Monday, May 28, 2018

Crazy patchwork with knits? Yes, it's possible!

With an upcoming three-day holiday weekend, I promised myself a longer, continuous, dedicated, hands-on chunk of time with my craft. Starting early in the day yesterday (by forgoing computer work), my mind was fresh. My studio space was flooded with natural light and I was excited to be working with fabric at the sewing machine again.
Knit fabric trimmings after cutting out the back pattern piece for a knit top.
A pile of knit fabric scraps greeted me on the cutting table. After cutting out the back for a knit top a few weeks ago, there wasn't enough fabric to cut out a front. I had considered a color block design, but didn't have fabrics that appealed to me. This is where the project initially stalled.

Crazy Patchwork with knits?
With a fresh eye and inspired by slow fashion, Me Made May, and the zero-waste movement, I decided to try crazy patchwork—with knits... nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? The knit fabric is from Art Gallery Fabrics and has a directional stripe design. If I pieced it randomly, the stripes would go in various directions. Hmmm... this could be interesting!

The scraps were pressed (using spray sizing) and edges cut straight with a ruler and rotary cutter to make the patchwork process easier. I started assembling peices—crazy patch style.
Knit patchwork using a crazy patch assembly method.
There was no intentional matching of the stripes. I just needed to fit the pieces together in the most efficient way to get a piece of fabric large enough to cut out the front bodice piece.
Patchwork bodice front.
There wasn't enough fabric scraps for one sleeve—let alone two. A contrasting fabric (also from another garment) was introduced to the mix.
A contrasting fabric was used for the sleeves.
With all the pattern pieces cut out, contruction began. 
Garment pieces ready for construction.
I love this top! 
  • The random angles of the stripe pattern give it a lot of interest. 
  • The piecing of the knit fabric scraps was not difficult. 
  • As with any patchwork pieces with bias (or stretchy) edges, spray sizing is a good solution.
  • I was able to get another top out of this piece of fabric.
  • I like the zero-waste concept and using up scraps.
  • I have something totally unique and fun to wear.

Patchwork with knit fabrics is possible!
Garment sewing is on the rise
Garment sewing for the home sewer is coming back in vogue. Quilt shops and independent sewing centers are expanding their fashion fabric offerings (including knits!) and are offering beginning sewing and garment sewing classes. So,Zo has a list of indie pattern companies that are offering discounts in conjunction with Me Made May 2018 Challenge.

If you are a quiltmaker, you already have many skills that will apply to garment sewing! I hadn't considered quilting techniques such as "crazy patch" or random piecing for use with *stretchy* knit fabrics, but it worked! Start with a fresh eye and an open mind and you'll be surprised what comes off your sewing machine.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Art Weave: Stitch or finish as desired

Mother's Day, a birthday, a special event, submission to an exhibit... I find that a "deadline" of some sort is often the best impetus for finishing a project. I recently received a text message from Michelle, one of the students in my recent Art Weave class at Chattanooga Sewing Machines and More, with this photo attached...
Michelle's hand quilted Art Weave piece.
Michelle hand quilted her Iris Art Weave! Isn't it lovely? It was a gift to her mom for Mother's Day.

Stitch or Finish as Desired
One of the cool (and fun) things about this class is that interpretation of the Art Weave technique is in the eyes and hands of each maker. Numerous variations and options for making and finishing this fabric art project is wiiiiide open... and each time I give the class, my students add to the list of possibilities. A few "finish as desired" options that I've done with Art Weave are:

free-motion quilting...
Free-motion quilting and Art Weave.
thread painting, bobbin work...
Thread painting, bobbin work and Art Weave.
We discuss several options in class for finishing an Art Weave project. But I love it when students put their own spin on their projects—like Michelle did! I hope that other students will send me pics of their finished Art Weave pieces.
Art Weave class at Chattanooga Sewing Machines and More.
Denise and I were in a guild together several years ago. I can't wait to see what she comes up with for her finished Art Weave piece.
Denise working on her Violets Art Weave.
Here is Pam's violets.
Pam's violets Art Weave.
Kyra chose the red poppy for her Art Weave.
Red poppy Art Weave by Kyra.
Art Weave was Danielle's first class (ever!) using fabric! She pushed the limits and experimented with varying strip sizes for her Art Weave iris and it looks fabulous!
Danielle's Art Weave iris.
Let Art Weave, fabric, thread and stitch inspire you to go in new directions.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Threadwork and bobbin drawing with heavy weight threads

