Waiting by Charo Lopez

My small art-quilt group, the Fiber Funsters, met yesterday with our every-other month challenge.  We take turns choosing a theme.  This time, Charo picked “Waiting” for us to interpret.  Charo’s piece, left, features her cat gazing out the window at little birds and bugs made from beads, buttons, and embroidery.  The pillow her kitty sits on is puffy and with little braid and tassels.

Allison Chang’s “Waiting” (work in progress)

Allison started with white fabric and she wrote “Waiting” in Chinese characters across it.  She then fused shapes in a metallic gold, red, green, and black.  The squares and plaids contrasted with the circles, spirals, and dramatic red diagonal slashes made for active composition.  She also has put three half spheres of beaded wool felted roving.

Carolyn Hitter posed for several photos for her quilt

Carolyn started with having her husband, Jim, take some photos of her contemplating something from behind.  Using a method she learned in Leni Levenson Wiener’s Photo-Inspired Art Quilts: From Composition to Finished Piece“, Carolyn took the photos and applied a Cutout Filter in Adobe Photoshop Elements.  She then chose the photo she liked the best (on the far left) and traced the shapes (below.)  The background of Carolyn’s quilt is made from a fuzzy interfacing… just like on a design wall!  Her title says it all: “Waiting for Inspiration”

“Waiting for Inspiration” by Carolyn Hitter

Any of us who are mothers can relate to the sense of waiting that goes along with pregnancy.  Waiting to get pregnant, to find out whether you’ll have a son or a daughter, to make sure they’re healthy, and finally for the wonderous day when you meet your child.  Lise’s humourous spin on these aspects of pregnancy is whimsical with the pink (for girls) and blue (for boys) background that the pollywog shaped sperm are swimming through.  
“Waiting” by Lise Vandandaigue
Similarly, Debbie has a beautiful pair of thread-painted birds waiting over their nest filled with three eggs.  The background has a very delicate soft changes of color with light blue and lavender squares pieced by fusing.  

My piece is still a work-in-progress.  After missing a flight out of Paris one year, I had to wait for 9 hours for the next flight.  Pretty tough when you’re by yourself and already time-lagged.  Of course, it’s nothing compared to those who have been stuck in an airport for days due to whether or other problems… my heart always goes out to them.  I’m adding freemotion quilting for shading will continue for background 
“Waiting” by Christina Fairley Erickson (work in progress)

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Fiber Funster’s Group 
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The Fiber Funsters 
Group Challenge

Here’s some other great blogs to check out:

Leah Day’s FreeMotion Quilting Project

Confessions of a Fabric Addict

Nina Marie Sayre’s Art Quilt Blog

Never to Hot to Stitch

Christina standing below hand-dyed
embroidery threads

I’m back from five days in “stitch heaven” with Gail Harker.  The class, “Experimental Hand Stitch” focuses on Procion MX dyeing of embroidery thread and a wool/acrylic felt to stitch on, and then learning some of the basic embroidery stitches and how to use them in a contemporary context.

My friends”, Debbie and Rebecca, dyed felts and threads

The felt and threads are vibrant and beautiful.  Gail feels that having your materials inspire you is important, so she helps her students understand their color choices and combinations to be successful with the dyeing process.

Some of my dyed felts and threads

I basically stuck with an analogous color scheme from yellow-green through red-violet.  If you’re unfamiliar with analogous color schemes, it means that you pick colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel.  So the colors I worked with were greens, blues, and violets.

After our dyeing days, we started doing small stitch samplers.  Each stitch will have its own page in a small stitch book (we even learned how to bind our books!)  We also worked on documenting our samples within a sketchbook, including what threads we used, any observations we have, needles that were chosen, etc.

Some of my incomplete pages with the sketchbook
documentation pages and sample threads

Some of our samples were also worked on sketchbook pages which we dyed and then fused together, so they are quite stiff.  We then poked holes in the sketchbook pages along the line which we wanted to stitch, and then added the stitch afterwards.  It was so fun… it reminded me of when I was a little girl and had cards with pictures on them and holes to “stitch” through (really it was more like lacing.)

French Knots (in process) by Christina Fairley Erickson

While none of these samples is complete yet, you can get an idea of what they’ll look like here.  I have additional ones started, but these are the most complete.  The other thing which was different and interesting was the freedom which we were encouraged to take with each piece.  For instance, in years past, French knots were expected to have the thread wrapped neatly around the needle two times.  With contemporary hand stitching, however, we can make a variety of sizes and different textures and effects by wrapping a thread more times around the needle, or by wrapping it loosely, rather than tight.

