Failure—is not an option!

Sometimes when things seem too easy, I get a bit suspicious. That was the case with this last string pieced background.

When it came time to add the design, I traced on my stencil design and decided on a simple black outline. And I continued stitching from the back because it’s really easier to see it that way on these type of backgrounds.

Looked good–nice and dark–couldn’t be easier. That is when I started to suspect that something might not be quite right. I turned it over and–

whaaaat?! You could barely see all that stitching through the fabric and color on the top! I was quite disappointed and couldn’t see a good fix right away.

I tried to add an outline stitch with black embroidery floss, but the background is too dense to get a needle through without a tractor pulling it! That’s why I do these with the machine in the first place.

However, I found that a beading needle is much thinner and goes through that fabric pile quite easily.

Back to the old standby, but it works for the desired effect. Fabric and thread will NOT defeat me. And I now have a handwork project…all is well.



Had quite a bit of time in the studio today and it felt really, really good! Glued a couple more pieces to their canvases and painted a few more. I started to clean things up a little so that I could feel a bit more organized, and, of course…distraction!

One more scrap of interfacing, laying next to the bag of strings…what else could I do but make another string piece background?

These don’t take very long when they are this small-about 8 x 10-and I put all those tempting strings away as soon as this was done!

I decided that it was time to start getting those bright scrap quilts finished up. Yes, they have only been sitting in the stack for less than 2 months, but they are all basted and ready to go. No excuses. Pick one up and get it done!

So I did.

A question that occurred to me as I was quilting…what makes the quilting design ‘right’ for me on an improv beast like this one?

I decided against straight line walking foot quilting. Too boring for my mood, though it would have worked just fine for the quilt itself!

Mostly it’s a matter of sections and shapes. All of these small quilts are made with a total mix of scraps; no design, no background, no repetition of shapes. There are not rows or sections easily seen, though each individual piece is defined by the construction seams. Basically, then, an overall meander quilting seems like the best choice.

And the way to make it work is to be sure and overlap the quilting between chunks of fabrics.

Those swirls roam around that quilt top as though it were a whole cloth quilt, with no regard to which scrap is being sewn.

Totally suited my mood and goes so quickly. I got it done in an afternoon and I feel invigorated by getting some quilting finished. A happy, happy day!

A single drop of water…

There are many quotations that refer to starting with a small step, a single stitch, a single drop of water that leads to a journey, a garment, a waterfall. Today I felt like everything I was doing was but a single drop of water heading towards becoming a lake.

I wanted to mount some finished pieces on canvas, but I needed to screen print my label on the back of the canvas first. And then I need to paint the canvas to complement the work. And the canvas needed two coats, so I had to wait for the paint to dry. Some of the canvas blanks are too small for my screen, so I had to get out the multi-label screen and print on paper or fabric to make small labels………and wait for those to dry!

One step, two step…….and the string background was sitting there waiting to be noticed. I like to do an envelope turn on most of these, but with fusible interfacing, not fabric. And I play with designs by drawing on the back until I get close to what I want.

Sometimes I sew a guideline on the back and then stitch the design from the front. This time I put glittery thread in the bobbin and stitched from the back.

And now I have another one waiting to be mounted. More waiting for the paint to dry. Unless I look at it a while longer and decide that it needs something more!

Time to attack those little red houses. Might as well keep adding to that pile of pieces waiting for the finish! Didn’t take long for them to get some details and some quilting.

Thought I was going to quit there for the day, but I did one more bit of painting and while it’s drying, I finished the edges of these houses.

I need to finish them with some eye catching beads or buttons and then it will be back to more painting. At least there is no indecision in my mind on paint color for these. Dark blue will be perfect for a small edge all around.

Meanwhile………..back to paint drying. Wonder what else I can pick at, one little drop of water at a time………………..?


Oh, purple………….sigh!

Using a color that is far from your favorite is difficult. Purple is that color for me and I seem to fight it every step of the way, even when it is the only right choice for the project.

And perhaps you have had the experience of putting in a lot of work on a project, thinking you may have made an error…and you keep right on going, trying to convince yourself that the wrong choice was actually a good one?

That’s right where I’m at with this project.

