The road ends, but the journey continues...

Tag: fiber art (Page 1 of 4)

Working with Metallic Threads 2

As promised, what follows is part two in this set of blog posts featuring info I found on machine stitching with specialty threads as applied during the creation of “Bright Delight”.

Now that we’re armed with the knowledge of the characteristics of specialty threads and have rule #1* firmly in mind, we’re ready to get on with the business of sewing with metallics.


Regardless of how the specialty thread is wound on the spool (cross wound or stacked), both types feed best from the vertical spindle**.

Modifying the thread path from spindle to the first thread guide of the sewing machine is a key factor in controlling the natural curl of specialty threads.

Instead of purchasing a specialty thread stand attachment for my Bernina***, this is what I came up with after much consideration, research and trial & error. It works beautifully and didn’t cost me a cent.

With the specialty thread now safely and gently guided through the machine, here are a few more tips, tools and settings to further facilitate successful stitching:

  1. Reduce upper thread tension (lower number) and increase stitch length – sew on sample fabric and adjust as needed. (suggested settings – #2 tension and #3 stitch length)
  2. Suggested foot – wide toed embroidery foot as it will accommodate both straight and decorative stitches. (#20 Bernina foot)
  3. Use only a Metallic or Topstitch needle as both have larger eyes and accommodate the special needs of these threads. (I prefer a Schmetz 90/14 Metallic needle as it has a polished eye which prevents snags specific to metallic thread)
  4. Use a fine, light weight ‘bobbin’ thread or plain, smooth polyester thread (not cotton!), or even a metallic thread in the bobbin. (I used the ‘bad’ skinny spool metallic thread as mentioned in part 1 in the bobbin which added an extra sparkle to the back of the quilt)
  5. Practice settings on sample fabric, adjust as needed and Sew Slow! (I used the ‘half-speed’ setting for starters to get the hand of it)

Now, go forth and work with those metallic threads!


(for general reference: here and here)

*Rule #1 is to Sew Slow.

**Yes, this goes against the norm of pairing cross wound spools with the horizontal spindle and stacked spools with the vertical spindle.

*** While there are a variety of specialty thread stand attachments available for most sewing machines, I opted to forgo the investment of one for the time being. 

Working with Metallic Threads 1

As promised, what follows in this new set of blog posts is an accounting of info I found on machine stitching with specialty threads as applied during the creation of “Bright Delight” – with a few extra tidbits thrown in for good measure.

Interested? Read on!


Who hasn’t been tempted to buy a spool or two of those lovely specialty threads?

Such eye popping glittery glam about the size of a lipstick bursting with promises of inspirational fantasies yet to be created:

Metallics cry out to be used!

If the price is right – say, a 2 for 1 sale – they fairly leap their way into a quilter’s shopping basket ready and willing to be experimented with once brought back to one’s sewing space.

And then again, who hasn’t been foiled* by those very same enticing spools?

Machine stitching with these beauties ain’t easy, but they can be tamed for use by everyday quilters like you and like me with a few tricks and tweeks.

It all starts with an understanding of the basic properties of these specialty threads and then progresses towards mastery of their usage.

Let’s begin.

*yep, pun intended!


All threads consist of fiber strands wrapped around a central core. In specialty threads, the core determines the stretchiness of the overall thread itself.

  • Rayon core metallics – no stretch
  • Polyester or nylon core metallics – various levels of stretchiness

In general, metallics are made by wrapping slivers of metal foil or tinsel around one of those core types. As a final product, metallics aren’t very strong and break easily.

red rotary landline phone with cord
curly cord on a red phone like we had in the rec room during my teenage years!

In addition, metallics have a greater propensity towards curling, twisting and tangling than other threads. The basic drape of a thread as it comes off the spool can range from straight, slighty wavy, tangled, or curly like an old-fashioned landline telephone cord! Different manufacturing methods, brands and quality of workmanship all contribute to these variances in threads – affecting specialty and metallics to a significant degree.

Interestingly, the diameter of the spool on which the specialty thread is wound is the most determining factor in the amount of ‘thread memory’ affecting ease of use. ‘Thread memory’ refers to the thread’s permanent wave that tends towards twisting when coming off a spool.

