Skinny Quilts/Wall Banners

I’m not sure what to call these wall art pieces – they’re narrow raw-edge appliqué quilts constructed from a simple pieced background with a few fused top elements. It’s the simplicity of them that captured me in the first place and I decided to offer the idea as a class.

The class was yesterday.

To prepare for the class, I set up four skinny quilts as examples. I’d sewn backgrounds using narrowish width of fabric cuts from complementary fabrics and then cut out and arranged on each some shapes (to which I’d already added fusible web).

Panel #1: Diamonds.

I’d cut out more diamonds but decided to go with fewer and to bring the viewer’s eye toward the the bottom of the panel I added a single slightly smaller diamond.

Diamonds

Panel #2: Cascading Circles

From small scraps I cut out colourful circles in decreasing diameter, then fused them on the centre in increasing distance from one another to simulate a cascade.

Cascading Circles

Panel #3: Squares

With this panel I decided to keep the squares the same size, but when I laid out the squares I thought a couple of smaller squares top and bottom would balance the array. Then, as I was fusing the squares in place I decided to fill in the gap near the bottom right of the arrangement with two different small blue circles. I’m still deliberating whether or not to add something nearer the bottom of the panel.

Squares

Panel #4: A School Of Fish

The fish were leftover pieces I’d saved from the just finished quilt. As I was cutting out the “X” pieces I realized I was creating “Fish” shapes which I saved thinking I’d find a use for them at some point. It turned out the light coloured fabric was short a few inches from a full width of fabric panel so I added in the dark blue piece (also a leftover from the just finished quilt). The school of fish is swimming at the bottom of the panel.

Fish

The women in the class had a great day – the projects were simple enough for them to create the background panel, decide on some kind of appliqué, edge stitch the fused pieces, add batting and backing fabric, then sew on hidden binding strips on all four sides.

Not everybody got as far as the binding strips (everybody did finish the edge stitching of the appliqué) but Azar managed to complete her panel – she just has to hand stitch the hidden binding on the back and she’s ready to hang it.

Azar’s Skinny Art Quilt

The other women are joining me next Wednesday for a “come and sew” session where I can help them complete their panels. I hate leaving a class with another UFO and no idea how to finish the project.

I didn’t have a “pattern” or set of instructions for making a skinny quilt – the point of the project was to encourage the women to take an idea and improvise on it – to look at the fabrics they have on hand, set up a background, and add something simple, but elegant on top, do a bit of stitching/embroidery, then do an elegant finishing to create a piece of art.

Next week, I may set up one of the high-end embroidery machines in the shop to embroider signatures on each of their pieces – works of art, are after all, signed. I sign and date all of my wall art work!

Quilt On The Go – Finished!

Finished this quilt this afternoon. I’ve been working steadily on it since early last week. First doing all the edge stitching on the appliqué (154 fused elements), adding the borders, setting up the quilt, then quilting the “blocks”.

I’d created a single run design (enlarged and modified from a previous quilt [there’s a l-o-n-g story here about embroidery software not working after upgrading my iMac OS to Catalina!]) for a 227mm x 227mm block – it was four circles in a 2×2 array which meant I needed to embroider/quilt 30 repeats and then do  5 more half-block embroideries to complete the centre panel. I used the half-block motif scaled in width to accommodate the 3″ border. In all, it took 4 days to do all the quilting.

Quilt Top

Here’s the pieced back – I didn’t have quite enough of the dark blue fabric so added in a block of the main fabric, along with the longitudinal stripes.

Quilt Back

You can sort of see the quilt block as it sits over 4 of the underlayer blocks – it’s a curved pinwheel which was large enough to overlap the appliqué circles and follow the curves of the “x” pieces.

Quilting Detail

The finishing was interrupted on Tuesday because I had to spend the day preparing for an art quilt class I was teaching on Wednesday. I finally got to binding the quilt this afternoon.

The quilt is finished, label and all.

A Pair Of Bright Socks

A change from that last pair of unmatched socks . I enjoyed working on this pair – the pattern was interesting as it unfolded and while not a fan of green, in this context, I thought the colours were lovely.

Bright Socks

The yellow cuff and heel contribute to the feeling of bright. I chose to just work the toe in the variegated pattern because I thought a yellow toe would have overpowered the rest of the sock.

