Sunday, January 22, 2012

Beginning Rigid Heddle Weaving Class!

If you're interested in weaving, and live on or near Vashon Island (Washington State), I'm teaching a class! 

Beginning Rigid Heddle Weaving
Three Weeks/Three Scarves

The Rigid Heddle Loom is a simple but versatile (and very portable) little loom.  In three sessions, students will weave three scarves, learning how to warp the loom, how to weave plain weave, how to select yarns for weaving, how to use stripe, plaid, and log cabin “color and weave” effects, how to finish the ends of a scarf with hems and/or fringes, how to wash and care for handwovens, and how to plan future projects.  Handouts and Resource Bibliography will be provided.

Supplies needed:
Rigid Heddle Loom (Schacht Spindle Company’s Cricket loom is a good first loom)
 8 Dent Reed (comes with a new loom)
 Warping Peg (comes with a new loom)
Threading Hook (comes with a new loom)
 2 Stick Shuttles (comes with a new loom)
Yarn – for the first scarf you will need about 250 yards (a bit more if you like your scarves very long or very wide) of a next-to-the-skin (Merino is good) DK or light Worsted Weight yarn.  You may make your first scarf from one or two colors (125 yards each), solid or variegated.
Yarn selections for the second and third scarves will be discussed in class.
Optional but useful items:  Tapestry needle
                                              Fringe Twister
Minimal homework (finish your scarf and get yarns for next session)

$60 for 3 sessions@ 3hours each
Saturdays – January 28, February 4, February 11 from 1PM to 4PM
at Island Quilter 17639 Vashon Hwy SW, Vashon, WA
To sign up, call Island Quilter at 206-713-6000
Be sure to buy or rent your own loom ASAP so you have a loom for the first class
(there will be looms to buy at Island Quilter, 
and one loom for rental)

Teacher Nancy Olszewski currently leads the Seattle Weaver’s Guild Rigid Heddle Study Group (we meet on Vashon the third Sunday of the month).  See her projects on (look in the 2010 archives for the “a scarf a week challenge” scarves).  

Friday, January 20, 2012

FMQ Project's "Quilt Along Wednesdays" - first two lessons

In The Free Motion Quilting Challenge, there was a link to "Quilt Along Wednesdays" which led me to a rather fabulous blog and an amazing quilter - Leah Day.   Check out her 365 days of Free Motion Quilting Filler DesignsWow!  Not just fun designs, but clear and generous instructional videos as well! 

And now she's sharing her expertise and experience in a series of lessons/tutorials for us beginners!  First up was stippling, the basic background filler everyone should learn, and here are my rows of practice. 

Not a bad start.  I like rows, they're easy (easier, maybe).  Bottom "row" is more fill-like and starts to get a little weird (do you see the strange animals?).  Oh well.

Second lesson was about working in a quadrant pattern (here's the illustration from her blog, so you know what I'm talking about - the arrows show the direction of quilting).  

I tried it out with a heart shaped leaf pattern first (see my previous post) which was really fun, and then I went back and stitched a stippled sample.

My little dotted blue lines are still there, so you can see the path of stitching.  I wanted to have the beginning and end join up, so instead of starting in the center, I started in the middle of the right side (you can see the starting dot and the awkward join.  Oh well).  My stippling isn't as fluid as I'd like it to be - I think I need to relax and get wigglier (and practice more!), but I'm happy with my thread tension, and I'm happy with my progress, and I'm having fun!

And next lesson will be working with size/scale - how appropriate after my varied leaf sizes in my last post!

And why two posts in one day?  Well, we're still snowed in and unlike many people in the Northwest, we still have electricity!

Free Motion Quilting Challenge

Back in October, I gave a brief presentation at quilt guild about the machine quilting classes I'd taken (see previous post for info on classes), and later a fellow quilter, Joanna, sent me info about SewCalGal and her Free-Motion Quilting Challenge (thanks Joanna, and thanks SewCalGal!) and since I needed to work on my FMQ skills, I took the pledge and joined up.  

In this challenge, a different well-known and generous expert quilter will give some kind of instruction/quilting pattern/tutorial/new technique each month, and everyone is to practice and post their efforts.  This month, Frances Moore gave us a video of how to do a heart-shaped leaf fill pattern, so here it is.  

First was to practice the pattern by drawing it out.
(not quite as heart-shaped as it should be, but close)

Next was to try it out - (starts in the upper left corner).
OK, so the leaf shape gets a little wonky, and the leaf size is pretty varied, and the fill doesn't really flow well, but it's not horrible (and yes, I threw in some random spirals in a moment of frustration - an extra pattern from Frances' blog), and my thread tension was good, mostly, so there's hope for the future.

