Saturday, June 20, 2015

June Landscape - the Lone Tree

This is the first landscape in my Monthly Landscape Art Quilt Challenge

Forgotten Dreams album cover by Thirteen Strings
Forgotten Dreams by Thirteen Strings
I was intrigued by the album cover of Forgotten Dreams, by Thirteen Strings. It's of trees, possibly white pines, perched on rocks. The image is very haunting, as is the album. A few of the pieces were composed by Marjan Mozetich. I love his music and the pieces on this album are wonderful.

pile of possible fabrics for landscape
Possible fabrics for landscape
Without wanting to reproduce the image, I looked around for images of rocks and trees on Google. From those images, I decided to put a landscape together of a tree, rocks, water and sky.

I wanted to use scraps from a huge bag that a friend gave me. Thanks Judy! Here's the pile of possible scraps for the project.

The sky?
If you've read any of my posts, you'll know that I'm not very good at planning quilting projects. This one was no exception. I just started sewing some strips of fabric on a piece of stabilizer. I sewed them as if I was doing a quilt-as-you-go. Don't ask me why, it's just what I did....and I don't think I will do it again!

I wanted to do something different. Right from the beginning I didn't like it, but I kept it cause you never know until it's put together if it'll work (spoiler alert: it didn't!)

Trying out fabrics
Trying out fabrics

This is what I love about these small experimental projects - you try it and eventually, if you don't like it, you fix it! After sewing on the sky, I got smarter and started cutting and just placing and layering the fabrics without sewing them.

The added the water and the rocks. I must say that I'm not bad with rocks. Rocks are in my blood - I'm from a mining town in Northern Ontario.

Have you spotted the problem that will haunt me as I put this together? Hint: the water & the sky - there's almost no contrast. Add the tree to that and it becomes a dark mass.

First attempt
After I free motion quilted the piece, I wasn't sure what I thought, so I taped the landscape to the back of my bedroom door and went to bed. When I got up, I decided that I didn't really like it. So I kept some of the water, cut around the tree and started trying different things.

Frankly I didn't like this either which meant that it was time to try something different. I went into my real stash and found some lovely hand-dyed fabric that would make the sky pop. Sure it has pinks and purples in it, but that was the colour of the sky last night! I added more fabric and then covered it with three colours of tulle. That softened the sky somewhat. I sewed the tulle on top of the sky and around the tree. I then very carefully cut the tulle from on top of the tree.

I think that once it's quilted, the sky will look lovely.
Lone Tree ready for FMQ
What I've learned:

  • Everything really can be undone, covered up or removed. Thank goodness!
  • Contrast is necessary. I should be writing that down on the blackboard 100 times :-)
  • Since I had used tulle for the Southwest landscape, I knew that it would soften the sky and allow me to use more fabrics.
  • I was taking this project too seriously - so I added the birds for a touch of whimsy.
  • I have to learn to not stress over this challenge. It's about learning and trying new things and not about meeting a self-imposed deadline that doesn't matter.

As an aside, last week we adopted a wonderful 7 year old puggle (pug and beagle) named Chevy. To celebrate her coming, I re-covered Bandit's bed. Here is our sweety. She is very photogenic and so intense!

Thanks for stopping by.
I have linked this post with Pet Project Show, Free Motion Mavericks and Fabric Frenzy Friday. Check out everyone's posts!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Monthly Landscape Art Quilt Challenge

Butterfly flitting
I’m like a butterfly flitting from one flower to another, except that my flowers are anything quilty!

I love trying new things and I tend to get bored quickly with repetition. Since I know this, I sometimes have to trick myself into doing a variety of related things so that I can actually become proficient at a new skill. Practice helps me acquire skills but repetition kills my motivation!

My solution for learning to make landscape art quilts is to set myself a monthly challenge:
  • To make a new landscape quilt each month;
  • While learning something new (i.e. technique, subject matter, etc.)

Here is how I will try to interpret making a landscape art quilt* for this challenge. A landscape quilt:
  • represents a landscape, a view of a place outdoor that is real or fictitious;
  • is a quilt, therefore has some type of batting and backing; and
  • can incorporate various art techniques (i.e. paint, crayons, embellishments, etc.).
*this is strictly my criteria for this challenge

To date, I’ve made four landscape art quilts. You can read more about most of these projects by following the links below.
Midwest landscape
Midwest landscape - First landscape started
Landscape based on Dream Landscapes book
Landscape based on Dream Landscapes book
Dream Landscapes by Rose Hughes

Amalfi Coast Landscape based on Happy Villages
Amalfi Coast Landscape based on Happy Villages
Happy Villages by Karen Eckmeier

Experimental Landscape
Experimental Landscape
As you can see from the dates above, most of these projects have been finished within the last year. This corresponds to my increased interest in learning and trying new techniques. I find that as I read and take more Craftsy courses, I'm exposed to different techniques which enables me to figure out what to do next when I'm stuck on a project.

