Of Pins and Pin Cases

Larye and I have belonged to the art quilt group at Ruby Street (RAQ or Ruby Street Art Quilters) for four years.  Each quilter has a different talent and interest which results in a great deal of inspiration to all of us at monthly meetings.  In 2014, our de facto leader and admitted enabler, Margie Horton, challenged herself to produce a small weekly art piece.  The result was an amazing and inspiring collection of 52 fiber “needle books” orchestrated in a variety of surface design techniques.   Needless to say, she created a lot of enthusiasm for this type of project…at least in me.

I decided to produce a weekly piece of art and document via blog on a quarterly or bi-monthly basis (perhaps more often if the mood strikes…but noting my last blog entry is 12/2013, don’t hold your breath!).

A number of different fiber arts attracted me…thought for a while that I would do a foot square tapestry with weekly additions to complete a mountain scene…too much work; thought for a while of doing a piece of needlepoint with 52 squares with different bargello stitches added to the squares each week…too much work; thought for a while of…well, you get the gist!

An overwhelming desire to play in my bead collection won hands down and the rules formed in a very haphazard and simple manner thereafter.  The pieces would be no larger than 3 1/2 inches, have beads on them, of course with the incorporation of some type of face (either defined or impressionistic).

These small pieces of beaded fiber art have rapidly evolved into either lapel pins or pin “books”…with, perhaps a beaded bag or two sometime in the next 42 weeks (I am on schedule with 10 completed to date..starting each on Sunday and completing by the following Saturday).  The process is feeding the artistic soul enough to, perhaps, continue as planned throughout the year.  Here is the first instalment….

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Bead encrusted lapel pin

Week #1   Winter still has a hold over the Pacific Northwest…but the New Year this week brings a dream of spring along with the still dark, rainy days.  Felt base with encrusted bead background and flowers, face, fringe and butterflies.  Thread and yarn waste fiber quilted into fabric as backing.

Ying/Yang lapel pin

Yin-Yang lapel pin

Week #2  The days are slowly getting longer even though the percentage of light to dark on this pin is still out of proportion to the season…still dreaming.  Felt base and back with bead embroidered surround to dual faced cameo; fringe.

Beach goddess needle book

Beach goddess needle book

Week #3  Light green represents the moss clinging to the rocks and side walks even in the winter.  Felt cover and “pages” form needle book.  Bezel around face and beach shell for body form goddess outline…picot beaded edge holds cover and insert together.

Beach stone pin with stocking cap and tie

Beach stone pin with stocking cap and tie

Week #4  The beach stone found at Ocean Shores during a weekend outing begged for a little winter warmth and I knew “he” needed to be part of this collection.  Stone cabachon “face” with peyote stitch stocking cap and bead encrusted tie.  Pin edge is series of 5 bead “lazy” stitch connecting front and back felts.

Sea scape needle book

Sea scape needle book

Week #5  Another stone picked up at Ocean Shores is the centre of this beach scene that includes waves, sea anemones, starfish and shells as well as a dark new moon.  Felt base for both needle book cover and insert; picot edge with embellishment of beads and shells.

Hand woven needle book

Hand woven needle book

Week #6  Spring is starting to send out new buds and leaves that intermingle with early camellia blooms and old fall leaves.  Imbolc (Pagan/Wiccan) on February 1 marks the beginning of spring…half way between winter solstice and spring equinox.  Handwoven base for needle book cover with face “bead” made by stamping on warmed acrylic sleeve covering newsprint and coloured with alcohol paint.  Bead embellishment and picot edge to secure cover and felt insert.

Valentine's Heart Pin

Valentine’s Heart Pin

Week #7  It’s the week of February 14 and everyone needs a valentine.  Another reason for the emergence of a “good” heart is Sunday’s (Buddhist) Nirvana Day which begins Random Acts of Kindness Week.  Fimo face with extra clay above face form that has holes in it to fasten the beaded head dress…bead encrusted felt base and back with picot edge.

Buddha Needle Case

Buddha Needle Case

Week #8 This week has several important “holidays”.  Chinese New Year (Ram), Tibetan New Year (Losar), Maha Shivaratri (Hindu) and, of course, presidents day, Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday…whew.  Felt cover and inserts…embellished with quilted thread waste fiber, antique buttons and Buddha face bead.  Picot edge.

Hand Woven Sun Needle Case

Hand Woven Sun Needle Case

Week #9  This week was all about the sun, warm days and exercise.  My partner and I started our Spring bicycle season.  Milestones include:  first ride for Larye in over 4 years with no chest pain on exercise and first trail ride since Larye’s bypass surgery 8 1/2 months ago.  The sun was, indeed, in evidence all week!  Handwoven cover with bead and sequin embellished fimo face; felt insert with picot edge.

