Living This Creative Life

I have two favorite quotes. The first one is by Emile Zola, "If you asked me what I came into this world to do, I would tell you that I came to live out loud". I don't know who the second one is by, but it goes like this, "If you're not living on the edge then you might as well jump". Both of these sentiments sum up my personal philosophy of this experience we call life on earth. Enjoy!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Block #53 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning,
Hope you are all enjoying a beautiful Memorial Day. Always a great time for picnics, hiking, and BBQ. I spent a few moments this morning thinking about all of the people in my life who have moved on to another plane and sending thanks out to them, where ever they are for the gifts they each imparted to me. It's nice to take time to remember the gifts of friendship and love.
Today's stitch-out is the last in the flower series (don't worry, we'll do more flowers later on). I almost didn't use this block because the flowers don't show up very well against the background quilting. But then I decided it's a great way to show you "what not to do"! In the machine quilting design classes that I teach I always warn my students that too much of a good thing is simply that... too much! Here in this block, the curvy, wavy flowers are almost lost in the curly, wavy background stitching. It is always a good idea to switch up the positive and negative spaces. If the positive space features curvilinear designs then the background space should have straighter lines and vice versa.
The flowers are still great though. Click on the photo for a larger view. Remember to doodle these babies out before you begin stitching. There are four varieties of the same flower shown here. The top left shows the basic flower with "stones" center and wavy edged petals. The top left is the same with one long wavy vein in each petal. The bottom left has three short veins in each petal and the bottom right has additional petals added between and behind the original petals.
To stitch the basic flower, start where you want the center to be and make a tiny circle (about 1/8" across) surround this center circle with two to three rows of similar sized circles until you have formed a circle of circles that is about the size of a nickle. Now begin making petals. My flowers have six petals, you can shoot for that number or any number you like, just make it consistent. The petals are wide at the base, have wavy sides and end in a point.
Add interest to the basic flower by adding veins in the petals (two varieties are shown) or by doubling over the existing petals and adding another petal in between.
I hope you've enjoyed these floral stitch-outs,
Till tomorrow,

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Block #52 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning,
Here is today's new stitch-out (sorry if it seems a little out of focus - click on it to see it larger and in focus). It features two different floral border designs, one simple and one more ornate. Both feature the simple flower from blocks #49 and #50 as well as small simple leaves and a vine.
The difference between the two is that with the more ornate (lower) design, the flowers have a spiral center and veins in the petals and there are more leaves and an addition of tendrils.
When stitching vines or continuous designs of any sort, I find it easiest to start with the bulk of the block or quilt behind the machine and pull it towards me as I stitch. This gives me a better view of where I've been and where I'm going.
Instead of cutting a block, cut a large rectangle - mine is 7" x 14" (we will stitch out lots of borders designs using this size). Divide in half down the long middle using your Hera marker so that you have two narrow border sections to work in.
Begin on one of the short ends and start with the needle in the middle of the border section. Stitch a stem up to one side about 1" then make a sprig of leaves. Stitch back to the stem then stitch over to the opposite side and stitch a small flower; about 1 1/2" wide. Stitch back to the stem then stitch over to the opposite side until you have room to make another flower. Stitch the flower then stitch back to the vine. Keep stitching from side to side and stitching either a flower or a sprig of leaves so that they alternate with each other from side to side as shown.
To make the more elaborate design, simply doll up the flowers with a fancier center and veins or doubled up petals and add more leaves between all of the designs and add tendrils by stitching curling lines away from the vine then doubling back on them back to the vine.
I use this stitch out a lot in medium sized borders - 2 1/2" - 5" in width. It's a little 'girly' but there isn't anything wrong with that!
Till tomorrow,

