Friday, December 20, 2013

It's a Wrap

No...not the quilt. I wish! This week has been only slightly productive for the free-motion garrison quilt. Progress amounted to tacking down the tree foliage and pinning up a sheet of parchment paper to draw patterns for the tree shadows.

However, things have been quite productive in the quilting studio itself. That's because it has become Gift Wrap Central.

After all, it's the perfect space--the cutting table is just the right height to wrap presents, and scissors and tape are always at hand. Add to that, the rolls of gift wrap, gift bags, bows and ribbons just happen to reside year-round right inside that little attic door in the first photo. So it only made sense not to haul all of that downstairs, as we'd had to do in the past, to the dining room table, where you are guaranteed a backache after only a few minutes of wrapping. (Granted, we did have to haul the gift items upstairs to wrap and then back down again to place under the tree. backaches!)

Making progress with the decorating. Now for the food.

Hooking up with Sarah at Whoop Whoop Fridays (she has accomplished far more quilting than I did this week!). And with Leah Day's FMQ Friday, where she's letting us link up with whatever we are doing these next two weeks, including holiday preparations--thank you, Leah!

Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate it, happy holidays to all who celebrate in other ways, and a wonderful week to everyone in general!


Friday, December 13, 2013

Aye, There's the Shrub

This week involved a different sort of detailing on the free-motion garrison quilt.

Realizing that the ground under the trees looks a bit too neat for nature (I doubt there was ever lawn care in any natural forest, much less in Medieval times), I decided to put some brambles--wild shrubbery--in two or three places. Not enough to clutter the scene, but just to roughen it up a little.

Time to take Alison Holt's Machine Embroidered Woodlands off my bookshelf again.

On pages 40-41 of this wonderful thread-painting book, she teaches how to machine-embroider bare trees for distant scenery. I first tried her method for the foreground of my free-motion quilt, New England Dawn, using it for shrubbery instead of distant trees:

New England Dawn, 2012

It went well, but, oh, how very scary it was to make the first shrub. The reason? This is free-motion stitching on a whole other level (or maybe I should say 'hole' other level, to be explained in a moment). For the first time in my life, I was sewing on...nothing. That's right, nothing. No fabric, no stabilizer, no netting, no anything....just air. It made me think of free-falling with no parachute. Here's why.

You start with a piece of muslin in an 8-inch hoop (hoop inside-up). Then you cut a 4-inch hole in the center of the muslin. That's right, a hole. Do you see where this is going?

Then you stretch the fabric tautly all around and screw the hoop tight. The hole will be another 3/4 inch or so larger in diameter now. Believe it or not, that's a good thing.

Then, with your feed dogs down (or up with 0 stitch length and a slippery mat over the machine bed), you slowly and steadily move the hoop while free-motion stitching straight lines in a fan shape from one side of the muslin to the other and back, stitching well into the muslin before returning to the starting point. The starting point will shift a little each time--after all, you can't keep hitting the needle on that same exact spot without eventually breaking it or your thread.

As long as your tension is well-balanced, it's amazing how seldom, if ever, the thread knots or breaks while stitching across the hole. (Always do a test first and make tension adjustments if needed.) If the thread does break, no big deal. Just cut the broken thread back to where it stops unraveling and start that line of stitching over. But don't start in the middle of the hole. Always begin at your starting point. I once started in the middle of the hole and broke my needle. (I still don't know how that happened but you can be sure I won't try it again.)

Next, change to a medium-wide zigzag stitch. (You're still free-motion stitching, so the stitch length stays at 0 if your feed dogs are up, under the mat.) Now, start zigzagging, fairly closely, up your straight-stitched lines and watch what happens:

Like magic, the zigzag stitching automatically grabs several straight-stitched lines at a time and gathers them together. These become your tree trunks, or in the case of a shrub, your main branches. (If you miss a stray strand, you can backtrack and pick it up.) Now, this is important: as you stitch across the hole, gradually narrow your zigzag width. (This may take some practice, and is a little easier to do with a dial than with a digital selector.) You won't be able to keep the strands together all the way to the other side; they will automatically start separating again, and that's good. You want your upper branches to look more twiggy anyway. Then stitch back to the beginning, going from narrow zigzag back to wider zigzag, and begin with the next group of strands.

