Convergence 4 – Completed

I finally finished the quilt yesterday. It’s taken days to decide what to do within the narrow turquoise border. It was just a tad too wide to leave unquilted but too narrow to mirror the quilt block embroidery. I finally set up a half block I thought would work and got it done. Adding the hidden binding took little time (including the mitred corners). I hand stitched it down last night.

With the two previous Convergence quilts in my collection I will have three possible quilts to show together next summer. I may not use all of them, that depends on what I manage to create between now and then.

I’m happy with the appliqué work – the edge stitching is barely noticeable, you have to look very closely to see it. I like how it extends the bright colours to the the bottom right of the quilt without hitting you in the face, leaving the upper right corner the unadorned turquoise.

Appliqué Detail

I’m also pleased that my extending the square into a rectangle worked. I might play with that again sometime.

Now onto a bunch of unfinished projects sitting in my studio needing attention. First the fleece pants for my friend Joan; next the Kantha jacket remodelling for my friend Marlene, third the stack of six unfinished zippered bags from nearly a year ago – I did two last week, I’ll finish the rest up in a few days. There’s an Heirloom sewing workshop on my calendar but I don’t think enough people have signed up for that – I still want to use the panel I made a month or so ago to complete a nightgown, so that’s also on my ToDo list.

When those projects are completed I want to move on to some new wall art – I’ve just lined up a second summer showing – this one in Truro – I’ll need six or so pieces to display. They won’t be hung, they have to be attached to something firm in order to “stand” on a wide shelf – either some foamcore board or thin plywood. I have no idea how I’ll do that yet, but I’ll figure something out.

Lots to get done. Better get moving.

Border Done

Just finished the borders (with mitred corners) and I’m happy with the colour flow they provide. The hexagons bring out the hexagon blocks / the dropping dots showcase the dots within the panel – and the many fabric joins don’t show and when the borders are quilted they won’t catch the eye.

Next step: edge stitch the appliqué – I’m going to use a pale grey Invisifil thread which should disappear into the fabric. I wish I had a golden shade but I don’t and it doesn’t make sense to order one online (even on Amazon.ca the cost is prohibitive!). So, the pale grey it is with a 60 universal needle – very fine (which I have in my needle collection).

I’ll start working on that tomorrow.

Borders – Underway

Yesterday, I added the gold and turquoise borders to the panel. Today, I spent a lot of time avoiding the next step because if I wanted the dots fabric to go in the right direction I was going to have to waste a lot of it and I didn’t have a whole lot to work with. I really wanted to border the whole panel with the dots – but I barely had enough to complete two sides and even then I had to do a lot of piecing to get enough length! That fabric is now attached with the mitred corner in the bottom left.

I’ve cut two strips of the hexagon fabric for the other two sides – I need one more to finish the corner. I have plenty of that fabric – not a problem.

I still have to decide at what point to edge stitch (and embellish) the appliqué – I could do it as soon as the borders are complete; I could do it after assembling the quilt sandwich – when I do it depends on how I think about quilting the whole project. The previous convergence quilts I’ve done were quilted overall in the hoop on the embroidery machine. I’m not sure how that will look with the appliqué, however. Stitching-in-the-ditch won’t do it, though because that leaves the larger blocks unquilted space. So I will probably choose to quilt in the hoop which means I should edge stitch the appliqué before assembling the back with what leftover bits of fabric I have.

Playing With Ideas

I haven’t done much textile art for the past month or so – not since the 6×6 pieces. Nothing in particular has called out to me.

This morning I decided I had to start something. I keep a folder on my desktop “Wall Art” where I stick ideas. I looked at Charlie’s first swim photo – I’ve never been happy with my original piece created using raw-edge appliqué. I’ve wanted to print the photo on fabric and embellish it.

Charlie’s First Swim

The problem is his dad sent me a small version of the photo on his phone and when I attempt to enlarge it I get a very pixilated image. This morning, I printed an enlargement on paper – I’m going to try stitching that to see whether I can sharpen the image with some thread painting. If it works, I’ll print Charlie on fabric and carry on from there.

Another thought was to revisit the bark cloth in my stash. I selected an array of hibiscus and heliconia from the black fabric, pressed a sheet of Pellon 805 fusible web to the back, and started fussy-cutting the flowers.

Hawaiian Flowers

I’ll carry on trimming off the black. I plan to use a panel of natural raw silk as background. This may be a project I’ll work on while working on other things.

However, this doesn’t feel like a start – I definitely want to do some quilting – just not sure where to begin.

