Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Back in the Saddle Again

Just a few words about the  l o n g  delay since the last post: Yard work, crochet, basement reorganization, holidays...you get the picture. (No Covid, thank heaven and knock on wood---but also no quilt inspiration, until recently). 

This piece of batik fabric had been in the stash for a couple of years and it finally made itself heard. "Sky and branches," it said.

"Okey-doke," I replied.

Fabric auditions ensued (click on any photo to zoom):

Mountains popped up:

The water stayed, and some hills developed. (A sailboat was added; it will show up in the finished quilt.)

The colors were nice but looking fairly muted. The striped batik brought in the "pop," and ding went the internal bell that says, "It's a go!"

More auditions and additions...

This little guy may be repositioned. >>

Today it was ready for tacking down raw edges by machine. (The critters will be added after the main quilting. Much easier than trying to quilt around them all.)

I can't tell you how good it feels to be back in the saddle again.

Happy new year, everyone. It's got to be better than 2020.


Saturday, September 5, 2020

Another Hawaiian Bay

 ...because, what else could this be but Hawaiian Bay II (the Second)? This is the first time I've ever used a quilt title twice (although it's definitely a different quilt), but nothing else seemed fitting.

The sky fabric was the inspiration for the quilt, and the mountain pieces were unused leftovers from another project. All the other fabric pieces were auditioned before cutting. (Click on any photo to enlarge.)

The water fabric was free-motion quilted with Sulky's Holoshimmer threads, in gold and light copper. 

Decided to sew on some shells (my husband drilled the holes). Glued them down first with Aleene's Jewel-It, just to keep them firmly in place while sewing.

Scattered some beads into an arrangement I liked, marked their places with a little white dot (ceramic pencil), and sewed them on.

Decided the foreground needed something extra. Couched some heavy, "blingy" threads (Wonderfil Dazzle 8-wt./6-ply rayon with metallic) in dark-red and purple around some of the unbroken leaf outlines. (The free-motion satin-stitching and feather stitching were done with Isacord 40 wt. embroidery thread.)

Just for the heck of it, here's the first Hawaiian Bay:

You can immediately see that for some reason they're both heavy on orange and purple, but the newer one has a considerably warmer tone, overall. The sky fabric was also the inspiration for the older one. 

Have a great weekend, and happy almost autumn (or spring, depending on your hemisphere)!


Friday, July 31, 2020

Misty Mountain Morning

Carving out a little studio time during 7 weeks of yard work (resulting in 32 big cans of yard waste and 5 lbs. lost, yay!), I was inspired by this tree fabric to begin a new landscape quilt...and to quilt that particular piece with a decorative machine-stitch, using the dual-feed foot. The stitch reminded me of snowflakes.

From there, compatible fabrics were pulled from the fat-quarter stash and quilted onto the batting and backing, one piece at a time. This is the first time I've pieced and quilted simultaneously. Saves a lot of strain on the body! [Most of the pieces were first auditioned together on the design wall.]

Anyway, next I quilted the piece for the water, using free-motion stitching with a holographic thread for sparkle.

Following that, a rock/water fabric and a tall-grass fabric were added and quilted in free motion...

(photo taken during audition, before quilting)

...and then, some boulders and falling water (cut from a panel), to add depth to the scene.

An elk was cut from another panel and added...

(also taken during audition)

...as well as an eagle---both outlined in clear mono-poly thread.

There was a problem, though...

See the vertical wrinkles? Believe it or not, I didn't notice them until it was too late---and there was no way to remove them. That should have been done earlier, with the 50/50 mix of white vinegar and water that I keep in a spray bottle, and then pressed with a hot iron (works every time). This would melt the holographic thread if I did it at this stage.

So, what to do? Cover those wrinkles! Two small evergreen trees (one by itself just looked weird) were cut from a wildlife panel fabric and "planted" close together in the tall grass (foreground). Landscape quilting is forgiving; there is almost always a fix.

Two little evergreens were also added across the river, for balance (see below). And here's the finished quilt, titled Misty Mountain Morning.

The elk looks a bit worried, doesn't he? I don't think the eagle is a threat. Maybe the elk is just saying hello to the eagle.

A sleeve and label will be added after some procrastination, now that the fun parts are done.

Everyone have a great weekend, be well, and stay safe!


Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Quilting Fronts

Since most of my time lately has been devoted to gardening, there isn't a whole lot to show on the quilting front.

There is one more Mini-Scape...

I threw everything but the kitchen sink into this one.

...and one little piece I call a cameo/medallion-style mini-quilt...

I grew up and live in the home of the Kentucky Derby, and this little scene really spoke to my heart. You can tell it was made without any computer programming or die cutting...just free-motion stitching on my sewing machine. Obviously I need more practice at satin-stitching an exact shape. I generally don't have to be concerned with that kind of precision in my landscapes. Oh, and one more thing...

Do you recognize the background?? Those are my little turtles from Catch a Wave! (Click on that title to see more about the quilt.) I'm so excited and grateful to have this quilt included in the Summer 2020 issue, and absolutely over-the-moon thrilled that it made the cover. Here's the full quilt...

What makes it even more thrilling for me is that Art Quilting Studio (Stampington Publications) is and always has been my favorite quilting magazine. Everything about it screams "quality." And the staff there is just wonderful to work with. Check out their submission guidelines here.

