Monday, December 31, 2012

It's 2013!

Party Girl by Ann Fahl
Wishing all of you a Happy New Year. May this year be one filled with interesting new things; health and happiness.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Crisis in Orange

Here we are, Christmas is almost here. Everything should be red and green and sparkly.  So what's the problem?

You know I love the color orange.  It used to be my least loved color, but today it has become part of my repertoire. When I look back at my childhood, how could I have left that orange crayon in the box unused? Below, you will find an anatomically correct, Oreo, walking under some giant coneflowers on a warm background. Actually this was made of leftovers, but it is a really successful quilt.

Under the Giant Coneflowers, (c) quilt by Ann Fahl

Years back, before "Under" was created, the members of the quilt/art list helped me extend my selection of orange fabrics by sending me orange squares to create this colorful piece. I was hoping for 100 squares, but I actually received more than 300.  Wow, That's Orange is one of my top 10 favorite quilts in my career. There is more of the story on my website.
Wow that's Orange, (c) quilt by Ann Fahl

So what's the problem?  I'm wearing an orange top and jacket today; and I needed to wear my only pair of orange socks; my friend Sally gave them to me a few years ago. When I put them on, I realized there were holes in each heel, but I wore them anyhow! It's about time for these socks to go, sooooo sad, because I love them.  I guess I know what I'll put on my list for Santa!
Ann's favorite orange socks
 It is a sad day, but I will recover!

Merry Orange Holidays to everyone.
Ann Fahl

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Cat Hair Returns

Do you remember the first quilt show you ever attended? Or, the first show you ever entered?

My very first quilt was a blue sampler that I made for my mother. It was a large one, full sized and hand quilted. I entered it in the state historical society show, and won an honorable mention in 1979.  It was really exciting to get a ribbon on my first quilt.
Ann's very first quilt completed in 1978

At the time, I knew nothing about quilt shows, I'd never even been to one!  But the judge made a comment on the back of the ribbon that said, "Pet hair is distracting."

After that comment I thought to myself, "I guess I'll have to watch that when I enter another quilt in the show!" That was something I never even considered doing.

Eventually, when I had more of a studio to work in, there is a procedure that I follow. I always clean off my cutting table first, lay out the quilt, and go over it with a lint roller front and back.  This has always seemed to work.  I always mention that first judge's comments in all my lectures with good humor; in the hopes that it might convince others to check over a quilt carefully before going to a show, or be given as a gift.

Every time a quilt comes home after a show, I open up the box and admire it, and hang it up in my living room. Nine out of ten times my quilt will come back with little threads on it, that were probably from someone else's quilt!  How do I know that?  It's because the threads are always the wrong colors for the fabrics I used. Many times I wonder what famous persons' quilt they came from.  Had they touched?  Did they get to be friends?  Where do all these threads come from?  Do other people find them on their returned quilts too? This is truly one of life's mysteries.
Garden of the Sun God, (c) 2012 Ann Fahl

Late November, my beautiful Garden of the Sun God quilt came back from the IQA show in Houston. It looked beautiful when I opened it up. After finding the judges comment sheets, I sat down to look them over carefully.  (This can be either a very trying experience or a pleasant one.) Their comments were OK this time, but one of the judges took the time to write at the bottom, that I should use a lint brush to remove the pet hairs from the dark areas of my quilt!!! I had to laugh. Like other pet owners, I make an attempt to limit the cat hair in the house, but there is only so much I can do. I looked over the quilt, and I didn't see any Oreo hairs, but perhaps I have selective vision.

Here is Oreo helping to fold up a quilt.  Could this be the problem?

So I have come full circle in my quilting life.  The first quilt I ever entered in a show had cat hair on it; and the best one I've made to date--also had cat hair on it. And, probably the hundreds of quilts I have made in between also had cat hair on them. What can I say?  I do my best.

I hope this brought a smile to your day.
Ann Fahl

Friday, December 7, 2012

Fresh Salsa's Finale with Summary

The Border

We're at the end of the project. It's time to quilt the border. Again I have returned to that plan I drew up before all the quilting began. 
Ann's quilting plan for Fresh Salsa
 I doodled lots of things on the page but here's what I did for the border it is done in two parts.
Part one of the border.
I marked a curvy line in the border, dividing it roughly in half; with a silver pencil.  I danced (quilted) this area with leaves, spirals hearts and spirals. Then I went around the outside with some curvy lines that intersect the outside edge. This will make a nice flat edge when I block the piece and trim the edges.
Finished border.
The Binding

I found 4 different fabrics that might work for the binding.  It's always exciting to get to this point, because I know the quilt is almost done.  Put some careful thought into your fabric choice, because this is like a frame on a painting. Think of it as the sparkle on the edge. When you look at your top, do you want a contrasting edge or a subtle edge?  For me, it depends on the quilt and my mood at the time.  For more info on bias binding, may I recommend my booklet on binding.  You may think differently about it after reading the 28 pages that I've written. 
Here are the fabrics I though might work for the binding.
So which fabric won?  I thought it would be the green check on the left! The red/pink/yellow multi was too busy.The green/blue/red stripe was a decorator chintz looked great. I went out and purchased the small stripe on the right.  It had a sense of humor and pulled out all the colors in the top, but when placed on the quilt itself it was more pastel than I wanted.  So the winner is........the green decorator chintz.
Fresh Salsa, ©2012, finished and bound, 50 x 50 inches

Review:  hints for successfully quilting a pieced quilt top
  • Always make a sample of machine stitching every time you have re-threaded the machine or changed something.
  • Use the correct needle.  I prefer a topstitch needle.
  • Find the darning foot that works best for you. You need good visibility and it must ride high enough to clear the thick areas where the seams meet.
  • Reduce pressure adjustment on the pressure foot, check owner's manual for it's location.  I reduce the pressure to 0 on my machine.
  • Darning feet do wear out.  If it squeaks you might lubricate the foot with a dot of sewers aid. With a small brush, remove excess lint which may be clogging the spring. If you've used the foot for a long time, it may be time to get a new one.
  • Adjust the darning foot so it rides higher by using the wheel on the attachment, by bending the thin bar on top, or using Diane's method of adding an "0" ring to raise it up.
  • Wear quilter's gloves to give good control of the quilt under the darning foot. 
  • A SewSlip creates a smooth slippery surface for easy movement of the quilt on the bed of the machine. If you haven't tried one, they are worth the price.

Happy piecing and quilting
 Ann Fahl