Thursday, January 31, 2013

Couching -- Not the laying around one!

I had an incredible time last week teaching at Quilting in the Desert and one of the workshops was embellishments by machine...and the very first technique I began sharing was couching.
There was a happy buzz as everyone got ready for the demo
-- and one voice said 'what's couching?'

What is this wonderful, fun thing we call couching?
We know it is an action word...right? and all,
and the action is -
creating a design by laying down thread and using small stitches to hold it in place

In my own quilt-works I use it to not only create a design,
but to also cover/decorate my raw edge applique. (this is what I will be showing here)

Rather than thread I like to use yarns.

Before I get started with the stitching, I create my quilt sandwich:

3 layers; first face up becomes back of quilt; next batting, and last the quilt top face up as well
I use masking tape to keep all flat on the table while I use a few safety pins to hold it together.
here I have the layers and have started to tape them down to my board
the pins go in -- once they are all in, then I close them
Now it's time to set up the sewing machine:
Select a fun thread for the top;
and be aware that what's in the bobbin will show on the back of your quilt.
Set the machine for zig-zag, and select your foot.
the cording foot on the left is my favorite, for it holds everything in place as you sew
the open-toe zig-zag on the right will work as well but you'll need to make sure
yarn remains in place as the stitching proceeds.
with everything set up...
place foot on the edge of one line;
stitch width should be 3.5 ; length 0
now take 5-6 stitches in place to lock;
then open length to 3.5 and stitch to the end of that line
at the end; make length 0 again and lock the stitches.
keep moving in one direction and finish up the couching!


 I'm working on my other three winter tree skeletons and will share soon.
Hmm.. what to do next?

Stitchin On!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Getting Line By Reverse Applique

Boy, yesterday was a wonderful & wild day
-- I met with Lily Liu and I had a great time seeing how she makes her incredible fabric bowls -- not a stitch in sight, and out of strips of fabrics (ok, so you knew 'line' would be in there somewhere, right?) I took lots of great photos and will be posting them this Friday....

then ended the day experiencing a wild night of thunderstorms and tornado warnings....

so, today waking to a quiet day,
I wanted to continue sharing what I have been up to with my tree skeletons.

Since there were narrow limbs on my trees,  I decided that a bit of reverse applique would get me to my next step of couching, easily:

Here we go:
with my background winter sky fabrics selected I was ready to go

first I enlarged my drawings
then copied them onto freezer paper with marker
next, I press the freezer paper to the right side of the black fabric
and laid these on top of the right side of the winter sky fabrics

pinned it all together
shortened my stitch length on my sewing machine
and stitched over all the lines
with it all stitched, I removed the pins
and removed all the paper
next I used my wonderful Kai bent edge scissors
and removed all the fabric from the areas I wanted sky fabric to show through
once I completed this for all 4 of my small quilt tops
I am ready to sandwich my quilt and start couching!

Tomorrow, check back in to learn how to 'couch' those lines and quilt at the same time.
'til then

Stitching On

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Toolin' Tuesday - Home Again, Home Again

I am totally excited this fine Tuesday morning,
for I have a date this morning with another of Paducah's incredible fiber artists. "Amazing" is the only hint I will leave for you and hope you stop by later this week to meet Lily Liu.

Also, this week I will be share my tree skeleton quilts along with a couple of how-to's that fit right in to this month's 'LINE' discoveries. You will also see the first of what I hope will be many fun and creative inspiring workbooks. This month the workbook will be about 'line' of course, but it will take you much further along the road to discovering how you can use the simple seeing and capturing line exercise materials to create beautiful fabric, paper and other media works.

I am totally jazzed!

Meantime, I am sharing with you today some of the 'line' inspiration I found on my recent trip to Scottsdale, AZ. All were taken on a simple walk around the block at lunch --
just have to keep an eye open.
I have been very inspired by this landscape before so I am also sharing one of my favorite set of quilts - Close, Closer & Closest.

Have a great Tuesday --
and take a few minutes to 'tool around and see what you may find right where you are!

