Monday, June 29, 2015

Row By Row en Route to Quilt Camp (PA)

Each year for the past 6 years Sue and Elizabeth have gotten together at Elizabeth’s family cabin on Lake Winnipesaukee for what we fondly refer to as Quilt Camp.  It is where we replenish our creative souls with ideas and work on projects and of course the business side of PGFiber2Art as well.
This year, Elizabeth went up first and traveled on the second day of the kick off for the Row by Row Experience.  As she was driving alone and taking two days, she was free to stop and take her time going anywhere she wanted to go.  Shop hopping does take some planning, as you want to be sure you don’t show up at a shop’s door on a day when they are closed.  Monday is typically a day when quilt shops are not open and she had to do some searching to find a shop along the route that would be open as she drove by.  Another criteria was that they not be too far off the interstate highway, as driving a long distance alone was bad enough without putting on extra miles for side trips.
Finding nothing along the way open in Virginia or Maryland, Pennsylvania was the first stop, with a new route from highway 15 to Interstate 81 along route 30 from Gettysburg.  Gettysburg looked like a charming town to explore and driving this way was an incentive to return for a future adventure.  About halfway from Gettysburg to Chambersburg was The Sew’n Place, right on the highway, no detour needed - just pull in the lot.  An added bonus was that the shop stayed open until 7 PM, so no reason to hurry.  It couldn’t get much better than that.
The ladies in the shop were warm and welcoming and showed off their row as well as the kit and a supplementary kit, priced separately, of the buttons used as eyes for the four fish in the row. The row is four fish all made from Michael Miller’s Fairy Frost Collection so it really has sparkle. The fabric selection in this shop was extensive and very nice.  They have lots of fabric that was different from what I have seen in local VA shops.  If you go there, be sure to look out the back window. Now that was a view to sit in front of for creative inspiration, so peaceful overlooking the woods.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

"On the Road Again" Postcard Swap

Sue has been participating in a postcard swap with other members of VCQ (Virginia Consortium of Quilters) for quite a few years  - at least 7 or 8.  The group has dwindled, but the "die-hards" are still at it, choosing a theme and swapping cards twice a year.  The spring/early summer theme is "On the Road Again", appropriate for the summer travel season.
Sue knew she had a really busy June so her design had to be something that could be done quickly.  Since she knew she would be traveling to New Hampshire in July, and also visiting shops for the Row By Row shop hop, that seemed the perfect topic.  Starting with a Google map of the NH shops, she added some additional landmarks that she expects to be visiting and printed the map on inkjet fabric sheets. 

She was able to fit 3 copies of the map on one fabric sheet, but since the image wasn't quite as wide as the postcard, she filled the remaining space with this "road trip" ribbon that she had on hand.
The base of the card is fusible peltex, so the map print and ribbon are fused in place first, and then the ribbon was stitched on the inside edge.  After adding a backing, the edges were zigzagged.  Not a terribly artistic card this time around, but as Sue says, done is good!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Seashells, Cascade, and "Take Three"

Elizabeth felt her round 2 row was a big improvement, but thought she might do even better with a third try.  Along with the fish screens, we had also created two sea shell screens.  So she decided to do a third row with those images.

Elizabeth writes:
I had some hand dyed fabric that I used with the crackle screen and Cascade Dishwasher detergent to discharge (the Cascade includes a mild bleach) the color from the blue fabric. After washing the fabric with Dawn and Clorox 2 to stop the bleaching I screened the two seashells on top in white.  Some batiks from my stash were used to go around the blocks.  I wanted to use four different fabrics but after making two blocks realized that there was not really enough space in the 9.5 blocks for that many rounds of fabric so in the last two blocks I only used 3 fabrics. I'm happy with how this row turned out.
Below is a close-up.
Lastly, some REALLY Good Advice from the tutorial that I didn’t follow:    
  • Just remember, don't ever cut a log so severely that any part of it becomes less than .5" in will risk losing that part of your log in the seam allowance.
No more time for playing around right now, it's time to wrap up the school year, pack up Super Baby, and head north for the summer.  Quilt camp - here I come!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Wonky Is Easier When You Read the Directions

