Archive for the ‘TextileFusion’ Category

Winterling, The Vase

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

The Zwiebelmuster chinaware design is full of flowers, leaves, stems, and curlicues. All of that can be crocheted, appliqued, beaded, and embroidered. So that’s what I did, and it took some time.

You know from reading the earlier post about the Winterling wall hanging, that I photographed a coffeepot as a model for the vase. I enlarged the photo to the size of the wall hanging and printed it. The coffeepot/vase became my pattern, which I consulted for size and shape as well as light, shadow, and the actual blue design.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

For a project like this, I will cut out the paper shape and use it for a template. The photo above shows the paper template next to the fabric vase, which I’ve already pieced from knitted fabrics. The fabric vase is a little bigger than the paper, to give me room to fold under the raw edges.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

Various shades of blue knitting created some highlight and shadow. But tulle or netting is the best for making shadows. More layers of tulle mean darker shadows, as you can see in the photo at right.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

Here are the first few crocheted leaves and flowers, made with No. 10 crochet cotton. I crochet without instructions, measuring my foundation chain against the printed template. Sometimes I have to unravel and recrochet a piece several times, but eventually it turns out alright.

I try to get most of the pieces crocheted before sewing them in place. That’s because I have to pin, unpin, rearrange, and repin many times to get the flowers and leaves to look right.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

Then it’s time to sew. And sew. And sew some more. One day in the middle of February, the weather was so nice and warm, I was able to sit outside with my coffee to do some sewing.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

It’s just about finished here. Yay! After this, I folded under the raw edges and whip stitched them down before handsewing the vase to the wall hanging.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

Winterling

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling

We don’t normally go around leaving coffeepots on the bed, but this is a special coffeepot. It’s from the now-closed Winterling chinaware factory in Schwarzenbach an der Saale in northern Bavaria. My great-grandmother, Lina Schoedel, worked there. One of Winterling’s patterns was the blue and white Zwiebelmuster or onion pattern.

This coffeepot became a vase in my TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling. But this isn’t the first time the Zwiebelmuster has inspired me: the Perspective Daisy and Curly Curlicues designs in Crochet Garden were inspired by the china, as well as the Leaves and Berries Spray (free pattern here).

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling

So back to the coffeepot on the bed. I photographed this scene to help me see how light and shadow would play in my wall hanging. Sometimes I use photos to create patterns for my wall hangings. After manipulating the photos in Adobe Photoshop Elements, I print a full-sized final draft.

Being a fan of color contrast, I chose orange for the background to the blue and white pattern of the coffeepot/vase. I sorted orange yarns into light, medium light, medium, medium dark, and dark qualities, and set to work knitting orange yardage on my Ultimate Sweater machine.

After blocking and stabilizing with fusible interfacing, the knitted yardage was smooth and even.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling

It was time to cut up the knitting! For the curtains and vase, I used my paper pattern to cut pieces to the correct size and shape. For everything else, I cut patches of knitting freehand and fitted them together to form areas of light and shadow. I pinned the patches in place and sewed them to a foundation fabric which wouldn’t be visible in the finished piece.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling

I couldn’t wait to try some flower arrangements. At the International Quilt Festival in Chicago, Spring 2016, participants in my Open Studios session arranged flowers. My first idea was to use blue, violet, and yellow flowers as a contrast to the orange. They soon convinced me that more colors were better.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling

If you’re thinking the vase in these pictures looks funny, you’re right. It’s because I was using my paper pattern as a place holder. But before finalizing the flower arrangement, I needed to create the vase with knitted fabric. That took a while.

CWOW Letters 2

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

detail of Iced Water at the Café Rouge by Suzann Thompson

My letter-writing campaign, Cold Water on Washington, entered its second week, with these notes dated 2/11/17:

Dear Mr. President,

On January 11, 2017, you gave a speech in which you said you would work toward “insurance for everybody.” Great idea! I love it!

If my family didn’t have to pay $1,785 a month for mediocre health coverage, we’d be pleased to put some of that toward taxes to pay for a national health system.

Speaking of a national health system, we lived on the economy in England for seven years, and used their National Health System. It was really good. The United States should learn from England about how to set up a national health system. We might even be able to do better, because we’re Americans, you know.

