An Unexpected Finish

As I stitched on various projects in the evening, I started to realize that I was close to finishing one quilt. So I started to concentrate on stitching on that one. Maybe I could finish one more project before surgery!

And sure enough, on Friday evening, I took the last stitch. I don’t usually quilt on Saturday, but I couldn’t resist applying the binding in the morning, and then when I returned from the gym in the afternoon, I set to work hand stitching the binding down. I rarely hand stitch binding any more, but I figured with all the handwork on this quilt, it deserved it. And besides, I really enjoyed working on this quilt, and it just extended the joy for one more day.

Which quilt is it? Its the second Kantha blanket. On this one, because of all the different blocks and seams, I decided to stitch each block, in the hopes of avoiding most of the seams. The pattern is so busy that I don’t think the different stitching makes a  big difference in the  overall appearance of the quilt.

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I used DMC Coton Floche for the stitching, and it was wonderful to stitch with, but a bit more frail than perle cotton, and also I noticed that it pulled more easily when, ahem, little doggies’ toenails got caught in the thread….  I used a nice thin cotton batting, and muslin for the backing, so again, it was extremely pleasant to stitch. I am sure I will do another one of these, perhaps with a less busy pattern, and maybe I can do more variation with the direction of the stitching.

Some close-ups so you can see the different direction of the stitching.

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And this will probably be my last post for a while. I have four project boxes all ready for my post-op period! Hopefully I’ll have plenty to share with you by the time I feel up to blogging again!

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Some Different Edge Treatments

Lately I’ve been trying different ways to finish the edges of my quilts. Especially since these two are full of handwork, it seemed fitting to do a more rustic edge. The first you have seen–I named it Worlds Within Worlds. Many years ago I thought about this–how you can live for a long time and never know that there is a whole “world” out there that you never knew existed. Like, for example, the world of angora rabbits and showing angora rabbits. I did that for a while, because I was a spinner/knitter at the time. Did you know this world existed? Heck, I didn’t even know there was a whole world of spinning out there, with conventions and everything, much less the crazy world of English Angora show rabbits!

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A real live English Angora show rabbit!

To bring it closer to home, we all know that the majority of people do not know about the big world of art quilts OR the world of show quilts. When you say you are a quilter, they only see what they know–bed quilts, usually grandma’s flower garden quilts 🙂

Here is the quilt Worlds Within Worlds with a hand-satin stitch edging using #5 perle cotton. I have to laugh at myself when I say I won’t do binding by hand because it takes too long, but I was perfectly willing to sit for several days doing this edging.

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Close-up of the edge:

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The next quilt you have also seen. It just sat sadly on my sewing table for months, waiting to be finished. Truth was, I didn’t know how I wanted to finish it. Then I noticed a small quilt I had done a long time ago, with a fringed edge. That seemed perfect for this very rustic cloth. And since it is all white around the edge, I wanted to make a quilted backing for it. I looked through my blue fabrics, and this bright dark blue was my favorite. I haven’t finished the quilting the blue, but wanted to share with you anyway.

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Here’s how I did the fringed edging. Measure and cut the quilt to the size desired. Sew two lines closely together around the edge (about 1/8 inch apart.)

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Carefully cut out the batting close to your sewn line.

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With little scissors, cut fringe on the bottom layer (for reference, that bottom layer is muslin.)

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Then take your fingernail and run it both ways along that fringed edge to make it fringier 🙂

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Lastly, since this was a homespun type of fabric, I pulled the threads to make the top fringe. If the top had been made of regular fabric, I could have just cut it at the same time I cut the bottom, and done the same with the fingernail.

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As my surgery date approaches I find myself starting new projects and working on finishing old. But I am distracted, so I’m afraid not much will get done in the next week or so. I started a new scarf/shawl, using some of my handspun yarn that is so beautiful–a blend of merino wool, bombyx silk, and cashmere. And I made myself a bead project kit, using Robin Atkin’s excellent book: Heart to Hands Bead Embroidery. I am hoping that it will be a good project for my post-op healing time.

 

Two Finishes

Still working through that box of unfinished quilt tops! Who remembers French Braid quilts?! That was the next top I pulled out. I remember when my friend and I worked on our French Braid quilts together. In my opinion, it is a difficult pattern to follow. I did not enjoy that part of it, but I did enjoy choosing all the beautiful fabrics and arranging them just so. My BF really loved making the French Braid quilt, and she went on to innovate and make a Christmas Tree skirt out of the French Braid pattern–it was included in the second French Braid book!!

