Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Journal quilt...I've lost count.

  I've saved all the scraps from the paper piecing and trimming on the batik blocks.  So they became the source of inspiration for this journal quilt. 
  I have a small enamel vase on the shelf in my sewing room.  It was a souvenir I bought my mother many years ago, and the blue/green batik prints remind me of it.  She loved that color combination. 
  The background is done crazy patch style on a muslin foundation using light blues, and the table top is a mix of taupe fabrics.  I drew the vase shape on the foundation and tried to work around it, leaving the shape uncovered with the piecing.
  For the vase....I drew the shape onto the paper side of heat and bond, and covered the shape with all the tiny pieces on the glue side. The shape was  cut out and fused to the foundation.  The little "twigs" are twisted thin strips straight stitched down.  I used the "trapunto technique"  behind the vase when I stitched it to the foundation.  All the extra batting was cut away.  I straight stitched in matching thread to hold down all the tiny pieces at this point.
  Then on to the batting and backing and quilting.  I decided to try to only use straight stitching  and not use free motion quilting.   So I only used simple curves around the vase shape.  The edge is unfinished right now....not sure if I will bind it or just use  thread. 
   I spent the afternoon cleaning--shock!---so maybe tomorrow I will to finish this.  I completed a few more batik blocks and need to take a photo. Again, maybe tomorrow.  Till then, happy stitching.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

More color from the garden..

I couldn't resist a few photos of what is blooming.....roses, ice plant, iris. 
They are always good for inspiration.  So enjoy my garden.

This photo is of the tiny Carolina Orchid in the side bed.   It is loaded with blooms this year. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Almost a meltdown

The phone is back on again, and my jaw is better, but the computer gave me a  melt down today.  Imagine cropping photos that you just uploaded and when you return to the library view......everything, but everything you have done  for 2 years is GONE!   There were no folders in Picasa or in my docs with photos.  Nearing the panic stage, we kept  searching the computer.  Finally, we  found my folder  of photos under Russ's docs.  Huh?  No idea how it moved on its own.  I re-did my backup just in case....again.  But how to get them back to Picasa.....restart and open Picasa again, and I watched everything come back.  Don't ask how, why, or what is going on, I am just glad to be past it.    I feel like the "technology gremlin" is after me this week, or maybe I really am a bit crazy.   
   InsightDon't panic.  Always back up files.  Take a vacation from it.  Then cry if all else fails.

   On to the blocks and batik quilt......a few more with points and a few more plain ones.  Here's a couple of layouts I am playing with. 

I want to use an off set layout, that much I am sure of.  The blocks are 9", so this is only wall size right now.  I like the curvy trail with the NY beauty blocks so far.  Seeing the photos helps me.....I need to re-arrange some of the blocks with points for better balance.   I have  more color combinations to try and more NY beauty blocks to make before I can  really play with the design.   And small circles to make to applique on.  This one is really a lot of fun....maybe it is all the color that stimulates me.
Time to head for church for Easter service.  I made food for the production team for tomorrow morning.  Five services makes for a hungry crew.  Happy Easter to all.
 Happy stitching.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cure for the "pits"

   Some days are the "pits".  Things don't work like they should, frustration level rises, and I feel over whelmed and want to escape from it all.  Today is one of those...actually it started yesterday when we upgraded our Internet service, modem and phone.  The phone still doesn't work.  My main computer is a mess....I can't log in to access photos and my files are scattered everywhere.
    My cure.....retreat to the sewing room.....push everything aside and do a journal quilt.   I opened up my favorite reference book, Art Quilt Workbook, and  literally let it decide for me.  The page it opened to was about creative piecing by slashing and adding inset strips.  I needed this to be easy, so I chose a fabric that I had sun-dye painted last summer, with bold colors and a few fern fronds.  I used a dusty green for the strips to inset in 2 different widths, just because that was what I found. 
  The process:
  I cut a section of fabric 12 by 12 inches to begin, then cut a section off the top and added the first strip.  Then  I slashed it down the side and added the second.  At this point the size was awkward, so I hacked off on side again and added it to the bottom with another strip.  I liked the balance better and the size was 10 inches by 15 inches.   Some outline quilting and fill in stitching with  mctavishing and a strip of batik that matched for a binding.....and I felt much better. 
    The phone still doesn't work, and I am having to use the laptop to post this...but I feel more relaxed.  I know it is only  a temporary fix, but maybe I can get thru the rest of the day without screaming.  Now to see if I can post this to flickr....
Happy stitching.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Joining the jacket sections

  After quilting the sections with a very large stipple, I trimmed each section to size by the pattern  minus 1/2 inch at the shoulders and side seams.      
  Probably the most important point  here is to be sure that the front sections match exactly in length.  After the quilting there was some minor stretching to one side, so I was brave and just whacked it off.

