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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
…..With apologies to readers who might be tiring of images of leaves.
I’m experiencing momentum on the oakleaf hydrangea project. While I intend to create 12 leaf blocks, I promise that I won’t blog about every single one of them. But I think today’s block is worth a few words and images. Here is the reference photo.
After making my sketch on the fabric, I masked the veins with resist and applied a pale emerald green wash. In this photo the piece has dried, and the leaf is covered in resist before undergoing the second wash.
I went really dark.
After the paint dried overnight, I pressed the background in an effort to set the color, then washed out the resist. Before I started painting in the details, I sampled several colors of paint over the pale emerald on waste fabric, because I had no idea what color would give the effect I wanted. I ended up applying yellow-orange, let it dry, and then painted in the major and minor veins.
This image has strayed pretty far from the reference photo! It is no longer a summer leaf, but a slightly battered early fall leaf, getting ready to change color before dropping to the ground. I love the chalkboard look of the background. Because it is black, I was able to use an Ultra fine point Sharpie to draw the leaf margin.
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?
It’s seems as if the butterflies are everywhere this month. I have enjoyed watching swallowtails moving through the back yard on light breezes. So today’s fiber object is inspired by a butterfly wing, specifically, a Monarch butterfly. It is also a chance for me to try out a new tool I recently acquired.
This set is produced by Honeysew. The large tape maker is by Clover. I purchased both through Amazon. They can make yards and yards of bias tape from any woven fabric, with the use of a hot iron. For this project I chose 1/2 inch tape maker.
The first step is to cut 1 inch strips of fabric on the bias, and seam them together with a very narrow seam allowance. After trimming the seam allowances, the fabric is fed through the wide end of the maker and pressed as it appears out of the narrow end.
Now that I have my tape, I will need fabric………..
And a plan. Here is a quick sketch of an abstract wing.
I made a photocopy of the sketch, cut out the major areas into pieces, and pinned and cut the fabric. Next I stuck the shapes onto my background fabric with a glue stick.
Starting at the top, I sewed the bias tape around the outside edge. When sewing down bias tape, it is important to sew the inside (convex) edge of your design first, being careful not to stretch the tape. Next, press the fabric and tape, smoothing out the outside (concave) edge. Then, stretching it as needed, stitch down the outside. I continued sewing the bias tape until all raw edges were covered. I also sewed a few bits of tape onto other major design lines. Here is the piece at the end of this step.
To emulate the lower edge of the Monarch wing, I cut a piece of dark gray fabric, drew the white spots across it, and then trimmed holes where each spot was. To make the spots white, I inserted a piece of white fabric behind the gray, gluing it in place with glue stick and fusible webbing. Here is the back side of this piece.
This was then stitched across the bottom edge of the piece and top stitched with a decorative stitch.
Finally, I used zig-zag stitch to add the small veins found throughout the wing.
Now that it’s done, I’m not quite sure how to use this particular piece. But I’m confident that the bias tape maker will come in handy for many a future appliqued design. How about stitching up a stained glass window?