Monday, February 1, 2016


I know it looks like I've done very little hand stitching since my summer break, but it's not true! It's just that most of my hand stitching time has gone into my English Paper Piecing project, Texas Star. I'll be glad to see the end of that one!

I've been dying to get back to some embroidery, so when Ann (Fret Not Yourself) mentioned that she and Cathy (Sane, Crazy, Crumby Quilting) are doing a Kaleidoscope of Butterflies link up this week, I immediately thought of this project, Down in the Garden by Leanne Beasley. (Click here to see all the posts on this project so far.) Last spring I finished the four birdhouse stitchery blocks, and the large centre panel is also stitched. Now I have the four watering can blocks to do. I finished the first one yesterday:

The big hold up on these has been the needleturn applique butterflies. You can see that I fussy cut the wings from a variety of Kaffe fabrics -- Roman Glass, Millefiore, and Paperweight. So that is a little trickier, but the main challenge has been the applique stitch. I want it to be invisible, and after some trial and error I settled on ladder stitch with 100 wt silk thread in light grey. I can't do more than one butterfly a day. And then I wonder if it's worth the effort, and that slows things down more. But, now that I look at it again, I do think it's worked well.

Once the applique is done, it's a relief to fill in the rest of the stitching:

In some light it seems to me that the Tsukineko ink that I used to paint in the design is starting to fade. I don't mind, because I do want the stitching to stand out. But as I write this, I'm thinking that maybe it's just the white fibres in the Kona PFD fabric that are starting to get fuzzy while I stitch. I will say the fabric is really holding up well to stitching. I don't use a hoop, and it hasn't puckered at all.

Who knows? If the butterfly link up continues, I may get the next three blocks done too! Two butterflies per block. In the meantime, you can see a whole variety of butterflies in the Kaleidoscope of Butterflies right here. Gotta love that name!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Picnic Flimsy

The Ad Hoc Improv Quilters link up is on again! Like Audrey, this week I have been diligently sewing the improv quilt I started in November. I finished the flimsy today!

At about 86" x 93" (218 x 236 cm), the darn thing queen size quilt is too big to photograph in one piece. This is almost all of the centre:

Modern Utility Quilt #1, "Picnic"

And this is the border fabric I chose:

The white dots are 1" (2.5 cm). I was thrilled to find something that matched the colour and scale of the blocks so well! The fabric is a Riley Blake wide back, which conveniently let me cut the borders in one piece. And it will conveniently be the back, too. After much thought, I decided that the most forgiving way to cut and sew the border would be to have about 3/4 of a dot showing on the inside and outside edges.

Since the quilt is "improv," I was unsure if I should sew the blocks with matched corners. At first I thought I wouldn't worry about it. But then I decided that I would quilt it myself on my home machine. So I thought it would be better to match the corners, spin the seam allowances on the back, and reduce the bulk in the corners.

In December I finally bought Sujata Shah's book Cultural Fusion Quilts. This quilt is inspired by the "Windmills" quilt in that book, although I see now there are quite a few differences in mine. But, Shah also matches the corners on her blocks!

I know most of my regular readers bought the book long before me, but if you haven't, you should! It is excellent, and I have more projects planned that are inspired by Shah's techniques.
So, this is my first improv flimsy, and my first bed-sized flimsy! To read all past and future posts about this quilt, please click here.

I do plan to quilt it myself, but I have many others to get through first, so it likely won't be until the fall. After my big "scope creep" insight during Allietare, I've simplified my plans for the improv letters that I made last fall. At some point I'll get back to those, and I have a couple more ideas that I'd like to get started. Right now, though, I am quilting Mod Trips, and then I really will finish Allietare.

In the meantime, check out all the other great posts at the AHIQ link up here. I highly recommend Cathy Perlmutter's post, which you can read here. If you are wondering how to get started with improv, Cathy will get you going! Or at least, laughing. :D

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