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

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Glamorous Life Continues!

On the 10th day of patching and painting my studio, I finished the job at 7:30 pm! Wow, it's finally done.

Day 11, is "put it back together" day.  Well, I was so tired after all the painting I decided I needed a break--so I took a nap instead. Eventually I did work at getting parts of the room back in place. The work is slow as I cleaned everything, tossed out stuff and tried to find all my rulers!  I reorganized all my patterns and book stock, so it is easier to fill orders, hooked up the TV and DVD player. My great grandmother's tea cart holds my phone, phone books, paper and pencils.  It took a long time to gently dust all the surfaces, clean the glass tray on the top and hook up the phone and answering machine. This is stuff I'm not good at: cleaning and organizing stuff. "Where did I put those rulers?"

Great grandma's tea cart, is now my communications center! This cart was formerly painted white and sat on the porch at Winona Lake--almost as long as I have been alive.  I am now its caretaker, a job I take seriously!
It was time to start dinner, so I went to the basement and got one more load of stuff to put away, and there they were. All the rulers were sitting under a huge stack of old drawings and notebooks!  I was afraid something had happened to the rulers.  Now the rulers are back in their corner stored above my cutting table.

My rulers have always been on the ledge near my cutting table.  Nothing felt "right" in my new studio until they were back in their place.

Now I can relax, I've found the rulers.  Tomorrow I will begin to hang my quilts and other artwork on my freshly painted walls. On Day 12 I'll give you a quilters tour of my studio next time.  Soon I will be back at my quilting.

Ann Fahl

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It's a Glamorous Life

Recently I got back from a teaching trip in Monterey CA. They treated me very well there, and I had an enjoyable time. The students were amazing, I am proud of the work they accomplished in the 2 day workshop.  There were two highlights for me personally; I stayed with Dave and Sally who were wonderful hosts, they had a magnificent garden. Two, I took a beautiful drive down the Pacific coast on Hwy 1.  Rita and Stan were my tour guides. Here are some of the highlights.
Shore view with natural archway, it was a beautiful day.

Looking in the other direction the mist creates a mysterious view of the mountains in the distance

A hillside view of the succulent garden at the home of my hosts.  What a rich assortment of plantlife I rarely see in WI

This garden had multiple levels, these stairs lead to a view of a small canyon behind the house.

Upon my return home, a combination of events occurred and I decided to paint my studio. This is a job that is long overdue. I ripped off the dark paneling, patched, scraped and primed and textured the walls. There is probably about a week's worth of work remaining. Sometimes it is good to take time off from quilting designing and blogging. I'll get back to those things. This is just another part of my glamorous life as a quilt artist and teacher.
Here is the artist disguised as a house painter!
 Here I am dressed for a day of painting and patching, wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.

Ann Fahl

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Topstitch Needles Go on an Adventure!

For a number of years I've been selling my patterns, books and notions on the web.  When an order comes in, I am so pleased that someone likes my stuff enough to purchase it. Last year I decided to offer a 4 pack of Titanium needles on my website.  I really believe in them, they have made my work easier. 

Late in September a customer I will call Mary, ordered a 4 pack.  I shipped them to her Sep 28 in a hand addressed envelope.  Two weeks later, she hadn't received them so I shipped her another set.  This time with trackable label. Again, Mary let me know envelope #2 hadn't arrived and she was using her last titanium needle, wasn't there something I could do?  It's November by this time, and the tracking information said the envelope was undeliverable and would  be shipped back to me.  I wondered what was going on?

Here is envelope #1 as it arrived back at my studio after a month and a half
 So I sent her another package, again with a trackable label.  Finally envelope #2 arrived at her house.  It was too late, because #3 was already on its way.  Then envelope #3 arrived.  And just the other day envelope #1 arrived! Wow, all those envelopes were so late in getting to Mary's house!  Where do you suppose they went?

Do you suppose #1 made a stop in Hawaii, visited relatives, did it hide in the mail truck?  Mary wrote me again, after I told her all the extra packs had finally been returned to my studio.  She remarked, "no matter snow or sleet, the post office delivers."  So I guess it does, but we have to be patient.
Spring Gift, original quilt by Ann Fahl

So I've decided that after an early start, the needles went on a trip to Houston to see the big show and visit my entry Spring Gift, before they went on to Mary's house.  She was surely waiting for those needles, and this evening, I picture her as being warm and cozy; sewing a quilt in front of her fireplace!

Stay warm
Ann Fahl

Sunday, November 13, 2011

This Really is My Last Post on the La Conner Show

Today a CD arrived in the mail from my cousin. Bravely, she took both her 88 year old father and her husband to see my show. She sent pictures that I have not gotten from others. I thought you'd like to see them. I'll keep it short.
The Gaches Mansion, houses the La Conner Quilt and Textile Museum photo by John Adams
This beautiful home is well cared for by its current occupants.  Currently there is a fund raising campaign underway for additional renovations. There are 3 floors that include exhibit space and a gift shop.  My exhibit, The Quilted Garden, is on the second floor.
A museum visitor studying a quilt on the second floor, photo by John Adams
My cousin Charlie pictured above is looking at my Coneflower Fiesta quilt which I have posted more than once on this blog. This is the first chance that he has gotten to see Indiana Memories, a quilt I made in honor of his mother!
Indiana Memories by Ann Fahl
The above swan quilt was made to honor Nelda Vibrans, my great aunt, who died in the 1990's.  Both of us loved Winona Lake IN and spent lots of time there.  The swan was a symbol of the area because there was a small swan pond downtown.  Nelda liked to sew, knit, was an artist and a singer.  She made a few quilts, of which I have one. The yellow leaves filled the Indiana autumn days when her memorial service was held.  I scooped some of them up on my way back to Wisconsin; and eventually they wound up in this quilt. The swan is sitting on a nest of magenta yarn, symbolic of her love of fiber and knitting.

