Just “Let It Go”!!

This is a story about a UFO….. one that had been around for 11 years!!

It started back in 2007 when Michael and I spent two months in Oxford, England while he was a Visiting Research Fellow at Oxford University. London was a mere 45 minutes by train so we spent as much time there as we could.

As we rode the London Underground, I became aware of how the people sitting across from me changed as the ride went on. At every stop someone would get off and someone else would take his/her place.

In October of 2009 these thoughts rose to the top of my brain and I decided to make a quilt with this idea. I spent a long time searching the internet for pictures of people to add to my train car and, using Photoshop, I was able to get an idea of what I wanted…..

Note….my proudest part of this photo is that I took another person’s legs and feet and added them to the young man on the left!!!

I started out using a machine applique technique where you prepare the piece for applique, glue it to the next piece and then zig-zag over the intersection with a mono-filament thread. After doing the first person using this technique I decided to switch to fusible applique.

Anyway….here is where it stood when I stopped working on it…..

And it has been weighing on my mind ever since!!!

Today, I pulled it out for the last time….determined to either finish it or scrap it…..and SCRAP IT won!!

These were my thoughts…..

  • My skills have progressed far beyond this first attempt
  • It is larger in format than I typically work on now.
  • There is too much difference in technique in the faces. The boy has very few shades while the woman (actually based on a photo of me) has too many shades and the little girl doesn’t work at all…..

The only part that I was REALLY happy with were the child’s hands…..

  • I would basically need to start over and I am not interested in doing that

As I thought further, I remember that I learned SO much when I started this project….first about using Photoshop and then about designing faces. I also over-dyed a bunch of the fabrics which was a first for me.

The bottom line is that it was a great project for it’s time but that time is past and it is time to….

No…. I have never seen the movie!!!!

So….all of the fabric came off of the wall and out of the project box and added back into my stash.

It was exciting to find all of the skin-tone fabrics that I had collected those many years ago…..

Many of these were hand-dyed by my friend Anita and it was fun to see all of her tags reminding her of the recipe for each of the pieces…..

Now that this project is out of my head, I need to figure out exactly what big project I want to work on next!!!!

About Face….

Back in February, I was continuing to work on my “Henna Girl” quilt and completely messed up the quilting on her face…… see the post here.

I picked it out the same day that I quilted it and then put the quilt away until after my studio was finished and I felt comfortable going back to it. It just so happened that my comfort level finally returned last week!!!

After my initial disaster, one of my quilting buddies, Rosie, sent a diagram that she thought would help…..

After studying this for a while, I sat down with yet another photo of the face and started drawing in lines. After numerous attempts, I decided that this one had the most promise…..

When I got ready to do the quilting, I was nervous about trying to free-hand it again so marked some guide dots to help me along…..

This made the quilting much easier to do and, in a very short time, I was thru……

I finished the background using a ruler to quilt parallel lines at various widths.

The final step was to add the beads. I had original planned to use beads that I had on hand, but ended up at Joann’s one day and found the PERFECT beads…….

So….I am happy to present “Mahek the Market Girl”…….

The Palin source…..

Michael and I LOVE Michael Palin. We have spent many hours watching all of his travel shows, often dreaming about visiting some of the places that he has been. As a matter of fact, he is the reason that we trekked in the Himalayas back in 2015.

Many years ago, I stopped his show about the Sahara Desert to take a picture of a camel that appeared on the screen…..

At the time, I was playing with thread painting and used this photo to make a quilt…..

Note that it is the same “wide screen” display as the TV.

This past week, we decided to re-watch the Himalaya DVD and I was drawn to this gentleman in Tibet……

Doesn’t he have a wonderfully expressive face??

I am thinking that this might be a fun portrait to tackle next…..what do you think???

Having a ripping good time…..

At the end of this past week, the builders were working on the drywall in the room and doing lots of sanding, etc so I didn’t really think that I should try to sew in the dust. I wanted to move my machine downstairs but couldn’t figure out where to sit so that my rolling chair wouldn’t ruin the wood floors.

Then…..I thought about setting it up in my office and just move my office chair over a bit and use the same chair mat. It was a bit cramped, but it worked…..

….and the biggest plus…..it is right there and ready whenever I have a few minutes to sew.

The first sewing that I did was on her arms, finally just deciding to do 1/4 inch echo quilting…..

Then I decided to tackle her face….the part that I have been dreading since the start of this project!! While I may be able to draw with fabric, I am NOT an artist where facial contours are concerned!! I spent one evening drawing on 20+ photos of her face, trying to get an idea of what quilting needed to happen…..

