Friday, July 30, 2010

I love bindings

Ah, don't you just love putting the binding on a quilt? Away go all those raw edges, making everything neat and tiny. The beautiful part is that you have finished the quilt and you are high with the success of a job well done. Well, in any case, DONE.

To complete this project, I chose to add a folded fabric strip before stitching the binding to the front of the quilt. It adds a bit color and extra drama to quilt. Since this quilt top did not have a solid outer border, this extra fabric strip gives weight to the edge.

Now what will I do today? A new project or jump right in to work on another from the UFO pile? Oh yes, I do have to add a label on this quilt, then I am off and running.

Do you have a favorite binding technique or an interesting finish that you can share?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A bright new day

Tall Pines
12" x 27"
Sharon V. Rotz

On this bright and sunny morning, the birds are singing for the tops of the trees. They can't hold in their joy and I enjoyed their song as I walked along.

I thought I would share this wallhanging with you today because it expresses a view of my tall pines. They seem so tall in relationship with the surrounding trees and the bird perched at the tip must feel like he is on top of the world.

For the quilt, I fused strips of fabric on the background for the trunk and then cut small squares for the suggestion of the leaves or pine needles. Some of the squares are fused and some are not providing a play of texture.

I really enjoyed quilting this piece adding both vertical line and horizontal lines and filling in with the fans shapes meandering through the space.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Combining Hand and Machine Embroidery

Sunday Morning Garden
8" x 8"
Sharon V. Rotz

Embroidery can do so much to enhance our fabric art. Many quilters now have sewing machines with amazing capabilities for doing embroidery. I have never felt the need to have a machine with extended embroidery features, but almost every machine has some simpler embroidery stitches. The machine I have now as well as every one of my past machines had decorative stitches I never made use of. Well, until now. Who says you can't teach an old dog a new trick?

I tried a few stitches and they were lovely, very even and precise. Then, my imagination took over and I cut up my lovely embroidery and combined it with piecing on this small quilted tile.

I couldn't resist adding a little hand embroidery. I learned embroidery from my mother when I was a young girl and I love the relaxing moments when I slowly add small hand stitches.

What do you think of the combination?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Rod pocket for small quilt

Thanks to my friend Laura K (check out her blogspot, I learned a new way to hang quilts that is so simple and looks like it will work extremely well for small quilts.

Very few things in life are direct and to the point, so here is the story. Laura recently had a quilt selected to travel in an exhibit called "Alzheimer's Illustrated: From Heartbreak to Hope" Congratulations to you, Laura.

As I was checking out the site, I saw how I could contribute a small quilt to this great cause. Further investigation on making a donation quilt led to ways to hang a quilt and I found this simple suggestion.

Fold 2 squares of fabric in half diagonally to form triangles. Before binding the quilt, place the triangles on the back upper corners of the quilt with the raw edges even with the quilt edge. Stitch in place as you apply the quilt binding. Like magic, the rod pocket is made and ready to insert a small dowel for hanging.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Rainy Day

Rainy Day
9" x 17"
Sharon V. Rotz

Surprise, the weather for today is rain. Don't get me wrong. I do like rain and the dry earth and the low lakes certainly need it but we have had our share lately. And, I know the invasion of mosquitos will soon follow. Not looking forward to that!

Meanwhile, as the rain drips off the roof, I look out my window at trees which are shadowed by the mist and falling drops. It does have its own appeal. I've tried to capture the mood in this small quilt.

I fused layers of fabric and cut out small leaves. These were stitched on by machine leaving the edges free. The dimensional look added the finishing touch.

I'm happy with the piece but I suddenly have a great desire to dig some orange and red fabric out of my stash.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Waiting for Paint to Dry

O.K. maybe it's not paint, but the wait is just as long and just as boring. After creating tree trunk fabric yesterday, I had a whole day to wait for it to dry so I could try my idea. Well, that's way too..ooooo long. When you are inspired, you are ready to take action.

In the meantime, I chose other fabrics to try a small quilted piece. Inspired by the 8.5" of rain we have had in July, (maybe overwhelmed by it is a better description) I'm working on recreating the scene out by studio window. No rules, just fun piecing and hand-quilting with large stitches to depict the rain.

Check back to see how I finish the piece.

