Posted in hand embroidery, painting

Hydrangea in my Rearview Mirror

Before I say farewell to my study of the oakleaf hydrangea plant, I want to share the little study I made of the blooms. Above is a reference photo for the plant. The “flowers” open pure white, changing over times into shades of rose, rust and green. I say flowers in quotes, because the part of plant that most people identify as a flower – it has petals, after all – is really a bract, or sterile flower. The real flowers are in the tight little buds that you see at the top of the panicle. Here is a specimen, much dried up, that I took from my hydrangea.

Interestingly, there are some bracts with four petals and some with five. I did a drawing in colored pencil before I started making the fiber object, which depicts the rusty pink color of late summer.

My first thought was to make corner blocks for my quilt with images of the flower panicles. But after I had assembled the quilt and laid out the border, I decided corner blocks would not improve the quilt at all and might even detract from the focus. By then I had already started a sample block.

It is a sweet little object, just 4 by 4 inches. Made with hand painted cotton, block printed and embroidered. Perhaps I can use it in another project.

Posted in hand embroidery, painting, quilting

Leaf Study Quilt – Reveal

As I knotted off the last thread of the binding’s slip stitch, I drew my quilt around me and snuggled down into its folds. It is wrong to be in love with one’s own work?

This little lap quilt turned out very much the way I had hoped it would. The dark sashing focuses one’ eye on the beautiful leaves, as if each was a boxed jewel. I loved quilting in free-motion over under and around the leaf shapes.

The batik fabric of the border matches many colors in the blocks. And the botanical pattern on it suggests the sort of wooded area where one might find an oakleaf hydrangea shrub in the wild.

“Oakleaf Hydrangea Study” Hand painted cotton, cotton flannel, and commercial printed fabric; hand embroidered and machine quilted free motion style.

Posted in hand embroidery, painting, quilting

Milestone

Today I am writing my 100th post on Daily Fiber blog. I am pleased that this milestone arrives at the same time as another mini-achievement: the completion of my oakleaf hydrangea block series. After some consideration I determined that the final block count will be nine, as you see pinned to my wall boards in the photo above.

Decisions still need to be made on how to finish. After consulting with a few friends, I have settled on the arrangement of blocks and the decision to use a dark border around each block as if it were an individual painting. Also, I will add a border around the whole quilt – width and color yet to be determined.

Here are some close-ups of the groups;

As you can see, only the first block is quilted so far. I will finish the quilting after assembling each row.

Hand-painted cotton fabric , hand embroidered with a flannel background. Each block is 10 by 12, including flannel border.

Posted in hand embroidery, knitting, quilting, sewing

Old-Timey County Fair Fiber Fun

Who loves going to the fair? If today’s attendees are representative, I would say everybody! There’s a lot to see and a lot to do. Our county fair focuses on all things agriculture, but also includes some things that city folk enjoy, like growing flowers and taking photographs. Here is what I did at the fair today.

I checked out all the Fiber Providers:

Some chickens managed to get into the picture.

Oops, NOT fiber providers, just cluckers and layers.

And I got a good look at the various needle arts entries.

Sadly, there were not near as many needle arts entries as there were in past years. Achieving a couple of blue ribbons for my two was not that gratifying.

But I was very pleased to see that some of my fiber arts kids had entered items that they made during our class last year. Here is Gianna’s Blue-Ribbon strip quilt.

Going to the fair felt so nostalgic to me. It made me wonder: How many more years can the county fair tradition continue into the 21st century? Are needle arts as a craft doomed to die out? Or can they be revived in a brave new world?

Posted in hand embroidery, quilting

Mojo Mini Quilt no 2

Yesterday, during my daily browse of WordPress blogs, I came across Cindy Anderson’s post announcing her one-woman quilt show featuring her art quilts. These are exquisite little works – no wonder she was invited to display them. After viewing her blog I became energized to make another mojo mini in the same style as the one I made last month. But the inspiration for this quilt actually originated in last Wednesday’s yoga session.

The instructor ran a playlist of music that started with a mantra. After five minutes, those words lodged in my brain and wouldn’t let go. Arriving home later, I quickly wrote down the mantra as a potential inspiration for a fiber object.

So yesterday, when the energy took hold, I reached for the mantra, grabbed scraps of fabric with colors like those in my mind’s eye during yoga practice, and scribbled a quick sketch of interlocking arches.

The structure of this mini will be built up with raw edge appliques and it will also rest on a gray background. But to make things more interesting for me, I decided to start with a paper pieced object.

Okay, I’ve never done paper piecing before. But I’ve watched it! Thankfully, I only made two or three mistakes as I cut and sewed this little section. I had to rip out AND also re-cut a scrap that I had trimmed incorrectly. Here is the finished applique.

After mulling over the top half of the design, I sewed an arch from thin strips of fabric. Here is it.

And that is essentially the design of this mini quilt. After glue basting and stitching down the two appliques, I wrote the mantra on the white arch.

…..machine quilted the strips and hand embroidered the background.

I used a couple of my painted fabrics. The red-orange planet is from a printed fabric.

It was very satisfying to make this mini. Thank you to Cindy Anderson for motivating me to get started. You can see Cindy’s art quilts here. https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/2331528/posts/2396379576

Posted in colorwork, hand embroidery, quilting

Oakleaf Hydrangea – The First Leaf

Yesterday and today I resumed work on the oakleaf hydrangea fabric paintings. Above you see the reference photo for the first leaf I am painting. I chose to do two experiments. Here are the two paintings after the first round of painting. The color wash – resist steps were complete and the paintings left to dry. In these photos, the water resist medium has not been washed out yet.

