Rewarding Myself

I took Easy Street and Poppies ("You're Getting Sleepy") off to a quilt shop for their longarm services today.  I don't particularly enjoy quilting larger quilts on my home machine. Easy Street is gi-normous, at least, for what I usually do. Poppies is a little more manageable--it's about 55"x70"-ish. But I figured I may as well have someone else working on that one while I move on. I should have them both back in a couple of weeks.

Then I decided to reward myself with just a little new fabric. How can we walk out of a quilt shop without taking something home with us, really?

I've been eyeing that top fabric in magazines for awhile: Earthtones: Art in Motion by Norman Wyatt Jr. for P&B Textiles. The quilt shop only had about a yard and a half left on the bolt. Finish the bolt, get the whole amount for 20% off. Sold!

And, of course, I had to get something to coordinate. The blue is a blue I don't already have in my stash so I decided better safe than sorry. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Yesterday, a local quilt artist was cleaning out her studio and had a huge studio sale. I wasn't able to go myself, but my friend Lori hustled on over and had my permission to buy me anything she thought I'd like and I'd reimburse her. Lori and I have done enough fabric shopping together now that I knew she'd be able to hit the nail on the head. Sure 'nuff, here was what she handed over to me today.

These three large ziploc bags were filled with scraps of a variety of fabrics that the quilt artist had experimented with or used parts of and so forth. She was selling them as bags so it was pretty much pot-luck, but that was the fun of it. There were some real treasures in there! Hand-dyed silks and cottons, stamped fabrics, organzas, other fabrics I couldn't even identify (not being much in the garment world you get me too far beyond cotton and I'm lost), but they'll be fun to play with.

This evening, I had the very cathartic experience of dismantling my Easy Street project bin and cleaning off my cutting table. I ended up putting a lot more fabrics back on my shelf than I'd thought I would at the beginning of this project--I was hoping it would use a lot more stash. Oh well--I can always make pillowcases!

Randomness and a Finish

1. My friend Lori from guild took my left-over baby receiving blanket flannel scraps and turned them into adorable stuffed bunnies. Bunny is now a spring decoration in my home. He makes me smile.

2. I need a pedicure. Not at all related to #1.

3. It's officially summer by my clock. I got in the pool for the first time today. Hence noticing #2.

 4. Stonyfield Organic Low-Fat Vanilla Yogurt, frozen pineapple chunks, frozen mango chunks, a fresh banana, and a splash of orange juice make for a wonderful, vacation-y-feeling breakfast smoothie. A little beach time without the beach. Or the time. But we'll take what we can get. Puts me in the mood for #3 and, by extension, #2. Maybe I'll bring #1 with me to cuddle too.

5. I finally finished "Joy"! It started out just playing with shapes, but that word kept coming to me and became the guiding principle.

5a. It's the joy that I've witnessed in the lives of so many women. Women who have been through Some Stuff. And yet, joy abounds.

5b. I learned how to let go.

5c. I discovered the fun of just cutting shapes and seeing what happens.

5d. I learned to be okay with the fact that a fern suddenly looked a whole lot more like a big speckled bird. Conversation piece.

5e. I listened when my quilt told me it needed another fern peeking out from the side, behind the border. "Okay. Whatever you say. You're the boss."

5f. I took my time, redoing a figure several times over until I got one that was more or less the shape I was going for. I found fascination in noticing the slight changes in line that could create a whole different sense of movement.

5g. I had fun using some great fat quarters I've had kicking around for awhile and never quite knew how to use.

5h. Some pieces are just too dang small. Even for fusible, raw-edge applique. I'll cuff myself upside the head next time I start doing little bitty feet or arms. (Note the woman bending over in the back of the top picture. Her appendages gave me fits.)

5h. I learned when to say "enough is enough," let a project call itself done, and get ready to move onto the next in the series.

Progress! One Finish, a WIP, and a Challenge (O My)

Yesterday was a banner day here in the "Quilting...for the Rest of Us" quilt studio. (Ooh, doesn't that sound all sorts of official?)

First, I started out with a little mini-project that I'd volunteered for last week. If you're following my Fabri-Sabbatical blog, you'll know I spend Wednesday afternoons with the Women's Learning Club, which is a group of recent arrivals to the U.S. from Burma. Last Wednesday, a couple of women from our church brought some fleece, hearts cut out of fabric, and embroidery threads to make baby blankets that will be donated. This is a project they've been doing with various groups for a few weeks, so we thought it would be fun to include our group as well, and in the process, teach a fast and inexpensive way to make extra blankets for your family if you should need them.

The women organizing the event decided it would take too long to do a blanket-stitch around the outer edge by hand, so they were taking them home to do by machine. I volunteered to take one as well, so I decided to knock that out first. It turned out OK, although I still prefer doing it by hand. It took about twenty minutes to sew, and then another twenty minutes to get all the fleece lint out of my machine.

One of our group had embroidered the heart onto this one, and she taught me how to do the chain stitch as she was doing it. My chain stitch doesn't look nearly as good as hers yet!

That project done, I moved on to my funky landscape quilt in progress.


...became this.

