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.

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!

Blue Flowers

Blue Flowers

Just finished (well, I’ve still have to hand stitch the hidden binding in place). It took several days to do the thread painting – using decorative stitching around each fabric circle, embellishing the flower centres with embroideries, adding leaves, and stitching the detail in the foreground at the bottom of the piece.

Detail

Here you can see more of the stitching detail – many decisions: what thread colour, which stitches, stitch dimensions. Most of the centre embroideries I’d already set up from a previous floral hanging but they had to be adapted to fit these smaller centres.

This was the image that inspired the piece:

By Marieka Diepenveen

The piece by Marieka Diepenveen is a watercolour. I particularly liked the irregular concentric blue flower shapes and the tiny leaves growing out of the variable green vegetation. I added more colour and adjusted the dimensions and my circles are regular. My vegetation was dictated by the batik I chose to use which had greenery shapes. I might try another where the flower shapes are irregular….

Blue Flowers – Again

I started this textile wall art piece on Jan 23. I managed to get the basic appliqués in place and then I was stumped. Before I could embellish the raw edge shapes I had to figure out some way of stitching “stems” for the “flowers”. I thought about cutting narrow strips of various green fabrics, using yarn (yarn couching – using decorative stitches to tack the yarn in place), even stitching over very narrow ribbon. The issue was the colours I’d used in the vegetation at the bottom of the piece which limited my options. I spent time sporadically playing around with decorative stitches but nothing seemed to set up the effect I was after. I had no suitable green/brown yarn in my stash. And trying to force ribbon into gentle curves, even if I could come up with a suitable colour, wasn’t going to work, either.

After finishing a pair of black corduroy pants this morning (more about that in another post), I picked up my stitching sampler, played with a few more decorative stitches and then decided I’d just repeat rows of straight stitching! I practiced a bit. I matched thread colours with the fabric at the bottom of the hanging and started in.

Blue Flowers

This is as far as I’ve got at the moment. Those stems need small leaves of some sort – I intend to work those in last. Next will be embellishing the raw edges of each layer of the flowers to permanently attach them to the backing.

You get the idea here. The vegetation at the bottom also needs a lot more embellishing but that, too will come after I’ve worked on the flowers and flower centres.

I thought it was the COVID-19 Rapid Test Kit building that had interfered with my working on this piece. It wasn’t. It was my not knowing how to do the stems/leaves that had me stopped. I feel like I’m being creative again. Finally!

A Beginning

For some reason I can’t seem to find inspiration for a quilt at the moment – so I’ve turned to smaller projects. Looking through my Pinterest saves I considered the “Skinny Quilt” ideas I’d stored there. Several looked interesting – I selected two, then went through my fabric stash to see what I had that might work for both.

Idea #1

Idea #1

I found a photo of a 4-panel square quilt constructed from blocks with interspersed light and dark. One strip is probably not enough so I think I will work on two, but of unequal width. I started with the light colours – based on a soft teal and juxtaposed some dark blue (with gold), some other blues with greens gold, and finally the tans including two pieces of silk dupione which have a strong grain which I think will work well. I don’t know yet whether I will interject a contrast between the two panel elements, or not. The technical challenge is that the insert strips are cut with a curve which means cutting the seam edge of both fabrics at the same time and sewing the opposing curves. We’ll see how that goes.

Idea #2

Idea #2

This panel is based on a photo of a painting done by Marieka Diepenveen (you can see it peeking out on the left side of the fabrics – the round blue flowers). Again her painting is a wide rectangle but my intention is to create a panel about 12″ x 50″. I’ve chosen the two pale grey fabrics using the white with tiny black dots to separate them, with a collage of greens at the bottom. I have lots of colourful blue scraps and even some small circles from another project that might work themselves into the banner.

Now I just need to get going on both!

Purple Poppies – Finally Completed

Purple Poppies

I started this piece on (or about) July 7 2021 – here’s how it unfolded:

I got to the thread painting part and stopped, partly because I wasn’t sure I liked the poppies – I felt they weren’t strong enough although they were the right size to fill the space.

