Sunday, October 31, 2010

ICE is done!

Although the "deadline" was 9 am yesterday, I was just aiming to get it done this weekend.  Making and attaching the icicles was easy, and free-motioning quilting them with silver thread was really fun.  But when I started trying to do more free-motion on the snow I started having trouble with the thread breaking and not being able to make nice smooth lines.  So I relapsed into straight-line walking foot quilting.  One of the quilts I admired most from this challenge made good use of parallel lines, but they were undulating with the landscape.  Mine at least accentuated the verticality  of the icicles, but they are too geometric for my taste.

I wrote more about it on the FFFC site.   Goals I achieved: getting done quickly.  Trying to be more abstract... some, not much, but at least not copying a photograph.  Trying metallic thread.  good on the ice, not so good on the snow.  Staying with 12 x 12 -  I already hacked a lot off the top to get it to this size, it just didn't WANT to be square.

Ran out of thread on the blue:  Note to self, those little teensy spools have about four feet of thread on them.

P.S.  I even finished the binding, traditional style, in between handing out treats Halloween night.

Friday, October 29, 2010

FFFC #50 In Progress

Here's where I am on this month's challenge:

 The haiku I decided to go with is this:

sky painfully blue  
icicle piercing my heart
his disdain for me

I think it's a good haiku, and I sort of like the quilt, but I don't think that the quilt illustrates the poem.   The poem is about emotional coldness as well as seasonal cold.  I think that the icicle might not have been the best metaphor to represent that, because mental images of happy "winter wonderlands" are evoked by the icicle image.   

I started out with several goals this month.  (1) to finish within or reasonably close to the deadline, not a month later.  (2) in order to achieve (1),  keep it much simpler, and (3) work more abstractly (4) keep all my pieces at a consistent 12 x 12 size. 

I think I'll be successful on 1 & 2, but not 3 & 4.  This piece is more abstract than Cloister, but it's still pretty representational.  I started just trying to do something with silvery slashes cutting through the bright blue, but it was just sort of "shapes" that didn't really evoke anything.

So I decided on the sparkly fabric and the icicle shapes.  It seemed to need more background, and I was visualizing a windswept white plain somewhere in the far north, where even the sun, when it peeks over the horizon, is cold and blue.

The fabric representing the snow is white with blue spots, and it has snowflakes printed in white-on-white.  They were also a little too "happy" but I decided to use it because they're only very faintly visible.    I kept the icicle pieces long and planned to cut them off after deciding on an arrangement.    But it looked silly cropped down to a square - the whole icicle-ness of an icicle is how long and thin it is.  So I'm going to keep it at about 12 x 18.  

I now have to decide how to quilt it - I have not got any specific ideas yet, so I'm browsing through other FFFC entries for inspiration. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Priorities again

Once again, life seems to have taken priority over quilting.   The plan for the weekend was to spend Saturday helping the Other shop for an purchase all the technological accouterments needed for his new business, and Sunday would be a little bit of housework and then sewing.   But the "little bit" burgeoned into changing the winter/summer clothes around, more time on the Rotary paperwork monster, clearing out the dead plants and putting away the pots on the deck, cleaning bird cages, washing dog cookie drool from the wood floor, washing rugs and bedding, which then led to repairing the velcro on the duvet (at least I fired up the sewing machine for that) ...   Sigh.  Then there was for some reason more than the usual neuro. pain that slowed me down, and sapped my motivation in the evening.

Friday, October 22, 2010

FFFC #50 is on!

I love the new challenge for October.  It is to make a piece that interprets the feelings of a haiku.  You can either write one or find one that inspires you, but if you write it's requested that you use the traditional 5 -7 -5 format.  It's NOT to start with a quilt or idea, then write about it.  In addition, technique-wise we are to feature "stitchery" either machine or hand.   Hmmm.

I wrote three possible haiku last night, but I'm not sure if I'll go with them.   I was very tired so they just sort of came partially out of my subconscious, and they are a bit negative...

Some aspects of Haiku are that they often invoke or reference seasons, or at least nature, and that they use the most simple, direct words rather than big complicated words, analogies or metaphors... at least that's what I'm understanding.

