Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Orange Peel Table Runner

I never thought I would enjoy hand appliquéing orange peels! After appliquéing 144 orange peels for the Orange Peel Quilt Along with Julie of Button Button, amazingly enough, I didn’t want to stop. However, not being completely crazy, this time I wanted a smaller project. I searched the internet and found the Orange Peel Table Runner pattern by Sharon Holland and presented by the Canadian Quilter magazine.

Orange Peel Table Runner
Orange Peel Table Runner
The pattern called for piecing the orange peels but I really wanted to keep hand appliquéing, so that’s how I made it.

Orange peel blocks with quilted flowers
Orange peel blocks with quilted flowers
I wanted to make a runner for my friend Heidi. We have been pen pals since I was in grade 7. We met on the Polar Bear Express, the train that goes from Cochrane to Moosonee and back. She was with her family visiting Northern Ontario from Pennsylvania and I was with my girlfriend Lyne and the rest of my class. Heidi asked Lyne and me what language we were speaking because we were using the Northern Ontario version of bilingual – a few sentences in French followed by a few in English. The switch is usually happens when we’re struggling for a word, or if we’re talking about something we would experience in one particular language.

Heidi and I have been writing once or twice a year for over 40 years! With the advent of email and Facebook, we’ve re-connected a little more often. When I heard that she had redone her dining room, it was the perfect opportunity to make her a quilt.

Orange peel appliquéd on half-square triangle block
Orange peel appliquéd on half-square triangle block
The orange peel block in this project was a lot like the previous project except for two important differences.

  • Instead of placing the appliqués on only one background fabric, this one is done with two colours.
  • Each block is made of two half-square triangles. Some are made of fabrics of the same colour while others have the beige or white that form the middle of the runner.

I was nervous about leaving the hand-sewn appliqués without extra machine stitching. I want the orange peels to stand up to regular washing! I ended up FMQ on the inside of each orange peel and then adding a small flower in the middle of the yellow circles. For contrast, I didn’t quilt inside the beige blocks.
The back of the runner
The back of the runner

I was lucky to find a beautiful batik for the back. With the quilting details, it makes the runner reversible!

What I learned:
  • I forgot when I started making the appliqué blocks that Julie had gotten us to make the blocks larger than required so that we could trim them to the correct size. I really wish I had remembered this! As you can see from the picture, the orange peels are not even, especially at the edges of the runner.
  • A bonus for making this runner was trying out some quilting strategies for my larger project from the Quilt-along. Quilting ¼ inch inside the edges of the orange peels was not a great idea. It was very difficult to get nice edges. I’m not sure what the answer is, except to possibly use an all-over pattern that will go through the orange peels. 
  • I really like making scrappy projects where I can cut pieces from a variety of fabrics as I go. I realize that these are the projects that I don’t mind piecing (as opposed to having to cut up fabric all at once, from very few fabrics, which is what I’m doing now…but more about this in a later post).
Update on the Orange Peel Quilt-Along Project 

When I started this post, I didn’t realise that I hadn’t posted an update on the Orange Peel Quilt-Along Project since last December. Here’s are my blocks.  I think that I’ve assembled the quilt, but it’s been so long that I’m not sure! I know that they are stored in a safe place, with the rest of the project fabric (in case I want to use it for binding), and I even know where they are – but I’m not going to dig them out until I’m ready to quilt it.
Orange Peel Quilt-Along Project
Orange Peel Quilt-Along Project
Here is Julie’s post of all of the participant’s quilts. You can also check out all of Julie’s Orange Peel Quilt-Along Posts.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Update - Landscape Art Quilt Challenge

It's been 7 months since I launched my Monthly Landscape Art Quilt Challenge. This is where I challenged myself to complete one landscape art quilt per month. A little ambitious? Maybe....

"How's it going?" I can hear you ask. Well, here are the results to date.

