Wickedly Difficult…

I’ve begun edge stitching around the circles. Today I managed to get 15 or so done (plus some semi-circles at the edges).

Stitching Around The Circles


What’s making the process so difficult is the amount of bulk I’m having to contend with and the fact that the fused circles are lifting from the quilt surface as I bunch and twist the pinned top and batting in order to get all the way around each circle.

Stitching Detail

If I go slowly enough I can keep on the edge more or less but it’s a tedious task (and it’s tricky stitching where a circle has lifted since the fabric has a tendency to slip). I stopped after 15 circles this afternoon because of the tension building in my shoulders.

Actually it will get easier as more and more circles are stitched because once they’re in place I won’t be having to contend with as much fabric lifting. But oh, there are a lot of circles still to do! 

It is going to take days and then I have to figure out a back and actually quilting all three layers together. What I’m doing right now is just stabilizing the circles.

Who’d Have Thought…

Yesterday I pieced and attached the border for the circles panel. I had originally intended bordering the top using an almost black and an off white printed fabric. But when I opened out the border fabrics and laid out the panel on them, it looked all wrong. So I decided to try a border of graduated colours.

I auditioned the fabrics and thought it could work. Next I cut 3 1/2″ strips and placed them adjacent the panel. I cut pieces, mitred them together (including the corners) and attached the border to the quilt panel. But something didn’t feel quite right. I took some photographs. And when I looked at them I could see my problem: the bottom border had the mitres going in the wrong direction – your eye is pulled immediately to the yellow bottom left corner:

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First Bottom Border

I was going to live with it, but this morning when I got up I decided to fix that border. I knew I couldn’t just realign the joins – my border would be too short. So I started from scratch, cut new strips (or used what I had leftover from the first border), sewed them together and attached the border to the quilt,

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Second Bottom Border

It’s really quite interesting how that mitre direction makes such a difference. Now the colour story flows from top left to bottom right and the eye moves around, sees the shades of pale greys fading into the medium greys, into the darker greys/black at the same time the yellow blends with the oranges and reds rather than standing out.

Wouldn’t have thought it would make such a difference.

I have my embroidery machine set up with rayon thread (I have selected several shades of red), a new embroidery needle (an embroidery 75), my sewing star foot (which has an open toe), and a narrow blanket stitch. The quilt top has been pinned to batting and I’m now ready to stitch around all the raw appliqué edges. I won’t get to that until Thursday – tomorrow I have to return to Parrsboro to pick up the two quilts I left behind for the art exhibit featuring all the artists who had shown during the season.

Wind Waiting

I’ve begun my next project – this is a photo I took at least a dozen years ago when I was still paragliding. Retired, I had time to spend in Parrsboro (a two hour drive from Halifax) hanging out wind watching with these three paragliding pilots.

On this particular fall day we’re at Fox River (I think it was) on the Bay of Fundy across from the Valley Coast (able to see from Blomidon to Cape Split) feeling the strong wind whipping up the waves and inflating our jackets. It wasn’t a flying day! Wind much too strong.

Paragliding pilots are patient people – we spend a lot of time chasing wind which is either too light or too blustery. We hung around this location for quite a while before deciding to try further down the shore where we might find conditions a bit calmer.

What I love about this image is the three guys on the edge of the bank (about 100′ above the beach which is where we’d have landed had we been able to launch), patiently and calmly contemplating the weather. They’ve been here before with weather like this. Brian, the one on the left hasn’t even bothered to take out his wind gauge to check windspeed.

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Wind Watching

So this fabric wall art piece will consist of the background of white-capped waves with the bank in the foreground extended downward a bit further than it is in the photo. And then there are the guys. A week or so ago, I isolated each pilot and enlarged him. Last evening, I converted each image to black/white so I could see the contrasts more clearly. Last evening I outlined each photo so I could get an idea of how many different fabrics I might be looking for to construct this image – a lot of bits of closely related colours are going to be needed. This will necessitate a careful going through my scrap boxes and pulling out everything I think might work.

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Pilots rendered in black/white and outlined

I will have to print these images and outline them a second time – to give myself a copy I can cut apart, using the bits as templates for fabric pieces. The men are close to 11″ tall – they’re going to be quite large. I’m going to have to use that height to calculate the dimensions of the finished piece – I haven’t done that yet.

I’ve had the original printed photo at the right side of my desk for the past two months. I’m beginning to actually work on it. Next choosing fabrics, then bringing out my half sheet of styrofoam insulation to use as a pinning board.

