Monthly Archives: April 2010

Butteryfly Efforts


I’ve been trying to do butterflies for an art quilt. Her are some I made during a class I took with Christine Fries. They’re gorgeous! But somehow I didn’t have quite so much luck at home. These are made using Sulky water-soluble stabilizer (top and bottom) over two layers of fabric. Put the “sandwich” in a hoop and thread paint, mainly using metallic threads. Wash off the goopy stabilizer (I really don’t like this product), and you’re done.

For some reason, I wasn’t having good luck trying this process at home. You begin by tracing the butterflies onto the Sulky stabilizer. using a Sharpie. Then you outline the butterflies with a ziz-zag stitch. I just wasn’t happy with my outlines. I do have a relatively new machine, and I probably needed to play with it some more … but I finally abandoned the project.

So I’ve recently discovered the Sulky stabilizer that is heat sensitive. It is a great product. Easy to use and just melts away when you’re done. I thought it would be my answer to the butterfly problems. However … it is very bumpy and difficult to trace onto. Also, it is much lighter than the Sulky soluble and not as stable to sew with. Sigh. I couldn’t get my fabric to fit very tightly in my hoop. Once again, I abandoned my butterflies.

Time to try something totally different. I wanted to use fusible web, but I didn’t have any in the house. I did have some fusible interfacing, but unfortunately not the nice kind (like Wonder Under). This is fusible interfacing. I copied my butterfly designs (these are all courtesy of Christine Fries, by the way) onto the non-fusible side of the interfacing. I fused the interfacing onto muslin. I fused more interfacing onto the back of the muslin — and hoped this would be stable enough for me to sew on. I then used my Fabrico markers and colored in my butterflies.

So here’s the final product. I thread painted the butterfly using three colors of polyester thread. I was most of the way through the butterfly when I realized I needed more stabilizer, so I just added a sheet of Sulky tear-away to the back. As a final step, I ziz-zaged black around the outside, as well as the body in the center. The butterflies will be on a black background, so the zig-zag stitch on the outside should not be visible. I carefully cut it out.

I’m going to do some beading and embellishing on the butterfly. I think I’ll do some more ornate thread painting on the other butterflies, but I wanted to try a simple one to make sure the whole process would work. I’m glad it finally did!

Sources of fabric


I’m always looking for interesting fabrics that can be used in art quilts. Yesterday I found this scarf at Kohls. It was a less than $8.00 for this piece. The result was  close to a yard of fabric — 100% rayon, beautiful weave, with some ribbon embellishing.

Here’s part of a wool sweater that I made about 25 years ago. I’ve been moving it from place to place ever since. Everyone in my family has outgrown it, but I don’t want to give it away. I’ve decided to recycle it into an art project.

More images of the wool (this time, the inside). Now I understand why people frequent thrift stores looking for fabrics. I was in Target the other day and saw a few things that would have been perfect for art quilts. Anyway … time to broaden my horizons and keep an eye out for “fabrics” for my creations.

Contests vs. Contentedness


I love entering contests. I think they’re a great way to expand our quilting abilities. It’s fun being given an assignment. I like being forced to solve problems, and to push myself outside my comfort zone as an artist.

I admit, however, that doing any kind of artwork with a “customer” in mind does have a downside. Frequently the product  becomes more important than the process. If I don’t win — or, heaven forbid, make the short list of entries — I feel that twinge of failure.

If you need a break from any kind of competitive art-making,  “Life, Paint and Passion: Reclaiming the Magic of Spontaneous Expression,” (by Michele Cassou and Stewart Cubley) is your book. These authors encourage you to play, to have fun, to create –without an audience or a goal in mind. Seriously. Don’t worry about the final product at all. Stand before a blank canvas and feel what colors you’d like to use, what brushes you’d like to play with, what motions you’d like to make. The whole point is to just enjoy the process of creating.

I tried this with an art quilt I started yesterday. I had the colors picked out (blues). I admit that I spent a lot of time staring at the colors and then decided to go with a tried-and-true style. I might have had more success had I attempted painting, but I didn’t do well with my Zen quilting experiment.

