Tag Archives: challenges

Hidden Challenge

Creative Seasons is the name of an art group of which I am a member. We are having an interesting challenge right now, called Chinese Whispers. Similar to the old game of telephone, each group starts with a photo. We have enough people interested that we actually have several small groups, but we are all starting with the same photo.

We then create a quilted piece based on an aspect of the photo that appeals to us. The second person in that group then gets to see the finished first piece but NOT the original photo. Her piece is based on that first piece and then she shows her finished piece to the next person and so on. I’m not sure how many rounds we will do, but I’m sure that the final piece will be far removed from that original picture. Can’t wait!

In the meantime, while I’m working on my piece, we can’t show anyone! So what will I have to show you? Pieces parts, I guess! Nothing in the composition itself!

My cutting table was cleared and clean just a couple of days ago. Not so much now.


Part of my interest in this challenge is that I want to use less opaque fabrics, such as organzas, so that’s where I’m starting. Spent the best part of an entire day adding texture to my chosen fabrics…simple twin-needle stitching, but lots of it.

cs-whispers-challenge-2 cs-whispers-challenge-3

I had a minor moment of excitement when I found this piece that I had dyed a bright green. It should make a wonderful highlight color.


Then came adding fusible and cutting into small strips…


a large pile of little strips! I might be nuts before this project is done.


However, I do want to do more intentional, thoughtful art and taking the time to place these strips exactly where I think they need to be is part of that process. I may or may not be able to show you more as I proceed with this project, until the end. You can imagine me, though, playing with a pile of organza strips and hoping I’m nowhere near a high wind!


Filed under Art Quilts, Color, Designing Quilts, Fabric, Learning New Things!

White on white

Definitely hard to photograph! I’m trying to learn how to be a better photographer, but the workings of f-stops and depth of field are like Greek to me. That’s my disclaimer, right up front!

My friend made a beautiful Christmas tree skirt for her daughter from her mother’s wedding dress–three generations remembered. She also embroidered her daughter’s name along with that of her husband and the husband part didn’t last forever. This tree skirt, along with a stocking, needs to be saved but the embroidery cannot be removed without damage.

tommelein-1 tommelein-2

We brainstormed quite a few ideas and then mom left it in my hands! So trusting–I’ll do my best not to let her down.

Somewhere in my reading I saw that free motion stitching on a circle with felt backing will result in a nice, wavy floret. I have had my own issues with waviness and heavy stitching so I thought I’d try to do it on purpose.

Heavy stitching in a free form flower–


Flowers on a piece of silk, fused to a scrap of the velvet from the tree skirt–


Looks pretty wavy–


And produces a cute little flower form when cut out! Looks like a winner!

I think I should be able to make a nice little 3-D embellishment and save this tree skirt!


Some pretty trim, organza ribbon, 3D flowers and perhaps some beads. I think it will be elegant and look intentional, not like a repair!


And it’s done! Haven’t shown it to the owner yet so I don’t know if she will like it or not, but it’s ready to be shown.

Here’s what I found out about the distorted fabric flowers…they are really, really distorted. EACH petal of the flower rolls up towards the center and that is not the look I wanted. The example I saw that used circles didn’t have that issue because there were not separate areas. I ended up sewing down almost every petal, but in the end it was worth it.


I did not add any additional beads or organza. The beaded trim seemed sufficient. Hope she likes it!


Filed under Fabric, Handwork, surface design

What is your ultimate goal?

After griping about how much fabric I have and not enough sewing time–yet again–one of my friends asked me what my ultimate goal for the fabric is. That really made me sit back and think.

Certainly it’s not going to go into the trash. It’s good quality new fabric for the most part.


I’m waaaaay too cheap thrifty to give it away, even to my guild charity sewers. That’s simply not an option for me.


It all came into my house because I love it, every piece, and thought I would use it.


And I really want to use it all up and make wonderful art.


But really, what IS my ultimate goal for all of it?

I want it to be gone so that I can make my art from fabric that I have created.

Moons of Ios

Moons of Ios

Yep. I am a fabriholic. I cannot resist it. I am definitely a hoarder. But I’m not getting it used and that’s a crying shame. What to do…what to do…what to do…I’m really thinking hard on this one. The best I’ve come up with so far is to block out some time on my calendar and make quilt tops, all day, every day. And then keep using the fabric to make quilt backs, all day, every day. Even if they never get quilted by me, that way there would be a chance for all that fabric to be useful rather than just sit on the shelf. Someone could quilt them or give them to charity after I’m gone–I won’t care then!

