Yes, boys and girls, I finally finished Beach Town. You can read about starting it in the post about the Pamela Allen class from last year. I liked looking at the piece in that post (one of the things I LOVE about blogging!), because I could see the differences including all of the handwork I have added.
I made a smaller version of the Robbi Joy Eklow sleeve (from her book Free Expression) for this piece. I don’t know if it will ever be hung using a rod, but it is ready if someone wants to hang it that way.
One of the things I need to think through when I use this technique in the future is the back and the label. I like to include the label as a part of the back. As you may have noticed, I often piece the back and include the label in that piecing. This allows me (or my quilter) to quilt over the label so that it cannot be removed if the quilt is stolen. Jill, one of the creative prompt participants, talks about this in her recent blog post.
Another reason I piece the back is that I have the fabric, so I might as well use it.
Smaller quilts, and particularly this Pamelala technique are free form and quick. The maker usually lays down the back and batting first with no opportunity to piece the back or make a label. When I take a Pamela Allen class again, perhaps I should just put down the batting and work on the back later?
Last Saturday and Sunday, I had a lot of time for the first time in several weekends to work on quilt projects and I completely tanked in that department. Most of the time I sat around and couldn’t figure out what to do. I thought about making another giveaway for OWOH, but was talked out of it. I also just wasn’t motivated to do anything. I have a lot of quilt work to do and I really couldn’t focus.
Finally, on Sunday, I pulled out Beach Town and decided to get the facing on and the sleeve ready so that I could take advantage of some hand sewing time I will have next weekend.
Yeah! Progress on Beach Town! Trimming is easy.
However, after trimming, I found a little section that needed a repair. One of the hazards of working using this free form method is getting too close to the edge. In an effort to avoid that problem, I didn’t get close enough. Yes, I could have trimmed it more, but I didn’t want to cut off any part of the sign.
I had to go rummaging for fabric to find a match. I found some in the scrap bin. Then, I had to carefully lay the fabric and a small piece of batting out so that it didn’t look like a repair (don’t tell, please!). Finally, after it was all laid out and pinned together, I machine quilted the three little sections in matching thread and trimmed it again.
One of the good things about this project was that I had to focus my mind on a specific task. One thing I learned was to give the edges a little extra space from important design elements.
I dug out the facing instructions I had made awhile ago and applied a facing to the Beach Town. I still need to practice making more facings. I’ll make another one for FOTY 2010.
Here is the corner of the facing. As I mentioned, I have not sewn it down yet.
I use the Robbi Joy Eklow method of sleeve making. This most excellent sleeve making method method is in her book, Free Expressions. This time I made the sleeve smaller than her directions specify. I hope it works in terms of a hanging rod to fit.
We bought Tivo recently and it has revolutionized my world. Last night, while I was alone, I went downstairs to catch up on some shows, and brought Beach Town with me. With the show quilts off and the Flowering Snowball still in waiting mode, I thought it would be a good opportunity to make some progress on this piece. I noticed that it had been a long time since I posted a photo of it. You guys have never seen the quilting.
I really felt good working on this project. As I worked, I found that this project may not need as much embroidery/embellishing as House & Garden. I tried to figure out why. I don’t know for sure, but think that there is a lot more going on in this piece in terms of fabric – lots more commercial fabric with patterns on it. I also think that there are a lot more details, such as the flowers, the variety of beach houses, the tree, etc. I am going to do some embellishing on the pink striped cabana and add some windows and doors to the other houses. I am not sure what other type of Perl cotton embellishment this calls for.
I do feel like the piece needs some beads or sequins. I’ll have to think about that some more before I rush into anything. I dug out my Therese De Dillmont Complete Guide to Needlework (Amazon doesn’t have my exact edition and no photo, sorry), a reprint of ancient book that I got somewhere. I wanted to see what stitches they suggested so that I could, perhaps, learn some new stitches for this piece as well as Kissy Fish. I haven’t done much else on that front thus far.
The first task last night was to rip out some of the stitching I did when I was in SoCal at the beginning of September. I really shouldn’t stitch when I am upset, because I end up ripping it out anyway.
I ripped out the blue zigzag stitching around the windows of the green house. It looked too subtle for me. I also didn’t like the unevenness of it. I wanted it to stand out and be more of an element.
The zigzag stitching is still around the window, as you can see, but I took it outside of the window frame so it is much more wonky and ‘alive’. I think it looks better. I do want to make sure I stay away from the spooky house look.
