Winter Blues

Let’s get this new year started out with the quilt that moved me into my “monthly quilt series”.

When I first started quilting, I really needed a REASON to make a quilt….not like now when I will make one simply because I want to!!!

Our house didn’t have lots of wall space so hanging a bunch of wall hangings just wasn’t in the plans. So, I got to thinking about having one area (in the entryway) where I could hang a different quilt every month. You see what I did there…..I could make TWELVE quilts and still have a purpose for them!!!

And, to make it even more special, I wanted a surface underneath that I could decorate to match the quilt!! A friend of ours was a woodworker and he built this pie safe to match my specifications (mainly that it be tall enough that I could hang a 30-36 inch quilt above it)…..

But back to the quilt!!

One day I was drooling in my local quilt shop and saw this wonderful fabric….

I immediately thought of the term “Winter Blues” and the quilt seed was planted!! If I remember, the pattern came from one of the Trudie Hughes books about template free quilts (my introduction to rotary cutting).

I loved the way it looked……

The quilt was 34 inches square and I made it it 1994….over TWENTY FIVE years ago.

As my kids went thru school, I often did talks to classes about the art of quilting and this quilt was the one that I used to start my presentation. I would start by showing the various shapes of fabrics…..

…..and then show how these shapes were used to form the different blocks…..

I was younger back then!!!

…..and then I could show them a quilt that contained a four-patch…..

….flying geese…..

…..puss in the corner…..

….and square in a square……

The quilt is proudly displayed every January…..

….and makes a great start to the new year!!!

Making the geese fly!!!

Over the holidays I have been working on the “Crumbs For The Geese” quilt (soon to be a pattern) and have racked my brain for ideas to quilt the geese.

I hit upon an idea at the gym (go figure) and enjoyed some quilting time on Christmas Eve.

Check out this video for details and instructions of how I used a simple straight ruler to give my geese some movement……

This has been the simplest quilting that I have done on an actual quilt and am absolutely thrilled with how it turned out.

For the quilting outside of the geese, I decided to just do curvy lines….

I used one of the Westalee Spin-E-Fex rulers for the crumb blocks and all that is left now is the binding.

More “Parasol” decisions

Two days ago, I posted my initial thoughts about “The Parasol Dancers of Green Lake”, ending the day with the sample looking like this…..

Today I returned to the quilting and started playing with different ideas of how to complete the background. I added trees, shrubs, and simple line groupings with the final practice piece looking like this……

I am happy with this for the most part but here are the things that I learned in making this practice piece…..

  • Make sure that there are no strings under the white layer…..
  • Draw in some basic lines to use a guide when quilting…..
  • I will need to stitch down the edges of the parasols, probably with a matching thread. In this sample, they lifted up as I quilted close to them and the green one has already started to shred at the edges. Having said that, I kind of like the shadow that the fabrics leave so maybe I just need to use fray-check on the parasol edges!! Okay, so this decision is still in limbo!!!!!
  • I like adding trees to the background, but the one on the right (with the actual branches) looks much better than the ones that are more of a fountain. Naturally, the best one takes longer to quilt!!
  • I like the idea of having areas of background quilted with various designs. I can play with this more as I go.

My biggest concern is that this has basically become a “Whole-Cloth” quilt. Now there is nothing wrong with that, but it sure puts a lot of pressure on me to NOT make a mistake….particularly when I am working with the black threads.

The plan is to make a strip of each pose with 3 to 7 women in each strip. As I go along, I will figure out what types of sashing to put between these strips….probably something fairly low volume.

I have ordered more Wool batting and it will be here in about 10 days. So, between now and then, I need to decide which figures I want to use, get them enlarged and start laying out the design…..

Wish me luck!!

The Parasol Dancers of Green Lake

A few weeks back I posted a video from Kunming China showing women doing their morning exercises using highly colored parasols. Over these past weeks, this inspiration has slowly moved from the back of my mind to the front of my mind!!! After a lot of contemplation (AND procrastination), I have made a start!!!

The first thing that I did was to pull some screen grabs off of the video…

They are not high quality images but they served their purpose. I printed them out in black and white and used a sharpie to trace around several of the ladies in each of the poses…….

The good thing about using sharpie is that the ink soaks thru and you can see it from the back…..instant pattern!!…..

I picked out a couple of the pictures and enlarged them to the size that I was planning to work with.

Now it was decision time!!! How was I going to portray these wonderful women…..in fabric, in paint or in thread. At some point I had the idea to thread paint or quilt the women but add color for the parasols. This is the rabbit trail that I am currently heading down!!!!

For the first sample, I added a thin fusible interfacing to the back of the background fabric, traced the design, added the fabric parasol and machine stitched it…..

Then it was critique time…..

  • First of all, I had used a white thread in the bobbin and the white stitching came thru….NOT good!!
  • Second, I felt that the ribs on the parasol were too heavy
  • Finally, I wasn’t sure exactly how I could quilt it and make the ladies stand out.

Let’s try again!!!

This time I decided to layer the quilt sandwich and actually quilt the design in. And to take it one step further, I added two layers of batting (Warm & Natural on the bottom and Wool on the top) so that it would have a Trapunto look……

I put in a few pins to hold the layers in place……

….and it was back to the machine for stitching, using the normal 50 wt thread for the bodies and a bobbin weight thread for the parasol ribs…..

I REALLY like this a lot better!! Now to fill in the background!!

I had done the initial stitching/quilting on my normal machine (Juanita) because I had better control for the details and also because I could use a smaller needle. But, for the filler quilting, I turned to Julio (sit-down long-arm) to make the process fast and effortless!!

This is where it stands now…..

As I have written this post, I started thinking about the fact that the background could also contain some shrubbery, trees or other foliage and that would give it even more interest, both in visual effects but also for the quilter!!

There is definitely more to come with this project……..I will get back to you…………….

Don’t Throw That Away

As many of you know, I have recently expanded my studio and have been continuing to clean out “stuff” as I go. I pulled out yet another box full of “not remembered items” (aka UFO’s) and found this…..

This is not an actual rust dye but is a photo of one that has been printed on fabric. The quilting, however is real!! When I was making this quilt……

“Sunflowers in the Rust”

…..I wanted to practice before I took off on the real thing and decided that quilting on a copy would work just fine

I have no idea why I thought it was necessary to keep this practice piece but I am so glad that I did.

I used my special tool, a piece of card stock (read the blog here), and tried out several different orientations …..

When I was happy with the plan, I moved to the garage to play with frames. MANY, many years ago, I ended up at a craft supply sale that had wood frames for $1 each and mats priced at 4 for a $1. I stocked up, not knowing if I would ever use them….

….but over the years I have used over half of them and I’m dead yet so I have hope that my kids won’t have to figure out what to do with them!!!

I played first with just using a single frame….

….and then decided to dress it up a bit and use a mat as well…..

It now decorates a shelf in my office….

…….and I LOVE to see it when I walk to my desk. It not only reminds me of my favorite Sunflowers but also of the fun quilt that I made so long ago!!

So the final moral of this story is to Never….Ever…. EVER…..throw anything away!!! But, if you are reading this blog, I think that I am preaching to the choir!!