Because metallics ‘keep their coil’ they sew better from a larger spool than from the more tightly wound skinny spools commonly sold in retail stores. And yes, the photo at the head of this post is of several skinny spools of metallic threads I do indeed possess! However, I used an ‘old’ spool of copper metallic thread from my thread stash on my Bright Delight African wall-hanging here recently. Of unknown origin & brand, it also happened to be wound on a larger diameter spool…here’s to the wisdom of the 1990s!

Now quilters, as thrifty, recycling types, I know you are wondering what to do with all those ‘bad’ skinny spools of metallic threads. Seems counter intuitive, but they can be used in the bobbin! ‘Bad’ metallics work well in that application since tension and twisting are not an issue in the bobbin. Furthermore, they can be used with most any type of upper thread.

Of course, rule #1 on sewing with these threads – whether in the bobbin or as an upper thread – is to Sew Slow.

In any case, a special machine set-up for sewing with metallics and specialty threads is essential for successful stitching and will be discussed in greater detail in my next installment: Working with Metallic Threads 2.

(For a nice recap overview of metallic thread characteristics go here)

ToDoTuesdayNine

Bright Delight is a Grand Slam Finish!

Bright Delight finish #1
Bright Delight 2020 LBL (27.5 in x 35.5 in)

First introduced as Michelle’s African Fabric wall hanging, this project has been a ToDo since ToDoTuesdaySix where I detail the story & history of the fabric along with a few of my initial stabs at working on it. Then came a short progress update on ToDoTuesdaySeven. By then I had chosen the block pattern, sewn the complete quilt top, put together quilt sandwich samples to test deco threads and ultimately chose the copper metallic & variegated green rayon threads for use in the next stage of the project.

I then rolled it all up and set it aside.

After several weeks of leaving it be, I began again in earnest layering and readying it for machine blanket stitching around the design blocks.

Early on I decided to use a double batt – with a low loft poly batt to add some subtle puffiness to the top when machine stitched and an 80/20 batt against the backing fabric for ease of machine stitching while also giving the finished piece a nicer drape against the wall.

Bright Delight machine blanket stitching with copper metallic thread
Spray & hand basted design block machine blanket stitched with copper metallic thread

After spray basting the two batting layers together, I then treated them as a single layer of batting. I continued spray basting the top, batting and backing into a completed quilt sandwich. In addition, I hand basted around each block to give them extra security.

Starting from the center and continuing outwards, each design block in the middle vertical column was machine blanket stitched using the copper metallic thread. The rest of the blocks were machine blanket stitched with the variegated green rayon thread.

Once the deco stitching was finished,* I squared up the quilt and prepped it for the next stage of completion. Using the walking foot, I basted 1/8th of an inch from the edge of the piece attaching the hanging pockets, label and special Cote d’Ivoire selvage tab.

Next steps? Constructed the binding and sewed it onto the front of the piece taking care to miter those corners! Folded over the binding to the back, clamped it in place and took my time hand stitching the final folds to completion.

Now 100% completed and on its way via the USPS to middle daughter Michelle and son-in-law David:

Bright Delight is a Grand Slam Finish!


*I will discuss the details involved with working with metallic and specialty threads in another post, as it required a whole different set of tools and techniques to pull off a consistent finish. Also will detail specifics on constructing hanging pockets, achieving perfect miters & easy binding joins, and a few backstories to keep it all from getting too dry a read! For those of you interested in greater depth on these parts of the process, I look forward to sharing my newfound insights & tips with you at that time.


’Home

Thank-you Roseanne for offering this opportunity to share my finish.

Pandemic Potpourri #4

As mentioned before: herein I will blog, and commenters can comment, without feeling guilty about seeming to disregard the seriousness of our present COVID-19 Reality. In other words, this space is reserved for escaping/managing Reality – however that translates. Anything goes, so here goes!


From bloggers I follow:

laura c's purple orange lily

Laura C’s Purple-Orange Lily.

Nature’s melding of my all-time favorite purple color with an injection of an emerging orange-craziness!

