Watercolour/Colourwash Pieces – Completed

The finished colourwash panel – complete with inner raw silk border, rust piping and black crackle frame.

Blue Garden With Butterfly

I’m pleased with the colour distribution on this piece and the small butterfly appliqué adds a place for the eye to land.

I undertook a second panel for the class – this time I cut my fusible interfacing grid into 8″ strips, taped them to the cutting table, laid out my squares, fused the squares to the interfacing (easy to do because the strips were narrow enough to carry and place on my ironing board), stitched the three panels together, then continued systematically stitching the small blocks – cutting the interfacing as I went so I could press the seams open (which precludes stitching in the ditch as a finishing quilting).

Garden in Pink

I wanted to add some kind of focus element in the centre of the panel but I didn’t want another butterfly and I didn’t have anything else to place there so I’ve left it as is, for now. Should I come across an idea or an image of something small enough and from the right colour palette I can always remove the backing panel and add it to the work.

Next, in preparation for the Wednesday workshop, I cut a gazillion (around 2000 actually) 2″ blocks in as many shades of dark, light, and medium print fabrics as I was able to find either in my stash or from my local shops. I bought 4″ strips from width of fabric which yielded two 2″ strips – one I set aside in my stash, the other I cut into 20 2″ squares.

I’ve colour sorted all the blocks into sandwich bags placing bags with similar colours in larger ziploc bags so there is some order to this collection. I also cut a 26″ x 24″ panel of fusible interfacing in preparation for the class, and using the grid on the non-glue side as a guide, marked 2″ squares on the glue side so it’s possible to visualize the layout (the grid lines are very difficult to see when I’m working on my dark green cutting surface).

So I think I’m now ready for the Wednesday day-long class. Week 1 we’ll assemble the watercolour/colourwash panel; Week 2 we’ll turn it into a finished textile hanging – inner sashing, piping, outer frame, even an embroidered signature.

Another Watercolour Quilt Experiment

I’m signed up to teach a class in two weeks on colourwash/watercolour quilting. After finishing “Nine Shades Of Grey” two days ago, I opened my box with the gazillion 2″ squares of fabric all nicely colour sorted in ziploc bags and started laying them out.

The other day I bough a couple of metres of fusible grid interfacing to see if that simplified the process of setting up a colourwash panel. I began by cutting a 24″ x 20″ panel of interfacing, then glue side up (which is the back of the interfacing, so it’s kind of hard actually to see the grid), started laying out squares attempting to bring some kind of colour order to what I was doing.

Blue Garden With Butterfly

I wanted my light focal point to be off-centre which took some moving of squares as I laid them out. I felt hampered by an insufficiency of both light and predominantly dark squares (I need to go fabric shopping this weekend to see if I can add to my stash of suitable fabrics both light and dark so I have enough contrasting fabrics for me and the workshop participants to work with).

After placing squares, walking away, coming back, moving them around, I was ready to fuse the squares to the grid. That was when the process became hairy! I had a difficult time moving the grid panel from my cutting table where I worked, to the ironing board – without having squares flying all over the place. In the end I slid one of my smaller cutting mats underneath the grid interfacing so I could support it as I moved it from table to ironing board.

Now I really ran into trouble – I couldn’t press directly on the cutting mat (the heat from the iron would make it buckle). I tried sliding the grid interfacing (with loose squares laid out) onto the ironing board but my board wasn’t wide enough to support the whole piece. Fortunately I had taken photos of the layout so when the bottom half of my squares landed on the floor, I was able to reposition them (more or less) as I’d had them so I could systematically press them all in place. This is clearly a problem I have to solve before the class because I can’t have people struggling to retain the positioning of the squares as they press them onto the grid interfacing!

I used straight pins on my previous colourwash piece (because the grid cloth I used wasn’t backed with fusible glue) – I think pinning may be in order here as well. I plan on making another test piece before the class to see if that will work better.

I chain stitched the squares in my original watercolour piece which worked nicely – however, I had to stack my pieces carefully and mark the placement of each stack with post-it notes so I got the assembly the way I’d originally laid it out. Using the fusible grid cloth has definite advantages but you can’t fuse as you go along since, at least for me, I need to be able to reposition blocks until I’m happy with the colour flow.

I will continue working to solve this problem so it will be easy for the class participants to concentrate on colour flow and not get hung up on the technical aspects of securing the small fabric pieces.

