Birds of Paradise

Birds of Paradise

Saturday 7 April 2018

Elm Street Quilts Postcard Blog Hop

I am participating in a blog hop for people who participated in Elm Street Quilts' postcard exchange.  This was a one-on-one exchange.  Each person made one card to send to one person.  Swappers could sign up a second time to send and receive from a second person.

I have participated in a number of postcard exchanges, and have taught classes and given lectures on postcard making.  It is fun creating these small fabric pieces, and even more exciting to receive one in the post.  I have found that one-on-on swaps tend to generate better quality cards, than swaps where a large number of cards have to be made.

As almost everyone loves ice cream, I created an ice cream card for my recipient in Texas, and I had fun adding the sprinkles on top!  Her word clue to me was shimmering.  (There is a bit of blank space below the card as I could not get cropping to work! )

The beautiful card that I received was made by Nina in England. I had given the word music, and her white fabric included musical notes!  I am not sure if she realized that I am originally from London, so that getting a Union Jack card was especially exciting.

I made another card for a wildflower swap.  I chose the California Poppy as my flower and created it with free motion quilting and Inktense pencils.  This was made for a lady in England.

People often ask how I do the outside edges.  I use a very close together zigzag stitch on my Bernina 440 or 830, 12 weight cotton thread when I can find the correct colours such as Wonderfil Frutti or Spaghetti.  When I cannot find a suitable 12 weight cotton thread, I use a finer thread and do two rounds.  I usually have my stitch set at a length of about 0.3mm and a width of around 4mm.  If I have to do two rounds, the first round is slightly narrower than the second.  I prefer to use cotton threads as I have found that they "fill" the space and round out unlike polyester thread.

I hope that you will visit the other participants in this blog hop.

Denise @ DottieDoodle

Karen @ Run Sew Fun

Laura @ LC's Cottage

Michelle @ Creative Blonde

Sandra @ mmm! quilts

Tuesday 7 November 2017

Fabulous Fabric Postcards

While I know that I have not posted in a long time, I have decided to start blogging again.

I am still actively participating in the Fifteen Quilts group so that work is secret until the unveiling.  The next unveil is due November 30th.

Meantime, I need to create eight fabulous fabric postcards for a swap with some friends themed "The People of the Book."  I cannot post a picture of those to-be-made cards as the are a surprise, but here are picture of different ones:

My  other goal is to work on my 30 day free motion mastery on my Handiquilter, ready to lead a group following the program starting at the end of January. The program will be offered through Sew Vac Ltd in Long Beach California.

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Free Motion Postcard for January

Monochromaticism seems to be the "in" topic for January.  The Fifteen by Fifteen challenge due February 1 is Monochromatic, and the theme for the January free motion quilting postcard exchange was a monochromatic color scheme with an all over quilting design. 

I chose to make a gradated flying geese card using blue Cherrywood fabric.  This was quilted with a design based on Angela Walters' arches pattern, using 100 weight Superior Threads 100 weight Kimono silk in two shades of blue.  The flying geese were paper pieced.

Tuesday 6 January 2015

Beginning Sewing Student Work

I have been teaching Beginning Sewing classes for the City of Long Beach Parks and Recreation Department since 2002, using an apron pattern from Kwik Sew.  McCalls Patterns purchased the company, and the artwork for that pattern did not get to McCalls. Before I depleted their entire stock of patterns I had to find a replacement.  My criteria included that the pattern must have a style which is suitable for men and women,that it fit a wide variety of body types, that it be easy, that it can be made out of quilting cotton and that a beginner can make it in 3-4 class sessions. (The first class in my series is always a lecture/demonstration.)  It sounded easy, but in doing the homework and trying a few likely candidates from both independent pattern designers and the large commercial companies I found a number of problems.  One pattern did not provide a pattern piece for the ties, and assumed that people would rotary cut their own.  My students are often newbies who have never sewn before and do not own tools, so it is a large investment to add a rotary cutter, ruler and mat to their supply list.  Another pattern was cut on the open (i.e. across the 45" width of fabric), which would require two tables per student----not feasible with twelve students in a class!  Other patterns involved too many steps or had poor reviews on Sewing Pattern Review, a great site for sewing pattern reviews.  For the moment, I have settled on a pattern which comes in both an adult and a children's size and has an optional oven mitt for students who work fast.  Vanessa, was the first student to finish the project and she agreed that I could post a picture of her proudly modeling her first completed sewing project.

New Style Beginning Sewing Apron

Thursday 1 January 2015

A New Year--------A Fresh Opportunity and a New Word for the Year

Happy New Year everyone.
I know that it has been a while since I have posted, and I have quite a bit of work to post!  I will gradually play catch up so you can see what I have been up to.
Today is the first day of 2015.  It was a glorious if cool day in Southern California.  We started the year off with a fairly short bicycle ride to eat breakfast at the The Beachcomber Café in the Historic District of Crystal Cove State Park, a former artists' colony.  It is worth watching the commercial on the café's website!  We took this photo a few weeks ago when it was warmer, but the tree was still on the beach today.  (Today we had warm jackets on!)

