Working With Different Fabric Types

I have almost finished my Ikebana/Sashiko quilt, and had some difficulties toward the end that were my own fault, but which reminded me that over the years I have learned a great deal about fabric properties and how to work with them to get results I want. Sometimes, I don’t succeed, but almost always it is because I skipped a step or substituted another technique to try it out.

In this case, I failed to back the border with the same fusible interfacing I backed the blocks with in the central section.  I thought I could get away with this because I was using a temporary spray adhesive attaching it to the batting.  It didn’t work.  The border stretched, the stitching looked horrible, and it wasn’t the machine’s fault.  I ended up cutting the border down to only 3/8″ wide plus the part to be covered by the binding.  Even the binding became very challenging at that point to get it on straight and true.  But I have succeeded, I think, although I still have to stitch down the back of the binding by hand.  If I had fused the interfacing to the border fabric, it might have had a very different outcome.  In the end, however, I think I like the narrow edge of green fabric better than the wider border would have been, even if I had succeeded in what I was trying to do.

This made me think to share this little chart I worked out for my own use that I think you may find interesting.  I leave it to you to determine brands and content of the stabilizers and interfacing.

Fabric chart

What do you think about this?  I’d love to hear from you.

Sew happy everyone.

Precision Broiderie Perse by Machine

Machine appliqueing with very narrow zig zag

Machine appliqueing with very narrow zig zag

My current quilt project includes a  broiderie perse Japanese flower arrangement (Ikebana).  I “painted” the flowers in Corel Painter 15 based on some Dover black and white drawings that I heavily edited. (See my post on painting the flowers).  Broiderie Perse flower arrangement appliques using printed flowers has been around since the 1700s.

I am using my technique for narrow stitching the raw edged appliques, and I thought I would just share with you how I set it up to be as precise as possible.

  • I set my zig zag stitch width to .9 (the blanket stitch would also work if it were set just as narrow and shortened).
  • I set my tension a little looser on top and thread my bobbin for embroidery.  This has to be done carefully and with a test to make sure that even though the top thread pulls to the back a little bit it doesn’t make the stitch come out unsecured.
  • I use my magnifying glass attachment
  • My needle is a 6.0/8 Microtex Superior Titanium
  • I use the 37D quarter inch foot for my Bernina 830 LE.  And yes, usually this foot is for straight stitching, but it will accept a zig zag width up to 1.1.  I like this narrow foot because it has an open toe, it holds the applique tight to the fabric while stitching, it has a mark at the back of the open toe that shows the precise center of the foot, and I can engage my machine’s dual feed mechanism, which helps the stitching to be more even.  If you don’t have this foot, I suggest your open toed embroidery foot instead.

 

37D foot in action

37D foot in action

  • I use a very thin thread–usually Kimono silk 100 weight or Bottom Line 60 weight–in a matching color to the edge of the applique.

I discovered if I use this setup and aim the edge of the applique right at that center-back mark on the foot, keeping the edge as close to centered in the foot as possible that it stitches precisely with the zig on the applique and the zag on the background fabric (doesn’t matter which side the fabric is on and which side the applique is on). Also, by doing this, I can tell exactly when I need to turn and how far.  There is a lot of turning in machine applique of flowers.

Stitching fairly slow to medium speed and trying to keep an even timing, produces the best most even stitch.

The result is very hard to see, but even under a magnifying glass it looks pretty.

I sometimes use monopoly using this very same setup only I use a universal Schmetz 7.0/10 needle for the monopoly.  I don’t know why, but it seems to keep it from misbehaving so much.  I don’t like working with monopoly because it is so lively and hard to see.  Still, sometimes it is the right thing to use, especially in something like this.

I printed off and cut out more flowers than I needed and arranged the flowers in place on the quilt, using Steam-a-Seam 2 so I could hand stick them down before I fused them in place.  I found I really could use a lot of the things I learned when I studied Ikebana even though the flowers were flat.

A side note: I have my fourth year certificate in Sogetsu Ikebana school that I obtained while living in Kanazawa, Japan.  My class was a group of three wonderful Japanese women and myself.  All three had lived in the United States and spoke English very well.  They taught me flower arranging, how to keep house in Japan, Japanese cultural items I needed to know, and a bit of Japanese.  I don’t think I could have managed life in Kanazawa without them.  There was much to learn.  This quilt is being made in their honor.

