Thursday, September 13, 2018

Villa Views

Finally, a finish for the quilt featuring the cut-apart Hoffman fabric photo panel of a beautiful beach at sunset. My husband took one look at this quilt and said, "Can we go there on vacation?" I wish!

Villa with a View, 39 x 19
Further down are some close-ups of the finished quilt. But first, here are some photos taken in progress...

The original panel, just after cutting it apart. (Click on any photo to enlarge.)

Tracing freezer-paper patterns from my original drawing of the arched windows....

...and using those to cut fabric pieces from Northcott Mills' Stonehenge fabric.

Fusing the fabric pieces with pre-applied Misty Fuse (which never gums up my needle!). The stone wall and inner arch pieces were also cut from Stonehenge fabrics. Don't know if these are available anymore, but I hope so. I use them often from my stash!

Next, some close-ups of the finished quilt, Villa with a View. I wish these were better photos, but between dim light/heavy clouds and my camera's automatic adjustments (time to get out the manual), this was not a good week for photographing in the studio. 

This may end up being just the first of a series (something I've never done), because there are some other photo fabric panels lurking in my closet that could be cut up and spread out like this, too. And right now I have my eye on a fall scene that should work well with these triple arched windows, so...

Speaking of which---happy fall, everybody!!


Monday, July 30, 2018

Villa with a View

Finally, I've decided to cut up this Hoffman printed fabric panel that's been hanging in my closet for longer than I care to estimate.

The upper sky is a bit over the top (no pun intended), but I might use it or parts of it in another project. The beach at bottom is a fairly "muddy" looking piece and may never be used at all.

I've always wanted to make one of those 3-window-view landscapes, and I love arches, so off to the drawing table...

 ...and then to the design wall, to audition fabrics...

 ...then back to the drawing table to trace pattern pieces onto freezer paper...

 ...then to trace the windows on vinyl (previously used---can you see the upside-down mountains from my last quilt design?)...

...and then, let the real mess begin! Pressing, fusing and cutting...

 ...and finally, the first piece is fused to the muslin base, where guidelines have also been traced.

More next time. Have a great day!


Monday, June 11, 2018

Fresh Eyes

Yesterday I retrieved my un-sold quilts and began packing each one for shipment, so that when an order does come through, the quilt will only need a receipt, a shipping label and of course a box in which to travel to its new owner. The quilt will have already been neatly rolled and tied on a hollow core, and sealed thoroughly in plastic to prevent any possible water damage during shipment. When this is done, I can cut my estimated shipping time from the current 3 to 5 business days, down to 2 days. That's good for sales.

However, the third quilt I pulled out of the closet gave me pause. I'd long had a nagging feeling about this particular quilt...that, for some reason, it wasn't going to sell. Which was a disturbing thought, as I had put an extraordinary amount of embellishment on it (mostly free-motion machine embroidery) and was fairly pleased with the result.

Or was I?
The Overlook
Lying there on the table after months of being hidden away in the closet, the quilt presented itself to a more objective eye on my part, and I started thinking, Maybe I should just keep this one and find someplace to hang it here in the house...but where? The basement? NO. No way am I relegating something I worked so hard to make beautiful to a place where dirty clothes are washed and cats use their litter pans.

Then I zeroed in on something. I had never been entirely thrilled with the foliage in the distance, across the river bend. That lilac-like color, for wasn't quite the look I'd been going for. It just didn't make sense for summer-into-fall foliage. Even my husband had commented on it back when I first finished it. And looking at it with fresh eyes, I noticed other parts of that distant foliage I didn't like. It just didn't look leafy enough. Too blob-like. Almost cartoon-like.

And that's when the Muse was freed up. (I hadn't realized I was holding her prisoner all this time.) The paint markers came out, and twenty minutes later the lilac color was masked, and all the "blobs" were more leafy. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the quilt was ready to go back into the queue of those waiting to be sold---and I was feeling grateful it had never left the house in its previous condition! So there was a lesson (which I'm probably not the first landscape quilter to learn): If something doesn't seem good enough to hang anywhere but my own wall, what is there to lose by changing it?

It may not look perfect, but I like it a lot better. And that goes a long way toward the possibility of someone else liking it as well.

Coincidentally or not, I just had cataract surgery. Here's to fresh eyes!


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Someone Else's Design

Last year, I decided to try a different (for me) method of landscape quilting, and pulled my copy of art quilter Cathy Geier's Lovely Landscape Quilts off the shelf and started cutting and auditioning fabric strips. (Click on photos to enlarge.) This would be my first (and so far, only) time making a landscape quilt based on someone else's design.

The project came to a sudden halt when my machine went in the shop for four months, followed by the holidays, followed by a two-week bout with the flu for both me and VVHH, followed by his knee replacement and recovery. We're not quite back to our normal schedule, but there has finally been a little time in the studio to pick up where I left off (after a delayed finish for my Wyoming landscape quilt--see last post). 

Using one of the beautiful background designs in Cathy's book, I first sewed sky and mountain strips to a piece of fusible interfacing and a piece of tear-away stabilizer. The same was done for the water and foreground.
Lots of thread colors were needed
to blend in with the strips.

Since I chose to use raw-edge strips (no seams), each edge was zigzag-stitched. This proved to be tedious but necessary, as even after that, several pesky ravelings eventually popped up and had to be clipped. I still prefer that to seaming the strips.

The two halves of the quilt top were then joined by satin-stitching the water line. Then the sailboat applique was cut and pieced using Cathy's full-size pattern, which is included in the book along with some other applique patterns.

The sail edges were meant to be turned under, but again I chose raw-edge applique instead---forgetting my sails would consequently be a little too long for the mast. I compensated by zigzagging an extension of the mast top in white thread (not shown in the photo), which worked pretty well.
    Then it was time to tear off the stabilizer on the back. The quilted texture wouldn't have been nearly as obvious with that much stiffness left in the sandwich.

Deciding to spare my neck and shoulders as much strain as possible, I chose some decorative machine stitches for the quilting, so that the dual feed foot could do the work of moving the quilt. Only a bit of free motion stitching was done, some of it while using quilting rulers, where painters tape marked my stopping point at the arc of the sun's rays.

A sandy beach was added between the water and land, and shredded polyester batting served as foam at the water's edge, secured by white tulle and clear mono-poly thread.

A variegated boucle yarn was machine-couched
for some definition between the sand and the grasses.

The quilt needed more action, so two other sailboats and two eagles were cut and fused from fabrics in my stash. Clear mono-poly thread was used to quilt them, along with the large boat.

So here's the finished quilt...

...and a photo angle that shows the texture better.

Again, the background (except for the beach and waves) and the large boat are from Cathy Geier's Lovely Landscape Quilts. Detailed instructions and the applique pattern are in the book, and you can embellish the quilt as much as you want. All this one needs now is a label.

As mentioned before, my main sewing machine spent 4 months in the shop last year. I live in the South, yet on the first full day of spring this year, all of our kitchen appliances and one TV were fried when a tree branch bearing eight inches of heavy, unseasonable snow snapped a ground wire coming into the house---but my sewing machine survived! The surge-suppressor power strip it was plugged into did its job and died protecting the machine. Same for all the computers and other televisions in the house. Surge-suppressor power strips are well worth the investment, waaaaayy cheaper than replacing or repairing computers and appliances. Yes, we fortunately are covered by homeowner's insurance, but there's still the deductible to pay.

Have a great week, and here's wishing you true spring weather!