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Block #51 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning All,
Here is today's stitch-out; Daises. This flower features an asterisk like center and 8-9 petals. Use the same 'doughnut' style circle set up to doodle it in as you did with block #49.
To begin a Daisy, start in the center and make a short line that is about 1/2" long then double back to where you started. Next stitch another 1/2" long line angled out from the center that is just a bit away from the first line. Continue making 1/2" long lines that shoot away from the center, forming a circular shape that looks like a full asterisk. I usually go around a second time adding more lines to make a very full center.
Once the center is complete begin forming the petals. Each petal is narrow (but NOT pointed) at the base and gets wider as it gets to the rounded tip. Make 8-9 petals around the center. To add more interest the the basic flower (upper left hand corner) you can add a center vein in each of the petals (upper right hand corner) of you can add 1-2 more smaller petals inside each of the larger petals (lower right hand corner) or you can make the petals pointed and add veins (lower left hand corner).
I used an angled/straight stipple rather than a curved stipple in the background. The angular form of this background stitch really allows the curvy flowers to stand out.
Hope you enjoy today's flower,
Till tomorrow,

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Block #50 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning,
Here is today's new design. It features yesterday's flower, roaming around amidst trailing vines. Doodle it out before you begin so that you can find the rhythm.
The flowers are essentially the same as yesterday's simple flower except that they are stitched continuously so that the center swirls have to be doubled up. The leaves are the same leaves shown about a month ago.
Begin by stitching a flower somewhere near the center of your block. This first flower does not have a double swirl in the middle. As you finish the first flower, stitch away from it with a vine with small, pointy leaves attached. Keep stitching vines with leaves until you have room to form another flower. This time you will begin the swirl on the outside of the circle, swirl in then swirl back out again and immediately make you first petal. Add the remaining petals to complete the second flower then stitch away again with a vine and leaves until you have space to make another flower. Keep adding flowers with vines and leaves in between until you have covered the surface of the block. Try to keep the same amount of negative space between the flowers and between the vines and leaves. For the tidiest end result try to keep the flowers very similar in size to each other and the leaves all about the same size too.
I love, love, love this stitch-out. It's so fanciful!
Hope you enjoy it too,
Till tomorrow,

Monday, May 24, 2010

Block #49 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning and happy Monday to you all,
I figured that now that Spring is here and we're gearing up for a glorious summer that I would feature flower designs for the next week. Though I'm not what you would call a 'girly' girl and I don't wear floral prints or decorate with them either, I sure do love to quilt with them. So, each day this week I will give you a different floral design. Hope you enjoy them.
Today's stitch-out features my favorite, five petal flower. Each of us has flowers inside us, we just need to loosen up and doodle till they come flowing out. This is my doodle flower. I've been doodling it in one incarnation or another since I was a kid.
The flower in the upper left hand corner is the basic style, the one in the upper right hand corner has veins added. The flower in the lower left hand corner has a double set of petals and the flower in the lower right hand corner has two smaller petals inside each of the larger petals.
When you first begin doodling flowers it is often helpful to draw them inside a pre-drawn doughnut shape. To do this, draw a largish circle - one that is about 4" across then draw a smaller circle in the middle of the large circle - about 11/2" across. If you want your circles really accurate, use a glass or cup to trace the outer circle and a large spool of thread to trace the inner circle. When doodling, keep the flower center inside the smaller circle and the petals inside the larger circle. Drawing this way will train you to keep the petals similar in size. It is also helpful to know that the inside of the petals should never come to a point when they meet the flower center. Practice doodling lots of different flowers with differently styled centers and petals of varying shapes. The hardest part of flower drawing is learning to equally distribute the petals around the center. This just takes a little practice. After drawing a dozen or so flowers you'll have it down! Try to feel the movement of each petal as you draw so that you can repeat that movement as you quilt.
This basic flower of mine begins with a swirl in the center and has five petals. To stitch it, begin where ever you want the center of your flower to be. Stitch a swirl. When the swirl is the size you want it to be, close it up by ending the stitch line on the outer edge of the swirl. Now, begin the first petal. My petals are wide at the base, get a little wider as they move away from the base then come to a nice point. Visually divide the area around the center of your flower into five sections and keep each of the five petals within one section. After the first petal is stitched, stitch the next one, make it's point about 70 degrees away from the point in the first petal. Keep stitching petals until you have all five, each pointing in a different direction and all about the same size.
To add veins to the basic flower, once all of the petals have been stitched, use the outline of the center of the flower to travel back over to each of the petals, add long wavy lines, 1, 2 or 3, inside each petal. If adding more than one, vary the lengths.
To make a double set of petals, again you will use the outline of the flower center to travel on. After the original five petals are stitched, travel over on the flower center to the middle of the first petal and stitch another petal that peaks between the first petal and the next petal then comes back down in the center of the second petal. Make four more petals in the same manner with one in between each of the remaining petals.
To make the last flower with the petals within petals, simply add two smaller petals inside each of the larger petals. This is done after the original five petals were stitched and the outline of the flower center is used to travel on.
These flowers,as with any other large, open shape, will look puffed or more dimensional if you quilt heavily around them. This will give you a great opportunity to practice some of the other background designs. In this block I used a small stipple.
Have fun,
Till tomorrow,

