Sunday, November 28, 2010

Time to Organize for 2011

Now that Thanksgiving is over, and most of the leftovers have been eaten, it is time to spend a little time deciding which quilt shows I will enter next year. Having my work in competitions across the country is important for me; it's a big challenge, good publicity, and a possible source of additional income.

I make a list of quilts that I've made the last 2 or 3 years that are competition worthy, and list the shows and their entry deadlines and exhibit dates.  This takes a couple of hours, but I've worked out a tentative schedule for my quilts for the first half of next year. I do this every year to help me keep track of all the shows and what quilts will be where!  I've printed off all the entry info and forms, so I have everything I need as the deadline nears.

If you enter quilt competitions, it is the right time to organize. Soon the holiday season will be upon us, and there won't be as much time to take care of administrative type tasks.  Then you'll be ready for those early January deadlines.

How do you keep track?


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Have You Heard About Titanium Needles?

Less than a year ago, the good people at Superior Threads designed a new topstitch needle.  I am always leery of new products.  But I was curious enough about them to order just 1 pack of size 14's with my thread order.  Well that's all it took, they are great.
You know that rule where the sewing machine needle should be replaced every 8 hours?  Gone.  These needles last 5-6 times longer than our standard needles do!

If you like to use beautiful shiny decorative threads, they can be irritatng at times. If you are frustrated by shredding or breaking threads, topstitch needles are what you need. They have a large eye, and a groove in the shaft of the needle above the eye, that actually protects these more delicate threads as the stitches are being created below the throat plate.
 If you use fusible products in your work, you will also find that the titanium plating on the needle seems to repel the glue and sticky substances that we use. Our standard metal needles seem to get coated and the eye of the needle gets clogged and eventually break the threads. These new needles are a win-win product.

They come in 4 sizes, 70/10, 80/12, 90/14 and 100/16 and they are a beautiful "gold" color so you don't get them mixed up with other needles. There is a size for every weight of thread.

When I teach and lecture around the country I am stunned at how many packages of these needles that I sell. So I have decided to add them to my notions "store" on my website.  You may read more on my website.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Darning Foot UPDATE part 4

Finally, I'm working in my studio, doing some machine embroidery.  I have the new Janome open toe darning foot installed on my machine. See darning foot part 3.  Because it doesn't hop and it just glides, it is so much easier to free-motion embroider. I can't believe it.

Those of you that have Janome's check to see if this new 3 part darning foot is available for your model.  Also owners of some Elna, Brother and Kenmore machines may be able to use it.  It is available for high and low shank machines.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mr. Blackwell Exhibit part 3

This grouping of red dresses took my breath away.
On the far left is another double knit day dress.  The V neckline is encrusted with bugle beads, seed beads and rhinestones.  This detail is repeated on the cuffs of the long sleeves. There are double welt pockets at the hip and a hand stitched zipper at the center back.

Next is the red strapless dres of silk charmeuse. The bodice is lined with the same fabric as are the peplum below the waist and the flounce at the hem.

Further to the right is a very simple yet sophisticated long polyester knit dress with a draped one shoulder design. The elegant detail is the gathered piece stitched under the left arm, across the chest, over the shoulder and falling down to the floor on the back. The dress hangs so simply into a full flowing hemline. The brochure says there are bugle beads accenting the long streamer and the neckline.

Last is another of my favorite garments in the exhibit. This is a 1980 red crepe de Chine long dress featuring printed flowers scattered  across the garment. The halter style top has an added ruffle/flower at the neckline. There is a peplum at the waist and ruffle at the hem.  The matching stole is also accented by a wide ruffle. This is such a beautiful soft and drapey feminine ensemble.

Mr. Blackwell designed garments for real women. He worked with Lane Bryant in 1965 to create beautiful garments for the plus size woman. Over the years he designed for many wealthy and famous women, had a television show and weekly column.

