Monday, July 23, 2012

Banner Corners and Borders

As I mentioned yesterday, I finally realized in April that I had to simplify the design for my banner, because I still wanted the stitcheries themselves to be the focal point.  These little 2" finished square-in-a-square blocks were an idea that I had rejected early on.  But when I looked at the stitcheries I realized that the designer Jim Shore had put different blocks in each corner of his borders, so I could make my blocks more interesting by varying the colours!  I went to my stash and pulled the fabrics to match the stitching.

I mentioned a few days ago that I planned right from the beginning to use Flying Geese around the sides of the stitcheries.  I also planned all along to do them in green and yellow, echoing the colours of the top border which are consistent on all three pieces:

But during my final design phase in April I worried that green and yellow would be too high contrast, too busy, and therefore distract from the stitcheries.  I went to my stash looking for two shades of green instead, and found these:

I really, really love this fabric combination!  The small print against the big one, the slightly warmer geese versus the cooler background, the geese are defined without being "in your face."  These sections will finish at 2" x 6" each. I am foundation paper piecing them, which I did for the corners as well, using my own home made foundations copied onto vellum.  They are quite slow to sew, but at least the points are perfect!  There will be 10 in all.  Here's a preview of how it will all look together:

Imagine if I had gone ahead with those stumpwork daisies!  This is so much better.

I took advantage of a break in the humidity last week to piece these side sections, but I still have six left, so I think it will still be a while before this is finished.  I have found, though, that I stay cooler working on something small like this, rather than trying to manage large pieces of fabric and long seams.

There will also be a little bit of needleturn applique in the triangle at the bottom.  Hopefully I'll be able to show you that soon!

Previous Posts:

Percy Pig

Sophie Sheep

Clarissa Cow

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Clarissa Cow

You saw yesterday that Sophie had a nice quilt on her back.  Clarissa's blanket also features a great quilt block:

I think the colours stand out beautifully against her black and white cowhide!

Quilt blocks are featured throughout these designs, in the blankets and also in the upper corners, so sewing them into a quilted banner seems like a natural evolution.  My first plan was to put a solid fabric border around them, with just enough quilting to hold it all together.  Then last summer both my quilt guilds were sending out reminders for us to submit our quilts for their shows in the fall.  Wouldn't it be nice, I thought, to put some fancy pieced borders on these cross stitches (the last one, Clarissa here, was almost done), and enter them into the show(s)?  Well, I missed the entry deadline, and it is probably just as well, because the shows are long over and I am still not done!

That "fancy pieced border" turned out to be quite a sticking point.  Once I had the idea I couldn't give it up and go back to the original simple plan.  I came up with the idea to put 1" x 2" Flying Geese around the sides almost right away, and that part has stuck.  But the big question has been what to do in the corners.  The plan got more and more elaborate!  First I thought about tiny pinwheels.  Then I was obsessed with daisies.  Maybe I could design a little cross stitch daisy for the point at the end?  What about thread painting it?  Maybe I could fussy cut some daisy fabric?  At one point I thought I would do stumpwork daisies in the corners.  Thank goodness I backed away from that!

Finally in April I went back and pulled out the actual stitcheries again for inspiration.  This seems more reasonable:

Stay tuned!

Previous Posts:

Percy Pig

Sophie Sheep

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Sophie Sheep

There were a heck of a lot of beads on Sophie!  I was surprised by how long they took.  But they give her a nice curly-looking coat.  The beads look great in the flowers and vines in the borders, too:

Once I had decided that I wanted to use fabric instead of the perforated paper that comes with the kits, I knew that I would still prefer aida over an evenweave for these projects.  The beads are heavy, so I wanted a fabric that could hold them.  The cross stitches are also done with three strands, which gives them a nice full look on the 14 count fabric.  At first I looked for a fabric that would match the colours of the perforated papers, which were in pastels.  But when I saw this natural linen aida at Nordic Needle, I was sold!  I love the traditional look of natural linen, and I think it complements the folksy designs, while the darker colour provides good contrast to the bright threads and beads.  Nordic Needle still sells it.

You can see that Sophie stands out quite nicely from the darker neutral of the background:

And I love the little basket block on the quilt on her back.  Stay tuned, the tale continues tomorrow!

Previous post:

Percy Pig

Friday, July 20, 2012

Percy Pig

That's a pretty gorgeous little blanket for a pig, right?  It belongs to this guy:

This is one of three farm animal designs in cross stitch and beading that Jim Shore did for Mill Hill a while ago.  You may still be able to find them.  Jim Shore did a whole bunch of fun designs for Mill Hill, which I immediately loved, but waffled about for quite a while.

