What Lies Beneath

What Lies Beneath (40”x18”)

What Lies Beneath (40”x18”)

What Lies Beneath is another new quilt for this year. This was made for the Central Oregon SAQA challenge, “Beneath the Surface”. When I was trying to figure out what to do for the challenge I had other ideas, ones that were really quite different from this. However, when I have a challenge quilt to do I try to make something that could be used for other purposes besides the original exhibit. In this case, I wanted to do something modern and I was inspired by mid century modern design.

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I came up with this idea as an abstract way to illustrate how people, animals and nearly everything else in the universe are more complicated that they first appear. The original idea had a midline going across the width of the quilt, but at some point I decided it was better without it.

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First I did a small sketch of some shapes, then had to decide the order of putting it all together. I also had to consider shrinkage since the size was supposed to be 18x40 (either vertical or horizontal). I had to make the background extra big and then guess that shrinkage would occur mostly in the width rather than the height due to the vertical background quilting.

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I made a full size drawing and used hand applique and freezer paper templates to add the shapes. Then I layered and machine quilted the background. I started and stopped each stitching line at the shapes and since I like to bury the thread tails that took a really long time! Lastly, I added the hand quilting and hand embroidery. It was a lot of fun to to doodle on the shapes. I used a Pitt Artist pen to draw the doodles and then stitched over the lines with embroidery floss with mostly back stitch and satin stitch.

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Finally, I added my hand stitched signature to the front of the quilt. I’ve been doing that on most quilts in recent years and I like the look. It feels like signing a painting.

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I really love how this quilt came out and it was enjoyable to do (except for all the ends to bury!). The background fabric is Essex linen/cotton blend which is one of my favorite fabrics for hand stitching. I also love the backing print which is very busy, but so very cute. Those tiny houses are about 1/4”! It worked out great because I didn’t worry to much about doing the hand embroidery. Normally I would try to keep my embroidery stitches in the batting layer rather than going through to the back, but with the machine quilting lines it would have been very frustrating to do. With that backing being so busy all the errant stitches on the back don’t really show so I don’t mind them.

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Winter Stitching

Chicken Bag

Chicken Bag

A very Happy New Year to you. Sorry for the long delay in posting. I have been doing some studio work, mainly these three hand embroidered bags which are in the shop now (see all three below). All started with some hand dyed indigo fabric (vintage linen in the chicken bag and new linen in the two zipper bags). I then went through my vast collection of hand stitching threads and stitched in a very intuitive manner. For each area of the bags the thread type, thread color and stitch pattern was decided as I went along. it’s a very freeing way to work and leads to surprises. I wanted to weed out some threads that aren’t my favorite to work with and I did set aside quite a bit to pass along to friends. Now my favorite threads are all sorted and organized and easy to find.

What makes a good thread? That totally depends on the stitcher’s comfort level, the stitching substrate, the visual effect, tactile pleasure, and the desired thread composition. In the past I have had been introduced to all sorts of unusual threads, especially by Sue Spargo. Some of them are best for working on wool because it’s more loosely woven than cotton. However, since I am doing so many pieces on cotton I decided to weed out those that don’t meet these criteria:

  • natural fiber composition (mainly cotton and silk)

  • thread size (too thick and every stitch becomes a struggle, too thin and the stitches don’t have the desired impact)

  • ease of stitching (will differ for each individual)

  • tactile pleasure (differs for each stitcher)

  • visual effect (personal preference)

As I get older I have more issues of pain in my hands and wrists and I have to be mindful whenever I do handwork. The threads I decided to keep make my handwork time pleasant, comfortable and visually exciting. I thought I’d make a list of various threads from most liked to least. Perhaps it will be helpful for you, whether you are just starting out in embroidery or you are a long time enthusiast.

Favorites top to bottom : Presencia Finca perle cotton (8), WonderFil perle cotton (8) (solid and variegated), Valdani perle cotton (8 ) (also 12), Soie et silk thread, DMC embroidery thread.

Favorites top to bottom : Presencia Finca perle cotton (8), WonderFil perle cotton (8) (solid and variegated), Valdani perle cotton (8 ) (also 12), Soie et silk thread, DMC embroidery thread.

My favorite threads are:

  • Finca by Presencia size 8 perle cotton (I only have one spool, but it’s very nice)

  • Valdani size 8 and 12 perle cottons (solids and variegated threads are all fabulous)

  • WonderFil Eleganza size 8 perle cotton (the variegated threads are beautiful!)

  • Soie et 100% silk 3 strand embroidery thread (swoon ***)

  • DMC 6 strand embroidery thread (yummy color selection, high quality thread, versatile since you can use any number of strands from 1-6)

***I discovered this silk thread in a sampler set sold by Superior Threads and it is the most luxurious thread I think I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. I have only one spool of it, but I wouldn’t hesitate to buy more. There are other silk threads I’ve tried (Silken Pearl and others), but I didn’t like at all, so this is the only one I can recommend.

