Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Week in Review 2013 - 03/22

Close enough is this week's mantra. I aim for 3 full studio days each week. There are times, like this week, due to foreseen circumstances, that I need to adjust my studio time. As of this posting I have managed 2 1/2 studio days this week. I may be able to squeak in the final 1/2 day. However my photographer (husband) won't be here to take photos of that half day progress. For this week, 2 1/2 days of change between postings is close enough.

Despite shorting my week by half a studio day, I did manage to meet all my goals, or at least came close enough. Here is how the week ending March 22 went:

1) Pictorial Painting
Pictorial Painting assignment #2 - Canyon

I am taking Pictorial Painting taught by Annette Kennedy through My attitude about taking classes is to experiment, enjoy the process and learn. What I create will never appear on my website, nor will it be eligible for exhibition. Therefore, I feel no need to "fix" issues. This is another case of close enough.

a) Select the fabric for Canyon. - Done!

If this were my design versus a class I would change out the ground fabric, probably using the same fabric but its backside. This way there would be a stronger contrast between the mountains and the ground. It isn't a problem on the right side, just the left side of the piece. I believe this will be less problematic once the piece is painted, since there is a thin dark line to painted exactly where the brown/mustard mountain meets the textured ground. For now, it is close enough.

b) Cut the fusible backing according to the templates. - Done!
c) Use the fusible templates to cut the fabric. - Done!

I even managed some bonus work. I laid out the fabric on my muslin backing and fused it in place.

2) Express Your Love

a) Do whatever assignment Leah comes up with next. - Done!

Detail from Express Your Love showing the ray done
in Zigzag Spiral.
The goal was to use a new filler pattern of Leah's that she titled Zigzag Spiral. This is actually two patterns, Zippling and Spiral combined. I opted to use it one of the rays. It is the most central red/variegated ray on the bottom of the image. The pattern combined with my color choice feels very southwestern or fiesta like to me. Perhaps that is because I am heading to the southwest soon, so it is on my mind.

b) Continue quilting the hair. - Done!

Detail from Express Your Love showing the hair
as it appears today. 

I added the thinner of the two white streaks, done in the Cat Hairball pattern and the farthest to the right Stacked Flame strand. This is better than close enough. I am luxuriating in such a rich mane of hair.

c) Finish the Iris Still Life by adding a sleeve. - Done!

3) Reflection (Absolute deadline April 23, 2013)

Detail from Reflection after the red branches
have been added.

a) Make and adhere the red branches to the quilt. - Done!

My original plan had been to make bias tubes from a luscious deep maroon fabric to form the branches. Then I would add detail through fabric clumps and french knots. However, even the skinniest of bias tubes was too thick. I scrapped that idea. Next I thought I would paint the branches. This was better, but I don't yet have the dexterity and knowledge of paint and brushes to achieve the thinning and thickening of each branch that I hoped for. I was wary about thread painting the branches. I feared the heavy stitching required might distort the quilt. However, I discovered the section to be thread painted is not extensive in area and that area if it is outline stitched before the thread painting is done the quilt really doesn't distort. There is no need for a hoop or stabilizer, since the quilt had already been quilted it acted as a stabilizer or basting would.

A second detail showing the lower branch from Reflection.
I couldn't resist showing a second detail image from Reflection. Thread painting the branches allowed me to apply two of my recent Leah Day lessons. I marked the swoop of the branches using assisted free motion quilting. I didn't mark how the branches would taper or where to add the buds and leaves. These I did by eyeball while running the machine. The thickest sections of the branches are done in Cat Hairball stitch.

c) Square up the quilt for finishing. - Done!

b) Make the binding.  - I opted to face Reflection versus binding it.

Reflection with 75% of the facing stitched down.

I have been mulling over whether to bind or face Reflection since I first started working on it. My instinct was to face it.  I have faced approximately five quilts before Reflection using a variety of "no fail" facing methods and have been disappointed with the results every single time. However, once I opted to thread paint the branches binding the quilt just didn't make visual sense. The branches need to appear as though they start somewhere off the quilt. If binding comes between the quilted branches and the implied start of the branches image would feel off. I thought I could continue to thread paint the binding after it was applied. My fear was that would flatten the binding noticeably under the branch "extensions."

How could I paint myself out of this corner? My plan was to research facing methods. Maybe there was a YouTube demo that would show me how to have more success.  I sat down at my computer to start researching and in one of those powerful moments of serendipity a fellow Visioning Project member had e-mailed me a link to her favorite facing method. I tried it and for a first attempt and am very satisfied. The corners don't look like dog ears, the quilt turns nicely to the back so that none of the facing is visible in the front and it even finishes nicely on the backside of the quilt.

Tips, Techniques and Thoughts...

It can be so tempting to take the easy way. I would have been much more comfortable binding Reflection. I have binding down and find it a pleasant respite after the challenge of designing and making a quilt. My muse started whispering, then speaking and finally shouting "this quilt MUST be faced." I am glad I listened.

If you are interested in giving this facing method a try it can be found on Susan Brubaker Knapp's website. Even if you don't want to try your hand at facing, drop by Knapp's website. Her quilts are outstanding.

I will be traveling next week and therefore not working in my studio. However, when I return I intend to pick up where I left off. Here is my plan for the week ending April 3:

1) Pictorial Painting

a) Mark the fabric for painting.
b) Watch the portion of the lesson that demos how to paint the Canyon piece.

2) Express Your Love

a) Do whatever assignment Leah comes up with next.
b) Finish quilting the hair.

3) Reflection (Absolute deadline April 23, 2013)

a) Finish stitching the facing.
b) Make and attach the sleeve.
c) Make and attach the label.
d) Add Reflection to my website.


  1. The branches add a lot of depth and zing to Reflection. It's a wonderful quilt. I wish my quilting looked as skilled as yours. I need to practice more. Do you have a long arm machine?

    1. Thank you, Regina. It was tempting not to add the branches, since the quilt worked well without them. However, they were what caught my eye in the picture I was interpreting, so I couldn't really imagine leaving them out.

      No, I don't have a long arm. I do have a mid arm, a George. I use this for quilts that are larger than crib size. I prefer the Bernina when I can use that. The George must use a rather large needle, basically a 90 and the holes from the needle puncturing the cloth can be noticeable close up. I can use a 70 needle on the Bernina.

  2. I agree that the hair on Express Your Love is looking fabulous. Great combination of fills!

  3. I have been looking forward to seeing what you did with the red branches. The quilt is delightful. Thanks for sharing your process with us.

  4. Fantastic! Love seeing the progression of all your projects.

  5. Thank you, Joni and Pamelyn. I share what interests me in the hopes that those who read it share my interests. I recall my early fascination at watching our babysitter take a ball of yarn and transform it into a doll's blanket. It was magical. I create quilts with the same fascination on watching simple fabric be transformed through stitch.