June 17, 2015: Monthly Landscape Art Quilt Challenge Announcement
July 3, 2015: June Landscape - the Lone Tree
June's The Lone Tree (8" x 11")
July 29, 2015: Fireworks for July's Landscape Art Quilt
July's Fireworks for July (14" x 8")
September 14, 2015: Yellow Kayak Landscape Quilt

August's Yellow Kayak (11½" x 12½")
November 30, 2015: Fall Tree Project
September, October and November's Fall Tree (19.5" x 25.5")
January 13, 2016
December's Project
December's Mountainscape Project
Thread Paining and Beads
Thread Paining and Beads
I started December's Mountainscape Landscape Art Quilt on November 11 (Remembrance Day in Canada) when I attended a workshop with quilter Hilary Rice. Here's the post about the workshop.

Once the pinning was done, I left it until my Christmas holidays to complete. I didn't know how to thread paint and quilt it because the colours didn't bring anything to mind. It's more of a desert landscape but with a river. I ended up finding a few pictures of mountains and rivers on the internet and thread painting it as best as I could. Two of the hills are covered with trees while a third one has rocks or sand. The big brown hill had a pale area that I thread painted around. It could be a glacier or, in a desert area, a hill without vegetation.

I added metallic thread in the river. This was done by sewing from the back of the piece, with the metallic thread in the bobbin.

Metallic thread and beading in the river

Once I had finished, I found the piece a little dull, so I added bling to bring it to life. The river and one of the hills has beads while I added some birds in the sky.

What I learned:

Tape at the edges so that I could stop quilting
  • I seem to need a specific idea for my landscape before I start, and choosing the fabrics is an important part of this. I found this project very difficult because I didn't know what it was supposed to represent and I hadn't chosen the fabrics.
  • I know that the landscapes don't have to represent real things and that I can make things up. It was only when I allowed forced myself to do this that I was able to keep going on this piece.
  • I did put one of my former recommendations in practice - I marked off the edges of the piece with tape so that I didn't quilt or sew much past it. It really helped.
  • Sewing on the metallic thread through the bobbin went well, but I should have checked my tension!

Mountainscape Landscape Quilt (17"x 11")
This is my 100th post on this blog. How cool is that - time sure goes by quickly!
Here are my linky parties: Let's Bee Social, Fabric Tuesday, Freemotion by the RiverOff the Wall Friday, Free Motion Mavericks, Needle and Thread Thursday, and Can I get a Whoop! Whoop!

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Bali Back Flip Quilt

In September 2013 I went to Philadelphia on a bus trip to see a quilt show and of course, to shop. After the trip, all of the participants made two beige and brown blocks using the Bali Back Flip pattern. Our trip organiser put the quilt together and quilted it for Jay, our bus driver.

After making the two blocks, I decided to make my own version, also using beige and browns. I decided to make it a little more structured by placing the lightest blocks in the middle and the darkest near the edges.
Bali Back Flip Quilt in beiges and browns
Bali Back Flip Quilt in beige and browns
The 6 middle blocks all have a beige that has a fairly prominent light brown pattern in it. For visual interest, I turned these blocks 90 degrees.
One of the middle blocks
I found it difficult to work with beige and brown since there are so many variations of each. Some beige are more cream while others have more yellow in them. The browns range from light to dark and chocolate to taupe. Some have more yellow or orange in them while others are more grey or green. In choosing the fabrics, I tried to stay away from anything too yellow or orange.  I didn't know if these would play nicely together, but they seem to!

This wasn't an easy quilt for me to do because I find neutrals rather dull. Adding structure helped me make it more visually appealing. It's hard for me to work on a quilt when I'm not in love with it - and that's mostly about colour. 
Chevy modeling with the quilt 
I started this quilt over two years ago, but didn't put it together until a few weeks ago. I decided a while back that this would be a perfect gift for my sister-in-law's mother, Kirsten. I know that she loves neutrals and will appreciate it. Since she lives in Denmark, I waited until she came to Canada to give it to her. She is leaving in a few days, so the quilt was finished just in time for her journey. It`s a lap size (48 by 56 inches), perfect for bundling up on the couch to read.

