Making Progress

Blue Socks Added To Stash

Finished this pair of socks on Friday and began a new pair that I think I might keep. The stash keeps growing – I will definitely have plenty of socks to share for Christmas. Last week I contacted the gal who wanted 4 pairs of socks from me two weeks before last Christmas – I told her this was the time to place her order. She said no socks this year. Do I really believe her? When she asked last year I just squeezed her order through – I had to take one pair, remove the toes, lengthen the foot by an inch, reknit the toes – she was lucky I had enough time to do that. I’ve already put aside a couple of pairs with someone’s name on them. I’ll just keep knitting as usual.

The Christmas Show Challenge

I finally made a decision regarding the 6″x6″ blocks – to use the textured raw silk for the background, to fuse batik circles of various sizes to the background to simulate “modern flowers”. I cut out ten 10″ blocks from the raw silk I have on hand, backed it with sewer’s dream to stabilize it, marked 6″ squares in the middle (using a heat erasable pen). Next, I added fusible web to a pile of batik scraps and cut out a lot of circles. I have started arranging and fusing circles to the raw silk.

Six Blocks Laid Out (but not yet fused)

Because all ten blocks will be shown next to one another, I’ve worked to vary placement, even cropping some of the flowers so the appearance of the blocks is different. I have to edge stitch the cropped edge so there are no raw edges at the edge of a piece.

I’ve completed one of the blocks

First finished 6″ Block

The slight wobble at the bottom of the block will be eased out when I mount the fabric over the stretched canvas.

Looks like each block will take me between 2 and 3 hours to embellish. It doesn’t look like a humungous amount of stitching but it takes more time than you think to edge stitch each bit of batik, then to add stems and leaves, and signature. The stems are free motion. The leaves are decorative stitches each requiring careful placement. The flower centres are embroideries which want precise positioning and often involve thread changes. It all takes time.

I’ve got another block sitting on my machine waiting to worked on tomorrow.

Another Idea

Appliqué on Raw Silk

In my stash, I have several metres of raw silk – I bought it in Toronto in 2008 to do wall art. I cut a strip, backed it with sewer’s dream – light weight woven fusible interfacing – to stabilize the weave of the silk and to eliminate some fraying at the edges, then cut the strip into 7 1/2″ blocks. I also had some fabric with these roses which I thought might work as appliqués – I backed a piece of the fabric with Pellon 805 fusible web, fussy cut these two flowers, fused them to the silk, thread painted them, added a signature, trimmed the block to 6 1/4″, bordered it, finally I mounted it.

Again, those corners are driving me crazy! Adding the black silk border adds quite a bit of bulk at that critical location and makes it nearly impossible to get a tight, square fold at the corner so while the fold look OK when you look at it from the side you can see the “pointy” bit sticking out when you look at the block face on.

I’m not sure how I feel about the raw silk – I think it has a bit too much texture compared to the woven silk I used on the other flower piece:

Also, I think I prefer the whimsy of the “Modern Flowers”.

I can’t source anything close to this woven silk here in Halifax; I’ve ordered several different types of silk from two different suppliers. Until it arrives (10 days/2 weeks?) I’ll keep playing with the raw silk squares, making more Modern Flowers arrangements. I think that’s where I’ve landed. Because I’ve cut the raw silk at just 7 1/2″ (8 1/4″ is what I need for wrapping around the stretched canvas) I’m going to have to trim and border the blocks but I want to explore different leaf types and lots of different appliqué placement.

Still experimenting!

Experiment – Flowers

Flowers on Silk

This is an adaptation of my Modern Flowers idea, an outgrowth of the Blue Flowers banner piece. Difficult, however, to decide what to do in a 6″ x 6″ space!

I started with a 10.5″ square of woven silk habotai fabric. Next I opened a baggie filled with circles left over from the Blue Flowers banner and began laying some out. Always the same decisions – centre the circles, offset them, relative size of adjacent flowers….

Once I had an acceptable layout, I fused the circles to the silk, added a 6.5″ x 6.5″ layer of batting beneath. What I didn’t do, and should have done, was add a backing of light tear-away stabilizer – that would have eliminate the bubbling in the silk as I embroidered the edges, stems and leaves. I will definitely add stabilizer to the next experiment.

The tricky element is positioning the embroideries for the centres and the decorative stitches for the leaves. I needed to rebuild the leaf stitch to start and finish at the stem end in order to be able to position each leaf on the stem in a realistic way. And then always the question – how many leaves do I want?

I’m happy with this experiment. I’ll do another couple of these – using the raw silk fabric I have rather than the silk habotai I used here.

There’s still time this morning to move on to another experiment – a crazy quilt block using batik. The question here is whether to cut and fuse it to a background at 6″ x 6″ or to take the quilting to the edges of the base 10.5″ square – that would allow the block to be wrapped around a mounting frame.

In the end I think I’m planning 10 pieces based on a single experiment, rather than 10 unrelated pieces.

Experimenting

Improvisation #2

This is the second “beans” experiment finished. I used a different stitch to edge stitch each swatch which worked better than the blanket stitch (the small fraying threads are contained). This time, the revised signature is a bit larger and actually readable! There are still one or two edits I want to make on the signature but it’s working better now.

On to another idea – a “flower” collage on raw silk – just to see what that turns out like in a 6″ x 6″ piece. I also want to create couple of crazy-quilt blocks to see what they turn out like.

Back to work.

The View

Bay of Fundy

This is the second piece I decided to work on. I photographed the bench on the beach at Huntington Point in 2007. I’ve always wanted to turn it into a textile piece but it needed people sitting on the bench.

A couple of summers ago I was doing the day trip thing with a friend. We stopped at the Tangled Garden near Wolfville and I people watched. There were a couple of young women sitting on chairs near a picnic table. I asked if I could rearrange their chairs and photograph them from behind. I’ve been playing around with the relative size of the gals and the bench to get the proportions in balance. I’m close. Although now that I’ve mocked up the sky, the bay, the faint line of shore in the distance (needs to be much narrower than the strip I’ve got place holding it), the rocky beach and the grass, I think the bench and the women need to be a bit larger for the image to work as I imagine it.

Next steps: add fusible web to the pieces of fabric, trim them to size; thread paint the setting, print the gals and the bench to size, fussy cut them and place them in the scene. To make the image work, I need to build the shadow cast by the women and the bench coming toward the foreground (the direction of the shadow dictated by the position of the sun on the young woman’s hat). I don’t know whether to do that with permanent markers or ink pencils – I’ll have to experiment before I decide.

Now I really need to get on with that wedding gown!

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!