Like most Mill Hill kits, these came with 14 count perforated paper, and are designed to fit into a 6" square frame (which is also available).  They are fun and easy projects, but the question soon becomes what to do with them all?  I think that in general, this is a big issue for stitchers.  No matter how elegant the designs may be, once you start littering your walls with a bunch of tiny pictures you have lost any claim to good interior design.  I usually handle this by grouping together smaller pictures into sets - those Lanarte butterflies, for example, are hung stacked vertically over a bedside table.

These designs, though, I felt were more seasonal, and just in a grey area near too whimsical, so not something I wanted to hang permanently.  So I didn't buy them.  Then one day it occured to me that I could stitch them on fabric instead, and sew them together into a quilted banner.  For me it was one of those Eureka moments!  That was almost two years ago now.  So yes, this is another UFO.

Tune in tomorrow for the continuing saga!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Another Dead End on Sedona Star

There are now some 800 quilt blogs that claim to have taken the "process pledge," where they commit to showing their works in process and occasional failures as well as completed quilts.  Are they all doing that?  I'm not sure, I haven't surveyed them all.  But I doubt it.  I am not even sure that people want to read all that.

But, loyal readers, you all know that I am now about 20 posts in on Sedona Star, and it has been all process and no completion, so I should probably add my blog to that list!  Today I have yet another dead end to share on Sedona Star:

These are some 1.25" practice dots (from Months 1 and 2) that I set up a while ago to practice my machine satin stitch.  Then back in May I thought it would be a great idea to do all the seam treatments by hand in chunky perle cottons.  This is the result.  Not what I was hoping for at all!

The dot on the left was embellished with #5 perle cotton, and the one on the right used #8.  The purpose of the experiment was to try out the template I made to mark out the star shape in the embroidery.  You can still see the white pencil dots.  But, I learned right away that it is impossible to get the needle threaded with the #5 perle through the fusible-backed applique!

I was just able to sew the #8 through the fusible, but it put a lot of strain on my hands.  And frankly, I am not happy with the result.  I could monkey around with the fusible and cut away the centres before I fuse them to the fabric so that only the edges are fused, but I just don't think it will be worth it.  The edges of the applique still show through the perle embroidery, and I really don't like that.

At one point I had considered combining machine and hand embroidery, but now I think I'll just stick with machine satin stitch on all the applique and leave it at that.  And the hand quilting plan is out the window too.

So for now, this really is the last Sedona Star post until the air conditioning gets turned off in the fall.  Now that all the indecision is (hopefully) behind me, I'm hoping that the months will fall like dominos once I get started again.  Fingers crossed!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Cottage Garden Progress

When I woke up this morning my left hip was extremely stiff and sore.  Why, I wondered?  I soon learned that it was from all my embroidery yesterday!  Especially the bullions.  I have been keeping a good grip on all the wraps as I do them, and it seems my whole left side has been involved in the process!  Today I managed to finish the two bottom roses, and now I've had to put it away for the day. But I think it's looking good:

Yesterday, in addition to all my practice bullions, I finished the purple hollyhocks behind the rose bush, placed the centres of the rose bush, added a few more rosettes to the tree, an extra leaf to the hydrangea, and another row of white cyclamen below the tree to bring the lower margin in line.  They still need a few leaves.  I am going to leave a bigger gap between the hydrangea and the rose bush than the pattern calls for, because I don't want to have any of the more fragile stitches like rosettes or bullions on the fold line.

The purple hollyhocks are a rosette stitch/French knot combination...

...while the other hollyhocks were all done in blanket stitch pinwheels:

I'm also going to invent some different flowers to fill in the rest of the right side.  The plan is to try marigolds behind the white cyclamen, and some black-eyed Susans beside them.  Then the whole bottom is underlined with French knot "alyssum," and the outside is done!

The inside is made from a nice pink gingham, with small bullion roses in the centre of the inside front and back.  It's a needlebook, by the way!  I'm going to use it to keep all these loose needles that come with the kits.

The thing that has made the biggest difference for me, compared to the trouble I had before, was taking the project out of the hoop.  It is so much easier to turn the work, and use the left hand as well as the right to manage the thread.  I can't believe how much faster it has been.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Bullion Rose Practice

Cynthia Gilbreth has been doing the cutest project with a ton of bullions, so I have been feeling for a while now that it is time for me to master this stitch!  I have always felt that it was the most impressive, and most intimidating stitch.  I have done them in the past, but if they turned out it always felt more like a strange fluke than something I had any control over.

