Friday, 30 December 2016

Happy New Year!

The days between Christmas and the New Year are mine - all mine!

As such, I've had a chance to finish my "Within and Without" challenge for my secret art quilt group. We met in the summer and have decided to keep things private, so I can say no more about the group. I can, however, show you my finish!

Windows to the Soul, by Carole Gold
12 x 12 inches
Here is the accompanying statement:

"Expression and perception. Eyes often express our inner world while simultaneously allowing us to see out. It is my hope that the subject's gaze gives viewers a sense of being "seen" from within the quilt as intimately as she is being observed from without."

Just before Christmas I spent an afternoon helping Laina, my granddaughter, finish a baby quilt for her new baby brother. She and Riley (her other brother) had the quilt all planned and prepped ahead of time. Riley opted out at that point, leaving Laina and me to carry on.

We were in a hurry, so why not piece it on the longarm?

Strip piecing on the longarm

We loaded backing and batting, and then we pieced the strips in a "stitch and flip" manner. The horizontal channel lock on my machine made it easier to stitch straight seams. The strips finished at 2" wide, so Laina decided they didn't need additional quilting.

The panel with the baby's name was added in the same way. It did need to be quilted, and Laina had a clear vision of what she wanted to do. She drew her idea on a little scrap paper to see if she could manage it on her own.

Testing her idea on paper

And then she jumped in and quilted away! (Did I mention she is eleven? And fearless?)
Laina loves the longarm!

Laina's quilting!

Here she is (below) with the trimmed quilt - pleased as punch!

At that point I offered to do the binding, and get it wrapped and tucked under the tree in time for Christmas. (Machine binding to the rescue!)

Ready to bind!

It absolutely made my day to see Laina all excited when her momma opened the quilt on Christmas morning!
Love in action. :)

Sneaking one last client quilt through before Christmas was another happy finish - for the client as well as for me!

Ripples panto on a client quilt

I love how the watery feel of the quilting design supports the quilt's theme.

And So, on to the New Year...

Tomorrow will be my day to look back in review, and then to look forward with focus and intent. Writing and reflection will help me define how to spend my time in the upcoming year.

I neglected this ritual a year ago and felt the difference.
  • definitely wasn't as motivated as usual - didn't have a "big picture" view in my head, so it was easy to sit on the couch instead of hitting the studio or the gym after work
  • without written reminders of my priorities I let some things slide by that I would have benefited from pursuing
  • felt like I was jumping from fire to fire - everything seemed much more "last minute" without that overview
I much prefer to have a guiding vision for myself so I don't wind up wandering a path I didn't choose. Once time is spent, there's no getting it back, so I intend to choose wisely this year!

All the best as you set your path into 2017, as well.  
Happy New Year!

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Discharge Experiment, Continued

Earlier this month I tested discharge spray on a variety of fabrics. (Click here to see a bit of the process.)

Just in case success came knocking, I decided to use a nature theme, and also attempt to create a pleasing composition while working quickly and freely.

Mainly, I wanted to get the discharge spray on every single fabric without making a total mess.

Discharge tester

Commercial stencils were used to speed things along - I wanted to see the discharge results, pronto!, so didn't take time to make my own.

This experiment enabled me to choose fabrics for my next project based on their discharge properties.
Exactly what I needed!

Next, I wanted to test a couple of foiling effects. I used Bo-Nash fusing powder to make fine sparkles, and foiling adhesive (a special glue) to make the dots.

Copper foil, two ways

Next - the quilting test. (What would happen if . . . ?)

To keep their edges soft, yet visible, I decided to quilt the main images (bird, leaves, fern) with a sketchy outline in black thread.

Sketchy stitching

Secondary images (bark, "nest", trees) were quilted by loosely following their shapes. Very loosely. More like reflecting their essence, if you will.

Quilting detail

The background was quilted with a very fine (100wt) thread. First, I echoed the main image of the bird. Then, I filled in with leaves (around the bird) and a jagged stipple (around everything else).

I stitched right through the foil sparkles, but avoided stitching over the dots. The foil is soft enough to quilt through, but I didn't want to visually "push" the dots to the back.

Testing thread and quilting effects on these images has been a valuable exercise. Now I'm ready to finish other projects featuring sun prints and bleach discharge!

As an added bonus, I love how this turned out!

Living my mantra of
Try, Learn & Grow!

Sunday, 11 December 2016

An Experiment is Afoot!

I needed to test how a variety of fabrics would respond to discharge spray.
Naturally I thought, "why not make more work for myself by piecing them together first." ;-)

Anything can happen!

Actually, I was interested in how the process would work across seams, so this really was a sensible course of action.

Have you seen discharge spray in action? It's pretty cool.
Spray. Let dry. Iron to activate the magic!
It smells like ass. But it works!

Here is a section that needed one more bit of branch on the right. It's been sprayed and has had time to dry completely. The next few photos will show how the image appears when hit with the iron.