 Joining the sections:
  Bulk is a big problem in making a quilted jacket.  That is a lot of layers to deal with and the seams get so thick.  This joining technique eliminates the bulk and covers the seam on the inside.  The edges of the sections will butt together  and be covered on the outside and inside.  ( That is why I trimmed the side and shoulder seams 1/2 inch.)   I used a 2 inch strip on the outside that was pieced to blend with the sections it would join.  The inner strip in double fold--like quilt binding--and the first side is sewn on with the outer strip to one section.  Then the other side of the outer strip is sewn to the joining section.  When you turn the jacket to the inside, the folded binding is then pressed over the join and stitched down.  Seam covered.   Note....I kept having to remind myself to use 1/2 inch seam allowance and not 1/4 inch as usual.
   Here is the outside view to show how the join looks across the shoulder and at the sleeve.  The florals make it easy to hide. 

** I learned a new trick....did you know you could add words to photos in picasa 3? How did I miss that before?

  I am still debating on the applique...whether to add it or not.  This is the point in construction to do it, while it is in a flat garment stage.  Just the quick cuffs and side seams to go before finishing the binding.  Wouldn't you know the weather has really turned warm again, so it will be 6 months before I even wear it. 
  OK, off to the dentist to get this tooth fixed, so I am done stitching today.  Maybe tomorrow......

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sweatshirt jacket-- Cut it up and cover the pieces

    I thought I would have the jacket done by now....but chipped/cracked tooth interfered.  After visits to the dentist and oral surgeon, hopefully I will get it fixed and saved on Tuesday.  So my stitching has been in spurts this week and  I only have the front sections and sleeves covered. 
  I am using a polar fleece for the foundation, but it is done just like covering a cut up sweatshirt. 
    The front sections are very straight forward.....just block to block construction to create a piece of  big enough to cover the jacket front.  That is 2 sections, left and right sides.  Once I pinned it to the fleece, I then trimmed it around the neck and armhole areas, leaving about an inch extra.   My next step for these sections is to do part of the quilting to anchor the fabric to the fleece.  I plan on adding some applique across one shoulder to the back and one sleeve, so that area will not be quilted for now.   

    The sleeves are a little different to cover  because of shape and length.  A lot of the area of the sleeve will not be seen as it is on the under arm side.  Basically, the part that is seen is through the center of the sleeve--top to bottom.  So take that into consideration, if you are wanting to feature a pieced or applique block on a sleeve area.  Second, is the sleeve length.....I have short arms and my sleeve only needed 2  and 1/2 blocks to cover the length.  This affected the layout.  I could either cut a block in half or use whole blocks and add fill strips. 
   Here's what I did to one sleeve.  Two blocks across the widest top area...these are medium to light blocks that will blend with the front and back sections.  One block centered to the bottom of the sleeve and this one
is a darker one. 

Now to fill in the blank spots........At the bottom I decided to go ahead and cut one block in half and place it on either side of the centered block.  I like how it blended here, rather than 2 blocks side by side.  No real reason--just me.    Pieced strips will fill in the remaining blank areas between the blocks and at the bottom. 

Short strips will be added to the upper sleeve to finish covering the fleece.  Then the entire piece will be trimmed a bit to shape. 

You have to kind of think in 3-D when covering the different that I mean, remember that the front shoulder attaches to the sleeve and back.  So keep the  fabric value close to what it will attach to for a blended look.  The same is true at the side seams for the front and back. 
    So, I've got another sleeve  and back to figure out and then create the applique I want.  Here's to a great weekend.  Happy stitching.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Switching it up

I completed a few more batik blocks and put them up on the design wall.  And decision made!
    Switch:  a change or transformation. 
  Yes, that is what I have decided to do.  I am  switching  things up on my 2 on-going projects---the watercolor floral quilt and the drunkard's path jacket in batiks.
    My off-handed remark about making a quilt with the batik blocks set my thinking in that direction.  Then Wanda's comment that they would be a beautiful quilt, was exactly right on.   An artsy quilt that  explores color and movement and doesn't really follow the rules or a set pattern  was calling me.  And that surprised me! 

