Saturday, 24 September 2016

Firebird - Applique Quilt at BQF

Jumping on the bandwagon of the Bloggers' Quilt Festival, I want again to say a great big thank you to Amy Ellis of Amy's Creative Side for all the time and effort put into organizing this event!

With my second entry to the Bloggers' Quilt Festival I was at a loss as to the category it suits best, being a small quilt (32'' by 44''), an appliqué quilt, an original design and something of an art quilt, too (quilt show categories generally seem bewildering to me). Well, I decided on the Appliqué Quilts category, because raw edge appliqué was the technique used, and I find that it did a good job creating the feathery texture.

bird art quilt

Firebird is a character in an old Russian folk tale that became famous due to Igor Stravinsky's ballet. This colorful and appealing image and has been used by artists many times, illustrating the tale, creating ballet costumes, other works of art as well as symbols and emblems. Here is an article with lots of Firebird illustrations by various artists from various times. What appealed to me in this image was the opportunity to play with color/value gradation to create an effect of glow.

bird art quilt

I had some scraps of yellows, reds and oranges left from my sampler, but I also asked my brother to bring some more from a shop in Moscow, which in addition to by-the-yard and precut quilting fabrics stocks scraps and remnants - ideal when you're doing appliqué. I also asked for "something dark green or dark blue" for the background and my brother brought me this beautiful piece which fitted the bill perfectly.

bird art quilt

I worked on this piece in Kharkov, Ukraine, under the supervision and with advice from my dearest teacher, Svetlana Kachalova. I made a life-size sketch in color pencils to see where I'm heading, but didn't have any templates or piece-by-pice plan. I chose the fabrics for every feather and then just cut the shapes free-hand, layering and stitching them to the assembled sandwich. I started with the tail - the lower larger feathers that had to appear underneath the others, then moved on to the wings, the body and the head.

bird art quilt
Love how the fussy-cut design embellishes the eye
To enhance the glow (and heat))) effect, I quilted the background in shades of yellow, orange and red as well, then added some seed beads to represent fire sparkles.

bird art quilt

In the tale the firebird was stealing apples from a garden, so I bordered the quilt with appliquéd apples and leaves and some leaf-shaped quilting to fill in the remaining space.

art quilt

The leaves are mostly dark, being in the shade, but those that come close to the bird's feathers are lit up.

Once again, don't forget to visit the Festival and vote for your favorites next week!

Friday, 23 September 2016

Dublin Daffodils - Mini Quilt at BQF

I've only found out about Bloggers' Quilt Festival when it started, but it looks too great a fun to miss, so I'm taking part! The Festival is hosted by Amy Ellis at Amy's Creative Side and I want to say a huge thank you to her for all the time and effort invested in it! I've looked at the quilts that are already there and I'm amazed. Definitely this even could rival any "off-line"quilt festival)))

My first entry is in the Mini Quilts category. It hasn't been featured here on the blog, because it was made before I started the blog, but not long before))) The incentive for its creation was the Easter challenge at the Eastern branch of IPS on the theme of "Shades of Yellow", and my immediate (and obsessive) idea was - daffodils.

daffodils quilt

Because never before had I seen so many daffodils as here in Dublin - growing in the gardens, parks, on roadsides, apparently of their own accord, untended, trampled by kids and dogs, swept by wind and rain and still lighting up the whole city.

daffodils photo

daffodils photo

I took out my green and yellow scrap baggies and improvised, consulting the photos I had taken. The technique is raw-edge appliqué, which is my first choice for free-hand artistic expression.

daffodils quilt

I start with the "farthest" pieces, stems and leaves in this case, place them on the background, pin or glue with a gluestick and stitch down. Then come the flowers - those that are farther away first, then the nearest. With edges untreated, I stitch about 1.5-2 mm from the edge and I don't mind some of the threads unraveling, I like the casual effect.

daffodils quilt

As I lay out the appliqué on an assembled quilt sandwich, stitching the pieces down is also quilting, that's one of the reasons why I love this technique (especially for last-minute gifts ;))).

