Showing posts from 2017

All the Seasons

Seasonal quilts are definitely my thing and I am so happy I have decided to focus on them. One year, I had this great idea to make a seasonal calendar quilt. It is a little hard to see from the picture, but there is a button in the center of the plaid quilt where you can hang a smaller quilted square with a seasonal picture. I made one for each month of the year. This sold to a neighbor before I could even take it to the art fair. While some of the applique designs were from magazines, the internet etc, some were mine as was the sizing.

When I first learned to quilt, I sold small quilt and craft items at a craft store. These simple wallhangings were some of my first seasonal quilts. As we approach the beginning of a new year, it is always fun to look back at where you started and the ideas you had.

Quilting for You or Them?

In one of my past posts, I wrote about my struggle to find the "right" quilting path. At one point, I started making more modern looking quilts because I thought that is what "they" would like, "they" being the people who come to our quilt booth.

However, I really didn't like making modern quilts. I don't like working with white fabric (I always stain it) and the designs were just not my thing. Plus I couldn't figure out how to quilt in all the white space.

After three years of doing this, I finally gave up. And, bonus here, I heard a woman at our booth say "Who makes the modern quilts? I didn't think that was your thing?" Ah ha, the serious buyers were the ones who like our traditional style.

This picture shows my quilts for sale last fall. There are are three that I made for me. Can you spot them? (Snowman, sailboat and hummingbird).

So after this past show, I gave away as many quilts as I could, and had my aunt try to sell a f…

My Fabric Stash

First of all, don't laugh. When you think of "fabric stash" you probably think of a large cabinet full of fabric. Fabric overflowing the shelves and out the cabinet doors. Bins of fabric. Well, that is how my aunt's fabric stash looks anyway.

Mine is very small in comparison. Since I tend to be more on the thrifty side, it is hard for me to buy lots of fabric and have it sit there. Also, I have found that when I do go out and buy a few pieces that I might use, I don't use them. They tend to sit, and sit. The original idea faded away or became unappealing.

Additionally, when I buy fabric with too loud or distinct of a pattern on it, I find it very hard to use. Thus my love of blending batiks. About a year ago, I bought a lot of blue fabric to make a pinwheel quilt that I never made. Well, now I am left with a lot of blue fabric that has slightly different variations of color in them. Why I thought they matched was beyond me. I also have a teal blue that I was goin…

Finding Ideas

Ideas abound in my head, but I can't always pin point exactly how I want to process them into quilts. Recently, I saw a picture of pink petals and knew I wanted to make a quilt with large flowers on it. However, I wasn't certain which direction I would head.

Should I do regular flowers? Or maybe huge, over-sized, almost pop-art flowers. I happened to see a clip art picture of daisy like flowers and decided to go in that direction.

I played around with drawing petals on the computer in Power Point - drawing a symmetrical petal was not as easy as I thought - and then added dimension to them. There were a lot of pieces that I needed to place correctly, so I printed out a full size image of the placement, and used my teflon pressing sheet to put them together.

My next step is figuring out how to place them on the background fabric. I had to stitch two pieces of fabric together to get the right size background and need to strategically place one of the flowers to hide the seam. Her…

Art Quilts

In the past six months, I have become particularly attracted to art quilts. I marvel at the intricacies, the way the fabric flows together to make a scene and the beauty of nature captured in a quilt.

I spent quite a bit of time this summer researching how to make them, and I actually produced one myself. First, I looked at all different types of art quilts, and tried to settle on a method. I played around with different ways to create strips for the ground, including diagonal piecing. However, applique is my thing, so that was a strong pull.
Then I needed to find fabrics that worked well together. The first attempt was a farm field, but I really didn't like how that was playing out. In the garbage it went after sitting around for a month. Sorry, but sometimes I need to do that just to clear my mind. 
One day I happened across the sailboat applique in my files and decided that would my theme. I started auditioning fabric for the water and then worked down to the sand. The sunset f…

Drawing Applique Pieces in Power Point

In order to design patterns to sell, I need to create designs that are completely my own. Last winter, I experimented with different drawing programs from Photoshop, to Inkscape, and finally back to something I am very familiar with - Power Point.

