Photographing Fabric – Depth of Field

I was so excited to read that Plum and June are hosting a new monthly Quilt Photography Workshop linkup! It’s a great way to get a monthly challenge and continue to improve on my photography skills. I’ve been really burned out on photography lately, but this inspired me to take my camera out for *fun* for the first time in over a year (in my non-quilting life, I’m a wedding photographer).

I can’t think of a better morning than taking some fabric photos. This is my pull for my picnic game quilt. Coral, mint, and grey hanging out together outside= perfection.
fabric stack1

fabric is sooo much friendlier than bridezillas ;) Just kidding to my brides out there. You are all fab.
fabric stack2

All of these were shot with my Canon dslr and a super cheap lens. I’ll talk a little more about it below. You don’t need super expensive equipment to take great photos! Even an iphone or point and shoot can take great photos if you know a few tricks (a future post perhaps?)
fabric stack3

I edit every photo I put out (even ones from my iphone). Nothing fancy, but basic pushes in exposure, contrast, sharpness and white balance correction. I think I definitely lean towards a clean edit that looks like what my eye sees. But I am probably guilty of pushing things a little bit and sacrificing exact colors.
fabric stack4

I thought it might be fun to share a little extra info for anyone who is beginning to get more serious about their photography. I know it won’t apply to everyone, but I hope it is at least interesting :)…

Depth of field is super important in photography. A few things can affect this, including how far away you are from your background. But as far as camera settings go, this is controlled by your Aperture settings. It will help you get that nice blurred background you see in professional photos and will elevate your photo from “nice shapshot” to “daaaaaang”. Here is an example of identical photos with different aperatures.
compare2

Everyone has different tastes but I much prefer the photo on the right. Yummy blurry background goodness, yes!? This is achieved with a wide open aperture. This is the lowest number (called f-stop) on your aperture setting. If what I just said made no sense, check out this post; it has a great explanation of the basics and where you see the settings on the camera.

Below is an example of the same photo at a bunch of different apertures. It is a great exercise in getting your manual settings correct when you are learning to use your camera. I put the aperture (f-stop) number next to each for reference.
apertureexample

Experiment with different apertures and what feels best for you. If you have a wide open aperture, it can hurt the photo quality slightly and you might have a harder time getting tack sharp images. So the rule of thumb is go to up a stop or two (increase the aperture to the next number) from the lowest. That being said I prefer to go as wide open as possible… always :)

If you have a Canon dslr, let me introduce you to your new best friend, the nifty fifty. All of these photos were shot with it. If you, too, crave that ultra blurred background, this is the cheapest way to get there. Disclaimer: this is a difficult lens to get used to. I almost threw it away when I first got it. Expect a ton of not-in-focus pictures at first. But if you are willing to put in some practice and careful studying, it is the cheapest way to get this look (and I’m always willing to put some work in for more fabric money ;))

Hopefully that wasn’t too confusing or technical. I’d be happy to answer any of your photography/camera related questions. As a newbie quilter I don’t have much to offer the quilting community in terms of expertise, so hopefully I can make a little contribution with what I do know :)

WIP Wednesday: New Projects Galore

The past week has been light on the sewing time and heavy on the planning time. Perhaps it’s the promise of fall and thoughts chilly nights under a quilt (or ten!) that has brought on this onslaught of inspiration. Here are a few of my current projects and a few more that I’m starting this week:

Picnic Quilt
If you saw my weekend post, you got a sneak peak of my scrabble block! If you ever want a taste of losing it, sew together 225 1.5-inch squares into a board game layout. I have been not as motivated to work on this, but I need to just push through.
Here’s a ROUGH sketch of the quilt layout:
picnic quilt sketch2
I’ve been itching to make some swoon blocks, but don’t really want to do a whole swoon quilt at the moment, so I’m throwing them in here. And I’ve really been wanting to try my hand at flying geese so they weaseled their way in too.

Mal’s Bridal Shower Quilt
At my sister’s bridal shower a few weeks back, I had everyone write marriage advice or well wishes on squares of white fabric to be put into a quilt for her to enjoy.
text blocks
I wanted to use her wedding colors in the quilt, but I didn’t have much in my stash (lavender and yellow just aren’t my thing… sorry sis!!). So I placed a few fabric orders and I’m praying the colors will go together. Since it needs to be done in 3 weeks, I went with a quick (but hopefully cute) design:
diamond mock up

EPP diamonds
Since I finished my first hand quilted project in May, I’ve really missed having something to work on in the evenings when I’m watching a movie with the husband. Sarah from Sarah Quilts posted about her EPP hexie project and it was just the inspiration I needed.
basting diamonds
I fell in love with some quilts made with the diamond shape, so I decided to go for it! My goal is to incorporate at lot of my vintage fabrics into this one! I’m working with 2 1/2in diamonds so it should go together fairly quickly (for what it is :)).