Then, after reading Leah's blog post about quilting in quadrants (more about her and the Free Motion Quilting Project in my next post), I tried again.
I really liked the quadrants - I didn't have to worry about where to go next, and it was much easier to find a flow with this method.  However, I found that when I was concentrating on the quadrant, I lost the heart shape and went back to my default leaf shape (from the baby quilt).

So I drew another page of heart leaves and tried stitching again.
Now I've mostly got the heart shape back, but my size is random again!  Oh well, that's what practice is for!

Having fun, anyhow!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Baby Quilt is DONE!

And here it is, just in time for her first birthday!
the birthday quilt
This quilt for my new granddaughter has been quite a journey!
The design process started more than a year ago (before she was even born) with research into baby quilts designs, input from my son and daughter-in-law, info about applique quilts, butterfly quilts, butterfly shapes, elephant shapes, and layout ideas, and then lots of fabric selections and rejections (well, the rejections went into my nearly non-existent stash, so that's OK).

And then, since I didn't know anything about applique, I had to take a class - this was a class given by the very talented Judy Dohm at the Stitchin' Girls Society retreat on Vashon (don't blame her for my choice of fabrics!).
Wreath of Roses Indiana Rose unfinished Victorian Rose

Of course this was needle-turn (hand sewing) applique, and I needed to do machine applique for the baby quilt, but the basic techniques that I learned from Judy - making and marking, layering, positioning, and so on - served me well (besides, her class was just plain fun - I'll have to do more with needleturn eventually!).
I got the rest of what I needed from books (especially Mastering Machine Applique by Harriet Hargrave).

And then I started making sample blocks (the kitty helped a lot).
baby quilt design process

So here it is in process with some finished and unfinished blocks, and some blocks that would later be rejected (I've got lots of these rejects - I'm hoping I can get them to blend with each other into a different project!)
baby quilt in process

And after much sampling and many trips back to the quilt store for new/different fabrics, finally a version I could be happy with - the shapes are mostly clear, the colors and color weights are mostly balanced, and it looks whimsical and happy as well as being sweet and girly, mostly!
Baby Quilt layout - again
Not satin-stitched down yet (used a narrow band of Steam-a-Seam 2 light to hold the pieces in place) but design layout is mostly done now.

While I was working this through, however, I needed to learn how to quilt the final product (being a total beginner and all) so I took a machine quilting class (this is for using your home sewing machine to do amazing things) from Darlene Girton (great teacher - clear instruction, well organized info, encouraging and helpful) at the Quilting Loft in Seattle
Machine Quilting from Quilting Loft class
Wow did I learn a lot (and more than just these 4 samples, too!) - starting and stopping, using the walking foot (in the ditch, zigzags, rays, grids, interlocking circles), tension adjustment, dropping feed dogs and using free motion embroidery (scribbles, outlines, echos, stippling, fills) - yikes! Great class lesson book - Machine Quilting Made Easy by Maurine Noble.

So then I took another (and much more intense and scary) class over at Quiltworks Northwest in Bellevue from Harriet Hargrave and worked with marked patterns, pieced blocks, and even did a feathered wreath! Much harder, but a great class!
Machine Quilting from Harriet Hargrave class

Whew! So back to the baby quilt - just two weeks before the party, I finally found the perfect border fabric and backing so here it is, appliques are satin stitched, blocks are sewn together, and borders are applied.
Baby quilt appliqued and with borders
And here are some close-ups of the finished blocks with embroidered details and free motion quilting - leaves and flowers (these are not in order, so the designs will not flow from one picture to the next - go back to the beginning of the post to see the overall effect).
Butterfly #4 Butterfly #3
daddy elephant mommy elephant
Butterfly #6 Butterfly #5
Butterfly #2 Butterfly #1
Then I picked out a different pattern for the border (still leaves and flowers, but different, a bit).
border pattern again
and here's a peek at that perfect backing fabric
showing the backing
And one more closeup look at a section of the quilt top (draped on the sofa)
how the free-motion quilting looks bottom left corner
This is a quilt of firsts for me - my first applique, my first embroidery, my first free motion quilting,
and my son's first baby! I'm happy.

next up - the Free Motion Quilting Challenge from SewCalGal! If you're a quilter, it's not too late to join (actually, there's no pressure to produce, there's lots of great info and generous quilter-teachers, and it will go on all year, so give it a try!)