Monday, July 30, 2012

After three weeks & three days

I've fmq'd every day for three weeks. Then this weekend, three days more fmq in a workshop with Jill Schumacher, Quiltmaker to the Queen. These are accomplishment from that workshop:
Ohio Star fmq'd in the ditch with monofilament thread
two continuous fmq motifs
another version of feathered wreath
mini whole cloth quilt with trapunto
stitched sample of new filler design, an adaptation of a sashiko pattern
This workshop has a more traditional quilting perspective. Nevertheless, I've learned a lot though I'm still unsure how to quilt my own work.

I've gained two new ufos. The above filler pattern, 7 Treasures of Buddha, may be used in the gridded areas of the trapunto quilt. I prefer to not mark quilts nor use stencils, so I'm looking at Leah Day's 365 filler designs to finish the Ohio Star.

These additional hours of practice practice practice have given me dose of fmq confidence, though I won't become quiltmaker to any royalty any time soon.

Note: For another perspective on Sandy Ciolino's machine quilting workshop, see this post by Annette Guerrero. Annette was already an accomplished quilter when she took Sandy's workshop. What could be better than endorsement from another quilter?!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Audience with the Queen

Not Elizabeth. Not Latifah. I'm off to see the Queen of Quilting, Jill Schumacher!

Tomorrow is the beginning of a three-day quilting retreat at a not-so-local quilt shop, Always Quilting, a 45-minute drive away (In commute traffic?! Don't count on it!). They're providing breakfast, lunch and dinner, so I'll be machine quilting all day and into the night. The machine quilting gods should grant me better stitches after this!

Meanwhile I am not putting all my faith in the gods, I am continuing on my own fmq quest. Not only have I been making samples of Leah Day's beginner-intermediate fillers, I am fmq'ing two fillers onto this ufo.
12x12 ufo from machine quilting workshop
One filler, Leah Day's Matrix, in three samples.
three Matrix samples
The top one in turquoise is from a couple of years ago. The other two just recently. 

I cheated on the larger scaled one by stitching each line from back to front. Result: smoother stitches. It's really tempting to turn a piece and very easy for small ones. 

The smaller scaled one provides a more honest appraisal. No turning. Result: wobbly lines. Really shows I need more practice stitching in other directions. Still it's an improvement from the very first sample. So it is true . . . practice practice practice

The second filler is the popular pebbling pattern. 
pebbling sample
I took an hour to stitch this. Of course Leah's was faster and more beautiful. 

Here's the UFO stitched with the two fillers plus a bonus. 
quilted ufo
I went micro! Those small tight spaces screamed for tiny stitches. You can see how much smaller I quilted in this side by side comparison.
samples with quilted ufo
It was good practice for this next UFO. 
18x18 ufo from machine quilting workshop
The markings are barely visible. It's essentially the same pattern with additional long feathers on each side. And better fabric instead of muslin. 

I'll quilt this later. Right now I am getting ready to meet the Queen.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Found art

You just never know where art turns up. A few months ago art turned up in Neiman Marcus. Today it turned up on an Oakland sidewalk.
side A
side B

Surface design on a southern magnolia flower petal. I'm guessing. So surprised & delighted by the find, I didn't look up and around for the tree.

What made the markings? It doesn't look like tire tracks. My walking friend speculates someone purposely stamped it. Would you do that? 

Mysterious markings by a mystery artist.

I like a mystery. Let's stamp more petals. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

FMQ milestone

Out of 365 free motion filler designs, Leah Day designated 91 as beginner level. I'd made samples of most of them in 2010. Now I've made the rest. All 91 samples. A milestone! 
these complete all 91 beginner level filler designs
Don't look too closely! Admittedly some of my samples could be better. Sometimes I'd lose my concentration. When my attention wanders so does my stitching. Then all goes to heck. Once you head down that track, you just keep going. Kinda like bingeing on a guilty pleasure, eh?

On the other hand some of them look good, imho. Some movements felt more natural. These result in better stitches and smoother transitions. 

I'll keep going with beginner-intermediate level filler designs. Meanwhile I've dug into my ufo pile for something to fmq and found multiple candidates. Let's see if I can fmq an actual project. 

At the end of the month I'm taking a workshop: Quilting Queen Retreat with Jill Schumacher, an introduction to machine quilting at Always Quilting. A three-day mini-retreat. We'll start with an Ohio Star Block, so stencils, feathers and stippling, I expect. 

Every bit helps. I've committed to free motion quilting every day. This may limit work in other areas, but my goal is fmq proficiency by the end of the year. The litmus test: comfort with quilting one of my bigger tops  (not necessarily finishing, but at least starting). 
can I ever contemplate fmq'ing this?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Basted 4x

I got this pin basted successfully on the fourth try. 
successfully pin basted
The first time was a batting issue (see this post).

