Showing posts with label So Happy Together. Show all posts
Showing posts with label So Happy Together. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Long Time, No See!

Remember those diamonds I made in March (here and here)? Well, this is what they are for. The last time I posted on this project was almost three years ago. Since then, it's been growing!

I have already written more than enough extensively on this project, and it went through many changes. But, the end is in sight and the plan has pretty much jelled. I started with these three cross stitch designs by Jim Shore:

They were stitched on raw linen aida instead of the perforated paper in the kit, and the plan was to stack them vertically and sew them into a long quilted banner. In 2012, the paper pieced borders were going very slowly, and the project got pushed aside.

Over a year ago I thought that a long, skinny banner didn't feel right to me. I decided to line them up horizontally instead, and add a couple of borders to make a wall quilt with some presence. The question was whether I had enough of the original fabrics:

The orange fabric was my main worry, because I knew I wanted it for My Country House too. Fortunately, I still had lots, and after searching high and low I was able to find all the other fabrics too.

So in January I easily finished up the last four of those green flying geese borders. My paper piecing is so much better now! I know it looked ok, but I have learned some things since then. The Quilt Show had a Carol Doak video available a year ago, which was very helpful. Also, the Judy Niemeyer instructions with Prairie Star had a surprising amount of good information, and improved my technique as well.

From the start the tricky part with this project was going to be joining the aida and the pieced sections. I used a narrow strip of dark green fabric to frame the cross stitch and transition to the quilt fabric. I carefully trimmed the aida and left a 4 thread seam allowance. Then I pinned the green strip to the front, and from the back I carefully (and slowly!) machine stitched four threads from the edge. Then I went back and stitched a second line three threads from the edge to anchor it:

By accident I found that if I lined up the pins along that fourth thread, it was easier to stay on course:

Then the last step was to trim the seam allowance down to one thread from the stitching:

So, it was a lot of slow, careful machine sewing, and I ended up taking a one month break in the middle, but I am happy with the result so far:

After I finished the hard part yesterday, I was excited to put it up on the wall and see how it looked with the second and third borders:

Why did that look wrong? It's just because I cut the light green second border oversized, I said to myself. Out came the tape measure. Argh! There's an extra diamond block in the top and bottom borders. How did I manage to make too many? I decided which two diamonds to eliminate and just pinned them under for now:

I'm going to applique some flowers in the light green second border. I spent the rest of the day yesterday auditioning fabrics and cutting out the appliques. That's when I really start to feel creative! After all that, I finally realized that the diamond side borders were wrong too! They should be one diamond longer, which accounts for the "extra" diamonds along the top and bottom. Argh again. That fix won't be quite so simple, and I'll have to juggle things around to keep it balanced.

But, the applique flowers are all figured out, so that will keep me busy for a while!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Diamond Economy

Somehow, a diamond economy sounds better than economy diamonds! Either way, I think it's better than square-in-a-square-in-a-square-in-a-square, lol.

Anyway, I finished these up this morning, and yesterday I finished the last eleven four patch diamonds. As I did the final trim, I found a little bit of serendipity:

An orange flower was centred perfectly in the block, completely by accident, not once, but twice!

So, I'm on a roll, and next time I plan to show you what it's all for.

Oh, and by the way, that extra pin in the seam that I mentioned last time made all the difference! The last batch was much more consistent. And, isn't it interesting how the blue sky outside made these photos bluer than the last post? The colours were more accurate last time.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Four Patch Diamonds

Here's another Monday preview! I need 28 of these 4" blocks, and I have 17 done. One more day should do it.

There are probably many ways to make this block, but to avoid higher mathematics I've been foundation paper piecing them. I started with some raggedy oversized four patch blocks, and home made paper foundations printed on translucent vellum:

Then I just lined up the seams with the centre cross, pinned it, trimmed it, and sewed through the paper to add the dark green corners.

It worked reasonably well, but I did find that the block tended to shift a bit when I sewed. You can see that with the blue one above. I loosened up the presser foot, which helped a lot. With the last batch I will also put an extra pin right in the cross seam and see if that helps too. In any case, they will do.

I've really enjoyed getting back into the rhythm of paper piecing. I find it very relaxing to not always be worrying about a perfect 1/4" seam, and my high speed machine makes quick work of the short stitches. I even like tearing off the paper! The crisp vellum comes off easily and doesn't leave any little bits in the seam. Hopefully nothing will come up tomorrow and I can get the rest done. Fingers crossed!

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!
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