Daylight Savings Full Moon Needle Case

Daylight Savings Needle Case

Week #10  Dark of the moon inspired the blending of the face into the background.  I read somewhere that, as pertains to daylight savings time,  aboriginal society was credited with the observation that “Only the government would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and have a longer blanket”….so goes my grey-white-grey opinion of this yearly event.  Felt cover and insert embellished with dyed lace, fimo face and beads with picot edge.

 

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Fabric, Anyone?

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Moda, RJR, Hoffman, Marcus Brothers, Maywood, etc., etc.

For a couple of years, I have been considering a liquidation of my machine quilting business.  A long bike trip in September convinced me that I wanted to do more biking while we could still manage to do so….so my life in Shelton needed to become less encumbered with possessions and responsibilities.  The fabric inventory and Gammill business seemed to be a logical place to begin the downsizing process.

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Sale fabric inventoried …..2263.25 yards

An added incentive was the deterioration of the rug in the machine room.  It was obvious, after being away for 6 weeks, that the flooring needed to be redone with a more durable product…so the moving began!

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2002 Gammill Optimum Plus

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The remaining stash….plus a few bins of yarn

The goal was to empty the machine room so the new carpeting could be installed…and set up the fabric inventory for sale.  I decided all the sale fabric would be 1+ yard cuts rounded down to the nearest 1/4 yard increments.  The process took 5 weeks to complete and, at some points, was very heart wrenching….especially when I got to the reds, oranges and batiks!  But I ignored the little voice that said…that’s gorgeous and I intended it for…  The end result is a remaining fabric stash with nothing over 1 yard cuts except for a few Kaffe Fassett and Laurel Burch fabrics that I could not force myself to relinquish…and, of course, Larye’s stash has remained untouched!

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The new flooring looks wonderful

During the process of clearing the basement, I rented time on a machine at a local quilt shop…an experiment to see if there was actually life after Gammill ownership.  Considering the type of quilting that I plan to do in the future (clothing, art quilts and a few dorm sized quilts for grandchildren and great grandchildren), I think renting time is a very good alternative to maintaining my demanding long term quilting buddy.  Of course, I have a consignment quilt to finish this week, a new grandbaby quilt and one left over quilt top from my sister’s stash that still requires attention.

The 2002 Optimum Plus has a 30 inch quilting space with a 14 foot table.  Accessories include a circle lord, multiple books, tools, stencils and, a few pantographs.  It has computerized stitch regulation and has been extremely well maintained with all the upgrades….a titanium needle bar, new mother board in 2007 and multiple tune-ups over the years.  My good friend has seen me through thousands of quilts, art projects and clothing in the last 12 years…and after trying other brands  of quilting machines, I would go with an industrial grade Gammill every time.

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Woven Shibori

Woven shibori Instructor's samples

Woven shibori
Instructor’s samples

Last week, I had the opportunity to take a class from Dianne Totten in woven shibori…what a treat.  At the right is just one of Dianne’s many class samples and the clothing made from these woven fabrics can only be described as eye candy!   Her trunk show included a number of wonderful (and prize winning) jackets and vests including her “Night at the Opera” jacket published in the September/October 2011 copy of Handwoven Magazine.  To be able to see how these garments were woven and constructed was inspirational to say the least.

I chose a class project involving weft rather than warp shibori…as did all the other attendees as it turned out.

Warp 18 1/2 inches wide, 4 yards long

Warp 18 1/2 inches wide, 4 yards long

I used an eight shaft table loom and warped  primarily with rayon fiber in a mixture of 8/2 and boucle.  There was also a little 10/2 cotton and 14/2 fiber of indeterminate origins as well as polyester sewing thread in a 40 weight…a real mixed bag from my stash.

Unsteamed sample

Unsteamed sample

Steamed sample

Steamed sample

Off loom sample with pull threads visible

I was able to weave four separate samples during the two day class period.  My main thrust was comparing the results from the use of different weft materials.  I wanted to check texture as well as potential permanency of the resultant fabric.

Initially, I used a a weft of variegated 8/2 tencel in combination with a polyester sewing thread…lovely color combination.  The second sample weft was an 8/2 rayon plus poly thread and the third sample weft was a combination of the indeterminate 14/2 fiber and a poly thread.  I found that I was happier with the lighter weight 14/2 fiber as a weft…the pattern appeared sharper.  So, with the final sample, I combined three and then four poly sewing threads together….that sample is at the left.  I washed it several times after steaming it and it has maintained it’s sharp pleat.