Postscript: I’ve just had a thought! What if I cut my grid interfacing into 8″ strips, laid the strips together on my cutting board, placed my squares, then carefully carried the narrow strips to my ironing board to press the squares in place – these narrow strips would fit on the board. Ultimately, I have to sew 1/4″ seams along the edges of the squares – all I need to do is juxtapose the narrow fused strips where they are to be joined and sew a 1/4″ seam along that join. That would work quite nicely. Have to give it a try as soon as I have some more dark and light fabrics from which to cut more squares!

A Second Postscript: I appliquéd a small purple/orange butterfly in the lower left of the light area to provide some kind of focus to the piece. I wish I had more butterfly fabric to choose from – this one is a wee bit on the small side but it was the only size I could find in what I had.

Two Skinny Quilts – Finished

School Of Fish #2

School Of Fish #2

Finished with a hidden binding and backing fabric. I like this one even more than the original. I think the ombre fabrics create a feeling of water and notice the single fish swimming against the school…. But that’s it for fish – I have no more in my bag of fusible scraps.

Skinny Quilt #4 – An Update

Skinny Quilt IV – Straightened

I wasn’t happy with this banner – it wasn’t quite square and it showed when the piece was hanging. Yesterday, I took it apart so I could straighten the sides and while I had the backing and binding off, I decided to remove the smallest blue circle – first, because it was the wrong colour – it didn’t really show up – and second, it was the eighth circle and an odd number is more pleasing. Now the yellow in the top large circle is now echoed in the small one and your eye moves between the two and is then drawn into the complexity of the fabric design of the other circles. A better balance.

Best of all, the banner is now square so it hangs straight and I can include it I the banner/skinny quilt collection.

Fish 2

I have two quilts to work on but I’m not satisfied with the embroidery design I’ve created to quilt the “Nine Shades Of Grey” quilt and that has me hung up. So instead of quilting Magic Squares Quilt IV, I decided to work on edge stitching Fish 2.

Fish 2 

Fish 1 also used these same leftover off-cuts from Quilt-On-The-Go with the “X”s and “O”s  appliquéd to background layer of blue blocks.

Two weeks ago I gave away Fish 1 to a friend to whom I’d promised a wall hanging (Well, really I made “Tropical Flowers” with her in mind, but once I’d spent 2 months thread painting, and then had it hanging in my home for a while, I couldn’t part with it, so Fish 1 went to her, instead.) I know it has found a welcoming home.

After Fish 1 left the house, I missed it. For some reason I felt attached to it. However, I still had quite a few fish in a bag and two lengths of an ombre fabric in turquoise shades, so I decided to make Fish 2.

Same construction as the other Skinny Quilts/Banners – two unequal wide-ish pieces of fabric (cut from width-of-fabric) joined by a 1″ strip of a definitely contrasting fabric, with the appliqués fused then stitched in place.

This afternoon I edge-stitched all the fish, then added rather bright-coloured eyes (which I thought would be an improvement on Fish 1). I even managed to embroider my signature (even if I have it going in the wrong direction – the bottom edge of the signature should be facing the fish – nobody is ever going to notice it – once the embroidery began I knew I wanted it running bottom toward top but it was too late to stop and change it – as with a lot of this embroidery work – you get it right the first time, or you live with it.)

BTW – a better name for this piece is “Against The Crowd” or “Swimming Upstream” – one fish is swimming against the others!

Now I need to set up a hidden binding, add a backing, then hand stitch the binding in place – maybe tomorrow, or the day after.

Two Projects – Same Fabrics

I finished the hand work last evening on this project – what started out to be a central motif for a medallion quilt, turned into a wall art piece.

Finished Wall Art Piece

I added the bright, strong narrow outer border and finished with an embroidered signature (on the bottom right side) and hidden bindings. Finished size: 20″ x 24″ – a good size for a wall hanging.

Today, I assembled the blocks for the original lap quilt project – a simple but colourful construction which I began at the sewing retreat. The half-square triangles used in the wall hanging came from the corner offcuts from the quilt blocks so you can tell how small the half-square triangles really are.

My intention is to add a 3″ light grey border using one of the paler fabrics from the panel with no narrow border but I’ll see over the weekend when I get back to this whether that will seem right, or not.

Same fabrics, two very different feels. That’s what I love about working with textiles – I’m never sure how any project will turn out – I start with an idea, a stack of fabrics I think will work together, and see what emerges.

