Sunday, January 25, 2009

BOM #1 Complete & Classes with Mary Sorensen

Hi applique lovers!

My first block from the Baltimore BOM is complete.  It's set on point so the grayish aqua color fabric is the background.  The green fabric in the corners is another block on my design wall (just ignore it please).  I definitely pushed my color comfort boundaries. However, the most important thing I learned from doing this block is that the most time consuming element (the embroidery around each and every leaf) is all but invisible unless you are standing 18 inche
s from the quilt.  I don't know if I will be investing this amount of time again into a design elements that just disappears for 90% of the viewers.   Apart from the time involved - I wasted precious time agonizing over the right color of embroidery floss - a single strand of embroidery floss that followed all the rules.  Conclusion - Life is too short to follow all the rules!  Enjoy the things you love to do and fast forward over the rest.

This past weekend I had the absolute pleasure of spending two days in an applique classes taught by Mary Sorensen.  Mary was my first applique teacher back in the late 90's (1990's that is).  I had seen many beautiful applique quilts before my first class with Mary, but until the actual class with her I had no clue as to how to applique.  Even though I don't use Mary's exact technique, those first few classes with her put me on a wonderful path that has led to the quilts I make today.  For this gift I will always be grateful!  Below is a photo of Mary (redhead on the left) and my friend LaVerne (she's a redhead in her heart).  They are holding a quilt LaVerne made from Mary's pattern Simple Gifts.  

For those of you familiar with my blog know that I am suffering from Quilt Rut Syndrome
 and my goal of the last several months has been to break out of the comfortable range and push myself to try new things.  Mary's class was a wonderful, safe environment to attempt this.  The first class was called Learn to Love Needleturn.  Since I already LOVE everything about applique I used the class to tryout new and different color combinations.  I don't think I was THAT successful because the outcome was not very satisfying.  I took a lot of time to select fabrics, baste them on, cut them perfectly, etc. just to see if they would work. There has to be a better (or at least more enjoyable) way to audition fabrics. That was to come on day 2.  Here is a photo of the result.  The pattern is called Butterfly Fancy and it's designed by Mary Sorensen.

The second day the class was called, Dramatic Darks, and it was a class on selecting fabrics for an applique project where the background is very dark.  By know I was starting to feel a little more confident about my color choices.  In the class, Mary instructed us to cut out shapes from our fabrics to audition them on the background as opposed to just stacking up a heap of fat quarters on the background fabrics to evaluate them.  This was much move effective than a stack of fabric and was sooooo much faster than basting (or worse appliqueing down) a perfect piece down just to realize the color was wrong.  Also, there was something very freeing about cutting a piece of fabric knowing beforehand that YOU WILL BE throwing it away.    This is how I ended up with yellow leaves (versus traditional green leaves) that I absolutely fell in love with.  Below is a mock up with shapes that do not resemble the finished applique but that represent position and proportion of the possible fabric choices.  This can give a very good idea if the colors/fabric will work. Fast AND effective!  I can't ask for more.  Here is my color mock up for the wall hanging we worked on in class, Persian Dusk designed by Mary Sorensen.  Go to Mary's website to see the actual block design - it's beautiful!

Because I feel very comfortable with Mary and trust her design sense I shared with her the angst and melodrama I go through every time I have to pick my own colors for a block, a quilt, or even a single applique motif, and asked for her advice.  For those of you that don't know Mary - she is very sharp, very funny, and very wise.  She responded with a Yogi Berra quote tailor made for anal retentive quilt makers (also known as appliquers)  "If you don't think too good, then don't think too much!"

Happy stitching!
Mercy in Miami aka The Savage Quilter

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Waterlilies Block

Hello quilt lovers,
I wanted to share the latest Ocean Waves Opportunity Quilt block that was completed.  Waterlilies was stitched by me, Mercy Savage.

I also wanted to post a few photos from my 
class last November with Sharon Schamber.  She is an incredible teacher and I highly recommend you take a class with her if you ever have the opportunity.  Below is a picture of me with Sharon.  

Jim made the trip to Lakeland, FL with me and attended the trunk show.  Sharon asked him and another husband from the audience to help her by holding up the quilts while she spoke about each one.  Lucky thing both husbands were tall & strong because the quilts were a good size and weighed an average of 60-70 pounds.  Here Jim (the guy on the left in the green shirt) and the other husband are holding up Sharon's quilt that was awarded the $100,000 prize - The Spirit of Mother Earth.  You can go to her website to see closeups of the quilting - I believe she said she used over 70 different stipple designs in the background.

It's unbelievable in the photo so you can imagine what it's like in person!  

