Archive for the ‘Challenges’ Category

Hey! I’m caught up now!

Of course, I can’t stop, as it is time to do May’s 12x12x12 quilt, but I have hopes of getting it done on time this month.

I showed pictures of this earlier, when I was just starting to bead. I mentioned at the time that I adore beads. I just should also add that I adore buttons. I’m actually pretty proud of myself for sticking with this one. As you will see, there are a lot of buttons. Maybe I’ll con the boys into counting just how many buttons are actually on it.

I really struggled with myself about even using the buttons or the beads. The design is nothing spectacular, just the initials of my business name. It doesn’t seem like it’s a “real” quilt. Even though I professed several months ago that I was going to use my stuff, I still struggle a bit — I feel like I should be saving things for “good” — for use on a really “serious” project.

Seriously. Isn’t that silly?

I talked myself into continuing and last night I sewed on the final button. I think one of the things I like best about this is the sheer weight of it. It feels really cool. Shall I show you the picture instead of continuing to ramble?

OK, here it is. I pinned some black fabric to my design wall to put behind it for contrast.  Click on it to view it full size.  It looks stupid with the right edge of the picture cut off.


After I finished the buttons last night, I actually found myself thinking “Hmmm. Maybe the letters ought to be entirely filled in with beads.”

In between sewing on gazillions of buttons, I have been spending time sorting out my disaster of a studio. 15 minutes of cleaning, 15 minutes of sewing. I’m finding some interesting treasures. I’ll probably share some of these later. One thing I did was cull out some quilting books I’d like to try to get rid of. I’ll be posting a list later. Right now, though, I have to get some More Meandering Magic books ready to mail, head to the Post Office, and then I’m off to get groceries.




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Today is the deadline.  My Alphabet round robin book has to be in the mail today.  I have really struggled to make up my mind about what to do to get it started.  It’s now in the box and there is no turning back!

Here’s the book closed:


As I said in a previous post, the cover (front and back…) are a work in progress.  Right now it is just painted with black gesso, which is very flat.  I also managed to get some glue on the front cover.  The hardest part of this project (for me, so far…) is dealing with the paint and glue and not making a mess!

Here’s my sign in page:


Does that pinky-purple fabric look familiar?

The pink sheets that I want the artists to sign are also from yesterday’s sunpainting experiment.  I experimented with a sheet of Tyvek.  It had pennies and some salt on it.  The Tyvek doesn’t absorb the paint the way fabric does, so it didn’t sunpaint the same way, but it still had some interesting effects:


(The blue paper was colored with Tsukineko ink  — I dipped a cosmetic sponge wedge in the ink and then splotched the ink on the paper)

I was going to send it out with just the above done.  but then I had an idea.  And I put this page together:


The black and white polka dot fabric is fused to some Fast-2-fuse interfacing, which is fairly thick.  I was inspired to do the beading by Laura and her February 12×12 journal quilt.

The black scribbles on the paper around the little quiltlet are the names of objects that are red.

All of the pictures are clickable, so you can view them slightly larger if you so desire.

I was hoping to do some more sunpainting today, but the wind kicked up, so that’s not going to happen.

Better get to the post office!

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Take heart! (take two)

OK, it needs a label and a hanging sleeve, but the FRONT is done.  I finished last night. 

As a refresher and to bring first-time readers up to speed:  I’m sending a quilt to the Have a Heart project.  It is sponsored by Unlimited Possibilities, a magazine for stand-up machine quilters.  Submitted quilts will be judged and 3 prizes awarded (best theme, best machine quilting, judge’s choice).  The quilts will be on display at several shows throughout the year, and then next fall, the quilts will be auctioned off, with the proceeds going to the American Heart Association.  They are also accepting quilts for the auction itself, but quilts for the contest are due in Colorado next week.  Entries had to meet a size requirement, be at least 1/4 red fabric, and have a heart on them (at least 3 inches, any method (i.e. applique, pieced, thread).

My first attempt is something I’ve blogged about before.  You can see it here.  I like it so much I’m keeping it.

