Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fabric Foibles

The world of quilting regardless the type of quilt being assembled starts with notions, a sewing machine, a pattern, fabric and the artist. If you peruse through the many available blogs online or even have a neighbor, who quilts, a common foible can be found with fabric.

As we know, fabric is any woven, knitted or pressed cloth, such as velvet, satin, canvas, linen, silk, felt and flannel, etc. They all have a different texture and quality all their own.
Fabric has been discovered to be around since prehistoric times and has changed over time especially during the industrial age. Read the interesting history of fabric --> here.

Today, fabric can be found in many colors, textures, qualities and designs. For the quilter, fabric is eye candy and wildly stirs the imagination and creativity. Peek into their work room and you may find shelves overflowing with fabrics of one color after another. Why? each one of those fabric pieces may already be a part of a quilt, in the mind of the artist.

Unfortunately the world of fiber art now has it's contraints too. Fabrics can be stamped as a 'Not for Commercial Use' product. A fabric designer has decided their fabric cannot be used towards creating a new product for resale. It will be considered copyright infringement.

The idea of freedom to express oneself with fabric in the quilting world, now forces one to approach with caution when shopping for fabric, to respect the rights of another artist. Many question this practice since it seems to put up a roadblock regarding the fabric. Curious questions arise. On one side is the fabric designer, they will allow for private use only. One can make a dress, curtains or whatever for private use whereas the clothing, home decor or quilting artist cannot use it in their own creations, for resale to the public. What if a client buys the fabric but commissions another artist to create a product? A fine line indeed to consider. All I can suggest is that we double check when shopping for fabric, to prevent finding ourselves in trouble. Just look at the selvage on the bolt of fabric to find out if it's been stamped.

I hope you found this article informative. Please feel free to leave your comments and share your own observations plus give your Vote. Send me a email if you have a request on a topic of interest, place a Order or to say hello. It's FREE to Subscribe by Email or my RSS Feed.

Article(C)2011 GG9909, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Care for your Crazy

A Crazy Quilt (and all other quilts) whether vintage or new requires care when handled or stored.  As mentioned earlier - time and love have gone into the creation of the quilt. The final product has captured your imagination and desire to bring it home for display and admiration for you, friends, family and all who gaze upon it.

The purchase of a Crazy quilt is an investment of a product known as Fiber art. As with any piece of Art, knowledge in preservation and care must be gained. Yes, fabric has it's own rules that require careful consideration just the same as paintings.

Do you really want to lose the vibrant colors? One of the best and recommended practices for displaying your quilt will require you to hang it in the shade.  Sunlight will cause premature aging (imagine that!) and fading, disintegration or discoloration of the fabric color.

Humidity can also cause growth of mold and mildew. We don't want those dreaded black spots. Hang the quilt in a well ventilated area with steady temperatures of 60-70 degrees and NOT a outer wall. Storing the quilt is best done using acid-free boxes or papers. Never use a plastic bag since it may capture moisture and encourage growth of mold and mildew.

A problem with folding your quilt for storage is that creases will occur. Creases can be prevented with use of acid - free tissue paper rolled and inserted where corners occur. Another option can be using a plain cotton or well-washed muslin sheet also. Using trunks with wood can cause damage too. Again, wrap your quilt to prevent touching the surface of the wood and preventing transfer of oils.

A favorite method I use is rolling it up and wrapping it in a plain sheet. The quilt is rolled with the back of the quilt showing  on the outside - then wrapped in the plain sheet in a dark, well ventilated area. I find this method space saving too. I also recommend taking the quilt out every few months for airing easily done by letting it lay on the bed a few days, on a sheet and covered with another one on top if you want to place it outside. Again, not in direct sunlight or under trees - one never knows what might 'fall' out of the tree.

Insects and larvae are another consideration we must watch for. The best method to overcome this possibility is to lightly vacuum the quilt and steam cleaning. Caution must be taken with steam since again, this is moisture. Keep this process light and continually moving so not to be in one spot too long. At least the steam will guarantee a end to any unwanted insects and larvae. Once done, let your quilt 'air' out to ensure a drying time.

Cleaning your quilt with water can be a simple process. Soak your quilt in the bath tub,  for 20 mins in luke warm water, with a gentle cleanser. It's recommended that we don't 'wring' the quilt but 'blot' the water out of the quilt with sponges or towels. This is to prevent putting any strain on the fabrics. Once you have as much water blotted off - lay it flat to dry and again, NOT in direct sunlight. I hope these tips prove helpful for the care of your quilt.

I hope you found this article informative. Please feel free to leave your comments, share your own observations and give your Vote. Send me Email if you would like to place a Order today.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Labor of the Quilt Artist

The art and skill of a quilter has to be greatly admired. The time, effort and over all labor involved in the production of a quilt is intensive especially when handcrafted. It takes a genuine passion and love of the skill to produce - literally - a work of art.

One thing that cannot be forgotten is that the repetitiveness of movements can also produce strain and minor injuries. A quilter can develop fatigue in muscles leading to pain in their hands, wrists, shoulders and back and even their fingertips. Luckily, there is relief found in sewing supplies that offer protection along with use of our common sense.

