Day 32 — Landscape Quilt Workshop with Cathy Geier

Since I posted last, I finished assembling and quilting the graduation gift quilt. That took a lot of pressure off, though it still needs binding, one of today’s tasks.

Besides that, I had a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend with a surprise visit from my son, who lives on the west coast, and the daughter and her children who live near us. While traveling across country on Friday, Son made an unexpected stop near St. Louis. Since he was only a few hours away, he rented a car and drove up. ❤

Monday’s guild meeting checked one more item off my list, leaving more feeling of time and space for the next several days.

And yesterday, I took a workshop, getting back into the stream of trying new ways to tell stories with quilts. Our guild presenter and workshop leader was Cathy Geier, a landscape artist from Wisconsin. This link is for her gallery and this one is to her blog. The work on her gallery page shows a variety of styles and a range of complexity. In her blog she describes process in detail, as in this recent post on a complicated new project.

Her project for the workshop was much simpler, appropriate for beginners in this kind of quilting. We were to create the majority of a woodlands landscape in a whole three hours. She explained how to use her techniques and materials to arrange elements of tree trunks, background shrubbery, and leaves.

Cathy provided a fat quarter of background fabric, and six other fabrics for the remainder of the scene. She showed how to use plain ol’ acrylic white craft paint, the kind that comes in a small plastic bottle, to add “light” to one side of the pale tree trunks, and a silver metallic Sharpie to add shade and contour on the other side. The dark trees used that silver Sharpie to make pale streaks, and brown and black markers to make dark ones, to give bark texture. Shrubs and flowers are cut with “messy cutting,” a way to create unstructured, organic-looking shapes. She reminded us that the back of the fabric sometimes is the better side to use. After basic lessons on foreground/background placement for perspective, those pieces are glued to the background with glue sticks. She brought a big box of various markers she uses to add or subtract color, and a big bag of crayons for same. Leaves are added last, using a leaf print and fusible web.

I don’t have leaves fused in place yet, but you can see a few of them for the effect.

From her samples, it was easy to see that the finishing (borders, quilting,) make a big difference in the final look. In truth, this isn’t a three-hour project. But it is doable by beginners, and it was a fun lesson in this type of appliqué and design.

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Expectations and Other Stuff

Here’s the thing: I almost always expect I can do more than I can actually do. And then when I can’t get it all done, at least not in the time I think I should, I get very frustrated. And whiny, and tired and irritable. It’s not fun for me and it’s likely not much fun for Jim, and it doesn’t make anything better or get it done more quickly or easily. After I had a long grumble and whine yesterday, I decided (and already knew this) that the best solution to my problem is simply to change my expectations.

One way to help that is to take a hiatus on the 100 Day Project. While I still think about my project pretty much every day, and I spend time investigating ideas, looking at books and videos, and mulling options. But my EXPECTATION that I actively, physically work on it daily, and post about it regularly, has become a burden for now. Time to drop that expectation.

You can see where I was on day 31, some time last week. The rooster is in parts that are not fused down. Likely the background will change a bit, and his tail might change slightly, too. I have ideas for how to border and finish it. He won’t go anywhere, so for now he just needs to wait.

Expectations:
* get graduation quilt top finished, quilted, and bound before 5/24
* get Fiesta! quilted and bound for friend’s secret present before mid-June
* finish rooster, time indeterminate
* resume 100 Day Project, picking up with day 32, time indeterminate
* publish blog posts about the other four quilts I’ve already finished this year but haven’t shown you, time indeterminate
* resume work on book project, time indeterminate

While this doesn’t change what is on my list, it does moderate my expectations for when it will get done. Hopefully that will increase my enjoyment and lower my stress, letting me enjoy the chattering wren and mewing catbird outside my kitchen, as well as the other pleasures around me all the time.

 

Just Wanna Quilt

Have you heard about Just Wanna Quilt? It is a research project on quilting, with the ultimate focus on copyright and intellectual property issues of the quilting industryElizabeth Townsend Gard, the lead researcher, law professor, and a quilter herself, is going full-immersion into quilting to understand the subject better.