Roseanne's tote bag using my African Fabric scrap block

Roseanne’s finished tote bag.

She did a great job incorporating the scrap block I sent her just for fun & friendship into something functional!


From the kitchen:


And then there’s always ice cream – what’s your favorite?

tillamook ice cream

Tillamook Coffee Almond Fudge ice cream.

A huge splurge but really needing a treat in this heat!


He will be the sure foundation for your times.

Isaiah 33:6a


ToDoTuesdayEight

ToDo for the weeks following March 24th:

  • Work on those darn face masks done
  • Finish Final edit of Michelle’s PhD thesis done
  • Work on Final score edits for Goat Suite (Saga) in progress
  • Sew up scraps have on hand neutral jellyroll fabric experiment ones done
  • Figure out what to do with various scrap ‘blocks’ medium one done
  • Continue to help Flatten the Curve in progress

~~~

stay home save livesI’ll start with the most important of these ToDos, albeit the hardest – Continue to help Flatten the Curve

It seems our diligent work in adhering to this small effort is reaping a discernible curve-flattening reward. Let’s not quit yet, let’s build upon this hard-won glimmer of hope and continue to soldier on in the best way we can: Stay Home. Save Lives.

~~~

homemade face masks COVID-19

No, these are not bikinis!


As for those darn masks. I finally got our three each for both hubby and myself done and done. I admit to not rising to the task of stitching up piles of homemade masks for those on the front lines…I just didn’t have it in me. I admit it. Slacker. Yes, you can hurtle that shaming label at me – but I applaud those who took to their sewing machines cleaning out fabric scrap piles in the name of solidarity for health care workers, family and friends. My own daughter who is in the throes of finalizing her PhD thesis and prepping for its defense made a total of 15 in addition to those she sewed up for herself, hubby and a few friends. I am so impressed. Heck, I’m proud! The darn things really aren’t all that easy to whip up even for experienced sewers – and they’re just too fiddly frustrating for me to do beyond the obligatory need-to-provide for us ones.
Do I feel better for this confession, maybe, but mostly I might have helped someone else out there with ‘experience in sewing’ who felt the same way.
Speaking of middle daughter, Michelle. She’s set to present and defend her PhD thesis this coming Monday. It’s been a long time coming and I’m honored to have been asked to assist her by editing various incarnations of that manuscript over these past few years…more boasting on her in another post!
Floating block experiment - upper lefthand corner, surrounded by pieced scraps

Floating block experiment – upper lefthand corner, surrounded by pieced scraps & circle cut from medium block I didn’t like


About a year ago I tried my hand at ‘floating’ a block using only selected fabrics from a purchased jellyroll fabric pack. The result of that is the large block in the upper lefthand corner of the photo at left. I plan to do some free motion machine quilting in the off-white Kona cloth negative space once I feel confident enough to do so. In the meantime, I pieced together the scraps as shown alongside the large block. I had a medium sized block that I didn’t like so decided to cut it up into a circle (shown). It will form the basis of a 3D fiber experiment that is rolling around in my mind.
Original medium size block I didn't like

Original medium block I didn’t like

That’s it for now. Thanks to Roseanne for sponsoring this linky party.

’Home

ToDoTuesdaySeven

ToDo for the weeks following February 25th:

  • Sew up scraps have on hand African Fabric ones done
  • Decide thread/quilting for Michelle’s African Fabric wall-handing done
  • Work on Final Scores for Goat Suite (Saga) in progress
  • Help Flatten the Curve in progress

~~~

I’ll start with the most important of these ToDos – Help Flatten the Curve

stay home save livesSupport our Health Care Professionals.
This admittedly hard ToDo is one small effort that makes a huge difference.

It’s heartening to know hunkering down in my tiny home helps in the Grand Scheme of minimizing the spread of COVID-19 – as well as results in rewarding project progress.*

Sample African Fabric quilt sandwich

Sample quilt sandwich ready for experimentation!


Since my last ToDoTuesday, I squared up the scrappy blocks (before photo here) I stitched together from the bits of Michelle’s lime green African Fabric wall hanging. I made one up as a sample quilt sandwich for use in exploring different threads & quilting techniques on the wall hanging and another to share with a friend.
Roseanne's scrap quilt block

A scrappy surprise for my friend (you know who you are!)


Interesting to note that the gold metallic thread shown above and a variegated lime/gold/red metallic thread (not shown) both blended too well into the piece resulting in a blah and dull machine blanket stitch finish around the actual African Fabric blocks. Desiring to use something from my thread basket stash, my eye gravitated towards a spool of copper metallic (not shown) and voilà! Perfetto! (Yep, intentional use of two different language exclamatory words)
As stated before – My creativity trinity is as follows: fiber artMUSICwriting. Each is intertwined with the other, offering needful respites between projects which in turn aid in the completion of various Works-In-Progress as new perspectives appear from such respites. Ultimately, it’s all about the music but tracking fiber art Works-In-Progress is lots easier to communicate in such a setting as this – hence the linky-party connection with my friend, Roseanne.
’HomeThat said, I’ve re-started in earnest the Final Edit process of my Goat Suite (Saga) scores. The first movement is completed in two forms: one for insertion into the total three movement GSS score and the other as an individual first movement score with extracted parts.

~~

ToDo for the weeks following March 24th:

  • Sew up scraps have on hand
  • Work on Michelle’s African Fabric wall-hanging
  • Work on Final scores for Goat Suite (Saga)
  • Other

*While social distancing, sheltering in place, and lock-down mode are difficult in and of themselves, please know I fully understand I’m far removed from the huge demands many of you are facing right now, such as parenting children in such an environment (much less ‘expecting’ for that matter and the anxiety associated with the logistics of labor & delivery in these times), or care giving elderly relatives or end-of-life issues or fill-in-the-blank life challenges…I wish I could offer you practical respite. Meanwhile, I pray for mercy & grace to be upon us all.

ToDoTuesdaySix

It’s been 19 weeks since my last ToDoTuesday post*.
Here’s my first in 2020!
~~~
On-going goals since October 15th, 2019:

  • Work on Michelle’s lime green African Fabric wall hanging in progress
  • Sew up scraps have on hand in progress
  • Practice free motion quilting in progress
    ~~~

How to use my growing stash of glorious authentic African fabrics without compromising the scale of design? That question is always the number one concern whenever I pull out those lengths of fabrics for consideration of use in a ‘special’ quilt project. Stumped for a satisfactory solution, I usually end up draping them over armchairs, the couch and the living room floor admiring their textures, rich colorations, and design elements. Soaking in their exotic vibes, breathing in their subtle, yet specific cloth scents – all feeding my imagination, yet still coming up short on a way through my dilemma.
And then, Along Comes Mary**from Zippy Quilts! A few months ago, she posted a quilt design that seemed to answer that question. For one set of fabrics at least.

Woodin Fabric selvages

Cote d’Ivoire/Woodin fabric selvages


The latest yardage given to me by our middle daughter acquired during her last PhD trip to Cote d’Ivoire included a deliciously vibrant patterned Woodin material paired with a complimentary solid lime green waxy-shiny chintz fabric. The solid fabric is not African, but commonly added as a free component in the sale. Interestingly, this is because all dresses are sewn with linings. Michelle told the vendor she wasn’t going to have the material made into a dress, but he insisted it was part of the deal, regardless.
Floating Block Lattice wall hanging top

Floating Block Lattice wall-hanging top


Using the two together, this is the completed wall-hanging top. At this stage I can safely roll it up and pack it away to be finished at a later date. Meanwhile, I have a roadmap figured out for the next steps needed to finish this project:

  • I’ll be using the 80/20 batting to help stabilize the two fabrics under the needle when I do the machine quilting (the lime green chintz is thinner than the more densely woven African fabric)
  • Quilting pattern inspired by the gold streaks in the African fabric – as an all over design on lime green fabric with lime green thread and gold metallic thread as accents on some of the gold streaks on the African fabric
  • Binding is still up for grabs as is an actual backing fabric

 

African fabric scraps

Scrappy sewing is my favorite type of piecing!


