In Over My Head…As Usual

Silly me.

I thought I would try multi-hooping in machine embroidery.

But I didn’t start with a simple design that might require 2 hoopings. No. Not me.

I didn’t even start with a design (as recommended by Amanda from Bernina) with 3 hoopings. Nope.

My design requires 14 separate hoopings. What could go wrong?

multi3The truth is, it’s a pretty nice design.  I used some of the Sepia Petals collection, resized them, wreathed, mirrored and aligned them.

The effect is lovely.  But the design is upwards of 157,000 stitches and measures about 2 ft. by 2 1/2 ft.

 

multi2I used the hoop canvas in Embroidery Software 7.  When I went to save, it asked me this question:  Would you like the export to split the files-one file for every hooping–SHOW ME first.

The SHOW ME turned out to be the most critical part of the design.  It displays a map of every hooping, in relation to every other hooping.

I am only 7 hoopings into this.

multi4Needless to say, after about 2 hoopings I was about to abandon the whole project.  The registration marks were pulling out.  Nothing was lining up properly.  But after about the third hooping I began to get better at facing the challenge.

I relied more on the precise positioning on the machine to help me line things up.

I got good at keeping the software open and showing the view of the hooping that I was stitching (was this number 6 or number 7??)  Anyway, at this point I managed to get the second half of the tree stitched…not yet shown in the pic below, and I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

multi1

This pic is obviously a work in progress and I don’t have a final to show you yet.  I am planning on adding some coordinating fabric and quilting before I am finished.  But at least you can see where it’s headed.

Remember, its about a 2 ft. x 2 1/2 ft. design when completed. It hasn’t been pressed in about 3 hoopings.  But I think I can make it work. What a learning opportunity this has been!

Stay calm and keep stitching. Amen to that.

I’ll share when it’s done.

 

Bernina University 2014

I just got back from Bernina’s annual conference with dealers across the nation.  I’d like to share with you some of the experience, as it was held at Nashville’s Opryland resort…a tropical paradise in the south!

A few highlights:

–New 97 and 97D foot for 1/4 in. piecing on 9mm machines (that would be the 7series and 8 series, 560, 580).  Allows the foot to ride over both feed dogs giving us more control and a more precise seam.  This is available RIGHT NOW!  So get your orders in to your dealers.  If you are a quilter, this sounds like the foot for you!

–New Sterling Edition 880 that comes with DesignWorks and a GORGEOUS quilt design from Sarah Vedeler.

–New Swiss Edition 530 (hint:it’s red)

–New pink Bernettes that give a portion of proceeds to Breast Cancer research.

–The long-awaited 24 in and 20 in. longarms are here.  These machines are fantastic, but the rollout will be staggered starting in Q4 in limited markets.  They are manufactured in Switzerland 1 person, 1machine….means that one man (or woman) will assemble the entire longarm sewing machine before moving on to the next.  No assembly line production!! And let me tell you–these machines are awesome! Stitch regulator is included, takes all Bernina feet, bobbin winder up front and accessible, as well as your threads….I was really impressed by these machines.  The 24″ comes with a frame, the 20″ can be tabletop or frame.

So much more from Brewer and OESD coming up this fall as well.

Here’s a link to a fabulous youtube video from Heirloom Creations that does a great job of displaying the new machines from BU 2014. 

The view from some of my classes and wanderings:

 

Gesture Drawing — Learning the Art of Letting Go

I’m not sure the formal definition for gesture drawing.  Leonardo DaVinci did it all the time.

Waaaay back, when I was in college, we were taught the technique in order to de-stress, to loosen up and to relate to our subjects in an entirely different way.

It is a “no judgment” form of art.  All it takes is a pencil, some paper and the inclination to look around you.  Focus on something and begin to draw…no erasing.  Keep it loose and free.  Try not to perfect it, try not to correct, simply let yourself feel the essence of the subject. This is more relational than visual.  And it’s a brilliant way for everyone to begin to draw.  The focus is less on creating a likeness than on creating a feeling.

At any rate, if you are like me, eventually you’ll tighten up.  I can start out very loose.  But then that’s never enough.  One more line, just a little more shading.  In my mind I must try a little harder, and before long it’s no longer gesture…it’s “I am irrelevant unless I can create something masterful.”  And then of course, all the fun is gone.

A gesture drawing should never take more than about 5 minutes.  When you start feeling anxious, stop.  Try drawing something else.  Or simply walk away.

The beauty of this technique is that it takes about 15 minutes out of your day.  It doesn’t have to be lovely.  It doesn’t even have to be good.  It just has to be fast, before that higher part of you brain wants to take over and tell you it’s not good.  Interesting exercise.

