Thursday, October 4, 2012

Green Hexagons

The green hexagon quilt is finished.  It started with the leftover 2 inch squares.  Putting those together into 4 patches and then laying them out on the design wall in a pleasing pattern.
 Here is a close up of the free motion machine quilting.  I couldn't decide on 1 pattern, so I took the advice of Leah Day in her FMQ project and freehand drew different designs for the center hexagons.  What a fun project.
 I used the new marking pens that I got from Jill Schumackers web site.  One of my quilting thereapist friends was talking about how good they were at the last meeting and I had to try.  To get rid of the marking lines, I threw the quilt in the washing machine and soaked it.  The blue lines disappeared.
 This is the edge of the quilt with just straight line quilting.  I know that I have to improve my straight lines.  That was one of the comments that I received from a judge.  I think she said "Straight lines should be straight."  Criticism hurts, but she was right.  It's something I need to improve on.  These were done with a walking foot, so the tension on the quilt is pretty good.
I think I'm going to make another quilt with this pattern.  I enjoy making hexagons.  Before I start on the next quilt though, I've got to be sure to have good templates before I get too far.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Barbara Shapel Workshop

 Congratulations to Ellen for getting Spin in Brown accepted into PIQF New Quilts of Northern California.  Her Orange Rhyme quilt was in last years PIQF and her quilting is amazing.

I recently took a workshop with Barbara Shapel who also does amazing threadwork.  I would have never thought I could make such a beautiful thread work, but she breaks it down into manageable steps.  This is what I completed after the 1 day Heron Moon class.

 Barbara was able to cover 4 different quilting stitches.  The background stitch used a Monopoly filament thread on top and a matching background polyester thread in the bobbin with a 60/8 needle.  It was just a back and forth stitch that she asked us to cross over the lines.  The caffein stitch (moon) used a zigzag stitch with 1.4 width and 1.3 length in a white rayon thread with a 70/10 jeans needle.  The beak used 3 different colors of yellow to orange with a fill stitch that was put in a hoop and stitched side to side.  The feather stitch was an undulating line that came to a point and went back up to the top.

This is the night side                                                                               This is the day side

It is a two sided quilt.  The back looks just as good as the front.  By putting the same color of thread in the bobbin, you are able to get the same thread work on the other side of your quilt.

I can't believe I finished this.  I learned a lot during the workshop.  Mabry told me my machine needed oil and told me how to put oil on a q tip to clean out the bobbin case.  Rachel showed me how she uses a tweezer to put the thread through the needle.  Especially those tiny 60/8 needles.  I could not find that needle at JoAnns fabrics and Cindi let me have one for class.  I had also never used spray basting to baste the 3 layers together and Diane showed me how to use it.  I gave Diane a quilt sandwich to practice her stitches on and I think I gave Cindi some of that magical moon thread.  The teacher was wonderful and full of thread knowledge, but all the students in the class helped each other.  Wow, I actually made this.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

4 patch

What do you do with the leftovers from the last project?  Create another.  After I sewed the 2 inch squares together into 4 patches, I laid them out on a white background in this configuration.

I have already cut up some shot cotton to go into the hexagon and triangle.  I like it.  What is so great about the shot cotton is just like batik and hand dyed fabric there is no right side.  The front and back look just as good, so it is hard to make mistakes.

I had to draft my own template. At first I cut it all out.  I found out as I started to sew that the hexagon template was a quarter inch too big all around.  So I had to resize all the hexagons.  Next time I draft my own templates, I'll sew a patch together to see if it fits.

I am almost finished sewing the top together.  In a way I wish I had more of the green Classic 2011 Kaffe charms to make this a bigger top, but I'll just use what I have and keep it small.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Basketweave 2

Basketweave 2 is finished.  After I finished Basketweave 1, there were some nagging questions about this pattern that I wanted to explore.  What if I used stripe fabric to show off the weave effect more?  What if I use Kaffe Fassett fabric for the background?  So instead of the busy Kaffe fabric as the weave, I swapped it to the background.  

