Sunday, March 29, 2009

Threads, threads and more threads

I attended the Open Thread Bar workshop yesterday at which participants were able to use a wide variety of the Superior Threads line.

For a small fee, we were each provided with a kit that contained a size 90 top stitch needle, a pre-wound bobbin with 60wt Bottom Line, a thread net, a small pre-printed piece of Ricky Tims Stable Stuff, some handy info on needle types, uses for various thread types, a thread reference guide for home machines, as well as all of these colour charts.

We began by making sure our machines were clean and ready to stitch with the top stitch needle and pre-wound bobbin in place. Problem, my machine (Husqvarna # 1 plus) would not accept this pre-wound bobbin so okay I'll just wind the thread from it onto one of my own bobbins. I think I was the only one in the workshop who had this occur. Well at least I now know that I should give those pre-wounds a pass when I see them.

So if you read my last post or at least looked at the pictures :-) you'll see all those prepared quilt sandwiches, this is what we were to do with them. Each one would be a “page”on which we would chose a thread to stitch various straight and decorative stitches and then using a permanent marker, make notes of what stitch was used, the thread type and weight, the tension setting, needle as well as what was in the bobbin.

Then we would have these available later as a handy reference........................hmmmmmmmmm seemed like a good idea.......but wait do I ever use those decorative stitches?......... No

Don't you have to adjust your tension according to what you are working on.....fabric type, thickness, good or bad hair day etc? …......well Yes and chances are the fabric/batting/thickness/embellishment combo will be different each time so will I actually refer to these?......Nope! so I decided to just play with free motion stitching since that is really what I would be using these threads for.

I won't go into all the threads I used but I will say that I found the King Tut 40wt 3 ply cotton and the Lava 35wt lint free poly, both performed very nicely for machine quilting where you want your stitching to be seen. If you are doing a lot of background or “fill”stitching and really want to see the path rather than the thread then the Bottom Line 60wt poly is perfect (left) although if you look closely you'll see that the 90 top stitch needle leaves some pretty big holes.......not a fan of the top stitch needle..........I played with some glitters and metallics but they are really not my thing, for me, if I wanted to add just a little spark to my stitching I'd say that I quite liked the effect achieved with the Rainbow 40wt high sheen poly.

If I was to do this again I would have prepared differently.............those 8 ½ x 11 sample pieces are just too small for playing with free motion stitching so I would have made a few larger pieces. Also I would have liked to have something prepared for thread painting.

I did pick up a few tips that I may have to try such as using water soluble thread to anchor a quilt for stitching so that when you have finished your quilting a quick dunk in water will remove those anchor stitches or if you want to audition a particular thread or stitch without having to unpick what you don't like using the water soluble in the bobbin makes it easy to get rid of the unwanted stitching.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ready for workshop

This coming Saturday I will be attending a workshop called an Open Thread Bar with Anita Zobens, educator for Superior Threads. You can visit her web site here.
We are to have several "pages" made up of quilt sandwiches that are 8 1/2"x 11" each divided into darks and lights so that we will be better able to really see the stitching of each thread we will use. What a great way to see if you will really like a particular thread before laying down the big bucks. I mean you know that they can be expensive and if you just can't buy them all how do you know you are making the right choice?
We will also be doing something with these fused hearts, some invisible machine applique as well as learning some nifty techniques using fusible and water soluble threads. I just have to finish gathering the rest of the necessary supplies and I am ready to go.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Pokey and her staff ROCK!

At the beginning of the year Pokey Bolton, Editor-In-Chief of Quilting Arts Magazine, asked "What is your New Year's resolution"? Readers of the Quilting Arts Blog were invited to post a comment to be entered into the first giveaway of the year.
I am not one who normally makes resolutions but I had decided that this was the year I would get out of my comfort zone and try as many new ideas and techniques as I could and to tell myself everyday "I am an Artist" until one day I believe it...... so that is exactly what I posted.
To my delight, I was one of the 10 chosen (randomly) to receive a package of goodies from Pokey. And just look what was in today's mail! I have never done a collage but this is looking like it might be just the fabulous mix to get me started on one. These pieces, large and small, from heavy weight to sheer as can be, all appear to have been stamped, painted, printed, or discharged with some very unique results. I'll have to give this some consideration, so for now I will simply admire them while I wait for inspiration to strike.
Thank you to Pokey and her ROCK!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Creating with fabric paint.

