Night Sky

Night Sky – Quilt Top

Here is the completed Night Sky quilt. I finished quilting it yesterday – it wasn’t a simple job because I’d decided to quilt on the diagonal within the flow of the strips which meant I had to keep pinning fabric strips to the edges so I could hoop the pinned layers.

Quilting Detail

I set up a swirl embroidery in two columns, used a variegated thread which blended with the various colours of the strips. I started at the strip end, changing to navy thread when I reached the dark fabric (often in the middle of a quilting run). A fiddly job, to say the least. However, I didn’t want the light thread to interfere with the speckled effect of the navy background. In some sections I had no choice but to carry the light thread into the navy but I hauled out my handy permanent navy marker and darkened the stitching. That worked well.

This was an edge-to-edge design which actually matched up very nicely – I could successfully place the next design and have it line up with the ends of the previous one. The joins are barely noticeable – I can pick out a few but most are perfect alignments.

Night Sky – Quilt Back

I widened the backing by creating a panel from scraps leftover from the Poppy Field quilt inserting a long batik strip of a rather wild palm leaf batik. In the photo it looks black but it’s much more colourful than that with purples, pale greens, pinks which blend with the other small batik samples.

My goal with this quilt was to showcase the beautiful fabrics in the curated set from the jellyroll. In the end I did have to add a few other strips on order to have enough to make the quilt long enough. Finished size: 47″ x 60″ – a good lap size; great for a wall hanging on a large wall!

Re-Vision

Reworked Quilt Top

I was suddenly awake at 7:00 this morning (I normally wake at 8:00). Got out of bed and went to work (before going to the pool at 8:45 as always on a Friday morning).

First, I removed the narrow pumpkin sashing from the two “straight” sides. Then I carefully unstitched the three navy bits in the bottom right corner and replaced each with fabric that blended with the main strip in each location. Now there is no jarring bits of navy in that corner.

So, from “Poppy Field 2”, I can name this piece “Night Sky” which brings out the golden speckle in the navy fabric and implies a city scape below.

I think I’m happier with that. Next on to coming up with an idea for piecing the back.

Poppy Field 2

Piecing of the Strips Finished

The strip piecing is finally finished. I have called the quilt “Poppy Field 2” because that was the name on the batch of strips. I will have to come up with another name for this effort.

Looking at the image, seeing the top on the floor, I can see immediately what I have to attempt next – a similar piecing but with the strips coming from a single point in one corner. That will involve grading each and every strip in order to generate the quarter circle full of radiating strips! I have more jelly roll collections in my stash so I could certainly use one to try out the idea.

Back to this quilt top. The current size is 47″ x 60″. I think I want to add a narrow 1/2″ sashing in some contrasting colour then complete the top with a 3″-3 1/2″ border which will make the quilt top something like 53/54″ wide and 66/67″ long. Colour and fabric for the sashing is a decision for another day when I get back to this. For now, I have to say I’m reasonably happy with how the piecing has turned out.

One aspect of the piecing I’m not completely happy with is the mitred joins – when you see the quilt from the corner the angles are interesting:

straight on I think the mitred joins are awkward. My intention is to quilt along the strips (on the diagonal) 4 rows at a time using variegated thread and bringing the design and colour across the dark blue background. If I come up with a suitable design those mitres will be overstitched and I may be able to create the illusion of a starburst.

Now to start exploring designs to use for quilting the project.

Fish

Fish 4 & 3 – Finished

For now I have the finished “Fish” pieces 4 & 3 hanging on the closet door. That’s it, I don’t plan on doing any more of these. They’ll go in the closet along with the other “skinny quilts” – I may take them to Parrsboro for the summer exhibit there, we’ll see when I start pulling work from the closet closer to the end of July.

One friend commented she’d put small bubbles coming to the surface – I did think about that for a moment as I was finishing the stitching on Fish 4 – but in the end I left the fish swimming peacefully among the seaweed.

Now back to the partially assembled quilt top. Really!

Corner Filled In

Exhibit @ The Craig Gallery

I got an email middle of last week wondering whether I’d be interested in exhibiting some of my work in the two outside window cases of the Craig Gallery at the Dartmouth Ferry Terminal (Alderney Landing).