Second Favorites: Sea Grass, Silken Chenille, and Silken Ribbons

Second Favorites: Sea Grass, Silken Chenille, and Silken Ribbons

My second favorites that I plan to keep, but don’t use much are:

  • Sea Grass, 100% organic cotton tape thread (works well on cotton and wool, I like the matte finish and flat stitch effect)

  • Silken Chenille (works best on wool, especially for couching)

  • Silken Ribbon (works best on wool)

Least favorites: DMC perle cotton (8), Aurifil embroidery thread, sashiko thread

Least favorites: DMC perle cotton (8), Aurifil embroidery thread, sashiko thread

These are threads I plan to use up, but wouldn’t buy more of:

  • DMC perle cotton any size (I think these threads are more coarse than the other brands of perle cotton, also limited colors)

  • Aurifil 6 strand embroidery thread (meh, I just don’t like it as much as DMC and it’s more expensive)

  • sashiko thread (I like the matte finish, but I don’t like how thick it is, it hurts my hands to use so I’ll save it for mending jeans)

Pretty, but not for me: Bozzolo Reale silk thread, Silken Pearl, Kreinik metallic braid, WonderFil Razzle, WonderFil Dazzle, DMC perle cotton (5).

Pretty, but not for me: Bozzolo Reale silk thread, Silken Pearl, Kreinik metallic braid, WonderFil Razzle, WonderFil Dazzle, DMC perle cotton (5).

These are the threads I am getting rid of. Many of them are absolutely beautiful, but they lead to sore and tired hands and/or lots of frustration. I know many people love these threads, so take my recommendations with a grain of salt.

  • Bozzolo Reale silk thread (too slippery, too easy to tangle, frustrating to use, but beautiful to look at!)

  • Silken Pearl silk thread (too easy to tangle, stretchy, but again, absolutely beautiful!)

  • Kreinik Metallic Braid (polyester, scratchy, frustrating to use)

  • WonderFil Razzle (rayon, slippery, too shiny, frustrating to use)

  • WonderFil Dazzle (metallic rayon, slippery, too shiny, frustrating to use)

  • Perle Cottons size 5, various brands (just too thick for me, useful for tying a quilt, but I don’t need to keep it in the stash)

I’ll pass those threads to friends to try. Just because I don’t like them doesn’t mean someone else won’t. If you have a favorite natural fiber embroidery thread please let me know in the comments. I am quite sure I have several lifetime’s worth of thread here, but I wouldn’t want to miss out on something great!

The chicken bag is very densely embroidered with lots of different threads. I also added some chicken patches I had set aside. It’s fully lined and has batting between so it feels very substantial.

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Stripey Indigo Zipper

Stripey Indigo Zipper

The Stripey Indigo Zipper is made from my hand dyed linen and simply stitched in vertical lines. I love the minimalist look of this one.

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You Are My Sunshine Zipper

You Are My Sunshine Zipper

The You Are My Sunshine Zipper was also made from hand dyed indigo new linen fabric. The embroidery was done in an intuitive manner with just a few different threads. I also included one of my hand printed labels as embellishment. The cheerful polka dot lining makes me smile. All in all, it’s the perfect antidote for a rainy day.

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Details and prices for all the bags can be found in my KMS Handmade shop.

New In Shop :: You Are My Sunshine

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You are my Sunshine is one of my favorite songs! Long, long ago my husband gave the nickname Sunshine to my mom and so it’s significant for that, but it was also a favorite song we’d sing when my children were very young. For Star Trek fans, there was that scene where Seven-of-Nine sang it to the Doctor. It was quite lovely.

When I was making those block printed ornaments a couple of weeks ago, I also made these You Are My Sunshine patches from my hand carved block. They are created with white textile ink on hand dyed indigo linen patches (6.5 inches square). Each one is unique with varying values of indigo and patterns of dye. These would be fantastic for quilt block centers, quilt labels, ornaments, patches on garments, etc. The textile ink is supposed to be washable, though I haven’t tested it.

I have stitched on some of the patches and will be using them in future projects that will likely be for sale. I think I’ll make some into zipper bags.

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I also made one into an ornament. This is black ink on natural linen and is available in the shop. Thanks for looking!

Woman Made Gallery Quilt + Resist



I just recently found about a new venue for showing resist quilts and I thought I'd pass along the word.  The Woman Made Gallery in Chicago, IL has put out a new call for entry for an exhibit called Quilt + Resist: art. politics, storytelling.  Woman Made Gallery is a non profit art gallery which has shown over 8,000 women artists in the course of their 26 year history (herstory!). 

My three resist quilts have been back home for a few weeks so I was thrilled to have another place to submit them.  I have just completed my entry and if you have any work that fits the theme I hope you'll enter too.  Please pass on the word to any quilters you know who have done resist work.  The entry deadline is August 31, 2018. 

Only One Earth

Only One Earth

She Persisted

She Persisted