Thursday, September 22, 2016

Birds quilt in progress

It is always a challenge to think up a new theme to try for my Felted Applique technique.  I have been kicking around the idea of birds since my Birds and Flowers machine applique pattern is about to run out.  There is so much more I can do with felting than machine applique to make the birds look more real with shading and hand embroidery for the details.  The trick to getting the birds to look like their real buddies out at my bird feeder is getting the beaks the right shape and with sharp points.   The dove at the bottom left still needs legs and feet, but they may go into the border.

Birds and Flowers

The crazy quilt stitching where the blocks overlap is my unique take on basic stitches like feather stitch or herringbone stitch and adding more stitches to the “arms” of the base stitch like a chain stitch, or fly, or French knot (I prefer a Colonial stitch to French knot because they don't get pulled to the wrong side of the quilt top).
Birds and Flowers

On our trip to Manchester NH for the World Quilt show in August, I was working on the 12th bird in the car.  We got out of the car for breaks and the bird went missing.  I thought maybe he fell out as I exited the car.  Once we got home I found him in between the passenger seat and the console.  The gremlins follow me around and rearrange things like The Borrowers did in the book I read as a kid.  I am so happy I didn't lose this bird, but the quilt top is square and he doesn't fit anywhere.  Now, I need to increase the number of birds to make another row.  I have time yet.  Somebody suggested that I include a hummingbird and the throated flowers they prefer.  If you have a suggestion, email me back.  All new patterns will appear on my home page of my website as they become available.

The plan is to have the finished birds quilt photographed so the cover is ready for the printer in California in early December.  We need the covers to complete the pattern by mid-January when I start teaching it in Orlando and Hampton VA and Somerset NJ at the beginning of the year.

I am working on one more project to submit to MAQ to teach on Sunday next July.   Four Cat Faces will be in the group for the pattern.  This is what I have so far:
Cat Face

You probably recognize her as Grumpy Cat of internet fame. I am struggling with striped cats, trying to get three more examples.  Although they are pretty in the photographs, they just don't work for a pattern, especially for people who possibly can't draw.  So I need to simplify the designs.  Everything is a learning experience for me.  There will be solid colored cats or maybe like a calico cat with spots of color. I have ten days until my proposals are due.  There is no guarantee that MAQ (Mid-Appalachian Quilters guild) will choose my projects.  I'll cross my fingers.

If you are interested in taking one of my classes in Hampton VA, make sure you sign up in December, because last year my two half day classes sold out very fast.  The classes aren't ready for sign ups yet, so keep checking back.  This show is probably the best and largest show on the east coast.  It is well worth making the effort to attend.  You will be inspired.  Plan on taking it in for two or three days as there is so much to see.

We had a lady at our show in Oaks PA last weekend who wanted to try my Felted Applique technique but she didn't see a theme she wanted to do.  I suggested that she choose a machine applique theme and I gave her a free conversion pattern with tips so she could learn what to do when she got home.  She chose Fancy Fowl.  I helped her choose a hand dyed background and an applique fabric, and she chose the roving colors to do one chicken.  She was thrilled to be exploring something new.  We'll meet again in Hampton.  Now this works both ways, if you like the critters and layout of one of my Felted Applique quilts, you can make it a machine applique quilt in cotton or wool fabric.

I made a terrific discovery when I quilted the Woolly Fish with WOOL batting.   I quilted it on the sewing machine because wool is too thick to hand quilt.  I only quilted on the background in spiral shapes (to indicate water and movement).  What I learned was how lofty wool batting is.  Where I didn't quilt, the appliques popped out creating a very nifty bas-relief effect.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Woolly Fish Quilt is finished!!

 Woolly Fish, the idea of it, is so crazy.  I used the drawings from my Tropical Fish pattern which I first published in 1990 as a cotton quilt.  I've been focusing on wool since 2007 when I found the felting tool.  I have been tweaking my technique ever since.  Behind each critter is a wool applique on top of a hand dyed wool background.  Then I used the felting tool with three barbed needles, to poke wool hand dyed fibers, covering up the applique so you can't see any of it.  The applique serves as a easy way to copy the shape of a design without tracing.  More and more fish appliques were arranged and poked and then the environment was incorporated into the design...a sea fan, sea weeds,  kelp, sea cucumbers that look like tubes, and corals...

The backgrounds are composed of 10" hand dyed strips, going sideways.  Some were not the right size for the width of the quilt as it was developing, so I added scraps by felting the backgrounds together and embroidering over the joints, or adding more felting representing sea weeds. Nothing was pre-planned.  The quilt had a mind of its own, and it told me what to do next.  Most of the fish have 3-D side fins. They were made by felting directly of the foam block without a background.  Just keep turning the piece of roving over and over while your poke with the felting tool. When it won't pull apart, then you can use scissors to cut it to shape.

I had the good fortune to visit the NE Aquarium just before Thanksgiving.  I took lots of photographs of the vegetation so my quilt would have more visual interest and that gave me more opportunities to embellish.  Here are some of the photos I took:

That cauliflower looking coral could have been done with beads, French knots or ruching the fabric. I didn't use this idea, but I may sometime in the future.

A cute puffer fish.

 Brain coral!

 Lots of textures and colors.

Tubes and flat corals.

A wonderful starfish sucking on the aquarium glass.

Spiral shaped coral.

Not all my blocks which I had photographed in an earlier blog entry, made it into this quilt.  My thinking was that this block's colors didn't work with the other blocks.

