16 June 2010

Award Winning Craft Books

Best Selling book "Fibreart Montage - Combining Quilting, Embroidery & Photography with Embellishments" has recently won the "Ben Franklin Award" for Best Craft Book of the Year from the Independent Book Publishers Association, USA. We congratulate the author, Judith Baker Montano and the publishers on producing such an amazing mixed media technique masterpiece. See our extensive Blog review from November 2009.

Another winner was "Color Mastery: 10 Principles for Creating Stunning Quilts". Award winning quilter, Maria Peagler, teaches how to develop your own imaginative colour combinations. Both traditonal and art quilters alike will gain a deeper understanding of colour. The ten principles she teaches in this book will take you from "matching to the focus fabric" to your own unique style.

2010 Independent Publisher Book Awards Bronze: "Artistic Photo Quilts: Create Stunning Quilts with Your Camera, Computer, & Cloth", by Charlotte Ziebarth (C&T Publishing). Transform Your Digital Photos into Luminous Fabric Art. Enjoy altering photos and use them to create beautiful, original works of fabric art. Work through 11 exercises:

• Learn to alter images with Photoshop Elements®
• Use photos that really enhance your work (Hint: it's not always the best-looking shots!)
• Find inspiration in your own albums, from other artists, and in nature
• Make large-scale quilts with a standard-size inkjet printer

This accessible guide to creating fine fabric art with digital photos covers everything from the tools and equipment you'll need, to designing, finishing, and assembling your quilt.

