At Five Islands – Completed

I finally finished the wall art piece yesterday. It took some time to do the careful hand stitching – to tack down the mitred corners, and the hidden binding and hanging sleeve on the back of the piece. It’s now done.

At Five Islands – Completed

The piece turned out to be a bit smaller than I was originally thinking about it: 21.5″ x 18.5″ – but it’s still a good size. Now to find a place to hang it in my place until it goes into the Art Labs exhibition during the summer.

It’s hard to tell from the photo that the grunge blue framing strengthens the blues of the sky and water and brings out the greens of the bank in front of Ruby. If you click on the photo you’ll be able to see the thread painting more clearly.

So this project is now completed. On to something else. Yesterday I brought out the bag with the diamonds pieces and put it on my cutting board. I want to see if I can salvage that project in some way before scrapping it permanently and moving on to something else. I still need to make two more quilts and some other small pieces before July – there’s time, I’m not panicked and if I don’t make my goal, I do have a closet full of finished quilts I can bring back for the show. I’d just like to get more new projects in the works.

Finally Making Headway

I finally started stitching this piece yesterday. I filled in the sky and worked on the mud flat with blues/greys and brown/rusts (to really see what I’ve done, click on the image).

Under Construction

Today I worked on the land in the distance (still have the headland to work on). Then started in on the vegetation on the bank. First I had to modify some elaborate floral stitches on my machine to get the feel of the taller plants on the edge, next the long dried grass; after that the shorter dried grass next to the gravel (which I haven’t done anything to yet).

I’ve begun stitching the dark lines on the sun-bleached bench; I still have more to do there – just not sure which elements to try bringing out.

The gravel will present a bit of a challenge – I’ll probably use wandering straight stitching with a mixture of lighter and darker thread.

The most difficult element will be Ruby herself – I want to bring in the construction elements of her jacket – cuffs, the yoke and pockets, the collar. I think I’m just going to outline her hair, her face, and her hand, and leave the fine facial detail alone!

Maybe a bit more later this afternoon; if not, I’ll work on the piece again tomorrow.

What’s sticking out in the photo is my attempt to bring a bit of grey cloud to the upper right corner of the piece. I’m seriously thinking about taking out the grey thread and replacing it with the paler blue I used for the rest of the sky. The darker stitching seems a distraction. Retracing the stitching will have to be done v-e-r-y slowly so I can reuse the needle holes from the stitching I’ve taken out! Fingers crossed that it’s doable.

Grey Thread Removed From Sky

I did it – took out the grey stitching in the sky. Looks better. Check on the closeup (click on the image) and you’ll see the needle holes I now have to use as I stitch with lighter blue thread!

At Five Islands IV

I wasn’t going to work on the Five Islands piece today but after lunch I found myself at the cutting table tidying up and before I knew it, I was picking up the small scraps of fabric and adding fusible web to each piece, then cutting them into shapes, next fusing them in place. And of course the next step was to peel the plastic backing from the photo printed on fabric, adding fusible web, fussy cutting out Ruby and the bench and pressing them into place.

Appliqué Assembled

I moved on to selecting thread to use for the thread painting. While I was at it, I added a tiny bit of darkening to the sky with fabric pastels and pressing it to set the colours into the fabric. I might add a bit more grey in the upper right corner of the sky but not until I’ve done a bit of stitching, first.

Selecting Thread

The next step is always the challenging moment – up to this point I can always remove a bit of fabric and try something else, but once I start stitching, the fabric selection is set. In addition, I really only get one go at the stitching because after I’ve picked out the thread there are needle holes (subtle but nevertheless visible). So, it’s take a deep breath and gently hit the foot pedal.

I want to do a lot of thread painting on the mud flats – browns into the blue fabric, blues/greys into the browns to obscure the fabric edges (If I can). Actually, I’ll start with the sky and work my way down to the bottom of the piece, including quite a bit on the bench and the gravel it’s sitting on to blend the two together a bit more.

The last element will be a signature in the bottom left corner in a soft blue/grey so it can be seen but doesn’t jump out – that addition always scares me because I can end up ruining the piece after I’ve put in a lot of work. So far I’ve had no disasters signing a piece but you just never know when the embroidery machine won’t quite cooperate!

Tomorrow I have a “Quilting In The Hoop” class at Sew With Vision (a Pfaff/Husqvarna dealership nearby) for most of the day. However, my calendar is completely free Thursday….

Opening in Parrsboro 2020

Yesterday I drove to Parrsboro (2 hours from home) to hang 7 quilts and 15 wall art pieces in the Art Lab Studios & Gallery.


This is the sixth summer I’ve been privileged to show my creations in the gallery. It’s a small gallery in a small town but it’s becoming known for it’s displays of high quality art. The five resident artists are themselves fine artists who paint, make pottery, fashion textile pieces, along with a roster of other well known local artists who both show and do workshops at the Studios during the summer.

The space is perfect for hanging my lap quilts and other smaller pieces.

When we’re finished hanging the show I look around and think about the amount of work I’ve done in a year – the range of style, the intensity of colour, and the technical improvement the show reveals.

A number of pieces were created as projects for classes I was intending to teach (except they were cancelled due to COVID-19).

Kaleidoscope Table Runners

Other pieces were inspired by fabric in my stash – they called out for me to do something with them.

Then there were the two quilts I started work on at the sewing retreat last fall that turned into quite striking throws.

Grey called out to me this year – last year it was turquoise.

I think I want to return before the show is taken down to photograph everything once more – it’s very difficult for me to hang the quilts, in particular, and photograph them at home – when they’re on the wall, like this, I am able to capture each piece without distortion.

The quilts and wall art will be on display until August 20, 2020.

If you get a chance, the Art Lab Studios & Gallery is a wonderful destination for a day trip from Halifax – leave around 10am, stop at the Masstown Market in Masstown (they make great sugar donuts if you get there early enough). In Parrsboro you can have lunch at either the BlackRock Cafe or what locals call “The Pier” (now called, I think, Harbourview Restaurant), then visit the gallery, schmooze Main Street, and have a leisurely drive back home either through Joggins/Amherst or back through Truro. If you stop for dinner in Truro you can expect to be back home around 8pm. Even fun on a cloudy day.

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.