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Block #48 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning,
Here is today's new stitch-out; Aerial View. It is a great design to use in negative space when a little more interest is needed. It's fun and easy to do too.
Doodle it out before you take your first stitch.
This design looks best if it's stitched really tight, about 1/4" apart is good. It is essentially a sloppy swirl. The swirls are sort of amoeba shaped rather than round. There are plenty of individual or grouped 'fingers' that fill in the spaces between the amoeba swirls. They are what fills in any negative space.
Begin near the center of the block and stitch an irregular, oval shaped swirl. Stitch in then stitch back out again. As you stitch out, move away from the swirl until you have room to make another amoeba. Make this on larger or smaller than the previous one and shaped differently too. Continue making amoeba swirls of different shapes and sizes and join them together with long, loopy, finger like designs. Try to keep the amount of space between all of the stitch lines consistent for a tidy finish.
Hope you enjoy this new design. It's great on contemporary quilts!
Till tomorrow,

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Block #47 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Afternoon,
I've just returned from a fun day of indigo dying at EFAGS at Great American Quilt Factory. It's nice to get together with like minded women a couple of times each month just to play and explore fiber arts.
Here is today's new design. It features swirls with quarter moons. It is a nice blend of the two, mixing circular with pointy. Doodle it out before stitching to get an idea of how to join the two. Basically the quarter moons are used to move from swirl to swirl. Try to keep the swirls the same size but vary the lengths of the half moons so that they fit between the curves of the swirls.
Begin near the center of the block and stitch a swirl that is about 1 1/2" wide. Swirl in then back out again. Stitch a quarter moon that echos about 1/3 the way around the swirl, move back and forth making 2-3 quarter moons that hug each other then stitch another swirl. Keep alternating swirls with half moons, adjusting the length of the moons to fill in the negative space. Try to keep the amount of negative space consistent throughout the block.
This is a great design filled with lots of movement and texture. Hope you enjoy it,
Till tomorrow,

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Machine Quilting Challenge - Block #46

Good Morning,
Here is today's new stitch-out. I call it Mayan Ruins. It combines two basic designs, the swirl and "E's or Combs. It is very similar to block #10 (which I forgot to name-whoops!), except here it is done orderly in rows.
Remember to doodle it out before you take your first stitch.
I didn't mark rows, but you may want to. Mine are about 1 1/2" tall - use a Hera marker if needed.
Begin stitching in the lower left hand corner and start by making a large swirl that is about 1 1/2" wide. Swirl in then swirl back out again. As you come out, make a line along the bottom, heading toward the right and extend it about 1 1/2" past the swirl then stitch up, making a corner about 1/4" then stitch back toward the swirl. Stop about 1/4" before the swirl then stitch back up about 1/4" and over the the right again. Continue stitching switch backs until you have reached the height of the swirl and are heading toward the right. Make the final switch back elongated and stitch it into the next swirl. Continue making swirls and switch backs until you have completed the first row.
Stitch along the right hand side and up to where you can begin the next row. If you finished with a swirl in the bottom row then begin with a switch back in the second row and so on. The switch backs in the bottom row move from left to right but in the next row they move from top to bottom. Continue making rows, alternating the swirls and switch backs as well as alternating the orientation of the switch backs.
This stitch out is very contemporary and ethnic looking. It looks great on art quilts and quilts using African or South American fabrics or designs.
Hope you enjoy today's design,
See you tomorrow,

