Posted in painting, quilting

Update on Arches Quilt

I last wrote about this project on November 16th – almost a month ago. In that post I made a list of next steps. While I have completed all but a few of those steps, I started to lose enthusiasm for the project while painting my fabric. It seems that all of my fabrics began to look alike. I told myself that the background fabrics SHOULD look alike, otherwise they wouldn’t retreat into the background. But I still wanted more texture and movement in the colors. So I decided to go back to Cindy Walter’s fabric painting class, to review my technique and discover what I’m missing.

https://shop.mybluprint.com/quilting/classes/fun-techniques-with-fabric-paints/35491

That did the trick. I worked a few variations on color washing and finished painting the background fabric. I now have enough fabric to start building the quilt blocks.

Looking at all the difference in the fabrics, it’s clear to me that I need to organize them in a way that illustrates the scene I want to paint. The solution came to me while I was in the shower. (Why do I get my best ideas while washing my hair?) The Arch stretches itself across three different backdrops.

Water.

City.

And sky

I have my design, my structure, my fabric and my pattern. Now I can begin to sew.

Posted in quilting

Back to the Scrap Heap

I’m taking a break from knitting and painting to do a little sewing.  Some may recall my brief panic the day I realized what happens to my studio as a consequence of quilting.

Crazy Out-of-Control Scrap Heap

After spending time perusing other quilt blogs to find out how other quilters deal with this situation, I found part of the solution in the form of quilted buckets.  This lesson comes to us from Christina Cameli and Bluprint.com.

https://shop.mybluprint.com/quilting/classes/free-motion-quilted-gifts/673670

So yesterday I started on my first of three fabric buckets that (I hope) will contain my fabric-waiting-to-be-used.  This project is also an opportunity for me to practice free motion quilting while adding color and style to my studio. Her are my fabric choices for the first bucket.

120619a
Pink for the outside and gray for the lining.

I’m quilting dimensional triangles for this bucket.  Here is the first step done.

120619b
I had to use a chalk pencil to keep my row straight.

The next few hours were spent happily quilting.  Eventually the first basket was finished.

120619c
Some inch-wide grosgrain ribbon I found became the basket handles.

I have to admit that I sewed up the wrong sides of the baskets, so my basket is actually two inches longer than the one in the lesson. This turned out to be fortunate. The revised dimension held lots of fabric and fit nicely into the allotted space on my shelves.

120619d

I used the Kon-Marie method of folding the fabric and filled the bucket with the folded fabric pieces inserted on edge. It was amazing to see how much fabric this little bucket holds.  Each fabric piece remains clearly visible and easy to grab.

So my plan now is to make three more buckets to use in storing 1 yard and fat quarter size pieces, and to make some smaller baskets for the various colors of scraps.

I highly recommend Christina Cameli’s class. She is delightful instructor.  Each of her projects can be made in an afternoon and would make wonderful gifts.

Posted in colorwork, quilting

Inspiration, Gestation, Implementation

INSPIRATION: The idea for creating a fiber object based on the Gateway Arch has been rattling around in my brain for some time. It really started way back in 2012, after my husband and I visited the Gateway to the West museum in St. Louis. At that time, he took a series of photographs showing every possible angle of the Arch at ground level. They are rather remarkable, taken as a group. Here is an example.

Earlier this year, I asked for copies of these images and began to imagine how a series of different views would look on quilt blocks. I printed out nine pictures and pushed them around against each other. In the end, I shelved the project. I decided that I really lacked the necessary technical skills to realize my idea.

GESTATION: Over the summer I completed several on-line quilting lessons and actually made a quilt based on my own design. I now feel ready to tackle the Arch project. So yesterday I pulled the photos back out and arranged them into a nine-block design with a look that pleased me. It took me hours to get it right.

IMPLEMENTATION: Dear me. Thinking about the many steps required to move a quilting project from the idea stage through to completion is giving me pause. Let’s take stock of where I am so far:

  • I have a design and a layout, pictured above. Each image represents one block at 1/3 scale. I’ve decided that I will need a paper template for each arch image, in order to draw and cut it accurately from the background material. For this task, I have located a pad of giant post-it notes. From it I have cut nine pieces that are 14 and 1/2 inches square.
  • Block Content: Each block will consist of 16 squares with a finished size of 3 1/2 inches. The flowing arch will be cut free-hand into the sewn blocks and inserted.
  • Colors: There will be three background colors in hand painted fabrics, moving from left to right they are purple, blue-purple, and blue. The arch section which winds through each block will be made of golden-orange-pink fabric. Here are some samples that I made earlier this year.
  • Other design decisions yet to be made: sashing or no sashing, type and number of borders, backing. While I plan to quilt it myself, I haven’t decided on a pattern yet.

Next steps seem to be

  • Draw to scale the templates for each block
  • Determine yardage needed for quilt top and purchase fabric
  • Cut fabric into manageable strips
  • Hand dye strips according to design plan
  • Cut out the squares
  • Practice cutting free-style curves.

A wise woman said, the journey of a thousand stitches begins with one thread.

