Showing posts with label Needleturn Applique. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Needleturn Applique. Show all posts

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Summer Projects

My big project this summer has been to get my 91 year old father to stop working, and more importantly, to stop driving before he killed someone. It has required heroic persistence and patience, but I am glad to say that we have succeeded! I think he has finally accepted that retirement is not that bad.

With all that going on, I have not done that much sewing this summer. Brinton Hall has made very good progress, and I'll show you that on Sunday. When I had machine time, I'd put together a block or two of Allietare. The bright Kaffe prints are really invigorating to work with:

I love the red blocks. I am less sure about the black star blocks:

I have been so tempted to sew a few together, just to see how the secondary pattern will come out. But I do want to lay out and balance the blocks properly when they're all done, so I've held off. I only have about 10 left, and then the fun will really start!

I am not sure now if I will do Bonnie Hunter's mystery again this year. I have a colour scheme in mind already, but I also have so many other projects that I really do want to finish, and some to start! So, we'll see.

My box of Kaffe fabrics has been getting a good work out with Brinton Hall. While the fabrics were out I also made one lonely butterfly for Down in the Garden:

This butterfly was going to be gold, and I had the wings fussy cut 18 months ago already. But, I lost one! The one thing that became crystal clear this summer is that I have too many things happening at the same time, and that is hurting my projects. I have made new resolutions --

  • Fewer current projects
  • No more BOMs
  • More original work

-- and we'll see how that pans out!

But in any case, this new pink butterfly matches the purple and pink/orange flowers in the block surprisingly well too:

And I still have all the wings for the second butterfly:

Then I can get back to some stitching and finish the block. I had a lot more stitching planned for this project, but I've changed my mind and decided to fill in with some extra pieced blocks instead. It's time to move on!

I bought a couple of those adult colouring books this summer, as part of my effort to get my Dad refocused on something positive. No luck! "Silly stuff," he said. He used to draw well, but maybe colour was never his strong suit. My Mom did this nice one, though:

It is totally different from how I would have done it, which is very interesting! And better, I think. I was very impressed with her turquoise and green roses. I have to see if I can use this colour scheme for a future project.

I coloured a couple too:


To me it seemed like a low-risk opportunity to try a more radical colour scheme. I've been obsessed with orange and green leaves lately. The one above is ok, but I like the second one better:

It seems like it could be a nice quilt, couldn't it? The round drawing is from Flower Mandalas by Thaneeya McArdle (New Design Originals, 2016), and the two square pages are from Magic of Flowers & Birds (Barron's).

There are two link ups on today. Please check out Ann and Cathy's Kaleidoscope of Butterflies right here. The brave Gwennie Medallion quilters are still at it too, right here. My medallion went to the basement at the end of June, and just came back up a couple of days ago. But, I've dealt with the road blocks on that one, and I hope to catch up over the next month. October 1 will be the final reveal, but I'll have updates before that.

Finally, for two days this summer we had a new lodger:

You can barely see the brown rabbit in the brown grass there. Hottest summer ever! This was right after a heavy rainfall, and the green comes back quickly. I was out checking the eavestroughs and foundations at the back of the house (still dry!). I turned around and he was right there, less than ten feet behind me. So still, he didn't even blink. Was he there the whole time? Hopefully he's moved somewhere safer now.

A week later I was taking the garbage out at dusk, and I noticed the neighbour had a new chimney. I looked again and there was not one, but two raccoons way up on the roof of the second level, with all four ears pointed straight at me! We are just grateful that they like the neighbours roof better than ours!

So, that is me mostly caught up now. As I said, Brinton Hall is well along and I'll post that on Sunday. I may need some advice...

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Gwennie Medallion Month 1

Wednesday June 1, 2016 - Five Days Ago

After keeping my head down so I could finish Tranquil on schedule, I decide to catch up with what's new in blogland. I've noticed these Gwennie Medallion badges popping up here and there.

