The Dresden something…

I want to make a quilt –an honest to goodness, goes on the bed, snuggle up in winter, make a pillow fort quilt.

There, I said it.

This revelation might not come as a huge surprise to those who know me, as I make wearable art on a regular basis, but producing a functional quilt is something that has eluded my entire sewing career.  I DO quilt most of my showpieces; however, it’s not the same. The quilting I stitch for a jacket pattern is specialized and condensed. It often goes unnoticed on my pieces because the quilting designs I normally stitch are simple and almost utilitarian… and usually drowning in a million embellishments. I like simple quilting patterns because they seem sincere and approachable to me; however, there is something to be said about magical, ornate and intricate quilt patterns. Which brings me to the one aspect of the quilting industry that both haunts me and terrifies me – free-motion quilting.

I’m terrible at it. I get the basic premise of free- motion stitching, but I have never been able to find a rhythm or fluidity when behind the needle.  I have seen COUNTLESS videos, instructions and blog posts about F-MQ, but none of it has sunk in. I have been able to accomplish a few zig-zag stitches in F-MQ though.

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The quilting on Zapped’s skirt was all F-MQ. I suppose the multiple blue ribbons it brought in should have convinced me to continue the practice, but alas, they did not, as I haven’t used F-MQ on any other piece since. Mind you, it was a basic back and forth design, so really, it barely reads as F-MQ, in my book.

So, where is all of this sharing taking me?

To a long-time coming project I finally got off the ground.

Ladies, and a select group of gentlemen, I present to you:

THE DRESDEN… uhhh… QUILT THING?
… look, I’m still working on the name, but hear me out.

I LOVE Dresden plates; they are my favorite quilt block to date. As simple as they are, I never get tired of making them, and there are countless variations , so what better block to try my hand at leaning free-motion quilting!?

The rules to this game are simple:

1 – Make 30 blocks to form a quilt. Now, I don’t think wrestling a full size bed quilt in the throat of a domestic machine is the best way to start learning, so I will be connecting these quilted blocks with the Quilt-As-You-Go method. Each block can then be blocked, set and trimmed BEFORE it gets connected. AND each block top must be complete before quilting begins.  I don’t want to keep starting and stopping, so when I start quilting, I want to stay quilting.

2 – Each block must be 20”x20”. I need some room to screw up practice on, so I thought that size would be plenty of space, yet still manageable. I remember Ana Buzzalino talking about using a large piece of fabric to practice on so you can chart your progress, and that sounds like a great idea, but I don’t want to have to unfurl a blanket to just sit at the machine and stitch, so the more manageable size wins.

3 – All block designs must radiate from a center point and form a circle, and all designs must present a challenge. This is a strange rule, but one that will keep this project within a modicum of unity. I don’t have to ONLY use Dresden plates, as there are a few odd ball designs that I want to try, but they must come together as a round-ish object. I will allow myself to fudge this with a circle of bias or radial applique if necessary.
The designs shouldn’t be too simple. I want to work around obstacles because this is how most of my pieces are designed.  Sure, it would be easy to just work on some plain muslin, but I want to walk away having learned something about the way I design a surface.

4 – NO EMBELLISHMENTS! Nothing – not a button, not a bead, not a sequin! This is the hardest rule to follow, but I want the quilting to be the focus of this quilt. This is going to be a white-knuckle project as I control the compulsion to bead the Hell out of each block.

5 – Only fabric from the stash can be used, with one exception. WHAT?! WHO MADE UP THESE STUPID RULES ANYWAY!?!?! Oh, I did. Never mind… Yeah, this one is REALLY gonna hurt. OK, so the exception to this rule is that I have an idea for a printed motif that fits within the blade of a Dresden, so I’m going to experiment with that, but other than that, it’s all stash. This can be either commercial prints or any of my hand dyed stock. I am not going for a unified color story at all, in fact, scrappier is better for this one, so anything goes!

6 – All applique/piecing must be turned edge. I plan on regularly tossing this thing in the washing machine, and as much as I love fusible applique, I don’t want to deal with fraying. I can use machine applique (my fave) or needle turn.

7 – All quilting, with the exception of stitching in the ditch/outlining, must be free-motion quilting.  I was wondering when we were getting to this one.  There are a few patterns I want to master: bubbles, stippling, ribbon candy, basic feathers and… DUN DUN DUN… simple feather wreaths.  Everything else is gravy. These stitches will not be perfect, but since this is my own quilt, who cares; I’m learning. I’m hoping this project helps me to accept set-backs and stumbles.

8 – Take your time. There is no rush to complete this. I was going to do a BLOCK OF THE MONTH thing, but as fall is quickly approaching, there is no way I’ll make headway while facing my preparations for Quilt Fest. If this thing takes 2 years, so be it!