Monday, May 17, 2010

Block #45 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning,
What a great weekend! Tom and I spent most of Friday museum hopping. My favorite was the show at Myers-Evans House Gallery, featuring Ray Tomasso. We carried his hand made papers in our store for a while. He is a paper artist and the show was filled with some of his large scale cast paper and multi media work. The pieces are very organic with simple colorations of strong neutrals with bold, vibrant color and or textural accents. He's there till the end of May.
Yesterday we headed up to Estes Park to catch a few of the artists at the free Jazz Festival the city was hosting. The weather was lovely and we sat on rocks by the river and listened to some wonderful music. Nice, very nice!
Here is today's new stitch-out. We're beginning a week filled with swirls. Hopefully you've begun to notice that there aren't too many different shapes in machine quilting, just lots of ways to combine the few that there are. This stitch-out features fat, funky hearts with swirls in between. Practice drawing the hearts linked by swirls before you make your first stitch.
Begin near the middle of the block and stitch a fat, funky heart (mine vary in size from about 1" - 1 1/2"), as you come back to the tip of the heart to complete it, continue stitching past the tip and away from the heart just a bit then form a swirl. Swirl in then out again and make another heart. Continue making hearts using the swirls to travel in between them. Make the swirls in various sizes, but always smaller than the hearts (this keeps the design looking neat and tidy). If you get stuck some place where you can't stitch out of, simply knot off and travel to an empty spot. I found it necessary to go back in and add a few swirls between some of the hearts to get an even fill.
Hope you enjoy this design. It's great for girly quilts!
Till tomorrow,

Friday, May 14, 2010

Block #44 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Happy Friday,

My husband has Friday's off so today we have a great day of art exploration planned. First we're off to the Denver Art Museum for the afternoon then after doing the weekly shopping we'll head up to Golden to the Foothills Art Center for the opening reception of a new show called 'Stark; Works in Black & White'. I love spending a day completely immersed in ART!

Here is today's new stitch-out. It is a combination design that uses yesterdays 'Filigree' design in the background that surrounds large, funky Swirly Stars. I love the juxtaposition of the big, funky stars with the somewhat delicate filigree. Practice doodling out the stars before you begin stitching.

My stars are about 2 - 2 1/2" in width. Of course you can make yours any size you like, but remember that they need to be larger than the filigree for the stitching to look nice and tidy. Start stitching near the center of the block and begin with a swirl that is about 1/2" - 3/4"in size. Stitch back out of the swirl and make the arms of the star so that they are long and pointy. Strive for 6-7 arms per star. Once the first Swirly Star is complete stitch away from it using the filigree design until you have room to make another star. Keep making stars and surrounding them with filigree until you have covered the entire surface. It may be necessary to knot off and travel to empty areas between stars to add more filigree background fill. Try to keep the distance between the stars consistent as well as the density of the filigree background fill.

Hope you enjoy this funky stitch-out. I had great fun with it!
Till Monday,

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Block #43 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning,
We've had several days of yucky, wet weather here in Denver, rain and slush and even a bit of snow. The weather guys are predicting that Spring will really arrive next week with temperatures in the 70's. I can't wait! I love the spring, with all of the trees in bloom and the flowers beginning to blossom. All of the tulips in my front garden seem to have survived this storm and are lush and beautiful.
Spring is such a great time for renewal. I've been Spring cleaning, getting more organized and spending more time out in the back garden. Sometimes it's hard to make time for creativity. Sticking to a creative habit can often be as difficult as sticking to a new diet or budget (both things I am NOT good at). But the rewards can be so fulfilling! Have you ever thought of embracing a more creative lifestyle? What changes do you think you could make to add 30 minutes of creative time to your daily schedule?
Today's new stitch-out; Filigree, is a wonderful, delicate,whimsical background fill. It looks great all on it's own or stitched around design motifs (.....just wait till you see tomorrow's block!). It is a continuous design that requires lots of over stitching (stitching back over lines you have all ready stitched). But unlike some other over stitched designs, this one looks great if you stitch right next to the original line rather than right on top. This will make it easier for some stitchers and more difficult for others. You'll probably want to doodle it out before you take your first stitch.
Begin in the center of the block and stitch a small swirl that is about 3/4" across. Stitch back over the swirl (or right next to it, doubling up the width of the line) and make a second swirl. These swirl don't have lots of rotations, just one and a half or so. Stitch back over the second swirl and stitch away then make another swirl. Change up the size of the swirls and add little half swirls along the way too. My swirls vary in size from 1/4" up to 3/4". Try to keep a consistent amount of space in between the swirls too. If you get stuck and can not determine where to stitch next, remember that you can always knot off and start up again somewhere else.
I hope you enjoy this delightful little design,
Till tomorrow,

