Monday, December 29, 2014

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Holidays! All of that!

I have been a lousy blogger lately, but I'm resigned to changing that!  I have so many projects I'm excited to get working on this upcoming year!  I didn't accomplish everything I set out to in 2014, but I accomplished quite a lot and I'm very proud of what I did.  For a stay at home Mom who's focus is primarily on her children, and then next on her quilting - well I did a few things that's for sure!

How was your Christmas/Holiday?  Are you ready for 2015?  I am truly awed that the year has gone by so quickly...I do feel that "fresh slate" feeling this year.  I have been toying with a book proposal that is right now on hold because I cannot devote my full attention to it - and while I am still having fun dipping my toes in the show quilt waters...I feel like I'm sucking all of my limited free time into these very long intense projects.  Right now - with a little baby on the way - I'm nesting a bit.  I want some quick gratification quilts that I can quilt the daylights out of...and decorate our humble little home with.

I asked Santa for something this year and boy did he come through - he brought me an Accuquilt Go!  Woohoo!  Well - in this case Santa was Hubby and Hubby picked it up from a long distance sewing friend of mine who has more than one fabric cutter and was selling her Go! for almost half the retail with some additional dies.  I'm so glad he was able to get this!  What a deal she gave me and it was a bonus that it was from a trusted source.

I haven't had time to sit and play but the kiddos are going to Nana's today so I'm hoping to try and squeeze some me time in.  I have such high hopes for this gadget!!!  When I originally was thinking about the Go I was thinking in terms of appliqué...Patsy Thompson does some really incredible fusible with her fabric cutter (and has dies available that are Go compatible on her website by the way - on sale right now I might add!) and I have long been enamored with her creativity and bright color palate.  After research and talking with other Accuquilt owners I am finding SO many other uses for this little machine that I never had thought of!

I love love love making quilts but I hate hate hate cutting for them.  I can be a bit of an over achiever in the piecing arena and at times will over look quick pieced quilts as not enough of a challenge for me.  But with so much on my plate at the moment and not time to give to cutting quilts...I'm really looking forward to escaping some of the math and cutting.  I had no idea you could cut strips either!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I mean - imagine, how often do you cut strips for quilts?  Like - 90 percent of all quilts start in strips...if you're paper piecing, cutting squares, strip piecing, cutting triangles, borders...imagine how much time you'd save if you had a stash of precut strips in different sizes?  A WHOLE LOT that's how much!  Or just knowing that you have a die in common strip sizes so you can quickly and accurately cut a strip...without a hump in it.  I know you have gotten the hump in your strips at the fold line - we all have!  I just love this thing.  I'm all about making life easier...and I'm also very interested in wasting less fabric

The dies that came with my machine bundle were the value die that comes with all Go's, a large half square triangle die, and a two and a half inch strip die.  Can you say - stash busting?  I have three large overflowing bins of scraps that I at one point attempted to whittle down into usable pieces following Bonnie Hunter's Scrap user system.  I love the way she stores her scraps - but honestly I got really bored really fast cutting all those little hunks of fabric!  I am guessing this will still take time even with dies...but if I can make it mindless enough that I can do it without doing any math, just matching up scraps to dies to make sure they fit...well I can imagine an hour every evening at my sewing table while the Hubby watches tv as I cut up scraps.  Woohee!

This hexie die was what I bought with a Jo Ann's gift card from my Brother in Law and his wife, and some Christmas money my parents gave me.  I desperately want the equilateral triangle die so I can pair it up with this one and make some pretty vintage stars.

I am having the greatest time thinking up uses for this machine and am feeling the "gotta have them all" urge!!!  I suspect there will be dies I'll use more than others but I'm so very excited at all the possibilities that lay ahead.

I think my biggest goal for 2015 is going to be to take it slow and make things that make me happy...even if they don't have a grand fantastic purpose.  I get the need to achieve things because I stay home and do not have a career outside of raising my children.  Quilting is where my accomplishments have been that the world can see...because not everyone sees or even appreciates the accomplishments of being a "just a mother".  Maybe I'm growing older - and not so much feeling the need for approval from the world!  :)  Or maybe I'm just satisfied with as far as I've come.  But for now - I just want to sew some pretty quilts.

