Osterspermum are African daisies. I first noticed them at garden centres maybe 20+ years ago. They come in a range of colours from off white to a lovely purple, red, orange. I started planting them in the container gardens on my back deck. Over the years I took lots of photos of them.


I decided to include an Osteospermum in the set of ten pieces I’m working on.

Again, on a raw silk background, I fused the fussy cut flower printed on cotton. I selected a variety of rayon and polyester embroidery thread to use for the thread painting. Then I started stitching – first the flower edges with a dusty pink thread, then I spent about an hour designing a stitch to use for the small central florets – I stitched each one separately. Then I worked my way into the centre. wanted to catch the viewer’s eye at the centre – I used a metallic thread paired with a rayon to stitch the unopened florets at the very centre. Last came the leaves.

A second 6×6 piece finished.

Then I went back to Rudbeckia II – I wasn’t happy with the flower centre. I removed the piece from the canvas backing, pressed it lightly and reworked the centre and dark purple areas thread painting with metallic thread.

Rudbeckia II – Reworked

You can just see the glint of the metallic thread at the centre and in the deep purple areas. The thread painting with metallic thread gives more depth and texture at the flower centre. The slight glint of purple metallic thread livens the whole flower.

Now on to the next – a Sunflower.

Rudbeckia II

Rudbeckia II

This is my second go at the Rudbeckia. This time I printed the flower on fabric, pulled off the plastic backing, added fusible web, then fussy cut out the flower. I dug through dark green scraps, added fusible web, then cut leaf shapes. I fused leaves and flowers to a 9″ x 9″ raw silk square of fabric which I’d backed with Sewer’s Dream interfacing to stabilize it.

Then I began stitching! It took several hours to thread paint the flower – constantly changing thread and bobbin colour – using the “hover” function on my machine to simulate free motion sewing.

This time, I left myself enough space on the background to apply a signature. Having used fusible web, my raw edges are relatively smooth, not fraying as was the case with the first Rudbeckia.

I think I’m rather happier with this version than I was with the first prototype.

So now to attempt a second, different, flower.

Sort Of Sedate Socks

Man-Size Socks

I mostly knit socks to fit a women wearing a size 7-8 shoe (give or take a bit in the length). If I know someone has a small foot, I knit them with four fewer stitches and a few rows shorter in the foot. I don’t actually knit socks in “inches”; I knit them by counting rows so I know precisely how long each section of the sock actually is without the uncertainty of stretching it against a ruler.

This pair of socks is intended for a man wearing a size 9 1/2 shoe. So I added 6 rows to my usual foot length. With a bit of washing (even in cold water) which will shrink the socks a tiny bit they should fit nicely. Just waiting for an occasion to pass the socks along.

The socks aren’t “dull”, but they are sedate, I’d say. No bright colours. Just a wee bit jazzy.

“6 x 6” – Revisited

I’ve had a couple of ideas rattling around in my head for a new series of ten 6″ x 6″ pieces. I can use them at the summer showing at the NovelTea Cafe in July/August and whatever doesn’t sell there (I’m not expecting much will) will be ready for the 2023 Christmas show in Tatamagouche at the Ice House Gallery (I know Brandt is planning on doing 6 x 6 for a second year – last year’s show looked terrific!).

I have an interesting collection of seascape photos I’ve taken over the years. I have pulled them from my digital photo collections and stuck them in a folder on my desktop. The idea would be to crop each photo to 6.4″ x 6.4″ (that would allow the print to just come sightly over the edges of a 6 x 6 canvas), print each photo on fabric, back it will fusible interfacing to stabilize it so I can thread paint the image. I haven’t tried that yet – but it’s on my to-do list.

Green Bay, NS

I also have a collection of interesting flower photos. At first I thought I’d try printing those on fabric as well, but the paper print I did the other day wasn’t vibrant enough to stand as a background for thread painting. Instead, I decided to try a single flower image, cropped, from which I could piece a flower on a pale background.

Today I cut a 9″ square from some pale linen I had in my stash. I used a heat erasable pen to mark a 6″ square at the centre. I selected some fabrics, then started cutting. I arranged the pieces of fabric, pinned them in place and began thread painting.

