Friday, April 21, 2017

Quilting in Progress - Bird of the Night

Today I'm going to show some of my choices for free motion quilting. Before I did the free motion quilting I had pin basted the three layers (top, batting and back), couched the major shapes and straight stitched inside the major shapes to divide the area up. Below you see it with the pin basting done and couching in progress.

After this step was done it's time for creative free motion quilting!

Thread color choices:

A few years ago I bought some Superior Super Bright threads. They almost have a fluorescent appearance and I love them for areas that need to stand out.  These are what I used almost exclusively on this piece. The bright color against the black background was necessary for the image to been seen from a distance.  I found many other light and medium values did not stand out enough when I looked at it from a few feet away.

I had created a color plan and intended to use this as a guide for my stitching. I tested out two choices and preferred the one on the left, below. I deviated from this plan because I found that lavender and other purple colors did not stand out enough on the black background.

Below I show my criteria for free motion quilting stitch choices:

1) Choose a design that fits in the space well or adds a direction for eye movement:

I did this on the leaves. I wanted them to read like leaves, so I stitched directionally away from the center leaf vein. It also helped to give shape to the leaf.

2) Choose some designs because they are tighter and add more color:

Stitch patterns in the flower petals were done in a more dense fashion to make sure the color showed from a distance. I chose stitch patterns that are good fillers.

3) Choose some because they are fun!

I really like the alfalfa sprout-like stitch that I used on the head and on the front most petal. That is just a fun shape to me!

I'll be showing the background stitching in an upcoming post. Meanwhile, thanks for visiting my blog!

Thursday, April 13, 2017


I'm doing some posts to show the process I used to make my "Bird of the Night" art quilt. This is a detail of part of it. If you look closely at this photo you can see that the bird head and major petals have a piece of yarn stitched around them. The process of sewing down this yarn is called "couching". For me couching is basically using a Zig-Zag stitch over the yarn to stitch it down

I do the couching before I machine quilt inside the flower. It is my boundary line for stitching. I use a wide Zig-Zag stitch for the couching to make sure I cover the yarn.

I used blue yarn and orange yarn, depending on the part of the flower. It makes a nice outline, thicker than machine quilting thread. I also did some straight stitching (multiple passes) over the major dividing lines inside the flower head and petals. Here is an action shot of this work!

I defined the leaves on the bottom the same way. In this area I couched green and yellow yarn. I like this technique to make sure the shapes stand out from the background.

I think I will talk about the machine quilting stitches in my next post. Thanks for visiting my blog!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Upcoming Gallery Show - Expressions in Fiber Art

I love being a member of Beyond the Edge Fiber Artists! We have another exhibit beginning May 1st at the Anaheim Center Gallery.  My work and fiber art created by 7 other wonderful artists will be on display.

There will be an artist's reception on Friday, May 5th from 5 to 6:30 pm.  I would love it if you could be there!

The City of Anaheim will generously provide food and drink at the reception too!  The brochure is shown below, but just in case you can't read the address it is:

250 East Center Street, Anaheim, CA. Put it in your GPS and come to see us!

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Bird of the Night - Design

I thought I'd show the process I used to come up with the design for this art quilt. My first step was gathering photos of bird of paradise flowers that I had taken over the years:

I liked the appearance of this one in particular, and made a sketch based on this flowers appearance:

I was making this art quilt for an exhibit that requires a 40" x 40" finished size. To accommodate this size I needed a design element above or below the flower to make a square. I chose the leaf shapes below the flower head because they suggest the flower is rising above the plants greenery.

Once I was satisfied with my sketch I took it to my local copy service and enlarged it to a 40" x 40" size:

A while ago I had done a doodle of a bird of paradise and put a wide variety of shapes in different areas of the flower.

 That doodle gave me the idea to do this piece with thread stitching. The lines inside the flower head and petals will be my guide for different machine quilting stitches. I have some very bright threads that I wanted to use, so I chose a black fabric for the background. I'll show more of this in upcoming posts.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

"Bird Of The Night"

I decided to make a second fiber art piece for Beyond the Edge Fiber Artist's  "Put A Bird On It!" exhibit.