 I used 2 packets of 6 " charm fabric for the background.  They were the Kaffe Classic green 2011 charms, that I got at the Voices in Cloth show in March.  Because I used this charm fabric, instead of a jelly roll at 2.5 inches, everything is cut at 2 " squares and strips.  Each 6 " charm was cut into 9 pieces.
 Here is a closeup of the shot cotton border.  I used a freezer paper template to free motion quilt the feathers.  I used a 30 wt variegated thread that Betsy helped me to find.  Pretty.
There were some dots fabric and fabric that looked like spider webs.  It was fun pulling all the Kaffe fabric that I have been collecting over the years and finally using it.  I can appreciate the shot cotton fabric that has one color in the weft and a different color in the warp.  The Kaffe Stripes took it to another level of alternating the color in the weft to the same and a different color to make the stripes.  Did I mention that I love Kaffe fabric.  It is expensive.  I didn't have a project in mind when  I bought all this stripe fabric years ago, but I knew that I whatever I put it in, I would be happy with it.

I had a lot of leftover squares and scraps of the stripe fabric.  I started making 4 patches with the squares an cut the stripe fabric into hexagons.  More in my next post...

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Basketweave quilt is finished.  I used 1 roll each of classic red and blue Kaffe Fassett 2 1/2 strips along with my own hand dyed fabric.  I was lucky to purchase the Kaffe fabric at our Voices in Cloth show earlier this year in March.  In an earlier post, you can see how it was constructed.  Very free form.  For instance, I took the first strip that was cut into 2.5 x 6.5 inches and pieced them together with my 2.5 x 2.5 squares.  Then I worked on the next strip.  After I used up all the blue roll, I worked on the red roll.

 The Kaffe fabrics are such a joy to work with.  The colors and free form just interplay so well with each other.  At first I thought oh the dot fabric would detract and stand out too much,  there are 4 dot fabrics, but can you spot them from 10 feet away?  no.  Somehow the busy weave (positive space) makes the calming plain (negative space) work well with each other.
 This is a close up view.  I was hoping to capture the metallic thread I used in the quilting.  There is an Amy Butler fabric on the back.   I put Glitter Metallic thread in the bobbin case and free hand stitched the flowers from the Amy butler fabric.  It sparkles.
This is going to be a wedding gift for a good friend who we've known for over 30 years.  This is his first marriage.  He is so calming and reserved and she is so energetic and positive.  Perfect for each other.  Who would have thought?

Ann Horton Workshop

I took a one day workshop Monday with Ann Horton on designing quilts with textured embellishments.  It is too bad that it was only one day, because there was a lot of information in the class.  Thread painting, digitized embroidery and textile applique ....they all sound so intimidating, but like anything else once you try it, it can be fun.  

 This is a picture of what I accomplished in one day.  We drew out our picture first on paper, then free hand cut out our images with a scissors.  For the hills and fence posts, I turned the edges under a quarter inch with an iron.  Then I sewed it in place using my general foot.  Do you see the negative and positive space created by the fence posts?
 I changed my general foot to the free motion foot to make this butterfly.  We used tear away stabilizer, drew a butterfly on it and then placed a piece of organza on top of the drawing, then hooped it all.  I used three different colors on this butterfly yellow, golden and brown.  I haven't done it yet, but she said to tear away the stabilizer, cut the organza and place the butterfly on your quilt.
At the top left of the top is a cut out bird from fabric that Suzi let me have.  Thank you Suzi.  On that last hour of class, Ann was showing us how to stitch the bird.  Her sample quilt had grapes and a bird on a branch.  She changed about 8 different color threads in her demonstration.  Shading, outlining, choosing color to make the bird and grapes just pop out at you.  The master at work.  She has hours and hours of experience at doing this and made it look so easy.  I wish.  Another technique she showed us was to stuff the flowers and leaves with a little bit of stuffing and applique it on.  Haven't gotten to that part yet.

