Fine lines

I’ve been wanting to try a tutorial I found at Art with a Needle for a while, and this weekend, with the family gone for long stretches and the mornings cold and foggy, I’ve had a free period of time to experiment.

I didn’t have a plan in mind when I started – just wanted to get the technique down.  But now I am enjoying what is emerging from the cloth.  I think it looks like a map, with a small town growing in the center and less developed sections on the outskirts.  Each line I add is another road going in.  Sort of what is actually happening in the area I live, with the farms and fields rapidly being replaced by housing developments.

The blue isn’t very map like though.  I may try again with more earth tones and then embroider in details: buildings and trees and landmarks.

The tutorial has each slice going across the whole length of the fabric, but I cut the pieces into pieces and added in extra short lines throughout as you can see in the pics below.

It shrank as the lines were sliced and diced, so I added in more fabric at the bottom and right side.

I think I’m finished.  It is all in one piece again anyway.  I would like to have a few more lines in the busier section, but there isn’t really space for complete width slices, and anything else would entail far too much seam ripping.  Maybe I can make a very detailed modular section next time to get the spacing right for an embellished map.

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There are some puckers and other random weirdness, but for a first try, I’m happy.

It will be a decent size wall hanging when it is quilted.  White lines on the white lines?  Or blue lines crossing over all?

The process sure makes for a thread filled back.

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Little houses

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We’ve done a lot to our house lately (new floors, ceilings, windows, skylights, closets, doors . . .) but one very neglected area is the walls.  There has been some painting, courtesy of my sister who actually likes to paint walls, a fact I am taking the utmost advantage of.  But other than that, the walls have been left pretty much alone.

Our last house didn’t have a lot of open, bare walls, so we really don’t have enough pictures to hang up.  Those we do have I’ve gradually gotten up around the place, but there is still a lot of open, empty space.  And I’ve been suffering from terminal indecision about buying new wall decor, so it has been months of staring at emptiness.

This weekend I made a small step towards improving the situation.  I used a Johanna Masko paper piecing pattern to create a small wall hanging for the entryway.  I love it!  It is made from various quilt scraps in warm tones that go with the yellow accent walls and the gray/brown living room furnishings.

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This was a very fun and fairly quick project. It would have been quicker if I’d done a better job of fabric scrap selection on a couple of sections.  I ended up making one of the trees twice and the modern ranch house twice as well.  The tree didn’t have enough contrast the first time, and the way the ranch fabric lines didn’t line up bugged me until I remade it.  Which is ridiculous, because I replaced it with a floral which is not more believable in a house siding, but when I kept going back and staring at it I knew I wasn’t going to be able to look at those offset lines every day up on the wall.

It also made for quite a messy work area as I tossed through all my scrap bins looking for the right pieces to include.

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It is minimally quilted with just outlines around each house and tree and I put on a very narrow binding, the first one in a long while that I’ve hand stitched instead of machine stitching.  I confess that that was less a design choice and more a factor of the fact that somehow I lost my focus (and/or mind) and cut the binding at 2″ wide instead of 2 1/2″.  So there wasn’t a lot left to wrap around to the back and I was worried I’d miss it with a machine sewn line.

It is hanging on the small wall that is the side of our coat closet, just where I’ll see it first thing every time I come in the front door.  I don’t think I’ll tire of it quickly.

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My son, on the other hand, is very bitter that it is not his quilt.  I really had better get to pinning that soon!

 

 

 

This needs work

My sewing set up since we moved is not ideal.  I’ve gone from having a dedicated room – small but with lots of shelves and several table spaces – to a corner of the family room.

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I swing the gate-leg table leaf up when I want to cut or iron, sliding the boards back against the wall by the desk when I’m done.  It is a tight space, and looks messy when even a few supplies are out.

The storage space is also problematic.

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I’ve got a hall closet nearby, with more stuffed in the coat closet, a couple of shelves in the office, and more still packed up in the garage.  There is no hope of a full quilt sized design wall that I’ve been able to figure out yet.

It will improve.  A few more shelves can go in the main closet, and I can definitely pare down as well.  Some shelves above the sewing area will help as well.

But nothing is going to turn it back into a separate sewing room, until a kid goes off to college.  And that is a good seven years away.

Still, I can sew, even if I can’t find all my notions yet.  (Maybe the good scissors are still in the garage boxes?) And I have a couple of finishes to share.

In July my cousin and I made small fused fabric quilt tops,  and this week I finished the two fish I made then.

