Assessing the plan

Yes, assessing the plan that really isn’t a plan. My focus on the goal of using the stash could dissipate if I continue on the path I’m on. It will be too easy to get distracted and off track when selecting one group of fabrics at a time and making a quilt. I will continue to do that, but there has to be some immediate action to change bad habits.

My scraps, sorted into baskets by color, are very useable, but very distracting.

I often am pulled off-track by an intriguing bit hanging over the edge of one of those baskets.

And as I scroll through my pictures, I realize that I have tried this approach several times in the past. Obviously, it has not worked.

I became aware that I have been trying to avoid a REAL sorting of fabric. I don’t actually want to take everything off the shelves and see every piece of fabric. If I do that, it means I have to make a decision on each piece, whether is goes or stays. Making things is fine, but it doesn’t move fast enough to be effective.

More soul searching is in the works, but I believe my ultimate goal is to only make art with fabric that I have “made” myself. My decisions will involve facing some hard facts—like the fact that I have spent a lot of money on these supplies and now I am not going to use them? Absurd…but most likely true.

I have distinct areas in my studio–quilting/sewing, knitting, beads & embroidery, painting, stamps, stencils, and dyeing, as well as a library wall of ways to use them! I do use it all, but will I continue to use it all?

Hmmmmmmmmmm…………………….

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Stashbusting Start

Yesterday was a total sewing day, all day long! And my shoulders are sore from hours at the machine, but it was very much worth it.

Wonky nine patches are very easy to make and when you get into that repetitive groove of cut-sew-press-cut-sew-press, the stacks get higher quickly.

And since I wanted to use up every bit of these fabrics, I made smaller four patch blocks to go along with them.

I put all of the larger blocks on the design wall (with no thought of design) because it’s always so satisfying to see so much work done!

Then I needed to figure out how I was going to incorporate the other size blocks. That original strip pieced portion yielded 8 small blocks, so I made a medallion of that.

And laid out the other smaller blocks around it.

That’s how I left things at the end of the day. Actually cooked a lovely chicken dinner and relaxed with the Olympics. Felt very productive…it was a very good day!

Not sure if this is how I will proceed. The whole idea is to keep it simple and get it done. When I head back to the studio, I will probaby arrange this grouping as a header, lay out the rest of the blocks in straight rows and GET IT DONE.

Because I’m already thinking of the next one…………………………orange!

Impatience rules!

Once I decided that destashing-by-making was my goal, there was no way I could wait until free days in March to get started! I have been less than thrilled with the way my white silk and thread project has been going, so this is what it looks like now.

Folded nice and neatly into a project bag and going to sit on the shelf for a while. I also packed up the tons of white fabrics and laces scheduled for the other part of the white project.

I thought it all came out of this box, but it sure doesn’t fit back in it! Thankfully, I found the larger box that it actually came from and got it all packed away again, too. It will come out again when the time is really right to make these projects.

So the decks were cleared to start making things disappear by sewing. I wasn’t sure exactly how to begin, so I gathered up lots of those patterns that I have collected, always meaning to use.

Absolutely cannot find my two favorite patterns, that I have actually made! Darn! And none of these really inspired me today, so I looked to the fabric to stimulate action. It worked, but in kind of a strange way.

There is no logic to the way my fabric instincts work. I have been buying mostly fat quarters for years, so I have no huge hunks of anything that are screaming to be used. The fabrics I chose to begin with are fabrics that have been annoying me for quite a few years.

In my beginning improv days, I used a lot of prints and didn’t leave much ‘breathing’ room. I began using these in that same way…

just AWFUL!  And there it sat, for years. So, I gathered up some compatible pieces, added in some ‘breathing’ fabrics and began to sew.

Using the simple wonky nine-patch block, I cut and sewed and now I’m on my way to my first intentional stashbusting quilt!

And true to my last post, scraps are going into a covered bin, not to be revisited until my stash goal is met….or at least a bit closer than it is now! This one should be done before my March ‘free days’ even begin, so I feel like I’ve made a good start.

Perhaps my next quilt will start out organized in an entirely different manner. I may pick a color and try to use it all up. I’m thinking also of using complementary colors in some way–because I have a lot of orange and blue and they look good together. Maybe I’ll make one with fabrics that don’t appeal to me so much anymore and then reward myself with fabrics I really like. Not worried about quilting or finishing at this point–just tops to use up the fabric.

My machine was humming and so was I, as I got started on this gigantic task.

Thread lace and beads

Oh my word–making huge pieces of thread lace is a never ending project! I’ve never made anything but some small leaves before and making this huge sheet is taking way too long. If I had known at the beginning….in the category of  lessons learned, I’d really have gone about it in a different way.

My goal was to create sheer, shiny fabric to attach to the silk background already made. It would need to have beads on it, but those could be supported by a grid of beading thread as the beads were added. Okay–that was the plan. Using up tons of fibers and threads seemed like such a bonus, too.

I wasn’t too far into it before I realized that the threads alone would not create a strong enough fabric.

Adding a sheer fabric back was about the only answer I could come up with. Had I started with the fabric, I would have added light fusible and fused those fibers to it. Still would have added the stabilizer and the stitching, but maybe not as much stitch and maybe not so many thread/stitching frustrations. Next time for sure…

I stitched for hours, free form sewing and finally thought it might hold together. Then I added a grid of stitches just to feel better about it!