As most of you know, I am a scrap-lover and enjoy sewing up the bits & odd shapes leftover from on-going projects on a regular basis. Heck, I even pull out old scraps from my scrap stash to fiddle with as a tension reliever! In this instance, I decided to use only the scraps generated from these two fabrics in the construction of the wall-hanging top.
I think they look quite artistic for such minimal effort on my part – yet with great therapeutic payback in the doing of it!
Speaking of therapy, on a whim, I picked up one of my made-from-scraps quilt sandwich samples to practice my free-motion quilting skills. This has been a frustrating technique for me to feel comfortable with, but it calls to me often to keep at it!
Well, to my surprise and delight, this impromptu session yielded a break through! My hand direction/foot pedal co-ordination/stitching speed miraculously fell into sync where the whirls of design took on a life of its own…what a thrill!
That’s it for now!

~~~
ToDo for the weeks following February 25th:

  • Continue on-going goals

Thank you Roseanne for this opportunity to share and reflect

And thank you Zippy for showing off my completed top on your blog

*Geesh, almost sounds like a confession…Bless me Father for I have sinned. It’s been X weeks since my last confession…Just sayin’.
**
This link leads to the YouTube of the song (give it a listen, it’s only about 2 minutes long) – which Zippy will no doubt recall listening to back in the day 🙂

ToDoTuesdayFive

It’s been three weeks since my last ToDoTuesday post. Here’s the latest.

(A Reminder of) My goals for the week of September 24th through October 1th:

  • Add sequin detail to PF eye done, sign/sew quilt label done
  • Work on post about music score edit process in progress
  • Get ready for out-of-town trip! done and back!

My PFWHK handmade label amidst a flock of PF's.

My PFWHK handmade label amidst a flock of PF’s.


All things must come to an end. In this case it is all things Pink Flamingo. The PFWHK is done and done! I am very tempted to hang her up facing the wall to show off the backing fabric and my snazzy label. But she has her eye on me…no can do. HA!
PF sequin eye detail

PF sequin eye detail


Our out-of-town trip was action packed. Not so much sight seeing as visiting family and investigating areas for us to relocate. More on that in a later post. Meanwhile, here are some family photos.
The Guys: my cousin Kayden (Gail's son), my hubby Terry, Uncle Dennis (my Dad's younger brother)

The Guys: my cousin Kayden (Gail’s son), my hubby Terry, Uncle Dennis (my Dad’s younger brother)


The Gals: Aunt Adua, me, my cousin Gail

The Gals: Aunt Adua, me, my cousin Gail


As for that music score edit process post? It’s definitely in the works  DONE. To catch a glimpse of the beginning of the process involved, take a look at this post I wrote in 2015. Yikes, has it really been that long ago I started entering my hand scored compositions onto NOTION?
While not mentioned on the goals listed above, the number of actual score edits becoming “Final Finals” now total 6 pieces. Including the Mo Giolla Mear piece featured in the 2015 blog post. This is a big leap in the completion of that portion of my Swimming with Swans:the music project and is worth noting.

~~~

My creativity trinity* is as follows: fiber artMUSICwriting. Each is intertwined with the other, offering needful respites between projects which in turn aid in the completion of various Works-In-Progress as new perspectives appear from such respites. Ultimately, it’s all about the music but tracking fiber art Works-In-Progress is lots easier to communicate in such a setting as this – hence the linky-party connection.