A pad of paper and a pencil.  No eraser.  Not because you won’t make mistakes.  But because worrying about mistakes is just not the point.

gesture1

gesture2

 

 

Loyal Hearts – Civil War Quilters of Illinois

I don’t have much in common with my 12-year-old son any more.  I don’t write Minecraft apps and he doesn’t embroider. My idea of fun is strolling through a lovely garden and his is slipping and sliding feet first down a water slide.

That’s OK.  We venture into each others’ worlds often enough, and luckily we both love the art of conversation.  Today we found a precious piece of common ground.  He is a civil war aficionado and I am a quilter.  And Illinois State Museum in Lockport is bringing both of these interests together in a stunning display until Oct. 17.

Please make the time to go visit.  You won’t regret seeing these lovely pieces of history in person and reading the stories.

Just a few samples:

whiteonwhiteThis white on white embroidery whole cloth piece is just stunning.  Ask the docent to run the light over it or behind it to get the full effect.  Something that had me just mesmerized was the way the cloth does not pucker from all the stitches.  I’m still not sure why.  The thread is heavy and the stitching is dense and  very elaborate.  A mystery that went to the grave with this woman.

flag1This one was probably done 1912-1915.  Hence the 48 stars.  The women who assembled this would have been commemorating the local soldiers, and this likely was a raffle piece.

 

 

flag2Detailed hand embroidery for every name on the quilt.

 

 

 

 

wool1The young lady who created this quilt was from Aurora IL in Kane County.  Her husband went off to the war and she stayed home with family and created this masterpiece.

 

 

 

wool2It is speculated that she had ties to the general store and had access to precious fabric.  Cotton was not easily obtained so she used wool.

 

 

 

logcabin1My favorite piece, which is obviously one of the stars of the show is this Log Cabin quilt.  The story is that the woman who made this quilt had sons in both the Confederate and Union Armies.  Pieces of uniforms from both sides are embedded in the quilt.

 

 

logcabin2I’m not sure why, but it never occurred to me that Illinois could lean both toward the North and toward the South.  Chicago, of course was Yankee territory, but southern Illinois, down near the Kentucky border, was very much considered the south. Precisely what makes this quilt so very “Illinois” and so very poignant.

 

socksFinally, I had to include this gem.  Taken from a note sent with a pair of socks, it is a civil-war era form of social media. Match.com-style.  We gals haven’t changed so very much over the years, now, have we?

 

Fresh Projects and Fresh Strawberries

software sampler2This is a project I worked on at work and at home for the June Bernina Software Sampler, which I teach.  The project involved learning techniques for machine embroidery applique.  The bud of the flower is part of the tutorial, but I went ahead and incorporated other elements as well, adding the stems, leaves etc. to create a simple but “summery” table runner. Once again, I was inspired by something I saw on Pinterest.

No pattern available, but for those of you with embroidery machines and Bernina Embroidery Software 7, it’s a piece of cake….well, once you work out the dimensions.  The flower panels are 8 x 8 inches finished, and everything else falls into place after that.

(How many pairs of glasses does one sewist need? Hint: At one point I used them both.)

strawberriesOne of my favorite times of the year is when the strawberries are harvested at the local farm. Here’s a shout out to friends at Norton Farm.  They are an important part of our summer!  We’ll be waiting for the tomatoes, broccoli and finally the fabulous corn! I’m growing a few tomatoes and cukes out back, but the weather has been a little cool, so they are taking their time developing.

Here’s to the sweetness of summer!  May we always appreciate the bounty!

strawberries2

 

Slow But Steady

I am making some progress on the Polka Dot tree.  Getting the basics right is always slow going…and the truth is, I am making this up as I go along so we’ll see how it turns out.

The shape of the tree was first drawn on freezer paper.

treedrawingAs you can see, I had to tape several rows of freezer paper together.  Freezer paper is cheap.  Large format drawing paper is not.  I can work with almost anything.

Next I took the garment wool, which was half-price at the local shop, and I attached Wonder Under 805 to the back.  Any double sided adhesive paper would work, especially Steam-a-Seam Lite.  However, my experience is that once I attach the wool and iron it into position, the Wonder Under causes fewer problems with the sewing needle getting loaded with glue gunk.  Every project is slightly different so we’ll see how this goes.

Next, I laid out the wool with the fusible on the back right side up over my cutting mat, and placed the freezer paper drawing on top.  Then I simply trace the drawing with a rotary cutter.

tree1Next comes the tricky part, as the tree then is just a squiggly bunch of fabric that has to be switched over and laid out on the red twill.  Once it is moved into position, then I carefully remove the backing which allows me to fuse the tree to the background.

This is where you have to get creative.  I happen to own a small flat ironing pad which I literally move around under the flat tree, and iron/fuse a little at a time until the tree is attached to the twill.  It doesn’t have to be perfectly fused, as I will be stitching down all the branches and the trunk.  The fusing just has to be enough to hold everything in place while I am moving it around under the machine to stitch it on.