How did they know about my work? A couple of weeks ago, I sent out proposals to five major galleries in the Halifax area – The Craig Gallery was one of them.

Of course I said yes? Short notice wasn’t an issue – I have a closet full of quilts and wall art projects – the challenge was how to limit the exhibit. On Friday morning I drove across the bridge to visit the gallery to get an idea of the size of each window. (I took along a suitcase with a range of pieces to show the curators – their reaction – “The photos don’t do the work justice!”) I know that, but the only way I can get any attention is with photos. While I was at the gallery we talked about me submitting a proposal for a solo show inside the gallery at some time in the future. I plan on resubmitting late in the summer for the 2024 season!

I arrived early at the gallery this morning with eight pieces in my large travel suitcase along with monofilament fishing line, straight pins, gorilla tape, a hammer and level, a few hooks… I forgot small brass nails, but in the end that was OK – we used tiny bulldog clips to hang the work from the window case ceiling using the monofiliament (the two lower portrait pieces are pinned to a plinth top).

Exhibit in the Large Window Case
Floral Art Pieces in the Smaller Window Case

It’s too bad I couldn’t get photos without the reflection from the windows behind me but you get a hint of how the exhibit looks.

While I was looking at the finished windows one of the artists from the Dartmouth Visual Art Society (who are showing inside the gallery for the same month of June) was looking at the work as well. “I must bring my sister-in-law to see this! She’s a quilter but she just follows patterns. She need to see this free-form work.”

If one person brings a second, quite a few people may actually stop and peruse the work – you can get close enough to the windows to examine the appliqué and stitching detail and wonder how in earth did she get those portraits so photo-like. I explain how in my “artist statement” and “biography” if anybody bothers to read either.

At first glance you think you’re looking at photographs – when you get closer you realize you’re looking at textile compositions! Precisely the effect I’ve been trying to develop with these works.

Fish 4

I wasn’t intending to carry on with the “fish” but I’m stuck with the quilt I started so I went to work on another “fish” piece.

Fish #4

Because I’d cut bindings from the leftover piece of purple ombre, the leftover piece was a bit shorter than I wanted it to be, so I added some batik to the dark bottom end of the purple and filled in with seaweed-like shapes.

Not so many fish this time, they’re more spaced out, with one behind the seaweed (which meant I had to stitch it in place before fusing the seaweed to the panel. The other fish are just laying in place for now – I don’t know precisely where I will put them, I’ll know that after thread painting the seaweed elements.

I worked away at my machine yesterday, edge stitching the seaweed then adding three seaweed embroideries for texture. Late last evening, I fused the remaining fish in place.

Seaweed stitched

Next will be to edge stitch the remaining fish and add an eye to each. Again, I think I’m not going to do any background stitching, I like the water-like flow in the ombre print and don’t want to interfere with it.

OK. This really is the last of the fish pieces. REALLY.

Fish 3

Against The Stream #2

I taught a class this week on “Skinny Quilts/Wall Banners” – on constructing simple, fast and easy quilted fabric art pieces. I’d worked on two much more complex pieces recently.

I wanted something simple to show the women in the class. I wanted whatever they tackled to be pieced/stitched in a day. Hence the “Fish”.

The night before class, I pulled the ombre pieces I had in my stash (from a Ryan McKenna kit I’d bought but never used five or more years ago), chose the purple one because it was an uncut 1/2 yd piece and cut an 11 1/2″ piece WOF. Next I gathered together the last of the “fish” scraps I’d saved from the Double Vision quilt – A Study in Blue and Green I’d made in 2019.

Quilt Top – Double Vision 2019

I positioned a dozen fish on the ombre fabric (they already had fusible web on the back), pressed them into position, cut a piece of batting and took it to class along with eight other banners I have in my closet so the gals could see a range of possible appliqué work.

Yesterday, I edged stitched the fish and added an eye to each. I thought about embroidering some seaweed at the bottom of the panel but the ombre fabric has a soothing “water” movement to the pattern and I decided that rather than embellish the background, I’d leave well enough alone.

I sewed on a hidden binding and added a backing muslin this morning, pinning the binding in place. I still have to add a hanging sleeve and hand stitch the binding in place but the hanging is now complete.

