Whew – I Made It!

I finished Drunkard’s Path #5 last night. I got the facing/hidden binding hand stitched down, the label added. It just needs a sleeve for hanging which I will do sometime today.

Quilt Top

Because the quilt was so wide (60″ x 71″) I had to add a wide insert into the backing fabric. I used corners I cut from the borders when assembling the front, adding in two of the leftover drunkard’s path blocks along with large cuts of scraps in the colour family I used for the top. I finished the quilt with a facing/hidden binding. It was a close thing – I had to fudge the fabric for the top binding with another scrap that kind of blended with the fabric there, and managed to salvage just enough from one of the side cut-offs to finish the top facing.

Quilt Back

I didn’t have enough backing fabric left over to make a label! I had to scrounge through my box of grey scraps to find something in the same colour tone to use. So, unfortunately, the label stands out, rather than seem part of the backing.

I just have a couple of small preparations to finish up (labels to print, dowels to cut to size for hanging, packing everything up for travelling) and I’ll be set for Friday morning’s departure to Parrsboro.

Deadline Looming!

I’ve been working away frantically to finish the last quilt. the show at Art Labs in Parrsboro opens a week tomorrow at 2:00 pm! That’s a month to six weeks earlier than I was hoping for so it’s been a crunch to complete everything and get it all ready to hang. I’ll make the deadline but there’s still quite a bit to get done.

As far as the final quilt is concerned, I have the centre panel quilted, the sashing and inner border seam stitched-in-the-ditch. That leaves two more border seams to stitch all the way around, the wide outer border quilted, and the facing and a label applied to the back. I have time, but the minutes are slipping away!

I just finished adding the sawtooth hangers to the back of the flowers, carefully measuring the hanging position for each on the linen-covered panel, adding small nails to hang each piece on. With a little aligning they’ll be fine.

Flowers Hung on Navy Linen Panel

I still have to figure out some way to hang the panel itself – I’ve got an idea for how to do that, but whether it will work or not remains to be seen.

I’ve finished the Modern Flowers panel, as well. Last week I stopped into Sew With Vision to see whether I could find a fabric to cover the hanging panel because I didn’t have enough navy linen to cover it. I came home with a metre and a half of Moda Basic Grunge in Peacoat Navy. It shows off the small pieces beautifully.

Modern Flowers on Grunge Background

Because the navy Grunge worked so well, I thought I’d recover the Flowers panel to match. I went back to the shop this afternoon hoping to find another metre of the navy grunge – no luck – none left. I bought some dark teal fabric but it was worse than the navy linen – it has lighter blue elements which fight with the Flowers. I decided to stick with the navy linen. I did some browsing to see whether I could find a couple of yards/metres anywhere – looks like this particular Grunge fabric is out of stock just about everywhere, and even if I had found some, it wouldn’t have come for a couple of weeks and I have just one week to get everything finished.

Now back to work on the quilt!

Quilt Top

Panel With Borders Added

I’m working away on this quilt. The top is now complete. I had to buy a 1/2m of fabric for the dark narrow inner border – there was nothing bright enough or strong enough in my stash to complement the panel. A quick trip yesterday afternoon to my local fabric shop and I was able to set up and attach the borders.

I cut all three border strips at one time, sewed them together, then added them to the panel, finally mitring the corners – much easier than trying to mitre each border strip individually and then struggling to get the mitres to align. Took less time, as well.

I’ve pulled out fabrics for the backing – I’m going to do a wide strip (24″) using large blocks of fabrics comparable to the scraps I used for the blocks. I have a couple of nice soft grey prints that will blend with the bright colours to finish the backing.

Quilt Panel

Finished Quilt Panel

Interesting and several surprises. The overall “redness” of the panel is coming through – I intended that. I wasn’t anticipating the diagonal lines – the top left/bottom right “rope” like lines popped out when I laid out the blocks – I could have eliminated them by rotating the position of the blocks in columns 2 and 4 to replicate the orientation in columns 1, 3, 5 but that layout was uninteresting ( didn’t take a photo). I knew I was going to use sashing to join the columns – I thought it might interrupt the diagonals – it hasn’t.

The colour distribution is pretty good – no block jumps out saying “I shouldn’t be here!”. However, I laid the panel on the floor, took a photo, and the placement of four small drunkard’s path blocks smacks me in the face – you’ll have to look hard to find them all in the same column adjacent one another! Didn’t see it before sewing the panel together. I was focused on the large pie pieces, not paying attention to the small ones. Not taking the panel apart. I bet if I say nothing, nobody will notice.

