Apr 27, 2014

fiber art flower in progress

This post was originally published Friday, April 25, 2014.
Something strange happened and it disappeared. I have tried to recreate it. Apologies if you are seeing this twice - and now it looks different.

I was waiting for inspiration to strike - and it finally did. I started with this 'tried and true' Classic image on my cutting table.

But rather than make the sunflowers of Van Gogh, I wanted to create something original and modern. I dug out several purchases I made back in November from vendors at the Houston International Quilt Festival ... and now I'm finally making them into art.

The first flower is done. I sewed 6 layers of fabric together and then deconstructed the petals. Still planning to do a bit more her... really just getting started.

Mu studio is a mess. This is my best horizontal filing system at work!

Also, I was reminded of one of my favorite Andy Warhol quotes this morning.

Linking up (again...!) with Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays. Please check out all the great work there.

Apr 22, 2014

part 2 - Sue Spargo commission - getting to the final stitch

After spending nearly one year making this quilt top, my quilt buddy Amy G. commissioned me to quilt it for her. Its a handmade Sue Spargo creation featuring exquisite hand appliqué and tons of hand embroidery... really beautifully done. My goal was to 'free motion quilt' it without detracting from her incredible hand work. I'm not done yet.... But getting there.

The border was a bit tricky simply because there was no excess fabric to hold on to.

The batting is Wool Dream. I've never used this brand before but the loft is just incredible... that wool batting plus the 3 to 4 layers of wool and cottons in the appliqué made this the thickest quilt I've ever sewn. 

The thread is a beautiful taupe color (Aurifil 2000) on all of the background sections. The color is a perfect match to the gorgeous wool foundation. 

I attached the binding using the preset "S" curve stitch. In the photo below you can see the new binding clips I just purchased. I've seen these in several stores, but never really thought they'd make much difference... but I have to say they are awesome. They grip really tight, have a flat back so they lay down flat and are very easy to take off as you are sewing.

As I shared in part one of this quilt, this was my first commission. I felt pressured to live up to the excellent handwork on this quilt, but I just decided to have fun with it. Too much pressure is not a good thing!

Here's my progress so far. Just need to go back and fill in some of the birds and a few empty spaces on the foundation. 

I am linking up to Freshly Pieced Wednesday WIP. Check out all the great work there.

Apr 13, 2014

an honor from the Texas Quilt Museum

Dear friends: I normally write about my personal journey as a quiltmaker on this blog. But I have some exciting quilt-related news I'd like to share.

Two well-respected pioneers in the quilt world - Karey Bresenhan and Nancy O'Bryant Puentes - the founders of the International Quilt Festival and co-founders of the Texas Quilt Museum - have named me the Faith P. and Charles L. Bybee Scholar on behalf of the Bybee Foundation and the Texas Quilt Museum.

When I got this incredible news, I almost cried. Truly!

Nancy O'Bryant Puentes, me and Karey Bresenhan at the Texas Quilt Museum in La Grange, Texas.
Karey, Nancy, the Museum and Bybee Foundation created this award to recognize quilt research taking place at the Texas Quilt Museum.

To read more, see the news release and Facebook page from the Texas Quilt Museum.

I am conducting research for a book and for a final capstone project on the same topic for a Master of Liberal Studies degree at Rice University. My research recently led me to La Grange for a private appointment to view several quilts in the museum's permanent collection. I've also spent time in their library and will continue to do research there.

My academic research is on contemporary Japanese quilts, specifically the sources of influence on the makers and the ways in which influence travels. The book will cover some of this same information, as well as Japan's quilting art history, current classes, competitions and museum exhibitions. It will also feature in-depth profiles of prominent contemporary quilters working in Japan today and will include hundreds of stunning quilt photographs. I have a contract with Schiffer Publishing for my book. It is too soon to say exactly when it will be published, but I am hopeful it will be late this year or first quarter 2015.

I am truly honored and will be forever grateful to everyone at the Texas Quilt Museum for making this happen, and to the Bybee Foundation for their support of the Museum.

And of course, I am also especially grateful to Rice University for creating a post-graduate liberal studies program and for encouraging creativity in the capstone topic.

Also, my colleagues at SAQA have shared this on their blog as well (thanks SAQA!)

Apr 10, 2014

new sewing table & a world of difference

Lucky me. I bought a fancy new sewing table. I searched around and visited some stores... and consulted my fellow Bernina owners in the Yahoo user group and settled on the Horn 5280 with the electric lift.

Image 1

I actually have a very tiny sewing studio and this thing barely fits in there. But it does fit, so that's the good news. Bad news is there very little room to walk around it... so I have to make do. But hey, its meant for sewing, not for me to walk around it, right?

The thing is on wheels and the back table folds down so I can push it up against the wall and still sew. I only need the back table when I am quilting something large. The table in the front on the left side pops off and can be easily stored in the cabinet. The beauty of this cabinet is the combination of the back table and the front left table because they hold the quilt perfectly flat so it is easier to move under the needle for free motion quilting.

Here's the quilt I am currently quilting. Its a commission for my friend Amy G. She made this fabulous top from a Sue Spargo pattern. There is an amazing amount of stunning embroidery and hand work in this thing, not to mention about 4 layers of wool

But back to the table, you can see how the whole quilt fits so well on the table and under the needle. No more fighting with heavy quilts that drop off the sides.  There is also a custom Plexiglas insert for each sewing machine of the major brands. Mine is being shipped and will be here in about 3 weeks.

The electric lift is just awesome. If I remove the knee lift, I can lift the Bernina up to change the bobbin and clean it. The lift also lowers the machine all the way down and comes with a board that pops in the top to become a flat table. So now I have extra table top space when I am not sewing.

Life is beautiful.

More on the Sue Spargo quilting to come in my next posts.

Apr 2, 2014

one inch squares take a long time!

I forgot how long it takes to piece things. Especially an entire background of one inch squares! Some progress has been made... but its slow going. This is part two of my post on the white on white Celtic Cross. The cross quilt will be about four feet long or so.

You can see the thing is starting to take shape. I have cut the cross out of one piece of fabric. This shows the freezer pattern pattern still on the back of the fabric. Below... some squares done, many more to go.

I am going to hand appliqué several long, thin swirling strands on the front of cross to make the Celtic design. Then I'm going to make them trapunto by stuffing them with this soft, thick yarn I found at Walmart. I hope it works. I found some good tutorials online, but since I am doing hand appliqué, I really haven't found one exactly to help explain. I will just make it work.

I hope by this time next week I have finished the square background assembly. There are one inch squares everywhere in my sewing room... not to mention tons of little tiny white scraps everywhere.  I feel kinda stuck right now... ever feel that way? You just gotta finish this one part before you can move on mentally, and physically. Well, that's me right now. I feel the need to assemble the thing before I can even think about next step, or working on anything else.

Linking up to Freshly Pieced WIP Wednesday.