July 28, 2010

goodies in the mail

Last week I got in the mail three packages which means on three occasions it felt like Christmas. The cotton quilting thread from Connecting Threads came, as did quilt batting and more quilting thread from Quilting Warehouse.  The new thread is on the left, Mettler on the right. I also ordered a set of quilting feet from Sears. It was all very exciting. So far I am quite happy with the new quilting thread. It is just as soft and thick as the Mettler quilting thread and much less expensive. It doesn't come in as many nice colors and I will have to see how it performs after a run through the washing machine, but I have high hopes overall.

The set of sewing machine feet included (clockwise from top left) a free motion embroidery foot, open foot, walking foot, quilt guide, and a stitch in the ditch foot. I already had the free motion and open feet and the guide, but it doesn't hurt to have extras. I bought the set mostly for the walking foot. It is supposed to reduce bunching on quilts by feeding the top layer and the bottom layer through at the same time. After quilting with it all afternoon I must say it worked pretty well. I'm not sure if it reduced bunching but the stitches look more even and it handled a bit easier than my regular 1/4" quilting foot.

Yesterday was spent dyeing fabric for another landscape quilt. Overall, I dyed 19 different colors. There are four dye cups missing from the picture because I had already started washing them out when I remembered to take a picture. Here is the fabric post dyeing and washing:
Tomorrow I will cut and piece the strips together. The colors didn't turn out how I expected. Those who know me well know that organization, tidiness, and careful execution are not my favorite things. Normally I am very messy and energetic in my creation process. BUT, I have been trying so hard to be careful and pay attention and do things right so that I can make things more than once. Yesterday it wasn't happening. The colors came out a lot more purple than they were supposed to. I had gray in mind and my fabric sample and recipes should have led to gray fabric. I blame the humidity. Then again, as I always say, things are more interesting when you let the unexpected happen. (I only say that when things don't turn out how I expect).

I am now completely moved into my new studio. It is so big. And empty. But nice. I pretty much love it. 

The end. 
(the heat is getting to me. I need a rootbeer float)

July 23, 2010

busy busy little bee

 (quilt parts waiting to be assembled)

The past couple of days have been very busy in Kim-land but not very exciting to blog about. This week has been all about grunt work - dyeing backing and binding fabrics, wrapping up quilting on my shibori quilts, trimming off the uneven edges, sewing on binding and more sewing on binding. I have also been way busy in the garden, harvesting tomatoes, beets, peppers, okra, and green beans. A large chunk of next week will be dedicated to canning.

(quilts with bindings partially sewn on, waiting to be finished by hand)

I'm going to start moving into my new studio on Monday and am so excited (but not ready). My current studio has about 200 square feet and I'm moving into about 480 square feet. I'm a little worried I'll feel lost and tiny in the new space.

(Back and front of the quilt I am currently finishing. Hand sewing the binding takes me forever, but is definitely worth the effort.)

(The landscape quilt pieced together)

That's all friends. Simon and I are off to Granny's for the weekend. Maybe I will absorb some of her master quilter energy.

July 20, 2010


I found out about Bev Hisey earlier this summer when I was researching textile designers for the summer course I was teaching at KCAI. She is a textile designer based in Toronto, Canada. In my research I was looking for artists or designers who use simple shapes. It was all for an assignment on repeat pattern design using hand carved stamps. Anyway - I was in love with her work from the start and still find it inspiring, as I hope you will, too.  
hand tufted rug

 die-cut cushions

laser cut room dividers/blankets

 laser cut table runners

 I have been trying for years to grasp the "less is more" concept. I'm getting closer and looking at these designs helps.
She also has some really amazing "dirty dishes" rugs. They don't really fit with my theme, but are definitely worth a look.

July 19, 2010

paint chips and landscapes

Everytime I go to the hardware store I have to pick up some paint chips to take home. It doesn't matter if I'm planning a painting project or not, I just love paint chips. The best ones have at least 3 color values on them, usually more. Sometimes I feel like focusing on one color, only getting red paint chips, or gray, or blue, or whatever. Other times I like to get a few from each color family. Writing it all out like this makes me feel very abusive of the paint chips.

The quilts I've been working on last week and this week are inspired by my paint chip collection. They are hand dyed gradations using another of my favorite things: percentage gradation dyeing. Yay for math!

These two are sewn together and waiting to be sandwiched and quilted. Please forgive the wrinkles.
These are both crib/lap size quilts but could be made any size. I'm planning on doing many more color variations including complimentary color sequences (red+green, blue+orange, yellow+purple) which make lovely neutrals and perhaps some rainbow gradations (gasp!).

In addition to these color chip quilts, today I started a quilt based on the Kansas landscape right before a thunderstorm. I'm not sure about the color arrangement yet. There are two options below. I'll decide tonight and start sewing it together tomorrow. 

option 1: dark, light, dark (this was how I originally meant it to be)

option 2: dark, light, dark, light (this is the direction I'm leaning)

I'm also very excited because I have some new cotton quilting thread coming to me in the mail. I'm trying some thread from Connecting Threads. They have mercerized cotton quilting thread 1200 yards for $2.99. Usually I buy Mettler mercerized cotton quilting thread which is 500 yards for about $6. I'm crossing my fingers that this new thread is as nice as the Mettler. As soon as the thread and my quilt batting get here I can start assembling these. My goal is to have 4 shibori quilts and 4 gradation quilts finished by the second friday in August (for the gallery walk in my NEW studio!).

