Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Galloping Garlic Batman! We finally tamed the poof!!!

Happy New Year gang!

I hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful holiday season with family and friends.

I finally completed the machine quilting on a small whole cloth I began in class with Diane Gaudynski ( ) last August. In class I was able to complete the first row of stitches that defined the shapes. The challenge I set up for myself with this piece was to "Tame the Poof" as I stitched the filler designs and the border. Poof is an excess fabric on the quilt top that if not handled correctly may cause a pleat as you quilt. I have been down the echo quilting route and that just corralled (word?) the poof into one big pleat that was REALLY visible .

In class with Diane I learned that the best way to fight poof it to attack it head on - or at least perpendicularly (is that a word?) OK - perpendicular, change direction, hmmm... Bouncing banana would be perfect for the filler in this piece.

Scissors pointing to my doodle of Bouncing Bananas and stitched on a warm up piece.

I love this filler - probably my favorite of all time, but it belongs to Diane Gaudynski. When I use it I feel I am paying tribute to her and all she has contributed to the world of quilting and to me personally as a quilter. At the same time I felt compelled to make it my own. But no matter what design I tried it always morphed back into bananas.

Then came Thanksgiving! One of the few times during the year I actually cook. I'm not a very good cook but I'm a great Cuban American so I start every dish with at least an entire head of garlic. Until recently, we didn't own a cutting board so I placed the head of garlic on a plate from my everyday dishes. hmmmm....pretty shapes.... leaves in the background....hhmmmm

Then I forgot all about cooking and scattered the individual cloves on the plate. Hey! That looks nice. The shapes shared all the design qualities that makes bouncing bananas so fabulous. A pivot at both top and bottom, can very width and length, and can change directions at any point.

Wow - can I draw this? If I can draw it then I might be able to stitch it!

Hey - yeah! More practice and refining.....
My white board in my office...
My note pad I take into meetings.....
Now the acid test - can I stitch it?
Well yuck and double yuck!
But never say die! I decided what I didn't like was the color of the thread on the background and not the actual shapes themselves. So I decided to just do it. I loaded the right color silk in the ol' bernina and just had fun.
And that boys and girls is the story of how Galloping Garlic was born. See closeup photos below. Notice there is not a single poof to be found! with flash

.... to give an idea of scale

One other huge lesson learned from this project that I wanted to share. Don't under estimate the power of Dianeshiko. Another one of Diane's killer background fillers and the best substitute for crosshatching ever. This is the first time I have ever used Dianeshiko in a border. OMG! It totally stabilized it. It's the first border that I have ever done that was perfectly flat BEFORE I blocked. Usually I can't get the border flat even AFTER I block it. Another huge plus is that even it it's not perfect it still looks great. And believe me, each time you stitch this design it gets better and better.
Go to Diane's website to see an example of how it looks when you actually master the design. Amazing! If you are interested in learning any of these filler designs, they are all in her book Diane Gaudynski's Machine Quilting Guidebook - less than $15 on Amazon.

I wish you all lots of health, happiness, and good cheer for 2010 and beyond. To my applique friends, may all your stitches be invisible. To my machine quilting friends may your tension be perfectly balanced. To all, may you always see the positive in every challenge.

Best stitches,
Mercy aka
The Savage Quilter

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

File this under “Good Lord, what WAS I thinking?”

Hi gang!

Let’s see a show of hands if you have ever been stopped in your tracks by a piece of fabric (or worse yet a collection of fabric) and immediately thought “Oh boy! I have to have it right now!” If you were able to let the feeling pass and move on without buying the fabric(s), then you can put your hand down. Otherwise, keep those hands raised. Did you use the fabric? Have you used all the fabric you have purchased impulsively? If so, put your hand down. If not, you know the drill – keep your hand raised! My arm is getting tired too! Last question – have you every impulsively purchased fabric(s) that you HAD TO HAVE, got it home, maybe even washed it, added it to your stash, forgotten all about it, come across it again and scream in horror “Good Lord, what WAS I thinking?” It’s absolutely the ugliest fabric I have ever seen! Who did I think I was making quilts for – Little Miss Muffet? If so, 1) we share the same quilter gene, and 2) you can put your hand down now – you have suffered enough.

Ok – there are more questions. I fibbed. How do you redeem yourself? How do you turn lemons into lemonade? And most importantly, how do you use up the fabric to make room for future purchases? The answers are community quilts, challenge yourself, and appliqué.

Huh? Let me explain.
First of all, ugly is relative – at least my relatives are (ba-DUM ching). Sorry I couldn’t help myself. Seriously, mediocre can be beautiful if it’s next to hideous . But place mediocre next to attractive and it suddenly becomes unsightly. An appliqué teacher I took classes from, Faye Labaneris, referred to this as the Cinderella Effect. The reason Cinderella was SO BEAUTIFUL was because she was always standing next to her ugly step sisters. So save a few (very few) scraps of some of the “uglies” to make the other fabrics shine. One of the best techniques to employ this strategy is appliqué because it’s very easy to throw in a tiny leaf or circle or … along with all the other pretty fabrics. In addition, according to another wonderful appliqué teacher, Mary Sorensen, once you have cut a shape (any size) out of a piece of fabric it officially becomes a scrap and you can toss it (or give it away) without guilt!

