She’s a Cutie! My Latest Portrait Quilt Completed.

A little girl hoding a colourful sand pail stands on a beach.

Summer Fun Quilted

I have finished my latest portrait quilt, the little girl at the beach, and decided to call the quilt “Summer Fun”. She has turned out to be quite cute! I love her sparkly blue eyes and her sweet smile.

Close-up of girl's face

Detail of Summer Fun

Now I have to decide what the next one will be. I have two pictures that I am considering. One is a little girl sitting on a porch, and another is one of three boys in hockey uniforms, circa 1934. Subscribe to my blog, and find out what is next!

 

Gallery News

“Summer Fun” and a number of my other quilts are currently hanging in the Blankstein Gallery, on the second floor of the Millennium Library in downtown Winnipeg, MB. Here are a couple of photos of the preparations for hanging the show and a few of the quilts.

Laying out the quilts

Laying out the quilts

First we laid out the quilts on the floor, to decide the order in which they would hang. My husband was wonderful as a helper. Here he is putting a hanging rod in one of the quilts:

Getting the hangers ready

Getting the hangers ready

The next step was to actually get the quilts hung. It took us 2 1/2 hours to get it all done! It went faster after the first two, when we had figured out the easiest way to hang them. Here are some of the quilts on exhibit:

Vintage Portraits

Vintage Portraits

Nature's Glory

Nature’s Glory

And here is the view in to the gallery from the library:

 

View from the entrance of the Gallery

View from the entrance of the Gallery

It was wonderful to see them all hung. I hope that if you are in the area you can check it out! The gallery is open during library hours . The exhibit runs from August 3 – 30, 2015.

From Ugly Duckling to Swan

I decided, after I posted my progress on the little girl, that she was in fact rather an “ugly duckling”. I spent a couple of days, filled with angst, before I figured out what was wrong. I made a number of changes to her face, and hair (and straightened her eyes), and am much happier with the result. Part of the problem, with the look of the little girl, was the lack of eyebrows (see previous post). Also, I felt that her hair looked too orange, so out came the Tsukineko inks. I figured that if I hated the changes, I could always give her new hair. I am pleased to say that all worked out well! The new colour looks much nicer, and the highlights and shadows are in place. She also now has feet and shoes which helps. Don’t you just love her strappy sandals?!

A little standing on a beach, holding a sand pail.

Girl in sunsuit revisited

I am now creating a beach scene in the background, complete with sand castle! So far, I only have a piece of paper standing in for the sand castle, as a prop, to see how it will fit in to the scene. I didn’t have a fabric that I liked for the water, so I painted some white fabric with Setacolor transparent paint. I love the look of the rolling waves.  A small island in the distance helps with perspective and a piece of multicolour fabric is pinned in place, as a test, to see if I like it for the sand pail. If this piece is like any of my other works in progress, it will undergo several more changes before its final look. Do you go with the flow when you are working on a piece, or do you have a plan and stick to it? I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

Sun and Sand

 

A little girl, dressed in a sunsui and carrying a sand pail, stans in front of some bushes.

I have been working on my latest vintage portrait of a little girl with a sand pail. I loved her smile, the funky sunsuit, pail and sandals. Don’t you just love the tan line on her legs? It looks as though she normally wears longer shorts.

Since so much of her face is in dark shadow, the trick was to create what I couldn’t see. I think that she is coming along fairly well. Her face will gain more definition after adding stitching. It is always hard to remember that the stitching adds so much life, and detail, to the portrait.

And now, I see below, that I need to move one of her irises, as she is looking a little cross-eyed.

 

Girl started

Girl started

I have changed her hair twice now, as I didn’t like the first set of highlights that I did, and originally I had given her a little flip of hair on the left, but decided it looked odd, so cut it off. I like the rounded look of the cap of hair better.

Do you make adjustments as you work, or do you keep to a set path in your work?

I find photos a great help for me to notice little things that need adjusting. It is so easy now with digital cameras!

Do you take photos of your work as you go?

Snow fun!

“Fun in the Snow” has been completed! Thanks for all the suggestions for names!

Fun in the Snow

Fun in the Snow

I didn’t quite finish it, by my deadline of the 15th of June. However, I wasn’t far off, as I had it quilted and blocked by the 18th! The faces looked a bit too wrinkly, so when I blocked the quilt, I blocked the faces separately, along with the edges of the quilt. It worked great! The faces look much better now.

Just the sleeve, and the label, to add, which I will do when I take a break to watch TV.

I wish that you could see it up close. The sparkle on the snow fabrics is really great.

I quilted it on my HQ Sweet 16, and really found it much easier than using my regular sewing machine. All that throat space is quite wonderful!

Next Project

I am now on to the next project – a little girl in a sunsuit and sandals, holding a sand pail. Keep watch for updates coming soon!!

 

Exhibition Update

Well, I didn’t get them all sewn down, before I left for Quilt Canada, but I was happy with what I had done. I knew, that I only had a few more pieces of fabric to sew down, once I got back home. The plan is to get these guy done by mid- June, for my solo exhibition, so I have to concentrate and work hard!