I had embellished the sun with some of Laura Wasilowski’s hand dyed Perl cotton early on. I didn’t like the look, because the sun was just too puffy. I like my quilts densely quilted. I machine quilted the sun in a spiral, mimicking the handwork and carefully avoiding the existing Perl cotton. Quilting in a spiral isn’t for the faint of heart, but I took it slowly and am pleased with the results.
So, that is your Beach Town update for the duration. As usual, I would love to hear your thoughts.
I spent 10 hours in my workroom on Sunday. I spent most of it machine quilting Beach Town. The piece is relatively small, so I was surprised that it took so much work. The really surprising thing is that I have more machine quilting to go!
It was surprising, because I thought I did most of the machine quilting during my last session. It turns out that I really wanted the quilting much closer together. I filled in some areas I already done. The new areas were quilted much closer together – only about 1-2 stitches apart.
The skinny tree needs some more stitching. It is raveling away and I’d like to save it before it goes completely.
I really hope you can see the machine quilting in this picture, because that is how it is almost all over the piece. There are a few sections left to do, but the bulk is done.
I was thinking, for future Pamela pieces, that I really needed to get the machine quilting done before I start in on the hand stitching. Not that the hand stitching hampered my machine quilting at all. It just makes better sense to do the machine work first and finish with the hand work.
A friend on FB asked me to post Beach Town. As you regular readers know, I get around to posting everything eventually and this past week has been a bit of a challenge. I wondered whether I should post this on Monday to give you more days to look at, but eventually decided just to stack up a couple of posts today and get through the backlog. When I prepare posts and set them to post on a future date, I can’t link to them until they are posted.
I spent Monday afternoon and evening working on the machine quilting of this piece. I still have the purple part of the road and the sky as well as the flowers to quilt, but am mostly done.
I am pleased with how the piece is shaping up. I liked the fluffiness of it before I began the quilting. Now I really like how flat it gets after quilting.
I have to remember to machine quilt it before I start the hand stitching. I know that will be hard in future Pamela Allen classes because of he flow of the class and how excited I get about the pieces I create in her classes.
It took me a long time (well, a month, which seemed like an eternity) to get back to this piece. I learned something from my mistakes, though:
cover the batting somehow
stick or pin everything down really WELL
Ensure the pieces are large enough to overlap to prevent gap-osis
machine quilt before hand stitching
I do need more quilting on the sky. I just went around each sunbeam in order to tack down the repaired part of the sky. The other part of the sky is just too fluffy, so I will quilt some more in the area on the right of the piece.
I spent a lot of time on the tree, so that the lean, straight shape would be maintained. I think I succeeded?!
Quilting the bottom was a little more of a challenge because I didn’t want the quilting to stand out. That meant a lot of stopping and starting with new colors. That is ok. I spent some time in the evenings during the week working on little bits of the piece. As I mentioned I still need to quilt the purple part of the road and I think some hand stitching will be required.
I don’t know if I will machine quilt the flowers. I am not that into free motion quilting right now. I may just tack them down a little and then do some detailed hand stitching. It may be that I just bead them to try and maintain the look of the color statement. I haven’t done anything there yet, so I will have think about it some more.We’ll have to see.
I realized that when I am in a class with Pamela, I do think outside of my own quiltmaking box. I also realized that if I just listen and do what she says I succeed. I also feel a bit freer in my work. I really have a strong feeling that I need to make a much larger piece in Pamela’s style.
Pamela gave us tips and I interpreted them as:
make lots of art because not all of it will be good; small is good
your first idea will be crap, so don’t cling to it
put the big shapes down first
move things around; try a new view
if you are bored by your piece everyone else will be as well
We talked a lot about art quilts at our dinner out together. I feel strongly that all quilts need to have a good design. Block type quilts have a basic structure which helps with good design. Most art quilts do not have a basic, inherent structure and some go astray because the quiltmaker doesn’t care, doesn’t know how to initiate and then evaluate a design or doesn’t have the technique foundation. I think it is easy to find out about these things. There are a lot of good principles of design type books, such as Pentak and Lauer’s Design Basics. The basic thing concerning technique in art quilts is that they don’t fall apart upon hanging. Pamela doesn’t have the classic quilt background that many quiltmakers have, but she has learned what she needs to keep the quilts structurally sound and then applied her art and design training. This is the best of both worlds and this is where I really want to be.
