Houston Quilt Festival Teaching Schedule

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I have the honor of being selected as an instructor this year (2017) at the Houston International Quilt Festival. This is one of the largest gatherings of industry professionals and quilting fans in the world. I’ve had the privilege of teaching at the show for a few years now, and every year brings new excitement and learning opportunities.

The classes I will be teaching are:


Wednesday, November 1:

Dyeing is Easy! (All day)

This is an all day class where I’ll teach you the foundations of dyeing cotton and silk. The morning will be a lecture presentation, and the afternoon will be interactive demonstrations. If you’ve ever wanted to learn to dye fabric for your own designs, this will be a great way to start.

Thursday, November 2:
Making Molds for Resin Buttons and Charms, (2-5pm)

(Pictures coming soon)

In this class, I will teach you how to make a simple mold to produce your very own resin buttons and charms. Learn about all the tools you’ll need, and how to adapt found objects to fit your embellishment needs. It’s a simple process that yields great results. You’ll leave with a functioning mold and resin samples.

Friday, November 3:
Friday Sampler—Embellished Art Ornaments, (10:00am-noon)

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The Sampler is a great opportunity to learn techniques from several instructors at once. You can float from demonstration to demonstration at your leisure. I will be demonstrating how I make embellished art ornaments. They are great ways to test techniques, use up scraps or decorate for a holiday.

 Friday, November 3:
Lecture—”Wearable Art—My Journey So Far…” , (4-5pm)

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Someone is actually handing me a microphone…
In this lecture/presentation, I’ll talk about the ups and downs of designing and making my wearable art. I find the process to be the most intriguing part of the journey, and that part is often forgotten when observing someone’s work. Join me as I pull back the curtain on my triumphs, troubles and techniques.

I will be adding lots of pictures to my gallery with class demos and samples as it gets closer to festival. Let me know if you have any questions in the comment section.

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Project Update

What a short, strange trip it’s been!

I have just come off of a maddening last few weeks of finishing a couple of competition pieces. Happily, I am done with them and can share the fruits of my labors.

I was racing to meet the deadline for the Pacific International Quilt Festival in California. I made the sign-up deadline by one day. ONE FREAKING DAY!! Seriously, I was up til like 11 trying to get my submission in, BUT IT’S IN!!

I’m probably taking a risk by entering this piece into the vest/jacket/coat category, but I could make a solid argument that there are halter vests, and by definition, this should qualify. Regardless, I have wanted to make something like this for a while, and it feels good to get it out of my system. The title is Vintage Archive. I had no idea what I was going to call this piece until I printed the label. that’s only happened a few times, as I have at least a working title with every garment I make. The cut reminds me of vintage bustier shapes from the early 50’s. All of the seams are outlined in opalescent seed beads and all of the sequin flowers were hand stitched separately then sewn tot he bodice. All of the silk (including the bustier lining) is dupioni. The lining on the inside of the drape is silk screened with gold metallic paint. I’ve had all of these fabrics for about six or seven years now and had no clue what to do with them. One day I ran across them and poof! it all came together.

The second piece I did has been in my sketchbook for a while now, in one shape or another. I’m fascinated with surrealist clothing and a backwards, inside-out jacket seemed to be the way to go. The fabric for the jacket is silk organza over Hobbs Theremore polyester batting. The backing is unbleached, cotton muslin. All of the stitching is done in white polyester and is as close to merit quilting as I’ll ever come. LOL! The collar, pocket flaps and sleeve plackets are all made with horsehair canvas. The idea was to take all fo the fabrics you never see and put them on display. The texture of the quilted organza is odd, but inviting. This is also one of the least embellished pieces I’ve ever made. I think even less than Zapped! Fun fact: Hot Fix crystals don’t stick to horsehair canvas. Not sure if it’s the texture or the fiber, but they pop off like buttons on a tight shirt.
The skirt is multiple layers of cotton muslin and not the original design. Initially, I had a more tailored skirt, but it wasn’t working at all, so I scrapped it and went with this one. I think it makes for a more interesting design. I wanted all of the quilting to look like utilitarian quilts. Kinda like packing blankets and dust cloths. The buttons are hand poured plastic resin. I had a set of vintage buttons I made a mold from, then hand cast them to get the perfect color. I know, I’m annoying like that. This piece is called Accidentaly on Purpose. Yes, it’s misspelled… ON PURPOSE! Get it?!? LOL

Let’s see, what else has been going on…
Oh yeah, my beaded button article in Threads came out! I had fun making the button samples for his one. I love beading and hope you all will give it a try! They are super easy to make. Should be on E-readers and store shelves now.