On the loom

On the loom

This final sample was woven with a single weft of size 16 polyester thread and no ancillary fiber.  The resulting pleats are very sharp and remain so after washing fabric.  The shrinkage is between 15 and 20%.

If you zoom in on the picture below, you will be able to see the pattern formed by the woven pull threads.

Off loom...17x42

Off loom…17×42

With Pulled threads

With Pulled threads

In steam pot

In steam pot

I pulled the pattern threads and placed the fabric in the steamer.  The vegetable steamer would be too small for a larger piece of fabric, but it worked very well for this project.  After the piece is allowed to dry, the pull threads are removed to reveal the final fabric.

Final Fabric 14x37

Final Fabric 14×37

I’m fairly confident that I can create more weft shibori successfully…warp, perhaps not so much!  I did learn a number of valuable lessons.  The woven pattern is not terribly obvious with my class project…no really distinct diamonds (though the pleats were wonderful).  I believe that the warp was a little heavy for best results…and a smooth warp rather than the boucle might have been a better choice.  The stripes in the warp are a bit of a distraction…the pattern shows up in varying degrees depending on the color and texture of the warp.  And, most important, I will never put sewing thread in the warp again…especially combined with other fiber…what a nightmare to keep separately warped, sleyed and tangle free!

This was a wonderful class experience and Dianne has a wealth of knowledge to share.  Without exception, the students all asked when she intends producing a book!  I would recommend Dianne to any Guild seeking an exciting seminar and/or workshop…and, will take another class given the opportunity since we all grow with each experience!

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Redwork & Mitres

I have a friend who does lovely embroidered panels.  When we got together for a week last year, she had 22 redwork panels that she wanted made into a quilt.  I  have made her art into quilts in the past (see Sunbonnet Sue below), so

Sunbonnet Sue

Sunbonnet Sue

Embroidered redwork square

Embroidered redwork square

when she asked for another quilt, I thought I would convince her that she didn’t need  yet another quilt…..

Instead of another quilt… and because I was  being

 

Redwork panel framed for scrap booking page

Redwork panel framed for scrap booking page

lazy…and because she is a talented scrap booker…I thought I talked her into making scrap book pages with her 22 redwork panels.  We worked out complementary framing and I sent the fabric and panels home with her.  So went 2011’s visit.

But…along came 2012 and another get together with my friend, her (now) 35 redwork panels, no intention of scrap booking them, and another request for a quilt!  This time, I said yes and began designing.

Sized Redwork panel

Sized Redwork panel

As with any design, the first determination is size of panel.  A uniform 9 inch square appeared to be a good choice for utilizing all 35 panels.  By setting the

Sashing for panel

Sash for panel

blocks in rows of 5 blocks by 7 blocks, a generous twin sized quilt could be constructed utilizing a 3 inch sash.  An old fashioned 9 patch pattern for the sash was chosen to complement the blocks.

Quilt Center

Quilt Center

When the center was completed, I decided to do a four part border to finish the quilt.  Although I could have put additional nine patches in the corners of the border, I decided that a mitred corner would be more in keeping with the vintage feel of the quilt.

When you are doing multi-level borders with mitred corners, the best approach is to sew all the borders to each other prior to sewing the entire units onto the body of the quilt.  It is important to remember to allow enough excess on each border to form the mitre.  The net result is four staggered strip sets…one for each border…the outside of which measures 2-3 inches in excess of the finished quilt.

Border strip sets sewn to quilt body

Border strip sets sewn to quilt body

The quilt was measured for border application.  In this case, the block piecing was symmetrical enough that the final measurement was “as advertised” at 63 1/2 inches (five 9 inch blocks and six 3 inch sashes plus seam allowance) by 87 1/2 inches (seven blocks by 8 sashes).  So, I determined that the staggered border strip sets should measure 66 inches by 86 inches for the two shorter strips and 84 inches by 112 for the two longer strip sets.  The inner edge of each border should be precisely measured to the desired length (63 1/2 and 87 1/2) and marked on each end, the middle and each quarter section.  The quilt top should be marked at middle and quarter as well.  Match up the marks and PIN.  You may have to ease the seam at this point, but it is important that they are the same length on each side.  This keeps the quilt square and prevents “wavy” borders.  Sew the border strip sets onto body of the quilt, butting the perpendicular sides together with no space between.  This is done by sewing all but the last 1/4 inch of the seam and using that mark to start the seam on the adjoining border at it’s 1/4 inch mark…there should be no space left between the two borders and they should form a 90 degree angle where joined.