As a former Business Teacher, I spent five years teaching K-8th grade students how to use Power Point in a creative manner. Not just for presentations that have pictures and text, but really creative uses, such as making animated cartoons.

As such, I was very familiar with some of the tools for drawing in Power Point. However, I still had a lot to learn! Video tutorials and practice soon led me to develop some skill in drawing applique pieces.

I always use a picture to start from. Either one I have taken myself or drawn myself, or a copyright free image/clipart from online. I then use the Insert/Shape/Curve tool to trace around the shape I am trying to make. 
You can see in the photo above, how I drew around the petals of the flower. Here I …

Finding Time to Quilt

We all have limited time in our lives. Time that is divided amongst many responsibilities, requests, and desires. These past two months, I have been trying to find pockets of time to quilt. Even a half hour can get me far enough to see progress after a few days.

To give me focus, I turned to a study aid I used fairly regularly with my middle school students to help remember something - acronyms. Here is a plan to help you accomplish more creatively.

F: Find Time

What? Where? This is the hardest part for some of us. I love having a whole weekend afternoon to sew, but that just doesn't always happen. Instead of lamenting this, I try to be flexible in finding time that works for me and our family. After dinner seems to be a good time for me to sit down for a half an hour, or an hour if I am lucky.

Most of what I do can be broken down into small steps that can be worked on during this time frame. I also have found ways to do things on my lunch break at work. Google Docs lets me draw a…

Creativity in My Life

My life has been full of creativity - from making Barbie doll clothes with a scissors and tape, to learning how to sew my own clothes including my wedding dress. I also knit my own sweaters in high school, and made clothing for our children. My sewing talents took a turn toward quilting, and with my aunt, we sell quilted wall hangings at an art show each year. I even volunteered to show my quilts in the show cabinet at our local library.

Elizabeth Gilbert wrote an excellent book about this - Big Magic. I had to read parts of it twice because it really struck a chord with me; though maybe not the way it did with most people. Her book really encourages you to get out there and express your creativity - don't let fear control you, embrace your creative drive!

No, I don't think I have a problem expressing my creativity personally or publicly. What I didn't realize until I read her book was that creativity is a part of me. I could no more turn my back on it than I could on my …

Batik Hummingbird

Batiks are definitely my all time favorite fabric. There is something about the tones, the colors, the way the fabric blends together. I mentioned previously, that I don't like to quilt over applique pieces because I love the fabric as art itself.

I made this hummingbird for my dad who is an ardent bird watcher. They recently downsized and re-gifted it back to me. This gave me a second chance to admire the beauty of batiks.

While I have been known to pick some rather wild looking batik fabrics, that even my artsy sister raised her eyebrows at, (see below) the ones that I enjoy the most are the ones that are rather monotone, with a subtle pattern to them, as the ones shown in the hummingbird quilt above. I've recently learned they are called Batik Blenders - tone on tone fabrics. Someday I would love to try a hand at dyeing my own.

There are a few quilt shops around us that sell batiks, but they are out of my way, so I tend to buy fabric at JoAnne's or Walmart - more conven…

Inspired by the Seasons

Quilters find inspiration in my places. I am personally in love with Pinterest. Each time I get on there, I find beautiful quilts that inspire me to get going on my own. Quilt shows, friends, blogs - they all inspire us to quilt more, and provide us with ideas.

We live in Wisconsin, a state that experiences all four seasons. Good or bad depending on your perspective, we experience 90+ degree heat in the summer, and below zero snow in the winter. The seasons influence everything in our lives from clothing to activities. They also influence my quilting.

As I mentioned in my last post, I am drawn to making seasonal quilts. I made a quilt for each month of the year to showcase on the inside of our front door. Fall seems to be my favorite season as I wrote about last year. 
Well, I am writing about it again, because I just love the colors and shapes. Every time I go for a walk in the fall, I am compelled to take pictures of the beautiful leaves. Finding trees of many colors is a delight t…

Creating a Formula for Creativity

Logic rules most of my life. I search for facts, and love it when I can find a pattern in something. I create processes at work all the time. However, I have spent the last two years trying to find a formula for quilting.