Stiitchin On!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Fill-Up! Time for Patterning

What an amazing week I had at Quilting in the Desert. A quilt retreat is always fun, but this one had lots of great weather, wonderful teachers and everything you need for a good time.

My students rocked, and I know they went home with new skills and new techniques that they'll be using forever. That is one of the best things about my job, getting to see folks try on something new, and seeing the light bulbs go off -- for if you have a quilt in your head and have been trying to figure out just how to create it -- the Fast-Piece Applique method can make it happen.

Meantime, it's time to Filler-Up once again... and so far we have been looking for line,
or working on some 5 minute line drawings (there's always time to start!)

Now, I'd like to share with you a few ways of taking some of these line inspirations and using them to create patterns.
Patterns that are built by repeating.

Patterning has been with us forever, for we seem to want to number one want to make things beautiful. And number two accomplish this by repeating a favored design in one of MANY types of organizational grids.
No Grid = Random
But as examples we may try using an invisible grids such as:
this pattern made on a square grid
this is a brick grid
a circle grid
A half-brick grid
Can you see some of the elements from your drawing finds or exercises working as a repeat pattern?

In one of these grid samples?

Some work as is, and others may need reworking to repeat well into the space allowed by YOUR grid.

As I'm typing I'm thinking about my tree skeletons --- hmm, maybe a half-brick

Enjoy your day, and let us know which type may work for your latest LINE work.

Stitching On

Friday, January 25, 2013

Scottsdale Update

I have now completed 2 wonderful - 2day workshops and have just today to meet a new group for a quiet fun day of Dimensional Stitching.
The perfect 'line' workshop!
We'll have fun finding out just how far a needle and thread may take us.

The pictures here were taken last night as my friend, and fellow teacher, Lura Schwarz-Smith took off for a bit of Scottsdale fun. As the sun set we headed off on the trolley into Old Town where the Art Walk on Thursday evenings was in full swing.

We had a blast catching up, taking in the sites and people watching...oh, hey and had an amazing dinner at one of the local restraunts. On entering this establishment I was immediately taken by the glass partition around the bar.
It lined up glass triangles on wire creating a wonderful and intriguing wall.
I have been on the lookout for things like this, for I have a garden area at the new house where I want a wall, but not a wall.

BUT, I had to share it here...
we were to be on the lookout for, and take pictures of 'line' this week.
My mind is spinning with possibilities.
What would make those triangles of --
or would you change the shape?

Have an amazing Friday & kick off the weekend with gusto.
I'm Stitching On!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

No Foolin' Toolin' Tuesday

When I was running around Quilt Market last October I ran into that wonderful man from Kai Scissors. I had first met him in Long Beach where he happily accepted my challenge 'to prove' that his 5-1/2" curved scissors really would make the trimming of my Fast-Piece Applique pieces breezier than my beloved duck-bill scissors.

Try it -- he said...
and he needed to say nothing more, for after trying these little beauties I was hooked-- and bought them to share with my classes and add soon to my on-line store.

When showing my students the FPA method yesterday I included a "try it" you may just 'like it' suggestion, and then sold out of scissors. Today for Tool'in Tuesday the class was going to hold them up for a photo op, BUT we all got so consumed with the quilts that we forgot.

Still wanting to share these with you I went for send best...
photos of just the scissors themselves.

Like everything in life and quilting - having the right tool for the job, makes the doing a breeze. The right tool for one may not be the right tool for another, and the right tool may sometimes be 'really' be improved upon. We always need to be on the lookout for these jewels -- and, always give new tools a whirl.

Having a grand time at Quilt Camp-- promise fun pictures on my return.
Tomorrow I begin teaching a 2-day machine embellishment class, so I'll be

Stitichin' On

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Filler' Up... Again

Today the car was packed and ready to roll at o'dark hundred. I quietly pulled myself together, grabbed some hot tea for the road, & fed the kitties before waking David up to say good -bye. It was hard, but oh...the first workshop of the year is pretty exciting, and this year its a week in Scottsdale -- warmth and sunshine...and LINE of course.

