Thursday, April 30, 2015

April UFO Busting

It's time to link up with Vicki Welsh of Field Trips in Fiber again for April's UFO Busting report  in our quest to get some UFO's out of the studio.  Click on her badge on the sidebar for a direct link to her post about it.  At the end of every month Sue is doing a post about what she's accomplished that month, and linking it to Vicki's.

Sue's report:
April was a better month due in part to a 3 day guild retreat.  I was able to finish the baby quilt and turn it in to the charity quilt collector.  I pulled out a mixed media piece started a few years ago (not counted in the original count of UFOs so it will get added - and subtracted!) and finished it for a mixed media art exhibit.  I also completed another wall art piece.  So that's 3 projects completed!

In new starts, I took a modern quilting class with Jacquie Gering so have a new started project from that, as well as another new project I started at the retreat using up some pre-cut squares and circles.  I plan to make this a table runner.  I also made progress on a 12" square challenge quilt due in May, and sewed 1 more block for the plaid quilt.

Not bad - it helps to see progress by doing these posts!

For my end of month count, this is where things stand:
  • Projects in progress April 1 -9
  • Projects completed -3
  • New projects started -2
  • UFO's trashed - 0
  • Projects in progress April 30 - 8
Slowly but surely, things are getting done.  If only I could just focus on finishing the UFOs instead of starting new things, I'd get rid of more UFOs!  Oh well, a few more deadlines and new starts are coming up but hopefully I will be able to work in more time on finishing.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Julie Booth's Scavenger Hunt

Julie Booth, author of Fabric Printing at Home, is sponsoring a scavenger hunt on her blog and today is the first day.  She has 12 days of printing challenges in store based on her book and using found objects from around the house.  Read more about it here.

Challenge #1: Find items in your kitchen that will print circle designs.
Please post your Circle Prints on Friday, May 1st. Leave a comment on my blog post on that day with a link to your prints.

So I took a look around my kitchen and these are the things I found that I thought I might be able to print with.  Of course, there are lots of other circle items like glassware and plates that I choose not to put paint on!  But those in the picture are ones I'm willing to sacrifice.
The metal skewer is there because it has a round end - you can see some of its shadow.  (I didn't realize it was out of the frame when I took the picture.)  This gives me 2 days to do some printing and see what I come up with.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

New in the Shop

We are working on adding some new screens to the Etsy shop.  There are 3 new so far, with a spring theme in mind.  We've got an apple blossom, a dogwood blossom, and some water ripples that are great for background texture.
The apple blossom is available in 3 sizes which can be purchased individually, or as a set at a savings over the individual screens.
 The dogwood is the state flower of Virginia, so adding this to our collection is long overdue.
This image of water ripples is great for adding a subtle overall background texture, especially in a color that is not a high contrast to the fabric.  Below are some photos of how the screens look when printed.
Both the apple and dogwood blossoms are printed in white (even though the dogwood looks pale pink in this photo).
In the image below, the water screen was printed twice with discharge.  The first time was with a wedgewood blue color, which was hard to see.  The second time was with a plain discharge, so it was just taking color out, not replacing it with another color.  That provided a more visible texture.  If you're not familiar with discharge, it is a process for taking color out of fabric.  It can be done with bleach or products containing bleach, but does require something to stop the bleaching process, such as Anti-Chlor.  For this piece, I used deColourant discharge paste - it is made in plain and colored versions.  I like this product because it has a less offensive odor (more citrusy) and doesn't require the stop-action product.  It does require heat (ironing) to complete the discharge process.
If you're looking for something new to print, check out the designs available in the shop.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

New Printing Enthusiasts!

In our thermofax screen printing class yesterday at Artistic Artifacts we created a new group of printing enthusiasts. One student does painting on silk, another works mainly with mixed media, others were more in the fabric/quilting arena, but all found ways that this "addictive" technique can be incorporated into their creative process.   We had plenty of time for printing, experimenting with discharge and thickened dye, and all produced successful prints. What an enjoyable way to spend the day!

We started out with just muslin and tried various paints to get the feel for printing. Then our students pulled out other fabrics they brought and got busy with their own choices of colors and images.
 Betty had this beautiful dyed (or painted?) piece that she printed with our bird on a branch screen.
 Another birds in a tree screen printed on a commercial "hand dye".
Jan had this interesting fabric from another workshop that she used the sewer cover screen on with a similar paint color to add another layer (the partial squares are the screen print).
Judy used the circles screen to add more interest to a commercial print.
Elizabeth demonstrates how to tape a screen. We also demonstrated how to use discharge and thickened dye.
 This is one of Debbie's discharge pieces.
 Betty produced this lovely subtle discharge on her piece.
 Nancy's discharge on a commercial batik produced this lovely pale pink image of the birds hiding among the leaves of the print.
Kate is very happy with this piece of a yellow to orange gradation on which she printed a seed pod in orange on the yellow to orange section and a butterfly on the orange to red section.  Can't wait to see what she does with it!   Most of these screens are available in our Etsy shop; if you don't see them there, feel free to contact us via email through our profile.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Scrappy Modern

Yesterday Sue took a class with Jacquie Gering, co-author of Quilting Modern and author of Tallgrass Prairie Studio blog.  Here's what she has to say about it.