This is my second attempt, and is the quilt that I’ll be sending.  I like it, too, but I’m not as attached.  I told myself I wasn’t allowed to get attached to this one.  It mostly worked.

Same general idea as the first, but this is more about the machine quilting.

All 4 pictures are clickable, so you can view them full size. 


I couched yarn around the inside of the binding, around each letter and on the heart.  The words on the heart are metal charms.  I stitched feathers around each red letter and around the heart.  I chalked some guidelines for the background feathers and just had fun filling them in. 


This next one is a little blurry, but it shows the glisten of the Swarovski crystals that I "sprinkled" on the quilt top.  It’s probably best viewed full-size.


Here’s another closeup that shows the color and the yarn a little better.


The idea for this quilt (and the first) was a list of phrases with the word heart in them.  I jotted a bunch down one day, and this one seemed to grab me.  I like the multiple meanings of both phrases that you can read depending on how close you are. 

My quilt is dedicated to my Grandma Lenore Smeigh.  She had a heart attack and passed away in 1985.  She is very much missed.

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Take Heart!

It’s finished!  Well, almost — it still needs a hanging sleeve, but…it’s done enough for me to want to show it off.

Click on the picture to view it larger.

The impetus for this piece came from two sources.  First off, the Fast Friday Challenge group’s challenge last Friday was to create an odd-shaped small quilt.  The only "rule" was the shape — everything else was maker’s choice.  The second idea behind the quilt was to maybe make something that would fit the guidelines for the Have a Heart contest sponsored by Unlimited Possibilities.  Keep in mind, that I already had an idea for that contest, and the start of that quilt is still on my design wall where I abandoned it last week to work on this idea. 

OK, a third idea that came into play was wanting to continue playing with red.  Can you imagine?

As part of the challenge, the moderator gave us a website to visit for pictures of quilts that are most definitely rectangles or squares or anything close.  The artist is Sonji, and she creates some very wonderful, unique pieces. 

Several weeks ago, I had written down all of the sayings with the word "heart" in them that I could think of.  I picked one of them (take heart) and started doodling.  I didn’t want to imitate Sonji’s pieces, so I tried to think of other ways I could use the words and create something that was oddly shaped.  One of my original sketches was to have the quilt itself be a rectangle, with the some of the letters hanging off the edges.

I picked a font, printed the letters out and went into my studio to get busy.

Dsc00427 I threw the background fabric up on my design wall and cut out the letters.  I stuck them up and just started playing.  Eventually I decided to contain the letters on the background, but took my chalk and started drawing outlines that sort of vaguely followed the overall line of the words.  Vaguely.  I cut it out (freehand with the rotary cutter…).  Layered with batting and did the applique.  Then I got the wild idea to make the tabs for the outer edges to mimic the letters.  And of course, my heart had to have the same tabs.

Figured out how to make the tabs, enveloped the quilt and turned it right side out and stitched in the ditch around the letters on my DSM with clear thread.  I thought it would be faster than trying to figure out how to load it up on the longarm.  I was reminded of exactly why I’m a longarmer…..

This is the point at which the quilt started talking to me.  I tried beads, but those were too subtle.  I’m not even entirely sure what possessed me with the buttons, but I started laying out long lines of them and eventually drew in some chalk lines I liked and started sewing them on. 

Dsc00426 The hardest part was deciding what to do on the heart itself.  I have some letter charms that I tried to use, but they weren’t cutting it.    I wanted to add in the words "care of your" to add extra meaning to the phrase.  I’m feeling especially clever about the many meanings that the words on this quilt have.   I wanted the TAKE HEART to mostly stand out, and the rest to be there, but not be as important or as obvious.  I wish it were a little more subtle, but I’m OK with what I did end up with. 

Well.  If you have actually gotten this far, I applaud you!  Most of that was probably really boring, but it’s been interesting for me to sit here and think about how I got from point A to point B.  There are a few leaps in there that I’m not sure I can exactly explain even to myself.  One thing I did was to not let myself think too hard about the decisions.  No agonizing allowed.

