New Piece!

I finished the most recent piece I was working on; I wanted it done so I could photograph it and submit it to the member show at the Tubac Center for the Arts this December.

Last time I posted, I’d straightened up the quilted desert marigold piece. This past week, I picked up where I left off.

I used a zig-zag stitch to attach 4 strips of quilt batting to each side of the marigold center, making a large rectangle; I then put a piece of yellow fabric on the bottom for the backing, and I cut matching strips of the fabric I dyed last week on top of the strips of newly attached batting. Here you can see the quilt sandwich in process, I’ve just started laying down the pressed strips of fabric on top:

Once I attached a strip, I machine quilted it with an abstract stipple pattern; I guess this is the “quilt as you go” part of the process:

Then I cut 4 strips of green fabric from my hand dyed “stash” of fabric, the green strips bring out the green flower stems; I carefully measured and placed each strip over the areas where the raw edges of the fabric were exposed. Then, I straightened up all 4 sides:

Finally, the last step is the binding. There is apparently some sort of quilt sprite or elf at work in my studio space, because out of nowhere I found a pre-assembled binding strip, abandoned from a prior project. Finding this saved me a bit of time! I’ve always liked a black binding with faint polka-dots. I think it’s my universal binding and I tend to use that fabric often for bindings. I just had to press the binding strip I found (it was perfectly long enough) and then draw a 1/2 seam allowance line along the length of the strip to keep me on track as I sewed it down:

Here is the almost-finished piece: not the best photo, as you can’t see the entire binding, but it is straight and hangs nicely: all I have left to do is whip-stitch the binding to the back of the quilt. This was good enough to photograph and submit to the Tubac show.

I would’ve probably gotten more done this week, but Thursday night I made 15 pounds of German potato salad for a big family reunion this weekend in St. David, Arizona; my mother’s 9 siblings and some of their families are in town for a memorial service for my maternal grandmother, who died earlier this summer. Luckily I have a big enough fridge to accommodate all 15 pounds. I also roasted a turkey breast (sadly, I could only afford a commercial factory bird) and made cranberry sauce.

Now it’s time to put it all in a cooler and get ready for a long weekend with family!

Quilt-As-You-Go Part 2

Well, I finished last week’s quilt-as-you-go sample and it turned out really good. I was inspired: finally, I’ve found a solution to a problem that’s been dogging me a while. I started straightening up my quilt piece:

Here it is, nice and even:

I needed some fabric that would make a good border, so I made up a new batch of dye concentrates, I think I mix up the same 7–8 most of the time:

And out to my wet studio I go…..ha ha ha:

I sponged on layers of dye; the fabric was soaked in soda ash water first, then wrung out. The initial dye application was blurry, but as the fabric dried (remember, it’s very dry and hot here) the sponge marks became more distinct. This is what the fabric looked like mid-way through the process:

Here’s the fabric as it rests for a few hours to let the dye work it’s way into the fabric even more:

I also dyed some black and white fabric for the binding. This fabric turned out really interesting, it looks almost skeletal: this is just one piece of fabric scrunched and dyed in black dye:

I attached strips of batting to my quilted piece, then made my quilt sandwich with fabric on the back, batting, and now strips of my newly dyed fabric; here’s how it looked as I was assembling it:

And here it is now that I’ve machine quilted 3 sides of it:

One more piece to go, then I’ll attach the strips and voila, I think I’ll have found the perfect setting for my desert marigolds.

A Foray Into Quilt-As-You-Go

Above, two unfinished projects made of laminated silk fabric. Well, the one on the right I technically “finished”, I just don’t like it. Both are quilted, but neither one has a decent border; I think I didn’t know how to treat the fabric once I’d finished it, and thought perhaps it needed a setting more…exalted…than “just” a quilted border. I thought maybe a wooden frame. I believe I’ve posted about my attempts to use a miter saw to this end. Not pretty.

Now I’ve changed my mind about needing a wooden picture frame, and not just because woodworking is so bleeping difficult. I’m feeling more inclined to remain committed to fabric art….and that means all fabric. No frames. Of course, this perspective has a pragmatic component: I need a few pieces to submit to shows, and the pieces all have to be art quilts. I’d like to submit a piece for this December’s Member’s Exhibit at the lovely Tubac Center for the Arts, just 45 minutes south of Tucson. I’d also like to submit 4 pieces for consideration for a new SAQA (Studio Art Quilters Association) competition, and the deadline is November. And of course I’m working hard to get my January 8 Shooting related piece ready to submit to the Tucson quilt show in just 4 months. I’ve created 3 deadlines for myself.

I’ve been reading about quilt-as-you-go; there are many ways to construct a quilt by assembling quilted fabric piece-by-piece. Too many to mention here. I’ve just kind of put something together. I’m making a sample now to see how it looks, and if I like the result I’ll use it to fix the pieces shown above.
Here is a small 12″ x 12″ block. It’s an unfinished bit of thread-painting I did in a workshop many years ago with Libby Lehman, this is one of her patterns; here I am quilting it:

Now I have a small quilted block with no border, just a lonely block looking for a perfect setting. I cut four strips of batting, each 5 inches wide, to fit around the block, and zig-zag stitched the batting strips to the quilt block:

Here are 4 strips of lavender fabric on top of the batting; looks like a nice harmonious match:

Now I’m quilting each strip onto the batting:

Tomorrow I’ll show you the next steps I’ll take to finish my quilt-as-you-go sample, and then I’ll know if I think it’ll work as a technique for my laminated fabric pieces.

Finished Quilt Top

Here’s what I’ve got now; this is my “quilt top”. This will be roughly the finished size, which is 66″x92″ now. I’ll be adding more appliques and sheer fabric shapes. And the 6 windows. 6 is not an easy design number; 5 and 7 are so much better! But that number drives the design, for better or worse. Perhaps a bad design number will encourage me to come up with the best design possible, given the limitations. We’ll see!

Straightening Up

Today I started straightening up my art quilt-top. This is a tedious process involving ironing the piece, and then using a level and plumb line (you can see the plum on the lower left side of the photo below). Once I have a somewhat true vertical, I’ll then pin the vertical fabric on top and sew a seam, and hopefully when it comes time to straighten up the final quilted product, the vertical seam and the binding will mostly appear parallel. Wish me luck.