Friday, September 18, 2020

Finished Quilting and a Collage

 I had a pretty good week, productive wise. I finished quilting my Sun-print Plaid quilt. I wanted to quilt on my Sweet Sixteen, but that did not work out. I swear that I got a lemon with this machine. I purchased a Bobbin Case Tension Gauge for 50 bucks because I thought it would solve my problem. A friend swears by it. The gadget said to put the tension at 220, so I did and all I got was a big snarl of thread on the back. So I fiddled with it and ended up setting it at about 400. That seemed just fine for about 10 minutes and then the thread broke. Rethreaded it and I got terrible tension and puckering. I GAVE UP!  And I was using the thread that came with the SS, Superior Thread So Fine 50, on the top and in the bobbin. 

So back to my trusty Bernina, on which I have quilted many a quilt, and doesn't care what kind of thread I use. Since this quilt was only 42 inches wide, it was very easy to do. I quilted it block by block, working from the center to the side. I didn't roll the quilt at all, just bunched it lightly so there was do drag. I love doing this leaf patten, it was almost zen like. If you look closely you will see that the leaves are not all exactly the same, some a little fatter, some a little longer, but it all goes together and is part of the charm (or so I tell myself). Remember to click on each picture twice if you want to see the details.

I photographed it outside on my deck, hoping to get a truer color than I did in my studio.

True colors, pastel and pretty.

Not true color, but you can see the quilting.

I had to piece the backing, nothing fancy, just using what I had.

I like the way the quilting shows on the back.

Now I have to bind it and I'm not sure what to do. I can piece it with different plaids or maybe use a solid that will go with the plaid. I also have to find a recipient. Does anyone have a good charity to recommend?

Lastly is the collage I made for August. The theme was SUMMER. I used my usual "formula" with pages torn from the encyclopedia, dictionaries and online dictionary, which I enlarged. The sunflower is one of my photos and the sun was from my Sunday Morning Suns, both printed on tracing paper so that the words would show through. I also wanted to do a velvet embossed sun. I had no yellow velvet so I dyed a small piece  bright yellow and used a Hot Potato stamp that I had. I filled in the spaces between with a stamp that has script that is not really words and a sunflower stamp. Another mixed media  collage.

I am linking up with Off the Wall Friday.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Sunprints and Plaids

 I've often said that I could make 100 quilts out of the fabric I have in my sash. It may be a slight exaggeration, but after 40+ years of quilting I have a LOT of fabric. Commercial prints purchased over the years, solids, batiks that I couldn't resist, hand dyed fabric, Dupioni silks, shobori, surface design, etc. Tubs under the guest room bed and tubs in the guest room closet. Floor to ceiling shelving units in my studio. Plastic drawer units under my work table. 

I am not inspired to make competition quilts lately, since most shows have gone online. Houston is cancelled this year for the first time....sigh... I admire people who are making donations quilts and I thought I would concentrate on that for awhile.

One of the smaller plastic drawers in the units under my big work table was labeled Leaf Prints. I surely hadn't opened this drawer in years. Inside were 28 of these little sun-prints that I had made in a workshop many years ago. I had a bigger drawer labeled Plaids and I thought they were a perfect fit for each other.

I used 24 of the prints with two of the pastel Madras plaids from the bin. The leaf prints measured 4 1/2 x 6 inches and I surrounded them with two inch strips, Log Cabin style to make blocks 10 1/2 x 12.  I had a hard time photographing this quilt. It is much lighter and brighter in person. The quilt measures 40" x 70", a long lap quilt or baby quilt. 

The colors on this block are pretty true. See what I mean by lighter and brighter? I made this extra block to see how I wanted to quilt it. I think I will do the leaves on the right hand side. I'm going to attempt to quilt it on my Sweet Sixteen, which will be a piece of cake if it cooperates. I always have trouble with the tension. I bought a new gadget called a Bobbin Case Tension Gauge, which I have not tried yet. My friend has one and she said it made all the difference in solving the tension problem. I certainly hope so. 