The women managed to piece a background (as I had done on the two banners above), cut out appliqués, fuse them in place (we discussed matters like colour, value, complexity of pattern, etc when choosing both the background and appliqué fabrics), then began the edge stitching.

I usually do this class as a two day affair but we were doing it on a single day. Had it been a two day class, I’d have had the gals practice edge stitching on curves but there wasn’t time so they went at it on their banner pieces. One had an open toed foot, luckily we were able to find another in the shop for the second machine – what a difference being able to see where your needle is in relation to the appliqué fabric! It takes a bit of practice to get the eye/hand/foot coordination to sew accurately at the fabric edge. Then the issue of editing the various decorative stitches to get a suitable width/length so the stitching shows, but doesn’t dominate the work, arose. Stitch selection and editing takes practice and judgement as well. We didn’t have time to develop a stitch sampler with notations – that would have required another couple of hours – we went with what was expedient.

The gals made significant headway and their technique improved significantly as they went along. Toward the end of the afternoon we stopped and examined how I’d done the finishing work on my textile pieces. I’ve sent them the directions for completing their wall hangings. Now it’s up to them. I’ve asked for photos of the completed work.

That’s the last of my “fish”; I still have a bag full of circles in many sizes waiting to be used.

Sky / Sand / Sea – Finished

Sky / Sand / Sea

Finished, except for hand stitching the hidden binding to the back. It’s hard to tell from the image how much quilting I did. I decided to leave the narrow strip unquilted to act as a separation between the two pieced strips. That meant I had to free motion quilt the light elements stopping precisely at the separator and make sure I did a tie off at the back. The darker elements required a different technique – I created embroideries to fit the size of each of the dark elements and stitched them in the hoop as I would any embroidery. You can see the detail below:

Quilting Detail

I wanted a “wave” like flow to the “sea” elements so I set up a couple of different embroideries for each section. I used a “stippling” stitching in the embroidery on the hibiscus fabric. I created “grass” for the green/blue fabric, etc. I made sure each embroidery fit the dimensions of the bit of fabric I was quilting. In the end I was pleased with the outcome.

I added the gulls once I’d stitched the “sky” portion of the hanging – they are cut from black raw silk, fussy cut, fused, then edge stitched in place. My initial idea had been to print images of gulls on fabric but when I did that with the paper cutouts they didn’t show up well. In the end I thought silhouettes of the gulls worked better against the “Sky” background.

This evening I’ll do the hand stitching to finish off the piece.

Sky / Sand / Sea

Sky / Sand / Sea

I have the panel assembled – two pieces joined off-centre with a narrow strip. It was obvious the resulting panel needed something more – gulls! So I searched for silhouettes of gulls online. There are lots of them. I downloaded a bunch in various sizes and flight positions. I need both right-flying and left-flying birds.

What I have in place at the moment are paper cutouts so I could judge position and size. I need to make two of the birds smaller – the one in the centre needs to be a bit bigger. Otherwise, I think three is all I want or need. My plan is to print them on fabric, fussy cut them, then fuse them in place.

In the end I chose to join the fabric pieces with straight lines – I’m intending to do quite a bit of thread painting particularly through the “sand” and “sea” elements with gently curved lines (using doubled rayon thread for emphasis) which I’ll stitch over the seams to obscure them a bit.

Next I need batting, then I can start stitching.

Carryin’ On

Fabric Squares For Another Wall Piece

Yesterday, I cut 7 1/2″ squares from the fabrics I’d collected from my stash to do a second wall art piece. What I see in my mind’s eye is something to suggest sky/sea/sand in two unequal panels: a wider light one, and a darker narrower one, joined by a dark strip graduated from lighter at the top to darker at the bottom. At the moment, the blocks are the same width – that’s because I don’t yet know where I want to place them – some of the dark pieces on the left will get cut into narrow strips and integrated into the fabrics on the right. When I’ve worked out colour placement, I’ll sew my two strips (I want a finished length of around 42″) then trim the one that will be on the right to 5 1/2″ – 6″. I still need some kind of lighter sand colour fabric for the top of the narrow insertion strip dividing the two panels – have to look for that today.

Latest Socks


Finished these socks two days ago – definitely bright! Into the “give-away” stash. I have a number of pairs of yellow socks in my sock drawer; no need (no room) to add another!