Quilt blocks with scraps from finished quilts
Ashley from Wasn’t Quilt in a Day posted a while back about making a “fabric scrapbook” of sorts, with each block being made from scraps from one quilt you’ve made. Since I give all of my finished quilts away as gifts (so far :)), I love the idea of getting to keep a little piece of them with me. I definitely want to do some sort of star block, maybe this Seaside Star pattern?

Have a great rest of your week! This weekend we’re heading to Oregon to visit family so I’m excited to bring a bunch of my EPP diamonds along. Hooray for portable projects!!

-Michelle

It’s a Wrap! Baby D Chevron Quilt Finish

I wasn’t kidding on Wednesday when I said this quilt was going to have glamour shots taken. I almost wish I could have staged an amazing 80s glamour set, but this quilt is a bit too modern for that kind of foolishness. There is something about quilts outdoors that gets me everytime… throw in an old building and a field of long grass and I’m basically never leaving.

chevron quilt 1

chevron quilt 2

chevron quilt 3

chevron quilt 4

chevron quilt 5

chevron quilt 6

chevron quilt 7

chevron quilt 8

And what fun is a quilt photoshoot without a dog photo-bomb?!
chevron quilt and dog

Exposed! My Current Stash

I just started following a super fun quilting blog called Sarah Quilts. She posted pics of her fabric stash and asked others to join in. “You show me yours, I’ll show you mine”!

I pulled everything out of the back of my closet and although I see it every day when grabbing clothes, it just seems bigger all out there in the open. This is hopefully the biggest my stash will be. I know it doesn’t look like much, but I live and work in under 200 square feet and my fabric stash currently takes up more room than my clothes (priorities!?).

fabric stash

The fabric stack on the left is all of my vintage and second-hand fabric. I haven’t actually used any of it yet. Still waiting for that perfect project. The right 2 stacks are my new fabrics.

Nothing is really folded equally, nothing is color coded, nothing is stacked in any kind of order. But I’m rifling through it so much I actually like it that way. I have to keep telling myself that fabric is for using and not for sitting there perfectly or I will quickly become that lady whose entire house is floor to ceiling with fabric.

I have told myself I’m not going to buy any more fabric until I put some of my current stuff into projects. Stay tuned :)

I’m not sure how much time is left in the link up, but you should join in! And if not, you should at least peek at everyone’s stashes, they are drool worthy!

Link Up at Sarah Quilts

WIP Wednesday: On my bind

After auditioning tons of fabrics from my stash for the binding of the baby D chevron quilt (that just weren’t quite right), I found these sweet little red polka dots hiding in the corner of my closet. I don’t know if I should be really excited I found them, or concerned about my hoarding :)

Baby D still has not made his/her grand entrance, so I think I will get this done in time. I think the baby will like the dots.
sewing binding

Let’s just ignore the fact that it looks like I’m sewing crooked :) I’m sure I straightened things out.

I think my favorite part of quilting is hand sewing on the binding. I love how relaxing hand sewing is and it’s nice to have that time while finishing up a project.
binding hand sew

I’m guessing my next post will be pictures of the finished quilt! I’m excited to get my camera out and have some fun taking quilt glamour shots :)

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

WIP Wednesday: Getting There

Ever have a week where nothing is going quite right and all you want to do is complain and sit on the couch and watch netflix all day? Yah, me neither ;) Despite the rough week, I have a few fun things to share!

First of all, I finished the quilting on the Baby D Chevron quilt. Thanks to everyone who gave me advice on it last week. I really like the white stitching on white fabric. Nice and simple, just the way I like it! Right now it’s just chillin’ on one of the beds in the cabin until I have time to finish it.

all quilted

Here it is right before quilting with an illusive appearance by my sewing machine.

ready to quilt

Now all that’s left to do is figure out the binding. I’m thinking about some kind of blue, but I’m not sure what I have in my stash. The green that is on the back could also be fun. I like choices like this!

front and back

Baby D’s mama isn’t due for 2 weeks, but I just heard she’s starting to have contractions. Might have to really hurry this one along!

I’ve spent most of this week prepping things for my little sister’s bridal shower this weekend. I’m hosting it and it is a vintage tea party theme! I made a few pouches to give away as prizes that I’ll be filling with french soap and cute nail polish.

mals shower gifts

The colors for her shower are suspiciously the same as my picnic quilt (which I haven’t worked on since I cut out the scrabble board pieces…grr). I am in a total rut/totally obsessed with the mint/coral color palette.

Just like last week, apologizes for all iphone photos. After I get past editing all my weddings for the summer, I think I’ll be more eager to take out my equipment. :)

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced