Improv and More

I have started working on an improvisational quilt.

Basically , it means I start sewing before I have any idea what I’m creating. For anyone who knows me, this way of doing things is right up my alley.  I just purchased this book, “An Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters” by Sheri Lynn Wood.


Naturally, I flipped through the book and then started without so much as reading a paragraph.  I promise I will go back and read. The book looks great.  I just was inspired by the word “improv” and began immediately.



Here’s a sneak peak and to be honest , I don’t know how I will complete it. Just know that it’s a gift, so I don’t want to divulge the whole quilt til it’s been given away.  At that point, it’s done and there can be no regrets or turning back.  For now, it’s simply a work in progress.

In machine embroidery, I am preparing to teach a Software Inspirations class based on a tutorial from Sylvain Bergeron, Bernina educator.  In it, we learn to create textile fabric using embroidery…like argyle.

argyle1This is done completely in software, then stitched out as machine embroidery.  It can now be cut up and used as a handbag piece, or in a quilt, or basically used as any other fabric.  Would be fun to do a small series of these in different shades and then put them together as a quilt or table runner.  Although I’m sure this image looks black and white, the thread used in the squares is actually a mauve with white lines, on Moda’s black grunge fabric.

That being said, like many sewists, I spend a lot of time in the garden in the spring, head back into the sewing room when it rains or as the weather gets too warm and buggy to be hanging around outside.  I leave you with a few lovely pics from around the area this past couple of weeks.  The earth is stunning.


Peony tree

Wild  phlox

Wild phlox

Crabapple tree

Crabapple tree

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