Next I spread it out over a layer of quilt batting to act as stabilizer.

This is NOT the quilt sandwich!

I will eventually trim off the edge of the quilt batting and attach more fabric to the sides of the quilt (I think…if all goes as planned). But I will be fusing polka dot leaves on top of all the branches – 60 of them, one for every fabric I received in the exchange.  Then I plan to do some embellishing and then once all is finished on the top of the quilt, I will add ANOTHER layer of quilt batting and the backing and then quilt the whole project.

Whew!  I’m exhausted just thinking about it.  But everything follows one step at a time.

Keep putting one foot in front of the other and eventually you make progress.  Just like life.

tree2

 

 

 

Warble Me Now, for Joy of Lilac Time

lilacs1by Walt Whitman

WARBLE me now, for joy of Lilac-time,
Sort me, O tongue and lips, for Nature’s sake, and sweet life’s sake,
Souvenirs of earliest summer—birds’ eggs, and the first berries;
Gather the welcome signs (as children, with pebbles, or stringing shells);
Put in April and May—the hylas croaking in the ponds—the elastic air,
Bees, butterflies, the sparrow with its simple notes,
Blue-bird, and darting swallow—nor forget the high-hole flashing his golden
wings,
The tranquil sunny haze, the clinging smoke, the vapor,
Spiritual, airy insects, humming on gossamer wings,
Shimmer of waters, with fish in them—the cerulean above;
All that is jocund and sparkling—the brooks running,
The maple woods, the crisp February days, and the sugar-making;
The robin, where he hops, bright-eyed, brown-breasted,
With musical clear call at sunrise, and again at sunset,
Or flitting among the trees of the apple-orchard, building the nest of his mate;
The melted snow of March—the willow sending forth its yellow-green sprouts;
—For spring-time is here! is here! and what is this in it and from it?
Thou, Soul, unloosen’d—the restlessness after I know not what;
Come! let us lag here no longer—let us be up and away!
O for another world! O if one could but fly like a bird!
O to escape—to sail forth, as in a ship!
To glide with thee, O Soul, o’er all, in all, as a ship o’er the waters!
—Gathering these hints, these preludes—the blue sky, the grass, the morning
drops of dew;
(With additional songs—every spring will I now strike up additional songs,
Nor ever again forget, these tender days, the chants of Death as well as Life;)
The lilac-scent, the bushes, and the dark-green, heart-shaped leaves,
Wood violets, the little delicate pale blossoms called innocence,
Samples and sorts not for themselves alone, but for their atmosphere,
To tally, drench’d with them, tested by them,
Cities and artificial life, and all their sights and scenes,
My mind henceforth, and all its meditations—my recitatives,
My land, my age, my race, for once to serve, in songs,
(Sprouts, tokens ever of death indeed the same as life,)
To grace the bush I love—to sing with the birds,
A warble for joy of Lilac-time.

lilacs2

Baby Steps Toward a Project

I’m getting ready to start working on the polka dot project.  I have an idea about creating a tree with the different polka dots as the leaves.  I am starting as a base fabric some absolutely lovely twill which I ran across on rosie.com, which had an advertising link to Honey Be Good. Honey Be Good sells premium organic cotton.  I’ve only purchased this red twill there so far, but wow, the twill is yummy.  I need some clothes made out of this stuff.

I’ll be adding wool as the trunk of the tree, and I wanted to outline it in white.  I’m never sure how it will all turn out, but that’s the thought right now.

So I experimented on the machine using white perle cotton, size 8, as the blanket stitch thread.

perleAs you can see, the perle has a lot of dimension, jumps off the fabric and generally adds a lot of pop. But size 8 is just too large to go through the tension disks properly.

 

 

 

 

backside  I used a 90/14 needle and reduced the tension somewhat.  But you can see that the back side was looking like it might get knotted and nested at any moment.  Considering the size of this project, I just don’t want to be worrying so much about the  thread.

 

aurifil 28

 

I switched to Aurifil, size 28, and used the triple blanket stitch.  I made the blanket stitch a little wider for visibility, since the thread is so much finer.  Aside from having a more “machine-stitched” look, it does the job with the same “eyeball impact”.

 

finalSo here’s where I’m eventually headed.  I will be using much larger pieces of wool on the twill, with the white blanket stitch around it.  Eventually the whole project will be machine quilted, but not until I get all the details that I want.

I urge you to really experiment with your machine and some of the thicker threads.  You can get a hand-stitched look, and even when it does not look quite as hand-stitched, you can certainly add texture, dimension and detail to your project.

Be bold.  Nobody is writing the rules.