Convergence 4 – Completed

I finally finished the quilt yesterday. It’s taken days to decide what to do within the narrow turquoise border. It was just a tad too wide to leave unquilted but too narrow to mirror the quilt block embroidery. I finally set up a half block I thought would work and got it done. Adding the hidden binding took little time (including the mitred corners). I hand stitched it down last night.

With the two previous Convergence quilts in my collection I will have three possible quilts to show together next summer. I may not use all of them, that depends on what I manage to create between now and then.

I’m happy with the appliqué work – the edge stitching is barely noticeable, you have to look very closely to see it. I like how it extends the bright colours to the the bottom right of the quilt without hitting you in the face, leaving the upper right corner the unadorned turquoise.

Appliqué Detail

I’m also pleased that my extending the square into a rectangle worked. I might play with that again sometime.

Now onto a bunch of unfinished projects sitting in my studio needing attention. First the fleece pants for my friend Joan; next the Kantha jacket remodelling for my friend Marlene, third the stack of six unfinished zippered bags from nearly a year ago – I did two last week, I’ll finish the rest up in a few days. There’s an Heirloom sewing workshop on my calendar but I don’t think enough people have signed up for that – I still want to use the panel I made a month or so ago to complete a nightgown, so that’s also on my ToDo list.

When those projects are completed I want to move on to some new wall art – I’ve just lined up a second summer showing – this one in Truro – I’ll need six or so pieces to display. They won’t be hung, they have to be attached to something firm in order to “stand” on a wide shelf – either some foamcore board or thin plywood. I have no idea how I’ll do that yet, but I’ll figure something out.

Lots to get done. Better get moving.

Border Done

Just finished the borders (with mitred corners) and I’m happy with the colour flow they provide. The hexagons bring out the hexagon blocks / the dropping dots showcase the dots within the panel – and the many fabric joins don’t show and when the borders are quilted they won’t catch the eye.

Next step: edge stitch the appliqué – I’m going to use a pale grey Invisifil thread which should disappear into the fabric. I wish I had a golden shade but I don’t and it doesn’t make sense to order one online (even on Amazon.ca the cost is prohibitive!). So, the pale grey it is with a 60 universal needle – very fine (which I have in my needle collection).

I’ll start working on that tomorrow.

Borders – Underway

Yesterday, I added the gold and turquoise borders to the panel. Today, I spent a lot of time avoiding the next step because if I wanted the dots fabric to go in the right direction I was going to have to waste a lot of it and I didn’t have a whole lot to work with. I really wanted to border the whole panel with the dots – but I barely had enough to complete two sides and even then I had to do a lot of piecing to get enough length! That fabric is now attached with the mitred corner in the bottom left.

I’ve cut two strips of the hexagon fabric for the other two sides – I need one more to finish the corner. I have plenty of that fabric – not a problem.

I still have to decide at what point to edge stitch (and embellish) the appliqué – I could do it as soon as the borders are complete; I could do it after assembling the quilt sandwich – when I do it depends on how I think about quilting the whole project. The previous convergence quilts I’ve done were quilted overall in the hoop on the embroidery machine. I’m not sure how that will look with the appliqué, however. Stitching-in-the-ditch won’t do it, though because that leaves the larger blocks unquilted space. So I will probably choose to quilt in the hoop which means I should edge stitch the appliqué before assembling the back with what leftover bits of fabric I have.

Convergence – Ongoing

First thing I did today was to recreate the dots/turquoise pairing strips setting them up so when interleaved with the flowers/hexagons the dark fabrics would be opposite one another, not adjacent. My goal was to end up with a rectangular rather than a square panel. I accomplished that by adding a final 9″ row of the dots/turquoise pairing to one end to make the block longer.

I have just finished assembling the panel – 35 x 44 – not quite large enough for a lap quilt. I want to end up with something closer to 48 x 60. I can can obviously add borders – 7″ all around would give me a finished size of 49 x 58. If the borders were a bit asymmetrical I could fudge the final size closer to 60″ in length.

However, first I need to sort out a narrow framing border around the panel to set it off from the borders which I can then assemble by piecing the original four fabrics. So back to the stash to see what I have that might close off the panel in an interesting way.

I’m also going to appliqué some flowers from the yellow fabric over the turquoise blocks at the bottom to bring that colour to that bottom right corner (in the photo on the left – I must have stood on the opposite side of the panel when I took the second photo!).

Afternoon Update

Panel With Fused Appliqué

I couldn’t leave the panel as it was – I applied some fusible web to the back of floral fabric, fussy cut a bunch of elements, then fused them in place. Now I need to edge-stitch and embellish them before I can go further. I’m definitely happier with those turquoise segments at the bottom partially covered – the appliqués extend the bright colours beyond their quadrant.

Convergence

OK, I’ve played with Ricky Tims’ convergence quilt idea before. There are a bunch of subtleties to consider and I don’t always see them until I’ve sewn the strips together.

In Convergence #1, I didn’t realize how small the constructed block would be, so to make a decent size lap quilt, I used it on-point, filling the corners with the corresponding fabrics and bordering with something compatible but different. While constructing Convergence #2, I misjudged how the two light colours would go together, cut them the wrong way; but fortunately, I had enough of both fabrics to redo the panel and salvage the quilt. I used the miscut strips from Convergence #2 to construct Convergence #3 by interspersing them with a multi-fabric panel, cut in strips and interleaved with the greys. I lengthened the panel in one dimension to make the resulting quilt a rectangle.