This is that second piece, and I call it "Bird of the Night". It measures 40" x 40". I'll show in my upcoming posts how I made this piece. It is currently on display at the Rancho Buena Vista Adobe Gallery in Vista, California, along with over 30 other fiber art pieces.

Here is information about the exhibit:

Textile Translations
A new exhibit from Beyond the Edge Fiber Artists

Textile Translations will be shown from March 7 through April 3, 2017 at the Rancho Buena Vista Adobe Gallery (Rancho Buena Vista).  The Gallery is located at 640 Alta Vista Drive, Vista, California. Phone (760) 639-6164. The gallery is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday, from 10 am to 3 pm.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Favorite "White" Markers

Linda Friedman, of  Linda's Art Quilts  fame, recently asked what marker I use on a dark fabric. I understand her question because I've had a hard time finding a good marker for dark fabrics myself. Many of the markers do not come off easily, or they are too hard to see or they don't last long enough to be of use. So for this post I'm going to show you my three favorite methods for marking on a dark fabric.

This first photo shows many of the markers I have for dark fabrics that I have tried and found wanting for one reason or another:

As you can see, I have tried many. Here is one of my favorite markers if I need a thin white line:

This is a mechanical pencil filled with BOHIN white pencil lead. The lead is strong enough to not break easily, and its' line has lasted for a few months on a piece I was handling a lot. By the time I got done quilting an area the lines were mostly gone. A little wet towel removed the residual. You can buy this lead at a quilting store or on line. BOHIN also sells mechanical pencils if you don't already have one.

My next favorite white marker is a General's White Charcoal Pencil, shown here:

The line made with this pencil is a little thicker, but it is easily removed with a damp cloth and seems to last long enough for machine quilting.

But this is my favorite white marker, and it's very cost effective:

You are looking at a sliver of Irish Spring soap. I like to use them for washing until they are very thin, especially on an edge. I let them dry out completely, and then they are great markers. Their marks come off easily with a damp cloth and their line lasts. If they get too blunt, I pull out a new one. I never seem to run out of them.

So there you have some choices for dark fabric markers. Thanks for asking Linda! As always, thanks for visiting my blog!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Textile Translations Exhibit at the Rancho Buena Vista Adobe Art Gallery

I am a proud member of Beyond the Edge Fiber Artists. Our group has an exhibit entitled "Textile Translations" at the Rancho Buena Vista Adobe Art Gallery. The exhibit runs from March 9 through April 3, 2017. The Adobe is a historical site, with old buildings, gardens and an art gallery. It's a fun place to visit.

I've posted a few photos from our set up day at the gallery.

 I hope you have a chance to see the exhibit. Here is more information::

Textile Translations
A new exhibit from Beyond the Edge Fiber Artists
Textile Translations will be shown from March 7 through April 3, 2017 at the Rancho Buena Vista Adobe Gallery (Rancho Buena Vista).  The Gallery is located at 640 Alta Vista Drive, Vista, California. Phone (760) 639-6164. The gallery is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday, from 10 am to 3 pm.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Tough Old Bird Final Details

Here are some last images for this piece before I move on to another project:

I used a blue horizontal and vertical strip to anchor the Tough Old Bird on the background.

I used bias tape and straight stitched it on.

Face stitches:

shirt stitches:

hat stitches:

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

More Quilting - The Stitched Bird!

I'm still showing the making of my "Tough Old Bird" piece. Today's post is about the quilted bird I put on this piece. You can see it in the upper left corner of this image:

Why a stitched bird? Well, something needed to be placed in the upper left corner to add some balance, in my opinion. I also wanted an actual bird of some kind on this somewhere.

What kind of bird? This Marine required a bird of prey, hence the hawk.

How did you do it? I drew an image of the hawk and then enlarged it to the size I wanted. The image was cut out and placed on the fabric.

I used a white pencil and traced around this.