Many thanks for this wonderful exhibit at the Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins CO.  It is open to the public at no charge.  Donations are gratefully accepted. Thank you to the curator Linda Carlson and guest curator Ali Rahimi for making part of the museum collection available to us.

Everyone that likes to sew should see this exhibit of exceptional design and workmanship.

Mr. Blackwell Exhibit part 2

This exhibit, open now, will be on display until April 1, 2011. So you have time to visit when you are in the area. Blackwell (1922-2008) was a designer in California, many movie stars and notables wore his clothing. Most of us remember his "worst dressed list" for both men and women.

Because I love beading I took several detail shots of the white dress dated 1969, second from the left.
No need to wear a necklace. Check out this "day dress" with flat braid, rhinestone studs, pearls and amber faceted glass.
Look at this welt pocket. Did you ever make one like this? It's gorgeous.

When viewing the exhibit, everything is behind glass, but you can get really close to the garments.  There is so much hand work.  Being a quilter, I think too many of us speed up the process by taking shortcuts on the machine. What a treat to see this show.

The turquoise brocade dress to the right of the beaded day dress is described in the show brochure as: "a two piece evening ensemble, long-sleeved dress with matching full-length, sleeveless coat of brocaded fabric in turquoise, white, and gold paisley motifs.  Sleeveless coat is additionally embellished with gold and clear sequins and gold dangles."

Never in my life have I worn a sleeveless coat, I'd prefer to think of it as a long vest.

Mr. Blackwell Exhibit in Colorado part 1

Recently I've returned from a teaching trip to Ft. Collins CO.  Maureen took me for a little side trip to the Colorado State University Campus. We visited the Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising to see the exhibit of Blackwell garments:  Mr. Blackwell, A Retrospective.

This is a totally amazing exhibit, the last time I was this excited about a special exhibition was when I saw the King Tut show in Chicago.  In another lifetime, I was very interested in retailing and fashion. I've long given that up, as I only wear jeans and T-Shirts now!  But the dresses designed by Mr. Richard Blackwell are couture up close.

 This is a type of sewing, both hand and machine that I've not seen in many years.

This beautiful silver gown would make a princess feel special. The bodice of the crepe-back satin gown is beaded with bugle beads and rhinestones. There are 2 rows of bugle beads at the lower edge of the hem. The full skirt drapes softly over a purple net petticoat. This is such a magical feminine dress. Can you tell this was my favorite?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Darning Feet--part 3

One of my readers told me about a new darning foot  from Janome that gave better visibility.  Yesterday, I went to my dealer and picked one up.  It comes in a combo package that gives the sewer a choice of three feet for the darning foot, and gives you the wonderful pressure adjustability. (The wheel above spring on upper right)

After a short test, I am impressed with how the little open toe feature gives much better visibility than the closed toe that I showed you in Darning Feet--part 2. When adjusted properly, it just glides along, instead of hopping like other feet. This is sooooo much easier on the eyes.
Here are the other 2 feet that come with the package: The Clear View Foot and the Closed Toe foot. The Clear View gives you a wide opening, so the sewer can accomplish zigzag free-motion. And the closed toe model I am not fond of.  All three interchangeable feet are attached to the machine via a small slotted screw on the back side of attachment bar .  This is a well thought out product.

If you don't have a Janome machine, that's OK.  When you are interested in doing lots of free-motion work trying out all the darning feet available for your machine or one that you hope to purchase, is very important.

Ann Fahl

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Quilter Magazine

Every once-in-a-while something comes along that is a wonderful surprise.  A December issue of The Quilter Magazine recently arrived.
I was thrilled to see my name written on the cover--Wow I'm a star.  Towards the back of the issue Dawn Goldsmith had written a 4 page article about my work.  She says that my quilts sing. I just think this is the ultimate complement. The pictures in the article are good sized and there are also detail images to show the quilting.

When you go to your favorite shop, look for this issue. Besides me, there are lots of quilt patterns and ideas.  Thank you so much Dawn for writing a wonderful article. I am honored.