About Me

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Great Falls, Montana, United States
I love creating art. I love the Creator! And through that love, I find a little slice of heaven on earth and I give Him all the glory! It's a great adventure and I'm excited to see what's around the bend! Come join me, won't you?
Showing posts with label zenspirations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label zenspirations. Show all posts

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Wild Zenspiration Tulip

 My first "Zenspirations-styled" free motion quilted piece is done.  "A Wild Tulip" was a bit of a wild ride!
"A Wild Tulip" --- 8"x17" approximately.
Challenging? Yes!  Fun?  Mostly!  Learning?  Most Definitely!
I started out with 50 weight Masterpiece ELS cotton in my top and bobbin.  I would do that differently next time, and did change my threads, mid-way through the quilting process.  I switched to 40 weight King Tut ELS cotton, leaving the 50 weight Masterpiece in the bobbin.

That was a good change. I did think about starting out that way in the first place, but I decided to try the lighter weight thread first, because some of the 'zenspirations' styles are fairly delicate, wouldn't you think? The heavier thread was much nicer, and had a better overall presence.  I also had issues with the 50 wt thread breaking when I hit those thick seams...

Well, one must start somewhere, and it's not always the destination, but the process of getting there. I love it!  Yes, there are little 'dings' going off in my head about it... but hey, I get to start on another piece now! (And this is the first piece I've done with some of my 'tie-dyed' fabrics!) Yay!
It's not easy to come to the ease of quilting this style.  I believe one should be fairly accomplished, and comfortable with delicate, intricate, and specific lines and precise placement with their free motion quilting.  I need some more practicing, definitely!  I repeated some of my lines, for added emphasis, just as I do with the doodling.  And I didn't like it when I 'went off the edge' and bobbled. (as you can see in the above picture)  and that is why I chose this goofy pieced one for practice.
This is my critique of this piece:
  •  Next time, I will copy the pieced top on a copy machine.  It would have been really great to practice, and audition the styled designs on paper, first!  Doodling Practice... makes for Excellence!  Thought I was going to say perfect, huh?  No way! Note to self: "This is the Pursuit of Excellence, Not Perfection!"
  • Use that 40 weight thread for heavier lines.  Delicate work... like the triangles... perhaps I would still stay with a 50 weight... have to try that out again!  And a 40 wt definitely for 'fill-in' types of details.
  • Circles on the right-side border... I should have ruled with chalk, a 1/4" border on the quilt sandwich, as by the time I went to finish the edge, the free motion circles were cut off.  Ugh. I did try - I realized that I needed that 1/4" border while free motioning the circles ... but it's hard to gauge that when you're concentrating on the motif. (at least for me)  AUhhm... a little pre-planning goes a long ways towards a better finish!
  • Make sure you have got a needle that can handle repetitive "in place" embroidery styled quilting.  A little stabilizer under the top would have been a nice little bit of insurance.
  • it was hard to quilt through the thickness of the seams at times. Mostly where there are four or more meeting in a tight area.  Next time, I will press all those babies open!
  • I think I will pre-quilt the entire inner border with a walking foot, just to make sure things go a little easier. Doing the quilting the way I did, I think it looks better to 'quilt in the ditch' for most of the seams.  Otherwise, one had better be darn sure of  stitch placement, if you are going to free motion a straight stitch 'in the ditch' as I did.  Again... I need more practice!!!

I would not exactly call this an advanced technique, necessarily... but it is not really an 'easy' beginner thing either.   Especially with smooth, straight lines...smooth circles... all of which will be funner to practice now that I have an idea of what they look like in this  piece!!!

I think I really like this piece, and I know I'm excited to try those little "Zenspired" quilting  motifs in other ways.  So what do you think?   Do you agree it's slightly advanced in the technique?  Would you want to try it?  Do you have other ideas, or suggestions that would be easier or smoother?  

Thanks for stopping by, and have a blessed Monday!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


The "T" Word.  TIME.  Lately, I haven't had alot of time to put my doodling to practice underneath my machine.  But I have had some smaller bits of time in my work-day that I often overlook...

Here's a few examples: 
  • A 15 minute break at work (twice a day!)
  • my lunch hour --- 'leftover minutes!' (sounds like a cell phone advertisement)! 
  • waiting in the doctor's office at appointments
So it amounts to this, at least for me.  I get to be creative... about the time I have to create. Whatever that might entail. To practice.  Explore.  EnJoy. 

