Archive for the ‘machine techniques’ Category

Tools Change Everything: Zigzag Bobbin Work

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

20u singerI believe in tools! 

Years ago I bought this 20U Singer industrial. It was under protest. I had burned the brushes off a very nice 930 Bernina. If you don’t know any of these numbers, take my word. 930 Berninas were war horses in armor.

So they told me that a 20 U was  a tough enough machine. I had mine calabrated to work with embroidery thread, and did a number of zigzag embroidery images on it. 

For a fast machine, it was still a tedious experience. This machine doesn’t really use a foot. So all the fabric needed to be hooped. And unhooped. And re-hooped. Again and again and again.

I simply stopped working with it at one point. I was considering selling it. 

 

179 The problem with princesBut people have always loved the quilts made through this technique. It allows for so much detail and coloration. 40 weight embroidery thread is ephemerally beautiful, and it shines when it’s laid in color layers.815 butterfly garden detail

Yesterday, I tried it with a felt stabilizer sandwich and a Halo hoop

 

halo hoopl

 

The Halo Hoop has been around for a while. I use them for any larger bit of embroidery I’m working on. It’s a weighted metal hoop with a plastic coating that grips the fabric. Instead of clamping it, you simply slide the hoop along.

My favorite stabilizer sandwich is ( from the back tp the front) a drawing in Totally Stable,  a layer of Decor Bond,a layer of polyester felt, and a layer of hand dyed fabric as my top. Anything that doesn’t iron down, I spray glue with 505 spray.

 

 

frog in process

I took this frog drawing and stated to color. I worked from the back for two reasons. My drawing was there, and I could tie off the ends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

frog in process  f2I didn’t get done, but I got far enough to know that between the stabilizer sandwich and the Halo hoop, the whole technique had been revolutionized for me.

Things I learned

  • My father’s old saying: if it’s too hard, too horrible or too long, you have the wrong tool.
  • You can use a hammer for a saw, but it’ s hard on the hammer and what you’re sawing.

Rethinking how to use your tools makes all the difference.  

You can work without a foot, but you need to use your fingers and a hoop. And hopefully your brain!finger positiona

And most of all, good tools change everything!

264 As Good as it Gets

 

Making Dragonflies Fly/: A New Tutorial on Fusing with Sheers and Inn Fuse

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

You’ll also find this tutorial on You tube

471 Waterlily Waltz

 

infuse This week I have my first of three tutorials up for you on using Inn Fuse, Innovative Craft’s new fusible film. Iwas particularly excited to hear we have a new fusible film. I’ve been a Steam a Seam fan for some while, but since there’s been trouble getting Steam a Seam I’ve had to rethink how I workThere are several things that really mattered to me. Like release paper and the ablity to reposition my pieces. So when Inn Fuse came out, I was estatic to find a product with both those properties. I talked about this in an erlier post called A Box full of Rocks. Inn Fuse has  those  properties and some very fine virtues all it’s own. 

But whenever we have new products, they change how we work, how we think and what is possible. And there are some differences.

Inn Fuse is a lot stickier. It’s based on a nail polish remover solvent instead of  an alchohol base solvent. It can be run through an ink jet printer. And it’s amazing for all kinds of sheers as well as for cottons. Of course, it takes a little special handling.

So in the interest of not giving you a recipe for a cake that won’t rise, I’ve put three tutorials up. This one we’ll build a background on hand dyed cotton using all kinds of sheers and Inn Fuse. 

Here’s some of suggestions for using Inn Fuse:

  • Use teflon scissors:
  • Back your fabric with the release paper to make your cutting easier.
  • Use a pin to separate the glue from the paper
  • Use a discardable piece of cotton as your pressing cloth.
  • Iron thoroughly at a medium heat.
  • Don’t be afraid to be sheer! I used lace, tulle, organza, glitter organza, cheesecloth and oriental brocade. It worked on them all.

I’ll put up the next two segments over the next couple weeks. Look for them there.

You’ll find more information about Inn Fuse at Innovative Crafts.

teflon scissorsYou’ll find teflon Scissors at Havel. 

You’ll find me in studio cutting a whole bunch of dragonflies to be fused.

 

 

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Gilding in the Lily- Embellishing Novelty Prints

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

Gilding the Lily Class Sample detailMost of the time, I don’t use prints for quilting. I love them. But I don’t want to necessarily do what they want me to do. And I don’t want to fight them. This batik makes a fabulous start for embellishment. It’s a large, lovely simple print perfect for embellisment.

 

 

 

print for embellishingBut a great print can be a great springboard for embroidery, and a great way to build free motion skills. Pick an exciting oversized print with clear lines and great design and you can dress it up with your stitching like a dolly.

I took this print and some metallic threads and got stitching.

