Posted in painting, quilting

Tree Tops and Paper Piecing

A few months ago, I had a phone conversation with my daughter while she was on a walk. As we chatted about sundry things, she said, “I just love trees. I could draw nothing but trees and never get tired of them.” I wholeheartedly agreed. In fact, I have been thinking about making a fiber object based on trees for months. To that end, I have been taking photos of the trees in their winter nakedness.

Finally I have come up with a plan and a design for the trees. And I owe it all to paper piecing with clamshells.

Non-quilters now have no clue about what I am trying to say. My apologies. But the quilters among us will recognize the context of “clamshell” and “paper piecing”. This applique shape is one of the classics. Rather than try to describe it, I direct you to Pinterest, with the instructions to search on “quilt clam shell pattern.”

Here is an example:

Cute, right? But for me, I can hardly look at this quilt WITHOUT thinking Tree Tops.

I decided to try paper piecing with clamshells after viewing a tutorial on BluPrint.com. The instructor uses the applique stitch to sew the clamshell shapes onto a tote bag.

https://shop.mybluprint.com/quilting/classes/giftable-projects-english-paper-piecing/715557

To get started, I searched for an object with a 4 inch diameter, and then drew around it until I had several clamshells.

A roll of masking tape turned out to be the perfect size.

After photo copying this sheet four times on cardstock, I had enough pieces. Each applique will need one of these pieces of paper inserted to form the half-dome shape.

Here are four of them.

Next I made a thumbnail sketch to work out the size, applique placements and design.

Since I used pencil this image is a bit faint. So sorry.

The next step was to paint the sky on white fabric. This will serve as a background and base fabric for my appliques. I used Dye-Na-Flow paint and lots of water.

At this point, I will need to practice painting the trees onto the appliques. But my mojo is flowing well, and I am excited to get this fiber object to its next stage.

Posted in Uncategorized

2019 Best Loved Fiber Objects

As many of you are doing right now, I also am looking back at my work in 2019 for the purpose of choosing favorites. It was an interesting exercise. I especially was surprised when comparing the difference between most popular projects and my own favorite projects. They didn’t always match up. Here are the top picks in each discipline.

1. Embroidery: Prayer Flags.

This fiber object was actually a mixed media work, including the crafts of painting and applique. But embroidery was the new skill that I was practicing and I was thrilled with the results.

2. Knitting: Luna Moth Baby Dress.

Starting with some yarn purchased the prior year and a design of my own featuring a ruffled hem, this project morphed into something special when I discovered a Luna moth resting on a blade of grass in my backyard. She looked so much like the dress I was knitting that I decided to embroider her image on the back.

3. Mixed Media: Henry’s Haiku

When my grandson handed me this little poem, I felt that it was special. To illustrate it, I chose an image of a jaguar which I painted and embroidered. The background fabric is treated with candle wax drips and overpainted. I embroidered the poem so as to match the author’s handwriting as closely as possible.

4. Drawing: Overgrown Garden Shed.

While not my favorite sketch, this one received the most likes and comments. All of these skills were new to me, especially using ink wash and brush pen.

5. Quilting: Oakleaf Hydrangea Study

Every day is a happy one, when I see this quilt in the morning light. New skills included working with resist and free-motion quilting.

6. And finally: Crochet: Purple Yogi.

This object is so silly, and yet it turned out to be the most popular by far. Perhaps I had accidently connected with the current Zietgeist. The doll has florist wire bones so that it can bend and twist as needed to strike a post.

Happy New Year to all, and may 2020 bring you your most creative work.

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, 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 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 quilting

Jubilee Quilters Show

Yesterday I attended a show hosted by our local quilt group. To say it was inspirational is an understatement. Who knew that in our little county of 50,000 residents there were so many superb fiber artists? Because the organizers permitted photography, I took a number of images. It was hard to narrow it down to favorites, but I am pleased to share the following:

This is called a Bargello pattern.
Technically superb. How did the maker create all those perfectly round circles?
Created using a jellyroll group of fabrics. Name of quilt is “Ocean Deep.”
My favorite wall hanging quilt. The giraffe is created with dozens of flower shapes sewn atop one another. The birds and vines are fussy cut applique.
My favorite large quilt. It is a log cabin style, using batik fabrics.
I chose this one because the maker used hand-dyed fabrics for her squares.