When the trunks are finished, switch back to straight stitch. (This next part is even more fun that the last--yes, you should be having fun by now! :) Stitch up one of the main branches a bit and then start crossing over all of them, back and forth, willy-nilly, at angles (see next photo).

(Here I've finished all my criss-crossing and am heading around the muslin border back down to my starting point.)

Now, switch back to your medium-wide zigzag and head up the first trunk. When you come to those crossed threads, angle out and start bringing some of them together the same way you did the trunks, narrowing your stitch width as you head toward the top of the trees/shrub. Again, the zigzag will pick up strands without much effort on your part, and if it misses any you want included, just stitch backward and then shift a bit to pick them up before moving along again. (It won't hurt to leave an occasional branch separate, as long as it's attached at both ends to other branches or trunks. You might want to strengthen it a bit with a narrow zigzag, though.)

Work as many branches and as much thickness or width anywhere you think it's needed. Then zigzag back over a trunk to your starting point.

Next, run some zigzag stitches sideways across the base of all your trunks, over the open space--not on the muslin, which you'll be cutting away. This last step ties the trunks together and keeps them from curling up on the ends after they're cut free.

Time to break thread!

And now you get to cut the trees/shrub out of the muslin! Don't be shy. Cut right through the threads, following the edge of the muslin circle (see below). The threads will contract a bit but they will not unravel--except at the tips, which only looks more natural.

Notice I forgot to tie my trunks together over the hole--I did it on the muslin! So to fix the problem, I simply cut out that little bit of muslin along with the shrub, trimming it closely, and then blacked out the white areas with a Sharpie marker. Cheating is allowed if it works. ;)

Now you can couch the trees/shrub by machine or by hand to your quilt. Cover the ugly base (let's face it, mine's a mess) with a section of grass or whatever is in that area of your quilt, and sew it down. Here's another one, pinned to the quilt for auditioning:

Actually, I made three of them this time, each with a different variegated top thread but keeping only one variegated thread in the bobbin for all. What's cool about this is you can reverse the trees/shrub if you want, and if the bobbin thread was different from the top, obviously you'll have another color choice in that same piece of embroidery.

Also, who says you have to leave these bare? You can add leaves or flowers, either with bits of fabric or by embroidering on the shrubs/trees after they're attached to your quilt. But I've come to love the skeletal structure of bare trees, as well as dead ones, which I used to think were bleak and depressing. No more. Every one of them has such character and is beautiful in its own way, and no two are alike. Which reminds me: no two of these embroidered trees/shrubs will ever end up alike, either. Which makes them all the more natural-looking.

Again, this project came from Alison Holt's wonderful book, Machine Embroidered Woodlands. It includes tons of machine-embroidery ideas and instructions, and plenty of photos. Her work is extraordinary and inspiring, so it's a joy just turning the pages.

Time to sign off and get some Christmas prep done. Hooking up here with Leah Day's FMQ Friday with her wonderful reader links, as well as Sarah Craig's Whoop Whoop Friday post and her many inspiring reader hookups. Here's hoping Leah goes through with her idea to make a king-sized bed quilt on a regular sewing machine in 2014...I would love to follow that! Sarah has just finished a gorgeous quilt and is sharing photos.

Have a great weekend, and for those of you experiencing single-digit temps, stay warm!


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Turkeys and Trees

The last couple of weeks have zoomed by, what with two wonderful Thanksgiving celebrations, including a trip out of town. Only a few hours were spent in the studio. But before getting to that, I just have to do a little bragging. This is a photo of my daughter-in-law Shannon's first turkey ever...

I know...hard to believe she hasn't been doing this for twenty years, isn't it? And it tasted even better than it looks! I guess it goes without saying, she is an incredibly good cook! She even brined this bird--something I've never attempted in my nearly 40 years of cooking these big guys. Success (revenge), by the way, was particularly sweet for Shannon. Chased by a wild turkey when she was a little girl, she has naturally been terrified of them ever since. Let's face it: regardless of how good they taste, they're huge and fast and have mean eyes and sharp beaks. Not something you want pursuing you, especially as a kid!