And  I really enjoy my new little sketchbook.  I just bought it recently, (about $4) and it fits in my purse at 6" x 8".  So when I'm with my Mom for Dr. appts, (which are sometimes 3 hours long),  I have my sketchbook and my pens.  Love my pens!  These are some of my favorites:
  • Glaze Pens by Sakura (they give a raised, shiny appearance) Very cool effect!
  • Sakura "Souffle" pens - they are chalk-like, but come in very pretty colors, too.
  • Gelly roll pens (the glittery ones that shine)
  • Sharpie pens or Sakura Micron pens (not just in black either!)
  • a watercolor travel set with a "Koi" watercolor brush included.
  • a pencil and eraser.  Absolutely essential!
Time to create! 
Or how about just TAKING TIME to take something in. 
There's a thought.
I totally get the 'nurture your artistic side" thing that appears everywhere you look.  In a magazine or blog. (like here!)  And there's lots to say about that...maybe.  Another time, perhaps.
 And when viewing new projects, ideas, or challenges that are out there... I'll admit to thinking, "Yeah, when would I have time to make that happen?!" I'm already challenged!
I get the point.  Challenge is good.  It's just well, time-consuming... and challenging!  So I have tried to change not only how I think about the time I DON'T have... but how I manage the smaller increments of time I DO have.  Making choices.  Setting goals.  Taking time to learn something, or try something new... as I keep those things in focus!
 Let me say too, I don't have answers. I only have ideas - some of them work - some of the time!  I try not to put it in a box.  There will never be (really) enough time in the day to create, doodle, sew... take pictures... take a new class, study, read... and more.  Because I would love to do it all.  (Say it isn't so!)  Does anyone out there nod their head in agreement?! Raise their hand?  Get on that soap box?!

Part of it is Discipline. (capital D intended!) If it's important enough, you make time for it.  Art-quilting-sewing-creating may not be a part of, or absolutely critical every day.  Gulp. Did I really say that?!  YES!

Because my day belongs to God, first.  HE OWNS it!  And I'm really glad about that, cuz He's way smarter and wiser than me!  And I try to listen to Him --- FIRST, and be sensitive to know how and what - I'm being called to do throughout those minutes... hours... and days.  And we all know how the days turn into months and, well, you know how the rest of that sentence goes!
 So that's my focus.  My time to create IS important to me.. but it's even more important to know that when the intended schedule falls through; family or friends pop in to visit unexpectedly, and jobs, chores, to-do lists,  summer, and life happens... there is a time for everything.  I won't  - can't - and don't need to do it all, all the time. 
 I just need to listen.  
And I want to be a good listener.

Friday, January 21, 2011


This piece was a bit of an experiment... I wanted to play with  my newly dyed fabric, and with my new Zenspirations embroidery designs (love the USB stick to plug n play!)  The embroidery design is the the framed box, and the "Big L" only. (check out my post on the "BLOOM" towel a few weeks ago here)
After I finished the embroidery, I added the letters: "ove" on my own, free motion style. Using the same black thread I embroidered with, which was an Isacord 40 weight polyester, I switched to a zig zag stitch, keeping my needle at a 45 degree angle.  I set my zig zag stitch to a width that I felt looked good in relation to the size of the big "L" - about 2.5 inches wide, (feed dogs are still dropped), and using the #29 clear free motion foot, (you want visibility for this!), I began free motion stitching the letters "ove" to finish...  extending a little "flair" shall we say... so the zig zag line curves, and flows it's way all the way through the framed border, which I personally thought looked more attractive than if I was to just stop it at the inside border of the frame.

Why not add a sticker?! I found this clear sticker in my scrapbooking area (which is quite sadly neglected these days)... How I loved doing this!  Just "run right over it!" --- using of course, a pretty thread in a pinky-green-mango color scheme!!!  There's fibers under it... paint.... all added to lutradur; a kind of newer 'space-age' fabric (for lack of a better term!)  I'm not sure I know how to describe lutradur... a man-made polyester-type product that can be painted, stamped, cut, sewn, burned... you name it!

This is a shot of the three little squares of lutradur, and  further experimentation --I mean embellishment that I added!  ...further 'enhanced' with a my free motion #43 couching foot using a hand-dyed yarn... just for kicks and giggles! Don't forget to LAUGH!!!  (and for practice!)

I took design motif cues from the embroidery design, keeping it a very simple loopdee-loo free motion circles...in solid black, and then like a pitcher on a baseball field... CHANGE IT UP!  Bat 1000 when you grab a beautiful variegated thread - my personal favorite, which is Superior Threads "Rainbow threads --- they are lovely tri-lobal polyesters that have shine and brilliant colors (love them!).  The tip is to use a 90/14 topstitch needle... drop your top tension a notch (or two!), and use a bobbin weight or lighter, 50 weight cotton thread on the bottom.

