Covering the walls

Our previous house had very few wall spaces that were free of windows or doors, so we moved into the current house without a lot of things to hang on the wall.  One of my favorites that we do have is a wood and metal framed mirror that I bought in a trip to South Africa.

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I bought it impulsively, and then discovered that it wouldn’t even fit in the rental car — I’m not sure how I thought it was going to fit in a suitcase.  I walked right back into the shop and they mailed it to the States for me, minus the glass.  Except I lived in Israel at the time, so it sat in a friend’s storage until we moved back.  I was so happy to be reunited with it several years later.

I love everything about it: all the metal colors, the cute animals, the little nails holding all the pieces together.

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The wall hanging I’ve been working on is for the same hall.  I wanted the colors and feeling to go with it, minus the creatures.

Today, yet another snow day (those foothills on the side of the school district keep even those of us on the rainy lowlands out of school) meant sewing time to finish up the binding and hanging sleeve.

It was hard to get a picture of it hanging because of the narrow hall.  I didn’t have a dowel so it is just pinned, and at some point I need to dampen it and toss it in the dryer as it got overly pressed in places while I worked on the binding, but it is done, and up, and works in the space.  I left room between it and the mirror to hang some smaller pictures in the future.

I started without a real design plan in mind and it morphed a lot along the way, but I’m calling it a success.

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(I stood inside the coat closet to take this picture.)

 

Sewing and snowing

The magic snowflake blocks apparently had a delay in their effects this time, because we rode out the rest of the week with just one late start.  The ground did eventually get a little white on Tuesday, but not a really impressive snowfall in the low lands.  However, that changed Friday night.

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While nothing compared to what Seattle got, this is a pretty good snowfall for southwestern Washington.   And more is supposed to be on the way, though I don’t think it’s going to be the snowpocalypse students were  hoping for on Friday when we left school with weather warnings ringing out on the intercom.

And of course it is perfect sewing weather! I don’t think I’m going to risk pushing the weather gods any further with the snowflakes this weekend. Instead I’m working to finish off my framed strips wall hanging.

I started by outlining all the shapes and stitching in the ditch between all the strips on the bottom border.

My plan was to use matchstick quilting for the background.  Everything I’ve read says don’t change direction with straight line quilting to avoid puckering and waves, but quilting around shapes in the middle of the lines’ paths meant not being able to just sew off the edge.  That leaves a lot of thread ends.

When I make wall hangings, I often don’t put the backing on until I’ve done most of the top stitching. It means I don’t have to tie knot after knot after knot to bury the ends after pulling them through.  I can just leave the ends loose on the back.  That speeds things up a bit.  And they stick to the batting or get sewn over with the next lines so they stay put.

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Still, there were a lot of ends to pull through!

I started the matchstick quilting in the smaller background areas.   I figured that would give me practice, and also I could just change directions and go back-and-forth because it was such a small area it wouldn’t make waves.

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It’s very time and thread consuming! After I finish those two small areas, I decided that I wanted to vary the texture, so I kept the lines in the rest of the background half inches apart. I marked lines two inches apart, then the one inch lines in the middle of those, and then I was able to eyeball all the rest of the lines without marking to get the half-inch spaced lines in there.

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It is now fully quilted, the backing is on, and it’s been trimmed square. Just the binding to put around the edge now and it will ready for the wall.

While I sewed, my son spent some time doing his own type of craft.

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Piecing bits together

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The sewing time has been hit or miss lately, but I did manage to pull together my wall hanging top.

The gold background finished, I decided that it wasn’t the right proportions, so I dug thru the string scraps again and made a thick bottom border.

I pieced some batting together and basted it on, and the next step will be to add embroidery.

I also started a new block of the month quilt that I will post about tomorrow.  It feels good to actually see some progress being made!

 

 

Thursdays

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My sister and I decided to try to reserve Thursday evenings for crafting together as a sort of New Year’s plan.  We started last week, and it was a success for her.  I showed her the tutorial I used for my lunch bag, and she made a water bottle carrier from a canvas curtain I bought at Goodwill last week.

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My project was less successful.  I added more slices in the fine line wall hanging I started a while back.  Black lines on a light background.  I’m definitely getting better at thinner lines, but I just didn’t like how it was turning out enough to keep going.  Maybe the color combo was too blah?  I also like 90 degree angles better, like I had on my first one, which was a better color combo as well – blue and white.

 

Anyway, I abandoned it to the scrap bin and chalked it up as technique practice.

Today we met up again.  My sister started out by making wavy lines with different decorative stitches.  The plan is to add embroidery and other embellishments between the lines.

 

I’d started a wall hanging on the weekend, without a strong plan in mind.  I got out my scraps and sewed a lot of strings together into blocks, and then cut the blocks repeatedly to make long striped strips.

 

Those then became frames around shot cotton rectangles, and then got their own black frames.  I revised them a couple of times until I got them the size and color combo I liked best.

 

Today I auditioned background colors and got started on filling in the connections between the blocks and making some stripes for the sides.

 

Not a lot of progress, but I have a clearer idea in my head of where I’m headed now.

And we’re having fun.

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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.