Friday, October 30, 2009

Stuck in the middle

This top is on up on my design wall as I contemplate quilting lines.
From last spring's workshop - Nancy Crow's Improvisations – Let's Experiment! - it was the second assignment: make it BIG & BOLD. The almost centered spot certainly commands attention, so I've satisfied the exercise. If you've taken a workshop with Nancy, you know you don't have much time to tarry. Piece it and move on.

My eye is drawn and glued to that center. That bugged me - too strong a center. I tried moving the spot off center by adjusting the edges. Nah, didn't work. So a virtual but simple re-piece with Photoshop: It's not as bold but I move between the two sides rather than being stuck in the middle. With another teal strip or two, I'll get a more circulation around the composition. Then it'll be ready to quilt.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Quilt therapy

My quilt mini-group has been meeting since July 2008 without a name. We finally came up with one in August. In our monthly meetings, we give each other hurrahs as well as tough love. Just like group therapy! And we all agree quilting is therapeutic. So we are now the Quilt Therapy Group!

A few months ago we started a group mystery quilt. One of us had the plan and directed the other nine. My turn was at toward the end. This is what I received:
My task: add half the borders and corner blocks. What to do?! Maybe containment and repetition. So here's what I passed on:
The top is done and we're sending out for quilting & binding. Then we're donating it to a charitable organization.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Quilted for exhibition

I am co-curating another local guild exhibit which opens at the end of October and runs into January. My two co-curators will have quilts in the show. So why not me? Yes, why not? It is non-juried. I scrambled to find something to finish.

I picked a top created last spring in Nancy Crow's Improvisations workshop, previously shown here. Now it's quilted. Yeh! Another tally toward the goals! You can see this and others from the fabulous East Bay Heritage Quilters at:

Alameda County Arts Commission 2009 EBHQ Quilt Exhibit
Alameda County Administration Building
Tax Gallery, 1st floor & Board of Supervisors Gallery, 5th floor
1221 Oak St., Oakland CA
October 26, 2009 to January 14 , 2010, Mon-Fri 8am to 5pm

A tasty tidbit before of the guild's bi-annual show, Voices in Cloth, April 10-11, 2010.

Mastering the vanishing act

My least favorite part of any sewing project is basting. It gives better results but I don't like pulling seams apart nor picking threads out. In a quest for better – read easier – techniques, I tried out Superior Threads Vanish-Lite, a water soluble thread.

This sandwich was basted with it in the bobbin and Aurifil 50 wt Cotton Mako on the top side. You can just barely make out these light lines on the back. I spray misted the back side just like their blog. It got wet enough to shrink up the cottons and seep through to the front side. From the front I pulled out the top basting thread. Yahoo! They came out very easily. Then I left it to dry overnight.

Next morning I ran my hand over it and felt sharp little beads, formed by dried bits of Vanish, along my basting lines. Grrrrh! Didn't want to wet the whole thing again, so I picked these little nubs out. Hmm, must be a better way.

Not ready to give up yet on water soluble thread, I set out to improve my vanishing act. I like a challenge. This time I'm asking for it - I'd basted a piece twice as large.I loosened the tension a bit so the basting thread wouldn't be so buried into a valley. Since the stitching lines didn't get wet enough with misting, this time I used a brush to apply water directly on the stitches. It was soon apparent that that the brush would have to be really wet and I'd have to flood the entire line with water. Else those dang little nubs will once again show up.

What if instead of trying to dissolve the entire line of thread, I leave segments long enough to pick out easily? Working on the same sandwich, I dabbed with a wet small stubby brush at roughly 3" intervals - enough to release the thread on the other side. I easily picked off what was left of Vanish Lite. That the tension was a bit loose helped too. Look ma, no nubbies!

In conclusion, my recommendations:
1. When basting, loosen the thread tension.
2. To remove basting, use a brush to spot apply water at least 3" apart. Those with good eyes can see the Vanish-Lite dissolve.
3. Pull out regular basting thread and pick off remaining water soluable thread segments.
This leaves a quilt sandwich with very few nubbies and keeps it dry.