What's that about? I found the answer here on Lori's blog, Humble Quilts. It's just a casual medallion quilt along, inspired by the many and varied quilts of Gwen Marston. Each month there will be a theme, and we can interpret the theme any way we want.

Lori's theme for the first month is Baskets. Hmmm... Baskets are like a Pavlovian thing for me. Should I do it? I have to dash into the city on an errand, and literally the last thing I see before closing my computer is Lori's encouragement to join in.
So, it's a gorgeous sunny day, and I'm driving down the 401, thinking about Gwen Marston's "style." I remembered this retrospective of her quilts at Plaid Portico recently. Lots of solids...

...and some wavy piecing. Gwen isn't afraid of brown, and what I like the most is the tremendous feeling of depth that she achieves with her colour choices and placement. My theory is that I can get the same result with careful contrasts between light and dark, warm and cool, bright and drab.

And there's plenty of applique in Gwen's history, so I'll want some of that.

Back on the freeway, I get in lane to take the Don Valley Parkway south, but the exit is backed up for almost a mile, which is worse than the usual slowdown. I decide to take Leslie instead, but I am not the only one with that idea either.

But, the weather is perfect, the windows are open, and the radio is on.

The DJ comes on and rather sheepishly jokes that since June 1 is National Olive Day, we should collect as many different kinds of olive as possible, and eat olive it. Slow news day!

It turns out that Leslie is also down to one lane, thanks to a storm drain cleaning crew. But after that the road opens up, and I have a very helpful meeting. On the way home, I am still designing my basket block in my head. My liberated basket block. So, I don't think I should worry too much about matching the corners. And maybe play with perspective a little...

Now, what about the applique? I have so many flowery projects already. I've always wanted to do a project with willow leaves...

Well...what about olives? Olives have willowy leaves. Black olives would be a break from the usual quilty red berries. Could it work?

Thursday June 2, 2016

Luckily, I have all day to work on this project. The wavy background comes together easily, and somehow the basket goes in with hardly a break in the lines. The handle is easy to draw on some freezer paper, ironed right on the block, and then transferred to the handle fabric and cut out. So, that all went quickly.

Gwen encourages making your own applique templates. so I do a Google image search on "olive branch," With the search results open in front of me, I sketch a few different olive leaves, a couple of olives, and make templates. (Ignore the flower for now!)

I notice that olives have thin, whippy stems. So, I make a bunch of 1/4" stems, and cut out way too many olive green leaves. My plan is to design the applique right on the block.

TWO HOURS of fiddling around, many awkward, stiff layouts, and I finally think of winding the branch around the basket handle. Aha, that seems to be working! I take a photo to see how it looks.

On the small screen on the back of my camera, it looks terrible. Argh! All day, and it's a dead end. Olives are stupid. I decide to put just a single red flower on the handle and call it a day. (That flower above.)

Friday, June 3, 2016

It's a busy day, but I do download the photos from my camera to the computer. Really, I think the problem is that the dark green leaves don't show against the brown basket. And I like the line. I won't give up on it yet.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Back to the stash for some lighter green. How light? Well, it turns out that it needs to be very light, and the leaves on the blue background need to stay quite dark. And somehow, that works.

Two days of rather rough and ready applique (speed over quality), and the block is done!

It's over 17" now, but I'll probably trim it down to 16" finished for the next round.

Once again, the timing worked out, and it was nice to run with inspiration when it struck. I think it was lucky that I only had a week, instead of a whole month, because the tight deadline sharpened my focus. And most of all, I'm glad I didn't give up!

Check out what everyone else made in the link up here, tomorrow. I wonder what the next theme will be? Although seriously, I really have to finish Hen Party. Now, where did I put it?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

March Butterflies

The Kaleidoscope of Butterflies continues this month, and I've been stitching all weekend to get my next butterfly block done.

