Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hi Alice - Thanks for the play-by-play photos of your beautiful quilt and the narrative... Outstanding :-)

AND for all of you MMs who've been challenged by metallic thread(s), here's some info that might help: There are at least 2 kinds of metallic thread... (1) the slippery, shimmer-y kind like Sulky Sliver, and Madeira Holoshimmer (these are also known as 'flat ribbon' thread); and the tends-to-be 'snarfy' metallic that's actually metallic filament wound around a poly core. When I'm using metallic threads, I always use a metallic (or metallica) needle; usually a size 90/14, or an 80/12 (for the finer wt. metallics). A metallic needle has a larger 'eye' that reduces friction on the thread as it passes back and forth through the needle.

AND... one of the biggest got-to-have's is a wonderful product from Prym-Dritz called "Sewer's Aid." You can find it at any of the larger sewing/fabric stores (in the quilting notions section), and many of the Quilt Shops carry it as well. It's a small, clear bottle (contains 1/2 oz.) with blue printing. Sewer's Aid helps lubricate the metallic threads (and other threads that are being stubborn) to keep them from shredding and breaking. It's wonderful!

To use Sewer's Aid, take the cap off the bottle, hold your spool of thread in one hand, then with your other hand, squeeze a very thin line of Sewer's Aid from the top of the spool to the bottom of the spool. I usually run a thin line in 4 different spots (think North, West, South, East). The silicone lubricant helps make sewing with metallic threads so much more pleasant !

As a precaution.... some of my students have been not to use Sewer's Aid (or similar products) on their particular machine(s). If that's the case, then please check with your sewing machine dealer to get his/her opinion. As for me.... I have Bernina machines, have used Sewer's Aid and metallic threads on all of them, and they sew like a dream.

Have fun.... don't give up on those luscious, enticing Metallics ! Peace & blessings, Kathy

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Constructing "Surprise in the Midst of Drought"

My little quilt's construction process was basically so simple, that I almost hesitate to write a process post.  But you know me--I love posting, so I'm going to write about it, despite the fact that likely no one will learn anything new from my describing the process!  As I did before, 
I'll post some pictures and discuss the construction in the captions.

I started with this photo.  Noting the colors of the dead grasses and weeds,
I chose chiefly batik fabrics from my stash that echoed those colors.  I had
no lavender for the flowers, so I bought a fat quarter of lavender batik
and also some yellow glass beads.  I luckily had a wonderful leaf-print
batik for the leaves.

After adhering fusible (I used Wonder Under) to fabric pieces cut in 3" or 4" strips, I cut
them again into random widths and lengths.  Then I began
laying them out on the background fabric (which was a leftover hand-painted
piece from another quilt).  I had cut the background over-sized and adhered
it to some fusible fleece.  Once I had my "weeds" in place, I fused them, using a
fairly hot iron and parchment paper laid over, to protect my iron from the glue.

Next I cut free-hand, just using the photograph as a rough guide, the leaves from the
leaf-printed batik fabric, which had also been prepared with the Wonder Under.  These, too, were fused down.

I couched some gold yarn here and there on the quilt to add another color and
some texture or dimension.  I purchased a couching or braiding foot for
my Bernina at the Houston Quilt Festival, anticipating this step.  It worked
beautifully for this regular wool yarn.

I loved the look of this "hairy" yarn, but soon learned NOT to couch
it with my couching foot, but to pull the loose strands to
one side as I zig-zagged over the yarn to couch it down, using one
of my open toed feet.

I hand-sewed the yellow glass beads to the purple centers of the lavender flowers and then
appliqued the flowers down with a zig-zag stitch.  The leaves were
similarly appliqued.

I backed the quilt with a batik fabric which picked up
the colors of the quilt, and I used this same
fabric for the binding, applied in the conventional
way, except that I decided not to miter the corners.
As you can see, the quilt was quilted with the embroidery
floss and an embroidery running stitch BEFORE backing and binding,
as I didn't want to have to hand-stitch through three layers, especially
with one of the layers being the hard-to-penetrate batik.

