Sailboats In The Morning Fog

I was on a walk along the Halifax Harbourfront at 10am on a July morning in 2010. There were a couple of sailboats moored alongside the Acadia (a WW1 warship, now part of the Museum of the Atlantic collection) with the fog lifting in the harbour and the Dartmouth shore a pale form in the distance.

Moored Sailboats

I captured the moment – recently I added the photo to my collection of potential landscape/art quilts.

Partially Done

With the Art/Landscape class underway for a second time, I thought I’d give the sailboats a try. Sky with a bit more cloudy texture (because I had the perfect fabric), the opposite shore (heavily stitched), the water in a very soft blue-grey. I did some preliminary thread painting and texture building in the water on the left, then positioned the sailboats (printed on fabric, backed with fusible web, fussy cut) and pressed them in place. Now I have to add the reflections in the water to tied the image together. I elected to eliminate the small dock next to the Acadia and the just visible stern of the ship. I preferred just the two lone sailboats for my wall art piece. Although barely visible, I’ve used silk organza on the left of the image to represent the fog, added after the initial thread painting to blur the textile and stitching beneath.

I will work on the piece tomorrow in class so I can show the gals how I solve various technical issues – including creating an inner mat, making piping, and selecting fabric for the framing. They’ll also get to see how I go about thread painting with my feed dogs in the engaged position (I can’t free motion and obtain an even stitch length at all well, but I’ve figured out how to keep my feed dogs in position and do a “free-motion like” sewing). I want them to see how I do that.

I am probably also going to add a bit more movement to the water on the right, but not  until I’ve finished the reflections of the masts, the mooring lines, and rigging on the boats.

More after tomorrow – our second class (one more after that on framing and finishing an art piece).

Moth Holes

Embroidery to hide moth holes

Friday afternoon Joyce showed me the wool sweater she was wearing – a couple of moth holes in the front. She wondered whether they could be repaired. I assured her they could (there were two smaller holes near the first one as well) with a well placed machine embroidery.

I spent some time locating an embroidery design that would sit over the holes, not be too dense, and I could set up to curve toward the shoulder. I turned the sweater inside out, used “Whisper Web” interfacing (a light, cut away), hooped the right front side, chose mauve/rose rayon embroidery thread, then stitched out the design. I added two small sections of close zigzag to obscure the larger hole further, and stitched out a single leaf over a second small hole nearby.

The completed embroidery is subtle but it does the job.

PS: I just returned the sweater to Joyce, she tried it on, and she’s thrilled with it! I’m happy she’s happy.

Regia Yarn – “Pairfect Design Line”

Brown Socks

This Regia yarn is dyed to create a complete sock with contrasting cuff, heel, and toe and a variegated yarn between to create a design.

However, the yarn expects a 24-row cuff and I only ever knit 12-rows so I cut out the extra and carried on. But then I ended up with a short leg; I continued the leg past the yarn intended for the heel and into the second patterned section. When I get to the heel I need brown yarn   – I added back the brown I’d cut out. I knit the heel, continued on with the foot and ended up needing more brown for the toe. I used the last scraps from the upper leg and fortunately had enough yarn to complete the foot.

The second sock was easier since I knew how it would knit up.

I have a second ball of that yarn in blues and mauve – this time I’ll just keep knitting through – changing from cuff to leg without changing the yarn. When I get to the “heel” I will turn it and carry on .

A Foot Pedal Bag

Foot Pedal Bag

I picked up my new Pfaff Creative Icon embroidery machine on Thursday. I knew when I bought the Creative Sensation Pro II a year ago that I would upgrade to the Icon when it became available because of the many improvements. First thing I did after unpacking the machine and embroidery unit was to try it out – without reading the manual! I figure the icons and gestures on the new touch screen on the machine would be relatively intuitive and they were. The manual also happens to be on the sewing machine but I’ve downloaded it from the Pfaff site and installed it on my iPad. I wish I actually had a physical users guide – I like having the manual beside me as I’m trying to figure out how something is done, flipping through the pages and writing notes to myself to remind me about various techniques – I haven’t so far figured out how to add notes to the pages on my iPad.

I found an embroidery design I liked that would be large enough to fill one side of the bag – I chose some rayon thread and stitched it out on a piece of cotton backed with low-loft needle-punched cotton batting as stabilizer using the medium size hoop (260mm x 200mm). Adding my name offered a few challenges but in the end I figured out how to use a built-in embroidery alphabet, scale down the embroidery, and position it where I wanted it without a lot of frustration.

The second side of the bag I pieced using 2″ scrap strips in two directions. I didn’t bother embroidering the resulting pieced fabric. What I did find challenging was using the reverse button – it wasn’t until I was nearly finished the strip piecing that I discovered a small indicator light that let me know when I was “in reverse” – I kept looking for that information on the touch screen. There’s a second indicator light next to the reverse light – I’ve tried finding out what the light is for in the user’s manual but haven’t yet been successful. There’s a small embossed icon above that second light that hints at an end tie-off but I can’t seem to make the light come on…

I added a zipper, lining, and stitched up this bag for my foot pedal and power cord. Very handy to have when taking the machine anywhere or for packing it away (which I never do!).

Today, I worked on the Icon to finish the Improv quilt top and to piece the back (I usually do piecing on my Brother straight stitch quilting machine). The straight stitching on the Icon is very good, and the upgraded IDT (integrated dual feed – a built in walking foot, in other words) does a great job – I stitched five narrow strips together for the quilt back starting at the same end each time – no bowing. The resulting pieced panel was perfectly straight.

I have to say, I’m liking this machine.

Improv Quilt – Borders Attached

Borders Attached

Just finished attaching the borders. The quilt top is now just about twin size – I hadn’t intended making the quilt this large but that’s how it’s turned out.

