Practice makes…..one crazy!!!

The last step on my Meadow Art project is to add the daisies. In my last blog installment about this project, I showed some of my attempts and concluded that the best way to do them was to do the initial work on the machine and then use embroidery floss to finish the petals (#4).

THEN, I started thinking about using Perle cotton in the bobbin and working the flowers from the back. The first few attempts were not successful as I didn’t have the tension set correctly……

I kept changing settings until it looked like this…..

Those are better and would work for another type of flower, but not for these daisies!!

I made several other tries using a smaller Perle cotton (size 5) in the needle but it just didn’t look right.

In the end, I moved back to my plan of machine work under and hand-work over.

I decided to color in the centers to give me an idea of exactly where I wanted the flowers to fall…..

….. and then stitched the first five flowers on the machine The two on the left have been finished completely with hand stitching and centers stitched……..

They are not nearly as good as the ones on the sample, but they do look good on the piece. I also noticed that the ones on the sample have some shading on certain sides of the petals so I am going to explore that further before I finish the artwork.

The important thing is that I am still enjoying this process and am already starting to think of other ideas that I want to do in this same format!!

A little bit of ditch stitching

As I was working on the charity quilt and practicing free-motion quilting using rulers, I played with using a straight ruler for stitching in the ditch.

Previously, I had felt like it would not be easy to keep the stitching IN the ditch, but I was pleasantly surprised by the results……

I can see this being especially helpful when I need to travel from one area on the quilt to another one!!

TBT – Grandmother’s Flower Garden

Another of the 5 quilts that Mom made for my Hope Chest was a Grandmother’s Flower Garden.

Grandmother’s Flower Garden

She made this in the late 1970’s and it is entirely hand-made using English Paper Piecing and hand quilting.

When I talk to kid’s groups about quilts I use this quilt to show repetition and how it helps in design. In this quilt, Mom used the same fabric for each flower center. She used a solid fabric for each of the first rounds and then she bordered each flower with white. Those elements make it an enjoyable quilt to look at!!!

I particularly enjoyed these two blocks as I had favorite clothing made from the print fabrics…..

The brown was a fun shirt (NOT a cotton fabric) and the blue flowered was a cute short dress with capped sleeves and a sash….remember it was the 1970’s!!!

I remember her agonizing over how to finish the edges of the quilt and believe that she ended up appliquéing the flower sides to the border…..

One thing that I notice in this photo is that the red fabric has bled!!! This quilt has been well used and washed many times so this isn’t surprising. It was the only quilt that we carried when we moved to Australia in 1981 and it was used daily for almost 6 years!!

She kept the quilting fairly simple, stitching inside each of the hexagons and then adding a fun clam shell border to the top and bottom…..

As I said, this was a much loved and used quilt and I still enjoy snuggling under it today!!!

Travel Log Quilt Update

A few days back I posted about the third in my “Travel Log” quilt series, a quilt called “Eyeful Perspectives”.

As I ended the post, I had the thought that I could fix the quilt by cutting off the part that I didn’t particularly like and I acted on that thought…..

I am thrilled with the new look!!! It still brings the same emotion but without the distraction of the incorrect body shape.

This is one reason that I love to blog….it helps me to think thru solutions to problems!!

Basting Sunday

On Sunday afternoon, I decided that I wanted to accomplish one item on my To-do list…..get two quilts basted and ready for quilting.

The first one was another Charity quilt that I will use to practice Free motion quilting with a ruler. For this one, I was using batting that had been given to me so I used a spray baste. I previously talked about spray basting in this post, but I did noted one change that I would make the next time.

So, this time I used a sharpie and marked the outline of the quilt top on the batting so that I would know exactly where the spray needed to go……

With the first one accomplished, it was time to move on to my Brown Stripe quilt and was using Fusible batting for this one. My favorite batting is Hobbes Heirloom 80/20 Fusible……

I used to lay out all three layers of the quilt and iron them all at once, but I was never completely happy with how the backing looked. Several years ago I changed the process, starting out by slightly stretching the batting and taping it to the floor.

Then I spread the backing out over the batting and smooth it in place…..

Now I take the iron and slowly iron from the center of the quilt out to each edge, vertical first, then horizontal and finally diagonally…..

I normally accomplish this by kneeling on the quilt and ironing heavily…..

When it is ironed in place, I remove the masking tape and turn the quilt over so that the batting is facing up…..

One nice thing about this method is that you can easily see the back of the quilt and can ensure that the top is straight.

Now I place the top on the batting, smooth it out and start the ironing process again.

But, this time my knees (particularly the replacement) were NOT happy kneeling so I decided to keep standing and just bend from the waist to do the ironing……

This is where the “WOW” moment happened…… As I ironed, I realized that I had previously been pressing down HARD with the iron which meant that sometimes the seams were distorted. Ironing while standing meant that I was pressing lightly with the iron but letting the steam do all of the work!! The result was a better basted piece with very little distortion…..AND no sore knees!!!

Once the top was ironed, I trimmed the excess batting and backing fabric but got a LITTLE too close here…..

