Saturday, October 13, 2018

Quilting Vintage!

 This past Tuesday was guild meeting day for Prairie Quilt Guild in Wichita, KS. We had a great speaker, Kelly Cline from Lawrence, KS, who presented her lecture and trunk show on Quilting Vintage! I'm the Vice President (Program Chair) of the guild so I coordinated Kelly's visit. If your guild is looking for a speaker, I'd recommend Kelly!
Her workshop was about collaging vintage hankies, doilies, embroidered pieces, lace, etc into pillows, bags, wall hangings, or whatever else you could think of. My project idea are these hankies representing fall combined with Kaffe Fassett shot cottons for the borders and accented with some old trims and tatting. I'd like it to be part of a winter/spring/summer/fall wall hanging.

However, I also know the thread painted bear is waiting on me so this project will have to be made another time. It was fun, though, to take a break and think of how to use some of my vintage linens in a quilted project!

Until next time, Mayleen

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Experimenting, mistakes, learning

How I create an animal quilt is all about experimentation! I think I know how I'm going to go about it but that's not always what happens.
 Here I'm trying out different greens for the background trees. I've drawn the outline of my next animal, a bear, onto the muslin. Everything behind him will be trees or what passes as them!

 My first idea was to cut out individual leaf shapes but I decided I didn't like this.
Next idea was a confetti background. I liked it and thought I was being really original with that idea but its everywhere! Look at other art quilt backgrounds to see more ways to use this technique. What I wish I could do over? Make the leaf confetti larger pieces. Always something to learn!
 How to make confetti leaf pieces for the background? My method was to fuse Misty Fuse to the back of batik fabrics, layer smaller fabric pieces, and then freehand rotary cut into random shapes. A good way to use up scraps! I separated the pieces by fabric and then ...
 ... to create the background, I picked up each piece with a tweezer and positioned it being careful to have the adhesive side down. Unfortunately, the adhesive side wasn't always down and I fused pieces to my iron quite a few times.
 I thought of this quilt as 3 steps - the background trees, the bear's body, and his head. Here I've filled in his body but not fused yet so pins are holding his body pieces onto the muslin which is pinned onto my design wall.
 This is the bear's visible eye which even though I'm already in the thread painting stage, I'm still struggling with. I feel an animal or human's eyes are the most expressive and important in an art or portrait quilt. Just pinned and not fused yet in this photo.

I like his eye but if you look at it from a few feet away, it all melts into one brown shape so I'm still thinking about possible fixes.
 Have you ever wanted a do over? That's how I feel about the orange fabric on the top of the bear's head. This area of his fur will be a rusty brown when finished. My idea was that if I started with an orange fabric, I wouldn't have to do as much thread painting in that area. Wrong. The best way for me to learn is to make mistakes and I'm learning a lot lately!

Next time: Thread, thread, and more threadwork


Bear (no official name yet) is inspired by Original Photo Grizzly Bear Portrait, copyright David Drew

Saturday, September 22, 2018

A few steps and a win!

This is a simple explanation of how I make my wildlife art quilts. Remember that I'm a beginner, telling you how I do it which may or may not be the best way! I realized I have few photos of the beginning of the process so I hope my explanation makes sense.

With the photographer's permission, I make a pattern from an image in the finished size I want. This "pattern" will be used only once by me. You can include as much detail as you want or as little. I'm learning to simplify even though I want to add as much detail as I can.

I like to use batik fabrics because they don't fray as much and you can use both sides. However, I'm mixing quilting cottons and batiks in my new project because I couldn't find the colors I needed in batiks.
These are some of the fabrics I purchased for this project. I'm also using some from my stash. Always trying to use more from my stash but it seems to grow instead of shrink!

Keep value in mind when you choose your fabrics. One easy way to check fabric value is to take a photo and change it to black and white. If the fabrics all melt together, you will need to choose fabrics with more contrast. You can see the three brown fabrics are very close in value which has been a challenge.

Another decision to make is what kind of adhesive to use? On Bison Beauty, I used Steam a Seam Lite 2 and with all the fused layers, it was heavy and difficult to stitch through. The nice thing about Steam a Seam is that its repositionable. On my new project, I'm trying Misty Fuse which is not repositionable. Its thin enough to be a cobweb but adheres well. The best part is no sticky residue on the sewing machine needle when thread painting!

I fuse adhesive to the fabric in amounts needed for the pattern piece, pin the pattern piece or draw around it on the fabric, and then cut it out. Next, I draw a simple version of the image on a thin muslin base and use it as a guideline for placement of the fabric pieces.

Next week I'll start sharing a few photos of the steps to make my current project.

There's more! Bison Beauty won Honorable Mention at MQX Midwest (Machine Quilters Showcase). It also won Best Use of Thread! I'm excited and honored to win both ribbons. Thanks, MQX!

 I wasn't able to go see it in the show but Liz Granberg-Jerome sent me this photo:

Bison Beauty was inspired by Original American Bison Cow photograph, copyright David J. Drew, used with permission.

Until next time, Mayleen

Sunday, September 16, 2018

My quilt at the National Quilt Museum

A short detour from thread painting my latest project ...
My quilt, Paint Can Posy, hung in the "I am an Artisan" Challenge exhibit at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY this month. My husband and I were able to see the exhibit this past week when we went to the fall Paducah AQS quilt show.