You may wonder why I had a whole box of plaid fabrics. Back in the 90's plaids were a trend for awhile. I've always like Madras plaids, maybe a hangover from college in the late 50's. (I'm old). I was chairperson of the annual challenge of my guild in 1998 and the theme was Mad About Plaid. I love this quilt that I made for the challenge. At that time I was making traditional quilts and hand quilting, which  was very good, if I do say so myself. I had small, even stitches, 10 to the inch. This was quilted with gray thread and the bias strips were also hand appliquéd. This is one of the quilts hanging in my studio and measures about 40" square.

These colors are true. It is in a different part of the studio and not affected by the light.

I am linking up with Off the Wall Friday. 

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Bisa Butler

 I was going to talk about several different things in this post, but when I looked through my pictures from the incredible show I attended this week I decided that this was worthy of my whole post. I'll write  some more about other things soon. 

I am very fortunate to live about a half hour from the Katonah Museum of art in Katonah, NY. It is a small museum without a permanent collection, so when they put on a show it is always just one artist or one genre. 

I am surprised that I had never heard of Bisa Butler. She is a youngish African American artist who works from black and white photos of African Americans from the 1800's and 1900's, some of them her relatives. She turns them into larger-than-life-size art quilts, using the most amazing fabrics and color combinations. We were just blown away. If you live anywhere near enough, please don't miss it. The show is on until October 4. You have to make a reservation and buy a ticket online. They were excellent about social distancing and mask wearing. I felt very safe.  

You can read about it on the website and also see some terrific videos. Here I will show you just a few to whet your appetite. 

This quilt was enormous, maybe the size of a king size quilt.

They showed the original photo that inspired this quilt. In it the boys were sitting on the hood of a car, wearing just ordinary suits and ties. 

It would be hard to pick a favorite, but this was one of them and it was one of the smaller pieces. Look at the colors she has used in the face!

I just loved the sassy look on this little  girls' face. This was also a smaller quilt compared with most of the others.

This was a group of African American college students sometimes in the late 1800's. In the photo they were sitting on the steps of the school. Next to each quilt was the story behind it.

She uses raw-edge appliqué and quilts them on a long arm. There was a video loop playing of her working in her studio.

For some reason, the new Blogger will not allow me to post these pictures any bigger, but if you click on the picture and then then click again, you can see more of the fabulous detail. Please don't want to miss a thing. 

I'm linking up, a little late, with Off the Wall Friday.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Christmas in August

The card making bug hit me a couple of years and I have so much fun with it. I have so many supplies....stamps, inks, papers, embellishments, die cutter, embossing machine, etc. I make birthday cards, get well cards, sympathy, and thank you. So if I know it is your birthday, if you are not feeling well, you have done something nice for me or experienced a death of your near and dear, you will get a handmade card from me. 

Last year I made Christmas cards. I was only going to make a few, but had so much fun doing them that I made 45, enough for my whole Christmas card list. And I made the same amount this year. I only ordered one new stamp set from StampinUp and this time I ordered the matching dies. I liked this set because there were so many different ways to use them. I will only show you a few.

For this one I used the larger die to cut through the front of the card.

Inside the card you see the layered words, lots of fiddly gluing.

Same technique as the first card, except I just stamped the word. I liked the layered die-cuts better, even tho it was more work.

I did several variations of this. Lots of stamping and using those three layers of die cuts.

More of the same, this time adding some cute polka-dot ribbon. Don't know why the edges look wavy because they are not.

I think this is my favorite, even tho it was very labor intensive. I used the Sheltering Tree stamp set to stamp the tree, snow drift, and snow flakes. They were all heat embossed. Then I sponged on ink color using a sponge and ink directly from the ink pads. I made 6 of these.

