mandalei quilts & longarm services

Quilts & Longarm Services


Over on her blog, Alison Glass posted about “Share your Handcrafted“, where in the days leading up to QuiltCon, people can work on and share projects made with her fabric line Handcrafted.  I usually don’t have time for challenges, but this time around, I had some projects that I wanted to do with her fabric and her wool, so yesterday I got started:

The background is a green linen, and I will be using the wool for other shapes.

The background is a green linen, and I will be using the wool for other shapes.

This is going to be a combination of machine turned applique (using Sharon Schamber’s Piece by Piece method, which Cristy shares here, and which I also used in one of the projects for my book), and wool applique.  I can’t wait to share the finished project with you!  Today, though, is a work day; I’m quilting for customers, and this will have to wait.

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50 Ways to Lose Your Scissors


Posted By on Jan 22, 2015

I had to share this because it still is making me laugh weeks later.  I mentioned over on Facebook that I need to write a song “50 Ways to Lose Your Scissors,” based off 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover and the resulting lyric suggestions were hysterical.  I’ve taken some of them and worked them into a full song:

“The problem isn’t all inside your head”
She said to me
“Finding them ain’t easy even if you
Take it logically
I’d like to help you in your struggle
To cut free
There must be 50 ways to lose you scissors”

She said “it’s always been my habit to intrude
Furthermore I hope my meaning
won’t be lost or misconstrued
But I’ll repeat myself
at the risk of being crude
There must be 50 ways
to lose your scissors”

Mighta fell out the back, Jack
Dropped ‘em in my purse, nurse
They ain’t no toy, Roy
Don’t cut yourself please
Left ‘em on the bus, Gus
Don’t need to confess much,
Check under your pants, Lance
Won’t have to pay no fee

Oh, check in the quilt, Milt
Don’t let ‘em fall y’all,
Specially on your toes, Joes
Don’t cut yourself, see
Never made it home from retreat, Pete
Go check under that cushioned seat
And cut yourself free

She said “it grieves me so
To see you in such pain
I know it hurts stabbing yourself
reaching in the scrap bin again
And last year a pair disappeared into that one hipsters beard
that was weird
there must be 50 ways
to lose your scissors

She said “why don’t we both
Just search all night tonight
And I believe in the morning
You’ll be up working with the light”
And then I found kid ones
And I realized she probably was right
There must be 50 ways
to lose your scissors

Oh

Mighta fell out the back, Jack
Dropped ‘em in my purse, nurse
They ain’t no toy, Roy
Don’t cut yourself please
Left ‘em on the bus, Gus
Don’t need to confess much,
Check under the box, Cox
Won’t have to pay no fee

Oh, check in the quilt, Milt
Check behind the machine, Jean,
Or under that fab slab
Don’t cut yourself, see
Never made it home from retreat, Pete
Go check under that cushioned seat
And set yourself free

special thanks to Debbie, Teri, Rachel, Rose, Sarah, Teresa, Melissa, and Heather for adding lyrics!

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Can't get enough of this gorgeous texture!

Can’t get enough of this gorgeous texture!

When I first kicked off the idea for this series on wool applique, I had not factored in final book edits and the Christmas longarming rush!  I’m finally getting back to a more organized schedule, and have been longing for the chance to work on some of these new projects that have been percolating along in my back brain.

Before beginning a new project though, I usually spend some time thinking about the medium I will be working with, which is the various types of wools and threads.  There are so many interesting options out there!  How do you know what to choose? For a quick-start, I will share a few of the basic supplies I like to consider for making a wool appliqué project, including the fabrics and felts, needles and threads.

Felts vs. Wovens

My first thought is whether to use wool felt or wool wovens.  I know most anyone who reads this knows what felt is: it’s a nonwoven fabric meaning the fibers have been pressed together (either in wet or heated conditions), as opposed to woven fabrics, which have distinct threads woven in and out to create the cloth.   Felts are a great option because the come ready to go: their edges won’t fray and you can find a huge variety of colors and textures.  For wool appliqué, I’d recommend sticking with a felt that is at least 70% wool, primarily because I think it feels nicer in a finished project.

Wool wovens require a bit more care in selecting them, since you can find them in many forms.  For example, this yardage is undyed and unfelted, and using it as-is would mean that it is much more prone to fraying along the edges.

While you could possible get away with this as a backing fabric unfelted, it would not have the same lush feel as if it were felted.

While you could possible get away with this as a backing fabric unfelted, it would not have the same lush feel as if it were felted.

 

These wools, from Alison Glass’s beautiful line, are an example of hand dyed wool.  You can see that these colors, which are coordinated with her cotton prints, have variability in their color, which is part of the dying process.  Dyed wools like these and in the first photo are ready to be used immediately, because the dying process has felted the fibers together and therefore will not fray.

The variations in the dye intensity are great!  By selecting different areas from which to cut your pieces, you can add depth and shading to your projects.

