Thursday, June 29, 2017

Save the Turtles

Until two weeks ago, this turtle fabric (click any photo to enlarge) had been teasing me from the fat-quarter shelf for a long time.

The trouble was, I wanted to use the turtles singly. But cutting almost any one of them out would mean chopping off some legs, or even worse, heads!

So a compromise was made. They were cut out in groups, which worked fairly well. (Missing toes simply appear to be covered with sand, which is fine.)

Arranged on a quarter-yard of sand-like Stonehenge (Northcott Mills) fabric, they became little hatchlings, heading as fast as they could go for the ocean (except for one...apparently the rebel in the bunch. We'll see him/her a few photos down).

 This large-scale shallow-water fabric was a very recent purchase, and it was exciting to realize that already I had a use for it. A wavy edge was drawn on tracing paper and cut for the shoreline.

Three rocks were cut freehand from a dark Stonehenge fabric (the same fabric the castle was made from for the seascape panel in my June 9 blog post).

It quickly became apparent that the rocks would need some "grounding"--no floating rocks here.

So, a light source was decided upon and "shadows" were drawn on tracing paper and thread-traced (by machine in free motion, with clear thread) on blue-green tulle.

(Another piece of tracing paper was used on the back to stabilize and protect the tulle. The tracing paper tore off surprisingly well.)

The tulle shadow was then cut out with a "seam allowance" of roughly an inch, and sewn in place on the water (with one shadow edge tucked under the rocks) by stitching over the previously thread-traced lines, again with clear thread. The seam allowance was then removed by very careful trimming close to the stitching lines.

However, I wanted parts of the rock surfaces to be above water. So, other shapes were cut from white tulle, to be laid completely over the green shadows as well as the parts of the rock that were underwater. The same method was used to attach the white tulle.

The results were fairly satisfactory:

Here the quilt is pin-basted and ready to go on the machine:

But just before quilting it, it occurred to me there should be evidence of other creatures in the water, partly for added interest and better composition, but also for scale---meaning, I wanted some way to show that the turtles were freshly hatched and therefore very small.

Three of the easiest patterns I could think of to draw were a starfish, a sand dollar and a shell of some sort. Fortunately it wasn't hard to find suitable fabrics in my stash. These were embellished with nothing more than Sharpie markers, and fused to the quilt top, using my mini-iron (after removing a few basting pins to position them).

I thought about putting white tulle over them to emphasize their being underwater, but opted to skip the tulle and simply make sure my quilted water lines showed clearly over each applique.

Then it was time to quilt the sand. Darker, closer lines were stitched on the shadowy side of the turtles, and lighter ones on the lighter side, both in YLI variegated threads.

Here's the rebel I mentioned earlier--the only one going in a different direction.
There's one in every family. :)
At this point, the quilt looked like this:

I wasn't unhappy with it, but not entirely happy, either. It needed something. And even as it came to me, my mind was already fighting it. After all, enough effort had already been made on this piece, in my opinion, what with the tulle and all. But no, deep down, I knew that a few hours were going to be added anyway--because what this quilt really needed was some sea foam at the edge of the water. Ay-yi-yi.

Just kidding about the two-thousand pins. But there were a lot of them.

Out came a long, narrow piece of scrap polyester batting...and about two- thousand pins.

And more white tulle (not shown).

The batting was stretched, torn, shaped, and generally beaten into submission, pinning as I went, before it was then unpinned, covered with the tulle and re-pinned, one little section at a time.

The tulle was stitched with about an inch overlap on the sand side as well as on the water side, and trimmed very close to the stitching lines. Then the actual foam line on the sand was stitched, making the foam puff up to look more real. Three more flowing, wavy lines of stitching were spaced across the foam.

So, long story short, the difference made by this extra work was this (you'll have to scroll very quickly back and forth between the next two photos):

Next comes steam blocking (which makes the quilt hang much straighter and with even more "poof"), then trimming and binding. Then comes labeling and sleeving--is that a word? Anyway, the choice for binding color has been narrowed down to either a rust color or a teal. The teal seems to make the water look cooler and more inviting, but the rust makes the turtles "pop" more...and they are the stars of the quilt, after all (sorry, starfish). Also considering embellishing the turtles with some beads and/or metallic thread. We'll see.

Next time, the finished quilt, already titled "Catch a Wave."

Happy almost July!


Friday, June 16, 2017

From "Scribble Drawing" to Fabric

This week the "scribble drawing" piece (see original post) was finished. It was both fun and challenging (mostly in choosing the right fabrics). And what a mess was made to put it together!

Here it is in progress, using the vinyl overlay for placement...

Notice the extra "seam allowance" for the purpose of overlapping pieces.
...and here's the finished (but unbound) piece next to the original drawing, titled Fish out of Water.

This fish is definitely out of water, and discombobulated at that. Gills, eye, body, tail and fins are all there--
just not where you'd expect. The distant waterfall also serves as a teardrop from the eye.
No batting was used, so no real quilting was done. Superior MonoPoly was used to stitch the raw edges to the buckram base--which is so stiff you can't quilt it at any rate (I did test it).

Would I do a project like this again? Probably not, unless I could quilt it. That's half the fun of it, after all. But at least my curiosity is satisfied. Anyway, it has a binding now...

...and is hanging (with bits of masking tape, lol) on the stairwell wall. VVHH calls this piece my Picasso, so the stairwell must be my gallery, haha.

UPDATE: Today, three days after my post, I found my "Picasso" on the stairs. So much for masking tape!  :)

On to the next project...although there a couple of UFOs (unfinished objects, for any non-quilting readers) hanging around. We'll see.

'Til next time,


Friday, June 9, 2017

Panel Quilting and Embellishment

This week, a finish for the Artworks Aqua Nuance Digital Panel my friend Janet gave me for Christmas (see post dated 5/11), the first ready-to-quilt panel I've ever used without cutting up for something else. These are still available at a couple of online quilt sites, by the way.

Here's the original, which was so beautiful I was almost afraid to touch it, let alone embellish it or even pierce it with a needle!

But I did, first adding a few elements to the top and then quilting it fairly densely with a low-loft poly batting and lots of different threads. So here's the finished quilt (click to enlarge):

Here are some close-ups (click on any of these photos to enlarge). The rocks came from a Wind and Waves fabric by Wilmington Prints.

The seabirds came from free stock photos at a website that doesn't even require attribution for end use. I cropped them in my photo program, printed them on a Jacquard Inkjet Fabric Sheet, and fused them to the quilt top.

The boulder directly above was cut freehand from a Stonehenge fabric by Northcott. (Note: The boulder became necessary, after the castle, rocks and ship were added, to stop the viewer's eye from wandering off the quilt--which mine did.)

The ship was cut from a curtain panel I found at Goodwill for two dollars. It did need some tweaking (see post dated 5/11).

The castle was designed and made (see post dated 5/11) from yet another Stonehenge fabric.

Lastly, here's a photo of the quilt lying on a table, which seems to be the only way I can get quilted texture to show up well in a photo (the studio lighting is from east and west windows only, at the ends of a long, narrow room. It's a constant battle, which I try to fight with several Ott Lites.)

Next time: Adventures with turning my "scribble drawing" (see post just previous to this one) into a piece of fabric art. Ay-yi-yi...