Discharge spray becomes practically undetectable when dry.

Barely touched, and the image is starting to show.

A hint of things to come.

A little more heat . . . it could be left like this if desired, but I kept going.

Image becomes more definite as heat is applied.

Lots of heat and steam gave the effect I wanted.

The final result.

See? Cool!

My experiment is shaping up - more to come!

Experimenting is a must when heading into a larger project, and I'm not done with this yet. I'd like to test paint colours for stamping, thread colours and types, and quilting motifs to see what I like.

The imagery will be different on the actual project - it's the techniques and colours that matter here.

Oh, but before I stamp and stitch, I plan to test bleach as a discharge agent on the same group of fabrics. Bleach reacts immediately, and there is wayyyy less control than with the decolourant spray. It's going to be exciting!

Ready for the next experiment!

I'm going to test each fabric separately - I'm hoping to accidentally-on-purpose (serendipitously) create images that can be worked into my actual project. If a fabric responds extremely well, I'll be able to discharge more on the spot. (Let's hope for the best, right?)

Fresh off the Frame

Quilts that come to me with no particular deadline may wait a bit as I work to meet hard deadlines in quilting and in life.

The biggest lesson I have learned is to not rush a quilt. If I do, the quilt suffers. I suffer. The owner doesn't get my very best work.

If you are waiting for a quilt, please know that it is best for it to go on the frame when I can give it my full, loving attention. The design will be better. The flow will happen. And I won't want to burn your quilt. (ha!)

If it's waiting it's because I'm not ready. I'm still thinking of how to do the quilting. Obsessing, really! Drawing, scheming, visualizing, hunting for ideas in my class notes and online. Sometimes a quilt has to marinate, even after it is on the frame. So I try to wait until I'm ready.

So . . . if you are waiting, thank you so much for your patience with my process!!! Yours is probably next!!!
(Seriously, it is! I'll bet you know who you are!)

Now, how 'bout some quilts that have made it through the studio in time for Christmas!

A cheerful red, black & white features the Hearts in Bloom pantograph.

Hearts in Bloom pantograph

Feathers are set off by straight lines in the table topper, below.

Custom quilting.

A lacy feather fills the black/silver areas, and a swirly feather adds interest to the red areas. Both wrap in a clockwise direction around the quilt, appearing to weave themselves together.

Quilting close up!

I knew ahead of time that the red minky on the back of the next quilt would be trimmed, tucked and wrapped to the front as binding. I trimmed the batting to the edge of the top after quilting, and the rest will happen in the hands of its maker.

Flannel with a minky back - cozy!!

Speaking of Life . . .

It wouldn't be Christmas without traditions, and in our family that includes a day of tart baking. We missed it last year and none of us wanted to miss it again, so we coordinated our schedules (a herculean effort!) and had (almost) a whole day together! By the end of the day we had produced hundreds of delicious butter and jam tarts - all from scratch. Yumm!

Good thing these freeze well!

House update

It's not finished. (Captain Obvious here. ha!)
But it is insulated and has a temporary furnace warming things up for the workers. Yay for progress!

Try, Learn, & Grow!
P.S. Find me on Instagram under my blog name, Fresh off the Frame.
I'm a bit weird about not sharing the same thing in two places, so photos that appear there will not typically appear here, and vice versa. Keepin' things fresh, all around!

Saturday, 3 December 2016

The Bloomin Inn

Longarming + Sue Patten + Dusty Farrell =  one heckofa busy retreat at the Bloomin Inn!

The Bloomin Inn

Bradie and Matt of the Sparrow Quilt Company put together longarm classes in a retreat setting - IN ALBERTA - and I couldn't resist signing on!

Dusty's Class
The classrooms were rarely empty - I must have taken this at noon when everyone bolted for the dining room!
Anyway, this was Dusty's space for the duration.


We were divided into two groups - my group worked with Dusty first. We did four sessions over the course of two days before switching and doing the same with Sue.

I can't remember Dusty's session names, but they were things like "Bread N Butter Quilting", "Good Feathers Gone Bad", "Filigree Feathers" and the like. This is a little taste of my work on Day One.

Day one at the frame

Feathers got fancier as the day went on.

Trying new shapes

And then we got into ruler work and templates - and that was pretty fun, too!

Using Dusty's tools

Here's Dusty showing his process at the white board. He would also draw on fabric for people to trace, which explains the marker tucked over his ear.

It was also a great mental exercise to watch him quilt. I liked to see how he would handle awkward areas with grace, and how he filled up the space.

Dusty Farrell

Show and Tell!
We enjoyed a trunk show one evening. The quilts were passed around, and we were welcome to take photos. There's nothing better than a close look at the quilting!

Cute, right??? I believe this is Sue's work.
Sue and Dusty presented the trunk show together, but I'm pretty sure I can tell their work apart.

