Sunday, 14 August 2011

California Dreaming


I purposely waited until after the International Quilt Festival Long Beach to post a photograph of my entry for  West Coast Wonders, called California Dreaming.  The quilt features some of my favorite techniques ---- machine quilting. machine embroidery and fabric postcards.  The photographs were taken by my husband Marvin, my sister-in-law and myself.  Marv did most of the the Photoshop work after taking two classes with Kerby Smith .  It looks deceptively simple, but there were a lot of challenges along the way, and I had to back-track a number of times. The project is also my wallhanging assessment for my City and Guilds Certification.

 The project was inspired by friends who like me to send them postcards from my travels to decorate their bulletin boards.  I started off with a cork tile, which was photographed.  The image was then sent to Spoonflower for printing.  I ordered two yards to allow extra fabric for testing, errors etc.  The postcards are really postcards.  I printed the images or postcard backs onto Electric Quilt pre-treated sheets.  I was able to get two images per sheet. The images were then fused to heavyweight Fast2Fuse.  I used the heavyweight to ensure that the cards would be flat against the background.  I fused muslin to the wrong sides as viewers should not be turning them over!  The edges were satin stitched using several different heavy-weight cotton threads including Sulky Blendables 12wt and Wonderfil Spagetti and Frutti.  Once the postcards were made, I took the ones which needed stamps cancelling to the local post office.  Gino was kind enough to frank them for me!  The background was quilted with a sun and ray pattern in 40wt thread, before I attached the postcards with monofilament thread. I had learnt from previous errors that areas need to be quilted underneath before applying large "appliqu├ęs".  As I knew that the piece would have to be shipped multiple times, if it was accepted into the exhibit,  I had to determine the placement of the postcards to allow for "folding" lines.  I used a wide binding to replicate the idea of a frame.  Once everything was stitched, Marvin  helped me to put real pushpins (thumb tacks) through each card.  We then cut off the backs to ensure that other quilts would not be harmed,  and sealed the backs with silicone to make the quilt safe for travel to multiple venues.  The quilt will be shown at the International Quilt Festival Houston, and International Quilt Festival Cincinnati.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Better late than never

I had planned on completing this jacket in time for the Houston Quilt Show in November, but ran into more challenge than I had anticipated. The jacket was made using Downie Design's Fat Quarter Jacket pattern which looked perfect for the 2 1/2" fabric rolls.


I usually create my wearable art on a "flat" background and can normally avoid having to insert darts. I saw the jacket made up in Cherrywood's sueded cotton at their booth at a quilt show and fell in love with it, thinking that it would be fast with pre-cut strips (anything to avoid lots of  cutting!) So I bought the pattern (which luckily included Cherrywood's suggestions for making it), a Cherry Roll, and yardage for the lining and binding to make the jacket. I went to Downie's booth to try on her finished samples and determined what size I needed.

Once I opened the pattern, I realised that it had princess seams.......... but thought that that would be fine. I made a muslin, and in accordance with Cherrywood's suggestion did not stiffen it with fusible interfacing. The muslin fit, so I proceeded to work on the jacket.  Instead of using uneven size strips which the pattern called for I used even strips, pinned and straight stitched them in place as instructed, leaving the area where the yoke and body intersect to be covered at the end I then free motion zigzagging over the joins using 40wt variegated cotton thread.  I started with the sleeves which were flat. They went fine.  I then made the back, which was slight shaped and that worked. I then started one of the front sides, and found it quite difficult to lay straight-cut strips over the curves created by the princess seams in the bust area.  I soldiered on, free motion quilting them, then stopped where the gap was.  It measured over 3" in places. At that point, I knew that I needed a creative solution, as 2 1/2" strips were not going to do the job.  I consulted other local sewers for their advice, but no one had seen anything like this.