You also said you want to force drug companies to negotiate drug prices with Medicare and Medicaid. Another great idea! I don’t know why we ever quit doing that in the first place.

But then you fussed and quibbled about how many people showed up to your inauguration. That’s baby stuff. Makes you look bad. Don’t do it again.
That’s all for now.

ST

To Senators Cornyn and Cruz and U S Representative Conway (wording varied slightly among the notes)

Dear…

Please vote AGAINST any legislation that weakens or privatizes Medicare.

[SPECIAL FOR SEN CORNYN—Please withdraw any resolution or legislation you have introduced that weakens or privatizes Medicare. And then vote AGAINST similar efforts.]

Why? Many of the people who depend on Medicare are not easily able to negotiate the complex and confusing world of health insurance. If my mother were to die, my elderly father couldn’t work out the best insurance policy for himself. Many elderly people are in the same position, and they don’t necessarily have daughters or sons nearby to help, like my parents do.

Secondly, if you are truthful sir, even you must admit that health insurance providers have little interest in our good health. Instead, they are focused almost exclusively on enriching themselves and paying their officers stunningly large bonuses.

Sincerely,

ST

PS This note has been paid for…by me, a concerned citizen and your constituent.

Snowflake Wall Hanging

Friday, February 24th, 2017

step by step TextileFusion snowflake wall hanging

My sweet friend Hazel gave me a cardigan she bought years ago in Scotland. It was a pretty example of Fair Isle knitting, done with raglan sleeves. Thank you, Hazel!

The star pattern put me in a wintery, snowy frame of mind, and luckily there were just enough complete star motifs in the sweater for me to cut the long hexagons and form the points of the resulting snowflake.

Knitted scraps from previous wall hangings filled in the background. I sewed the patches together onto a foundation fabric, which won’t be visible in the finished piece.

step by step TextileFusion snowflake wall hanging

Next came quilting and binding, and I used fabrics from another generous person or people. The blue and white fabrics were in the estate of a lady from Germany. Her heirs wanted her fabrics to go to someone who would appreciate them.

I got to be that person! The link was the heirs’ former German teacher, who was also a friend of my mother’s. Thank you to those lovely people! I do appreciate their mother’s fabrics and laces and vintage handwork.

step by step TextileFusion snowflake wall hanging

As I’ve said many times, embellishment is my favorite part in the process of making wall hangings. There would be lots of button-sewing in my future.

step by step TextileFusion snowflake wall hanging

I was conflicted about which look to go for. I liked the subtle transparent and white buttons at the left of this photo and my daughter agreed. However, the bold blue buttons on the right seemed a better design choice.

Lately when in doubt, I go to Instagram. Many Instagram friends answered “Go for the bold!” Only one person agreed with Ella and me. I went with the majority.

Here are the blue buttons all sewn on.

step by step TextileFusion snowflake wall hanging

I’m still going to add transparent and white buttons around the flake. Looking forward to enjoying that zen zone of button sewing.

Cold Water on Washington

Monday, February 13th, 2017

Iced Water at the Café Rouge by Suzann Thompson

Finally, a purpose for my many Iced Water at the Café Rouge greeting cards! I’m using them to write to the President and my representatives in Congress. I think of it as throwing Cold Water on Washington, because I like silly titles, and it makes a good acronym: CWOW. C-WOW!

These letters are about general topics, not urgent ones. My friend Alissa told me that letters in envelopes are delayed because of security checks for powdered substances. I’m going to follow her advice and buy postcards to send any time-sensitive messages.

Since my letters probably won’t be read by the people to whom they are addressed, I’m posting them here for everyone else to read. Enjoy!

These notes were dated February 4.

Mr. President,

Regarding your conversation with Prime Minister Turnbull of Australia, unnamed sources allegedly offered “fatigue” as an explanation for your rudeness. Just in case this is true, I’m going to tell you what I have often told my children: tiredness is no excuse for bad behavior. But you’re not a child, so really, you have absolutely no valid excuses for bad behavior.

When you find you have acted rudely or badly, own it. Do not expect others to make excuses for you. Apologize. Do better in the future.

