Thursday, October 7, 2021

New Stitched Talismans Tutorial Pattern!

Object of Comfort Talisman, Front View

I've just released a new tutorial pattern, now available here in my Etsy shop!
This one is on how to make your own stitched talismans using stones and shells as the base like the one shown above, (that I just made yesterday) and the ones shown below.

The idea for these first started some 10 + years ago when I was beach combing and came across a massive and beautiful pile of broken, hard-shell, quahog clamshell fragments. I gathered a bucket full of them knowing that someday, somehow, I was going to cover them in patchwork... 
I just wasn't exactly sure of how I would go about doing that.

That seed stayed germinating in my head for a long time before it decided to finally sprout several years ago, when I finally figured out how to do what I'd envisioned all those years earlier...

I was planning on creating a pattern back then, in case anyone else had a thing for collecting such treasures from the beach and might want to make there own. However, shortly after sharing some of what I was making on social media, Quilting Arts Magazine contacted me asking if I'd write a short how-to article on making the talismans for their Feb/March 2018 Issue.

Some of you may remember... they even made the cover...

(A true thrill and honor indeed!!)

After that, the pattern idea just got tossed on the back burner of my brain, and I moved on to other things, (because I never, ever seem to be able to stay focused on one thing for very long).

During the following years, I've been contacted now and again from someone wanting to know if I offered my own tutorial pattern for these, like I do for my Fabric Quilted Beads
and if not was I ever planning on creating one? 
The answer has always been, "No. Yes. But I have no idea when."

Honest and vague.

But now the answer is,"Why yes, yes indeed I do!"

(And that makes me so happy!)

This PDF downloadable pattern, (available in my Etsy shop) offers more in depth instruction then I was able to provide in the magazine article, as well as step by step photo illustrations. For good measure I've included how to make a simple talisman necklace and a tea stained version of the talismans...

The materials and tools needed are pretty basic, and no worries if you don't have a stash of broken hard-shell fragments, as smooth stones and rocks work great as well!

So, if you would like to know how, or want some more info on making your own talismans...

(Or if you just wish to clothe some stones and shells because they look cold and naked to you!) 
Then hopefully this pattern will provide you with what you need!

Object of Comfort Talisman, BackView


Oh! And speaking of Quilting Arts Magazine...

I have a new article featured in their current Fall 2021 issue!

This article is on how to make your own Story Fragments, as shown in my previous post here.

Be sure to look for this lovely issue, it's full of lot's of great ideas and information!


Monday, August 9, 2021

Contemplating Texture and the Quilted Stitch. A Few Things to Think About.

Part of the fun of making a quilt is the actual act of quilting it. It determines so much of what the quilt will be, what it will say, how it will look, and how it will feel, (to the touch and to the heart). Because of that there are things you may wish to contemplate before quilting.

For instance, I wanted the quilts in my previous post to have a clean, modern look, with visible quilting, and I didn't want much added texture. So, I choose to machine quilt, (as opposed to hand quilt) them in a Baptist fan design, which is one of my favorite quilting motifs. In those previous quilts, the quilted lines almost seem to float on top of the surface. That's in part due to machine stitches don't create the same tug and pull of the fabric that hand quilted stitches do, so the texture is generally cut down somewhat in that regard. Side note: Solid fabrics will showcase quilted lines more than prints will, as the quilted lines can get visually lost amongst the printed design.

Other considerations are the weight of the fabrics used. I've found that the heavier the fabric, the less texture is created from the quilting. This is especially true if you choose not to wash the quilt afterwards. Washing and drying a quilt will always increase the texture due to shrinkage. Note: For those quilts shown in that previous post, I used mid weight, (quilting weight) shot cottons, and did not wash or dry them afterwards. This helped keep that crisp clean look by avoiding too much quilting texture.

Now, for this quilt, (which I simply call "Up") I wanted to go in the opposite direction and give it lots of texture. Ingrained, organic texture. And that called for hand quilting, along with some other considerations, such as the following...

1) As mentioned above, the weight of the fabric plays into how much or how little texture your finished quilt may have. Because I wanted lots of texture for this quilt, I chose to use light weight shot cottons. The lighter weight fabrics have the ability to gather a bit more closely, and pucker a bit more easily, when the thread is pulled through it, thus creating more texture (These are all Kaffe Fassett shot cottons that I've had in my stash for years. They are very light weight with a lovely drape.)

