Sunday, June 14, 2009

Little Gardener is Complete!

I finished the Little Gardener Quilt started in March at the Wendy Bulter Berns Workshop.
Quilted the background and bound it this afternoon.

I spent a long time trying to figure out the best way to thread paint her face in order to make it look three-dimensional. This is what I came up with.
The thread-painting is done before the top is layered with batting and backing. So the face piece has stitching, but it puffs up from the quilt.

Same thing with her arm. Again, the thread-painting is done before the quilting, so it puffs up from the background.

Here is one of the heavily thread-painted flowers, along with the edge treatment : a little fancy yarn at the binding edge. I laid it on to test it, and it really did seem to be missing something when I pulled it away.

Feels good to have another project done!

New Books on Free Motion Quilting Patterns

I bought Sally Terry's Hooked on Feathers book.
At the FVTC Sewing Expo in March, Renee Shedivy (who first taught me to do free-motion quilting) was raving about this book. This past weekend, the local quilt shop invited Sally Terry to Oshkosh for a weekend of workshops. I was unable to attend, but I heard it was a blast!

Sally Terry is a long-arm quilter, but these patterns could easily be adapted for a regular standard size sewing machine without a quilt frame. The beauty of her feathers is that they are free-form. No tracing them out for hours beforehand. You just do it! And they look fabulous!

I also bought Dijanne Ceval's 72 More Ways not to Stipple or Meander.
Tip : She lives in Australia, so you might want to order the CD to save on shipping, then print and bind it locally. While you're at it, order the first CD/Book : 72 Ways Not to Stipple or Meander. More great ideas for free-motion quilt backgrounds.

I admit it, I get bored to pieces with stippling and meandering. So I'm always looking for other ideas. This CD/Book is packed with them.

Peas-in-a-Pod Post Cards

In PA last week, pea pods were in season in my father-in-law's garden.
We ate all the pea pods he brought up from the garden.

Version 1 is done with a reverse applique technique.
I layered a pull "page" of the green over-top the background.
On top of that, the outlines of the peapods were drawn on quilt paper (like tracing paper).
Then I stitched through it all, followung the outlines.
Tore off the quilting paper, and picked the bits that remained.
Then I cut away the green to the edge of the pea pods.

Quilting paper has become my favorite way to mark fabric for quilting.

Here;s version 2 done with fusible applique.
The end result doesn't seem all that different, proving there's more than one way to "skin a cat."
Here I used a different color green for the inner pea pod walls. I didn't bother to reverse the design, so it's a mirror image of the one above.
This method is more familiar to me, but sometimes I worry about the longevity of the fusibles. Will it turn yellow as it ages?
This method is easy and flexible, but may not be advised for heirloom pieces--or that great piece I'll want to have hanging in the Smithsonian someday ;-)

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


Here's the full quiltie (again, it's square ; my design wall is warped.) This was a class project from a few years ago in threadpainting. The teacher was a painter, so she had a wonderful sense of color and how to mix the threads to get the desired effects. You can see an example of the pine bow behind the bird.

This was also quite an exercise in marking and quilting the quilt.
* The background was echo-quilted freehand with clear thread (no marking needed).
* The pinecones and acorns in the corners were drawn on quilting paper, pinned to the quilt, and stitched through. Afterwards, I pulled the paper off. The stitching perforates the paper so it comes off pretty easily. This is a great technique where precision is needed. See a little more about the technique here.
* On the borders, I used a sliver of soap to and a ruler to mark the grids. The great part about using soap to mark is that is comes off with just a spritz of water. (Lever 2000 is a great one to use as it's hard. And it comes in blue and white.)

Monday, June 01, 2009

Maple Sap Soap

Last weekend, I was able to make 2 batches of soap, now that the wet studio is in better shape to allow working on new projects. I used a strong tea (Tazo Passion Fruit and Honey Bush Peach) made with Maple Sap, instead of plain water. As with the goat-milk and honey soaps, I'm hoping the sugars in the sap will carmelize in the saponification process. I'm not sure how much of the tea scent (I didn't use any fragrance or essential oils) will be left at the end of the curing process, but it sure smelled good in the making! This batch will be ready in another 5 weeks.

A few years ago, I went to a craft show and purchased soap from a remarkable soap-maker at Century Farmhouse. Her soaps had unusual combinations of scents and ingredients. The scents were not over-powering, just really pleasant ... I bought a bar of her maple sap and walnut soap--and I've been savoring it ever since. The Wake-Me Up Rosemary was also very nice. Do check out her site, and her soap! She is a real Wisconsin Artisan!


I finished the Salmon wall hanging!

It is actually nice and square. It's my design wall that is a little warped, falling over a bookshelf behind it. I don't have the hanging pocket on it yet.

The pattern is from Quilts with a Twist in Alaska. When I ordered it last summer, they sent a nice note along with it. I live in Oshkosh, WI, and dream of going to Alaska one day ... They live in Alaska, and remembered coming to Oshkosh for the EAA Air Show one year, when they used to fly.

Here's a detail of the quilting. The quilting in the center was a free-form wave that went very quickly. The border is a wave pattern. I drew the pattern on quilting (tissue) paper to make sure the design fit the space. Then I laid the paper on top and stitched right through it. The stitching perforates the tissue paper, and you can pull it off afterwards. This technique works well where precision is important.

You can also see where I did a little thread-painting on the fish tail.

Whenever I have to do a machine binding, I like to watch this video by Bonnie McCaffrey, just to remind me of the specifics. If I don't, I invariably get something backwards and wind up ripping. She also suggests adding some couched yarn or special threads to embellish the binding edge. So I added some of that yarn I often use to edge postcards.