You can see from the gallery above how she inspires great and different work. Diane is a wonderful silk painter. She normally paints a whole cloth piece on silk and then quilts it. Her blue trees piece is really different from her normal style and really, truly wonderful. Kristen is very busy with her family and doesn’t have tons of time to sew, but made some fantastic pieces that her children would enjoy. I love that space alien monster! Kristen’s pieces are also cheerful and imaginative and wonderfully creative. Mrs. K’s sauguaro cactus/Suspicion Mountains piece has a calmness to I that I love. I hope she finishes it and hangs it somewhere where it can inspire other people. Everyone really did fantastic work and I am sorry I didn’t take more photos.
We made a creative mess. Mess is the wrong word; we had supplies and we needed to use them. When you only have 15 minutes to make a piece of art, the fabric will be flying and it was. I brought my scraps which kept ending up on the floor. People would stop by, pick up some bit of fabric and ask to whom it belonged. It became quite hilarious. We really couldn’t have done the workshop without Mrs. K. She brought tubs of fabric which allowed us to actually have backs and batting and such things. I seemed to conveniently forget those supplies when I go to Pamela’s workshops! DUH!
I have been in class for the past two days with Pamela Allen. Pamela is much more than a quilt teacher. She is truly an art teacher who works and encourages work in fabric. I had THE Aha moment in her class today and it really thrilled me. I could feel the difference in my work after that moment.
As you may have read, or noticed, I felt crappy all week. Barely any blogging got done even though I have a pile of sticky notes with reminders of things to tell you. My house is a wreck and my to-do list is still long. A cold was really beating me down and I was doing everything I could to conserve energy so I could go to class. A good move on my part was to take Thursday off of work rather than working straight through and then going directly to class.
I have taken several classes with Pamela. The first one I took was in Richmond, Virginia at Quilting Adventures. I actually took two different classes in one weekend. The first was a self portrait class and the second was on composition. I started one piece in each class.
Pamela also came to California in 2008 to teach at EBHQ. I took her class there as well. I don’t think I ever wrote a blog post about that one, but Julie wrote one, which is probably what I would have written anyway. 😉
The quiltlet, House and Garden, that I did at EBHQ has been worked on more since the class and I am almost finished with it. Maureen sent me a link to facing directions from Jeri Riggs site and I plan to use them to make a faced edging as soon as I finish the beading.
I brought all three of these pieces to the workshop with the intention of working on them and not starting anything new.
The first exercise was a monochromatic exercise. I didn’t do it. Don’t worry! I warned Pamela that I was planning to bring projects from previous classes. I did enjoy the pieces that others in the class made.
I worked and made progress on the Garden. I am actually ready to handstitch on it, though I do still have a bit of piecing to add. I am really pleased with the work I did on the Garden. I think it looks very different from what it was when I started. I also think it looks a lot better.
I am really pleased with the petals that I added. I wanted to create a little more interest in the space where the blue petals are now.
In the bottom part of the piece, the flowers were all middle ground. Pamela helped me create a foreground by putting some darker blue behind the red flower with the petals. I also created a little bit of a different foreground with the flower in the bottom right hand corner. I was thinking of it as kind of a coneflower, but some people said that it also looked like the petals had dropped off. I have a little work to do on the bottom. During the critique, Pamela and the other students suggested that I extend some of the stems to the bottom of the piece and make the bottom of the piece longer as well. They also like the brown border. That brown is currently the back, but I will cut it off and add it to the new front, but only on a couple of sides.
I didn’t succeed in doing my own thing. Pamela is such an engaging teacher that it just wasn’t possible for me to ignore her completely. She did help me with the projects I was trying to work on, though.
After a quick litle quiltlet exercise (15 min), she gave us a piece of fabric and we had to make something with it. My piece was brown. No other colors. None of my colors. Bleah!
The exercise was about accentuating or extending existing lines in the fabric she gave us. I liked the idea of the exercise.
This is the piece that came out of it. The colors aren’t me, and you can see that I injected quite a lot of blue into the surface.
Today, we worked on critiques and one piece using stripes and prints to create movement.
This piece brought the AHA moment for me. The AHA moment was a point where I finally got all that I have been learning from Pamela. I finally understood about the background and how to put stripes and prints on the piece in different ways in order to achieve movement and the illusion of something. I am really pleased with this piece and think it is very strong.
I can see how some of what I learned today will help me with the Tarts. I am going to use some of the techniques and thoughts to get that piece finished.