Each year, I try the practice of finding a word or a phrase for the year.  Last year I really struggled to find one, and my phrase never resonated.  This year the word relax found me.  No matter what other ideas I had it kept coming back.  so RELAX is the word I will try to keep in mind this year.  I am thinking of it in terms of not worrying so much and not getting paralysed by creative fear. 

To start the year out with some visuals, these are postcards made in December for two online postcard swaps.  One is a free motion swap and the other is for another online group.  The subject for the free motion swap (which is a one card swap) was a free motion machine quilting lesson prepared by Cindy Needham a couple of years ago, based on dividing an area.  ( while the subject for the second one was Prayers for Peace.

Cherrywood cotton quilted with Superior Kimono silk thread

Prayers for Peace front and back

Sunday 14 August 2011

California Dreaming

I purposely waited until after the International Quilt Festival Long Beach to post a photograph of my entry for  West Coast Wonders, called California Dreaming.  The quilt features some of my favorite techniques ---- machine quilting. machine embroidery and fabric postcards.  The photographs were taken by my husband Marvin, my sister-in-law and myself.  Marv did most of the the Photoshop work after taking two classes with Kerby Smith .  It looks deceptively simple, but there were a lot of challenges along the way, and I had to back-track a number of times. The project is also my wallhanging assessment for my City and Guilds Certification.

 The project was inspired by friends who like me to send them postcards from my travels to decorate their bulletin boards.  I started off with a cork tile, which was photographed.  The image was then sent to Spoonflower for printing.  I ordered two yards to allow extra fabric for testing, errors etc.  The postcards are really postcards.  I printed the images or postcard backs onto Electric Quilt pre-treated sheets.  I was able to get two images per sheet. The images were then fused to heavyweight Fast2Fuse.  I used the heavyweight to ensure that the cards would be flat against the background.  I fused muslin to the wrong sides as viewers should not be turning them over!  The edges were satin stitched using several different heavy-weight cotton threads including Sulky Blendables 12wt and Wonderfil Spagetti and Frutti.  Once the postcards were made, I took the ones which needed stamps cancelling to the local post office.  Gino was kind enough to frank them for me!  The background was quilted with a sun and ray pattern in 40wt thread, before I attached the postcards with monofilament thread. I had learnt from previous errors that areas need to be quilted underneath before applying large "appliqués".  As I knew that the piece would have to be shipped multiple times, if it was accepted into the exhibit,  I had to determine the placement of the postcards to allow for "folding" lines.  I used a wide binding to replicate the idea of a frame.  Once everything was stitched, Marvin  helped me to put real pushpins (thumb tacks) through each card.  We then cut off the backs to ensure that other quilts would not be harmed,  and sealed the backs with silicone to make the quilt safe for travel to multiple venues.  The quilt will be shown at the International Quilt Festival Houston, and International Quilt Festival Cincinnati.

Saturday 8 January 2011

Better late than never

I had planned on completing this jacket in time for the Houston Quilt Show in November, but ran into more challenge than I had anticipated. The jacket was made using Downie Design's Fat Quarter Jacket pattern which looked perfect for the 2 1/2" fabric rolls.

I usually create my wearable art on a "flat" background and can normally avoid having to insert darts. I saw the jacket made up in Cherrywood's sueded cotton at their booth at a quilt show and fell in love with it, thinking that it would be fast with pre-cut strips (anything to avoid lots of  cutting!) So I bought the pattern (which luckily included Cherrywood's suggestions for making it), a Cherry Roll, and yardage for the lining and binding to make the jacket. I went to Downie's booth to try on her finished samples and determined what size I needed.

Once I opened the pattern, I realised that it had princess seams.......... but thought that that would be fine. I made a muslin, and in accordance with Cherrywood's suggestion did not stiffen it with fusible interfacing. The muslin fit, so I proceeded to work on the jacket.  Instead of using uneven size strips which the pattern called for I used even strips, pinned and straight stitched them in place as instructed, leaving the area where the yoke and body intersect to be covered at the end I then free motion zigzagging over the joins using 40wt variegated cotton thread.  I started with the sleeves which were flat. They went fine.  I then made the back, which was slight shaped and that worked. I then started one of the front sides, and found it quite difficult to lay straight-cut strips over the curves created by the princess seams in the bust area.  I soldiered on, free motion quilting them, then stopped where the gap was.  It measured over 3" in places. At that point, I knew that I needed a creative solution, as 2 1/2" strips were not going to do the job.  I consulted other local sewers for their advice, but no one had seen anything like this.

 I finally took the front piece with me to Houston for help. (I even carried it in my hand luggage to ensure that it did not get lost.) As soon as Preview Night opened I made a bee-line for Cherrywood's booth which was customer-free. I talked to Karla who referred me to the person who had made their sample. I will interpose that she is very petite. After talking to her, I determined that the only thing I could do was to buy another 1/2 yard of a coordinating fabric (the color I had wanted to use is only made for the cherry rolls) and cut wider strips, possibly pleating them to make them fit over the curve. I ended up cutting a fairly wide strip for each side of the front to go over the curve.

