Sunday, July 22, 2012

Quilting Along With Leah Day - Week 23

The latest assignment from Leah Day could have been custom designed for me. The goal was to Branch Out, both literally and figuratively. It was back to free motion quilting, but with a new pattern.

Week 23 Assignment - Branch Out

The technique to create branches is something I have been doing for years. Note the branches in a detail from my piece "Little Lake Butte des Morts in Summer."

Detail from
"Little Lake Butte des Morts in Summer"

The difference between what I did in my piece and what Leah has us doing this week, is that her branches are creating an all over pattern and the lines are straight versus organic.

Close-up Showing the Free Motion Quilting Design
Branch Out

I had fun selecting a my a fabric and then thread to use as my background. The fabric looks very contemporary, but it is close to 20 years old.

Back Side of Branch Out Assignment

I used a variegated poly from Marathon's collection. It blends wonderfully with the background vegetation, so well that it is hard to pick out until you see the close up or the back.

Close-up of the Back Side Showing the Travel Stitches

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Quilting Along with Leah Day - Week 22

Hibiscus Haven
21" H x 24" W

While Leah Day took some much deserved time to focus on her work, I created Hibiscus Haven. Week 22's assignment was the just the impetus I needed to finish Hibiscus Haven by adding the label.

Back Side of Hibiscus Haven

I create all my quilt labels on my ink jet printer. I use pre cut cotton sheets that are backed with a release paper. This way the fabric feeds easily through the printer. It also means that I can have a reasonably small label and still fit everything in that needs to be there for exhibiting my work. 

Mini digression...

Note how the hanging sleeve at the top of the quilt is actually two sleeves with a gap in the middle. This allows a slat to be slipped through the sleeve. Eye screws are added at either side of the slat. Then when the quilt arrives at a gallery it can be hung with nails through the eye screws, with filament line through the eye screws or by stringing picture hanging wire across the slat. The wire would be held in place with thumbtacks where the slat is visible between sleeves. Then the quilt can be mounted to the wall, just like a picture.

Back on Topic...

Close Up of Label for Hibiscus Haven

I follow the same format for labeling all my exhibition quilts. I always put an image of the quilt on the left hand side of the label. The right hand side I start with the title, in italics in a color that is taken from the quilt. Next goes my contact info. I have "erased" this from the image for security purposes. Finally, I put the size of the quilt and the date it was completed.

In the past I would have trimmed the label to size, folded under a hem, pressed the hem, ironed it flat and then sewn the label on the quilt. The point of Week 22 was to starch the hem and fold it over a freezer paper template. Must say I loved how crisp the starch made the edges. I also tried to keep my ladder stitching to the size of seed beads. 

This method worked well for a simple rectangular label. But would it stand up to an odd shape?

Label for Marvels of the Deep

Absolutely! The Marvels of the Deep label is still attached to its freezer paper template. I will be bringing it with me when I go visit the quilt's owner, my granddaughter and sew it on then. Don't you think it is perfect for her quilt?

Marvels of the Deep

Marvels of the Deep is based on Fantasy Fish created by LAM designs. It isn't an actual pattern. It is a collection of shapes that can be appliqu├ęd to a background of your choosing.

Quilting Along With Leah Day - Week 21

Wonky Block Quilt
40" H x 36" W

My Wonky Block Quilt is done! Well at least the piecing and quilting aspect. I would need to trim and bind it in order to truly finish it. I use Photoshop to clean up my images before posting them on the blog.

The goal of Week 21 was to use a zentangle doodle to divide the quilt into random sections and then fill those random sections with the five free motion quilting patterns we have been practicing. 

Back Side of Wonky Block Quilt

I began by marking the back side of the quilt with zentangle loops. It is MUCH easier to see marks on a solid fabric than it is to see them on patterned fabric, particularly patterns that incorporate a wide range of values and hues. Since I use the same thread in my bobbin as I do in my spool, I could start by quilting from the back side, too! If this were to be a show piece versus a lovey quilt, I would not have had the courage to free motion quilt the doodle and its echo back side up. I opted to free motion along the line of the doodle for practice. I find long lines of quilting the toughest to "hide" the wobbles and detours that come from stopping, starting and readjusting my hands on the quilt sandwich.