And, back to my tree trunk fabric, maybe a series of tree quilts? or... am I done with the subject? Have I lost the moment?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

New day, new adventure

Yesterday, I had fun using a small sample of fabric decorated with paint sticks to create my quilter's tile, Silver, Bronze and Gold. I sandwiched it and hand quilted it with silver and bronze metallic threads. As I was stitching, I was thinking of what else I could use to further embellish this small work. I love hand work because it does give you to time to think and envision your next move.

Beads always add interest to quilting and I remembered some beautiful metallic bronze beads that I used on another project. Now, to only find them. Looking through my bead drawer, I did find them and also some earrings that seemed to match.

Recently, I went through my jewelry and picked out pieces I would never wear again. Just as I was about to discard the jewelry, I tucked it in a box in with my beads. This has just proven to be an excellent choice, because already I've found a use for a bit of it. I cut off the earring posts (also, a matching stick pin), glued them unto the quilt and added the bronze beads. A fun experiment using bits and pieces and finishing it up into a small quilt.

This morning, I am headed for a new adventure. I was searching for fabric that would be appropriate for tree trunks. The speckles on this old fabric (or should I say "seasoned fabric") were good but it wasn't quite right. I didn't have the right color fabric paints to change it. (I ONLY have great ideas at 6:00 in the morning and because I can't wait until stores are open to get the proper ingredients, I try to find ways to use what I have on hand.)

What I did have were fabric markers. Perhaps they could be used to alter the fabric (to create the fabric in my mind)? I started coloring the fabric and playing with the limited number of color choices I had. I'm pretty happy with the results, a lot of added character, and I think it will work nicely for tree trunks. Of course, the markers SUGGEST drying for 24 hours to set the color. Can I possibly wait that long?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Daily Quilting

Silver, Bronze and Gold
8" x 8"
Sharon V. Rotz

Daily painting sites are very interesting, imagine creating and completing a new work every day. Would this concept be adapted for quilters and textile artists?

Making an entire bed quilt every day? This brings to mind images of sweatshops and women toiling in substandard working conditions. I can't see myself readily agreeing to this.

Could small pieces of art be made and quilted in a day? Would it be better to make one larger piece in an extended time period. What would this time period be, a few days, a week, a month?
Would it be more fun, (after all we're are aiming for enjoyment, not toil) to explore the many options on a small scale?

Where would you fit? Where would be the excitement for you?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

It all about the Light

After considering how much I use my sewing machine for both piecing and quilting and how much I count on my iron for pressing those seams flat and for fusing those appliques, I pushed those things aside as the most important thing I need.

For without the light to see, I cannot work. This was so evident when the power went off. The storm clouds and the canopy of trees over my house closed out the light. I couldn't even do all those hand stitching jobs that I thought of. As I get older, I realize even more the importance of good lighting.

As I walk into my studio today, I am again thankful for the wonder of that switch on the wall that illuminates my stitching world.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Power on!

Fortunately, we again have electrical power. I can see what I am doing and get on to doing it. Having no power for 5 hours gave me time to think about what was my biggest need to work on my projects?

What would you miss the most? What would go on the top of your list?

I'll come back with my thoughts tomorrow.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What does a quilter do when the lights go out?

Each day we happily play around in our studios, merrily sewing, pressing and quilting. But what happens on the day that the lights go out?

Yesterday, I was actually motivated to machine quilt on my pickle dish quilt. Yes, the one that I have been avoiding. Things were going along, each little section was another section done, when a thunder storm rolls in and the electricity goes out. Power failure!

At that moment, I realized how entirely dependent I am. Of course, the sewing machine doesn't work, and the iron doesn't work. Hand work jumps to mind, but there were no working lights in my studio and the skies were so dark I could barely see.

You may think its a perfect time to sit out on the porch with the raspberry lemonade and watch the storm. I couldn't make any. The refrigerator was dark and we had no water. (We live in the country and need electricity to pump water from a well.) What is a quilter to do?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Raspberry Lemonade

Raspberry Lemonade Tablerunner
16" x 44"
Sharon V. Rotz

I love the ever changing seasons in Wisconsin. It has been very warm here and the humidity has been high. I need to get out of my studio and enjoy summer's finest. There are a multitude of things to do in the garden, on the water, or just relaxing on the deck.

I am blaming the joys of summer for my lack of ambition when I think about quilting. I will enjoy touching flannels and cuddle up to some quilt batting when the temperatures dip. Today, when the sun heats up and the flowers begin to droop, I'll lean back in my chair on the back porch. In my hand will be a summertime favorite, raspberry lemonade.

