Friday, August 15, 2014

Another Indispensible Tool - Pressing Sheets

With the increasing use of fusibles to make art quilts, someone had to come up with a way to prevent your iron and ironing board cover from becoming "gunky" (technical term). Fortunately, iron pressing sheets came on the market and have saved many an iron and cover from this horrible fate! 

My Pressing Sheets

Above you see a photo of my two pressing sheets. These sheets are used to prevent adhesives or sticky stuff from adhering to the iron bottom or ironing board cover. By adhesives I mean anything from fusibles to glue to Bo Nash powder to paint.  If you don’t want it on the iron or board, place a pressing sheet in between. 

You can place your fabric with adhesive on the sheet, fold the sheet over the fabric and iron. It’s a nice little sandwich and nothing sticky gets on the iron or board. You may want to get two of these, like I have, to allow for a large bit of fabric to be ironed. Each sheet is about 11" x 17", which is adequate for most of my needs. 


All the pressing sheets I have seen are slightly opaque, so you can see through them to view the positioning of the fabric. I also use them to press sheers that may melt if given direct heat from the iron.  I keep mine at the ironing board area at all times so they are handy to pull out.

To clean adhesive from them just wipe them with a damp cloth. So far I haven't had paint stick to them, but I haven't tested that to a great extent. I can't promise it won't stick or stain. 

Parchment paper can be used as an alternate to pressing sheets. I keep a roll of parchment paper the length of my ironing board in my sewing area so I can completely cover the board for really messy jobs. 

Parchment roll

I hope you find this information helpful. Thanks for visiting my blog!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Putting a Small Quilt to Good Use - Machine Cover

I have a few wall hanging sized quilts that I don't hang up because they don't go with my decor. They just hang in the closet and wait to see the light of day. I love to find a way to take something I am not using and fill a need with it. So, my need was a cover for my Handi-Quilter HQ Sweet Sixteen Machine.

This machine needs to be covered in two directions: One direction is the harp to the needle end, and the other is the back of the machine where the thread spools stand. They align perpendicular to each other, so instead of doing something in one piece, I decided to make two separate covers for each of these sections.

I had an "I Spy" quilt in the closet, not being used for anything at all, and cut it in two pieces to go over these two machine sections.  I used my serger to sew the edges together and finish cut edges. The front cover is the lower section shown in the photo below.

HQ Sweet Sixteen Cover

 It is open on two sides and sewn closed on two sides. I put a magnet in the open corner to help hold the cover in place. The corner with the magnet is the one where the edge angles up. You can see in the photo below how I folded the edges up to secure the magnets and fit better over the machine.

The back cover is the upper one in the photo above. It is closed on three sides and open on one side. I cut a square shape out of  the bottom to allow it to go over the end of the machine better.

It was a fast project and I've been happy with it since I made it.

Don't be afraid to cut up a quilt that isn't being used and re-purpose it. They are much more happy being out in the world than locked up in a stuffy old closet!

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

My Favorite Quilting Tool - Handi-Quilter HQ Sweet Sixteen

Today’s post is dedicated to my favorite art quilting tool – my HQ Sweet Sixteen sit down machine. This is it:

I have had this machine about 3 or 4 years now and it has greatly improved the quality of my machine quilting. I used to be very stressed out when I did machine quilting, but not any more. The whole experience improved for me. I guess I should not credit the machine for improving my machine quilting, but instead say that it allows me to more closely create on fabric what I have in my head! 

The machine has a large harp, which allows me to move the bulk of the quilt around and still smoothly move the quilt under the needle. I also love the foot pedal speed adjustments. They prevent you from going faster than the set speed no matter how hard you push on the pedal. You still can adjust the speed, but its an upper limit. 

This machine only does free motion quilting. It was expensive ($5K) and I realize that not everyone wants to spend that kind of money for a machine that only does free motion quilting. I found a deal where I could buy it on credit with no interest at an affordable monthly pay rate.  My husband said, "I don't want you to be the kind of wife that only after her husband dies, goes out and gets the things she really wants. So get it now." I love him for that!  For me it was well worth the money, and I have never regretted the purchase. 

I have seen many people do beautiful machine quilting on a standard sewing machine, so there is no doubt that it can be done. But for me, this machine made a huge difference and I unabashedly admit that I love it. J 

And no, I am not being paid for this post by Handi-quilter! Thanks for visiting my blog!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

New Light Pad!

Today I am showing you one of my new toys - a Huion Light Pad.

This is a very thin light source that I use for tracing designs on to fabric or freezer paper or whatever.This light pad lies on the side-table next to my quilting machine. I don't have to remove it to do my quilting, it is flat enough that the fabric glides right over it. I leave it out all the time and have found it to be much more of a useful tool than my old light table. Its LED so its energy usage is low too.

