Saturday 31 December 2016

Best Of 2016 Linky Party

Meadow Mist Designs is running a Best of 2016 Linky party. There are several options but I think I will simply go for my favourites and a bit of an overview of the year.

My year has been very successful overall. I decided early in the year to participate in the FAL 2016 and that got me going on my outstanding projects. Here is the first finish for the year

Cindy Needham's stencils had arrived over Christmas and I was off playing with them which actually continued for the rest of the year. As many of you would know if you read my blog, I spend about 70% of my time researching, trying new things, playing with gadgets and generally expanding my skill level and knowledge...often with very little to show for it as I get so easily sidetracked 😁
Started on my Wholecloth...and incorporated the stencils into that...this project took about 5 months to complete.
In the meantime I finished a project very close to my heart from 2012, a quilt I used during Leah Day's Freemotion Quilting Wednesday...this is where the obsession started with FMQ. I only had the binding left to complete and while the FMQ is nowhere near the level it is at now, there was something really special about finishing this off. Love this quilt!
The Mandala came next. I completed the Mandala using Cindy Needham's stencils to design and draft the Mandala (this took me ages to do!!!). The Mandala was for a challenge that the SA Quilter's guild had set. It turned out great, except in retrospect I had wished I had used lighter thread to make the stitching more pronounced.
The highlight of the year came next for me. Total Wholecloth did win First Place in the Small Quilts category. I was so impressed with this, considering that I completed this Wholecloth as a bit of a practice challenge to myself. While the quilt took many months to complete and looks somewhat crazy in terms of the intensity of the stitching, I must say, this was one of the most relaxing projects I had done in a while.
Recently also completed the quilt below. Not my favourite, but a nice design overall. I used Cindy Needham's Ultimate Shape to complete the quilting and duly got sidetracked into experimenting with those stencils.
Below is my absolute favourite quilt for the year. Designed by Shannon Brinkley and called 'Drifting Leaves'. I had won the fabric and the Aurifil thread...really enjoyed the quilt and the quality of the fabric...a joy to complete. To spice things up a bit I decided to quilt wavy lines allover, something I had wanted to try for a while. This was not FMQ, but done with one of the machine stitches...had a lot of fun doing this and it turned out absolutely great.
 Apart from all this, I spent hours designing...

...and recently also worked out how to draw on my Ipad.

As you can see I do jump all over the place...there are just too many things to explore and try out and my passion is FMQ.

Next post will be about my new Ruler foot 😆 It's a wonder I get anything finished actually.

Plans for the new year...hmm...2 Wholecloth quilts! Should be interesting to see what happens with my plans. Maybe my word for the new year should be 'Focus'. Nah...

Wishing all a Very Happy and Creative New Year!


Saturday 17 December 2016

Design Process

I have not been blogging lately due to general hectic around this time of year. Layer that with getting distracted easily, a good dose of a migraine the other day and the annoying mess that had mysteriously spread out in my sewing room.

I have been FMQ my Bethanne Nemesh 'bird wall hanging' over the last few weeks, however half way through I thought it would be fun to start the design process on my next wholecloth.

For this wholecloth I thought that I put into practice what was demonstrated in a class that I attended earlier in the year run by Claudia Pfeil. In terms of designing I have to emphasize that this is only one of the many ways that one can design a wholecloth. In this class we worked from the center out. Basically you have your main design in the middle and then throw some borders around until you reach your desired size. In doing so you would use a select number of FMQ designs, use echoing and mirroring of design elements until you reach a visually pleasing arrangement. Easier said than done.

I did not want to repeat what we had done in class so I used one of the designs that I had drafted previously on Cindy Needham's Ultimate Shape and decided to use a diagonal layout. I start my first draft on paper and while this must appear painful for some, it is the only way for me to get my head around dimensions, how big I want the design to be, where to start the next border and how big the quilt top will end up. In this case I used Cindy Needham's Ultimate Stencils for orientation, first the Circle one to put a simple outline around the little drawn design and then I overlaid this with the Square Stencil to put the surrounding borders in. This worked fantastically and I now had a workable model. The stencils are enormously helpful.
As you can see I went it a bit overboard with the borders just doodling away. This looks laborious and it is, but for me this is a very important process...while I am doodling, I am thinking this through, i.e. what will this look like quilted? what will recede and what will come to the foreground? More often than not I do not get this right as you can see in the example, and the design will just fizzle out into mindless doodle as I already know that I will have to do this again. I would usually do this again several times until I feel I have got it right.