2) Choosing to set my rows close together gave me more texture than if I had set them farther apart. This is simply because with hand quilting, the quilted stitch provides the texture, so the more stitches, the more texture. (Now every rule has its exception, and sometimes I find that if I am machine quilting close set rows, I get a flatter, more stiff, less textured quilt. This seems to happen when the fabric itself is more densely woven, then if I were to use a light weight fabric.)

3) I like my stitches to be visible, so I don't make them too small, but because I wanted texture, I also didn't make them too big, as again, with hand quilting, the more stitches the more texture.

4) Afterwards, I gave it a light wash, and a few minutes in the dryer, then allowed it to air dry. Had I given it a harder wash, and more time in the dryer, the texture would have been more than I wanted... I wish there were some magic formula I could give to you on this, but practice is the only way I know of getting an intuition of what's too much and what's too little. In regards to washing and drying, when in doubt go for less texture as more can likely be added with another wash and longer dry, but once it's there, it's there.

I suppose needle and thread size also have a say in the texture created when hand quilting, but in all truth, I have been doing it the same way for so long, I don't know. All I know is I like my results, so no need to try and alter them. When hand quilting I use 12 weight cotton thread and no. 9 John James "straw" needles.

Look at that yummy texture! 

Also, look at those little short lengths of turquoise blue stitching that I've place here and their in between the long rows. Hand quilting offers the perfect opportunity to add in little extras. Sometimes it may be cross shaped stitches, (x or + ), other times it may be a little mended area or extra stitches added in like I've done here on "Up". (Hmmm... maybe these random little blue stitches are floating upwards?) Again, something to think about when contemplating your stitching. 

And speaking of contemplating your stitching... how does one decide how to quilt one's quilt? I always say it's best to ask your quilt what it wants. You will find that they are rarely shy and if you listen closely they will tell you exactly what they want to be. (And woe to you who is fool hardy enough to ignore the request. Quilts can be ornery little buggers if they don't get their way.)

So, there you have it. Just a few things on stitch and texture to contemplate before quilting your next quilt. And really, I do mean a few... we didn't even talk about free motion quilting, (I know the humble stipple stitch is often dismissed, but you can get some crazy good texture from combining stipple stitching with machine washing and drying.) How closely and how far apart you quilt those stipples will also play into the texture, as will the weight of the fabric... never underestimate the effect on texture caused by the weight of your fabric, and how open or closed the weave is. 

To summarize, as always, experimentation and practice are key in getting a better understanding of how quilting effects texture, and how the degree of texture is affected by things such as: the the fabric content; weight of the fabric; the choice between hand quilting, machine quilting, and free motion machine quilting; the quilted motif; how closely or far apart the quilted stitches are placed; and whether you wash and dry your quilts, and to what degree if you do. Go play with it and have fun!

For more details on "Up" please see here.


Tuesday, June 15, 2021

I Still Love Shot Cottons

There was a while a few years back when I was exclusively only using shot cottons when making quilt tops. I adore them for their simple and unpretentious beauty. The way depth and richness is achieved simply by weaving one color for the weft and another for the warp. 

It's a marriage of color that produces its first offspring in that third created color, along with siblings born from the other shades achieved simply by the angle of the cloth and how the light hits it. 

What is not to love?

Somewhere along the line though, I pretty much stopped buying commercial fabrics, preferring to be a bit more thrifty and eco-conscious and use cloth cut from old clothing or vintage textiles. 

And because I loved my shot cottons so much, I stopped using them... odd how that works. Like having Grandma's beautiful old china but never using it.

Well, enough of that nonsense. 
I'm breaking into that stash and I'm going to use it up. 
Here are my first offerings, three improv quilts with freeform Baptist Fan quilting. 

It feels good to use what we find beautiful.

For more info/details on each quilt, or to check availability, please click on the links under the quilts.


Saturday, May 15, 2021

Story Fragments

I've collected old found photos for years. I guess what appeals to me the most is their mystery. With no clue as to who these folks were, my imagination is sparked and I can fill in the story to my liking. I always feel a responsibility as well to these unknown faces... it makes me so sad that their family photos found their way into junk shops, flea markets, antique stores... discarded because no remaining family member wanted them or even remembered them?