And here are the two paintings, washed, dried and with final details added, using Jacquard Textile paint inTurquoise and Goldenrod, so palette was quite limited.

It was a learning experience, trying to paint on dry fabric with thicker paints. I discovered how to add depth to the background by dry brushing. And I learned that my skill in painting delicate lines needs work. After the pieces dried, I pressed them and continued on to the stitching phase. I chose to work with the purple piece first, hand quilting with embroidery floss. Instead of backing with regular batting, I used cotton flannel, since it would be easier to push the needle through.

I carefully stitched over the major leaf veins, and then made two borders around the leaf margin. After finishing the leaf, I just improvised the background, using two shades of purple and two stitches – feather and chain.

So far, undecided about how to stitch down the edges. The choices are blind stitch or use a decorative blanket stitch. Does anyone have a recommendation?

Posted in hand embroidery, quilting

Mojo Mini Quilts

This project is inspired after viewing a class by Suzie Williams, on BluPrint.com. The gist of the lesson is to improvise a mini quilt which illustrates one of various design principles. These quilts are sized to be framed as wall art. I chose to base my design on the concept of Rhythm. Here is my sketch (just a few swooping lines, really minimal) and my chosen fabrics.

I had recently purchased the black printed fabric, which is just a scrap in the picture. I like the idea of repeating bars of the circle shapes on a background of orange.

The design is cut up, so that it can be pinned to the fabric and fabric cut out. I am using a gray background fabric. Each element is appliqued to the background, using glue as baste. I had never basted fabric with white glue before, but it seems to work just fine. Here is the design at the beginning of the layout stage.

Truly fun little cogs in multi colors.

After a few adjustments to the design, and more than one re-cut of the shapes, I finally have all the pieces in place, glued down, pin basted and ready for sewing.

Hmm, what color thread will I use?

I started by zig-zagging along the raw edges, to minimize fraying. Next I stitched some swoops of machine quilting in black and orange. Finally, I finished up with hand embroidery. It was fun choosing floss and stitches to accentuate the circles.

Here is the finished mini quilt, ready for framing or binding.

Detail of hand embroidery

What a fun project, even if it did take most of the day to complete! The Mojo Mini quilt class can be found here: https://www.mybluprint.com/playlist/11422/20696

Posted in hand embroidery

Sparking Creativity with Embroidery

While studying embroidery in books and on-line classes, I learned about a method for practicing stitches by working on printed fabric. The concept is to use the design found in the print as a template for your design, then embroider it with your choice of stitch and thread. This is well illustrated by the designs found in damask napkins. These are often woven with clearly delineated fruits or flowers.

That’s not what I chose to do. I started with some quilting fabrics that had more abstract, textural designs. Here they are:

Settling on the third one, I started to analyze it. Hm. The terra cotta color reminded me of clay, and the geometric print suggested faceted jewels to me. I came up with the concept of jewels in the clay.

Have you ever had the misfortune of losing a beloved piece of jewelry? One minute the necklace was securely fastened around your neck. The next time you checked, it was gone. This has happened to me more than once. The most notable incident was while visiting Paris, where I lost a necklace the very day I was given it. But that’s a tale for another day.

Have you ever had the great fortune of Finding a piece of jewelry? You’ve just locked your car in the parking lot at Lowe’s , glanced down, and there at your feet is a silver bracelet in perfect condition.

This little fiber object will look as if someone dumped her jewelry box into the red dirt. I started out by making some gemstones in colors of amethyst, topaz, ruby, emerald and turquoise. Using the faceted squares on the fabric, I stitched outlines in split stitch and then worked satin stitch over top. The centers of the jewels were made with French knots and sequins.

Turquoise finished. Showing the split stitch base for the amethyst. I simply sew along the lines of the pattern.

And here are all the jewels. I added some diamond looking stones made with more sequins and connected the jewels with a silver “chainstitch” chain. The chain follows the lines of the print, which give it a crumpled look.

Found Jewels in the Clay

It took me two days to finish the embroidery. I like the dimensional quality of the work. One feels as if she could just reach down and pick it this lovely lost treasure.

Posted in drawing, hand embroidery, painting, sewing

Welcome to Summer, Farewell to Gloria

It’s my desire to note each season as it arrives with a fiber project that celebrates the specialness of the season. When I learned of the passing of Gloria Vanderbilt, I decided to include a small tribute to her in today’s celebration of summer.

I remember Gloria Vanderbilt best from her television adverts, promoting her line of jeans. She promised to make jeans designed to fit women’s curves. That promise was fulfilled – those jeans did fit us! She branded her product by signing her name on the hip pocket. Soon, all the designers were catering to women’s shape and placing their logos on the pockets.

So, thank you, Gloria. You made us feel good about our bodies, at a time in our lives when we needed a boost to our self image.

Today’s fiber object shows a woman contemplating the sun while lying on a beach. In tribute to Ms. Vanderbilt, my lady is dressed in a pair of cut-off jeans. Here is the sketch I made with the design’s basic elements.

I toyed with the idea of inserting the Gloria Vanderbilt logo somewhere in the design, but ultimately decided not to. Here is the finished object.

Hello Summer, Goodbye Gloria

I’m happy with all the elements of this piece. First of all, my ability to draw is getting better. It only took me two tries to sketch this slightly stylized female body. I am also getting better control of the fabric paint while using the wash technique. And finally, both my hand and machine embroidery are improved.