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, February 28, 2011

Design #92 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning,

Here is another border design. It's much simpler than the last few and similar to other leaf/vine designs we've done. The difference here is the shape of the leaf and the abundance of stems.

Beginning near the middle at one end of the border section, stitch a stem that moves over toward one side of the border. Lengthen the stem so that it forms the center of the first leaf. From the end of the stitched line, angle down and away from the center line/vein and form half of an upside down heart that ends back at the stem/vein. Stitch the second side of the leaf by stitching the second half of the heart and ending back at the top tip of the leaf. Stitch back down the center vein to the base of the leaf then stitch a short vein inside each side of the leaf. Stitch back down the stem a bit until you have room to stitch another stem on the same side of the border. End the stem with another heart shaped leaf then stitch back to the center stem.

Now, stitch another short stem on the opposite side of the center stem and end it with a heart shaped leaf. Stitch one or two more stems and leaves on that side of the center then stitch up the center stem and off to the original side of the border.

Keep stitching clusters of two t0 three stems and leaves that come off of the center vine, alternating sides as you go. Strive for equal sized leaves and to fill the space equally.

Now, I'm off to write the third installment of articles for Quilting Arts Magazine. Hope you're all enjoying them!

Till next time,

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Machine Quilting Challenge - Design #91

Hello all,

Here is a fun new design to add to your border selection. It is really fun to do and adds wonderful depth and movement to the surface. I used two different colors and weights of thread, a heavier one to form the swirled leaves and stem and a lighter weight one to stitch the oppositional echos that are stitched in all of the negative space surrounding the swirly leaves.This design really displays how well opposites show each other off. Not only are the leaves soft and swirly while the background is straight, but the leaves move through the border in a horizontal direction and the background lines in a vertical direction.

To begin, load your machine with a 30wt thread and start stitching a stem up the center of your border section. Stitch over toward one side of the border and end the line with a swirl. Stitch back out of the swirl then stitch away and out to form the wide end of the swirly leaf. End back at the stem. Stitch up the stem a short way then stitch out in the opposite direction from the first leaf and stitch a second swirly leaf. Continue stitching swirly leaves alternating them on each side of the stem until you have filled the length of the border.

Switch to a lighter weight thread, 50 or 60 weight, that contrasts in color to the leaf thread. Beginning at one end of the border begin stitching straight lines between all of the leaves along one side of the border. Stitch from the stem to the edge of the border or to another portion of leaf. Stitch up about 1/4" then stitch back toward the stem. Stitch up 1/4" then back over toward the edge and so on, simply echoing one line with another that is about 1/4" away. Switch directions at times sewing lines that are angled one way or another to fit in and around the leaves. Try not to stitch any lines that are parallel to the leaves if possible. Once you have filled in all of the negative space on one side of the stem then do the same on the other side until you have filled all of the negative space. This tight quilting in the negative space will make the large swirled leaves look like they are stuffed (click on the photo to see it larger)

Hope you enjoy this new design,
Till next time,

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Block #90 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning All,

Wow, what a great change in the weather! It's sunny, all the snow is melting and it promises to be in the 50's all week! Could Spring be just around the corner? I sure hope so. For those of you who are new to the blog. If you click on the photo of the stitch out it will automatically enlarge it so that you can see the details better. Remember to always doodle out any designs that have elements in them that are unfamiliar to you.

Here is a new design that would work great in the borders of a quilt especially if you used either or both of the fan designs from earlier this week elsewhere in the quilt. It looks complicated, but it's really not. It uses three different colors of thread and requires you to section out the border space.

I used a quilt sandwich that was 7" x 14". I divided the piece into three equally sized sections using a Hera marker then marked borders (on the border) 1" away from both long sides.

The fans alternate in direction, one facing right then the next one nestled into it facing left, the next one nestles into the second one, facing right again and so on. So that I could begin with a full fan, I stitched the center most fan first. Begin with your needle positioned on the marked border line in the middle of the center most marked section. Stitch at an angle to one corner of that section. Next, stitch a slight curve that extends slightly over the marked border line over to the opposite corner of the center section. Now stitch back down at an angle to end at the starting point thus completing the outline of the first fan.

Either knot off and travel, or backtrack over one of the long sides of the fan then stitch one or two half circles (about the size of half of a dime) over to the corner of the next marked segment and stitch another fan that faces the same direction as the first fan. Once that fan is complete you will see that you have a triangular shaped wedge left between the two fans you have made. Stitch a fan in that area that points in the opposite direction of the first two fans and leave a space of about 1/2" between the fans. Once it is complete either knot off or backtrack over a previously stitched line past the original fan and stitch a fan in the final section that faces the direction of the first fan. You should have one empty wedge left, stitch a fan in it the faces the opposite direction from the two fans on either side of it. Finally, outline the curved edges of the fans with small half circles then knot off.

You have completed the hard part! Change thread colors and beginning in the fan on one end of the border strip, stitch into the fan going up along the inside of one long side and ending about 1/2" from the curved end of the fan then angle over about 1/2" to the curved edge of the fan and angle down about 1/2" again to form a pointed tip and stitch back down to the tip of the fan thus forming the first interior segment of the fan. Continue stitching segments inside the fan trying to make them all the same size and backtracking over previously stitched lines to get to where you need to go. Travel from fan to fan using a wavy line in the space between them. Strive to stitch the same number of segments in each fan. Once all of the segments have been stitched, echo the half circle curve on the outside of all of the fans.

