Sunday, 30 April 2017

Weekend Travels

Spent the weekend up north. The ice is out of course but it was just a little too brutal to sit outside comfortably.
Another month...maybe.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Designing a Custom Pattern

I received a quilting order from a guild member early this week. After we chatted about its purpose and colour the owner left me with the operative words: Flowers and Tendrils.
It's a busy design made from 4 units of six, 1inch strips, tumbled into a 12 inch block.
A small overall design would disappear. But the back is quite neutral so any design will be bolder there.

Today I finally had things clear in my mind. I started with a map. This was simple so I didn't need to mock it up with EQ. Graph paper worked fine.
I have a set of circle templates I use to decide and arrange size and positions for the featured flowers. A tally and a map helps me keep my position once the quilt is on the frame.

I like to do the features first, rather than having to stop in the middle of the "fill" to place a design. In order to keep the integrity of the quilt I pin all the way along in the the un-quilted areas. This keeps everything in position for when the sandwich is re-rolled on the frame back to the beginning.

After drawing 6 different flower designs in sizes ranging  from 12 inches to 5 inches. They are pinned into position on the quilt and stitched through the paper.

When they were all stitched into position (15) I removed the paper and restitched a tight echo around each one.

Back to the beginning. This is ready to finish with smaller flowers, leaves and tendrils.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Birch Trees - Day 6

This is ready for final stitching now. It will take much longer than the first time. That pass was a tight meander to capture the colour. This pass will be with coloured thread in a leaf tiny pattern.

Today the additions were done in 3 stages. First, additional branches were placed throughout the crown in black and tan. Then a layer of yellow/orange was placed between the trees as part of the background.

Last, a clumped scattering of bright yellows.

There was an addition of deeper oranges and reds at the base, but that will be finished last.

People have told me they've taken courses and tried this with only moderate success. Their "crumbs" migrate while they're sewing. The secret for me is to pin, pin, pin. I used this whole box of pins on this piece. Never enough pins.

Now it will be rolled and progressively stitched from top to bottom.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Birch Trees - Day 5

Now the distractions of the workshop ( to be continued) and gardening ( in phases only, as my strength and the weather allows) are not crowding my brain, I went back to this guy. It hung, unfinished on my wall and though I said it could have been considered complete at that point, I decided to add another layer.

I added some more interest to the bottom ( barely noticeable, but then it shouldn't stand out ) and then turned to the last layer of trees.

My first effort just felt wrong. I tried a couple of arrangements but it I would have had to change the dimension of the canvas to get it to feel right.

I decided the trees were just too big. I cut the largest ones in half and trimmed the remaining. After taking everything off and starting over, these narrower trees "fit" better.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Seascapes - A Workshop

Once again 9 friends met for a fun and creative day. This time the emphasis was on seascapes and  water. Another of our talented group stepped up and led this one. It was good for me to have the opportunity to work in a field I'm not that comfortable with under the watchful eye of someone who's already "been there".

Some opted to work in turquoise and others in royal blues. Though we all followed a general pattern, they certainly all turned out very different.

Choosing the fabrics was the first step. We all brought far more than we needed and guess what?
.......if we didn't have what we needed.......we were in a quilt shop that would happily sell you anything you wanted!

There were a few false starts but once we got going you could hear a pin drop. Never have so many ladies been so focused and so quiet. Good sign..Art Happening Here. I tried to get a picture of each.

Some got only part way through and other finished assembling the piece. I don't think any of us got to the point of stitching. We had all faithfully transported out sewing machines and maybe one was used.

We aren't meeting again until early June. Hopefully everyone will remember to bring their seascapes and I can include the "Finished" pieces in another post.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Birch Trees - Background Complete

This is assembled, netted and pinned. It will take a few days to stitch.

Part of me says I COULD stop here.
I'll have to think about it.
Here's where it started
Here it is today
 The softening of the harsh lines is done by the strategic placement of colour ON those boundaries. The rest is filler to blend the patterns in the original cloth.

Monday, 17 April 2017

BT - V2 - Day 3

Not a very productive day, a lot of running around.
I finally got to the worktable around 2 and decided the best place to play today was with the brush line at the base of the trees.
Before I left the house this morning I "dip" painted some cotton twine and hung it to dry. When I returned I was then able to cut it into "brush" length and clumped the pieces at the base of the trees.

Lots of scattering of darker colours, shadow shades ( or at least that's the idea) primarily in the shrub line but some in the crowns of the trees.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

BT - V2 - Day 2

The beginning of this style of canvas always looks completely disjointed and messy. It is.
We're only applying colour, not detail.

After I placed a quantity of fabric chips of the same fabrics as the base ( to soften the edges), I cut and applied about a half metre total of 5 colours of nylon lightly shaped to ovals. Again this softens the definition of the base fabric.

Next, using black sewing thread I cut and placed as randomly as possible 2 to 3 inch pieces to suggest the myriad of small branches in the crown.

Down to the middle, 4 different materials were finally cut and pointedly "scattered" over the transition point of the brown fabric. This area is the under story and is darker.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Birch Trees - Version 2

I was waiting hear if I had been accepted into the Riverwalk Art show in June, before I started a second version of this piece. Something this complex is almost impossible to repeat so a second version can only be a close relative.

Here's the original photo once more and my version. This is committed to the CQA quilt show in mid June so is unavailable. Hence I need to repeat this beauty.

original photo

Version 1

I only finished the filler background
I was totally distracted by "April" the giraffe calving...finally. Here's the calf.  (1hr old)

one day old.......ouch that's a BIG Baby

And here's the background. Larger and more varied pieces this time. I also covered the whole piece, committing to where the vegetation/colour changes will happen.