I hope you had a wonderful holiday and have an even better New Year!  We will be slowly cleaning up, recovering, and getting back into a routine.  I'm darn near finished with Denise's stockings...they will be done this week and I will get a move on Joyce's quilt.  Just wait until you see it!  It's a real stunner!  :)

Friday, December 19, 2014

More Art Ramblings and a New Quilt

Today is going to be a busy and hectic day, but I've resolved to take it easy over the holidays since there really isn't an "end" to my work over Christmas break.  Yesterday I stole some time away to work on something I've had rolling around in my mind for a while...

I sent this away for printing on fabric and this is an experiment (like 90% of my projects) so hopefully the fabric I ordered will be soft enough for quilting.  I really think I have some form of ADD.  My Dad laughs when I say this but I really struggle to push through a project of my own.  I don't so much have a hard time with client quilts - but when it comes to my own work it's always getting set aside.  Many of my quilts take years to make - and I need some quick gratification.  Not that this will be an easy piece by any means...for me it's very much improvisational so I really have no idea where I'm headed but I certainly feel relieved to get a little bit of creativity out!

I ordered a test swatch so these photos will be small - but I have no idea what the photo quality will be either so it will be a wait and see kind of thing.  Fingers crossed.  :)  I have some ideas for background and while this is not the layout, it is (a really poor photo of) the base quilt this will be appliquéd onto.

The green is going to be incorporated somehow but not in this large of a section.  I just want to pull some green out of the photo into the quilt - but again, I'll have to wait and see when the photo arrives if the green is even the right shade.  The traditional quilter in me is going crazy over those mismatched stripes and I'll have to do some fiddling so I can stand to look at them.  These will sit here until I figure out what I'm going to do with them - because honestly this is my starting point but I really have no idea.  I know I want to play with geometric quilting and am really feeling pop art right now.

Here's a shot below of my tight space back here - hence the poor picture!  With my growing baby belly I literally have inches between me and the wall!  LOL

This all developed from the rainbow selection I pulled out and showed off last post - as you can see NO RAINBOWS!  See how that works for me?  My ideas change day to day and rarely do I complete the "plan".  :)

Linking up with Nina today for Off the Wall Friday as I haven't participated in a while.  :)  I have SO MUCH TO do today so I really need to get going!!!!  :)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Update: What's Been Going on in the Smith Kingdom :)

My report is going to be kind of random and boring today.  I did finish Cindy's quilt which I will be trimming and boxing up to be sent home today.  Here's a quick shot I took for Facebook...

I always love all over feathers on a scrappy quilt like this and she sent the prettiest backing that will really show off the quilting too.  Bonus!  :)

Other than that we've had a string of sickness in the house, that achy shaky flu has hit and hit the local schools even harder.  My middle daughter came home yesterday with a fever of 101 and is still trying to kick a high fever this morning so another day of nursing and caring for her.  Hopefully she feels better by tomorrow and we don't have to go into the Dr.

I'm working on a project with some pretty batiks - some of which my kind friend Marci sent me.  I don't really have time or a need to start a project right now but it was fun playing in the fabric yesterday.  :)

Trying to gear up for Christmas but I just can't seem to get into it this year.  I think because I'm so busy and backed up with work.  My tree is up, the lights are on but nothing else!  I have wrapped presents ready to go under it even but it's not quite ready!  LOL  I will get there - apparently Christmas comes and goes whether you're ready for it or not!

I hope all is well with my friends in blogland!  I'm hoping to sneak in some time to visit you all and see what you've been up to soon!  :)

Monday, December 8, 2014

New Pantograph's Available - Cloisonne and Oblique - and a SALE!

Look what is now available over on Urban Elementz website!  Cloisonne and Oblique!


Pssst...they are having a big 20% off of EVERYTHING sale right now!  :)  (Sale runs December 8th - 15th!)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Monica's Christmas Quilt

I finally finished Monica's 12 Days of Christmas quilt!