Most quilters that belong to guilds and small sewing circles piece quilts for donation to various charities. Many times these quilts go to children or developmentally challenged adults that truly appreciate the bright colors, dazzling patterns, strong values, etc. Another option is to give the unused fabric away. It’s a very noble gesture and no one has to know the reason you selected certain fabrics for donation. Community service projects are all grateful for donations. Schools and children’s organizations are also always looking for donated materials for art, craft, and sewing projects.

Is there a technique that you have always wanted to learn but were afraid of ruining $30 a yard hand dye, one of a kind fabric? Do you want the first time you attempt Y-seams to be on a wedding gift for your new daughter in law? Will you teach yourself free motion quilting on a quilt project intended as a family heirloom? Maybe, but probably not. Pick out your most distressing fabric purchase; mix it with something a little more palatable and have fun. The outcome does not matter. If it’s too embarrassing to donate to community projects, make it part of your pet’s bedding (I’m sure they will find it warm and comforting).
The blocks below are my donation (in progress) to Ocean Waves Community Quilts. I designed a few ice cream patterns for the guild to use for this purpose. I picked out “ice cream” fabric from my “Oh good Lord” stash and had fun. The appliqué is fused and I have just started the decorative embroidery on the edges.

I used this as an opportunity to play and learn more about “Balance” and “Focal Point”. The values are all strong and the patterns are all busy. My challenge - how can I combine these fabrics and still achieve a balanced arrangement that doesn’t give the viewer a headache?

Below are some of the block arrangements I played with.

I’m not sure I met the challenge but I get to use up ugly fabric (so I can buy some more), I get to practice my embroidery, I have fun, and patients at the Sunrise Center will get a colorful wall hanging or two to brighten up there recreation room!

Best Stitches!
aka The Savage Quilter
P.S. The fabrics are so busy that I had to edit the blog to post the photos further apart. Placed side by side they hurt my eyes!

Friday, November 20, 2009

"Lemons into Lemonade" or "How to Quilt without Fabric or Thread"

Hi gang!

I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying the fall season. Even in hot and humid Miami, we are feeling some relief from the brutal heat. Down this way, we do not have an official fall or spring. However, we do have three un-official seasons; season 1 is when the humidity is LESS than the ambient temperature, season 2 is when the humidity is GREATER than the ambient temperature, and season 3 is hurricane season. Thanks to the miracle of Air Conditioning, it is always Quilting Season!

I have not been sewing as much as I would like this year but that does not mean my projects are not always on my mind. So while I am at work, or stuck in traffic, or packing & unpacking boxes, or painting walls, or any of the millions of things that have kept me from making quilts this year, I am designing and planning in my head.

Here is an example…

Yesterday I was stuck in traffic for well over an hour. It was an upper middle class to affluent residential area. Traffic has all but come to a stop. I start looking around and all the houses have beautiful wrought iron gates, stone fences that look like artisan masons slaved for a year to make, incredible landscaping. Hmmmmm……Time to turn lemons into lemonade! I pull out my phone and start to take pictures.

One thing I have been on the hunt for is inspiration for a fabulous border design. I can draw flowers and I can make the individual feathers on a plume but I have been struggling to create a graceful, beautiful spine and/or vine design. There it was! On a gate!

I emailed myself the photo and at the first opportunity printed it in black and white on a full size sheet of paper. I then edited and traced the design with a Sharpie pen right on the black and white copy. After a few more minor edits, I traced the design onto another blank sheet.

I then mirror imaged the design and butted them up to each other.

Then I made lot of copies so I could play and see how the design would look as a border.

Okay I love it! Now what size? I finally decided that since most of my projects are 60 to 80 inches square that I would like to see this design at 60”. I isolated the part of the design that I would need to enlarge to make a working pattern. I drew a line on the design for the copy store clerk to use as a guide when they make the enlargement.

My soul is happy! I did not take a single stitch. I did not cut a single fat quarter. Nevertheless, in my heart I quilted! Moreover, when I do have time to sit and play in my sewing room and I begin to work on the border for my current Tropical Album, I have the PERFECT (at least in my heart) design to work with).

Life is good!

Driving to work today, traffic again came to a screeching halt. Hmmmm..... Since I got lucky yesterday, maybe I can find inspiration again today! What do you think? Maybe I can do something with the sky?

Until next time, best stitches!


aka, The Savage Quilter

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My new Bernina is so shiny and new.

Hi gang!
It's here, it's here, it's here! My birthday present finally arrived! And they were really big boxes too...oohhhhh.

Jim had to set it up because I couldn't even budge it. He pulled everything out of the boxes and it filled up two sewing tables. Yikes!

