Creativity vs Productivity

I was reading MQResource webpage last night and found a great article about creativity and how to deal with creative slumps. It has some excellent references, one of which is to Lisa Call’s blog. Lisa is an incredible woman with a full-time job and family and world of textile art. It’s hard to know how she keeps up with it all.

For me, the issues are not only creative slumps, but also productivity. I used to blame it on my day job, but that no longer exists. And I do have serious family obligations–but who doesn’t? I have only finished a couple of digital designs in the last two months–and should be doing at least two per week. I have been trying to put a portfolio of five quilts together by Monday, July 5; and that’s not finished either. In order to get it done, something will have to give, so there are decisions as to what will give. I lay awake last night thinking it through–the dog prompted this thinking by barking at 4:30 am.

Part of the issue is that sometimes I do things and then am not pleased with them enough to show them. So, I sometimes actually throw them away, but usually give them away as anonymous pieces. Anyway, the decision is made. Family is more important on this holiday weekend. I’m not going to burn the midnight oil on quilting–I’m going to enjoy my family. And the quilting will get done when it’s done.

Here’s what I’m doing now–some really fun projects–some finishes and some beginnings:

I’ve been working on ‘Delirious Again’ and am almost finished. My quilting plan is random overlapping spirals. I just have a few holes to fill. Here’s what it looks like so far:

I saw an artist’s work when I was looking at the Artcenter web page. I loved her work so much that I contacted her and asked her if she would work with me to put her designs into quilts. Her name is Jody Cedzidlo of Flytrap Studios. She does custom screen printing and limited edition garments. I provided her with fabric, and she screen printed a huge stack of fat quarters and squares for me. Now, I have to incorporate these into some sort of quilt design. I have had some of her designs up on my wall for awhile. I am still not sure what I will do with them, but have some ideas. Actually, I am thinking that the ones that are on the darker fabric may be quilted as individual prints and mounted on canvas. I was thinking of creating the frame for the individual prints with the Shiva oil pastels. Here is a preview of Jody’s prints and my beginning thoughts:

Sometimes WordPress makes me crazy – no matter what I do – it won’t order the images the way I want them. And today, I’m not going to fight it!

Delirious Again is on the frame

I finished piecing this yesterday. Because it’s set on point, I got two of the borders measured wrong. Haven’t done that in ages, but there were puckers, so I took it off the frame measured and re-measured, laid it out flat on my 12′ quilting table, pinned it well, and re-stitched. It’s good now. When it is hanging, it looks a bit ripply, but it lays completely flat on the frame and will be perfect once it’s quilted. Remind me the next time I start making something on point that I like really flat quilt tops and straight of grain is so much easier – LOL!

I’m doing random spirals all over on it. Here’s what it looks like on the frame.

The blue-violet looks completely blue in the photos, but it really is more purple. And the green is very bright as I’m quilting over it. I had some trouble with skipped stitches, but turned my needle just a bit and it’s running great now. Will keep you posted.

Ribbon Weave Quilt (Accuquilt strip die friendly)

This is a quick and easy quilt to make and can easily be cut using the 2 1/2″ and 3 1/2″ Accuquilt strip dies, or it can be cut using your rotary cutter. Either way, cutting the 8 1/2″ strips across the width of fabric is the best way to do this. It means your strips are cut on the lengthwise grain and they stretch less when you’re sewing.

It has been blazing hot here. I hope everyone is staying as cool as possible. We’re looking for cooler temps, lower 90s, later in the week.

I’ve been working on ‘Delirious Again’, which is what I’ve decided to name her. Hopefully will have pictures tomorrow.

Click on the image below for instructions for the Ribbon Weave quilt.

Ribbon Weave (click for instructions)

Delirious Again

I do love the name – probably more than the work I’ve done. But thought I’d do an update on what I’ve done and where I’m going with this.So–from the beginning: I used Karen Stone’s pattern for Delirious and did fused raw edge applique with an applique stitch and with free motion applique stitches. I also created the same design with Shiva Paintstiks using freezer paper as the stencil. The pieces I liked the most were the free motion applique blocks. However, a little voice inside told me that the painted blocks were ‘neater’ and more orderly. I looked at them and wanted some contrast between the motif and the background, so I cut them out and appliqued them onto different colors. They’re definitely neat and orderly now. I’m not throwing away the free motion applique blocks – they go in my orphan block stash – and I will stifle that little voice when I’m ready to use them.