Free-motion bobbin work with Eleganza pearl cotton
by WonderFil Specialty Threads on a yarn-dyed
textured cotton fabric from Diamond Textiles
My mom's favorite color was blue.
My grandma's favorite color was yellow.
My mother-in-law's favorite color is green.

Me? I like all the colors.

Sometimes, when I'm immersed in a particular color palette in my work, it reminds me of a special person in my life. Does the same happen to you?

If color and stitch tickles your fancy, feeds your creativity or elicits a special memory, there is an abundance of new threads on the market these days in colors that span the rainbow. The heavier weight threads are the ones catching my eye and I enjoy using them for both hand and machine stitching.

Experiments with bobbinwork
Here are some experiments with decorative stitches and free-motion bobbin work using Eleganza perle cotton from WonderFil Specialty Threads. Eleganza comes in weights: #3, #5 and #8.

The perle cotton thread is loaded in the bobbin and I use a 50 wt. cotton thread in a coordinating color for the top thread. Try stitching with the feed dogs up... or down.
Free-motion bobbin work with perle cotton threads.
French knots and a few lazy daisy stitches were added by hand.
French knots were added by hand.
Decorative machine stitching
Next up are 4-patch quilt blocks highlighted with decorative machine stitches in a 12 wt. cotton thread [Spaghetti from WonderFil]. The fabrics I am stitching with are yarn-dyed cottons from Diamond Textiles. These fabrics are easy to stitch with and serve as the perfect canvas to show off these fat, colorful threads.
Decorative stitching with 12 wt. cotton threads.
Remember to use a larger needle to accommodate a 12 wt. thread.
Yarn-dyed woven fabrics are a perfect partner for decorative stitching.
Heavier threads beg to be the center of attention... and I indulge them. They challenge me to draw with them—by machine and by hand.

About a month ago, I decided to gather up my threadwork experiments and combine them into a quilt top. The alternate squares, setting triangles and the outer border are from the Indie Folk fabric collection from Art Gallery Fabrics. The inside narrow border are more textured yarn-dyed fabrics from Diamond Textiles.
Threadwork experiments quilt top.
I think my Gram would like this quilt because it has a lot of yellow in it. A Happy Mother's Day to all the moms, grandmoms, moms-in-law and anyone else that cares, nurtures, loves and encourages us to do and be the best we can.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Trunk show with the Bulloch Hall Quilters

This week, I'm headed to Georgia to talk about fabric and give a trunk show for the Bulloch Hall Quilt Guild. I was contacted over a year ago by Jan, the program coordinator, and have been looking forward to attending this meeting because I actually know a few of the members through my travels as a fabric strategist.
Sample cards of yarn-dyed textured woven from Diamond Textiles.
My trunk show will consist of samples—quilt tops and garments—made with several of my fabric lines. I am hoping to get feedback from this group of quilters like I did when giving the presentation for the Madison Station Quilters in Alabama.
Aboriginal designs from M&S Textiles Australia. 
My friend Holly Anderson, who is also a certified quilt appraiser, is hosting a small potluck dinner with several of the guild members before the presentation. I am sure the conversation will be lively and it will be fun hanging out with a bunch of quilters.
An upcoming fabric collections with metallic from Lewis & Irene.
Reacquainting with old friends, meeting new ones, and sharing our passion for quilting and fabrics... it's all good! Now I gotta go pack the bags...
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