That's it until next time. Have a wonderful summer--or winter, as the case may be where you're located!


Friday, May 15, 2020

Making a MIni-Scape

Four more mini-scapes have materialized since my last post. (Speaking of material, did anyone besides me grow up calling fabric "material"? Just curious.)

Here's the only mini-scape I remembered to photograph in progress. As you can see, these are just little scraps arranged and glued on a small rectangle of batting (roughly 9" x 12" before trimming).

Click on any photo to zoom.

Here are the other 3 mini-scapes, finished.

(This one is sold.)

I'm getting the itch to try something new. Over the years, I've collected ideas in a notebook. So we'll see. Summer always brings a different energy into the process, too.

Also, next time there'll be some news regarding a previously featured landscape quilt. (Hint: I will be sooooo excited and grateful to see my little turtle hatchlings on a magazine cover!)

Have a good weekend and stay (or get) well.


Saturday, April 25, 2020

More Mini-Scapes (& Messes)

It only took a week or so of utter mess in the studio to produce 4 more mini-scapes (miniature landscape quilts), which again were loads of fun and a great distraction from the news. More about the mess in a minute, but here are the quilts.

The scraps I'd been using were fewer and smaller, so I did pull quite a few fat quarters off the shelf...

...which gave me some new palettes to work with.

Still have a lot of those eagles left. I never get tired of using them.

That last one is a little different, due to the fantasy-like horse print from Timeless Treasures. I once did a much larger winter scene with some horses and the moon from that same fabric. Remember this one?

Nordic Night (click photo to zoom)
Anyway, blocking the mini-scapes is a breeze. I line them up (before binding) on the ironing board and hit them with loads of steam (hovering only). The next day I square and trim them.

The bindings on these mini-scapes (unlike those on my larger quilts) are completely machine sewn---first the raw edges to the front, then the folded edge turned to the back and stitched again from the front, this time using SID (stitch in the ditch). The SID simultaneously attaches the little triangle pockets on the back, which are for hanging (dowel rod tucked in the pockets). My preference, as seen above, is to perch them on an easel (with a piece of cardboard behind them for support).

On these little quilts, unlike the big ones, I backstitch and lockstitch---no knots to bury. Nor do I trim the little threads the machine leaves with the automatic thread cutter. However I do put a drop or two of Fray Check on each knot and at the ends of any satin stitching.

Anyway, back to the mess. When it gets to the point there's no room to cut or press anything, or find tools or even fabrics, since they're all in a pile, it's obviously time to clean up. BUT---I've learned that during the design/piecing process, it's important NOT to stop and throw trimmings in the trash can or re-fold the fat quarter I've just cut my applique from. Instead, the remnant goes flying into a pile on the chair to be dealt with later, and the trimmings get swiped off the table right on to the floor. Why? 

Because stopping to take care of the trimmings and remnants after every cut totally interferes with the design/inspiration flow. It might not seem like it would, but try tossing it all aside and you might notice a big difference in how well you work. There's a reason Eleanor Burns throws her scraps over her shoulder!

Everyone have a wonderful weekend, or as wonderful as can be during these trying times. Chin up, it won't last forever. Stay well (or get well fast) and be safe.


Tuesday, April 7, 2020


Why, I wondered the other day, was I so inspired, early this March, to begin a whole new line of landscape quilts for my Etsy shop...when the market was, unbeknownst to any of us, about to take a downturn?

The answer occurred almost immediately---the joy that came from making these new "Mini-Scapes" had bolstered my immune system like nothing else could have, going into this pandemic. And what a welcome distraction from the news.

(I think I will add some sea foam to the bottom of the cliff.)

UPDATE: added the seafoam. Didn't realize how much that non-foamy cliff bottom was bothering me.

These are all roughly 10 to 11 inches wide by 7 inches high. Most of the fabrics came from 10 years of leftover landscape scraps---which explains the "pyramid" type mountains in many of them---all triangles trimmed from making binding strips!

Most of them began with the sky piece, and went from there. None of them were based on photos, sketched, or even planned. It was all done on the fly. That's partly what made it so much fun.

The pieces were glued to a larger rectangle of fusible fleece, then tacked down with mono-poly thread.

The fusible fleece, with its tacked-down quilt top, was then fused to a backing fabric.

Then the real fun began, choosing thread colors and using free motion stitching (except for the occasional decorative machine stitch).

Binding was made the same as I make it for my large landscapes. (04/26/20 UPDATE:  Not quite the same! Same width, yes, but for my larger landscapes, I hand-sew the folded edge of binding to the back of the quilt, in case the quilt gets entered into competition, because the judges care about that. However, for these mini-scapes, I machine sew the raw edges to the front as usual, and then turn the folded edge to the back and machine-stitch-in-the-ditch from the front. Much faster.)

(This last one is similar to the first one, but not the same.)

It just occurred to me, these Mini-Scapes were "mini-EScapes," too. As in escaping reality.

I've listed them in my shop but am resigned to the possibility that it will be a good while, if ever, before they sell. In the meantime, they won't take up much storage space! Always a silver lining.  :)

Hope you are finding projects that make you happy (boost your immune system) and use up stash. Being a quilter, I'm finding "sheltering in place" less weird and disruptive than it probably is to most people. Then again, I'm missing my 5-year old granddaughter terribly.

Don't even get me started on that. I keep saying to myself, "this too shall pass." And it will.

Keep on quilting!!