End of the Season by Ann Fahl

This brilliant quilt is about autumn, a time when there is nothing left of my black eyed susans except the seed heads.  I placed them on bright patchwork to contrast the dying blossoms.  I love this piece because of all the hot colors on the patchwork. This quilt is included in the exhibit on the second floor of the museum.

Let me know if you get to see the show.

Thanks for reading once again.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Trying Something New

New tools to add to my toolbox!
Quilting has been an important part of my life since I since I walked into my first quilting class in 1978. Shortly thereafter, I started my own business, and I've been thinking, breathing, eating and dreaming QUILTING! I have made quilts numbering in the hundreds. Maybe I'm slowing down, or getting old, but I want to try something new.

Designing and making quilts will always be an important part of my life, but I no longer want to do this 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  I want time to do other things; to clear away the lint and take time to smell the roses and coneflowers!

Tonight I went to an orientation meeting for people that would like to become Master Gardener Volunteers. This is a program that is run by the University of WI extension service.  Other states have similar programs. They are looking for people that want to learn about all the facets of gardening and spend time creating new gardens in public spaces and helping others learn about growing things.  I want to learn more about growing plants and good garden design.

This could be the perfect new thing for me to try. It could be a life enriching experience, expand a community garden or two, and a perfect companion to my quilting life! Who knows what might develop? I'll have to wait and see what transpires.

Ann Fahl

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Oreo Continues to Entertain at the La Conner Quilt and Textile Museum

Summer Sanctuary, is a quilt when first completed didn't include Oreo.  She was added later!
Please just one more blog about my show at the La Conner, it runs through Dec 31, 2011!  This is the longest running exhibit I've ever had. Several people have let me know how much they enjoyed my show and the other 2 ongoing exhibits at La Conner, WA.  Some of you have even sent photos for me to see, it's been great. Believe me, it kills me to not be able to go and see it for myself!

A Quilter's Menagerie, is the first quilt that my husband has ever suggested a title for.
Because the size of this quilt is large, it makes a big impact: whether it hangs in my living room or is displayed at a show. This is a fun one to look at because there are so many details when you step up close to it. The green hand dyed fabrics were died by Dagmar Plenk of Milwaukee. She does are marvelous job of blending the procion dyes to make interesting fabrics.  They seem to glow behind the tree!

This is a smorgasbord quilt that contains at least one of everything that I do: metallic thread, hand bead, machine embroidery and quilting, machine applique, and all the animals and images that I've used throughout my career.

Indiana Memories was included in A Black and White Tale as part of Oreo's adventures
 Although Oreo isn't in this beautiful swan quilt, it has become part of her story in Jacquie's and my book about her adventures.  The quilt makes me feel wonderful, but when I look at the quilting I did, I'm amazed at how much I've improved since making this quilt.
Under the Giant Coneflowers is always a crowd favorite
Here Oreo is walking under the leftover coneflowers from Wow That's Orange. Wow, is also in the exhibit. I'll leave you with a springy quilt on this rainy November Day.  Do you remember Tiny Tim?
Tiptoe, lots of hand beading on this one
But now I realize that this one isn't in the show.  We can still enjoy it anyhow.  I will be talking more about metallic threads in the near future.

Ann Fahl

Sunday, November 6, 2011

This Time It's a Blue Metallic Thread!

I'm almost finished with the embroidery of the papyrus blossoms in this new quilt, but have a loooong way to go.  Next I'll embroider the brown portion of that plant that holds the flower.  I love the way the dark blue accents the blue/green hand dyed fabric. The contrast is greater than the green metallic I used on some of the other flowers.  See my earlier post.  This will make the quilt for interesting for the viewer!

The more you can embroider with metallics, the fewer problems you will have.  Quilting through the entire sandwich is more challenging.  I detail all this in my new Mastering Metallics booklet.

Ann Fahl

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Still Playing with Metallics!

For several months I've been working on a major piece.  When it's ready to exhibit I will show it to you, and write about how it developed.  But for now, I'm just beginning to embroider portions of it. The collage I've been working on, has been sort of a test piece for this new one which is currently titled, Egyptian Garden III.

After spending several days embroidering just stems, it was time to work on the papyrus flower/leaf.  I planned the embroidery (decorative stitching on just the quilt top) by doodling on a life size drawing on paper of the flower.  Right away I came up with something I really liked.  Since I've been playing with metallic threads now, I chose to use a green metallic on a mottled green flower. I used a topstitch 14/90 needle with the spool sitting upright.
Embroidered stylized papyrus ©2011 Ann Fahl
I am so thrilled with how this turned out, I just had to share it with you. The base of the flower hasn't been embroidered yet, but it will be stitched next. When the quilt is finished, the quilting will enhance the design direction that you see here.  From time to time, I'll show you little bits and pieces of this new quilt.

That's all for now.