Sew happy everyone.  Try some broiderie perse precision applique by machine in your next quilt project.

 

Peppered Ikebana Quilt: Putting It All Together

OK all…I have made all the appliques (sort of) and am ready to put them onto the Sashiko background.  I must confess, the background came out so pretty I am sorry to cover some of it with the moon and Ikebana arrangement, but it is going to look fabulous….at least I think it will.  I embroidered the whole thing because I wasn’t sure exactly where I wanted the Ikebana arrangement, and the Ikebana arrangement ended up fighting with the background, so I am adding a larger moon than I originally intended.

flower 5 for applique_001

I worked it all out with paper cutouts and have just printed the flowers onto Electric Quilt Printable fabrics.  They came out vibrant and beautiful.  I still have to back the flower prints with fusible web and cut them out carefully.  I did finish the moon from Peppered Cotton and the Japanese Ikebana Vase from an interesting piece of what I believe to be hand dyed silk dupioni that I purchased some years ago from the old G Street Fabrics remnants table.

placement for the moon...the moon will cover all the blocks behind it.

placement for the moon…the moon will cover all the blocks behind it.

Sew I hope all my friends on Facebook that “liked” my picture of the background will still like the quilt when they see how much of the background is covered with the appliques.   Even though I kind of regret covering/removing those blocks, I think the result will be worth it.  What do you think?

And about another thing….Almost no one ever comments on my blog.  I would really love to hear from you.  Please feel free to comment.  I only remove the obvious spam that occasionally shows up.

Sew happy everyone!!!

 

Digitally Painting Flowers for Appliques

I have been making some progress on my Sashiko/Ikebana quilt. I got the blocks all embroidered with the Sashiko, cut and stithed together for the background, and I made the moon applique and turned the edge around a freezer paper template using starch, so it’s ready to applique. The next thing is making all the other appliques.

I looked through my stash and decided I did not want to use commercial fabrics for my broiderie perse appliqued flowers. I also found a wonderful set of line drawings on Dover Pictura, but they needed a lot of editing to make them work for outlines for my painted flowers.  So I thought I would tell you a little about how I approached that editing and painting. This is a very brief look..there is more to it, but the blog gets so long. Please ask questions if you want to know more.

I have found that a lot of line drawings you can find that are either copyright free or royalty free (that make them useable for my purposes) have lots of things that interfere either with digital painting or with digitizing for embroidery, but they are fairly easy to edit.  It does take time, though.  I use a combination of Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter 15 for this, but I could probably manage it in just one or the other.  I have found though that the combination gives me a very powerful setup, especially when I added Corel Draw and Bernina V7 to that mix. Then I can potentially use the same line drawing for fabric painting and for digitizing embroidery.  But for this project, you can probably do it all in most drawing packages.

First some of the drawings need to be a little simplified…removing dots, for instance, using the eraser tool.  So I start with Photoshop and edit the line drawings:

Preparing a line drawing

Then I make sure all the shapes have no “leaks” or gaps, using a narrow line drawing brush.

Editing a line drawing 1

Then I move it into Corel Painter 15 for the painting.  (Note, I save the outline as a .tif file and as a .jpg, and I use the .tif for the painting). I start by filling the shapes with color using the paintcan fill tool.  After I do that, I will add some highlights and lowlights using one of the digital air brush tools, and I might do some blending with the blending brush tools.  In some cases, I need to add some texture with some of the texture brushes,, as I did in the center of the blue flowers below.  I left the lines black because I think it looks good for fabric prints.  I will probably use the lines for stitching lines.

flower 4 for applique-a_003

 

But sometimes I just color the drawing with only minor editing.  In the drawing below, I filled all the lines in dark green (this requires care…just to touch inside the line so the lines go green and nothing else does).  I filled the leaves as much as possible (the spaces are very small) with the light green and then painted in the rest of colors using the scratch board brush.  I did not do any highlighting  or blending on the one below because the line drawing was so complex.

