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, November 28, 2010

Block #83 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning All,

Here is a new border design. It features a large,complex leaf with sprigs of small leaves in between. I stitched it in three different thread colors, dark green for the leaf and vine, blue green for the veins in the large leaves and light violet for the small sprigs of leaves. You might want to doodle this one out before you jump into the stitching.

Start with a piece of fabric that is 7 1/2" wide by 14 1/2" long (you will trim it to 7" x14" when the stitching is done). Begin on one end of the rectangle, with the bulk of the rectangle behind the machine. You will be pulling the fabric toward your lap as you stitch.

Start by making a short stem, about 1" long then veer over to the right and stitch a wavy line that angles up and stops about 1" from the edge (this is the center vein of the leaf) next, stitch an a wavy line down then out and away from the center vein then angle it back down toward the stem. Do the same on the opposite side of the vein to form the other side of the leaf. Remember to make all of these stitching lines wavy. Stitch back down the center vein to the stem then stitch up another 1" - 1 1/2" and form a leaf on the opposite side. Continue making large leaves, one on the left then one on the right etc. until the rectangle is full. My leaves are about 5" long and 3 1/2" wide and I was able to fit three full leaves on each side of the stem.

Change threads to a different color for the veins of the leaves. Begin at the same spot you did before and stitch up the vein with a wavy line that is slightly different from the first stem line. Stitch into the first leaf and echo up the center vein, keeping the stitch line about 1/8" away. Then stitch out to form the first angled vein then stitch back to the center again, again keeping the lines about 1/8" apart. Continue stitching angled, wavy lined veins on the first side of the leaf then once you reach the top, do the same on the opposite side of the leaf. Complete all of the leaves in this manner, traveling from leaf to leaf over the stem.

Change your thread color one more time for the small sprigs of leaves. Again, begin at the bottom of the rectangle and pull it towards you as you stitch. You will be filling in the negative space with these sprigs. Because I like to use contrasting shapes, I used small seed shaped leaves on the small springs. They are rounded and work well with the more pointy large leaves but you could shape yours however you like.

Stitch up the stem until you reach a large area of negative space then stitch out and away from the stem, forming a long stem. Stitch a small leaf at the end then double back adding leaves on the sides of the stem as you go. Mine are teardrop or seed shaped and vary in size from a pumpkin seed down to a sunflower seed. Keep traveling up the stem adding more sprigs as you go until you have filled in the negative space adequately ( no more the 1/2" - 1" of open space with no quilting).

Hope you enjoy this new design. I can't wait to use it in a quilt myself!

Till next time,

Thursday, November 25, 2010

More "Quilt & Color" designs

Good Morning and Happy Thanksgiving to You All,

I'm not much of a holiday girl anymore. The kids are grown, I'm not close to me extended family but my good friends are so it's usually just my small family getting together.

This year it's just me and Tom, my oldest Jaz and a couple of stray friends that she's bringing with her (she mixes with a lot of very different types of people and her friends are always fun and interesting). I'm making a nice but simple dinner so that means I've got the whole morning to spend in my studio!

So, I thought I'd take some time to show the "quilt and color" technique step by step using the new triptych I'm working on. the photos above show the three major steps in the technique.

In the first photo, using a fine mechanical pencil, I have drawn the circles, the dividing line, the word and it's surrounding borders and the sections in the background around the circles. I then stitched them all using 40 wt. black thread.

In the second photo, I have added all of the fine detail stitching, making it up as I go. Turning circles into flowers, adding loads of texture and fun shapes still using the 40 wt. black cotton thread.

The last photo shows the final result, all colored in using Pro Markers, Fabrico markers and Tsukinenko Ink. After the ink has dried, (less than an hour) I go back in and thicken up any lines where any colors may have bled (this not only covers the bleeding, but adds interest too). To do this I use the same black thread and various widths of satin stitch.

This is so fun! I will soon be carrying the Fabrico markers and Tsukinenko inks on my web site for those of you who would like to try out the technique and can't find the products. I'm teaching it early next year at Great American Quilt Factory too and will be publishing a printable CD pattern on the technique filled with loads of designs.

Have a lovely day,

Till next time,

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Cover Quilt for my new Color Book - AT LAST!

Good Morning All,

My apologies for being away for so long. Isn't it amazing how the days fly by? I've been so busy that Thanksgiving just snuck up on me. I'll have to do my shopping today after work!

Here, finally, is the quilt that I will use on the cover of my upcoming color book. I'm very pleased with the results. It was worth doing it over.I love the lines and shapes but especially the color.

It began with a piece of white cloth. I marked the long vertical lines as well as the circles but that's all.

Then I layered it with two layers of silk batting and a colorful backing fabric. I stitched around the marked circles and the long, wavy lines. Then I went back in to each circle adding all of the detail free style (no marking), just stitching whatever came to mind. All of this was done with a 40 wt. black cotton thread.

Then I stitched a different design, in a different color, in each of the background sections using a thinner, 50 weight thread.

Then I colored each of the circles using Promarkers and Fabrico Markers. I tried to make them as colorful as possible using a mixture of pure hues, slight tints and slight shades. Then I colored in the background areas. Each was done in a color slightly lighter than the thread used in that section. For this I used the Promarkers and Tsukinenko Inks.

One of the things that can happen with this technique is the ink or markers can bleed into an adjoining area. When this happens, I simply thicken up the stitch lines using various widths of satin stitch and viola, problem fixed!

I love, love, love doing this technique. My two favorite things; free style machine quilting and coloring - it's a little like being a kid again!

Have a glorious Thanksgiving!

Till next time,

Monday, November 15, 2010

Block #82 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Afternoon All,

Here is another new design. It's a lovely, delicate, feminine filler full of feathers and frills (try saying that five times fast!).

