed through the snow for an afternoon so she could take reference photos.

I can't share yet, so I'm not even sure why I brought that up. Oh, wait! It's to provide the link and encourage you (if you're Canadian) to mentor a youth and enter the challenge!

Information for Canadian Quilter's Association YOUTH CHALLENGE

Adventure THREE:

Again, I can't show much - but I've started the "slicing and dicing" part of a big project!

It doesn't look too exciting yet, but it will get better!!!

And, final share of the night (morning?): Two new books that I can't wait to get my nose into!

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Since We Last Spoke . . .

You may remember that I had some ripping to do before this quilt could be finished.
(Some quilting decisions deserve to die! ha!)

This time I kept things simple and classic - but not too safe!
I could have held back, but I think filling the flowers made this quilt even more fun to look at!



I also finished sewing some shields to donate to Days For Girls  - hygiene kits help girls live their lives every day of the month.

This beautifully pieced chevron quilt filled my frame completely.

Ripples panto

Beautifully pieced back, too!

Perfect points!

Cozy flannel is always a great choice for a snuggly quilt.

Puzzle panto

House Update

Most of the floor tile has been installed and grouted, the walls have been primed, and the ceilings have been finished. (all said with suitable jumping-up-and-down and clapping of hands!!!)

The first coat of purple is on our feature wall in the living room, too! (and I love it!!!)

Our fireplace is waiting for installation - - - soon, I hear!
(Man, I don't envy that job. The thing weighs about 600 lbs.)

Plumbing and heating rough-in is almost finished, I think. (How would you like to put this puzzle together?)

Shower rough in - a pretty puzzle!

Still lots to be done, but before you know it, it'll be time for us to pack!

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Monday, 16 January 2017

Because You Know I'm All About that Stash, 'Bout that Stash - No Table

This is ridiculous.
Somehow my work space shrank to approximately 15 inches square. Ever have that happen?

Time to clean up!

Time to clear the deck.

Being my stubborn self, I decided that my fabric would fit into its designated cabinet NO MATTER WHAT.
It meant pulling everything out and re-folding every piece of fabric, but I did it!

Tidy again!

The mess got bigger before it got better, but it was a great way to rediscover my stash!

And, look - my table has been FOUND!!!

Much better!

Now I'm on a mission to use things up!

First up, I made three reversible minky & flannel crib blankets for my sweet, new grandson.

Minky "giraffe" and a wee baby laugh!

The blankets would have knocked my stash back several meters - if I hadn't purchased the fabric specially for the job. (Hmm. I'm beginning to understand my problem . . .)

Second attempt at stash busting - half a dozen baby bibs.

This time I DID raid the stash - the special stash. (Everyone has a special stash, right?)

When we were little, my brother and I had pjs made from this very fabric! My mom passed her flannel leftovers to me when my kids were little. What I didn't use for them was tucked away again, and has now been resurrected for my grandson!

Let's call that fabric "vintage". (Just ZIP IT if you thought "antique". Ha!)

Ready for their first wash to fluff their edges

 I used a bib from my daughter's babyhood as a pattern.

(Yes, I saved it. Yes, it was used for all of my kids and grands - and visiting littles, too. And yes, I'll probably keep it forever! Doesn't everybody keep random baby items forever?)

The original bib - rootin' tootin' cute!

Anywho. Enough about my hoarding ways. Back to the bibs!

How they were made

I decided to use flannel (instead of denim) to keep the bibs soft and flexible. The goal is to keep baby's neckline dry when he drools, eats, and spits up. Absorbent is good!

To make a symmetrical shape, I traced the left half of the original bib onto tracing paper. I then folded the tracing paper in half, vertically, and traced the right half.

The bib is made with TWO layers of flannel. Place them WRONG sides together with the pattern on top, and cut both layers at once.

I cut the outline using my rotary cutter - no need to worry about perfection with a soon-to-be raggy edge!

Oh! I used a rotary circle tool for the neck holes, too.

See the lines I marked to find the center point of the red circle? If you save that first cut-out to use as a centering guide for the remaining bibs you won't have to mark again. Just set the marked piece in place according to the pattern, remove the pattern, and then cut using the tool.

Easy, peasy!

Another tip - don't cut the separating line all the way through to the neck hole.

Leave a bridge

Cutting it partway lets you know where to sew, but the "bridge" keeps things from flopping around and stretching out of shape as you stitch.

Layering the wrong sides together means you are now ready to sew without adding any extra flips or turns!

It is possible to sew the entire perimeter AND the neck hole without breaking the thread. I used about a half-inch seam allowance - don't worry about being too exact here. Close is good enough!

Start on one side of the bib and stitch to the slash - turn the corner and follow the slash to the neck hole. Follow around the hole back to the slash. Turn the corners and stitch your way back out to the perimeter.

Stitch all around

This is what it looks like after stitching:

At that point, finish cutting the slash to the neck hole.

Then snip around the entire perimeter and the neck hole to create a raggy edge. Be careful to cut UP TO the stitched line, but not through it.

Add a small snap or a bit of Velcro to finish.

I happened to have *ahem* VINTAGE snaps on hand from my very first sewing kit - laugh if you will, but they came in pretty handy 40 years later, didn't they? Ha!

From a safety perspective, I wouldn't use anything around a baby's neck that doesn't release easily. Please use your best judgement if you decide to try a similar project!

The bibs measure about 10 or 10.5 inches wide, and about 14 inches long. The neck hole is 3.5 inches across. Keep the fasteners inside, and close to, the stitched edges of the neck "ends" by the slash - you don't need much overlap.

In the Studio

You know how sometimes simple, classic designs trump fancy ones? The quilt on my frame is a case in point.

I'm reluctant to say how long this has been on the frame, but it's been a while.
I tried some stuff. And I *hated* it. So I tried some more stuff. And hated that, too!
That's real life for ya. Sometimes things don't work out the way you think they should.

Now that the quilting plan has been simplified, the quilt is much happier!! (and so am I!) I just wish I'd taken this route sooner.

My seam ripper and I will be "reverse sewing" tomorrow, and then I'll be able to finish the last three blocks and get this beauty back to its owner!

House Update

They still tell me I'm not allowed to move in yet. Spoil sports. Ha!

I believe the plan for this week is to get the walls primed and to start the flooring - yay!

As always,

Try, Learn, & Grow!