The long-term goal for the project, as summarized by Abby Glassenberg of While She Naps,

is to create two bodies of work about intellectual property as it relates to quilting … The first will be intended for the hobby quilter. It will include “everything you need to know about copyright and intellectual property when it comes to quilting. Just simple. So that we can get everyone on the same page on things they don’t understand.” The other will be a more in-depth work for people in the quilting industry. “Every single person in this field is using materials and you should feel confident in what you do with them so that you don’t get in trouble, or if you get in trouble you do it deliberately,” she says.

In a lot of academic research, the initial stage is a review of the existing literature. In quilting, there is very little formal (academic) research existing, outside of quilting history. Elizabeth’s project includes surveying the whole landscape to create a basis for the research product. To do so, she’s initiated a series of podcasts, interviewing dozens of participants in the quilting industry, from corporate leaders, entrepreneurs, fabric and pattern designers, and hobby quilters.

You can find those interviews here. I’ve barely scratched the surface listening to them — there are dozens, and more being added all the time. Most of them run between about 30 and 60 minutes. They’re the perfect thing to listen to while you’re working on a project. Elizabeth’s interview style is very conversational. She comes across as charming and funny, and the focus is always on the interview subject and their part of the quilting world. It’s so interesting and I’ve already learned so much.

And here is a fun thing — she’s just posted a podcast interviewing ME! Click on this link to find the recording. It’s 52 minutes, on the long side. We talk about how and why I started quilting, what medallion quilts are, how I see green quilting and our responsibility as quilters to make the Earth a better place, and more.

In truth I’m not sure how this helps the research, but I had so much fun sharing my quilting world. 🙂 Thanks in advance if you choose to listen. Either way, check out the long list of podcasts available. If you love quilting, you’re sure to find this fascinating, as I do.

Day 28 Flowers for the Fiesta

I’m having a hard time keeping up! I have about five blog posts to share with you, once I get the chance to write them. My hundred-day project has me hopping and my imagination burning brightly with ideas to try next. My granddaughter graduates from high school in a few days, and times a’wastin’ on getting her gift quilt done. There are guild duties in arrears, people to see, places to go. And it’s finally SPRING!! Nice enough to enjoy being outside a bit.

Alrighty, that little breathless whinefest done, I’ll move on to showing you my latest work on the 100 Day Project. As mentioned before, I have set aside a few weeks (100 days) to experiment with my quilting. There is one actual THING (the graduation quilt) to make in that time. But mostly, I am just trying stuff. My intention is to learn to be a better storyteller with my quilts. They, at their best, should evoke a story for the viewer, or at least for their owner. Though stories don’t have to be told with either words or pictures, there is some efficiency to that. One way to add pictures to quilts is with appliqué, so that is the method I am working on most. There are a lot of different appliqué techniques, and each one has strategies that contribute to success. Since I haven’t done a lot of appliqué, each method I try requires working through the process to learn some of those strategies.

Here is another lesson. I took a perfectly good quilt top and decided to add some decoration. A couple of weeks ago I showed you Fiesta!

I liked it. It was fun, it was easy, it was quick. But in truth, the great big green setting triangles? A little much. I wanted them broken, or something. I wanted them to not look like a baseball field. Seemed like this was a worthy subject for more experimenting.

There were two reasons I named it Fiesta! One, the bright colors are happy, like a party. Two, the colors remind me of Fiestaware dishes. Both the party and the dishes are casual, and any relief from the green had to be casual, as well. I sketched a couple of designs and decided to start with one, and maybe add the other.

While investigating methods of machine appliqué, I stumbled on a Fons & Porter video with McKenna Ryan. Ryan demonstrates how to assemble the components of a complex block. Her wall-hanging quilt uses raw-edge appliqué and has tiny details. My Fiesta! is intended as a lap quilt and needs to be washable; raw-edge appliqué isn’t appropriate, but a lot of the method worked just fine for me. Please see her video for an easy explanation of her methods.