flower 5 for applique_001

Colors have to be more intense on the screen so they will print well on fabrics. If you try a paper print and it looks right, it’s probably too light. I can print an 11 x 17 inch fabric on my printer.  It will print larger, but I would have to prepare the printable fabric myself.  I get the 11 x 17 and 8.5 x 11 sheets from Electric Quilt.  After I print them with my ink jet printer, heat set, rinse, and iron dry it seems to be fairly permanent and washable.  So I print it and set it and then iron the fusible web on the back and carefully cut it out.  I do stitch the edge after ironing it in place.  Sometimes I use only a tiny straight stitch with 10o wt silk thread or with monopoly.  Sometimes the edge of the cut fabric shows a little white, and I use India ink markers to color the edges if needed.  This also needs to be heat set to make it washable.

It amazes me how far digital paint programs have come.  I especially love Corel Painter 15, but it really took me a lot of time before I began to really use the great features of this program.  I found some you tube videos by several of the digital painter experts that have helped me a lot.  One of the cool things about this is that I can resize the flowers, reverse print them, and print them all..then I have a lot of flowers without having to paint more.

Sew happy everyone! Try a little digital painting for fabrics.

 

Putting Aside a Bogged Down Project to Draft a New Sea Themed Quilt

tatum-detail-waiting-AQSI got bogged down on designing my deep forest quilt with woodland creatures. I won’t abandon it, but will put it aside for a while. So I have decided after some encouragement from my friends and family to make another waiting-at-seaside quilt as quilt 2 in the clipper ship/sea series.

I think the original Waiting… has been my most popular quilt as far as positive comments from people…not so much from judges. This time I am planning to pay particular attention to the details of the clipper ship and to the family member(s) waiting for their loved one to return from sea, and greatly narrow or eliminate the borders. If I can successfully digitally paint a nineteenth century woman and child looking out to sea in anticipation, I will use them. This will again be my own original artwork except for the clipper ship.

Here’s how I approach a new wall art quilt that I am making in cotton (the silk based quilt process is different:

  1. I get an idea and lightly draw up a design concept on paper or in Corel Painter 15
  2. I put it aside a day or two and start hunting for royalty free images for elements I am going to need a reference image for drawing…in this case the clipper ship.
  3. I paint the elements for fabric prints…in this case the family member(s) waiting at sea side and the detailed drawing of the clipper ship.
  4. I then put the idea together in Corel Painter 15 and save it as both a .rif and a jpg.
  5. I take it to Corel Draw and size it to full size.   Corel Draw will automatically separate the pattern into printable sized sheets…usually I use 11 x 17 inch paper for this.
  6. I print it out and tape it together, providing me a full-sized pattern to work from.
  7. I crop out the elements that need to be printed on fabrics…in this case the family member(s) waiting at sea side or just their faces and hands, depending…and take the full sized element back to Corel Painter 15 to reference for matching the .rif format size and finalize the digital painting in the correct sizes.  I intensify the saturation by 25 percent and save as .rif or tiff file, which have fewer printer problems than jpg, and print these parts on fabric.  I have been known to send it through the ink jet printer twice, lining it up carefully, with very good results, and thoroughly saturating the fabric with the inks.  I then iron it to heat set it, rinse it in really hot water a couple of times, wring it out with a towel, and iron it dry.  This removes excess ink and makes it reliably permanent.   If it makes it too light, I will print another piece after raising the saturation level another ten percent. Occasionally, I will touch it up with real fabric ink and heat set again.
  8. In this case, I will paint the sky with Setacolor fabric inks…so I get some prepared-for-dye fabric, which I lay flat and spray with water, and wash paint it with the watered down fabric inks.  I heat set and hot rinse and iron it dry like I do with the printed fabrics.
  9. I prewash all the other fabrics involved.  I spray starch and iron everything before I start to construct the top.
  10. I then set about putting it together, confident that all the fabrics are washable and I can lightly wash and block the finished quilt before I bind it.
  11. Note that I use Crayola washable markers on the washed and starched fabrics to mark the top as I go.  It has always always come out in the blocking process for all my cotton quilts even if I iron over it.

