Posted in quilting

Under the Sea Progress Update

Today I finished assembling all of the log cabin blocks for Under the Sea quilt. While arranging the blocks in groups, I quickly realized that my original plan did not serve the overall design. So I switched to a layout in which each group of four blocks is rotated with the center squares touching. Now I have ten groups surrounding a central panel with the large sea turtle in the middle. Here is an overhead view.

This image excludes the top three groups. I couldn’t fit it all into the photo.

I’ve had so much fun coming up with images of underwater creatures. Ultimately, I decided to make my focus life found on a coral reef. Here is the center panel with some tropical fish, big and baby sea turtles, and an assemblage of sea horses…..

Next to and surrounding the panel can be found some jelly fish

The stinging tentacles will be added after the block is assembled.

… a living sand dollar (did you know that this animal is a type of sea urchin?)…..

….. a group of starfish, more tropical fish, and four additional baby turtles swimming across four different sections of the quilt.

Working with the batik pre-cut strips was such a pleasure. First of all, hey, I didn’t have to cut them. Secondly, the front and back of the fabric is the same, so you never end up with the wrong side on front. And finally, the fabric was so tightly woven that no twist or stretch happened while under the needle. This made the boring parts of piecing go quickly. I could spend time designing and painting my little sea creatures.

Next up will be sewing the blocks together, choosing a backing fabric and the actual quilting. There is a long way to go before this project can be put to bed. (Ha!)

Posted in quilting

Under the Sea WIP

I spent a good handful of hours this past weekend sewing up blocks for the Under the Sea quilt. So I thought I would show my progress.

My plan calls for 12 quilt sections made up of 4 blocks each. The blocks are constructed in Log Cabin chevron style. Each section will feature a different underwater animal. Here are the three I just completed.

The first two have coral reef fish swimming in formation. These will be placed across the top of the quilt. The third has starfish, which will end up somewhere in the middle.

I placed an order at Connecting Threads for more batik fabric that contains some harmonizing greens. Until the fabric is delivered, I can design and construct the sea creatures for the remaining blocks. So far I have baby turtles. I want to try making jellyfish, which sea turtles love to gobble up. and maybe some more coral reef fish.

Other ideas? Any suggestions will be dutifully pondered.

Link to Connection Threads website:

https://www.connectingthreads.com/fabrics/quilting-fabrics

Posted in quilting

Gorgeous and Productive Day

Today’s weather was quite remarkable, for August. Upon rising, the air was 66 degrees and winds were calm. It stayed so cool all day long that the A/C didn’t even turn on until early evening. I enjoyed the backyard for an hour or so and did a modest amount of gardening. It was almost 11 before I resumed work on my current project.

Appliqueing the turtle was really fun. After some fiddling about with the shapes and color choices, my center medallion looks like this:

Combination of batiks and hand-painted fabrics.

More dimension and texture will be added when I stitch it. I painted the turtle’s head Very Slowly, using Jacquard Textile paint mixed with floating medium. I rather like the primitive-like quality resulting from the bright colors and blocky shapes. This piece is roughly 20″ by 14 and 1/2″. To make it into a square, I made a strip with my baby turtle stenciled blocks and added it at the top.

I like what I see so far. But now, the hard part. I will need to build a quilt around it. I’m thinking about log cabin blocks, mostly because I purchased a package of pre-cut 2 and 1/2 inch strips. Here they are:

These are all so pretty. And a nice range of tones.

You can see also see a few fishy blocks that I made months ago using the stitch n flip technique. These could become log cabin centers……..or I could group them into a block of their own. That would make a school of fish.

Okay, quilting bloggers, this is an invitation to weigh in on this design. Any thoughts?

Posted in painting, quilting

Hello Turtle – Under the Sea Project

I have a bag full of fabric, sketches and some small quilt blocks that have been languishing in my closet for too long. The time has come to start working in earnest on this quilt. The tipping point came when I decided to organize the blocks around a medallion center. I chose this photograph as the feature image.

After making a sketch,

……. yesterday I grabbed my last piece of white fabric and painted it a sea green color with Dye-na-flow paint. I used a “mask’ and some stones on top of the fabric while it dried in the sun to reserve a turtle-like shape.

Now I can select some fabrics to applique on top of the base fabric. Here is a selection that will be used to make the sea turtle.

Oranges for the shell, blacks for the flippers and shadow areas. The white is for the head.

Once I get the shapes cut and fused to the base fabric, I will hand paint any needed details.

This is a short post. I’m keen to keep my momentum going. More details will be revealed soon.

Posted in painting, quilting

Update on Turtle Fiber Object

The past five days have found me in a creative slump. Having got my turtle idea started, I am mulling ideas and fiddling with techniques for the next steps. As a reminder, here is my inspiration photograph.

There are two tricky parts for me: 1. How to portray the reflections, and what other elements should be included.

I did get the subject-turtle painted onto to white fabric, in two pieces.

I also added more wash to the background. My goal was to achieve some depth of color and depict some of the swirls and waves in the pond. That didn’t happen but I did achieve some nice shadows. Next I fused the turtle in place with Wonder-Under.

After practicing on scraps, I decided that I have enough skill to machine quilt the reflections. The advantage of this technique is that the thread can be very light colored, even shiny, against the dark background.

For additional elements, I may go with pond grasses….

… and damselflies. Maybe a willow branch or two. But I have yet to work out the specific images and techniques.

This morning when I entered the studio, I felt momentary pleasure at seeing my recent work. Maybe it’s a sign that today I will get my mojo back.

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