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!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Machine Quilting Challenge - Block #59

Good Morning,

Here is today's new stitch-out; Blowing leaves. It is a great design to use for a complete fill in background areas, sashing or borders. I think it looks best tight and small.

If you've never used this almond shape before make sure to doodle it out before you begin stitching.

The basic shape is an almond and each shape nestles into the shapes around it with very little negative space in between.

Begin near the middle of the block and stitch an almond shape that is about 1" long and 1/2" wide with a point at the end. To do this, stitch a curved line up then stitch back down with a curve in the opposite direct, leaving an opening at the base that is about 1/4"wide. Stitch back up and form a second, smaller almond shape inside the first one then stitch back out and stitch another almond shape that points in a different direction. Stitch a smaller almond shape inside the second almond then stitch out and form a third almond shape. Keep stitching double almonds nestling the new one in between previously stitched ones and trying to change directions as much as possible while maintaining a tight design with little negative space.
Hope you enjoy this new design,
Till tomorrow,

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Painted Quilt

Good Morning,
Today, instead of adding a new design, I'm showing you a painted quilt that I just finished. Click on the photo to see it larger.
This started out as a piece of white fabric. I marked four circles, one for the flower center, one to contain the flower, one to contain the outer circular border of tiny circles and the outermost circle. I then divided the background space around the circle as well as the horizontal and vertical lines forming the bottom portion of the quilt. Everything was marked with a fine, graphite pencil.
Next, using free style quilting, I quilted the flower center using small, touching circles and black thread. Then I stitched the petals each with two smaller petals inside, again with black thread.
I switched to hot pink thread and put on my walking foot and stitched the circle around the flower center and the circle around the flower. I went around these several times to build up the stitch line. Next I added the petal border then the circles border around the flower, again with black thread and free motion quilting.
I then stitched all of the background area around the flower/circle using a wavy crosshatch in half of the sections and a swirls and arc design in the other sections. I then stitched the horizontal lines using my walking foot and the hot pink thread. I built up these lines by stitching over them twice.
I finished the quilting by adding the small flowers in the wide border and vines in the narrow border with tiny circles in the two tiny borders. Then I added the same designs in the lower portion that I had stitched in the background around the large flower.
I colored the whole thing in with markers using just five colors; red violet, lime green, blue green, yellow orange and metallic gold.
It was great fun!
I'll be teaching this technique at Great American Quilt Factory, August 20 & 27.
Till tomorrow,

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Machine Quilting Challenge - Block #58

Good Morning!
What interesting weather we have here in Colorado. It's been raining all morning and blissfully cool - real springtime. I love this kind of weather. It makes everything feel clean and new!
Today's new stitch-out is another border design. It uses designs and techniques from some of the blocks we've all ready done including, stones or small circles for berries, tendrils, and curly-q's. The two designs are very similar to each other. The design on the right features a series of thin, narrow swirls or curly-q's. These swirls vary in size from tiny to large. The design on the left features the same swirls, mostly in a medium size alternating with sprigs of berries and tendrils.
Here's how to go about stitching these designs. Begin with a 7 1/2" x 14 1/2" quilt sandwich. Divide it down the long middle using a Hera marker then stitch along the marked line. To do the design on the right, begin at the center bottom of the right hand side of the quilt sandwich. Stitch up a short stem toward the left and make a small narrow swirl that is about the size of a quarter. Stitch out of the swirl and back to the stem. Now stitch a stem toward the right and form a larger, skinny swirl that is about the size of a silver dollar. Stitch back out of the swirl and make a tiny swirl on your way back to the center stem. Continue making skinny swirls in various sizes, moving from side to side until you have stitched the length of the quilt sandwich.
For the design on the left side of the quilt sandwich, begin in the same manner with a medium sized swirl. On your way out of the swirl, make a tendril. Stitch a swirl that is about the same size on the opposite side of the stem and add a tendril or two. Next, stitch up to the opposite side and make a stem that is about 1 1/2" long. Stitch a small round berry at the end of the stem then berries along both sides of it. These tiny circles should be about the size of a pea. Continue alternating sides with medium sized, narrow swirls and tendrils adding a stem of berries every once in a while. Remember to alternate the sides that the berries are on.
Hope you enjoy these new stitch-outs,
Till Monday,

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Machine Quilting Challenge - Block # 57

Good Morning,

Here is today's new stitch-out. It looks a bit out of focus here in its smaller size. Click on the photo to see it larger and in focus.

Today's stitch-out is two similar but different border designs. Both use small leaves and one has flowers and the other has berries and flourishes.

Begin by cutting fabric that is 7 1/2" x 14 1/2" (trim down to 7" x14" after quilting) and batting that is the same size. Divide the fabric up the middle using a Hera marker.

Begin stitching at the bottom, center of one half of the rectangle, pulling the block toward you as you stitch.