July 15, 2010

KCK - jackpot of hidden treasure

I've realized recently that I don't pay attention to the things around me. It was a startling realization because I used to be so aware of my surroundings. I took pride in noticing interesting things like textures, colors, and shadows that were hidden in plain sight. I'm not sure if it's part of growing up - the fact that I have a lot more on my mind than I used to- or if it's that I've become too detached and take things for granted. Either way, it's no good at all. 

So. With my trusty camera in hand, I went about exploring the alley behind my studio. This is a place I walk by very frequently (I would say every day, but that's just a lie) but have never taken the time to actually see. There are some pretty amazing things going on in that alley.

Garage doors:
Blocked off windows and doors:
(this one is the back of my husband's building)

And loads of pattern on pattern action:

Also of interest, I'm moving into a different studio at the end of this month. The studio next to mine has been empty all year and just recently I've started looking at it longingly and fantasizing about the things I could do with twice as much space. That means my current studio will be open in addition to two others in my building. They're cheaper than anywhere else in Kansas City, with heat and air conditioning and lots of natural light.

July 8, 2010

the sink is cracked and so is my back

Not really. I'm just dang exhausted from leaning over a too-short sink all day. Washing out fabric is the worst. This was a mighty productive day, though. I made three more quilt tops and dyed backing and binding fabric for 4 quilts (some of the fabric is above, drying). Tomorrow I can start pinning and quilting. I'm very excited to have some quilts completed.

this one has screen printed fabric instead of shibori

They will all look much better once they're quilted with beautifully colored thread in fantastic patterns, and then washed and ironed. Then they will be irresistible. Just wait.

And here is a picture of me hiding in the garden. Which reminds me I need to pick tomatoes.

July 7, 2010

on the road to function there are many setbacks

Well, ya'll. I am well on my way to making functional quilts. Today was the second day in my studio making samples. I feel good in general but if you had asked me at 1:30, I would have said I feel bad in general. There were many setbacks today. In the end they were for the best. The worst of the bunch could have easily been avoided. See, I'm bad about labeling things. Or maybe I'm too thorough about labeling and it gets in my way. Either way, I ended up with a container that said both "salt" and "soda ash". All day today I used it thinking it was soda ash. It wasn't. All of my hard work and beautiful dye washed out. After blaming the fabric for sucking, I finally realized I had been adding extra salt to my dye bath instead of soda ash, the magic ingredient that makes everything stick. Those of you who know about salt and soda ash might be thinking "can't she tell the difference just by looking?" and of course the answer is yes. But I hadn't had lunch and was rushing things. More than once I looked down at the container and thought: "This looks like salt. should I taste it and find out if I'm using the wrong thing? No, that's not safe."

This is what happens when you don't use soda ash. The fabric on the right that looks dirty should have looked like the fabric on the left.

I got myself back on track and sewed together this top from fabric I dyed yesterday:
It is going to get a layer of printing tomorrow and then will be quilted. 

And then I dyed some fabric based on these two color combos (from my handy-dandy palette).

(don't go stealing my recipes)

My goals for tomorrow: sew together two more tops from the fabric I dyed today. Begin basting the quilt sandwiches. Don't forget to have lunch. 

And now for an unrelated rant. One of my guilty pleasures is watching "The Bachelorette" on ABC. The show makes me so uncomfortable that I can't stop watching it. Don't judge me. This week's episodes bothered me for a number of reasons that I won't go into, but I am so glad Ali sent Ty home. Ty seemed like a nice guy and he was from Franklin, TN which is a charming place. But if anyone ever told me they were "tickled" that I have ambitions, I would slap him. Not really, because I'm non-confrontational and non-violent. But I would definitely give him an angry look and tell him what's what. How patronizing can you get? Seriously. 
The end.

July 5, 2010

we all scream for...sedum

 Dangly hens and chicks

I have long known that sedum is the greatest. It requires little care, spreads abundantly, and has very lovely blossoms. What I knew, but also didn't know, is that it comes in a beautiful variety of colors that look amazing together. I've been having lots of those moments lately. I know something in my brain, but my mind is blown by realizing it again. Another example is when I realized/remembered that the earth is turning and that the sun isn't setting, we are turning away from it. It's ok. You can roll your eyes at me. 

Powell Gardens again surprised me with inspiration. Here are sedums for your perusal. 

This one is my favorite. That dark one next to the tiny lemon yellow, next to the peach, surrounded by various shades of green is simply lovely.

July 4, 2010

line and shadow inspiration

My parents were in town visiting this weekend and we went to Powell Gardens just outside KCMO. It's a beautiful place to spend a few hours, but I was surprised by how much garden architecture there was. I love the intersecting lines in the one above.

The shadows in the three below are so crisp and dark. I love how they can confuse the perspective. While we were there, I was imagining how they would change over the course of a day. I would love to see some time-lapse photography of these shadows.

There may be some Powell Garden inspired quilts on the way.