Sunday, March 30, 2014

ATCs: Feet

What is a 4-letter word… used for walking, dancing, measuring, sewing and found on certain pieces of furniture? "Feet" was the theme for the March Artist Trading Card (ATC) swap. Here are the interpretations for this month's theme. I hope they put a spring in your step.
"Happy Feet"
Happy tells of one penguin's journey.
by Sharon Griffith
"Getting Back in Again"
by Liz Armstrong
"Treading on Daisies"
by Bonnie Stevens
"Keep off the Grass"
by Marilyn League
"Who Goes There?"
by Linda Smith
Do you think it's wrong to love one foot more than the others? You have to flip open the cover of this ATC to find out...
Is it wrong to love one foot more than the others?
If you are a quilter, you will understand perfectly.
"The single hole quarter inch piecing foot!"
by Karen Downer
"3 feet = a Yard"
by Veronica Hofman-Ortega
 A little chocolate can also get your feet doing a little "happy dance." Happy Spring to all of you!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Retreat: give yourself permission to attend

One of the retreat strip projects.
Need a break from daily chores? Need a change of scenery? How about spending some dedicated time enjoying the pleasures of working with fabric and thread?

Your opportunity is right around the corner at "A Stripper's Paradise Quilting Retreat" sponsored by Pins and Needles Quilt Shop. The retreat is scheduled for May 2 - 4, but you must register by this Friday! Call the shop today, (423) 668-8734.

At the retreat, I'll be teaching several fun projects using pre-cut fabric strips. We'll open the package and start sewing!

Need to get refreshed and renewed? Now is the time to invest in yourself.

Oh, and you might learn a few new quilting techniques, have fun playing games, win prizes and make some new friends. What could be better?? How about a massage? (Yep, that's planned, too!) 

Hope to see you there.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Free-motion heirloom quilting with Silk Thread workshop

Happy first day of Spring! Brush away the cobwebs and open your mind to the possibilities from trying a new quilting technique. For me, it was sampling Kimono Silk Thread by Superior Threads with a few heirloom machine quilting tips from Joanie Zeier Poole.
Free-motion heirloom quilting sample (approximately 6" x 6").
Kimono Silk Thread and wool batting.
Susan Hyder over at Hyderhangout Quilt Fabric and More asked me if I would be interested in teaching this project through her Superior University monthly program. (Free-motion quilting… silk thread… how could I not???) Absolutely!

This wholecloth mini quilt is a small project that is a perfect introduction to several techniques and supplies:
  • free-motion quilting with 100 wt. silk thread
  • heirloom quilting by machine
  • quilting with wool batting
  • using cotton sateen fabric for a wholecloth quilt
and I will be presenting it as a guest teacher for a Superior U workshop at Hyderhangout next month on Tuesday, April 1. Call Susan at (423) 715-2908 to reserve your kit. Yes, you get everything you need to make this project—fabrics, batting, pattern and silk thread!

The silk thread was a dream to work with and the sample quilted up beautifully. This 100 wt. thread is excellent for small, tight background fills and stippling—providing a luscious texture without thread build-up. I usually use 60 wt. Bottom Line by Superior (a poly) for stippling and the silk is just as wonderful... it also feels a little exotic to be quilting with silk. Joanie recommends using Bottom Line in the bobbin, which I did.

The wool batting and cotton sateen also elevated this quilting experience. It was a new adventure for me to try heirloom wholecloth quilting using a design that I marked on the quilt top. My usual free-motion quilting is more intuitive and spontaneous with no or minimal marking.

So, if you're interested in experimenting with silk thread and wool batting with your free-motion quilting, come and join me on April 1. Diane Gaudynski (the Queen of free-motion quilting on a domestic sewing machine!), Joanie Zeier Poole, Gina Perkes and other quilting gurus use silk thread for their machine quilting—come and see for yourself what it's all about.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Kitty quilts: improv pieced, free-motion quilted, and kitty approved

My scrap bender project has been kitty-tested and kitty-approved!
Lucy checks out the kitty crate quilts. He approves! They are ready for distribution.
Done all by machine, the kitty quilts I made for the Cat Clinic were quite quick and easy to make. 
25" x 27" kitty quilts for crates at the Cat Clinic.
These little quilts are a great size (approximately 25" x 27") for practicing free-motion quilting designs using your home sewing machine.
The backs are flannel, so they are soft and warm. Here are a few all-over filler patterns: circles, swirls and free-form feathers...
stars and headbands (or paisleys).
 I also did double loop-d-loops and waves.
The bindings—using the pre-cut 2.5" strips—are also attached by machine. (You can get quite good at binding by machine after you do a half dozen or so of these mini quilts!) The batting is a quilt-shop quality Hobbs Tuscany low-loft poly, for easy care. After washing the finished quilts, they did shrink about an inch in both dimensions, so allow for this when you trim the quilt sandwich before binding.
Bindings done by machine.
I took a prototype over to the Cat Clinic earlier to check the size. Dr. Toumayan showed me another item the cats really like—cat beds. You can see that this one is well used and washed often. So, if anyone knows of a pattern for something like this—or ones the cats can crawl into—let me know.
Another item needed for the cats at the Cat Clinic.
Anyone know of a pattern or a quick-sew technique for making these?
Half a dozen kitty quilts are now at the Cat Clinic.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Celebrate Worldwide Quilting Day today

Gather a colorful selection.
A bright, lively group of cotton fabrics and threads for an appliqué project.