Change thread color again and using the same method as above, stitch a long wavy line up the center of each fan segment ending it in a small, pointed leaf shape. Stitch a second smaller leaf inside the first then double back to the tip of the fan. Continue stitching this design in the middle of each fan segment. Once you are finished, echo the half circle curve on the outside of all of the fans then using this color of thread or switching back to the first color, stipple in what is left of the borders.

This is a highly decorative design and would add loads of interest and beauty to a quilt with simple piecing and plain fabrics.

Till next time,

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Blocks #88 & #89 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning All,

Well, this is my third attempt to write this new entry. First the computer shut itself off and I lost everything then after I re-wrote it all the blasted thing shut itself off for up-dates and I lost it all again! Then I heard my hubby's voice in my head saying "save, save, save". I'm saving every step of the way this time!

I want to thank all of you who have sent comments recently. It's so nice to hear from you guys and know what you think of the stuff I'm publishing here.

Thanks also to all of you who have sent emails about my article in Quilting Arts. They did a great job with what I wrote and I was so pleased to see a full page image of my quilt! I'm so excited about writing for them this year!

So, here are two new designs. The first one I call Simple Fans and the second one Fancy Fans (you'd think after three attempts I could come up with better names!). They both make great fillers but the Fancy Fans may overwhelm your piecing so use it only when you want/need to add loads of new interest to a piece. I would definitely doodle both of these designs out before I tried to stitch them!

To do the Simple Fans, begin near the center of your block and stitch a straight line that is about 1 1/2". Stitch a quarter circle arc in one direction then stitch a second 1 1/2" line that ends back where the first line began. The fan is essentially a quarter circle. Once you have stitched back to the pointed end of the fan, stitch a straight line up to the curve that separates the fan at the 1/3 point. Stitch over the curve toward one side then stitch back to the tip separating the fan at the second 1/3 point. The fan should now be separated into three somewhat equal segments. Add a loop to the outside tip of the fan for a handle then stitch away and around the fan with small loop d'loops until you have space to stitch another fan. Continue stitching fans linked by loop d'loops until you have filled all of the space. Strive for equally sized fans and smaller yet equally sized loop d'loops. Try to keep the negative space equal too.

For the Fancy Fans you will need three different thread colors. With the first thread color stitch the fans linked by just a few loop d'loops. Make the fans larger than the Simple Fans, about 2" long on each side. Don't separate the fans into thirds and don't fill up the negative space with too many loop d'loops. Load your machine up with the second thread color and beginning at the tip of one of the fans add 3-5 elongated tear drops shapes inside the fan. Stitch back out of the fan at the tip and stitch some loop d'loops over to the next fan and add the tear drops inside it. Keep adding elongated tear drops to each fan and traveling from fan to fan with loop d'loops. Don't fill in all of the negative space at this stage, leave room for one more color of loop d'loops. Change to the third thread color. Beginning at the tip of one of the fans stitch a line up the center of one of the tear drops and end the line with a spiral. Double back over the swirl and line back to the tip of the fan and stitch the same thing up the center of the remaining tear drops in the fan. Travel from the first fan to the next, filling the remaining negative space with loop d'loops. Add the swirls designs to the remaining tear drops in all of the fans and fill in all of the remaining negative space with loop d'loops.

I'm working really hard on several new projects that I will be announcing soon. If you haven't signed up for my emails on my web site you might want to. I'll be sending out an email within the next week.

Till next time,

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Winter Arts

Hello All,
Another day in Winter Wonderland. Sad yet joyous news was received yesterday; Great American Quilt Factory - a Denver, quilting institution has decided to close after 30 years. What an accomplishment - 30 years in the quilting business! If you're a local and you plan to hit their closing sale, rather than bemoaning their closing, try telling the owners and employees how much you're going to miss them and thank them for all of their years of providing a great place to meet with friends, take wonderful classes and purchase great quilt art supplies (I'm just sayin')

Here are photos of another of my latest quilt and color pieces. As you can see in the first photo, all I mark are the major circles. In the second photo you can see that all of the motif stitching has been completed. The third photo shows it with all of the background area stitched too. The final photo is of the completed piece done in neutrals and metallics.

This technique is so much fun and has been a great way for me and my new machine to get acquainted!

I'll be back soon with some more GREAT news!
Till then,

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

More Quilt & Color Techniques

Boy is it cold out! It's pretty damned cold here in my studio too. The radiator out here isn't working so it looks like I'll have to go buy a plug in heater!
I've just returned from teaching at Road to California (more on that later) followed by a week of vacation on the CA coast. This freezing weather is quite a drag after enjoying two weeks of beautiful sun and 70 degree days.

Here are some photos of my newest Quilt & Color pieces. The first one shows the completed, whole piece. The second photo shows a close-up of one of the birds. The third photo is of me quilting one of the birds and the last photo is of me quilting on my new Queen Quilter - which I'm in love with!

I really, really love this technique. With this piece, I simply drew the major lines of the tree limb and the outlines of each of the birds. Then I free style stitched all of the flowers followed by the tree limb and branches. Then I added all of the leaves and finished with the birds.

The coloring was fun too. I wanted to sort of hide the birds among the flowers and leaves. I learned a big lesson too; some (not all) of the Letraset markers that I've been using fade in the sun- big drag. So far, it's mostly the blues. So - I'm sticking with Tsukeniko's inks and markers from now on!

I've put together a design/instructional CD with this Quilt & Color technique. It's 67 pages and includes hundreds of design options along with full instructions for creating the quilt and color way. Look for it for sale on my website soon.

Talk to you all later,

Shirley, thanks for the comments. In my experience, Copic markers fade too!