Archive for the ‘TextileFusion’ Category

Crochet Comets

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Crochet Comets, by Suzann Thompson

At our 2015 Dublin Rippers quilting retreat, my friend Donna challenged us. She had a black plastic bag full of fabric. We had to close our eyes and reach into the bag. We had until the next year’s retreat to make something from the fabric we drew from the bag. She said we could make anything we wanted. It didn’t have to be a quilt.

My fabric was a tiny print that gave an overall impression of a kind of pinkish gray. It reminded me of the night sky.

Weren’t there a couple of yellow and white doilies in my collection at home that might make good comets? I went home to my doily collection and, yes! There they were.

 step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Crochet Comets, by Suzann Thompson

To get an idea of scale, I photographed the doilies and the gray fabric, plus some yellow fabrics that I planned to use for the comet tails. I used Adobe Photoshop Elements to digitally build the wall hanging, cutting and pasting the images of doilies and fabric.

I put several stars in the sky, just to give me an idea of how they would look. In the real wall hanging, I would use more stars and they would be a lot fancier. And I’d sew on a bunch of buttons as smaller stars.

Photoshop Elements has a click-and-drag tool for drawing boxes and circles and, hey—stars! I clicked on the star shape and dragged the first one. It was black, because that was the last color I had used. I changed the color, and the next stars were yellow.

 step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Crochet Comets, by Suzann Thompson

The sketch was pretty rough, but it served its purpose. I could tell that the quilt would have to be about five feet wide to give the doily comets and their tails enough room. The horizon and a few houses gave me an idea of proportions between sky and earth.

I started laying out the quilt top, stopping only to buy a length of fabric to go between the dark earth and the lighter sky. As I worked and laid out the doilies and houses and moon, I got a feeling. It was definitely located in my chest. It was a feeling of inevitability that seemed to squeeze my heart.

The feeling was that the sketch might be rough, but it was perfect the way it was. Any attempt on my part to fancy things up, would not make the finished product look any better. As I worked I came to know this without a doubt.

So the quilt is as close to the sketch as possible. I did fancy up the comet tails with buttons and beads, but the sky is plain, except for the appliqued stars, including a black one.

 step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Crochet Comets, by Suzann Thompson

The back is made from scraps, many of which were giveaways from my quilting friends. It is quilted in mostly parallel, curving lines. That took a long time.

This was my first mostly-fabric quilt with raw-edge applique and very simple piecing, and I learned a lot. It is also the biggest quilt I have made so far.

Crochet Comets is on display at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Golden, Colorado, until April 23, 2017. Starting July 1, it will be part of the Celebrate Doilies! exhibit, making its debut in Stephenville, Texas, at the Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council River North Gallery. (Details here.)

 step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Crochet Comets, by Suzann Thompson

Arranging Flowers for Winterling

Monday, March 27th, 2017

I had to try many different flower arrangements before finding my favorite for Winterling. It was fun! Here are a few:

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson  TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

Hmmm. Yeah, the white flowers seem too startlingly bright. So for the next try, I took the daisies off and also the big sunflower, because I thought it was too heavy and large for the composition.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

How about the one on the left?—it’s kind of minimal with a more controlled color selection. Given a choice, I usually go for fancy over minimal. The next one is alright.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

Thinking the sunflower might not be too heavy after all, I added it back in. Yep, I think this is the one.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

After pinning all the flowers and leaves in place, it was time to sit down and sew. And I mean sew for a long time.

Something kept bothering me about the Samarkand Sunflower which has a yellow center, then a white round and a band of periwinkle blue before the round of white petals. The blue band looked too plain and big. A few bright yellow seed beads took care of that problem.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

After sewing the flowers on, I appliqued a crocheted picot vine in the borders. Each picot has a seed bead on it, which is stitched in place to keep the picot from curling. Buttons berries grow from the vine.

That does it for Winterling! Want to know where the flower patterns are from? Visit this post at the Curious and Crafty readers blog to find out.

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