I admired the quilt below for its irregular and artfully placed strips, as well as for the cute applique ladybugs. The maker created it while recovering from a lung transplant. She finished the squares before passing away in 2008. Her grandmother sewed the top together.

I hope you enjoyed these quilts, and found them as inspiring as I did.

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.

Posted in colorwork, drawing, hand embroidery, sewing

Inspired by O’Keefe

My fiber efforts have been rather uninspired over the last two days, so no new posts. Then I picked up this book written by Georgia O’Keefe. It is an autobiography told in her own words and in beautifully reproduced images of her paintings. It got my creative thoughts moving again.

While she spent most of her life living in and painting the American Southwest, in the early stages of her career O’Keefe was best known for her large-scale paintings of flowers. Here is what she has to say about these works:

Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time. If I could paint the flower exactly as I see it no one would see what I see because I would paint it small like the flower is small. So I said to myself – I’ll paint what I see – what the flower is to me but I’ll paint is big and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it.

Exhibition catalog, An American Place, 1939

So I decided to create a fiber flower, because I want to look closely at a flower. I chose to make a Moonflower, partly because of its star-like shape, and partly because I don’t see them growing around here. When I lived in Texas, I grew some moonflowers. It was way too hot to enjoy the garden during the day. Instead I sat outside at dusk, when I could watch the moonflowers swirl open.

Here is a pencil sketch I made of my moonflower:

I plan to use white poplin for the flower, with fabric paint on the shaded areas and embroidery on the bright areas. Here are some green fabrics I have chosen for the background and the flower shape I will cut from the white poplin.

The next steps are to piece together and sew the background.

Background with paper template showing flower placement

Tomorrow I paint.

Posted in colorwork, hand embroidery, sewing

Haiku illustrated

So here is what has happened since you last checked in with the haiku project. I have transferred the image of the jaguar to fabric.

Using Jacquard Textile paint, I added the features and spots to this beast.

Next I hand embroidered the details, including eyes, ears, mouth, paws and whiskers.

Here are the fabrics I chose, in the general layout I wanted.

The next step was to embroider the haiku onto the dark green rectangle. It was important to me to replicate Henry’s handwriting as well as I could. I enlarged the original on the printer. Using chalked paper, I traced over the letters to mark them on the fabric. Then I embroidered the letters in white floss.

Finally I appliqued all of the pieces to the background fabric, machine-stitched around the raw edges, and embroidered the last few white whiskers on the cat. Here is the piece in its current state:

Henry’s Haiku

And here is a final close-up of the jaguar.

My original goal for this piece was to illustrate Henry’s poem, and to practice embroidering hand writing onto fabric. At the outset, I never expected to paint the fabric so much. But I’m glad I did it. I learned more about how to apply paint to fabric. And I ended up with a colorful and meaningful piece of fabric art.

Posted in hand embroidery, sewing

Henry’s Haiku

During a recent visit, my grandson handed me this post-it note containing a haiku that he had written.

Henry’s Haiku

Henry is a boy of few words, so I got almost no explanation on the source of these bonne mots. My husband reminded me that we had visited the zoo with Henry, and given him a camera to use. The poem may have been inspired by the sight of a jaguar cub. Here is a photo that my husband took that day at the zoo.

Looks like White Whiskers to me.

I am inspired by this poem and the photograph to make a fiber object featuring a white whiskered cat and Henry’s haiku. I’m planning to use applique and embroidery techniques. There is a very nice image in NatGeo of a jaguar cub in the jungles of Brazil with a good layout.

Here are some fabric options. I am thinking about using the color washed gold fabric as the background for the piece.

To be continued………….