OK, that’s it for now. I’m planning a few tutorials over the next month, so stay tuned.
OMG fashion week New York starts at the end of the month. ALREADY!!?!?

The Creative Cycle

I always thought I was the only one who experienced frustration and set-backs with my work. I’d look at everyone else’s pieces and think, “That looks so effortless for them. It must be nice to have it all together like that.”

I couldn’t understand how I could have skills and still make mistakes or run into a creative block. I would go through a project and doubt everything, all the while, working through my frustrations and hating everything I did.

I was and am my own worst critic.

Then, at the recent Houston Quilt Fest, I had a conversation with a friend who has won numerous awards for her outstanding work. As she explained the process of her current ribbon winner, I realized that she was describing the same frustration and anguish that I go through with my work.

Like me, she is her own worst critic.

It dawned on me that if someone this skilled and talented can get shaken by her own thoughts, then maybe we are all guilty of self-doubt about our work, and that no matter what anyone tells us about what we are doing, we sabotage our creativity by fabricating the demons that stalk the halls our own confidence.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the creative process is 99% of the fun. I personally think I thrive on the challenge of the frustration. I’ve always said that I am able to teach others because of my past mistakes.

When people see the finished product, they are only getting the tip of the iceberg. They don’t get to see the massive block of ice, under the water, that is the journey taken to get to the end. It’s the process that builds us as creative people.

 Henri Matisse once said, “A large part of the beauty of a picture arises from the struggle which an artist wages with his limited medium.”

Regardless of the medium, I think he was right.

Having said that, I have outlined the steps that I go through when taking on a project. These steps are interchangeable and can be revisited several times while working on something.

The Creative Cycle of Making Something

Unbridled Excitement 

You are beyond excited to start a new project. You’ve been inspired by something grand and you can’t wait to begin the planning and supply-gathering. You have a clear idea of where it will go and any issues you had with your last project are, but a distant memory.

Current mantra:

“A new victory is within sight and the sky’s the limit to my boundless creativity!”

Persistent Determination

As the project commences and you venture into the work, you run into a few snags and issues – nothing major, but your confidence in the project is now at about 92%. Still, it’s a good idea and you really want it to work. There are just minor setbacks and can be easily overcome with some more hard work.

Current mantra:

“I got the skills for this. I own it!”

Frustration

Small mole-hills are becoming mountains and with every step you become more and more mired in fixes and on-the-spot engineering. At this point, you are second guessing every decision and doubt is settling into your creative process. You know you can get it done, but it’s just A LOT of work.

Current mantra:

“Did I just stitch that wrong? Dammit, where’s the seam ripper?”

Regret

What was once a fun has now become a complete chore and burden. You wonder why you ever started this terrible project and have no issue with balling it up and throwing it out the nearest window.

Current mantra:

“What’s the point of finishing it? Why did I go with this design? Who the Hell chose these colors? Is this real life? This thing is hideous.”

Determination Revisited

Come Hell or High water, you are finishing this damned thing. You don’t care if it kills you. You spent the money on the supplies, you’ve wasted countless hours on it and you will conquer this demon.

Current mantra:

“If I have to drag this contemptible pain-in-the-ass through Hell and back, IT WILL GET FINISHED!”

Relief

The damn thing is finished. All the mistakes are fixed, all of the second-guesses are quelled and for better or worse, you no longer have to work on it.

Current mantra:

“Where the Hell is that bottle of wine?”

Bittersweet Affection

 You know it was a ton of hard work and yes, it could have been made better, but everyone makes mistakes, right? It’s OK though. NO, it’s better than OK. You put you your best into it and regardless of what anyone thinks, it’s your baby and deserves a place of honor in the Pantheon of Awesome Projects. You just don’t want to have to look at it for a long time.

Your current mantra:

“I know there are mistakes on this thing, but if one person criticizes my baby, heads will roll! I’ll chalk this up to a learning experience for the next project because my next project is going to be AWESOME!!! I have the coolest idea for it!!”

I’m still in recovery mode from Quilt Fest, so updates will be sporadic, but it’s OK because I just started a new project and it’s going to be AMAZING!!! 😉

I’ll post pics as soon as I can.

Button, Button: The Third

So, I see you’ve returned…

Now that the organza is stretched and my circle is drawn, I am ready to bead.

I start with the outer edge because it gives me a barrier I know I can’t bead out of .

Now, I am in no way, shape or form a beading instructor. I bead the way I do because of how I was taught. If you are interested in learning how to do basic bead embroidery, I suggest you check out this list of YouTube videos from Beadoholique.  They show you how to do each step.