Everything is just stuck down with glue stick at this stage, so I may still move some things around. I'm playing with perspective and balance and such. And I'm still working on getting the fern-y things to look more like ferns and less like Seussian birds. Quilting will help that a lot, though.

Haven't decided yet what's going in the center section. I'm going to live with it for a bit to see what comes to me.

Then I turned to my guild medallion challenge. The dang thing is due tonight, so I really wanted to get it done. And I did! (Only three more borders to go until the challenge is done. I'll find out tonight what the next border is supposed to be.)


Playing with New Toys

Still in recovery from Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival, I didn't want to do anything yesterday that required actual...well...brain cells. And so, I thought, that might be the perfect time to simply play with some new toys that I purchased in VA because my brain wouldn't get in my way.

I pulled a piece of kimono silk scrap out of a scrap bag I bought from Laura Murray's booth (Laura Murray Designs). For just a few dollars, I got a bag stuffed with scraps of silks that she'd dyed or painted. It's always a hoot when someone's rejects are so gorgeous!

Choosing a scrap, I got my Shiva paint sticks ready. The first thing you have to do is rub the tips with a paper towel to get the skin off. I rubbed away, accidentally snapping the top of the gold one off as I went after it a little too aggressively. No loss, though, since I can still use the snapped-off tip. Next, I chose one of the new rubbing plates I'd picked up, sprayed it lightly with a spray baste so the fabric would stick to it, smoothed the fabric over it, then went to town using the method that Laura had been demonstrating in her booth--short, light strokes with one color, then another, then another. Loved the result.

Next, I pulled out my Perfect Pearls Mists spray bottles that I'd picked up from Jane Davila's booth. I chose one of the stencils I'd bought from another booth (sorry--forgot to write down the name of that one) and spritzed some pearl white onto the stencil. That will take some practice, but it was fun to test. You can see the smudgy result on the right of the ginko leaves in the center. For the other three sprays, I just lightly spritzed the color over the surface of the fabric just to see what it would look like. I really love that effect--just a very light shimmer.

I've got several books in my quilt library on surface embellishment that I'm perusing again for ideas and inspiration, and I'll just keep playing--I know I'll discover a method or combination of colors and fabric that will create a piece that can be expanded upon or used in another way. I've already got some ideas!

For the record, since I didn't have specific plans for what I was buying, I stuck with basic metallics. So I have paint sticks in silver, gold, and bronze, and mists in gold, bronze, pewter, and white pearl. I figured those would be the most versatile to start with. The vast majority of rubbing plates and stencils are abstract or natural designs, although I have a gorgeous peacock stencil that I grabbed when the vendor reminded me I was buying enough to get one free. Bingo!

On the Stonehenge Mariner's Compass front, I decided while I was gone that I was definitely going to start from scratch. I didn't need a whole lot of brain cells for the first step so I did manage to at least make the new copies of the paper-piecing pattern, this time on my Carol Doak Foundation paper. Today I plan on getting those pieced together. So (hopefully), more updates later.

Playing with Lutradur, Part 1

Have you heard of Lutradur yet? Pretty cool stuff. If I recall the story, it actually started out as roofing material but pretty soon some enterprising person decided to play around with it as textile art and an entire new industry was born. We probably pay more for it than roofers did, too, although it's surprisingly inexpensive. (Cheaper than fabric!)

Lutradur comes in two weights--one slightly heavier than the other, although (for comparison) both lighter than that really stiff interfacing you use for fabric bowls and the like. You can print on it, sew through it, glue it, use it with angelina fibers, paint it, dye it, melt it to make it "lace,"....the sky is the limit!

In January I was in Columbus, OH, and with a little free time on my hands I visited Quilt Trends quilt shop, which is heavy on art quilts and materials therein. Lots of embellishments, funky fabrics, and rolls of Lutradur. I was intrigued. Bought a yard or so of the roll, which gives me plenty to experiment with, and the book Fabulous Fabric Art with Lutradur, by Lesley Riley. A couple of weeks ago I downloaded a video on it, also by Lesley, from Quilting Arts Workshop. I couldn't wait to start playing! Decided today was the day--no sharp objects involved at this stage so my cold meds shouldn't be a problem.

To begin, I'm experimenting with photo printing. You can print photos directly on the Lutradur, but you get different effects if you use different "primers" as well.

I'm testing out three methods: one printed on plain Lutradur,

one with gesso applied,

the other with an acrylic matte gel.

I used a large foam brush to apply both--washing thoroughly in between, although I don't suppose there's a huge problem if a little of one gets mixed with the other. I'm not conversant with art materials so I don't really know.

You have to do this on plastic--laying cloth underneath would absorb the primer out of the Lutradur, making you have to use twice as much.

And now I have to let it dry for 24 hours before I can start printing, although I can at least do the plain Lutradur print tonight. I have to change my ink cartridge, though--and will probably go through another one in this experiment. My printer chews up ink cartridges like nobody's business!

I'll post the side-by-sides when I've printed the other two versions. I'll also post pics once I've done something with these experiments. This isn't a tutorial--I'd have to actually know what I'm doing for it to be a tutorial. It's just a "follow along as I play" kind of thing. So, more later~