Although the book is directed at painting, the ideas can easily be translated to quilting or other arts. Here are a few quotes from the book that are worth pondering:

1. If the judgment “ugly” persists, try intentionally painting an ugly painting. It can be an effective liberation from the tyranny of good and bad. (pg 54)

2. If you are afraid of not painting a beautiful painting, ask yourself: What would I paint if no one were going to see what I do? (pg 34)

3. If you find yourself experiencing resistance, ask: What would I least want to paint right now? (pg 107)

I am going to try this again. I’ve done some really great work when I’m just playing around, and I think there are some great lessons to be learned from this book. I highly recommend it.

Chocoholic Doll


This is my first attempt of doll making. I made this doll for a challenge.

The interesting part is that the fabric is made from Peanut Butter cup wrappers. I sewed the wrappers to muslin, using Sulky Heat-away Stabilizer on top and bottom to stabilize the fabric. I used a zig-zag stitch to attach the wrappers to the muslin.

The dress is made with Easter Cream Egg wrappers, prepared in the same way. It was actually very easy to sew through.

The Heat-away stabilizer is a great product — much nicer than the water-soluble stabilizer. My only complaint is that it is bumpy, so if you want to draw an image on the stabilizer, it will not work for you.

Be warned. This project requires eating a lot of chocolate!

Close up view of the “fabrics” made from chocolate wrappers!

Healthy & Happy


This little goat was at the petting zoo over the weekend. While his fellow goats were stuck in the pen, this little guy seemed to have escaped. However we soon realized that Happy (yes, we asked his name) was crippled by scoliosis and not traveling too far away. Although the farmer maintained that Happy was in no pain, there was something very sad about a crippled little goat.

It’s been a tough few days for me. Unlike Happy, I haven’t taken my issues in stride.  I’ve had a resurgence of pancreatitis. If you’ve never had the “pleasure” … the symptoms include significant pain below your breastbone, nausea, fatigue … and did I mention pain? It does not make you want to do any kind of bending over for tasks like cleaning, laundry or gardening.

I can usually get it back under control if I avoid meats of any kinds, which I’ve been doing. Tonight we were in a hurry for dinner … and I had some pepperoni pizza. Let’s just say that was a mistake. More pain.

For some reason, it seemed to be a very pain-filled weekend. My dear friend Gillian’s mother was hospitalized with some very serious health  issues. And a 15 y.o. boy we know was diagnosed with stress fractures in both shins, and needs to be in a wheelchair for a couple of months. I have another very close friend whose dealing with anemia and some other health challenges. And that’s just been in the last 24 hours!

I think that’s why I love quilting. It calms me. I know that I will be making something beautiful. There is something healing for me about choosing the fabrics, feeling the threads, thinking about how a project will come together. Even when I’m not feeling well … I know it will be there for me when I’m feeling better.

Today’s path = patience


I spent yesterday on a photography expedition with my daughter and her friend. One of our stops was Old Westbury Gardens on Long Island. We took some amazing photos. Here is the path to the rose garden.

The funny thing is that the rose garden is not yet in bloom, so the path leads to this garden with very little in it. The other gardens were beautiful — particularly the tulips and lilacs. Anyway, in another few weeks this path will lead to something wonderful … just not today. Sometimes we all need a reminder that patience is necessary to meet our goals!

Some of the tulips at Westbury Gardens.

Lilacs — smelled lovely!

MQX: Show Quilting with Gina Perkes


Gina Perkes is young, talented, enthusiastic — and a wealth of info on entering quilts for show. You can check out her quilts at to see for yourself.

Gina began the class by showing us non-traditional fillers — specifically hearts, clouds and funky feathers. She works with silk threads, and with wool and cotton battings.

She advocates that show quilts should be original, make a good first impressions, and have unique construction methods. She also suggests that your quilts have a place for your eye to rest and are balanced.

Gina finished the class by explaining how to block quilts.

MQX: Elaine Huffman


Elaine Huffman’s presentation was on trapunto and easy custom looks for your quilts.  She is the author of two books: “Bread and Butter Quilting – Fast and Easy Custom Looks for Quilts” and “Crisscross Dancing Feathers”. These books show a quilter fast and easy free hand designs for quilts, and  are written for the short, mid or longarm quilter.

This was my first opportunity to see someone use the long arm machine. Wow! What control compared with a domestic machine. I can see what people love them (well …except for the cost and the space issues). Elaine was a great teacher and her designs are beautiful. I came away understanding how quilting works to enhance to design the fabric, something that you don’t really see when you are both the quilt-top maker and the quilter.

Elaine also taught us a very simple way to do trapunto. Basically you just cut out a piece of polyester batting that is the shape of your trapunto design and spray adhere it to your other piece of batting. Sew around it. Faux trapunto only works on certain designs … but it is very easy and very effective when it does work.

Elaine was a very informative teacher. I’d highly recommend her to anyone who has the chance to take her class.



Isn’t this photo beautiful? It’s the complete opposite of how I feel today. I figure if I look at it long enough, I might find some tranquility in my day.

I started the day by paying bills. Our gas bill is normally $184 per month. I opened it and found that, this month, we owned more than $5,200! Not a nice surprise. After waiting for the Gas Co. office to open, they informed me that the bill was — in fact — an error.  We just owe them the usual $184. April fool!

I’ve been dealing with car repairs from my fender bender last week. Although it was not my fault, insurance companies actually don’t care about facts. I was assessed for 50% of the damages, which will likely exceed $2,000. My van is now in the autobody shop getting repaired. And I’m driving this boxy rental van that I really don’t care for.

I’d planned a rock climbing event for my kids’ teen group. We need an minimum of 8 kids. Two of their friends have broken bones in the last week, so I had to cancel the event. Everyone’s disappointed (well … the poor kids with broken bones are glad we’re rescheduling. They have bigger problems.)

I’m just feeling grumpy today. Stressed. Frazzled. I have a lot to do. The kids are having friends over and I have some serious cleaning up to do. We’ve lost a piece of software that my son’s promised to a friend. There’s a library book missing. There’s a stack of bills to pay and filing to do. I’m sure most people can relate.

The good news is that my daughter turns 13 today. Happy Birthday! I am now the mother of two teenagers! She’s very artistic and looking forward to diving into the box of art supplies she requested for her birthday gift.

No quilting today. But I can’t quilt when everything else is out of balance.

MQX: Cathy Franks & Coloring the Quilt


This class was so much fun! Cathy Franks quickly put on a paint shirt and it was like kindergarten. She obviously spends a lot of her time playing with paints and I have to envy her!

Cathy does a lot of fabric dyeing. She uses a product called “Poly dye” on synthetic fabrics, which apparently just needs to be mixed with hot water and applied. She recommends buying ugly synthetic fabrics at the fabric store and transforming them into something beautiful. Heat-setting will make your creations permanent. Cathy dyes everything — fabric, interfacing, batting … it all works.

My favorite recommendation (and I bought some at the show) were the Tsukineko Fabric inks. I love inks, because they do not change the hand of the fabric. Fabric paints get hard, whereas inks leave the fabric as it was. She recommended Fabrico markers (which have dual ends), the all-purpose inks, and also the Tsukineko fabric stamp pads. (I used the markers and the inks, and they are wonderful to work with.) For fabric paints, her favorite brand is Jacquard.

She also does a lot of work with Shiva oil paint sticks. I have worked with these before. They are very nice to use on fabric, just don’t forget to remove the “skin” before you start applying them to the fabric. They work just like pastels. She did HIGHLY recommend using “Delta ceramicoat textile medium” to coat the surfaces after using the paint sticks and after using colored pencils.

My takeaway from this lecture … I need more time to just play!!!! Cathy was a great instructor. She was enthusiastic and fun … and her quilts were gorgeous.