Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Quick squaring off of applique blocks

I spent this past weekend creating some more of one of my favorite blocks, Yosegi kaku to sankaku,  from "Japanese Quilt Blocks" by Susan Briscoe. It is for a challenge project and I wanted to create blocks in a variety of specific sizes. Unfortunately, often by the time I assemble this block, it is not quite square which is really critical in this project since I am intending to applique the blocks to a background.

Here is what sometimes happens - the centers are aligned but the edges leave something to be desired:

My solution was to allow an extra 1/4 in border on each side of the finished square (i.e.: make a 4 1/2 in square rather  than a 4 inch square.) . I then lined the center seams of the square up with intersection lines of the cutting mat and trimmed the four sides to have exactly two inches from the center axis on each side.

The result is a beautiful 4 inch square ready to be appliqued.

When I wasn't working on my Yosegi blocks, I was gathering fabrics for another project.

I also completed another "Comfort Quilt" for my local guild. One of my personal goals for my Vision Project with SAQA  is to create 10 quilts before September 2011 for charity. I am on my second Comfort Quilt and now have it ready to hand in at our October meeting. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Stretching Exercise for Sewing

I would like to share a very simple stretching exercise with you today. It comes from the art of qi gong - a Chinese healing art that has been around for thousands of years and has thousands of exercises. I find this one to be very valuable when I am spending a lot of time at my sewing machine.

This is the first time that I have made a video - I used my flip video and managed to get the end edited but not the start. Sorry about that.  I think though that you can get a general idea of the movement and, I assure you, if you start using it, you will notice the benefit - both physically and mentally.

In the coming weeks, I will continue to share some additional mind/body exercises with you that I think you will find helpful, both in quilting and in life!

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Dahmen Wheels

Continuing on with my recent trip to the State of Washington, here are some shots of the famous Dahmen Wheels that comprise a fence for the Artisans at Dahmen Barn. The barn is a worksite for local artists and hosts classes and shows as well. It is near Uniondale, WA - a beautiful drive south from Spokane. You can donate to the barn's programs by adopting a wheel. Or, you can just take some great photos!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Determined Doodle Update

I wrote a few weeks ago about a sketch I had done that seemed to have a mind of its own about getting made and called it the Determined Doodle. Well, I am happy to report that the doodle has had its way and it is now a completed work in my meditation series.

After some contemplation and a bit of stitching, I am happy to share my latest piece, Celebration. Perhaps it is the fact that we have had such a wonderful summer here. I am not exactly sure but the idea of celebration kept popping up more and more as I worked on this piece. Unlike my other meditation pieces in Maui Dreams, I don't think I will be mounting this on a black background. Celebration seems to be happy just hanging on its own.

Hope you all like it!

A bit of detail

Monday, September 20, 2010

QuiltWorks Northwest

Another store that I visited on my recent trip was in Bellevue, WA. QuiltWorks Northwest was where I went to check out beads. They had acquired another Washington store, Beads and Beyond, and then moved to a space where beads occupied a significant portion of the store. 

I haven't been using beads up to now in my designs but have been feeling more and more inclined to incorporate them into my work. QuiltWorks Northwest was the perfect place to visit. A very helpful sales person not only discussed the various beads but also helped me with needles and thread. And, was there a selection to choose from! You can see what I mean by these photos which capture only a fraction of the tables that are devoted to beads.

I left the store with a nice supply and the 'tools' to be able to experiment and without having to spend a significant amount of money.

You can find QuiltWorks Northwest at 121A 107th Ave. NE in Bellevue. They have a website too.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Undercover Quilts - Seattle WA

For years, one of my favorite fabric stores in the U.S. has been Undercover Quilts near Pikes Market in Seattle, WA. On my most recent trip, I got to visit with owner Linda Hitchcock who shared that they have been in business for over 20 years.

The shop is nestled in an indoor multi-level string of shops that extends down 1st Avenue from the famous 'fish throwing' seafood seller at Pike's Market. I first found it during a web search for quilt stores before a visit to Seattle. Once I visited, I have managed to get back there at least once a year to stock up on whatever catches my eye.

In my humble opinion, what Undercover Quilts excels in are batiks. Linda must have a very similar eye in fabrics to me as I never fail to find just the fabric that I think I need for a particular project that I am working on at home.  In fact, since I have a very strict rule when I am traveling that I never check a bag, I have been forced more than once to ship home my purchases as I can get carried away with what I buy in the store. If you look at the photos below of just some of their batiks, you can see why I never miss visiting the store.

The website address for Undercover Quilts is They are redoing their website right now but there are links for various ways to get in touch with them. 