To make the back interesting without too much piecing, I enlarged the Back Flip block while using beige and a brown fabric that has a touch of blue. I had to add colour somewhere :-)
The back is a large version of the block
Quilted block
Quilted block

I wanted to FMQ the lap quilt with something interesting that would also make it soft and cozy. I stitched-in-the-ditch around each block and then used a stencil (SCL-354-06 from The Stencil Company). This time, I followed one of my lessons learned and practiced drawing the pattern before quilting it. It made a big difference in my confidence to quilt the pattern and was well worth the 10 or 15 minutes it took.

This morning, before bringing over the quilt, I made the label. Since I had spent so much time thinking the project through, I wanted a nice label to go with it. I made a 4 inch paper pieced cup from Quilting on the Square's Miniature Collection 2. To receive their free paper piece patterns, just sign up for their newsletter.

What I learned:
  • It's great when I put into practice lessons learned from previous projects, such as drawing the free motion pattern from the stencil before quilting it. It's even better when doing so really pays off.
  • I learned early in my quilting journey that there are many types of pinks. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that there are as many types of beige and browns!
  • If I don't love the colours in the quilt then it's important to find other ways to make the project interesting. 
  • I was tempted to add more colour within the quilt but in the end, it's about the recipient liking the quilt, not me. I just have to like it enough to get it done!
  • The continuous teardrop stencil was perfect for the project. I didn't want anything too complicated since it's not very visible against the fabrics. It's just enough quilting to give it interest without making it stiff.
Here's wishing you the best in the new year!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Joyeux Noël!

Merry Christmas and a happy holiday to all. I've decided to take some time off work to do what I love best - hide in my studio (bedroom) and quilt!

Last week I took out my Christmas fabrics and finished one of the projects I had started two years ago as well as a gift for a friend.

 I first saw quilted snow globes on Monika Kinner-Whalen's website.  When I found a snow globe at Shopper's Drug Mart, I picked it up. The insert is for a picture, but it's great for a very small quilted something.

When I opened it up, I realised that it was much smaller than I thought. Since the week before Christmas is not when I'm at my best, I created my snow globe by using a couple of Christmas fabrics to come up with something simple. On the first side, I machine appliquéd a penguin onto a green background and added an ivy (or if you want to use your imagination - a mistletoe!).

For the next step, I added batting and a background, and just quilted around the penguin.
Finally, to make it reversible, I appliquéd a tree-shape on yellow background, added the Santa who is checking his list and looks surprised that my friend's name is there - or not? The big star was added on top. Finally, I did a zig-zag stitch all around the piece to keep it together.

When I finished it, the Santa side looked drab, so I just added a few red balls using red thread onto the tree. 

It's my first attempt and far from perfect, but as they say "Better done than perfect!"  The snow globe is quite pretty since it lights up in different colours. I'm really hoping that they will go on sale after Christmas so that I can pick up a few :-) If I'm in the mood, I would love to make them as pretty as Monika's. Check this out - it's gorgeous! I think that doing them by hand might be better, given their size.

Have an awesome Christmas, and/or holiday season. Don't forget to slow down and enjoy your time with friends and family.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Practice Makes Better

I know in theory that practicing a skill increases your skill level. However, I’ve never really seen the results so obviously for myself. It’s now been a little over two years since I started free motion quilting (FMQ) on my new-to-me jag. I first blogged about it in Playing & Quilting, August 27, 2013. At the time, I had no idea how much this would change my quilting.
Free Motion Quilting practice piece
Free Motion Quilting practice piece
My first class was Free Motion Quilting a Sampler with Leah Day on Craftsy. I started by doing stippling, “S” curves and paisleys. It took a while for those “S” curves and paisleys to look like they were supposed to. I quickly learned that drawing was the best way for me to learn. Now, whenever I want to learn a new FMQ pattern, I take out my pencil and paper and draw until I’m comfortable with it. After that, it usually takes me only a couple of practice tries on fabric to get ready to quilt the real thing.