Here you can see that I used some olive green floss here and
there, in addition to the light brown.

I love the look of hand-stitching with floss on art quilts--a technique
used occasionally in the inspirational TWELVE BY TWELVE
book.  My arthritic hands find it easier to stitch using this
running stitch than with tiny conventional quilting stitches.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

surprise quilt

Hello Barbara,
I used about 5 layers of 100% polyester crystal sheers, in pinks, mauves, a pale green and gold. The metallic tape is from Gutterman's. You just thread it like normal thread using a metallic needle. I did have problems with it, it sheared with amazing regularity. I probably would have put more in if it hadn't been so difficult.
Lovely seeing all the quilts

And Now--ALL the "Surprise" Quilts!

Top:  Linda's, Alice's, Nedra's
2nd Row:  Rita's, Andrea's, Carolyn's
3rd Row:  Patti's, Judy S's, Petra's
4th Row:  Jane's, Sara's, Barbara's
5th Row:  Kathy's

Barbara's Surprise Quilt--Hey, Jude!

Hi everyone! I just finished commenting on all your surprise quilts. They are all wonderful! I am sorry that I am late in posting. I have had other deadlines to meet and ok, I'm a procrastinator! I was in a group art quilt exhibit at Mission Trails Visitor Center in October and had to have 7 nature themed quilts for sale. None sold but it was a beautiful exhibit! I also have two quilts in the Fallbrook, CA Library for an exhibit until January.
So, this quilt is a dual challenge. My quilt guild is having a Beatles themed challenge. Using a Beatles song or lyrics for inspiration in a 14" (album cover size) quilt. My grandson's name is Jude and so here he is on a hay stack. This quilt shouldn't be seen yet as the reveal is next Monday but I couldn't wait!
I did lots of hand stitching in the hay. I think its called a rice stitch or chicken scratch stitch. I machine quilted the ground and hand quilted the sky (which was sponge painted on top of a mottled blue fabric). For Jude, I changed a picture of him crawling up a hill to black and white in Photo Shop and used the Posterize filter. Then I printed him onto fuseable fabric for ink jet printers. I used watercolor crayons (NeocolorII) to color him in and used my watercolor brush to wet and blend the colors. I set the colors with an iron and cut him out and fused him on.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Kathy's "Surprise"

My "Surprise" was inspired by a recent visit to my 3 year old Grandson, Logan, who lives in Florida. He and I would play the surprise game where one of us would cover our eyes, then at just the right moment, would yell "SURPRISE!" He never tired of 'surprising' me and we giggled and laughed all the time ! The real surprise was that when I returned home, I carried his sneezing-coughing-sore-throat-ache-all-over 'bug' back to Texas with me, and it's taken 6 weeks for me to recover. Surprise !

I made this quilt in two parts... the 'outer' quilt seems pretty plain and in some ways resembles a closed book. Ah... but when you open the clasp...

SURPRISE ! I used a sunny-yellow hand-dyed fabric and used 'Transfer Artist Paper' to transfer the word-image to the center section of the quilt. The top and lower sections are quilted with Sulky Sliver variegated thread to give the quilt some sparkle and shine. It's that sparkle that reminds me so much of my precious little grandson who makes my life so special.

Thanks, everyone - I've enjoyed your beautiful work and reading your commentaries. We're such an interesting and diverse group :-) Looking forward to our next challenge and getting to know all of you better as we work our way through this exciting adventure !

Sara' Surprise Quilt =Rockets Red Glare

Surprise was an amazing theme and I spent too much time pondering which idea I was going to follow up on. I thought of the wicked witch of the west being surprised by a house and also having a child play in a room with a butterfly quilt and watching as a butterfly comes to life. Instead I decided to portray the explosion of color and light during a fireworks display which always causes me to gasp with delight as I am surprised at the sound and colors that suddenly erupt.
This quilt also met my goal of trying out different techniques each month. One of my IQF purchases this year was glitter and glue. I used those plus the glitter and glue purchased at a previous show. I also added heat set crystals, something I had not used before. I quilted using Madeira FS thread that matched the background but added sparkle.
Hi everyone

I know you're all dying to know the theme for January 2012, so here goes......


