Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Getting Started may be the hardest part

When I first discussed my 52 week 5" x 7" challenge here on this blog, I really didn't think much beyond my desire to get myself in the practice of creating and being accountable to do my work each week to my readers.  However, since then I've recognized that many of you also may have the same issues as I:  not enough time, too many competing demands for the little time we have, the desire to develop ourselves as artists, and the big one... fear of failure.

Well, I've made the commitment and have extended the invitation and I hope you'll join me in going for the challenge!  I admit I'm a little ahead, as I started my first week's piece back in early December.   I finished up my freehand machine embroidered Zebra over the holidays and today I spent my studio time making a "pillowcase binding", practicing micro-stippling, and starting the quilting for the piece.

I was inspired this last week when I went to the LaConner Quilt and Textile Museum and saw a piece there that was made by Cathy Erickson (no relation, but she's also a member of CQA.)  Cathy's quilt on display had won the best machine quilting for the LaConner International QuiltFest last October, and it's no surprise.  Cathy has some of the most beautiful micro-quilting that I've ever seen.  If you're not aware of micro-quilting, it is quilting designs in miniature... almost microscopic.  Lines may be as close as 1/16" apart.  In general, you need to use lighter weight threads to get this incredible lace-like effect.

To get some practice, I started with one of my favorite blogs, Leah Day's Free Motion Quilting Project and found her instructions and video on Microstippling.  I did a sampler using Leah's instructions and then made several samples of micro-quilting, using different pattern ideas... one with a squared edge stipple, one like grasses, one irregular stripes (like the zebra) and another grid pattern.  I looked at each of them alongside my zebra and then chose one for my quilting background.  Which one do you think I picked?  Tune in next week....

I also found from Leah's site a wonderful blog which shares work in progress each Wednesday.  It's called "Freshly Pieced".  Make sure to check it out!

Tonight I spent a little time thinking about my next design.  As you may know, I've had windmills and the Moulin Rouge on the brain for many years.  Since the late 19th century, the Moulin Rouge has been an inspiration for artists.  It has symbolized the bohemian lifestyle and served as a gateway to Montmartre, the neighborhood in Paris where writers, artists, and philosophers congregated.  Most notably, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec captured many scenes of the Moulin Rouge in the 1890's, helping to assure its fame through his lithographic posters.   Most people are familiar with the Can-Can, a dance popularized at the Moulin Rouge.  My quilt pictured here is the exterior of this famous windmill (Moulin in French) at night, from a photo I took in Paris in 2009.  The reader board image, freehand machine embroidered, of "120 ans" is celebrating the 120th anniversary of continuous operation of the infamous nightclub.

So, I was playing around with colored pencils and here is my potential for next week's 5x7 challenge.  I'm thinking of doing the four areas in between the windmill blades in two pieced groups of complementary colors (blue & orange, violet & yellow). I'm still considering how I want to do the windmill blades.

I think getting started is the hardest part... I feel a little bit of trepidation about whether I'll be able to sustain my production or not.  Anyone else sharing this fear?  I can't wait to see what you create!


  1. You are absolutely right. I'm scared to death of even trying this kind of thing. There is a part of me that would LOVE to do this, but ...

    ...[sigh]... No question that the yes, buts will get you every time.

    1. I can sure understand. We all have demands competing for our time, whether it is family, friends, or things you want or need to do. You're welcome to join in when you can or make it a lessor goal of sharing a certain number of 5x7 pieces (such as one very two weeks or one a month.)

  2. What a great idea for a challenge - I'll have to link up to that in my blog and spread the word. I find so many great ideas and fun projects to follow while "blog surfing."

  3. Wow! that's amazing. I love microstippling, only tried a few times while doing Leah Day's Quilt Along last year.

    Can't wait to see your completed piece.

  4. I love the zebra, looking forward to seeing it when it is complete