Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Monarch of the Glen

For several years now, I have been trying to use my photographs for quilt patterns. When I got the new Fuji digital camera, I was really jazzed about it, I took loads of pictures. These butterflies were at the Elkton, Oregon, Butterfly Gardens, part of the Elkton Community Education Center. They have an enclosure where they breed butterflies and raise the cocoons, It is heaven for photographing, but they still flit away as soon as I get the focus adjusted on my camera. For my pattern, I took the plant material from one photo and the butterfly from another.
This is the full photo, as I traced it, but I thought it was too much blank space and not enough butterfly.
So I cropped it horizontally, and focused on the butterfly. I did add a few more leaves, as most had gotten cropped out of the bottom of the pic. I like the strong diagonal lines, and the balance of the butterfly hanging off the bottom of the branch.
I began with some of my hand dyed sky fabrics, I choose the lighter, almost turquoise fabric for the background. It sort of washed out in the photos, but it is a clear blue. Since I don't dye many orange fabrics, I was worried I wouldn't have the right orange, but I did. All the other fabrics are my hand dyed ones, except the black and the body. I had to simplify the flower shapes, 'cause they were too jumbled up. I could not tell if they were red or yellow flowers. I finally decided they were red petals, and the yellow part was the center of the flower, that popped up when it bloomed.
I used "Wonder Under" fusible web, to trace my pattern pieces and fuse to the fabric, and raw edge applique to hold it all down. When you have very specific shapes, the fusible is the best way to transfer patterns and get every thing to fit back together. I am a little bored with it now, after doing the ram and the butterfly. It is like paint by numbers, once the fabrics are picked out it goes together with out much creativity. Thread painting helps the creative process, but this one was simple and boring. I enjoyed the doing the ram more, because the fabric choices were more important.
Most of the time I use muslin on the back with an off white bobbin thread, but I decided to use matching colors in the bobbin. The background area, I used a "teardrop" pattern of free motion quilting.
The name of the wall hanging came from a TV series, from the BBC, called "Monarch of the Glen" the monarch on the show is the Laird of a Highlands Scottish Castle, trying to make the castle pay it's way, in this modern day and age. My husband and I have been thoroughly enjoying it, as TV watching is about all he can do. So we make popcorn and watch 1 or 2 episodes every night. I am almost done with the binding, then I'll post the finished pic.

I'll post this on Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Friday," click on the badge on the right hand column to see what other VERY talented artists have been doing in textiles.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Tie Dye Party

Last Sunday several (non-quilty) friends came over for a tie dye session. While the fabric soaked in the soda ash bucket, we prepared the dyes. 2 Tbsp of Urea in each pint bottle, with 4 or 8 tsp of dye powder, depending on the color. We made up 3 yellow, 2 turquoise, 2 fuchsia, green, black, deep purple, burgundy, fire engine red and a dark mix of an unknown(black or dark green), jet black and navy. Bonny, our tie dye guru, led us on the tieing session. She showed us how to tie a heart, a spiral, and a chevron. I showed them how to roll a T-shirt on a PVC pipe to do Shibori.
We set up at the side of the yard, with wire racks, to squirt the dye on the rubber banded bundles.
Susan dyeing her spiral bundle.
Amy's tied heart bundle.
Jenny got her self up off the ground for easier dyeing.
Amy and Susan's Shibori dyeing on the PVC pipe.
After we were done with our shirts, we had dye leftover, Bonny took what she needed to do more at home, and that left us 4 bottles of dye. I had soaked about a 3 yard piece of muslin in the soda ash, and I hung it over a swing frame. We each took a bottle of dye, yellow, fuchsia, turquoise and the odd black mix, and squirted it on the fabric to run down in streaks. The brilliant colors were like stained glass, as it dripped we added more, here and there to sort of balance the colors.
The dark colors were a beautiful deep purple, navy, rust, brick red, lots of depth as it blended with the brighter colors.
The proud dye team, Jenny, Bonny, Amy and Susan. Every one went home with the shirts in gallon zip lock bags, with directions to wait until tomorrow, then heat set the dye in the microwave for 2 minutes each, rinse until the water is clear, then launder with Synthropol.
My Shibori shirt came out great, with diagonal turquoise, green and dark green.
The rainbow spiral is my favorite, the colors blended well and the pattern is clear.
Can you see the heart? I can't, the rubber bands must have shifted a bit when I tied it. But I do like the colors, burgundy, fuchsia, and some cobalt blue. The last two are going to be over dyed later, they are very splotchy, the colors did not blend and there is too much white. One is the chevron fold with accordion pleats, the other a quarter fold with each corner tied. I can't decide if it looks like a clown threw up or a confetti machine exploded!
The fabric came out great, nice rich colors at the top, but the bottom washed out a bit, the dyes were probably exhausted by the time they dripped to the bottom. But the blend of colors is wonderful anyway. The photo is only half the width and length, it is really a large piece of fabric.
Susan and her husband Larry, show off two of the T-shirts that she dyed.