Not a Christmas card, but a new-to-me technique. For the watercolor-looking square, I applied two colors of ink directly onto an acrylic square, misted it with water and then plopped it down onto the card and pressed down. When you remove the square you get this watercolor look. Then I stamped onto it with an old Hot Potato stamp that I have had forever and then flicked some ink onto the background. THEN I die cut a square from the watercolor part and put it back in place, popped up with dimensional squares, hard to tell from the photo. The true colors are little lighter and brighter than what you see. Even with editing, I could not get it to its actual color.

Same technique as the one above, but this time using a Stampin Up stamp from the Sheltering Tree collection. I love this stamp set and have used it so many times in many different ways. Again, true colors are lighter and brighter.

I spent the better part of this week making cards and now I am on to other things. I have to make a collage for my FiberWorks monthly challenge and then I want to play with my new Distress Ink Oxides. 

I am linking up with Off the Wall Friday. 

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Ta-Dah! Finished!

 I got the last of these little beauties sewn down to the 30" canvas last night and I must say that I am pleased with the results. It was very tricky getting them all aligned perfectly. I did a lot of measuring and moving around before I was satisfied. When I had them were I wanted them, I very carefully picked up one side and put down a piece of two sided masking tape to keep them in place. Then I sewed them to the canvas, trying to match the buttonhole stitch that I had put around the edge of each piece. Tedious.

The problem with this piece is its fragility. I could never put it in a show where it had to be mailed or even dropped off for someone else to hang. All of those little embellishments  could be crushed or broken.

If all goes well they will be hung at the end of Sept. in the Newtown Library for our annual show there. But we don't even know if the library will be open. We may just have to have a virtual show online. The name of the show is "A Walk in the Woods" and my piece is "Forest Floor".

If you have been reading anything about the progress of this piece, you will know that the one in the center is all hand embroidered. My original plan was to hand embroider all of them, but that was taking forever. The rest were stitched on the machine and the embellishments (tree lichen, moss, bark, twigs, etc.) were glued on. 

Click on the picture for a bigger view and click again for an even bigger view and you can see all the details.

I am linking up with Off the Wall Friday.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

More Forest Floor and a Collage

I finished the last two pieces of my Forest Floor. Now I have to attach the nine pieces to a 30" square black canvas.

I used some real tree bark and some wonderful eyelash yarn for the embellishments.

I puffed up the mushroom head again with a layer of wool batting. More of that fabulous yarn again and some real tree lichen, bark and twigs for embellishment.

The prompt for this month's collage was Fish. I used the same techniques I used last month: pages cut out of an old encyclopedia and dictionaries. The colored fish images were copied from a fish fabric and printed on tracing paper so that the words would show through. I used a handmade stamp to emboss the velvet and used some old rubber stamps of fish. Also a rubber stamp with not-really words. All were glued onto a 9 x13 canvas board.

Thursday, July 23, 2020


I am continuing the Forest Floor pieces I wrote about last week. But I have decided not to do them in hand embroidery. It takes about two weeks of stitching, hours each day and I would never finish nine of them by September. So I went back to my usual mode of enhancing the photos printed onto fabric with machine free-motion quilting and embellishments. I can make one in a few hours, depending on the amount of stitching and embellishing.

On the three above I did free-motion satin stitching on all the mushrooms dots. I used three different stabilizers and the one that worked the best and gave me no distortion was Ultra Solvy Extremely Stable Water Soluble Stabilizer.

What you can't tell by the photos is that I put a piece of wool batting behind each mushroom head to give it some three-dimensionality. I cut the excess away and then fused it to a piece of Peltex. I did some free-motion quilting on the backgrounds and then added my embellishments.....real ground moss, tree lichen, tree bark and dyed Spanish moss. 

I will use the hand embroidered piece I showed last week as the center of the nine pieces. They are each seven inches square. Click on each picture for more detail.

I am linking up with Off the Wall Friday.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Slow Stitchng

Every year my weekly fiber group, FiberWorks, puts on a show at the local library. For the past few years our work has been mounted on 30 x 30" black canvases, which gives the show a nice cohesive look. This year the theme for the show is "A Walk in the Woods". We don't even know if the library will be open in Sept, when the show should be mounted, but we decided to go ahead and make our pieces, even it they are only shown on line.

