Thursday, October 29, 2015

Two Trees & a Shrub Away from the Finish Line

This week The Overlook was squared, trimmed, bound and blocked. I usually block first, but the quilting was fairly even and was spaced far enough apart that the quilt really wasn't much out of square.

After squaring it with rulers and a marking pen, I stitched a line all around, just inside my marked line. That's to secure any quilting stitches at the edges before the final cut is made on the marked lines.

After blocking. You can see the T-pins between the binding and the quilt.

(also after blocking)
The quilt just barely fit on my 'blocking box' --the bottom section of a large but shallow shipping box, which I perched on top of a card table. It was nice to not have to work on the floor.

The box has a squared line drawn in permanent marker around the edges. It also has a lovely dent from being squashed in the attic door (thanks, son), so I propped up that section of the quilt with a partly folded fat-quarter to keep it level.

Two layers of an old cotton sheet were laid over the quilt, misted with water until damp (not wet), then well-steamed a couple of inches above the surface with my iron.

The quilt was left untouched overnight and most of the next day. By then all layers were completely dry. Even though it was fairly square to begin with, blocking gave it a more 'finished' look, shrinking out any flabby sections and smoothing the whole quilt without taking away any of the texture or puffiness. It's hard to describe, but there's definitely a difference.

Both trees passed the final audition and were attached this afternoon by free moton machine stitching. This weekend one (or maybe two) of the three shrubs will be re-auditioned. If all goes as planned, the quilt should be finished early next week.

While the quilt was being blocked, the vinyl overlay used in designing and piecing the quilt top was spread out for cleaning---the idea being to wipe the 'permanent' marker off with rubbing alcohol, since any errant lines during the initial drawing had been successfully removed by those little alcohol pads that come in individual wrappers.

Well, so much for that plan. Apparently, if you leave permanent marker on vinyl long enough, it does become permanent. It did fade from black to blue (notice the upper half), but that's as far as the cleaning went. Then again, maybe it's the alcohol. As mentioned, I used the little individually wrapped pads when correcting my lines during drawing. But when attempting to clean the entire piece of vinyl, I used paper towels and isopropyl (rubbing alcohol) from a bottle--which didn't seem to smell nearly as strong. Might there be a difference? I wonder now. If anyone knows, please share. Didn't think to test it at the time. Maybe later.

Anyway, now the vinyl (and the paper it came with to keep it from sticking to itself) are rolled up on a mailing tube and labeled 'used vinyl.' I'll use it to paint fabric on, or for some other messy job. Very little goes to waste around here.

Time to sign off. Loving this fall weather and being upstairs with the studio windows open, but I do wish our fall color was better this year. Overall it's just been too dry. Here's a shot from one of the windows.

Before I go, though, I'm linking up with Whoop Whoop Fridays and Free Motion Mavericks. Check them out and get ready for lots of inspiration!

Have a wonderful weekend, wherever you are this fall (or spring, depending on your hemisphere).


Friday, October 23, 2015

To Tree or Not to Tree

Last week there wasn't much to show on the Overlook landscape, although the quilt-top piecing was finished. This week brought more action.

Binder clips and masking tape were used to hold the backing smooth (not taut--which is generally a mistake. Guess how I know. ;)

Before layering the quilt top on the batting and the backing fabric, a final sticky-roll was done on the back of the quilt top. It was the last time I would ever see this surface, and I don't want any nasty surprises showing through the sky fabric after the quilt is done. Too late then!

The old vinyl-covered, lead pattern-weights shown in a recent blog were used to hold the batting in place for basting.
 After many hours of free-motion quilting (including the satin stitching), it's close to being finished...

...except for the handwork, consisting of two thread-painted trees and two or three shrubs (stacked behind one another in the photo), which will be tucked under those un-quilted grass sections---but only after the quilt is blocked, trimmed and bound. This keeps the trees and shrubs from getting ratty during quilting and handling.

Their positions have been tentatively decided, but they will be auditioned again before attaching. That's because there's a fine line between embellishing and cluttering, especially in a scene this busy. Also, having the binding already on is going to make a difference in the overall appearance of the quilt, which means some of these thread-painted pieces may look better switched or may even need to be omitted.

So, to tree or not to tree....that is the question. Or will be.

Meanwhile, the rows for the twin-size donation quilt are still waiting. The batting pieces are cut but the backing still needs to be pieced. Looking forward to trying this method of quilting and joining, one row of top and batting at a time, onto an overall, one-piece backing. (My shoulders and neck are not yet ready to wrestle with a whole quilt at once, regardless of the size of my harp space.) My friend Kathy quilts this way all the time, and her quilts are gorgeous. Crossing my fingers I can do her proud.

