Saturday, February 13

My New Technique?

First, this post is to document—for myself—the steps of the technique I learned yesterday. It is not intended to infringe on anyone’s copyrights…you can’t copyright or patent a technique or style anyway.
That said, here is the artist’s book. I leafed through it and, while it shows part of her technique, it does not show all of it. But I’ll give the book a plug.

Her quilts are like photographs, rich in detail as you can see. I liked that aspect of them, but I didn’t love the quilts in person. Not up close, anyway. It would be good for a very small quilt.
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There was a very long list of supplies to gather. The stuff filled the back of my SUV and it took two trips to bring it all in.

Okay, here we go. First, a pattern ($10). The dotted lines indicate where the pieces overlap.
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I trace the pattern on freezer paper. The red lines are the “undies” where the piece goes under its neighbor. The black lines are where you cut the freezer paper. This will get cut up for templates.
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A second drawing is made on a piece of vinyl.
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The three drawings: Freezer paper, vinyl, and original, which stays intact. No real difference so far.
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We are instructed to mount the pieces on an insulation board covered with Insul-Bright. I am told the Insul-Bright is to protect the insulation from the heat of the iron. If nothing else, I can use the board for a bulletin board and the Insul-Bright can be used to make potholders and trivets as hostess gifts.
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The board is very easy to stick pins into. But the Insul-Bright catches on the fabic and dry skin hangnails.
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Here I have cut out some pieces. Where the red lines are I leave a seam allowance.
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Then I paint the edges of the pieces with the secret product (more on that later), which is very messy and drippy. With a very hot iron, the product is heat-set between two sheets of Teflon. It sizzles because it is still wet but I haven’t got all day. You can see the shiny edge where the product is. This is the underside and will not be seen, so neatness doesn’t really count. The freezer-paper pieces (above photo), are the topside. You can see how wet the paper got.
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At this point I can remove the paper and take the pieces, one by one, and position them under the vinyl sheet, which is my placement guide. This is very fiddly and time-consuming, and long tweezers are needed to place the pieces under the vinyl. Once I get all the pieces laid and I’m happy with it, I carefully lift the vinyl and press everything into permanent placement. No going back. I am wondering how I will prevent the pieces/design from fusing to the Insul-Bright.
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The mystery product is Liquid Thread ($8). I looked it up and it gets 3/5 stars, while Aleene’s gets 5/5 stars. If I adopt this method I might try another brand. This was very, very messy, but you work assembly line fashion and once you heat set it you are done with the messy part. It is thin and wet, but it is not sticky. It dries to a fine powder that can be wiped away.
But it’s messy enough that I might reconsider ever using it. It would be a nightmare with hundreds of pieces.
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Here are three pieces fused together. It is soft and pliable, and I am told you can quilt through it with no problem. But do I like the look? No. I think it could be combined with my usual technique to add details…but I could achieve that with fusible interfacing, e.g. Wonder Under.
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I don’t think it saves all that much time. I should do a very small piece all the way through before I decide, but I doubt it will be my new technique.

Thursday, February 11

Just Goofin’

Which is another way to say golfin’.

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The weather has been seriously hot. It feels like summer. I don’t know what happened to El Niño. It was 88° out there this week. Way too hot, I quit after nine. Fugeddaboutit.

Play was agonizingly slow so I pulled out my crappy golf camera and fiddled around while waiting my turn. Sometimes you see some cool wildlife on the course. I’ve seen rattlesnakes, coyotes, and geese—lots of geese, and there are signs warning of bobcats although I’ve never seen one. One guy was looking for his wife’s ball in the brush and she said, “Dear, get out of there! There’s rattlesnakes in there!” To which he replied, “No there’s not,” and he pointed to the sign, “Just bobcats.” Hilarious. She didn’t think so.

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This prickly pear cactus is in a bad spot. There are about a hundred golf-ball sized holes in it. Poor thing.

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I just love being out on the fairways.

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I haven’t been doing any quilting because I am going to an all-day class (tomorrow) to learn a new technique, which, if I like it, will save me the time of sewing down the pieces, I can just glue them with some special adhesive. It will also save the time of ironing down one side of each piece, and I’ll be able to do deeper curves with greater ease. I’ll find out and report back. Here’s one of her pieces:

I am also taking bridge lessons. I have been playing bridge for 20+ years but I felt like re-learning some of the basics because I want to start playing competitive bridge.

No, not that kind of bridge.