Anyway, it is made from several motifs that we have used before including feathers, well really, half feathers.

Beginning in the center of your square, stitch the spine of a small feather, about 2 1/2" long with a slight swirl at the end. Begin stitching small half heart shaped feathers along the outside edge of the swirl and back down to the base of the spine. Next, stitch away from the feather and make a long, thin swirl ended leaf or two. Stitch back down to the base of the feather then away to form another half feather. Keep stitching half feathers and long, thin, swirly leaves and add in some curly-q flourishes along the way. Fill in all of the space on the block, keep the feathers all about the same size and keeping the negative space even.

Hope you enjoy this new design,

Till next time,

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Block #81 In the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning All,

There is a fine layer of snow on the ground here in my central Denver neighborhood and the promise of more to come today. It's a perfect time to get some work done in my studio.

Here is another new design. I call it Swirly Suns. It is unusual for me, in that, the designs are not linked and no stitching is done in the negative space. So, there is a lot of knotting off. When doing a design like this where each motif is separate, "traveling" is required. To travel, end a design by knotting off but don't clip the threads, rather, lift up the needle and presser foot and move the quilt to where you want to begin the next motif. Put down the foot and needle then stitch out the motif and knot off. Next, lift up the needle and presser foot and move the quilt to where you want to stitch the next motif and stitch, knot off and travel.

The sun is a relatively easy design. Mine are about the size of a silver dollar. Begin with a swirl, starting in the center and swirl out. Once the swirl is the size you want it (mine are about the size of a quarter), close the swirl and begin making the suns rays which are just small triangles stitched around the perimeter of the swirl. Strive to make each sun approximately the same size and leave about the same amount of negative space between them all. Remember to knot off at the beginning and end of each motif. Once all of the designs have been stitched, go in and clip all of the threads in between them.

Hope you enjoy this design,

Till next time,


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Great New Book

Good Evening Again,

This is especially for Debbie and the girls that were in my one day design class yesterday at Great American Quilt Factory. Of course it's for all the rest of you too!

This is a delightful, useful, informative new book. It's by Katherine Dunn and it's filled with ideas on how to add simple sketching and drawing to your mixed media/fiber art work. It's filled with beautiful paintings, great quotes and lots more - a must have for those of us who want to improve our drawing/painting skills.

Also of note, one of the co-authors of my book, Fabric Embellishing; the Basics and Beyond, Ruth Chandler, just returned from quilt market with great news. Our book is in the process of being translated into French for the European market - Woo Hoo!

Till next time,

The Machine Quilting Challenge Block #80

Good Evening All,

Hope everyone has had an enjoyable weekend. I always love "fall back" time. Getting that extra hour to sleep in then going to bed early.

Here is another new design. It's quite simple to do and is a great filler when done tiny like this and it can be wonderful in borders when done two to three times this size. Click on the picture to see it larger. I used a variegated violet thread, so the light areas are showing up better than the darker areas.

The design is simply three small tear drop shaped leaves at the end of a stem. Begin by stitching a line that is about 1" long and has a gentle curve in it. At the end of the line, stitch a small tear drop that is pointed where it meets the stem and rounded at the far end. Stitch a second tear drop to the right side of the first one and a third tear drop to the left side of the first one. Stitch partially down the stem then away to form another stem with another set of three tear drop shaped leaves at the end of it. Keep stitching more stems and sets of leaves, moving directions whenever possible. Strive to keep the negative space equal as well as the size of the leaves.

Hope you enjoy this one,


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Block #79 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Hello Again,

I know, twice in one day is not like me - but, it's make up time.

This design is similar to the previous one, but it's stitched somewhat differently. It is a wonderful fill design, whereas the previous one would be great for borders.

Here's how I work it;

Begin in one of the corners of the block and stitch a quarter circle that is about the size of a quarter. Once the arc is complete, stitch four or five wavy rays or petals emanating out of the arc. Next, stitch a large arc over the rays, turn at the end about 1/4" and stitch a second arc over the first one. Now, stitch over along the bottom of the block about 1" and stitch a second arc. Stitch rays emanating from it then stitch a double arc above them. Keep stitching this combined design, nestling the new motifs inside the divots between two previously sewn motifs. Try to turn the motifs in different directions when ever possible to make the design more interesting.

Hope you enjoy these two new designs,

Till next time,

Block #78 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Evening

Thanks to Christa for keeping up with the comments - I'm glad to know that someone is excited about the new designs.

It's been a tough couple of weeks - a friend died two weeks ago after a short, rough battle with lung cancer; a big Hi to Elana who is off in a bright new existence - then, the 31 year old daughter of my very good friend, Wanda, had a massive stroke last week. She and her family are up for the biggest battle of their lives helping her recover - Kudos to Shelly for surviving and to her husband and family for battling with her!

So, forgive me if my mind and time has been elsewhere! But to make it up to you, today I'll give you two new designs. the first one is shown above. Doodle it out before you stitch it so that you can find your rhythm.

The design begins with a large clam shell. Then half suns are added in. To begin, Stitch three large clam shells along the bottom edge of the block. Make each about 2" tall and 3" wide. Stitch the next row of clam shells on top of and in between the first row. Start with a half shell then stitch two whole shells and finish with a half. Continue stitching rows of clam shells one on top of the other, each off set from the one below until the entire block is complete.

Go back to the first clam shell you stitched and stitch a small half circle in the middle of it along the base, about the size of half of a dime. Now, stitch four or five rays with wavy lines emanating from the half circle. Double back along the bottom edge until you are where you can add the same design to the next clam shell and stitch it out. Continue adding the sun rays in each of the clam shells, doubling over previously stitched lines to travel from clam shell to clam shell. Note; I added two or three small arcs instead of just one at the base of each of my suns.

Hope you like this one - it's really fun to do!