Running Stitch (in process) by Christina Fairley Erickson

Seed Stitch (in process) by Christina Fairley Erickson

Blanket Stitch by Christina Fairley Erickson

Open Chain Stitch (in process) by Christina Fairley Erickson

Each of the pages is about 5″x 7″, so they fit in well with my 5 x 7 Challenge!  I’ll be getting my final Salsa piece finished up this week, then I’ll need to work on the sashing and binding of all the Salsa blocks into a finished quilt.

You Might Also Be Interested In:

Dyeing to Embroider; Recognizing our Limits 
& Not Giving Up
Hand Stitch Variations

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Anything Goes – Quilt ‘n Sew at Stitch by Stitch

Freemotion by the River

Quilt Story

Wow… another fantastic day of mostly working with Procion MX dyeing at the Gail Harker Center for Creative Studies.  To be completely honest, I’m pretty tired… this can be hard work.  So, I’m going to keep it short and sweet tonight, and just put up some images and descriptions of the processes and projects we worked on.

First, our hand-dyed embroidery threads are totally luscious!  Here they are drying in our classroom.  We had to rinse them out and then set the color in hot water with Synthropol today.

We then started dyeing wool-rayon felt, which we’d cut into pieces prior to class, and will be making into hand-stitched books.

Felt with dye poured on (wet)

The felt totally soaks up the dye… you have to pour it on and it looks horrible and dark for the most part.

Rinsing out the felt

After allowing it to sit for a few hours, we rinsed it out and also set the dye with Synthropol.  Since the felt soaks up so much water, we had to carefully wrap it in towels to help dry it.  You don’t want to press or agitate it very much, or it starts the felting process.  We then left it to completely dry overnight.

Felt dyeing

Rinsed felt for hand-made stitch books, laid out to dry

We also worked with painting dyes on sketchbook pages.  We do these in 2-page “spreads” so that they will go together when the book is opened.  We then fuse pages together, to make the pages stiff and able to be stitched on.  We started working on a few pages by drawing a design on them, then punching holes through the paper with a darning needle.  We then can easily put our stitches through the holes.

Some sketchbook pages painted with dye

I believe we’re done with the dyeing now… on to more stitchwork tomorrow!

A two-page spread for a sketchbook, painted with Procion MX dye

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New 5 x 7 
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Complex Threads 2 Developing the 
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For great ideas on freemotion quilting, check out Leah Day’s FreeMotion Quilting Project

I spent the day literally dyeing to embroider… yes, I am anxiously awaiting getting down to stitching, but I mean “dyeing” with an “e” in it.  Rather than using all commercially available embroidery floss, we spent the day making our own threads, for the first of 5 days in “Experimental Hand Stitch” at the Gail Harker Center for the Creative Arts in LaConner, WA.  I’ve always salivated at the yummy colors of hand-dyed threads.  Now I know how to make them!

First, we had to prepare the skeins of thread.  There are two main types of embroidery thread, pearl (or perle in French) cotton which is a twisted cotton and cotton floss (also known as 6-stranded cotton.)  Pearl cotton comes in many different thicknesses: 3, 5, 8, 12, and 16, with 3 being the thickest and 16 being quite delicate.  Six-stranded cotton is literally that, 6 strands that you can separate, depending upon how thick a piece you want for your project.  Of course there are many other types of threads or yarns you can use for embroidery and any natural fiber will work for dyeing (silk, rayon, bamboo, etc.)  We have several unusual yarns and threads as well as the pearl cotton and cotton floss.

To prepare for dyeing, we had to get the thread into skeins (some of it came on balls or rolls that we had to wind into a skein) and then tie the skeins about every 12 inches (30 cm), to make sure it wouldn’t get tangled up.  We used a figure 8 tie with a square knot, tight enough to hold the skein in place, but not so tight that it would cause a resist and have the thread not take up the dye underneath the tie.

As with any Procion MX dyeing, we then soaked our threads in a soda ash solution, so that the chemical bond would occur in the fiber when the dye  is introduced.

The next step was to use a syringe to “paint” the colors on the thread.  As you inject the dye onto the thread, you then need to smoosh it down to ensure that it is completely saturated, particularly wherever the ties are.    I chose to mainly go with an analogous color scheme from yellow-green, to green, to blue-green, to blue, to blue-violet, to violet.  With sticking to one color scheme, I can be assured that my projects using these dyed threads will go together.

When all the dye is on the threads, you carefully roll the threads up in plastic (see red arrow) and then leave it overnight to process.  I can’t wait to see them in the morning!

