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!



  1. Poor Zoe! That squirrel is taunting her and of course she loves it:-) your quilt is coming along nicely. I've never used an overlay - interesting to see the process. Thank you for sharing

  2. Carol, this is the first time for me, at least on a landscape. Did do a monochromatic portrait of someone using this method. It was so fun watching it come together that I decided to try it with this photograph. Not sure I'll do it again, but we'll see. Oh, and Zoe got out yesterday--probably a good thing the squirrel wasn't around at the time. Good for Zoe, I mean! lol

    1. Ha, hate to make a liar out of myself, but I just realized, I used a vinyl overlay in the quilt I featured in the blog post, Change of Scenery! My memory was never anything to write home about, and it's gotten more challenging with age.

    2. Make that 'A Change in Scenery.' Case in point. LOL

  3. Thank you for sharing this process. I am just starting to do landscape quilting and did my overlay last night. Since my piece is much smaller, I may make a portable workspace with a small piece of wood and the clips. Thank you so much! Your work is stunning!

    1. That sounds like a great idea! I hope you love landscape quilting--so fun! And thank YOU. :)


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