And suddenly it was time to bite the bullet, call it good and wash away the stabilizer!

It’s sheer, shiny and looks different from every angle. Can’t really show that in photos, but I think it’s going to work. We’ll judge the strength as I start assembling and adding those heavy beads!

Speaking of which…I have a few choices to make!

I always start by pulling anything that I think might have any possibility of working with my fabrics and colors…and because I have accumulated so many beads, that can become a large pile!

 

I almost immediately eliminated the darker gold beads and the darkest blue beads. The thread fabric changes color with every viewing angle, so most any color should work! I thought about green, but didn’t really have a good green jump out at me.

  

These three were ‘finalists’ and all looked pretty good. Then I kind of thought all white would really be best and spread these out.

The white along with some off-white looks like the solution. Sparkle all the way through and no dramatic color to draw the eye. The piece is going to reflect a snow storm, so the whiter the better………………..I think! It may yet change as I progress with the beading, but that’s the plan right now.

And I got to spend the whole day in the studio! Thought I was going to have most of the week in the studio, but I forgot to put several things on my calendar. So I’m extra grateful to have had today and to have progressed so far. There is no ‘fast’ in this project, so I will either post it so much that you will get sick of it, or I will try to restrain myself and there will not be as many posts.

But I know myself well enough to know that I will work on more than one project at the same time, so there should be something else to look at soon!

 

Threads and more threads

Have you ever made thread lace? With the water soluble stabilizer? I decided that was what I wanted for my curvy silk piece so I jumped right into creating it.

It started with the idea of a grid of beads and beading thread and then I figured it might be sturdier with a base of fabric,  but I wanted to keep the sheer idea of the bead grid, so….thread lace.

I have this cone of superfine ‘fiber’–one of the many items I’ve acquired over the years. Don’t know exactly what it is, but it shimmers and shines like a hologram so it seems perfect for this.

I’ll tell you one thing–that cone holds a whole lot of fiber, but it’s not enough to make thread lace.

I have a few spools of shiny specialty threads that I have not been successful in using, so I decided to throw them into the mix, too.

Then you layer the top with another piece of stabilizer, pin-pin-pin and start stitching.

I begin with a grid, but all those loose threads must be stitched closely together enough to hold up as a fabric after the stabilizer is washed away. It’s hard to see in photos, but this is the beginning of that stitching.

I tried using invisible thread for my grid, but kept having trouble with it. I have trouble with it on regular fabric, too, and hate it so it didn’t take me long to switch. I gave up on some of the transparency in favor of no thread breakage and used Bottomline. The fill in stitching is done with silver and I don’t think thread alone is going to do the job!

I found a tiny piece of this sheer poly, which has the same holographic shine as the mystery fiber.

I think it will be perfect to use as a base, if I can find some of the same or something similar. It will continue my sheer theme as well as make a better support for the bead grid that is still in the works!

But there’s a snow storm today, so fabric shopping will have to wait for clear roads! I am not a patient person when I have to stop in the middle of an active sewing day and wait for something that is totally out of my control. Grrrrr! But what about the other half of the split project? I could work on it, but I think I need to look at those sheers in the store for that one, too.

I guess I’ll have to keep myself busy using up the yarn stash. I can knit in front of the fireplace while it snows.

Finished edges and floaty fun

At least I’ve made a start on a finished edge! I have hesitated for days in the past when I have needed to cut into a quilted piece to make a curvy edge. Sometimes you just need to pick up the scissors and cut!

Then to the finishing part–I love to use cotton yarn, couching foot and ziz-zag. One, two, three and you’re done!

At some point, for this piece, I will stitch over that edge again for a smoother, more filled-in finish, but this does the job for the beginning stage. All of this has been background and support, in my mind.

Now I’m ready to start auditioning final choices and placement for finishing…the fun part!

Construction challenges galore as well as design choices! Let the fun begin!

 

Priorities

Making time in my studio a priority is not as important as it used to be. In the last couple of months I have started to feel really and finally retired. I am not looking for speaking or teaching jobs, but I wouldn’t turn them down!

I knew so little when I started!

Anyway, I don’t feel like I have to constantly be in production mode and if I miss some time in the studio, it’s no big deal. I’m thinking of projects that have lain dormant in the back of my brain for a long time and I’m trying to create in a more thoughtful manner.

My current project is totally laid out in my brain. I love when that happens—and I hate when that happens. Getting from the brain picture to the actual piece is not always a straight road.

It has grown larger than I thought it would be already.

My brain picture had it about 20″ wide but these projects make their own demands. It is huge and I’m not used to working with silk, so it’s a little daunting to think about quilting this part of it.

Practice pieces are not big in my process, but I thought I’d better try it out for this one. I grabbed several scraps and put them on batting and backing and started stitching.

No issues whatsoever, so off I went on the real thing. Spoiler alert: Nothing fancy was attempted on this piece! Simple straight lines are all that is required on this part.

Know what? Channel quilting is boring, no matter what fabric you are using! That’s all I got done on the project today, but that’s fine.

In my newly retired state of mind, spending the day with my hubby, going out to lunch, stopping at the bead store……….it’s all so good! Having relaxing days like this is what it’s all about!

And the studio will be there tomorrow…after I lunch and chat with a friend…and maybe do some local shop hopping with her…life is good!