I added some stamping to one of the little squares... in a bit of white paint, right onto the lutradur.  It didn't come out quite as bold as I was anticipating... but hey, that's how you learn!  (and have fun!)
Leftover pieces cut deliberately into triangle shapes... and "doodled" over randomly!! Raw edge borders... no need to spend time hand stitching on this piece.  Also, I left the center commercial green batik (with the black circles) deliberately "off kilter" --- one of my favorite ways to play!
And I ripped the fabrics, so I could get those fluffy edges... 
and don't forget it's
"love... binding it all together!"
and the finished piece looks like:
 "...love  binds everything together in perfect harmony" --- Colossians 3:14

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Here's a fairly simple way to add a bit of free motion embellishment without alot of time investment.  I love to buy the  pre-made, decorated hand towel (and I have made them too). Great gifts for the girls at the office, and for any other gift giving need you may have. It's really cool to make them fun, as well as unique, combining free motion, fusing, and embroidery, as well as bit of "fluff" with a ruff...ruffle, that is! 

The best part is adding the  'unexpected' embellishments!  Another example of how you can add a touch of free motion to any project, and make it very special!

I had a great batik in my stash (oh imagine that!)... so started by cutting a 5" or 6" strip of it, doubled up, and then ruffled it. Doubling a ruffle makes it more professional looking in my opinion; it hangs nicely, is finished off nicely, and it also runs through the ruffler foot quite smoothly too!  (Makes you look like a star!)  Attach to your towel, by laying the ruffle underneath the towel, and stitching along the towel's already existing hemline makes it easy to line it up!
Adding the lovely crocheted trim makes a statement of country style on top of the ruffle. But you don't need to stop there... I was pretty sure I had a lovely ribbon somewhere in my stash and found this beautiful blue rayon ribbon that was the perfect accent for the towel.  I top stitched it right above the trim using my 'triple straight stitch'--- in black thread of course!  Why choose a plain straight stitch when you've got so many others that are fun to choose from? I was tempted to use a flower-y decorative stitch instead of the triple straight stitch, but decided the three little batik flowers were enough, and didn't need any more... but it would have been cute, either way!

I used a black thread: King Tut 40 weight cotton for that, and also black cotton on my bottom in a 50 weight  Masterpiece; both threads made by Superior threads). By the way, this particular towel was embroidered first.

THEN comes the funnest part for me, and that is to add a little fused flower --- which was a very basic five-petaled flower I drew free hand onto fusible web, cut it out, fused it on, then added a bit of yellow wool, fused into the center.  Using black thread for the free motion motif made a bold statement, but in a very light-hearted,swirly, curly-q'd and leafy meanderings, tiny little circles, all following somewhat, the curves of the petals.  Such fun FUN thread play with black thread to match the embroidery design.

Inspiration is everywhere... and for me it came from the embroidered design "ZENSPIRATIONS" from Bernina.   I'm not an advanced embroiderer by any stretch of the imagination, but I do love the 'plug n play' of USB sticks in my machine.  So quick and easy! And I fell in love with the whimsical nature of the words and their STYLE!

So I repeated some of those same design elements featured in  the embroidery as my inspiration for the free motion motif on the flowers.  You can too!  Practice on a bit of paper first, if you are hesitant to go straight to your machine. It's really great to go off the line, and give your quilting a sketchy look!!! Smiles everyone!  No need to be... dare I say it... "perfect?"!!! Absolutely NOT.  It's charming, fun, fast and easy-breezy girls!

KNOW that the stitches will be a little 'off' tension-wise on the back side, because the towel is not real thick, and so it doesn't have alot of stabilization to the fabric.  And that's OKAY!  We're not being perfect - we don't need to be... this is fun, loose and FREE!.  Just be sure to loosen your top tension, match the color of your top and bottom threads, and try to hold the fabric firmly with your hands without gripping so tight you can't free motion!  If you prefer, use a spray adhesive, and attach some of the wash-a-way type stabilizers on the back. However, I DID NOT. and you can see the results.  After all... it's creative, and above all... it's FREEly done! 

I hope you found some inspiration...and FREEdom here!  Add your own special touch, and enjoy adding to your skills, and making a quick project, not to mention a wonderful gift to have on hand.

"Freely, Freely, you have received... Freely, Freely, Give."

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