 I finally took the front piece with me to Houston for help. (I even carried it in my hand luggage to ensure that it did not get lost.) As soon as Preview Night opened I made a bee-line for Cherrywood's booth which was customer-free. I talked to Karla who referred me to the person who had made their sample. I will interpose that she is very petite. After talking to her, I determined that the only thing I could do was to buy another 1/2 yard of a coordinating fabric (the color I had wanted to use is only made for the cherry rolls) and cut wider strips, possibly pleating them to make them fit over the curve. I ended up cutting a fairly wide strip for each side of the front to go over the curve.



Once all the quilting was done (the top, muslin and lining are quilted together) I realised that the garment had shrunk up a bit. So I panicked all through dinner on Saturday night until I could get a sleeve sewn to make sure it fitted. Luckily I have been working out hard, and the bicep area, which is usually my problem area, fit. It was also challenging matching the shoulder and under arm seams, as due to the overlapping strips, there are ten thicknesses of fabric at some of the seams. After reading Cherrywood's comments about having to pleat the straight-cut neck binding, I decided to cut mine on the bias, which made it much easier going around the neckline curves.  By now I had used up two 500yard spools of 40 weight variegated cotton. Having had a quiet New Year weekend, I thought I could finish the jacket on Sunday night.  I was sewing away and a needle broke. I was about to change the needle when everything went dark except for my machines which are on UPS's. Yes.......the electricity had gone off.  End of sewing for the night. Then on Tuesday, when I was ready to sew on the last piece of binding (the binding was also free motion zig-zagged on) I noticed that my bobbin had less than 12% thread left on it, and there was virtually no thread on the spool either. A 7:30pm call to my local Bernina dealer Sew Vac Ltd found them open, with two spools of the thread I needed, so I dashed up there and got the thread before closing time to finish the jacket. The button, which I purchased at Laura Murray's booth at Houston is by Crone Art.  Now it is pressed and ready to wear.

Friday, 24 December 2010

More completed student projects

From l to r: Lisette, Loralee, Susannah and Dee Dee in their new aprons

Robert and Erin model their aprons
My last Beginning Sewing class for 2010 ended on Monday night.  The students left with their new aprons ready to wear or give as Christmas gifts.  A new round of City of Long Beach Parks and Recreation sewing classes will begin on January 4th.  These classes are always satisfying to teach, especially when students finish their projects. It is wonderful to see how students gain confidence in their sewing skills as the class progresses.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Etrog box

 The assignment for my first City and Guilds assessment piece was to create a container using a pieced design based on architecture. I designed, engineered and created an etrog box using traditional English box-making techniques with some contemporary twists. The etrog  (citron) is used during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, as part of the four species.  It is held together with the lulav and blessed during the holiday.  When not in use, the etrog is usually stored in a decorative box.  


The design inspirations for the box were windows in the Dohany Street Synagogue (Great Synagogue) in Budapest.  The synagogue survived World War II and has been restored to its former glory.  Today, it serves as the focal point for the small Jewish population still living it Budapest, and it is a major tourist attraction.  One of the reasons I chose to use this building as my inspiration was to pay homage to those who perished in the Holocaust.  Although there were numerous stained glass windows in the Synagogue, the one below was perfect for patchwork.  The patchwork for the  top and sides of the box were constructed using foundation paper piecing (flip and sew.) The color scheme was based on the colors used in this window and another more elaborate window, shown on the right.  The Star of David on the lid was created with English paper piecing.  The fabric for the lining of the box was created by sun-printing branches from our lulav. The lining was machine embroidered.



