Bargello Table Runner IV

I finally finished the 57″ x 16″ Bargello table runner last evening. It took me several hours over two days to stitch the whole thing in the ditch – that was because I was changing thread colour and having to stitch on the zig-zag.

Bargello Table Runner – Finished

I thought about quilting the piece in the hoop for quite a while – doing an edge-to-edge style of design along the length – but I decided it would detract from the bargello detail. In this case, I also stitched through the backing, which meant I needed to add a binding. I chose a 1/4″ binding on the front but 3/4″ hand stitched down on the back.

The original Bargello piece is also finished – it’s the inverse of the longer table runner with a dark, rather than the light, centre.

Bargello Table Runner I

I’m teaching a class in two weeks on how to improvise a Bargello block and how to think about layout for a table or bed runner, a cushion, a wall hanging, or a quilt. The point will be to understand how the quilting version is derived from wool on canvas work and uses the same math principles.

For the class, I will need to set up another Bargello piece so I can demonstrate forming the tube stitched from 10 strips, cutting, and laying out the Bargello array. Better think about that in the next day or two.

Here are instructions for this table runner –  Download the PDF

Finishing Wall Art

I’ve finally got around to creating instructions for adding borders and piping to a textile wall art panel as well as instructions for hidden bindings.

It took some time because I had forgotten to take photos as I added the borders etc. to the Iris panel last week.

This morning I took a small panel I’d made quite some time ago, removed the backing, and added borders & piping and a hidden binding – and I took pictures along the way to illustrate the process! Finally. I did it because the panel wasn’t really finished and I needed something already assembled (instead of taking the time to construct something new) so I could take photographs as I did the work.

If you’re interested here are links to the PDFs

Iris

Yesterday, I enlarged and printed both the iris and its leaves on fabric then applied some Steam-a-Seam2 Lite (fusible web) to the back so the iris could be fused to the watercolour panel background. Last evening I fussy cut the iris, the bud, and the leaves.

Complete except for hidden binding

This morning I fused the appliqué elements to the panel, then thread painted them, taking care to edge stitch everything so the appliqué won’t lift  over time.

Iris – Thread Painting

Because the appliqué elements are rather small they didn’t want a great deal of stitching but I did want to work in a bit of shading on the leaves and on the flower – not so much that I obscured the shading within the appliqué.

I added a signature along the right side, then applied three border sections – first a narrow inner binding of natural raw silk, then small dotted green piping, last a 3″ purple grunge outer border.

All that’s left to do is add the hidden binding (I do have a small amount of purple grunge left but I’ll see if I can pick up 1/2m more because it’s a very useful colour to have on hand). Once the bindings are attached, I’ll insert a muslin backing and hand stitch the bindings in place on the back.

I will leave the piece as it is – while I can still lift the border to reveal the inner border construction. That will allow me to show the gals how I align the narrow border, and piping as I explain how I do it.

Yet Another Watercolour Piece

So I can demonstrate on Wednesday how I finish a hanging, I had to produce another panel for class. I had a clear idea of what I wanted to construct – a colour shading from dark purple in one bottom corner to very light in the opposite one. That was easier said than done – I had no suitable precut light colour squares; instead, I had to go back to my stash and pull out both large and small cuts of fabric in very pale colours that would blend with the purple range I was building. After considerable hunting and cutting, I was finally able to assemble a complete panel.

Once laid out, I stitched the rows (first sewing the 8″ panels together, then cutting apart each row, starting at one end, sewing and pressing each seam open).

Rows Sewn Together (Back)

Next I stitched the columns, again by cutting apart and sewing each column one at a time beginning on one side.

Columns Stitched, Seams Pressed Open

I pressed the seams open as I went along – first finger pressing, then pressing with the iron.

Completed Panel

I’m now ready to add a fused appliqué to the pale side of the panel – that’s for tomorrow. Once the appliqué is fused and thread painted, I will be ready to demonstrate how to add the three finishing layers on Wednesday.

Watercolour Quilt Workshop

I arrived at the class on Wednesday with my latest watercolour panel completed. I also took along the others I’d done as well as a folder of images I’d compiled from Pinterest to discuss with the gals – pointing out technical decisions evident in each photo.

Garden In Pink

We started by preparing the gridded fusible interfacing – cutting it into working size rectangles, then into 8″ rows – to be able to carry them to and fit them on an ironing board.

I’d come to class with over 2000 precut 2″ squares in a wide range of colours (all sorted into small zippered sandwich bags so the gals would have something to use – I was anticipating they might not have a broad colour selection and I wanted to be sure we had enough precut fabric to work with).

We spent almost all of the day working on developing colour flow. Each panel shaped up into something striking and different from the others – fascinating to watch.

Jean’s

I pitched in as the gals were trying to meld the different parts of their assembly – locating squares from my abundant stash to fill the central gap and draw the panel together.

Faye’s

Once laid out, the squares were fused to the fusible interfacing in sections in preparation for sewing the rows and columns together.

Nancy’s

That was as far as we got on Wednesday. Homework: to stitch the panel completely – first,  sew the rows together, then the columns, with the 1/4″ seams pressed open (to allow the panel to press flat).

Heather’s

Coming Wednesday, we’ll turn these panels into finished art works complete with a signature (which I’ve already prepared on my computer and will bring with me on a memory stick so we can use one of the high-end embroidery machines in Sew With Vision to stitch each out).

We’ll frame each panel with a narrow off-white inner frame, a contrasting piping, followed by a wide, contrasting, outer border. Lastly, we’ll add hidden bindings and a backing fabric. All of that takes as much time, I find, as creating the panel itself.

With the pieces taken that far, I’m gambling the gals will blind stitch the hidden binding at home to complete their hanging. I hate contributing to everybody’s UFO piles – I’m determined these pieces will get done.

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.

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.

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.