Does practice make "perfect"?  Maybe not, but definitely better!  Luckily Elizabeth had enough fabric for a round two!  Thank you Judy.  Off she went again, trying to pay better attention to the trimming this time after having thoroughly read through the tutorial once again.  Her second attempt is definitely better but this is a technique she says she needs to practice again to master.
Elizabeth's tips and lessons learned/advice she did not follow:
  • Wonky isn’t severe.  Don’t make those cuts too severe or they will grow out of your control.
  • Measure as you go so you will end up with a block you can cut into a square and not end up with a rectangle.
  • Don’t make the inner rounds too wide or you will reach the 9.5 inch block size limit before you get as many rounds of fabric on it as you want.
  • When horizontal doesn’t work, try vertical.
It’s not that I am unhappy with my blocks, I just think they don’t have the feel that Judy was looking for in a sample for her shop row.  I am fortunate that Artistic Artifacts and the creative minds that run and frequent the shop embrace the “do something different” and the “make it your own” mindset.

On another note, with this second row, Elizabeth was able to try out a new tool that a friend bought at a recent quilt show - the cutting templates that Martelli makes.  These 2 photos show using the frame of the template to choose placement of the 9.5" square, and then using the square insert to make the actual cuts.

 So, lessons learned and a new tool tried, both make for a worthwhile learning experience!

Monday, June 22, 2015

When Wonky Goes Wacky and Isn’t What You Wanted.

Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts gave Sue and Elizabeth each a selection of some beautiful batik fabrics to create our versions of the store’s Row by Row Experience block for this year’s shop hop.
Elizabeth decided to use the crackle screen on the lightest green batik to give some background texture using a Jacquard fabric paint called Lumiere in the color Citrine. 
Then she added another thermofax layer of the fish screens with transparent hunter green and navy paints from ProChem.
Judy had posted on her blog saying how the shop’s row was going to be a wonky block with a tutorial included.  Well, Elizabeth just glanced at the tutorial and went off to make her blocks.  Unlike Sue, she is not very precise with her piecing and quilting, but still couldn't believe she ended up with some very “un”wonky blocks!  They are really wacky blocks!  After squaring them up to 9.5 inches she sewed them in a horizontal line and really did not like them, so unstitched them and resewed them vertically which is slightly better.
But still not a row she was willing to share with the shop as a sample.  In the next post, see what round 2 of wonky piecing brings!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Wonky Log Cabin Tutorial

So how do you make those wonky blocks used for the fish rows?  We made ours with improvisational piecing, but if you want a more specific tutorial, Judy followed this one by Quilt Dad. The best thing is that you don't have to measure, you can sew and trim as you go.  It helps to have a few tools handy - a cutting mat near your machine, a ruler and rotary cutter for trimming, and a wooden "iron" or finger press - whatever you choose to call it.  Once you've assembled these tools and cut some strips (I used 1.5" strips), you're ready to start.
My center fish block was wonky to start with, a slight slant on the left and a strong slant on the bottom.  You may prefer just a slight angle on each side.  I added the logs starting on the bottom and working clockwise around the block; you can start on any side and go in either direction, as long as you are consistent all the way around.  After adding the bottom log, I trimmed it at an angle to give a "squarer" shape to the block, then added the next side and did the same.
Continue adding logs and trimming to complete the round.  I tended to create opposites as I trimmed; if the end of the previous piece was wide, I trimmed the next one at that end to be narrower.
The angle doesn't have to be large, and be aware of not trimming too close so you still have room for your 1/4" seam allowance.
I used the wooden finger iron to press each seam before sewing on the next log.
In the Quilt Dad tutorial, he adds all the logs for a round and then trims them wonky; I trimmed each as I went around the block.  Either way will work.
Continue with the second round the same way.
Stitch, press, trim.
I had a little slip in trimming the piece on the left, but that will be inside the seam allowance.
Round 3 has been added.  You can see that even though the logs are angled, it is becoming more rectangular over all.
Round 4 is added.  I came up a little short on the overall dimensions (the block needs to be squared up at 9.5"), so I added another strip of the round 4 fabric at the bottom.
Using a 9.5" square ruler, position it on the block to square it up.  You can see that this adds the wonky angles on the last round.
And there you have a finished block!  Four 9.5" blocks stitched together make your row, and you could choose to make it horizontal or vertical.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Go Indigo!

