Scrappy and Useful

July 23, 2017 at 1:53 pm | Posted in Patchwork | 1 Comment
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My old ereader hadn’t made the healthiest of impressions lately, and to save myself from the horrors of it breaking on me in the middle of my vacation, I got a new one. Of course the new one has a different size than the old model, and besides, its bag was getting a bit tatty from being carried around all day, everyday. So, a new bag was in order, and what a good opportunity to use up some of those scraps! I pulled out a coordinating set of leftover strips from my scrapbox and got to work:

Ereader - old and new

Old on the right, new on the left. And since I’m sure you’ll want to see the bags instead of the books, there you go:

Bags for Ereader

Both are made using the same steps: prepare a piece of batting and backing, and sew the strips directly onto it, saving the quilting. The first strip (at the opening) is sewn right on right directly together with the backing, so after turning there isn’t an open seam there. When the batting and backing is all covered with fabric strips, fold into bag, give the flap its final form, and edge all the open edges with bias tape. To make that step easier, I sewed the front and back together using a straight stitch first, which is then hidden under the bias tape.

A quick, satisfying and useful project, and a few scraps gone!

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Challenge 2017 – Fall Jewels

April 30, 2017 at 8:48 am | Posted in Patchwork | 4 Comments
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Every year, my quilt group issues a challenge to make a small 40×40 cm quilt using specific materials. We show the results in our yearly exhibition. Here’s last years entry.

This year, I was a bit stumped to start with, and took a while to come up with an idea for this:

Challenge 2017 - Materials

There’s some gorgeous-looking but hard-to-work-with blue velvety stretchy fabric, which I had already stabilized with some iron-on interfacing in the picture. Then there’s a nice ribbon in a kind of olive colour, and a button. There were different buttons to choose from, I spontaneously went for the leaf.

So, what to do with the loot? The blue fabric, while it looks and feels lovely, is not very patchwork-friendly. In addition, turns out there’s not very much of it, which killed my first plan. At the end, I took the leaf button as the topic and central point of the quilt:

Challenge 2017 - Finished

The idea was to show the gorgeous colours of fall leaves lying on a lawn. The panel in the middle was made with English Paper Piecing, leaving a hexagonal hole in the middle. I then prepared the backing and batting, layed the dark blue fabric – two strips for the sides and a hexagon in the middle – on top of it and attached it with a couple of seams. Then I put the panel on top, securing it on both sides where the ribbon would be attached later. Everything else I secured with the free-motion quilting. First I did leaf forms on the fall-coloured areas, and then meandering for the background. In hindsight, I think the thread I used for the meandering is a bit too strongly coloured, especially on the pale tiles. After quilting, I hand-stitched the ribbon on top where the panel overlays the blue background. From the colour scheme, this will fit nicely into my living room, so I finished it as a pillow cover, which is a nice use for those 40×40 cm pieces.

I’m leaving you with a detail view of the quilting:

Challenge 2017 - Detail

Seven Sisters – a leftover challenge

April 16, 2017 at 5:32 pm | Posted in Patchwork, Quilting | 4 Comments
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Last year, our quilt group went away for a weekend retreat for the very first time, and we managed it so everybody could come! To mark the occasion, one of our members, who tends to end up with all the leftover material for our raffle quilts, collected all the leftovers, made 14 nice packages out of them, and we drew lots to choose from the packages. I got a pretty early number, and from all the packages still there at that time, here’s what I chose:

Seven Sisters - the Leftovers

I immediately fell in love with the paper-pieced stars and the colour scheme. But, what to do with them? The challenge was to use our package to make something for this year’s exhibition, coming up in November. After a while of having the pieces laid out and thinking back and forth, I decided to make a tablerunner. I’d have to add a few stars and quite a bit of background, and I was lucky again that the same friend who set the challenge still has about half a bolt of the background fabric, so I could get some from her. Otherwise I’d have had to be very creative. As it was, it just was quite a bit of work, since I wanted to mix the differently coloured stars up, so I needed to disassemble the blocks first before I could sew them together again. I learnt quite a few tricks about English paper piecing that way – and the fact that there are quilters that sew so densely that it’s almost impossible to get the pieces apart again, while with others you just have to look at the seam sternly and it will fall apart on its own.

