Monday, January 31, 2011

Sparkle Your Decor with Pillows

Snowball Fight Bed Quilt
80" x 94"
Sharon V. Rotz

After many years of working with decorators making custom soft furnishings, I've grown to love the sparkle pillows can give to your room. I thought it would be fun to look at a number of pillow ideas.

A pillow idea can be as simple as making an extra block from your quilt. These pillows named "Throw Snowball Pillows" laughingly refer to what often happens to them in a lively household. An extra block from the quilt border makes a fast quilted pillow top. Add a solid border to size it for a standard purchased pillow form and you can finish in a snap.

The instructions for making "Throw Snowball Pillows", "Snowball Pillowcases" and the "Snowball Fight Bed Quilt" are all in my book, Quilting Through the Seasons.

How have you decorated with quilted pillows?  Share your ideas by commenting to this post.

I'll be back with more pillows, pillows, pillows.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Flowers Brighten a Winter's Day

I have been privileged to be part of a colorful display of art and gorgeous orchids at the Riverfront Arts Center in Stevens Point, WI. There is a wide variety of art mediums on display with a floral theme in common. This is complimented by orchids of many colors, shapes and sizes.

Both the artwork and the orchids are for sale, so its a fabulous time to enliven your home and push away those winter blues. The orange framed fiber piece by Pat Gaska is one of my favorites in the show (and is already sold, so hurry out before your favorite is gone as well.)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"Smooshing" Colors

I have art friends who talk about "smooshing colors" in their paintings. I think the joy of quilting is "smooshing" fabrics -- combining colors and fabric designs together.

It's time for my "Undercover Quilter" friends to gather again after a Christmas break. We will have a day full of fun as we challenge ourselves to make new combinations of fabric from sales, donations and our own excess supplies. We are constantly amazed at what we can do with what we have. It's really too much fun for one day and we often extend our creativity by working on quilt tops "off the record".

To me, it seems easier to make a backing first and then combine fabrics for the quilt top. I found a piece almost big enough for a backing and it did become the back with a border of a second fabric.
The remainder of the border fabric became the focus fabric for the front of the quilt. I tried my best to choose fabrics that coordinated with this focus fabric. At times, with the limiting selection, this becomes a challenge in creativity.  Certainly, this has spread into the rest of my quilting endeavors, making it even easier to "smoosh"colors together.

As I'm stitching the blocks and bits of block together, I'm wondering if smoosh is really a word.  It brings to mind the dreaded vocabulary tests we had in school and how I never appreciated my teacher's efforts. Well, Mrs. V., I believe I've juxtaposed my blocks with serendipitous results.

Maybe it was all a matter of context (and a good number of years of maturity.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What Disturbs Your Studio Time?

Each day, I enjoy the companionship of the friendly little chickadees as they dance around my head at the bird feeder. They seem to watch for the moment that I approach with more seeds and the call goes out.

Yesterday, as I was busy in my studio I heard some tapping at my window. I looked out and had to laugh. Yes, there he was, a brazen little chickadee knocking to tell me the feeder was almost empty.

Push the flowers aside. I think there must be a chickadee quilt in my future.  

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Serging and Flouncing About a Bit More

Climbing Roses
23" x 10"
Sharon V. Rotz

As you can see, for this project I decided to use my serged flounce on the binding edge of the wallhanging. It would make a wonderful pillow edge as well. (We could consider this a flat pillow.)

This wallhanging combines units of string piecing, a fun and creative use for small scraps of fabric, with three dimensional applique. The leaves were folded wrong sides together and overlock-serged on the curved open edge. The top edge of a red batik fabric strip was serged with a rolled edge. The strip of fabric was then formed into the roses and hand stitched onto the background.

This project gave me a chance to explore more options for using my serger as a quilting tool. Now, new images of serged flounces are creeping into my brain. How could I incorporate a flounce into the center of a project? maybe between rows of blocks, hmmm.

For more quilting ideas using your serger, please refer to my latest book, Serge and Merge Quilts.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Flouncing About or About Flouncing

Do you know what a flounce is?

It may look like a gathered strip, but it not gathered but a waving free edge formed by the clever cutting of the fabric. We, in the quilting world, are not familiar with flounces as they are normally from the world of dressmaking. Well, I should qualify that. I have had a few stretched bias edges which could be easily be described as waving freely. (not a good thing)

In a creative moment, I thought it would be fun to see if I could use a true flounce (not that wrongly stretched fabric one) in my quiltmaking.

To make a serged spiral flounce: Cut two layers of fabric. Place wrong sides together.  Serge the outer edge starting on the outside of the spiral and working to the center.

When you straighten out the edge of the serged strip, the outer edge of the strip will wave.

The end of the spiral that was closest to the center will have more wave. As you get to the outside of the spiral, there will be less wave and the fabric will tend to lay flatter.

How can a flounce be used?  What's your idea?

Check out how I used my flounce in my next posting.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Before the Floor Caves In

Yes, the question is: How many books of quilting magazines can I pile up before the floor caves in? How many do I need to save? Will I find ideas for future quilts in my stash of magazines? Will I ever look at them again or will a new idea in a current publication catch my fancy?