For the flower design, begin by stitching up to one side and ending in a small leaf that is about 1/2" long by 1/4" wide. Add a short center vein to the leaf then back back down the vine about half way and stitch out another stem with a leaf. Make a third stem and leaf then double back into the vine. Stitch over in the opposite direction and form a small circle at the end of a stem. Surround the circle with 6, small, 3/4 circle petals. Keep alternating side to side with groups of leaves and flowers trying to fill all of the space equally.

For the berry design use the same method as above only instead of making flowers make groups of three berries that are just smaller than a dime in size. Make sure that they touch each other and try to get them as circular as possible. Use fewer stems and leaves but add little tendrils by stitching away from the vine or stem in a curly q fashion then doubling back to thicken the line. Again, try to keep the designs evenly spaced.

Hope you enjoy these border designs,
Till tomorrow,

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Machine Quilting Challenge - Block #56

Good Afternoon and Happy Monday,

I had a really nice weekend, hope you did too. Tom and I went on a day trip up through the mountains to Salida to celebrate our 3rd anniversary. It was hot, but lovely. It's so nice to get out of town - even if it's just for a day.

Here is today's new stitch-out. I really like the movement and energy of this design and it's pretty easy to do. It is grid based so you may want to draw at least horizontal lines. Feel free to draw vertical lines too to make squares. I drew horizontal lines that were 2" apart.

The design is similar to "Combs" or E's, which we did about 40 blocks ago. Only instead of straight lines and curves we have arcs and points. To make it more interesting I also changed the direction that the curves were facing too.

Begin at the bottom left hand corner and stitch up a gentle curve to the first marked line, form a point as you stitch back down with a second gentle curve that nestles about 1/4" away from the first. Continue making arcs until you have filled in about a 2" space. In the next two inch section make the same arcs but move them horizontally. In the next two inch sections make vertical arcs again, but curve them in the opposite direction as the arcs in the first section. Keep making two inch sections of curved arcs, alternating from vertical to horizontal and left facing, top facing, bottom facing and right facing curves. Do the same in the next rows, alternating directions as shown in my stitched block.

Hope you have fun with this one. Tomorrow it's on to more border designs,

Friday, June 4, 2010

Block #55 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Afternoon,
I'm working at my studio today and have just finished getting it set up for today's 1st Friday art walk. It's so nice to be able to open to the public a couple of times each month - nice to get my work out there and have folks other than quilters see it!
A shout out to Christa Irell, thanks for all the positive comments that you send me. It's great knowing that you're out there appreciating my blog. Thank you!
Today's new stitch-out looks simple, but when stitched large like this it can be a little difficult. It will provide you with more great help on getting straight, straight lines.
It may be helpful to draw rows on your block using a hera marker so that you get even distribution. My rows are 2" wide. This stitch is much easier to make small, but you'll learn a lot more making 2" than you would making it 3/4". It's simply big, close together zig-zags that are positioned in groups of 3-4 and move in opposite directions. You have to pretend that you're working inside a square and keep the design inside those parameters.
Begin in the lower left hand corner and stitch up at an angle till you reach the row line then angle back down making the bottom width of the triangle about 1/2" wide. Next stitch back up again and make another triangle. Make 1 or 2 more depending on how much space you have left in your imagined square. Make sure that you finish stitching with the needle down along the bottom of the block. Stitch over about 2" at an upward angle and form the first horizontal triangle. Keep making horizontal triangles until you've reached the row line. Stitch the next section vertically then the next one horizontally and so on. Aim to keep each line as straight as possible and all of the tips of your triangles as pointy as can be.

This design has great energy and movement. It can add a lot of power to a drab composition.
Hope you enjoy it,
Till tomorrow,

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Block #54 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning,
Here is today's new stitch-out. It's a big departure from the past five days of flowers!. I call it Making Tracks. Though it looks very simple, it's one of the harder designs to perfect. Remember to doodle it out before taking your first stitch.
Begin by dividing your quilting space into 10 equally spaced rows. Each row of stitching will occupy two of the marked rows. The design is basically a connected series of arrow heads that when joined together look like tire tracks.
Begin at the lower left corner and stitch at an angle up toward the right to the first marked line then stitch in the opposite angle over and up to the left to the second marked line, forming a side ways "V". Now that you are on the second line, stitch over about 1/2" on that line then form the next "V" keeping it about 1/2" away from the first. Keep stitching sideways "V"'s all the way across the block. Once you have reached the far end of the block, stitch up along the right hand edge until you are in position to stitch the first "V" in the second row. These are sewn in the opposite direction of the "V"'s in the first row. Keep stitching row after row of sideways "V"'s each row moving in the opposite direction from the row below it until you have completed the block.
This stitch-out is great practice for improving your straight lines and managing spacing between designs.
Hope you enjoy it,
Till tomorrow,