4-Kids-done---no-background

The kids were cut out of the backing that I had used – in this case stabilizer. I will never use this again as it is too stiff, and wrinkles badly. Lesson learned! I was able to cut some of it away, but left the rest in place.

The kids were then placed on the background that I had started.

Kids-with-sleigh-and-trees-

I found a lovely fabric, at a local quilt shop, that looked to me a lot like falling snow. Wonderful for the sky! The trees were painted and appliqued on. Some time was spent determining their final positions. I wanted them to frame the kids on the sleigh.

Then on to sewing everything down. It always surprises me how long it takes. Why I don’t know, as I have done this many times. Maybe wishful thinking that it will be faster this time!

Here they are with more snow added and additional detail on the faces.

Kids-with-sleigh-and-snow

The next step is the quilting. First, detail quilting the boys, and then on to the background.

I always have a hard time coming up with names for my art. Is this a problem for you too?

I am trying to think of a name for this quilt. Perhaps the Four Musketeers. What do you think? What name would you give this piece? Can you help me out? I would love it if you would!

Last minute changes

Based on a comment by a reader – Thanks Marg – I added further detail to the eyes of the boy at the front of the sleigh. My husband says “he is now looking at you, rather than staring”. Check it out below:

Eyes on boy at front of sleigh have added detail.

Eyes on boy at front of sleigh have added detail.

I like the change!

Preparing for a New Exhibit

Exciting news! I will have an exhibit in the Portage & District Arts Centre Gallery, in Portage la Prairie, MB next year, from April 4 – May 14, 2016.

The exhibit will be called “Past Lives“, and it will feature my portraits created from vintage black and white photographs.

To celebrate, I am planning on featuring my progress here in my blog, as I work on various portraits for the show.

The fist one is four little boys on a sled.

Original photograph of four kids on a sleigh.

Original photograph of four kids on a sleigh.

I loved the four children piled on to the sleigh. They looked like they were having a lot of fun.

Note: In my research on this unusual design of this sleigh, I found out that this is considered a bob sled. The definition being a sled, or sleigh, with the front runners moving independently of the rear ones.  I found some pictures of log pulling sleighs with similar runners. The idea being that if the front runners move separately from the back, the sleigh will go around corners easily.

 

Enlarged photo and line drawing of 4 chidlren on bob sled

Enlarged photo and line drawing of 4 chidlren on bob sled

Having recently learned how to select part of a photo, through a Photoshop Elements class at Pixeladies  I removed the kids from their back ground – a rather boring part of a house and changed the direction they were heading. I plan on creating an outdoor setting for them.

I then enlarged the photo to the size that I wanted. I traced the main elements on to a plastic overlay this time. Usually I use tracing paper, but thought that I would give this method a try. It didn’t work that well for me, although I know of many artists who use the plastic all the time. First, I found the plastic much heavier to lift, and second, that somehow some of the fabric pieces ended up stuck to the plastic, when I raised it to add another piece. Very irritating! I think that I will probably go back to using tracing paper. Anyone else have a preference, or have any hints for using plastic as an overlay?

Once I got started on the kids, I really enjoyed putting the pieces together. I had discovered some cotton fabrics at a local quilt store, Quilt as Desired, that looked like various woven or linen fabrics, and came in 3 or 4 values of the same colour. A real bonus when doing portraits!

Here are two of the guys with all the fabrics in place:

Picture showing part of the enlaged photo of four small boys on a sleigh and the line tracing.

Picture showing tracing overlay on plastic and two children done in fabric

A lot of the fun of doing these vintage portraits is researching the elements in the photos. All the  kids had those old fashioned rubber boots with the metal closures, and big loose mitts. It was fun finding different fabrics for the mitts and socks. Did you know that in the 1930’s McCall’s patterns had patterns for these snowsuits complete with the helmet-like caps?

Now on to finishing these four guys before I go to Quilt Canada on June 2! I have two quilts, Stepping Out and The Bather, in the Juried show and am soooo excited about seeing them hanging in the show.

Keep posted for future developments in the work involved in getting ready for a solo show. To easily follow my blog, subscribe to my Studio Updates (the box on the lower left).

 

Let there be light! Adding an LED lighting strip to Your Sewing Machine.

The thing that I most wanted for a Christmas present this year was LED lighting for my sewing machine. And, oh joy!, I go it!  The LED light strip, with self adhesive backing, mounts under the throat of your sewing machine. Once switched on you have lots of light, exactly where you want it!

LED-lights-brightness

LED Brightness

This is the light that I get with the LED lighting! This picture looks dark, as my camera registered all that extra glow. A great improvement from the previous situation, see below:

 

Janome sewing machineThis was my sewing machine before, with just the usual sewing machine light turned on. A pool of light in the area of the needle.

LED-Lighting strip-on-sewing-machin

Here is how the LED strip looks on my machine. I have tape holding the connector in place, but will replace this with double sided tape, placed behind the connector.