And, as usual, I started a next pair as soon as the needles were empty.

Talking about needles – I happened to pick up a pair of Knitters Pride “Zing” aluminum double pointed knitting needles (2.5mm) a couple of weeks ago. I was leery of working with metal needles. But these are as light as the rose wood Knitters Pride “Cubics” I’ve been using for the past several years. Unlike metal needles of old, they  slip stitches easily but don’t fall out! They’ve been very nice to knit with.

Christmas Fruit Cake

It’s the week after Canadian Thanksgiving – time to make the Christmas Fruit Cakes which are a staple gift for family and friends. It wouldn’t be Christmas without Judith’s Christmas Cake. I do them this early because they need time in the refrigerator to allow the rum that has absorbed into the fruit to osmose into the cakes themselves resulting in a dense, moist dark fruit cake.

The process started a week ago when I bought the fruit, dumped it into my 27 cup Tupperware mixing bowl with lid, added 8oz of dark rum, mixed it, covered it, and let the fruit stand for 5 days.

Yesterday was cake baking day. I invited my friend Ruby to join me – with that extra pair of hands the cakes came together in half the time!

An Oven Full of Fruit Cake

The Recipe:

Here’s the recipe [it’s a forgiving recipe – the amounts of fruit are approximate – I don’t measure, just guess – I must end up with a 18-20 c of fruit; the Tupperware mixing bowl is ~ 4/5 full]:

  • 2 lbs. mixed candied fruit (a mixture of regular and deluxe which includes pineapple and cherries)
  • 1 lb. red/green candied cherries
  • 1 lb. Thompson raisins
  • 1/2 lb dried cranberries
  • add whatever other candied fruit you like – I add at least 1/2 lb chopped dried dates
  • a 10-12 oz jar of a good orange marmalade
  • 8 oz. dark rum
  1. Soak candied fruit, raisins, cranberries, dates in rum for 4-5 days before making the cakes. Add rum to the fruit, cover bowl with plastic wrap and stir occasionally to make sure rum is absorbed by the fruit (Add the marmalade at this stage). I have a large 27 cup Tupperware mixing bowl with a lid that is perfect for this job.
  2. I turn my Tupperware covered container twice a day – by the end of 5 days, all the rum has absorbed into the fruit.
Wet Ingredients
  • 1 lb. butter
  • 4 tsp. almond extract
  • 4 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 c. white sugar
  • 2 c packed brown sugar
  • 12 large eggs
  • 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/2 c. molasses
Dry Ingredients
  • 6 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. allspice
  • 2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 1 tsp. cloves
  1. Preheat oven — 300° F
  2. Prepare loaf pans (8-9 two pound pans) by wiping with butter and sprinkling with flour. [I use aluminum 2 lb loaf pans and discard them afterwards; even so, I line them with strips of parchment from side to side – holding the parchment with clothes pins so when I add batter to the pan they keep the paper in place; makes lifting the baked cakes from the pan much easier]
  3. Transfer fruit to a very large mixing container [I use my lobster pot to mix these cakes because this is a double recipe and with all the fruit and batter, it’s a large amount of stuff!]
  4. In a second large mixing bowl, cream butter until soft. Add almond extract and vanilla and incorporate.
  5. Add sugar and cream until well blended. Add eggs one at a time beating well until incorporated into mixture [I actually used 14 large eggs this year – the cakes have come out fine]
  6. Add molasses and mix.
  7. Melt chocolate [I use my microwave oven for this – 1 min. stir, then a second minute and stir – if your chocolate still isn’t fully melted you can microwave a tiny bit longer] and add to batter and mix.
  8. Set aside while you prepare the dry ingredients
  9. In a separate large bowl mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices.
  10. Add about half of this mixture to the candied fruit and mix well.
  11. Add remaining flower mixture to fruit and mix.
  12. Add wet mixture to fruit and mix well. [You need a strong wooden spoon and even then you may need to dig deeply enough that your mixing hand is involved in the procedure!]
  13. Fill loaf pans about 3/4 full. [The cakes rise and will spill over into the oven if the pans are too full; I put the loaf pans on a cookie sheet to catch any spill over — I’ve had to clean the oven more than once so I don’t take chances any more]
  14. Place pans in middle of oven.
  15. Bake slowly. Test with a skewer. Cakes are done when the skewer comes out clean. [Takes anywhere from about 1 1/2 to 3 hours]
  16. Remove cakes from oven. Place on a rack to cool.
  17. Once they’re completely cool, remove the cakes from the pans [peel away parchment if you’ve used it].
  18. Wrap each cake in waxed paper. Put each into a ziplock bag and refrigerate for at least a month before using.