I love clipper ships, and I plan on doing careful applique, trapunto work on the sails, and detailed stitching for the ship’s rigging. I am on the hunt for just the right royalty free picture of a clipper ship to base my quilted ship on. Copyright is always an issue when I am using someone else’s artwork or photography even as an inspiration for part of my quilts. Fortunately, I have a lot of resources for clipper ships that are royalty free now. it’s a matter of finding the right one and then redrawing it as a pattern for me to use.

I see a whole long series of historic ships, storms at sea, and waiting at sea side drama in my future. I plan on addressing some of the issues highlighted by judges for Waiting… as I reach for a higher level of quilt making.

Meanwhile, I am making progress on embroidering the Sashiko on the Peppered Cotton for my Ikebana quilt, which is kind of an ode to my years of living in Kanazawa, Japan and studying Ikebana. The biggest challenge of this quilt will be the Ikebana applique arrangement. The background is going to be simple embroidered and printed fabric blocks based on a five inch grid. Some of the blocks are 10 x 10, some 10 x 5, and the rest 5 x 5 arranged after embroidery and cutting on my design board. And I’m still working on my books.

Sew happy everyone…Hoping you have some fun in your sewing space today.

Painted borders

I have had a lot of questions about how I did the borders on Canterbury Silk and Canterbury Knight. Here’s a brief little description in case you’d like to try it.  First of all, here is the list of supplies:

  1. Black Radiance…sandwiched and quilted in the pattern you wish to paint.  I quilted mine with Superior Magnifico gold thread.  It looks almost metallic, and it absorbs the paint if you want to cover it in places.  Real metallic paints also work, but the stitching is harder to cover. (I like to cover the central parts of the flowers and leaves, and leave the edges unpainted).
  2. Paint used:
  3. Q-tips:  When dipped in water and rung out with your finger tips a little, these make an fairly adequate eraser if used within a few minutes.
  4. Small flat good quality brushes
  5. Water with brush washer:  Here is a list:  http://www.dickblick.com/categories/brushwashers/

Look at this close up detail of some of my border:  The leaves were first painted bronze metallic color, then I used two layers of different greens after that to get a more natural looking leaves.  I did similar layers for depth of color on all the rest of the swirls and flowers.  Then I painted the red peppers, red swirl areas, and gold swirls with gold glitter finish (it goes on kind of milky in color and it dries clear.  I used silver glitter finish on the blue swirls and flowers.  After it had all dried a couple of hours or more, I heat set it.  In this  case, I turned it upside down onto a soft towel and steamed it from the back without resting my iron too hard on the quilt because I wanted that trapunto-like texture to stay in place.  Coincidentally, I used this steam press to block the quilt at the same time since I did not wash these quilts after completion.

Corner detail

Corner detail

You can also see there are other painted items on Canterbury Knight, like the birds and the music boy.

Canterbury Knight Complete

Canterbury Knight Complete

 

I talked about those, which I inked on white prepared for dye silk, in my earlier  blogpost here:  https://blog.bjfabricartist.com/2015/02/canterbury-knight-painting-fusible-appliques/

Sew there you have it. That’s how I prepared my painted borders for both Canterbury quilts.  I am planning at least one more in the Canterbury series and I will likely use this technique on other quilts too.

Sew happy everyone!  Have fun in your creative space.  Cheers!

In My Studio on This Good Friday

On this quiet Holy day, I have been spending time in my studio working on digitizing an embroidery design and also doing some practice on ruler work at my domestic Bernina 830 LE.

The result of today's little digitizing practice in Bernina v7 embroidery software.

My little digitizing practice in Bernina v7 embroidery software.

I bought a ruler foot by an an Australian company Westalee and a #77 Bernina adapter foot so I actually have a ruler foot.

Ruler foot assembly

Ruler foot assembly

I borrowed some longarm rulers from my daughter-in-law, Beth, to see how this works.

Just a few of the handful of rulers Beth loaned me.

Just a few of the handful of rulers Beth loaned me.

 

I will be making a second video sometime this week using these rulers and this foot.

I learned a few things about this.

