Monday, November 23, 2015

Thermofax FAQs

We frequently get questions about thermofax printing through our Etsy shop and students in classes.  To answer those questions, we have added a Thermofax FAQ page to the blog, with a link at the top next to the Tutorials.  They cover such topics as what the size categories are, what kinds of paint we use, requirements for custom images, etc.  If you have a question that is not answered on this page, please email us ( or comment on this post and we will address your question and add it to the page.

Since there's no photo to go with the FAQs, here's a shot of what we were up to over the weekend. We spent most of Saturday testing a new type of screen with our Thermofax machine.  It's really quite amazing how many variables there are to take into account when burning a screen!  Since our testing is not complete, we will save publication of results until a later time.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Searching for Roy G Biv - PINK

This month's color in the search for Roy G Biv and Beyond (colors of the rainbow "plus") is PINK.  Go to Julie B Booth's blog and Jennifer Coyne Qudeen's for more photos and link-ups.  It's so hard to limit the choices to just 5, so here are our 6 selections!
These pink hearts are created using a blue school glue resist.
Pretty pink hydrangea.
Pink sky at sunset.
Happy pink and white flowers.
Bursts of pink color created with a shibori dyeing technique using whiffle balls.
Delicate pink lilies are a perfect addition to this garden.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Pounded Leaf Prints

We enjoy following the blog of Carol R Eaton.  On Thursday, November 12 she posted about pounding fall leaves between layers of fabric leaving a mirror image of the leaves on the fabric.  The idea was intriguing, so before all the fall color is gone here in VA, Elizabeth decided to give it a try.  Luckily, a few trees still had vibrant colored leaves and she was able to pick leaves off the trees so they would be fresh.  The first try was with two red red maple leaves. 
Folding the fabric over and taking a small hammer to the fabric, it took only a few seconds to see the outline of the maple leaf bleed through the thin muslin fabric.
Lesson learned here was that pounding on the sidewalk makes holes in your fabric!
Moving to pounding on the deck and trying some yellow colored leaves from a silver maple also gave satisfying results.  This tree started turning before the red maple and the leaves did take more pounding before they released color. 
Adding in a leaf from a Japanese maple looked rather uninteresting during pounding but once the fabric was unfolded the look was better than anticipated. 
On this last sample a red leaf from an oak tree was still hanging on the branch and although it seemed that nothing other than the veins of the leaf would show, once opened the result was very satisfying.
Still to be determined, will the color stay in the fabric after heat setting with an iron and washing?  Of course, many art quilts will never be washed so an application where washing isn’t important is also a possibility.  Stay tuned…

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

More About VCQ

Here are some more photos from our VCQ meeting last weekend.
This is Marisela Rumberg(behind the quilt) and some of her students with their practice quilting samples from class.
Needle turn applique students taught by Mary Beth Weisner.
Paper piecing of the block for our Celebration retreat Block Lotto, taught by Marty Moon of.
Show and tell by Wilma Gerald of Virginia Beach.
Show and tell by Mary Grogan of Culpeper.
Karen DuMont (Karie Patch Designs) from Richmond showing one of her new patterns.
This "Inside the Twister" quilt was made by Jackie O'Brien and donated to the Virginia Quilt Museum for a raffle fund raiser.  The winning ticket was drawn at our meeting.

Our meetings are held the 2nd Saturday of March, May, August, and November.  Each quarterly newsletter has workshop information for the upcoming meeting; newsletters can be found on our website. If you are in Virginia, we hope you will check us out and join us for a meeting some time!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Virginia Consortium of Quilters - Fall Meeting

Both Elizabeth and Sue are members of the Virginia Consortium of Quilters which meets in various locations around Virginia 4 times a year.  This past Saturday our fall meeting was held in Manassas. We have a day of workshops (5 hour class) plus a boxed lunch, business meeting, and show and tell.  It's always a fun time getting together with other quilters and seeing friends from around the state.  This meeting also coincided with the Spice Route quilt exhibit at The Center for the Arts in Manassas which is there through Dec. 17.

Elizabeth took a class from Marisela Rumberg called “Quilt your own Quilts”.  Marisela’s pledge is that after taking her class you will never again need to pay to send your quilts out to a long arm quilter.
This class was divided in two parts.  The morning was spent learning to quilt with the walking foot on your sewing machine while the afternoon was about free motion quilting.  Marisela had many tips to offer and the class was interspersed with demos, practice, and brain research all designed to keep your blood flowing and participant’s backs and brains from getting tired. 

