Friday, April 30, 2010

Hand Quilting: Tip for Burying Knot

I'm still working away on my circle hand quilting.  I'm using Perle Cotton, 5 weight, in various colors.  It's always challenging enough to bury a knot when quilting, but to bury a perle cotton knot - a BIG challenge.  I'm working with Cherrywood fabric, which is very tightly woven, making it even more challenging.  

As my work has progress on the quilt, I've been experimenting with different techniques to make the knot burying process easier.  And I found a winner!  I can't begin to tell you what a difference this technique has made the entire quilting process!

Here's the how-to.

Step 1:  As with any hand quilting, knot the thread and put the needle in the quilt about an inch away from where your stitching will start.  The needle should come up at the point you stitching will start.  The needle is NOT going though the entire quilt!  It only goes through the top fabric and batting - you should not be piercing the backing fabric.

2.  Step 2:  Bring the needle and thread though until the knot is sitting directly on top of the quilt top.
Step 3:  Insert the needle directly above the knot, with approximately a 1/4 inch gap between where the needle go in and comes out.  IMPORTANT:  Make sure the needle does not pierce the thread just under the quilt top.  The part of the needle that is under the quilt top just be OVER the thread.  At this point you can gently pull on the thread above to make sure the thread is not caught on the needle.
Step 4:  Place a thumb on top of the needle.  Use your other hand to give the thread a good pull.
TA- DAH!  You will feel the knot pop through to the inside of the quilt.  Pull the needle back out and you're ready to start quilting.  I use the exact same technique to end off.

Monday, April 26, 2010

I'm Going Around in Circles!

and around...
and around...

I go, where I will stop - nobody knows.

This is my primary focus at the present.  I have to finish this quilt, and soon!  There is another very important step after I'm done with the quilting.  It involves template plastic, alcohol inks, and a hole punch.  Stay tuned.

Yesterday was another Sunday and another Open House here.  I know it's only been two months that our house has been for sale, but it seems like FOREVER!  I know it will end eventually though.

I got a special package in the mail Friday.  The wonderful people at Rockland Industries send me a 12 yard bolt of Roc-Lon Multi Purpose Cloth!  They've asked me to design a rug (floorcloth) for them, and also another project.  I'm too excited!  I've always wanted to make a floorcloth.  I'm thinking it will be somewhat contemporary and fun, something that would fit into the decor of a really cool home.  I already have lots of ideas and can't wait to get started.  

But first, I have to finish going around in circles.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Star and Some Birds

I've been working away on a couple of fun projects as of late.  These are samples for Rockland Industries to use in their booth at markets to promote Roc-Lon Multi Pupose cloth, a product I adore!

I designed and made this star first.  The background is painted, the leaves are painted, and the flowers were cut from Amy Butler scrapbook paper, and adhered with Mod Podge.  Then entire star was given another coat of Mod Podge.
Wouldn't this be cute in a child's room?  

And here are my birdies.  I can't take credit for the design here.  I was inspired by this project from Joann's Fabrics website.  The pattern was designed to be made from paper, but I tweaked it a bit (my birds are stuffed) and made it from Roc-Lon.
The eyes are flower brads.  I made a yellow one, too.

Tweet.  Tweet.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Some Questions Answered

Here's the latest iteration.  After looking at the image on the computer, I realized it need some changes.  I thought my face looked too flat, so I got out the white paint and added some highlights here and there.  I also brightened my lips.  I realized that the hair looked plastered to my face, so I "styled it away and also added more on top to add some height to it.

Victoria wanted to know my process.  I started with a piece of Roc-Lon Multipurpose cloth.  I adore this stuff!  You can paint on it, sew through it, even hole punch it - and it never frays.  I painted the face with acrylic paints; after it dried, I added shading and details (glasses, lips, eyes) with Derwent Inktense colored pencils.  I fused the fabrics for the clothing and background next.

And the hair??? No one guessed correctly.  It's made from wavy strips I cut from a (new) scouring pad.  I zigzagged the pieces in place at the top only so they can stick out and add more funk.

