Saturday, April 29, 2017

When it's wrong, it's just wrong!

This month I took an excellent design based workshop from Bethany Garner, a well-respected quilter from Kingston, ON. ( I heartily recommend her)  I was left with a great deal to think about, and the germ of an idea for another project in my brain.  While that percolates, I've been making charity quilts.  Yes, I do make some traditional quilts for a good cause. ( Don't tell anyone)

My charity quilts are generally scrappy, and put together fairly quickly.  I would hope they are well put together, and I try to make them pleasing to the eye.  But after the first couple, now pieced, sandwiched and ready for machine quilting, I was looking for a little more of a challenge and I came up with a technique I learned many years ago from ecclesiastical fibre artist, Iris Rountree. I make a variation of her technique.  This can be scrappy or planned, but I've found it an excellent way to use up those cut squares that are left over after other projects.

You create a sandwich of a 4" square for backing, a 4" square of batting, and 4" square of cotton for the top, and then a 2 1/2" square for added visual interest.  The hexie  is my addition, as I had them and needed to use them up--somehow.  I make some of my hexies from cut circles rather than an English paper piecing method, as it gives them some surface interest from the folds. After stitching the 2 1/2" square through all the layers, they are stay-stitched around the edge, and joined together in rows with dense satin stitch. Before they are joined, Iris will cut some of them at an angles, and rejoin them in different colour combinations, but I haven't done that here. 

 Rather, thinking that it was a waste of time to cut up yardage for the backing squares ( this is a charity quilt, after all), I cut it in strips.  Then I layered the strip with a strip of batting, before starting to add the 4" squares, side-by-side. These are then topped with the 2 1/2" squares, and everything pinned into place

Once everything is pinned, the machine satin stitch is done through all layers.  Then the strips are joined, again with machine satin stitch.  I add the hexies here and there, just for surface interest, before the strips are joined. After ten strips are joined, the outside edge is just bound, as usual with a quilt.
 Sounds good doesn't it.  Well, the first couple of strips were joined, and then I checked the back of the satin stitch.  OMG! On both joins there were places where the backing hadn't been caught in the stitching.  What to do??  Well, I widened the setting for the satin stitch and re-stitched those areas.  It was okay, not great, but still bothered me.  There is a good chance that no-one would ever know who had actually made the quilt.  I could hand it in, and walk away.  I worried about it all night, and then forced myself to accept that to do so would be just wrong!  

So, this morning took on the daunting task of taking out both rows of satin stitch. Turned out that, after by running my seam ripper along the back, I could just pull on the upper thread and the whole thing came apart!  Bonus!  And thank Goodness for a good lint roller!  lol   (The backing is really a dark brown, not blue--trust me)

 I was then able to trim the edges, and stay stitch them, so that the satin stitch would cover and control everything.  I did have to widen the setting for the satin stitch, but by re-doing the whole length  of the join, everything looks fine--front and back. The entire job took less than an hour.

I plan to link this with Nina-Marie Sayre's Off the Wall Fridays, and The Needle and Thread Network.

Monday, April 3, 2017


The beading is finished.  Looking at it, I realize that the design is poor, so this will never be exhibited, or sold.  However, as I was beading it, my mind was mulling over whether I could add a section on encrusted beading to the workshop I teach on "Beading for Quilters".  I've decided to prepare such a section in my hand outs and class notes, and offer it as an optional add-on for future classes.  This means that this piece can be finished as a simple hanging, and used only as a class sample.

Here's the finished product. full view and close-up.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Admitting defeat

Some time ago I posted about a hand stitching project using hexies to make a single bed size quilt.  I ran into problems with my arthritic hands and put the project on hold while they healed.  Feeling pretty confident, I tried again this week.  Not going to happen.  I've accepted that this is just not a good idea.  I had hoped to find some hand work I could do while watching tv.

I have put together a few of the lozenges, and basted most of the black hexies I would need--all by hand. Now I have to figure out whether to chuck the whole thing out, or spend some time experimenting with putting the rest together by machine.  This is what I have so far.  Each beige lozenge is 12" long and 7" wide.

The best thing would be to consider this a personal challenge, and dust off my machine piecing skills.  Oh My!  Old age is a b---h!

I plan to link this with The Needle and Thread Network.


The beading project is pretty well the only thing I've been doing over the past couple of weeks, and there is some progress. It's now about 2/3 done, but there has been about 14 hours of intense work gone into that.  I still have no idea how it's going to be finished, but I'm thinking about using a canvas wrapped frame.  If the piece is sewn to the canvas as well as being glued, it just might hold up.

I plan to link this with Nina-Marie Sayre's Off the Wall Fridays, as well as The Needle and Thread Network

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Bitten off More Than I can chew??

Three weeks ago, I taught a Beading workshop, and at one point, wanted to demonstrate some encrusted beading.  This was in order to show how the techniques they were learning could be used in such a project. I purposely made up a project, and a couple of days ago, I decided to finish it.  Well......

I'm not sure if I'll have to time to finish the beading this lifetime, let alone going any further.  I haven't a clue how it will be finally finished, as its becoming so heavy that I can't imagine it holding up as a hanging.  Nor can I imagine a pillow being the least bit useful with this much beading.  

But...I love hand beading, I have lots ( more than lots) of beads, and have lots of time on my hands.  As well, I find my mind working in creative ways, visualizing other projects, while I'm working.  So I'll probably persevere.

Here it is--so far.  The beading is about 1/3 done.  The cabochons are hand made fused glass, created by June Derksen, and the whole project is planned around them.  This is also the first project in which I've incorporated the machine embellishment techniques that I learned in the Craftsy classes I took recently.

I plan to link this with Nina-Marie Sayre's Off the Wall Fridays, and The Needle and Thread Network.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Results of printing

Here are the pieces that resulted from my printing marathon yesterday. Remember that these are intended for use either as a  a background to which a significant amount of work is added, or to be cut up and used for piecing or applique.  This is just the first step in the journey, and when finished these pieces may not be recognizable.  I also tend to work in portrait orientation, so most of the directionality that might occur in these pieces, is vertical.  I am particularly pleased with the two narrow pieces that have been done in black and ultramarine blue ( not navy).  My second favourite pieces are the two red ones at the bottom.  They were done with red paint over a shadow print  of the the two long black and blue pieces, which shows, as areas of paler blue with the red.

Sunday, March 19, 2017


With Shattered Dreams needing only the binding, I decided to do some prep work, today, for another project.  I don't have a clear idea of what I'm going to do, so decided to make a few mono-prints, big enough to use as either  backgrounds, or to cut up for piecing with larger geometric pieces.  The fabric printing process takes longer to set up and clean-up, than it does to actually pull the prints.

 My usual process is to set up an assembly line and pull 25-35 prints, knowing that those that don't work out for framed pieces or hangings, can be used to make the small purses that I sell as my "bread-and-butter" pieces at craft shows.  ( "Bread-and-butter" pieces are those easily, and inexpensively, made items that attract customers, and will sell well enough to make your booth rental) This time, I was more concerned about producing background pieces that might work for the vague idea that I have at the back of my mind. So I spent more time preparing the paint on the large piece of plexi-glass that I use for my printing base, than rushing to produce a large number of prints.  After 2 hours of steady work, I ended up with 11 prints, five at least 34" square, and 6 longer narrower pieces.  So far, at least 4 of them have real potential, and I already have ideas forming about their use.  Now to wait for them to dry, before I can heat-set them, and then--start some serious pattern drafting.