Thursday, August 27, 2009


My new quilt, "Darjeeling" is finished. I delivered it to the Anaba Tea Room yesterday. It will be part of group show by the Milwaukee Art Quilters. The theme is "To a Tea", and all the quilts are inspired by...tea!
At first, this theme was not particularly exciting to me--I don't drink a lot of tea. Coffee gal here. Also, at the last couple of meetings, a lot of the members were showing their quilts, most of which involved tea-dyed fabrics. They were all gorgeous and I was rather intimidated by the creativity and workmanship. But, again, that's something I don't do, either--tea dyeing. I had nothing in my head for this theme, until I saw a number of pictures of workers picking tea in both India and China, and was inspired by those. I chose to do a quilt of an Indian woman, mostly because I love the saris they wear. (So, really, this quilt was inspired not by tea, but by fashion!)

Doing a portrait quilt is something I've never done before, but I wanted to figure it out. I got a lot a great instruction by reading a couple of books. I started with "The Art Quilt Workbook", by Jane Davila and Elin Waterston. Such a great source for a beginner art quilter such as myself. Then I got a copy of "Portraits for Fabric Lover" by Marilyn Belford and used a lot of those techniques. I learned a lot about threadpainting from that book, mostly that it's really fun!!
Of course, I appealled to the vast knowledge of the people on the QuiltArt mailing list wen I got stuck.
The background, basket and most of the leaves are commercial batiks, and her scarf is also a commercial quilt frabirc. The rest of the fabrics are scraps of different silks I had lying around. While choosing them, I found fabrics from which I had made ball skirts, tunics and vests. Pieces of my entire "after five" wardorbe are in this quilt!
The sari is accented with a blue trim I had, and a piece of gold trim that was sent to me by Janice Paine-Dawes (see the above post). Thanks, Janice. I also used a bit of the green fabric I had dyed in my class last week (see the post before that). Thanks, Nancy!


I'm happy with this. But I am most excited about actually having a piece, for sale, in a gallery with real artists.
If it sells, I'll not be able to live with myself I'll be so ecstatic! Crossing my fingers...

More Dyed Fabric Pics...and a nice surprize!

I have another picture of the cool fabrics I dyed in my class last week with Nancy Kimpel. As I mentioned before, we dyed one fabric in one color (the yellow), did some dye diluting (the greens) and then used two colors on one piece of fabric (the green and yellow together). I have all sorts of stuff in my head for which I can use these.

Also, a few weeks ago, I offered two Unlimited Possibilities magazines to the first person who sent me an email. The winner was Janice Paine-Dawes, an art quilter from Arkansas, . She (being the sweet person that she is!) then sent me a package chock full of fun things: tulle, FQs, embroidery floss, vintage rick-rack (which is the most fabulous warm gold...) and a length of gold trim cut from an Indian sari. That trim was perfect for my tea quilt. Thanks so much, Janice!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Finally I can breathe again....and another sneak peek

So I've been working like a crazy woman on this portrait quilt for the MArQ group show at the Anaba tea room which opens next week. The quilts are due at the gallery by Thursday at the very latest. Again--I am the queen of "just under the wire". is finished! And I can finally take a breath.
However, I have not yet taken pics of the whole thing, yet. They will come later. Until then I can post another sneak peek. Here is a couple of detail pictures of the tea lady's eye and cheek, just fused and then with threadpainting. This is the first time I've done anything like this, and I'm pretty happy with the result:

Last week I took a break from working on the tea lady, and attended a fabric dyeing class given by another member of MArQ--Nancy Kimpel. She was gracious enough to host a class in the gorgeous basement of her lovely new home out in Lake Country. She has a studio (and a stash) of which I am very envious, but that's another story.
Anyway, I've never dyed anything save for a pair of black gauzy pants that had faded, so it was a real treat to learn this. Nancy explained the low immersion process very well. First, we did a fat quarter in a single color (I chose yellow). Then we dyed a series of FQs in increasingly diluted dyes (I chose green). The last dyeing we did was using two or more colors on one FQ ( I chose yellow and green. I must have been hungry for bibb lettuce.)
I was very excited to get them home, throw them in the dryer and iron them. I even used the darkest green already--in my tea lady quilt!
I think I'll be dyeing in the future. Ha! Oh...I could inject a whole pile of "dyeing/dying" puns in here right now, but I shall restrain myself.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Breaking Traditions "Home"

Since tomorrow is the postmark deadline for submissions to the Breaking Traditions 2009 Exhibit, I finished and packed up my 12"x12" Just under the wire as usual. I've been working on my tea-picker portrait so much, that I almost completely forgot about the Breaking Traditions quilt. The idea for it has been in my head for months, but I had never put it together. I finally confessed this to my husband, Tom, who had noticed I was getting crabbier and crabbier.
So, for his own self-preservation, as it's not a pretty sight when I am moody, he helped me make plan for completing this quilt. The motivation for me, besides wanting to contribute to a worthy cause and having my work shown at a big show, was the threat of having to cook for him for a week (!) if I did not reach my daily goals. It worked, because each day I made sure I finished my task! I'll do anything so I don't have to cook. Anything.
The theme this year was "Home", and since the exhibit is benefit ting A Place to Bark, an animal shelter, my "home" project had to include my dogs! It started with three pictures I had taken over the last couple months. I printed them on silk, and fused them onto a background made up of green grass fabric, and blue sky fabric. I sandwiched it, then did some thread painting and free-motion quilting. The result was a silly little quilt called "Beau and Georgie's Excellent Adventure: Up on the Woof". It features the dogs ON our house with pics of some of my garden flowers around the house; hydrangeas, clematis and violets.

I also made a tree out of some batiks and did some thread painting on the dogs, the trees and the flowers. I am generally happy with it. I am disappointed that the shadow of the green fabric can be seen behind the house, but this is the first time I've printed on silk. And I did that because my (old crappy) printer has a very hard time with the printable cotton, and since I didn't have time to run and do my printing at the office, I used silk. I love it--it prints so easily and nicely, but it has its drawbacks, as I learned.

I've included some detail pics, too. I enjoyed doing the thread work--I will be doing that a LOT in the future.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sneak Peek

I've been working on a quilt for the Milwaukee Art Quilters group, for an exhibit entitled "To a Tea". It is a potrait quilt of a cheerful Indian woman picking tea leaves. I'm afraid I may have bitten off more than I can handle...but if it all works, and I can get it all together...(and with all due modesty) it'll be really cool!!
So I took a couple pics of the hands and the little pieces that make up the highlights and shadows. And that brings me to my problem.
Usually, after fusing fabric pieces, I stitch around each piece to anchor it to the background. However, this is the first time I've had such teeny little pieces. How do I stitch them down?
These fabrics are all silks--some dupoini, some sueded silk and some crepe-back satin, and even though they are all backed with fusable interfacing, I'm afraid that the little pieces will either ravel, or be completely obluterated by the stitching, even with a very fine needle.

I've thought of covering the areas with tulle then stitching over that--but I've never done that. What what color shall I use? How is the stitching done? Yikes!!! So much I have to learn.
So here are the pictures. The pieces are fused to each other, but not to the background. They are on my teflon sheet; the stripes are the ironing board (cheery, eh?)
I will consider any and ALL suggestions as to how to do this. I know there are people out there who can teach me!