A culmination of six months spent thinking about and working on it, here is the Gateway Arch quilt. I finishing sewing on the binding while watching the Super Bowl (Yay KC Chiefs!) I feel an odd combination of elation, satisfaction and relief. The finished object is largely what I had envisioned.
The colors are wonderful. The curving shapes are a good representation of the real arch. I’m happy with the embroidery.
The construction flaws bother me a little more that I had expected them to, especially the waviness of the right border. How did that happen?
The arch shapes were made from hand-painted fabric cut apart into shapes that mirrored the arch’s steel panels and then fused to a solid background. This piece was then cut into the sixteen square background block on the left edge and appliqued on the right edge before being top-stitched in matching thread. Shading was painted on with acrylic paints after the block was finished.
I had a lot of fun with free motion quilting. I chose patterns to emulate aspects of the landscape or city-scape. I did a lot of experimenting with thread colors, either matching or contrasting with the background colors as the spirit moved me. Eventually I hand painted some thread to get the colors I needed. The idea for the fireworks came from my memory of a July 4th trip when my family stopped in St. Louis for dinner.
This project was a real stretch from the perspective of skills required. Thanks go to Bluprint.com for all the quilting tutorials I accessed. I learned a lot about painting on fabric, matching points, sewing curved shapes and putting the whole thing together. I also learned about the limitations of my current tools and studio space.
What’s next? I have a few ideas. But first I’ll be taking a short break from quilting to focus on painting, knitting and teaching.
I have finally finished piecing the Gateway Arch quilt. Next I stitched the blocks into three panels.
Before I move on to making the quilt sandwich and quilting, I will be adding some details to the blocks using fabric paint and possibly some embroidery. This step will allow me to practice a new technique I learned over the holiday.
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.
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.
I have my design, my structure, my fabric and my pattern. Now I can begin to sew.
As much as I enjoyed our little trip to visit family, it’s nice to be back into my routine. Just as an aside, the faux suede baby booties, while slightly too big, were well accepted by little L. In the meantime, she had also acquired two other items of footwear – a pair of sneakers and a pair of snow boots. She did a brief baby runway show, modeling all of the above. It was so funny to watch her toddle around the house awkwardly, although looking quite pleased with herself and her ability to work the crowd.
Back at home, I have picked up where I left off on various fiber projects.
First of all, I’m knitting a birthday surprise for my daughter. (A big clue to the surprise is found in the sketch above.)
Secondly, I’ve resumed efforts toward making the Arches quilt. It’s amazing how just writing down the next steps motivated me to work. I have finished drawing the full-size patterns for each block. And by completing this step, I have been able to determine exactly how may squares of each color will be required. Over the past two days I have been painting the background fabric. I chose to paint the background squares on a gray fabric, in order to keep the background looking like the night sky.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.