Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's Party Central at My House!

Party Girl, a quilt by Ann Fahl
We never go out for New Year's Eve any more.  I prefer sitting down with a Diet Coke with fresh lime and watch a good movie.  Oreo however likes to celebrate in a much more active fashion.  This quilt was made in 2002 when her favorite "doll" was much more attractive and the little plastic balls are scattered all over the floor.  She will party with some catnip this evening. 

Here's how the doll "appears" in the quilt.
Being conservative, we always keep our celebrations small and not too boisterous! Here is Oreo's doll.  Don't let this happen to you! 

This is her "fav" doll as it exists 2011.  It's kind of a mess, but she loves it.

Happy New Year.
Ann Fahl

Thursday, December 29, 2011

To Bind or not to Bind.......

That is the question...............................................................

I've just finished quilting my crazy collage piece.  It has been blocked and trimmed so it is a perfect rectangle.  During the quilting phase, I've just not been sure how I wanted to handle the outside edges.
Here is the collage, quilting complete, edges trimmed, ready for finishing.

So it is time to make the big decision.  Sometimes I want to have a contrasting trim on the outside edges. Lately, I've been more tempted to face the edges of some quilts, to avoid having to sew the binding on the edges.  Sometimes I think it is distracting.  So what do I do in this case?  What do you think?
Bind or face?

Here is the trimmed quilt with 3 choices of bias laid on the outside edge.
  • Choice 1 is the black fabric with blue, turquoise and green subtle striping
  • Choice 2 is a charcoal gray print with light gray and red accents
  • Choice 3 is a stripe which includes most of the colors of the little pieces within
  • Choice 4 is facing the outside edges so there is just a clean edge

I think I've made my choice, but let me know what you prefer and why.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

All those Handmade Gifts!

Here are the 10 tiny notebooks I made for gifts this year.
So, here they are:  I made little notebooks for saving passwords and little treasured thoughts.  I pieced many little sections of things I had left-over from early patchwork projects. Then I used many programmed stitches with a layer of tear away stabilizer underneath for a decorative touch. I put the stitching on the seamlines, in-between, and drew lines to follow with silver pencil.
This green one turned out very well, despite the fact that the strips are on the bias!
After the stitching was complete, I made little book covers out of them. The base notebook I used was small in size; 4.5 x 3.25 inches, narrow ruled, from Office Depot.  They are packaged in packs of 4 and priced reasonably. I folded in the two ends of the book covers, stitched them in place, finished the top and bottom edge, and stuck the little notebook inside. The stuffing part was as much fun as stuffing a big pillow form into a small pillow case.  But it gets done.  It's a one of a kind notebook that the recipient may keep for life! Put a little note inside and sign it.

It makes a neat gift. I hope you have a great holiday.

Ann Fahl

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Really Old Chistmas Quilt

Christmas Jewels, (c) 1988, hand quilted, 67 x 81 inches
My best friend Linda and I met in 1983.  We were so much alike it was almost creepy.  She had 3 boys I had two.  She had oriental rugs in her house and so did I.  We even had the same set of family room furniture.  In about 1987, when all the boys were still young, Linda and I took an afternoon to go to a quilt shop and pick out 5 fabrics to use in a quilt.  Here are the rules:
  • The blocks had to be 12 inches
  • The five fabrics had to be used, but we could add several more light colored fabrics
  • She was to choose 6 blocks and I did too
  • We were to exchange a block every month or two
  • This was secret, we could not share with each other anything about the quilt until each of our quilt tops were finished.
There were no guidelines as to how the blocks were to be put together.  Because we had so much in common we figured out that the tops would look almost alike when finished!  It took quite a bit of time, but the day came for the unveiling of the new tops.  Mine was set in this dark red and green Gutcheon print with the blocks on point; and Linda's was set on "square" with blocks and sashing in a light colored fabric.  You really have to study the two quilts to realize the similarities.

While at coffee, Linda mentioned this year, that she always hangs "our" quilt up at Christmas in her entryway. So I decided to dig mine out too.  It is such a joy to have such a friendly treasure!

Both quilts were pictured in two different Quilting magazines  Quilter's Newsletter Dec 93, and Quilt World 1997.  If you have some archives at home, you might find these!

Have a wonderful holiday with family and friends.

Ann Fahl

Monday, December 19, 2011

Making Gifts

Here are the strip pieced sections with lots of embroidery.
I've been working for almost a week making ten small gifts.  The project took waaaaaay longer than I thought it should: I've used up lots of little strip pieced sections I've had for years;  played with all the program stitches on my machine; and experimented with some variegated threads, both rayon and metallic. The final result is unique, and the recipients will like them. For me this type of sewing is drudgery!

You will just have to use your imagination. This is all I can show you! Project #1 turned out mediocre, but it helped me tweek the size and order of stitching.  So, I will keep #1 for myself.  #2-10 turned out better, but not perfect. The limited piecing and seaming was done with the titanium topstich needles size 70, and it worked well.  All the parts are now sewn and assembled into a usable item.  After Christmas, I'll post the finished item so you can see what I've been talking about.