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Block #42 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Afternoon,

Today's stitch-out is the second in a two part triangle design. I call it Triangle Maze. It is very similar to the square and round swirls. As with the other swirls, you stitch in then leave yourself room to stitch back out again.

It is very helpful to mark the rows in which you plan to stitch. I marked five, 2" rows using a Hera marker. Stitching begins in the lower, left hand corner. This corner is occupied by a half triangle. Each row will begin and end with a half triangle. The triangles are easiest to do if they are equilateral - that is, all the sides are the same length. This one definitely requires some doodling before you take your first stitch.

Begin in the bottom, left hand corner and stitch up and toward the right so that the top of the line is positioned about 1" away from the side of the block. Next stitch over toward the left till you reach the edge then stitch down along the edge and stop about 1/4" before the bottom. Now stitch back up, about 1/4" inside the angled line on the right stopping 1/4" before you get to the top then stitch across toward the left then all the way down to the bottom and over to the left past the outside line of the triangle you just stitched by about 1/4". This will put you in position to stitch you first complete triangle.

Keeping the line about 1/4" away from the outside line of the half triangle, stitch an angled line up stopping just below the creased line. Next, stitch back down, angling toward the right and striving for a 2"distance from the beginning of the triangle. Stop 1/4" from the bottom and stitch across the bottom stopping 1/4"from the other side then stitch back up again, continue swirling in, making the lines about 1/4" apart, until you are in the center then stitch back out again keeping the outbound lines centered between the lines that are all ready stitched.

Once you are back out, stitch along the bottom of the triangle until you are position to make the next triangle. The next triangle is made in the same way, only upside down. Continue making triangles until you get to the end of the row and finish with a half triangle. Stitch up along the side of the block to get in position to stitch the next row and do it in the opposite direction.

I love how contemporary this design is,
Hope you enjoy playing with it,
Till tomorrow,

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Machine Quilting Challenge - Block #41

Good Morning,
Hope you enjoyed yesterday's stitch-out. Today we're going to begin a two day stint of playing with triangles. Here is the easier of the designs. It is a background fill made from mostly triangles. It's challenge is to make straight sides and tight points. It's ease is that you can cross over lines to get to where you want to go so there is never a need to panic!
Doodle it out before you begin so that you become comfortable with the way that the triangles are formed and how to travel between triangles.
Begin near the middle of your block. Stitch the first two sides of a triangle. As you complete the shape with the third side, stitch past the intersection that forms the third corner far enough away so that you can make another triangle. Keep making triangles and filling in the space, keeping the negative space as even as possible and slightly varying the size of the triangles. My triangles are between 1/4" up to 3/4" with negative space of approximately 1/8" in between.
Hope you like today's quick and easy stitch-out. It's great for contemporary quilts and kids quilts too.
Till tomorrow,