I can't tell you yet what inspired me to choose this as it might influence your ideas, but I promise I'll let you know the source of my inspiration in January.  In the meantime, I'll be intrigued to see what you come up with.  What does South mean to you?  How can you interpret it in a little quilt?
Get your thinking caps on!

Wishing you all lots of creative thoughts....

My Surprise quilt is designed from thoughts of Jack in the Boxes, so the surprise is in the fold-out "box" and all the other boxes lead up to it.  The red/gold boxes are painted bondaweb (wunder under? maybe), the fold-out is painted lutrador for stiffness in the same colours and the quilting is with a Madeira metallic. 

Petra's Surprise Quilt

The surprise is not the subject of the quilt but in the technique, as I did things I've never done before. I dyed the background fabric, always a surpise I feel, I never get bored with it I always think it's a miracle. I then layed it up with 5 layers of sheer fabric then stitched randomly with metallic tape, which I've never used before just letting the machine take me. I then randomly burnt out areas with a soldering iron and added some beads and used my new hot crystal applicater which I was pleasantly surprised with. So 4 new techniques, which I probably wouldn't have tried if it hadn't been for the challenge, so thankyou.

I love everyones quilts, I thought the standard was high for the Harmony quilts, but the bar has certainly been raised I'm blown away - amazing

Judy's Surprise Quilt: Heirloom Roses

Surprise was a tough one for me. I thought of a lot of things that surprised me, but the one that really stood out was the day I arrived home from a trip to my mom's house in Missouri. My sweet husband had purchased 3 roses to represent our three sons and placed them on my pillow.

In the quilt I quilted hearts to represent me and my husband. There are 2 roads quilted into the piece to show that there are many roads we travel and some of them have interesting stepping stones along the way.

When I was young I never dreamed of a certain plan for my life. I knew I wanted to have a loving husband, at least 3 children, and travel. All of those are part of my life. What I didn't see was having 3 boys, quilting and sewing being my career, and living in Texas. My life is wonderful with these surprises. No matter the twists and turns on the road I enjoy the planned and not so planned stuff. I grow with each one.

Patti's Surprise Quilt

Patti's Surprise Quilt

My quilt is a little random, and I am calling it Retirement - My life, it feels, has become unzipped. Feel like I have had a big adjustment to working for the past 20 years with its schedules and regularity. My meandering reflects that fact, and I decided to border the quilt with zippers. I wanted to try some of the thread painting with the twisty ribbons. Enjoyed the process but I will use more pleasant colors next time.

Carolyn's Surpise/Socrates' Shame!

When I learned that "surprise" was our theme, I immediately thought of an incident that happened several years ago when we had a black lab named Socrates - "Soc" for short. At the time, the "surprise" was a total shock to me. Now, I view it as a humorous event in my family's history.

One Christmas we hosted a large family gathering. When it came time to open presents, I put Soc in our bedroom. Later in the evening, I heard a commotion down the hall. I opened our bedroom door and found Soc sitting on top of our brand new, custom-made bedspread in a puddle of "you know what"! I screamed "Soc"!!! He jumped down and looked up at me with guilt written all over his face. Needless to say, the stain was permanent.

I quilted a quilt out of loud colors to represent the bedspread (not an actual replica). Then I sketched the dogs, transferred them to fabric, made the appliqués of Soc, the fire hydrant and the puddle, and stitched them onto the bedspread.

Soc, the puddle and the fire hydrant are on the front of the quilt. The surprised and shameful Soc is on the back of the quilt.

