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Archive for April, 2011

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If you don’t know Patsy Thompson, you should get right over to her website, watch videos, buy her DVDs and be AMAZED.

She is a rock star when it comes to free-motion quilting and she does it on a domestic sewing machine, not a mid- or longarm.

Someday I might get to the level of confident kindergartner regarding FMQ, but I’m older than Patsy and I doubt there’s enough life left in me to achieve what she’s accomplished. And I don’t feel bad about that, it’s not really on my bucket list.

But one thing that Patsy does that I never thought to do is spray baste her quilts VERTICALLY. Not on the floor or a table. Pure genius! You don’t have to be a member of The Quilt Show to watch a video that Patsy posted showing how she does this.

Patsy has a huge wall in her basement or garage, a luxury I don’t have. But I do have standard-height walls in the hallway outside my studio, so when the day comes to try a bed-sized quilt, I will do it in there.

Now that Anya’s first quilt is done, it’s time to start on the next one. This was an impulse buy at Quilter’s Corner (see, those shop samples do their job). It’s a panel and I’ve never worked with one before. It should be pretty easy, but the one I bought is not square. Since this will be a drag-around quilt, square is not important. We’ll see if it turns out to be more like a parallelogram.

First, I went through my batting scraps and pulled out a couple of pieces that alone were not big enough but together would be more than adequate. I had bought some Heat Press Batting Together tape last year for this very purpose (this project has been sitting around the studio for nearly a year) and finally was able to try it out. It worked great! Butt two cut edges of batting together, lay the tape along the “seam” and press into place. The instructions don’t tell you if just pressing the tape to one side of the batt is enough, so I taped up both sides of the join just to be sure. It’s very lightweight and I’m sure no one will be able to tell that I pieced the batt together once it’s done.

Since it’s not large, I’m using my “design wall” which is nothing but the fuzzy backside of a Walmart vinyl tablecloth. It’s thumbtacked to the portion of wall between my two dormers, below the slanted roof. I put up the backing, wrong side out, and hand-smoothed it so there are no wrinkles. I taped newspaper around that on all sides and on the floor below to catch any overspray. Overspray would be a bad thing on my carpet, it’s old cruddy carpet but we’re not in a position to remove it at this time.

I bought a can of 505 at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival and intended to use it on this project, but when I read the label closely it says to also spray the batting. I took that to mean that in order for it to stick, the layers had to be spray-side to spray-side, which I’ve never had to do before. I looked at my old can of Sullivan’s Basting Spray and it doesn’t say to do that, so I went ahead and used it this time, saving myself some aggravation of trying to find a good place to spray the batting. If you’ve used 505, please comment about how it works for you. Maybe it doesn’t need all that extra spraying. (I just watched Patsy’s video again. She uses 505 and doesn’t spray the side of the batting that lays on the backing.) I sprayed the backing, laid the unsprayed top half of the batting in place, smoothed it out and then did the bottom half. Then I sprayed the outside of the batting and laid the unsprayed panel in place, smoothing it out.

Spray basting vertically is genius! I usually do this on the floor and I’m getting too old to be crawling around like that. Plus, I used to do it on the hardwood floor in my living room that for years didn’t have any furniture except the piano. That’s changed, so I no longer have much or any room to do a large quilt this way.

It’s not pretty, and my area is rather tight to get into, but it worked perfectly!

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Anya’s Quilt

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I finally finished Anya’s quilt. I would have liked to have had it done months ago, but oh well. At least it’s still a couple of months until her first birthday, so I beat that milestone.

I’m very pleased with how this turned out. The pattern is by Glad Creations and is called “Faceted Jewels.” I drew it up in Electric Quilt and tried several virtual variations (love EQ!) before I settled on this one. Despite the convenience EQ affords, I sewed an outer border on the top that I just didn’t like and ended up removing it. I didn’t like it in the virtual version and I really didn’t like it in the fabric version. I should have listened to my intuition before I let it get that far. I was trying to meet a self-imposed deadline of having the top done to present to Erin at the baby shower her Richmond friends threw for her when they were here for Christmas. I didn’t have time to redesign and replace the border so I left it with just the thin inner border. It’s a different look for me and I didn’t think it ultimately detracted from the design, so I soldiered on. In hindsight, there are design elements I would do differently, and maybe if I live long enough, I will make another one, incorporating those changes.

It’s the first quilt I’ve made that’s totally paper-pieced. I really enjoyed the process, although there’s a lot of jumping up and down from the sewing machine to the ironing board and cutting table, but that just kept me in shape! I did eventually put a pressing mat down on my sewing table which cut down on half the exercise, but I can’t cut sitting down so I still had to get up and walk to the cutting table. I did as much production-line sewing as I could.