Rudbeckia Flower

This piece took me about five hours to make. I took a couple of shortcuts since I was just playing around. I didn’t bother putting fusible web behind the fabric before cutting it out – a big mistake! I’ve ended up with fraying edges because there is no glue to secure the layers to one another. Next, the leaf at the bottom is in a bad location – I must remember to keep enough space free on the background for a signature. Also, the beige linen background is too “flat,” too “dull.” I definitely want to use to what I have left of the light coloured raw silk I used for the previous 6 x 6 works.

I also want to expand the flower to 7″ – a half inch more on each side so the petals and leaves wrap around the sides of the canvas. In this prototype I cropped the flower and leaves at 6″ – which makes it difficult to get a clean line at the canvas edge. I also need to think about embroideries specific for each flower centre. By the time I got to adding an embroidery here I knew I was just trying out the overall idea and didn’t worry too much about placement. I am going to have to be more precise with whatever I do at the centre of each flower.

I mounted the finished flower on a 6 x 6 canvas, then took the finished piece to show my friend Deb. She thought the idea was definitely worth pursuing. Because I like Rudbeckia flowers I will do another one for the collection.

Nothing on for tomorrow – I intend to do a second prototype taking into account what I learned today.

Second Fidget Quilt

Second Fidget Quilt

It took a couple of hours yesterday to set up the 12 blocks. This morning I laid them out on a piece of batting, added some stiff interfacing and stitched down the grosgrain ribbon to cover the joins (I didn’t sew the blocks together because I wanted the finished project to be larger rather than smaller – I gained 1 1/2″ on the width and 1″ on height by doing that).

Next, I embroidered my signature on the backing:

Back of Fidget Quilt

After embroidering a signature, I aligned the backing on the other layers, sewed the binding to the back of the project, folded it over the front and decorative stitched it in place.

I discovered when I was finished, that I’d put the backing on upside down! My signature is at the top left on the back of the quilt., instead of bottom right which I’d intended. Wouldn’t have happened had I done what I always do and hand stitched a label in place. Oh well. Lesson learned. Check backing twice before adding the binding (just hope I remember to do that checking!).

This time I focused more on texture with some velvet (which came from some pillow covers I made for my sister 25 years ago). I added a small circle of ripstop which has a crinkle sound when you scrunch it, but stitched flat it just feels “shiny” and makes little noise. I included a square of PUL fabric – that makes a sound when you rub your fingers over it.

I added a velcro fastening; a snap which is tight at the moment, and various beads and loops which move on ribbon or elastic. There is a small zippered pocket (which has a hidden object attached on the inside). The zipper with three pulls has no opening.

I made this second quilt as a prototype. I took the original quilt into my local sewing shop on Friday afternoon and the gals thought it would make a great class. Tomorrow this quilt will go to the shop to be displayed. All I have to do is prepare a description of the project and send that along with photos so the class can be advertised.

Now I need to do some actual experimenting with ideas for some 6×6 pieces. I also want to create a quilt based on the motif of the back of the last Drunkard’s Path quilt – Planets With Moons – a combination of large and small drunkard’s path blocks. I think 5 columns separated by a bit of sashing would be interesting.

Back of Planets And Moons

I’ll start on one of those projects tomorrow.

Fidget Quilt

Fidget Quilt 20″ x 16″

The wife of a friend of mine has recently moved to a full care facility. Her Alzheimer’s and other chronic ailments finally made it impossible to look after her at home. Looking for ways to stimulate her, her husband came across an article in a local newspaper about “fidget” quilts and sent it along to me. Easy to make.

Yesterday, I gathered some leftover charms (5″ fabric squares), laid them out in a 4×3 array, then dug around in my stash of “stuff” to see what I could find. Lots of zipper tape scraps – I selected the long pulls (for arthritic hands which have difficulty grasping) – big buttons, shoelaces, toggles, small buttons, hair elastics, key rings, ribbon, lace, an empty thread spool (I keep them, they’re useful for something now and again), some leftover cutouts from the back of the latest Drunkard’s Path quilt.

I began constructing blocks by adding stuff, one block at a time. I threaded four wooden buttons on some bright blue elastic (leftover from making face masks) and attached them with one of the quarter circles. I threaded one shoelace through the empty thread spool and attached that with another quarter circle (using a decorative edge stitch). A piece of lace which I left loose in the middle, adding a stemmed button in the centre to hold it in place. I mixed and matched pieces of zipper tape with contrasting slides (a single slide on one zipper, two slides meeting in the middle on the second).