I was too impatient to wait for the purple wool that I first thought I would use on it. I went ahead and used the purple silk I had on hand instead. Laid everything out, pinned it, added batting for stability, sewed it and selected beads and embroidery threads……………and absolutely could not make myself start on the additional handwork.

Deep down, I knew the silk was the wrong color. Yeah, it was purple, but NOT the right purple. Too bright, too shiny, fighting with the red….so it sat. Took it to my Knot Even Quilters group and asked their opinion and they totally agreed with my deepest gut feelings.

I even shocked them by grabbing a pair of scissors and cutting into the piece, trying to figure out an easy way to  rescue it. There was just no way to use that bright  purple with the darker purple wool.

And I have plenty of red silk to re-do this if I simply remove the rust fabric squares and start again. But I really didn’t feel like totally starting over so I deconstructed and trimmed this block.

Turns out that the red squares CAN be 1/2″ smaller and still work! And this looks so much better on the darker wool.

And here we are–lots of deconstruction and back where I started several weeks ago. A big pile of pieces, ready to be set together on the background.

And another pile of bright purple pieces, ready for someone to play with! I don’t think it will be me. I’m not a good fighter with purple!

Hopefully now, though, I can sit down with those beads and threads and do the handwork I originally intended to finish this piece.

Gosh………..purple! Sigh!

Magic fabric follow up

Using water soluble stabilizer to create fabric is one of the most fun things I do. The little houses I showed you the other day don’t require the water soluble, but the really skinny strips do.

With that soluble over the top, your quilting foot simply glides over all those edges without getting caught. I started this one with some ‘straight’ lines from top to bottom and I immediately started questioning whether or not I should leave them.

I finished the stitching and still didn’t like them, but decided to wash out the soluble before I made a final decision. Sometimes all the stitching covers up what you don’t like so much.

Nope–so now I have to wait for it to dry, but those long, straight, distracting lines will be coming out!

And I had a flower all ready to go from my demo of making magic fabric at quilt guild, so I went ahead and stitched that up, too.

This is only part way through the sewing. It needs a lot of stitches to hold this together! And before I finished it up, I put some glitzy thread in the bobbin and added that. You can always add more on top of the soluble when making this–that’s part of the magic!

And–voila–a hyacinth looking for a little flowerpot, I think!

And I still have that biiiiig piece of magic fabric background waiting to be used also. I think I’m going to have an entire garden made from mashed together scraps!

Finishing edges

Working on finishing up the edges on a few more pieces. I realized that I’ve had these leaf pieces for almost two years. Yes, I’ve been using them for examples, but it’s time for them to move on.

I did want to show and tell on the way I do these with the turned edges. I use fusible interfacing and stitch it so that the fusible is on the inside when it’s turned. That does a couple of good things.

Look closely at the edge of this piece.

You can see that when I trimmed the edge, I cut off some of the knots on the embroidery. That is not really a good thing for a textile piece! By finishing with the fusible, any loose ends are sealed within the backing and will not come loose.

The other good thing about using fusible interfacing rather than a piece of fabric is that no additional quilting is required. Of course, you can accomplish the same thing with a piece of fused fabric. Since I mount my pieces on a stretched canvas, though, the back doesn’t show, and interfacing is cheaper than fabric!

Only have a few more on the pile to get done and then I can figure out best size of canvas to use, what color to paint them and how many more I need to buy! Just looking over at what I have, I am certain that I will need some more. Hmmm….shopping in the craft store is NOT a hardship!

Need a couple by Thursday, though, so I’d better get busy!

Time is elastic

Had to mow the lawn today, and it seemed as if it took forever. I thought maybe the yard had stretched and grown since the last time I had to mow.

And then I got to go to the studio and start in on finishing those small pieces, getting them ready for mounting. I felt like I was moving in slow motion. Nothing was working. I couldn’t find any cording or yarn to add, which is one of my favorite finishes. Even my thread color was a bit iffy.

I got this far

and took a look at the clock. It was only 3:30 in the afternoon. I would have guessed that it was at least 7 o’clock. It felt like I had been working for days, not just a couple of hours.

Wish I could stretch time like that when I’m scrambling to meet a deadline!