I was lucky to have a piece of fabric that in itself fitted the "Shades of Yellow" theme, so I used it for a wide frame/binding. I like how it creates a kind of glow around the picture.

daffodils quilt

Preparing this post, I went though all the pictures of daffodils I took in spring, and I really want to share with you a couple more. These were taken in the Botanical Gardens in Dublin and they show some varieties of daffodils I personally couldn't even imagine existed)))

daffodils photo

daffodils photo

daffodils photo

With that - do visit the Bloggers' Quilt Festival to see all the amazing works there and it's not too late yet to take a part!

Also linking this post to Off the Wall Friday at Creations by Nina-Marie

Monday, 19 September 2016

Witches and Castles - Crafted Appliqué Magic

I'm a member of the Irish Patchwork Society, which is going to have its AGM in early October. The challenge for the meeting has the topic "Witches and Castles" and a size limit of 15''.  So, the way my brain works (do as you're told) I squeezed both witches and a castle into 15 inches and here they are:

Halloween mini quilt

I played with several variants of the scene, basically Little Witch + Cat, Big Witch + Cat and Little Witch + Big Witch

My husband chose the two witches variant, but I found a way to sneak a cat into the picture, as he brings a feeling of Drama (or should I say Doom?) with him - because you know what's going to happen next, right?

Another source of inspiration for me was our last year's Halloween window display (for which I found inspiration somewhere on Pinterest):

DIY Halloween decorations

My idea called for intricate detailing to make the silhouettes look interesting and I knew I had to master the Crafted Appliqué technique for that. I had heard a lot of buzz in the quilting blogland about it and finally got to try it myself. You can see my rehearsal piece here. Fortunately, this idea meant that only one piece of fabric had to be treated, so that wasn't a problem (incidentally, the two fat quarters for this project were bought in Limerick, as well as the backing fabric).

Halloween mini quilt

You can see that the method worked - the edges are crisp, although I stitched quite close to the edge.

Halloween mini quilt

The busy detailing in the bottom half left the upper right corner rather empty, so I filled it with a ghost...If you didn't see it immediately, it's OK, that's often the thing with ghosts...

Halloween mini quilt

It twinkles mysteriously, being quilted with gold metallic thread, and seems also to be up to something mischievous... That left very little background free, so I did some quirky quilting to fill in the gaps.

Halloween mini quilt

I'm pleased with the result, as it has a kind of glow and a kind of mischief - season appropriate))) And I also consider my #BraveQuilter challenge and September OMG completed, so the post will be linked to these link-ups at the end of the month.

I couldn't wait till the end of the month to show it, so I'm also linking up to Main Crush Monday at Cooking Up Quilts and Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River )). Lara Buccella, the author of Crafted Appliqué book, also has a linky party on her blog for the projects made with her method, do check it for more inspiration!

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Rehearsing Crafted Applique

I've set mastering Crafted Appliqué as my challenge and goal for September. Before starting "the real thing" I decided to try it out on some batik scraps, because I'm going to use a batik for my planned project. And to make it the toughest test possible I chose a mini-mini format))

I'm happy to say it worked well on the tiny pieces (the stems are about 1/8'' wide and the petals 1'' by 1/4'', the whole thing in just a bit larger than 6'' top to bottom). The most difficult thing was to finish the mini-mini, binding and everything, instead of starting the new project)))

I chose dark green and light blue scraps, so the subject came naturally - squill, the first flowers to appear in spring on the forest floor, sometimes amidst the remnants of snow (I decided to add some snow after I finished the flowers))). The flowers are almost life-size. I had to fight the temptation to play with different colors, because that would mean pre-treating lots of different scraps, and just stuck with the chosen ones.