Some elements I arranged across the background square, some on the diagonal. I found a woven, embroidered, woolen belt with small pompoms from my Peru trip, cut off one end and attached that. I used a buttonhole stitch to attach a pink shoelace to another charm slipped a toggle on, tied the ends with a reef knot (didn’t I manage to cut off one of the plastic ends while trimming the whole thing – grrrr – I stitched it, wrapped it in thread, and dipped it in glue to stiffen it, Not as good as the original shrunk plastic, but I’d gone too far to replace the square and do it over again).

I set up an embroidery with Sally’s name and stitched it out. The hair elastics I attached beside one another on another background square. I added ties to the zipper pulls (and a dab of glue to keep the ties from slipping off). I looped three key rings onto some thin ribbon. I used contrasting polyester embroidery thread to attach the elements – another textural element.

I stitched the squares to a piece of quilt batting, added grosgrain ribbon to cover the joins, then cut a very heavy weight craft interfacing to stiffen the project. Finally I added backing fabric and binding.

There you have it – a fidget quilt. The whole project took 5-6 hours. Now to find out which aspects Sally is drawn to and which she ignores.

I suggested to the family a couple of other possibilities – playlists of her favorite music on some device which she can operate herself or one of the staff could turn on for her regularly. Photo books made from family photos, favorite places she’s lived/visited, etc. Children’s picture books with good illustration, simple story, interesting ending. Children’s audio books.

There are lots of possibilities for stimulating her and keeping her in touch with her life.

More Escher Quilt Information

Mar 29 2023:

There continues to be interest in how I constructed the Escher Quilt. Specifically, Ina Veurink wanted more information about the size of the trapezoid elements. I just assembled one from scraps so I could answer her question. 

I cut 2″ fabric strips to start, from the fabrics I was going to use for the trapezoids. So each trapezoid starts out 2″ tall. Next I trimmed the angles on each side using an equilateral triangle acrylic template which I’d marked with green tape at the 5 1/4″ line:

Acrylic Equilateral Triangle Template – Marked at 5 1/4″

I laid out the 4 pieces: a 2″ triangle (in the quilt all the triangles are cut from the same dark fabric), 3 trapezoids (each 2″ tall, 5 1/4″ on the long, bottom side). I partially sewed the triangle to one end of one trapezoid 

(NOTE: half the finished triangle blocks begin with the small triangle on the right, half on the left – I talked about that somewhere in the posts as I went along). It’s a partial seam because to fit the final trapezoid in, you have to be able to lift that first side of the small triangle to sew that seam. Next I attached a second trapezoid, then I fit in the third trapezoid, last I finished by completing the partial seam. Pressed and trimmed.

Finished triangle size: each side should end up at 6 3/8″ (although if your sewing was more accurate than mine on this test triangle you might actually end up closer to 6 1/2″). Whatever your final triangle size, all the triangles should finish the same size.

“ILoveQuiltingForever.com” created a tutorial for the quilt from my 8 blog entries: https://ilovequiltingforever.com/free-quilt-tutorial-escher-quilt/#comment-3584. Click on each link in her tutorial in order and you should be able to figure out how to assemble the quilt rows yourself.

I ended the “Escher” series with a final comment: https://jmncreativeendeavours.ca/2022/10/20/the-escher-quilt-revisited/

This is an advanced intermediate quilt (definitely not for a beginner, even with instructions). 

Another note you wouldn’t pick up if you didn’t read through the comments is this one:

Just keep in mind you need 25 fabrics – one solid for the “background” triangles and any borders you plan on adding; 24 patterned fabrics – 8 light, 8 medium, 8 dark (https://jmncreativeendeavours.ca/2021/05/08/the-escher-quilt-2/)…. You’ll likely do a lot of auditioning to build a collection of 24 fabrics. As for the background, I suggest a navy (which is what I used given the colour blend of my fabrics) but black is certainly a good option (that was the background colour in the original photo I saw). All the best with this quilt. One other thought, because trying to pull together a collection of 24 fabrics can be daunting you might consider a kit that has selected fabrics for you (these quilt kits are reasonably priced: https://www.quilt-agious.com/shop/Kits/p/Escher—Batik-x46838321.htm).

Kantha to Jacket – Finished

I started with a Kantha bedspread which I’d purchased six or more months ago in preparation for doing a workshop on making garments from these textiles.

