Tuesday 30 August 2016

Intense Learning Time

The Australian Machine Quilting Festival 2016 is over. I have been on leave for the last few days and I have not done one scrap of quilting. In fact, my sewing room is such a mess that I would need to clean up before doing anything. And I am exhausted...I went for 3 days straight...on the bus, to town every day with lots of walking in between.
I am still on my design kick and am going through a very steep learning curve.
I took a class with Claudia Pfeil at the Quilt Festival which was about designing Wholecloth quilts. While this was a great class, it did not give me what I needed...we basically designed a Wholecloth around different size borders, similarly to an exercise I once had done with instructions from Patsy Thompson. Don't get me wrong, Claudia Pfeill's Wholecloth quilts were lovely and I don't want to knock the class. It was fun and it certainly is one way to go about designing a Wholecloth.

Not sure what I was looking for...I looked around the show and came across a really fantastic book by Judy Woodworth (as well as another book from Karen McTavish...how many books do I need?). The title looked promising

This book is very good and includes the 'how to', what tools to use, a little bit about feathers, designing a pattern, designing a Wholecloth quilt, some of Judy's designs and much more... it even has a section on thread painting. She certainly packed a lot of information into this one book! While I had come across many of the ideas in the book, it did make me stop and analyse where my 'block' is. I have got a lot of great tools (i.e Cindy Needham's stencils, rulers, gadgets...), I can draw somewhat and I can come up with little ideas...the issue centers around visualising the bigger picture and seeing it come together as a unified whole where you can see how things fit together and have a look at the general design, proportions and placement.

Now you can go and draw these things by hand, then make multiple copies like I have done the other day for an allover Wholecloth, however for a detailed design that becomes incredibly laborious. I did experience this in the last few months with my Mandala design...I spent weeks on getting my drawing right to the point of stitching with lots of time spent on redrawing sections I did not like...the stitching was really the easy part!

I have got EQ7 and that does help a bit, however EQ7 is not a drawing program. While it is do-able (i.e you can import an image), I was starting to realise that I need to make my life a bit easier. I have got an old version of the drawing program 'Serif Draw Plus' and finally went ahead and updated this to the newer version yesterday. Oh, the bliss...should have looked at this earlier as they have made several excellent improvements...now you can trace shapes with a B-spline curve which in my simple terms fixes the curve as you go along. Tracing on the computer has been incredibly difficult for me in the past, but with this new tool this is a breeze...a little bit like magic
So I drew a little design of just one small curl for testing and here is how that evolved into something quite usable
Scanned the drawn image of one curl (no doubt influenced by Karen MacTavish' book) into the drawing program, traced it with the B-Spline tool which was super easy, little bit of a tidy up here and there, re-sized it and made multiple copies on the page I was working on, grouping two together as a motif and then arranging them in this frame. Grouped together like this, I now have the freedom to enlarge or reduce, change the thickness of the lines, add or remove sections etc. Imagine this filled in with some featherwork...this could look quite good! I might even attempt to draw some feathers in the program...need to experiment more with this.Also played with the Autotrace function which the old program also featured, however I had only used this sporadically.

 Look at this traced image

Wrapping Paper - copyright 2013 of the Wrapping Paper Company (wwwwrapco.com.au)

Taken from some wrapping paper that had these pretty images of roses all over. I could have traced this, however that would have taken some time. In addition, it probably would have had some issues as I am not sure whether each shape would have to be closed or not. Still learning about this. I probably would have gotten there in the end, however here is where Autotrace came in handy. Had to do some tweaking but this came out unbelievably pretty and clear, considering it was set on a brownish background...autotraced the shape, got rid of the background with the cut out feature and now had an image that could be re-sized, coloured etc. Very impressed with that little test. So if I am really lazy, I could draw my feathers and have the program autotrace them. This is very neat.

