Maker’s tote II {a finish}

MakersToteLarge_Front
I finally have my own maker’s tote (a noodlehead pattern) and its the large version of it. You may remember a couple of months ago I shared some tips on making a maker’s tote. At that stage I had finished a small maker’s tote (which I gifted) and I was 3/4 through making this one.
MakersToteLarge_Back

I have finally added the binding and the handles, which was all that was really left to finish. I added a bright pink binding to pull out the pink in the insects and natural Essex yarn-dyed linen handles that match the zipper covers (in the inside part of the bag).

The only additional  problem area I had while finishing this one up, was actually catching all the layers when I sewed in my gussets. I missed lining in some areas.  Next time, I think I may glue the lining to the edges of the top as well.  Luckily, I discovered this in time,  before stitching on the binding, so I could unpick and re-stitch areas while sewing on the binding.

MakersToteLarge_Inside

The bag is a success. I have already used my bag for a quick overnight business trip. I used it actually for my change of clothes and toiletries and it worked great!! I love my new bag, highly recommend it to anyone who wants to make one.

 

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Safari Moon Fractal Quilt {a finish}

Last month, I was digging around my WiP pile and found a finished 60 x 60″ quilt top. This is one of my early quilts from 2014, and one of a few made from a pattern. The pattern is Fractal from the book Quilt Lab.

Safari_Fractal_QuiltTop_Complete

I made a decision last year, that if I did not have a quilting plan for myself to execute on, it was ok to send quilts off to my LQS for long-arming. That is what I did with this one. I dropped it off to Cary Quilting Company, decided on an edge to edge Baptist fan design and ~$90 later (includes batting) I have a finished quilt.

SafariMoonFractalBack

It was perfect timing too, as a friend’s daughter just turned one, and she is now a proud owner of her own quilt.

SafariMoonFractalQuilt

I did find it interesting reflecting on where I started to where I am now, but relieved to say that this is off my WiP pile.

Details

Name: Safari Moon Fractal
Design:
Fractal from Quilt Lab (Alexandra Winston)
Fabric: Safari Moon, Frances Newcombe, Art Gallery Fabrics + Variety of solids
Backing: Tula Pink Free Fall wide back
Binding: Utopia, Frances Newcombe, Art Gallery Fabrics
Dimensions:  60 x 60″
Quilted: Baptist Fan @ Cary Quilting Company

 

 

 

 

Straight line quilting

I have to say I am a huge fan of my domestic machine walking foot and straight-line quilting. Its my preferred quilting technique, when choosing a quilt design for my quilts, which are mostly minimalistic in design. I do find it so versatile.

Neighbourhood_Finished_Front_Closeup

I hear so often from folks how easy it is or how quick it is to do straight-line quilting. The comment of easy or quick sometimes irks me, as it lessens the effort and design thought that can be required for quilting straight lines. So, I am going to respectfully disagree that its easy and quick. Here’s my view-point on straight-line quilting, keep in mind everything below are my experiences and I only use a domestic machine for quilting:

  • For long lines – it is not easy keeping that line straight. There is a skill involved in creating those straight lines even when using a guide. I tend to use 1/2 inch quilted lines or smaller, as I can use by foot as a guide. NegativeCrosswalks_Closeup_label
  • You are constantly checking and re-checking lines to make sure they are straight. This means every few lines taking the quilt out of the machine, measuring, remarking your guidelines. I use painter’s tape and a ruler every 4-5 inches or so, make sure I don’t go too far before correcting if some skewness appears. Most quilters will have a tendency to go right or left as they quilt their lines.  Funny enough, I have an issue of bowing where the center gets warp but my ends are in line.
  • What if your lines to not go edge to edge? I don’t always plan to submit my quilts to a show but just in case, I always try to bury my threads. This is different that most FMQ designs that can be used more continuous motion. I have been known to spend 8-15 hours in just burying threads, after starting lines from the inside and making my way out, ensuring my quilting does not cause any puckering on the front or back of the quilt.
  • Lastly, I want the quilt design to add interest to the quilt and complement the quilt. The quilting for me is not usually the main focus but I do put a lot of thought into this aspect of the overall design. Choosing straight-line quilting, for me, is not just an after thought. Here are some examples where I hope you can see that.
    Fractions
    Fractions: 1 inch quilting of straight-lines. All thread was matched. Design was to make the inner square (on point) as one shape, as the corners of the lines converge where the triangles all meet. The outer quilting lines are color matched with the originating quilting lines, and the lines extend to through the border incorporating the border into the overall design.