I had carefully folded some extra fabric with this top. The top was long and narrow, and I think I had a plan to make side borders. This probably wasn’t my original plan, but it got the job done. After looking at quilting ideas online, I decided that stitch in the ditch was the very best for this quilt–it didn’t detract from the beautiful prints. That made the quilting go very quickly.

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The next was a little 48″ square improv piece that I made to use up a lot of light and dark strips that I had pre-cut for some other project. You can see I used some of my two inch squares, and I also chose a “feature fabric”–that blue with green print. It will make a nice lap or wheelchair quilt for someone. I decided to stitch about 1/4 inch from the edge of each strip. This was also fun and easy to quilt.

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A word about backing choices: for the french braid quilt, I chose three different solid greens to make the back. Many times I will piece a back out of different fabrics, so that doesn’t bother me. But using those solid color fabrics, when my thread was an off-white? Not so much–all my little wobbles and back stitching show up very well. In contrast, I chose a taupe print for the improv piece. It was a very good quality fabric, but not one I particularly liked. And it is a PERFECT backing fabric! Goes well with the neutrals on the front, and the print is just enough that the quilting is not distracting on the back.

Lots of handwork continues in the in-between times. I’ll have more to share next week.

Another Finish

This is just another quilt in my big box of unfinished quilt tops. This one took quite a while to get quilted. Not only did I do a lot of quilting on it, but I put it aside while I worked on “My Flower Garden.”

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I put a lot of thought into how I would quilt this. I did a camellia-type flower in the center of each block, and then surrounded that with some straight line quilting.

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I did this pattern of swirls and hearts over all the rest of the center of the quilt.

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And finally finished the border with feathers. I LOVE the fabric in this border.

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I used muslin for the back. You can see the quilting pattern a lot better on it.

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But the thing I learned (again) is that when a quilt top is so full of busy prints, it doesn’t really matter how you quilt it–it just looks like generalized quilting after you wash it! (all these pictures were taken pre-washing.)

Finished!

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When I returned home from Empty Spools, I had a couple of projects that I had left mid-stream, and I went back to work on those. Once those were well under way, I went back, determined to finish my project from Katie’s Artful Log Cabins class. Yesterday I finished the piecing and made the quilt sandwich, and today I completed the quilting, and put the binding on. Gotta love a 30″ X 40″ quilt. Even with dense quilting, it moved right along.

I don’t think its a masterpiece, but I am pleased with the finished product. I think it reflects my garden well, and I will enjoy looking at it for a while.

I did try Katie’s method of grid quilting block by block, and I did enjoy that.

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I am especially pleased that I made the decision to change the quilting in two areas–the reflective opening of the imaginary cathedral window, and pebble quilting to imitate the flower shapes of the white flowers. Oh, and you might notice that I circled the one little ladybug that showed up on the quilt 🙂

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I had enough pre-cut strips to use as the binding! And, I definitely over-cut the amount of strips I needed for class. I am thinking about making some regular  log cabin blocks with the leftovers. It might be fun to experiment with them.

Last Quilt of the Year!

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When I last wrote, I vowed to clean up the studio. I did start that. I made one last Artful Oven Mitt, and then I put away all those scraps and insulbright. And I started to clear off the Janome table. And I came to this quilt, that had been folded up on the back of the table for….maybe a couple of years! I know I had the idea to make it after Victoria Findlay Wolfe won Best in Show at Quiltcon with her double wedding ring quilt. I found a date of 2012 for that quilt, so maybe I started this one in 2013.

ANYWAY, it has sat there for a while. I knew it was there, but I thought I was stuck on how to quilt parts of it. When I unfolded it, I found that I had made that decision at some point in time, and all it needed was to continue on quilting that design to get it finished. This is what I was enjoying on the Juki when I first got it–finishing up old tops and half-finished quilts!

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This is one of my zig zag wedding ring quilts. I really do enjoy making these. They seem to hold up very well in the wash. You can see where I thought I was being artful and incorporated some decorator big print fabric in there. And I carefully organized the colors for the background squares and the small squares for the rings. I’m not sure any more what exactly I was thinking of…

ANYWAY, when I finished it and threw it on my bed to see if I had missed any spots, I was pleasantly surprised. I really like this quilt, and will keep it for myself for a nice springtime quilt.