Depending on the amount of fruit you use, this recipe makes between 8-9 two pound cakes. [This year I got 9 2-lb cakes and 8 small (~1/2-lb) cakes]

If you enjoy a tasty dark fruit cake, do try this one.

JoAnn’s Blanket

My friend JoAnn has MS and is now bound to her motorized wheelchair. She’s out and about on her own a lot – zipping over to the Games Centre nearby to use the gym, off for coffee round the corner with friends.

When the temperature is low, it’s cold on her legs. So she needs a warm blanket. But the bulk of the blanket makes it difficult to carry her stuff with her – she asked if I would add zippered pockets to the inside of the blanket so she can hook the blanket In place and have what she wants to take with her securely on her lap.

Inside of JoAnn’s Wheelchair Blanket

Not a problem – I cut a wide strip from some PUL fabric I’d bought to make a raincoat for myself (it’s not going to get used for that, I can tell). I decided on the PUL because it’s waterproof and it will keep what JoAnn’s carrying with her dry.

I made self-contained pockets – PUL front and back with raw side edges covered by bias tape. I used a heavy weight (#5) zipper with larger pulls because JoAnn’s hands have lost dexterity. There’s a top compartment large enough for a magazine, a small pocket on top of that for money, and a lower pocket for other stuff – Kleenex, etc.

JoAnn gave me the measurements she wanted and I worked to her specifications. I attached the pocket pouch to the inside of the blanket at the centre so it sits squarely on her lap. To each side I added some colourful webbing tape to hold carabiner clips which she hooks to ties on the sides of her wheelchair.

The blanket was too long – it would have become caught in the front wheels, so I cut off 18″ from the bottom and bound it with a batik fabric using a standard quilt binding technique.

JoAnn is now ready for the next cold day.

If you know someone in a wheelchair, this might be a useful gift for her/him. Just an idea….

Mouldy Fruit Sculptures

You gotta take a look at these art pieces by Kathleen Ryan:

Mouldy Pear – “Soft Spot” by Kathleen Ryan

“Artist Kathleen Ryan creates a conversation between the beautiful and the grotesque in her oversized sculptures of mold-covered fruit. The New York-based artist uses precious and semi-precious stones like malachite, opal, and smoky quartz to form the simulacrum of common green rot on each fruit.”

Really, take a look at her painstaking work, it’s breathtaking.

Quilt On The Go – VI

This is the completely edge-stitched, bordered top panel.

Bordered Panel

The photo doesn’t do this panel justice – I have nowhere to hang it and photograph it in a way that allows me to align it perfectly. I laid it on my bed and adjusted the sides as best as I could with my photo software. But you get the idea here.

The narrow chartreuse inner border was a good idea – it brings out the brighter greens. The wider darker blue grunge border stabilizes the blues in the panel. I’m also happy with the subtle diagonal flow in parts of the piece.

Now to build a back

Fabrics For The Backing

These are the two main fabrics I’m planning on using – I also want to build in a bit of piecing using the blues and greens from the top. That’s a job for tomorrow.

Yesterday I sat down at my iMac to play with my Pfaff TruE3 embroidery software to discover it won’t run on my recently updated operating system!

The first line problem is the dongle driver which is incompatible with Catalina (the new OS 10.15); there may be problems further in I don’t know about and can’t know about until I get past the registering of the dongle.

It infuriates me – I bought the software for a whopping amount of money a year and a half ago and now I can’t use it. I immediately contacted Pfaff TruE3 Embroidery Software support who replied they had no information on whether the dongle manufacturer was planning a dongle driver update! TruE3 was only compatible with Mojave (10.14). No help there, obviously.

So by the weekend I’m in a bind – I can stitch out embroideries I’ve already created but I can’t modify them to any great extent and I can’t create anything new.

I’m going to have to ask around among the women I know who have invested in Premiere+ and see if I can spend a bit of time on their computer creating a design to quilt this new quilt with – that’s if that software will actually run on an updated Mac!