Tag Archives: Quilting

Hand stitching = slow progress

When a project reaches the hand stitching stage, it absolutely slows down. I’ve spent many years working only with machine stitching and quilting and I love it. However, I’ve gone back to my first love of hand sewing with many of my current projects…and I love it! A real love fest here with every kind of stitching!

However, getting things fused down and ready to sew on my city project made it decision time again. Hand or machine? Little of both?

City Red:Gold 12

I put a line of machine stitches along the edges my buildings. I’m not so sure that machine work is the way to go on this one. Naturally, one line of thread isn’t going to tell the story, but it seems too wimpy.

Since I’ve fallen in love with embroidery again, naturally I moved on to trying that out.

City Red:Gold 13

I’m never too impressed when I first start out. It just doesn’t seem like much. But I’ve learned to keep adding more. To tell the whole story, lots of stitches are necessary.

City Red:Gold 14

One row doesn’t do it, with either machine or hand!

Keep stitching, Kathy!!!

Linking up to Off the Wall Friday.


Filed under Art Quilts, Designing Quilts, Handwork, Quilting

Loose ends

Have you ever been between projects, looking for just a little playtime sewing? Or in the middle of a big project, needing a little something for a break? I’ve often been in that position and I seem to do something similar every time.

I’ll look around the studio and something will catch my eye. Sometimes it’s a hunk of fabric on the shelf, sometimes a scrap floating towards the scrap basket, sometimes an embellishment that needs a foundation…it’s a spark that starts a little flame of creativity.

In between project

I found a bunch of scraps that look wonderful together. They are all ironed and ready to be sewn together. Will I actually DO it, or is the gathering and pressing and thinking about sewing enough of a distraction? Enough of a break from the big project?

I’m not sure, but I do have more than one little pile of gathered materials that have never been sewn…


Filed under Fabric, Quilting, Thinking About Quilting!

Progress and lessons learned

Having uninterrupted time in the studio really is a blessing. So much progress gets made, even with all my indecisive dithering, that I can almost say this top is ready for some stitching!

This piece was always going to be fused, not pieced, so I put fusible on the back of all the fabrics I had selected, except for the sky/land piece.

City Red:Gold 1

Since I’m not great at drawing, I knew I couldn’t just draw my city silhouettes directly on the fabric and cut. I decided to draw them on strips of freezer paper, which I could then iron on to the fabric and cut. Worked like a charm.

City Red:Gold 2

I could have used a ruler to draw the lines, but I didn’t want precision. I wanted an organic look, so rough drawing and rounded corners when cutting.

First lesson learned, and it’s one of those duh! moments–when you cut that skyline from your fabric, you can flip the other half of the strip and use it, too! Really…duh!

City Red:Gold 3 City Red:Gold 4

So, no worries about making a mistake–it’s a twofer. Goody…I can make a second one.

City Red:Gold 5

Second lesson learned: you don’t have to follow the lines too closely when you’re cutting. It really doesn’t matter!

City Red:Gold 6

Third lesson learned: you don’t have to draw a separate strip for every single fabric. As soon as you cut one of the strips, you have two silhouettes available for another strip. And you can even slice them up and rearrange for a different skyline. I did find, though, that if I used the freezer paper twice, it didn’t want to stick well enough to cut out a third strip…which was fine for this one. I had more strips drawn than I needed and was only trying to see how many times I could use each one.

And here’s the lesson I wish I had learned on the very first cut: don’t worry about “wasting” fabric by cutting narrow strips. Put the cutting line in the center of a wider strip. Then you have your two silhouettes and you have enough fabric to vary and increase or decrease the spacing between skylines. This is the piece almost ready for the stitching.

City Red:Gold 7

And these are the strips for the ‘other’ piece–much narrower. If I make this piece as it stands, it will be quite a bit smaller than the one above…My guess right now is that I’ll end up doing something a bit different with this one.

City Red:Gold 8

I have a new set of construction questions and decisions coming up now. Fuse to a foundation fabric? It’s got one layer of fabric and a layer of fusible on every strip and some of the strips overlap so there could be multiple layers of fabric. Then there’s batting and backing. Too many layers? Machine stitching or hand stitching, or a combination of both? Border/no border? Binding, facing, envelope turn, alternate edge finish?

As I’ve said before, I post things in real time, as I do them. I don’t create a completed project and then dole out blog posts a few at a time. So….when I have time to work on this again, I’ll get you all up to date on those decisions! I’m hoping that I get lots of time in the studio over the next few days. I’m having fun working on this one and want to keep at it until it’s done!


Filed under Art Quilts, Designing Quilts, Thinking About Quilting!

City of…what?

I’ve had this project in my head for literally years. I painted it a long time ago and want to make it in cloth. In my experiments with dye, paint and stencils, I created cloth that I think will work. Today I started to get real about it.

Inspiration painting:

New project 7

I started throwing stuff up on the design wall, which is my usual first step in designing a project. It wasn’t long before I had fabric spread out all over the place.

New project 1

More on the table

New project 8

New project 6

Decided on the following combinations of fabrics to use for my city silhouette lines.

New project 2 New project 3 New project 4 New project 5

It took a while and I almost gave up when looking for a fabric for the sky and the ground. I’m not positive that I have what I need, but I’m close. This piece of fabric dyed up beautifully, but I only need a tiny bit for a sky!

New project 11

You know, the more you search, the more you are reminded of all the gorgeous fabric you have. I was momentarily distracted and almost switched to a different project idea when I came across this group.

New project 10

But I held firm and I think I have a layout plan.

New project 12

The way I’m planning on using these fabrics, I actually have enough to make two very similar pieces or make this one twice as wide. I think I will be happier sticking with my original rectangular format inspiration. Making two at once will take away some of the fear of ruining one-of-kind-materials. I have that fear all the time and sometimes it paralyzes me and prevents me from moving forward with a design. That’s a bigger block for me than any other and I always feel better when I brace up and make the first cut!

