Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Week 4 - Tomatillo!

Today is the end of the 4th week of our 5 x 7 Artist Challenge and I completed my 2nd piece in my Salsa series: Tomatillo.  This was a little difficult to represent, as not everyone is familiar with these little green beauties.  They have a husk or outer skin that peels back to reveal a small green tomato-like fruit.  They're delicious fried up or made into their own salsa or green enchilada sauce.

I wanted to represent it both with the husk and showing the fruit inside, so I got a great photo of it with both. I started by hooping my photo which I'd printed on cotton sheets, and "painting" in the lightest areas of the picture.

I slowly worked with freehand embroidering the tomatillos, adding shading and overlapping thread colors to build up and merge the colors.  I didn't always have exactly the right color of thread, so by putting down a bit darker color and then adding lighter thread on top, the colors give more of the impression of a medium tone of the color I was trying to replicate.

One of the challenges of this piece is there doesn't originally seem like there is that much variation in color.  However, using slightly more shading than in the original photo can help with creating more of a sense of depth in the object.

The other thing which I handled differently in this embroidery is that I didn't applique or tack the leaves/husk of the open fruit down, so they become three-dimensional.  Once again, I added an additional 2 layers of batting in the body of each of the fruits, but the husk leaves stand out, as though you just peeled them open.

Here is the finished piece:
You may recognize a couple of the freemotion quilting elements from Leah Day's FreeMotion Quilting Project.  They are Square Spiral and Radio Static.

You might also be interested in:

5 x 7 Week 3- The
 Start of Salsa!
52 Week - 5 x7 
Challenge to Readers
Scope Creep

Want to see more great projects?  Check out these blogs:
My last week's project
(Tomato) was featured
Cool Airbrushing technique on Nina Marie Sayre's Art Quilting Blog

FreeMotion By the River

Quilt Story

Confessions of a Fabric Addict


Richard and Tanya Quilts

Freshly Pieced

Sew Much Ado!

Quilter's Reader's Garden

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Cathedral Visions - UFO

I'm working on getting my studio cleaned up, since I have a studio tour coming up... in April!  OK, maybe that seems like a lot of time, but I need it to be ready.  The studio tour is one way that we're raising money for the LaConner Quilt and Textile Museum through StashFest.  Different artists are offering studio tours which people can purchase as and "Insider Visit" at StashFest.  So I'm really motivated to get my studio in tip-top shape.

Cathedral Visions - designed and machine pieced
by Christina Fairley Erickson
Part of cleaning up is to go through my UFO's and figure out what I need to finish them off... or if I should even bother.  Sometimes a project just doesn't speak to you anymore.  If that's the case, let it go.  There are plenty of groups who make charity quilts who would love your unfinished bits and pieces.  It's quite a relief to give things away.  Give yourself permission to get rid of pieces that you really don't want anymore.  Many people are even selling partially completed items on eBay... then they can take their earnings and go get more fabric!

My original drawing from my photograph
So, here is today's UFO: Cathedral Visions.  I started this quilt for a show (Sacred Spaces) but didn't finish it on time... so it was put on a shelf and has sat there about 2 years.  It is completely machine pieced (not appliqued) and I made all the fabrics myself (hand-dyed and painted.)

Each section was numbered to cut out the pieces
I've done quite a bit of traveling and this comes from a photo of an inside of a cathedral which I took.  The values represent the darks from all the beams and shadows of the convoluted spaces, as well as the light coming through some stained glass windows.

I'm sure you can see the challenges this piece presented when looking at all those curves and sharp angles!

While I like this piece, I feel like it doesn't entirely work somehow.  I can't quite get my finger on it... I know that adding freemotion quilting will help it to a certain extent.  I'll be checking Leah Day's FreeMotion Quilting Project for inspiration.  

Detail view of Cathedral Visions
I'd love any comments, critique and feedback you might offer!

You Might Also be Interested In:

Curved Piecing Tutorial - 
Waterfall Quilt
Fireworks Freemotion 
Quilting Design
2013 - Artist 5 x 7 

For Wonderful Tutorials on FreeMotion Quilting and other quilting topics

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My 'Stitch Bible'

As part of taking Carol Ann Waugh's "Stupendous Stitching" class at Craftsy, I made what she calls a 'Stitch Bible' for my machine. Your stitch bible is a visual reference guide to all the stitches that your machine has available. When you make your stitch bible, not only should you show the stitch, but also you should adjust the length and width of the stitch, so you can see how the changes effect the look of the stitch. Sometimes you can get a completely different look with a stitch at different dimensions.