Andrea's Surprise Quilt: Need I Say More ?

silk-screened and fused

This quilt depicts a shared surprise experience that I had with MM Carolyn last August. MM Linda, Carolyn & I were to meet in Rockport, MA. where Carolyn, who lives in Texas, was staying with friends. Unfortunately, Linda was unable to join us. I suggested that we go to the quaint coastal city of Newburyport as Carolyn had not been there on previous trips to MA. We parked in a lot in the center of town where I have parked free for literally ( I hate
to say! ) decades. After walking around town, shopping and lunch we returned to the car to find a ticket prominently placed on the windshield! We then looked around the lot and saw that a "Please Pay Here" machine had been added. Whoops!

Rita's Surprise guilt

Rita's Seasonal Surprise Quilt
     Until my mid 30's I lived in central Illinois and southern Indiana where the change of season and scenery came and went like clockwork.  But each change of season seemed as a SURPRISE gift to me as if the current season produced amnesia of all seasons past.  We have lived in central Texas for over 30 years and I do miss the definite season change.  Someone once said that the four seasons in Texas are 1. almost summer, 2. summer, 3. still summer, and 4. Christmas.
     The background for the fused raw edge and edge stitched applique is a fun technique to design an original pieced block.  This technique was developed by Raymond Houston and was presented by him as a guest on Alex Anderson's TV show, Simple Quilts. To do this, start with a square divided into a 3 x 3 grid.  Choose a word  (I chose winter, spring, fall, and winter.) and draw a line for each letter from each of the endpoints along the side of the grid using Raymond's alphabetical chart.  Superinpose all the lines of one word on top of one another.  Make four copies of the lined grid and then following the rules of symmetry, create the design. This is always a SURPRISE as to how the individual grids interact withone another in different symmetry arrangements.  With sixteen copies of the grid, some additional SURPRISING secondary patterns appear as well.  These can hopefully be seen in the background squares.  The individual two inch squares were paper pieced (16 squares for each season) and before  being trimmed for this project, all of them together contained exactly 400 pieces.

Nedra's Surprise Quilt - Let's Party!!

My inspiration was a birthday party given for me by my best friend when I was 15 which meant a lot to me, thus the girly color scheme. I also tried to evoke the feelings I had when I entered the room and everyone unexpectedly and suddenly appeared and shouted surprise, so I wanted to make things pop!!!! I imagined an explosion of color and confetti and sparkles raining down around the word in the air of the room and tried to create that with my piece. I think that I accomplished that goal.

I did not take process pictures this time - so I will explain what I did.
I wanted to print the word surprise on a background piece but I wanted the letters to be scattered. Sooo... I printed the letters on paper and then using a light box, I traced the outline onto the background fabric. I wasn't sure how this would look, but I used setacolor paint to fill in the outline in a stencil like fashion. It came out pretty well so I then backed this fabric with fusible and cut out the letters, then fused to another piece of the background fabric in a scattered pattern. I then picked pinks and purples and applied fusible to them. I cut triangles of different sizes and shapes randomly and worked with them until I had an arrangement that appeared to pop. I fused these and used decorative stitching to embellish the edges. Next I cut confetti and streamers from the leftover fusing backed fabric and added them. When all of the pieces were fused, I sandwiched and machine quilted, finished the edges and squared it up. The finishing touches are metallic pieces and crystals which I glued on to add touches of sparkle. And voila, we have SURPRISE.

I have to admit that I made THREE pieces for this! After seeing them all together, I decided I liked the first one I made the best afterall.

If you scroll back in the blog postings, you may notice that I've posted twice. I wrote my post yesterday and saved it, but I didn't realize when I published it this morning it would still be dated 11/14. So I republished it for today's date. Sorry for the duplicate.

Alice's Surprise Quilt--Surprise in the Midst of Drought

The day after our last “reveal,” I went for an early morning walk, despite a prediction of a high of 100+° that day.  Much to my astonishment, just a block from our house I spied some lavender and purple wild flowers growing in a patch of dead weeds in the corner vacant lot.  How could they be blooming in the middle of the worst drought we have suffered in Texas in many decades? They were a total surprise!  Then I had an ah-ha moment:  I’d take a photo and base my Surprise quilt on those brave little wild flowers.  I used an enlargement of one of these pictures as a guide for composition and fabric colors. 