  • I really needed something on the ruler to make it grab and hold the foot.  I put some small squares of that spongy shelf paper backed with double sided basting tape in a couple of places on each ruler, careful not to cover up an important line or intersection.
  • I tried both with and without my supreme slider, and found the slider was a must to make it work well.
queen sized supreme slider taped down at my machine with blue painters tape.

queen sized supreme slider taped down at my machine with blue painters tape.

  • Beth loaned me one ruler that was thicker than than 1/4 inch and I found this would run into the screw on the adapter part of the foot assembly and make the ruler scoot out of alignment, but the normal quarter inch long arm ruler works just fine.
  • I found the smaller, shorter rulers are much easier to use than longer bigger ones, and I only have one of her small-medium ones.  She can use a much bigger ruler on her longarm.
  • I need practice, but I like the way this is heading.  The loan of her rulers has really helped me determine what I need to buy in the future (I have to give them back…LOL).

I have a vast collection of classical music, and some of it I’ve loaded onto my little Nano, which I listen to while I work.  Today I chose some appropriate and beautiful music for Good Friday.  It has so far been a blessed day, except my water heater has stopped heating water and we are waiting for the plumber rather than going to church.  They said he may come as late as midnight!  So be it.  It is still Good Friday and a blessed day.

Sew happy everyone.  Try some new technique for your creativity this week to celebrate Easter and spring.  Cheers!

Canterbury Knight…At the quilting stage finally

I finally got to the quilting stage on my Canterbury Knight, and am having a lot of fun on it.  I just haven’t yet decided how I am going to quilt the grassy parts.  The castle is done and looks like a castle, instead of a white silhouette of a Disney castle. 🙂  LOL  Here it is about half-way through the quilting of the little castle.  I spent a ridiculous amount of time on this small part of my quilt.

Using my Bernina BSR with Superior 100 wt silk on top and Bottom Line in the bobbin.

Using my Bernina BSR with Superior 100 wt silk on top and Bottom Line in the bobbin.

 

I quilted the roofs of the castle in dark gray, and then I inked in the windows and the roofs with medium gray.  It looks pretty good, but it made the roofs too close in value to the sky fabric.  I don’t know if I will do anything about that.  Not sure what I can do.  I like it a lot as it is, but I think the judges will think there is not enough contrast.  The towers are all still white, though, so that may be sufficient.

For those of you with Berninas and BSRs, you may be interested in my settings (sewing slowly):

For the castle:  100 wt. silk thread, 70 titanium top stitch needle, 2.75 top tension, Bottom Line 60 wt poly in the bobbin threaded for embroidery, 2.0 stitch length.  I then changed to 40 wt (set like sky settings below) gray and re-outlined the towers, and did roof tiles like tiny clam sells.  After that was done, I did the inking.

For the sky:  40 wt. polyester Superior Rainbow, 90 titanium top stitch needle, 2.5 top tension, Bottom Line 60 wt. poly in the bobbin threaded for embroidery, 2.10 stitch length.  I did the wind roses from this practice piece:

Practice for the sky and water

Practice for the sky and water

I still haven’t decided what to do with the grassy parts, and since the marks on the black border are really disappearing, I think I will move on to that next.

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to cook or sew…your grandson, your son, your husband, your father.  Share the fun.

Canterbury Knight: Inking fusible appliques

Some of the border items on my Canterbury Knight quilt need to be created off quilt and appliqued on, as opposed to painting directly onto the border.   Sew I had an idea to just take the item, cut it out of the full sized print version (digitally, using Corel Draw), and reverse it, and print it onto some fusible web with the protective paper still on it.  Originally, I was going to just iron it onto some appropriately colored pieces of cotton/silk Radiance and applique them on.  But when I got the printout (in color), I decided to put the web onto prepared-for-dye radiance and see if I could ink in the designs.  This is how it worked:

1.  Here is my design printed onto the 8 1/2 x 11 inch fusible web piece.  It is sitting on my light box.

DSCN0075

 

2.  Sew then I ironed it onto the radiance, turned it over, and taped it all to the light box.  I also found a small piece of the black silk, that I would be appliqueing it to, in order to place it under the white PFD radiance and test how the inks looked before I inked it.

Working on the boy musician who is announcing the arrival of the knight to the castle.

Working on the boy musician who is announcing the arrival of the knight to the castle.

