Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Knitting a shawl on the Long-arm

My three quilts for the show are basically ready to go, so yesterday I decided to try something fun and different. My niece is getting married on Saturday, so I started making a "knitted" shawl that is actually just fibers sewn together. I saw this technique on Simply Quilts by Marilyn Badger. You start with a layer of water-soluble stabilizer pinned to the rollers of the quilt table. Then comes the fun- choosing yarns, ribbons, threads and fibers to spread across the stabilizer. I used Silk Tops in ivory, pink, and purple; silk ribbons; some mohair and acrylic yarns, metallic thread, and Angelina fibers. (I had purchased most of these things right after viewing the TV episode, then let them sit forlornly in a bulky box under the Gammill table waiting to be used. ) Next you cover your whole creation with another layer of water-soluble stabilizer, and start sewing over the whole thing with water-soluble thread. (I used Vanish Extra.) Then, you sew a grid every quarter inch with polyester thread (Cotton thread might shrink.) In my case, after I started sewing the grid, I thought there were too many "holes" in the fabric, so I added more yarn and Angelina, and covered with yet another layer of water-soluble stabilizer. So now, I am sewing through this object that looks like a thick hairy shower curtain! Not the desired effect!

The going has not been easy. First problem: I left long tails of the yarns and ribbons at the sides for "fringe." Almost immediately, I got a length of yarn trim wrapped around my bobbin assembly and jammed my motor. I was picturing a trip to Fayetteville or an emergency call to a sewing machine repairman to bail me out. However, my trusty manual said I might be able to unjam the thing by yanking with force on the back wheel of the machine, which I actually had never even noticed before. (I almost always work from the front.) Hey, it worked! After a delightful forty-five minutes of picking thread and trim from the bobbin assembly area, I was back at it.

Next problem: thread breakage. I decided to use Bottom Line in pale pink on top and white in bobbin to tone down the brightness of this creation. But, my thread kept breaking and breaking. Finally I changed to a new needle and that solved the problem. So, last night I finished the vertical grid on the part of the fabric that was available before rolling. (I want this thing to be about 27" by 72"- the wedding is in the mountains!)

Here is how it looks so far:

The funny thing is, now it doesn't look like this shawl will go with the dress I planned to wear. Might be too overwhelming! Time for emergency dress shopping????

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Embellishing Workshops with Melody Crust

I recently spent two very inspiring days at workshops sponsored by the Capital Quilters Guild with quilt artist Melody Crust of the Seattle area. Day 1 featured ways to embellish quilts with beads, ribbons, and embroidery. Melody brought many examples of her creations, including some beaded and embroidered purses to die for. She has written a book called Quilt Toppings: Fun and Fancy Embellishment Techniques, which of course I purchased. She signed it with the inscription, "Don't ever let anything be ordinary"- I'll try not to! Seeing Melody's quilts made me remember that all quilts do not have to be bed-size. Many of hers were only the size of Artist Trading Cards, or business card size. But, they were not stiff like ATC's, they were just tiny little quilts, often with beaded edges, thread painted flowers, and embroidery. What a great way to try new techniques! Melody's website is She allowed us to photograph her quilts, but I chose to buy her book or view her website with its gorgeous photographs. Her husband is a professional photographer!

We were each supposed to bring a project to embellish. I couldn't think of what to bring, so I did a pillow top in the colors of my baby granddaughter's room. I did not get much done on it during the workshop, but have lots of ideas! When I got home I added embroidery and beads to two quilt labels. One is for the basket quilt made by my sister-in-law's grandma. I recently finished it for her and will enter it in our quilt show. The other is for a small embellished quilt I made called "Spring Greens."

Day Two featured the use of Shiva Paintsticks and foiling on fabric. This one was lots of fun for me. She brought many boxes of supplies, so I added quite a bit to my collection of paintstick colors. We mostly used stencils (which she also supplied, or we could use our own) and applied the paintstick with stencil brushes. I made a few future quilt labels while I was there. After lunch we played with foil, and applied it with stencils or stamps. My only previous attempt had not turned out too well, so I was glad to learn how to do this. I made a few pretty foiled pieces that have gone into fabric postcards to sell at the Capital Quilters Guild show on March 9-11. They will be offered for $5.00 each, with proceeds to go to cancer research.

Here are the foiled postcards I made from my workshop samples. You can see more in the Fabric Postcards album at my Webshots site

Saturday, February 24, 2007

My First Blog Post

Welcome to my first blog posting! I hope to use this blog to publish my current quilting projects. I like to do bed-size quilts as well as smaller art quilts, even fabric postcards. Right now I am trying hard to finish three quilts for the Capital Quilters Guild show in Raleigh, NC on March 9-11. Last time our guild had a show, I swore I would not enter any "unfinished" projects. Did I follow this rule? No! I have to turn in the quilts on Friday. Two are finished, and I am sewing on the sleeve and label for the third this weekend. Dave and Emily's Wedding Quilt will be in the show. Since the theme of the show is Olde and New, I entered a quilt I finished for my sister-in-law. It was started by her grandmother in the 1970's, and I quilted it with lots of custom feathers.

Please refer to my Webshots page at