I am so happy with how it turned out!  Next on the frame is Cindy's scrappy BOM!  :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Monica's Crazy Stitched Cross - Finished!

Well - if you follow me on Facebook then you know that while my long arm motor is running beautifully, the belt snapped!  Gah!  I think it's just one of those times - you know where everything goes hay wire?  Ahh!  Well, luckily I have very little left on the Christmas quilt and while I wait for a belt that should be here in a day or so, I'm going to finish up the quilt on my Juki this afternoon.

I had to walk away and look at something else for a bit so I finished this little quilt of Monica's this morning.  I think it turned out so pretty!  I still need to remove the blue markings but other than that it is finished...

Will be back hopefully this afternoon or this evening with photos of the Christmas quilt!  :)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

R.I.P. - How I Murdered My Long Arm Motor

Many tears of frustration and anger have been cried over the last week - my quick fix that had my machine down for over a week soon turned into a nightmare - when I broke it!  Opening up my motor to check on an issue resulted in my accidentally snapping the main power supply.  Oops.  This was a day I was really happy to be my own boss...but also really sad to be too because it was my own $300 that had to be spent to replace that motor.


The good news?  Eunice the long arm is up and running!!!  Thank goodness, I was really in a panic for a few days there!  I'm so impressed with APQS and how quickly they got that motor out to me - especially since I had the free shipping (which usually  means - SLOW shipping) and it was the week of Thanksgiving.  I didn't however realize the motor wouldn't be ready to install right out of the box - so that set me back about half a day, but I did get it installed and quilted for several hours yesterday without issue so I think *thank goodness* the problem is solved.

My new super awesome RUNNING motor.  :)
I am so grateful for those who have quilts here who have been extremely patient with me!  I will be working extra long hours and all quilts currently in house will be finished by the end of the week.  Barring no further issues with Eunice - since she now has a brand new motor the hopes are that she will be running well for another decade and a half - and I will be quilting up a storm this week.

In other news - since little machine quilting has been going on due to my down machine -I did pull out this quilt...

...and have been working on the finishing details.  It has a few trouble areas that I want to correct before showing it anywhere.  The biggest being that bias tape around the edge that I should have ripped off and reattached.  Since I didn't...I had to think of a way to improve the wonky stitches...I had planned to either add cording or piping of some sort around it when I designed the quilt...but instead I have been adding seed beads....boy are they doing the trick!  I don't know if I'll get it completely perfect and flawless ...but at least to where I can stand to look at it!

I love that the seed beads add a pretty sparkle and really add to the character of the quilt...if you click on the bottom photo of that bias tape edge you can see where the beading stops - and what an improvement they make to evening out the lines.

I am going to try to get this quilt finished for Lake Farm Park Quilts 2015 in Kirtland, Ohio - our local show that I have yet to enter...but if I cannot get it ready in time for the deadline I'll shoot for the NQA show in Columbus, Ohio.

Happy quilting all - and many more photos to come now that I can actually QUILT again!!  :)  I hope all who are in the States reading had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

New Pantograph Designs

Look what's now available at Urban Elementz!



Flitter and Rhythm!  Aren't they delicious!!!?!!!  I am so excited about both of these!  :)  Flitter is so happy and makes me think spring (in all this snow!) and I love the texture and movement of Rhythm.  These are going to be a lot of fun to use!

Finishing up a few client quilts this week - boy do I have the BEST folks to quilt for.  I am at a standstill waiting for a part for my machine...nothing big, but just waiting for the post man to bring it here.  Hoping it arrives today.  After Monica and Cindy's quilts I'll be quilting Vogue on this cute little minkee (minky?) backed baby quilt that will soon be available for purchase in my Etsy shop.