I am going to try and finish the flowers, finish the butterfly, finish the bird and not worry about how great or not so great it looks.  Try the new techniques.  Wow I actually made a butterfly.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sashiko thread

I wish I had taken the time to look through this book before I started hand quilting my clamshell sampler.  The book "The Classic Quilting of Sashiko" is an 1998 publication from Quilter's Resource publications.  It looks like a Japanese publication that has been translated to english.  The graphics and projects have a very Japanese feel to them.  Thankfully the centimeters are also translated to inches.

I don't remember how I got this book, but I do remember my Mom giving me her Sashiko thread stash.  She had taken a class in Hawaii and had some wonderful samplers made with mostly the white thread against the traditional indigo fabric.  I guess she was planning to make more colorful samplers with the thread stash that she collected.  I am very fortunate to have these, since they are probably very expensive now.

 As an example, I purchased these 2 small packets of sashiko thread from the "Calico Cat" store in Hawaii for $3.95 each.  These small packets are about one third the size of the upper threads.

 This is the sampler that I worked on with the Sashiko thread.  It is a clamshell pattern using some of my hand dyed fabric and other japanese fabrics.
This is the back of the clamshell sampler which shows the knotted threads.  After I read the book, I realized that I was not supposed to knot the thread, but take 2 or 3 backstitches.

Doing this sampler made me realize the following.  Do your homework.  Learn as much as you can about something. Take the time to read the instructions.  You'll save yourself time and a lot of knotty situations.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Fabric Postcard

I was asked to make a fabric postcard by Cindi for a group present.  She gave us instructions on how to construct it which I read and promptly forgot where I put the directions.  I did remember that it had to be 4 inches by 6 inches and to sew a paper backing to the fabric with satin stitching.  With this in mind, I took scraps from my current project and made a small version.  The Basket Weave pattern that I am working on calls for 2 1/2 inch wide strips.  For the postcard, I decided to use 1 1/2 wide strips.  This is how it came out.  Pretty good.  Postcards make nice small projects and it didn't take much time.

 This is a picture of the project that I am working on now.  It is still not done, but I love the way that it is coming along.
 After hand piecing the patches together.  I finally figured out a way to machine piece the patches.  This is a
picture of the basic unit.


If I have time, I am thinking of writing down the instructions on how to piece this quilt.  It is based on a picture of a beautiful quilt from the 2012 Tokyo quilt show.  Of course, that quilt used tiny tiny 1 inch pieces.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Marjan Klupfel Monday Workshop

 Marjan brought a lot of patterns and hand dyed fabrics  for her plantasy workshop.  She showed us how to trace the pattern onto the wonder under release paper.  Reminder, the pattern will be reversed when you do this.  All the fabrics that were dyed in the Saturday workshop, I used in the Monday workshop.

 I chose the simplest pattern.  The dragonfly.  I was able to trace and cut out all the pieces on Monday.  I was going to start sewing the pieces down, when I realized I forgot my darning foot.  Oh well.  I finished it today and just have the binding to work on.
 Marjan showed us how to use Angelina fibers and foiling using wonder under.  I made my dragonfly wings with the foil on the bottom and angelina fibers on top.
Another trick she showed us was to fuse two fabrics together and just stich it onto the quilt to make it three dimensional.  This gave the quilt a lot of movement.

Marjan Klupfel Saturday Workshop

Last week Saturday, I helped at a dye workshop held by Marjan (pronounced Marianne) Klupfel.  Her supply list said to bring 5 yards of pfd fabric or pre-washed white and 1 yard of pre-washed black fabric.  I brought 7 yards and wished I had more.

Her system of dying fabric in plastic bags made for a very easy fabric dying with a lot of results.  I made two sets of 6 gradation dying with.