I'm glad this link up came along! I've been feeling a paralyzing amount of angst about the fabric choices for this project. But, these stitched sections are all decided, so I can do them now, and worry about the rest later. And I have a feeling that once these are done, and I can put everything up on the wall together, it will be easy to see what's next. Or at least, easier.
This is Block 2 of Leanne Beasley's stitchery quilt, Down in the Garden:

There was a lot of stitching on this one! And most of it yellow and gold. I seem to be on a yellow theme right now. But, given that this is the scene outside today...

 ...I think it balances out. No real life butterflies here! A spring green needleturn butterfly will have to be enough for now:

For more kaleidoscopes and butterflies, check out the Kaleidoscope of Butterflies link up, right here.

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!

Monday, March 30, 2015

MCH Month 3 Finished

Probably for the first time ever, I have finished a block in the same month that it was released! This is Month 3 of Lynette Anderson's 2015 BOM, My Country House. Of course it helps that it was the easiest month so far, and I simplified it further:

Instead of piecing the heart, I just fussy cut it whole from the same red fabric that I used for the house door in Month 1.

I've had the stems sewn down for over two weeks, but then I waffled quite a bit about how to sew down the hexie flowers. Click the photo to see it larger:

I pieced the flowers with 100 wt silk thread, which is completely invisible. But it felt wrong to use the same invisible thread to applique them down. So I had three options:

  1. Sew down the flowers invisibly with the 100 wt silk.
  2. Use cotton thread for the applique, same as the stems and heart. But, should I then change colours for the coral and orange hexagons?
  3. Use perle cotton and a running stitch for the applique, same as I did for Jacks and Cats. But what colour should that be? Yellow, orange, coral, or even black?

I do not believe that an invisible applique stitch is the only right way to applique. Rather, I think it depends on the type of project and how it will be used. In this case there will be a lot of wool applique, which I like to whip stitch down with a single thread of embroidery floss. And I appliqued the stems with cotton and a regular, visible applique stitch, so they would relate to the leaves.

Finally I chose to use pink perle cotton and a running stitch to applique the flowers. I had some size 8 perle cotton in my stash, so I used that, but ideally I think a narrower size 12 would be better. I think the pink blends well with the coral and orange, and it will look nice as a big stitch quilted detail on the heart, once I get that far.

I also waffled about whether to stitch the vein on the leaves, because that is a big commitment for the 48 leaves still to do in Month 2. But, since I went with the perle cotton on the flowers, I decided it would be a nice touch for the leaves. Fortunately, I had the perfect colour in my stash! It is also size 8, DMC 580 perle cotton, and back stitch. And it didn't take long at all.

At 3/4 scale, I was just able to squeeze the 40.5" block into one width of fabric. I still need to finish the trees on Month 1, and then I'm going to move ahead to all the pieced blocks. There's a postage stamp border between Month 1 and Month 2, and I have the idea that it will be more efficient to make the stamps from the leftovers of the pieced blocks. I'm not sure it really is efficient, but I will try!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Planning the Basket Quilt

I am thrilled with how these big prints* are working with the little baskets so far! And I am realizing that the whole quilt will be fussy cut...even the backgrounds!

It just doesn't seem right to leave the large background prints to chance, when the baskets are so carefully composed. The dotted fabric above, and the zig zag below, are all scissors-cut. It's not actually that bad. Easier than trying to line up the rotary cutter, I decided.

The quilt will not be particularly scrappy. I have four background fabrics in the "dove" colourway -- the dots, zig zags, some butterflies and stylized flowers. I also have four main basket colours -- green, turquoise, orange and pink. Since everything is already so structured, I've decided to use a consistent formula matching up the baskets and backgrounds. All the zig zags will have green baskets, and all the dots will have turquoise baskets (although the fabrics themselves have a lot of variation).

I expect that this will make the final layout a breeze. Plus, it will reduce decision paralysis along the way, while making it easier to keep track of where I am. Especially since I don't have a permanent design wall.