My Mom, Nan Lopis, working
on her dyed threads

The best thing of all… my Mom has joined me for the 5 day class at Gail Harker’s!  I was concerned that the dyeing might not be something she’d enjoy (she’ll love the hand-stitching), but she came through like a champ, and made a lovely yellow-olive-greens colorway of threads.

Note: all the threads in the photos above have wet dye on them.  The colors will change somewhat upon the dye setting and washing them afterwards.  One of my favorite parts of dyeing is when you unwrap it the next day and wash it out… it’s like getting a present!

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Making Fabric More Embroidery Samples How to Make a 
Knotted Blanket Stitch 
Video Tutorial

I spent a little time this past weekend preparing some more fabrics to sell at Stashfest, as a donation to both the La Conner Quilt and Textile Museum and the Contemporary QuiltArt Association.  These pieces were mostly started at our CQA meeting playdate, where we got together to create fabrics for this fun event.

 This first piece was one that I made with a variety of techniques and materials.  It is approximately 1 yard square of raw silk.  I started with doing different stencil images using fabric marking pens.  From there, I added some bits of Shiva Oil Paintsticks, with a rubbing plate.  The final step was to overdye it with Dye-Na_flow.

It’s a little easier to see the detail in a close-up shot.

 This lovely piece was created by one of the  other members of CQA, using Shiva Oil Paintsticks and a rubbing plate.  I love how she overlapped the designs, giving it a “spirograph” effect.  I brought it home from the playday, ironed it to set the oil paint, and then overdyed it.  The darker stripes of the fuscia dye that I used are created by bunching the fabric when it is drying.  You’d think the darker would be in the gullys between areas that are bunched higher up, but instead, the dye actually travels up to the higher areas.

This piece is also harder to appreciate without the detailed photo, but it’s really fantastic!  Again, another CQA member did the surface design and then I overdyed and ironed to set the colors.  This was made with a thermofax silkscreen, which created the brown lines.  Some of these were overlapped, making the darker brown sections.

In the detail photo below, you can see the block prints and shiva paintstick rubbings that also decorate this piece.  About a yard square, this is made of white cotton, which I’ve then dyed.

This final photo is of four roughly fat-quarters of raw silk, which I’ve dyed in various green shades.  If I have time, I’ll probably add more surface design to them as well.  

Speaking of time… I’m off to a 5 day class in the morning at Gail Harker’s Center for the Creative Arts.  I’m finishing up the 100 level certificate classes this week (with Experimental Hand Stitch) and will be going on to the 200 level coursework starting in May.  That series will take about 2 years to complete, with classes every 3 months (and lots of homework in between!) If you’re interested in seeing the kind of work that comes from Gail’s students, check out my posts on her student’s exhibition, Complex Threads.  I’ll update you on how the class is going this week!

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CQA Surface Design Party Viewing for Inspiration Complex Threads 1
“Corn” by Christina Fairley Erickson
Machine Freehand Embroidery, decorative stitching, freemotion quilting

Red!  Thanks for all the comments, encouragement and opinions on the background for my corn piece.  The little ends of the corn husk were challenging to applique down, but you can see a bit of the organza husk standing up in the picture.  What you can’t really tell from the photo is how much the trapunto stands out.  The two longer corn rows have 5 extra layers of batting, making them stand about 3/4″ up from the backing. I cut each of the batting layers a little smaller than the last, so it really has a rounded look.  The lower ear of corn has less trapunto (3 layers), since it is behind the others.


I’m now working on my last piece, chili peppers.  I started with the green stems, then went on to the darker shadowed portions of the chili.

The difficult part of these is that they are so thin, it will be difficult to convey a 3-D effect or to trapunto them.  So I tried to sew both in the long/horizontal direction and also around the width of each chili, to convey the roundness of each.

One of the main things when doing thread painting is to keep on layering your colors to add more dimension and gradation.  If you just fill in one color butted up to the next, it will look flat and like a paint-by-number painting.  Blending the colors is very important.  Also, look for the unexpected colors.  In this chili, I found a small place where the shadow had just a touch of lavender… it adds a lot to the finished piece to have those little bits that your eye might not originally catch.

Finished “Chili” thread painting
Now I just need to do the background and then I’ll be on to putting all 9 of my Salsa blocks together!
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Corn – Red or Orange- 
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with Showing

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FreeMotion by the River by Connie Kresin

Quilt Story

Well, I’m down to needed to pick out the background and do the freemotion quilting on my latest Salsa block- Corn.  I’m not sure about the background color, however.  Do you prefer the red or the orange?