Her attention to the details of being a teacher made this an outstanding class.  Elizabeth highly recommends her class to anyone who wants to improve or learn to machine quilt.  She teaches in Northern Virginia at The Quilters Studio in Fairfax  and is a member of the Studio Fiber Arts group at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, VA.

This was just one of the workshops offered at the VCQ meeting.  If you live in Virginia, consider joining us!  Yearly dues and meeting costs are very minimal.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Spice Quilts at Manassas Center for the Arts

We have blogged about our “Along the Spice Route” quilts several times now (see posts from Oct. 4-6), but it is always a thrill to see your work hanging in a new venue.  The exhibit is now at the Manassas Center for the Arts in Manassas, VA until December 17, 2015.   This brightly lit art gallery is located in the charming historic downtown area of Manassas across from the train station.  Apparently it was once a candy factory.  Many small shops and restaurants are located in this approximately 5 block by 5 block area of Manassas with plenty of free parking. 
As this will be the closest this exhibit comes to home, Elizabeth and her husband went to view it on Friday November 6, which for Virginia was an incredibly warm fall evening, perfect for walking the town.  Many people were out and about, dining alfresco and strolling through an open house of art exhibits all over the town.  The organizers could not have asked for a nicer evening for their biannual art walk event.

After taking in a good number of the art walk stops, we stopped at a Cajun restaurant called Okra’s Cajun Creole and had a delicious dinner of Shrimp PoBoy (Bob) and Shrimp and Grits (Elizabeth).  We would definitely return to eat there again.
If you are near Manassas, be sure to stop at the Center for the Arts to see the "Along the Spice Route" quilts.  At each venue a display looks different; the backgrounds they are hanging against is different, the lighting is different, the ‘vibe’ of the venue is different.  It is fascinating to see how the space changes the feel of the exhibit.  Luckily, the Virginia Consortium of Quilters is meeting in Manassas this weekend so many of Sue and Elizabeth’s Virginia based friends will get the chance to see this exhibit soon.

Monday, November 9, 2015

More Fall Retreat

On the second full day of the retreat, Sue spent the morning finishing up small projects.  The zipper bag pattern makes a set of 3.  The 2nd and 3rd went together more easily than the first.
Then another fabric box was in the works. The first 2 were made with 11 inch squares; one had corner triangles sewn at 2", the other at 2.5".  This 3rd one is a 12" square with corners at 2".  Each variation will give you a different finished size.  The tutorial can be found on Seaside Stitches blog.
Then it was time to tackle some preparation for the "repair project".  If you recall, Sue posted about this a few weeks ago.  The first step was to make some replacement "footballs" that will be appliqued over the ones that are worn.  She also worked on adding some blocks to a border strip that will be added to the top of the quilt.  The "footballs" were made with Quilt Smart templates; they just needed some size adjustment to account for the different construction method she used.
When no more could be done on that project, she switched to a UFO; this plaid quilt has all the pieces for the 20 blocks cut - they just need to be sewn.  It was determined that this was a guild "Ways and Means" project from 2002 or 2003, so that makes it a 13-year project (so far)!  She got one block sewn Saturday and 2 more Sunday morning, so now has 7 of the 20 blocks sewn.  As with the zipper bags and fabric boxes, they get faster the more you make, so Sue had better make some more blocks before she forgets how they go together!
All things considered, it was a productive retreat and a fun weekend of sewing with like-minded quilters!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Fall Retreat

Sue's local guild holds a spring and fall retreat in Winchester, VA.  We take over a very large conference room at a Hampton Inn so are able to sew all day and go upstairs to our rooms for the night.  It works out very well.  Sue went to her first retreat with this group last spring, and since the fall date didn't conflict with VCQ weekend (which it usually does), was able to attend again.  (Which comes as a welcome few days away from the ongoing kitchen renovation at home.)  Here are a few of the quick and easy projects she started with - a surefire way to take away some finished items!
A pair of fabric baskets that need some tacking on the inside and buttons on the flaps.

A pair of improvisationally pieced blocks to donate to a raffle quilt.
A zipper pouch with a clear vinyl front - largest of 3 sizes.  Some fun projects to get started.  Today, on to some work on the "repair project" and some UFOs.

