Tuesday, July 29, 2014

UFO Day at the Guild

All quilters have UFO's (unfinished objects) or WIP's (works in progress). I jokingly refer to my habit of working on multiple projects at a time as QADHD (Quilter's Attention Deficit with Hyperactivity Disorder). To my credit, I do eventually finish each project and I don't tire of a project easily since I jump from one to the other.

At today's UFO day I worked on laying down some beaded embroidery stitches on my red crazy circles.  I anticipated getting a lot more done, but there was lots of news to share today and I did at least as much talking as I did stitching. A wonderful reference for beading are Nancy Eha's books-- Bead Creative Like Crazy and Bead Creative Art Quilts. Click here for Nancy's site. I've taken several classes with Nancy and she is an excellent teacher

I thought I would sketch out a plan, but scratched that after a few minutes and decided to begin by beading the 5-sided patch in each circle first before deciding where to go from there. It's been a few months since I did this type of beading, so I had to get in the zone again. I began with a basic outline stitch, then moved on to some simple chain stitch, fly stitch, and ended with feather stitch.

I'm working on the 3 blocks simultaneously so that each has the same type/color of beads as I'll invariably run out and have to buy more and they may not match the ones that I've already used. I enjoy stitching at night, so this part of the project shouldn't take too long. There's also another UFO day next week. I think these circles will set off the black and white wall hanging I pieced. My next step is to find a backing fabric so I can quilt the piece before appliqueing on these circles. I'd like to find a black and white print with some red in it.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Constructing Circular Crazy Quilt "Blocks"

Is it correct to call something circular a block? Whether it is or isn't, I've just finished constructing 3 of them, a large, medium, and small, all done in fancy red fabrics. I could have constructed 3 blocks, then used templates to cut them into circles, but since I was making them without any patterns, I wanted to see what would develop. As I progressed from large to small, there were definitely challenges which I met using  some curved patches and some appliqued ones.

I began by going through my stash of red-hued fancy fabric, a somewhat limited selection, and choosing fabrics which worked well together. Most of the fabrics were solid, so I had to rely on texture to add interest to each block. I drew 3 circles of different sizes onto a piece of muslin then cut them apart leaving a generous margin around each. I then cut my first patch, a 5-sided one. I always begin with a 5-sided patch as it prevents the finished block from looking "strippy." Working clockwise around that first patch, I used the flip and sew method to completely cover my drawn line. When I was done, I pinned the template (made from freezer paper) to the patch and sewed around it so I had a true circle. I proceeded in like fashion with the other two circles.

I plan to use only red beads to embellish the seams of these circles, though I will use a selection of various sizes and types of beads (though plans have been known to change). Right now my plan is to use just the beads for embellishment. These circles will be finished using the interfacing method of applique to attach them to the black and white wall hanging I posted about last week (see here).

Monday, July 21, 2014

I'm on a Mission

Yes, I'm on a mission--a mission to finish up my UFO's and simultaneously clean up my studio. A year or so ago an art quilter named Terry Kramzar did a program at one of my quilt guilds. While I didn't take her workshop, a good friend did and shared the details of how to create what I consider a canvas for playing with fabric or embellishments. I created the piece above which hangs in my beach condo. The batiks and the soft pastels mirror the view of the Gulf of Mexico and is suited for its new home.

I then started another piece using the same technique, this time using some fancy fabrics from my crazy quilting stash. I inadvertently made only 8 squares instead of 9, so it joined the ranks of my UFO's.  I'm sure I had an idea at the time, but I didn't make any sketches and now I'm not quite sure what to do with it now that I've made the final square and pieced it together.

I'm a fairly decent detective (I had to be to stay one step ahead of my students) and the fact that I'd stored it with a book on motifs leads me to think I intended to do another beaded applique. I'll leave it up on my design wall to see if anything occurs to me. I'm open to suggestions...

Sunday, July 20, 2014

You CAN Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

I've been crazy quilting for about 5 years now, being mostly self-taught. There are some wonderful books on crazy quilting which have lead me to books on beading, silk ribbon embroidery, embroidery, stumpwork--well, the list goes on. I've taken several online classes, a few classes at quilt shows, and I've even taught my own workshop on crazy quilting. I continue to get inspiration from some wonderful blogs, one of which is Shawkl.  I usually embellish my seams "free hand," meaning I don't use templates or draw guidelines. I'm pleased with the look, but I have a set of plastic templates I bought from Sharon Boggons as well as a book of templates that I bought from Kathy Shaw, so when I read on her blog that she was offering a free online class, I joined. Although the class is geared toward beginning crazy quilters, Kathy graciously welcomes any skill level. Why am I taking the class? I want to experience embellishing using a hoop and using the aforementioned templates. I'm quite certain I will learn a great deal more from Kathy, whose work is beautiful.

I truly believe that no matter how knowledgeable you are in any area, you can always learn more. I've been fortunate to meet many talented fiber artists in the 2 guilds I belong to as well as the online groups I participate in. I've learned from so many and hope I, in turn, have helped others by sharing what I know .

In this class, we will all be making the same block and embellishing it the same way. I understand why Kathy is doing this. We were given the pattern to use to piece our block and directed to use neutral fabrics in constructing it. I'm anxious for the next step.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

I'm So Dizzy

I decided to create a second blog since much more of my time these days is spent quilting rather than cooking. While I still post occasionally to The Food of Love, it's more to archive my favorite recipes for my personal use.

My intention here is to chronicle my passion for the fiber arts, most especially quilting. I began hand piecing and hand quilting in the late seventies. Then, it was a way to alleviate stress. I enjoyed making baby quilts for family and friends, but didn't have a great deal of time to devote to this hobby since I was working full time, attending graduate school, and attempting to get ahead in my career.

In 2004, I retired after 35 years in education and began my odyssey in machine quilting. Since then I've spent thousands of hours taking classes, learning new techniques, attending quilt shows, and amassing an alarming collection of fabric, threads, sewing "tools," and embellishments. I've also returned to "hand work" in the form of crazy quilting, though I continue to create "sane" quilts.

This piece, which measures 48" X 48" will become a wall hanging. I began it in a workshop given by Ed Bostick on Tuesday and finished it this morning. After I quilt it--I need lots of practice free motion quilting--I intend to applique on a small, red, spherical crazy block.

Stay tuned.