“Chili Pepper” by Christina Fairley Erickson
Freehand machine embroidery with decorative stitching and freemotion quilting

Make sure to check out the start of my Design Wall Weekends Blog Link Party coming Saturday April 6!

Well, I finally finished up my final 5 x 7″ block for the Salsa Quilt.  I had some fun with this and will be posting a couple of tutorials later this week for both how to do unusual lettering and a new freemotion quilting design.  I also will work on documenting my process for installing new fonts onto your computer, so you can play around with different lettering styles like this “Taco Modern” font I use in each of my salsa blocks.

I’ve been super busy this last week catching up after being gone for 5 days in the “Experimental Hand Stitch class.”  I’ve been working on continuing to complete my hand-stitch samples, which are quite relaxing to do.  I’ve also started cutting and piecing a new practice quilt, which I’m doing along with Leah Day’s Craftsy class.  Although I’m pretty comfortable with freemotion machine quilting, the more you practice, the better you get.  The one thing I haven’t completely decided upon is whether I’m going to do all the fillers which Leah suggests in her class, or whether I’ll pick and choose those which I want to do.  I’m not 100% thrilled with every design she’s picked, so I may just substitute some of my own, or others I’ve learned from Leah’s blog.

One thing that’s going to be a little different in the future is that I will be hosting a “Design Wall Weekend” blog linking party.  This will be open to quilters, fiber artists, mixed media artists, and book/art journalists who have blogs to help increase exposure to all sorts of great ideas.

Now, it’s on to do the sashing and binding for this quilt.  Not to mention, I will need to get going on a new 5 x 7 Challenge piece for next week!  So check back for tutorials later this week and I hope you will have some fun quilting this week.

You Might Also Be Interested in:

And the Winner Is… A Slice of Lime Peppers and Avocado

Check out these other great blogs:

Freshly Pieced

Freemotion by the River

Quilt Story

“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!
You Might Also Be Interested in:

Corn – Red or Orange- 
You Vote!
Piquant Progress Fitting My Challenge 
with Showing

Please check out these other great blogs:

FreeMotion by the River by Connie Kresin

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

You Might Also Be Interested In:
5 x 7 Week 3- The
 Start of Salsa!
New 5 x 7 Challenge
Pieces 
Juggling Many 
Projects

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

Only 3 more 5 x 7 pieces to go for my Salsa series!  They’re looking good all together.  I was a little worried that this red background might be too dominant with the rest of them, but it turned out fine.  I wanted the complementary color to the green of the avocado, and the dark skin of the fruit allowed me to use something quite bold… there’s no way that the pieces will fade into the background.  I’m still trying to figure out how I’m going to tie all the pieces together- I’m leaning towards black sashing that is freemotion quilted throughout.  I’d love to hear any thoughts or suggestions you might have about putting these pieces together into a quilt.

Yesterday I was reading one of my old favorite inspirational books, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach.  Each day of the year has a separate little essay that looks for finding joy in your everyday life.  I’ve had this book and referred to it for probably about 15 years (it was published in 1995.)  It’s a lot like a wonderfully inspirational blog!  Anyway, the entry for March 4 is called “Priming the Pump for Inspiration” and uses the analogy of how you used to have to pour water into a pump to get it started.  Likewise, as artists, we need to feed ourselves images and experiences to keep the flow of creativity.

Similarly, Twyla Tharp, the famous dancer and choreographer, talks about setting rituals to get your creativity flowing.  If you set up a structure of doing the same thing each time you sit down in your studio (or on the way to your studio)… something that is inspirational, or centering, or creates peace for yourself… you will start to get greater access to your creative side.

I can’t say that I’ve got this process of ritual down at all.  I do lots of things to “prime my pump”, whether it be taking photos, cutting out images from magazines and putting them in sketchbooks, or reading books and blogs which I find inspirational.  But, typically I feel a little pressed for time and that I need to produce when I’m in my studio.  I’m rethinking this.  Perhaps I would be better served creatively to take the extra time, slow down a little bit, and follow a set ritual each day to start opening up my right-brain creative side.

You Might Also Be Interested In:

Developing the 
Creative Habit
Peppers and Avocado Cilantro – Si!