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I think it shrank quite a bit when I washed it, because most of the background fabric was some loosely woven hand dyed fabric. That caused the small “ring” squares to poof up bit more than usual.

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I decided to not do an end-of-the-year review. Just too much work. I know that I have worked consistently, and am content with what I have produced. The Hallelujah! quilt took the majority of the time, but I also finished up the “what they said” series. And I did make a serious dent in the large bin of unfinished tops.

Happy New Year to one and all! Be sure to make time for quilting and creating in the new year.

What I Did First

When I come home from a trip, or when I have finished a large project, sometimes I don’t know what to do next. I used to worry that I was losing my mojo, and felt a lot of pressure to “get right back in there.” But after this trip, I felt relaxed about the whole thing. For a few days I concentrated more on working in the garden and exercising, something I hadn’t done much on this trip. That was good for me.

But I know that it is best to keep working consistently at your art. I have several projects to complete, and I have fairly well-formulated plans for some new projects. Plus, there’s “Noah!” But I chose a small embroidered piece that was almost done. I was pretty sure I could finish it in a day.

It was this small piece. I had finished up the embroidery on it (remember, it was already a quilt sandwich itself,) and I had attached a large border of a really nice textured fabric to it, added batting to the whole thing, and basted it well, so I could hand quilt it.

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Well, that did not go so well. Even though it was well basted, it was bunchy in spots. More bunchy than I am willing to put up with. I threw it in a corner and left for Cambria.

When I came back, I knew what I needed to do. I UNDID all that hand quilting! The batting was reusable, but I threw away the muslin backing. I headed into the studio to find an appropriate backing. There on the cutting table was this piece of fabric! I have put this piece of fabric in the “to go” pile several times. But I always rescue it, because it is a really nice Japanese fabric. Its just that it was dark and dull colors. This little piece was a bit dark and dull. This fabric would be perfect.

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As I laid it out to cut it the right size, I had the idea that if I cut it large enough, I could use it as an extra large binding, folded over from the back. I put together the sandwich, revved up the Juki, and went to work. I simply quilted along the block lines within the embroidered piece, and then changed thread colors, and did a simple grid on the light “frame” fabric. I carefully cut the batting one inch from the edge, and then the backing another two inches from that, so I could fold it over twice to make a nice firm binding, and I hand stitched it carefully to the front.

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Plans don’t always go this well. This little piece almost ended up in the discard bin, several times! The whole successful process tickled me so much I wanted to share it with you. Sometimes you do need to stop working on a project, but many times you just need to continue on, and see what happens.

When I walk by this piece now, I see a lot of blank space on that surround. Perhaps a little more embroidery? 🙂

The Trouble with Teaching

The trouble with teaching is that it takes a lot of brain power to prepare for it. At least that’s how it is for me. I can’t really think about starting a NEW. IMPORTANT. PROJECT. when I am thinking about teaching. All I can think about is “oh, I could share this,” or “wouldn’t that be great to have a sample of that to share.” And you can see, those are not bad thoughts. I just won’t be starting one of the big projects I have in my mind until after this teaching gig is done.

In the meantime, I wanted to have as many examples as possible to share with the class. I had a LOT of unfinished samples…ahem…have I mentioned I don’t like binding quilts?

In fact, I had five small pieces that needed to be finished. So one by one, I set out to get that done. I also didn’t have any handwork for my evenings, so finishing these substituted for that for a few days.

This is the “header” for the “what they said” series. It has a facing instead of a binding. This is my favorite method to face quilts now. 

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You’ve seen this before. Its not finished (I’m planning to bead it) but I wanted to take it to share with the class. So now it has a binding on it.

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And a binding on this little wonky piece, just to keep it contained. Oh, you’ll notice that I hand-stitched the binding to the front. Usually I machine sew my binding down. But I always say I think its weird that quilters do all of that beautiful hand-work on a binding, and hide it on the back.

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And this piece has been hanging around FOREVER, with unfinished edges. That was partly because I just didn’t know what to do with it. It was stitched almost to the very edge, and I didn’t want to cover up any stitching with a stupid old binding. I thought about zig-zagging the edge. And then it came to me–just do that by hand! It took quite a while. But I think it is the perfect edge for this little piece.