A page from my "Stitch Bible" for my Bernina 730 showing each row with
different settings for the length and width

Notes on each of the first three rows of stitches in above figure... if
the settings caused a problem, I notate that in Red
It's important to notate the length/width for each of the stitches you try, as well as if any of the settings don't work for that stitch.  My notes (I hand-write them when I'm sewing and then type them up afterwards) show the row number from left to right, the stitch number and description, the settings in order of how I changed on each stitch as I was sewing, and then any notes I made or thought of about the stitch.  For the settings, I always started with the default values for the stitch.  Notes might include how I think I could use a stitch.

Full sheet of the notes for the stitches above
I've placed all my Stitch Bible pages and samples within plastic sleeve protectors in a notebook, which I have within arm's length of my sewing machine.  (Sorry about the glare on the photos... I probably should have taken them out of the plastic sleeves before I shot the picture!) That way, if I want to add some sort of decorative element, I can thumb through the pages and get ideas of what might work well for the space.
Another page of stitches

This is how I chose the decorative stitching that I used in the background of my Tomato piece.  The extra-heavy Zig-Zag, thick lines at the bottom and triangle patterning are all decorative stitching from my machine.

If you're interested in playing around with the decorative stitching on your machine, I highly recommend Carol Ann Waugh's Craftsy Class.

You might also be interested in:

5 x 7 Week 3 - 
The Start of Salsa
Fireworks Freemotion 
Quilting Design
Making Fabric

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

5 x 7 Week 3 - The Start of Salsa!

Ryan Holdridge, Eagle Scout with Mom, Christina
First and foremost... every mother deserves some bragging rights.  Tonight, my son Ryan completed the final step and earned his Eagle Scout rank!  We've been on that journey since 2001, including my being a den leader and assistant scoutmaster.  Woo Hoo!!!

This week has been a bit of a push... Not only did I work on my UFO Waterfall quilt, I wanted to have my 5 x 7 Artist Challenge Piece be able to coordinate into the salsa quilt theme. I'm pretty excited about the result so far. I've decided to not finish the edges of these salsa blocks, since I will be piecing them together into a full quilt.

The process for making this started with a photograph of a tomato. Actually, I picked out photos for each of the nine items (tomato, onion, cilantro, peppers, tomatillo, lime, chili pepper, corn, and onion.). I then removed backgrounds and resized the photos to fit the 5 x 7 format in Photoshop. I then printed the photos (2 to each page) on COTTON from VV Prints -(add link and type of cotton).

Start of thread painting the tomato
I keep my thread sorted by color, rather than type, with the exception of metallics. Since I decided to start with the tomato, I pulled out a wide range of reds and oranges, changing in value from tangerine and pinks, through the true hues, up to dark maroons and deep rusts. I placed them in a line of values- light to dark, so it would be easy to pick out which colors would be next in shading.

I then hooped my tomato.  When you are doing machine embroidery, it's important to use stabilizer (I used two layers-one of  Pellon Stitch N Tear  the second OESD Heavy-weight cut-away Embroidery stabilizer) to help ensure you embroidery won't get misshapen. You also hoop opposite from the way you do with hand embroidery, so the fabric is laying along the bottom of the hoop, rather than across the top edge. This way the fabric is flush up against the sewing table.

"Tomato" stitched on marked background
I then started freemotion thread painting.  I layered colors, particularly where I wanted to blend shading. I generally try to start with areas that would be further away from the viewer and end with the places that would be closest, the help create a more 3-D effect.

After completing the tomato, I turned to the background on which it would be placed. I knew I waned to have the names of each fruit or vegetable printed out on the background, so I decided to try my friend's process for text (see note on how to do this with Marylee Drake's 'Celebration' quilt.) I picked  a fun Font to go along with the Salsa theme and stitched it onto the background.

Adding decorative stitching

Added freemotion quilting
Coloring edge of embroidery so it can be turned under
Next, I marked my background with a Dritz Fine Line Water Erasable Marking Pen - Blue to help keep my lines well-spaced.  I then added both machine decorative stitching and Freemotion quilting to the background that would accent and complement both the tomato and the Salsa theme.  For the Freemotion quilting, I turned to Leah Day's Freemotion Quilting Project and found a few designs that would give me the effect I wanted... To look like Mayan patterns. I decided on Square Shell (without filling in the small square), and a cross between Echo Maze and Circuit Board.

Turning edge under using Roxanne Glue Baste-It
Finally, i colored the edges of the white fabric around the embroidery using a Stained by Sharpie Brush Tip Fabric Markers before I hand appliqued the tomato onto the background.  I added two layers of batting between the embroidered tomato and the backing, with the first just slightly smaller than the size of the tomato, and the second a smaller oval, so it would help add a three-dimensional more rounded shape. I used Roxanne Glue Baste-It to help hold the edges under as I appliqu├ęd.

