Friday, January 28, 2011

Start of a gecko design

Since I have no sewing machine and I'm still sewing the binding on the heart quilt, I thought I would share my next design with you.

Preamble to the design - Last September I was down in Hastings at the Blossom Festival with the Caribbeanz Southern Stars Steelband. That's me in the back right in the black tshirt and sunglasses. I should add musician to my description about me! This was the second year that we've been invited to play at this festival and we have already been invited for next year, which is a BIG deal as the rugby world cup is on and we have tickets to the game down there.

Isn't the covering on the bandstand fantastic. It would make a lovely quilting pattern.

When we go to Hastings, we stay at the Omahu Marae. This is the wharenui (Maori meeting house and also where we slept). I love the kowhaiwhai patterns on the beams.

My design was inspired by some paintings in the wharekai (which I forgot to photograph). The one that inspired me was a very simple gecko shape. I thought it would be great to put that together with a kowhaiwhai pattern and make another ghost layer quilt. I went for a simple koru design. Put two simple designs together and this is what ended up in my sketchbook.

I'm in the process of transferring this design to freezer paper - and making all the legs and feet in proportion with the body! I'm not sure what to do about the feet. Real gecko feet are sort of tear drop shaped. Graphic images of geckos tend to have little circles for toes. Whatever I do, I'm going to fuse the foot part since the shape is too fussy for my piecing method.

I haven't decided on colours yet but it may only have four fabrics, light and dark for the background and light and dark for the gecko. Then again, I may do my usual and have about 40 fabrics in it!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I've moved!

I've moved and I'm back in communication with the world, or more specifically, the corner of the world where my daughter lives. She only checks my blog about 10 times a day! I think someone misses their mummy. :P

This is the view from my deck. As you can see it is a bit wild over the wall and probably full of rodents.  My neighbour feeds seven stray cats so I'm hoping they keep the vermin population down. One of the cats walked past as I took this photo.

It's a lovely place to sit and sew the binding on a quilt.

And this is just to make you smile. Look at the coffee I was served yesterday! haha

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Be right back - in a week

My sewing machine is packed and I'm ready to move house tomorrow. I think the sewing machine is going to have a little holiday with the sewing machine mechanic when I move. I may as well use the time when I'm busy with other things to get an overhaul. Also, since I leave everything to the last minute, my broadband is getting connected on Wednesday so I won't be able to check in until then. That means lots of lovely blogging to read when I get back online!

So I'm off to pack, move, unpack and perhaps get on with my hand sewing. Oh, and there is just the little matter of preparing for school.  I think I go back to work on the 1st Feb.  I haven't even seen my timetable!  I'm going to show up on that day anyway and see if there is anyone to teach!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pebbles and swirls

I've quilted a bit more of the dragonfly quilt. My first attempt at pebbles...

And this is based on a design I saw on Leah Day's blog, Poseidon's Eye. I wanted something that looked like eddies in the air from the dragonfly's wings.

You can maybe see the pattern a little better on the back. There is a definite circle theme in this quilt.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

For Melanie

My poor Mel is not feeling well and she is a long way from home so I can't give her a hug - so I'm showing her my quilting instead.

And the back. How do you like the backing fabric? I thought the circles were a nice touch. Maybe I should do a whole cloth quilt one day. I love the back of quilts.

And a note for Melanie, a casual email from your hospital bed is not going to stop me worrying. Worrying is my job! I'm sure all the mums out there would agree with me. Get well soon pet.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Making great circles

I added another border to this dragonfly. It needed more punch and I think this has certainly delivered punch! I made up blocks with random sizes and sections of circles. Then I put four blocks together for each side, put one strip on top of another and cut through them with my rotary cutter in a wavy line. Then I swapped sections and put them back together, just to break up the colour even more.

Here are some instructions for making perfect circles.

You will need:
  • freezer paper
  • compass
  • glue stick
  • 'No More Pins' or 'No Sew' glue
  • 2 squares of fabric
  • the usual sewing tools

Cut out a square of freezer paper the size of your block. Find the middle by drawing in the diagonals. Draw a circle of desired radius. Cut out the circle and iron the freezer paper on to the back of the outside fabric. Cut out the middle of the fabric leaving a good 7-10mm seam allowance. Clip the inside edge of the circle but don't go right to the paper. Stop about 2-3mm from the edge. Put a good smear of glue on the paper side of the freezer paper, all round the edge of the circle. Fold the clipped edge around the paper and stick it to the glue. Try to get the fold butted up against the paper. Press well from the right side.

Still working with the outside fabric, run a thin line of the 'No More Pins' glue around the wrong side of the edge of the circle. Make sure that it is a continuous line and as close to the edge as possible. Practice on the scrap you cut out of the middle until you can get an even flow from the bottle. Place on top of the circle fabric and press with your fingers. Do this on the table and not the ironing board. You need a firm surface.