On the sewing front,  Yesterday I posted Cloister on my Facebook page and got more comments than I ever have before - and they were all nice  :)  I also got an extremely nice, complementary e-mail from fellow FFFC member.

Thursday was busy helping the Other with computer oriented tasks,  but I did get my hands on the rotary cutter for a half hour, and cut out the pieces for my Moonlight Quilters nametag.    Maybe some sewing tonight.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

FFFC #49 Complete

Here is the quilted version of Cloister.  Overall I'm happy with it, considering it's my first real art quilt, and my first attempt to work from a photograph.  I really wanted to try to incorporate some of the great suggestions in the critiques, but I also knew I could dicker around with it forever, so in the spirit of Fast FFC, I set tonight as my deadline.  I think the quilting lines improved it, but I thought there were too many lines, and they were overcoming the small piece, so I didn't do any quilting in the central tan area.  I used a pillowcase binding/backing because it was quick and unobtrusive, but I'm not happy about the lumpy corners.  But it's done and I'm ready for the next challenge!


Realizing that the next FFFC is coming out TOMORROW panicked me into action last night.   I really wanted to finish Challenge #49 before #50 came out.   I did a lot of quilting on it - did the leaves, the red brick and the brown archway.  (Will add a pic tonight)  All that's left is the dark red stone area - which is very puffy as a result of quilting all the areas around it.

Also have a few structural failures where the raw edges pulled away from stitching.   I'm not sure if I should attempt to fix them as it's likely that I will just make it worse.   So I have a late meeting but I should still be able to finish the quilting.  I haven't decided how to finish or bind it. I would like to choose a pillowcase, or maybe a satin stitch method, because the traditional sewn binding takes so long, but I don't want to risk messing it up, either.

Overall I'm not extremely happy with it.  The quilting just created too many busy lines, and overly complicates the image.  It should have been bigger, or less busy, or both.  Oh well, this is all about learning.   I don't expect to be as lucky as the woman who received an offer to buy her first entry!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

No quilting this weekend

Once again, life got in the way of quilting.  But I had a great, full day in Vancouver yesterday with two old friends and one new one.  I've known Christina and Larry since my first year in Syracuse, 1978.  Thanks to Christina's diligence we've stayed in touch on and off for thirty-two years.   I'm not sure that's possible since we all look exactly the same as we did then, but that's what the calendar is telling us.  Larry's sister Kathy, who I've only briefly met was along for a quick vacation from Buffalo, too.   We had a fun day, including the Anthropology Museum at UBC, Purdy's Chocolates, and dinner at a great Indian restaurant.  It was good to catch up, and again, I wonder why I don't go to Vancouver more often?

That was my good excuse for the first half of the weekend.  I'm not quite sure where today went.  Helping G. write a resume, book shopping in Fairhaven, tackling the paper monster inhabiting my desk, paperwork, filing, bills, and Seahawks football game.  That's where, I guess.   I did manage to sketch out the still life, finally, for my Artitude Challenge group.   But I'm a bit afraid that group is not coalescing.  And we're having trouble posting photos to the blog, which will make it "challenging"  ha. ha.  Sorry.

And, somehow, the October FFFC is coming up this week - bcs. there are too many Fridays in October, I guess.  I'm not done with the last piece.

Sadly, I've done very little sewing since I got the new machine, and the free motion work I did on the Orange Chair has some serious tension issues.  I think I was pulling up on the fabric, maybe.  But it was disappointing.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

NQR (Not Quilting Related)

I am so happy with the new paint colors on our little rental house.  I just have to share some before and after pcitures:


I am sooooo excited! I finally weakened and bought myself a new (to me) sewing machine.  I sincerely feel like art quilting is something I want to throw my heart and soul into, and the little ole' Singer Simple was just not cut out for what I am doing.   I was worried my SO would think I was nuts, but he was really supportive.    "You've got to have the proper tools to do a good job at whatever you do," was his attitude.  (I wonder if this means a new table saw is coming along soon?? LOL.  He deserves it).

