Art Quiltlet: 11/52

black & white art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

Black and white this week. Simple, enjoyable, engaging to make. Like sketching with fabric, trying out ideas of composition. I labeled this one “Black and White I” because I’m sure I’ll be doing more with just these two colors. Reducing to just shape and line, no distraction of color–I like to do that.

Here’s a view of the back along with the scraps I cut off when cropping. The scraps are interesting to look at in their own way.

quiltlet back and cropping scraps, amyhoodarts.com

The past several weeks, the quiltlet sewing has been pushed to later in the week. This week I felt the need to play first thing Monday.

I’ve been sewing almost every day lately. I remember when I first got my machine, how every time I sat down at it, it was a crapshoot on whether things would work the way they should. I don’t even mean not making mistakes sewing, I mean whether the thread would jam or the bobbin would behave. It was stressful; I didn’t feel comfortable with the machinery itself. And then after a while I did, and if something went awry, I was confident I could adjust it.

The same thing has happened with free motion stitching. I’ve pushed through that period when I wasn’t sure anything would go as it should. Yesterday I realized I switched from regular stitching to free motion almost seamlessly. I switched the feet, adjusted the tensions, dropped the feed dogs and released the IDT–all the things I need to do to set up the machine–and I sat down and stitched free motion without a hitch. It’s so good to tackle those learning curves, stick with it, and get to the other side, where my mind isn’t constantly occupied with the mechanics of the skill but is gradually freed up to think more about what to do with the skill. It’s very cool to keep learning new things.

Art Quiltlet: 10/52

Labyrinth art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

These small pieces are perfect for practicing or trying new things, and that’s what this week’s was mostly about. It began with one of my hand-carved stamps printed on linen, with the intention of tracing the labyrinth with metallic red thread. I learned that metallic thread isn’t worth the trouble–it kept breaking. Perhaps there’s some trick to it that I don’t know. Then I spent a while picking what felt like foil stitches out so I could start over with normal thread in a different color. I chose blue because I had matching backing fabric, and it was still bright. So, my free-motion stitching has gotten much, much better (I’ve been practicing; those pieces are all on Instagram), although I still need work on handwriting, so I added some words.

I always hand-stitch binding onto the back, but I decided to try machine stitching it. Ugh. I do not like that nearly as much. I’m not good at stitching in the ditch, which is part of it, but also I don’t like how I couldn’t control the neatness on the back like I can while hand-stitching. Good to know. If I make a quilt that I think needs machine stitching on the binding, I’m going to have to practice. In the meantime though, I so prefer hand-stitching, both doing it and the look of the final result.

Since this is the tenth week, I decided to photograph the quiltlets thus far all together. On a wrinkly white sheet of course.

ten art quiltlets at amyhoodarts.com

At the very least, I’ve kept it up for ten weeks in a row. And skills are improving, and it’s still fun. So, one-fifth (more or less) of the way through the year, this is still working for me.

Art Quiltlet: 9/52

selvedge quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

This week’s quiltlet was created with a pile of trimmed selvedge edges from a recent project, which I haven’t shared here yet (but will soon). It occurred to me that this is a nice way to remember projects that get sent away, as this one will be. Of course, I have scraps of the fabric I used, too, but I like these overlapped and sewn down here as well.

I also like the back. I think I’ll be doing more white stitching on white fabric.

selvedge quiltlet, back, at amyhoodarts.com

Short post! Simple quiltlet.

February Reading List

liquid watercolors at amyhoodarts.com

Liquid watercolors, ready to go to class Thursday afternoon.

So far the first week of March feels an awful lot like February, but at least there’s sunlight shining through those jars of liquid watercolors, right? It’s taking more effort than usual this year to combat the seasonal blues. February contained lots of sewing, which is not a bad way to cope. There was also reading. As always, books marked with an asterisk were especially enjoyed, but if a book’s on the list, I liked it well enough to finish it, which isn’t always the case.