Aligning borders

Aligning borders

I have found that the easiest way to form a perfect border angle is to fold the entire quilt to 45 degrees at the corner.  The outside edges of the adjoining borders are then aligned and the stripes matched.  A 45 degree ruler is used and a sewing line marked on the inside of the top border which is then trimmed.

 

 

Marked and pinned for sewing

Marked and pinned for sewing

When the top border is trimmed within 1/2 inch of the marked sewing line, it becomes easier to align the matching stripes.  This step is crucial to matching the stripes into the mitre along the sewn corner seam.  Once you have matched the stripes, be sure to secure the aligned borders with multiple pins prior to sewing.

 

 

Mitered corner trimmed and pressed

Mitred corner trimmed and pressed

Finished quilt corner

Finished quilt corner

Begin your corner seam at the point where the borders have been butted together and sewn onto the center of the quilt.  By folding back the side seams, you should be able to see the stitching where the two borders butt up against each other. This is the point at which you place your needle.  Start your seam by tacking down your thread with two or three stitches in the same space before you begin sewing along the marked angle toward the outer edge of the border.  Mitring corners takes some practice, but the result is worth the time spent; especially with quilts requiring a vintage look.  I have pieced a back with a sewn-in label and the quilt is ready to be mounted on my Gammill.  When I have completed the machine quilting, I probably will scallop the outer border to give the quilt a more feminine look.

My friend now informs me that she has more completed panels….maybe there will be enough fabric left to make pillows.  More to follow…though this is the last planned redwork panel quilt.

 

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Small Sized Art

In October, I had the opportunity to take a tapestry weaving class from tapestry artist, Elaine Duncan.  Elaine spends a portion of her professional life in her studio on Vancouver Island, a portion teaching various fellow weavers, and a portion working with the Zapotec Weavers of Oaxaca, Mexico.  Her work has proven to be very inspirational to me.  I have always been interested in creating fiber arts “pictures”…primarily in commercial and surface altered fabric.   Below are a few examples of various techniques I

Photo transfer Crane, pieced and beaded

Photo transfer Crane, pieced and beaded

Painted Ponies...pieced and quilted

Painted Ponies…appliqued, pieced and quilted

Flowers from the garden...dyed through pounding real flowers

Flowers from the garden…dyed through pounding real flowers

have tried over the years..

 

 

 

Revelation

Revelation

Revelation is an interpretive piece representing the “inner person” behind the facade exhibited to the public.

Revelation...close-up of bead loomed work

Revelation…close-up of bead loomed work

The “face” is a large loom beaded piece (12×12 inches) using a graphic based on an old established bargello design prevalent in needlepoint pillows and upholstery.  All of these fiber arts pieces are now client owned.  I am seriously considering creating another large loomed bead piece simply because it was so rewarding; however, I think most of my future pieces will be smaller and, thus, more immediately gratifying projects.  A good example of projects that appeal to me at this stage of

Brigid  9 inches tall

Brigid 9 inches tall

my “creative” life are small tapestries (which I will discuss later in the blog) and cloth armature, bead encrusted “goddesses” like Brigid.  Brigid is named for a Celtic triple goddess; patroness of poets, healers and craftspeople.  She represents the three important aspects of my life…literary endeavors such as reading or poetry, a former nursing career, and a current obsession with art in the form of fiber crafts and gardening.

Brigid has a number of organic symbols beaded onto her person (leaves, flowers and fibers) that represent  herbal healing, natural and literary art.  She also has three hearts that represent the three aspects of her patronage.

Ostara...7 inches tall

Ostara…7 inches tall

I have made other goddess figures with both bead encrusted cloth armature and with lamp work beaded goddesses on quilted backgrounds.  Ostara is an example of the former, and Create is an example of the latter.  I enjoy both small art forms and will probably continue to think about a “goddess” (or, better yet, a “crohn”) series in both media.  Both are popular with both myself and with clinets… I find them rewarding to make and they (and several like them) have found good homes.

The Goddess Create

The Goddess Create

Class tapestry...from back

Class tapestry…from back

Class tapestry...from front

Class tapestry…from front

When Elaine taught the tapestry class in October, she gave us examples of several Zapotec inspired designs.  I designed a small (4 inch wide) “mug rug” that utilized a three warp square graphic.  I then followed her directions for weaving with the “back” of the tapestry facing me.  When flipped over, you can see what the finished design will look like when removed from the loom.  As you can tell, the mug rug is still on the loom….after all, there is a whole lot of usable warp remaining and I always use up all the warp ends!

