Friday, December 14, 2018

Two Landscapes in One

Ever since finishing Villa with a View, I've heard other fabric panels calling to me from the closet, where they've been stashed quite a while. This is one of them, a one-yard scene from Timeless Treasures Fabrics.

Only after rescuing it from the closet and looking at it more closely did I notice that this is actually two different planes/levels of forest, one on top of the other (click on photo to enlarge). Pretty clever designing--fabric for two landscape quilts in a single yard!

So I cut it in half....

...then tested that half under the vinyl overlay I had used for Villa with a View...and realized those same arches would work for this panel, too!

So, out came the original drawing.

Then a tracing-paper overlay was cut (and reinforced with masking tape), to help me decide on the best position for the arched openings.

Next, pattern pieces were traced from the drawing onto freezer paper so they could be ironed onto the fabric. Only the wall/background piece was traced onto parchment paper, as I wanted to see that fabric through the pattern before cutting it out.

Moving things along with a condensed account of what followed...

Cutting out (right through the parchment paper) the wall/background from one of Northcott Mills' Stonehenge fabrics

Fusing the scene (with pre-applied Misty Fuse) to the muslin base, and fusing the interior arch and sill pieces over the scene

Fusing the wall/background to the muslin base

Two of the three white arch frames are fused in place. Testing positions of pieces with vinyl far, so good!
More next time, when some critters will be added to the forest and the two columns will be embellished.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


Sunday, November 4, 2018

Woo-woo & Witches

No new quilts to show yet, but there is something new...and something not-so-new. It begins with the new music box I received in mid-October from my oldest friend and college roommate, Nita.

(Click any photos to enlarge)
The balance wheel turns an actual belt, moves the treadle, and moves the needle bar (sans needle) up and down. When the center drawer is opened, the music plays...oddly enough, my favorite piece of classical music, Fur Elise by Beethoven. I don't remember ever telling Nita it was my favorite; still, I'm not surprised. It's that kind of friendship. Lots of synchronicity. (Some would call it "woo-woo," and that's fine. Keep reading for more woo-woo.)

Fast-forward to the not-so-new part of this story. About a week after I received the music box, my husband saw an offer posted online in a give-away, recycle -type group, and he replied that he (I) was interested. By then the owner had already promised the item to someone else, but two days later she wrote my husband and said it was his if he still wanted it.

He wanted it. And look what he brought home.

This beauty, a Singer Sewing Machine No. 15, is 116 years old. It was originally sold in a wooden cabinet with a treadle (like the music box), but has had a motor installed, a new pedal added, and is housed in a 1950's portable case.

Coincidence? You be the judge. To me it's more synchronicity (or woo-woo).

The decals are worn away in places, but still gorgeous. The crank assembly, which would have been decorative as well as functional alongside the balance wheel, is missing, as are the attachments...but the machine works! Its full power hasn't been tested yet, however. I don't want to run it hard until it's cleaned up and oiled a little more. But I have a feeling it will run like a top.

And though it's a bit premature to find space for it in the studio (and I really thought it would be impossible), it didn't take long to figure out where it would fit. There's a fair amount of space on the wooden table behind the big machine, and the Singer can sit on the edge facing the window. There it will also serve as a stop-guard for quilts being sewn on the big machine.

With the holidays approaching, the restoration job may be a 2019 project. I'll be reviewing Lizzie Lenard's (Muv's) videos on how to clean and oil a vintage sewing machine, parts 1 and 2, as well as others she has posted about using vintage machines. I'm very grateful she has shared her experience with these wonderful old workhorses.

Off subject, on the knitting front, finally it's a finish for my granddaughter Lucy's Secret Garden sweater coat. The pattern and the yarn are by Alice Starmore of the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland (click here to visit her stunning website, Virtual Yarns). This sweater coat pattern for ages 3-4 & 5-6 was fun, and not nearly as difficult as it might appear at first glance. I found it in The Children's Collection knitting book by A. & J. Starmore (J. is her daughter, Jade). Lucy won't be able to wear the sweater coat until next year, but in the meantime I can take it out occasionally and admire it. It is such a lovely pattern.

That's all for now, except to share a photo of Lucy in her witch costume, taken with me this Halloween.

The sweetest witch ever (at left, that is. The one on the right is not nearly as sweet)
Have a great November!


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!


Saturday, January 27, 2018

Wyoming Whimsy

This week, it's a finish for the Wyoming quilt. Yay!!

I didn't realize the camera was slightly tilted--which makes the top of the quilt look a bit wider than the bottom. Be assured it's perfectly square. (I'll take a better shot of it for the Etsy shop.)

Here are a couple of zoomed-in views.

This quilt is based on a photo taken by my daughter-in-law, Shannon, at String Lake in Wyoming last year. Here's the original...

...and here's the saturated version I used for color inspiration. The colors I put in the quilt are a little over-the-top for me, almost fantasy-like; hence the quilt title, Wyoming Whimsy:

Many thanks to Shannon. I had been floundering for landscape quilt inspiration at the time, and was thrilled to get her permission to use the photo.

While pressing the binding toward the edges (before hand-sewing the back), I used these finger/thumb protectors for the first time. I've never burned my fingers doing this task, but have come pretty close a couple of times, so was glad to have found this product in Nancy's Notions catalog.

And speaking of Nancy's case anyone hasn't heard yet, we lost Nancy Zieman--master seamstress, quilter and teacher, and longtime TV host of PBS's Sewing With Nancy--to cancer on November 14, 2017.

She will be missed not only by her family and friends, but by hordes of people who never even met her--including me. You see, my introduction to landscape quilting came through Nancy's show one memorable October day in 2009. And I've relied on her garment-sewing expertise for decades. What a teacher, and what a lady. Thank you, Nancy.

Enjoy your weekend!