Now the borders. This quilt is growing larger by the minute – with the planned borders added the top will finish at 62 1/2″ x 73″ – close to a double bed size! I will have to carry through, though, because were I to simply add an outer border using the sashing fabric, the panel will be diminished. I have to end with a lighter fabric on the outside, with a coloured element between.

I’m feeling the pressure to get this quilt done before the end of May – I want to include it in the Parrsboro show – so my goal is to finish the top today, construct the backing on Saturday, set up the quilt sandwich Sunday, then spend next week quilting. I lose Wednesday – I’m doing a workshop on making a Fidget Quilt – but maybe by a week Sunday I will have the quilting done – that leaves me a day or two to bind it.

BTW, I just googled “Drunkard’s Path images” and could find no picture of a quilt top that uses this array for the block. I guess it’s an original improvisation!

50 Blocks

50 Blocks Assembled

I’ve just finished sewing and trimming the last of the small blocks, attaching them to the larger blocks, trimming the resulting blocks and auditioning them on the floor. (I don’t have a flannel hanging wall in my apartment – there isn’t a spare wall to set one – so I use the floor space beside my cutting table for laying out quilt blocks. Good thing I can still get down on my knees and back up again!)

Before I laid out the last column, I removed the palest yellow blocks – they stood out as weak. I had enough large blocks assembled that I could draw in stronger ones. Having arranged all fifty, I began moving them around. I’m trying to avoid duplication in both columns and rows.

here are two diagonals happening here – completely unanticipated when I started out. There are the “top left – bottom right” diagonals – I’m also trying to avoid duplication along those rows. The large pie shapes on the “top right-bottom left” diagonals also stand out – not as obviously as the other diagonals but they’re visible, so I have to take time tomorrow to examine the array closely for duplication and colour flow.

I’d say, I’m about on schedule for this quilt. Once I’m happy with the layout, assembling the top won’t take long – sew the columns, add sashing between the columns – 3-4 hours.

I’m already thinking about the back panel. The temptation would be to add a bordered strip of Drunkard’s Path blocks (which I did in the previous quilt), but I want to come up with something different, yet complementary. I’ll sleep on that. It shouldn’t take more than a day or two to get the backing done.

I expect quilting the quilt sandwich (once it’s set up) should take about a week. I have 2 weeks before the Parrsboro exhibit. I’ll be cutting it fine, but I should be able to finish this quilt so I can include it in the collection.

Getting Somewhere

Auditioning 4 Rows and Sashing/Binding Fabric

At the moment I have four rows of 9 blocks (I’ll probably make it 10; that was what I planned initially). I’ve finished 40 of 60 half-blocks. Now that I have evolved a technique for sewing the small Drunkard’s Path blocks I’m going more quickly.

The array is, at the moment, an audition. I won’t do much moving around until I finish the remaining 24 semi-blocks. Then I will be able to decide what to put where.

With this much laid out, I started thinking about sashing and borders. These three fabrics were in my “backing” collection. I tried several grey printed fabrics for the sashing/inner border but the dense black dots on white will be neutral, yet strong enough, to make the colours stand out. I have a hunch the white with fewer dots might be best as my wide outer border.

Just thinkin’ about it all as a rest from sewing those small blocks!

The New Quilt

How The Finished Block Will Look

I have all 60 large blocks sewn together. I’ve begun working on the small quarter size ones. So far I have stitched thirty – leaving me ninety small blocks to go.

The 6 1/2″ Drunkard’s Path block is relatively easy to sew – with the “L” piece on top, three pins, one on each end, one in the middle, the fabric spreads itself out so the opposing curved edges more or less align themselves. Sewing slowly, I get a nice 1/4″ seam on the curve.

The 3 1/2″ block is DIFFICULT! Because it’s small it’s hard to put in three pins to hold the centre and the ends. I think I’ve figured out how to sew them more efficiently. Again, with the “L” piece on top, I just use two pins, one on each end, then sewing slowly, using my fine point tweezers, (with lots of stopping to realign the opposing curved edges), I adjust top and bottom as I go. I’ve just finished a dozen this way – it took me about 12 minutes to sew the batch.