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The top one is about half the size of the lower one.  I added top stitching details on the bodies and fins and tried to make creek bottom pebbles and water lines with varying degrees of success.  The small one is going to my nephew who is crazy for fishing, and my Mom got the other one because she’s my mom and has to appreciate my sewing projects.  Also, her condo walls are still quite bare a year after she moved in, so she can’t claim she has nowhere to put the things I give her.

The first one I did I didn’t think through well enough and I had a multitude of thread ends to bury.  The second one I wised up and did the stitching with just the top and the batting so I just had to pull the thread through to the back but didn’t have to knot them all and bury them between the layers.

You can see what I mean in the pics below.  In the first I had all those ends to knot.  In the lower one, I just left them loose and tangled and covered them up when I added the backing.

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The area works OK for these small projects but it is going to be interesting to see if I can wrestle with larger projects in that small area.  I may need to move to the dining room table for real quilting.

East of the mountains

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The Italian cousins are visiting so we got to leave all the moving boxes behind and escape east of the mountains to Black Butte Ranch. My boys hadn’t seen their slightly younger cousins in three years – they all immediately picked up where they left off and have been inseparable.  Older and wiser cousin Amelia watchs over them all to keep things sane.

Lots of laughing, walking, games, swimming – and wine for the worn out adults.

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Patti – another cousin – and I have squeezed in crafting time as well.  I have my spinning wheel:

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And I dug out some bins of fabric so we could work on fused fabric wall hangings:

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The annual Sisters quilt festival is this weekend so we walked around the shops of Sisters where a lot of the quilts are hanging, then spent some time on Pinterest and got further inspired.  The fish and the trees are my two finishes – the fish was sparked by all the fish quilts hanging on the shop walls, and the trees and birds are a not-as-good copy of a paper card I saw on Pinterest.  Stitching later will add in the details.

Patti’s is a lot more complicated – she is still working to cut out more trees and figure out how to make fabric camp chairs:

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Isn’t it great?  I am so making a camping quilt of my own some day.  Though mine will have to have tents as that is how we camp.

it has been so wonderful to relax and not think about boxes needing to be filled or emptied, or walls painted, or IKEA furniture assembled.  Just the sun through the trees, scissors finally back in my hands, and the occasional visiting wildlife.

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Tomorrow Patti and I go back for the quilt festival.  I’m sure there will be a lot more pictures!

Cityscape

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In an effort to actually finish one of the languishing WIPs in my closet, yesterday I pulled out a wall hanging I started quite a while ago and ordered myself to complete it.

The inspiration was a picture of a painted door that I came across on Pinterest, and followed to this  Flickr account.  I don’t have a lot of my own creativity, so you’ll see that mine is very similar to the inspiration, but in cloth rather than paint.

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Picture from Flickr: Ahrabella Heabe Lewis

I finished the majority of this quilt more than a year ago, but then got stuck on the finishing details.  After doing black-on-black embroidery for each window, I bogged down.  I wasn’t certain how I wanted to do the rest, didn’t want to screw it up, and just generally dithered until it got buried beneath other projects. This time I was determined to just get it accomplished and not worry about wrecking it with my not so smooth finishing skills.

I started with free motion stitching around the trees.

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I went around each one twice to make it more “sketchy” so that my wobbles would look purposeful rather than inept.

It was quickly apparent that the bobbin color mattered.  I did this tree twice, first with a light bobbin thread and after ripping it out, with a darker thread.

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I couldn’t bring myself to load a multitude of bobbins with the many thread colors that I needed, but I did use four different bobbins in the end to make the shade fit the top threads better.

My friend Paige very generously gave me a bag full of Gutermann 100 meter spools a while back which included a lot of greens and teals which were perfect for most of the trees.

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The city buildings and the clouds were next.  The straight edges of the Kona cotton fabric have frayed quite a lot with all the folding and unfolding over the course of this project, so I’ll have to clip and clean up.  The batik parts held up much better.

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I quilted the details without the backing on; I usually do this with wall hangings.  It looks tidier on the back that way when it is done.  I did wait to do the edge stitching on the hills until the backing was added so that it would be anchored in place.

This is what the messy back of the batting side looked like before the backing was added.  Is it weird that I really like it?

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I didn’t want the frame that binding would create, so I just sewed the backing on right-sides-together and then turned it right side out.  I’m mulling whether to add edge stitching – I usually do to further stabilize everything, but I like the really unobtrusive edge this has now without any.