So, 8 down, either 171 or 305 to go!

*Note that the green bamboo fabric is my stock, photo-background fabric, not part of the block. It's so useful for photos that I may never put it in a quilt!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Starting the Baskets

As I hinted last time, you can see that I went in a completely different direction on my new project, Trick or Treat, designed by Barb Adams. For now I will just be calling it my baskets quilt.

I started out looking online at reproduction shirtings, and somehow I ended up on Hawthorne Threads (my new favourite fabric website), looking at Heather Bailey's True Colors collection. I've had a green and grey colour scheme on my mind for over a year now, and this time it clicked. So I clicked too, and bought mostly this collection and a couple of other fabrics here and there to fill it in.

I know some of y'all are looking at this with doubt in your heart, wondering if the whole thing is going to be too busy for words. I feel that doubt too, but I also have a really good feeling about the project, so it will be interesting to see how it develops!

I do like how some of the baskets, like the top one, will be clearly outlined, while others, like the second one, will blend a little into the background. Because there is such strong repetition in the pattern, I think this will give an added dimension to the final result. Hopefully!

The original pattern had a diamond cut out in the body of the basket. The diamond would be lost in the large prints on my fabrics, so I left that out. The pattern also has the basket handle and body cut separately, but I joined them in one template to preserve the continuity of the fabric design as much as possible.

I thought about different applique techniques, and even cut out a bunch of freezer paper templates, but in the end I went with one template plastic template, and regular needleturn applique. Template plastic lets me position the template on the fabric to the best advantage.

I was hoping to stitch the project with cotton thread, but when I searched through all my different thread boxes, this Kimono 100wt silk thread was the only one in the right colour. So that's what I used, and it's completely invisible, so I think I am committed to it now. It is a bit of nuisance to work with, but, you can't argue with the result!

Previously I've stitched this silk thread with a #9 applique needle, but I found these longer #10 sharps from Clover, and they are working very well too. They are not as long as a milliner's needle, which I find awkward sometimes, but are still long enough to smooth out the seam allowances when needed. I'm sure I've said before how much I love Clover needles -- they are so sharp and smooth that you hardly feel them go through the fabric.

The whole queen-size quilt calls for 313 of these 5" blocks. I am already considering a large lap quilt instead, which would still be 179 blocks. I have enough fabric either way, so I'll see how it goes!

And, I'm linking up again with WIP Wednesday at The Needle and Thread Network.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

New Plan for the Hexagons

Remember this?

We all had a debate back in June about the half hexagons along the sides. I finally decided to take out the ones in the corners, but leave the rest. They were not easy to remove, which reassures me that the whole thing will be very sturdy!

My plan at the time was to put this panel in the centre of an appliqued border from Lori Smith's book, Fat Quarter Quilting. This is the quilt I had in mind:

Part of the delay, though, has been that while I really like the idea of the vines and birds, I don't love the flowers themselves. This month I started to play around with something that I might like better, and this is what I came up with:

This is just a little sketch on a 4" x 6" notepad. I have found that it is much easier to make a small sketch, and then enlarge it all later. Also, with these notepads the paper is thin enough that you can put a previous sketch underneath and trace the parts you like and revise the rest. I went through three iterations on this with very little fuss. I did the same thing when I made the template for the flowers.

I thought quite a bit about making the flowers in the borders from hexagons too. I figured that using hexagons that were half the size of the ones in the centre panel would be the right scale. Those hexagons are 3/4", so the flower hexagons would be 3/8". I actually like the challenge of using the small pieces, but when I auditioned some hexagons beside the centre panel, it all felt too stiff. It's just too much, and I like the contrast between the symmetrical hexagon centre and the looser, "fluffier" round-petaled flowers better. I don't have a photo of that, unfortunately. You will have to take my word for it!

Tomorrow I'll show you my debate about the background fabric.
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