Linking up with Free Motion Mavericks and Whoop Whoop Fridays. Check them out; you'll be glad you did.

Have a wonderful weekend, in whatever hamlet you happen to live.


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fiddly Bits

This week, piecing on the Overlook quilt came down to the last stage, the 'fiddly bits' (I love that expression!). They are fused/glued, and the raw edges are being basted by machine.

The red flower-head pins are reminders not to baste those areas where tree and shrub trunks will be inserted behind a fabric layer. At present I'm thinking that at least two embroidered shrubs will be used on the quilt, as well as two of the three thread-painted trees. They'll be attached after all quilting is done.

The eagles are lower in the sky than I like, but by the time the top edge of the quilt gets trimmed, the higher eagle will barely escape with his wingtips intact.

Off subject, last weekend a dear friend gave me what was left of her Superior Rainbow thread after switching to their Magnifico line for her longarm. I was floored at her generosity (and not for the first time). There are tons of thread left on most of these large spools, and I can't wait to start playing with it!

Also off the subject, another addition to the Lucy drawer.

VVHH (very versatile handy husband) does not like this sweater. He thinks it's strange-looking. I think it's funky and cute. And it's warm and soft (they all are). Again, a variegated yarn from Deborah Norville's Serenity Chunky line, this time in a colorway called 'Cattails.' I was hoping the front pieces would match better, but it's really not a big deal.

Update: Hooking up with Whoop Whoop Fridays. Look what Sarah and the mission team will be delivering this weekend. Also linking in at WIPs Be Gone. Beautiful quilt block, and there's a book giveaway going on!

Speaking of weekends, have a great one.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Bird's-Eye View

This week the birdhouse in the Overlook quilt was designed and pieced, off-site. Meaning, on my ironing board. (And a light box.)

Made the birdhouse body from a light woodgrain fabric, edges pressed under and ready to fuse to the quilt. Fused Steam-a-Seam 2 Lite to the back of a nearly-black woodgrain fabic to make the openings.

Cut out the roof after tracing shingles and shadows onto medium-gray woodgrain fabric. Edges are pressed under and ready to fuse to the quilt. Cut the post from two different woodgrain fabrics, black fused to gray, as one whole side is in shadow. Shaded the body of the house with gray Sharpie (only after testing on scrap fabric). Drew the perches with black and gray Sharpies.

Changed some of the gray shading to black--just wasn't enough contrast in pure gray. Is it scary, shading finished construction with a permanent marker? You bet it is! But it almost always works out okay--especially if you've tested it first on scrap fabric. Just need to take your time. And you could shade it before all the construction is done. It seems to be one of the few instances where I like living on the edge.

Ready to cut the finial out of rock fabric. Didn't want a solid. Going for a patinaed pewter look.
Test-fitted the birdhouse (sans finial) on top of the vinyl overlay.

It works! Some touch-ups are needed (blacking out the woodgrain in the black metal base under the house, for instance), but we'll get there.

This may be the first time I've turned under my applique edges. This method of applique has its perks, obviously, but has drawbacks as well. For example, the roof edges. There's no way to turn the fabric precisely under all those shingle overhangs without lots of detailed clipping and pressing. I just turned under the whole edge--and close up, you can tell. Then again, landscape quilts are meant to be viewed from some distance. And sometimes I have to remind myself that they are quilts--not photographs. Purely representational.

Coincidentally, VVHH and I made the 45-minute drive to have lunch at the Overlook Restaurant last week. It sits at the top of the hill that you see in the quilt.

Overlook Restaurant, Leavenworth, IN

Great views of the Ohio River abound, with decking galore and windows on all sides of several bump-out dining rooms. Here's one of the views.

Note the cabin roof among the trees.

Speaking of birds-eye views, groups of buzzards often float on the air currents above the river, putting on quite the graceful ballet very close to the restaurant windows. In tribute to those underrated birds, a couple of eagles will probably be added to the quilt. I've yet to see buzzard fabric anywhere.

Off subject, the Lucy drawer now holds two sets of knee pads for those days when she's practicing walking (and falling)...and it won't be long now!

Deborah Norville's self-striping Serenity Baby yarn

Linking up with Whoop Whoop Fridays, where I think Sarah might have set a record for quilt production this week. Tons of great hookups there with her readers, too.

Have a wonderful weekend!