So, here’s the table runner ready for this year’s exhibition (I even already attached a tunnel):

Seven Sisters - Finished Tablerunner

I decided to quilt spirals in the dark hexagons, so the stars could pop out even more:

Seven Sisters - Detail with Quilting

Oh, and you’re interested in how the original raffle quilt looked like? I was as well, since this quilt was from 2005, when I wasn’t yet involved with this group. It took quite a while, but after repeated asking one of the members found a picture she took back then, so here it is, and you can see exactly where my leftovers came from:

Seven Sisters - Original Raffle Quilt (2005)

Scrapbox management

March 19, 2017 at 8:05 pm | Posted in Patchwork | 2 Comments
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Reading about Kate’s efforts at scrap management, I got inspired to have a look at my own, much smaller scrap collection. Being somewhat in need of a new handwork-in-front-of-TV project, I decided to see how many 1-inch-hexies I could create out of the contents. Turns out not as many as I thought. Here’s the box after emptying out, with everything that wasn’t going to become hexies lying around it:

empty scrapbox

On the left side, there’s a small pile of solids that doesn’t belong in there, since I do have another scrap bag just for solids. On top, a few pieces that are pretty much big and coherent enough to count as fabric, even though they live in the scrap box. And that big pile on the right, pretty much everything that’s too small to cut a 1-inch-hexie out of it. Also some non-patchwork fabrics, and some black and white stuff that I didn’t want to include in the rainbow of hexies I was planning.

Looks like it’s still going to fill the box, and it did. The pieces I did pull out became this:

scrap hexies

Hexies in all the colours of the rainbow. I have no idea what I’m going to do with them yet. The plan is to make more, keep them sorted by colour and maybe use them for some colour exploration or smallish projects. Since a hexie turns out to be pretty big for most of my scraps, I may also continue cutting rhombs for baby blocks out of the fabric left over. Lots of geometric forms to play with!

If you want to create your own EPP templates for hexies, baby blocks, triangles and more, I recommend the graph paper generator that I also link from my sidebar, so I can find the link whenever I need it. Very useful tool!

Progress on this may slow down now that winter sports TV season is pretty much over, but that also means that spring is on the way and it’s time to find inspiration outside.

 

 

A Year of Quilting

November 12, 2016 at 10:03 am | Posted in Patchwork | 5 Comments

Last weekend saw the yearly exhibition of my quilt group, where we show off everything we’ve created over the past year. Seeing everything hanging together, I’m always impressed by what everybody manages to do over the space of a year.

So I think this is a good time to look at my contribution for this year’s exhibition. Turns out, even though it doesn’t feel like that much, I did get things done.

First, the group projects. Every year, we make a quilt to raffle away for charity at the show. For quite a few years now, we decide on next year’s quilt during this year’s show, and then get together on the 6th of January to sew the top. It generally takes the rest of the year to add the borders, get the quilt professionally long-arm-quilted and add the binding. Here’s the result a lucky visitor won last weekend:

ausstellung2016_gemeinschaftsquilt

When the top was finished, we had one left-over block, which I used to make a pillow cover to go with the quilt:

ausstellung2016_gemeinschaftsquilt_kissen

Then there’s the yearly challenge project, where everybody gets the same constraints to make a 40*40 cm quilt. I already wrote about my contribution, and here’s the whole panel with everybody’s quilts:

ausstellung2016_challenge

And of course, I had my own quilts at the show.

Rainbow: Gravity

ausstellung2016_rainbowgravity

Looks like I haven’t posted a picture of the finished quilt yet, but there are a couple of relevant posts here and here.