Here is what one block looked like then in the last few weeks I've been adding a border, and  embellishing with beads and embroidery.
This block was not working with the colors of the final quilt, but I am working on it to show that the Woolly Fish could work as a smaller wall hanging. I wanted the tubes to stand up and the feather stitching on the tubes made them stay where I wanted them.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Here is my husband,Paul's, cat Pollyester learning how to quilt.  She weighs about 7 1/2 lbs. and was actually riding around on my Woolly Fish quilt was I tried to finish. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Why was I so hesitant about getting a Smart Phone?

I am quilting the Woolly Fish quilt now, and I have given myself a deadline to finish it by Dec 15th so I can sent the photos to my niece, who creates my "artwork" that gets uploaded to the printer in California, so they can FedEx it to me in Orlando where I will be teaching a class using that new quilt pattern on January 8th.

I ran out of the invisible thread this afternoon.  Dreaded situation.  I needed it to finish the quilt for the bobbin thread.  No, I couldn't get it sent from Joann's.  No time to wait.  I called on the cell phone the two fabric stores I've been to which might carry the thread.  No dice.  Then I remembered there is a quilt shop in the area of Kutztown (the next town south of here).  I asked the smart phone for Covered Bridge, before I could say quilt shop, I was shown all the covered bridges within 10 miles.  I asked the phone again "Covered Bridge Quilt Shop in Kutztown" and she sent me to Wooden Bridge Quilt Shop"  Yeah, that's the one.  I called them (push an icon) "Do you carry invisible thread?"  "Yes we do."  "Is it in stock?" " Yes."   "I'll be right over."  (I was there once maybe 15 years ago. It isn't on Main St.)  By the time I got in the car, the google maps was directing me how to get there.  Go left on Rt. 222 for 4 miles then turn left on Topton Rd...The right, then straight, the left, then right, round the bend and it is there on the right ... 8.3 miles from home.  I was lost after Topton Rd, but the phone stuck with me and there it was, on a farm complete with cows.  I went inside and the sales girls were busy (they were Amish, they had bun covers on their hair) with other people so I wandered around.  The place is HUGE!  4000 to 5000 bolts of cotton quilt fabric and fabrics that the Amish women use to make their dresses, and dungarees and gloves and sweaters and every thread known to woman, and a huge classroom.  When one of the girls was ready, I told her I had called about the invisible thread, and she took me to it.  I bought one in clear and one in smoke so I wouldn't have to come back before the weekend.  I paid $3.79 each knowing that Joann's wanted $3.99 plus postage.  I'm a happy camper.  I told the phone to take me home, and off we went.

That phone is a better invention than sliced bread!  Kutztown is in a different county so they aren't in my phone book, if I had looked there.  But the fact that google knew to suggest the "wooden bridge" when I had said "covered bridge" is genius.  We just got the phone in July because our GPS device broke and we were using the old one that took us to the show in Essex Junction, by taking us up the NY State side and then told us to "take the ferry" across Lake Champlain, to get to Vermont.  No, we don't do ferries.   At that moment we knew the GPS (both of them) needed to  be replaced with something more modern.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

New theme for felted applique: Woolly Fish

Fish felted from wool fibers is bizarre, don't you think?  Recently I've been working on fish appliques with my hand dyed wool fabric.  Four wool fabrics have been felted together using my felting machine which saves time, instead of felting them by hand. They could be sewn together too.There is a separate strip of three fish at the bottom.

Two black fish are ready to be felted.  Right below them is a yellow fish still in progress.  The fins on the fishes sides are 3-D.  By shading the wool fibers from lighter bellies to darker on the top side, the fish look more realistic.

You can see in the close up that the edges of this fish still show a little the black fabric I used for the applique, and under the gill area.  I am having so much fun with the embroidered details.  The coral in the upper corner are felted down using the felting machine.  They are scraps of hand dyed wool.  I haven't 
embroidered them yet.

Here is another block that may become part of the group above, or it may be a little quilt as it is.  The orange seaweed is wool yarn that I've couched with different shades of pearl cotton thread.  The star fish has beads radiating from the center.  I see the blue parrotfish needs to get an embroidered gill.  The fishes eyes are beads.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Woolly Alphabet pattern is now ready for sale.  It took us a long time to figure out how we wanted to include six printed color pages in the pattern.  The color cover was a given but the keep costs down, we assembled five color pages so there are detail photos of ALL the blocks, rather than making a little bit of color on many pages.

We dithered on making posters of our felted applique patterns and decided to make a poster of the New Flock of Sheep in 18"x24" and we will be printing our Noah's Ark machine appliqued quilt on the other side.  The paper will be 100 lb coated stock and there will be no ink bleeding through as we have used this paper for our paper pattern covers which are now sporting double sided printing as we publish new patterns and reprinting the older ones that we have reprinted.  The second side is a detail shot of part of the quilt on the cover, or many detail photos showing the technique used.

So now the quest is to update my whole web site indicating which patterns have the back of the covers showing the detail photos.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Show Schedule for 2015

I updated the Show Schedule for 2015.  As we are getting older, Paul and I are flying less and driving to shows closer to our home which is in PA.  (Believe it or not, not wanting to fly has to do with the disruption of our body cIocks: if we have to get up at 2 or 3AM to catch a flight at 6AM to someplace out west, losing 3 hours of time change...we never seem to catch up to local time and it is time to come home. Then it takes three days to get back to normal.)   I have indicated which shows have invited me to teach.  You can click on those shows’ web sites to see which Felted Applique class I will be offering.  We still have a few shows that haven’t gotten back to us yet, so we may be adding a few more.