Friday, November 6, 2015

UFO Busting for October

In the quest to get some UFO's out of the studio, we have joined Vicki Welsh's UFO Busting initiative.  Here is Sue's report for October:

I think I'm on time this month for my UFO Busting link - yeah!  And I actually have something to report! October was definitely a better month than September. First I finished my exhibit piece for "Fly Me to the Moon".  This is an "in the works" book and touring quilt exhibit that will commemorate the first moon walk being led by Susanne Miller Jones, but we are not allowed to share pictures yet.  What I will share is a picture of the label, so you can see it's actually done.  That's my one previously started/now finished project.

In addition, I had an art bee challenge to make a self-portrait (yesterday's post reveal).  I actually made two 12 inch squares for this challenge - the photo-to-fabric portrait, and a screen printed version.  These were both new starts, but also finishes, so my overall UFO count did not grow, in fact it decreased by 1.  Progress!

Check out the other UFO Busters links on Vicki's blog at Field Trips in Fiber.   

So, for my end of month count, this is where things stand:
  • Projects in progress October 1 - 8
  • Projects completed -3
  • New projects started - 2
  • UFO's trashed - 0
  • Projects in progress October 31 - 7
I'm at a quilt retreat this weekend, so I plan to make progress on a couple of UFO's I brought along.  But alas, they are big projects so won't be anywhere near done.  And I may start and finish a few small things - we'll see!

Thursday, November 5, 2015


Have you ever made a self-portrait?  Sue's art quilt group issued a challenge to make a self-portrait as one of their bi-monthly challenges.  It could be an actual portrait, or alternate interpretation of the term.  Some chose to interpret personality traits or likes/dislikes, one even used the results of Facebook quizzes as the basis for her self-portrait.  Sue decided to be literal in creating a portrait based on a photo, since she had never tried it before.

About the same time she was getting starting making a freezer paper pattern, an email arrived from Quilting Arts advertising some $5 videos, one of which was called "Making Faces" by Maria Elkins.  How could she go wrong for $5??  So after purchase and instant download, she was ready to watch the video to see how her method worked.  It seemed pretty foolproof, starting with a photo, changing it to black & white with 4 values from light to dark, and then using a product called Steam a Seam II Lite to build the layers, using the printed photo as a pattern.  This was the most basic method in the video; there are 3 others that are progressively more challenging, up to drawing a portrait freehand.  But the basic method was perfect for this first attempt.  Maria also offers tips on fabric selection and how to quilt the finished portrait.  Very much worth the $5!
This is the original photo, which was cropped down to just a head shot, and the background removed in Photoshop Elements.  Then it was changed to black and white and the posterize filter applied, with levels set to 4 so there would be 4 light to dark values.
Black & white photo
Posterized photo; you might notice this version is a mirror image of the previous one.  This is necessary for the final product to have the same orientation as the original photo.

[Normally, Sue hates photos of herself - don't we all?  Well, maybe not the selfie experts!  But Sue says spending so much time looking at herself does make it a little easier to accept what she sees!]

The posterized version is printed out and then the different value shapes are drawn with a red pen.  This will be the pattern for the portrait.  Three additional color copies are needed - one for each of the 4 layers.  Actually, 2 additional copies is enough but Sue wanted to keep one copy intact (the others get cut).  Each 8.5x11 sheet of paper is then adhered to a sheet of Steam a Seam II Lite.  This product comes with paper on both side and feels tacky when you peel the paper off.  The tackiness allows you to stick things together and still be able to reposition them until you are ready to fuse with an iron.  The lightest value goes down first, uncut. The 2nd lightest value has the paper pattern attached and you cut out all the "1" areas, which is the lightest value.  Then it is place on top of the first layer, so that the light value shows through.  This is repeated with the other 2 values, layering each one on top of the previous. Some parts, such as eyes, are completely cut out and so must be placed, but the cut-away pattern serves as a guide for placement.
Here are the 4 values layered on top of each other, before the background and clothing areas are cut away.  (The lines are marked with chalk to get an idea of the overall appearance.)  The brown (dark value) was cut away, other fabrics added for the jacket, and then the layers were ironed to permanently fuse them. Then it was time to find a background.  Many choices were auditioned before settling on the orange batik, which was embellished with stitching and beads.  The portrait was quilted mostly with invisible thread; brown was used to add texture to the hair.
Sue says this was a great learning experience!  She tried a technique she'd never done before, made her first portrait, used a new product (Steam a Seam II Lite), and tried some different embellishments.  In fact, she had so much fun with this, that she did a second self portrait as well!  More on that in another post.