Quilt Market Mash-Up

quilt market springQuilt Market 2015 is in full swing in Minneapolis this year.  If you’re not familiar with Quilt Market, it’s the place where all the fabric designers and fabric makers and product developers present their new products to potential buyers (shop owners).

It is a twice-yearly event, spring and fall.  I am hoping to attend the one in the fall, but we’ll see as things get closer!

For this year, I am content to live vicariously through social media.

If you want to follow along with all the chatter and visuals and news, here are a few ideas for getting the scoop.

On twitter, instagram and facebook, follow the hashtags:

#quiltmarket  #fqsquiltmarket #showmethemoda #modagoestomarket

Fat Quarter Shop’s blog site will be live tweeting, updating, creating youtube videos and much more.

Art Gallery Fabrics is streaming live at certain times during the show.  Find out more here.

Want a visual overview?  Head over to #quiltmarket’s Instagram stream.

That’s enough social media to hold me for awhile — especially since I’ll be working into the weekend.  Have fun and enjoy all the new and exciting stuff out there!

 

Adventures in Transfer Artist Paper

I love transfer artist paper.  I’ve used it a number of times with differing effects.

transfer artist paperYou can purchase this online or at craft stores, possibly your local quilt shop.

It works only with an ink jet printer, and your results will come easier to you if you have a little bit of experience in photo software, like Photoshop or Corel.

You print the image onto the paper and then iron the image onto your fabric.  The BIG difference between TAP and printing directly onto fabric paper is that the transfer actually becomes a part of your fabric…any fabric.  It never washes out.  It’s permanent.

botanical transferYou can see on this image that this botanical transfer prints right over the fabric and the underlying pattern shows through.  This particular print worked beautifully because it ended up looking like dew on the plant.  The instructions say you can print on wood, glass, stone, basically anything, as long as you can iron on it.  It takes a little practice but here are a few tips:

–Always use a hot DRY iron —  no steam.

–Remove the transfer while it’s still hot.

–Illustrations tend to look more interesting than photos, but worth trying both.

–Reverse anything with lettering before you print it on TAP or it will read backward.

–Cut as close to the image as possible before you iron it on your fabric.

–Try ripping the edges of your paper before ironing.  It gives a torn, aged effect.

–Experiment, experiment, experiment!  If you are a photography junkie like me, this is a great way to play with your images.

Here’s an example from the upcoming Software Inspirations program I’ll be teaching next week:

transfer artist paper 3I also added some embroidery to this project, which is actually a travel pillow.

cameraThe final image is from a Messenger Bag, the project I created from a previous Software Sampler lesson — a good text example of using Transfer Artist Paper to convey an emotion, a worn timelessness.

I’ll leave you with my all-time favorite quote from Macbeth:

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

transfer artisp paper3

Photography and Stitching on Organza, with a Touch of Needle Felting

I worked on this piece several years ago, but I recently brought it out again because of my work with Transfer Artist Paper. (I’ll show you that in my next post.)

In this example, I transferred my photography onto printable organza.  You can buy sheets at an art supply store or even an office supply store…certainly online as well.  They are designed for ink jet printers only.

printable organza sheets

I played with black and white photography and used a (more or less) abstract photo and began a collage. stitch on organza  You can see from the photo that I added a number of different layers of texture — background fabric, organza photo, embroidery.

And believe it or not, the whitish fabrics floating a little ghost-like around the edges, are used-up bounce dryer sheets.  They are shredded and needle felted onto the surface, with embroidery on top.  (Incidentally, the photo is a detail of a wrought iron gate on the side of the road, which surrounded an old farm family tomb.  It is just down the street from my house. The gate has since collapsed and been replaced with something much less ornate.  But the tomb remains.)

In the detail below, you can get a good look at the needle felting used to attach the organza and the dryer sheets.  On the organza, the more felting I did, the more the organza began to sort of pull apart and shred, which gave it a wonderful, antique faded look.

detail machine embroidery

detail needle punch organza

The embroidery over the top added a whole new level of detail and interest. This is one of those experimental pieces that gets more interesting the closer you look.  I really enjoyed playing with textures other than simple quilt cotton.  Our sewing machines are designed to sew through many different types of fabric and materials.  While quilt cotton is easily accessible and stunningly designed these days, you just never know what fun things you can use in your “art quilting” travels.