Golden yellow gradation

Brown gradation
These two half yard pieces were either painted on with foam brushes or folded and the dye sprayed on then wrapped in plastic garbage bags overnight.
I used a 4 inch pvc pipe to pole wrap these 3 pieces.  Instead of string pole wrapping, I used about 6 rubber bands and squished it onto the pole.  Then they were dunked in the soda ash solution for a minute.  With a plastic bag protecting the table, I squirted or painted on the dyes.
With my last yard of black fabric, I cut it in half and pole wrapped each one lengthwise and the other width wise using the rubber bands.  I used a foam paintbrush to brush the clorox bleach on the black fabric.  This was Kona Cotton fabric and the brown color just came out.  Others who used Joann Black fabric had a brilliant red color.  The pole was then dipped in a bucket of water, then a bucket of water with sodium thioxide and then a bucket of water.  Beautiful.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wheelchair Bag

This is the wheelchair bag that I made for Doris last year.  In less than a year this bag has been ripped at the handle base, the buttons were replaced 3 times and the small flower buttons are almost all gone.  Everytime she goes through close doorways, the bag would get tugged and pulled on.  The fabric held up, but the buttons and stitching needs to be reinforced.

This is her replacement bag.  It is made from marrimekko fabric with fused hula girl and turtle.  Doris really loved the hula girl and she said the turtle looked so real.  It feels so good to make something that is used every day and looks good.  This is the front of the bag

This is the back of the bag.  The buttons are put on the back so they won't get caught and torn off.  Hopefully this bag will last a little longer.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Clam Shell

Postal Blue is finished.  The pictures have been selected, printed, cut to size and ironed on the quilt.  I took this picture standing on the stairs looking down.  Do you see my socks?

This is my next project that I am almost finished with.  It is a clamshell pattern. I made a template of the clamshell with some plastic template.  Then I went through my whole fabric stash and cut out a clamshell from almost every fabric that I had.  I sorted all the cut fabrics by color.  Red, pink, blue, tourquoise, dark blue, browns, etc.  I noticed that the colors mostly sorted themselves into packs of 25.  So then I started to hand piece them.  I usually sorted the 25 pieces on the couch next to me in rows of 5 each of 5.  As I watched television in the evening, I was able to piece together one set.  Once I had a lot of sets done, I laid them out on the floor to see how they looked together.  I had to cut out more circles and part circles to complete the sides and bottom edges.  I wanted it to have scallops all around the quilt.  I have finished outline stitching in the ditch to secure everything and take out all the safety pins.   Now, I'm trying to figure out if it needs more quilting.
 I had to move everything around in the room to be able to put this on the wall and take a photo of it.

Here is a close up.  I was thinking of naming this quilt Clamshell Mountains or Shell Mound.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

quilt national 2011

The San Jose Quilt Museum currently has the Quilt National 2011 quilts until April 29, 2011.  If you have the chance, it is worth a visit.  My husband Larry asked me on the drive there "Whats the difference between these quilts and the International Quilt Festival? What a loaded question.  I said that these are contemporary art quilts.  The IQF quilts are more traditional.

Unfortunately we were not able to take photos of the quilts.  So here is a photo of the wonderful book that the Dairy Barn Arts Center published in Athens Ohio.

The exhibit was wonderful.  I was so proud to see the California quilters Ellen Oppenheimer's our own EBHQ member BR #1 and Tanya Browns "Farmer Brown".  I had taken two fabric dying classes from Ellen and was very impressed with her skill and attention to detail.

I think my favorite quilts were the Shibori dyed ones.  Elin Noble's "Fugitive Pieces" and Sue Cavanaughs "Ori'Kume 20" really stood out for me.  I had taken a class with Sue Cavanaugh and the size of her piece is very impressive.  In the workshop, she was able to take us step by step in her technique.  We tried a small 8 inch piece so to see this large quilt was a treat.

Larry liked the quilt "Mother Me, Mother you".  He said you could see it as 3 ladies or an elephant in the room.  What elephant.  What ladies?  I couldn't see what he was seeing.  He said this is what he thinks quilts are.  Using recycled fabric to make something that pleases your eyes and makes you want to keep looking at it to see the details.  Wow.  I have a lot to learn.