Last week I suggested daily sketchbook exercises and I hope some of you may have given it a own tree skeletons have moved from 5 minutes of sketching to small quilts; still in the works...actually packed into my bags to work a bit on while I'm away.

This week let's take 'line' itself out for a turn around the town.

With sketchbook or camera find examples where lines...repeating in some manner are use to create pattern and texture.

I'll be doing the same, and we'll see where it takes us!

Have a great week....and please share about what you find.

Stitchin' On

Location:on the road

Friday, January 18, 2013

Meet Helene Davis on this Funtastic Friday!

Happy Friday --
it is hard to believe it is already Friday. It has been a busy, creative and fun week for me.
I even had a grand time sharing about my new book, and ARTIFYING with Mark Lipinski,
Wed on his radio show, Creative Mojo.

If you missed it, just check out the webpage for his show and listen or download the podcast. We shared ideas on getting 'unstuck', and I loved his ending suggestion of heading to the local Hallmark store if you need a quick shot of happening color and design!

Meantime, with my eyes peeled to bring you inspiration to build your art LINE muscles this month I just had to ask local (now) Paducah artist,
Helene Davis
if I could share a little of her studio and work with you. So, in true Funtastic Friday style I hope you enjoy visiting Helene along with me. (truly the hardest part for me was editing it down to just 12 images).
on entering the Jefferson Street Studios be ready for the
COLOR - Helene's hand-dyed fabric for sale there
once behind the closed doors of the store you make your way
back to Helene's studio -- to die for - or dye for - right!
after passing magical rooms where the secret processes
of all the dye-work happens you get here - wonderful colors
of amazing fabric
from the stacks Helene take fabrics and starts to put them piles
awaiting final color selection - and oh, what choices!
strips are cut of various widths - there's that LINE thing happening
the strips are then stitched together
and quilt tops that seem touched by magic are ready for quilting
Helene uses simple stitched line to enhance the final work.
These lines are less than 1/4" apart and let the color and design
of the fabric all work to tie the composition together.
the quilting is done on 1 of Helene's 2 Singer machines, and even
her stitch savers are beautiful in their use of line -- such fun texture!
luckily, Helen's has saved all of these - can hardly wait to see how she may use them!

I had an incredible time visiting with Helene and look forward to more of that in the future.

AND, as a final treat I  picked out 4 fat-eighths of some of Helene's hand-dyes to help me create the winter skies for my tree skeletons designs I shared yesterday.

I'll be working on those so they can travel with me as I head off to Scottsdale to teach next week at Quilting in the Desert.

Stitching ON!

Thursday, January 17, 2013


I started with a quick sketch of some tree skeletons on Monday morning, and they have captured my attention. At the bottom of my sketchbook page that day I had written the following:

'against everchanging colors of winter skies--
morning pinks; cloudless clear blues;
soft greys; dark deep cold blues'

The lines of the trees were a way of seeing those amazing skies - everyday.

Little did I know that night I would have a bit of private tour of Helene Davis's studio here in Paducah.
She is an art quilter and hand-dyer...

and when I saw her latest work my mouth dropped for she had captured my skies!

Long story, short -- she agreed to let me come visit today--
maybe take a few pictures today, so I am jazzed!

My little set of four tree skeleton designs may be lucky enough to even find some amazing sky fabric just for them. In the meantime,  please stand-by....

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Find the Way!

Van Gough
Tolle Perry
Fernand Leger
Michele Mikesell

Yesterday, the photos I shared with you used very strong actual lines to pull your attention into the picture.

See where your eye is pulled.
Then try to figure out what the artist used to move you visually through the piece.

These artists are using 'implied' line:
One not really there, but created by other means
to pull our eye and attention to areas as if there was an actual line.

In Van Gough's piece notice how he uses the boats and the shoreline to pull us in.
Tolle Perry uses the flowers and window itself to pulls us in the center circle.
Arms, eye direction, and mechanical do dads of Fernand Leger's piece keep pulling us back in to see more.
How about the others?

How could you use this in your next project?

My mind it spinning with possibilities --
Hope this get's your inspirational juices going.

Stitchin' On