    Sunday Best: Variety techniques of straight line quilting was used to provide interest in the various shapes. In the orange peel like block 1/2 inch straight line and crosshatch was used. This was to pull the focus to the various layers and centers of the 4 curved blocks.

    Abstract Trio _1

     


    Abstract Triangle I: A variety of 1 inch and 1/4 inch lines were used to highlight the triangular aspects to the design. The 1/4 inch quilting, in particular, was denser on the negative space here as it is used to pull aspects of the other two designs into this design – The straight lines on the left in the first image above, and the edge of the pink triangle in the second image.Spoonflower Sampler Quilt
    Spoonflower Sampler: 1 inch straight line angled quilting. The goal for this angled quilting was all the lines point and meet at the centered square of the middle block of the bottom row. Pulling the eye from the center and giving it some movement.

    AltitudinalEcosystem_HighRes_Brand

     


    Altitudinal Ecosystem: Used a variety of straight lines depending on the substrate I was quilting. The 1/2 inch straight lines were used for the mountain to represent strength and rigidity. The lake (dark blue) has a variety of line widths and directions representing the movement and fluidity of the water. The air was still using my walking foot though using ultra wavy lines to represent how air waves move.ItTakesAVillage_Front
    Takes a Village: Used 1/2 inch straight line quilting lines to draw path ways around the village. The center circled lines represents the town square, meeting place and each of the triangles individual quilted with 3 varying straight lined designs represent the roofs of houses in the village.

    PhasedCirclesComplete
    Phased circles: Uses all straight lines either as matchstick, crosshatch or 1 inch quilting designs. This quilt took 80  hours to quilt . Thread color matches the background fabrics.  The 1 inch lines were used on the border to incorporate the differences between volume of the border and the centers. The center squares densely quilted, as I wanted a flatter look so that the circles are popping out more, and have the low-volume prints stand out. This denser quilting pulls you in closer to look at the details.

    Neighbourhood_Finished_Front_Closeup

    Neighbourhood: Is a quilt that represents the house and fences in the neighbourhood. The angled quilting in this quilt was designed to add movement to the quilt. Your eye will travel each of the shapes that are formed with the quilting. To add to that movement variegated thread is used.

I know that straight line quilting is not as complicated as various free-motion quilting designs, especially compared to designs by folks like Angela Waters or Kathleen Riggins (who I have used in the past for other quilts). However, I think straight-line quilting does require skill and can be time-consuming (depending on your design). It should get the respect it deserves, and what it does bring to the design.

 

June project tracking

This is a little late, but I have finally got over my sewing mojo funk. Happy dance happening here!! I have come to realize that January through May are difficult months for me in terms of producing final products. I tend to get stuck on one project.  Great news, I rock the last 7 months though, and usually achieve my goal of 1 quilt a month by the end of the year (12 quilts).

The progress has been great so far this month!! I am super excited about moving forward. I finished a contract project a week early  (pictured, folded above), which was my second finished quilt of the year. I have another old WiP at the long-armer this month, it just needed a back. Lastly, the project that should have been finished in February will be done tonight – more on that one in another post.

Project Dates Current Status
 NY High Line  May June  TOP, BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
 Project 1 (Secret)  June  TOP, BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND COMPLETED!!
Medallion July TOP (Underway), BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
 Project 2 (Secret)  July  TOP, BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
 Project 3 (Secret)  August TOP, BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
Graveyard  August TOP, BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
 Trellis  September  TOP, BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
 Manicured Garden  September TOP (Underway), BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
 Triangle Quilt September Pattern Release
 Square Dance September  Pattern Release
Abstract Triangles II & III October Pattern Release
Phased Circles & Lunar Lines  October Pattern Release

What I have learned about myself, is I am much more productive with a fuller plate and deadlines that are not my own. Don’t get me wrong but I will still procrastinate until the last-minute.  So, how do you all get over quilters block?