The pink and white fabrics on the top are “Fairy Frost” by Michael Miller. The purple is Kaufmann “Fusions.”┬áThe fabric that started this whole thing is “Doodle Fairies in Flight” by Timeless Treasures. At least that’s what eQuilter.com calls it. The fairy wings are sparkly. I didn’t realize that until the fabric arrived. Too cute!

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And what was I thinking when I made this label? I didn’t even put on it that I’m her grandmother! Can I claim inexperience?

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Bryan Peterson

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Last Saturday I spent a lovely day at the Byrd Theatre in Richmond’s Carytown listening to Bryan Peterson talk about photography. This year marks the 80th birthday of the Richmond Camera Club (or so I was told, a visit to their website says it was started in June 1932) and he agreed to come and do a day-long seminar. The RCC opened up attendance to all the photography groups/clubs in Virginia and there were people there from Charlottesville and Fairfax, of the ones I talked to. I was there as part of the Richmond Photography Meetup Group.

Bryan is the author of several photography books and it was his Understanding Exposure that turned on the lightbulb for me. I went from shooting on automatic to shooting manual because of him.

I wasn’t sure what a 9am-4pm seminar would offer, would I fall asleep? No. For one thing, the ancient, lumpy seats guaranteed that. Bryan showed lots of photos from his portfolio on the big screen and talked about the story behind each one and how he got the shot. Because of the type of photography he specializes in (advertising campaigns, corporate work) a lot of his shots are staged and he told some funny stories about how he’s not afraid to move things around to get the shots he visualizes. If the shot would look better with a leaf on a rock, he’ll find a leaf and put it on the rock. I’ve been known to take leaves out of a shot, I’ve yet to put one back in.

Although I have several of Bryan’s books, I think it was good that this seminar came along now rather than back when I was new at this. I took four pages of notes, quite a bit on stuff that is covered in the books, but I think the repetition caused me to think about how I’m shooting now. Two years ago I was always in a muddle about all the things there are to remember about photography, and don’t get me wrong I still have those moments, but now I can think more clearly about it. For example, I realized when I listened to Bryan speak, that my way of doing things is to take a meter reading and then change my aperture, shutter speed and ISO to get the correct exposure. His way of doing things is to always keep his ISO at 200, decide if he wants a “story-telling” shot (wide depth of field), “isolating” shot (shallow depth of field) or “who cares?” shot (f/8 or f/11), set his aperture accordingly, then take a meter reading and change his shutter speed to get the “creatively correct” exposure. Is my way wrong? Not necessarily, I don’t think. I am thinking about those things up front, I love bokeh and shoot a lot with a wide aperture. I do tend to keep my ISO at 200 when I’m outdoors, but I don’t hesitate to boost it when necessary. I recently learned that I could access my camera’s 3200 ISO through a custom setting, so I now have that as an option.

Bryan has a new book coming out this summer called Understanding Flash Photography which I expect to be just as educational as his others, but I want it now, not the end of August. He spoke a bit about using external flash units and (not surprisingly) he advocates using them manually, not TTL (through-the-lens). He mentioned something about how the speedlite will tell you what distance you need to be from your subject and I haven’t gotten that far in the Syl Arena book I talked about here. So I did come home with something learned that was totally new, although I haven’t had a chance to practice with that yet.

We had a one hour lunch break, more photos, stories and tips (lots of note scribbling) and a short question-and-answer session. We got out early because there was another group coming in at 4pm.

The lady from Fairfax I talked to at lunch said she wished she’d known how neat the Byrd Theatre is, she would have brought her camera. I’m glad I brought mine and here are a few shots I got:

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Not the best shot, but the lights were low at their highest setting

In the mirror

Best of all, he signed my book.

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I found this postcard at the Hallmark store a few weeks back and I thought it looked funny. I’ve been to Capitol Park a number of times and just wasn’t familiar with that perspective. We usually picnic on the other side of the building.

Postcard of Virginia State Capitol, Richmond, Virginia

Since my office is a short block from the park, I took advantage of a nice spring day to walk over with my camera and see if I could duplicate the shot.

Virginia State Capitol, Richmond, Virginia

What a difference! The large trees are gone and that evergreen against the building is gone. I figure I was standing at the same place the other photographer stood, but he must have used a longer lens that compresses the distance more than mine. His photo makes it look like it’s a short distance between the fountain in the foreground and the capitol, but in reality, there’s a lot of lawn there. I tried to duplicate the zoom but my EF-S 55-250 lost the fountain (you can just barely see the fence in the bottom of the postcard) when I filled the frame with the building. (My camera has a crop sensor, so that could also be the reason.)

This postcard must have been a best-seller and they keep using it, just look at those cars. They must be from what, the 70s? I didn’t go up the hill to investigate, but I wonder if you can even drive around the building anymore.

I wonder why the trees were removed? There are old, large ones on the other side. It’s called Capitol Park, parks have trees. What a shame.

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