My Year of Running Dangerously, Tom Foreman
The Watsons Go To Birmingham–1963, Christopher Paul Curtis *
The Girl From the Garden, Parnaz Foroutan *
Did You Ever Have a Family, Bill Clegg*
Happily Ever After, Jen Meyers
The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer *
My Name is Lucy Barton, Elizabeth Strout *
Seventh Heaven, Alice Hoffman *

Art Quiltlet: 8/52

Circles art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

I’m calling this “Circles” but I feel I could have called it Kitchen Sink, because I threw a lot in there. I started by printing some white dish cloth fabric with bubble wrap painted with black and red acrylic paint. Then I cut circles out of some plaid-ish Japanese cotton.

Circles art quiltlet in progress at amyhoodarts.com

I sandwiched my quilt layers before stitching on the circles, then changed to white thread for some free motion quilting practice. It’s kind of a meandering trail because I kept losing track of myself a bit, but the stitching is even, so I’m calling that a win. Then I sewed on some plastic netting, I believe from a box of clementines, that had been used for printing at some point and had mostly black paint on it. So some printing, applique, free motion stitching, and collage. It was fun to make. I’ve only made eight of these so far, but I seem to be moving back and forth between more planned ideas and just plain playing around. That’s a good mix for a creativity practice.

Short post today because I’m off to teach the first meeting of an after-school art enrichment class at my daughter’s elementary school. After getting dinner prep out of the way first thing this morning, I spent the rest of the day playing with my sewing machine and painting another sample for class, and soon I get to make art with some kids. Can’t complain–Thursday is pretty good.

Art Quiltlet: 7/52

This has been a jumbled-up week, with one scheduled and one unscheduled day off school, rescheduled appointments, and general unexpected upheaval. February is traditionally the hardest time of the year for me mentally, and we didn’t move far enough south for me to escape that. I’m struggling this year, but I’m gritting my teeth (literally; my jaw aches all the time) and holding out for spring. Meanwhile, I’ve spent all of my sewing time this week working on a quilt, so I decided Friday morning would be art quiltlet time.

"Grow Tall" art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

A little reminder…

I actually began this on Monday, when I printed one of my stamps onto linen. I used Speedball fabric block printing ink, which I really like (I like the smell too, so much), but it does take time to dry thoroughly. I decided to print some of my blocks and stamps to use in free motion practice. I’d really like to get good at free motion stitching, and it’s one of those skills that just takes practice, practice, practice. My bobbin tension is a wee bit off here, but I do see improvement.

free motion practice at amyhoodarts.com

practice, practice, practice

My sewing machine instruction book, by the way, says that presser foot should be locked in the up position for free motion quilting, but my machine hates that. The bobbin wheel jammed every time. So I’m leaving it down, because if the machine is happy, I’m happier. The machine and I, we are learning free motion stitching together.

I stitched ribbon over the raw edges. This isn’t a true binding–I didn’t miter the corners or anything fancy, just left raw edges and used a separate strip of ribbon for each side. I like that I have no rules for these quiltlets other than size and that they’re quilt sandwiches. I can do whatever the heck I want. I can leave raw edges. I can use something else to cover them. I can stick paper or plastic on these quilts. I’m self-taught (with the help of books and the internet) on just about everything, and I have no internal voice scolding, You can’t do that! That’s not done! I don’t know what’s not done. It’s very freeing.

And here’s a picture of the back, because I enjoy those behind-the-scenes looks and maybe you do, too.

"Grow Tall" art quiltlet, back, amyhoodarts.com

It’s not perfect. That’s okay! Practice practice practice, and spring is coming, thank goodness. Every year, it shows up.

Art Quiltlet: 6/52

Art Quiltlet, amyhoodarts.com

This week’s, called “There Are Layers,” is inspired by Valentine’s Day. All those perfect hearts, right? Don’t know about you, but mine is 42 years old and a bit battered and bruised, with tender bits protected by harder bits. This heart has four layers, sewn onto a scrap of denim. The bottom layer is a typical sweet Valentine’s fabric with hearts. The next one up is muslin with black acrylic paint sponged onto it. That one has a tear in it so the word “love” could show through. On top of that is some red netting from an onion bag, and finally some white tulle. I’ve been meaning to get some paint and non-fabric into these quiltlets so this is a start. Plus, you know, fun.