That’s all for now.
ST

I wrote notes with slightly different wording, depending on the circumstances, to Senators Cornyn and Cruz and US Representative Conway. Here is the basic idea:

Dear Senator/Representative,

Now that you have begun the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act, I would like to suggest that you replace it with a national healthcare system like the one in England.

My family used the National Health System when we lived in England for seven years. It is very good. No matter how tight our finances were, we knew we could get medical care. This prevents many medical problems from progressing to a point where heroic and expensive intervention is needed.

Nowadays, for our family of four, we pay $1,785 per month for mediocre health insurance. Our deductible is $6,500. I would be pleased to stop paying this exorbitant rate, and put some of it toward higher taxes to pay for a national healthcare system.

That’s all for now.
ST

PS Please hire more staffers to answer your phones, or get a voicemail box with more memory.

Iced Water at the Café Rouge by Suzann Thompson

A Worthy Accomplishment

Sunday, January 8th, 2017

A Worthy Accomplishment, crochet and quilt art, by Suzann Thompson

“Art imitates life,” people say. Recently, I saw art holding up a mirror to life, and the mirror reflected much more than I can usually see with the unaided eye.

At the movies we saw a preview of a boy who draws a monster into life, who frightens the bullies in the boy’s life. In our main feature, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a sad, desperate, and powerless person inadvertently turned frustration into a powerful external force that destroyed buildings and killed people. This force manifested as a storm of destructive particles.

At home, we watched Star Trek Beyond, where the huge, fancy Starship Enterprise is taken down by a swarm of tiny spaceships, under the command of an unhappy former Starfleet officer.

Two takeaways for me: desperation can turn into a deadly force; lots of tiny things can take down a big thing. These two phenomena are happening in our world’s population right now.

Which brings me quite naturally, I think you will agree, to my latest wall hanging, A Worthy Accomplishment.

Our United States culture worships enormity. Large corporations, huge wealth and fame, amazing feats of technology are admired and given special treatment. In contrast, regular people who do regular thing, like raising children, cleaning, cooking, going to work every day and other essential but not very exciting or profitable things, are treated as insignificant.

I think we need a more balanced approach. It’s fine to admire amazing things, and we should also value and admire everyday work and achievement. We need to acknowledge the contribution of people who take care of all the everyday things in this country, because they are the foundation on which our society is built.

For my own part, I want to bring to your attention the contribution of many thousands of women (mostly) who took the time to crochet a doily to beautify their homes, or a pretty trim to make a pillowcase or coverlet more inviting.

I can guarantee you that many of these creators would say, “Oh that’s nothing, really. It’s just something I made.”

I say, “It is something, precisely because you made it.” It is something handmade, with love or curiosity and certainly with skill. It is something to be proud of, something beautiful, something worthy.

A Worthy Accomplishment, crochet and quilt art, by Suzann Thompson

Evolution of Minimalism

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

Evolution of Minimalism, by Suzann Thompson

In the late 1990s, minimalism in home décor was all the rage in England—at least that’s what we read in the newspapers at the time. Minimalist homes were clean, cleaner, cleanest! They were calm, uncluttered. Any decoration not strictly necessary for function was not allowed.

Minimalism is not my style, because I like decoration and stuff within easy reach. But I can see the attraction. It’s so full of potential—lots of surfaces to fill with books, paper, pens, vases, coffee cups.

For all the functional trendiness of minimalism, I feel that human eyes crave variation and decoration. So here’s a wall hanging all about how we may enjoy the starkness of minimalism for a while, and what happens next. Its title is Evolution of Minimalism.

In the beginning, we have the most minimal nine-patch ever. Sewn with patches of the exact same plain fabric, it is totally uncluttered. It’s so calming, so clean, so… Evolution of Minimalism, by Suzann Thompson

…so, well, boring. Hey, could we vary the color a little? Just to give it some interest?Evolution of Minimalism, by Suzann Thompson

That helped. A contrasting color would perk it up even more. But don’t worry, we can hold on to our minimalist roots by using the original colors.Evolution of Minimalism, by Suzann Thompson

Oooo! That squiggly pattern in the middle is kind of fun. It might be even more interesting to have some texture.Evolution of Minimalism, by Suzann Thompson