The piece has sat around, face down, until a couple of days ago when I finally picked it up and got to work on it. I’d already picked possible threads for the job, had them all in a plastic bin (which sat on top of the face-down piece). I threaded my machine with the lightest of the green embroidery thread and got to work filling in leaves. That was relatively straightforward; the leaves wanted a bit of texture but nothing more. The poppies were another matter. I wanted to brighten them so I started with a dark purple thread to stitch the outline pencil marks which took some careful stitching. I stood back and looked at the piece – seemed to me right then was the moment to stop. I figured I’d just muddy the whole thing had I attempted to work in the various pinks and mauves. So I’ve left it alone.

I added a batting panel, and backing, and decided to complete the piece with a narrow dark binding. The piece is 18″ x 24″ – large enough without adding wide borders to it. In truth, I just wanted the piece finished and out of my way. It’s been hanging around for six months – the longest I’ve procrastinated on a project.

The piece is not bad; not my best. It’s now finished.

Purple Poppies

This is the current state of my wall art piece. The purple poppies are pale. I could remove this fused appliqué, print new poppies, darken them with permanent markers, or work with the current appliqué and see whether I can intensify the colour by thread painting. I don’t know which to do yet, which is why I have done nothing, so far. Stopped. Dead.

Immobilized, I spent two days this past week reading “Prediction: A Pandemic Story” by Michael Lewis. While about our current pandemic, he grounds his narrative (as he always does) in presenting the stories of people who were reading the tea leaves based on what they were able to deduce about what happened in the 1918 flu outbreak, the asian flu I experienced in 1957, the impact of SARS in 2003, the swine flu epidemic that didn’t quite happen in 2009, which predisposed them to know another uncontrollable pandemic was inevitable and the steps they began taking to mitigate the anticipated disaster.

I read the book in two days – on my phone (I prefer reading on my iPhone rather than holding a book in my hands). I had a headache from so much reading, but I couldn’t stop.

Having lived through the past 18 months we know about the US government ineptitude but the reality as seen through the experiences of his central “characters” is compelling. “If only…” I kept saying to myself; so many people could have avoided becoming seriously ill, the numbers of deaths could have been so much lower, the impact on the economy would have been so much smaller.

In some ways, it’s too soon to write the book – we have not come to any end point in the pandemic, and Lewis’ “resolution” at the end is weak – of necessity because the pandemic is NOT over. Who knows when the disease will finally die down globally because until it does the virus will continue spreading and mutating.

Here’s another review of the book from the Irish times. But I recommend you read the book – I found it gripping.

I have also begun an online course offered by The World Bank: The Hidden Side of Energy Access: Understanding Clean Cooking. Who knew that 4 billion (yup, billion) people lack access to modern clean cooking options that allow them to cook conveniently, reliably, safely, and affordably. The problem is using non-clean energy sources impacts health, gender, climate, and environment. The costs of pollution from cooking with wood and charcoal, in other words, using unclean cooking sources, are enormous.

Not something I’ve ever thought about. I pull some stuff from my refrigerator, prepare it, cook it, without giving it a second thought. So I decided I’d learn something useful from the course. Well, I am, but oh, is it frustrating. This has got to be the most poorly designed learning experience I’ve ever tried. A number of years ago I participated in a World Bank course on climate change which was very engaging. Interesting reading, video, discussion. I gave the course quite a bit of time and learned some useful things. Here, each module consists of a collection of powerpoint slides with a gazillion acronyms (which I can’t remember – even MECS – modern energy cooking services – is stretching my brain. Then there’s MTF – the multi-tier framework for cooking – a tool for assessing the affordability, safety, convenience and availability for cooking). The course is all about memorizing stuff. Even the “discussion” forums are about regurgitating the dense content from the slides. The navigation is completely unintuitive, I’m forever fighting to find my way from one part of a module to the next.

Fortunately, there is a report on which the course is based. Here is a link to Access To Modern Energy Cooking Services. In our current climate crisis it’s probably useful to know something about this particular global factor which in some ways affects us, too.

I may quickly work through the remaining three modules, foregoing the exercises, quizzes and “discussion” to get an idea of the arguments. But I think I will take time to read the report – I have little patience for watching powerpoint slides – I’m a reader – I make sense through reading.

There are just not enough hours in a day to keep up with everything – the political news, learn new stuff, be creative….

I have to decide what to do with the Purple Poppies and then just get on with it!

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.

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….

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.