 

Embellishing

  1. stabilizer sandwich  Make a sandwich: Stabilize your fabric with a layer of felt, and pellon  sandwich underneath. This amount of stitching needs stabilization to keep your piece reasonably flat.

 

 

  1. threads   
  2. Pick some great threads. These are metallic Supertwists from Madiera. They’re 30 weight, and somewhat transparent, so they won’t completely obliterate the print when you stitch over it.

 

  1. stitching feathers2Set your machine for a straight stitch. Use a top stitching 90 needle and a polyester embroidery thread in the bobbin. Use a small darning foot, preferably for straight stitching.

 

stippling

Trace the print with your stitching. Cover as much or as little as feels good.

 

 

 

Pick a contrasting thread to stipple around the print elements. This is a metallic thread called FS 2/20 by Madeira.

thread for stipping

 

 

 

 

 

A little stitching glitter can make a delightful print simply magical. Add some stitching to wearables, to your quilting or to make a small wonderful hanging. It’s worth gilding a lily.

You’ll find great prints everywhere, but I have some for you in my Inspiration Kits at my Etsy Store, Raid My Fabric Stash. You’ll find metallic Madeira threads at  Madeirausa.com. Gilding the Lily is also a class that I offer to students for guilds, stores and groups. It’s a great way to build your stitching skills!
gilted piece

Now for Something Completely Different: Ellen Goes Crazy

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013
Me and my altar ego

Me and my altar ego

I know. I know. I’m just noticing this now. Well that would be unobservant, wouldn’t it?

Pat Winter and I are opposites in a lot of ways. She works strictly by hand. I work by machine. She has a busy family. I live with cats and dogs. She stays at home. I wander all over the place. But she’s a dear friend and an amazing artist. We delight in each other’s work and world.

patwinterphotoPat is a majorly inventive crazy quilter with a gift for teaching and sheltering beginners. That’s lately been expressed in her Crazy Quilt Magazine. I’m writing a column for her on machine techniques that crazy quilters will find fast, fun and cool.

634 Wind over Water 2The world of crazy quilting is largely a hand stitched world. But there are a lot of reasons for adding in the amazing things your machine can do for you. I’m strictly a machine quilter for one simple reason: my hands don’t work for hand stitching. Don’t feel sorry for me. This is who I physically am.  This is who I’ve been all my life. It’s not a limit. It’s a feature. Instead, it formed me as a machinist. I can do things with my machine you may not be able to replicate by hand, no matter how long you have to work on it. And visa versa. Machine and hand quilting are both incredible tools, neither of them better or worse. But they do have their advantages. Pick and choose your techniques to make your life and art work for you. And never let anyone tell you one technique or another is right or wrong.

We’ve been working to make all quilting an art form for around 40 years. That’s demanded a lot of redefinition.  One of those definitions is about whether things are good or bad technique. Instead of that bold and, in my humble opinion, limited judgment we need to look at the work it self and say, “Is this cool? Does it open new doors? Does it make us all stronger? More able? More capable? How does it expand who we are and what we can do?

There are differing advantages between hand and machine work. I’ll state some of them, but remember that  they’re not global. A hand technique may give you exactly the stitch you want for a piece, but not for another. Look at each work and decide for yourself.  Use what works for you. Ignore anyone who has to make comments from the peanut gallery  

Hand stitching: Pluses

  • It’s quiet
  • Can be done anywhere you can bring it (Car, in front of TV, sewing group,etc.)
  • Relaxing:
  • Inexpensive for set up: all you need is needle and thread

Minuses

  • Slow: most techniques take a fair amount of time
  • Can hurt your hands (Carpal tunnel, tightened shoulder muscles)
  • Needs high skill level: much of hand stitching improves greatly with practice.

Machine Stitching: Pluses

  • Fast: what you can accomplish is amazingly faster
  • Most techniques are easily learned and take less skill
  • Put’s you and your work in the protected environment of your sewing room: do you want someone in the room asking where the orange juice is?
  • Protects hands and shoulders from repeated action stress
  • Allows people with hand disabilities to do amazing work

Minuses

  • Takes a machine and the cost of a machine. But not necessarily an expensive machine
  • Has to be in your sewing space. It’s not easy to move it into another room
  • Most people don’t consider it relaxing, although I do

I’ll be providing some machine techniques for Pat’s Crazy Quilting Magazine. The world is wide and we want to you all kinds of ways to accomplish the things you want to do most. Pick freely, try everything, and choose wisely for yourself.

12 couching thin yarnThe current issue has  an article on differing methods for couching yarn.

Next issue , we’ll talk about machine beading.

 

 

Check out these earlier posts about Pat Winter

Technology and the Dye Cup Fairy

Pat Winter: It’s Always the Quiet Ones

You’ll find Crazy Quilting Magazine on Pat’s blog site at http://gatherings100.blogspot.com/

crazy quiltingor at magcloud.com

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