And, I believe this is Dusty's super cool work.
Sue is holding one of her whole cloth quilts, below. (Who needs to piece when you can quilt like that?)

Sue Patten

Another of Sue's whole cloth quilts, below. Even though Sue hates this quilt (there's a back story), it's an award winner for good reason. The stitching is beautiful.

Sue's thread work

Below is a close up of some of Dusty's thread work.
He made a quilt for the Sparrows depicting an angel and a devil (both sparrows, of course!). Bradie says that CLEARLY this guy represents Matt, which means she must be the angel. I will (wisely) leave it to them to sort that out on their own! Ha!

Dusty's thread work

Sue's turn!
Four sessions on various topics whizzed by with Sue, too. We used stencils in inventive ways and learned to stretch, tweak, flip, combine, and change designs to fit every space on a quilt.

Sue at the white board

Sue's designs were less familiar, so they took extra thought on my part. And scribbling. Lots of scribbling!
(Brain training!)

Once I had a shape figured out, tracing it over and over helped train my brain!

Once I started getting the hang of things, the shapes were really fun to stitch! (Remember, we were learning on the fly - tidiness was the last thing on my mind!)

Feather variations

We also learned how Sue uses rulers in her work, and played with even more variations (size, shapes, fillers, spines, and so on).

Dressing up geometric "bones"

While I can't show you everything we learned in our classes, I can show you how we all felt by the end of day four.
Not kidding!

Catchin' some zzzz's

The Inn
The following photos hint at the artful displays of collectibles at the retreat center. Every nook and cranny was bursting with bits of history.

In the dining room:

 On the way in the door of "the barn" where the classrooms and some of the bedrooms are housed:

One corner in Sue's classroom (the view in every direction had more, More, MORE!)

Out on the deck:

I don't even remember where this was taken!

Entry to the house:

It's fascinating - but I sure am glad I don't have to dust!!!

Home, Sweet Home
Now I'm home and excited to make good use of the things I've learned!

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Special Exhibit

We (the Valley Peacemakers Quilt Guild) have filled the DMI Gallery @ the library with quilts for the month of November!

A few of the quilts in our Boreal Forest exhibit

This year we are featuring a special exhibit of "Boreal Forest" themed quilts made especially for the children's area of the library. All thirteen will move to their new home at the end of the month.

Cheeky is hanging with his new crew (the Boreal Forest gang), so it's time for me to let him go.
Bye, Cheeky! I know you will be in good hands.

Cheeky, on display

My Festival of Trees donation is also hanging in the show - until it is time to hand it over to Festival organizers next week.

It's been placed where it won't leave an obvious "hole" in the show when it comes down. We generally want things to stay for the whole show, but my guild-mates made an exception in this case. (It wouldn't be so great to have a disappearing show if everything were temporary, would it!) I'm very glad to have been allowed to hang it.

Festival donation on temporary display

This is just a peek - the gallery is FULL of quilty goodness!
Admission is free, and the show is open during regular library hours for the whole month of November!

Fresh off the Frame

Flowers in the quilting complement the graphic nature of the quilt, below. Slate grey thread subtly ties the look together.

Petal Pushers Panto

Mickey seemed to call for something fun - like bubbles! White thread pops on the black areas, yet allows Mickey to remain the star of the show.

Bubbles Panto

Mickey has minky on the back - thus the "fluff" on the front! No point in cleaning it off until the quilt is bound, even for a photo. (Ask me how I know. Ha!)

Minky + Mickey = cozy fun!

In case you are wondering . . . 

This discussion comes up regularly when clients visit my studio for the first time. It is only natural to assume that a machine as advanced as my APQS is automated.

In fact, a computerized component is available, but in my case:
  • My quilting is all hand guided
  • My machine is a tool that doesn't work without me.
  • Though I strive for consistency, there will always be slight variations in my (hand guided) work. 

I don't mind.
In fact, I love the look of my "perfectly imperfect" quilting!

So now you know!

(There is nothing wrong with computerized stitching, you understand . . . it's just not my preferred way of working at the moment. If you are a computerized quilting master, please know that I respect the skill-set needed for that whole ball of wax, too!)

House Update

It still takes a fair bit of imagination to see the finish line, but I thought I'd share a couple of pictures of my future studio space anyway!

First, the door that will greet clients is facing the driveway (currently a mud bog) to make it easy for people to find me.

Future client door

A private door at the back of the studio will make it easy for me to get outside with supplies for painting, printing, and dyeing.

Future studio space, under construction

In addition to the longarm, there will be a zone for my personal sewing, and storage cabinets for the "messy stuff" mentioned above. There's also a walk-in closet at the back of the room - a great place to organize client quilts.

I'm looking forward to the efficiency of merging my sewing room and longarm studio. Much as I love my current set up, it will save many steps to have everything under the same roof!

Try, Learn, & Grow!