This may have been the most difficult of my salsa pieces to date.  Trying to get individual kernels of corn was tricky.  I also wanted to have the husk seem more realistic, which I may work on a bit more.

Nylon organza pieces painted with Dye-na-Flow

I started thinking about the husk and how to make it seem like it could be peeled away.  I decided to use a painted nylon organza, which you could get layers of sheer that would build color.  I used Jacquard Dye-na-Flow to paint it, mixing a variety of greens and yellows.

Nylon organza hanging to dry

When you paint the nylon organza, do it on a thin plastic sheet and wait until it is just starting to dry (it will be semi-sticky to the plastic.)  Then, peel it up and hang it to dry with clothes-pins or paperclips to a line.  If you leave it on the plastic, much of the paint will stay on the plastic and the surface of the organza gets a shiny odd texture to it.

After painting my organza, it was time to get going with the thread painting.  Starting with a photo I’d printed on fabric, I began with the very lightest color first.  Much of these pieces were sewn in little circles, to imitate the shape of the corn kernels.  At some places it was more appropriate to make little scallops, to add highlighting or shadowing to the kernels.

I then layered on color after color of a range from pale beige through sunshine yellow to a dark mustard.  In between the rows, oranges predominated to add shadowing… even a touch of a pinkish-orange.

At the end, I added more of the sunshine and lighter colors again, to build up layers and make the kernels a little more dimensional, with the highlights sticking out.

Corn with thread-painting over all, including husk


After the corn itself was complete, I thread-painted the husk.  I’m not completely sure about my process here or whether I need to do more (or even take away some of what I did.  After the thread painting, I laid some of the organza which I had painted on top and stitched it down.  I didn’t stitch it entirely over the husk areas, as I wanted some of the pieces to be able to fold back and move in a breeze, like a real husk would do.  After sewing it down, I cut around the edge of my sewing.

Completed corn with the organza husk

So, what do you think?  Red or Orange for the background?

By the way, as many of you know, I’m a big fan of Leah Day’s FreeMotion Quilting project.  If you’re looking to gain skill in freemotion quilting, Leah has just come out with a new class on Craftsy.  If you go to her blog, you can click a link and get the class for half price!  ($19.99 rather than 39.99.)

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A Slice of Lime Peppers and Avocado Cilantro – Si!

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Confessions of a Fabric Addict

Great post on stenciling and thermofax on Nina Marie Sayre’s Art Quilts

It’s hard to believe that we’re almost at the middle of March… almost 1/4 of the year is done!  However, with that in mind today, I thought I should review and see how I’m doing on My Goals for the year.

“Best Friends” by Christina Fairley Erickson
Commercial and artist hand-painted cottons, machine applique, machine free-motion quilting
My first goal is to work on finding and defining my artistic voice.  I’ve outlined several steps to help myself with this.  First, is to work with Gail Harker, of the Gail Harker Center for the Creative Arts.  You might recall some of my previous posts about the fantastic exhibit, Complex Threads, which featured the work of students of Gail.  I’m set for this part of my goal, starting next week when I’ll be taking her Experimental Hand Stitch 101 course. This course will complete my 100 level series classes, and I’ll be continuing on the path starting in May with Studies in Design and Experimental Hand and Machine Stitch 201 which will meet approximately every 3 months through the end of 2014.  
“Best Friends” detail by Christina Fairley Erickson
Next, I decided to kick up my production to help with defining my artistic voice.  To do this, I’ve been making my weekly 5 x 7 Challenge piece.  So far, I’m keeping up with this (one week I didn’t finish, but then did two in another week.)  I also wanted to do my small art quilt group’s challenge every other month.  I’ve only got a couple weeks to go to finish this and I’m not sure that I’m going to make this one.  The theme of the current Fiber Funster Challenge is “Waiting.”  while I have designed a piece, I haven’t even started it in production.  Maybe I can get it going this weekend.
Finally, I planned to document my progress in my blog, which I’ve been doing.  This also has helped me with my second major goal, which is to ramp up my pictorial quilts.  I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress through the weekly production of 5 x 7 pieces, both with my technical skills and composition.  I do still need to start working on a plan for creating a body of work.  
My third goal has to do with studio organization.  Here I have made some progress, but not enough to be proud of… I am at least working in my studio almost daily, rather than my studio being such a disaster area that I end up pulling my work out into other areas of the house!
My next goals, opening an Etsy shop and working towards a solo show in 2015 are still in the thought process, although I have looked through Etsy and think I can stay on track to open by mid 2013.  Beyond that, I’m on track for completing my piece for the Salsa show (entry due in mid-April).  I haven’t yet decided upon my second medium-to-large sized piece to create, although I may go back to my roots and make another horse-themed quilt.  I won a first place (and cash prize!) at an equine art-show two years ago and just received the call for entry for this coming summer. Alternatively, I may shoot for finishing one of my works in progress, such as my Waterfall quilt or Cathedral Visions.  
I’m scratching the final goal, completing a driftwood art sculpture in time to enter in the May show.  Although I love the driftwood art, I’m not having the time to do it as well as my main love, fiber.  
Well, I’m in a bit of overwhelm now, with all that I need to do.  Guess it’s time to get back to sewing!
The background of these poppies is pieced with a traditional feel
Artist unknown