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The finished cityscape reminds me of both Israel and Italy, the first two places my husband and I lived when we met and then were first married.  The trees make me think of the Italian cypresses, and the blocky city buildings and dry hills say Israel to me.  The blue sky works for either!

My sister was also a fan of the door design and had me help her make a wall quilt of her own at the same time I was making mine, but – as always – she put her own twist into hers.

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That poor city doesn’t know what is about to befall it.

 

 

For Mom’s birthday

I made this duvet cover for my mom a while back:

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She picked out the fabric, and it looked great in her room (I don’t have a picture of it there, unfortunately) so I ordered a fat quarter of the whole fabric line – Jardin de Provence – to surprise her with a wall hanging to go above the bed.

I chose to follow the Star Light, Star Bright pattern directions found here on the Moda Bake Shop website.

I didn’t have quite the right ruler, but some painters tape took care of that.  My triangles were 7 1/4″ high, making the diamonds 14 1/2″.

45 degree triangle

Cutting 45 degree diamonds

The only pattern issue I had was with the measurements of the diamonds.  The directions told which 45 degree triangle ruler she used, but didn’t make it clear the exact size of the diamonds.  Since I don’t have that ruler, I had to guess a bit based on the width of the fold that she suggested.  I obviously didn’t guess quite right because the squares that I cut for the corners ended up an inch too small, so I had to search out more white and cut new, bigger squares.  Avoidable if the diamond measurements had been given!

Jardin de Provence diamonds

I sewed the pieces together in a slightly different order than the pattern called for.  After doing the 8 diamond wedges, I added in the Y seam triangles before sewing more sections together.  It probably didn’t make a difference, but I figured I’d be manuevering less fabric volume that way.

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Jardin de Privence Y seams

If you look closely at these three in progress pictures, you’ll see that some of the diamonds moved around.  I didn’t always get the right edges sewn together, or notice in time to fix it.  So much for my careful arranging when I started!

Jardin de Provence corner Y seams

I didn’t do a perfect job on all the Y seams. But they are pretty good, and I’m quite proud of my center points.

Jardin de Provence center points

Four hours from start to finish – my handy assistants helped me get the final picture, despite the wind and can’t-set-down-the-popsicle obstacles.

Mom's Jardin de Provence star

Mom's Jardin de Provence star

Tomorrow I hope to start quilting, but I probably won’t get it quite finished by her birthday on Thursday.  But it will be far enough for her to see what it will be, and Mom isn’t picking about things like exact dates.

Wedding bells are ringing

The wedding invitation
The wedding invitation

My sister-in-law is getting married, and we get to go to Israel next week to go to the wedding!  According to my Israeli husband, money is a more common gift than presents, but I couldn’t not make her something.  So, inspired by their wedding invitation, I am making a mini quilt for them. I scanned the invitation and my sister used her spiffy (technical term) software and cutting thingie (2nd technical term) to cut out patterns for me.  I then used those to trace on the paper backing of fusible web I’d ironed to fabric to make different silhouettes.  Lots and lots of cutting around little corners came next.

Tracing the pattern pieces
Tracing the pattern pieces

I quilted a background of squares from different white and ivory fabrics and ironed on the silhouettes and was so close to being done!  Just embroidering their names in English and Hebrew and the binding to do.

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This is actually a patterned blue fabric, but my camera makes it look black.

Which is when I realized that I am an idiot.  An idiot who should not be trusted with an iron. See, the thing about Hebrew is that it reads from right to left, unlike English.  Which means that when I laid out the figures in a left to right pattern, as I read the invitation, I had the events out of order.  The figures rushing to each other were representing the first meeting, which had to go before the falling in love. i tried to pry them up, but I’d done my ironing too well and it ripped the figures and left blue shadows and glue on the background.

The ruined background
The ruined background

At this point, there was much swearing and stomping of feet and gnashing of teeth and then more swearing. The redone and almost done wedding mini-quilt When I calmed down and became resigned, I performed an emergency amputation of the top half.  I sewed on new batting, cut out new squares, sewed the new squares to the bottom half that I hadn’t wrecked, re-quilted, re-traced, re-cut, and after REALLY CAREFUL examination, re-ironed.

Amputating the mistake.
Amputating the mistake.

I’m now back where I was an hour and a half ago, with just the embroidery and binding to go.  Whew!

The almost done and redone wedding mini quilt
The almost done and redone wedding mini quilt