Are there better ideas? I’d love to hear them. I DO have a goal now and I’d love to think that it really is attainable…but I’m getting older fast so I have to work quickly now!

Wait–a goal without a timeline is just a wish, right? Then I’d like to have it mostly done by September…sufficiently far away that it sounds possible. Ready–aim–go for it!





Filed under Art Quilts, Quilting, surface design, Thinking About Quilting!, Use Up the Stash

Workshop projects?

Workshops are always a fun time for me. I sometimes take them because there is a specific technique I want to learn. I’m always curious about another teacher’s work process. And often, it is simply uninterrupted time dedicated to having fun.

The most recent one for me was from Joe Cunningham. I’ve certainly seen and admired his work for a long time but I didn’t check out his website in detail as I usually do for those with whom I am going to study. I always try to go in with an open mind and eager anticipation of learning and that attitude almost guarantees a fun time.

As we got into the class and he found out that I was already an improv piecer, he wasn’t sure that I would be learning anything. WRONG! Joe has a particular way of working that is quite different from mine.  That is exactly why I took the class! It was very challenging for me to work in the way he does and I truly loved the challenge.

Now, the piece I made still looks very much like my work.


You can’t leave your style behind, but finding a different route to get there is wonderful. It adds to your toolbox and opens your eyes to ever more possibilities.

But Joe has a particular style, too, which uses lots of bias tape and that was part of what we are ready to explore.


I am not sure if I will add bias to mine or not. I don’t want to make a piece that looks like I’m trying to imitate Joe, but I do like the idea of playing with the bias tape. I’m really torn. I have the same dilemna with a workshop project from another teacher. It looks so distinctly like her work right now, which was fine for learning the technique, but I want to make it mine now!

Of course, often workshop projects never get finished because they are just that–learning exercises. But for those that you do want to finish, what do you do? Go ahead with the style of the teacher, or absorb their techniques and make the project your own?

For me, right now, it’s bias or no bias……………..




Filed under Contemporary, Designing Quilts, Learning New Things!

Calling it good!

There is only a week until the Artisan Showcase and I’ll pretty much need that time to clean the house and prep it for the show. That means that I need to be done with any new creating, or even any finishing up of found UFO’s. There is just no more time!

There are a few things I need to keep working on, like sleeves and labels. I have a few of those to do!

little-christmas-pieces sleeves

Hand sewing anything is relaxing–except when you have a deadline and can’t get into the slow stitching mode! Almost done, though. I think I only have one more sleeve to attach.

Here are some pictures of things I may have left hanging with you…


This is what I chose for the final look of this piece–detail below. I want it to have a title that includes something like Underwater Reef Surprise but that doesn’t sound as good as I would like. Time to hit the thesaurus for this title, as well as others.


Did I show you this one? Started out large and discouraging and I cut it in half and now it’s two pieces that I like!


Another piece that I found in the UFO pile was this tropical island that I made over a year ago. Finally mounted and ready to find a new home.


And speaking of discouragment…this desert city piece did not go according to plan at all! It was supposed to get beads and with the fused fabric and the quilting I did, that plan did not work. My art quilting group suggested foiling and I thought it would work just fine…until I tried it on a practice piece of fabric. Totally disastrous. The only thing that worked was fusible web and that would have taken longer to put on than the original planned beads!

I decided to go with paint and stencils, which is what I created the original fabric with. I got out all my shiny paints and tried them on the type of fabric I would be painting.


If I had planned this from the beginning, of course I would have painted the fabric before I cut it and fused it to the background. This will work, but I needed to mask off the parts that I didn’t want metallic paint on! What a pain!

desert-city-painting-1 desert-city-painting-2

It worked, but this whole piece took a big track away from the original plan. Because of that, I don’t like it as much as I thought I would…but it could be a favorite for someone else!

Final finishing details are all that remain for me for the next week. That and cleaning…doesn’t that sound like fun? NOT! But it is so worth it because I absolutely love hosting this show. I most likely will not have much to blog about but I definitely will not subject you to pictures of my housecleaning adventures!


Filed under Art Quilts, Designing Quilts, Non-traditional Quilts, surface design

BIG problem–solved!