This week I've been practicing them again, and today I finally got it all together into a reasonable rose:

My first one!  You can see that the very last bullion came unwrapped a bit at 12 o'clock, but overall I am very pleased with it (and myself!).  So I finally felt empowered enough to get back into my Cottage Garden UFO, which is a design by Kris Richards from Inspirations 53.  This is how it looked at the beginning of this year:

This has been a UFO for several years, because I ran into some problems and couldn't think how to fix them.  I freehand copied the design in pencil directly onto the fabric, and you can see that the bottom edge slants up to the right.  The pencil also rubbed off as I worked, so I was going to have to redraw the rose bush that goes in the space there beside the hydrangea.  You can see it in the original from the magazine:

I was stressing about that rose bush, partially because of the bullions, but also because the design seemed weird to me.  There are purple hollyhocks woven between the roses, and I just didn't like it.  I wanted a little more definition between the foreground and the background.  The pink daisies in the lower left corner had the same issue.  I decided to move the hollyhocks to the back, the roses to the front, and remove the pink daisies entirely.

I had already decided in February to redo the orange daisies as well, which I had made too small.  I did the rosette stitches in the tree back then too.  So this is how it looked this morning:

I have made tons of progress since then, which hopefully I'll show you tomorrow!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Debbie Bliss Paisley Sweater Errata

I have been knitting up a storm:

This is all brand new knitting since the last post.  I started over from the beginning.  Now there are two complete reps of the zig zag panel, and there are exactly four in the piece, so I am halfway.

I am pretty sure there was an error in the instructions for the top of the paisley motif.  The instructions for Row 45 read "P5, C3FP, C2BP, p15."  They should read "P6, C2FP, C2BP, p15."  That's what I did, and this is how it looks:

If you followed the printed instructions you would start the cable too soon, and it wouldn't finish to a clean point.

I think I saw this pattern republished in a Debbie Bliss magazine, and I don't know if they fixed the error in that.

It is a pet peeve of mine that Debbie Bliss never provides charts for her cables or lace.  If she had, this error would have been avoided!

This week I also upgraded to the new Corel Paintshop Pro X4 photo software.  I am finding it easier to use than the X3, and much less buggy.  Plus, the manuals that come with it are better, so I finally figured out how to use the text tool properly.  You will be seeing labels on my photos from now on!  It is a good deal for $40.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sewing Machine Holiday

Happy Canada Day!  It's July 1st, and it seems like everyone is going on holiday.  It's made me think that I need to take a break too.  I'll still be blogging, but I am going to give my sewing machine a rest.  My sewing area is in one of the warmest parts of the house, so I am going to focus on unplugged crafts for the next while.

I'm looking forward to it!  I'd like to spend some more time on embroidery, for one thing.  I want to finish Cottage Garden, and I have a few other Inspirations kits in my stash to keep me going.  And it would be great to put the last stitches in my cross stitch projects Celtic Spring and Juin, plus I have another really old cross stitch UFO that I am keen to finish.  And now I have a new knitting project too!

I will be glad to take a breather on Sedona Star.  I think that taking a clear break for a few weeks will make me keen to get started again.

Realistically, it will be at least six weeks before a real north wind blows again, and maybe a lot longer.  A change is as good as a break, they say, so I am going to make the most of it!

Sunday Morning Quilts

I know, I couldn't resist, I had to post this review on Sunday morning!  I've been sitting on this book, Sunday Morning Quilts, by Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkison (C&T Publishing, 2012), for a couple of months now, because I couldn't think of the right thing to say about it.

One of the subheadings on the cover is "16 Modern Scrap Projects," and I've been really hung up on the word "modern."  Or is that "Modern," with a capital "M"?  But you know, a) that stuff doesn't really matter, and b) that's not really what this book is about.  Well, ok, there are 10 pages about what defines a modern quilt, but let's just ignore those for now and go straight to the quilts themselves.

There are a lot of fun, bright quilts in this book, but the word I like best to describe many of them is innovative.

There isn't a half square triangle anywhere in the book.  There IS a lot of out-of-the-box thinking, like the Gumdrops quilt above with it's simple raw-edged applique and strip assembly.  Or the Ticker Tape quilt below, where the applique and quilting are done in the same step.

For me, that is the paradox with this whole "modern quilt" issue.  On the one hand, there are a lot of interesting quilts with new ideas - out of the box - and on the other hand there's 10 pages of definitions, which are just creating a new box.  Personally, I hate boxes, and I certainly don't see any reason for them in quiltmaking.

To duplicate the look of these quilts you do need to have a fairly large stash of modern (there's that word again) fabrics, by which I mean solids or simple, graphic prints in clear colours.  But there is no reason that you couldn't use the techniques with any fabrics you have at hand.  I think the results could be quite interesting!

There's a good section about storing fabrics, especially scraps, with ideas about how to categorize and organize them.  And the machine quilting ideas are very accessible.

These are not heirloom quilts, they are quilts that are meant to be used.  I think that is the idea behind the title, although they never specifically say.  If you leave aside the angst about what's modern and what's not, and skip straight to the quilts, there's lots to see and lots to try in this book.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...