Much more blue for sky. I want some to clearly show. Much greater range of base colours as well. We'll see how this changes the finished piece.
No spray adhesive this time, just a few dabs of glue stick.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Birch Fabric

I spent a few days gardening, patiently waiting, since April 1, to hear if  had been accepted into the TO show in June. Their letters were only 12 days delayed but now I know I'm in and do need to replace the major yellow pieces that are going to the CQA show, later in June. The issue is, those pieces will be in the hands of the quilt show by the end of May, so unavailable for the TO show.
This TO show is the first weekend of June so I do have lots of time.
But I don't work that way. I now feel the need to start.
Today was material painting day.
I only need the birch material.
It took about two hours but most of that was drying and ironing time.

All the pieces I craft are different. This one was double spattered with paint, first with dilute black and then with a more concentrated black. Third came an effort to make some horizontal runs across the fabric but that didn't work well today. I had no "walnut water" left, so I finished this by "staining" with pale brown and pale orange, for those dirty spots on the mature trees. Anything else can be penned in at the end.

And a little slice shows how it resembles a birch tree.


Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Thread Therapy !

A few days of gardening, some sore muscles and a busy guild meeting!
That's enough to get me all twitchy and longing for my sewing machine.

My girls and I are having another workshop day on the 21st. This time we're being guided by another member of our talented group who loves WATER. As this is not a strong point with me I"m looking forward to participating.

Remember this piece?

While tidying up this morning, I came across the cutout for the moon.
To get into the mood I stitched this "little" piece, (maybe 10 inches.)
A small homage to Hokusai.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Quicky Little Chick a dee

One of the bonuses from purging is the possibility of usable FABRIC. (Remember, once I made a whole quilt from hubby's shirts......after he retired or course!)

This time, there was a pair of worn, very soft jeans that started out black but faded to a really nice colour and texture.
So I thread "sketched" on a piece about 9x12. Very fast and very effective.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Purging - Day 2

Three bags of donations sit by the door. Before I take them to the recycling site I decided I would do the jewelry as well.
I have worn many hats throughout my life, many different careers and many different roles, some of which required jewelry and some that did not. But as I went through the NINE containers and boxes I had squirreled away it was a definite trip down memory lane.

Earliest were the honor pins from grade school and high school. I took them out of the donation bin several times. Vacation pieces, wedding pieces, trinkets when my children were born, bits from my mother's collection. It was NOT easy.
But I seldom wear anything anymore. As Hubby likes to remind me. "the Queen isn't coming to visit anytime soon."
Keeping most of the "real" stuff,  I whittled it down, ruthlessly, several times, to one box.

So a big bag of primarily costume jewelry can go as well.
I did keep a couple of Quirky pieces that could end up on a piece of art, and then I spent an hour snipping the pearls/beads off my FAVOURITE sweater........ that I NEVER wore once.

I bought it to wear with a floor length kilt, (Stewart tartan). I bought it because my mother had something similar. Why did I never wear it? It was lambswool with ANGORA and it made my skin break out in hives! I've had it for 30+ years. Tried to wear it many times.

So I spent awhile this afternoon cutting all the pearls off. They too, may come in useful, and the sweater, after washing, can still go to a good cause.

Odds and sods. Three different sizes of pearls from the sweater, well over 100, (yes, that is a real but broken string of pearls), and some scrimshaw from the 80's, lace collars, never attached, and a couple of mismatched earrings that might come in handy.............some day.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Rainy Day Delight

Delight you say?
I purged!! (heh heh heh)
"What did I purge", you say?
Closet and dresser.
It's scary and sad how much we accumulate and how difficult it is to let go:
That favourite sweater or the pants we just might fit into after the diet, (that never happens),
the angora sweater that I could never stand on my skin,
blouses that no longer button over the bust,
the 20 yr old sweater that came from Danier that I wore with the 20 yr old pencil leather skirt....(still have the skirt intending to cut it up for something?????),
threw away 2 bathing suits, T-shirts that shrank above the waistline, (they did too shrink),
underwear that doesn't stay up unless you're wearing pants..................I could go on!


I reduced 19 pair of jeans (hubby's) to 10.
What a feeling of accomplishment!

Maybe tomorrow I'll tackle all that costume jewelry.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Leaves Final

In the end I didn't place all the cut outs. Finishing with cording for the branches and then more satin stitch for the leaf stems, this is ready for binding.

Monday, 3 April 2017


Nice colour for a cold and dreary day.
Almost there, just a few more. I knew I was getting tired so when the bobbin ran out, I took it as a sign.
Enough for today.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Leaves For 150th

I intend to do a number of "maple" themed pieces for Canada's 150th Anniversary this summer.
This is my first 'playtime'.
Using the material I had intended for something 'fire' I decided after the Ft. Mac fire last summer it was a bit inappropriate at this time so I cut out some maple leaves.
These are not 'full frontal'. Leaves hang and fold so this is a first attempt to make it a little more true to life.

After cutting out the leaf shapes I decided to "tart" them up a bit more as their colours are never smooth.

The background was another of last summer's cloths. This one was dyed with the walnuts (I stole from the squirrels). Starting with a 40 inch width, I cut gentle curves and restitched. The width is now down to less that 30 inches between the cutting waste and the rough 1/4 inch seam allowance.


Now I have to wait for the paint to dry!

The background was given batting and backing and all the strips were SID. The dried leaves were placed on trial.
Tomorrow I'll play. They need detail and veins as well as a satin stitch finish, and twigs of course. More than enough for another day's work.