And it’s not my most recent issue with the fused, not-square, impossible to bead piece!

Probably the oldest unfinished object on the to-do pile, I had a lot of concerns on how to fix the issues with this one. I checked and this one was last worked on in February…that’s a long time for me to leave something sit.

FL paint leaf 17

I think you can tell from this next picture that there’s a bit of warpage going on after my intense quilting.


I tried every stretching and blocking technique I knew and there was no hope to make it flat. So I decided to cut it and overlap the stem and leaf sections. What did I really have to lose? If I couldn’t make it lay flat, I could always cut it into sections and use them for backgrounds for something else. But it still took a deep breath before I could make that first cut!


I overlapped and flattened and pinned and proceeded to quilt it down in the circle area. I am so careless sometimes! I had the wrong color bobbin thread in–really wrong!– and had to spend a couple of hours ripping out 10 minutes of quilting. But the second time, I did a better job of it!


You can hardly tell where the overlap is, until you get really, really close up.


I added heavy couching around the cut leaf parts along with couched leaf centers and a heavy center stem. It worked quite well!


You can see that it really makes a difference in how big this piece will be when I finally square it up. It will be more like this when finished.


The whole piece started out at about 45″ square and will probably end up about 34-36″. There is more quilting to finish around the outside edges, which I can happily do now that I know how big I’ll make it.

Decisions still to be made…edge finish. I can go conventional with binding, non-traditional with cording, even a sculptural corded edge, or faced. Original plan was corded, either straight or sculptural and I’m probably going to stick with that idea.

Original plan also was to add lots of beading. I’m not sure if I want to do that now. I’m kinda liking this just the way it is. AND I want it to be done, done, done!!! I’ll finish up the quilting and go ahead with an edge plan because this one can definitely still be beaded after the rest of that finishing work. OR I may quit right there, depending on the mood of the moment when I get those last stitches in!



Filed under Art Quilts, Designing Quilts, Quilting, surface design

One step ahead

Sometimes my teaching style only keeps me one step ahead of the students! I do try to explore all the possible issues the students may have with whatever I’m teaching, but in some areas I will readily admit to limited experience.

That is true for weaving, which I will be teaching in a couple of weeks. I’m exploring and learning just enough to get a sample to show the students I’ll be with. Fortunately, I can do this because I’ll be teaching with a woman who is a very experienced weaver and she can handle all the hard parts! My sample will be very similar to the level of the student’s work, except that I have a few years more experience with fibers in general!

The plan calls for the students to work with a frame loom that they will make. There are several ways to make these and we will demonstrate and give them the choice. This one is made from push pins in the back of the frame.

Frame loom 1

Evenly spaced along the top and bottom and then the ‘string’ (I’m using a bamboo yarn) is wrapped around the pegs.

Frame loom 2

Small nails are often used as well, but I think push pins will be easier for students to use.

When weaving, a bobbin is often used to get the warp threads over and under the weft threads. Doesn’t that sound like I know what I’m talking about? I don’t really know the warp from the weft, but that’s what the dictionary and google are for, right? Anyway, a simple shuttle bobbin can be made out of a bit of cardboard.

Frame loom 3

Check out the fancy ‘bridge’, I think it’s called, that separates the strings for easier over and under. That does give you an idea of the size of this project, though.

I found using the bobbin difficult, perhaps because the project is so small. For an alternative, I used a yarn needle and simple pulled the yarn through.

Frame loom 4

One of the choices the students will have to make is how tightly to weave. Since my plan is for these weavings to remain in the frame as a background, I thought I would do this loosely so the sides remain mostly straight, not pulled in. It may be easier for the students to pull things in a bit more snugly. One more design decision for them!

I haven’t progressed very far on this, but at least I will have learned the basics a couple of weeks before I need to “teach” them! I will have this small sample finished!

Without knowing that I could rely on the expertise of my co-teacher, I never would have embarked on this type of a project. However, I expect some really outstanding results from these middle school aged students. They have no fear and wonderfully creative minds!

I do have another sample to show them–wild and crazy and not at all the recommended way to make a weaving, but an example of multiple fibers and an alternate way to work.

India challenge 1

India challenge 2

I’m really looking forward to this experience!


Filed under Art Quilts, Fabric, Learning New Things!, Teaching