I was so excited I looked like the Marvel Comic Book character - The Flash opening all the little boxes within boxes! I lost count of how many instructional DVDs it came with but I did find a manual - only 1 inch thick.
I was so overwhelmed (think deer caught in headlights) that decided to put all the embroidery stuff away until I can get the basics figured out and look at it tomorrow. Well, after an hour I never figured out how to thread the machine - so much for the basics. I guess the embroidery will wait a little longer.
I couldn't sleep at all last night just dreaming all the wonderful projects I would stitch. I finally did pass out clutching the instruction manual like a teddy bear.

Of course, Thaddeus did his best to help. He tried making friends with the machine by offering his favorite toy - a VERY LOUD blue squeaky ball - and dropping it into the open box. So yes, the machine has been baptized with doggie drool. I hear that's good luck and guarantees the machine will only sew prize winning quilts.

The house is finally coming together and things are settling down to a controlled chaos. I'm praying to get back to my projects sooner rather than later and hoping to again begin posting quilt projects and tips/tricks soon.

Until then, I wish you all Best Stitches!
aka The Savage Quilter

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Knock Your Socks Off Applique

Hi gang!

First of all let me say that Jim is NEVER EVER allowed to hijack my blog again. I asked him why he posted such unflattering photos of me and his response was "what do you mean - you look beautiful." I hope he never updates he eyeglass prescription!

I found a link to the most incredible applique artist on Diane Gaudynski's blog. Her name is Sandra Leichner and her work stopped me in my tracks the first time I ever saw it in person. Her blog is incredible. She updates it regularly and is extremely generous when it comes to sharing her tips, techniques, secrets, etc. According to her website, she doesn't travel much to teach anymore. This is a shame because I've learned more from reading just one of her blog entries than I have learned in entire all day applique classes. The good news is that according to her site she has a book coming out early next year. I want to put my order in now!

I hope enjoy her site as much as I have.

Until next time - Best Stitches!
aka The Savage Quilter
PS - The family photo at the top is my immediate family plus aunts, uncle, and cousins from my Mom's side. Small, intimate gathering in my backyard last weekend.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hello everyone. I this is James. I have hi-jacked Mercy blog. I am posting her 49th Birthday Pictures. Sorry only picked a few pictures. I took 300 pictures .
Mercy and Mom. Watch out candy is about to come flying.
Mercy and Dad
Mercy just found out . I got her new 830 Bernina machine with all the bells and whistle . She is crying because she just organize her quilting room and now she has do it all over again .
Botet Brothers and Sisters
The Family

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tropical Twist Opportunity Quilt - Unveiling!

Hi gang!

I hope everyone is well and having a fantastic summer! I am so fortunate in so many ways that I don't' have any right to complain - but I will anyway. I just don't have enough time!!!! Between work and home and work and some more work...did I mention work? I just don't have any time for quilting. Fortunately, my guild Ocean Waves has been very busy working on the chapter Opportunity Quilt - Tropical Twist! Here it is ready to find a good home.

I designed the patterns and stitched one of the blocks - Waterlily. Here is a closeup.

I have closeup photos of the remaining block and will post them as soon as I get a break from work.

Until next time - Happy Stitching!
AKA - The Savage Quilter

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Adventure Continues!

Yes, I know that I am the luckiest woman alive! I have an awesome husband, perfect home, loving family, and adorable puppy. Just when you think life can't possibly get any better, I have the opportunity to attend a 3 day class with Diane Gaudynski at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky.

And not just any class but the first session of a new class titled "The Adventure Continues". 2 1/2 years ago I took Diane's 3 day Machine Quilting class. The Adventure Continues was designed as a follow-up to the original class. For me this was perfect because Diane's first class totally changed my quilts - from how I design them to how I bind them. And, of course, the more quilts I made, the more I learned - and the more questions I had! So, I arrived the first day clutching my list of questions in one hand, a royal blue whole cloth project in the other hand, my soul hungry, and one big empty suitcase (after all this is the site of my mothership -Hancock's of Paducah).

Since I was flying from Miami to Nashville and then driving to Paducah, I decided to rent a machine to lighten my luggage (and make room for my purchases)

To my surprise, the Bernina dealer in town retired and the museum supplied me with a top of the line Janome. Fortunately, I arrived the afternoon before class and was able to pick up and lug the manual back to the hotel room. My goal was to learn how to turn the machine on, thread it, and wind a bobbin. I am just not a READ THE MANUAL type of gal. As evidence I present a photo of my first attempt to wind the bobbin.

After a bit, I was able to get comfortable with the loaner machine and was able to make progress on my blue whole cloth project. In the three days I was able to complete all the pictorial elements and begin the TAMING OF THE PUFF. Of course, the design elements only really pop when the background quilting is complete and I just barely started the background. Hopefully, the design is prominent enough in these IN PROGRESS photos. The design began as a commercial stencil. But I quickly decided my feathers were more elegant and took the time to redrew portions of the design. Then when I started sewing I managed to not sew on ANY of the marked lines - my new personal record!

I hope you enjoy the photos! Now that Jim and I are settling into the house I hope to have more time to stitch and share on the blog.

Until next time - Happy Stitching!
AKA - The Savage Quilter