The second time was an un-squareness issue which had escaped notice. Couldn't let that be! The remedial reconstruction got involved and took so long, it began to feel like mending. I hate mending. 
under reconstruction
Keeping feelings in check, I trudged on. Eventually it was straight, square and flat. 

I pin basted it for the third time and basked in the glory of success. Only for a moment. Something was awry - I'd left off a strip! Would anyone know? It threw the composition off and that would've bugged me no end. The good news was the strip was at the very bottom. The bad news was I had to un-pin the whole thing because the batting would've been short. Could've been worse.
strip added  and re-pin basted
If I'd kept a neater work space (impossible!), I might've noticed the errant strip sooner. Oh well. I'm just happy it's ready for quilting.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Taking a break

Even though the weather is cool and cloudy - perfect for working in the garden - I'm taking a break from this planting madness.

Feather reed grass now line the patio and tufted hair grass keeps company with manzanita in the front yard.
feather reed grass along one side of the patio
tufted hair grass next to manzanita
Still more to plant and other madness. Next: the pineapple sage. Planted only two months ago, I must move it to complete the feather reed grass along the other side of the patio. 
pineapple sage next to stake
This root-bound maple tree might survive long enough to get in the ground. Maybe here by the front porch.
variegated Japanese maple in pot with sedge
And what to do with this camellia? I was slowly shaping it up until someone thought he'd do me a favor and hacked pruned it while I was away. It's now a dense mass because I haven't touched it since. 
10-foot camellia
I'm off to the gym. Downward dog was tough on Monday. Elliptical trainer was tough on Wednesday. Today I will be adjusting weights downward. The old body needs a break and more recovery time.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Bad at the nursery, mad in the garden

Are you as bad in the nursery as you are in the fabric shop? I am.
a week's purchases
I've 22 plants: 6 feather reed grasses, 4 blue oat grasses, 4 tufted hair grasses, 5 Japanese forest grasses, 1  Japanese blood grass (can you tell I'm partial to ornamental grasses?), 1 euphorbia, and 1 Australian astroturf (can it grow into an alien pod like these babes?).

Could've / would've been more if the nurseries had them. There is room in the garden for them all. Unlike fabric, at least I have a good idea where each one will go. 90% of them anyway. Yours truly will be working madly in the garden. 
first one planted yesterday evening: blue oat grass
three more this morning
ready for next five - feather reed grasses here

Monday, July 2, 2012

How do you do . . . ?

For another perspective on Sandy Ciolino's machine quilting workshop, see this post by Annette Guerrero. Annette was already an accomplished quilter when she took Sandy's workshop. What could be better than endorsement from another quilter?!

My apologies if you've seen the rest of this post before. Due to technical difficulties and user error, the rest of this post was temporarily un-published.

How do you do IT? Machine quilting I mean.
quilting Orange Rhyme
So many decisions. What designs/patterns/motifs to quilt? where to apply it?
Quilting to stand out or blend in? contrast or complement the quilt top?
And thread: color, solid or variegated, weight, fiber type.
Let's not even get into batting.
Use the walking foot? or are you comfortable with free-motion?
Quilt on a home machine? or on a mid or long arm? 
Do your own quilting? or have someone else do it? 

I've pinned my hopes on getting answers from Sandra Palmer Ciolino. She's teaching a one-week machine quilting workshop at the Crow Barn in October

I've already taken a basic introductory class, and a two-day workshop with Sue Nickels. I've followed Leah Day, Heather Thomas and Angela Walters online. I've stitched up many samples from The Free Motion Quilting Project
beginner designs
But I still don't get it - I have not mastered free motion quilting. Okay, admittedly I haven't practiced consistently. Yes, I know, practice, practice, practice! Two to three hours a day for beginners; more if not particularly gifted. Yep, that's me. 
the only finished project with fmq
My last quilt was intensely stitched with a walking foot.
lines up to 3/16" apart
Sure wasn't much fun getting the bulky thing to turn around under the machine arm. Free-motion would be the ticket to avoid that. Someone said, "don't let your skills limit what you can create". So my goal is to master fmq. 

A whole cloth quilt is not for me. Instead a perspective that'll work with abstract improvisational compositions. In time I may figure this out but I'm impatient. If fmq will never be my thing, then I want to find out soon. 

Sandy is a fabulous machine quilter using her domestic sewing machine. Check out her gallery of recent work on her website. I've heard much praise for her last workshop. She has quilted for Nancy Crow - that's alone is quite an endorsement. Plus she's a sweetheart to boot. 

There's room in the workshop. I'm hoping it'd be a go. Worst case scenario, it won't and might not be offered again. So won't you join me in Ohio for the workshop? Would be good for you. But really - full disclosure here - I'm asking in my own self interest.