In my own process of creating and attaching the appliqué motifs, I found these tips (learned now and in other work) helpful.
* For larger components, cut the center out of the fusible web prior to adhering it to the fabric. Leave about a quarter inch of web inside the drawn line. This will make the shape less stiff when stitched to the fabric.
* When you cut the fabric into shapes with fusible web adhered, turn the fabric rather than turning the scissors.
* If you have small pieces that are completely on top of larger pieces, like my flower centers, adhere them and stitch them to the larger piece before assembling.
* Assemble overlapped components prior to placing them on the quilt surface. You can use a Teflon pressing sheet as shown in the video, or you can use parchment paper just as well. Once the components are joined and cooled, you can peel them off your pressing sheet and move it as one unit to the fabric.
* For ease of stitching, appliqué the motif to the smallest piece of quilt top fabric you can. In other words, stitching my flower sets to my quilt top would have been far easier if I’d stitched it first to the green setting triangles, and then set the center and finished assembling the top. As it was, my quilt top is about 62″ square, and it was okay for fitting through my sewing machine arm. Any larger would have been pretty hard to work with. Smaller would have been much easier to work with!
* When stitching down the whole motif, do the elements that are underneath first, so the stitching on the upper pieces covers their starting points.
* Switch to straight stitch (from the satin stitch I used) to travel from one place to another. Then cover that straight stitch with your newly started line of satin.
* If you need to work on stitching over several sessions, make a note or take a picture of your machine settings so the stitches are consistent each time. (My machine doesn’t have a save function for that.)

I created my flower sets, and adhered them and stitched them to my quilt top one at a time, so manipulating the top wouldn’t loosen the motifs prior to being stitched down.

I tried a variety of stitches and stitch lengths, settling on a narrow satin stitch. I also tried different presser feet and various thread types. Though my 50 wt piecing thread, Superior’s So Fine, works well for weight, there is no sheen to it. A spool of something shinier in red was much prettier. The very-shiny tri-lobal Glide thread I used for one of the blue flowers was a bit hard to manage.

The addition of flowers on this quilt top helps break up the wide fields of green. On the whole, the design is not great for multiple reasons. One of those is that there are NO OTHER flowers on the quilt, so it doesn’t suit completely. However, the appliqué helps soften the sharp lines of the center, and I like it better now than I did before. It is done now. 🙂

This was a great lesson for me, both in how much I learned and in being pleased enough with the outcome.

Day 21 Rooster

Here I am three weeks into the Green Man project. When I told 7-year-old grandson Isaac that I was giving myself 100 days to work on it, he thought that was a long time. It’s funny about perception of time, though, isn’t it? The first three weeks have rushed by and I feel like I’ve hardly started.

I’m still waiting for delivery of supplies. (I would not do well in “the good old days” of waiting many months for delivery of a sewing needle, as in this post from a year ago.) In the meantime I persist with other efforts. Last week I started on a rooster project, conceived long before the Green Man was proposed.

My rooster began its life as a hen. I guess that makes it a trans-rooster. A magazine advertisement with a rough drawing of a hen was the starting point. I traced the basic shape, which was about 7″ tall. Using the old-fashioned grid system, I increased the hen’s size, at the same time elongating its neck.

Here is a photo of the rooster sketch. You can see I inserted leg extensions near the bottom of the picture. The fluffy feathery part of the rooster legs is what I call “pantaloons.” Surely there is a correct word for that. 🙂 I taped the drawing to a big window to create a light box effect. 

I do still have some fusible web but of a slightly heavier weight than preferred. After pulling out lots of “maybe” fabrics to cover the rooster, I started out appliquéing on muslin. This is what comes from inexperience.

It’s a reasonably good start, but I had no intention of finishing it on muslin. ??? Okay, moving on from there…

These pieces of fabric are not fused down yet. They’re just placed on top of the tracing paper sketch, which is stitched down to the background I’ll actually use. Again, procedurally, I have things to learn. But it’s coming.

My intention with the 100 Day Project was to spend at least 20 minutes every day on it. In truth, I manage far more than 20 minutes most days, and there have been a handful on which I probably haven’t spent that long. At this point I’m still exploring ideas and technique and materials. I watch videos and look up product specifications. I sort through my stash (again) and prep fabrics. I flip through books on appliqué and story quilts. I google photos for inspiration.

It feels very much like a lot of prep work and not much progress. A lot of thinking and not much doing. However, there is a lot I’m learning, though it isn’t very visible yet. What’s the hardest part? Maybe patience. That, also, is a good thing to practice.