More “Parasol” decisions

Two days ago, I posted my initial thoughts about “The Parasol Dancers of Green Lake”, ending the day with the sample looking like this…..

Today I returned to the quilting and started playing with different ideas of how to complete the background. I added trees, shrubs, and simple line groupings with the final practice piece looking like this……

I am happy with this for the most part but here are the things that I learned in making this practice piece…..

  • Make sure that there are no strings under the white layer…..
  • Draw in some basic lines to use a guide when quilting…..
  • I will need to stitch down the edges of the parasols, probably with a matching thread. In this sample, they lifted up as I quilted close to them and the green one has already started to shred at the edges. Having said that, I kind of like the shadow that the fabrics leave so maybe I just need to use fray-check on the parasol edges!! Okay, so this decision is still in limbo!!!!!
  • I like adding trees to the background, but the one on the right (with the actual branches) looks much better than the ones that are more of a fountain. Naturally, the best one takes longer to quilt!!
  • I like the idea of having areas of background quilted with various designs. I can play with this more as I go.

My biggest concern is that this has basically become a “Whole-Cloth” quilt. Now there is nothing wrong with that, but it sure puts a lot of pressure on me to NOT make a mistake….particularly when I am working with the black threads.

The plan is to make a strip of each pose with 3 to 7 women in each strip. As I go along, I will figure out what types of sashing to put between these strips….probably something fairly low volume.

I have ordered more Wool batting and it will be here in about 10 days. So, between now and then, I need to decide which figures I want to use, get them enlarged and start laying out the design…..

Wish me luck!!

Off to a good start

Yesterday I started on my new Meadow Art project and had SO much fun with it!!

As I started, I decided to stabilize the initial fabric base so that there wouldn’t be too much scrunching up as I added stitching. I used a thin fabric with fusing on one side and ironed the two pieces together …..

The fabric was sized at 14×19 inches, although it looked a LOT bigger than that when I was staring at a blank canvas…..

Following the instructions, I started tearing strips of fabric, making sure that I had lots of strings on the edges. You know, the things that we normally HATE when we tear fabric…..

I also cut/tore burlap, flannel and silk and added those to the mix. When it looked balanced…..

…. I took it to the machine and sewed each piece down, staying close to the torn edge……

Next, I started adding bits of trim and lace…..

….and went back to the machine to secure them to the background. At this point I realized just how much I like my Juki machine……

It is a workhorse!!!

After each step, I ironed the piece from the back, just to make sure that it stayed relatively flat…..

I failed to take a photo of the next step, but I used cotton thread to sew in some flower stems, grass and other linear elements.

At this point the instructions suggested putting a heavier yarn in the bobbin and sewing textural lines but I didn’t really want to mess with my bobbin so decided to switch to my other sewing machine and couch the threads instead. I had this thread/yarn in my stash……

….and thought that the extra texture might be nice.

My trusty Viking machine came to the rescue and I was able to use the couching foot……

…..to attach the yarn.

This is where I stopped on the first day……

….and I am really happy with the texture that has appeared. My only concern is whether the darker threads will be covered by the paint, but I think that I can make it work even if they don’t cover well.

The next step is to apply paint and then to start doing more embellishments.

I CAN’T WAIT!!!!

Oh my…this is going to be fun!!

Yesterday I described my ARGHHHH day and ended the post by saying that I would try the machine quilting again….maybe…..or maybe I would start a new project. I am sure that it is no surprise that I STARTED SOMETHING NEW!!!!

When I had my “Inspiration Day” last weekend, I found one fiber art piece that looked like fun and would give me a chance to try some different surface techniques. During the week I gathered up my supplies and today I made a test piece to see how things would work and see if the paints that I owned were appropriate.

The first step was to cut little swatches of lots of the fabrics that I had pulled….

I moved to the machine and free-motion stitched them down, using the full-circle darning foot rather than the open toe. This keeps the foot from getting caught under loose edges…..

Then I mixed up a few of my Setacolor paints. Before I show the result, let me tell you about my paint collection. Many years ago (maybe 15 or more) I happened to be in a Michaels store when they were obviously dropping the line of Pebeo & Jacquard paints, and I bought them for 25 to 50 cents per bottle. Needless to say, I stocked up. This is what I still have left after all of these years…..

Most of them are in pretty bad shape, either very thick or almost empty, but I am always impressed with what a little bit of water or a mixer such as white or black can do to revitalize them. Someday I will need to replace them but today is NOT that day.

I mixed up a small pot of blue and another of green and started painting……

The middle stripes were applied with a stiff brush and I think that the paint is a little too thick. The two outside rows (green on right and blue on left) were applied with a makeup sponge and I am much happy with their appearance. I also know that using a sea sponge would change the texture.

I was pleased with the coverage that the paint brought to the 3-D “stuff”, and especially happy with the flannel, burlap and color catcher…..

I don’t see the point to using silk unless I spend some time to ravel the edges and I have just had the idea to maybe cut out some circles and ravel around them. (See…this is why I blog….I get ideas as I write)!!

As I just now looked back at the project that I am emulating, I think that the paints were too thick and I will water them down and try to make it more of a wash rather than heavy paint.

Now I patiently waited for it to dry…..NOT SO MUCH. I laid down paper towels on the paint and used a dry iron!!!

The next step was to try stitching on it and seeing if it would work over the paint and especially over the raised embroidery work. I started with some basic stitching with regular thread…..

Then I tried one of the “buttercups”, made with Tulle and thread……

Probably too much Tulle, but I can adjust that as I go. ALSO, I just realized that I was supposed to use Organza rather than Tulle so that will make a huge difference!!