I have done some exploration around drawing on the computer and while I can get the basic motif and a general outline happening in my drawing program (which is useful to work out some sizing), I cannot draw the fillers to this level of detail with the basic drawing program that I have on the computer. Carla Barrett has some useful blog posts about designing wholecloth quilts digitally using a tablet...that got me a bit interested, however I do not have one of those and I certainly do not want to spend more money on yet another electronic device. Carla uses a tablet PC and Photoshop Elements. Maybe at some stage...for now, I have my Ipad, so I started to do some exploration around this. I have several drawing apps for the Ipad which I use to practice FMQ designs, nothing fancy, just a bit of doodling. When I was at the shops the other day I bought a decent pen for the Ipad. As it was, I also downloaded the Adobe Draw app and Adobe Capture (initially really clueless what I would use Adobe Capture for).

And then I started drawing...easy to use and the possibilities opened up. Some examples:
Planning my feather on a photo of the quilt top. This was useful as it gave me a bit of an idea of what shape to use in what section.

Next came a surprising fun design
Filled my little previously drawn design with colour. Really quite like this...could use the Accuquilt shapes that I have to construct an Applique design like this. You can see I did not get the border size right. In the App you just drag the shape out with a pinch and that is a bit fiddly at first, but the name of the game is not accuracy here. This is just to get a bit of an idea what this would look like and for that it does the job.

Then I tackled the wholecloth...haha, and worked out what that Capture app is for. With the capture app I was able to photograph my little design (which I had previously drawn out on the computer as the motif has to be accurate for later tracing). The motif then could be magically saved into the Library which I could then use in the Draw app.  This is how I got my center motif on the Ipad (as I was not going to draw that again!). From there I just placed borders around it and started filling them with FMQ designs.
I went into a lot of detail to see how difficult this was going to be. While the Ipad screen is somewhat limiting (had to zoom in and out all the time), it definitely is possible to add a lot of detail. A bigger screen would be better, i.e. a tablet, however depends really what you are going to use this for. For my purposes this is quite ok as it will give me a picture of what this could look like. Accuracy is similarly not important, as I am not going to use this picture as a template. The actual planning around this wholecloth in terms of sizes of the borders will be relatively easy to be worked out once I decide on how many borders and what fillers I want. The centre motif is already drawn up...just needs a bit of a tidy up. While initially awkward to draw on the screen I was getting the hang of it at the end. Had a bit of a laugh, this wholecloth looks suspiciously like the last one...had to do the grids, even on the Ipad. Just love doing that. Did not finish it ...the last border will be a feather frame, but my juice ran out.

Also played with 1/8 of a slice of a wholecloth...another way of designing a wholecloth. As the app has layers, it is relatively easy to draw your 1/8, then duplicate and rotate and construct your wholecloth that way. But more of that on another day.


Sunday 4 December 2016

Feather Faster Wall hanging

Making good progress on my Feather Faster wall hanging. What a great practice piece! Learned so much from stitching this out. As mentioned before this wall hanging came from a class called Feather Faster that I did earlier this year with Bethanne Nemesh. In her class Bethanne taught us her method of producing gorgeous, free flowing, no marking feathers that are easier and faster to execute.
I was very curious about this and stitched out one of my more formal feathers first. I am a self taught quilter and have come to like the backtracking method (in comparison to the bumpback feathering technique). I find that backtracking is most useful as I can tidy up my feathers as I am backtracking...however I have become so used to it that I found Bethanne's method quite challenging.

So here is my first more formal feather
You can see how painfully orderly I am. Given the backtracking, this feather is dense and formal as I am only slightly changing shape and size. This is my muscle memory in action...I always stitch them like this and they do look very similar.

I threw in another challenge into only mark the spine and stitch the feathers out without any assistance. To my surprise, this worked very well. Usually I will draw in a few feathers at the start and then stop after a while to draw a few others just to keep the shape and size a bit consistent, but obviously I have done this so often that it just happens anyway now.

Bethanne's method...this is me trying to loosen up in the second feather...not that easy

While I had some different shapes in there, I struggled with not to backtrack and even that is still looking fairly orderly

Third feather was getting better but the real change came right down in the last one. The bottom feather is much more relaxed. Really enjoyed stitching that out and felt that I really had gotten the hang of this. Was able to be a bit more freeflowing and also discovered that Bethanne's method allowed me to make slightly larger feathers. Very useful!
Also really liked Bethanne's way of stitching the curl with her Feather Faster method. In the beginning, I did make myself a bit of an outline what I wanted to stitch, but did not need this in the next few...found that this works really nicely with those curls and leaf shapes and turns out beautiful, no matter what you stitch. Much easier than the formal feather curl
Only got some filling in to do in between the lines and then I can attach my birds.


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