Our pieces can be any size, as long as they fit onto the canvas and you can do as many pieces as you want.

My son is an avid hiker in the Pacific Northwest, where he lives. He is also a mushroom hunter and has sent me some incredible pictures. I decided to do 9 small pieces, each 7" x 7" and mount them evenly spaced onto the canvas. I think I will call it Forest Floor.

I did some small pieces last year that were photos printed onto fabric and enhanced with hand embroidery and that's what I thought I would do with these. I finished my first one this week and am working on my second. They are taking FOREVER and now I think the rest of them will be finished with free motion quilting, as I have done successfully on my Garden Studies

Here is #1. This is a tree fungus. I never knew that they came in such incredible colors.

My embellishments are real tree lichen, dyed Spanish moss and a bit of roving.

I only used chain stitching  on this one. Very time consuming.

On this second one, also a tree fungus, I am doing a combination of chain stitching and satin stitch. Also very labor intensive .

If you do any hand embroidery, I highly recommend  these non-slip hoops that I found online. A little pricey, but oh so worth it. Your fabric will stay as tight as a drum all the while you stitch and no constant tugging.

I am linking up with Off the Wall Friday.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Art on Masks

I got an email the other day directing me to a website that literally had millions (no exaggeration) of masks that featured reproduced art by many artists, some water colors, some photography, and other types of art. So it got me to thinking if I could use my art on a mask.

A few years ago I was making a lot of what I called "Garden Studies". I took photographs that I had taken, mostly in my garden, put a filter on them in Photoshop Elements, printed them on fabric and  heavily free-motion quilted them and then mounted them on canvas. They were very popular and I sold a lot at a solo show I had a few years ago and some after that. I haven't made any in awhile. If you go to the Garden Studies page at the top of my blog you can see some more.

While straightening up my studio the other day I can across a Rudbeckia print that I had never quilted. It still had its freezer paper backing on it and I thought it would make a pretty mask.

I used the pattern for the Olsen mask, with modifications. I had to add strips of bright yellow fabric to the sides because the pattern was too big for the fabric. I made elastic ear loops with beads, to make it adjustable. I made a tuck on each side near the ears and two under the chin for a nice tight fit.

I now have quite a wardrobe of masks for myself. I only wear them for one day and then hand wash them. I try to match the colors to whatever I am wearing that day. So little going on in my life these days other than trips to the grocery store, drug store, doctor visits, etc. So this gives me a little perk- up.

I will be linking upwith Off the Wall Friday.

Sunday, June 28, 2020


I often wonder who decides what is "in" or "out", whether  in fashion, home decor or even house plants. Who decided a few years ago that everything would be some shade of gray, from baby clothes, to wall paint to furniture? Remember avocado green and harvest gold in the 60's? I also remember house plants from that era. Everyone had an asparagus fern and/or spider plant.

Now the new darling of the house plant world is the Fiddle Leaf Fig. I do like to watch make-over shows on HGT. Mindless TV, good for hand stitching by. It seemed like every makeover had one or more of those trees. I had read somewhere that they were temperamental and also pricey, but when I saw one in Costco for a fabulous price, I thought it was worth a try. I had just the spot for it in my family room and it looks great there. I've had it for a few weeks now and it seems to be thriving. The tag said it likes to be moist so I regularly check it to make sure it's not dry.

I have since put some moss down  to cover the plastic pot in which it came.

Yesterday I found this dead leaf and thought it was fascinating. It is very stiff and leathery and has such interesting mottling. I can't bear to throw it away, but Im not sure how I can incorporate it into an art piece.  It's about 11 inches long.

I have a friend in Florida who makes terrific wall art out of discarded plant material she finds on green trash day. She uses palm fronds, husks, etc. I'm sure she would know what to do with this. But for now I'm hanging on to it and see if I get anymore. But not too many because that would mean the plant is not doing well.