’Home
* a term I recently invented

ToDoTuesdayFour

I’m thinking 2 weeks between ToDoTuesday posts reflects the beat of my creative biorhythm. Thanks again to Roseanne for sponsoring this opportunity to share and reflect.

~~~

My creativity trinity* is as follows: fiber artMUSICwriting. Each is intertwined with the other, offering needful respites between projects which in turn aid in the completion of various Works-In-Progress as new perspectives appear from such respites. Ultimately, it’s all about the music but tracking fiber art Works-In-Progress is lots easier to communicate in such a setting as this – hence the linky-party connection.
(A Reminder of) My goals for the week of September 10th through September 16th:

  • Add sequin detail to eye on PFWHK Ø and apply binding
  • Get ready for out-of-town trip N/A – rescheduled for next week

IMG_1239I enjoy the process involved with binding a quilt. The construction & ironing of the binding strips, to the attaching of the strips to the neatly squared raw edges of the quilt with the best product to hit this quilter’s tool bag: binding clips; to machine sewing the binding onto the quilt – mitering corners with finesse, then turning it all in position to clip in place for the final stage of hand sewing with a blind stitch.
Yes, I do enjoy the process, but I always forget how much time such a ‘simple’ task stated as ‘bind the quilt’ takes. Added to that this time around, I had to be extra diligent in squaring the quilted, finished pre-printed fabric panel before beginning with the actual binding process. My, what a lot of fuss and fidgeting was involved with all of that!
In such circumstances, it becomes glaringly obvious how I am so not a patient person – but I am a person who wants stuff done as close to perfection as is humanly possible.
Not the most enabling and/or compatible combo of character traits.
Now all that’s left is to sign and sew a label on the back, figure out how to hang it, and oh yes, get after that sequin detail on the Pink Flamingo’s eye.

The PFWHK and Maddy

The PFWHK and Maddy


Because our trip was rescheduled, I was left with some unexpected and unstructured but welcome time available to use as I chose. I ended up blazing through some immensely satisfying and productive times on the practice stool with Maddy. Proving once again the profound effect each slice of my creativity trinity has on the other.

~~~

ToDo for the week of September 24th – October 1st:

  • Add sequin detail to PF eye, sign/sew quilt label
  • Work on post about music score edit process
  • Get ready for out-of-town trip!

 
*a term I invented recently

ToDoTuesdayThree

It’s been 2 weeks since my latest ToDoTuesday post. It’s nice to be back for a check-in. Thanks, Roseanne for sponsoring this opportunity to participate each week!

~~~

My creativity trinity* is as follows: fiber art MUSICwriting. Each is intertwined with the other, offering needful respites between projects which in turn aid in the completion of various Works-In-Progress as new perspectives appear from such respites. Ultimately, it’s all about the music but tracking fiber art Works-In-Progress is lots easier to communicate in such a setting as this – hence the linky-party connection.
(A Reminder of) My goals for the week of August 27th through September 3rd:

  • Finish “Christmas Medley” and start another NOTION score-edit piece √ 
  • Finish PFWHK vertical quilting, start 3-D portion of project, figure out something special to add to PF’s eye (button, sequins?)
  • Enjoy a time to snuggle down and read newest novel(s)
  • If it’s cool enough (big IF), share some porch-time with hubby and a glass of Chardonnay (me), Beaujolais (him) √ 

Ahemmm, all those 2-week-old items have check marks after them. Yes, they are Done!
As mentioned before, a dedicated post is forthcoming on the score-editing process, but for now, suffice it to say “Christmas Medley” is finished with another score-edit begun and close to being finished.

Pink Flamingo WHK binding clip uses

Notice the binding clips used to keep piece neatly rolled up during stitching?


As for the PFWHK. I discovered my favorite binding clips worked well in keeping this small project neatly rolled up while finishing the vertical quilting and adding the 3-D feathers to the piece.
The instructions on how to attach those 3-D feathers to the Pink Flamingo Body were spotty at best, so I devised my own method. Instead of pinning (as suggested) the stiff triangles onto the quilted thickness of the PFWHK, I used the ¼ quilters tape to hold them in place. Also suggested was to straight stitch them ‘close to the edge’.
Ick.
quarter in. tape used to hold feathers in place and blanket stitching

Yet another use for 1/4 inch tape – holding 3D feathers in place during blanket stitching on machine


Instead, I used a blanket stitch. This covered the exposed raw edge of the 3-D feathers, adding strength as well as a more finished look to the overall application.
I have to say, I am thrilled with the way the ‘double’ batting experiment is unfolding. It handles well under the needle and is beginning to show promise as a desirable aesthetic (enough weight to hang well, with enough poofyness to show off quilting details).
Pink Flamingo WHK almost done

The PFWHK – ready for the final touches


 
 
 
 

~~~

ToDo for the week of September 10th through September 16th:

  • Add sequin detail to eye on PFWHK and apply binding.
  • Get ready for out-of-town trip
’Home

*a term I invented recently

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