The 3 1/2″ Blocks

Each large block is sewn to two small ones to set up a half-block element. Two half-block elements go together to make a block. I intend to assemble 5 blocks into a strip. The strip width will finish at 9″. For the moment, I think I want five strips (5 x 9″ = 45″), with 1″ sashing I’ll end up with 49″ width; add 2 1/2″ border I finish at 55″. Finished length I will worry about once I have the strips sewn.

Movin’ along here.

Movin’ On – Next Quilt

Drunkard’s Path Blocks for New Quilt – Large & Small

It’s taken two days to get the cutting done. I decided I to use scraps which meant scouring through my many boxes of small fabric pieces. I decided to stick with “red” as my colour focus for the large blocks (using up the grey 6 1/2″ strips, leftover from my previous quilt, for the backgrounds). I have enough quarter circles and backgrounds for 60 blocks – the quilt I’m imagining will use 50 – the extras will let me to make choices when I lay things out.

Actually, I began yesterday collecting and cutting smaller scraps for the small 3 1/2″ blocks – using up a bunch of 5″ charm pieces I had from a couple of collections. I find 5″ squares are not all that useful. I have incorporated them in a couple of quilts but I prefer cutting what I need from larger fabric pieces; I’m trying to clear out the 5″ squares I have left in my stash – getting close. I ended up with a wide variety of colours both for the quarter circles and the backgrounds (the two piles at the top right in the photo) – I have enough for 120 blocks, plus 24 more light backgrounds (in case I need them to balance out lights and darks when I start sewing blocks).

My plan is to begin with the large blocks which I find easier to sew. I should get those done in a few days. Lord knows how long it will take to assemble the 120 small blocks.

This quilt is an improvisation – I will randomly select a quarter circle and pair it with a grey background – I will do that for all of the pieces and hope the result will be interesting! When I constructed the strip for the back of my last quilt that’s what I did and the effect was more than pleasing. I’m aiming to make five strips which I will join using sashing of some sort or other – that decision I will make when I get there. Right now, my focus is on the blocks – both large and small. I’m expecting the blending of lights and darks (both with the large blocks and the small ones) will create an interesting colour flow!

Back of Planets And Moons

Just need to get started – not today, though. It’s time to stop for lunch and then get out to enjoy the lovely warmish sunny day!


Phalaenopsis – Moth Orchid

This is #9.

I took the eight completed pieces to the knitting group yesterday – the reaction was favourable – I guess I’m not wasting my time on this 6×6 project.

What was clear, however, is the women had no sense of the complexity of the work – that for ten of the pieces I’m doing a fabric/threadpainting rendering based on my own photos (the remaining two I adapted from fabric floral prints).

I explained to the gals that I started by going through my photos setting aside any I thought might be turned into a 6×6 piece. Next I edited them, adjusting the colour and cropping them to a 6.2″ x 6.2″ square so when I print them they are the right size for mounting and the colour strong enough to permit me to embellish them. Then I print each photo on a letter size piece of cotton lawn fabric (which is backed with plastic so it can move easily through the printer). After the print dries for a day or so, I removed the plastic and back the fabric with a fusible paperbacked glue sheet before I carefully “fussy cut” each flower.

At the start of the project I had prepared myself a dozen 9 1/2″ x 91/2″ squares of silk tussah which I’d backed with Sewer’s Dream stabilizer to keep the silk from fraying. I marked the position of the 6×6 square using a heat-erasable pen so I’d know where to place the flowers. After each flower was cut out I carefully positioned it onto the silk background, and fused it in place. On some flowers I added extra leaves before the final fusing.

Before doing any thread painting I use a heat-erasable pen to suggest the colour boundaries to be stitched. I might also intensify some colour with Inktense colour pencils or permanent markers. Then I begin sewing.

First I pull spools of thread from my thread stash (which at this point is quite large – a couple of hundred spools in every colour imaginable, a mixture of rayon and polyester – on this project the fibre content doesn’t matter, the colour does, so I mix and match). I constantly change thread (and bobbin) colour as I outline or infill aspects of each flower. For some flower renderings I’ve had to create machine stitches. After finishing each flower, I add my signature.

As I explained my process to the women they found themselves looking at the pieces differently, examining the detail more carefully. At first glance these pieces aren’t necessarily complex but the process of arriving at a finished 6×6 textile wall art piece takes me anywhere from 6-7 hours over a couple of days – likely longer than were I to simply paint the flowers on the 6×6 canvas!

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.