Posted in quilting

Practical Fiber Fun

To those of you who are still following my blog, thank you! November has arrived and I am back on track with fiber and a plan to make some holiday gifts. This is the first year that I have had plenty of time. It’s gratifying to apply some of the skills I have developed since beginning Daily Fiber! Today I am going to share with you a sweet gift for all the creative types on your giving list. I learned to make this little journal cover in a class at Bluprint.com taught by Christina Cameli. Her craft is quilting, and she excels at working her stitch magic in free motion.

Materials are cheap and readily available: fabric, quilt batting, some foldover elastic and a paper bound journal that you can get at craft, big box, or office supply stores.

Here are the strips I will be using today:

After cutting out all the pieces, the first step is to stitch together enough strips to cover the journal. In this case, I needed a piece that was 9 1/4 in. tall by 13 in. wide. Make it a little bigger than required. Then put together a quilt sandwich with batting and backing (muslin will do.) Using the free-motion technique you like (or one you want to practice) quilt away! I chose to use my walking foot this time.

Pick a lining fabric to go with your theme. It will need to be about eight inches wider than the cover and the same height.

Here’s the lining and journal insert I chose.

Cut to dimension and sew the lining to the cover, right sides together, per the class instructions. The wrap over elastic will be sewn to the back panel with right side down. Trim the corners, turn the piece right side out and press. After you checked that the journal fits inside, top stitch the cover very, very close to the edge. (Be careful to keep the elastic free of top stitching, or it will be too tight.) You’re done.

And here is my finished gift.

Really fun. I’ll be making more of these , and plan to try out some interesting free-motion designs.

Here is Christina’s class. https://shop.mybluprint.com/quilting/classes/free-motion-quilted-gifts/673670

The class also provides instructions for a small basket and zip pouch. Happy quilting!

Posted in quilting

Fun with Free Motion Quilting

Yesterday my Bernina and I spent some quality time together. I used my Autumnal Equinox square to practice free-motion quilting techniques.

One of the things that gave me more confidence is the discovery of the 1/2 speed button on the Bernina. So far, I have mastered wiggles, loops, lazy eights, dot-to-dot and circles. I still can’t do meander.

I had fun drawing with thread on my reverse applique picture. Oh, also a few birds and a squirrel were added by hand embroidery.

Many thanks to Christina Cameli for her class on bluprint.com. https://shop.mybluprint.com/quilting/classes/free-motion-quilting-essentials/40670

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 quilting, recycling, sewing

Crazy Out-of-Control Scrap Heap

This past summer has been a wonderful time of learning for the fiber artist in me. I have viewed dozens of tutorials, focused primarily on quilting. “Don’t ever throw away your scraps,” is advice that I heard from an art quilter, early in my training. Well, I took her advice, and look where it has got me. I desperately need a system for managing these fabric pieces!

By nature I am not a messy person. I like to make my bed and wash the dishes. When I began my journey with fiber, I organized a space which I believed possessed ample work room and plenty of storage for tools and materials. It was great, as long as I stuck to yarn crafts. But once I ventured into fabric work, things went wonky. (FYI “wonky” is a technical term used by quilters.)

I share my closet with the family’s camping equipment. It also houses the ironing board, a small set of drawers and shelves for my yarn stash. The stash is relatively modest, but it now fills the shelves. My bookcases contain paint, books, tools, my fabric stash and sewing machine. But the scraps have proven recalcitrant. If left tossed in a basket, they are impossible to work with.

So this is my plea: Who of you has solved the Scraps Dilemma, and will you share your solution with me, a frustrated fiber artist?

Posted in quilting

Autumnal Equinox

I have been sewing like a mad woman, trying to finish the Oakleaf Hydrangea quilt. It’s very close to finish now – needing only the binding sewn on. I ran out of thread yesterday just as I was finishing quilting. So today, I am giving that project a rest to celebrate the change of seasons.

For the first day of autumn, I am making a block using a technique that I haven’t tried yet: reverse applique. My idea is to do a tree silhouette, with negative and positive images of each tree half. When describing this to my husband, he came up with the idea of making each side equal – to acknowledge that the first day of fall has day and night of equal length. I agreed and got to work on a sketch.

I chose a charcoal gray fabric to make the reverse portion of the image. Here is it, all cut up and smeared with glue.

My background fabric will be a gold print, to represent the forest in fall. Here is the positive image glued to the background and the final block with both images in place.

The other pattern I wanted to try is the Maple Leaf. I have seen really pretty quilts made in this pattern. I plan to use up left over hand painted fabric from the hydrangea quilt as the background color.

Green for the background and orange for the maple leaves.

I found instructions for this pattern on The Spruce Crafts website, by Janet Wickell. Maple Leaf is an exercise in half square triangle construction. Here are the stem pieces, made with one orange and two small green.

Okay, I didn’t takes pictures of every step in constructing the remaining squares. Basically, you make four half square triangles in the two different colors, then combine one solid background, three solid leaf color squares, the stem and four half triangles to make each block. I made two blocks. Here is the finished object.

I will add some stitching on the tree square, and perhaps quilt a bit on other parts of this work. But right now I am off to buy more thread.

Janet Wickell’s site and instructions for the maple leaf pattern are found here:

https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/maple-leaf-quilt-pattern-4145689

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?