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!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Good Morning All,

So here I am, working on the quilt for the cover of my new book - again. Last week I showed you the preliminary drawing.
The photo on the top shows the quilt with the circles all quilted (click on it if you want to see it larger) and the photo below shows it with the circles colored in after the quilting.
The final step is to decide how to finish - sometimes figuring out how to finish is the most difficult decision! I think that what I'm going to do is quilt each background section very heavily with a different design and in a different color and try to repeat all of the colors that I used in the circles. Any way - here's hoping it looks good when I'm done.

I'll let you know,
Till next time,

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Block #77 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning All,

Here is today's new design. It's very dense and stitched in a variegated thread and is hard to see in this size. Click on the block to see it larger then come back and read the instructions. I call this design Chrysanthemums.

Begin near the middle of the block and stitch a small circle about the size of a pea. Stitch six or seven round ended petals around the circle, then stitch a second row of petals around the outside and in between the first row of petals. Continue stitching additional rows of petals around the previous row until you have stitched a total of four rows of petals around the flower center. Knot off when the flower is complete, lift up the needle and travel to where you want to start the next flower. Knot off again and stitch out the second flower in the same manner as the first. Fill the entire block with flowers in this way, leaving about 1/2" - 3/4" between flowers.

Now, stitch the negative space between the flowers. Because the flowers are so curvy, I chose a straight lined design for the negative space. Simply stitch a straight line from one flower to the next then change angles and stitch another line, keep stitching from flower to flower, crossing over previously stitched lines and sewing at all different angles until the background is equally filled.

Hope you enjoy today's new design,

Till next time,


Monday, October 18, 2010

The Cover Quilt - Revisited

Good Morning All,

Since my last attempt at creating the quilt to put on the cover of my new book failed so miserably, I thought that this time around I would break one of my core beliefs and draw the damn thing out before I jumped into it. So, here is the quilt. I drew it 9" x 12" but I've sized it up by 3 and am stitching it out 27" x 36".
I drew the circles and vertical division lines on to white fabric then layered it with a solid raspberry backing fabric and two layers of silk/cotton blend batting. I will quilt all of the circles and the designs in them as well as the vertical lines in black. Then I will color in the designs in the circles and decide at that point whether to quilt the remaining areas in black then color in the backgrounds or in colors and leave the background white. I'll show you everything as I get it done.

Till next time,


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Block #76 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning All,

I'm am so jazzed with this wonderful weather change. I just love the beauty of Autumn! It's nice to pull out the sweaters or cuddle with a quilt and a book.

Here is today's new design. It is filled with rhythm and movement. It's wonderful in borders or areas with simple piecing.

Begin by stitching horizontal wavy lines across the block that are about 1 1/2" to 2" apart. Next, stitch vertical lines across the block that are about 1/2" apart. These lines are curvy too, however the curves switch orientation each time you cross the horizontal lines, meaning, the arc of the curve moves in in the first horizontal section then moves out in the second section then in again in the third section and so on. It is this consistent, repeated curve that gives the design all of its movement. Strive to keep the lines smooth and an equal distance apart.

Enjoy and have a wonderful Fall weekend,

Till next time,


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Block #75 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning All,

Wow! The husband and I just returned from a 3 day mini vacation to Moab. I had never been there before and I'm just amazed with the majesty of it all. Wow! The land we live in is filled with so many wonders!

Here is today's new stitch out. I call it "Olives", because that's what it looks like. It is very similar to "Stones" in that the shapes are all the same and they have to touch each other to look tidy.

Begin by stitching an oval that is about the size of a large olive. Once the oval is complete, stitch a smaller circle in one end of the oval. Next, stitch another oval that is about the same size and making sure that it is touching the first oval. Stitch a small circle inside one end of the second oval. Continue making ovals that touch each other, each with a small circle stitched at one end and doubling over stitch lines as needed to get to where you want to stitch.

This design provides loads of texture and is a great fill. Consider stitching it in a slightly contrasting color (I used yellow orange thread on an orange fabric) to add some extra punch.

Hope you all have a great day,
Till next time,


Friday, October 8, 2010

The Machine Quilting Challenge - Block #74

Good Morning All,

Here is today's new design, click on it to see it larger. It is a very colorful, busy, decorative border design. The stitch out was done in three colors and three of what you might want to call "layers". The first layer was done in red and consisted of the basic flower shape and the loop d 'loops that links them together. The second layer was done in turquoise and consisted of additional loop d 'loops and stems of leaves in the negative space, tiny scallops inside the flower centers and wavy veins inside each of the petals. The final layer was done with yellow orange thread. I used it to add an asterisks shape in the center of each flower, jagged zig-zags around the outside of the flower centers, a jagged surround around each of the leaves and more loop d' loops in the negative space.

Begin with a 7" x 14" quilt sandwich. Starting at one end, stitch a curvy line of loop d' loops to where you want to make your first flower. Stitch a large circle, about the size of a quarter then surround it with five or six petals. Loop d' loop over to where you want to make your next flower and so on. You can fit four large flowers in the rectangle if you stagger them,one on the left then one on the right and so on.

Change thread colors and loop d' loop into the center of the first flower. Stitch tiny half circles around the inside perimeter of the flower center then add long wavy veins down the center of each petal, stitch out and away from the flower and stitch a sprig of leaves then loop d' loop to the next flower and stitch its center and veins. Continue loop d' looping from flower to flower, adding leaves, center flourishes and veins.

Change thread color again and loop d' loop into the center of the first flower. Stitch an asterisks design in the middle of the flower center then stitch just out of the center and surround it with a small jagged zig-zag. Loop d' loop out of the flower toward the first sprig of leaves and surround each leaf with small, pointy, bottom-less triangles. Loop d' loop toward the next flower and sprig of leaves and do the same.

