Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Making of BFF BELLES

This little art quilt (8 1/2 x 11 ") was inspired by this picture of two BFF's. They are children (teenagers) of the cyber age, living on their iPhones/Pads/Pods etc.; but on this day they were being presented in a very traditional manner as ambassadors/hostesses for their community. One is the daughter of our good friends and the other is her best friend since childhood. I just loved this picture and kept going back to look at it for weeks.

 Some time ago, I had been gifted with some 3" designers'  sample squares of silk and had been "saving" them for just the right project. I thought this might be the one.

I used Photoshop Elements 8 to first convert the photo to black and white, crop it, and enlarge the image a bit. Then I used the "find edges" filter to get clear outlines of the girls. I used a fine point sharpie to outline the girls and all the elements of their dresses.

I then traced each element separately onto parchment paper. At this point I need to back up and tell you that there was A LOT of "Mistyfusing" involved in this project. I love "Mistyfuse" and would be non-functional as an art quilter without it. It is a very fine fusible web that absolutely does not change the hand of your fabric. You can check it out by clicking here.  All of my little fabric swatches were pre-fused before being cut into one inch squares or other shapes. I forgot to take pictures of that process.

I placed the swatch of fabric with the "mistyfuse" on the back, fused side down on top of the pattern piece I had traced on the parchment paper, then pressed again. The tracing of the pattern piece was transferred to the back of the fabric by the mistyfuse . Then all I had to do was use some small, sharp scissors to cut the piece out and it was ready to be added to the whole.

Mistakes were made. Ahem. Some proportions or colors just did not work. I learned that silk changes colors dramatically in different lights. This dress, for example, just did not work.

The next step was to assemble the girls by fusing all the elements together on a "Goddess Sheet" which is a teflon sheet sold by my friends at "Mistyfuse". It protects your ironing board and serves as a release paper so that whatever is fused on top of it can be easily removed. It is a wise idea to have another sheet between your iron and whatever you are fusing to keep your iron clean. (It also works to use parchment paper as a release paper.) The figures can then be lifted as a whole unit off the release surface to fuse onto the background.

For the background, I used a favorite technique of the "Rebel Quilter" aka Jamie Fingal. I cut my pre-fused fabric into one inch squares and began building the background. Yes, tweezers were involved. When I had the background assembled, I picked up the girls and put them in place. Then, fused everything to a piece of wool blend felt.

Now, time for quilting. First, I outlined the girls and each element of their dresses for a "raw edge" appliqué. Next came the free motion quilting beginning in the middle with the sky and working out. The last step was the hand beading on the dresses. I do not have pics of those processes..sorry.

But here you can see results of the free motion quilting.

Here is a detail shot of the quilting.

 At this point, I added another piece of felt for backing and ran a tiny zig-zag stitch around the edge of all three layers for finishing. I trimmed the pink background so that only a tiny sliver showed because I did not want it to overwhelm the piece. 

I love this little quilt and everything about it even if I did do it. I also love the fact that the girl's dad cried when I showed it to him.

Monday, May 21, 2012


I am very honored to have my quilt "Here's to Strong Women" included in the Rituals exhibit curated by Jamie Fingal and Leslie Tucker Jenison of the Dinner at Eight Artists.

The ritual I chose to interpret is the toast I lead every year when our group gathers for fun and fellowship in Houston at IQF (or any place else for that matter).    
Here's to Strong Women
May we raise them.
May we know them.
May we be them.

There were a couple of times when I really did not think I would would make the deadline. A case of pronounced of procrastination was my first offense. Then in my normal fashion, revised my design at least twice. THEN, just when I was thinking, "OK, I've got it now." I got really sick and was non functional for at least four weeks. This required another design detour as I knew I could never finish my original plan.

THEN, after I decided to plow ahead, I was presented with the necessity of getting way too well acquainted with my machine's "private parts."

With a lot of encouragement from and support from dear husband and some good friends, I did, in fact cross the finish line, which was pretty much all I was hoping for at that point. I was truly thrilled when my quilt "made the cut".

Here are a couple of pictures of my "studio" aka the dining room. These were taken early in the process. Toward the end, there was another large table in there and very little empty space anywhere.

The Rituals exhibit will debut at the International Quilt Festival in Long Beach July 26-29, 2012 and is

 sponsored by Moore's Sewing Centers. 

It will also be shown at the International Quilt 

Market (Oct 27-29) and Festival (Oct 31-Nov 4) and is sponsored by Havel's Sewing.