A formula for quilting? Yes, a type of quilt that I can create many of, a consistent set of rules, a theme. In the past, I searched through Pinterest, saved boards, and created quilts based on modern quilts, half square triangles, art quilts, table runners, and mug rugs.

Throughout it all, I found my heart lies with applique and in particular, seasonal quilts. I love making quilts that reflect the season. When I first started quilting, I created a quilt for every month of the year and hung it on the inside of the front door. I loved changing that quilt each month.

Making modern quilts was just not my thing. I really didn't like all the white, nor the colors needed to go with the white. Quilting the white spaces frustrated me. I kept picking traditional colors, no…

Applique Placement Tips

When I first started quilting, I bought a lot of different tools and gadgets as I call them. Today, I only use a handful of go-to's, but I do pull out some of my previously bought tools once in a while.

One of the tools I brought out the other day, for the first time in awhile, is my Teflon Pressing paper. I really like to use applique on my quilts. When I have a somewhat complicated design, that needs more of an exact placement, I like to use this Teflon Pressing paper.

It's see-through, so I can put my design underneath the Teflon paper and then arrange all my fabric pieces. Once in place, I iron them together, and have a unit to place on my quilt. 

A couple of very important points to remember when using this paper are first, don't use a high heat iron. Use a medium-high heat or your pieces will fuse to the paper. Second, let the pieces cool completely before removing them from the paper. Otherwise, they will stick and you will lose part of the fuse paper. 
While I don&…

Quilt First, Applique Second

Lately I have been making some seasonal wallhangings that are narrow, with the applique taking up most of the space. As I started quilting around the applique, I had the idea that maybe I should be quilting first, and then adding my applique second as I did with my sunflower quilt.

My approach to applique is to create the quilt top, fuse the applique on, and then secure the edges of the applique with a zig zag stitch as part of the quilting process. Thus reducing the amount I needed to quilt. I don’t believe I have ever quilted over the appliqued pieces because part of the reason I like to applique is to showcase the fabrics I pick as part of the design.
However, this limits what I can quilt in the space around the applique. If I did the quilting lines first, I could expand the ideas I have for quilting (which is always a challenge for me.)
In the past, I have added applique pieces over quilt lines as an afterthought, and there is one thing I learned. If you quilt first, and are usin…

Adding Additional Quilting Lines

Although I create my quilts to sell, I also create what appeals to me. I have to like what I am making. If something hasn't sold in a couple of years, I take a more critical look at it to see why.

Recently, I decided that two of my quilts needed some extra quilting lines. Fortunately, it was fairly easy to add them in. Here is the original "final" picture of my yellow and white table runner.

The first year I had it on display, lots of people looked at it. Last year, not so much. I'm hoping with the extra quilting lines, which give it much more character, the quilt will sell.

 Another quilt I made that same year, is this Dogwood wallhanging. I had used a raw-edged applique technique, which I really liked. However, my colors may not be in line with today's color palette. That I can't change.

What I did change was to add some wide, meandering quilting lines around the flowers. I used my walking foot because I am still having troubles using the new darning foot …

A Paper Pieced Patriotic Star

UFO's:  Those Unfinished Objects are rare in my sewing room. I am not usually one to set a quilt aside. I have very few UFOs because I am too thrifty/cheap and can't stand the thought of something sitting there. But once in awhile, a quilt stumps me; either I don't like how the blocks are turning out, or I don't know how I want to quilt it. I ran into that with the green Stars quilt, and just had to set it aside for awhile.

While it sat, I challenged myself to make a mini-quilt, something I made a few of in the past. I played around with some shapes in a notebook, and came up with a pattern for a mini that I wanted to make with Christmas fabric. Once made, the border was too big for the rest of the squares, so I cut it smaller on the sides.

The quilt turned out alright. Not one of my favorites, but certainly passable. I think it looks real cute nestled among some items on a cabinet.

That done, I went on to create a paper-pieced, folk-art star quilt. It took a lot of t…