And then I stitched around and within the lines.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Background and Quilting of the Background - a lesson learned

   After all the parts that make up the "Tough Old Bird (TOB)" were painted, I assembled them on a piece of tan fabric. This fabric prevents the background colors from coming through the lighter fabrics. I trimmed the tan fabric up to the edge of the TOB, so none of it shows. It just adds a nice warm tone and prevents color bleed through. I do this with all of my portrait images.

I used a blue and brown background, as you can see in the image above. I pieced the background and sandwiched it. I decided to quilt the background before putting the TOB on it. I used a straight stitch for the quilting on most of the background.

After completing the straight stitching, I placed the TOB on the background. I fused it down and then machine quilted it. As I was looking at it during the quilting stage, I realized I could see the straight stitches on the background fabric through the TOB. Pre-stitching the background turned out to be a mistake. I had straight horizontal shadow lines all over this old dude, and that was not what I wanted. I didn't like the way that looked at all, so used a stitch picker and removed all of the straight stitches that were under TOB. It was extra work but worth it.

So what went wrong? The horizontal lines may not have shown through if I didn't use fusible behind TOB, but I like fusible and I'm going to use it, I got the idea to stitch the entire background first from another art quilter. She says she does it and it makes squaring up the quilt at the end easier. She does not use fusible, so that may be why it works for her. Since I use fusible, I won't pre-stitch the background again.

It was a lesson learned, but all is well in the end. In my upcoming posts I'll show more of the quilting and finishing of this piece.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Skin tone, and hair for Roy

  This piece required painting skin tone for the face and arm/hand. I painted the face, head, beard and glasses on the same single fabric piece. The arm, hand and cigar were done on a separate piece.

My preferred colors for Caucasian skin tones are yellows, browns and pink/red tones. The shadow areas are created with blues or blues mixed with reds.

Here are some in progress photos:

    Arm and hand...

and here is the face and neck.

In progress stages often aren't pretty. You just have to have faith and keep going, knowing once you get the value contrast in it will look better. Practice, practice, practice.

  This photo shows my painting palette while I was doing these pieces.

  Here is a practice piece for the glasses. I thought the reflection and eye shadows would be a little tricky, so I did a test painting first.

    The hair and beard can be seen here.  A lot of white, gray, silver and blue were used to get the look of the hair and beard.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Hawaiian Shirt

Roy is wearing a Hawaiian shirt in this picture, and he has a cigar case in his pocket. To recreate that look in fabric I started with a white-on-white fabric. I laid the fabric over my line drawing and penned in the light, medium and dark value areas. I used a Frixion pen for these lines so they would easily erase with an iron. I show the fabric below with the lines. I enhanced the color of the photo so that you could see the white on white pattern.

White on white fabric is very interesting when painted. The surface white design takes the color different from the background fabric, so it shows the white on white design more prominently.

I mixed together blues, pink-reds, and other colors in the shirt and started to paint away. I didn't paint areas that would be covered by the arm or other parts. Here is an in-progress photo:

The cigar case was made using the same green fabric I used for the hat.

Here is a photo of the shirt after the painting was completed:

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Marine Hat

This post is about the hat on my "Tough Old Bird" piece. As you can see, Roy is wearing a dark hat. It is actually a Marine hat, dark green with a gold emblem in the center front. The value contrast in the photo is very interesting to look at, so it's an important part of the ensemble.  I always start with an enlarged line drawing of my subject, and that is what I am showing below.

I outlined the light areas on the hat on the line diagram to make it easier to paint later.

I chose a commercial green fabric as the base for the hat. I placed the line drawing on a light pad, and laid the green fabric over the line drawing. Using a white chalk pencil, I traced the hat outline and marked the light value areas as well.

The green fabric is lighter than the hat color, so I mixed a darker green ink with aloe vera gel and applied it to the darkest areas on the hat. The lighter areas on the hat were made by painting the area with an aloe vera gel mixture of white ink mixed with some green ink. These photos show the hat in progress.

A few paint layers later, getting darker with each layer, I ended up with the hat shown below. I added gold paint to the emblem at a later stage to make it stand out a bit more. 

Thanks for visiting my blog!