Monday, May 10, 2010

Block # 40 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning,
I'm back after a little break with lots of new quilting designs. I've really been enjoying this project. It's getting me to broaden my horizons and stitch out designs that I haven't used in a long time and come up with new designs too.
I spent some time last week trying to think of all sorts of things that could be added to a simple clam shell stitch out. So here are some of the additions that I came up with. If you need a review, I posted the instructions several weeks ago. It is block #17. Make the clam shells at least 1" wide so that you have room to put designs in them. In the small slice photo above you can see 11 different designs stitched inside the clam shells from tall grasses to tiny circles and lots of other shapes. Choose 3-5 designs and use them in your clam shells. It looks best if you have at least three rows repeating one shape to really get a good understanding of how the design looks.
In the block above I used three designs, Asian Grasses in the lower section, Waves in the mid section and Alternating Furrows in the top most section. Some of the designs are stitched as each clam shell is stitched while others are added after the row of clam shells have been completed.
The Asian Grasses are added during the making of the clam shells. Beginning on the lower left hand edge of your block, stitch a clam shell and at the right hand end of it, stitch a mid sized arch inside it along the upper curve then stitch back down again to make a curved blade of grass, then stitch a second smaller one under the first one. Each blade of grass should begin and end in the right hand corner of the clam shell. Complete the first row in this manner. The next row is stitched from right to left and the grasses come out of the left hand corner so that they alternate with the previous row.
The wave design is added after the row of clam shells has been stitched. Stitch the clam shells and once completed, stitch back in the opposite direction with a wavy line about 1/4" inside the top curve of each clam shell. Begin and end each wavy line inside the corners of the clam shell.
The Alternating furrows are also added after a row of clam shells has been stitched. You will have to retrace portions of each clam shell as you add the rows of stitch inside it. Try very hard to stay on the previously stitched lines or the design will begin to look sloppy. Add lines moving in one direction/angle in the first row and lines moving in a different direction in the next row then back to the original direction in the third row and so on.
I hope you enjoy this combined stitch-out. I bet you can come up with some really fun designs to stitch inside your clam shells!
Till tomorrow,

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Block #39 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning,
Last night I went to the 1st Monday Art Talk( at Dazzle Jazz Club. It's a great venue. The artists work hangs for a month and on the Talk night she/he is feted with a nice introductory bio then gets interviewed in a question and answer session where the audience gets to participate. This months artist is local painter Audrey McNamara whose urban themed paintings depict gritty vignettes of modern life. Her work has a graffiti like feel to it with bold outlines and lots of gesture lines that invoke a sense of movement Though she uses lots of black, a good deal of her work relies on subtle tones and as my daughter said, " lots of taupe". There were several pieces that I wanted to take home with me. The evening also included some spoken word performances by a young woman and an older man (sorry I didn't get their names),. Both were highly entertaining and thought provoking. It was a lovely evening and just what I needed to get me back in the creative mode (I've been having a little dry spell).
Here is today's new stitch-out; I call it Gothic Swirls. It is a border/sashing design and looks best in long rows. It looks very complicated, but it uses elements we've used before; a swirl and petals. So that you could see how it is sectioned out I stitched each portion of the design separately in the long narrow piece and made sure that the creased sections in the block were discernible. You definitely want to doodle this one out to get the rhythm and spacing of it.
Begin with a long tail that gently curves into a swirl. Swirl in then out. Once you are out of the swirl, begin making small, half round, petals all the way around the swirl. Once you get about an inch away from the end of the tail make one final elongated petal. Now add a second row of petals above the first row as you stitch back in the opposite direction. This second row of petals can be half rounds like the first or they can have a peak like the ones shown. Stitch these petals around the swirl until you reach the bottom edge then swoop up again toward the next swirl. The hardest part of this design is the spacing that's why marking the sections with a Hera marker is so helpful. As you make the swirl try to place it in the middle of the second half of the section so that you have room to surround it with petals.
The design can be used in several ways. Use it in a single row for a narrow border or sashing or double it up, face to face to form a heart in a wider border. The top most section of the block shows two rows that move in the same direction but are offset, which is another way you can use the design.
To stitch out the block, divide it into 6,1 1/2"wide rows then divide the rows into 3, 3 1/4" long sections. You will stitch one complete design inside each of the 1 1/2" x 3 1/4" sections. Begin in the section in the bottom left hand corner. Place your needle down near the top left hand corner in the section and stitch down and over to the right forming a slight arch like half of a heart and head into a swirl. Make the swirl, leaving yourself enough room to stitch back out of it. Just as you finish stitching back out of the swirl begin making small, half round petals. Stitch these all the way around the outside of the swirl and back to the beginning of the line with the last petal elongated. Next stitch the second row of petals just above the first row. When you reach the base of the swirl, stitch a slight arch into the next section to form the next Gothic Swirl. When you have stitched the entire row knot off and begin again back on the left hand side of the block. If you want to form hearts then the second row is stitched upside down so that the swirls meet up with the swirls in the first row.
I hope you enjoy this design. I thinks it's beautiful.
Till tomorrow,

