FREE GIVEAWAY: Sarah has generously offered to provide one of her original patterns to the lucky winner of a giveaway here at Subversive Stitchers: Women Armed with Needles. Please include contact email information or where I can locate said information. Those entering the giveaway need to leave a comment here on Sarah’s guest blog about your favorite thread, favorite needle or a problem you are having with needle or thread or both. Sarah’s available to answer questions and may give more extensive answers on her own blog at a later date. Your comments can be added up through Dec. 20th. The winner will be chosen on Dec. 21st.
Folks often ask what is the best thread, and how do I get results like yours. The answers are the dreaded "it depends on the look you want" and (twice as bad as a four-letter word, the 8-letter P-word) "practice."
The single best thing anyone can do is buy decent thread (not the cheap stuff in the 8 for a dollar bin). Follow that with: Just do it; just quilt!
You WILL get better, and other folks will think you're amazing long before you think you're even so-so! Just do it!
Photos 1 and 2: Earth and Turquoise inspired by a quotation by N. Scott Momaday. The piece features turquoise, beads, silk bombyx fibers, tulle, commercial cotton batiks, and extensive thread stitching, as well as leather lacing, sticks, rocks and wild turkey feathers. First photo a close up, second photo full size view. The quilted portion is approximately 28x28 inches. Overall including feathers length is 54 inches.
Let me add: It never hurts to start at the beginning. For me, the beginning is a good needle, followed by good tension. If you are using a dull needle or one that isn't suited to your thread and project, you simply won't get good results no matter how fine the thread or your quilting skills. Then, you need to understand your machine so that you are working in harmony and not fighting one another. There is a whole section and project in the book to help you with this.
The shoe analogy works: when you go hiking, you don't wear satin pumps. You need hiking boots-- the correct shoe for what you are going to do (have you seen how many of those TV female cops are wearing spike heels? sheesh! NOT in real life...they need to be able to run!). AND, you need the correct shoe size. If the shoe is too big, your foot flops around and gets rubbed and sore; if the shoe is too small, blisters! The same thing applies to needles and thread. This is how you can end up with wobbly stitches or frayed, breaking thread.
Photo 3: Tea. Size: 16" tall by 19" wide. Fusible applique, painting and intense machine quilting. (above) Tea is a morning still life, with my mug, teapot, creamer, cereal bowl and book. In 2006 I wanted a play day with a quilty friend, and I wanted to see my friend Teri Austin, so I signed up for a day-class with Teri at the 2006 Maine Quilts show. Instead of doing the teacher's pattern, as usual I wanted to do my own imagery, so I prepared this picture to work on in the class. At long last I have finished it, and I love it! I hope you do, too.
Thanks for inviting me to guest blog, Dawn! Here's to happy quilting and LOTS of thread!
One day, a boat was leaving to go to a neighboring island-not a common occurrence. This man was on the boat and immediately caught my eye. Even then, when Bubaque had only had electricity for two years, it was unusual to see men dressed in a traditional manner. To me, he represents a vanishing way of life, and I wanted to capture that as well as his physical beauty.
And there's more!
The center quilted panel is 10x10 inches, mounted on commercial batik over stretcher bars. The finished pieces are 16 x 16 inches, and one inch deep (fabric wraps cleanly to the back, which is clean finished and ready to hang).
With These Hands, inspired by Rodin's sculpture "The Cathedral," this portrait of my hands uses every thread I own that approximated my skin tone, even pool blue and gray for the veins. I free-motion embroidered the hands onto Thermogauze vanishing muslin and a layer of tulle in a hoop, trimmed and padded it with two layers of batting and appliqued. I quilted all the things I do with my hands.: "With these hands, I love, sew, design . . . ." I used a similar quilting technique to make the hands in "Earth and Turquoise," which is in the Orbs gallery. 14x14 inches; made in 2004. Created for and a finalist in the Quilting Arts Magazine Calendar Challenge for 2005.
Fields of Gold, just won an award in Houston! The center portion of this piece was designed as a project for my book: Thread Work Unraveled. While it was hanging on the design wall, my friend Lisa Walton sent me a metre of her inspiring hand-dyed fabric--gorgeous green, gold and rust. I pinned it up on the wall, wondering how I could use it for a journal quilt. You can visit Lisa's website, Dyed and Gone to Heaven, and yes...she ships worldwide!
Then inspiration hit: the green and gold section meshed perfectly with my little "sunset trees." Then, my friend Deborah's quilt, Fields of Gold, worked its way into my subconscious. As I mulled over how I would quilt the hand-dyed portion, the lyrics to the Fields of Gold song by Sting popped into my head, and images of bowing grasses were replaced by wheat blowing in the wind.
Shown at Art Quilts XIII, the Chandler Center for the Arts, Chandler, Arizona, October to December 2008. Juried into the Contemporary Colorations II exhibit at the National Quilt Association show, Columbus, Ohio, June 2009. Size: 18 1/4 by 20 3/4 inches.