Saturday, November 30, 2013

BFF Month 2.2 Stitching

Here, finally, is the next instalment of the Month 2 stitching on Best Friends Forever:

I did a lot of experimenting on the big hearts here before I hit upon a stitch that looked the way I wanted it to. I wanted a lot of texture so the hearts would stand out even though I was using a light colour.

When I'm "shopping" for a new stitch, I always come back to Country Bumpkin's A - Z of Embroidery Stitches, vols. 1 & 2:

These are probably the most used books on my bookshelf. They are spiral bound inside the cover, so they lie flat, and the detailed photographs are excellent.

Twisted chain stitch turned out to be perfect for this design. It works up quickly, and I found it to be very forgiving -- it creates a fairly straight line even when your stitches aren't! It's worked on both sides of the line...

...and can also be used for applique.

For the flowers I stuck with the stitches I've been using since Month 1:

The petals and leaves are done in back stitch with four strands of floss, the flower centres are tiny chain stitch, and the stems are stem stitch, naturally!

Regular readers may be wondering what happened to the apple tree from Month 2? After much procrastination it is now well under way! Here's another preview:

In the long run I think the padded satin stitch will prove to be a bad choice here, because I'm sure it will catch on something. But I'm committed now! Hopefully the whole tree will be done soon. ;)

In the mean time, happy stitching!

Saturday, November 23, 2013


I have been writing this post in my head for two years, but now that it is finally time to write it for real I've forgotten what I meant to say! In any case, it is two years since I started this blog, almost two years since I started this quilt, and well over 30 years since I started starting quilts, and this is the first one to make it all the way to the end. 100% finished!

Nine Patch Jubilee, 54" x 66"

The sun was not co-operating today, but it was too cold to stand out there for long! I made one attempt to style the quilt before I hurried back inside:

Yes, that is a small dusting of snow around the garden pagoda.

I named the quilt Nine Patch Jubilee because the filler squares and the backing are from the Jubilee Garden collection by Connecting Threads, which they had a couple of years ago. And it seemed right to celebrate my first finished quilt.

With the red and white colour scheme, it felt appropriate to do the label in redwork too:

The quilt is machine quilted (yes, by me) in channels the length of the quilt, 1/4" on either side of each square in the nine patch block, and carried through the solid squares. The binding is machine sewn to the front and hand stitched down on the back. I miscalculated the width of the binding, so it is a little wide on the back, but I think that's fine.

I also tried out a sewn mitre technique for the corners of the binding that I saw Ricky Tims demonstrate on The Quilt Show. It uses this tool from Animas Quilts:

There is a video demonstration of how to use it here. Two of my corners came out perfectly...

...and two did not, lol. But the problem was that I had miscalculated the width of the binding, so the corner didn't hit in the right place. Those corners are a little wrinkly, but again, everything can't be perfect on the first quilt. I have concluded that I do like the tool, and I will continue to use it on large projects. The big advantage for me is that you only have to sew the binding on one edge at a time, so each length of binding is more manageable, and I can take a break after each long seam.

So, yay! And, whew!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Recent Photos

My plan tonight was just to update the Texas Star Ticker in the right sidebar, which you can see is now up to Number 120. But I found two weeks of photos on my camera which provide an interesting (I hope) cross section of what I've been working on, so I thought I'd share a few.

Do you ever see inspiring quilt or stitching ideas on tv? I take photos! I hit pause, turn off the flash on my camera, and they come out pretty well. (Yes, I understand that this makes me a total fibre nerd.)

This still photo is from the tv drama Betrayal, on ABC in the U.S. and on City here in Canada. If you've been watching, you know it is about an affair between two married people, Sarah and Jack. The quilt is an interesting prop here. In the scene Sarah is sleeping in her studio after her husband has discovered the affair and kicked her out of their apartment. To me, the use of the quilt implies that by leaving her marriage Sarah has returned to a more wholesome way of life. Throughout the series, so far, there's been the suggestion that the affair is somehow more moral than their two marriages, his to a corrupt developer's daughter and hers to an ambitious prosecutor who's using her to forward his career. It will be interesting to see how it ends!

The other still is much less deep:

I think this is a Leapfrog commercial. But look at those cool drapes! They could be a stitching design, or a quilting design, or even an applique design. Plus, they remind me a lot of that Orla Kiely fabric and wallpaper design that has become an instant modern classic.

I found a bunch of poorly-lit photos of another new stitch that I'm using on Month 2 of Best Friends Forever:

I've been doing the hearts in twisted chain stitch, which I'm very pleased with, but more on that later.

Finally, I took some photos earlier today of the new background fabric that I bought for BFF:

Last time I showed you the solid light green background that was my first try. But I'm not sure if I like this either! It does tend to make the flower blocks look a little shady, doesn't it? I cropped the photo and tried a different angle to see if I liked it any better:

The blue looks very electric against the petals, which have a slightly grey undertone, and the olive leaves. It clashes, but just a little, and I'm starting to think I like that, the more I look at it. For a while now I've been trying to break away from "safe" colour schemes, but I'm not sure if this is the right way to do it. What do you all think?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

BFF Setting

So, there's kind of a long story behind the idea for my setting for Rosalie Quinlan's Best Friends Forever stitcheries. Feel free to scroll to the end to see the final plan, and if you wonder how I came up with that idea, you can come back to the top and I'll tell you now. :-)

In the summer of 2012 I had two new English Paper Piecing projects in mind -- Texas Star, which is now well under way, and Botanic Roses. Botanic Roses was a reworking of this old UFO that I started almost ten years ago:

This quilt design was on the cover of an old issue of Australian Patchwork & Quilting. Each block has 72 pieces! All are hand cut from templates and hand pieced. For me, the cutting was the worst part of that, but there was also a problem with the white-on-white background fabric, which was printed with gummy ink that was terrible for hand sewing. The quilt ground to a halt.

When I learned about English Paper Piecing, and I saw that you could buy these kite shapes precut, I wanted to revive the project, but with a more disciplined colour scheme. Botanic Roses was born. My idea was to interpret my favourite dishes as a quilt:

I thought this would be a good way to restrict the colour palette, but right from the start I had trouble showing all the detail in the rose. I just hated that clumsy hexagon in the middle of the block. I tried many variations:

I played with cutouts:

Finally I realized that the batik fabrics I bought for the project were too busy, and they would blend out all the tricky piecing, so that would just be a waste of time. The whole project went back on the shelf.

This summer, along came BFF, and I suddenly realized that the clumsy hexagon which gave me so much trouble on Botanic Roses, would be just right for the hexagon stitcheries:

It fits perfectly!

So, there you have it. Having seen the photos now, though, I am pretty sure that I will change the background from this pale green solid to something a little darker and with a slight pattern. I didn't want to detract from the blocks at all, but now I see that this doesn't do them justice. One of the threads I'm using is a cooler, jade green, and I'm thinking that may be a good background colour too. Now I have something to shop for again!

Ironically, some of the yellow fabrics that I bought for this quilt have the same gummy ink that set me back on the original version of this quilt almost ten years ago! I can't believe I made the same mistake again! Fortunately it is only here and there, so hopefully it will not be as bad.

And, Botanic Roses is still not dead, I have a new plan for that one too. But there is a fair bit to get done before that...

The Needle and Thread Network has not seen me in a while, so I am linking up with WIP Wednesday there. Happy stitching!

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