Tropical Flowers – I Can’t Believe It’s Finally Done

I finished thread painting yesterday afternoon. I added a muslin backing and hidden binding. This morning I hand stitched the hidden binding in place. After all this time (I actually started this raw-edge appliqué piece on May 17, 2018) I have it completed – absolute done!

Tropical Flowers – Finished!

The project sat around for months while I worked on other things. I started thread painting this piece on Jan 8, 2019 because I was teaching a class on thread painting and had to have something to work on myself. I got into the thread painting seriously after Jan 17 – when I completed the framing (I’d done that early in the process because I wanted the women in the thread painting class to see how I go about finishing my work). I spent time filling in leaves, then flowers. In the beginning, each leaf took a day or three to complete.

I was sure I’d taken on more than I’d expected when I started out. But as days went by I could see I was making headway. Jan 20 – one leaf finished; Jan 22 – a second leaf; Feb 11 – I got back to the piece (after working on some new quilts and planning two wall art pieces) and finished an Anthurium; Feb 12 – more progress; Feb 13, Feb 17, Feb 18, Feb 20 – I continued thread painting elements until yesterday when I stitched the last of the Plumaria!

People often ask – “How long did a particular piece take”? It’s not a simple question. As you can see, I started this piece on a whim back in May, it sat around for several months before I returned to it. The thread painting was slow going to start with but as I made progress I was able to stick with it for longer. When nearing the end I worked on and completed elements in a single sitting (although I felt tension in my neck and upper back).

You can’t see the thread painting in the upper photo – here are photos of the detailed work:

Epiphyllum – Detail

 

Plumaria – Detail

 

Anthurium – Detail

I feel a weight lifted having finally completed this work. The gals in the thread painting class are meeting again on March 5 – my piece is done. We’ll spend time that day working on framing and finishing, even if their thread painting isn’t completed. I want to create motivation for finishing their projects.

Tomorrow I’m going to return to Poppies which I began Feb 4. Time to get back to that and to Two Men in Cortona.

 

Colourful Quilts By Bisa Butler

A friend sent me a link to some wonderful textile art:

Bisa Butler – detail from – “Three Kings” (2018)

You must take a look at her work: “Artist Bisa Butler draws from an array of vibrant patterned fabrics to create portraits of everyday people. She eschews representational colors, favoring layered jewel-toned hues to form the skin of her Black subjects, and often groups figures together into strong silhouettes.”

Her pieces are breathtaking – wild bold fabrics done as raw edge appliqué  and quilted rather loosely following the contours of the elements of her figures. The pieces are large so you’d need huge wall spaces to hang any of them.

I must look through my photos to see if I have anything suitable to try a piece like this.

BTW – scroll down on the link to Butler’s work – you’ll see lots of other unusual textile/fibre art work.

New Wall Art Projects

I took this photo in the main square in Cortona, Tuscany in April. We were visiting the city and enjoying the food and the shops and just wandering around – these two men deeply engrossed in conversation caught my attention. I’ve known from the outset this would become the basis of a wall art project.

Enjoying The Morning Sun

I started playing with the image yesterday – first I wanted to remove the other people, to isolate the companions. The blue-shirted gentleman is making a classical Italian gesture – thumb pressed to first and second fingers moving his wrist back and forth; in his other hand he has a cigarette. I want to bring the viewer’s eye to this man.

Morning Sun – Initial Steps

With the other people removed and just the shops behind, the men now stand out – I removed the advertising from the supermarket windows – I will do them in the same dark colours you can see through the open shop door. I intend to keep the partial bench on the right (having taken away the woman who is reading and smoking).

Looking at this image now, I think I want the men to be on the right side – it’s got something to do with the speaker being stronger in that position. I’m about to try cutting off the building on the right and repositioning it on the left, reversing the bench so it is cut off at the left edge – that will also allow me to strengthen the greenery growing on the stones of the facade behind.

It’s not enough that I’m taking on this project, I’m also working on a second. I took photos of some poppies in Marlene’s front garden this summer and these two oriental poppies are striking. I started by outlining the petals so I could do a tracing which I’ll use for cutting out red fabrics. They’re growing beside a light green hosta, with a taxus shrub behind and a darker hosta in the top left corner.

Oriental Poppies

Tomorrow I will start looking for fabrics I can use to construct both these images. Generally I work on one piece at a time. For some reason both have been insistent I begin work on each of them.

Double Convergence – Completed

Just Finished. Today I completed quilting the remaining wide border, created an embroidered label, attached a narrow hidden binding to the quilt edge and hand stitched it into place.