 

Here is another one ready to ink.

I think of this character as "the angry bird" in the border.  He's fun.

I think of this character as “the angry bird” in the border. He’s fun.

And then I begin the inking.  Note that I went over the line in a few places and some of  the edges are a little smudgy, because the inks run a little more on the Radiance than they do on cotton.  It’s ok, the edges will be cut smoothly or outlined with quilting.  Pressing with a hot dry iron will stop the run.

Inking

Inking

Here are the small birds I placed around the text box.  These were the first ones I did this way.

My painted birds ready to applique

My painted birds ready to applique, their feet will be added after appliqueing.

And here you see the completely inked boy.  I cut him carefully out.  The bright colors get slightly muted when appliqued onto the black fabric.

DSCN0085

 

I used Pitt’s Artist Markers.  These markers are India inks, acid free, and appear to be permanent on cotton after heat setting.  i am not planning to wash this quilt at all, so I have not tested the colorfastness through the washing process for the silk/cotton.  I had noticed a note on Dick Blick’s where I order my markers from that they are not recommended for fabrics.  This concerned me, since I have been using them for years on my fabric arts.  So I wrote to Faber Castell and asked them why.  This was their response the very next day:

“Dear Ms. Tatum:

Thank you for your interest in Faber-Castell and the Art & Graphic Brand.

PITT Artist pens are not intended to be used on fabrics that are laundered because it will not remain on all fabrics when washed.  Therefore, testing is always recommended, depending on different variables some things work, some don’t.   Could you tell me how you are heat setting them, as this helps them endure a washing?

Please let me know if I can assist any further as I will surely do my best to help.”

 

I will say that I usually use prepared for dye fabrics for inking, but not always.  I always heat set the inking with steam.  If it is silk, I turn it over onto a piece of fine cotton and heat set from the back.  I have washed several of my cotton quilts with Pitt Artist Markers several times, and some of them have been around nine years now with no fading or running.  If you plan to use this product, do your own tests please.

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to quilt or sew…your grand kids, your grown kids, your young kids, your cat, your dog…Cheers!

 

 

Canterbury Knight: How to Make a Horse’s Tail

Stitching the appliques

Stitching the appliques

After stitching down the appliques, I did some free motion embroidery to make the tail, but it looked like a ghost tail, both because it did not have enough contrast from the background fabric and because it did not have enough stitching.  If I did any more it would have pulled the fabric too much.

The ghost tail

The ghost tail

So I decided to layer a new tail over the existing one by stitching one on black bridal veiling.  I layered two layers of washaway clear stabilizer, on which I had drawn the outline of the tail I needed to make, and covered it with the veiling.  Then I put this in my springform embroidery hoop, set up my machine for free motion stitching,

the setup

the setup

stitching independent tail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and stitched a new tail using two different Superior Rainbow threads.

two rainbows

two rainbows

And then I trimmed the veiling applique, soaked off the stabilizer and appliqued the new tail over the old one, using a few more free motion lines similar to those on the tail.  I had to remove only a few stitches from the original ghost tail that did not add to the shape and were outside the appliqued veil tail.  Voila!  A new tail any appliqued horse could be proud of!  😀

Horse with newly groomed tail

Horse with newly groomed tail

In the process, my little faithful Nikon Coolpix 600 pocket camera that I have used for at least a decade now died.  The motor that runs the lens focus appears to be the culprit.  It would cost me almost as much to repair it as to replace it, if it even could be repaired.  I have carried that little light pocket camera almost everywhere I went since I retired.  I use it to keep records of my work, and to make the photographs for this blog. The picture above of the rainbow threads is the last picture it ever took. (Insert “Farewell to my little camera” aria here–those of you who are opera buffs will understand this reference).  So I have to use my lovely big Nikon D200 camera that is kind fo heavy, and definitely not a pocket camera, until I replace it.  Thank the Lord I have a camera though.

Additionally, I have joined the fun with Ricky Tim’s 52 week photography class.  It is decidedly going to be a challenge for me, and my goal is to come out at the end with some fun photographs, but mostly to really learn to use my camera for artistic purposes.

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to sew or quilt or take a picture.  God bless you all!