Machine Quilting with Embroidery

I love doing my own quilting. But it’s not the easiest thing in the world, is it.

I’m actually OK at it, as long as the quilt is less than twin size.  Bigger than that, and well, let’s just say I am still in the process of hand-quilting a queen size quilt I started quilting over a year ago.  Still, I find it difficult to bring myself to hand over my quilt to someone else.  Maybe one day I will change my mind.  But for now, if I make a quilt, I want to be the one to quilt it.

So I have been experimenting with using my embroidery module to quilt.  The largest hoop I can fit on my machine only goes to 8 inches wide, so that limits the size block I can quilt.

Nevertheless, my first experiment is with a simple block and a couple of simple quilt designs.

machine quilting 2I know the hoop looks like it will go wider, but I am using a hoop that’s larger than my machine will go.  (For all you Bernina fans, I have a 780 machine and a jumbo hoop instead of the maxi hoop.)

Using King Tut variegated thread from Superior, I got a beautiful stitch that really added dimension to the quilt.

IMG_3625When doing this kind of quilting, the trick is to use a machine that has “perfect placement”.  This simply means that even after you have the block hooped, the machine gives you the option of moving the design in tiny increments to get your placement just right.

I still need to add the binding, and this was not a huge piece.  But I look forward to trying this with larger and larger quilts.

I also have another technique in mind that I will be trying soon, so I’m hoping to show you more options using your embroidery.  Lots and lots of quilting embroidery designs are available.  Let’s make the most of our embroidery and get those quilt tops quilted!

quilt in the hoop

 

Maybe You Stitch on the Edge Too!

An edgestitch is exactly what it sounds like.  A stitch on the edge.

Most sewing machines have a specific foot for this purpose and Bernina’s foot #10D is, of course, one of my favorites.

On the way to sewing this baby quilt I decided to add a ruffle.  So I cut 2 1/2 in. strips as you would for bias binding.  Only I needed twice as much to form the ruffle.  Because I wanted the ruffle to last through many washings, I decided to add a stitch right on the edge of the fold prior to ruffling.

edgestitch foot3I moved the needle 2 points over to the left, to stay just inside the fold.

rufflingNext I started to ruffle. You can see I am adjusting the ruffler to get just the right amount of “bite” so that the ruffle isn’t too curvy, but also not too flat.  You can see the edgestitch along the left, on the fold.  In general, when creating a ruffle, you need your length of the ruffle fabric to be twice the length of the fabric it will cover.

Then I attached the ruffle. (I don’t have a picture of that.)

edgestitch foot

Next, I attached the binding over the raw edge of the ruffle and the raw edge of the quilt.  It naturally wanted to turn itself with the ruffle on the outside, so I went ahead and did another edgestitch along the top front of the quilt.  The binding lays flat underneath.

edgestitch flawlessThe whole thing was only possible because I have rounded corners on the quilt…no miters. And I used a bias ruffle and a bias binding.  Isn’t that a gorgeous edgestitch?  Nothing like having the right tool for the job.

edgestitch foot4Now all I have left to do is to hand-stitch the binding on the back.  The binding is longer than usual because of the way the ruffle is attached.

almostfinishedNow all we have to do is wait for the baby.

 

 

Quilt Market Prep

It’s that time of year again. Quilt Market is coming up and the fabric designers and manufacturers are revving up their marketing engines. Come May 15-17, they will be at full throttle and social media will be abuzz with new product, new designs, new fabric and quilty fun.

But I’ve always loved a good preview.

And fabric manufacturers are getting good at it.

One of my favorites is Art Gallery Fabrics.  Young, hip, fresh, at least by my standards.  I love what new designers (read: young people) are doing in the industry.  Art Gallery has released a Look Book of their new Spring 2015 fabric. 

Take a look and let me know your favorites.  Mine so far is Sketchbook and Happy Home, but I have to admit, I love them all and would be hard-pressed to choose.

Moda, the pop queen of fabric manufacturers, is also starting to tease some of their new lines. On their blog, we get a glimpse of the new Bonnie and Camille,  as well as Minnick and Simpson, Zen Chic and Fig Tree Quilts.