If there's one thing that has given me both confidence and the ability to broaden my skills is learning to free motion quilt (FMQ). That has opened another entire universe of possibilities.

For this challenge, I've created a new photo set on Flickr for landscape art quilts. It'll be great to see my progress as the challenge advances.

What I hope to learn during the challenge:

  • I think that trying new techniques that are related to what I've learned in the last project will help me remember the lessons learned as well as add to my prior knowledge.
  • I think that I'd like to learn techniques that involve surface design but I've always been intimidated. I'm hoping that this will give me confidence to try these out.
  • I also want to actually use all of those books, magazines and Crafty courses!
Wish me luck on my journey! If you feel like joining me, leave messages on my challenge posts with links to your own version of your challenge!

This post is linked to Quilt Story's Fabric Tuesday, Can I get a Whoop Whoop? Link-a-Finish Friday. Check out everyone's posts! 

The Butterfly photo is from Steve on Flickr. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Snippet Flowers in a Vase

It's time for the June Goal Setting Party of The Lovely Year of Finishes Challenge.

Based on what I've learned to date, my goal should be something I want to finish or that I have to finish within the month. Since I have no June deadlines for any of my projects, this leaves me with a choice. Let it be a wise choice!

This month's goal is a UFO that I started in 2008 (although it could be older). It was part of my Common Thread Quilt Guild UFO Challenge list – the Snippet flowers in a vase that I couldn't find! I did find it some time in April (under the bed, with another quilt that was ready to FMQ) but I really, really didn't like the borders. Now the borders are history and I had a great time thread-painting it.

It just needs a little more thread painting and then it'll be ready for new borders and quilting.

I started this quilt years ago after watching a quilting show on television (I think I was home sick). I don't think I was quilting then, but I've always had a fabric stash. I bought some kind of adhesive, ironed it to the back of the fabrics and started cutting snippets. I remember using a White Rose flyer for ideas when making the flowers.

It was probably made within a year, but I had no idea what to do with it. I knew I had to sew it to make sure that the snippets stayed on. That's why it was put away. Now that I can FMQ, it's time.

I started by following the outlines of the flowers, but eventually got more creative. I read somewhere that when thread painting, you can (and sometimes should) go outside of the area to create an effect. I love it when someone tells me that I can sew or colour outside of the lines! I think that it was quite effective.

I’m not sure what fabric I'll use for the border. I think I want to make it look like a framed picture. I also want to add texture to the vase and table, ideally with some shading.

Come back at the end of June to see the finished project!
Posted on Quilt Story and WIP Wednesday. Check out the other posts.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Just finished on time!

Yikes - nothing like quilting until the last possible second! My May challenge at A Lovely Year of Finishes is done. With one hour to spare :-)

My brother will be thrilled since it was his quilt, made by my mother, that I finished repairing and re-quilting. Tomorrow I will wash it and should have it ready for him by mid-week. He's waited a long time for this.

What I learned:
  • I knew it would be difficult to finish this project on time because working on someone else's quilt is just not the same as working on my own quilt - even if it was my mother's!
  • I'm glad that I did put this quilt as a challenge - it was the best way of motivating myself to get it done.
  • Thank goodness for being able to borrow audio-books from the library. It's taken at least three books to get this project completed.
Check out the finishes at A Lovely Year of Finishes.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Finishing a practice landscape - two years later

I can't believe that it's been two years in the making, but when I went to find the post for my project - sure enough, it was in August 2013!
Original version of the landscape quilt
In the beginning
It wasn't bad - I did like the sun and parts of the water, but I had no idea where to go from there. That's why it stayed in the UFO pile, until this winter.

When I took it out, I started adding things such as extra plants, especially in the foreground; details in the water and things that might look like a forest.

Adding details
Adding details
Again, I wasn't too sure where to go from there.

I read and looked at a lot of photos in my Quilting Arts magazines. I also invested in a few e-books on Landscape Quilting through Interweave.  I got all kinds of ideas.

I knew that I really didn't like the top of my tree. That was easy - I just removed what I could and covered the rest! Not at all like regular piecing - what's not to love :-)
A brand new tree!
Once I had all of the fabrics in place, it was time to sew. In theory, at this point I would have started thread painting, but I had already sandwiched the project, so the thread painting also became the quilting. Since then, I've had more practice, so I do recommend that you do the thread painting before you add the batting and backing. It's just easier and really not necessary to be going through all of those layers for everything.