Double Convergence – Quilt Top

The quilt is relatively small – 45″ square – which means it could actually be a wall hanging or a smallish lap quilt/throw. I decided to finish with a hidden binding because I didn’t want to complicate the quilt top any further. The wide border mirrored the double convergence and that felt like it was enough.

Double Convergence – Quilt Back

I used the fabric from the back for the hidden biding – stitched it on the front using a 1/4″ seam, then folded the 1 1/4″ strip under leaving me with a 1/2″ binding. You don’t really see the invisible binding unless you’re up close and looking carefully.

A bit of explanation about the quilt back – I needed a narrowish insert to accommodate the quilt width. I had a small amount of ombre fabric left and decided a strip of ombre as it was worked perfectly – no piecing, except to extend the length of the strip. There’s enough interest in the fabric itself that it accents well.

That’s quilt #7 since the end of August – I’m planning one more for the Parrsboro show this coming summer. Now to turn to wall art pieces – I have lots of ideas, I just have to begin creating!

 

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My 5 Essential Quilting Tools

I’ve been trying to track down another seam ripper clipper to have at my embroidery machine and they’re hard as hen’s teeth to locate and get to Halifax. I bought my original online at Nancy’s Notions in Wisconsin – the tool isn’t expensive but the cost of getting one here is prohibitive! It got me thinking about what are my essential quilting tools.

Essential Quilting Tools

Here they are:

  • a seam ripper clipper – it has a small but sturdy/strong point that easily slips under a 2.5mm stitch and fits nicely in my hand. Insert it under a stitch and when you continue pushing, it cuts the stitch on the sharpened interior edge below the point. I needed it yesterday when I had to take out 1000+ quilting stitches to redo the quilting. It’s a must have tool – way better than a conventional seam ripper because there’s less likelihood of cutting the fabric
  • self threading needle – I like to leave tails when I start and end embroideries/quilting which I then embed in the sandwich. A self threading needle with an open back end is easy to thread – place it in the fabric, push the threads into the open eye, pull thread through and trim
  • very sharp small scissors – useful for lots of tasks including trimming threads close to the fabric; definitely essential when I’m doing appliqué work
  • fine pointed 3.5″ tweezers – I can’t manage without these – they’re perfect for grabbing the pulled up bobbin thread when I’m starting a seam – I always have a pair right at hand at each of my machines. Perfect for pulling out loose threads when I’ve taken out a quilted seam.
  • Frixion heat erase pens – I just finished the internal panel of the double convergence quilt I’m currently working on. I was doing an edge-to-edge quilting with three different embroideries adjusted to fit the quilt – I had to do a lot of marking to position the starts and ends of the embroideries/quilting elements. Press the panel and the markings disappear (I’m guessing they would reappear were I to take the quilt out into below zero weather or put it in the freezer….)

These are my five essential quilting/sewing tools; can’t function without them. I highly recommend having one of each at each machine in your sewing space.

Double Convergence Quilt Top

I’ve spent days looking at the double convergence panel not knowing how to finish it. I finally decided to add a narrow dark border, then complete the outer border using the four fabrics I used to construct the convergence.

I thought about a second narrow border bringing in another contrasting colour but I couldn’t find anything in my stash (and my stash is large) that felt right – red? pink? green? yellow? I had a grey batik with small yellow circles, that was as close as I could get to something that possibly worked. In the end I elected to stick with just the four fabrics.

Double Convergence Quilt Top With Borders

To construct the outer border, I was limited by the amount of grey and turquoise fabric I had left. I was able to find some of the ombre online and ordered a yard (at great expense!) so I had options with constructing the ombre corners but I had barely enough grey and turquoise left to make a 6″ border.

I thought about adding a bit of dark fabric where two fabrics met, but when I photographed the layout I didn’t like how that broke up the unity of the border.

Top Layout With Joins Marked

I also thought about using a mitre to make the joins but I didn’t have enough fabric to make that work.

Looking at the finished panel I’ve decided to finish the quilt with a hidden binding – I have no more grey batik or turquoise and I think using the ombre for a traditional quilt binding will just add unnecessary detail.

When completed the quilt will be a rather small throw/lap quilt or a largish wall hanging – it’s ended up an awkward size, but I can’t see any way of extending the “length” that wouldn’t mess up the symmetry, so this is it.

Tropical Flowers III

Yesterday I finished a second leaf. For the moment I’ve left the medium teal unstitched and I think I like how it looks. I’ve covered the grey with the light teal thread and the dark areas are stitched but I like the texture leaving the medium coloured area as is, for now, at least.

Second Leaf

Next I will tackle the red/pink anthuriums – they will actually be a bit easier to work on because the colour moves in a way that will make the stitching flow. Probably not today, though. This morning I went back to the double convergence quilt top.