On to the free-motion garrison quilt, currently in one of its embellishment stages. Once again, Marvy fabric markers played a big part, along with a couple of Sharpies. Compare the next two sets of photos to see the difference in the trees, so far. I say 'so far' because quilting is going to add tons of texture; the markers only add shading. And if you don't think this is fun, just try it! You may soon be wishing the marker police were standing over your shoulder, because it's really easy to go overboard while shading with markers (ask me how I know). Every few seconds, I forced myself to stand back and take a hard look before adding more.

'Befores' are on the left, 'afters' on the right:

That's it for now...except, I just remembered a certain fabric I have in my stash. My mischievous side--believe me, I have one--says maybe I should include this in a quilt for Shannon someday... ;))) 

...although, she might just throw it onto the fire!...and who could blame her? Which just goes to show, there's more than one way to roast a turkey!  :D

Hooking up here with Leah Day's FMQ Friday with and Sarah Craig's Whoop Whoop Friday (it's time for me to make new stockings!) even if I did post two days early. ;) Love these two blogs, and their reader hookups.

Have a great weekend. We're hunkering down here for snow and ice!


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Saying Yes to the Dress

This week brings us to downshift number two in the design stage of my free-motion quilting project. (See my post It's in the Details for more about downshifts.)

This time, it's about the dress/gown/coat. And the hair. Several colors of fabric were tested on the quilt, and red-violet seemed to look best for the young lady's dress (let's just call it that from here on in), especially with the hair fabric I'd chosen. More about the hair in a minute.

After tracing the dark areas in the black and white photo onto the freezer paper dress pattern piece, I cut them out with an Exacto knife (leaving all outside edges intact). Then I ironed the pattern onto a test piece of the red-violet batik (below left) and filled in all the open spaces with a black Marvy fabric marker. It worked, with no bleed-over at the edges. I love these markers! It's paint, but it applies more like ink. And you don't even have to heat-set it!

I realize the black looks a little stark against the fabric, but when someone is standing back from the quilt, it will look like natural folds (that's the plan, anyway). So I committed to it and repeated the process on the actual dress piece.

The next step was to put the highlight areas on the dress. Since I didn't have the right color of marker or type of fabric paint for that, I opted to cut them all out of a lavender batik and fuse them onto the dress base, using the photo to check proper positioning. Maybe not the perfect shade, this lavender, but I was determined not to go out and buy more fabric!

After that, all the dress needed was some fancy trim on the sleeves and on the one front opening of her coat (the other being hidden from view). Plus a little detailing with the black Marvy paint marker here and there. Again, the shadows and highlights may seem a little stark at first glance, but when you lay it on the quilt top and step back, it works fairly well. I think I'm ok with it, at least for now.

The hair was easy and fun, especially after figuring out what fabric to use for the clasp. The fabric used for the hair itself might be considered an odd choice by some folks. Anybody care to guess what the fabric's actual intended use is? Be as specific as you can, because the first person to comment and get it right gets a free copy, postage paid, of Joyce Becker's wonderful book, Quick Little Landscape Quilts! (I happen to have an extra.) [Update--we have a winner, Gill in the UK!]

The last thing done to the dress was hand-stitching the lacings with gold metallic thread. Then, finally, hair and dress were fused together. Here's the lady, laid over the drawing for her final fitting.