So ANYWAY -  I got a used Janome MemoryCraft 6600.  It's nothing super fancy but everything about it is light years ahead of where I was.  I can't wait to get home and sew tonight.   What a geek.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Guild Tonight

Tonight is the Moonlight Quilter's Guild meeting, but I'm not close to finishing the chair.  I spent most of the weekend driving from errand to errand, it seems, and being frustrated at every turn.  The cheap paint scraper I bought kept dropping the blade on the ground (while I was on the ladder).   Chrome decided that Continental Airlines is not a safe site and shut itself down loosing all my data twice.  I had to fall back on IE.  Horrors!  But I did finally get the Honduras trip booked.

I got to the Chair at 7 pm last night.   As I feared, quilting the entire chair outline first made for some bumps and tucks as I tried to do the inside.  Plus the thread kept breaking or tangling.  I hated the way the taupe colored Metrolene showed up on the orange so I ripped that out a few times.   I finally quit in frustration and switched to free-motion quilting the background, which went much better,  for a while.  Then that started tangling too.

So that's as far as I am.  I don't know what the protocol for show and tell is,  if I should not bring an incomplete piece... I'll take it and see if I need to hide it under my seat.

I did have one inspiration after I got it all re-ironed out.  Since it is an upholstered CHAIR I can add some additional puffy batting into the spots that are too loose, and give it more thickness.

Maybe I'll get to come home at lunch!  I'm meeting A. at 5:00 for dinner before the meeting,  so there's no time left.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Still LIfe

Selected objects (so far) for the October Artitude Challenge  "Still Life."  Now how do I arrange them?    I really want to try more abstract forms instead of trying to replicate reality.  But I'm not sure how to make that leap...   Hmmm.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sewing day

Today was my big day to finally have some time to sew.  I got home from the Rotary garage sale by 11:00 and after a brief "clean-up-and-organize" session I started with quilting on "Cloister" a bit more.  Who would think that a simple 12 x 12 piece of fabric could take this much time and effort?

I still have to do quite a bit more, but after an hour or so I suddenly got bored and put it aside.  I picked up the Dear Jane project instead.  I watched this tutorial on paper piecing about 6 times before finally getting the hang of it, But when I did, it was really fun.  My first piece is slightly wonky but I think I can live with it.   I'm not sure how I'll ever do these little teensy tiny ones, though!

Last night I worked on the Orange Chair for awhile.  I was able to finish zigzagging the outline, and to do a little bit of hand work on one of the raw appliqué pieces. 

 Given the time that took, I will probably be reducing the amount of hand detail I put on it.  At least before Monday.   If I want to show it Monday, I have to finish quilting and binding this weekend.  ACK! I was working on that other stuff - uh why???

Tried a little more hand embroidering, but the glued/fused chair is not holding up to that handling.  I have to machine quilt that down before I do more, but don't want to interfere with the football game/nap.  So, I might as well piece another Dear Jane.  I did this one with strips, but I see why people like paper piecing.  I am picking off all the easy ones first, and am still not very exact.  I hope I am close enough.  I wish I'd saved this dark fabric for one of the less bold blocks.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sometimes life gets in the way of quilting

I've been too busy with work lately.  It's frustrating when all I want to do is sneak away and sew for an hour or two.  But it looks like it will stay this way through November, so I'm just going to have to juggle.

Tuesday and yesterday I worked on the Orange Chair a little bit.  Tuesday I only had time for a little quilting, but last night I finished all the straight-line border runs (working from the outside in, not smart, but I wasn't sure what to do with the inner parts yet.   After I finished the borders, I started playing around with using a zig-zag stitch to pin down the outer edges of the raw appliqué.   It actually worked better and looked nicer than I'd expected.  But just when I got on a roll the bobbin thread started knotting up and it was late, so I quit.  But I like the look of the black zigzag on the orange shadow.  I suppose some people might zigzag down their raw appliqué before quilting (?) but I didn't really know enough about how I was going to handle this to do that.

I would really love some big fat fuzzy orange or black yard to couch over some of the rougher edges, but I did a quick run through Michael's at lunch and couldn't find what I had in mind.  I did get some items to play with for the still life challenge on Artitude.  One more meeting and I can go home for the night.  