 I made Paint Can Posy last year for the challenge sponsored by Kaffe Fassett and Free Spirit Fabrics. It hung at the 2017 International Quilt Festival in Houston and I think this is the last exhibit it will travel to before coming home.

 It was machine pieced from mostly Kaffe Fassett's Artisan line of fabrics. I hand appliqued, hand big stitched quilted, hand embroidered and beaded it. Jan Hutchison machine quilted it.

You can see some of the circle appliques made of Cosplay fabrics and more hand embroidered details in this photo.  
I couldn't help but notice this quilt as I entered the National Quilt Museum! 
Mistaken Identity made by Gail Stepanick and Jan Hutchison. Jan is a member of Prairie Quilt Guild and so am I.

The National Quilt Museum now allows non flash photography and I took many photos to enjoy later. So many beautiful quilts so if you ever have the chance to tour the museum, be sure to go!

I am still trying to figure out the blogger comment issues I'm having. Some of you have suggested possible fixes. I've tried them and they haven't worked so I'm still working on it. Unfortunately, my computer is doing some interesting things these days.
Comment Update: This is weird. My husband just noticed that comments are going to his old gmail account!?!

Until next time, Mayleen

Saturday, September 8, 2018

A beginner and not afraid to mess up!

First, I apologize for not responding to everyone who has commented on my recent posts. The comments, instead of coming to my email, have been piling up on blogger dashboard and not being published. I didn't realize that was happening and I'll make sure to check from now on!

Several of you requested that I share how I create my next wildlife art quilt project. I'm just a beginner to portraits, animal quilts, collage technique and thread painting so you will see me make many mistakes which is the best way for me to learn! Does anyone else learn best by really messing up?!? I hope you are always learning by whatever method is best for you.

This is a fabric portrait I made of myself in a 2016 workshop with Lea McComas when she came to speak at Prairie Quilt Guild in Wichita, KS. To put it mildly, all the small pieces really made me panic! I like it and I chose to do it that way but now I realize I could have created a portrait of the same quality with fewer pieces. It was a good study of color value.

 It remains only a fused quilt top because I'm afraid of thread painting/quilting it. I don't want to add to the wrinkles I already have!

"That Cat!", 2017
I wanted to learn to thread paint so I took a class with Pam Holland at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, TX. "That Cat!" was our class project and I remember questioning whether this was truly a class suitable for beginners.

This began as a photo taken by Pam Holland which she had printed on fabric through Spoonflower. All we had to do in class was sandwich it and then stitch with the correct thread colors over the cat. This technique was a great way to learn thread painting because I didn't have to deal with the fusible/glue issue. I also didn't have to stitch as densely as I did on the bison. Having a realistic background to work on almost guaranteed a good outcome!

This brings me to photos - do you plan to use a photo you took yourself or a photo someone else has taken? Copyright issues are very important in the quilting world. If you are using a photo taken by someone else, you must get written permission from the photographer. Most photographers will consent, sometimes with conditions, to your use of their photo. Ask first!

The only camera I still use is my phone camera and I can't decide what I have more photos of - grandkids or quilts! They are both much easier to take photos of than wildlife. I'm grateful that the photographer of the bison has given me permission to use another of his photos for my next project.

Next week I'll include an example of if you don't like it, try something else!

Until next time, Mayleen

Sunday, September 2, 2018

A new quilting direction

 "Bison Beauty" made by Mayleen Vinson 2018, photo credit: Original American Bison Cow photograph, copyright David J. Drew, used with permission.

 I've always wanted to make a pictorial art quilt so when I saw the bison photo online, I knew it was time. The photographer gave me permission to use his photo of the American Bison Cow taken at Maxwell Wildlife Refuge near Canton, Kansas as inspiration for this pictorial art quilt.

Bison Beauty is fusible appliqued (not a panel) using a variety of batik fabrics and densely thread painted. I stitched over wool roving to create the fur on the top of her head and accented the clouds with yarn fibers. I estimate about 180 hours total work from start to finish.

I'm not a machine quilter and had only done walking foot quilting before so this was a challenge. Worth it though because Bison Beauty won a blue ribbon at my local quilt guild's recent quilt show!

Although I agonized over color and stitching, making this pictorial art quilt was so much fun that I've decided to make another wildlife art quilt. I hope to share it with you later this fall. Is anyone interested in seeing step by step progress? I'll still be making bed and wall quilts but maybe Bison Beauty is taking me on a new quilting direction!

Until next time, Mayleen

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Sewing for baby

There's going to be a new grandbaby born in our family this fall!
 I'm doing a little sewing for him! Those are burp cloths on top made using a free pattern download from Shabby Fabrics. Not glamorous or fun but a necessary item. That's a mini burp cloth on the very top for his older sister's doll. 
On the bottom is a minky blanket which I won't reveal until our daughter has seen it. I know minky is soft and cuddly but give me cotton quilting fabric any day!
 Binding issues continue to happen and this one was my fault. I wanted to save enough of the minky to make the baby's sister a doll blanket and didn't calculate enough binding length. Pieced and sewn, baby will not notice and I doubt anyone else will either.
 Looks like I'll have enough minky left for a doll quilt though!
Don't be like me! Part of the minky blanket is sewn with what I call fur which when cut, sheds everywhere! I should have put the fur binding strips in the clothes dryer before I sewed it on. After the doll blanket is finished, the sewing room and my machine are due for a clean.

Until next time, Mayleen