Be inspired.
From "Quilt as Desired" exhibit, curated by Mary W. Kerr, at the
Original Sewing and Quilt Expo, Atlanta, GA.
Free-motion quilting by Karen McTavish.

Celebrate the day.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

March is National Quilting Month—
spend time with your sewing machine

March is National Quilting Month and I was excited to spend the first weekend teaching a Beginning Free-motion Quilting class to a great group of gals at Chattanooga Sewing Center.
"This is my brain thinking about quilting!" she exclaimed.
We started off slow with some easy stuff… getting used to the movement of the fabric under the needle.
Practicing some basic shapes.
Then, they quilted their names… that is pretty easy, too.
Intro to free-motion quilting.
These students even tried free-form feathers! Go, ladies! 
Free-form feathers.
By the end of the day, they had learned and practiced all kinds of motifs!
Free-motion quilting sampler.
March is National Quilting Month so I hope you can spend some time this month on your free-motion quilting. Remember to be patient and kind to yourself. Just keep at it and you will learn and improve with every quilt you quilt.

For those interested in taking a Free-motion Quilting class, please check my class schedule. Or, take another quilting class at one of Chattanooga's wonderful quilt shops or at a shop near you. Happy quilting!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

ATCs: The Fine Print (text only)

I am always fascinated by how people's minds work and how they interpret words, concepts, and situations. This month's Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) are a case in point.

"ATCs" (a typographic digital collage)
by Veronica Hofman-Ortega
To give a little background… throughout the year I gather theme ideas for future FiberAntics ATC swaps. It's just a running list. I make a notation when I find a potential idea. Random trolling, happenstance, and amusing or interesting situations that catch my attention all play a part in its compilation.

Toward the end of the year, I review and cull from this extensive list for the upcoming year's themes. Sometimes the words or phrases are either too abstract or too verbose, so an editing and refining process ensues.

For the ATC themes, I try to have a mix of identifiable or physical objects (birds, favorite authors, pasta, architectural elements, numbers, colors), situations (First Thing in the Morning, A walk in the Park, Things found on Restaurant Napkins), and open-ended interpretive concepts (What's in your Heart, Around the World, It's about Time, Just add Water). My intent is to make the swaps interesting and challenging for the participants as well as keep our brains active with a monthly session of mental aerobics.

When editing the ideas for the themes, my career, life experiences, and surroundings, no doubt, enter into the process—whether consciously or subconsciously. Herein lies this month's theme: "The Fine Print (text only)." I am a typographer, printer and graphic communicator by trade. Thus said, I thought it would be interesting to have a theme that was "typographic"… using letterforms... text only. So, rather than post "Typography Only," the theme morphed into "The Fine Print."

So, hit me upside the head—that's what this month's ATC artists submitted in response to the theme, "The Fine Print (text only)"—a lot of very fine (read: small) print! The ATCs are clever, funny, and all handsomely crafted, with uniquely individual expressions. (See what I mean by different interpretations of the same phrase?) So get out your reading glasses or magnifying glass and enjoy the "fine print" in this collection:

The first card details the "expenses" for the FREE Kitty, ending with "Unconditional love for the owner—priceless." (The last far outweighs the others, I would say.)
"Free Kitty Free Kitty Free Kitty"
Unconditional love for the owner—Priceless
by Karen Downer
This Valentine ATC expresses "All you need is LOVE" and "LOVE makes the world go round." The woven (shredded) strips in the background are a nice complement to the hearts.
"The Fine Print: Shred it and make Valentines!"
by Linda Smith
This next card is related to the snow-filled season we have all had this year. Let Spring begin, already!
"The Snow Plow Contract"
by Bonnie Stevens
The small print in the background of this next card appear to be addresses from the phone book. Would you like to live on ATC Drive, or ATC Lane?
"The Fine Print" by Sharon Griffith
The stark, black-and-white fine print with the bold, red, all-caps 7-letter word stamped across the page portrays a serious and somber situation.
"The Fine Print" by M. League
Somehow, I wonder if the back of this ATC illustrates a different mood??
(back of ATC)
Thank you to all the ATC artists who participate in my monthly ATC swaps! You continually open my eyes and mind to new ideas and interpretations. Not to mention, great art!
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