Hanging Straight

If you make quilts, you want them to be the size and shape that you planned,
and to hang straight if you exhibit them. Here is a checklist that may help:
1. Study diagrams and directions on a pattern to confirm the logic and measurements. To err is human; the pattern designer sometimes makes an error.
2. Cut accurately. The mantra is “measure twice, cut once”.
3. Piece accurately by marking seam allowances, pinning precisely, nesting seams, and confirming that your machine is sewing exactly the width of seam that you want.
4. Press accurately. Finger press seams first. Then press with your iron in a patting, up/down movement instead of sliding your iron, especially when a seam is on the bias of the fabric.
5. Measure each block of pieced work again after pressing. Correct if needed before joining to other blocks. You can rip out, trim, or mark seam allowances that are wider or more narrow than usual, then re-sew to compensate for imprecise blocks.
6. Cut outer borders with their length on grain whenever possible. Use borders that are exactly the size specified in your quilt diagram. Ease pieced blocks to fit the accurately-measured border, instead of sewing a long strip of border fabric to the pieced blocks then trimming the border fabric to fit.
7. Quilt with about the same density of stitching throughout the quilt.
8. Trim the quilt to exact size before binding. A carpenter’s square or triangular ruler are useful to check that corners are 90 degree angles.
9. Block the quilt after quilting. Wet it in sink or tub and squeeze out excess water. Lay the quilt on a clean surface, then stretch, scrunch, and pat until you come as close as possible to having equal measurements of (a) width at both edges and center, (b) height at both edges and center, and (c) both diagonals. I tape together yardsticks or use a metal tape measure that can be locked at any specific length. I’ve read about making a blocking board from a sheet of styrofoam insulation marked with a grid of squares, but I just use a sheet on my living room floor.
10. Store the quilt rolled up instead of folded if possible. Scrunching and stuffing the quilt in a pillowcase or fabric bag is better than folding it. Folding creates creases.

I have a finished quilt that I am preparing to send off to an exhibit. I do not like the way it hangs because I did not follow suggestion number 7 listed above. The interior is quilted more densely than the border, so it “waffles” a bit at the edges. I have one more trick to try. I am hand-sewing a long, strong gathering thread in the ditch at the inner and outer edges of the borders. I’ll let you know how it works. 

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Fiercely Guarded

My art-making time is precious. It must be fiercely guarded against usurpation by perceived worthy endeavors like obligations to family, kindness to friends, and responsibilities to organizations with missions that I believe are important. “Not now” is a useful phrase. Everyday necessities like cooking, cleaning and laundry are insidious. They can be time-urgent, yet unimportant, in terms of reaching larger life goals.

Procrastination and fear are lurking threats to creativity.
I use two strategies against procrastination:  making appointments on the calendar and actually writing down my goals with step-by-step plans to accomplish them. The solution to fear is to do something; just get going and begin work. I tell myself “Making art is not like brain surgery; no one dies if I mess up.” I have been forcing myself to do things which frighten me for over 50 years and recently I have realized that I am less afraid than many others I meet. Fear never goes away, and I don’t expect it ever will. If I take action, fear seems to hold less power.

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Another Wednesday

Another Wednesday painting result: I made a drawing on watercolor paper of the same view from my window that I did last week. This time I simplified and abstracted the scene. I spent my Wednesday painting time applying color with my Derwent Inktense pencils. Working with one small segment at a time, I applied washes using color pulled from the pencil tip with a wet paintbrush. With the wash still damp, I added textured using either the brush or the tip of the pencil. I am really enjoying the easy portability of this medium and the versatility. Here is Neighbors, Abstracted and the photo of the source scene.

Neighbors, Abstracted

Neighbors, Abstracted

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Neighbors, source

Diversion

I received a lovely gift on Sunday. A member of my art quilt group, who loves making 4” x 6” fabric postcards, gave two postcards to each person at the meeting. How generous. The signed one, I will send to a friend. An unsigned one I chose from the box had a nice teal and white print of a bird on a branch.

I could not stop myself when I got home. I took the print postcard apart and pieced it with fabrics that were meaningful to me and which coordinated in color: a hand-dye I had made, the waistband of a skirt and collar of a shirt that I had salvaged from my mother’s closet, some charm squares given to me as a gift. The bird image on the print was indistinct, so I searched my bird identification books for a species of appropriate body shape. A Northern Parula, the smallest warbler whose terrain includes Ohio, fit perfectly in both color and body shape.
I ironed fusible to the back of pale blue fabric, drew the perky little warbler with inktense pencils and a fine line Sharpie, and ironed him in place. My finished quiltlet, is 10 1/2” x 12 1/4”. Because it has a lot of hand-quilting, it was a four-day diversion from my backlog of unfinished projects. But making it was fun.

Northern Parula

Northern Parula

Postcard Project

I made my first fabric postcard today. It is done, in the envelope and addressed, ready to be sent to Sacred Threads Postcard Project. Fabric Postcards, expressing one’s greatest Hopes and Dreams, are to be sent anonymously to be displayed in the Floris United Methodist Church outside Washington D.C. July 7 through July 23 in conjunction with the Sacred Threads biennial Quilt Show. My wish, hope and prayer is for our national leaders to practice Wisdom, Compassion, Selflessness, Insight, Cooperation, Tolerance, Morality, Courage, and Humility. The postcard is 4″ x 6″.

Wisdom

Wisdom

 

Wednesday Painting

I’ve been painting with a group of local artists on Wednesdays. This week I’m playing with my new Derwent Inktense products, a set of 36 pencils and 36 blocks. I keep Wednesday’s appointment for art time as faithfully as life permits. I’ve discovered that I stay motivated even after our meeting. After both the painting and I rest overnight, I can see the work with a fresh viewpoint. I revise or finish my effort done in the meeting and hope I don’t overwork it. A simple still life was yesterday’s effort. After tinkering with the still life for about an hour, I called it done and signed it. After I photographed it, I tinkered some more. New ideas came to mind. Since I had my supplies out, I taped a small piece of watercolor paper on a clipboard and drew the view from my kitchen window. Another hour of painting and the small work “Neighbors” is the result. I love how concentration on art creation drives all other worries from mind.

still life

still life

neighbors

Neighbors

source for Neighbors

source for Neighbors

 

Not Yet

I’m not yet done with my quilt that I’m trying to finish before the end of December. I’ve finished quilting on it. This is the second day it has been drying, spread out on the living room floor. I rinsed it in the bathtub in cold water to wash out the blue marker and to dampen it for blocking. To block the quilt, I squeezed out excess water without wringing, laid the quilt on a clean sheet and stretched and scrunched it to be a more accurate rectangle. The stretching and scrunching were aimed to get each of three sets of measurements to be the same: three measurements side to side, two measurements top to bottom, and both diagonals. I directed a fan on the quilt to hasten drying. This process does occupy most of the center of the living room, so I’m grateful for spousal cooperation for this venture.

While the quilt was drying, I cut fabric for the binding and hanging sleeve. I also cleared my design wall so it can become my photo backdrop. This involved putting away several projects that were on the wall. This was useful to organize my workspace and update my current projects list. I’ve finished one project on my list, but added three more. There are now 24 on the list. My definition of a Current Project: A project that is named,  has a sketch or actual-size cartoon, materials have been gathered, and some work has begun. Current Projects do not include ideas or unnamed sketches; they have their own files.

blocking the quilt

blocking the quilt

projects in bags and project list

projects in bags and project list