Friday, October 28, 2011

Blogger's Quilt Festival: Fall 2011

I love this quilt.  It is my favorite quilt of all time. 

I live outside of Philadelphia.  In my travels through the countryside, there are lots of small farms and stone houses.  I have always wanted to live in one of those stone houses and have a small flock of sheep so that I could shear them and spin the wool. But it was not meant to be.

So the next best thing was to make a quilt about my dream farm. I call it Willoway - A Folk Art Farm.

 There is lots of hand embroidery from the garden to the leaves on the weeping willow.  It wouldn't be complete without the presence of our 2 black labs that are no longer with us.  One of my favorite elements is the round bales of hay which I made from pearl cotton. I enjoyed adding the top and bottom border from pieced stars.

There are lots more quilts to see in this virtual quilt show.   Go to the Blogger's Quilt Festival by clicking HERE for links to hundreds of others. You can enjoy quilts the whole week long.  The post will be up through November 4th.   There are so many bloggers out there that are making great quilts.  This is an opportunity for lots of people to see their creations.
   I will be heading to Houston on Saturday to go to Quilt Market.  I am excited and nervous at the same time.  It will be my first wholesale market. I will get to meet all the people at Martingale that I have only met via e-mail.  I hope to take lots of photos and share some of the latest and greatest that will be coming to your local quilt shop in the near future.        

 In the meantime, enjoy the quilts!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Gift To Myself

To celebrate the ark curtain installation, I bought myself a gift. 

102 spools of the most beautiful, shiny Sulky rayon thread, 30 wt.
 I feel like a kid who just got a new box of crayons.  The biggest box.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New Silk HST

Three is the magic number.  This is my 3rd final colorway of silk HSTs. 
 This colorway reminds me of flamingos.

My next step in this project is to choose my favorite layout of the 3 different colorways.  I have named them Flamingo, Jewelbox and Rusty Nail. 
 I will share the outcome once they are pieced and quilted. 
 See if your favorites match mine.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Jewish Ritual Textile Art

Lots of non-Jewish quilters have approached  me lately  to share with me that they have created a Jewish wedding canopy (chuppah) or a prayer shawl (tallit) or a challah cover.  It's usually for a friend or a grown child that is marrying someone Jewish or a grandchild that is getting ready for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah.   There are some Jewish needlework guilds where sewists can share information.  There are lots of people making Jewish fabric art.  Let's share it. 

For a while I have been thinking that it would be helpful to many people of different faiths to have a place where people could share their creations by posting photos.  It could also serve as inspiration and education for others. 

So I started a Flickr group.  The purpose of this group - Jewish Ritual Textile Art- is for us to share our creations.  The photos would be available for everyone to view.  I started by posting some of my own work.  I hope lots of people follow. So post a photo.  Tell anyone and everyone.  Let's get some
photos up there.  Here's the link.  There's no strings attached.

Jewish Ritual Textile Art (JRTA) Virtual Gallery

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ark Curtain Installation

Today was an exhilarating and glorious day.  Today the silk dupioni ark curtain, "Enlightenment" was installed at Temple B'Nai Israel in Easton MD.  My heart swelled with pride as I hung it in the ark - where the torahs are kept.  It is such an honor to have my work as the centerpiece for this synagogue's most precious possessions.

The ark with the doors closed

This is the original ark curtain that is 60 years old.  It is navy velvet with lots of stitching with metallic thread.  The fringe is also metallic.  The handwork is amazing.

The new ark curtain, "Enlightenment".

Shopping At Harbor Freight

Have you heard of Harbor Freight  - quality tools at ridiculously low prices?  It is the first time ever that when I told my husband I was going shopping, he said he wanted to come.  I had heard about a couple of items that I could use and I just had to check them out.  I am here to report - SUCCESS!!!

#1 Rotary Cutter Blades - $1.99 for 2.  Yes!  They fit my Fiskars and were beautifully sharp.

#2.  Plastic Storage Container - A large container filled with many smaller ones.  I love these for my beads. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Design Wall - Gotta Have It

 All of the layouts in this post and the previous post were done on my design wall. If you think they look wonky, it's because they are not sewn together, just placed on my design wall.  A design wall or something resembling it, is such a big help when you are creating your own quilts.  I have quite a large one that spans the length of an entire wall of my studio.  But yours doesn't need to be that large.  I covered three 4'x8' sheets of insulation with light grey felt.  People also use flannel or polar fleece.  Some people also use white or black.  The advantage of using these types of fabric is that cotton or in this case silk, sticks to it.  I also use the sides of mine as a bulletin board/filing cabinet! I pin important papers, design inspiration and pattern templates.  If I filed papers away, I would never find them again.  When I am working on a large project, or run out of space, I do a clean-up.  It looks like I need one soon.