The variations in the dye intensity are great! By selecting different areas from which to cut your pieces, you can add depth and shading to your projects. Special thanks to Alison Glass for providing these great wool scraps to work with!

That grey wool with the pattern is a great option for adding more visual texture to your projects.  These are 100% sheep wool, and as I will explain below, that’s an important consideration.

Repurposed Wools

An alternative to new wool wovens is to find and use repurposed wools.  These are typically wool products such as clothing items, blankets, sweaters, and the like that come from thrift stores (or unsuspecting family members.  Shhh.) When choosing wool for future projects, it’s important that the fiber content be at least 80%, and 100% is best (anything less than 80% will not felt!).  It is also important that the wool fibers come from sheep.  While cashmeres are pretty and soft, the nature of cashmere makes it unsuitable for wool projects since the fibers will not felt the same way as sheep wool does, and fraying and other issues can occur.

Thrifted wool jackets.  These are 100% merino wool. All together, this lot was $14.97.

Thrifted wool jackets. These are 100% merino wool. All together, this lot was $14.97.  Don’t limit yourself just to solids!  There are huge varieties of plaids and houndstooth that you can find, as well, and if the color doesn’t suit, consider overdying your wool to see what happens.

In order to use this wool, though, I have to break each jacket down into pieces and then felt it for use.  Keep in mind that it is not possible to use wool that has an interfacing adhered to it, so how much you get from each piece will vary due to its construction. A tighter weave is better, since an open weave may not felt up the way you want it. The nice thing about using commercial and recycled clothes is that the colors are *really* solid and uniform, so if the look of hand dye isn’t what you need right now, there is a pure solid alternative (if you can find it)

Once I have my usable pieces, I will felt it in my washing machine (which will also help remove some of that thrift store smell.  Which reminds me, break things down outside if you’re worried about dust and other particulates).  Felting wool can be tricky and requires a bit of attention, since you want a texture that is still nice and pliable rather than super thick and stiff.  Here’s how I do it:

  • like colors together (wools can bleed, especially hand dyes!), add a bit of detergent to your wash, and wash on a short hot cycle, followed by a cold rinse.  The change in temperature is what helps your wool felt up.
  • check how things are going, and try to keep it no longer than a 15 to 20 minute cycle.
  • in the ancient world on up to the present day, wool was fulled (i.e. felted) in giant tubs with people tromping around on it or beating it with giant wooden paddles.  The beating part of the process is key, and you need to make sure it happens in the wash.  If you don’t have a large enough bundle of things to bump into each other in the wash, I recommend sacrificing an old pair of jeans that will provide something to beat on.  It really helps
  • tumble dry on hot

Threads and Notions

The options here are literally endless.  Pearl Cottons! Silks! Embroidery floss! holographic thread! Poly! Hand stitching or machine! If you like the idea of pretty supplies, then maybe set a limit for yourself before you begin.

Pearl cottons are generally the most frequent threads for wool appliqué (these are by Valdani, which I really love).  They come in cute little balls, and have different weights.  Here I’ve got #8, which is thicker, and #12 which is thinner.  These can be used for your appliqué stitches as well as embroidered details.

woolvaldani

 

 

Aurifil also makes a beautiful wool thread on both spools and cones, called Lana Wool, which is great for machine appliqué , cross stitch and embroidery designs, and quilting.

woollana

LOVE the fuzzy texture here!

 

 

And there are also silk threads, which add a bit of shine (these are Valdani Pearl Silks).

mmmmm shiny

mmmmm shiny

 

As with all threads, the thickness you choose to work with can have an impact on your final project.  Thicker threads and threads that contrast will show up more than those that don’t.

My next post will be about getting started with projects. I would love to see what wools you choose, and the projects you’re thinking about.  Tag them on Instagram or twitter using #mandaleiworks and check out my Pinterest boards for wool appliqué  and embroidery!  I can’t wait to get started on some projects with you!

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Carrie told me in a comment on my Vision Board post that over the course of the year, my board would reveal more of itself, and possibly change meaning as I moved though.  I thought I’d keep track of those changes and go ahead and share them, since I had already shared my board.

One of the things I had put on my board had to do with work.

VisionClosewWork

In particular, see the words turned on their side that say “artists and artisans”? I’ve always struggled with considering myself an artist, but putting this on the board… well, it made me realize that I am both artist and artisan.  Saying it out loud, and giving myself permission to call myself and artist and accept that is what I am was like breaking down a dam: within moments, my brain was flooded with ideas I wanted to explore and work I wanted to make, posts I wanted tow rite and people I wanted to talk to.

Sometimes, all we need is permission from ourselves to just be what and who we are.

 

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Why Quilts Matter will be at QuiltCon!

Why Quilts Matter will be at QuiltCon!


Posted By on Jan 12, 2015

c. 1860, unknown maker. Quilt from "Why Quilts Matter, History Art & Politics" courtesy of The Volckening Collection.

c. 1860, Kentucky, unknown maker. Quilt from “Why Quilts Matter, History Art & Politics” courtesy of The Volckening Collection.