I recently designed a new project that requires a "sky" fabric. I don't have a lot of blues in my stash and certainly nothing that could be used as a sky background. I thought about dyeing something, maybe going shopping but in the end decided to work with paint. I mixed a few Setacolour fabric paints.....blues, green, yellow and a pinky
orange, all of which I diluted quite a bit with water. I wet a piece of off white cotton, put on my rubber gloves and began pouring the paint here and there. I really just kind of squished it to get the colours fairly well blended.
Next I laid the piece out on some plastic sheeting raising some areas to create peaks and valleys. (top left) Sprinkled a generous amount of coarse salt and left it overnight to dry. The photos on the right show some close ups of the finished piece of fabric. I think this will work out just fine.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

March Postcards

Our next guild meeting is this coming Thursday evening and I thought I'd show the cards I've made for our postcard exchange.
Last October, at our guild show I had purchased a multi-needled felting tool but really have not done a whole lot with it. I decided to see what would happen if I used some ordinary craft felt that I had lying about. From bright coloured felt I cut some simple shapes to needle "felt" and as you can see they really became well meshed with the base piece. Of course I couldn't resist doing some extra stitching on top, added beads and this is the result.

Oh, but I really wanted more than one card to bring so I repeated the process with different curving shapes that could go over and under before the felting process. Now I have been learning to McTavish as of late and I just had to "mini" McTavish the background of this second card. What is McTavishing? It is a "fill" stitch that looks wonderful on everything from very traditional quilts to ultra contemporary works. I find it very addictive, I just want to McTavish everything. If you want to learn how to do this stitch, I highly recommend the book Mastering the Art of McTavishing by Karen McTavish. This book comes with a 90 minute instructional DVD that is informative and visually stimulating.

Did you notice the edges of the postcards? Do postcards always have to be a boring 4 x 6 rectangle? Are there rules to this?
*click on the picture of the second card for a close up view of the background stitches.

Friday, March 6, 2009

A day at the beach

I spent the day in Sarnia and visited my two favourite spots there, the beach and the quilt shop. I took this picture while at the lake. The ice makes some pretty interesting formations as it begins to break and is pushed to shore. Currently it is 17 degrees Celsius so I am sure all that ice won't be around too much longer.

It's still a bit too cool for spending much time at the beach so I was off to Forever Quilting where I picked up a few new pieces.
For the entire month of March, bolts that are marked with a red dot are 35% off. (and there are lots of red dots)

Here are a few I picked up, aren't those red Batiks gorgeous?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Quilting and Technology

What a great combination..................computers, digital cameras, photo editing programs, colour printers, the Internet and quilting. Is there anything we can't do armed with these tools?
First, the Internet and in particular the blogging community, so many quilters, contemporary, traditional and everything in between can be found on the net. All so generously sharing ideas, tips and techniques..................It is like a virtual guild
This past week I came across this great spot Quilters It's not just a list of blogs and their links. Here you can read a bit of each blog's latest post and with so many participating blogs it is almost constantly updating. You are sure to find more than a few new favourites.

Of course our computers come in handy for so many things but why not incorporate it into your art? I have been working on learning Photoshop Elements 7 recently. Here I used a couple of images of flowers taken in my garden last summer with my digital camera, manipulated them using the PSE 7 program, printed them onto fabric, added stitching, and paint to create a these postcards. I really just need to look at something other than what this long long winter has had to offer. Can you tell that I am so ready for spring!

I did this dragonfly postcard for a friend, just a quick thread painting for the wings and a beaded body. I was going to hand deliver (because it was actually her birthday card and I was too late getting it done to send through the mail) so I decided to make an interesting postage stamp. That is her energetic little dog Maggie
Copyright Jill Buckley