One more thing. Please don't think, when a product is mentioned by name on this blog, that I'm in any way trying to promote it. I don't work for anyone but myself, but am a firm believer in sharing tips, methods, techniques and product names that work for me. What I will never do again is say anything negative about a product on this blog. (If you think blogs aren't being watched by industry, just say something unflattering about a name brand.) I experienced a failure with one particular product--which turned out to be totally my fault, as I was using it wrong!--and blogged about it. Soon afterward, the manufacturer wrote me, politely, to ask for specifics about how I had used the product. The upshot of it was that I apologized profusely, thanked them for pointing out my error, and took all mention of the product and my experience with it off the blog. Not that I had slammed it or anything, don't get me wrong; I had simply shared my experience. But after that, I decided never to share an opinion on a name-brand product unless my experience with it is a positive one. Lesson learned! So again...I love Marvy fabric markers! :)

Hooking up with Leah Day's FMQ Friday blog--just look at those gorgeous photos--Duchess Reigns is back on the machine! Also linking to Sarah Craig's Whoop Whoop Friday post. Between her restoration of an antique quilt and a historically significant piece of family memorabilia, this is a very interesting post. Don't miss it. And don't miss the reader hookups below each of those posts; you'll find wonderful blogs there, as well.

Have a great weekend!


p.s. Linda's Landscapes Etsy shop is having a Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale. Take 20% off all prices now through December 3rd, simply by using coupon code HOLIDAY20 at checkout!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Everything but the Girl

Admittedly, that title has been used before, as the name of a music duo and as a TV movie title. But after gluing down the rest of the pieces this week and putting the quilt top back under the vinyl overlay to test the final fit, the phrase 'everything but the girl' immediately popped into my head...for obvious reasons. She looks a bit ghostly, doesn't she? Not for long, though. I made her hair yesterday and will work on her gown/coat tomorrow.

Um...I see green flower-head pins here. Apparently those two pieces weren't glued down when this was taken!

Things lined up pretty well. Looking at the drawing on the vinyl overlay, you can see where I made a few changes. The little tree in the upper right-hand corner was simplified from the original, and the tree near the garrison window was moved to the left. A couple of bushes in the right-hand corner were shifted upward a bit, and the grassy areas on the right were repositioned. Overall, nothing really major. Then everything was tacked down (free-motion stitched as invisibly as possible near all the raw edges), except for the first few pieces already tacked last week. Now the quilt top can be handled without fear of any pieces peeling back or falling off.

After that, it went back on the design board, where I tested some black organza pieces for shadows. It took a while to decide where my light source should be. The source photo (see my post, Line by Missing Line) was shot on a completely overcast day around noon, so there were no visible shadows anywhere. What finally decided me on the light source was this juxtaposition of nearly-horizontal lines (the shadows) with vertical lines (just about everything else on the quilt!):

And what amazes me is how much more dimensional the image becomes (compare the photos below) with only three little organza test-pieces pinned on. Shadows make such a difference!

That's about it for this week. Hoping to have the young lady finished next week and tacked down on top of some permanent shadows.

Hooking up with Sarah Craig's Whoop Whoop Friday post--boy did I get a shot of inspiration there today! Also linking with Leah Day's FMQ Friday. Like me, she's piecing and designing instead of actual quilting just now. Remember to click on the reader hookups below each post to see what some quilters are up to.

Have a wonderful weekend!


Friday, November 8, 2013

Stuck Behind Bars

Glue sticks rock. Imagine what landscape quilting would be like if we were using the traditional squeeze bottle of school glue...or worse yet, the giant jar of school paste (more of which I ate than actually used on my art projects in grade school--that stuff was dang yummy. Good thing it wasn't toxic, too!).

Point being, this week alone, the innards of 4 glue sticks disappeared into my landscape quilt. Granted, only the edges of the fabric pieces are slathered with the glue, but even at that, it's surprising how fast the stuff goes. (Hence my husband's reaction, as usual, to hearing that we need to buy glue sticks today. It basically goes, "What, again??? We're keeping Elmer's in business!!")

So yep, lots of gluing went on this week, as well as more detailing (see last week's post, It's in the Details). The garrison went from this:

To this:

It took about 3 hours--cutting, fusing, shading with Sharpie markers, and sewing two layers of black organza onto the side of the building (the top layer of which I later cut partly away--it just looked too dark when the piece wasn't in bright light, as it is here). Haha, no escape now for that mysterious man--he's literally stuck behind bars!