I have two little Sharons having this debate as they run around inside my head. Can't you just see them listing all their pros and cons? Many times I don't go back to my "research" magazines but occasionally when I do, I spy some fabulous idea that slipped by before. But does that justify saving piles and piles until the floor caves in? (Or should I think of it as grounding my home from future tornadoes?)

What do you think? Do you save your older copies of favorite quilting magazines? All of them? Selected issues?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Midwest Seasons Exhibit

40"x 24"
Sharon V. Rotz

I am so pleased that one of my pieces will be included in the "21st Annual Midwest Seasons" exhibit at the Center for the Visual Arts in Wausau, WI. This juried competition showcases entries from America and occasionally international artists and celebrates the beauty and power of the Midwest seasons.

If you live near or are traveling through the area, you are invited to stop and view the artwork. The Opening Reception and Awards Presentation is Friday, January 21, 2011 from 5-7 pm. The exhibit will open on Friday, January 21 and will remain in the Gallery through March 6, 2011.

Friday, January 14, 2011

New Look

Climbing Roses, detail
Sharon V, Rotz
It's time for new ideas, new quilts and a new look for my blog. Clean it up and make new changes, that's what a new year can bring. What new things are you bringing into your life this year?

And, what do you think of the new look? Or should I keep searching?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

More Creative Options

For those who love the soft, muted colors more than my typical "knock your socks off" brights, here is "Lavender Cream". Again, I had fun with the serged cord I made. I used Halo metallic thread by Superior Threads in the upper looper and variegated Pixelles Trilobal Polyester thread by Signature Threads in the lower looper to make this lovely cord.

By letting the cord curl from one side to the other, both threads show adding most interest to the design. Extra bits were looped and added between the borders. The subtle contrast invites a closer look to really notice the sparkling details.

Looking for more ideas? Check out Nancy Zieman's blog which features "Thirteen's a Charm" from my book Serge and Merge Quilts.

Monday, January 10, 2011

More Serging, More Cord

Last year (that's not too long ago, since this is only January) I made a fun mat by wrapping scrap strips of fabric around clothes line and zigzagging together. It was to go on a table, that is if you think practically and logically. That was the plan, but as you know plans frequently do change.

I choose to pin the mat onto my studio wall because I just loved the mesh of colors. Ideas kept dancing in my head to use this as a platform for something creative. Now its time has come and my mat is the background for a branch of serger decorated leaves on a serged cord branch.

What do you think?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Using Serged Cord

I used a bit of the serged cord that I made on this small 8" x 8" quilt tile. Combine it with a little dye and some fusing and this is what you come up with.

The serging was done with multi-colored metallic thread in the upper looper and purple in the bottom looper. I used two strands of red yarn which gives it a red cast.

I have been finishing my small samples into pieces that I refer to as "Quilt Tiles". I've found that I appreciate them more and they are not lost in the confusion of stray bits that have no home and are always lost when I am searching for them. (Several quilt tiles hung together can make an eye-catching display.)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Adding Serging to your Quilting

Like many of you, I have a serger. I have used it for many years for a multitude of sewing tasks but not until recently have I thought of it as a quilting tool. I have since found a variety of ways to use my serger for quilting.

Using your serger to make serged cord, you can incorporate some of the lovely decorative threads you own. We are all attracted to and purchase metallic and other decorative threads only to find they are, at times, difficult to work with on our regular sewing machines.

Running these threads in the loopers of the serger, I have no difficulty using them. I've had fun making cord by serging over two stands of acrylic yarn. The yarn was passed through a hole in the center of the foot and fed nicely while the looper threads covered it with my decorative thread. In the top sample, I am using pearl cotton in the upper looper and cotton thread in the needle and lower looper. In the second sample, I've used metallic thread in the upper looper and variegated polyester thread in the lower looper.

Now that I have these wonderful cords, where can I use them? What was your suggestions?

Come back and see where they end up.

For other serged projects, check out my book Serge and Merge Quilts.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Lovely in my new crinkled scarf

Was this what I wanted? In the creative spirit to start the New Year, I thought I would try making a crinkled scarf following the directions that I found on Quilting Arts. O.K., so I didn't follow them exactly. My rayon definitely had a right and wrong side, with the printed dots much crisper on the right side. I thought I would just make a tube and then the wrong side would never show.

I twisted and I twisted and ended up with a ball of wet fabric that I dried though several dryer cycles and over the heat for three days. Finally, came the exciting moment when I would see my beautiful new scarf. Well, it certainly kept its crinkles and I unrolled it to no avail, it just rolled back up. This looks nothing like the picture.

I tried my best to look trendy. Did I succeed or do I look like I have a wrinkled rag tied around my neck? I asked my husband and he (wisely) had no comment and said he would defer to my artsy friends.

So, artsy friends, what do you think?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

What Have You Resolved?

Now that Christmas has past and the New Year is beginning, what have you resolved to do in 2011?

One of my first resolutions is taking down the Christmas tree, although it's disappearance does seem to leave a big hole in our home. Then, there are all those cleaning resolutions......... and we previously decided they have both good and bad results.

So, I guess that only leaves my resolution to open myself up to new and exciting adventures in my quilting/art world. God continuously presents me with wonderful opportunities and its up to me to be unafraid to take that first step.

I would like to encourage each of you to try something new this year. Maybe you can adopt my outlook which is "I don't have a clue how to do this but I will give it a try anyway." See how God will enrich your life.
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