My old light table was bulky and I had to put it away or it would get in the way of my other work. Just having to take it out prevented me from using it many times. Since I have gotten this light pad I have used it much more often than my previous light table because it is so convenient. I am so glad I purchased it. I love being more productive!

In case you are curious, I  purchased it on Amazon. It is about 14" x 19". It had very good reviews and was about half the price of the leading model, which I will not name here.

That's today's tip!

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Palm Canyon is Finished!

This series of blog posts describes the process I used to make the commissioned Palm Canyon art quilt shown below.  Today’s post describes the finishing of this art quilt. Prior steps are shown in my previous posts.

Finishing Palm Canyon

Well it's taken a while, but this is the final post for the making of this quilt. Whew!

Because this was a larger quilt (3 feet by 4 feet) with a lot of appliqué pieces, I did my quilting stitching as I went along. The quilting stitching served to hold down the appliqué pieces so they wouldn’t fall off or shift as I moved to the next area. I used a variety of stitches across the quilt. These photos show some of the stitching that I used, and some finishing touches like beads and french knots.

thread painting

French knots on trees

beading at bottom of waterfall

I stitched some animal shapes in the larger spaces in the subsurface, like lizards, rabbits, tortoises, etc. This photo shows a lizard I stitched into a beige fabric piece.

lizard stitched into beige fabric

After all the quilting was done I squared it up, and sewed on a binding to the edge.  Next came the naming of the quilt and making a label. I let the client choose the name, and she selected “Joyful Solitude” because that is the feeling she gets when riding her horse back in the canyon. What a nice thought! Here is the label I made for the quilt back.

My last steps were blocking and photographing.  I am pleased to say the client was very happy with it and has hired me to make another custom piece for her. She was a pleasure to work with and I look forward to another interesting fiber art project!

My next posts are going to be about tips and quilting favorites. Thanks for visiting my blog! 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Beyond the Edge - Fiber Perceptions Show

I am a member of "Beyond the Edge Fiber Artists" and we have an exhibit at the Cerritos Library that is running now through September 15th. This is a beautiful location and I think the exhibit has a very nice collection of fiber art pieces. This is a postcard with information about the exhibit:

This is my "Three's Company" art quilt that is part of this exhibit:

For more information about Beyond the Edge Fiber Artists you can click the link below:

Beyond the Edge

Monday, July 14, 2014

Going Below the Surface!

This series of blog posts describes the process I used to make the commissioned Palm Canyon art quilt shown below.  Today’s post is describing the area on the quilt that I call the "Subsurface". Prior steps are shown in my previous posts. 

Making the Subsurface

If you look at this photo you see a cut away of the earth's surface showing what goes on below ground. It is separated from the surface by dark bias strips. That is the area I am talking about today. 

Since this quilt was made for someone who is a geologist, I wanted the subsurface to look "correct". Part of what this person loves about the Palm Canyon area is her understanding of the geologic processes that helped to form it.  She sent me some links to a college geology professor’s notes and photos to use as reference. It was like going back to school!  I found many of these photos very helpful for designing the subsurface, as described here.

Disclaimer – Although I worked for years with geologists, I am not a geologist. But I looked at the photos and got ideas for the design that I am going to describe here. This is a simplified, layperson’s description of what I wanted the subsurface to look like:

  • ·        Layers of rocks and soils are deposited on top of each other over eons of time. These layers look different – color variation, size of rocks and pebbles, etc.
  • ·        Earthquakes shove a part of this layering in one direction or another, so the layers angle up and down. Sometimes the shoving causes rocks to come to the surface and stick out.
  • ·        Some of these layers get completely folded.
  • ·        Earthquake faults separate areas and cause discontinuous sections.
  • ·        Big rocks get in the middle of the soil layers in places.

I am sure any geologist reading this is chuckling at this time, but those were my rules of thumb. And although I may not know what I’m doing, I did pass my drawing by the geologist client and she gave it the thumbs up.
So here are some photos of the subsurface.


different angles

fault lines

 Notice the variety of colors and textures, different angles, folding, rock "inclusions", jutting to the surface, etc. I did my best to capture this in fabric. 
rock inclusions

jutting to surface

After all the rock pieces were in place, I  laid tulle over the entire subsurface to give it a darker value than the above ground area. I wanted it to be distinctly different looking. I also sewed bias strips along the fault lines and the barrier between the surface and subsurface to help further separate these two areas. 

That's enough science for today. My next post will be the finishing of this quilt. 

Thanks for visiting my blog!