After the garrison was glued down and dry, it didn't seem to stick all that securely. Time to take the quilt top to the machine and tack all those pieces down, before adding more on top of them. I used to use clear monofilament for the tackdown--quick and invisible--but my dealer thought it best to avoid using it, for the sake of the tension discs, unless absolutely necessary. She suggested Invisafil, a 100-wt. poly thread. It works great. It does show a tiny bit, but only close-up, and most of it will be covered later by the quilting thread.

Then the quilt top went back on the table, under the vinyl overlay again, re-fastened with paper clips at the table edges. It smoothed out and realigned nicely. Time for more gluing, yay! Sure, that's pretty much a preschool activity, but it's relaxing and so much fun to see those pieces go down on the background fabric. Things moved faster from this point, and probably will until it's time to add the young lady. She's not even cut out yet; in fact I still haven't decided on fabrics for her hair and her coat. I may have to shop for those. That should be fun!

A few more pieces were added yesterday. They'll have dried by now, so I can glue some more today (that is, after grocery shopping, paying bills, balancing the checkbook and a couple of laundry loads. You  :-/  Can't complain, though, as my time is mostly my own. The kids are grown and I'm very lucky to be able to work at home.). Looking very much forward to free-motion stitching this landscape--first embroidering some weeds and ferns on the stabilized quilt top, and then quilting each element according to its individual form, outlining stones, stitching tree bark, etc.

Also, last Sunday my friend Janet invited me over to dye in her garage--scarves, that is. And since I'd never done this before (the sky in the quilt above was painted, not dyed), it was the perfect opportunity to take along some PFD cotton. It was a lot of fun, and although the fabrics didn't turn out quite like I'd planned, that was half the fun of it--not knowing what anything would look like until it was over and rinsed out.

Since I'm whoopin' it up for all the gluing, detailing and dyeing that got done this week, here's a hookup to Sarah Craig's Whoop Whoop Friday. She's already got a major Christmas gift well on the way to being finished. Also linking to my favorite free-motion blog, Leah Day's FMQ Friday. She's stitched some beautiful new designs and is planning her group project for 2014. Remember to check out their awesome reader hookups at the end of each blog.

Before signing off: Last week I posted a rear-view photo of our cat Zoe watching a squirrel outside the door. Here's a nice portrait of Zoe alongside my late mother-in-law's much-prized (and much-used) 1962 Singer awesome workhorse of a machine.

Have a wonderful weekend and stay warm--or cool, depending on where you are! :)

Friday, November 1, 2013

It's in the Details

You know that expression, 'The devil is in the details' (which came from the expression 'God is in the detail'--no 's' in the original). Well, this week, details are what it's all about. More on that in a minute.

After a great trip to visit with family last week, it was back to work on piecing the free-motion castle garrison quilt. The first thing to do was trace the line drawing of the enlarged photo onto a vinyl overlay.

The second thing was to press the foundation fabric smooth, secure it to the table with masking tape on the side edges, and fasten both the fabric and the vinyl overlay to the table with large clamp-type paper clips along the top and bottom edges.

When working on the upper half of the quilt top, I take the top clips off and gently lay the vinyl back on itself, leaving the bottom clips firmly in place. When switching to work on the lower half, the top clips go back on and then the bottom clips come off. This way the vinyl never shifts. If you had to reposition the vinyl overlay every time you test-fitted or glued a quilt piece onto the foundation fabric, your layout would become increasingly 'off' because of the overlap allowances on most of the quilt pieces. (Imagine putting together a badly cut puzzle, where some of the pieces just 'sort of' fit together. Pretty soon you'd have a mess on your hands.) Also, can you imagine how long piecing the quilt would take?

By the same token, when working on the left or right side of the quilt, I remove the top and bottom clips from that half of the quilt--again, leaving the other clips (on the other half, top and bottom) in place.

By the way, the mailing tube in this photo serves more than one purpose: it keeps the vinyl from taking a crease when you fold it back out of the way, and it's a quick way to roll the vinyl smoothly back into place before positioning the next quilt piece. Also, the vinyl will stay cleaner and is less likely to be stretched the least bit out of shape than if you smoothed it back out with your hands each time. Not that it stretches easily--this is not lightweight vinyl, but I'd rather be cautious.