I'd love to show you, but I don't want to spoil the surprise for my friends that will be receiving one! Any how, I am thrilled that I am finished with this brilliant idea! In the process of embroidering I tried lots of different programmed stitches, and I found some beautiful new ones! It helped get me in the mood for the holidays, get the shopping done, and prepare the menu for Christmas dinner.  We won't be having tacos this year, it'll be lasagna instead. We're not much for tradition at my house.

My wish is that all of you get all your gifts completed too.  Be sure to sign them.

Almost Merry Holiday to you.

Ann Fahl

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Back to the Studio!

Now that everything is back in place, I've returned to work at the machine. I've started quilting on the collage piece. It's wonderful to work in a room full of light.
Basted collage, partially outline quilted with monofilament thread.

One thing I have rediscovered, is that I need to change my darning foot when I'm quilting around beads. I love the little Janome open foot that floats over the surface, but it is awful around beads.
My favorite open toed adjustable foot catches in all the bead!  Frustrating.
In my excitement about trying some of Lyric's beading techniques on her DVD, I forgot about the fact that I quilt after the beading, not before.  The little adjustable foot catches and doesn't move when there is a bead nearby. So... I have to change to my closed toe oval generic darning foot.
Attach this closed toe plastic darning foot, and it rides right on top of the beads.  Life with beads is much easier sewing with this foot.
So change the foot on your machine and the quilting will go much smoother.  And I'm having fun.

Just a reminder that Oreo still has some books left and we can fill orders received this week by Christmas.  A Black and White Tale is the book I illustrated with all of my Oreo quilts and the verse is written by Jacquie Scuitto, the Quilt Muse.  This is a delightful little book, perfect for a gift for any cat or quilt lover, for under $20! Please check it out. Help support a quilter/publisher and her feline.

It's hard to believe that it is only 2 weeks before Christmas.  Happy shopping.

Ann Fahl

Friday, December 2, 2011

This Really is the Good Life!

I have just finished the last of the studio polishing.  The white flannel is pinned on my design wall and I am vacuuming one last time.  At 4:00 today, I sat down, with a chocolate chip cookie, tea and watched Dr. Oz. And I thought, "Life is really good today, my studio is ready for me!"  It has never been so clean.
Looking at my communications center and newly covered design wall.

The pink Styrofoam design wall is covered and usable, a beautiful quilt is hanging on it, and my walls have  quilts and other special items that surround me that I love.  My printer which conked out this week, is now working, thanks to HP tech support.  The baseboard heaters are painted a beautiful white and trim is too. The dark 70's paneling is gone. It is time to work on my newest Egyptian quilt again, it needs lots of embroidery before it can be quilted.  There is my collage which you've seen, which is ready for basting and quilting.  Lots to do.

Before I begin my embroidery and quilting, I will give you a quick tour of my studio.  This wall is my communications center and design wall which is 8 x 8 feet. It is shoved into the corner, but if I need the full width, I can scoot is to the left, covering up the clock.  Egyptian Water Garden II is hanging on it right now.  I love this quilt, when I look at it, it makes me feel good. 
Check out the fresh white walls! My cutting table is half a ping pong table, & rulers hanging on the wall.  Notice the outlet on the wall where the pencil sharpener is plugged in.

Around the corner is the long wall with my TV, cutting table and windows.  I have hung up Line Dancing Under the Stars, Tragedy on Esplanade, Black Eyed Susans on Purple and A July to Remember.  It is good to live with your quilts surrounding you. My studio gets lots of light in the morning, so I rotate the quilts to reduce fading.
This is a very long wall, so I'm showing it to you in 2 parts.

Around the next corner is my short wall with all my products that I sell online: books, patterns, booklets etc. My stereo keeps my quilting smooth and there is an assortment of Winona Lake items on the wall. My postage stamp piece honoring Winona, a historic painting on grass cloth, a water color by local artist Jean Thielen, a Japanese figure I've had since the age of 12, a poster of Winona, and two black eyed susan pieces. The little one was a gift from Emily Parson, and the Purple Eyed Susans was a demo in my book Dancing with Thread.  It really sings on the bright white wall.
This is the part of the room where the embroidery and quilting happen!
 Last of all Oreo is thrilled with the new look.  She can walk along the ledge that is 4 feet up from the floor and watch over all my creative activities and the critters outside. Another bonus, I found an electric outlet, that I didn't know was there, on the long wall. It had been piled up with assorted treasures and junk for years.
The drawers facing out, under the machine cabinets are where I store my thread--by color.  They are on wheels and can be moved around.
Well, I'm ready to sew now.  This major cleaning will never happen again. Once every 35 years is enough. I'm good to go sew.

Have a good weekend.

Ann Fahl