And then I quilted…..

…and it was YUCKY!!!

So I spent that evening carefully taking out every single stitch in her face!!! Fortunately, I was having a good day with my machine quilting so the stitches were pretty even.

Now I am stuck with what to do!! I cant decide if the problem is my line placement or the fact that the thread is too dark!!

I KNOW that her nose isn’t good, but I feel like the other lines are okay.

I may try printing her face onto fabric and do several tries before I work on the actual piece again.

And, if any of you have the artistic bent to tell me what I am doing wrong on her nose, PLEASE speak up!!!

Finally….my friend from India, talked to the girl’s grandmother and found out that her name is Mahek. It is an Urdu name and means perfume! How perfect is that!!!

Quilting with Claire

Over the last 6 months, Claire and I have been working on a secret project….a Christmas gift for her mom, Liz.

It all started out at our last guild quilt show where Liz picked out a panel that she liked and asked Claire if she could make a quilt from it. She then asked if she needed to buy some other fabrics to add to it and Claire uttered the immortal words….”No Mom, Mrs. Frances has plenty!!”. She speaks truth!!

We started on the project when school was out last June, planning to get it finished pretty quickly, but life was just too busy for both of us so it took a few months to do.

The first step was to pick out a bunch of fabrics that would work with the panel…..

After cutting out the blocks from the panel, we added borders to each of them and planned a basic layout (that we “sort of” stuck to)…..

Now it was time to start filling in all of the blank spaces between the blocks, starting with a string of fish…..

….followed by more fish…..

….then some paper pieced umbrellas……

Like me, Claire is NOT a fan of paper piecing.

We then started using bigger pieces of fabric to fill in, piecing 9-patches, strips of squares and adding lots of borders…..

We kept adding bits and pieces and finished the top construction just after Thanksgiving. Claire basted it using fusible batting…..

….and started with the quilting…….

She did all of the straight lines and I came back and added a bit of free-motion quilting.

There were smiles galore as we looked at it one last time…..

….before packing it a big box with ribbons and bows. Liz was presented with it on Saturday and is looking forward to keeping warm under her special quilt “Dreaming of Beaches” by Claire!!!

Now we have to come up with a new project to work on in 2020. I can’t wait to spend more time with this wonderful young lady!!!

Give that little girl a hand…..

…..and an arm for that matter!!

Today, I had a few hours in the studio and was able to get the other arm, hand and henna tattoo on my girl…….

I had mentioned in the last post that I was uncertain whether I was going to use real beads or applique them in fabric and several people told me that I should use real beads. So, today I pulled out a box of beads and found this beaded trim that I had bought somewhere…..

I clipped off a few of these bead sets and strung them together to give myself a idea of what it might look like……

Right now I am thinking that this is the way I will go, but I am not completely sold on it. Part of me thinks that they need to be a bit bigger…..we will see!!

Unfortunately, I may not have a lot of time over the next week to work on her, but am looking forward to the next steps. The things that I still have to decide are….

  • What color to make her pants and socks
  • What background do I want to use (I am leaning toward the vegies that were around her)
  • How big do I want it to be (I hope to enter it in some shows and want to make sure that it meets the minimum size).
  • And the real biggie…..how am I going to quilt it!!!!

It just keeps going and going and going!!

On Friday, I was able to spend a good portion of the day in my studio and accomplished quite a lot on my Henna Girl.

First, I wanted to finish her shirt and am finally happy with it. I think that the quilting will add the texture needed to make it look better…..

Next, I finished up the arm and then it was time to tackle the hands!!! The technique that have been using on this quilt is to draw each section out onto freezer paper………

I then pick the fabric that is most prominent in the piece and iron the freezer paper pattern to the back. Once cut out, I start adding the details. If it is a bigger piece, I am gluing it on but if it is a smaller piece, I am using wonder under to hold it in place…..

The plan is to put a layer of tulle over the top of the finished picture and then quilt in the lines of the piece. That way I don’t have to worry about smaller pieces being raw edged.

So, once I got the hand and arm connected, it was time to figure out how to do the Henna Tattoo. The designs on the girl’s arms were not majorly visible and I knew that I wanted them to show up a bit more in the quilt. I also could tell that they were not done by a professional but probably by someone just learning the technique. Instead of trying to replicate her designs, I decided to find my own!! After playing with several designs, I came up with this idea…..

With much trepidation, I pulled out a Fabrico Marker and started drawing the designs. They are a bit shaky, but that actually fits in with the idea of someone just learning how to do this!!

