Friday, March 29, 2013

Needle UP? Needle DOWN?

That is the question.  Having a needle up/down option on your sewing machine makes the job of sewing so much easier.   Once you have the needle up/down option, you can never have a machine without it!
This is the needle up/down on my machine.

When I'm quilting on a piece, if I stop the machine to rest for a moment, the fabric or project can't shift on me if it is set for needle down. Then when I start sewing again, I carefully begin stitching slowly, working up gradually to my regular speed.  If well done, the starts and stops shouldn't show!

When quilting, I like to set the machine for needle down.
When doing free-motion embroidery, I guess it really doesn't matter whether the needle stops in the up or the down position. The starts and stops aren't as visible.

Piecing, is nice when the needle stays up. After each seam is finished, the needle is up and the pieces may be easily removed from the needle area and threads clipped. When I attach bias binding, I like the needle down.

If the project is applique I usually choose to have needle down. If I have to pivot at corners, or have smooth curves, it's nice to have it set down.
Especially when pivoting is necessary at corners, I like the needle to stop down

If you are sewing on a new machine, take the time to notice which way your prefer to set your machine for different tasks.  Then when you begin sewing for the day, set your needle position accordingly.

Caution:  I'd like to leave you with one caution on this subject. Never leave the needle in the fabric or project for long periods of time.  If you are finished sewing for the day, make sure the needle is up.  Should the fabric get pulled away from the machine it won't tear or rip your project.

Hockey project update:  I'm spending time each day doing the embroidery and applique on my Hockey Garden quilt. I still need a good suggestion for a title!  Any ideas?

Ann Fahl  

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Hockey Applique Begins part 5

Well, I'm not sure if the thread work will be fun or not; it was really fun to design.  I think I may have created a monster with never ending applique and embroidery, in just about every color thread in the rainbow.  So where does one begin, when there are thousands of little pieces to be stitched?

Pick something easy to begin, it is important to get started. In the early stages of a project, sometimes the job appears to be overwhelming--like this one. After I have dealt with the initial hesitation, then I basically work from what appears to be on the bottom layer and work up to the top. This is because the ends of my starts and stops will be covered by another line of stitching on a segment that appears to be on top of it, and this secures any loose threads that need to be controlled. This bottom to top guideline, is the general rule, but of course I break it all the time! If I have blue thread in the machine, I'm not going to hop over and applique a red flower; I'm going to find something else blue to sew before I change my thread color again.
This is the back corner of the hockey bag. I've chosen to use a decorative stitch in variegated blue thread.

So I'm going to applique the hockey bag first with a beautiful blue variegated thread using some of the programmed stitches that my machine offers. The hockey bag is my starting point because it is underneath all the other objects in the picture.  I have chosen my favorite programmed stitch, and I use shiny thread with crisp tear-away stabilizer underneath. [This process will be covered in depth in my new booklet, Applique Ann's Way.]
Here is a sneak peek at the cover of my new booklet! Available in April.

Next I'll embroider the hockey sticks, covering them with thread.  This will be faster than appliqueing them and it will give them a wood grain look. Embroidery is done with a hoop, no stabilizer, and I move the hoop from side to side to completely cover the object. For detailed info see my book Coloring with Thread
A closeup of the embroidery with variegated beige thread, that gives a wood grain effect on the hockey stick.
 Now I realize the finely cut dandelions are curling up and starting to fray, so I'll embroider them next or they may just disappear. 
Dandelion detail in the lower left corner.  These too are embroidered.
So the applique and embroidery has just begun.  This is going to take me some time at the machine. Eventually this blog thread will be continued.  I have hours of decorative stitching ahead of me.

Ann Fahl

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Quilt Museum Needs Your Help

This morning I received an email from Marie Strait, chairman of the board of the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles.  Because of a substantial drop in funding from large corporations and foundations; they find themselves in need of money to meet their expenses. If they cannot meet their goal, they might have to close their doors!

This was the first quilt museum in America.  As quilters, if we can't support them who can? This is a link to the museum's website.  On it you can read the urgent message from Marie Strait, about how much money they need and what it is for.  You can donate using a credit card at this page.

Not long ago, the museum in Paducah needed money to purchase the building where it has been housed for many years.  Quilter's and other sponsors came together, and the building was purchased, saving the museum for future generations.

Please tell your friends about this, your quilt guild, local quilt shop, if we all pitch in, we can help save this quilt museum to preserve our heritage.  This is the contact information for the museum.
520 South First Street
San Jose, CA 95113
Tel: 408.971.0323, Fax: 408.971.7226

Help if you are able.

Ann Fahl

Friday, March 15, 2013

Hockey Garden part 4

To border or not to border that is the question............ I've been trying to answer this for the last week or so.  I've added a vine or two to the subject, just to add a little something more for the viewer to find.

Look closely under the helmet and purple coneflowers to see the beginning of a little vine growing out of the bag.
When I get stuck like this, and an answer doesn't come my way, then I feel it's time to take action.  A border will add focus to my crazy arrangement, so I know there will have to be one, even though it wasn't in my original plan. So rather than just sit and wait for inspiration to hit, I will play with the idea a bit first with fabric, then with photoshop.