The more I learn about my craft, the more it becomes obvious to me that knowing quilt history is crucial. In addition to the story the maker has when they put it together the first time, I also believe every quilt has a life and  story of their own once they are “released into the wild”.  To use an archaeological term, they have become part of the material record for a culture.  While modern quilters tend to think inside a modern quilting bubble, I think we miss out when we ignore the sheer vastness of knowledge and quilting that is out there to explore.

Why Quilts Matter is a series hosted by Shelly Zegart, a leading expert in quilts and their history over the last 30 years and . Her passion for quilts and their importance for us today is evident in everything she does, and she is also co-founder of The Kentucky Quilt Project, Inc. and The Alliance for American Quilts. I really encourage you to go to those links and spend some time browsing, or better yet, get the DVD (through the sites I linked to or check your local library, where I found mine).  In particular, Why Quilts Matter will be at QuiltCon and will have a booth, documenting the stories of the people there, their work, their quilts, and their joy in the art and craft of making them. If you’re going, maybe give some thought about what you would say about your quilt, and what you might wish people knew about it.  This is part of your and my cultural history.  Hope to see you there!

Bill Volckening provided the image for this quilt, which is featured in “Why Quilts Matter, History Art & Politics” and is part of his collection.  To see what else interests him, go visit his blog at Wonkyworld.

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FastPieceApplique_BlogTour_Banner

Welcome, friends, to my stop on the Fast Piece Applique blog tour! If you love fun applique projects with curves and layering, yet don’t want to have to fiddle endlessly but still get great results, do I have a book for you: Rose Hughes has a new book out called Fast Piece Applique. You can see the piece that I quilted in the banner above (can you tell I’m excited??)! I’m honored and excited to do this, because Rose is a wonderful friend who constantly is offering support and encouragement to me, and  gentle pushes to work on my art on my quilting journey, and she offers to her students the same warmth and encouragement.

Back before I started taking decent pictures.  Sorry!

Back before I started taking decent pictures. Sorry!

I first “met” Rose when I emailed her two years ago to ask if I could get her permission to write about the Fast Piece Applique technique that I was using for a bespoke quilt.  My customer really wanted an appliqued quilt with a large Tree of Life, yet the budget needed to be kept reasonable.  I knew there just had to be a way to do this applique on my longarm, and so I started poking around for different techniques that would allow me to create a detailed piece, and that is when I found Rose!  The rest, they say, is history: Rose and I became good friends, and I have made several quilts and taught my version, adapted for the longarm, in my Craftsy class, which is geared for creative and nontraditional techniques.  While I tend to do my projects large-scale on the longarm, it is a technique I feel is easily adaptable, with pretty much no limit to what you can do.

The top I quilted for Rose uses a variety of washable techniques using water soluble threads and white glue, which she outlines in her book.  The result is a large top that hangs together and which can be loaded on the longarm or quilted on the domestic as a single cohesive top!  The finished result has fun frayed edges, which I love because I love multiple elements of texture.

"Bull's Eye Roses" designed and appliqued by Rose Hughes, quilted by me.  Photo by Bruce Kane, for Martingale

“Bull’s Eye Roses” designed and appliqued by Rose Hughes, quilted by me. Photo by Bruce Kane, for Martingale

For the Blog Tour today, Rose has some pretty great things she’s made for y’all.  For each stop on the tour, she’s provided a free pattern for a Valentine’s Day heart, with a word on it, and she’s picked a word for each of us that she thinks resonates.

leap

Images for all applique designs provided by Rose Hughes

 

My word is “leap”, and it couldn’t be more perfect.  When I think of “leap”, I think of my quilting journey, and how I’ve taken a deep breath and just jumped so many times, wholeheartedly.  You can find the free pattern here (link to PDF)!

They look great all together as a Love Quilt
lovequilt

…or as Love Pillows

lovepillows

BUT WAIT!  THERE’S MORE!  I am happy to tell you that you can win your every own e-book of Fast Piece Applique  by Rose Hughes by leaving a comment below.  Just tell me what project you’d try with this awesome technique when you leave it!  I will leave the contest open until 9 PM EST on 1/16/2015, so a solid week.

To learn more about Rose and her book, and to find the other PDF patterns for the Valentine’s Day hearts, make sure to visit the other stops on the blog tour!

Jan 5th-  KISS– Victoria Findlay Wolfe
http://bumblebeansinc.blogspot.com
Jan 6th – SOUL– Natalie Barnes
http://beyondthereefpatterns.blogspot.com
Jan 7th – SEXY –Maddie Kertay
http://www.badassquilterssociety.com
Jan 8th – SWAK– Teri Lucas-Generation Q
Jan 9th – LEAP– Mandy Leins
Jan 12th- LUST– Megan Dougherty
Jan 13th – HUGS– Jenny Wilding Cardon
Jan 14th – FIRE– Sam Hunter
Jan 15th – SING — Rachel Biel-TAFA

Happy Quilting!

 

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