The background (sky) pieces went down quickly, as did the following five garrison pieces in the above photo. Then came what I think of as the first downshift, a stage where things slow considerably--the detailing stage. Remember, you're working from back to front with these pieces, layering and overlapping as you go. Some of those overlaps will partly cover areas of other pieces, so the details in those particular areas will need to be in place already. Other details, those which aren't going to be overlapped at any point, can be saved for later, after they're already glued down on the quilt top. However...'s usually much easier to detail a piece by working with it separately (off site) at another table (or better yet, your ironing board--especially if any fusing is involved). In the photo at left, for example, was the next element to go on the quilt after those first few fast and easy pieces: the tower. It needed arrow slits and a doorway, as well as some architectural interest near the battlements. All of this was done at the ironing board (along with a small cutting mat and rotary cutter) and some lightweight double-paper-backed fusible. Oh, and the freezer-paper pattern pieces that were traced off the enlarged photo. In the photo below, the tower is mostly done (some thread details will be added during quilting) and has been glued to the quilt top. The main garrison piece will eventually overlap the tower on the right side.

Fabric markers were used, too. Now, that could have been done later, after the quilt was completely pieced, but here's the problem with that: if you screw up with the markers (and believe me, I've done it) you may have to make a whole new piece, or part of a piece. If the whole thing is already glued to your quilt-top when this happens...well, you get the picture. Make life easier on yourself. Do all the detailing you can, including markers and paint, before the piece goes on the quilt top! (Note: That is, unless the detail is something very delicate that really needs to be saved for last to keep from scraping it or knocking it off the quilt altogether. That's a different story!)

Next up was piecing the iron-barred window. The original choice for the window's interior is lying next to the iron, along with a second tried-and-rejected piece. This Northcott Stonehenge fabric (the one under the freezer-paper pattern) looked promising, so I tucked the man's silhouette in there to see the effect. They say the third time is the charm; maybe that's true. So this week I'll fuse the man down, then make the iron bars and fuse them on top of him...ha, no escape after that!

Off subject: Returning from my sister and brother-in-law's farm last Sunday, after my niece's wonderful outdoor Halloween party with two bonfires and a hayride, we brought Indian corn and pumpkins back with us to decorate our front porch. Well, you can see how long they're going to last. This shot was taken this morning. Poor Zoe (our youngest cat). Her entire demeanor, as she observes this relentless all-day destruction, fluctuates between helpless outrage and utter disgust. (That's when she's not openly attacking the glass door to get at her rodent tormentor.)

In all honesty, if the squirrel weren't eating our outdoor décor, he'd be eating the peanuts I throw out for him every couple of days. (Maybe that makes me a sadist where our frustrated cat is concerned, but it gives her something to do, even if it does get her dander up, and the squirrel is so fearless of her that he hops right up to the glass and puts his front feet up on it just to freak her out.)

Hooking up with Leah Day's FMQ Friday blog, and Sarah Craig's Whoop Whoop Friday blog for fresh inspiration and motivation--not only from their own blogs, but also from the blogs of the readers who are linked below each one. Need a boost of quilting mojo? I promise, you'll get it there!

Have a great weekend, and enjoy this beautiful season!


Friday, October 18, 2013

It's in the Bag

It's kind of a big day in the studio, because it's one of the scariest in the landscape quilting progress, at least for me. That's's time to take all the pieces (many of which were added since last week's post) off the temporary layout for this new free-motion landscape...and bag them up for later, when they'll be fused or glued into place.

It's almost as if your quilt goes away...poof! That's why it's so scary. But throughout the preliminary design process, nothing is permanent anyway. Designing is not about permanence. This is the time to be totally flexible. Time to try different fabrics, values, colors and textures. Time to play with placement, additions, omissions, and fun details--although I often save the finer details for later.

So, as of lunchtime today, the fabric pieces are grouped in plastic bags (generally according to size, and/or areas of the quilt). The exceptionally long or large pieces are on the design board, a convenient place to park them for now. If you can't do that, find a large plastic bag, a drawer, a box, a shelf, whatever, and put them there. It's particularly helpful if you can keep them in a place where they don't have to be folded--otherwise, they may have to be ironed again before gluing/fusing them down. Why iron more than once if you don't have to?