Look over the strip and add more loop d' loops in any large open spaces.

I love, love, love stitching with multiple colors in large open spaces on my quilts - it adds so much interest. Be careful though - you don't ever want your quilting to overwhelm your piecing. The two should work in tandem with each other, each playing off of and complimenting the other.

Hope you all enjoy your weekend!

Till next time,

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Design #73 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning All,

A shout out to our new viewer, Susie, welcome!

As most of you have probably figured out, I like texture. These two border designs are all about adding visual texture to otherwise plain areas on a quilt - they are great in borders as shown here.

Begin with a sandwich that is 7" x 14" and divide it down the middle to yield two sides that are 3 1/2" each. Use a Hera marker or the marker of your choice. Stitch on the middle line to divide the two halves.

The top design, looks like flight patterns of birds to me. It is very free form and easy to do. Begin by dividing your border into long curvy pathways that are about 1" wide. Simply stitch a long, curving line somewhere in the border then stitch another that is about 1" away and another. Then, change directions and make a set of three or four lines, then change directions again and make another set of 3-4 lines and so on until the entire border area has long, curvy lines that are about 1" apart.

Each set of curvy lines or channels has round bottomed "w"s stitched in them that follow the direction of the channels themselves. Try to keep the w's the same distance apart,mine are about 3/8". Use the channel stitch lines to travel from one place to another while stitching.

The bottom design is much more formal then the top design and it requires a bit of marking. Divide the border in half lengthwise and mark with a Hera marker then divide the length into four equal sections each 3 1/2" wide and mark. Stitch diagonal lines to divide the space into large triangles. To do this start at the bottom left hand corner and stitch up to the first dividing line then stitch down to the next dividing line then up to the next and so on. You can put on your walking foot for this, but it's a great opportunity to practice long, straight lines free motion. After the triangles are stitched, stitch down the middle line to subdivide them. Look at the photo again and notice that each triangle is filled with straight lines that are about 1/4" apart. These lines alternate, vertical and horizontal in every other triangle. I find it easiest to stitch these lines in rows. Use the original stitch lines to travel from triangle to triangle.

I hope you enjoy these new designs and that you all have a wonderful day - I'm off to sell sewing machines!


Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Machine Quilting Challenge - design #72

Good Morning All,

I'm not sure what's up with the focus on this, but when you click on it to see it larger, it's nice and clear. Anyway, here are two fun border designs for you to try out. Use a 7" x 14" fabric sandwich and divide it down the middle using a Hera marker before you baste it. The top side features large swirls with straight, vertical lines in the negative space and the lower design begins with sections divided into large triangles followed by echoing arcs.

To begin the swirl design, using a Hera marker, divide the length of your strip into five equal sections, about 2 3/4" each. Beginning on one end, stitch a large swirl that is about two inches wide, keep it in the middle of the strip and inside one of the five sections. Stitch in, then back out again and swoop over to form the next swirl in the next section, striving to make it the same size as the first swirl. Stitch three more large swirls in the same manner until you reach the far side of the strip.

Once all of the swirls are complete, begin sewing the straight lines on the inside of the row of swirls, stitch from the edge of the swirl to the center line mark then back to the swirl then back to the center line mark. Try to keep your new stitch lines on top of the swirl stitch lines when switching directions. Keep your lines the same distance apart. Mine are 1/4" but 1/2" apart works too. Once this side is complete, stitch several times down the center line to divide the two halves of the strip. Do the same thing on the opposite side of the swirls, stitching vertical lines and keeping them the same distance apart.

To stitch out the other side, begin with the diagonal lines that form the triangles. Using a Hera marker divide the long strip into 8 equal segments, each 1 3/4" wide. Beginning at the bottom of the left hand corner, stitch up, diagonally to the first marked line then down diagonally to the second line then up again and so on until the large triangles have been stitched. Now, using your Hera marker, divide the width of the strip in half so that you have two long sections that are 1 3/4" wide.

Beginning on the side closest to the middle, stitch a large arc that touches the middle line and fits between three of the marked vertical lines (look at the picture). Stitch in echoing arcs until the arc is filled in. Stitch along the center division line to the next section and stitch another large arc and stitch in echoing arcs. Continue stitching echoing arcs until the first side is complete then do the same thing on the opposite side with arcs that are offset from the first side.

Hope you enjoy these two border designs,

Till next time,

Friday, October 1, 2010

Sometimes, we make duds......

Good Morning All,

A week or so ago I showed you the quilted piece above that I was working on for the cover of my up-coming book. I photographed it after the machine quilting was done (bottom photo) then I colored it in....and basically ruined it! Yes, even very experienced artists, who should know better, still make mistakes. But, we all learn more from our mistakes than from our successes.

I consider myself a colorist first and foremost. This quilt is not a good example of how to use color well. To begin with, the colors used to machine quilt it looked pretty good, lots of color blocking, with cools and warms spread about somewhat equally and lots of white remaining in the negative space which provided a place for the eye to rest.

It's the color blocking (bold color in one area, next to bold color in another) that got me in trouble. Though I repeated some of the colors, the color blocking broke up the unity in the piece. There is so much variety; each section has a different visual texture due to all of the different quilting designs. I should have realized that I needed to bring it all together with the color to provide unity.

So, I'm going to do it over again. I will quilt the whole thing in black so that I am free to add any color in any section as I go. The black will be a unifying element too. Then, when I color it, I will use 5-6 colors in each section instead of just two and I will repeat the colors more often too. This quilt will be going on the front of my color & design book - it can't just look good, it's got to look great - back to the beginning I go. I'll keep you posted on the new work and hopefully with this next attempt, I will be able to show what I know about both color and design in a way that will make everyone want to buy my book!

I'll give you a new border design to quilt tomorrow,

Till then,