One of the classes I took with Sharon taught us how to free motion quilt feathers with NO MARKING.  Not that I have anything against marking but if you don't mark then you don't have to REMOVE the markings!  That's a huge plus for me.   Iris is the first piece I quilted after I took this class.  The Iris flower is a commercial pattern - I can't remember the name of the designer and I have misplaced the pattern.  I was making the wall hanging for a Christmas exchange in my small applique group - I drew my friend LaVerne's name - but saved the quilting until after Sharon's class.  It's not professional but I had a great time quilting it and there was NO MARKING and NO MARKING REMOVAL!  
 I hope you like it.  The close up shows a dragonfly I quilting into the background.  It looks a little like a butterfly because the tail is a little lost.  The problem (and what I learned) was that the width of the tail is the same width as the surrounding outline stipple.  If I ever quilt this design again I would either make the tail wider or I would make the surrounding outline quilting closer together.  I hope you enjoy the photos.

Happy Stitching!
Mercy in Miami - AKA The Savage Quilter

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tropical Album Blocks

Hello blog readers!  

I hope everyone reading this is well and that you and everyone you love had a happy, healthy Christmas and New Year!

I apologize for not writing for a couple of months.  Somehow, life seems to get in the way of quilting!  Since we last caught up, I have changed jobs, moved homes, taken two separate week long business trips, taken one out of town quilting class, and one in town quilting class  - all between mid November and Christmas.  I'm tired but life if GRAND!

The awesome pics at the top of the blog are blocks stitched by Ocean Waves quilters for our 2010 Opportunity Quilt - Tropical Album.  Here are the list of talented Stitchers:
Angel's Trumpet: Kitty Gonzalez
Monstera: Joyce Cotner
Jacaranda: Janet Swan
Pineapple: Lois Erikson
Bougainvillea: Toni (Kelso) Mucci
Gardenia: Barbara McDowell
Hibiscus & Frangipani Border: Arlene Goldberg
Frangipani: Angie Malzman
Hibiscus with Blue Bow: Lee Costello
Tropical Bouquet in Vase: LaVerne Johnshon.
Single Hibiscus Cornerstone: Lee Costello

For the applique lovers our there that are following my Baltimore BOM experience, I wanted to share what have kept me in knots for the last few Thread Adventures...
As some of you may or may not know, besides The Savage Quilter, I am also known as The Thread Fluzzie.  Yes, I would do just about anything for the right spool of thread!  Anyway, for the last several months I have been giving my #100 YLI silk threads ONE MORE TRY for hand applique.  So many applique artist that I respect just swear by the stuff.  Plus it's really expensive so it must be good right???!!!!  My conclusion - for hand applique it sucks!  And in a really bad way too!  It's totally deceptive.  First the colors just lure you in....ahhhh....pretty....then when you try to use it, the thread is so thin you can actually thread it through the tiniest needle without wearing your granny glasses!  Now it appeals to your eyes and to your vanity....oohhhh.  Then you stitch with it...and tug...and feel the stretch.  Hmmmm, this can't be right.  Oh but it is.  The silk has a natural stretch that can go on forever.  After you have your fabric stitched down nice and tight with blue ribbon winning invisible stitches, the thread relaxes, and loosens up.  I have gone back to blocks I stitched last October and I can see the piece lifting, not a lot, but enough to aggravate someone that went to Catholic School for 16 years straight (yes I'm including college for those of you doing the math).  Arrgghhh!  Then the whining was soooooo  pretty....I could thread it......ohhhh.....

Ah but this thread tale has a happy ending...thread tale - get it!  There is still a wonderful application for the silk thread.   I have been experimenting more and more with machine quilting and silk is definitely the answer for machine quilting heirloom style quilting motifs!  The stretch works perfectly to lay down a gorgeous stitch.   And you don't get that "thready" look!  

I have gone back to my old standby, cotton. Yes, this blog becomes a Cotton Tale.  I have tried pretty much all the cotton out there...DMC, Mettler, Aurfil, Superior, etc.  Honestly, I can't tell much of a difference except that I have noticed DMC rots a little faster than the others and is a little fuzzier.  Maybe you always come back to what you know and that's why I probably like Mettler the best.  But it also has the best price and the best color selection.  Plus it's carried by our local shop and I personally feel it's important for us to support out local quilting community.  The Superior is also VERY nice and if they had more colors choice it would probably win over Mettler.  A huge plus is that Superior now sells their Masterpiece line (the one I like for applique) pre-wound on bobbins for about $1 each.  There is enough on each bobbin that you will need a lifetime of applique before you use it up.  I recommend it for your take along applique sewing kits.  A nod to Aurfil - it's wonderful, it's expensive, if you have access to it and can afford it, go ahead and treat yourself.  After all, deep down we are all thread fluzzies!

Until next time,  Happy Stitching!
Mercy in Miami
AKA The Savage Quilter