In thinking about another convergence quilt panel I chose four fabrics I thought worked well together (two batiks/two prints):

I thought the convergence array would make a bright panel.

A Square Convergence – Laid Out

A square block works as you’d expect it to. However, I wanted a rectangular panel so I had added another dark 9″ strip to the contrasting end of each pairing:

Extended Panel – Laid Out

Here’s where I didn’t anticipate the fabric placement – instead of cutting the blue dots/turquoise grunge as I did, I should have reverse the fabrics. I’m going to redo that fabric pairing to see whether the overall panel doesn’t work better. Fortunately I have enough fabric to do that and I’ll set aside the strips I currently have and use them in another quilt top (as I did with Convergence #2 and #3).

I suspect this arrangement could be salvaged were I to choose a good contrasting narrow sashing fabric. I’d intended using the dark hexagonal batik for the outer border but I’m not sure that will work well with this array.

Next task – redo the blue dots/turquoise grunge strips and see what that looks like. Tomorrow!

Carryin’ On

Block #4

This morning’s project was to complete Block #4. I’m getting more efficient at embellishing the raw edge appliqué, applying stems and leaves, and signature. A bit less than three hours. I’ve built up a library of “edge” stitches, and “leaf” shapes so I’m not spending time browsing and modifying my machine’s stitches to find something to use.

Block #5 tomorrow.

Sweatshirt Makeover

In just under two weeks I’m teaching a class “Sweatshirt Makeover” – intended to explore remaking and/or embellishing an old sweater, plain jacket, or sweatshirt to give it new life.

I did a couple many years ago:

The “Iris Appliqué” was my very first attempt at raw edge appliqué! I added irises to both front and back of the shirt. Several years later my sister brought me two molas from Costa Rica – I fused this bird mola to the front of a black sweatshirt and framed the edges; I still have the fish packed away in a drawer.

There are two aspects to a sweatshirt makeover – you can embellish it (taking particular care to fuse fabric over old stains or holes you want to hide); or you can remodel it – turn a pullover sweatshirt into a jacket with buttons or zipper or snaps. You can remove cuffs from sleeves or hem. Change the neckline. Lots of possibilities.

I didn’t have another old sweatshirt on hand so I went to Mission Mart (a local used clothing depot) to see what I could find. I came across a grey zippered fleece jacket (which was on the small side). So I decided to take out the zipper, remove the collar, shorten the sleeves, reshape the front edges so they’d hang better when I added two centre panels which I intend closing with buttons.

The next decision was how to embellish it. I decided simply to use the “modern flowers” theme I’ve been working on for the 6×6 wall art. I selected a bunch of batik circles, fused them onto the back and fronts of the jacket. Today I started edge stitching the circles and I added stems and leaves to finish the left front.

At the moment, I don’t know what to use to widen the front of the jacket (I need about 5″ in total for the jacket to fall loosely). I have a couple half-yards of wool fabric which might work with the fleece – I have to make a trip to Fabricville to see if I can find a double sided grey fleece (or some other colour) that might work with the jacket.

Or I may never do any more on this project – I’ve done enough to illustrate how you might think about doing a makeover and take this project as is to the shop to put on display to advertise the class.

The Challenge – Part 2

Two more 6″ x 6″ blocks completed.

It’s taking about three hours to do each block what with the edge stitching on each piece of fabric, free motion stitching in the stems, stitching the leaves (which are decorative stitches) and embroidering the centres (which is taking way more time than I expected – for some reason my top thread is fraying when I’m embroidering so I get stops where I have to clean up the mess, backtrack the embroidery, then continue stitching.

So far, the signature is stitching out without breaking the thread! After I’ve pressed the block, I’ve redrawn the 6″ outline with a Frixion (heat-erasable) pen so I know where my edges are.

Three more left of the original six I prepared. When those are finished (in about a week or so) I’ll layout the remaining four.

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!

Stretched

Three 6″ x 6″ Stretched pieces

My order of a dozen 6″ square stretched canvases arrived day before yesterday. I tried stretching some of the panels I’d made to see how it went. I first tried the crazy quilt block – I had already added a white cotton border to it so I darkened that with a black permanent marker (just to see what it looked like) then folded the fabric over the stretched canvas. Very difficult to get the corners tidy!

I next tried the beans – I didn’t bother trimming and making borders I was primarily interested in folding the corners. Again, they didn’t turn out as smoothly as I wanted. So I took both apart. I removed the canvas from the frame with the crazy quilt block – I wanted to use the canvas piece as a template to shape the bordered block. I trimmed both the crazy quilt and the beans blocks. Then I used double sided tape on the back of the frame so when I brought the border fabric around the sides and to the back it would stay where I put it without having to use a gazillion staples. I centred the crazy quilt block (trimming the corner from the batting underneath to eliminate some of the bulk in the corners) then folded the edges in the same way the canvas had been folded (which gave a flatter corner) and stapled the corners. I redid the beans piece the same way – the edges looked better.

I decided I should try adding a black border to the flowers – I have a large piece of woven silk shantung which my sister had brought me from Thailand at least 15 years ago. I’d made a pair of silk dress pants from half of it but I still have at least 2 metres so I decided I’d give it a try. The silk provides a nice matte edge but in order to sew it without a lot of fraying I will have to back it with sewer’s dream interfacing to give it some stability. The second challenge is to mark the 6″ square as accurately as possible, then add a line 1/4″ from that, so I can align the border silk and stitch an accurate 1/4″ seam. I did an adequate job on the flower piece but I have to become more precise because the light/dark join is obvious and has to be well done!

Back to making more 6″ square blocks.