Now to create a strip for the back – I’m going to need to add at least 12” to the width of the backing fabric (that’s because I’m too cheap to buy a double length of fabric and because there’s enough scraps to assemble a wide strip).

Improv Quilt – Center Panel Pieced

Center Panel Piecing Completed

Just finished piecing the centre panel for the Improv Quilt. I’ve cut some strips to widen the panel another 4″ to balance out the length. I’ve also cut strips for the borders. Yesterday I bought some backing fabric and I’m planning on using the golden leaves for binding.

Because the piecing is random and bold and busy, the imperfections don’t show (only an eagle-eyed quilter would notice them) – there’s just the sense of shapes and colour distributed throughout the panel. With the strips and borders added the size and continuity will be fine for a good size lap quilt which is what I was aiming for.

Once I have the top completed I still have to piece the backing and assemble the quilt sandwich – all before Tuesday, when this class meets again! So I’m under a bit of pressure to keep moving this quilt along.

Improv Quilt – Partially Assembled

Quilt Top – Partially Assembled

I finally got a chance to work on the improv quilt again. I didn’t actually lay it out on the floor, but laid out the wide extended border on my cutting table and began assembling “sections” along one side – starting with one of the  equilateral triangle elements and adding bordered blocks, and plain blocks, and pieced blocks the same width, attached to one another with whatever width sashing make the section come out even. I had to sew some partial seams as I was putting the pieces I’d made together (I got good at that on the medallion quilt), then opened them to attach the next segments. I’d say I got about 3/4 of the quilt top assembled. I still have to make a couple of blocks to complete the improvisation. Not sure what they’ll be yet but some bit of piecing I haven’t tried yet.

I’ve got to go looking for fabric to back the quilt in the next few days. I have to have this quilt top completed over the weekend because the improvise a quilt class meets on Tuesday and I have to have this finished. I’m hoping I’ll be able to have the quilt sandwich assembled so I can demonstrate quilting in the hoop to the gals. The final (3rd) class, two weeks later, will be binding the quilt, and adding a label to the back. In other words I want these quilts DONE and not left as UFOs (Unfinished Objects) which is so often what happens to class projects for these gals.

Beginning To Take Shape

The quilt I’m working on as part of the Improvising A Quilt class is beginning to take shape. I’m letting the fabrics dictate direction as much as anything. It’s kind of a medallion quilt in that it has a sort of central smallish block as my starting point, but it’s also a sampler – I’ve constructed some flying geese, some triangle-in-a square blocks, cut a long strip and a couple of different size blocks from my “tulip” fabric, assembled a log cabin block…

Taking Shape

I can see from the photo that I need more elements using the golden leaves fabric. I may also want a small amount of another colour for contrast but so far I have no idea what that might be. All of these disparate elements will get fit together with whatever sashing is necessary to assemble them into sections that I can stitch relatively easily. I’ve got about half of the elements I will eventually need for a good size lap quilt. I’m getting closes to having to make some dimensional decisions so I can start putting these pieces together.

The difference between a triangle-in-a-square block and a flying geese block is the height/base ratio – a traditional flying geese block is half as high as it is wide; a triangle-in-a-square block is closer to being square (it could actually be square if the height and base of the triangle – it would have to be an isosceles triangle – were equal). In my case I used an equilateral triangle so my blocks are a bit shorter than they are wide. I might construct some that are square.

I also want to do a couple of other traditional blocks on a small size scale to increase the detail of the piecing. Anyway, I will carry on. I have a couple of weeks to get a quilt top pieced before the group gets together again.

Convergence Quilt

Convergence Quilt – in progress

I’ve been teaching a class today on “Improvising A Quilt”. The women came with fabrics and ideas and wanting to explore ways of improvising on an idea and taking it somewhere.

What surprised me was to what extent the particular fabrics called for specific treatments. This one in particular – two complementary 1m cuts of Asian ombre prints both going from light to dark. They shouted out “conversion quilt“.  Jen hadn’t ever tried a conversion quilt, although I’d included a picture of one I’d made a while back and I happened to take that quilt to the class with me this morning. So convergence quilt it became.

Here it is – 22″ blocks cut from narrow to wide strips, interleaved and pieced, then cut again into narrow to wide strips, and interleaved, not yet pieced. This is going to be just lovely. The flow of colour and print detail is elegant. We don’t know, yet, how this quilt will develop beyond this central convergence panel but Jen has enough leftover fabric to come up with something that will work well with the panel.

This wasn’t the only fabric calling out for a particular treatment. Sheila had fabric to make something for her grandson – a fabric with images of soccer players, and three other fabrics with soccer balls, shoes. You have to keep the pictures of the soccer players intact – sash each then assemble them into some kind of quilt top? In the end she decided to offset the angle of the players which meant creating paper piecing templates for the odd shaped sashing elements and because the soccer player blocks were all different sizes, she decided to make all the blocks the same size which will make assembling the quilt top much easier. She’s gone home with four blocks completed. The sashings are all cut out and ready to be stitched to the soccer player images.

Nancy wanted to create a bed runner with Christmas fabrics using a slash and stitch technique – cut out blocks, slash them, piece in a narrow strip (usually 1″ which ends up 1/2″ wide), slash again, and piece, and maybe even a third time. She began with some red and green fabric scraps and inserted brightly coloured strips – but the focus was on the narrow strips. In the end she has elected to use a dark grey “grunge” fabric for the insertions which brings the focus back to the fabrics used for the blocks. Interesting how the fabrics dictate what has to happen!

We meet again in three weeks – enough time to complete piecing a quilt top. Then we’ll work on doing something interesting with the backs, discuss “in-the-hoop” quilting and get set up to complete the quilts. Looking forward to seeing how far they will have come.