Larye constructed portable pipe loom.. second tapestry worked from back

Larye constructed portable pipe loom.. second tapestry worked from back

Finished tapestry from the front

Finished tapestry from the front

After completing the first small tapestry project, I decided that I needed a small pipe loom like the one used by both Elaine and a number of my fellow classmates.  Of course, Larye constructed one for me.  I made a free-form tapestry utilizing the “work from the back” technique that I had been taught….Of course, I had no intention of “wasting” the remaining warp on both sides of the loom, so I utilized the top half of the front warp as well as the back.  After completing my second “work from the back” tapestry, I determined that I would be a happier camper if I worked from the front of the loom…so, I changed technique.  Not a big surprise if you stop to consider that, for the 12 years I was in the machine quilting business, I can count on one hand the number of times I utilized a pantograph and worked from the back of the machine!   That’s a minute percentage of the 1000+ quilts that passed through my hands during those years.

Third tapestry...a figure requiring a cartoon!

Third tapestry…a figure requiring a cartoon!

And, of course, the back of the loom was also warped!

And, of course, the back of the loom was also warped!

After I completed the lizard from the cartoon that I had drawn, I joined a newly formed tapestry study group.  One of our members is a highly experienced tapestry weaver with multiple commissions to her credit.  She informed me that I could have picked an easier subject for my newly acquired talents….no wonder the lizard looks a little strange!  Oh well, pressing and beading will correct any imperfections…as my customers used to say, “it will quilt out”!  The other thing I learned from these early attempts at tapestry…do make sure that you have enough yarn to complete the project… the piece on the right ended up about a yard short of the correct blue to complete the second dragonfly path!   Oh well, perhaps “it will bead out”!  All in all, I can see a number of small tapestries in my future…all with beaded embellishment, of course!

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Quilting

The custom machine quilting for hire portion of Realizations Fiber Arts has finally finished its 10-year plus run.  I finished my last customer quilt in October…a masterpiece of piecing (by friend, Carol) and quilting (by yours truly) based on a Jackie Robinson design called Eureka!  An appropriate finish to a wonderful experience that has constituted more than half of my fiber arts business over the years.  The family quilts and original fiber art for sale still remain as does the Gammill which is the cornerstone of the business.

Queen sized Eureka

Queen sized Eureka

 

Close-up Eureka

Close-up Eureka

About 7 years ago, my nephew, Rick, asked me to make him a t-shirt quilt using his extensive collection of Harley Davidson t-shirts.  I am ambivalent when it comes to making t-shirt quilts…so, I postponed the process a long as possible.  After all, trimming the t-shirts to the appropriate size is only a small portion of the process.  First, you have to decide on a common denominator for sizing the blocks, design the quilt, cut the t-shirts apart, iron on the stabilizer (after all, t-shirts stretch if not controlled), re-trim the blocks to the correct size and, then, finally, start the piecing process.  If I could get away with designing and quilting only, life would be good!

Rick turned 60 this month and, since that milestone doesn’t come around more than once, his birthday served to jog me into putting aside my procrastination long enough to finish the project.
onefinehog_6ONE FINE HOG is a large (110×12 inches) quilt.  I positioned the t-shirt for which Rick was the model slightly off center near the middle of the quilt top (block surround is red).

onefinehog_9 onefinehog_8 onefinehog_7

I saved the backs of some t-shirts to cut into strips that served as sashing to separate adjacent blocks of the same color.   All of the monogrammed imprints were used including pockets and sleeve logos.  Where there are pockets on the front of the quilt, the quilting was interrupted to leave the space intact and the pocket usable.

The process of quilting, like always, was the most fun.  I chose a close pattern of parallel quilted lines that formed chevrons from block to block…by placing the seams less than 1.5 inches apart, the integrity of the quilt was maintained and the t-shirt stretch tightly controlled.  The end result is a very square quilt that won’t distort with use…all in all, a pleasant piece of work.

In addition to weaving and felting, I also took a break from quilting to make curtains for the kitchen and one for the bathroom (the remodel has finally come to an end after 2 months!) .  I resurrected the embroidery attachment for my old Pfaff 7570 and found good craftsman style logos to complement the design of our 1920s bungalow.  The curtains brightened both room when finished…and offered me a break from other projects.  After three years in residence, we are beginning to paint and add final touches to a great old house…hopefully, 2013 will bring about time to complete more home projects.

Embroidered bathroom curtain

Embroidered bathroom curtain

Kitchen curtains

Kitchen curtains

Close-up, craftsman style embroidered kitchen curtain

Close-up, craftsman style embroidered kitchen curtain

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Fiber and Fabric

This gallery contains 17 photos.

My preparation for the Olympia Weavers’ annual Show and Sale was minimal this year; however, I did make fiber and beaded date book/check book covers.  I sold a dozen and was pretty jazzed about that outcome.   I will definitely do … Continue reading

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