Stay tuned, as I will try to distill some of the quilt market info as it becomes available.  In the meantime, quilt on, friends!

grandneice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New quilt in progress for my  grand niece,  pattern is free from Me and My Sister Designs.  Fabric is Airmail, by Eric and Julie Comstock.

 

 

Art and Art Only

“Art and art only can cause violence to be set aside.”  –Leo Tolstoy

For anyone with a child in the school system within the last 15 years, you know what STEM stands for:  Science, Technology, Engineering, Math.

Experts (MANY experts)  tell us that’s what all our children must be trained in, in order to move the country forward, in order to get jobs, in order to be successful.

Do you agree?

As for me, I have mixed feelings.  No doubt, STEM provides key strengths for our kids to make a living in the future.  No doubt, we all need these skills to build infrastructure, cure diseases, and solve problems.  No doubt.

Where, then, in society, do we learn more subtle skills?  Things like anger management, empathy, caring for one another, caring for the planet and the rest of the world around us?  Or even less subtle skills like critical thinking, decision-making, morality, justice and local and global citizenship?

In the last election, only 12% of 18-30 year-olds even bothered to vote.  I wonder what percentage of them own a smart phone.  My guess is somewhat more than 12%.

“Art and art only can cause violence to be set aside.”

Tolstoy had a wide vision of art:  literature, paintings, music, poetry, drama.  Soft skills to say the least.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love doctors, scientists and engineers…(I’m married to one).  But STEM is only useful when it is accompanied and partnered with creative thinking, creative expression, beauty, appreciation, and acceptance of our common humanity.

IMG_2466My embroidered tablecloth and fabric tulip vase. I ‘ll teach it at a Software Inspirations class.

IMG_2468

 

 

 

 

What Have You Done With Machine Embroidery Lately?

machine embroidery2I ask myself that all the time.

My latest project is one I’m doing for work, which will be for a class in April.  It’s a part of Bernina’s Software Sampler presentation.  I am stitching out a ring of 8 designs to be used (ultimately) on a tablecloth for a round table.

It’s far from complete, but I promise to show you when it’s done.

But what’s new in the home embroidery industry?  Well, that’s where this gets interesting.

I have a few favorite sites that I visit, but I’ve noticed some trends and thought I’d share some of the best with you.

Urban Threads, always on the cutting edge (no pun intended) of embroidery, has a new Look Book out. You have to take a minute to browse…very fun stuff.

You’ll notice that lettering, in many forms, has re-emerged as one of the most popular uses for embroidery.  I see this trend at work very often as well.  Everyone wants an item that is personalized, whether that is for a wedding, or just a simple monogram, the birth of a baby, you name it.

Bernina has just released new, inexpensive software that lets you add lettering to any embroidery design or just create your own lettering in any true type font that you have loaded on your computer.

This is a big deal.  In recent years, Bernina’s software with lettering had an entry price of over $1000.  The new software, called Customizer, saves to any machine format and is available for under $250 at any local Bernina dealer.  But, as I say, anyone with any type of embroidery machine can use this software. Find out more about it here.

And all you techies looking for something new and fun for your machine embroidery?

I found just the thing.

Janome has introduced an app for ipad or android that is called AcuDesign.  It’s a $49.99 app.  But before you get nervous about the price, you have to see all that it does:

–Comes with 500 designs.

–Allows you to see animated stitch-outs.

–Edit your designs.

–Resize them.

–Send them directly to your email when you want to stitch.

–Save in any format, work in any machine’s hoop.

acudesign2acudesign1Might be hard to see on my ipad in this picture, but the way you scroll through the various designs is so easy, and the work screen is intuitive.

 

And if you ever need more info, Janome has created a webinar, over an hour long, that goes over all the features. (Love these gals in the webinar, they sound like people I should know!)

 

 

 

 

Finally, I am seeing a bump in interest in crazy quilting.  The website mollymine.com has a lovely collection of crazy quilt designs, from quilt blocks to holiday-themed.  And our friends at Designs in Machine Embroidery have featured crazy quilting on the front cover of their April issue, with a free crazy quilt design available.

dime

 

Soooooooo…..what have you done with machine embroidery lately?

We have a world of opportunities in front of us. And we haven’t even looked at Pinterest yet.

(Yet.)