Sunday, January 31

Weekly/Monthly Wrap-up (Around Here)

After I finished the elephant I started right in on the next project. But selecting fabrics was as far as I got. A neighbor-friend of mine told me about a workshop that her guild is putting on and she invited me to attend. This is great because I don’t currently belong to a quilt guild so I miss out. I would gladly join but it meets at night and I hate to drive at night.

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What I’m planning is a tripych of undersea panels for the niche in the bathroom, with the darkest blues at the bottom, fading up to the lightest blues at the top. In the class, I’m going to learn (presumably) a “revolutionary” new way to appli-piece a top without folding or gluing—she has some product that lets you do free-edge without the edges fraying and its not a fusible, and it’s not stiff. Well, that would certainly be nice, if it’s for real. Anyway, I put the underwater project on hold until I take the class.

I started playing golf again with the Wednesday group. I haven’t played with them since October! We play on big, championship-size golf courses instead of the executive course that I play with the Monday group. CHALLENGING! But it was a beautiful day and I had a great time. I lost four [brand new] balls.

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#11, Tijeras Creek

Ah, but the weather has turned ugly. Today the PGA Tour is playing at Torrey Pines, which is about an hour south of here, so it gives you an idea what the weather is like here. It’s tough to play in that, even with weatherproof clothing. The wind is really nasty today.

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What else is new around here? Well, we still have not gotten our out-of-shape house straightened, but they assure us that we’ll be right as rain when they get it done. But first they have to get around to doing it.

Outside on our front porch, this had us freaked out for a while. Termites? Bug infestation? We cleaned it up and the next day it was back. Such a mystery. I got out a mirror to see what was going on under the flashing and it’s metal. And clean. We examined it closely and it seems to be plant material, not house material. Whew.

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We did a little scouting and eventually figured out that something has been eating a bush just beyond the steps, carrying the goodies to the porch to munch out of sight of predators. Here is the evidence:

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Compare it to the bush on the other side, which has not been eaten. Yet.

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I can’t tell what it is because there is no poop, which is curious. Both birds and bunnies leave their calling card. But the coyotes were whooping it up nearby the other night, so maybe it won’t be back.

On the back patio, something ate the throw-blanket I put out there for cold evenings. This is mouse, because it left the evidence. It’s 100% Polyester, can you imagine? I can patch/repair it, and I’ll keep it inside when it’s not being used; live and learn. My neighbor had a mouse (or mice) eat the insulation off the wiring in her car to the tune of $4,000. We had some mice in the garage for a while too, but we since have had it sealed, so no more mousies. So far. When you consider we built our houses on top of their habitat, why are we surprised.

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Well gosh, that’s all the news. Stay healthy!

Tuesday, January 19

Done da Done-Done

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And a closeup: I was going to quilt some brown in the tusks but I liked the quilting so I left them plain white. Or ivory, as it were.

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I have to say that this piece made itself. Not that I didn’t do the work, it’s all mine, even the photograph, but it called me and made me do it. I was powerless to resist. Design and construction details haunted me in the night and the thing demanded that I get up and get working. This never happened before; I was usually the one in command.

I am pleased with it but it is better appreciated from a distance, so it won’t work in the powder room.

What I learned: Several things. One, crescents are really boring. Two, I was struggling with construction so I pieced it “backwards,” which means I put the convex side under the concave arc (see below) and worked downwards. It was easier that way, but it was counterintuitive. Three, I like working with batiks that have actual patterns in them rather than the swirly semi-solids. The fabrics in this piece are all batik, by the way.

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What’s next? I am thinking dragons.

 

 

 

Saturday, January 16

Moving Right Along

I am about 2/3 to 3/4 finished quilting this thing. How big is it? About 28 x 36--maybe too big, I think, for the space I had intended. You need to stand back from it to appreciate it.


Of course there are a couple things I'd like to change. But ripping out quilting is not only not fun, it can ruin the whole thing, so I will live with it. I am learning to not get caught up in my perceived mistakes. It's a one-way street with this craft, and not very forgiving. The further along you get the more unreasonable it is to make corrections.

JJ played bridge yesterday so my plan was to finish it, but I got a migraine and watched old movies in a dark room instead. It's not just the crushing headache and visual disruption, when I get a migraine my brain goes missing...like I started eating breakfast and wondered where JJ was. Oh--I forgot to tell him it was ready. So it's better if I don't do anything that requires attention or precision. 