I added a dimmer switch for those times when I don’t need as much light. You could add a regular switch, or eliminate the switch entirely, and just plug it in to a receptacle. The whole setup cost $44.50, before tax, at Lee Valley Tools .   The parts purchased were one foot of LEDS (minimum length you can buy), a wire lead to connect the LEDS strip to the switch, a dimmer switch and a power supply. Since I only used half of the light strip on this sewing machine, I have another 6″ to use elsewhere. The cost without the switch was $21.00.

The dimmer switch sits just behind my machine:

Dimmer-Switch-for-LEDS

 

And the power supply sits next to the sewing machine.

Power-supply-for-LED-lights

 

I am quite pleased with how these lights work! I can now easily see my stitching, but find it especially helpful when I do free motion quilting with light thread on a light background.

Cool Quilting Gadgets – Wonder Clips

A lot of you may know about Clover’s Wonder Clips already, but I just recently tried them out, and I am thrilled. This is one of those cool quilting gadgets!

Close-up of Wonder Clip - cool quilting gadgets

Close-up of a Wonder Clip

These clips work well for holding the binding on the edge of the quilt when you are sewing the binding to the quilt by machine; are great for when you are hand sewing the edge of the binding down, or for holding the edge of the facing in place for sewing.

The back of the clip is flat, and this allows the layers of fabric to move smoothly towards the presser foot, when machine sewing. The rounded top edge allows for all those layers of fabric and batting to lie flat. The  clips are easy to remove as you sew, and do not distort the edge of the quilt, as happens when you use straight pins. The clips have a good firm grip as well.

Wonder Clips -cool quilting gadgets

Wonder Clips holding the binding for machine sewing

I can see a further use for these amazing clips, such as holding the layers of fabric together while I sew a tote, or other bag.

Note that Clover has just recently come out with Jumbo size Wonder clips for those bigger projects.

The smaller clips, reviewed here, come in two different size packages. The small pack contains 10 clips, while the larger pack contains 50 clips. I bought the smaller pack, but quickly realized that the larger pack is a better deal. With more clips, I can clip all along at least 2 sides of a big quilt, so when I am sewing I spend less time moving the clips, and more time on the actual sewing. With a wall hanging, I can clip and go. I keep a small container close by to put the clips in, as I remove them from the project. No more getting poked by straight pins!

At first I thought that they were too pricey, so avoided trying them, but I am so glad that I did! Definitely a product worth the cost.

Have you tried these clips? What did you think of them? Tell us about it here!

Portraits Class

A recent class on Portraits was a lot of fun, and the students did some really great work!

Class members at work.

They were a quiet group, as they were concentrating hard!

They started by making a tracing of their enlarged photos. The tracing is shown here used as the overlay, for help in positioning the pieces of the portrait.

Adeline's tracing

Adeline adding small pieces of fabric for the face.They then progressed to adding small pieces of fabric, like a jigsaw puzzle, to a base fabric. Adeline was doing a portrait of her grandfather.

Adeline's grandfather finished

Adeline found some great fabric, that mimicked the 70`s print, that was in her grandfather’s shirt in the original photo. Her portrait looks great now, but will look even better, when the final details are added with the stitching!

Ricky had some initial problems with values in her fabrics:

Ricky working on portrait

But was able to overcome these early problems to create a good likeness of her husband:

Rickys portrait of her husband

Of course, this portrait is still in progress. Here Ricky was auditioning fabric for his hair.

Helen chose a photo of a friend, who had been in a Passion play with her. Although, the fabrics that she had brought to work with were a little on the green side, they made for a dramatic portrait.

Helen's start

Here is Helen hard at work:

Helen at work

The face done:

Helen's man

Adeline said that she had had a lot of fun and learned a lot. I can hardly wait to see the completed portraits!

 

Flowers, leaves and ribbons in free motion quilting.

Portrait of a Grand Lady

This woman is the subject of  my latest portrait, painted in fabric. I loved the photo of this woman as she looked so regal, and had just a hint of a smile.A lady wearing a lacy gown.

I decided that she needed a rich colour for her dress; and chose a deep burgundy fabric that I had hand-dyed.

It took a lot of searching to get the lace for her dress. I wanted a good quality lace in white, and  a large enough size to fill the bodice area. I  ended up using two pieces of lace for the front of her dress, to get the look that I wanted.

I glued the lace on using tiny drops of fabric glue to get it to stay in place, until I could sew the edges.

Detail shot of a ladies portrait in fabric.

Close-up of Milady

I debated what motif to use for the background as I wanted a vintage look. A friend Julia, from New Zealand, suggested trying to use the motifs from the lace.

It worked out really well, with a few ideas from a fabulous book called Doodle Quilting by Cheryl Malkowski. This is a great book for learning how to start free motion quilting and then how to combine different motifs. You can find the book here.

 

Flowers, leaves and ribbons in free motion quilting.

Floral free motion quilted background

I stitched this lady’s hair extensively as I wanted the upswept look and the little wisps sticking out.

This is the final result:

Portrait of a lady circa 1900 in a lacy ball gown.

Milady finished!

 

I am now on to my next portrait. Another portrait of a lady. This one in a white debutante gown. I’m not sure about doing a white dress, but I will give it my best shot!