A modern looking paisley
A modern looking paisley
I’ve recently decided to practice my FMQ on a more regular basis (what ever that means) because just FMQ completed projects is not enough. I still doodle FMQ patterns whenever I get the chance but I really want to expand my repertoire of patterns.

I started by gathering the solid fabrics from my stash that I had inherited from my mother. I hesitate to use them in quilts because they’re mostly cotton/polyester blends. These are perfect for making practice sandwiches. I spray basted rows of long skinny pieces of batting left over from previous projects between the fabrics. For these practice pieces, I found that they didn’t have to be taped together.

For my first practice piece, I concentrated on paisleys and leaves. I found some great ideas in a Dover library book, A Treasury of Design for Artists and Craftsmen. My favourite was a modern paisley that doesn’t have outside edges except where the lines within happen to go to the edge of the design. With an iron-off marking pen, it was easy to draw the outline of the paisley and then quilt the lines within it.  If I was to use this pattern again, I could practice it to figure out how to continuously quilt it without having to travel from one end to another. That would ensure that both sides would have the open effect that makes it special.

Paisley with curves
Paisley with curves
I also practiced breaking up the space within the paisley to add different designs. I used many straight lines at different angles, from triangles to zigzags, as well as a few curved pieces including a paisley within the paisley. This is a very versatile design that can include pretty much anything you can FMQ within it. The bigger your original paisley, the more you can add.

I got the idea for the leaf patterns in a Zen Colouring Designs magazine. The image didn’t come out well since I used much lighter thread. Again, it’s the same principle of dividing the space to add different designs.
Leaf - divide and conquer

I had so much fun FMQ this practice piece that I ended up binding it and placing it on my wall at work. I smile every time I see it.

I also practiced my cathedral windows based on Cindy Needham’s Machine Quilting Wholecloth Quilts on Craftsy. As she recommended, I took the time to draw out an on-point grid with my trusty iron-off marking pen and then followed her instructions. My edges are a bit off but otherwise, it’s a pretty decent try. It makes such a rich background.
Cathedral windows
Cathedral windows

What I learned:

  • Use solid fabrics for my practice sandwiches. Using ugly patterned fabrics isn’t a good idea because I can't see the quilting as well, if at all.
  • Spray basting strips of left-over batting between the two layers of fabric is good enough, as long as the practice piece isn't used for anything else.
  • It’s important to stop quilting at least one inch of the border, otherwise the design gets distorted. This is NOT the first time I’ve learned this - and probably not the last time I’ll forget it!
  • Practicing like this has given me a lot of confidence. I’m now planning my next fully FMQ project.
I have linked this post to the following linky parties: Let's Bee Social, Free Motion Mavericks. Also celebrating 3 years of partying at Let's Bee Social! See what everyone is doing on Oh Scrap! 
My post was featured on Free Motion Mavericks! Check it out!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Fall Tree Project

Fall Tree project
Although I'm finally posting my finished Fall Tree Project, it has been completed for a couple of weeks. I think that it's the best work I've done to date. This project is not my own creation since I used a pattern and took Elaine Qhehl's workshop. It is, however my adaptation and I'm really impressed! I know that doesn't sound very humble, but I'm surprised by how well it turned out given the changes I made to the original project.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, adding the leaves was time consuming and an little challenging. I really wanted to get it "right". As I looked at the trees changing colours this fall, I finally figured out that there is no "right" way, since changing leaves don't following only one pattern.

Sometimes they changed mostly at the tips, or where the sun kissed them the most. At other times, it seemed to be all over the place. I also noticed that although a tree might be changing predominantly to red, there were still hints of yellow and orange. And of course, there were usually touches of green here and there.

Elaine Qhehl's original tree
Elaine Qhehl's original tree
Since this is my representation of a tree changing colours in the fall, I'll admit that to have done it "right", the tree should have had maple leaves. Around Ottawa, Ontario, that seems to be the only type of tree this size, that would have red leaves. However, since I've never been able to draw a maple leaf (as Canadians we try since it's on our flag!) that wasn't even an option. So here it is - my representation!