Because the seed beads are so small, you can do all kinds of patterns on the surface. They can be organized or, like I did, totally random.

We’re going to pretend you watched me bead furiously for an hour aaaaand…

Voila! The finished beading! (Actually, it only took about half a Saturday to finish all of the buttons I had to make – from start to finish.)

You see the white line around the beading? That is the cutting line for organza. I used the same two inch diameter as the fabric circle. But if you were using very bulky fabric, you could make it slightly smaller so the edges are graded. Just make sure to center the beading.

Here are all four button tops ready to go.

All cut out…

At this point I have hand basted around the organza circle.

Just like before, draw up the gathers and secure the thread tightly.

This is the top of the button once it has been gathered up and secured.

The side view. Ignore my cuticles.

All of them done!

You’ll notice that there is still some space on the buttons where they are not beaded. At this point I went back with more beads and filled in all of the gaps around the edges.

Here is one of the finished ones. You can keep going with the beads all you want, but since these were going to be sewn down, I didn’t really feel the need to do the vertical sides. I did end up giving it a picot edge (few pictures down), but the sides remained bare.

Side view of basic button with unbeaded sides

And the rear end…

Here is the picot edge I did for them.

I should have been a hand model.

You can see the edge better here.

The seed beads I used are not Delicas. They are mainly for sewing purposes or beaded fringe, so they are not all even in size.

This works to your advantage and can be very frustrating at the same time.

The picot edge is a bit varied, but it fits in with the nature of the garment.

All four of them beaded with picot edges!

Here are a couple of close-ups.

FINALLY! Sewn to the jacket front!

I used a running back stitch through all thicknesses of the front and button, keeping the facing free.

I used a fine-gauge millinery needle because it was longer than a normal sharp. The stitches run under the beads on the surface of the button.

Because the beading is so dense, you’ll never see them – just use matching thread. The end result is a very secure stitch.

Tighter shot of the front. Please ignore the fact that the front is not pressed.

Well, that’s it kittens.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the tour.

Let me know, in the comments section, if you have any questions.

Hugs and bunnies,

Gilbert

Button, Button: Part 1

Before you read this post please be advised that I apologize for the  poorly lit pictures and the fact that I need a manicure.

Well, here it is folks! The post none of you have been waiting for!

THE MOST USELESS, FAKE BUTTON YOU’LL EVER MAKE: PART ONE!

While making my submission for the 2012 International Quilt Festival in Houston, I needed to find buttons that would really make the jacket pop. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any and the time to sew them on was quickly approaching. At the last minute, I decided to make my own. Since they would be decorative only (the jacket actually snaps closed) I decided to make them from beaded embroidery. I suppose you could make beaded embroidery buttons that are functional, but the button holes would have to be enormous.

I wanted to do a massive, marathon post on this little project, but with so many steps, I figured people would get bored and flee for the hills; so I’ve broken it up into a few mini posts. I’m kind of proud of myself because I actually photographed each step as I did it!

GO TEAM!

Here are the materials I used.

This is a circle drafting template. They are available at most craft supplies. I got mine at Texas Art Supply. I’ll be using the 1 1/4″ circle for my buttons. I just happen to have this template. You are more than welcome to draw any size circle you want using any method you want. I won’t judge you. Well, not to your face anyway…

This is Peltex (Its more expensive cousin Timtex can also be used). This stuff is a very dense interfacing that has a fusible glue on one side. This makes up the shape of the button. You’ll need two circles cut from this. I used a sharpie marker on the Peltex so it would show up better.

This is heavy weight buckram. Sometimes Joanns stocks it. It is a heavy cotton thread woven together then sized with glue. Since it is so stiff you can use paper punches on it. I had a 1″ punch (HA! Bruce Lee reference!) so I just punched a circle out. The buckram is only for reinforcement, so I didn’t want it to go all the way to the edge of the button, hence the slightly smaller size.

Now, we make a sandwich. Layer a piece of buckram between two Peltex disks. Make sure the edges of the Peltex circles line up evenly. Now, baste through all layers. The basting just holds it together when we press.

Now, the basted sandwich gets pressed.  I place a press cloth under and over the stack and use a cotton setting, press for a few seconds. The buckram reacts to the steam and the Peltex reacts to the heat.  Let it cool slightly on the ironing board before moving it. (Note: The peltex will want to stick to the press cloths.) The result is a very sturdy, fused button!

I an covering the button in fabric, so the basting thread being left in doesn’t really matter to me. If you were covering it in a lightweight fabric, you might want to use matching basting thread just in case.

That completes the foundation for the buttons. The next post will focus on covering them.

Toodles!

G