I love how some quilters mix the old with the new.  I think this is a wonderful way to honor the traditional roots of quilting.  I’m always amazed at how some quilters can make such beautiful pieced backgrounds that totally enhance their subject using traditional piecing.

This group quilt shown at the Pacific West Quilt show in 2011 uses a blend of traditional-feeling piecing
and shadow imagery very effectively

One quilter who mixes traditional log cabin blocks with contemporary portraits was featured at the Bellevue Art Museum’s “High Fiber Diet” show.  Luke Haynes repurposes old, discarded clothing into the block backgrounds of his quilts.  The pictorial foregrounds are unique… he asked friends to come and pose for a photo session.  Not only did he use the portraits to make the content of the picture, he had his models leave behind the clothes they wore in the photo shoot… and then he used their clothing for their portraits!

Clothes Portrait #1 – Cupcake by
Luke Haynes
Clothes Portrait # 2 – Helmet
by Luke Haynes
Camera by Luke Haynes

Tree quilt displayed at Block Party Quilters show
in 2009- Artist unknown

While this tree may seem simplistic in style, the background brings thoughts of upcoming winter with the blues and purples and neutrals in combination with the yellowing autumn leaves.  Also, the complementary colors of the yellow with purple help make the quilt more interesting.

I’d like to apologize to any artists whom I do not have their names… I have taken many pictures over my many years of quilting of quilts I’d admired to look at for inspiration.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t always as careful to note the artist’s name or name of the piece in the past. I hope that my sharing of your quilt for other’s inspiration will be seen as praise for your skills.  If you know the name of any artist or piece that I do not have attributed, please let me know and I’ll correct it.

Do you have any quilts that combine the traditional with the contemporary?

You might also be interested in:

BAM High Fiber Diet A Sprig Away Developing the 
Creative Habit

See some fabulous quilts on Connie Kresin’s Freemotion by the River

Check out all the linked up blogs of quilts and projects on Quilt Story

Limes by Christina Fairley Erickson
Freehand machine embroidery, freemotion quilting and decorative stitching

Do you get more and more productive the closer you get to a deadline?  This is a pet peeve of mine (not to mention my husband’s!)  Why is it that we have to get right up to a deadline before we get motivated?  I really thought that with my finishing each of the 5 x 7 pieces each week, I’d be looking great for the Salsa show’s deadline of April 6.  Perhaps I am doing fine… it’s a bit hard for me to know, since I’ve never made a quilt-as-you-go quilt.  I suppose I’m worried that putting it all together will prove a bit harder than I’ve imagined.  Two more 5 x 7 blocks to go.

Here are the other pieces completed so far:

Any thoughts on what I should do for sashing and putting them all together?
The lime seemed like it might be a bit tricky- there was a lot of reflective light in the photo and the juiciness of the cut lime.  I decided to start with the darker parts of the sliced half, and then added progressively lighter colors.  For the whole lime, I began with the outer edges (the parts furthest away) and worked my way towards the center.  
When I finished the machine embroidery, I completed the background with more decorative stitching and freemotion quilting.  I used the same sort of squared stippling that I’d used with the Peppers, which I’d learned on Leah Day’s FreeMotion Quilting Project.

Finally, I added the limes on top with extra batting to give them dimension (hand applique.) 

Working on the freemotion quilting
Quilted background completed

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5 x 7 Week 3- The
 Start of Salsa!
New 5 x 7 Challenge
Pieces 
Juggling Many 
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Blogs I Recommend and Link-up:

Freemotion Quilting Project

Freshly Pieced

Nina Marie Sayre’s Art Quilts

Quilt Matters

Richard and Tanya Quilts

Confessions of a Fabric Addict