Final step was to try one of the Daisies. I decided to test my machine out buy using two threads at one time…..

I also slowed Juanita down to the turtle position…..

…..and started making LONG stitches by moving the fabric quickly when the needle was up……

This is certainly not perfect but at least I have an idea that I can accomplish it!!

I enjoyed playing with some threads that I have collected from over the years but never used for quilting purposes……

Finally, I took some red paint and tried doing a little dry brushing on the raised embellishments. I think that I might use this, especially if I put a group of embroidery flowers in one area.

Bottom line….I cant wait to get started on this project!!!!

New Studio Addition

For some time I have been wanting a sewing machine that would make quilting larger quilts easier.  Since my husband wouldn’t let me take over the master bedroom for my studio (giggle) there is no room for a Long-Arm machine so that was never in the mix.

For a while I was excited about the Sweet Sixteen sit down machine but realized that I didn’t have a place to leave it set up so I would have to put it up every time I was ready to quilt something.   Then I started wondering if I wouldn’t just use my regular machine on smaller quilts rather than pulling out the quilting machine.   Did I REALLY want to spend $5000+ on a machine that I would probably only use a few times each year.

I mentioned my dilemma to my creative group and Fay suggested that I might look at the Juki line of machines.   When I first started checking for them, I could only find Industrial Machines and was disappointed.  After we got back, I looked further and was excited to find the Juki 2010Q machine. 

I found a store in Atlanta that sold them so I drove over to give one a test drive, accompanied by fellow quilter, Sylvia.   I started sewing, really liking what I was finding but was told that this model was being phased out and replaced with the Juki 2200QVP Mini. 

Long story short, I bought the machine ($1,200), brought it home, returned the next day to buy the table that was designed for it and am now happily sewing away!!

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This is a mechanical machine…..no computerization around.  It only does one thing (sew a straight stitch), but it does that beautifully!!!  I realized that I didn’t need tons of special stitches since I have had my Viking for over 15 years and have only used 4 or 5 of them in that time!!  And, I still have that machine if they are needed in the future.

It has a manual dial controller for stitch length which I really like when I am using a walking foot and starting with tiny stitches but moving to a good quilting stitch.  It is easier to turn a dial rather than having to hit a button over and over again.

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It has a marvelous thread cutter that leaves only a small thread tail but somehow manages to start stitching again without unthreading the bobbin or the needle!!!

It always stops in the needle down position and the only way to get the needle up is to push the button.   It took a bit of practice to get used to the fact that I couldn’t raise the needle by lightly tapping the foot pedal.

The reverse bar is large and easy to get to and the feed dogs are easy to raise and lower.

Finally, it has a speed control and, when set on “rabbit”, it can FLY!!!

The threading mechanism is a bit different….it starts with a pre-tension bar, winds its way thru a series of hooks, ending with a marvelous needle threader.  I figure that any extra time spent with the pre-tension is saved by not having to manually thread the machine!!DSC07937

There is also a presser foot pressure knob that is easy to get to.

I also really like the spool holder and adjustable thread guide, especially since I use a lot of large cones…… DSC07936

The bobbin is larger and holds a lot of thread however it is side loading and it has taken a bit for me to get used to it.   There is a handy-dandy door in the table to allow access to the bobbin…..

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The foot pedal is large and is designed for your entire foot to be on top of it……much more comfortable than having my heel on the floor…..DSC07941

The thread cutter can also be activated by the foot, simply by pressing your heel down.  I think that this can be good, but I was having trouble hitting it when I didn’t want to.  Fortunately, this newer model includes a rubber base that you can put on the pedal so that the cutter is not activated….a lifesaver for me!!!

It has a Knee lever for the presser foot but it will not work when the machine is in the table.   Since I have never used one, that doesn’t bother me at all!!

As one reviewer put it…..it is a thirsty machine and requires regular oiling.   It is not hard to do and I will just have to get it into my head that I need to do it!!

It came with a bunch of feet including a regular foot that is a scant quarter inch from the needle.  There is also a quarter inch foot that has a bar that prevents the fabric from moving out too far…..

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And, the seam is VERY accurate!!!

The walking foot is heavy and a bit loud, but it sews a magnificent seam……DSC07976

I was a bit worried about not being able to see down the long foot but it is actually easy to use since the sides provide a guide for sewing placement.

The machine came with THREE free motion feet but I am not sure exactly what to do with them all.   I was excited that this model came with an open toed darning foot and it works great.DSC07970

I also purchased a ruler foot but have yet to get the tension adjusted when using it.  If I tighten it down closer to the fabric, it gets stuck on the seam allowances, but if I lighten the pressure, the stitches don’t catch.   I need to spend some time playing with it until I figure it out…..

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The final perk for the machine is the extended harp space (between the needle and the machine).  This isn’t as big as some machines but gives me 4 extra inches from side to side and another 3-4 in height.   It has made a huge difference in the quilting that I have already done.  I cant wait to try it out on a queen size quilt and just happen to have one basted and ready to go.

I am also happy that I made the return trip to purchase the table.  It is designed specifically for this machine, although my Viking will fit in the opening as well.  It has a drop down extension that is marvelous when I am quilting…..DSC07968

When the machine is not in the table, the extension to the left of the machine s1ts on folded legs, making it easily portable.

I did a lot of quilting on a UFO that I wanted to finish and will show that in another post, but also pieced a charity quilt to try out the 1/4 inch feet……

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I feel like I made a good purchase and hope that I will have MANY years of quilting on it!!!