Sewing Again

Back to work, finally.

This is the quilt I’d been working on before my San Francisco trip. I’d got the piecing done both front and back, had pinned the quilt sandwich and had managed to quilt 24 of 36 embroidery repeats for the quilting. I had no time between returning from San Francisco and my wrist surgery so the unfinished quilt has been sitting on my cutting table taunting me.

This week I decided to see if I could manage to position the embroidery hoop on the quilt – I knew the actual sewing wouldn’t be a problem for my hand but applying the hoop mostly using my left hand I wasn’t so sure about. Turns out I was able to position and tighten the hoop fine so I did a couple of quilting embroideries – then then next day five more, and yesterday I finished up the remaining quilting.

Blues With Green – Front Of Quilt

This morning I created a label for the back and added the binding. So now the quilt is completed. The back is an improvisation – I created a strip of triangular (actually trapezoidal) pieces from the fabrics used to piece the front, done with sashing between the pieces and separating the strip from the backing fabric. I needed a 9″ strip for the backing to be wide enough for the quilt – this was the easiest way to do that. This insert creates a strong, bold contrast to the backing.

Blues With Green – Back of Quilt

My next project will have to be a couple of small art/landscape pieces – by small I mean 10″ x 12″ or so, for a class I’ll be teaching starting June 6. I need to get a couple of different pieces underway so I can demonstrate a variety of techniques people can use for creating textile art.


Japanese Strip Quilt – Finished

Here it is – the finished, bound quilt (just a label needed – I’ll do that later this afternoon when I get back from some errands).

Quilt Top

I did the quilting from top to bottom in line with the strips, instead of across the quilt. I wanted to emphasize the flow of the piecing. I was lucky my quilting design was the perfect size for the side borders and fills that space nicely (It was pure luck that I was able to balance the border quilting on each side!). It took a lot of precise positioning to make the embroidery joins work but it would take a hawk eye to detect the slight misalignments I decided to live with. I used a variegated white/grey/black thread, top and bottom and I like how it turned out on the back. On the front, the stitching blended well with the coloured strips. However, I darkened the light stitching in the dark strip ends because otherwise the alternating strip ends were obscured and that was a detail I worked hard to achieve.

Quilt Back

The back has worked out well. The pieced insert brings colour and interest to the back. The side borders of the strip blend well with the backing fabric yet effectively set off the insertion. I used strips of the backing fabric (which I had found in a second shop after I’d pinned the sandwich together) for binding. I’ve finally learned 2 1/4″ binding strips are better than 2 1/2″ – I have less fabric to fold under on the front of the quilt – easier to manage when I’m pinning the binding in place on the quilt front after first stitching it to the back.

I would have liked the quilt to be a wee bit longer but I was limited by my original 66″ length of backing fabric – all that was left on the bolt. The quilt is still a respectable 62″ long.

Here’s The Question…

Pilots: Printed on Fabric

Pilots: Printed on fabric, laid on background

Here’s the question – I’ve been looking at the art piece and wondering how might it look if I printed the figures on fabric, fussy cut them and fused them to the scene instead of trying to create them (shadows and all) from different fabrics?


Here’s the detail, right? Lots of little pieces to be very fussy cut and fused to a base fabric – very time consuming. Doing the appliqué work will also be time consuming because I will want to stitch in all those colour demarcations, but what I get is a more realistic look to the figures which are the focus of the piece.

All I’ve done so far is print each pilot on EQ Printables Fusible Fabric and carefully cut each. I haven’t yet fused them to the background. The way we see the sun on their clothing gives the viewer a sense of the light – some brightness but not full sunshine. I can’t achieve that through piecing, even if I’m extremely careful with fabric selection.

I guess what I have to do is try one of the guys and see how he turns out – maybe Brian (the one on the left). Whichever way I do this, I think it makes sense to refrain from filling in the grasses/shrubs until after I’ve got the figures in place, that way I can build up the grass around their shoes as I go along and not as an afterthought.

In case you hadn’t noticed – this fabric wall art requires a gazillion decisions and unlike oil/acrylic painting there’s no going back – you have to live with whatever decision you choose to execute.

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:


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,


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.

“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!


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:


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:


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 :


“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.


I’m Back

I’m finally settled into the apartment! There are still a few things to do but for the most part it’s now home.

Yesterday I traipsed to Parrsboro with 10 new quilts and 3 wall art pieces. They’re on show at Art Lab till Sept. 7. We spent the afternoon hanging the exhibition and I was delighted with how well the pieces all show.

Improv #7 – Quilt Back

Flying Geese – corner to corner

I made just eight blocks for the back (needed only seven) but I want to do a whole quilt top using fabric from my scrap box. I think I can arrange the triangles in some interesting random array.

You can see I did add a bit of golden yellow in the insert – I thought the teal hues alone were a bit drab given that the top used a limited colour palette.

I’ve now pinned the top, batting and back together and am ready to quilt the sandwich. I’ve set up an embroidery design for the 360 x 200 hoop – by my calculation it should take 35 (5 x 7 array) repeats to edge-edge quilt the whole thing.