Some of my Favorite Blogs:

Leah Day’s FreeMotion Quilting Project

Connie Kresin’s Freemotion by the River

Nina Marie Sayre’s Art Quilts

Freshly Pieced

Quilt Story

Confessions of a Fabric Addict

Quiltsy

I finished My “Peppers” last night!  Hooray!  I’m quite happy with how they turned out… I struggled with making the red center one laying down so you are looking down on it.  I think the key was both the shading and sewing directional-ly. By this I mean that I’m trying to capture the shape of the object, by sewing in the direction that the object naturally goes.

For instance, where there was a buldge in the pepper, I sewed around any bulbous protusion, which, combined with shading, helps give the illusion of depth. Another way of looking at directional sewing is to think of the way something grows or sewing with the grain of an item. For instance, if you want to portray an animal, it won’t look very realistic if you make the hair going in an unnatural manner.  Similarly, petals, leaves, and plant stems look closer to life with a vertical grain and more cartoonish with horizontal filling.

Background before I hand appliquéd the trapunto peppers 

I also made a decision with the background of this piece.  If you’re familiar with design theory, you’ll recognize “repetition” and “unity” as two fundamental  design concepts. Many strong designs utilize repetition- whether they are visual art, writing or in a musical composition.  Repetition aows the viewer to feel more comfortable with the piece-as if the already know something about it, since they’ve seen (or heard) that part of the piece before. Repetition can also help unify a piece. Having too many loose ends that don’t relate anywhere else in the work can be jarring and disquieting.

So, for my “Peppers” I used a background fabric which matches the background of my Tomatillo, but in a different color way.  I used the same pattern for the Freemotion quilting as I did on my Tomato. One of the lines of decorative stitch matches another in one of my pieces.

Why is this important? While each piece may be lovely and stand on its own, my plan is to put nine of these “Salsa” pieces together into a quilt. Although I’m doing similar techniques- Machine embroidered veges with decorative stitching and Freemotion quilting, if I’m not careful it will seem like it isn’t unified.  Other ways I’m working to unify the peace and provide repetition include using the same font for the name of each of the vegetables or fruits, using an analagous color scheme (red, orange, yellow, green), and having my quilting and decorative stitching be more sharp angles rather than curves (I think of this being more like Mayan or Aztec patterning.

On to my Avocados….!

You Might Also Be Interested in:

New 5 x 7 
Challenge Pieces
5 x 7 Week 3- 
The Start of Salsa
Developing the 
Creative Habit

Check out these other Great Blogs!
For great ideas on freemotion quilting, check out Leah Day’s FreeMotion Quilting Project

To find some wonderful quilting projects, visit Freshly Pieced

Confessions of a Fabric Addict 

Art Quilts by Nina Marie Sayre

Stitch by Stitch by Marelize Ries

As part of taking Carol Ann Waugh’s “Stupendous Stitching” class at Craftsy, I made what she calls a ‘Stitch Bible’ for my machine. Your stitch bible is a visual reference guide to all the stitches that your machine has available. When you make your stitch bible, not only should you show the stitch, but also you should adjust the length and width of the stitch, so you can see how the changes effect the look of the stitch. Sometimes you can get a completely different look with a stitch at different dimensions.

A page from my “Stitch Bible” for my Bernina 730 showing each row with
different settings for the length and width

Notes on each of the first three rows of stitches in above figure… if
the settings caused a problem, I notate that in Red

It’s important to notate the length/width for each of the stitches you try, as well as if any of the settings don’t work for that stitch.  My notes (I hand-write them when I’m sewing and then type them up afterwards) show the row number from left to right, the stitch number and description, the settings in order of how I changed on each stitch as I was sewing, and then any notes I made or thought of about the stitch.  For the settings, I always started with the default values for the stitch.  Notes might include how I think I could use a stitch.

Full sheet of the notes for the stitches above

I’ve placed all my Stitch Bible pages and samples within plastic sleeve protectors in a notebook, which I have within arm’s length of my sewing machine.  (Sorry about the glare on the photos… I probably should have taken them out of the plastic sleeves before I shot the picture!) That way, if I want to add some sort of decorative element, I can thumb through the pages and get ideas of what might work well for the space.

Another page of stitches

This is how I chose the decorative stitching that I used in the background of my Tomato piece.  The extra-heavy Zig-Zag, thick lines at the bottom and triangle patterning are all decorative stitching from my machine.

If you’re interested in playing around with the decorative stitching on your machine, I highly recommend Carol Ann Waugh’s Craftsy Class.