Leave to dry for about 10 minutes then carefully peel the fabric off the paper just to the edge of the circle.

Remember the paper is glued to the clipped part with glue stick so you don't want to pull on those bits. Also, you don't want to leave it too long from the time you glue the clips down until this stage otherwise the paper really sticks well to the fabric. Tear the paper and ease the paper off the clipped area starting from the middle. Save the freezer paper so that you can trim the block to the correct size.

Once the paper is off, put a few pins in across the folded edge.

I have tried the sewing stage with a zipper foot and an ordinary foot. The zipper foot with the needle on the left seems like the logical choice since the fabric is flat on the right and all bunched up on the left. But I found that ordinary foot made a better job. Use the line in the middle of the foot to line the needle up on the fold. You have to sew slowly and stop frequently to flatten out the fabric on the left (as I am doing here) but you shouldn't have to lift the presser foot if you guide it round the circle.

I've done this in red thread so you can see what it looks like. That stitching is exactly in the fold.

Trim the circle fabric back to your usual seam allowance. As you can see, I gave the outside fabric seam allowance a bit of a haircut too.

I washed my blocks at this stage because the glue can be rough as it dries. They only needed a short soak and squeezed to get rid of the glue. After pressing, to get the block the correct size, iron the freezer paper pattern to the front of the block, add your seam allowance and trim the block.

Is that not a lovely circle!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My ghost layer quilts

I was really excited about using Katie Pasquini Masopust's design technique after reading her book 'Ghost Layers and Colour Washes'. It's a three step process that is really simple to follow and is fun to play around with.

This was my first one, done in a hurry as I needed it quickly for an exhibition at school. I didn't put a lot of thought into it. In fact, I think I used the squiggle from the example in Katie's book. I loved the design technique but I struggled with the piecing method Katie described. As you can see, my straight lines ended up a bit curved as I tried to match seams together.

I came up with my own method for piecing, which I will explain in another post, and made this little sample to try it. It was going to be a throw away sample but you know what quilters are like, can't throw anything away. So I added some embroidery and borders and it became a small wallhanging.

This sample was made to test some of the kinks in my piecing method. I discovered that fine bobbinfill will show on the top when you use monofilament thread in the needle. It was a useful exercise.

This is my latest project. It has grown a bit since this photo and deserves a post all to itself. More later...

Highland Dancing Fairy

This was really easy to draw. I found a photo on the internet of a real girl doing highland dancing and traced the outline. Then I gave her a cartoon face and skinny legs and arms. Becky said it looked an illustration in a Roald Dahl book (illustrations were by Quentin Blake should that ever come up in a pub quiz). Sure enough, she looks like Matilda.

I scanned my sketch and then enlarged it on the computer and printed it out - on several sheets of A4!  It ended up a bit bigger than I had intended but maybe just as well.  I could never have done some of the detail work if it had been smaller.  The butterflies and flowers were added after I had scanned the sketch.

Here are some of the fun things I did with this quilt.

  • Fairy wings made from embroidered net.

  • A real pom pom on her Tam 'o Shanter.
  • The hair was made using a fabric pen and just embroidering a few black lines.  That was an idea that I came up with after looking at Quentin Blake's illustrations.  Very quick and easy.
  • Free motion embroidery butterfly with bead eyes.  This was copied off clip art I found on the internet but I skewed it to make him look like he is flying towards her.  The original was too upright.

  • Shoes and vest laced up with cotton embroidery floss.
  • Free motion embroidery flowers and more beads.  The big white and blue flowers were embroidered on stabiliser (as was the butterfly) and then appliqued on with invisible thread.  The bluebells were embroidered directly on to the quilt.

  • And the most fun bit... a tutu that sticks out!!  That really was fun to do.

And you may also notice - NO tartan!  The binding was the closest I came to putting tartan in it. I have nothing against tartan but I didn't think it was right on this whimsical quilt.

And here is my niece showing off her moves and her quilt.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Becky's Dragonfly

Becky picked out some blue fabrics from my stash and asked me to make her a blue dragonfly. I had just made the Highland Dancing Fairy with see-through wings so I wanted to use the same technique for the dragonfly wings.

The first step was to draw some dragonflies or parts of dragonflies. I think one of these is actually a grasshopper!

The bit of green fabric was a trial of a foil.  More on that later.

I couldn't use all the lovely blue fabrics that Becky had chosen as a background. A blue dragonfly on a blue background wouldn't have worked. So I decided to use them in the border. The dragonfly image that I liked the best was actually not a real one but a painting by Katsushika Hokusai, a Japanese painter from the Edo period. I love the look of this period, which is probably why I love my vases. One of things that characterised the art of the Edo period is that objects were not necessarily grounded in the background. Things are not realistic but the beauty of each object was shown at its best. I decided to use this idea in my design. I had bought a lovely pink floral fabric in three designs, each one in the same colourways but different sizes of flowers. I wanted to use the three sizes as foreground, background and distance but this is not a realistic landscape quilt so more flowers and less leaves!