Improving my Instagram feed

I have been working bit by bit to improve my photo’s for my Instagram feed, to grow interest in my feed. I see such alluring images from others that I wanted to step up my game. I am by no means an expert, here are some of my experiments so far.

Staging photos, adding interest

The first thing was actually work on the staging of my photos. Everyone tells you how important staging is, and it is amazing how it drives a different interest in the photo. For example, I have two photos  of the same quilt that are similar, both taken and posted around the same time of day, same day of the week. Both, showing stages in my quilting process of one particular quilt.  The response of the photos were completely different.

The first uses no props. it just shows the quilt and the stage it is in. The topic of this photo was that it was time to start burying threads.

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The second, I added the Auriful thread options and the painters tape I was using for the straight line quilting, to the picture as the prop. The topic of this photo was I continue to do 1/2″ straight line quilting.
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The response was doubled in the second shot over the first shot.

Photo Quality

I have to admit, I had switched to using my iPhone full-time for taking pictures. This is mainly for convenience, I always have my phone. Also, my phone had higher pixels than my older digital SLR.

I was lucky enough, that my fabulous husband bought me a new Nikon digital SLR camera at Christmas. Oh, what a difference!!! The pictures are clearer, the colors more vibrant. I love it.

I am using these Campbell’s soup can’s as color palette inspiration. I wanted a quick shot and started off with my iPhone (5s). Note, these are photos before any editing. Not bad, but I wasn’t getting those vibrant colors as my eye was seeing. Also, I knew I will need higher resolution photo’s if I wanted to put these in my upcoming book.
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So, I switched to my SLR and was able to control the zoom, the color and crispness was improved. Note, I just point and click and use the camera’s defaults for this image, and again no editing yet.
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What has made using my SLR with Instagram so much easier, is my new SLR has a bluetooth feature and downloads from my camera to my phone. There is no need to move the photos from my camera to my laptop to my cloud and then to my phone.

Framing the Photo

I have loved my friend, Nicole @mamalovequilts, Instagram feed for the longest time. I have realized it has a lot to do with her staging and photo quality of her images. It also has to do with how she uses white negative space to frame her photos. I mentioned this to her the other day, and asked how she did this, whether it was with IG or another program. She uses an app PicTapGo ($1.99). I downloaded it yesterday and I love it already!!

I use it mostly for the framing of the picture, but have been playing around with their set of filters too. Let’s just focus on framing a picture, though. I find that framing the picture with more white negative space actually focuses my eye to the image more.

Here is the photo I posted yesterday, a closeup of a pineapple, which I love (border added around the screenshot so you can see the visual space in IG). This one has no negative space around the image.

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The second image is what I posted from PicTapGo with a IG Square Floating effect added. This adds negative space around all four sides of the image so its floating.
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Another image, of my new media stand. This is the image of what I posted in Instagram. IMG_8721

However, I like it much better with the floating negative space. To me it gives it a crisper and cleaner look.
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Today’s photo out on Instagram, is using a slightly different border effect. It is the IG Square Full, which adds borders to the long sides of the image but the short sides reach the full length of the space within Instagram.

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I am definitely no expert, as I mentioned. I still have steps to go to increase interest on my Instagram page. If you are with the MQG, here is a recent article by Christopher @the_tattooed_quilter on social media and photography. 

Some of the other Instagram feeds that I find inspiring (not all are quilting related):
Nicole @modernhandcraft
Hillary @entropyalwayswins
Kate @teaandkate
Giuseppe @Giucy_Giuce
Helen @helen_dardik
Nicole  @mamalovequilts
Christopher @the_tattooed_quilter

I’ll keep you posted how things go, I am looking into videos next. I would love to hear how or what has worked for you.