9 – Document your progress. I neglect this blog WAY too much, so I thought this would be a great way to make content in-between couture weeks and whenever I get free time. I’m planning videos, tutorials and patterns. I said “planning,” not confirming.

10 – QUILT EVERY DAMN DAY! This is a tall order, but one that must be upheld. The key to success in a trade is practice, so even if it’s just two blades on a block, I have to sit at the machine and quilt every single day, once I start quilting.

So that’s it. A basic rule set that will help me on my way to quilting splendor…. I hope.
All of these rules are slightly flexible (Except the one about dyeing. I REALLY need to clear out this stash!) because I don’t want to paint myself into a corner, but for the most part, I’m going to follow them.

As far as quilting instruction goes, I think I have a decent idea of where to start. I understand the basic mechanics of F-MQ, it’s the patterns and carrying the needle to the next motif that messes me up. I have been following a few F-MQ’ers on Youtube, so I know where I need to start. If anyone has any suggestions or comments, please leave them below.

In the meantime, I have already started the top-building process. While working on yet ANOTHER project, I took a few days off and began constructing come of the block tops. Here are my results so far:

I can already see lots of quilting motifs in my head.
I just hope my hands can carry them out!

OK, so more in a few days, I plan on explaining how I make both peaked and rounded Dresden blades.

Let me know if you have any questions!

 

Exciting News!

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I have been invited to curate an exhibit of my wearable art at the 2017 Houston International Quilt market/festival in Houston, this fall!

On display will be 14 of my garments. As mentioned in a previous post, I will be giving a lecture discussing the garments in the special exhibit, My Wearable Art Journey… So Far.
I’ll also be taking questions and giving impromptu tours on the show floor.

The Houston International Quilt Market is October 28-30, 2017
The Houston International Quilt Festival is November 2-5, 2017
George R. Brown Convention Center
Houston, Texas

If you can, come by and say HI!

Azulejos

So it’s been a whirlwind last few months.

I started and finished a wearable art project I titled, Azulejos. It was inspired by hand painted Mexican tiles.

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Front

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Back

First things first – I draped and drafted a pattern for the jacket.

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I then cut out a dozen or so paper “snowflakes” that were scanned, cleaned up in Photoshop and finally cut in acetate on my plotter. The acetate gave me a more stable stencil to work with, as the paper would warp after a number of uses. Using 100% cotton, I printed the background colors. I worked with blues and turquoises as the foundation colors because I wanted a nice contrast to the bright centers.

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First step in printing.

I then painted the white spaces with bright oranges, yellows and greens. I wanted a hand touched look to them, so I didn’t get too precious about coloring in the lines. The bright colors mixed with the blues and resulted in various greens and aquas. I didn’t want to do a literal copy of the tiles, so I kept each design as spare as possible. I was more intrigued by the graphic tone of the printing than making them realistic.

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Rinsed and dried.

Each motif was cut apart and bordered with 1/4 inch sashing. Even though the intersections were going to be cut out, I insisted they match perfectly.

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Once I had the yardage I needed, I CUT OUT THE PERFECTLY MATCHED CENTERS!!! and covered them with fusible squares of smaller printed motifs done in bright oranges and yellows, which got satin stitched in matching thread.
Each corner was then beset with a sequin.

Then began the quilting of the jacket body. I kept all the stitching pretty simple as I thought the complexity of the printing demanded it.

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Once all the quilting was done, I worked on embellishing the standing lapels.

I hand appliquéd all the leaves and circles, then chain stitched around each of the leaves and embroidered the veins.. The bias vines were couched in contrast thread, and the shisha mirror work was done by hand and appliqued on. I guess this is a bit odd because I used the appliqué as embellishment AFTER the quilting was done.

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All of the dyes used were ProChemical, I only use Hobbs batting (in this piece it was Theremore) and the only fusible web I use is Misty Fuse. It took me a while to find products that I love and dagnabit, I ain’t changing any time soon!

I did all of the printing, dyeing and embellishing by hand.

SO AFTER ALL OF THAT…

I just found out that this piece took BEST OF SHOW in the
Pacific International Quilt Festival wearable art division!!!

GO TEAM!!

So yeah, I’ve been a little busy. I also have a wedding to go to soon and this guy (points to self) thought it would be a good idea to make a shirt and vest to wear to the event. So that’s kept my idle hands occupied lately. I also started another project that I will reveal in due time. Oh and Houston Quilt Fest is coming up in like two weeks.

OMG SO MUCH TO DO!!!

Questions, comments, concerns?
Let me know in the comment section.

I’m going to be a good boy and TRY to do a round up of what I see at Quilt Fest. I’m not teaching this year, so I’ll have more time to take pics of the quilts and exhibits.

NOW I’M GOING TO TAKE A NAP!