YIKES!!!!

I let it sit until it had dried completely and then moved it to the guest bedroom to wait until I can start the quilting process…..

It fits really well in this room!!!!

I have not made all of the decisions about how to quilt this, but I am pretty sure that I am going to do the “square spiral” design in all of the white blocks. I will do one, see how it looks and then keep going with others…..or pick out the quilting and find another idea!!!

Too many ideas

Do you ever feel like you have so many ideas at one time, that you just want to do all of them…..at the same time?

That was me on Friday evening.

I knew that Saturday was completely free for me to be creative and it was almost overwhelming to try to figure out what I wanted to do…….

  • I needed to make a new mask (since I apparently dropped mine in the Kohl’s Parking lot).
  • I have two quilts that are ready for quilting and “FINALLY” I have an idea AND am excited about doing them.
  • I want to finish the next step on my Mystery Quilt but want to video one of the processes as I do it
  • Since I spent Friday playing with thread painting flowers, I am now ready to move forward on my Meadow Art
  • And, to add another level of creative tension, I just found a video series on operating our new camera and, when I watched for 10 minutes, I learned 4 new things!!!

The first thing that I did on Saturday morning was to go for an early 2 mile walk….in the dark!! As I walked, I listened to a podcast entitled “Calming an Overwhelmed Brain”…..it just popped up on my suggestion list which is a little bit eerie!!

The first thing that the host said was that FOCUS stood for…….

Okay….what can I take away from this??

As I entered my studio, I decided that to maintain any focus, I needed to tidy up a bit…..

Once I had things neater, I decided to pull the batting and backing for my two quilts and at least get them ready to baste.

Next was to make the replacement mask…..that didn’t take long.

With a couple of the “tasks” off of my list, it was time to get interested in the Meadow Art project again!! I had purchased this book…..

….and on Friday I had spent some time playing with the flowers designs……

As you can see, they did improve as I went along!!!

Her suggestion in the book was to work without a presser foot…..

…. but the stitches often wouldn’t catch the bobbin thread so I ended up with a free-motion foot instead. The daisies are supposed to be done in a series of long stitches, quickly moving the fabric back and forth as you take SUPER slow stitches…..

I was NOT good at this technique!!!

Then I started drawing the petals with short stitches (#1 and #2) but those didn’t look great either.

For #3, I pulled out embroidery floss and did it by hand. It looked better but still fairly sparse.

Then I got the idea for #4….. machine sew the stitches and then over-sew them by hand with floss. Ding….ding…..ding…..ding…..we have a winner!!!

So, back to Saturday……

I now decided that I wanted my “focus” for the rest of the day to be on the Meadow Art…..adding the “buttercups”.

These were done by taking a small piece of yellow organza and sewing over it using a “whip” stitch. This stitch is made by tightening the top tension to it’s highest level and loosening the bobbin tension, which allows the bobbin thread to pull thru to the top……

Many of these were stitched over a small piece of yellow organza……

After I was happy with the number of these flowers, I went back in and added a few more “grass” lines over some of the flowers so they would recede to the background.

At this point in the day, my creative brain was fried!!! But I have to say that I am thrilled with the look so far……

Oh, I did spend another 20 minutes with the Camera video but there is SO much to learn and I realized that I need to take it in VERY small bites!!!

So “Creative Saturday” is now in the books and, all in all, it was a good one!!!

S-Curve Ruler for FMQ

I have been talking about the charity quilt that I quilted and used the time to practice free motion quilting using rulers. The first border that I quilted was using the S-Curve ruler from Angel Oak Stitchery…..

It took me a while to figure out how to use this ruler but it ended up being super simple to use and I love the design that it gives.

Here is a video showing how it works……

When I was exploring demonstration videos of using this shape, many of them used these lines as the spines for feather patterns. That would be interesting….something I need to try at some point.

So, one border is done…..three to go!!

Travel Log Quilt #3

For my 3rd Travel Log Quilt, we have to travel to gay Paree!! In July of 2004, Michael spent a month in Germany teaching at one of the universities. We decided that the kids (Brian age 19 and Jenny age 17) and I would meet up with him in Paris for a week of sightseeing.

The trip was a lot of fun as we viewed many of the art galleries, especially enjoying the smaller galleries like the Monet, Rodin and Picasso. Of course, the biggest pull for the trip was the magnificent Eiffel Tower.

While on top of the tower we took lots of photos of the Paris skyline, enjoying the slightly hazy views….

After we were back at ground level, I took this photo of Jenny viewing the tower…..

A couple of years later, I decided that I wanted to make a quilt that was a mixture of photographs and fabric collage. This was the resulting quilt……

Everything above the trees was done with photos printed on fabric but the trees and everything below is from fabric.

Now, I like the memory behind this quilt, but I did NOT do the portrait of Jenny correctly. Her body shape simply isn’t right.

A few years ago I tried to fix it…..

….but it still isn’t right.

The problem is that I LOVE her hair but everything below that just doesn’t work.

As I have written this post, I am wondering about cutting off the quilt at her shoulders….

What do you think????