Monday, May 3, 2010

Block #38 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning,
I hope today is the start to a great week for everyone.
It is my youngest daughter's 20th birthday today. I find it hard to believe that my children are both 'grown-up's'! Time does fly by and as I get older I feel like I need to pay more attention. Especially to things such as how I spend my time and who I spend it with. I want to learn to be more discerning (was kind of hoping that would come with age - but not so far) and yet more open. Birthdays, mine and others, always remind me of how precious time really is.
Well, enough with the Monday morning philosophy..... here is today's new stitch-out; Rambling Feathers. This is an all over or fill stitch. It can be used in wide borders, in setting squares or triangles or as an all over design on a quilt with simple piecing. If you've never used feathers as a fill you'll probably want to doodle this one out to get the feel for how the feathers nestle into each other.
You will use the same technique described in yesterdays block, #37 to make the feathers. They are linked together by small loop d'loops (click on the photo to see it larger). Each of my feathers is between 2 1/2" - 3 1/2" long and about 1 1/4" - 1 1/2" wide. You can make yours as large or small as you like, just strive for consistency. This can mean that all of your feathers are about the same size or that you have lots of different sized feathers. What you probably don't want (because it looks like a mistake) is a bunch of feathers that are all close in size and one that is much larger or smaller.
Begin by stitching a curved feather near the center of your block. Once complete, loop d'loop your self away from the finished feather and stitch a second feather that curves in the opposite direction from the first. Keep stitching feathers, switching the direction of the curves so that they can nestle into each other and/or make a nook in which to position another feather.
I really love the artistry and dimension that this stitch-out can bring to a project. I hope you enjoy experimenting with it.
Till tomorrow,

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Block #37 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning,

I've been enjoying a really nice three day weekend - with no teaching, a lot of rest and just a little creativity. I spent most of Friday down in Colorado Springs indigo dying with the girlfriends and I plan to do some more today. It's a very addictive technique!

Here is today's new stitch-out; Feathers. I love stitching feathers but have to admit that I don't use them all that often. I like to use them on projects that have very simple piecing. Or feature them as the major design elements because they are big attention getters. Every quilter uses a different technique to make feathers. So, if you've made feathers before and were successful with them then their is no need to change the way you've done them in the past. However, if you've always struggled with them or have never given them a try, then explore my method.

The photo on the left shows the separate steps that I take when forming a feather. I start at the bottom of the spine (center line), stitching upwards and end with the tear drop shape that forms the top of the feather. Next, I stitch all of the feathers along the left hand side (easiest if you are right handed, start with the right side if you are left handed) then I back over the end of the spine and head back up to the top of the feather forming a spine that is thick on the bottom, about 1/4" wide and narrows down to a point as I reach the top feather. I then begin making feathers on the remaining side, trying to match them up with the feathers on the original side.

This technique requires you to double over part of the feather section that you just stitched to create the next feather section. If you don't like doubling over, simply separate your feather sections as shown in the last sample in the stitch-out on the right.

As you begin your feather making experience, make the spine just slightly curved as placement of the feather sections can be somewhat difficult on concave curves. Once you feel competent making simple feathers, pump it up by making more curved ones.

To make the feathers above, begin by stitching the spine, from the bottom, up. Add the top teardrop then begin making feather sections on one side. Always angle the bottom portion of each section down, towards the base of the spine, this will place you in the correct position to add the next section. Some people like feathers that have a half heart shape others prefer more of a tear drop shape. It doesn't matter what you do as long as you strive for consistency. Once you have completed one side of the feather, double back over the base of the spine and stitch back up to the top of the feather and add the feather sections to the other side.

I surrounded my main feather with tiny circles - just because I like the way it looks.

Next make a smaller feather on each side of the larger feather. If you feel up to it, curve the center spines so that they fill up the corner space well and hug the center feather. I used slightly wavy lines spaced about 1/4" apart in the background but you could stipple too. Heavily quilting the background areas around the feathers will make them poof as if they were trapunutoed.

I hope you have fun playing with feathers.

Till tomorrow,