I want to honor these forgotten people, and what better way to do that then add them to artwork? Shown here are pieces from a new series called "Story Fragments". Because each of these photos is really just a tiny fragment representing someone's life, I've coupled each photo with other small fragments... bits cut from vintage grain sack cloth and old quilt pieces, as well as small bits of vintage book cloth, and antique fabric prints gathered from deconstructed old quilts, too worn for repair, (but with so much soul embedded in-between their fibers). 

Each piece is really a small quilt, (top, batting and backing) and each has been mounted via hand stitch to a piece of 140 lb watercolor paper. If interested you can click on the "Details" link below each piece for more detailed pics and availability info. I hope each of you are well and as always wish you all the very best. xo

Friday, February 12, 2021

Painted Paper Patchwork Barns

I meant to post this several months ago when I first made these, but alas I never got around to it.
Better late then never though, so here we are and here we go...

My last post, oh so many months ago, had me sharing some stitched and quilted barns I was making out of vintage fabrics. I loved making those, but they were really hard on my hands as they were very thick in some areas. I was having to use a pair of pliers just to pull the needle through in those thick areas! Eventually my hands just declared, "No more!" And so, I had to stop.

Trouble was I still had barns in my system and very much wanted to keep stitching some. So I sat down and thought and thought about how I could hand-stitch barns but not cause so much pain to my hands? Then I stopped thinking and just listened and watched what popped into my mind. 

(That is very much my creative process.) 

And what I saw were these painted and stitched paper patchwork barns.

I got right to work, watercolor painting small bits of torn watercolor paper, (I use 140 lb). and stitching the pieces into various barn shapes, hand-stitched together with 12 wt thread. 
Much easier on my hands and very satisfying to make!

After playing around with a few samples I decided that the stitched barns would look nice on painted backgrounds, which you see here in all of the photos. However there was still one element missing... 
I wanted the colors, the paper, the surface, to have more... oomph! 

I thought some more for a bit and then I remembered seeing some oil painters on Instagram who used cold wax medium in conjunction with the oil paint. Those works always catch my eyes as they seem to have such depth and richness to them. But would cold wax medium be compatible with watercolors?

I did a quick Google search and found that cold wax medium could be used as a final coat for watercolor paintings. Perfect-o! So, I got me some of that cold wax medium and gave it a go 
and then fell in love. 

In the photo above and the 3 photos below, you can see the soft sheen and luminosity achieved by applying the cold wax. Once dried and buffed, it truly gives the watercolors that beautiful richness and depth I was hoping for.

To complete the paintings I mounted them, (via hand stitch) to another sheet of 140 lb. watercolor paper, so they can be easily framed, (or if a framing procrastinator like me, propped up until one get around to such matters.) The finished pieces sort of remind me of tiles and contain so many elements I love, from subject matter to color to patchwork and stitching...

So, out of one road block, caused by hands that said, "No more stitching these thick fabric barns" a new creative path was forged through thinking about possibilities and listening to the answers that popped up.

How wonderful!

All of the barns shown have been sold, 
however, I do have a new batch made, that I haven't shared anywhere yet 
and will eventually list in my Etsy shop

For now though I am just laying low, staying home and avoiding going to places that don't feel safe. And unfortunately that currently includes my local small post office, (which makes me so sad as I love the post office and try hard to fully support it). But alas, last time I was there over the holidays, face masks were not being worn by most of the staff, and that's just a deal breaker for me until things settle down and/or I can get that coveted vaccine. 

(And yes, I know there are ways that you can print labels and ship without having to do it in person but I am not that savvy on the process and really do enjoy the act of doing it myself.) 

One more thing on the subject of face masks... if you are reading this and are in the "no face mask camp", (as are so many of the folks that live in my area are) and are now feeling a tension boiling up and/or eyes rolling in your head over my concern for all of our safety and wellbeing, (something that face masks have been scientifically proven to be effective in)... please, keep it to yourself... 
I don't need to know. We simply disagree. Strongly. 

~ ~ ~
~ Breathe ~
~ ~ ~

To each of you, (if anyone is even still out there reading my semi-neglected blog.... hello???) Stay safe, stay well, stay creative. As Einstein said, "The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when one contemplates the mysteries of eternity... Never lose a holy curiosity."