You might also be interested in:

5 x 7 Week 3 – 
The Start of Salsa
Fireworks Freemotion 
Quilting Design
Making Fabric
Ryan Holdridge, Eagle Scout with Mom, Christina

First and foremost… every mother deserves some bragging rights.  Tonight, my son Ryan completed the final step and earned his Eagle Scout rank!  We’ve been on that journey since 2001, including my being a den leader and assistant scoutmaster.  Woo Hoo!!!

This week has been a bit of a push… Not only did I work on my UFO Waterfall quilt, I wanted to have my 5 x 7 Artist Challenge Piece be able to coordinate into the salsa quilt theme. I’m pretty excited about the result so far. I’ve decided to not finish the edges of these salsa blocks, since I will be piecing them together into a full quilt.

The process for making this started with a photograph of a tomato. Actually, I picked out photos for each of the nine items (tomato, onion, cilantro, peppers, tomatillo, lime, chili pepper, corn, and onion.). I then removed backgrounds and resized the photos to fit the 5 x 7 format in Photoshop. I then printed the photos (2 to each page) on COTTON from VV Prints -(add link and type of cotton).

Start of thread painting the tomato

I keep my thread sorted by color, rather than type, with the exception of metallics. Since I decided to start with the tomato, I pulled out a wide range of reds and oranges, changing in value from tangerine and pinks, through the true hues, up to dark maroons and deep rusts. I placed them in a line of values- light to dark, so it would be easy to pick out which colors would be next in shading.

I then hooped my tomato.  When you are doing machine embroidery, it’s important to use stabilizer (I used two layers-one of  Pellon Stitch N Tear  the second OESD Heavy-weight cut-away Embroidery stabilizer) to help ensure you embroidery won’t get misshapen. You also hoop opposite from the way you do with hand embroidery, so the fabric is laying along the bottom of the hoop, rather than across the top edge. This way the fabric is flush up against the sewing table.

“Tomato” stitched on marked background

I then started freemotion thread painting.  I layered colors, particularly where I wanted to blend shading. I generally try to start with areas that would be further away from the viewer and end with the places that would be closest, the help create a more 3-D effect.

After completing the tomato, I turned to the background on which it would be placed. I knew I waned to have the names of each fruit or vegetable printed out on the background, so I decided to try my friend’s process for text (see note on how to do this with Marylee Drake’s ‘Celebration’ quilt.) I picked  a fun Font to go along with the Salsa theme and stitched it onto the background.

Adding decorative stitching

Added freemotion quilting
Coloring edge of embroidery so it can be turned under

Next, I marked my background with a Dritz Fine Line Water Erasable Marking Pen – Blue to help keep my lines well-spaced.  I then added both machine decorative stitching and Freemotion quilting to the background that would accent and complement both the tomato and the Salsa theme.  For the Freemotion quilting, I turned to Leah Day’s Freemotion Quilting Project and found a few designs that would give me the effect I wanted… To look like Mayan patterns. I decided on Square Shell (without filling in the small square), and a cross between Echo Maze and Circuit Board.

Turning edge under using Roxanne Glue Baste-It

Finally, i colored the edges of the white fabric around the embroidery using a Stained by Sharpie Brush Tip Fabric Markers before I hand appliqued the tomato onto the background.  I added two layers of batting between the embroidered tomato and the backing, with the first just slightly smaller than the size of the tomato, and the second a smaller oval, so it would help add a three-dimensional more rounded shape. I used Roxanne Glue Baste-It to help hold the edges under as I appliquéd.

My completed 5 x 7 piece “Tomato”

The only step, other than finishing the edges, which I still need to decide whether to do or not is whether I’ll paint in the lettering.  I’ve decided to hold off for now, as I want to test painting letters this size, before I try it on my finished piece.

This week my blog was featured on FreeMotion by the River!  Thanks, Connie!


You might also be interested in:

Current Works in 
Progress
Fitting my Challenge 
with Showing
2013 – The 5 x 7 
Artist Challenge

Check out these great blogs I’ve linked up with!

Freemotion by the River

Nina Marie Sayre Quilt Art

Confessions of a Fabric Addict

QuiltStory

Richard and Tanya Quilts

Freshly Pieced- Work In Progress Wednesdays

Made by Me!

Quiltsy Check out the wonderful seed stitch info on their Jan 17, 2013 post.