Once all the quilting was done (the top, muslin and lining are quilted together) I realised that the garment had shrunk up a bit. So I panicked all through dinner on Saturday night until I could get a sleeve sewn to make sure it fitted. Luckily I have been working out hard, and the bicep area, which is usually my problem area, fit. It was also challenging matching the shoulder and under arm seams, as due to the overlapping strips, there are ten thicknesses of fabric at some of the seams. After reading Cherrywood's comments about having to pleat the straight-cut neck binding, I decided to cut mine on the bias, which made it much easier going around the neckline curves.  By now I had used up two 500yard spools of 40 weight variegated cotton. Having had a quiet New Year weekend, I thought I could finish the jacket on Sunday night.  I was sewing away and a needle broke. I was about to change the needle when everything went dark except for my machines which are on UPS's. Yes.......the electricity had gone off.  End of sewing for the night. Then on Tuesday, when I was ready to sew on the last piece of binding (the binding was also free motion zig-zagged on) I noticed that my bobbin had less than 12% thread left on it, and there was virtually no thread on the spool either. A 7:30pm call to my local Bernina dealer Sew Vac Ltd found them open, with two spools of the thread I needed, so I dashed up there and got the thread before closing time to finish the jacket. The button, which I purchased at Laura Murray's booth at Houston is by Crone Art.  Now it is pressed and ready to wear.

Friday 24 December 2010

More completed student projects

From l to r: Lisette, Loralee, Susannah and Dee Dee in their new aprons

Robert and Erin model their aprons
My last Beginning Sewing class for 2010 ended on Monday night.  The students left with their new aprons ready to wear or give as Christmas gifts.  A new round of City of Long Beach Parks and Recreation sewing classes will begin on January 4th.  These classes are always satisfying to teach, especially when students finish their projects. It is wonderful to see how students gain confidence in their sewing skills as the class progresses.

Thursday 23 December 2010

Etrog box

 The assignment for my first City and Guilds assessment piece was to create a container using a pieced design based on architecture. I designed, engineered and created an etrog box using traditional English box-making techniques with some contemporary twists. The etrog  (citron) is used during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, as part of the four species.  It is held together with the lulav and blessed during the holiday.  When not in use, the etrog is usually stored in a decorative box.  

The design inspirations for the box were windows in the Dohany Street Synagogue (Great Synagogue) in Budapest.  The synagogue survived World War II and has been restored to its former glory.  Today, it serves as the focal point for the small Jewish population still living it Budapest, and it is a major tourist attraction.  One of the reasons I chose to use this building as my inspiration was to pay homage to those who perished in the Holocaust.  Although there were numerous stained glass windows in the Synagogue, the one below was perfect for patchwork.  The patchwork for the  top and sides of the box were constructed using foundation paper piecing (flip and sew.) The color scheme was based on the colors used in this window and another more elaborate window, shown on the right.  The Star of David on the lid was created with English paper piecing.  The fabric for the lining of the box was created by sun-printing branches from our lulav. The lining was machine embroidered.


The construction of the box proved more challenging than anticipated.  I had planned on using heavy-weight  Fast2Fuse for the construction, rather than cardboard or card stock, the foundation material used for most English embroidered boxes, to avoid having to glue my fabric to the base.  (Fast2Fuse is a heavy, stiff interfacing with fusible web on both sides.  I use it in the center of my postcards.)   My original intention was to fuse the patchwork to one side and the lining to the other, and then to satin stitch the segments together to join them.   When I sampled this construction method, it did not seem elegant enough, so my tutors suggested using the traditional hand ladder-stitching method of joining the pieces, and using two pieces of Fast2Fuse for each segment so that there would be no raw edges.  This extended the scope of the project, and as it was not portable, due to the risk of bending the pieces, it has taken months to complete.  Each piece of the box is made from two pieces of covered Fast2Fuse which are joined together with topstitching, using YLI  Silk Sparkle thread.  Due to the small scale of the patchwork pieces, it was necessary to use a very fine thread for the quilting and topstitching.  When I sampled heavier threads they overwhelmed the patchwork, as many of the pieces are under one inch.  However, I had to test numerous needles before I found one which did not cause the thread to shred while going through the thick layers.  The only needle which worked was a size 80 SUK (jersey) needle.  Once each side was assembled, the sections were hand ladder-stitched together, a very time-consuming process, due to the thickness of the pieces, and the need for the stitches to be invisible.

The box is now completed, and ready for use next Sukkot.

Box closed

Box open

Box open

Monday 20 September 2010

Environmentally Correct Project

This coffee cozy was inspired by a Creative Troupe call-out to use Liquitex Iridescent medium in a project, and my recent 120 mile plus two day tandeming adventure on the Hazon New York Ride.  As I love leaves, I decided to create a fall coffee cozy----using the Liquitex Iridescent medium, Liquitex Acrylic paints, and Superior copper-colored metallic thread, which behaved in my Bernina 830.