Love that single button in the middle, and the mother-of-pearl button fabric! Very subtle, how the pearl button fabric is next to the ocean wave patterned fabric. Clever. If one button is good, four buttons are better. Evolution of Minimalism, by Suzann Thompson

The nine-patch is getting kind of old. Whoa—this log cabin block is perfect. Evolution of Minimalism, by Suzann Thompson

Do you sense a tipping point? The log cabin is turning into a log pentagon. Do I see some red? Woo hoo!Evolution of Minimalism, by Suzann Thompson

Colors and buttons and flowers are busting out all over! Evolution of Minimalism, by Suzann Thompson

This is great! Lots of color! Lots of pattern! Lots of texture! It’s wonderful! Evolution of Minimalism, by Suzann Thompson

Evolution of Minimalism, by Suzann Thompson Wow. All this stuff is wearing me out, making me tired. Let’s clean up all this clutter and get back to basics. We’re going back to the beginning. Evolution of Minimalism, by Suzann Thompson

And so the natural evolution of minimalism goes.

It’s all coded in the DNA.

Evolution of Minimalism, by Suzann Thompson

Threads of Texas Quilt Show 2016

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

Threads of Texas Quilt Show 2016

The Town ‘n Country Quilt Guild’s biennial quilt show, Threads of Texas, is over for 2016. I imagine there are some members still recovering from organizing and staffing this wonderful exhibit.

My friend Peggy and I sold tickets for four hours. We met lots of people eager to see the quilts, shop for supplies and gifts, and have a little lunch.

Along with our friends Hazel and Donna from the weekly Dublin Rippers bee, we entered several quilts in the show. We laughingly considered changing our name temporarily to “The Ribbon Ladies,” because between us, we won a total of ten or eleven ribbons!

Afternoon won a blue ribbon (first place) in the category “Other Techniques—Small.” I posted in-progress photos of Afternoon earlier in this blog.

Threads of Texas Quilt Show 2016

You’ll also find some blog posts about Red Vases, which won second place in the same category. Same for Antelope Horns, coming in at third place.

I haven’t written about Crochet Comets yet (but I will!). It is my first quilt made from quilting fabric, and it’s embellished with doilies. Crochet Comets and Red Vases won merit ribbons for embellishment.

Threads of Texas Quilt Show 2016

Peggy has already planned what she’s going to sew for Threads of Texas 2018. I’m not sure what I’m going to enter, but I am sure looking forward to it!

Threads of Texas Quilt Show 2016

Finally Finished Red Vases

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

Four a day flower sewing worked well for Firewheel Meadow, so I started with that regimen until a more urgent project distracted me.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

While appliqueing flowers (not my absolute favorite job in a wall hanging), I listened to The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu. Listening helped me stay focused, because I really wanted to hear the next chapter and so I had to keep on sewing.

At last, all the flowers were sewn in place. My friend Peggy said, “Those bluebells need something. How about beads?” Again, a different perspective helped. I added the beads.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

The wall hanging rejected all but a few of my attempts to add buttons. A Gail Hughes green button nestled comfortably among leaves, a polymer clay button was a good flower center. But mostly, the buttons were too showy and they detracted from the flowers.

Okay, so… less showy buttons?

Yes!! I hid small tan buttons among the flowers, adding texture and interest, without drawing too much attention.

Red Vases is finished, and it will make its debut at the Town and Country Quilt Guild Show in October. Peggy said, “It will win a ribbon.” That would be nice!

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

The crocheted flowers and leaves on Red Vases are from my books Crochet Bouquet and Crochet Garden. To purchase these books, please follow links on the sidebar to amazon.com.

Arranging Flowers in Red Vases

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

When I’m arranging embellishments for a wall hanging, I like to get other peoples’ input. It helps me see things from a different perspective.

In the past, my daughters helped me out (and here, too). In April, participants in the International Quilt Festival (Chicago) Open Studios event arranged and rearranged flowers for Red Vases. We discussed the merits of different color combinations, flower shapes, and number of flowers.

Here are a few options we came up with:

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

Back at home, I consulted these photos while making the final arrangement for Red Vases, and this is it:

Wait! On second thought, this became the really, really final arrangement.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

Now to sew all those flowers in place.