Unfortunately my photos' colours are inconsistent. I was hoping to take a photo of the quilt near the burning bush in my back yard, but the leaves fell the day before the photo shoot. All that was left on the tree after the blustery day were the berries. It really was fall.

Here's a recap of the project. If you want more details see the posts, Creating a Tree and Tree Project Almost Finished.
Creating the tree trunk
1. Creating the tree trunk
2. Attaching the trunk to the background

4. Blocking, cutting and quilting
3. Adding the leaves
What I learned:
  • Quilting around the leaves was the best strategy and it worked. It made the leaves pop.
  • The tree trunk required a lot of quilting to keep it flat.
  • I was nervous about using only one colour of thread to FMQ around the leaves but it looks just fine.
  • I wanted to bind the quilt but I didn't like the look. I ended up creating a facing using Terry Aske's tutorial. The images above were taken before I added the facing, but it came out great.

Fall Tree by the burning bush

It took me so long to finish this project that I've already started two new landscape art quilts. You may have seen the beginning of the first one, Mountainview Workshop in my last blog. I'm also creating a quilt to accompany some vignettes that I'm writing for my Memories Into Story course. This will be a true multi-media piece that will incorporate landscape art quilt with writing. I'm looking forward to presenting it soon.

I have linked to the following linky parties: MOP MondayMonday Making, Main Crush Monday, Fabric Tuesday, Let's Bee Social, Needle and Thread Thursday, Link-A-Finish Friday, Fabric Frenzy Friday and Free Motion Mavericks

Friday, November 13, 2015

A Mountainscape Workshop

Another Landscape Art Quilt for the Challenge? You bet!

This Remembrance Day, our guild offered a workshop with quilter Hilary Rice. We worked on a mountainscape quilt full of curves. It was great fun! Hilary has created her own patterns and teaches the technique based on Vikki Pignatelli's Crazy Curves Technique.

From a lovely kit of hand-dyed fabrics purchased from Hilary, we made our own mountainscape quilt. It took me most of the day to put the quilt together. It's now pinned and ready to sew.

Mountainscape quilt pinned and ready to sew

The next step is to sew the pieces together with a blanket or hem stitch, using invisible thread. At the workshop I tried out my Kenmore's hem stitch but it really wasn't very good. I'm sure that my new-to-me Jag (everyone needs to name her sewing machine!) will be able to do the job. It won't be for a few days since I'm currently working on free motion quilting a table runner.

Here's our pattern with the sky pinned in place. The technique is fairly simple, especially when you use a pattern (I'm so used to just making it up as I go that the thought of using a pattern is becoming a novelty.) 
Sky attached with pins
The first thing I did was copy the pattern onto freezer paper. I then placed it on foundation fabric, which in my case was white Kona cotton. I cut the first pattern piece from the freezer paper, without touching the foundation. I then ironed the freezer paper onto my sky fabric. I cut that first piece, adding a 1/4 inch seam allowance. 

The tricky part is then to replace it onto the foundation. The first piece is easy because it's all raw edges, but it changes as the next pieces are added. After cutting out and ironing the freezer paper onto the next fabric, I finger pressed the seam allowance of the fabric that overlaps the piece above it. The raw edge of the fabric is then placed under the next piece (the one below that's still on freezer paper), and place the finger pressed over the sky fabric above it. That's when all the pins come in. I then pinned that fabric where the fold meets the piece above it. 
Pinned project with possible embellishment!
That's essentially the process. When a curve is very pronounced, you clip the folded seam allowance. If you want to learn the process and don't have access to Hilary's workshop, apparently Vikki's book explains the process very well. 

As you sew the fabric pieces down with the blanket or hem stitch, you can add tulle, organza or tuffs of yarn. After that, the mountainscape is ready to be sandwiched and quilted.

I'm sure that I'll be doing some cool FMQ and embellishing my mountainscape. I can't imagine doing it any other way...that's my favourite part!

Linked at Can I get a Whoop Whoop?, Monday Making, Fabric Tuesday, Main Crush Monday, Design Wall