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Playing with Color

Have you ever played with re-coloring your design or a pattern from another designer. I love playing with color and finding new color combinations. I recently had to do this for two designs.

This first one, was designed based on an image from Design Seeds via @thebungalow22 of a striped beach umbrella.

I loved how the original design came out. The color palette landed up being an unusual and unique palette.

When playing with color combinations for this design, I wanted to make sure that I kept this uniqueness and the combination of cold and warm color balance.

The first playing with oranges, blues and grey, which I think maintains the freshness.

The second, a more reserved palette with teal, green and peach.

A third version, using peach-pink, green and greys.

With these striped designs, I am thinking of making prints or fabric wall hangings, to see them side by side – it would make an interesting color study I think.

The second design was based on an old gas lamp at the Mannheim water tower (Wasserturm), a picture captured while visiting family. The color palette was created using the Palette Builder tool from Play Crafts.

The original design, definitely with this color palette, gives an air of Art Deco (1930s). I like it but knew if I made it I would need to re-color it.

I first tried a black, white and grey version, which I think I need as a floor (tiles).

I played with some bright colors, and had fun with mixing pink + orange with some aqua + greens.

Keeping with bold colors, used a warm palette here with pinks + oranges + purples, using the white to make the colors pop.

Wanted to play with more muted tones, so added some pastel based colors to this purple + yellow based palette.

Liking the white but wanting to give it some freshness in this one. I went back to the warm + cold palette with this one. A mix of green + pink + peach and using the pastel versions of the green + peach, and again the white to add to the brightness and contrast.

Lastly, I wanted to  play with some prints, my go to Carolyn Friedlander prints. I like the variations in her blue prints and love the lilac prints that are in her collections. (color: blue + lilac + mustard and cream).

Do you play around with color in your designs or patterns? What are your favorite combinations?

Please Note: If you would like to make or use one of my designs, please email me (ml_wilkie(at)hotmail(dot)com) or leave a comment below. I am happy to talk with you on options and provide the relevant measurements etc. or have you test out a pattern. Also, if you use one of my designs, please use the following text to credit me the design: “Designed by Michelle Wilkie @ Factotum of Arts”.

New quilt designs {QDAD}

At the moment, I am currently focused on making. However, I managed to get some time in creating some new designs, over the last month. Here they are, including today’s design (the last one).

Spark: Design Seeds via @zoepower

Design: I loved the shape of the plate and the color mixtures I used below. I am not a pastel person but I can definitely see me using this color palette in future.

Spark: Design Seeds via @piiipsy

Design: I loved the angles that the mountains provided and the reverse present in the reflection of the lake. I used those angles in the design.

Spark: Design Seeds via @mylamoments

Design: The common shapes present in the coffee cups and floor tiles at Caviar & Banana’s Restaurant (in Greenville, SC), lead to these designs. I used the black to highlight the graphical nature of the design. The brown, however, might bring a softer feel, if used in the curved plus (outer rings).

I played around a little more with the design above and added a center to the circles. I love how different it made it feel, though it was just a slight change. I would love to see this also made up in bold colored non-neutral solids.

Spark: Design Seeds via @diana_lovring

Design: Still inspired by the floor tiles, and this flower remind of drunkard path like blocks. I really enjoyed playing with the color placement in this block and movement the colors bring to the design.

Spark: Design Seeds via @thebungalow22

Design: Designing the obvious stripes in this one, but using a smaller squared block at various positions and direction to add interest and movement. Reminds me a little of floor tiles. It was also a strange color palette for me. Not a fan of the design, but I can’t think what I would do differently….maybe convert to the triangles based on the edge of the umbrella??

I definitely loved the circular designs. I can see me making a couple of these in future. More to come.

Please Note: If you would like to make or use one of my designs, please email me (ml_wilkie(at)hotmail(dot)com) or leave a comment below. I am happy to talk with you on options and provide the relevant measurements etc. or have you test out a pattern. Also, if you use one of my designs, please use the following text to credit me the design: “Designed by Michelle Wilkie @ Factotum of Arts”.