Sunday, February 09, 2014

Birds and Bees Snowflake Pillow : A Simple Gift

That picture of a New Project a few weeks ago was a small part of this pillow.  This picture is without the pillow form since that makes the edges curve out of sight :

Jill Buckley over at The Quilt Rat Blog kindly gave me permission to use her Birds & Bees Snowflake pattern to make a quilted pillow for my friend, J.  [Thank you, Jill! I'm really happy with the way it turned out.  I'm certain you could laser cut some of your snowflakes with fusible and sell them as kits. They are beautiful, but kind of a lot of putsy work to make it up in fabric like this.  I see why you stick with the paper versions!  It is do-able in fabric, though.  The nice part about making something as a gift is that you can be thinking about that person the whole time you're working on it : One way to infuse it with love.  ;-)   Check out Jill's other snowflakes.  She has a wonderful talent for design!

My friend J is a wildlife biologist pilot out in Idaho.  She flies for wildlife / natural resource surveys and projects all over the west.  She loves her job!  Ever since we were in junior high, she wanted to fly--and she did it!  She got her pilot's license and a degree in biology.   She's living the dream!  In her down-time, she's been working on a Hawaiian-type applique quilt, but her project was stalled for various reasons.  I decided to go ahead and make this for her birthday.  It's an example of one technique of how to do a Hawaiian quilt applique.  This birds and bees pattern is perfect for J, because she keeps bees, too.  Yes, she's a bee-keeper with the fancy bee-keeping suit and everything:

Here are some shots of the project as it progressed :
 The snowflake cut out of freezer paper.  There's no way to cut so many layers of fabric this way, so I had to make a freezer paper pattern first.  I'm recommending to Jill that she have some of her designs made up as die cuts.  Then she can sell kits that will make the whole process that much easier--and she gets her designs out into the world!

 Here's the freezer paper pattern laid out on the fabric to be cut out one layer at a time.  The fabric has Wunder Under fused to the back side, so I guess that means I actually cut out 2 layers at this point.  A small pair of sharp scissors is essential at this stage.

 This looked so pretty through a sunny window--like stained glass.
It's a nice color combination, too.

 The next step is to fuse the fabric+fusible snowflake to the background fabric.
It's a delicate job to make sure the fabric doesn't tangle at this stage.  
The fusible acts as a stabilizer so it helps in that respect.

  Next is to stitch the applique down.   I am using a matching polyester embroidery thread for this stage.  I know some people would consider that heresy, but it's strong, it has a nice sheen, and it looks good.  I didn't want to use the invisible thread and try to zig-zag around all those curves.  It made more sense to free-motion along the edges of the snowflake.  At this stage, I appliqued the snowflake  which had been fused down to the background fabric.  There was also a layer of tear-away stabilizer underneath it all.  This worked well.  The worst part was tearing off the stabilizer.


For the next step, I layered the backing onto some batting.   I used an old mattress pad for batting.  The fitted corners always pooch out long before the actual mattress pad does.  I know -- again, this might be heresy to some.  I am not a fan of Warm and Natural.  I know some people like it for wall hangings because it doesn't sag over time.  But Warm n Natural always winds up so flat and lifeless.  I wanted this to have some dimension.  I wanted to be able to SEE and FEEL the quilting when it was done.  And I get to recycle / up-cycle something that would otherwise be tossed.

Here's a shot of the quilting stage.  You can see a safety pin that I'm using to hold the layers together as I quilt it.  I simply echo-quilted around the snowflake.  Since the snowflake as applique was not stitched to the batting, it pops up a bit, while the background recedes because it's being sewn to an additional layer.  Again, I used my new polyester embroidery thread from Thread Art--because it was the right color and it's strong.  [They had a great sale on Black Friday that made it all the more worthwhile to purchase and re-stock my thread pallet after the rayon thread rotted and broke--which is the real reason I haven't been sewing much in the past 18 months.]

 Next, I wanted to quite the same birds and bees motifs into the corners of the pillow, 
so I traced the pattern to some quilting paper and started stitching.

 This is a practice piece all stitched  1) to get the pattern into my muscle memory to make the free-motion stitching easier, and 2) to test that this method would work.  It worked beautifully!

 Here I'm in the process of tearing away the quilting paper.  This is my preferred way to mark a quilt.  There may be tiny little bits of tissue paper left, but it all comes out in the wash.   No marker that disappears before you finish quilting, and no marker that re-appears unexpectedly at a later date.  No chalk that disappears before you're finished stitching, or gets into your lungs.  I've tried a lot of methods over the years,  and this is my favorite.

 Here's the finished test piece.

 This is one of the actual corners.  You can see how it coordinates with the "real" snowflake.
See how that mattress pad batting gives it a nice "puff."

  The rest are just eye candy and detail shots for you to enjoy, my Dear Readers :

 Happy Birthday, J!

1 comment:

The Idaho Beauty said...

Lovely - and filled with such meaning. I particularly like that yellow/gold against the dark blue. There was a day when I would have been needle-turn appliqueing this sort of thing, but boy, that takes a lot of time. Doing the fusible is tedious enough with all that fine cutting to do and looks just fine. I wouldn't have wanted to zig zag with invisible thread either. I think you made all the right choices on this one. Just beautiful