Someone also asked if there was another photo editing option out there, since they don't have Photoshop.  A great site is  It's a free photo editing site, though there is a small yearly subscription fee for more advanced features.  On Picnik, use the Posterize feature to replace Photoshop's Cutout filter.  Also try the Pencil Sketch feature, if that's the effect you're looking for.  Hope this helps!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Self Portrait Progress

I worked on my self portrait today.  I decided from the beginning that I was going to turn myself loose of this.  I was going for fun and funky.  I think I got that.  But I also got freaky.

Yes, it's a bit FREAKY

Here's the photograph:

And here's the portrait.  I told you it was FREAKY!!!
I decided to go with the frizzy look - so I embraced it.  Can you figure out what the hair is made from?  I'm afraid it looks more like dreadlocks than frizzy hair!  And how do you like the striped eyebrows?  Oh my - I think I need to stick to my good ole' portrait technique!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Making a Portrait Pattern - A Tutorial

So you want to make a portrait quilt?  I'm presenting here a mini-tutorial in case you want to participate in the SAY CHEESE self portrait challenge here and have no idea how to get started. For more details on this technique, see my book, Fabric Photo Play, AQS, 2005.

First start with a digital photograph.  I took this one of myself.  Please excuse my hair, I let it dry naturally today into a frizzy mess.  I'm planning to give myself a new hair-do in this portrait, so it doesn't really matter.

Load the photo into your computer and use Adobe Photoshop, or another photo editing software package to manipulate it.  I really LOVE to use the Filter called Cutout.  It divides the photo by value:
I didn't think the above pattern had enough shadow on my face so I told the computer to add more values:
Much better!  Now I could simple trace each area and use the tracing to cut out various fabrics (of various values) to fuse onto a background piece of fabric.  As long as I use light fabrics for the light values of the picture and dark values of fabric for the dark areas of the photo, then the portrait will turn out successfully.

Another option is to use the Sketch filter.  I know this doesn't show up well, but maybe you can see it.

I've decided that for this self portrait I'm going to use this Sketch pattern.  Today I transferred the pattern onto fabric.  Tomorrow I'll get started adding life to it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Say Cheese!

V at Bumble Beans has started a new challenge - make a 16' x 20" self portrait quilt.  She's set up a blog just for this challenge. You know I'm all about portraits!  But a self portrait?????  I'm certainly not my favorite subject.

I usually focus on my kids:

Or my dogs:
But I'm up for the challenge!  Are you??

Monday, April 12, 2010

Took a Long Break...

Poor, pitiful, neglected blog!  I've been away too long, I know.  But I'm back!  I'll try to summarize what's been going on around here for the past couple of weeks.

If I remember correctly, last time I wrote I promised a photo of the charity quilt I was working on for Daughter 2's sorority.  This is for a sick boy they are supporting through the Make A Wish program.  I forgot to take a picture of the entire quilt, but you get the idea.

Hubby turned 50 last week!  And he doesn't look a day over 35.  He actually had three cakes.  This one is a carrot cake from Publix - his favorite cake!  (Yes, I cheated and bought him a cake  -I knew I couldn't make one this good.  His mother made him a coconut cake, and his office got him a yummy cake from Olexa's.
Here he is with the present I gave him - a new golf bag and a set of irons.  Of course, I couldn't pick out golf clubs for him any better than he could pick out a sewing machine for me.  So I gave him an I.O.U. and he shopped for them himself.
This is what we've been doing for the last several days.  We've been cleaning out our attic!  I rented a storage unit last week and we took FOUR trailer load of stuff to it.  The load pictured above is one we donated to the local thrift store.  Plus we took another load to give to my FIL who knows a needy family.  All in all we moved 2 sets of mattresses, 4 beds, several tables, 10 chairs, and piles of other stuff.  The storage unit is primarily for furniture and other items which are earmarked for our girls, once they have places of their own.  These are things we hate to move to a new house.  When we move them home from college in the next month, we can put all their dorm stuff there, too.

On the house subject, we had another Open House yesterday.  No offers yet, but we are patient.
And yes, I've made time to sew.  I've been asked to make a sample or two for a company to display in their booth at various markets.  More on this to come...