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.

Saturday, October 4, 2014


After 40 years of quilting, 30 with a rotary cutter, I finally made the big booboo. I was quickly cutting one more strip, before making a sandwich and running back to afternoon work, when my hand slipped off the ruler, and I CUT myself badly, with the rotary cutter, I knew I had hit the bone/finger nail. I still get a shiver up my spine just thinking about it. I ran to the sink, gushing blood, grabbed a paper towel, and yelled at my husband. I wanted him to call Urgent Care and see if they did stitches, or if I needed to go to emergency. He was in a useless panic. I had to flip phone book pages and make the call myself. I also called work to say I wouldn't make it, and they had NO ONE to cover me. I drive school bus, so if no body - no bus. I rushed out and had to drive myself to urgent care, as my husband had just taken some medication and could not drive, but I hauled him along for moral support. And then we caught a TRAIN!! As I sat there with a bloody paper towel wrapped around my finger, and swore up a blue streak!!! Trying to keep my husband calm, helped me to be a little bit calmer. 6 MINUTES!! We sat and waited for the train, and it came to a complete stop, with 4 more cars 'til the end. MORE SWEARING!! All the Doctors, Urgent Care Clinics, and the Hospital are all on the other side of the tracks from me. We live on the "pretty side" going out of town to the mountains. The train finally finished and we rushed in, they had a triage nurse, help me remove the toweling, I had not even looked at it, I just knew it was bad! They got me right in, and I called work to update them, I arranged for one of the mechanics to bring my bus to the Jr. High for me to meet. The nurse helped me clean it up, and said I had held such good pressure on it, she could Super Glue it, instead of 3 or 4 stitches. The stitches would have been a 20 minute delay while numbing it, then a Doc had to come in, other wise she could do it. Any way they were wonderful and quick, I quickly dropped my husband home, and raced for the school, I made it with 2 minutes to spare. I drove with my left index finger in the air, and throbbing some thing fierce, but I made it through the afternoon. So... please everyone be CAREFUL!!