Crazy Quilt 6″x6″ Sample

Experiment – Crazy Quilt 6″ x 6″

A quick try at “crazy quilt”. I learned several things with this experiment:

  • Leave out the batting, it isn’t necessary
  • Use light tear-away stabilizer instead
  • Be sure to save modified stitches as I go along so I don’t have to recreate them
  • The centre element should have a more irregular pentagonal shape
  • Cover area with fewer fabrics
  • Use brighter/lighter fabrics
  • Decorative stitch each strip as I go (much easier to make starts and stops exact)

In fact, I need to do another experiment – this time creating the entire block in the embroidery hoop! I’ve never done that but I have several block possibilities that create crazy quilt blocks as embroideries.

In any case, this is another possibility for the set of 6″x 6″ blocks!

With this block, I trimmed it to 6.5″ square, then added 2.5″ muslin strips to the sides to frame it. That will work. As soon as the 6″ mounted canvas arrives, I will try trimming and adding border strips in some colour or other so the sides of the pieces are uniform – that might be where the black comes in – the sides of the pieces could be finished in black fabric.

Afternoon

Crazy Quilt – Created In-The-Hoop

This block I created in the embroidery hoop using an embroidery design I had in my collection of embroideries. I like the shape of the central pentagon better – as I carry on – if I carry on – to create a series of these, I need to begin with an irregular central shape.

However, doing this in the hoop isn’t straightforward – the embroidery is set up to work with raw edges – the built in basting secures each piece but doesn’t take into account that the first basting seam needs to stop, the fabric turned, then the tacking to continue. In addition, I had to enlarge the embroidery in order to get a 6″ finished block – this resulted in the embroideries being larger than they want to be. Finally, the decorative stitching wasn’t done as the block developed but after all the fabric had been basted.

So, I don’t intend to carry on in the hoop – but this exercise was useful since I learned about

  • working in a clockwise order
  • trimming my fabric after each addition
  • leaving out the batting, using tear away interfacing instead, works well for the neatness of the stitches
  • and I still want to do decorative stitching as each fabric piece is added

Experiment – Flowers

Flowers on Silk

This is an adaptation of my Modern Flowers idea, an outgrowth of the Blue Flowers banner piece. Difficult, however, to decide what to do in a 6″ x 6″ space!

I started with a 10.5″ square of woven silk habotai fabric. Next I opened a baggie filled with circles left over from the Blue Flowers banner and began laying some out. Always the same decisions – centre the circles, offset them, relative size of adjacent flowers….

Once I had an acceptable layout, I fused the circles to the silk, added a 6.5″ x 6.5″ layer of batting beneath. What I didn’t do, and should have done, was add a backing of light tear-away stabilizer – that would have eliminate the bubbling in the silk as I embroidered the edges, stems and leaves. I will definitely add stabilizer to the next experiment.

The tricky element is positioning the embroideries for the centres and the decorative stitches for the leaves. I needed to rebuild the leaf stitch to start and finish at the stem end in order to be able to position each leaf on the stem in a realistic way. And then always the question – how many leaves do I want?

I’m happy with this experiment. I’ll do another couple of these – using the raw silk fabric I have rather than the silk habotai I used here.

There’s still time this morning to move on to another experiment – a crazy quilt block using batik. The question here is whether to cut and fuse it to a background at 6″ x 6″ or to take the quilting to the edges of the base 10.5″ square – that would allow the block to be wrapped around a mounting frame.

In the end I think I’m planning 10 pieces based on a single experiment, rather than 10 unrelated pieces.

Experimenting

Improvisation #2

This is the second “beans” experiment finished. I used a different stitch to edge stitch each swatch which worked better than the blanket stitch (the small fraying threads are contained). This time, the revised signature is a bit larger and actually readable! There are still one or two edits I want to make on the signature but it’s working better now.

On to another idea – a “flower” collage on raw silk – just to see what that turns out like in a 6″ x 6″ piece. I also want to create couple of crazy-quilt blocks to see what they turn out like.

Back to work.

The Invitation

I’m organizing our December show at The Ice House. Usually I do a winter theme but this year I’m changing it to a miniature show. There’s no theme so everyone is free to do whatever they like! The only requirement is that all the work is 6” x 6” in size. 

My immediate reaction was to reply “Thanks for thinking of me, but I don’t work with anything that small…” however as I considered Brandt’s invitation I thought “that’s an interesting challenge” so I began playing with an idea.