Monday, October 4, 2010

More Cloister

Tonight I started quilting the brickwork on Cloister.  I decided to use a finicky thread, a very thin almost hairlike thing - because I didn't want any color to show, just the quilting lines. It took me half an hour of practicing and testing and tension adjusting to get it right before going back to the actual piece.  But then I was too lazy to change the large needle in the machine so there are some poky holes. Go figure.  Hopefully the holes will fade a bit.  I marked out the lines with disappearing ink, which always seems to fade away before I'm ready, except when I want it gone, then I worry it's not going to disappear and my beautiful piece will be covered with purple ink.  ACK.  In general, though, I like the way they turned out so far.

In other quilting news, I spent yesterday at the La Conner Quilt Fest.  It was a four-day deal, but I only attended Sunday, and spent 9 - 4 in a class.  So I had very little time to see the quilts.  I did get a $10 DVD that was supposed to be pictures of all the quilts, which I was eager to get home and look at, but its a slideshow format with terrible resolution and very bad pictures.  Oh well. The theme was the Appliqué Society so there was a strong focus on that.  Which I'd like to learn, but not right now.

The class was good. Not great, fantastic, but good enough.  I learned what I hoped to learn.  There's more detail on my "Classes Taken" page.

I've been reading and watching video tutorials about paper piecing, and studying Dear Jane to try to figure out which blocks to tackle first.  I want to try paper piecing but it's rather confusing at first.

I have to put some time in this week to get Orange Chair done in time for show and tell at the guild on the 11th (and to display until Halloween).  But I also want to get Cloister quilted and implement some of the other suggestions from the critique, like more glow to the windows, and more browns in the leaves...  I really do like the positive types of critiques that are given.

And as if I don't have enough projects in the works, the clock is ticking on the October challenge over on the Artitude Blog.  The challenge is "Still Life" and I have an idea I'm exploring for a Halloween theme - a pumpkin and a skull... but what else, I'm not sure.   And why I'm working on such realistic topics when i always thought I wanted to work abstractly... !?!?  At least I have a good supply of orange fabric to choose from!

Negligent...with excuses

I've been neglecting my poor fledgling blog already.   But I have good reasons, really.  I was able to get my FFFC entry done except for quilting and binding by the deadline, but it was 10:30 pm on Thursday before I finished posting it.    I called it Cloister and you can see the entry on the FFFC site here,  I hope.  But just in case, here's the info I posted:

Here is my first entry to FFFC.   It is 12" x 12" with a mixture of commercial cottons, batiks and overdyed wool fabric.  Fused and soon-to-be-machine-quilted.

 I had a lot of fun with this, and learned so much.  I was overly optimistic about how much I could do in one week. I ended up doing much more fusing and less piecing, and my idea turned out to be much more time consuming than I expected, so I have not quilted it yet. 

I based (with permission) it on this photo that a friend took of a palace in Barcelona.

I thought that the contrast between the  sun shining on the leaves and white stone with the dark recesses of the archway addressed the challenge, but I was also trying to illustrate a contrast between the ephemeral light emanating from inside the stained glass and the everyday word of bricks and mortar.  
I plan to use lines of quilting to represent the courses of stone and brick.   I hope that will give it a little more finesse.  

I'm eager to hear comments, this is the first time I've put my work out in "public."

I got a lot of very good comments,  which I won't reproduce.  I'm eager to get the quilting done, and see if it helps the depth perception.  I think it will if I am technically able to produce what I envision.   

It was interesting to see what each person's interpretation of "chiaroscuro" was, and what the critiques perceived as a successful response to the challenge.   It seemed that entries with great direct contrast between light and dark were deemed successful, while others that I thought met the classical definition better, did not get such good reviews.   I'm trying not to over-post and seem pushy there, but I can say what I think here, no one has to ready it, right?!   My understanding of the concept was that the dark/light contrast was specifically related to using it to define three-dimensional forms in a two-dimensional work.    

Anyway,  it was really fun to see all the different interpretations and read the critiques.  But it's a good thing it's only once a month, it ate up all my evenings for a week.