My thoughts are turning now toward the actual construction methods I will be using. I think fusibles but I don’t like to draw everything in reverse and hope it comes out all right when it’s cut and flipped over.

New project 9

Maybe my drawing will be on freezer paper. It has worked for me before. I think it will work for me again this time!

My brain has had a workout planning fabrics. I think it needs a rest before it’s time to draw and cut and fuse. (See how I’m putting off cutting into that fabric?) I’m going to let things roll around inside my thinking space for a night and I’ll get back to it tomorrow. There are things that might change, but I think the contextual design work on this project is done.

And somehow I’m obsessing over the name of the piece! I believe I want to name it City of Red Gold, or City of something, but probably in Spanish or French. I’ll have to see how it sounds in other languages, but I want to be able to say it correctly, too. We’ll see how that all works out!


Filed under Art Quilts, Color, Designing Quilts, Quilting

Loose ends

Finished up a few details yesterday. Sleeve and label on the Tumbling Leaves project. Hanging wires on a few of the small 12 x 12 canvases. Sleeve and label on this project that has been hanging around but has never made it to the blog.

Improv sample

Quilting detail–simple spiral in each shape.

Improv sample detail

Got the quilting done on this baby quilt.

Baby quilt for B

Not everything has to be an art quilt. Sometimes it’s all about soft and cuddly…and cute little stars.

Baby quilt for B detail

Sewing time is always a good time!


Filed under Quilting, Thinking About Quilting!, Use Up the Stash

Edge finish? This one!!!

A nice cording adds so much to a non-traditional edge finish. I love finishing pieces with this technique and it makes uneven edges so much easier to manage. I’m happy to go over it step-by-step with you, since I know that not everyone has finished a piece this way. The steps I took to get to this point can be found here.

Tumbling Leaves 7

After I removed the freezer paper templates, I finished up the quilting, adding details to the leaves. The next step was to decide on the final configuration of the sides, which was just to draw lines with chalk, to have a path to follow along.

Before you cut, sew along the lines with a small zig-zag stitch–works better than a straight stitch.

Tumbling Leaves 8 Tumbling Leaves 9

Sew with a thread that you can see, but not something that will be obnoxious if it’s visible in the final edge. Cut along the zig-zag and you’re almost there! Tip: Be sure to quilt all the way to the edges, since you can’t be sure where you will end up cutting for the final shape.

Tumbling Leaves 10

Here’s what the piece looked like with only the stay-stitching and the edges cut. I took the easy way out and left the top edge straight! Size is about 24 x 36.

Tumbling Leaves no cording

Couching is your friend! My machine has a couching foot, which helps to control the yarn I added to the edge. I started with the back of the quilt and ran a line of yarn around the edge. Then I flipped it over and ran a line around the edge on the top. You do this with a small zig-zag stitch and sometimes you are done at this point. You can also edit and re-cut at any point in this process because it’s simple to cut and over stitch. This piece needed one more round of stitches, just thread, no yarn, to smooth everything out. I increased the stitch width and changed from the couching foot to an embroidery foot–you can see where your needle is going much better with that foot.

Tumbling Leaves 11

A nice, broad, smooth edge finish with very curvy edges! I prefer this to satin stitching alone because it makes the edge much more sturdy. And the finished product…

Tumbling Leaves final 72

This project started with a painting experiment and grew through embroidery, beading, and quilting. I’m quite happy with it and I’m not going to procrastinate on getting the sleeve sewn on and the label. I want it to be totally done, done, done!



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

Slow progress

My favorite way to prep a quilt for stitching is to spray baste. It really holds everything in place and then I always wash the quilt before I use it. Why? Because it fluffs up the quilt, gets rid of the ‘sticky’ and makes me feel better about using gluey chemicals. However, when it’s an art quilt, I don’t like to use the spray glue. It’s not really rational, because I use paint and fusibles and don’t worry about washing the art quilt. But if I use spray glue, the item must be washed.

So…that leaves me with hand basting my Tumbling Leaves project, because it really cannot be washed. I’ve used all kinds of threads in the embroidery and of course I never test them for colorfastness!

Tumbling Leaves border 6

I really hate to hand baste. I don’t think it holds things in place well enough, but I hate it so much I won’t put in enough stitching to really try to hold things!

In any event, I got the stitching started. While sewing, I have time to think and I began to plan what I wanted for the border…not straight edges, but leafy and pointy and uneven. And how best to accomplish that…hmmmm…

Drawing out the leafy edge that I wanted seemed like the solution, but I’m not good at drawing. Tracing on tissue paper would have worked, but then I’d have to pin or stitch the tissue paper leaves in place. Light bulb!!! Freezer paper and my thermofax maple leaf screen to the rescue! Screened leaves onto the freezer paper, with a light color and then simply ironed them in place.

Tumbling Leaves border 1

Simple, then to stitch them in place for an outline for both the quilting and the edge finish!

The freezer paper actually was easier to remove than thinner papers that I have used.

Tumbling Leaves border 2

In this one area, I went ahead and continued with my pebble quilting, right over the leaf papers.

Tumbling Leaves border 4

Here’s my tip to you…don’t do that! All those extra paper parts with stitching have to have the paper removed! Not hard, but a little tedious.

Tumbling Leaves border 5

The leaf outline is enough.

Tumbling Leaves border 3

And here’s where I’m at. All the paper is removed and I can finish up the quilting. I may get some time to do that tomorrow. But I’m anxious to get to the border finish now, because I like the challenge of creating those uneven edges!


Filed under Art Quilts, Non-traditional Quilts, Quilt Design, Quilting