I worked on this in EQ7 and this is the color scheme that looked good on the computer screen.

EQ7 Delirious image

Then I put the blocks on my design wall. The only blues in my stash with enough yardage were just too light. I was using a light red orange batik for the red blocks. I tried different red-orange fabrics. I kept walking away, taking off my glasses, and looking at it and nothing worked. Finally out of frustration –I was not going to the quilt store on Friday afternoon — I grabbed the color wheel (which I never do) from the wall and started turning it. It told me that I had a triadic red-orange, yellow-green, blue-violet color scheme. So, I went back to my stash and found just enough of a brighter red-orange to exactly make the backgrounds and sashing. I also found a Fossil Fern in blue-violet that worked. So here are the colors. Between the computer screen and the flash the colors are off a bit:

Delirious painted blocks
Blocks, Fabric for Delirious

I’m supposed to wait seven days for the paint to set and then heat set it. What I’m really going to do is to heat-set it today and put them in water to dissolve the applique stabilizer, dry them, and put this baby together.

In the meantime, this is a quilt of Norma’s that I have on the frame. Have finally decided on a quilting design.  This has taken a lot of doodling, but will show you as I go along. This has a lot of white space, but also lots of straight lines. I love to feather things, but that just isn’t right for this one. It needs ferns or palms I think. Have been doing the SID and stabilizing it and will start on the background next.

Norma's Circle of Geese
Norma's Circle of Geese

Strip Quilts that are so pretty!

A pattern designer who creates beautiful patterns that are both traditional and non-traditional is Terry Atkinson at Atkinson Designs. I have long admired Terry’s work not only for the designs, but also for the colors she uses. Do you remember as a child when you were learning to sew and you looked at the pattern front and thought that the fabric in the sketch was exactly what you were going to make? It took me forever to convince one of my daughters that it was the style–not the fabric– that she was choosing. But it is true that when we look at quilt patterns, we often view the colors used on the pattern sample when we decide whether to purchase / use a pattern. We all vary in our ability to view other color schemes. I love Terry’s color schemes as well as her designs.

I just want to say that if you’re going to pay money for a pattern, Terry’s new patterns are well worth it. Her Popsicle Sticks, Urban Cabin, and Pie Crust are all wonderful strip pieced quilts and could easily be made using your Accuquilt GO strip dies. She also has some cute accessory patterns – the Zippy Strippy bag and the Pockets to Go – if you like to make bags and boxes.

I think everyone has loved ‘You Can Quilt That Out’! I have watched it multiple times. It is so funny and so true and so well done. Kudos to Mavis Rosbach who created this video.

The forecast here is for heat and 101 degrees with late afternoon Tstorms. The humidity here feels like being smothered with a bear hug in a steam bath.  Have a wonderful summer day and find a cool swimming pool if you can!

You Can Quilt That Out (video)

Another longarm quilter put this video by Mavis Rosbach at Quiltbird Studio on Facebook, and I thought it was so funny and it happens every day; so I just had to share. Hope this gives everyone a chuckle. We’ve all had quilts that were just a bit wonky. It’s amazing what can be quilted out.

My most famous one is the “Lady of the Lake” quilt that my Mother made. She was having a stroke as she finished it and her vision was not good. Many of the pieces have the white fabric turned to the wrong side and there were lots of D cups on that one. I put so many stitches in that thing that no one will ever tell. It also won a ribbon at the guild show.

Here’s a picture.

Now, here’s the video:

edit: Lyrics by Cathy Miller, Video by Mavis Rosbach

Brick Four-Patch Scrap Quilt

Over the weekend, I worked on instructions for another quilt that uses the 3 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ brick Accuquilt die. This one also uses the 3 1/2″ strip die. I have seen this quilt done lots of times and it is a very pretty quilt. It could also be done using the 2 1/2″ strip die and width of fabric precuts that are 4 1/2″ wide to be fanfolded across the 2 1/2″ strip die to make bricks.