Details of the water and shore
Water and shore
Here are some details of the water and the shore on the other side. I also had a lot more in the foreground, but most of it was lost once I added the binding. Oops!

A close up of the sky
The sky - my favourite part!
If the sun looks like it began life as a sunflower, it's because it did!

Here's the final product. Not bad for a little experiment two years in the making.

What I learned:

  • It's important to add enough space around the edges so that I don't end up cutting things off when I square the piece up or lose things behind the binding.
  • I have learned so much from making this little piece. I was not impressed with it when I left it in August 2013. It's amazing what some bits of fabric and thread can do.
  • Don't rush things - when I'm ready, it will happen.

This post was linked to Needle and Thread Thursday and Link-a-Finish Friday. Check them out!

Friday, May 01, 2015

New Challenge for May

I thought I would take this opportunity to update the challenges I listed in my March post, when I started participating in A Lovely Year of Finishes Challenge.

To date, I've been able to finish both my March and April challenges. It seems that the trick is to choose something I want to work on as well as something that can very realistically be completed. It also helps when there’s another deadline for the project!

One type of exchange block
One type of exchange block 
I mentioned in my March post that I had blocks to prepare for the Frayed Knots Spring/Summer Garden 2015 Block Exchange. The task was to complete 23 blocks (mine are all 9” by 9”) with the garden theme and pastel backgrounds. At the time I had 10 blocks completed. Last weekend, I decided to tackle the blocks. I chose another pattern to work on to help with my motivation. After making 4 of the new blocks, I discovered that they were all too small (X*!Z&#!!!!) Yup, too small.
Another type of exchange block
Another type of exchange block

My extra blocks

I rechecked my calculations because I had adapted a pattern – they were correct. So, if the pattern is correct, that means that my sewing isn't. Sure enough, I've been using my ¼ inch foot and generally not caring if it was accurate or not. I figured that as long as I was consistent, who cared! Well, I’m sure that the ladies receiving my blocks will care…, I tentatively made another block using a “scant” ¼ inch. It worked like a charm. The good news, my 23 squares are finished and I have a whole bunch of extra squares for my own quilt. I’m sure that I can make a row of slightly smaller squares and no one will notice.

To re-quilt
My challenge for May is to finish re-quilting a quilt my mother made about 20 years ago for my brother. My mother hand-quilted it but about half of the quilting has become undone. I've already re-stitched some of the blocks and I now have to complete the hand quilting. My mother made this quilt before she took any classes, so she wasn't using hand-quilting thread.

Since the quilt has been lovingly used, it just needs a little TLC. I've had the quilt for over a year and keep procrastinating… this challenge will make my brother happy.

What I've learned:

  • When deciding on a project for a challenge it’s important to be realistic and motivated.
  • It's good to under promise and over deliver (I am working hard on this one).
  • In the end, it doesn't really matter if I achieve my challenge goal, but I do enjoy having something specific to work at since I can sometimes be a little bit scattered in my approach to quilting. I'm like a cat easily distracted by shiny things! It’s also a good reason to celebrate my successes. 
Check out other quilter’s goals at Lovely Year of Finishes May Goal Setting Party.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Making a Mini Gem

A few weekends ago I decided to make a quick and easy project using mostly scraps.

Spinner mini-quilt
Spinner mini-quilt
Here is the result! It was finished in less than a weekend.

It’s a paper-pieced project from the book: Little Gems, 15 paper-pieced miniature quilts by Connie Kauffman.  The book is eye-candy. I would love to make most of the mini-quilts in the book.

Little Gems by Connie Kauffman
Little Gems by Connie Kauffman
This pattern is called Spinner. The quilt in the book is made up mostly of softer pastels. I started that way, but that didn’t last. I just had to use my bright lovely fabrics!

I loved making these paper pieced blocks and I didn't spend much time planning the fabrics. For the amount of effort I put into it, it’s really great. Sometimes it’s great just to grab some fabric and sew. The worse thing that can happen is that it won’t come out, but then I can always use the blocks to make more scrappy blocks.

I placed the 12” by 12” quilt on a metal hanger I bough over a year ago. It’ll be fun to make different mini-quilts and rotate them.

I finally got around to taking pictures of the quilt. I love pictures of quilts taken outdoor so this quilt was perfect since it has its own hanger and wouldn't get dirty.

What I learned:

  • The colours work well but for the next one I may plan the final layout a little more.
  • As much as I love FMQ, this little piece didn't need it. I only stitched-in-the-ditch.
  • Making a mini-quilt on the spur of the moment is a great way to have fun and play with fabrics and colours.

Here is a photo of some beautiful miniature irises in my garden. They were at their best last week.

This post is linked up at Quilt Story's Fabric Tuesday. Check out the gorgeous quilts!