Next thing I will do is to scan Cindy Needham's Master Copy of her Ultimate Stencils into the drawing program to use as a background to draw on. This way, I can 'play' with concepts for block designs on the program before drawing out the detailed design (idea came from Quiltshopgal who spoke about importing this to EQ7 the other day). This will save some trees...you should see all my drawings all over the place!

I am actually quite excited about this. So from last week's allover Wholecloth I now have at least three additional quilts in my head. The rate I am going I am not going to have time to do any quilting!
Experimenting, learning the improved program, trying out different ideas and designing workable patterns takes time.


Wednesday 24 August 2016

Doodle Follow up

I made multiple copies of the designs that I doodled the other day using Cindy Needham's Ultimate Shape and laid them out to see what this would look like for an allover Wholecloth
No 1
Motif a bit too big in there but nice overall design with the symmetrical feathers.
On point
No 2...turned out a bit wild
Bit on the busy side

On Point
Now you could play around with toning this down a notch by maybe only using every alternative block and putting something a bit calmer in its place.

No 3
A favourite

Here again on point
I then took one of the copies and imported this into my EQ7 program as an image. Bit of advertisement for EQ7 here...I struggle to visualize whole quilts and bought the program some years ago to assist with that. It's got a lot of neat features, but the best is still that you can see a quilt in its entirety before you make it. Now I could have traced the block, but that would have taken too long...all I wanted was an overall visual of what this could look like. The actual block for the Wholecloth will be drafted by hand, all I need to do is trace the motif that I took from the EQ7 add on 'Quilting Designs No 8'. Got a bit excited about this as this motif comes with a matching border design. Little bit of mucking around as I had to flip the alternate block and also get the approximate border size happening
Bit hard to see as the image had the motif in a somewhat subdued colour (it printed out fine), but you get the general idea. Here is a photograph of the border design
I so can see this Wholecloth, down to the actual colour...maybe a bit frilly for some but I really like this. The only thing I might have to work on is to make this a bit more stitching friendly...as it is now, the border consists of individual motifs...not sure about that. Also just noticed that I probably should match the size of the centre motif and the border design, so a little bit more fine tuning needs to happen here around sizes and fitting it neatly into the border which will be easy with EQ7 as I can make it any size I want (alternatively might have to look at reducing the centre motif).

But wow, see what one little stencil idea (and motif) can add up to...and this was just one ad hoc idea late at night of how to use the Cindy Needham's Ultimate Shape. I have barely scratched the surface!


Sunday 21 August 2016

The Ultimate FMQ Challenge 2016 - Linky Party2 - Doodle/Sketching

I have had the most relaxing Friday night in a long time. The new Ultimate Shape Stencils from Cindy Needham arrived at my doorstep and before I knew it, I was doodling away. Just could not stop...
Ultimate Shape Stencil in 4 different sizes
Started doodling...at first just randomly filling up the spaces of the stencil
Then I remembered that I needed a 4" motif for one of my quilts...something frilly and a bit feathery as I will do a feather border on that quilt.
This is what I came up with
Like it! This was so easy to draw up with the lines running through the stencil. Looking at this I am thinking that I probably seen this somewhere. Such a cute motif.

Then I thought 'why not put a motif into the stencil' being the slightly lazy quilter that I am
The motif is one that I particularly like from an EQ7 add-on program 'Quilting Designs'  No 8...I think it is called Curled Plumes which lends itself to blocks that are set on point.
Here it is a bit reduced with feathers running up and down. The idea is to put this on point and make into an allover Wholecloth. I will make some copies of this and try that out. I think this would look great!

While I was doodling and listening to one of my favourite Craftsy classes, I then got out the Ultimate Square Stencil and combined it with the Ultimate Shape, using only elements from the Ultimate Shape, i.e the little triangular section of the stencil the other way around and also the curves. This is what I came up with.