    Why?  I began as a very traditional quilter about 25 years a pattern, follow directions, and so on.  And somewhere along the way, I have found my own way.  I don't always follow the trends or the current thing that is in vogue.  Maybe I am just kind of behind  the times, or just off in my own world.  I continue to work in watercolors and florals because it makes me happy and content.  Remember---do what you love.  Yet, I have found that I look to expand that technique by  translating watercolor and value into other designs and patterns---traditional or not.  In scrappy quilts, I push value to see what happens.  And participating in the Journal Quilt Challenge this year has been such an inspiration and motivation to me.  I have really enjoyed playing and seeing what others create.   So all this came together in my head and gave me a big push/nudge/urge to  turn the blocks into a quilt. 
    So what's the problem.....I wanted to do a jacket to try the technique for joining and bindings.   I love the DP and NY Beauty blocks, but I just could not see myself wearing them---not on my body.    Yes, they would be a striking jacket, but I would probably never wear it. 
    I was sitting in my sewing room, as all this went through my head, and right in front of me--on the design wall--was the perfect answer.  The floral blocks..... I could see myself wearing a jacket made with the floral blocks.  They blend, create light and shadow--that could be useful!   And they could be a background for some applique.  So, the watercolor floral blocks are going to become the jacket and the batik blocks are going into a quilt.
   I did a few quick sketches for a layout on the new jacket idea and I think I need a few more light blocks for it.   Still have lots of strips so that won't be a problem. 
  Insight:  Again I say to me----follow your instincts and do what you love.   One of these days, I am going to get that firmly planted in my brain.
  Happy stitching.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Color in the garden

Everything is blooming....the colors are so amazing this year.  I spotted this palette by the back walk....rose, purple, lavender, vivid blue and greens.
I planted the beds this way, so I guess it is no wonder that I select fabrics for my quilts  the same way.  Go for the bold contrast and enjoy what happens when you do.  Oh, and please ignore the weeds.

The pale pink phlox is cascading down the rocks near the waterfall and the golden creeping jenny  glows in the sun.  I enjoy the sound of the falls and viewing the textures of the rocks.  Three years of "neglect" and there is lots of moss and lichen growing on them...finally.    I love the play of shadows here.  It reminds me of the shadows and value contrast in my watercolor quilts. 

   This is the "quiet spot" in the back and is called the  Memory  Garden.  We selected plants for this area in memory of  our family.  The tea olives are getting large now and smell heavenly, and were planted for our mothers.  The Cloud Nine Dogwood says it all.  There's also lavender, rosemary, and a rambling rose, as well as Ladelle's hydrangea.   The hostas are coming up too....even after the deer ate the tops off them.   The spring palette back here is white, creamy tones and greens.  In summer, lots of yellow daisies, and day lilies brighten it up.  
    Next weekend is the Tour of Gardens downtown, and I hope we get to go this year, as we have missed the last couple of years.  I am praying for some rain this week, cooler temps, and a lot less pollen in the air.  
     I finished up a few more batik blocks,  and  I have finally made a decision about the jacket.  More on that to come, and I will explain my thought process, too.
Happy stitching.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Journal quilt --not my usual

Paper piecing creates a pile of scraps and bits.
I think that is part of the reason why I don't do a lot of paper piecing.  And  this pile is all batiks and I sure hated to let it go to waste/trash can.  So I took inspiration from several of the gals doing the Journal Quilt Challenge--my turn to fuse some trimmings.
  I applied heat and bond to a  9" by 12" piece of batting and pulled out the pile of scraps.  Then it was like doing a colors together and odd ends sticking out.  I re-arranged them a couple of times and finally just fused it all down.  I have a lot of long skinny strips and decided to use the turquoise blue ones as accents, and turquoise thread to quilt the whole thing. 
   This is not my usual thing.....but I love it!  The colors, the movement,  the freedom to explore and just create something from bits and pieces.   I think that will be my "word/phrase  for the year"---freedom to explore

Insight Be inspired to find your own way.

Happy stitching.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Exactly what does crow taste like?