6″ x 6″ – #2

I cut out a 10.5″ x 10.5″ square of white fabric, then went to the box of scraps with fusible web already applied, pulled out the bag with red/orange/golden bits and cut out “bean” like shapes. I drew a centre 6″ x 6″ block, then filled the space.

6″ x 6″ – #1

This is actually the first block I tried – after fusing the beans in place I edge stitched each, changing thread colour as I went along. The stitching took time, but it went reasonably quickly – fast enough that it was worth trying more (hence the second incomplete panel above).

Each piece needs to be signed. I sign my work with a machine embroidered signature. On a piece as small as this, the signature needs to be small! I spent several hours trying various fonts in my embroidery software but none is set up to create a stitched signature small enough. I wrote out my signature, tried using it as background to create an embroidery – those didn’t stitch out well either. I went back the lettering function on my machine – I got closer but size is still a problem.

After stitching a dozen or so variations of a signature (Newman 2022) I settled on one which I tested a couple of times.

Embroidery for Signature

Although I had tested the embroidery, when I finally added it to the completed panel it didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped. You can barely discern what’s there. So it’s back to the drawing board to see if I can work out something better.

The second challenge is how to finish each 6″ x 6″ piece – Brandt suggested I try mounting them over a 6″ x 6″ canvas – so I’ve ordered a dozen in that size to see whether that can work.

In the meantime, I have a bunch of ideas – appliqué flowers in this small format based on those I’ve done before, crazy-quilt blocks, tiny quilt blocks using a variety of piecings,… there are lots of possibilities. In the end Brandt wants up to 10 pieces of art – I’ll likely end up making quite a few more than that as I experiment with the size.

I had been wondering what to work on next!

Not Your Grandmother’s Quilts!

Today I hung my quilts and wall pieces at the Art Labs Studios & Gallery in Parrsboro. I didn’t hang everything I took with me, opting for the “less is more” principle. Nevertheless, I’m delighted with how the show looks.

I spent the afternoon as “artist in residence” to chat with folks who dropped by for the “opening” – there were probably a dozen visitors who stopped to look, half of whom actually wanted to learn more about the works themselves. Lovely conversations with each of them.

This year, I wanted to show the new quilts produced since last summer as well as a “retrospective” of what I refer to as “the portrait” pieces – the wall art based on my photos where I print elements of a photo on fabric and embed them in a pieced background. The initial reaction is always that you’re looking at a photo and then only when you step closer do you see you’re viewing a textile/thread piece.

The show hangs until late in the afternoon of August 18 in Parrsboro NS.

121 Main Street, Parrsboro NS

If you’re considering a day trip to Parrsboro make sure to stop for lunch at The Pier / Harbourview Restaurant in Parrsboro. Ruby and I went there just to have their lobster roll – it won’t disappoint you!

Lobster Roll (after taking a big bite!)

A nicely toasted (buttered) hotdog bun FILLED with chunks of fresh lobster seated on some lettuce (OK, so there wasn’t any chopped celery, but we didn’t complain because there was so much lobster). We added a single kids’ portion of fries which we shared (just enough for two without having to feel guilty about eating them).

We started with the deep fried battered dill pickle – yes you got that right – a Pier Restaurant invention, I think. Crazy but surprisingly tasty. Ruby had never had anything like it so I ordered some. Comes with tartar sauce for dipping.

Deep Fried Battered Dill Pickle

On our way back to the city we stopped at “The Egg Lady” – to pick up 5 dozen fresh eggs for a friend of mine. Laid today, they’ll last her for several weeks.

The Egg Lady

We didn’t stop at Five Islands Lighthouse Park today, or go up the hill to That Dutchman Cheese Farm. We did stop at Masstown Market for chili for a light supper on the way home to round out the day. (You could have a terrific order of Fish and Chips at their Fish and Chip Boat if you can handle more fried food).

In spite of some rain, we had a lovely day.

The View – Completed

I still have to stitch the hidden binding on the back but other than that, this project is finished. Yesterday I’d finished applying the piping and border only to realize I’d forgotten the light inner “matte”! Having cut the piece to size I wasn’t going to take it apart and rework it. Besides, the contrast between piping/border makes the image itself pop quite nicely.

I’m definitely happy with how the gals worked out on the bench and that I was able to show their bums on the seat. Not obvious in the photo is the shadow under and behind the bench which grounds the gals – it’s much more obvious in the piece itself.

I’ll work on the hand stitching later this afternoon. That’s it for “portrait” wall art pieces for now. Time to move on to more garment sewing.