Detail Showing Several of the Quilting Patterns
as well as a Section of the Echoed Zen Tangle Doodle

Once the doodle was stitched I flipped the quilt over to the front side. The stitched doodle anchored the sandwich and it "marked" the sections where the stippling, sharp stippling, circuit board, loops and what I think of as flame patterns were to go. I opted to start and end my quilting section by section instead of travel stitching along the doodle. Perhaps with a little more planning I could have been sure to start and stop at junctures like the one in the detail above, but since it is so easy to bury threads with a cheater needle it just didn't seem worth it.

Detail Showing Several of the Quilting Patterns
as Seen on the Back Side

One of the areas where I can use extra practice with my free motion quilting is with larger than small scale. It was tempting to really go to town with micro stippling within the "loops," but I held myself back and did mid scales patterns over the whole quilt. Although my circuit board may not have precision crisp corners and straight lines it is less round than when I was first introduced to it and I rarely get hesitation build up or loopy thread. This practice is really paying off!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Quilting Along with Leah Day - Week 20

I'm still playing catch-up from our vacation in the Canadian Rockies. We ended the trip at the Fairmont Hotel on Lake Louise. This is an image taken by my husband from our room early in the morning before breezes and canoes disturbed the lake. Note the near perfect symmetry of the landscape.

Lake Louise

Week 20's assignment from Leah had her followers playing with potential layouts and eventually selecting one using the wonky blocks from the previous week. This proved to be much harder than I anticipated. My wonky blocks just didn't like to play well together. Some of it had to do with the broad spectrum of values in the fabrics going from fairly light to very dark. However, the fact that lines created by the piecing of the blocks were close but off had an unsettling, jarring effect. Nevertheless I preserved and discovered that symmetry helped. I also added an extra strip on two sides of the quilt (top and bottom of the horizontal quilt) in order to "finish" the border.

Wonky Top Hung Horizontally

Wonky Top Hung Vertically

I'd love your feedback. Which do you think works best, the horizontal or vertical orientation?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Quilt Along with Leah Day - Week 19

I've been on vacation hiking in the Canadian Rockies, while Leah Day cranks out the assignments. Now I am playing catch-up.

Instead of QUILTING Along with Leah Day, Week 19 has us PIECING along with Leah Day to create a "modern" quilt block. This was a challenge of a different sort for me. Precision piecing is something I LOVE to do. Leah recommends her wonky block method because no precision is needed. She requests that we gather 15 or so approximately 7" square fabric scraps and some solid coordinating yardage. Clearly, Leah buys and cuts her fabric differently than I do.

I usually buy half yard lengths and cut selvedge to selvedge strips to create the various squares, rectangles and triangles that make up the majority of my quilts. If I have scraps they are strips and small geometric shapes. So, my scraps were pretty much useless for this project and I didn't want to cut 7" squares out of multiple fabrics. Instead I devised a way to create square scraps from strips.

A Section of the 8.5" Ribbon 

I selected approximately 10 similar fabrics from my stash. Most of these fabrics were purchased back in my early days of fabric collecting. In other words they are 20 to 25 years old. I cut multiple 2.5" selvedge to selvedge (or the longest length possible) strips from each fabric. Next I sewed the 2.5" ends to each other, making yards and yards and yards of "ribbon." I divided the sewn strip in half and seamed those 2 pieces lengthwise. Divided it in half again and sewed those 2 portions together lengthwise. This resulted in an 8.5" wide by very long ribbon.

A Single Wonky Block After the Unifying Solid Fabric "L" Has Been Added

In Leah's example she created the wonkiness by skewing the squares under the strip they were to be attached to. Since my squares had seams and I didn't want to inadvertently force the seam in the opposite direction it had been press towards, I opted to cut "wonky" squares using my 9 degree ruler. Then I could line up the wonky edge of my pieced square on top, versus underneath my strip and keep my eye on the seams while still achieving skewed squares. It worked for me.

Finally, I Played With A Possible Layout