I kept the same bobbin in when I switched from red thread to black–here’s a picture of the back, because I think that peek behind the scenes is interesting.

art quiltlet, back, amyhoodarts.com

This one, you’d really need to hold in your hands to see the details, I think. I’m sort of surprised this is only the sixth one. January and February really do last forever, don’t they? Each week I wonder if I’ll have a hard time coming up with an idea but forcing your brain to be creative really does make it think more creatively. Love how that works. (Probably I’ve just cursed myself to have no ideas next week. We’ll see.)

Art Quiltlet: 5/52

Art quiltlet, amyhoodarts.com

This one is inspired by Matisse and his cutouts. My kids and I really studied Matisse while putting together Issue Five of Art Together, and I enjoy him so much. (You can sample a free excerpt of Issue Five, Drawing With Scissors, for ideas on exploring his cut-outs with kids.) One of the waiting rooms in which I spend time has a print of one of the cut-outs, and I decided to try a small one.

Unlike Matisse, I didn’t just take scissors and begin cutting; I drew my shape on paper and traced it onto fusible adhesive. I tried out a few pairings of complementary colors before settling on this one, and I matched thread to fabric so that the focus is on the shape with no distractions from contrasting thread. I decided to bind it for a finished look. I was undecided on quilting within the orange section and ended up leaving it. I’m still undecided.

I’m having so much fun with this little project. It’s good to have an assignment: every week, something must be done on a 6″ x 8″ “canvas.” And I’m enjoying using this medium of cloth and thread and seeing what I can do with it. It’s exciting.

Sewn: Music Box Jumper

oliver + s music box jumper at amyhoodarts.com

At the end of the summer, Oliver + S had a sale, so I sat at my laptop with my daughter and had her pick out a couple of patterns. She chose two, and said she’d like me to make this one, the Music Box Jumper, first. While it’s rated lowest in difficulty by Oliver + S, I disagree. It was going to be a skill-building pattern for me, and I’ve been sewing for more than seven years now. So when the pattern arrived, it sat. I ordered fabric for it (Lizzy House Chasing Butterflies in Forget Me Not), and still, it sat. I sewed many, many other things, organized my fabric a few weeks ago, and decided it couldn’t sit any longer.

I had not done a yoke with facing before this.

amyhoodarts.com

Yoke with facing, check.

I hadn’t done pleats, at least, not carefully measured box pleats and such. I’ve gathered skirts to a shirt to make a dress, but that’s not quite the same.

pleats. amyhoodarts.com

Pleats, check.

I have sewn French seams before, and I used them on the skirt of this dress, because after hiding everything in that yoke and facing, why leave any raw edges in the skirt? I had not, however, made buttonholes on my machine. I practiced, a lot. For days. The dress was in a holding pattern until the kids went back to school after a week of snow days and I could fully concentrate on those darn buttonholes. Red Panda (who gets lonely in my son’s room while he’s at school) lent his support.

button. amyhoodarts.com

Buttonholes with buttons, check. G chose the butterfly buttons. She chose well.

A view of the back of the dress, with six, count ’em six, buttonholes and buttons.

Music Box Jumper, back. amyhoodarts.com

And another closer view of some of the buttons because BUTTONHOLES.

buttonholes again. amyhoodarts.com

My daughter, at this point, mistakenly believes it’s just the normal thing, to have most of your clothes made by your mother, out of fabric and patterns you chose. Having her is a handy excuse, I guess. Look at the skills I’m gaining by sewing for her!

January Reading List

snowman at amyhoodarts.com

My daughter’s snowman.

My number of books read this month went down, by design. I wanted to be more balanced between consuming and producing; less reading, more making. My making list for January is pretty good, and I still read, so it’s working out so far. Asterisks denote books I particularly enjoyed, although if I finished a book, I enjoy it enough. (I gave up on one 100 pages in recently–it’s almost 400 pages long–because I just couldn’t take it anymore. It needed a better edit. It felt so self-indulgent on the author’s part, like he killed no darlings.)

This Must Be the Place, Kate Raccula (an accidental re-read)
The Sandcastle Girls, Chris Bohjalian *
Summerlong, Dean Bakopoulos
Shocking Paris: Soutine, Chagall, and the Outsiders of Montparnasse, Stanley Meisler *
Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay
In the Unlikely Event, Judy Blume *
The Art Forger, B. A. Shapiro (for February book club)