The freezer-paper pattern pieces are also bagged, even though most of them will never be needed again. The thing is, you never know--a day or two later you just might decide you want to use a different fabric for a particular piece. If so, you're ready to iron that pattern piece onto the new fabric and cut it right out. Never throw away a pattern piece until the quilt is done. (And even then, I keep some of them. I'll get into the 'why' of that in another post.)

The few pattern pieces that aren't bagged are pieces I still need to work with--like putting battlement details and arrow slits on the tower fabric. That didn't need to be figured out for the general layout of the quilt, but it will need to be done--details cut and fused--before the tower gets overlapped by the main garrison piece (the big, gray stone wall).

Next up will be tracing the original drawing, albeit with changes, on a full-sized vinyl overlay. Easy and kind of fun!

I want to switch gears here just for a second, especially for any readers who are local (Louisville, KY area) and who happened to know Linda Bowles, owner of Moore's Sewing and Learning Center. This is the lady who has so generously exhibited my landscape quilts in her shop for the last two years. Linda passed on Wednesday, after an illness that never got her down until the very end. She was one of the kindest, most supportive and loving souls I've ever met. Her family, staff and customers, including me, will miss her immensely. Moore's will never be the same without her smile, her cheer and her hugs.

Hooking up with Leah at FMQ Friday and Sarah at Whoop Whoop Friday--even if I'm not quite as whoopy as usual. Linda Bowles would want that. Anything to do with sewing/quilting/embroidering was something she was always ready to celebrate!

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Friday, October 11, 2013

Guesses and Messes

Last week marked the beginning of a new free-motion quilted landscape, this time using a photo--which involved enlarging, a lot of tracing, and the making of twenty thousand million pattern pieces. (Ok, actually 26. It just seemed like a lot more.)

Then came choosing the fabrics--one of the most fun and yet most frustrating parts in the process of making a landscape quilt. Half of the time, there aren't enough choices; the other half, there are too many. In this photo, folded fabrics are being auditioned for the trees (one of which was accidentally left out at first...yep, screw-up number one...that's when you know you're on your way! :)
Again, these were just auditions at this point...except for that tree on the left. I was so sure it would be the perfect foreground tree, that I went on and cut it out with the pattern piece--a good 30 inches long. Yep, trial and error number one (as opposed to screw-up number one)--the tree just doesn't stand out enough. It blends in a little too well with the stone wall, which is supposed to be far behind it.

So that particular tree was rejected. But in landscape quilting, rejects are never wasted; just saved for a future project. The replacement tree in the next photo is much darker, which is important, because usually the elements in the foreground need to be darker than those in the background, for the sake of depth and perspective. (If you're not convinced of this, stand on a hill somewhere and look out over the distant landscape. Generally, trees, mountains, other hills, and even buildings will appear progressively lighter as they near the horizon.) There are exceptions, such as that skinny tree, which needs to be either very dark or very light in order to contrast with the stone wall. Lighter would probably be better there--it's a bit stark looking even if it is skinny. 

 Meanwhile, the studio is gloriously messy, as happens when you're deeply immersed in a new project--too much creativity flying around to pay all that much attention to cleanup. And this photo doesn't even include the huge pile of pattern pieces lying willy-nilly all over a tabletop. 

A couple of new elements were added today:

The curling silhouette (because I ironed him onto paper-backed fusible) makes it look like the guy is trying to escape hell fire, but that will change as the light behind him gets toned down and window bars are put on top of him. Then he'll just look all brooding and mysterious as he watches the woman approach on the path. At least that's the plan.

Hooking up with Leah Day over at FMQ Friday and Sarah Craig at Whoop Whoop Fridays. Among other things, Leah has included a link to instructions for a method of finishing your quilt's raw edges without binding on top. Sarah has announced the winner of the traveling stash and is featuring some linkups to other folks' work. Check out the hookups at the bottom of both Leah's and Sarah's posts--as always, a super booster shot of inspiration.

Have a great weekend, everyone!