You see my blue lines which I would omit if I drew this up as a final design. I don't have a transparency that I use with the stencils. For me, marking the lines that I need in blue works best. Then I start drawing over those in pencil first and when I think I got something, I go over it again with the fine permanent black ink pen. This way, the main design stands out and any background quilting, like the lines surrounding the design will be a little bit in the background, similar to what the quilted design would like like. I was absolutely amazed with this...looks very interesting and again, I would not mind doing multiple copies to see what this looks like as an allover Wholecloth design.

This was a lot of fun and I had to force myself to stop...the ideas just kept coming. Those stencils are truly the best. It literally enables you to draw up any design your heart desires...highly recommended.

Linking up to Quiltshopgal's Ultimate FMQ Cahllenge 2016 - Linky Party 2 to show off my designs and to demonstrate how easy designing interesting elements for your quilts can be.


Thursday 18 August 2016

What's happening?

Have been rather unfocused the last few weeks...Preparing my two Wholecloth for our Quilt Show.

Always an excruciatingly painful process for me. Entry forms are in...thank God for that because I go through several phases of self doubt and indecision. Currently putting a sleeve on for one of them and then it is just a matter of printing out address and entry number and dropping them off. N..e..e..d to get rid of them...

Once that is done I am hoping that I can return to actually doing some quilting!

On a lighter note, the bi-annual Australian Machine Quilting Festival is only days away. Very excited about this. I am taking a class with Bethanne Nemesh...the class has changed since enrolling from drawing different motifs to 'Feather Faster', learning about Bethanne's unmarked, spineless, no backtrack approach to feathers. This promises to be a lot of fun and apparently includes a wall hanging quilt pattern to create on your own. So this will be my next FMQ project, I reckon...just lots of organic feathers! As you can see I am far too orderly

I actually love backtracking! This will be very interesting to 'unlearn'


Sunday 14 August 2016

Pets on Quilts 2016

Pets on Quilts 2016

Well, it's that time of the year again...the Pets on Quilts Show! run over at Lily Pad Quilting. A super fun event

As every year I am entering into the Cat on Quilt category with our queen bee of a cat 'Abby'
Can you see that attitude? Probably hard to see in this little photo but it is very much like she is saying 'what?..what's your problem?'

Joining in the fun at Lilypad Quilting to have a look at all those lovable pets.


Wednesday 3 August 2016

Dryad " Drifting Leaves" Quilt

Well, I cracked...started another project even though I have several WIPs sitting there waiting to be finished (and I am also on a deadline for the FAL 2016).

You may remember that I had won some beautiful fabric designed by Shannon Brinkley (Dryad) for Paintbrush Studio, Div. of Fabri-Quilt and some thread through the Aurifil blog earlier in the year.

While I have used the thread already I had not opened the fabric pack as yet other than to take a quick peek (because I know what I am like!). Well, the other day I finally opened the Snack Pack and took the fabric all out...wow, that was it...gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!

The fabric is absolutely beautiful and the quality is just fantastic. Initially I had thought that I would use this fabric for my Accuquilt Owl shape, not realising that I would get strips, so this was not going to work. What to do? I ended up on Shannon Brinkley's website...she has got some lovely fresh and modern designs on there. I also discovered that she has written a book about her Scrappy Bits Applique technique which looked very interesting (new purchase coming up?)...in the end I decided to do one of her patterns (which is also on the packet of the Snack Pack) "Drifting Leaves". Just love the look of this quilt.

The fabric was just too beautiful to cut up and I had wanted to make one of those strip quilts for a while. This did not take long, of course, however had to improvise a little bit as I did not have the exact same number of strips in the packet, it seemed. The quilt should measure 50" x 60", however mine might be little bit off as my measuring left a lot to be desired.
Looks fantastic though, I really like this...so simple but so effective.
I have got a few little bits and pieces left over as well as two strips of the main print and I reckon I will have enough for a little pouch of some type. Yah!
The only thing left now is the leaves. For this I ordered some more fabric (Dryad Main Print) from Fort Worth fabric studio to cut out the leaves shapes.

Now we wait...

Linking up to Let's Bee Social #136 over at Sew Fresh Quilts.


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