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Close-up. Hint: if you do this, it goes a lot quicker with #5 perle cotton 🙂

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And then I had this hexagon piece. I just didn’t know WHAT to do with it. I thought about mounting it on a board. I thought about putting it on top of another quilt (which is what I did.) But how to finish all those dang edges… I just didn’t want to fool with binding it. I was pretty sure it would not be my best work, trying to turn all those corners. So because I had “zig-zagged” the previous piece by hand, I thought, hey, that might work! I literally took 5 stitches, and said, no way am I going to go around this whole piece by hand. So then I decided to try zig-zagging by machine. I auditioned several green fabrics, and in the end, this beautiful piece won out. I placed the hexagon, which was already a complete quilt sandwich, on top of the piece, got it just where I wanted it, and pinned it carefully in place, on a flat surface. First, I straight stitched about 1/8″ from the edge, all around the piece. I thought zig zagging might distort it. Then I started zig-zagging. Three colors of thread, and three rounds of small zig zag later, it was firmly in place. Then I could cut out the back of the foundation fabric. Made a sandwich, and quilted it simply. It came out just the way I envisioned. Oh, and side-note. I thought I would just quilt it on my Janome, since I had a big quilt under the Juki. I had to stop three times in the first five minutes for stupid things, so I switched over to the Juki. Ahhhhh… much better 🙂

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Close-up:

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As I mentioned, I didn’t have any piece to work on in the evening. This was driving me nuts. I also have seen quite a few things lately that have little tiny pieces of fabric sewn together. I got this book. Her work fascinates me. So finally, after all these little quilts were finished, I decided one night to just make a sandwich out of some leftover muslin and batting that was laying around in the studio.I brought the sandwich, my bag of Cherrywood little scraps, and four or five “neutral” fabrics out to my comfy chair. I was somehow going to sew patches on top of this. As soon as I sat down, I knew I didn’t want to have muslin showing through on the front. So I set about hand piecing little bits of fabric together. Yesterday I got tired of hand-piecing, so I put the rest of it together by machine. And now I have a fun little piece to stitch on in the evening.

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So you can see, there are more good than bad things about teaching! I am looking forward to this assignment.

Next

Lots of stuff happening in the studio and on my lap (handwork.) I made a sandwich of this large quilt, and got to quilting it. It was so cumbersome, so I decided to try to be a little bit organized. Folding all the edges up neatly like this really made quilting it a lot easier.

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All finished! This one is slated to be donated to the scholarship fund auction at Cambria Pines Rug Camp this year. BTW, if any of you are rug hookers, I can’t recommend this experience highly enough. I really love going. Its in a gorgeous location, with great food served three times a day, and wonderful teachers. All for a very reasonable price.

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I didn’t have enough of the “inn signs” so I sub’d a big bird print, and some paper pieced blocks. Makes it more interesting. It was hard to get a good picture of it–its not quite as wonky as it looks 🙂 Close-ups:

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I finished the big rug! Now to block and bind it.

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Close-ups:

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This little piece (that I started a year ago, was all finished, hand quilted, and just needed to be bound. It looked a little boring, so I added some perle cotton stitching, echoing the colors in the blocks.

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Close-up:

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There’s more handwork going on. I’ll save that for next week’s report! Have a fun, stitch-filled weekend!

 

Two More Finishes, and a New “Station”

I call this first one “what was I thinking?” Because that’s a lot of work for a quilt that is quite jarring. Well, after looking at it, I remembered that I had a lot of strip sets leftover from the Nancy Crow workshop, and I used them in this. This quilt was completely quilted, and had been put away. I just needed to put a binding on it. Yay!

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I really like stars 🙂 This one was also almost completely quilted except for the border. I put long feathers all around the border. They don’t show much with the print, but I enjoyed doing them. Both of these quilts had enough backing that I could do the “pull the back around to the front” for binding.

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And here is the new “station.” My wet studio is finished! The first picture makes the room look ridiculously long. In reality, the room is about 6’X15′. Tons of room for storage, several nice smooth surfaces to work on, and good lighting. I especially like the shallow shelves I requested so that I can see all my dyes without digging through them. Those are anti-fatique mats on the floor.

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We used leftovers from the kitchen–some subway tile that I somehow ended up with and couldn’t return, and the leftover pieces of granite from the kitchen counters. I bought J. the Contractor’s old stove, and I even have my old microwave out there should the need arise!

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Now for some nice warm days that entice me to get out there and do some dying!