At the end of the day, I had finished the right arm, including the tattoo…..

I know that her wrist looks weird but remember that there is a bead bracelet that needs to go there. I am now debating about whether to do the beads in fabric or with actual beads.

Hopefully I can keep working this next week and get the other arm finished and MAYBE work some on her pants!!

Thanks for following along and for all of the encouragement!!!

Is it getting easier??….I’m not sure!!!!

Yesterday I spent several hours working on the current quilt and was happy to finish her headscarf and one sleeve……

The string of beads will be sewn on after the quilting is done but I really like them. It seems to add a bit of spark to her face!!

Next, I started working on her right side shirt, and after a couple of hours, I thought that it looked like rubbish…..

So I set it aside and began working on her right arm.

But, when I finished last night and put all of the pieces on the design wall, I was excited that it DID actually look like a shirt with folds in it……

Today, the plan is to finish the shirt and her right hand sleeve and then work on the arm if there is time left.

The next hurdle that I have to figure out is how to get the Henna Tattoo onto her skin. I am currently thinking thru that problem!!!


Woo-hoo….I’ve made a start!!!

In my last post, I mentioned that I had a project that I wanted to try but didn’t think that I had the ability to do it!! And, in my usual fashion, I have successfully avoided it for the past week or more, however, I will mention that my studio is SUPER clean!!!

Here is the backstory for the project….

In 2015, we spent several days in the city of Pune in India. On one of those days, I spent 6+ hours visiting the old-town of Pune with my guide Rashid of Chalo Heritage and Nature Walks. To read more about this day you can check out my blog here. But, this is the relevant information…..

Often when we travel, there is one moment that defines the trip for you and this was it for me….I asked if I could take a photo of a woman and young girl.  They agreed and I got this wonderful shot.

I had noticed that the girl had Henna tattoos on her arms and asked if she would show them to me.   She extended her arms and I leaned down to take the photo, focusing mostly on the designs on her arms.   As I looked past the camera I realized that she was looking up at me with the most soulful eyes and beautiful smile.  I backed the camera up further and was able to get this heart stopping image….

I have long wanted to try a portrait quilt and this image was stuck in my head. After seeing all of the gorgeous portraits at the Houston show, I knew that I had to give it a try.

I started by pulling the photo into Photoshop and playing with the “postser-ize” function until I got a photo that better showed the shadows…..

I then printed it in black and white onto a single piece of paper and drew the outline on acetate (overhead projection paper for those of us old enough to remember it)!! I then blew up the outline…..

….and was completely overwhelmed with the pattern and, once again, decided that it was a reason to NOT attempt the quilt.

THEN, on Thursday I visited with the Landrum County Quilters in South Carolina and gave my “Viewing the World Thru Quilt Colored Glasses” talk. As part of the talk, I show this photo and mentioned that I was having trouble getting started. After the meeting ended, Debbie came up and encouraged me to blow up the picture and use that as my pattern. DUH!!!! When I did that, the design became much clearer…..

I then began tracing around the major blocks using a fine tipped Sharpie. I had originally planned to do the entire body but then decided that I should start with the head first…..

The nice thing about using a Sharpie on paper is that it seeps thru to the back so that I end up with a pretty good reverse of the design.

At this point, I looked at all of the detail and walked calmly downstairs and told my husband that there was no way that I would ever be able to make this quilt!!! Yet another excuse.

So, today was the day for me to start on it, but I wasn’t happy with my fabrics. I had purchased some fabrics at the show but decided that most of them were not appropriate and used that as my NEXT excuse for not starting on the top!! Then, this morning I remembered that I had tons of flesh tone fabrics that my friend, Anita, had dyed for me years ago, so that excuse was gone!!

After I had selected 5 or 6 fabrics it was time to get started. I was originally going to use Wonder Under and fuse the pieces down but was concerned that it would get too stiff as the layers added up. Instead, I decided to use Freezer Paper to cut out the shape and then use small dabs of glue to attach it to the main piece.

I slowly started working thru the process…..

….adding one piece at a time, and even coloring a few pieces that needed to be a bit darker….

At each step of the game, I would look at what I had done and think……that does NOT look like a face…..

And, then I added the mouth and magically, it looks like a face……

….at least if you squint at it!!!

I realize that the big test will come when I add the eyes, but I am so excited that I have made it this far!!!

This face may never see the light of day outside of my studio, but it has definitely encouraged me that I MIGHT be able to do this.

As I have said before…..