I am linking this to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Friday" click on the badge in the right hand column to see what other wonderful artists are doing.

After the tie dyeing was finished, the ladies had brought the guys along too. They had gotten a good fire going in the fire pit, and we sat around all afternoon, several other couples came and we made a party of it. We BBQ'd burgers, hot dogs, and had lots of yummy side dishes. My husband Charlie had a great time, he was well enough to walk down the back stairs with just a cane, and the guys brought down his wheelchair for him to sit in. When I upgraded to a party, he kept mumbling "too many people," but he really enjoyed himself and had a special day. We went into the early evening, I being the only one who had to work the next morning.

Saturday, November 1, 2014


I'm still working on the binding, but the "Ram" is finished. I thread painted his horns first, lots of wonderful cracks and texture, then double stuffed them with two layers of poly batting. Dense free motion quilting in the background and fleece, made the horn curl really stand out. I love how it is so dimensional. I use rayon threads to quilt, I like the shine and the stitching really adds a lot to the overall appearance. Quilting contours on the face and spirals in the fleece helped blend all the shades of fabric I used.
I lightened up the eye area with a lighter thread color, and highlighted some of the face too. The dark area under the top of the horn is his ear, the area below the horn tip is shadow. Does that come across at all? The blue sky is an ice dyed piece of fabric that I made this summer. It is quilted in looser spirals, similar to the fleece area. I wish the photos really showed how much the horn stands out.

I am linking this to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Friday" click on the badge in the right hand column to see what other talented textile artists are doing.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Attic Windows with Butterflies

My friend Susan is very adventuresome for a beginning quilter, she made this "attic windows" quilt all on her own. It is for a mutual friend, who's baby is due in two weeks. Susan said she could make the top, but then had no idea what to do with it. So I said I would quilt it for her.
The quilt had a wide white border, so I knew that a rainbow variegated thread would look beautiful there, I scribbled in flowers, butterflies, leaves, and loop-de-loops. On one side I added the baby's name, Natalie Claire, 2014. Now I need to quilt the top that I have made for the baby. It is "Flower Fairy" fabric, with a lavender/lime green flannel backing.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ram From My Photo

After going to the Northwest Quilting Expo in Portland, I was very inspired!! There were very few traditional quilts, most of the show was landscapes, portraits, animals, flowers, and other art quilting topics. I bought June Yeager's book, "Best Friends, Animal Portrait Quilts" she was one of their featured quilters and all her art was wonderfully inspiring. The book has a photo of a ram, and it reminded me of some photos I took several years ago at the "Black Sheep Festival" in Eugene, Oregon.
I printed the photo in a black and white 8 X 10, and put clear plastic over it from a sheet protector. Defining the value areas of dark and light. I start with the darkest dark and the lightest light, assigning numbers 1-10. Then I scanned the line drawing into the computer, and used Photoshop to print a poster size, 4 sheets of 8.5 x 11 put together. The finished size is 17" x 22" a very manageable size. Be careful that the smallest pieces are not too small to work with, and that you can use prints on the biggest pieces to create pattern.
I am using mostly Bali batiks and Wonder Under to fuse. When the pieces are very specific I fuse, to get an easy pattern transfer, and the detail I want. But it is not my favorite way to make quilts, I prefer free cutting and raw edge applique. I get bored of it quickly, I used to compare it to putting together a jig saw puzzle, now I think it is more like a "Paint by Numbers." The best part is picking out the fabric and the thread painting. I think I still need to work on the values on the face, they are too similar. The eye needs more definition, and the forehead should be a bit lighter too. I think the thread painting will really help make the curl of the horn more defined and the fur with curly texture.

To see more excellent textiles artists, click on the badge link in the right hand column, for Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Friday."

Saturday, October 11, 2014

To Finish is Divine!