Here's a photo: 

And here's another colorway with silk HSTs.  Keep in mind that I have taken 96 HSTs and just rearranged them.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Taming Silk Dupioni

Silk Dupioni is beautiful fabric with a shimmer.( I believe that  is imported from India, as opposed to silk shantung which is from China.)   Somtimes it is woven with a different color silk thread in the warp and the weft.  That gives it a beautiful iridescence that results in a fabric that changes color depending on its orientation.  The downside to dupioni is that it has a fairly coarse weave. This results in a lot of fraying. I have had lots of requests about how to deal with these issues.  So here are my tips/tricks for working with this gorgeous fabric.

1.  Silk dupioni needs to be Dry Cleaned.  NEVER wash dupioni if you want to preserve its beauty and sheen.  Here is a photo of an unwashed piece on the left and a washed piece on the right.  (I have to insert a disclaimer that these are not the same fabric.)

2.  Use a NEW blade for your rotary cutter.  It is so important that you give yourself the gift of a new blade.  I know that so many of us use that blade until it just won't cut any more. You must have a sharp blade.   If you don't use a sharp blade, the silk will fray and you will be frustrated.

3.  If you want to make pieced quilts, the dupioni needs to be stabilized.  I do this with a fusible interfacing.  The interfacing should be as lightweight as possible. I cannot always find the interfacing that I am looking for so I have a tiered level of choice. I prefer a woven fusible. My 2nd choice is a fusible tricot interfacing.  My final choice is a featherweight non-woven interfacing. 

4.  The trick to getting the fusible interfacing to adhere to the dupioni is steam, but not from your iron.  I use a damp press cloth (really a piece of one of my quilting cottons).  First place the silk on your ironing board.  then place the interfacing on it, fusible side down and then lay the damp press cloth on top.  Then with a hot dry iron, press. (you should hear a nice sizzle.)  Hold it for 10 seconds and then move to another spot.  Do not move the iron around in an ironing motion.  This step is time consuming and tedious, but so important.

5.  Fusible applique - My method for fusing silk is ever evolving.  I was not happy with many of my combinations until now.  I found this great new fusible web called Shades Soft Fuse.  I have found that if I use the fusible web alone - WITHOUT INTERFACING - my appliques don't fray!  (I have no affiliation with this company.  I just love their product.)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Silk Half Square Triangles

I chose 6 of the silk dupioni fabrics from the previous post.  I used a fat quarter of each fabric and was able to make  96 half square triangles. Half square triangles are extremely versatile.  Using my design wall, I created the layouts below.  I haven't decided yet which is my favorite.

In the next few posts I will share the special techniques I use for working with silk.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Foliage & Fabric

Fall is my favorite season.  I love the changing colors.

I find that the season really influences my fabric choices. 
Check out the fabrics for my next project.

Lovely silk dupioni!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Finally, Getaway Details

It seems like forever that we had a quilting getaway in the Poconos.  This was one of the few times that I drove up myself.  Well, not exactly myself - I had my trusty companion as my co-pilot.

Driving alone. I certainly had time to chill and reflect.  The leaves were just starting to turn.  In a couple of weeks they will be amazing.
Usually I bring up one quilt to design and work on.  Everyone else is power sewing away and I just plod along, feeling a bit unfulfilled.   This time I decided to join the crowd.  I made a bunch of small projects.
So here's my list:
1.   Breast cancer pillowcases for our local hospitals.  I made 4.  You can find directions here. They fit a travel size pillow.

2.   Casserole carriers.  I made 2.  You can find extensive directions and tons of photos on the 2 Little Hooligans blog.  I used Insulbright to help the casseroles stay warm during transport.. I lined the carriers with a contrasting fabric.

3.  One beaded bracelet for my quilt guild's December auction.

4.  Tallit commission.   This was a great project.  A neighbor called and asked her if I would do this for her.  It was her idea and I just love it.  A tallit is a prayer shawl that some Jewish people wear when they go to synagogue.   (Thank you Chrisitne for modeling.)

The first time that one  is worn is for their Bar (boy) or Bat (girl) Mitzvah.  It is quite an emotional and powerful event. ( My son wore his grandfather's threadbare tallit for his Bar Mitzvah.)
My neighbor called and asked if I could transfer photos to fabric and line her nephew's tallit

with  photos - photos of loved ones - some who are no longer alive.  I just love the idea, that during this important occasion, you are wrapped in love.  This is a great project.  I would do this again (hint.hint) and I don't say that about many commissions.

5.  Then I started working on this wonky silk dupioni wallhanging.  It is a bit too wonky for me.  I have it on my design wall and I am just not sure what I am going to do with it.  Any thoughts?

Getting all of these projects done was extremely gratifying. 
I have to share with you some of the projects that my friends were working on. Jane was also working on a commission.  I have to say she was doing a great job trying top make a silk purse out of a sows ear.  A man wanted her to make 3 lap quilts from his deceased mother's clothing.  Most of the clothing was wild housecoats/mu mus. 

Bailey was the only one that liked them!

Terry made a soldier's quilt.  The top  border is bunting and it has this great aged look.

Kelly is always the queen of many projects, but I forgot to take photographs.  Christine really did power sewing.  She finished all the braids for 2 queen size quilts.

Always a nice time with friends.