Mexican Bird

ausstellung2016_mexicanbird

There’s a whole pile of previous posts regarding this project:

  1. Getting started
  2. Paint by Numbers
  3. Adding hand embroidery
  4. Some decision making
  5. Documenting the Project

Looks like I’ve also been a better blogger than I thought! I think it’s good to occasionally look back at the things that did get done, especially with a hobby where things generally proceed at a glacial pace. Hope you enjoyed the little visit to our show!

 

After the Finish – Documenting the Project

September 18, 2016 at 7:19 am | Posted in Patchwork, Quilting | 3 Comments
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So, once a quilt is finished, in this case my Mexican Bird, the work tends to be almost, but not quite completely done. At that point of time my worktable tends to be a mess: left-over fabric, design sketches, photographs I’ve been working from, and samples all lying around. There’s way too much work in there to throw it all away, and those are the physical artefacts of making this particular quilt. So, what do I do with all that stuff?

First, the samples:

mexican_bird_samples

They still have raw edges that need to be cleaned up, which I take care of with zig-zagging around the whole thing. To put them away in a folder, I take a strip of strong cardboard, fold it in half and catch the sample beween the layers, attaching the cardboard to the fabric with enough space to punch a couple of holes in the cardboard:

mexican_bird_samples_finished

Now I collect all the paper, sorting out what I want to keep:

mexican_bird_papers

There’s the photograph I took, the original tracing on transparent paper, and the smaller copies of that I used for working out the colours and other details.

All of this goes into an A3 folder, where it lives happily ever after together with all the other finished projects.

mexican_bird_documentation

I’m now free to clean everything else away and start with whatever’s next!

Flowers – and an Eye

August 20, 2016 at 8:08 am | Posted in Embroidery, Patchwork | 5 Comments

I have finished embroidering the French knots on my Mexican Bird project, and was wondering if the flowers need a little extra as well. In the original painting, the pink flowers have a white highlight in each petal:

Mexican_Bird_web

Since I painted the petals with a flat pink, maybe I should try to recreate this in embroidery? So I took my sample and started to experiment:

Mexican Bird - Test embroidered flower

From left to right:

  1. Nested chain stitches – doesn’t scale large enough
  2. Outlined in backstitch, then worked over with a horizontal satin stitch. Visually the right effect, but too heavy and way too slow to stitch.
  3. A bunch of straight stitches – not strong enough for me
  4. A dense herringbone stitch – going in the right direction
  5. Back to chain stitch, working them close and opening them up, I think this looks best visually.
  6. Another try for something similar with a feather stitch variation, not dense enough I think.

So, if I’m doing anything, it would have to be with number 5. Since the colouring is a bit different on the real quilt, I decided to try this out on one flower:

Mexican Bird - tryout for flower

I saw that it’s very hard to get a consistent form out of this, and looking from a distance, the effect just isn’t there against that pretty light pink background. In conclusion, I decided that putting in all the work needed to fill all the flowers wouldn’t make enough of a difference to the impact of the quilt to be worth it. I took the sample stitches out and called the quilt finished.

Oh, not quite finished! My bird’s still missing an eye! I had decided very early on that the eye is the perfect size for a spangle and bead solution, so now I just had to figure out the colour. Diving into my bead stash, I tried out different possibilities:

I’ve made my choice – which one would you choose?

Finished? – Not quite!

July 17, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Posted in Embroidery, Patchwork, Quilting | 5 Comments

My Mexican Bird project is progressing nicely. In fact, I took a picture a couple of weeks ago that I could easily sell as the finished quilt:

Mexican Bird with Binding

The machine quilting is finished, and a nice pink binding added, but I’m not quite there. If you look at the picture of the painting this is inspired by, there’s lots of white highlights:

Mexican_Bird_web

I’ve added the tiny feathery lines with machine quilting before binding the quilt, and I’m now working on the stronger lines in some of the leaves and the dots between the stems and the leaves:

Mexican_Bird_Embroidery1

The spiral on the leaf is worked in chain stitch, the dots are done in French knots. Here’s another area where you can see both:

Mexican_Bird_Embroidery2

While the effect is subtle when seen from a distance, I think it really makes a difference, here’s an area where the dots are still missing for comparison:

Mexican_Bird_before_Embroidery

I’m also thinking about highlighting the centres of the petals of the pink flowers, since they are a bit flat currently. Lots of TV stitching ahead!