This tablerunner combines delightful raspberry fabrics and soft greens pieced into blocks. With a bit of machine applique, cone flowers are added to the ends of the tablerunner. A bit of rickrack stitched into a seam and machine quilted swags are finishing touches. (This and other patterns are available through my website

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Finished or Not?

When is a project truly finished? When the top is completed? When it is quilted? When the binding is attached?

I was looking at this "finished" quilt hanging on my wall. (I really think I was trying to avoid working on the quilting for my pickle dish quilt. But that's entirely another issue!!)

It seemed to be missing something, some little detail. It was crying out for just a bit more. Yellow beads popped into my head, little bits of color that would mimic the yellow berries of the quilt fabric. A trip to the closest bead shop and now I am home with yellow beads to add to the border. (See how well I am avoiding finishing my quilting.)

Now, I am busy adding beads. How do they look? And, I just realized that instead of one unfinished project, I now have two.

I guess if I'm a work in progress, and I certainly am, my quilts can be too!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Quilting favorites

What is your favorite quilting design? Do you have a swirl, a curve, or a line that often pops up in your quilts? I love curving lines. I love fans. I love flowers and feathers. I love things that you do not expect.

In art quilts, we so often see free motion swirls and flowers. I enjoy quilting these designs as well. But I also like the play of light when I add very traditional cross hatching on my art projects.

For the pickle dish quilt that I am busy quilting, I think the contrast between the spiky blocks and the cross hatching will work well. It will be a base for the curvy lines that travel up to the top of quilt.

What is your favorite design for the quilting?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Nest

Maybe I've been influenced by the birds that have nested on an outdoor light fixture. Each day we check "our" babies, since we can now see little heads sticking up. The adult Phoebes are perched nearby and keep a watchful eye as I go in and out of the door.

The Nest
8" x 8"
Sharon V. Rotz

The more I thought about how to use my fabric beads, I kept seeing them in a nest. Resisting this idea, I tried to come up with other options. Why do we always fight that first thought? How often do we circle back to it, finally realizing it was the best idea after all? Do you have a project that you are resisting, or looking at multiple options?

I finally gave in to my first impulse and here the fabric beads are settled in a nest of wool. For the background, I used heavy coat weight wool scraps, overlaying and stitching them to form a circular shape. Because of the thickness of the wool, I didn't have to add batting or even a backing to this small art work. I can make more fabric beads and create more projects, but today I am happy that I've "nested".

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fabric Beads

One day, I was visiting Pat, a quilting friend who is a wonderful textile artist. She got me involved in making fabric beads from narrow triangles of silk. After rolling the triangle into a tube, aided by a bit of glue, colorful yarns were tied around the bead.

These were so fast and easy to make and what possibilities for creative use. I have been thinking ever since how I want to use these particular beads.

It seems like I made similar beads when I was a child. We cut colorful pages from magazines or the Sears catalog and rolled the triangle strips around matchsticks or straws. We threaded our fabulous beads on cord for childhood "high fashion" necklaces. Do you remember ever doing this?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Stand Tall America

Happy Independence Day to you all! As you celebrate on July 4th, reflect on this great land that we live in. Certainly, we have problems but we also have so much. Count your blessings today.

This "door" quilt, Stand Tall America, packs a dramatic punch and is perfect for for tall, narrow spaces. Start with log cabin blocks that tilt and turn their way down the quilt. It has a banner of stars at the top and wavy piping between the strips. The wavy binding on the sides leads down to an uneven bottom.

The blocks use various size strips and are no-fail because you cut them to size after they are all made. The waves (and binding) are a cinch to make with bias strips. Stand Tall America is one of the projects in my book, Log Cabin Quilts with Attitude.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Tip for the Day

Sewing, pressing, sewing, pressing, working on so many new ideas. Then comes the time when we have to leave the area. After I leave, my mind always flashes back. Did I turn off my iron? Am I going to forget it and the house burns down? (And, all of my lovely quilts burn up!)

To solve the problem, I have plugged my iron into an electric power strip. Along with this, I plugged in a floor lamp which I always leave turned on. Having the extra light at my pressing surface is wonderful. The real benefit is that when I leave, I turn off the power strip, the light goes off and I know my iron is also turned off. One last check as I exit, all lights are off and my studio will be here tomorrow.

Do you have any handy (quilt saving) hints to share?

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