This is my sketch.

To get the proportions right, I scanned in the flowers and my sketch and messed about in Paint to put the two together. I can't wait to get a proper programme but Paint works for what I do. Then I projected that image using a data projector at school and blew it up until the image of the flowers was the size of the actual flowers on the fabric. Then I traced the dragonfly and the position of the flowers and border on to stabiliser and used that for the positioning and dimensions.

I made the wings using two layers of a fine net, one layer of soluble stabiliser and a tear-away stabiliser.  The tear-away was removed from the middle after stitching the outside of the shape.  I also added a little Angelina fibre to the wing tip and more where the wing joins the body.  The bottom wing has been washed to remove the stabiliser.

At this stage I had put all the blue border together by randomly cutting strips and sewing them together. Then I cut some blocks at an angle and fitted them together to make strips.  I left the outside edge all random lengths and cut the inside edge straight and added to the green background.  I had also added the foil at this stage.  The idea is that this is a shady pond with oily slicks or ripples.  Here I have pinned all the elements I have so far to the design board to see if I need more foil.  My big patch didn't come off the acetate as well as the other two patches but I figure I can cover most of the blotches.

I made up a mitred border and then used spray adhesive to temporarily attach the middle plus blue border to the orange border. The blue border was then satin stitched to the orange border.  I liked the way that the orange border looked like a wood frame.

I added more flowers using raw edge applique and invisible thread and I used a fabric pen on the distance bush (top left corner) just to give it a bit more definition.

The branch in the foreground was applied using a whole cloth applique method.  I'm moving away fusing applique.  I don't like the way it makes the fabric hard.  Whole cloth applique is just that, the whole piece of fabric applied to the front of the work.  Then I work from the back using the stabiliser on to which I traced the design.  After sewing around the leaves and stem, I removed the stabiliser and trimmed the fabric back to my sewing line.  Then I used free-motion embroidery on the stem and satin stitch around the leaves.  I added another leaf to the design since Becky wanted the dragonfly sitting on a leaf - and what the client wants, the client gets!  By using fabric pen and a different colour of thread for the stain stitch on the curled part of the leaf, I managed to give the impression of the underside of the leaf without looking for another fabric and fiddling with small pieces.

This was a sample for the dragonfly body. I like to do that not only to try out a technique or, in this case, the holographic thread, but also so that I have something to put in my scrapbook.

And the finished quilt.

Cockatoo wallhanging

I love this glass mosaic featured in Kafe Fassett's book 'Glorious Inspiration'. I decided to use it for my first adventure in thread painting after reading Ellen Anne Eddy's 'Thread Magic'. The gold leadlighting would be really easy to reproduce in gold metallic thread. I also liked that each feather could be coloured in separately, breaking down the task of blending colours for the bird into small steps. Each feather had at most about four colours of thread so it didn't seem like a huge task.

I scanned in the image and then just used Paint to manipulate it to something that was simplified but still a pleasing composition. I was going to make up the background with a light diamond behind the cockatoo and darker triangles in the corners. The black lines were to help me see how that was going to look. But in the end I liked the background fabric too much to cut off the corners!

The finished piece. The image is reversed because I traced the image and then worked from the back. I didn't mind which way round the final piece was facing so I didn't bother reversing the image before I traced it.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Japanese Lady wallhanging - design process

This was the first wallhanging I made after taking a class with Pam Holland in 2005.  It was one of those projects that started with a bang and then went on the shelf for a long time.  I finally finished it in 2008.

These vases were given to me by my Granny and I love them.  As you can see, I've taken the middle figure and simplified the design.  I couldn't figure out what she was sitting on so I changed it to a rock.  Kinda wish I had thought about that a bit more but there you go!

The wisteria was done using Pam's drapplique method, fine Pigma pen for the outline and then coloured in using fabric pens.

I quilted grass on the grassy bit as the fabric was a bit flat in colour.  Also, once I had finished, I decided that her kimono needed a bit of decoration. I thought about it for weeks.  I wanted to do something more Art Nouveau than Japanese.  I could have researched it but this came out of my head instead.  Quilted in gold metallic thread from the back so the thread was in the bobbin.

I can't remember what this says.  This is one where I did do the research so it does say something. This is why I want to start documenting my quilts!

Some more bobbin work in the border.  I like the idea of adding a bit of texture, even if you can hardly see it. I'm talking about the red wool in the red and black border, just in case you missed it.

Don't you just love the back of quilts!  Or is that just me!!

And the finished quilt again.