Mexican Bird – Paint by Numbers

June 5, 2016 at 2:51 pm | Posted in Patchwork, Quilting | 7 Comments
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I’ve got quite a few pictures to show you, but very little blogging time at the moment. I’ve been busy on the Mexican Bird Project, though, with what turned out to be a case of “Paint by Numbers”.

So, here’s a gallery of progress pictures going from a sketch on fabric to a quilted and painted piece. Sorry for the wonky and occasionally blurry pictures – the lighting conditions were not always ideal.

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I ended up using the Inktense blocks like watercolours, which gives the quilt the impression of being painted rather than drawn, which I like. I managed to get away with very little bleeding, after being worried about that with my samples.

Currently I’m adding the quilting that goes on top of the paint, and then I’ll need to pick the right colour for the binding.

 

Mexican Bird – New Project!

March 28, 2016 at 9:10 am | Posted in Patchwork, Quilting | 2 Comments
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It is almost a tradition by now that my patchwork group uses a couple of days on the long Easter weekend for sewing. Having finished my challenge project for this year, I needed something new to take along. A couple of things came together to create the idea for this one:

First, I got a set of Inktense blocks from my quilting friends as a birthday present. Not generally being somebody who uses paint of any kind on her quilts, I was a bit stumped what to use them for.

Second, I have a couple of beautiful folk art paintings from South America on my living room wall, and a couple of weeks ago my mom remarked (not for the first time) that one of them would make a beautiful quilt:

Mexican_Bird_web

I agree with the suitablity of this one for a quilt, but wouldn’t want to appliqué all those bits and pieces, and what about those feathers? So when my mom brought this up again a couple of weeks ago, things suddenly clicked. This would be a perfect opportunity to try out my Inktense blocks! There would be some challenges involved, for sure, but I can easily imagine for this to make a very effective quilt. So, I spent most of the weekend making some samples:

Mexican_Bird_Sample1

Most of the shapes on the original painting are outlined with a dark colour, and I choose to quilt the outlines with dark grey thread. I also got myself a set of Inktense pencils in addition to the blocks, so I would be able to draw finer lines. You can see the lines below the quilting on the frame on the left side of the sample. When dry, Inktense acts a lot like pencil, but to fixate it and bring out the beautiful colours, it must be made wet. When you’re not careful, this can lead to bleeding, which you can most clearly see on the blue shape on the left.

I decided to try to recreate the white shading on the blue leaves and the structure of the feathers by quilting heavily on top of the finished colour field, and I quite like the effect. The colour underneath the white quilted feather is a bit weak on this sample to bring out the quilting nicely, though.

I finished all the painting first on this sample before starting to quilt. In order to possibly contain the bleeding a bit better and to try out a few more things, I created a second sample:

Mexican_Bird_Sample2

Here I put the grey quilt lines in first, and painted on top of the already quilted piece. My thoughts were that the quilt lines would possibly form a natural barrier for the bleeding, and the batting would soak up some of the water instead of it spreading out into the fabric. This mostly worked, and I like the effect. There’s only a little bit of strong bleeding on the brown twigs at the top. This sample showed me another potential problem, though. The white quilting on the blue leaf on the left suddenly isn’t white anymore, it’s blue! Looks like I need to be very careful to properly fix the pigment into the fabric before quilting on top of it, especially when using white thread. It also matters how much paint I use and in which way: painting with the Inktense sticks on already wet fabric gives a strong colour, but a higher tendency for bleeding out and the necessity to use even more water to fixate the paint.

So, definitely more adventure ahead when making the full quilt, but I have a much better idea now what to be careful of. I have now transferred the whole pattern to the fabric and am currently basting the quilt – it’ll be a few days before I can show much progress!

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