If you happen to be in Seattle, their address is 14111 1st Avenue #106. Their email address is


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More Inspiration

Here are some Italian designs that totally mesmerized me on my spring trip to Rome. I love the colors!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Creating Stamped Images with Shiva Paints

For my Homeless art quilt, I wanted to portray the huge number (estimates are over a hundred million) of children in the world who are homeless. I decided that I would do this by stamping the image of the two children I used in the body of my quilt repeatedly on a sheer overlay.

Here is how I achieved my effect.

I created a stamp by tracing and then carving my image on some dense material called Speedy Carve that I purchased at Michael's Crafts.

I attached the stamp to the back of a styrofoam tray that grocery stores often use for packaging by pinning the stamp from underneath with some straight pins.

Here is a photo of this process using a sample stamp that I first created to try out my technique.
Stamp pinned to styrofoam container

I then pinned the sheer fabric over the stamp.

Next I rubbed over the image with a shiva paint stik. I did this lightly as I wanted a translucent effect.

Here is how it turned out!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sketching Anyone

Any material on creativity and art invariably suggests that artists do a lot of sketching. This is most definitely true for art quilters. It is also one of those areas where my best intentions still have not been manifested in sketching on a daily basis.

So, when I found an entry in Linda Miller's Following the Thread blog on something called the Sketchbook Project, I got excited. The project involves several thousand individuals throughout the world creating sketchbooks over a two and a half month period which are then turned in and eventually housed in the Brooklyn Art Library. First the books tour through some major US cities.

If you are interested in participating, there are a number of themes for the books that you can choose from. There are few rules - don't return a blank book and don't expand the book in size in any way. You have until October 31 to sign up.

It is a great way to create a habit that I hope I will keep well past one sketch book!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Determined Doodle

I have heard and experienced the theory that after a point a quilt take over and creates itself. But, this is getting silly. When I do get to sketching (a skill I am working on - see my next post for my latest prod), the results are often abstract designs. My Maui Dreams series is a good example of this process.

Well, earlier this summer I sketched out a design that I found interesting. Every time I went back through skedted images, it grabbed my attention. I decided to play with it a bit and finally enlarged it and dissected it into some shapes I could play with. It has been haunting me for weeks now.

I have changed colors in it. Streamlined the design. Posted it on my design wall and stared. I thought it might be celtic so I researched and tried traditional celtic colors. I tried different backgrounds. I went to put it in a drawer for a bit, but it won't go. It wants to be finished.

Yesterday it goaded me into stitching it onto one layer of background. I still can't find a logical reason for it, nor can I categorize it. But, I can't put it away. I will keep you posted on what it decides is its next step. I feel it calling me to do some decorative stitching and get on to quilting it.  :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Admiring Jane Sassaman's technique

 One of the benefits of blogging that I am discovering is that it gets me out surfing other people's blogs and following links. Somehow, earlier this week I wound up on Jane Sassaman's blog. 
I was able to take a class from Jane about a year ago and her approach to decorative stitching has influenced me heavily. Some of my favorite stitches have come from her suggestions. The fact that she also uses Bernina and creates the amazing quilts that she does on a machine similar to mine really encouraged me to play.

Decorative stitching inspired by Jane Sassaman

In Jane's current entry, Quiet Before the Storm, she shows how she transforms a piece of fabric into a most amazing quilted piece. Each figure in the fabric develops a personality - all through decorative stitching. It is really worth checking out. The stitches she uses are simple, available on most machines, it is simply a matter of considering how some stitching might make a piece unique. Hope you have time to check it out. Here is the link again.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Using Free Motion Quilting and Water Soluble Stabilizer to create Art Quilt elements

My recently completed piece, Center, allowed me to experiment with a technique I first read about in an article in Quilting Daily by Liz Bolton. She was  creating an embroidery piece using water soluble stabilizer. For Center, I wanted to create an embellishment to go on the knit background. Liz's suggestions worked extremely well.

I need to purchase some Avalon Wash Away Adhesive Stabilizer and some Stabilize It by Amazing Designs. After taping the Adhesive Stabilizer to a work table, I added the fibers that I wanted use in Center in the design form I wished.
Adhesive taped to table
Fiber added to adhesive
I then covered the design with the Stabilize It and stitched over the fibers using free motion quilting to create a unified element.
Fibers with lightweight covering and then stitched over with free motion quilting

Next I cut out the element, immersed it in water to disolve the stabilier  and then let the element dry.
Cut Out Design
Dissolving stabilizer in water
It was then ready to add to my art quilt.

Finished element ready to add to art quilt