Here’s a picture from EQ7 showing the quilt. Click the quilt image for a link to the instructions. Also note that I have been making my instructions in EQ6/EQ7. In the software, I go to Layer 2 and write the instructions using the text tool. Then I move the text box above or below the quilt so that it does not cover up the quilt image. The text becomes a part of the quilt image. I can then print a photo of the quilt to an adobe file, and I have both image and instructions in one and it’s all on one page!

Brick Four Patch Scrap Quilt

On other fronts, we’re still struggling with what to do for Ezriel and the remnants of her brain tumor. After three surgeries, the little pieces that are left are literally threads. It is complicated though because the strands can be seen on MRI, but the surgeons say that during surgery the strands are indistinguishable from healthy tissue. Thus, it is hard to delineate exactly where to cut to completely remove them. In addition, these strands are beside the optic nerve. Meanwhile, Ezri is having as many as 70 or more dacrystic and absence seizures daily. Her mom increased her antiseizure meds late last week and she seemed to be doing a little better when we saw her this weekend. However, the doctors at Barrow Neurological Institute are scheduling a series of appointments to include consultations with the gamma knife team as well as the pediatric microvascular surgeons. As always, your prayers and kind wishes are appreciated.

Bricks and Squares

I am quilting today – and can’t wait to get to it. I also am trying to document all of the charity / comfort and donation quilt patterns that our quilting group has done over the past few years. I belong to a group called the Slap Happy Quilters, and our focus is to provide comfort quilts to patients at the Alamance Regional Cancer Center.

We made this Bricks and Squares quilt in 2004. It finishes at about 48 x 60 inches which is just perfect for comfort quilts.

I believe that when we made it, we used 5 inch squares. However, I have modified this to fit the dies for my Accuquilt GO. Thus, the pattern has been adjusted for a finished 6 inch block and the 3 x 6 inch finished bricks. The dies themselves are 6 1/2″ square and 3 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ bricks.I also added a second variation. There are more ways to turn these blocks for different quilts, so try them out and see what you can do.
Bricks and Squares instructions link

Bricks and Squares
Bricks and Squares

One that I’m not going to tackle right now

I am always looking for ways to use my Accuquilt GO, and thought I’d found the perfect quilt. I love the way it looks. But beware, there are bias edges ahead. Of course, I thought I could find a way around that and could make a better mousetrap–quilt that is. So, I sewed strips together and stitched around the outside edges and cut through the middle, I stitched through the middle and cut through the middle. Alas, those bias edges never went away. I can do this, but am not willing to tell the inexperienced that this is a great quilt to make. I would recommend this only for the experienced quilter who is not afraid of bias edges. As a longarm quilter, the last thing I want are D cups on my quilt frame. Anyway, here’s the link: Hidden Wells – and good luck! This is an absolutely gorgeous quilt finished.

The primary reason I was not excited about the instructions in the link is that the seams did not alternate without a lot of fussing. I always want a system for pressing so that the seams in a quilt alternate and there are no lumpy bulges anywhere. This is one that I would put on my design board with the wrong side facing me, just so I could see the seams and make sure they were going to all go in the right direction before sewing the blocks together.

Oh well, I spent quite a few days thinking about this and made four sets of sample blocks. Two sets were perfectly flat, two sets were D cups–bummer. In the meantime, I finished quilting one and stitched together a baby quilt. I’ll have pictures up tomorrow for you, and a more positive message.

My EQ7 upgrade is going to be delivered today. YAY!!!!!!!!!!

Cutting Fusible Applique with Scissors

The last few days I have been talking about my Delirious challenge and how to make it look the way I want it to look. I finally figured out the stitching part, but cutting was very tedious. I ran across this video on Youtube via Facebook and am linking to it here. Stacy Michell does Hawaiian applique, but the principles are the same. Folding this into quarters just like you would a snowflake is perfect. And it really works for the rings on the Delirious project. Cutting is so quick and easy, I couldn’t believe it. Who would ever think about stapling their fabric. I did it and it really works. The staple remover she uses can be found at any office supply. Maybe I’ll make more than a couple of orphan blocks.

Here’s the video.