In constructing my Surprise quilt, I used the following materials and techniques:  For the background, I used a piece of hand-painted fabric, left over from another quilt, for the brownish yellow background.  The techniques I used included:  fusing raw-edge appliqués (the weeds); fusing and zig-zag stitching appliqués (the flowers and leaves); couching two different yarns for more weeds, to give dimension to the quilt; and beading for still more dimension (flower stamens). I hand-quilted with a running embroidery stitch, randomly placed, choosing a brown and an olive green embroidery floss.  The quilt is bound and backed with a multi-colored batik in the same colors as the dead weeds and the flowers’ leaves. 

Linda' SURPRISE Quilt - Hearty Beating

     I chose the topic "Surprise," having no idea what I could do. Not one idea came to me. I do love suprises. One should have them at every gathering, dinner party or even in blogs.

     Life intervened to save the day, somewhat. I had some wild times with my heart and some very good news as well, each happening a complete surprise to me. I won't bore you with the details, but the loud colors, the brash conflicts and smoothness of the quilts show the two extremes. Previously in times of Afib pondering, I had quilted and beaded these tiny rectangular heart quilts; and this assignment gave me a way to display them. Across the center of the 12 x 12, I sewed some fusible thread in an EKG chart similar to an irregular reading and placed foil over the stitching to iron the iridescent waves. The 12 x 12 quilt content is purposefully irregular and needs some balance and resolution but the topic has none, so that is appropriate for my "Surprise" journal quilt. The backing comes over the sides of the front to make the binding or edge. Click to enlarge to view the naughty errant heartwaves.


Monday, November 14, 2011

ALL the Harmony Quilts!

Andrea had a great idea!  Why not post ALL of the Harmony quilts in one posting, so that we can look at all of them without having to scroll down to see them one at a time.  This was easier to do than I thought it would be!  So here they are, right before our NEXT "reveal" day!  Can you believe how fast these two months have passed?  They appear in no particular order--I just added them and let Blogger put them in however it wanted to do so!













Sunday, November 6, 2011

Five Mavens at Festival in Houston!

As planned, the five of us there at the Quilt Festival in Houston got together Thursday evening for a delicious dinner and much fun conversation.  Above you see, from left, Alice, Carolyn, Judy, Sara, and Rita.  The latter two took classes, and they gave enthusiastic reports on how much they enjoyed them and how much they learned.  Judy worked a vendor booth, as she does every year (and at many other quilt venues!), so how she can look so totally un-tired and cheerful is testimony to her youth!  Alice and Carolyn chiefly feasted their eyes on the gorgeous quilts, concentrating primarily on art quilts.
The "big winners" were stunning, and the various sizes and categories of art quilts, amazing.

A highlight for Carolyn and Alice during Wednesday's Preview Night was seeing "up close and personal" the two different series of the original 12 x 12 group.  Karen was manning the exhibit [womaning the exhibit???!!!], and what a delightful person she is!  We identified ourselves, and she got out her iPad, went to their website or blog, and then found us in the sidebar.  She seemed to like in particular our banner, and she commented most favorably on our quilts.

Before dinner on Thursday, Carolyn and Alice went back to see who else might be there, and we met Deborah Boschert, Gerrie Congdon, Kristin La Flamme, Karen Rips again, and Brenda Gael Smith.

Thursday evening after our dinner we not only brought out and examined closely one another's little Harmony quilts, but Judy showed us how to Zentangel (is that a verb?) and also some lovely examples of her machine quilting.  Sara, the only Houstonian, had forgotten to bring HER quilt, so she
was the photographer for the picture of the four Mavens who brought theirs!  Sara, incidentally, had the group Alice in Wonderland puzzle quilt, for which she posted a photo here earlier, was a Maven who had a quilt exhibited in Houston.  What an honor!

Carolyn, Alice, Judy, and Rita with our Harmony quilts!

And here's Sara with her Harmony quilt!