 






   
The construction of the box proved more challenging than anticipated.  I had planned on using heavy-weight  Fast2Fuse for the construction, rather than cardboard or card stock, the foundation material used for most English embroidered boxes, to avoid having to glue my fabric to the base.  (Fast2Fuse is a heavy, stiff interfacing with fusible web on both sides.  I use it in the center of my postcards.)   My original intention was to fuse the patchwork to one side and the lining to the other, and then to satin stitch the segments together to join them.   When I sampled this construction method, it did not seem elegant enough, so my tutors suggested using the traditional hand ladder-stitching method of joining the pieces, and using two pieces of Fast2Fuse for each segment so that there would be no raw edges.  This extended the scope of the project, and as it was not portable, due to the risk of bending the pieces, it has taken months to complete.  Each piece of the box is made from two pieces of covered Fast2Fuse which are joined together with topstitching, using YLI  Silk Sparkle thread.  Due to the small scale of the patchwork pieces, it was necessary to use a very fine thread for the quilting and topstitching.  When I sampled heavier threads they overwhelmed the patchwork, as many of the pieces are under one inch.  However, I had to test numerous needles before I found one which did not cause the thread to shred while going through the thick layers.  The only needle which worked was a size 80 SUK (jersey) needle.  Once each side was assembled, the sections were hand ladder-stitched together, a very time-consuming process, due to the thickness of the pieces, and the need for the stitches to be invisible.

The box is now completed, and ready for use next Sukkot.


Box closed

Box open

Box open


Monday, 20 September 2010

Environmentally Correct Project

This coffee cozy was inspired by a Creative Troupe call-out to use Liquitex Iridescent medium in a project, and my recent 120 mile plus two day tandeming adventure on the Hazon New York Ride.  As I love leaves, I decided to create a fall coffee cozy----using the Liquitex Iridescent medium, Liquitex Acrylic paints, and Superior copper-colored metallic thread, which behaved in my Bernina 830.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Postcard---Israel Land of Flowing Milk and Honey

This is my latest postcard, made for an exchange entitled Israel---Land of Flowing Milk and Honey.  The postcard is made from a fabric and Fast-2-Fuse sandwich.  The back was created in Microsoft Word.  The front features hand dyed fabric, lightweight Lutrador painted with white paint mixed with Liquitex irridescent medium and gold paint, and the jug was enhanced with paint too.  It was stitched on my Bernina 830 taking advantage of the tapering feature.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

A Lutrador Postcard


This is a sample made for C & T publishing's Creative Troupe.  I had to wait to post it until Ultra Light Lutrador came on the market---then I forgot to post it.  The card features embroidered fish as well as fish made from painted Lightweight Lutrador.  I used Lutrador "as is" on top of fabric to give it the hazy feel one experiences when under water.

Student Work

This week I was lucky enough to see some of my students' finished projects.  It is always exciting to see what students create, and how they use the projects as a platform for their own design touches. The students shown gave me permission to post the photos of them with their finished projects.  All three projects are from classes offered at Sew Vac Ltd. in Long Beach California (http://www.sewvacltd.com/), through the City of Long Beach Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine  (http://www.longbeach.gov/park/default.asp).

Kristal proudly shows off her first quilt made in the Nuts and Bolts of quilting
From left to right---Lucy, Sherrie and Monica proudly wear the Summer Totes (a Lazy Girl Pattern)
that they completed in Beginning Sewing--The Tote Bag
Alyssa is modelling the apron she completed in Beginning Sewing.
She personalised it with rick rack.






Saturday, 28 August 2010

Fiber Artistry Exhibition at the Orange County Fair

Announcement card featuring all the quilts
I was lucky enough to have The Sunflower selected for the Fiber Artistry Exhibition at the Orange County Fair.  Jamie Fingal (http://www.jamiefingaldesigns.com/)  curated the exhibition.  The quilts were arranged in a gallery-like setting on white walls.  The Sunflower is a dye-painted quilted using Hollis Chatelain's method (http://www.hollisart.com/)  Even the binding is dye-painted to coordinate with the background. The quilting was done with a variety of colored threads to bring the flower to life.
The artist with The Sunflower    
The Sunflower

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Parfait Dyeing ---Part 2











This is the result of the parfait dyeing.  I also did a two-tone fabric.  I am not being as aggressive as I should be about pushing the fabric into the other colors and allowing things to intermingle.  I think my inner perfectionist is coming out.