Now, use of the various supplies available will require getting used to such. I know that I'm not comfortable having to use a regular thimble. My own thimble is one of the little metal sort with dimples. I have found that while doing my embroidery - threads may stick or get misaligned in the needle and create havoc trying to keep them straight and royally annoying - gasp! - if the threads become entangled and knotted altogether.

For now, I've settled on the leather thimble. Mine sits on my finger like a ring and use it on my most prickled finger. I would guess that it acts as a protective pad against punctures and needle pricking. It has taken some getting used to - like wearing a wedding or engagement ring? but at least I'm assured of no further injuries to my fingertips.

Other available tools of the trade include finger cots (look like condoms, oops!), adhesive pads, leather thimble, and gloves. I'm sure there are other options too and if you have suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment and share it. Thank you.

Fatigue of muscles and tendons also occur for the quilter. Remaining in a stationary prolonged position and repetitive motions can cause discomfort. I highly suggest taking intermittent breaks while quilting to stretch and relax your muscles. Better yet, if you have a partner, get h/im/er to give you a massage or use one of those electric massage tools.

I know how difficult it can be to 'have' to stop for a break especially when in the throes of artistic creativity but for maintaining health - do stop and take a break. Fatigue can result from exertion of muscles and tendons, need for energy, lack of calcium and/or vitamins and minerals or other health disorder such as arthritis, diabetes, etc. Pay attention and your body will let you know.

I hope you found this article informative. Please feel free to leave your comments, share your own observations and give your Vote. Send me Email if you would like to place a Order today.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Passions of Learning

I had mentioned earlier that I enjoy the art of crazy quilting because of the 'freedom' it involves in choosing colors, layout, from start to finish of the quilt. I noticed while reading up on history of this particular style of quilting - that mistakes were deliberately made and acceptable. Wow, what?

Mistakes were expected to come with any finished crazy quilt because it showed a sign of humility. After all, pride is not a admireable quality. Now, if you think about those times - least for America - their main provider for moral direction - is the church, well, doesn't practicing humility,  make sense?

Today, crazy quilts are not quite what they used to be and even become commercialized. Quilts are presented in near perfect craftmanship to rival one done by a machine.

I just have a problem with the idea of 'perfect'. It doesn't exist and believing in such a concept would be akin to the idea of raising ourselves to a level that is unequal to others. We are merely human beings. I don't think arrogance and pride are quality characteristics for anybody and should be avoided, just my thoughts.

The flip side though is finding acceptance of such a idea especially from paying customers. General and accepted purchasing practices has been - lower prices for defective products. Now, how would one convince a customer - the flaw, however minor, in the quilt is in fact, a historic practice and tradition of the crazy quilt. Is there an answer?

I believe the answer lies in the fact that - a crazy quilt is individual as the artist behind it. If a 'gallery' of quilts was to be shown (I just may do this ) calling for a specific color. We would find no two quilts the same but they would all be equally beautiful and mesmerizing.

Crazy quilts would qualify as 'fibre art'. Wikipedia states that 'fiber art focuses on materials and manual labor involved'. As we know, art is chosen by a customer and their reasons will vary. It's been said that crazy quilts, historically were not functional but for display purposes only.

Today, a crazy quilt can be used but adds the function of being put up for display. Both types can be available and as stated earlier, is one of a kind as is the artist.

I hope you found this article informative. Please feel free to leave your comments, share your own observations and give your Vote. Send me a Email if you would like to place a Order today.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Passion for the Crazy

Today's world has brought technology which makes creating a crazy quilt fast and simple. We have our sewing machines and then, we have Embroidery machines.

Some people may view hand crafted items as products of low value while others will appreciate the art and work - behind the creation of the quilt. Some will realize that a crazy quilt is one of a kind and not easily mass produced.

I enjoy the time it takes to choose the colors, lay and sew the pieces, and add the embroidery. I use one main stitch for the quilt and may add other stitches. This produces a 'laced' appearance to the quilt - as can be seen on the photograph but I do like the overall effect.

Normally, a crazy quilt will have a variety of embroidery stitches on every seam with additional embellishments such as ribbons, buttons, and charms. It is a crazy quilt and canvas for whatever crosses the mind of the artist. This has been the appeal for me - whatever crosses my mind.

One other thing I have noticed in creating a crazy quilt is that - it's really difficult to guage how your quilt will truly turn out. We have a 'idea' or hope of how it will be in the back of our mind but during the creating process - it may look really dull but voila! upon near completion - there is a piece of something beautiful starting to appear. This part is the best. What looks like a ugly duckling turns into a beautiful swan. Imagine that. :)

I have created a few crazy quilts mostly for friends who are new parents at baby showers. They absolutely love their quilts and especially that they can hang these quilts as a heirloom for their child. I had forgotten that quilts can be used as decorative hangings in our homes.

The opinions of what makes a true crazy quilt will vary especially today but the true value will lie with the recipient of the quilt. I prefer to stand back and let another person decide for themself - their impression of the quilt. For me, most have been mesmerized with the colors, layout and over all finished quilt.

I hope you found this article informative. Please feel free to leave your comments, share your own observations and give your Vote. Send a Email if you would like to place a Order today.