This time at least, it tastes like honey...I learned a new trick/technique/easy piecing guide tip!  
  It was time to cut into some of those beautiful batiks I won and had in my stash.  For the jacket class it meant curves and a glue stick.....neither which appeal to me very much.  But I had signed up and one of my insights was to try and learn new techniques, so.......I re-read the class instructions. 
  Light bulb moment!  The freezer paper templates were  cutting and sewing guides, not applique!  So I tackled 6 of the plain drunkard's path blocks, and got them cut out.  I dug out the glue stick and headed to the ironing board.  Very sparingly I used the glue stick to the correct guide and fabric piece and a light press.   To the machine, line up the arc and the arm/leg piece, pull back the arc template, pull back the fabric on the arm piece and stitch next to the freezer paper glued to the arm piece!  So did I miss this before. 


This is what I took to the sewing machine.  The arc pattern piece is on the right side of the fabric.  No seam allowance pressed under.  The freezer paper on this piece is a placement guide only.  The freezer paper piece is on the wrong side of the arm piece.  The glue is only spotted along the seam line on this piece, and the seam is pressed under and thus glued to the freezer paper.  To sew the center points are matched at the mark and pinned. 
  Gently pull back the fabric on the arm piece and check your pinning and placement.  Keep the curve of the arm matched to the arc.
Then remove the arc paper.  Then stitch along the edge of the freezer paper guide on the arm piece.   


  Just look at how well the 2 arcs match in the center row?  That's another tip from the class.  You create a master template piece to tape to your square ruler for squaring up the blocks.  This is your guide when squaring up the blocks.
     The more I look at these blocks, the more I like them......they have a real eye catching design.  Do I really need another jacket, would I wear this jacket,  or should these be used in a quilt?   I could do other blocks and fabrics for the jacket, or maybe I have enough for both?   OK, now I have added a whole new dimension to this project, or else it's the meds I am on.  I'll have to ponder this while I'm making more blocks.
Maybe the antibiotics  have kicked in finally, because I think I'm ready to eat some more crow on this.
 Happy stitching.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Blocks and fabrics

All these wonderful batiks arrived from Patchwork Gracie yesterday.  Now to chose which to include in the jacket blocks. 
    I am battling another sinus and ear infection.  I am very allergic to tree pollen and apparently got a super dose last week and now I am paying for it.
So I haven't gotten a lot done on the jacket blocks...only 2 more made.   I am not a fan of paper piecing but I really love these blocks.  I plan to do 4 or 5  more this way.   I will switch up the placement of the patterned batik and put the more solid batiks in the spiky points on a couple of blocks.  There are also appliqued circles to be added  to the plain DP blocks.  Lots more to do...but guess I have all summer to work on it, as warm weather sets in.  Who needs a jacket when it is 85 degrees?   Happy stitching.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Finishing up

   Yes, it is April 1st....known to most as April Fools, but around here it is known as Deana's birthdayHappy Birthday, and congratulations on winning the Pacesetter's Award at work.  It is long overdue and very well deserved.  I know I am biased--that's a Mom for you!

   The big quilt is done and named--Pathways.   The sun was out for the first time in days, so I thought I would grab a few shots outside.  Great idea...good light, but wrong, wrong, wrong move!  Because when I finished and folded the quilt up, it was covered with pollen stains all over the back.  Oh, no!!!  The rainy days had "cleared" the air of pollen and literally deposited it all onto my deck.    So as I post this, the quilt is in the washer. 

This photo shows  the prairie points that go around three sides.   They are not folded fabric, but  stitched, turned inside out, and quilted.  Kind of a pre-finish technique.  Why?   I wanted the points to have some weight to them and felt just folded fabric points were too flimsy.  And  using a binding finish was out of the question with this many points. 

Adding the points and finishing: 
Once the quilt was quilted and the edges squared off, I pinned the points around three side (not the top).  I was able to space the points--sligthly over lapping some--to make them fit the space. 

I used a 2 inch strip of the backing fabric that was folded in half as a facing strip.  The facing strip and points were stitched at the same time to the quilt body. 

Once sewn then the facing is turned to the back and the points create the finished edge. 

From the back....the folded edge of the facing strip is pressed and pinned in place.  At this point you could hand stitch it in place like a binding.  I used two rows of straight stiching to finish it off---one row about 1/4"  in from the points and the second row along the edge of the facing strip. 

InsightThink twice about taking photos of quilts outside....beware the pollen and put an old sheet underneath the quilt first.  And power wash the deck!
Now to clean up the sewing space, do something with all the leftover scraps, work on the jacket blocks, make another journal quilt, and more blocks for the blended florals.  I think I have enough to keep me busy.  Happy stitching.
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