"To Finish is Divine!" is a motto I don't live by. I am a super procrastinator, and I'd rather get onto the next new project, than finish what I'm working on now. But my husband is terminally ill, and we have been trying to straighten up certain things, a will, gifts to family and friends, and what to do with "Stuff" when he is gone. So I have also been thinking of all the unfinished projects I have stashed around my sewing room. I spent most of August working on Unfinished Projects, trying to get at least the tops done. I have pizza boxes with blocks and pieces of blocks, sometimes they just needed sashing and borders, sometimes more blocks, some times more hand work or details. I started with the ones closest to being finished. Instant gratification was a high priority. My sister has been bugging me to get my niece's quilt done. My niece Sophie had helped pick out the fabric, she loves green, and a gold and brown to go with it. My original block had the gold and brown but it was way too much yellow. So I redid the layout, and just used the brown in the flying geese border. There is still one more border, about 8" of the green print. The print has orchids and tropical leaves. So almost there.
"Donna's Flower Baskets" is my next effort. The blocks were put together with sashing and needed the setting triangles and quilting. It is about 50" square and I could quilt it on my domestic machine. There are feathers quilted in the triangles, and the rest just has small stipple quilting and in the ditch on the sashing. The designs are original flower arrangements, made with 3-D flowers. I made them sitting at my sister-in-laws dining table, while visiting Chicago for my parent's 50th anniversary party. So it has a lot of good memories and I named it after my sister in law, Donna.
"Bits and Pieces" is just that, I used miscellaneous blocks and pieces from my scrap bag to make the entire quilt top, except for the border. I started by fitting several rows together at a time, and making up 4-patch or pin wheel blocks to help fit everything. Square in a square, log cabin, flying geese and checker boards were the easiest to make with my scraps. I think it looks very balanced, not too much red, or dark spots. I got quiet a large twin size quilt top out of it, adding about 4 rows at a time, then making more pieces to fit. I could keep going for a long time with all the scraps I have, I hate to waste any fabric, and if it is pre-cut squares or triangles, why throw it away? It was fun because I could look at a fabric and remember what quilt or wall hanging it is from, more pleasant memories.

Vintage Handkerchief Butterflies are made by folding hankies and embroidering the details. "Flying in Formation" is named for Rena Talbot a Mary Kay Cosmetics motivational speaker, who always said "if you are nervous and have butterflies in your stomach, get them flying in formation, and go get done, what needs doing." I have picked up the hankies over the years at garage sales, flea markets, thrift stores and antique stores. I am only willing to pay about $2-4 for them, mostly cotton and Irish linen. The best ones have color in the center, and a scalloped or shaped edge. Since my hands were feeling pretty good this summer, I was able to applique and embroider to make 6 more blocks, to finish the quilt top. The last trip to the coast, I bought the sashing fabric, a nice soft green with multi color butterflies scattered across the fabric. Cutting a wide sashing helped so the butterflies weren't all cut in half. This came out a very large Queen size, as the blocks are all 16" square. Because of the large size I could not add the same fabric for a border.
"Miss Tillie's Dresden Plate" is made with vintage fabrics, all from the 1920's-40's I can't remember who gave me the blocks, partial blocks and wedge pieces. I added wedges from my own vintage fabric collection, to finish up 20 blocks. The backing muslin is the only new fabric I used. I still have 4 more plates to applique, but I finished about 6 of them, before my hand started to hurt again. I also cut all the sashing and corner stones trying to find scraps 14 1/2" long was difficult I had to piece several of the old fabric to get a piece long enough.
The mini Dresden Plates are 6" across on 7" new muslin, the blocks were all appliqued, but I needed to add about 30 of the centers. I also cut out the sashing and corner stones the same time I did the large plates. It is getting harder and harder to find larger pieces in my bag of garage sale vintage scraps. This began with small wedges fussy cut in front of the TV, with many of the scraps too small to cut out a 1 1/2" square. I really love the scrap Dresden Plates, they really show off a large variety of fabric. I have a large one already quilted, "Miss Lillie" gave me the blocks for that one, and I have made mini plates into several wall hangings. So my summer was very bountiful, getting tops ready to quilt. I have a "Handiquilter 16" to quilt the large quilts on, but again my hands have not been too cooperative in getting that done.

I am linking this to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Friday" to see what other wonderful textile artists have been doing this week, click on the badge in the right hand column.