Keep warm!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Few More In Progress

 I am just having such a good time with this one that I thought I'd share a few more photos of the progress.  I've moved along farther down in the quilt but the appliqué is finished in this one and it looks so nice.  :)  Next photos of the finished quilt! ;)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Monica's Christmas Quilt in Progress

It sure is feeling like the holidays around here!  Our light dusting of 1 to maybe 3 inches turned into about 8 yesterday...and another 6-9 is predicted for this evening.  Wheew!  I would say it's going to be a good weekend for quilting.  :)

Just a few in progress shots of Monica's Christmas quilt.  A quick shower, some hot cocoa...and back to work.  :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Santa Baby! Another of Monica's Beauties

I have been so down and out with morning sickness (all day sickness) the past few weeks that it feels AMAZING to be working again.  I couldn't even sit for long periods of time at one point without getting nauseated.  Like clockwork I'm moving into the second trimester and morning sickness is starting to disappear.  THANK GOODNESS!  I don't know how much  more I could take!  :)

A bit later than planned but still within the time frame I allotted myself, I finished Monica's Santa wall hanging.  Today I load up a larger Christmas quilt she sent me and I'm all sorts of motivated as the tree is up and lit and the Christmas music is playing.

I used Glide in sand on Santa's hat brim and cuffs...just enough color but not overwhelming.

Again I tried to give Santa a happy face but one with character and a little age....all that's missing is a bit of rose color in his cheeks!

Santa's boots received a similar quilting design as the background - holly leaves and swirls.

These triangles in the border were a little tricky but I got them done!  I think they are half square triangles cut in the traditional matter with the bias on the outer proved to be a real stinker when trying to baste this quilt and keeping the lines straight.  I think we did alright!  :)

Pictures in the next day or so of the rest of Monica's quilts.  I'm on a roll!  :)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

One More in Progress and Thoughts on Working in Series

Thank you so much to those who had such positive encouraging comments on my last post.  Because I'm treading what are new waters for me, it is really great to get such positive feedback.

Being the thinker I am I have had many long conversations over the past few days and spent much time contemplating my interests and direction with my current quilt and future quilts.  For such a long time I've wanted to explore painting on quilts - but from a different perspective than how I normally look at quilts.  I absolutely adore the entire quilting process, but now I think I want to spend some time focusing on creating compositions.  A quilting friend brought up something that I've thought about over the years but never really understood - working in a series.  I never planned to sell my work and I had kind of seen creating quilts or paintings in a series as a marketing ploy - and a boring one at that!  I cannot tell you how many times my Dad and I have said - "but I don't want to make more than one!"  Mostly because we want to be inspired and not become bored.  But now - I have to say - I'm changing my tune a bit.  I can see how working in a series can benefit an artist in more ways than just attempting to sell or show in a gallery setting.  I can also see the potential to take an idea and expound on it.  Improve it and grow with turn improving skill.  I see now how it can really help to organize your work when sharing it with others as well.  So what am I getting at?  LOL  I think you've guessed it - I'm going to make an attempt to create a series and see how that goes for a while.

Right now I'm enjoying these sort of cartoonish modern folk art style paintings.  I'm excited to add texture and interest as I go along.  Here are some close ups of the shading I've added in the water.

I am really itching to get to the quilting on this.  There is'n't much left to do at this point as I'm waiting for my Angelina Film to arrive in the mail and my Shiva Paintstiks.  I haven't decided if I want to add paint before or after quilting...but I'm kind of leaning towards after.  I'm pretty sure I want this to be quilted with a lofty layered batt - I want almost a sculpted clay or engraved look to the quilting.  We'll see how that goes!

The only part I'm not too keen on at the moment is the dragonfly.  It's not symmetrical to the point that it bothers me - and the colors just aren't right.  I thought about repainting but I don't want to build up so much paint that the quilt becomes difficult to stitch through.  So, I suppose I'm hoping that my Angelina Film will work wonders for me!  Maybe layering Angelina Film with tulle or something else and fusing them together to create wings.  We'll see - I'm pretty confident it's going to be loads of fun!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Thoughts, branching out, experimenting. :)

Today is my friend Nina's Off the Wall Friday - I haven't participated in a while so I thought I'd join in this week.  I have been in a strange place with my artwork over the last year or so, but things are starting to make more sense to me these days.