In search of Roy G Biv, it is time this month for INDIGO 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 examples of indigo .  Last summer we spent some time with an indigo pot and tried out various methods of Shibori, so these pictures were not hard to find.  Hope you enjoy our indigo pictures!
Although it looks more purple here, I think that is just the lighting.  This is one of Elizabeth's beautifully crafted pieces.
This is a rayon infinity scarf that Sue made by twisting and tying with thread.
This is another scarf Sue made using flat wooden discs and buttons tied with rubber bands.
Here are some of our pieces drying on the line.
Beautiful indigo wool from the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Fish Prints for Log Cabin Rows

The processes Sue and Elizabeth used for creating their center fish blocks incorporated texture screens in the background.  If you are interested in using this procedure as well, this is how we did it.  Although you could also make yours without a background.  The screens we used for backgrounds included water ripples and 2 versions of a crackle screen.  (Only one crackle is in the Etsy shop, but if you like the other, just contact us by email.)
In the photo above, the bottom half is the original fabric, and the top half is after discharge with the water screen below.  Discharge takes color out of the fabric, and was done with a product called deColourant. The water screen is in the Etsy shop here.
Below are two of the fish prints on the discharged fabric that were used in the row.  The fish are printed with navy blue screen printing ink by Versatex (available from Dharma Trading).  You can see that the water screen adds a lot of texture to the fabric.

Elizabeth chose to use a crackle screen to add background texture to her green fabric. She used Jacquard Products Lumiere Citrine textile paint to add a tone-on-tone effect.  In this angled photo, the metallic component of the paint is most visible.
Here is the fish printed on the background.
In a third option, Sue started with a white background and printed the crackle screen first for texture.  She used Caribbean Breeze transparent paint by PROfab (from PRO Chemical and Dye) and the screen below.  (PROChem also carries deColourant products)
After printing the fish in orange, she realized that too much of the blue showed through, so she decided to mask it by filling in the shape with a paint brush, and then overprinting in a darker blue.

Another way to create the same effect would be to print the fish on a separate fabric, apply fusible web to the back, and then fuse to the background as an applique.  So you can see there are lots of options for creating your fish centers for the log cabin blocks!

New Screens and Row By Row

Shop news!  We have added 4 new screens to the shop for summer - 2 fish and 2 shells.
All four are small screens; fish 1 is 4.5"x2"; fish 2 is 3.5"x3"; the shell is 3"x2.5"; the nautilus is 3"x2.75".  You can find more info and print photos in the Etsy shop.

The impetus for this group of screens came from the 2015 Row By Row shop hop that begins June 21.  If you were following us last year, you might remember that our local shop, Artistic Artifacts, used one of our screens (art definition) as part of their row design in 2014.  You can read more about last year's row beginning with this post.

This year, the Row By Row theme is H20 (water), so Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts (AA) decided to use fish in her row.  Again as last year, Judy has planned several variations of her row.  So far, she has created a row using batik fish, which are cut from panels that she imports from Indonesia.  The fish centers are surrounded with wonky log cabins.  You can read all about her row here; it looks like this.
She asked us to design a fish screen (or screens) as a second option for her row.   So we created 2 different fish images and also chose batiks from her shop for the log cabin blocks.  Sue had blue batiks and Elizabeth had green.  Here are the rows we  created.

Since Judy was planning to put white fabric in her kits for the printed centers, Sue decided to make another row using white for the fish blocks.
In this row, Sue printed the white with a crackle screen first, and then printed the fish over top.

And yet another option, here is a row Elizabeth made using the shells.

In upcoming posts we'll share some of our processes.  Check out the Row by Row Experience website, and click on Start Here for links to all 50 states and the participating shops.  We hope you'll play along and collect the free patterns available in this fun summer shop hop!