Since we couldn't take pictures of the quilt national quilts, here are 2 quilts that were at the entrance from the san jose museum collection.

Hexagon and Stars

This quilt had all the Quilting Guilds in it.  Do you see the EBHQ block in the top right?
How wonderful.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Postal Blue

What do you do when you find out you need to make a quilt in 3 weeks?  You panic and then you think about what patterns that are easy to make.  I have to make a retirement quilt for someone who is retiring at the end of this month.  It's going to be a picture quilt, but since I don't have the pictures yet, I decided to make the quilt first and then iron on the pictures at the end.

I looked through all my Blue fabric and cut out 64 squares 8 inches.  Minus the 6 white squares that are reserved for the pictures, I only needed 56 squares.  I think it looks great and since it is for a postal employee, I'm naming it Postal Blue.

 This is a picture of the quilt with the quilting done in free motion.  I started in the center and made a chrysanthemum flower pattern to the very edge of the quilt.  Using a variegated blue 12 wt thread, at first it seemed too bold.  Then if you stand away 5 feet from the quilt you hardly see it.  So now to find those pictures.

Monday, February 20, 2012


During our Voices in Cloth meeting this weekend, I sat next to a fellow quilter Marti who complemented me on my Inner City Kids quilt.  She said she saw it at PIQF 2011 and took some pictures so she could look at it in detail when she got home.  Looking at a close up shot she asked me if the pattern is a trapezoid?  A trapezoid?  Well yes I guess it is. Since the meeting started, I couldn't fully answer her question.  

So to Marti the full answer is the trapezoid is half of a hexagon.  To me this is another hexagon quilt.  The inner city block is 3 hexagons that form a Y.  To make the 3 hexagons, you choose 2 each of light medium and dark fabrics.  You sew 1 light to 1 medium, 1 medium to 1 dark, 1 dark to 1 light.  Then you take your hexagon template and position it in the middle of your sewn pieces and cut out your hexagon.  

This is a close up shot of the block.  Can you make out the Y with the light medium and dark forming the block?  It was easier to cut out 2 hexagons at a time, so there are 2 matching Y blocks.

I started off hand piecing the hexagons together.  The pieces were so small that it was hard to machine piece them.  But when my wrist started to hurt, I slowly machine pieced it.   Thank you Marti for the complement.  Your question is the very reason why I wanted to make this quilt.  I saw the block when I was looking at the pictures from the Yokohama quilt show and wondered how the block was constructed.  Just like you I figured there must be an easier way then cutting out all those trapezoids.  I hope you try your own Inner City block, but be warned it is challenging.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

2 aprons

Midori asked me to look at 2 aprons that she had.  The first apron was bought recently and all she needed was to have the hem sewn up 5 inches.  That was easily done.  I cut off 4 inches from the bottom and hemmed it on the sewing machine with matching thread.

 The second apron was made by her mother about 30 years ago.   The cotton is very soft and thin, but she said it fits her perfectly and she wanted another one made.  The first thing I noticed was it was cut on the bias.
 The top of the apron had an extra piece of material sewn on the top to finish the top edge and give it more stability.
I bought 1 yard of fabric from JoAnn fabric store.  Using a taylors chalk, I traced the pink apron on the bias of the fabric and cut out the main piece.  Then I cut out the other pieces.   First, I hemmed the bottom, with a hand stitch.  Then I folded under the sides by 1/4 and 1/4 again and sewed up the sides and top.  I understand why it was cut on the bias when I got to the arm area.  The bias gave that area enough give to make a clean seam.  Lastly I tacked on the straps and the apron was done.
This is the cotton apron I made to replace the pink one.  I found a piece of coordinating fabric to make the pocket.  You always need a pocket.  I gave it to her today and she said "What a wonderful Valentines gift".
oh Yeah.  Happy Valentines Day.