For a while I wasn't sure if the "artist" part of me was separate from the "quilter" part of me...and I did attempt to pull them apart and see if one might take on more of a life than the other.  Am I more of an artist than a quilter?  More of a quilter than an artist?  That might not make sense to some...but for the longest time I couldn't fathom how to connect the two.  Which one should I dedicate myself to and explore?  I liken it to how a Mother has her own identity outside of mothering...but mothering is so life consuming it can be difficult to maintain who you are outside of that major life role.

So what I have come to realize, while profound to me and maybe a little over thought to others - is that I am both a mother, a quilter, and an artist.  :)  Quilting is such a joy for me.  I thoroughly love it.  It has also allowed me the income I didn't have before to explore my artwork more and experiment with different mediums.  They go hand in hand...each helps me improve the other.  How's that for coming full circle?  Well - it was a big deal to ME.  :)

So my big life changing realization?  I can love and enjoy both and they do not need to be kept on separate shelves of my life...because they both are part of what make up who I am!  They both are extremely useful to the other.

I realize that a lot of this self reflection is really just part of growing as a person.  I mean - I am almost 34 so I am no child at this point, but I really think we all continue to grow as life goes on.  We are always learning and always growing and life becomes more full and rich the older I get.

So what has been going on creatively as a result of all this self reflection?!!  :)  A lot!  I have one of Monica's quilts loaded up and almost complete so I will share photos of that next post...but regarding my own works I feel like I've really plowed through a brick wall that was keeping me from enjoying myself.

I recently ordered a set of Derwent Inktense pencils...and let me say - I AM IN LOVE!!!  If you remember some time back I experimented with airbrush painting on fabric.  This was when I was seriously obsessed with Susan Shie's work and all of her bright colors...and all of the emotions her artwork brings up that remind me of my childhood.  She's definitely got that hippie spirit...and the way she incorporates her thoughts on the world and the political world...well it reminds me of my parents and my family!  Endless conversations growing up about God and the Universe and all the strange things that happen in the world.  I still love Susan's work and discovering her was a turning point for me (it's like great song lyrics that change your outlook on life)...she inspired me to really look at things differently.  Look at myself and what I'm doing differently.  Isn't it amazing that you can do something like that for someone else without even knowing it?  You just never know how you might be influencing others in life...

In any case airbrushing is terribly fun and I really loved that the fabric stays soft after painting and can easily be sewn through.  It is probably my favorite way to apply paint to fabric...but because space in my home is limited...airbrushing is going to have to be a summer time event as there is no where safe in my home to do it during the colder months.  I even contemplated converting one of our outdoor barns into an airbrush studio...and that still may happen but you know - I'm busy having babies and stuff like that right now.  :)

So I hemmed and hawed about what I wanted to try and finally broke down and purchased the somewhat pricey inktense pencils and fabric medium to go with them...well boy did that just open up a new door for me!  You know all the possibilities that start to run through your mind when you purchase new art or craft supplies??!!  I really don't know what took me so long!!!

The plan for the above painting on muslin is to quilt and embellish it.  I ordered some Angelina Film (a.k.a. Textiva Film) to experiment with and I'm going to give Shiva Paintstiks another go.  I have a handful of them in muted earth tones but I thought I'd try the iridescent paints so I ordered a tropical pack. Oh how I love the anticipation of waiting for an order to arrive in the mail!

I feel like I am on the tip of something that I am really going to love and have fun with.  If you know me you know I really love bright colors and loudness.  I like happy pictures with elements that my children have fun pointing at and naming off.  :)

I am very intimidated by the art world I'll be honest.  I have several very serious artist friends whose lives are so very different from my own.  I really don't know if I will ever have a place in that world...but I sure do like to watch and learn.  I think that intimidation has really stifled me from playing and exploring and just doing what makes me happy...and let me just tell you...never think that your parents will stop teaching you.  My Dad has given me the best advice as of late.  You have to at some point LET GO.  Care less what others think...or might think...or might laugh at...or don't take seriously...and just do what makes your heart sing.  :)