So now that it is all done, I’ve actually gotten quite attached to it, and I’m not sure I’m going to use it for the Unlimited Possibilities contest.  Part of that is because the only machine quilting is that poor edge stitching around the letters.  It’s a machine quilting magazine!  I’d like to show off a little more than this does, I think.

I’m thinking about going back to my previous idea and seeing if I can make it work.  I also have another idea to do this piece again but different.  More quilting (on the longarm), less buttons.

By the way.  The total button count is 203. 

All but 2 were by hand.  I started doing them on my Bernina and decided that was using too much thread (they don’t actually have to be functional, so they don’t need to be *that* secure!) and it was taking longer to fuss with getting the button placed, the quilt under the needle, etc, etc, etc, than if I were to do them by hand.  I’m not sure if I’m right or not, but the satisfaction of being able to say they are all by hand is pretty high!

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Water Lilies

This small piece was a challenge issued by some members of http://www.longarmchat.com.  A photograph was chosen, and then we were allowed to do whatever we wanted.

I decided to use the colors (the green and blue and the pink) and the placement of the flowers.  I didn’t want to try to accurately portray the photograph.


The tiniest squares in the background finish at 1/2 inch.  Before quilting, I layered black tulle over the quilt top.  After quilting, I added the crystals (of which there are several shades of green) and then attached the flowers.  The flower petals were created by layering the 2 shades of pink fabric with 2 sheets of aluminum foil in between.  I stitched around them several times and then cut them out.  They were attached to the quilt top with just the line of stitching down the center of each petal.  Lastly, I added the beads in the flower centers.


It is actually much prettier in person.  The pictures don’t seem to capture the sparkle of the crystals very well.  I think I need to take some photography lessons…..

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Alice’s Head

This quilt is based on the poem Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll.  I made it as a challenge from the group Fast Friday Fabric Challenge (see link at left).  The idea is to create a quilt based on the challenge in one week.  I’m about an hour from the deadline as I write this post, so I’m feeling pretty good about that!

This month’s challenge was to create an abstract piece that evoked an emotion and used the design element of texture. 

When I first read the challenge and the poem, I didn’t quite know what to think, but someone in the group provided a link to a Wikipedia entry about the poem.  It had a list of some of the nonsense words from the poem and their definitions, as well as a quote that described Alice’s response to the poem:

"Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas–only I don’t exactly know what they are!"

I was also taken by the words themselves and intended to go in a more whimsical direction.  My piece was going to be colorful and was going to focus on the words as words, and not as part of a spooky poem about monsters and other weird creatures.

Everything took a different turn, though, when the black fabric I started with underwent some discharge dyeing with a Clorox Bleach pen.  I did this part right before Halloween — who knew the black would turn ORANGE????  Not me!

So — I went with the weirdness and spookiness of the whole thing.


The second picture is with the flash off.  It’s a little bit out of focus, but you can actually see the texture of the quilting a little better.


All of the nonsense words are quilted in the black between the orange spirals.  After quilting those, I went back and added the spiky filler. 

I had several false starts on the bead work.  I didn’t actually have very many black beads, and what I had and started with just wasn’t enough — either in quantity or in variation.  I visited a craft store and got a package (or 2) of every small black glass beads they had, and then went to town making all of the bead stacks.  I was trying to add texture and continue to depict the notion of the weird ideas swirling around in Alice’s head. 

My children asked if they were supposed to be snakes — some of them surely could be!  Some are corkscrews (one of the creatures in the poem, the Tove is a combination of a badger, lizard, and a corkscrew).


The final textural detail is the binding, which is actually flannel. 

Unfortunately, I don’t think the quilt photographs very well — it’s pretty subtle.   Technically, there are some things that I would like to have done differently (i.e. I hurried on the binding and it doesn’t look very nice.  Also, I can’t quilt words upside down very well, and it wasn’t until part way through that I figured out how I could have made those neater…).

I don’t know if it "works" or not — but I enjoyed doing it, and look forward to a new challenge.

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