I pulled out heaps of fabric to test for a possible border, I held up the black (a little too harsh)  and the blue (not strong enough..) Rather than cut strips of actual fabrics, I folded the large hunks of fabric into long narrow strips and pinned them on the design wall around the hockey piece.

Here is the piece with a black Photoshopped border.
I like the way the black pulls everything together, and makes the garden more of a focal point, not just a mass of stuff.  However I feel the solid black is a little too overpowering as a border.
Here is the piece with a blue Photoshopped border.
I like the blue better, but will it go in my son's apartment or office?  He has brown leather stuff. It still creates a strong focal point, without the harshness of the black.  So what to do?  I will have a diet Coke and slice of fresh lime and think about it.
Here is the actual border.
I found a wonderful denim-like cotton decorator fabric for the top portions, and used a mottled black fabric for the lower border.  It has an ever so slight masculine feel to it.  Voila!!!!  I've added a few more leaves, and pressed the hockey bag over the border and the leaves from the dandelions too.  I love it.  I can almost smell the scent of the gritty hockey equipment, but you will be spared that bit of realism.

Next week, I will begin the embroidery and applique.

Ann Fahl

Thursday, March 14, 2013 Special Event

Ann, Alex Andersen, Ricky Tims on the day of the filming of Ann's episode.

International Quilt Day is just around the corner, and as a featured artist on a past episode of The Quilt Show, I wanted to let you know about a gift that Alex and Ricky have put together for quilters around the world.  

Beginning on Friday, March 15 through Sunday, March 17, everyone who signs on to The Quilt Show will have free access to over 140 of their internet shows, including my episode #111.  You can watch the shows, check out the tutorials, browse the gallery of over 19,900 member quilts, visit the forum for answers to the most burning quilt questions and lots, lots more. And if you missed my show, you can see it now. Filming this show before an audience was a very exciting experience!

There are prizes and all kinds of things happening that weekend for no charge.

So check in at on Friday, March 15, and enjoy the shows and exploring The Quilt Show website and all it has to offer!  And I’d love to have you view my show, episode #111.  All of my Oreo quilts will be there!

Ann Fahl

Friday, March 8, 2013

Hockey Garden part 3

This week I've added lots of color.  I liked the hockey stuff sitting around the bag, but I know I'll be happier once some garden elements are in place.  You will notice that I've only added one glove and 3 pucks to the arrangement since last time.
Here's the next stage of "Hockey Garden" most of the elements are pinned onto the background.
The rose bush idea has been thrown out.  I showed you a photo of the rosebush surrounded with hockey sticks last time.  I'm going for something very simple and colorful.  What could be better and easier than coneflowers? I can draw them in my sleep. When discussing flower selection with my husband, he suggested dandelions. Wow what could be better for a garden full of stinky hockey gear? It did take forever to cut out the tiny slender petals of the weeds, but they added a great touch. Since it is winter here in Wisconsin, there weren't any dandelions in the snow, so I had to search on line for photos to use as my inspiration.

In the past, I have always admired Frieda Anderson's dandelion pieces; so have avoided using them, because Frieda had done such a wonderful job with the weeds.  But heck, I've got tons of them in my yard, I should be able to use a couple of them! I love the way their greens add interest and movement to the front edge of the quilt.
You may not want these in your garden, but I love them here.

Now that I have been looking at the quilt at about this stage for a week or two, something is troubling me. I want the corner of the hockey bag to hang below the edge, for a more 3 dimensional effect. But I'm thinking this is getting rather chaotic.  Do I need a border?  I'll have to think about it.

"Keep your stick on the ice."   Red Green

Next time,

Friday, March 1, 2013

Hockey Garden part 2

The garden with the hockey sticks continues.  I have cut out and placed lots of the hockey items that would be included in a player's gear.  Hockey sticks, helmet, gloves, bag, pucks.
Here is the hockey bag, that has been fabricated since my last post. 
What I usually do for pictorial pieces like this is take a photograph of the object--like the gloves resting on top of the hockey bag.  I simplify the photo into sections that I can fuse together with different colors of fabric to add shading and volume.  I assemble each item and press it onto a piece of baking parchment; instead of having 20 little pieces of fabric, I have one big glove or item to move around on the surface until it is in just the right place.
The helmet was done the same way.  And I think it will be sitting atop a hockey stick in my garden.

My plan was to have a pair of skates in the picture, but the above skate has tons of tiny little pieces in it.  So my quilt will only get one skate, you will have to make believe there are two! I liked having it sit on an angle, it seems more chaotic that way--more "real life!"

What I have shown you has taken weeks to accomplish, and this quilt isn't very big.  But that's how this piece seemed to evolve!  So here is the first big reveal.
Here is the background with the pieces in position.
What's next?  The pucks have to be fabricated and so do the gloves, they are in the photo above cut out of paper.  My plan is to then add the garden elements all to make a quilt without a traditional border.

I'm going to be needing a title for this one, and I need your help with that!

Till next time.........

Ann Fahl