14 June 2010

Top 10 Reasons to Upgrage from EQ6 to EQ7

Ten Reasons to Upgrade from EQ6
Users upgrading from EQ6 will feel right at home. We've used the same friendly interface, plus loads of new user-requested features. EQ7 will do everything EQ6 did, and so much more! Here are 10 new features we think EQ6 users will love. These are just some of all the new features we've added.
1. Help, Help & More Help
EQ7 is one of our most user-friendly versions to date. We've integrated new Help buttons into much of the interface and ToolHelp. If you see a Help button or "Get more details" link, click it and the EQ7 Help will open to the exact page describing how to use the feature.
Click Help to learn how "Channel Mixer" lets you adjust only certain colors/channels in a photo.
You asked for more software lessons and asked for them to be in color... we listened. EQ7 includes 22 PDF lessons in color which teach you about designing quilts, drawing EasyDraw blocks, drawing pieced PatchDraw blocks, drawing appliqué PatchDraw blocks, working with images and printing.
Working through these easy lessons may take some time, but it will be time well-spent. Even advanced users of previous EQ versions may learn new tips, tricks, and tools.
With all this help right in the program, you'll always have the answers right at your fingertips. You can learn to use EQ7 from the EQ7 Help files, Dynamic Tool Help, all new Help Videos, updated User Manual, and all new PDF lessons. And keep in mind, anything you learned in EQ6 will still work the same way in EQ7!
2. New Image Worktable
You can work on quilts... you can work on blocks... but now you can work on images! Import images into EQ7 and crop them right on your screen. After that there are infinite possibilities for adjusting color, saturation, lightness, histograms, contrast, and even mapping colors in the image to colors on the color wheel or in palettes of color. Memory quilts, T-shirt quilts, and photo art quilts will be a blast to design in EQ7 now that you can work on your images and set them in your quilts all in the same software.
Add images and variations to your Sketchbook to use in your next printable fabric project.
3. Apply Effects, Filters & Symmetries
Choose Apply > Effects, Apply > Filters, or Apply > Symmetries from the Image menu and you'll be on your way to a whole world of new image possibilities. EQ7 has over 45 different effects that can be applied to images, including artistic, noise, blur and many more. Filters allow you to sharpen, unsharpen, or detect the edges of your image. Square and Circular symmetries take portions of your image and repeat them according to your choices.
You can apply more than one to an image for a truly unique effect. Print these images onto printable fabric to use as whole photos in your memory quilts, or chop the printed images up to make one-of-a-kind fabrics for your piecing.
Create unique images to use as photos or fabric in your quilts.
4. Drag & Drop and Snap to Grid on the Quilt Worktable
If you found setting blocks in Custom Set quilts or on Layers 2 or 3 cumbersome or clumsy, you'll love the new drag & drop features we've included on the Quilt worktable! Just grab the block, motif, stencil, embroidery, photo, or fabric from the palette and drag it onto the quilt. Turn on the Snap to Grid features to make sizing and positioning blocks easy in Custom Set. Not only can you drag & drop items onto the quilt, but you can sort items in many of the palettes this way too!
Drag the item from the palette and drop it onto the quilt. It will show as transparent as you drag. When you release, it will size according to its saved design size. Then use the Adjust tool as you normally would to re-position, re-size, or rotate it.
5. Photo Layout printing style
When printing photos in EQ6, it was always one at a time. Now in EQ7, you can maximize your printable fabric using Photo Layout to fit many images together on one sheet before printing. Snap photos to the grid to help you account for seam allowance and fit as many images on the page as you can.
Position and size images in Photo Layout so you don't waste printable fabric.
6. Eyedropper Improvements
Choose whether you pick up fabrics or colors when you click on the quilt. You can even click on photos to find matching fabrics or colors in your Sketchbook Fabrics and Colors palette that match. Not only can you find fabrics and colors, you can also use the Eyedropper to find blocks. When you click, EQ7 will find the exact block and coloring in the Sketchbook Blocks palette so you can set it elsewhere in your quilt.
Use the Eyedropper to find fabrics or colors even from photos!
7. Swath Tool for Drawing Curved Flying Geese
If you liked the Brush Stroke from EQ6, you'll love the new Swath tool in EQ7. Drag out a freehand line with the Swath tool and pick the swath's properties. Each one can have diamonds or triangles inside and be as plain or curvy as you like.
Accent old blocks or make new blocks with the Swath tool.
8. Photo Patchwork Quilts
Want to make a fun One Patch quilt? Click QUILT > New Quilt > Photo Patchwork and import an image. Choose from lots of patch styles or make your own custom patches. EQ7 takes the pixels in the photo that cross that patch and colors the quilt for you! These quilts are great for printing on fabric too.
Choose a photo, choose a patch style and convert the image to make your own Photo Patchwork quilt.
9. Import & Edit Fabric Scans Right in EQ7
We've all done it at least once: forgotten to crop an image before importing it and our resulting quilts and blocks look like they have tile grout lines. Now in EQ7, you can edit those imported fabric scans without having to jump back to an additional software to fix the scans and re-import them. Edit the images in EQ7, add the new versions to the Sketchbook, and begin coloring again. Fix crooked stripes, crop out trimmed edges, adjust hue or brightness in EQ7 so your quilts and blocks look great whenever you color them.
Copy fabrics to the Photo section so they can be edited to the new Image Worktable. Crop and adjust the scans, then choose IMAGE > Add to Sketchbook as Fabric.
10. Four More Serendipity Options
Draw blocks without drawing! In addition to Framing blocks, Tilting blocks, and Merging blocks which were added to EQ6, you can now Clip & Flip blocks, Shrink & Flip blocks, Kaleidoscope blocks, and make Fancy Star blocks. With 7 Serendipity options in all, you can create your own custom designs from other blocks in seconds.
Frame blocks one or more times using any of our pre-designed frames.

Tilt blocks to turn blocks on-point or create your own Twisted Log Cabin-like designs.

Merge blocks together by choosing a background and a foreground block.

NEW! Clip and Flip blocks to make new blocks using the top-left quadrant of the design and rotate however you like.

NEW! Shrink and Flip blocks to make new blocks using the entire block and rotate however you like.

NEW! Kaleidoscope blocks by choosing a Half-Square or a Quarter-Square triangular portion of the block.

NEW! Make Fancy Star blocks with 5 to 10 points and rotated however you like with or without the background block.
Thanks for using EQ6, and for suggesting so many new features for EQ7. We hope you like the EQ7 Upgrade!
Once installed, the EQ7 and EQ7 Upgrade are the same exact program.

This information has been supplied by Electric Quilt. Sandra.

07 June 2010

The Perfect Day

My husband and I often speculate about what would be our perfect day, which is quite obviously largely different given the 'mars and venus' theory. Let me tell you about my Sunday, an almost Perfect Day in my books.