Medallion Quilt – Carrying On

This project is totally unexpected – I thought I was starting a much larger quilt by building a central block on which I was going to improvise further. The responses I got to the panel were interesting, however – suggesting this was a complete piece as it was.

Medallion Quilt

Worth considering. If it was a piece on its own it still felt unfinished to me – I thought it needed another narrowish border. After auditioning quite a few fabrics from my stash I decided this wild, vibrant batik (which I used in the blocks themselves) was precisely what the emerging piece needed.

I mitred the corners because if this is a wall art piece it needs the finesse of mitres and I’ve overcome the butted piecing of the grey border by stitching in the ditch in both directions creating the illusion of squares in the corners.

I’m not finished stitching in the ditch – I stitched the borders and began on the diagonals. I will continue that tomorrow, emphasizing the squares on-point and the triangles.

It’s so interesting how I start in one direction and find I’m actually going in another – totally unexpected, and yet interesting. It’s about colour, it’s about shape, it’s about visual impact.

I’m not going to do a standard quilt binding – definitely a hidden binding since the outer border stands comfortably alone. The challenge will be establishing a seam allowance that successfully fudges the slight shortfall in a few spots and yet manages to catch the border fabric so it won’t pull out and fray and leave enough width to the border for it to look even.

We’ll see where this goes.

Medallion Quilt II – Comment

Just on the phone with a very close friend who thought my medallion panel was striking just as it is – make an effective wall art piece, she thought.

Medallion Quilt – Centre

I certainly wasn’t seeing it that way – in my head I was working on something much larger. Now I have to rethink the whole thing. Maybe just one more border in a darker grey to finish it off?

Decisions, decisions….

Skinny Quilts/Banners II, III, IV – Completed

The remaining skinny quilts/banners are finished. I hand stitched the hidden bindings on the back of each hanging and added a sleeve for hanging it.

I’m happy with the combination of background fabrics and the appliqués – a close look shows I managed the edge stitching precisely. I like the quiet background and strong appliqué colours in this panel.

Skinny Quilt II

I wasn’t sure how I felt about the bright colours in this second banner but now that it’s completed I like the profusion of “dots” in the appliqué fabrics, echoed by the two small circles to fill in the space on the right. In the right location this could be an interesting accent piece.

Skinny Quilt III

I’m less happy with this banner – now that it’s finished I can see my idea to increase the spacing while decreasing the circle size didn’t work so well and I didn’t see, until now, that I have an inbuilt curve to the left! I think I chalk this one up to experiment and construct another to take its place.

Skinny Quilt IV

That’s what’s so interesting about improvising – I’m always amazed by how most of the time my experiments turn out well. It’s not that this one didn’t have potential – it’s just that I didn’t see the “flaws” until it was actually finished and hung on the door. It’s a lesson that I need to be a tad more detached and analytical when looking at these pieces at a distance.

Skinny Quilt I – Finished

Skinny Quilt I – Finished

I finished the hand stitching on this skinny quilt/banner last evening. It’s surprising how long it takes to finish the hand sewing in part because the muslin I’ve used to back the panel has a rather dense thread count and it’s difficult to penetrate even with a new hand sewing needle. Needs a thimble or I end up with a hold in both my third finger and my thumb! It’s awkward sewing, is what I’m saying.

I have a second panel ready to hand stitch and two more will get the hidden bindings sewn on this morning and then be ready to hand stitch. I’ll be glad when that part of the process is completed.

Magical Garden – Colourwash Quilt II

This past couple of weeks I’ve been teaching a class on improvising wall art and I’ve been working on four Skinny Quilts/Banners myself as part of that project. The other day when I finished embellishing each panel (although I still have to bind each one), I thought about another project that might interest the gals.

Magical Garden

Last spring I attempted a watercolour quilt – made from many 2″ blocks cut from small print floral fabrics to use the colour in the squares to “paint” a canvas. I have many bags filled with 2″ squares (light, medium, dark) and thought this might be an idea to interest the women.

I laid out an array (9 x 12) creating a colour flow across the surface, stitched the  pieces together and took it to class yesterday to share with the women. Today, I decided to finish the piece with a narrow inner border, a piped border, and a wider dark border.  I’ve added a hidden binding and backing – I just need to do the hand stitching to tack the binding in place.

The photo doesn’t do the panel justice – the prints are all quite sharp and showcase the colour flow rather better than the photo would suggest. Looks like this might be a go for January. The women all thought it would be fun to attempt something like this.