I did the workshop at the end of February. I started by cutting out a jacket for myself – two fronts, a back, two sleeves, two cuffs, a collar, two pocket backing pieces. Then I cut out front facings, a collar facing, a hem facing, and narrow bias strips for binding the seams.

Prior to the workshop, I sewed the bound/double welt openings for the slash pockets – so I could show the gals attending the workshop how I did that. I bound each pocket back piece, and attached one to each front behind the pocket opening. Then I attached the front facings, sewed and bound the shoulder seams before adding the mandarin collar. I bound the collar seam. That was as far as I got with the jacket – I didn’t want to finish it, I wanted to be able to use my garment to show how I stitched and bound the seams, how I faced the jacket hem and so on.

Since the workshop, the jacket has sat on one side of my cutting table waiting for me to complete it. First I finished the Moons/Planets quilt, then I constructed the baby quilt. This week I got back to work on the Kantha jacket.

I set up and sewed the buttonholes on the right front “placket”. That’s easier to do when the fronts are relatively unattached to the rest of the garment. (In fact I should have added buttonholes before sewing the shoulder seams and adding the collar!) Then I sewed in the sleeves, bound and top stitched them. I sewed the sleeve underarm/side seams, bound and top stitched those seams as well. I sewed the side seam of each cuff (to which I’d already added an edge facing), then serged the cuffs to the sleeve ends. I didn’t bother binding that seam since it’s concealed under the cuff which folds back over the sleeve.

I finished the bottom with a facing and then I added five buttons – all 23mm metal buttons, each one different. (You can see that if you click on the jacket front to get to an enlargement of the photo.)

The thing I had to be careful of were the beads that were either glued or sewn to the heavily embroidered Kantha. I removed any which were in the way of the seam allowances – I didn’t want to hit one with a sewing machine needle! I left beading in the centre of the pieces alone.

The jacket is now finished. All I need is an opportunity to wear it. I will likely just put it on one day with a pair of jeans.

PS – With the jacket on:

Socks Again

Colourful Socks

I knit these socks for my niece’s stepdaughter who’s studying biomedical engineering at university. She wears a size 9 shoe – people always think it odd when I ask their shoe size – but that’s how I know how long to make the foot of a sock. I checked my sock stash and I did have a couple of pairs of socks that would have fit her, but they were rather dull, more suitable for a man (men generally prefer sedate socks rather than bright ones – except for one of my brothers-in-law who has a collection of quite wild socks – two drawers worth, I understand, although I’ve never seen them except when he’s wearing a pair). So I looked through my sock yarn, chose what looked like a bright yarn and started knitting.

I finished the socks three days ago. Put them in the mail straight away. They should arrive by the middle of next week.

From Shirt To Heritage Nightgown

Embroidery Salvaged From White Shirt

Is it a week ago? Two weeks? I can’t remember, exactly. I took a drive on a sunny Sunday toward “the valley” with a friend. We moseyed our way along until we reached Wolfville. We browsed in some shops, Marie bought some summer tops in one. I came across a Talbot’s embroidered white shirt (size M) in a second hand shop that shouted “heritage nightgown” so I bought it (hoping size M would actually fit across my chest – holding it against my body it looked as if it would).

Without trying the shirt on first, (how silly was that) I cut off the ruffled neck and replaced it with a binding, cut the sleeves shorter and hemmed them, then trimmed away the bottom of the shirt intending to add a long “skirt” to complete the nightgown.

Finished Heritage Gown

I finished the nightgown yesterday. My reconstruction was focused on salvaging the entire embroidery. A mistake. The shirt had bust darts which pointed toward the flower in the middle of the embroidery. In my attempt to keep the embroidery intact I cut below the darts. I should have bitten the bullet, cut above the darts and across the embroidery – the finished garment would have fit better.

As it is, I wore the nightgown last night and it’s reasonably comfortable even though the embroidered “yoke” comes too low and hits the fullness of my bosom rather than sitting at underarm depth. Given the density of the embroidery I’m not sure how I would actually have cut it – no easy way to fussy cut across it and have it make any sense.

The gown is not a write-off. I’ve added it to my collection and will wear it in rotation with the others in the drawer. And it cost me $28 rather than the $120 at one of the clothing stores we visited which had some April Cornell nightgowns for sale.