I started at the Eveleigh Artisans' Market (supporting independent designers and artists) held in Darlington (Sydney), adjacent to Carriageworks. My fingers were tingling with temptation and anticipation as I surveyed the felting, bright gorgeous knitting, garments (some featuring oriental fabrics), innovative delicate pottery, screen printed textiles and much more. Note from a dog owner: it is even a dog friendly environment!

Feeling like my creative soul had been nurtured, I was driving home when I stumbled upon the Mitchell Road Auction Centre - 2 storeys of fossicking ensued. The upstairs area is full of traders with antique and vintage items. Being on my own (i.e. husband and child-free) I was able to explore every nook and cranny, every book case and every jewellery display. My heart soared. I found vintage ribbons, fabrics, silks, tea towels, table cloths, buttons ........ I spent hours there with my repurposing creative juices running wild.

Leaving there with my head spinning, I returned home to bake a beautiful lamb hot pot. Then it was time to attack the mending pile - where I discovered I can no longer thread a needle, unaided. Thank goodness for self-threading needles, a good Arial lamp and suddenly a dark winters night was not stealing my precious time.

After a delightful family meal, a visit from some family friends gladly assisted by wine and laughter, this for me is about as perfect as a day can get. A satisfied soul that sighs as you retire for the evening. Sandra.

PS Stay tuned for my July market excursion - the Bundeena Markets

05 June 2010

Our "Fabric Embellishing" Challenge

I want to share the contents of Best Selling "Fabric Embellishing - The Basics & Beyond"
Four artists have put together this extensive embellishment guide i.e. Ruth Chandler, Liz Kettle, Heather Thomas and Lauren Vlcek. Their collective belief is that embellishments are 'our unique handprint on our creations. They tell our personal story and reveal our personality and style.'
The book is laid out in three sections:
1.Foundations: Fabric Manipulation, Fabric Weaving, Crazy Quilts, Rubber Stamping, Fashion a Frame, Images on Fabric (including printable fabric), Discharge Dyeing, Rusting Fabric, Decore or Burn-out.
2. Soft Embellishments: Hand Embroidery, Machine Embroidery, Thread-Lace Applique, Needle-Felting, Wool Beads, Silk Petals, Angelina Fibres, Textiva and Crystalina, Fabric Foiling Tyvek Transformations, Dimensional Applique, Going for Glitter.
3. Hard Embellishments: Beading, Hot-Fix Crystals, Metal, Paper, Foam Fabrications, Plastic Packs, Cocoons & Rods, Fabric Beads, Edge Burning, Melting and Scoring.
Every technique has step by step photos, clear details and how to make your own technique workbook.
Seriously, this is the kind of book where you could set yourself a Julia Childs challenge: work your way through the book creating one workbook page using one technique per week (or day depending on your time availability).
So for all those budding textile artists out there, in the words of Ruth Chandler "Let the boundaries we have learned as adults melt away and be replaced with creativity and imagination."
For those who take the challenge, be sure to tell us about it. I might even do it myself!

02 June 2010

Orbital Rotary Cutter Blade Sharpener - Problem Solving

Instructions for successful rotary blade sharpening with the Orbital Sharpener are; be sure to keep the diamond sharpening wheel clean of crud build up from the metal removed while sharpening the rotary blade, using the sharpening oil, or a lightweight oil like sewing machine oil, is important to lubricate the sharpening process and to help keep the diamond wheel free of metal buildup. The number of sharpening turns or cycles is not absolute, and depends on the condition of the rotary blade to begin with, and the make or manufacture of the blade. For example, rotary blades made in China typically are made from low carbon steel, and are of poor quality, they do not re-sharpen very well because the cutting edge bends and chips while re-sharpening, thus giving poor quality re-sharpening results. Therefore, some rotary blades like the Olfa brand rotary blades will often sharpen with 30 to 50 rotations, or turns per side, per coarse and/or fine diamond wheel usage, and other blades may take as many as 100 rotations, or turns per side to get the rotary blade to the desired level of sharpness. In addition, it may be necessary to remove the sharpening burrs from the cutting edge of the rotary blade by cutting through some news paper on a protected surface. (This information has been supplied by a representative of the manufacturer) See our website for specific product information PLUS a link to 12 suggestions for using this tool. Sandra.