My completed 5 x 7 piece "Tomato"
The only step, other than finishing the edges, which I still need to decide whether to do or not is whether I'll paint in the lettering.  I've decided to hold off for now, as I want to test painting letters this size, before I try it on my finished piece.

This week my blog was featured on FreeMotion by the River!  Thanks, Connie!

You might also be interested in:

Current Works in 
Fitting my Challenge 
with Showing
2013 - The 5 x 7 
Artist Challenge

Check out these great blogs I've linked up with!

Freemotion by the River

Nina Marie Sayre Quilt Art

Confessions of a Fabric Addict


Richard and Tanya Quilts

Freshly Pieced- Work In Progress Wednesdays

Made by Me!

Quiltsy Check out the wonderful seed stitch info on their Jan 17, 2013 post.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Curved Piecing Tutorial - Waterfall Quilt

Last week I promised to get back to my UFO "Waterfall Quilt."  Well, I've made some progress with it:
Waterfall Quilt last week
Waterfall Quilt this week

One of the waterfall squares with
curved piecing
As you can see, I've added a couple rows (and I obviously need to get a larger design wall that my pieces can stick to!)  More importantly, I think, is that I removed pieces that I felt didn't really work, either due to the patterning of the material, or more likely, the color flow wasn't right.  Actually, now that I look at the photograph, I see a few other pieces that I'll probably switch out, since they don't have quite the right value. I call this my waterfall quilt as I wanted the curved pieces to make it feel like water trickling down, as well as the blues and greens to represent the water and surrounding forest.

I thought you might like to find out how I do the curved inserts which I'm working on adding to all the blocks. Believe it or not, it's a fairly simple process.  Certainly simpler than doing the video... so please excuse me if my videography needs a little perfecting!

For other interesting blogs and tutorials:

Check out how other quilters are finishing up their UFO's on Leah Day's Freemotion Quilting Project

Carol's portrait of Max, a yellow lab shows a great progression for doing a pictorial quilt.

You might also be interested in:

Fresh Poppy Design
Week 2 of the 5 x 7 
Artist Challenge
Fireworks Freemotion 
Quilting Design
How to Make a 
Knotted Blanket Stitch
Quilt Story's Block 
Tutorial Links

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Fitting my Challenge with Showing

My first week's piece for
the 5 x 7 Challenge
For those of you just tuning in, I not only have the 5 x 7 Challenge going on this year, where I make one 5" x 7" artwork each week, but I also actively show my fiber art work.  As the Exhibitions Co-Chair (along with Carolyn Hitter) of the Contemporary QuiltArt Association, I do all the planning and production of setting up exhibitions for our 100+ member group.  Currently, we have 19 members with work that will be shown in the Patchwork and Design Festival in both Rio de Janiero and San Paulo, Brazil.  The quilts have arrived there safely and in plenty of time, so my work there is pretty well done until it's time for the quilts to come home.

Our next exhibition which I'm working on will be at Mighty Tieton, an artistic community in Eastern Washington.  Since the surrounding area is particularly known for their produce and fruit production (in fact the gallery is in an old fruit processing plant!) and the community has a large Hispanic population, they asked for our theme to reflect this if possible.  We've named the exhibit "Salsa!" and hope to get member entries that will reflect this theme in numerous ways.

I'm faced with the difficulty of  putting in lots of hours into setting up, doing logistics, getting entries, jurying the quilts and art cloth, etc. and wanting badly to also participate in showing my artwork.  But creating a piece takes time... a commodity that I'm a bit shy on these days!  So, here's my plan... I thought what I could do is a coordinating 5 x 7 piece each week for 9 weeks, then put these together into a quilt.  I'm planning to do a thread-painting of the following fruits and vegetables:

  • tomato
  • onion
  • cilantro
  • lime
  • corn
  • tomatillos
  • peppers
  • avocado
  • chili peppers
Detail of quilt made from Guatemalan
fabric by artist Priscilla Bianchi
Then, each thread painting will be appliqued (probably with a bit of trapunto) to a quilted coordinating background.  I'm not sure about how they will all fit together yet, possibly with some of my hand-woven Guatemalan fabric, or even with machine-made lace.

What do you think?  I'd really love some comments on this idea... combining my 5 x 7 challenge with the Salsa exhibit seems to kill two birds with one stone, yet maintain the spirit of my challenge to create each week.

You might also be interested in: