Saturday, February 28, 2009

Escape Hatch Finish
I had a request from a reader asking for the information that was in the Quilter's Newsletter Magazine article that featured the Escape Hatch Finish.
So I scanned the two pages and here it is for her and the record. Now I can refer to this in my classes and have it visible for all to see, whether here or yonder in some foreign place where the magazine is not available, like in a cluttered studio.

If you click on the pictures they will appear larger and then an icon will appear (wait a second) in the lower right hand corner. Click on that and all will become clear to you.
This is a pretty accurate description of the Escape Hatch finish. Except that they sorta changed my words a bit on the last step of the process.The way it appears in the magazine:
5. Turn the layers right sides out through the slit. Remove the paper from the strip of fusible web and then press the backing to the batting to fuse the opening closed. Press the quilt top thoroughly.
It should read:
Turn the layers right sides out through the slit. Press the quilt top thoroughly making certain to roll the edges of the front toward the back so that the backing fabric is not visible on the front. Remove the paper from the strip of fusible web and then press the backing to the batting to fuse the opening closed.
I did insist on this cautionary statement:
My quilt tops are made by fusing fabrics together. The technique presented here works well for my work, but I have not tried this finishing method with a pieced top.
Hopefully this will forestall any hate mail.

Look what I got in the mail yesterday. All the dyes I have listed in The Lazy Dyer. They were a gift from a lovely reader who bought them and never got a Roundtoit. I am the lucky recipient.

This is going to mean a big experiment.

Since I am planning on teaching dyeing at the Stone Light Shop I went out there and got three yards each of their PFD fabrics, and three gallons of their water.

Yes. I went to get their water.

Water makes all the difference and I want to know what their water does with these dyes. If it is too hard I will have to buy some special chemicals to alter the ph. Not just Calgon as I learned recently.

And I also picked up the rest of the stuff I will need to dye some fabric today.

All of this will be dedicated to dyeing only, nothing from my kitchen utensils. I will use the water from the shop for soaking solution, and mixing the dyes. I'll post the results.

Four different fabrics, J.Thompson bleached and unbleached (never tried this fabric before) Kona, Nature's Dyeable...none of these are mercerized which I know really makes a huge difference...but still...We'll see how these all look. I will do it scientifically, she said.

And then I got these from Tommy for updating her blog. I am still dinkin' with it, but it looks more like Tommy these days. Thanks Tommy!

Friday, February 27, 2009


It may be still be February where you are, but here at the Mexican Chalet, it is Gardentime!

OK these are forced daffodils, but the ones in my garden are about to open. I would show you, but it is raining cats and dogs which is a good thing since I spent my energies outdoors yesterday and rain equals enforced rest.

Garden Report:

The peonies I planted last year are surfacing with red leaf buds. A few have not made it and I will have to augment them with live plants in a few months, so as not to have holes in the peony wall.

In the fall I bought a big pot of hydrangea and I checked to see if it made it through the winter. Huge green buds at the base of the wood. Woowoo! This will be the biggest hydrangea in our yard...wherever I can find a good spot to put it.

The Clematis all have tiny leaves already, or leaf buds if I have previously removed old wood.

The thyme is green.

Iris and Daylilies are up and green and many more than last year.

Tulips are visible, one inch or more.

Dave spent hours picking up dead branches and twigs, which is a job that never ends. During the winter about four trees came down and they will have to be sawed into moveable chunks. One just missed our above ground water pump. One must be vigilant with these trees, or disaster could occur.

I cut back some liriope and uncovered space for new shoots. The old blades went onto my Lasagna Gardening spot. I added straw, leaves and soil from old planters and it is getting lots of rain now. I plan on making it grow something this year.

So for today I will rest the muscles and reevaluate my plan to make a quilt a day...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

My Excellent Adventure!

I had such a wonderful time yesterday's lunch that I came home feeling like I made a real friend. Kathy met me at Panera, we gabbed and ate and laughed and got to know each other. She was so generous and suggested she could show some places I would love. I had my laptop (it IS Panera after all) and we looked up this new yarn shop I have been trying to find.

Michelle's New and Old Time Knitting. I am not buying any new yarn, I swore. And then succumbed. This is superwash wool Happy Feet at $6 a skein. Just like Koigu only half the price. How could I resist? I have already done the ribbing and will get to the heel today.

Then we went to the Riverpark bike trail!!! It goes from Hixson along the Tennessee River all the way to Chattanooga. Gosh, it was beautiful, even before things come into bloom. To think we almost sold our bikes because we couldn't find a flat place to ride. A safe flat place, I mean. And of course a place like this is perfect for rollerblading, if my knee ever recovers. I am soooo ready to get out there and ride. Woowoo!

Then she took me to Perimeter Fabrics, an interior design fabric place. Beautiful fabrics for my decorating urges. Now I can get the right stuff. And it is so close to the Rumdum and the used book store, which makes it one stop shopping. Again Woowoo! Also right next door, is the Pool Place where I can get soda ash for dyeing. Amazing.

But wait, there's more!

Kathy took me home to see her gorgeous drop dead studio ( not to mention her drop dead gorgeous house!!) This was just fabulous.

Click to see her huge closet. I am so at home here.

After all that wonderfulness, she returned me to my car at Panera and I stopped for a minute at Hobby Lobby and got some new embroidery threads.

What a great day for me...And today the sun will come out and I may just sit on the porch and knit. Sigh. I am truly lucky.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I have a date
Today I am going to have a lunch date at Panera with a gal from my knitting group. Her name is Kathy and she invited me! Am I excited? YOU BET!
I am excited because this is just why I joined these groups, to meet people of like minds. She is also a quilter, retired, and a former Northerner. There seems to be a lot of us refugees from the ice and snow living down here.
I am not going to do anything about the deer. This is the only time they have actually come into the garden and I caught them before much damage was done. The hosta are safe, since they haven't even emerged yet. I can't say the same for my heuchera. O well. It's the voles that are the real destroyers. Grrr.
A reader asked how I price my quilts: A daily quilt is $250 and it takes all day. That is why I call it a daily quilt. If it takes two days, then it is $500, etc. Larger pieces, which really I don't make much anymore, take longer and cost more.
Another reader asked if I would consider doing a book of my quilts. I usually brush this kind of thing off, but now there are lots of ways a person can do a picture book, inexpensively and not have a garage full of copies with no buyers. Let's just say I am considering it.
I need to have a purpose, and making quilts specifically for a book does sound like a purpose, a little bit anyway. O I know I could just use what I have already made, but then those have already been seen, or sold and so there would be no surprises or unveilings or a need to make new work. I would want a cohesive theme of some kind, series be the thrust of the book. So what is that? Who knows. But I will be thinking about this for a while... And this will be a picture book, not an instruction book. Instruction books abound. Here's the gist. Fuse, cut, press.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Spring Cycle

Spring Cycle
Hand dyed cottons and silk, fused, machine quilted.


Aren't we all just a little bit tired of winter, and ready for the leaves and blossoms to pop?
A note on technique: To make these curved branches, I don't use fused bias fabric. I use straight of grain fused fabrics, cutting strips from selvedge to selvedge. First, the whole piece of fabric (usually 1/2 yards) are fused, the paper is peeled off, and then I cut the strips. I fuse them on with an iron on a stick and curve and press. Works great.

Monday, February 23, 2009

No Fear Deer

Five eating machines have invaded my shade garden. Grrrr. There go my hosta and heuchera which cost real money. Double grrr.

I went out on the porch to shoo them away, but they wanted to make sure I meant it.
Waiting until I went back into the house. I outlasted them and they finally left. There is a great field across the road where they can eat to satisfaction, but nooooo. They gotta have Mel's gourmet garden. Grrr.
Posted by Picasa
I might need a nap today
I stayed up to watch the Oscars, which were nice and woke up later than usual. I am working on a two-day quilt which is half finished and will be completed today...unless I have a long long nap.
The gowns were lovely and I was happy to see that there weren't as many men with unshaven faces as usual. I surely hope that fashion has ended.
Sophia Loren's push-up bra...OMG. What was she thinking?
Hugh Jackman looked great in a tux.
Philip Seymour Hoffman wearing a knit cap? Not good.
Comic highlights? Steve Martin and Tina Fey "Don't fall in love with me"
Short film of Pineapple Express Stars Seth Rogen and James Franco watching clips of the nominated films. I hope that appears on Youtube soon.
That's all I got.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hand dyed and commercial cottons, fused, machine quilted and hand stitched.

I am dying to get my hands in the dirt, even if our dirt is mostly red clay, very close to the colors of this quilt. Not the green part.
I am using a thicker thread to quilt this piece. Size 12 Sulky cottons. Supple, shiny and heavier than most. I even used it doubled to embroidered the light green square above.
See all three of the newest pieces here.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

It's A New Day

It's a New Day
Hand dyed cottons and commercial cottons, fused, machine and hand embroidered.

Here's a tiny hint of my new life in this piece. The dot that is split in half is my transitional self moving into the golden years. Ha!
As if I could have planned that...but it is serendipity to have seen it here as I was posting.
Nothing like a new work to drag me kicking and screaming into a better mental place.

So there we are. I am back at work, and loving the new studio. I finally found a spot here where I could get non-staticky reception on my fm-stereo. So important. And I see that my next big project is finding an electrician who will come out to the boonies and get rid of my stinkin' wall sconces and install ceiling lights, perhaps track lighting and some artful ceiling fans. These Victorian puppies have got to go.
Anonymous asked about fusing silk:
I saw the quilt you posted a few days ago - the silk one. I was wondering how you stabilize or control that slippery silk when you are working with it? Does the fusible offer enough support to make it somewhat controllable?
When I use silk I fuse it first and then assemble the composition. When the top is completed I fuse the whole thing to batting. The batting stabilizes it perfectly. And I use silks that already have some heft to them. Nothing like China Silk which is too thin and would show the fusible on the front. I use shantung, dupionni and charmeuse.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Functional Not Fancy

I have again, for the zillionth time, rearranged the studio and this time I think I've got it right.
As you enter the first thing you see is the worktable.
I've moved The Rack to the right of the entrance, across from my worktable and next to the fireplace. It's a short wall and that just about fills that space perfectly. Fused fabric rolls hang neatly at the side of The Rack.
To the left of the entrance I have supplies and a second table on bedrisers, making it working height. Adjacent is the armoire where all the rest of the stuff is stored. Fused scraps are sorted by color and ready to use in something new.

I decided to bring the office into the studio and out of my bedroom. The surfaces will also work for sewing, serging and paying bills, ugh.

Then in front of the sliders I have a nice seating area. We'll watch the sunset from here since it faces west. And once the flowers appear I will also have a good vantage point.
So in essence, I have filled the room. Before when I first moved into this space I had some crazy idea that I should only use half of the room and reserve the rest for some overnight guests. We can still do that, with 10 minutes of warning.
But it was more than that.
I am a bit nutty.
No, I mean I am nuts.
Because for so many years I focused on quilting as my career and I have worn a groove in my brain so that whatever I think about making in this studio I slide back into that well worn groove which is all about business. You know how it is when you back out of your driveway and veer into the grass? And after that you continue to back up into that same wrong groove? Well that is what is wrong with my thinking.
If I am retired then what do I need a big studio for?
Don't answer that. That is just the nutso part of my brain asking.
So when I go into this nice studio I ask myself what am I going to make? And why am I making it? It's not like I don't have enough quilts or paintings or whatever...So that's my dilemma.
And yet I know if I am to hold onto any scrap of my sanity I must continue to create.
And stop all this furniture arranging.
Spinning my wheels
I wanna be gardening, or painting, or quilting, but I am not doing anything.
I spent the day reknitting the neckline of my old cardigan and making another slipper and redoing my pal Tommy's blog. Can't figure out what is the matter.
I need a schedule.
Perhaps a personal challenge.
A quilt a day?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

80% of success is just showing up.
Woody Allen
I watched this video on my friend Martha Marshall's blog and had to share it with you. I guarantee it will uncramp your creativity. 19 minutes long, so pick a time when you can quietly pay attention.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tutorial: 8 Half Square Triangles From One Square

1. Cut two fabrics exactly the same sized square. 2. Fold in half and finger press. Open and fold in half the other way, finger press.

3. See the quadrant folds? 4. I used a Sharpie marker to make diagonals and then realized I was doing this wrong. The dotted lines are wrong. The solid lines are correct. Confused? Sorry.

5. I am using a 1/4" foot and lining it up along the drawn line and sewing 1/4" away from it.
6. The stitched line is on the outside of the drawn line.

7. A second line of stitching inside the drawn line also 1/4" .

8. Cut the triangles away between the stitch lines and then cut the remaining square diagonally twice, resulting in 8 half square triangles.

Ta Da! OK they really are all the same size. It's just my usual lousy foto.
To answer the question of how big to make the original square...I first tried out this idea on paper, folding and figuring out sorta where to stitch. Obviously now I realize the folding step is unnecessary. But if you work with a sheet of paper you can measure the quadrants and seam allowance and see what size the HST will be and go from there. I can honestly tell you that my only interest was in figuring out the puzzle. I will probably never use this in a quilt.
Years ago I sat in on a Mary Ellen Hopkins lecture and she said to always begin with the smallest element in the design and build on it from there. I have found this to be fabulous advice. So if your HST measures 1.5" and you double or triple or quadruple that measurement, you know what size the rest of your blocks need to be.
It's all just too much measuring for my taste.
The Choo Choo Quilters

I joined my first real Tennessee quilt guild last night, the Choo Choo quilters of Hixson. The lady who made the quilt is Veronica Hofman-Ortega, one of the owners of the Stone Light Studio and also president emeritus of this guild (for the evening, as the other Pres, was unavailable). Veronica is an EXCELLENT quilt artist and she invited me to come to the meeting last night.
A closeup of her wonderful quilt. She and I have the same sewing machine, but it really does matter who is sitting at it. She knows her stuff. Imagine my relief!
There were 14 of us at the meeting, including me, and it was just great. We began nice and early, 6:30 Eastern which makes it only 5:30 for me. I live in Central time. The meeting is right across the street from the new Publix grocery store and of course I had to stop in and get a few items.

Are these tiny enough triangles? The gal who's name I already forgot (shame on me!) told us about sewing them as a four inch square, diagonally several times and then cutting them between the stitching and voila! 8 teeny half square triangles are the result. I must try this.
The group has a neat idea for programs. Teams of 3-4 are responsible for a demo or program for one or two meetings for the year. Since I was the new kid I needed to be assigned to a team and would you believe...they fought over me! I was absolutely giddy. Isn't that the most wonderful feeling? Yes. It sure beats being the last one called to play dodge ball.
Anyway, I was my usual show-off, Ms. Know-it-all self, announcing my name and following it with the automatic revelation of being a member of the Chicago School of Fusing. It was like the button was pressed and out came the whole spiel. I even sang 'I'm proud to be fuser from Chicago' Here are the lyrics:
I'm proud to be a fuser from Chicago
The school that makes it cool to cut and fuse
I travel with my iron across the country
and teach techniques that you can really use
I spread the word that you can be a fuser
It's good to leave your edges clean and free
When you become a Wonder-Under user
Your art has endless possibilities.
I really enjoyed being me last night. Incorrigible.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Fast Fuse Shapes from Artfabrik!

Laura Wasilowski over at Artfabrik has these great new dots for fusing onto your quilts. Pre-fused, and pre-cut from her hand dyed fabrics and just so wonderful!
I am often asked how I cut my dots (must have dots) and my weak reply is 'With scissors'. Now you can have perfect dots ready to go every time. What will they think of next?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Dusk Til Dawn

Dusk Til Dawn
Hand Dyed and commericial silks, fused, machine quilted
21x29" $500

Three kinds of silk are used in this piece, charmeuse, shantung and dupionni.

I admit that I made this top a couple of years ago, maybe even three, but I had it rolled up with my large teflon sheet and just found it when I unrolled it. Hmm I said to myself. Why not finish this puppy today?
I kinda gave up all this fancy quilting, but silk is so seductive and reflective that I fell under its spell. It felt good to be sitting at the machine with so many luscious colors under the needle.