While I've admired "modern" quilts and have several books, this is the first time I've taken a class or tried this genre of quilting.  It was fun, but does involve thinking a little differently about your process.  Modern quilting (as I see it) includes a lot of negative space (background), simplistic design elements (at least they may appear so), more solid colors than traditional quilts, and clean shapes and lines.  As Jacquie put it, they have their roots in traditional quilts, but with a different interpretation.  And though they may look simple, they are less so when you start looking at the construction.

Yesterday's class was called Scrappy Improvisation.  We started out by making blocks from scraps (or yardage) that consisted of squares, rectangles, wedges - just random piecing; no specific sizes or shapes.  The difference between this and other methods of free-form piecing was that we incorporated pieces of the background fabric as well for "inflow" - so the background would flow in and out of the blocks, making them seem to "disappear" into the background.

Above Jacquie demonstrates how the blocks seem to disappear when placed on the background because of the orange built into the blocks.   Below is my pile of scraps and the first block I made.

After some time spent constructing blocks, Jacquie showed us 2 methods of working with the blocks to construct a quilt top.

Below are the blocks I was able to make during class. Here they are arranged next to each other, but that's not how they'll stay.
With assistance from Jacquie, I played with a layout of the blocks and background and starting filling in the gaps to construct the quilt top.  This is the arrangement I ended up with, though it's not finished.  I will likely make more blocks/pieces to make it larger, but feel like I've got a good start and a better understanding of the concept of "modern quilting".  And even though the background looks like it could be muslin, it's actually a very small print.  I think quilting the finished piece with a variegated thread will help transform the "muslin" look.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Why all those zippers?

At the Creative Arts Business Summit in March, the first person Elizabeth met was Lisa Archer, owner of Pickle Pie Designs, an online embroidery shop that sells digitized designs and embroidery supplies.  Since, Elizabeth recently became the owner of a BabyLock Destiny sewing/embroidery machine she decided to use a Pickle Pie Designs pattern as her first embroidery project.  The choice was the in-the-hoop USB case where the entire design, including the zipper is sewn, in the embroidery function on the machine.  Lisa gives a great demonstration of it with a video on her website.  It is certainly as quick and easy as she demonstrates.

As a day job, Elizabeth teaches in an elementary school.  Anyone who has ever worked in a school knows how important the non-instructional staff is to keeping the building and the management of the school running smoothly.  As a thank you gift to all the office staff during Administrative Staff Week, she decided to make the USB cases for everyone.  She needed eight cases but once you start making these they are like potato chips, you just can’t stop at one or eight!  The multi-color pack of zippers from ZipIt Zipper Supply  was just the right supply to make many of these small gifts.
The office ladies were delighted, by the way, and started to think of all the things they could put in their zipped bags.  Lip balm, coins, a house key, etc.  They are excited to start using them when they walk, shop, and go out on the town.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Business Testimonials

In business, testimonials are important.  People are quick to express themselves when something goes wrong but not as quick to praise when something is right.  As Etsy sellers, our customers have the chance to rate our service and we are happy to report that our customers rate us highly.  If something goes wrong, we try to address it promptly and fairly.

Recently, Elizabeth used another Etsy service to order a batch of colorful zippers for a project.  Her first order went without a hitch and she was a satisfied customer who soon needed to place another order.  (More on why she needed almost 100 zippers later!)  A day after receiving notice that the product had shipped, she realized that she had not closely checked the shipping address choices in her Etsy account and that the product was finding its way to the summer cottage in New Hampshire.  Not only does that house not get postal delivery, but the road is not open due to snow and ice.  She wrote to the shipper explaining the product would probably be returned and when it was, to please charge her for reshipping and send along to Virginia.
ZipIt Zipper Supply quickly wrote back that mistakes happen and that they would be sending out a new shipment immediately to the Virginia address so Elizabeth didn’t have to wait on the zippers.  When the other package returned they would place the zippers back in their inventory and not to worry about the shipping charge.  That, friends, is great customer service.  The new zipper shipment arrived in two days and came with a gift of a fortune telling fish and a zipper pull.  How cute is that?

 If you ever are in need of zippers we highly recommend ZipIt Zipper Supply at  

Friday, April 17, 2015

1000 Quilt Inspirations

The book, 1000 Quilt Inspirations: Colorful and Creative Designs for Traditional, Modern, and Art Quilts by Sandra Sider was released April 1.  And Sue has a quilt that was published in this book! 
It was kind of a surprise.  Actually, she submitted some photos last summer, but the only notification that something was selected came from the marketing department. So she kind of forgot about it until recently seeing that it was published.  So a little bit of detective work revealed that she does indeed have a  quilt in this book.

 And this is the quilt:
She is honored to be chosen to be among the quilters and their work represented here.  You can learn more about the book here.

Thursday, April 16, 2015


In search of Roy G Biv, it is time this month for GREEN pictures. We are linking to Julie Booth's blog and her friend Jennifer Coyne Qudeen in finding the colors of the rainbow.  Check out their blogs for more springy greens. This month's finds are contributed by both Sue and Elizabeth.
Frog rock above lives near Melvin Village, New Hampshire.
 This piece of fabric was created with sun printing and screen printing.
A lovely morning at Smith Mountain Lake.
Green screen printed fabric created for the Row by Row shop hop in 2014.
Some delicately striped leaves at the Botanical Gardens in DC.
A summer wildflower print on green.
Last but not least, this suspended tree was part of the holiday decorations at the Gaylord Hotel at National Harbor, Maryland.