This project is definitely underway. I expect it will take a couple of months to complete.

Double Vision Quilt III

My initial plan was to border the central element with a black-grey-white border. I laid out the fabric (before cutting the 3 1/2″ strips, thank goodness) and it looked awful!

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Auditioning a border

I stood back for a bit and walked around the pieced centre and decided to try a border in reds – that’s gonna work just fine!

So tomorrow I will cut out my strips from the fabrics assembled, piece them (using mitred joins) and apply the border to the quilt – also mitring the corners.

“Double Vision” Quilt II

“X” pieces and circles all cut out and fused onto the black/grey/white background panel.

I’ve just picked up some black with grey and white on white fabric for a 3 1/2″ border all around. I have to add the border before stitching all the “X”s and circles in place because I may want to pin stitch the elements in place using the batting instead of using a layer of stabilizer. I will have to run some samples with/without batting, rayon embroidery thread/Sulky variegated thread to see which combination works most easily and gives the look I’m after.

So tomorrow – the border (with mitred corners).

“Double Vision” Quilt

A while back I purchased and downloaded a quilting book by Louisa L. Smith: “Double Vision Quilts“. She makes interesting quilts by “layering” – using raw edge appliqué on structured pieced backgrounds to create an illusion of shapes such as curves without having to do curved piecing which is an advanced sewing skill!

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Her quilts are all quite lovely – beautiful colours, interesting ideas. The one that caught my eye was a quilt she calls “Circular Anomaly” – the quilt has a pieced under layer which shades from black to white (bottom to top and from left to right). The top appliqué layer uses dark red to a golden orange from top to bottom – starting with “X” shaped pieces at the top in dark red on the light under colours to the golden orange on the darkest colours beneath. The finished quilt is intended, I’m guessing by its size, to be a wall hanging.
anomolyI liked the idea but wanted to make a full sized lap quilt so I increased the number of background blocks as well as the block size – my finished panel ended up at 41″ X “54” – which means I will also want to add a border of some sort to make the quilt 47″ X 60″.

I considered other colour combinations: blues for the background with green appliqué elements or green background with purple-blue appliqué, but in the end I decided I really liked the colour combination Smith used so to start the project I scoured my fabric stash (scraps, largish pieces, fat quarters, other quilting fabrics) pulling out all the black-grey-whites I had. There were quite a few although not quite enough for the  under panel so I bought 6 more 1/4m fabric pieces in greys. I had a lot of reds – from very dark to golden orange; I’ve gone with what I have:

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Fabric for “circles”


I cut out one hundred twenty (I needed 108 but wanted to have extras so I could control the colour flow) 5″ squares from the black-grey-white fabrics and assembled the 9 x 12 base layer:

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Background layer

Next I had to figure out what size “X” and “circle” elements I’d need and how many (I’m not following Smith’s directions, right? So I had to calculate this for myself). I began with Smith’s templates but upsized them by screen-capturing the two elements, then printing them at 115% which, in the end, gave me the size I was after.

img_6170I decided a finished circle of 4″ would work; the “X” ended up with a 2.5″ arm length from the center to allow a bit of overlap.

I cut 4 1/2″ strips of “Wonder Under” – Pellon’s 805 light weight fusible paper backed iron-on adhesive, drew the circles and “X”s on the paper side of the strips, then fused the strips to the back of the red fabrics. So far, I have carefully cut out the “X”s and pinned them to the background being careful with the colour gradient from dark in the right top corner to medium red along the diagonal :

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“X’s pinned in place

Next step: carefully fuse the X-shaped pieces to the background before creating and cutting out the circles. I’m aiming for asymmetry here, so there will be more circles than “X” pieces. Once all the pieces are fused in place I will need to edge stitch them to the background. To do that I’m intending to cut my batting and apply and pin it beneath the background to bypass the interfacing step. The batting will provide enough stability (the cotton sticks to it nicely) that I should be able to control the stitching process. I’m planning to use a small blanket stitch rather than satin stitch which I think will be heavier than I want (Smith did use a satin stitch in her quilt).

Once the top stitching is done, have to think about some kind of quilting to hold the top-batting-backing together. The design does call out for some kind of stitching within the circles and the “X” pieces rather than an all-over quilting design but I haven’t yet figured out how to do that – I want to try hooping the quilt as 9″ blocks (4 background squares at a time) and embroider within the circles and “X”s. I will have to see what single-run design I can come up with to fill the positive and negative spaces in an interesting way.

More later as I progress further.