I'm better today. We are meeting friends in Laguna Beach for a play and dinner. We don't go out to dinner often so I'm looking forward to it. It will be nice to get out and be with people. And not cook...there is that.
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It has been cold and gray, but not raining, so I am starting back playing golf next week. Cold and gray and not raining is perfect golf weather. The three women I play with most often are all named Linda. My handicap index expired December 31 and I have decided not to renew it. I really don't need to keep an index these days because I no longer play tournament golf, we have our own private group.

#9 at Palm Desert Resort CC

The builder-people came last week and crawled all over the attic, and we learned there are four other houses on our street (so far), five in a row, with the same problem of their walls separating from the floor and ceiling. They said it can be fixed and they'll get back to us. Meanwhile the cracks have stopped getting worse. At first they said it was a bad batch of drywall that started shrinking when we turned on the heat...that actually made sense, but that isn't the cause. The good news is, it is not the ground beneath us slipping away, but some newfangled thing they used in the construction of the house that didn't hold up. I have no idea how they are going to fix it, and I'm pretty sure it will be a big, messy job. But it can be fixed.


That is all. Everything is peachy. 

Monday, January 11

Changeover Day

Today I finished piecing the elephant--whew! And Woo Hoo! The last piece to go down was the eye. I also changed out one fabric piece in the trunk that was jarring me. I use a little scalpel and carefully slide it under the folded edge and stitches, praying I don't slice into the fabric, rip out the piece, make a new template, shape the edge, remove the template paper, slide the new piece into place ("slide" makes it sound easy--it's not), glue it down, then sew it. It's like microsurgery. That operation took me one hour. But it was worth it. I plan the fabrics only to a point, it's about 50% random, and mistakes happen. And sometimes they aren't obvious right away. Some I just leave because it's not worth the bother.


So what else do I do on changeover day? Let's see, I had to rip off all the stabilizer and snip any monofilament threads. I folded and put away all the fabric, cut and pressed the batting and backing fabric, glued the "sandwich" together, pinned it with safety pins to keep it from shifting during the quilting/scrunching, put away the iron and ironing board, cleaned my machine and changed the presser foot and plate for quilting instead of piecing, wound a couple of bobbins with the purple bobbin thread, adjusted the tension and ran some stitch samples (perfect the first time), cleaned the glue off everything and put away the light box. Then I vacuumed. 

The only other thing I need to do before jumping in to the quilting is decide what design I want to use and practice it. I first do it with pencil and paper, over and over until it's fluid, and then I run through it with the machine on a practice piece. It's to achieve muscle memory, kind of like when you practice your golf swing. Ha ha; like any of us actually practice golf. 


Now I have to go cook dinner. 

Tuesday, January 5

Storm Watch! And Studio Tour

You would have to have spent a winter in Southern California to get a laugh out of that, I just heard Shepard Smith (Fox News) make a joke about it. For years we've had "Storm Watch" when there was even a prayer of precipitation, which usually ended up to be a bust. So we all make fun of the local news stations when they put the Storm Watch screen up because, as you know, it never rains in California. Except when it's an El Niño year, which it looks like it is. Yay! We're getting some pretty good squalls out there. 


We need the rain so badly. Problem is, when we get it all in the span of a few months, the ground can't take it and sometimes it slides. No bueno.

We're both hunkered down in the warm, dry inside. JJ is working on the yearly budget and Yours Truly is working on the elephant. I've been busy! There's no golf in the rain; the golf course doesn't want you out there. 

It's looking good so far. I hope I have enough medium and light tan and grey fabrics to do the face, I hope I hope. 

Did I ever show you my studio? I have a nice big room with its own bathroom and walk-in closet, and a view to the street. 

I have three stations. Station 1 is where I iron the template pieces to the freezer paper, trim and press the seam allowances, the scraps dropping (hopefully) into the wastebasket below. The working fabrics are on the sofa. 












Station 2 is where the gluing and sewing takes place. The little brown cup holds the spool of invisible monofilament thread, otherwise it tangles up on itself, jams in the tension disks, and I have to start all over, carefully pulling out the ruined stitches and rethreading the machine. Grrr!












Across from the sewing side is the design and goofing-off side. 












Station 3 is the folding table where the picture layout happens. The red-lined freezer paper gets cut up as I go. A second design and the original photo are also pinned to the design wall. 












Well, that's enough goofing off for now. I'd better get back to work.