Without further comments:

Linking up to Fabric, Thread and Yarn at France Nadeau
Off the Wall Friday at Creations by Nina-Marie
Finished or not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts

Friday, 9 September 2016

Little Mermaid iPad Case

A quick little Friday finish - a case for my kids' iPad.

quilted tablet case

I made the EPP appliqué when preparing this post about using freezer paper, so you can see the progress photos there. I love using EPP elements for framing fussy-cut images, it's so much more fun than just a square frame! Besides, this pink fabric when cut to small pieces creates a gem-like effect, which seems appropriate for a little mermaid))

DIY tablet case

I added polyester batting to make the case extra comfy and cosy for the iPad (which is mostly used by the kids, so gets some rough treatment at times). There was no need for quilting, but I though some hand stitches would add a nice touch.

tablet case

DIY tablet case

It also has a detachable strap for carrying around.

DIY tablet case

Linking up to Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts
Off the Wall Friday at Creations by Nina-Marie

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Magnolias Finished and a New Goal

It's autumn already, but I have the spring back in my living/sewing room with the finally finished magnolia quilt!

curve pieced quilt

The idea was born in spring, obviously, when magnolias were in full bloom all around Dublin and it was still cold. Although I started the quilt in summer, I think the chilly spring air and the cold grey stone are there))

The top was machine-pieced using a freezer paper pattern, I showed the pieced flimsy here. The more quilts I make using curve piecing, the more I like this technique: once you think through your pattern, you just have to follow the numbers and put together piece after piece until it's all assembled. Supersizing is also helpful: it's easier to work with larger parts and the resulting image has a greater impact. At about 1 by 1.5 meters this one is my largest wall quilt so far!

Quilting was, of course, the trickiest part. The flowers were quilted minimally, with kind of veins in variegated pinks, to make them pop up from the background.

curve pieced quilt

I tried dense freestyle quilting in the background and I think in some parts the attempt was rather successful.

free motion quilting

free motion quilting

However, in other parts I got carried away and the result is not as good.

Thankfully, the dark grey quilting thread blends in with darker areas of the background as well as with the busy prints in the upper left corner. By the way, I used up a whole 800 meter spool of Gutermann machine quilting cotton for the background (both for the needle and the bobbin)!

The binding was also tricky, as I quickly discovered that none of my greys would go all the way around - the dark and even middle greys are too dark for the upper part, the bottom part wouldn't "accept" anything lighter than it was itself. I considered making a facing, but didn't look right in the upper part either. Finally, I settled on a pieced binding, though I'm still not sure I pieced it the best way. I'm open to critical remarks and advice, as it's not too late to change something!

curve pieced quilt

With this project off my shoulders, it's time to set new goals. I had been planning to try quilt-as-you-go (connecting the blocks, that is), but I don't have enough blocks to decide anything about the layout so far. So I was thinking about another challenge for the OMG and  Brave Quilter, and remembered (or rather was reminded in FB) about the upcoming AGM of the Irish Patchwork Society, for which there is a challenge topic "Witches and Castles". I played with it and made a sketch which calls for rather intricate appliqué. So I want to try making it using the "crafted appliqué" technique I've heard a lot about. I'm really eager to find out what all the buzz is about. I've bought the book and supplies and am ready to start!

So, my #Brave Quilter challenge and One Monthly Goal for September is to make a mini quilt using the Crafted Appliqué method.

Also linking up to Freemotion Mavericks at Lizzie Lenard Vintage Sewing
Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River
Let's be Social at Sew Fresh Quilts

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Three Ways I Used Freezer Paper in One Quilt

EPP quilt

I mentioned before that, finishing the bubbles quilt (which I eventually named "Color of Lightness, Color of Joy"), I realized that I had used freezer paper in three different ways in the process of making it. That's a good illustration of its versatility and usefulness for the quilt-building industry! And that's by no means an exhaustive list, I personally use it in two different ways for hand appliqué and for curved piecing as well (but that's a different story). As I didn't plan to write about it when I started I don't have all of the process photos, but I made a mock-up to fill in the gaps))

freezer paper for quilts

1. Freezer Paper for English Paper Piecing

For some it may be evident, for some maybe an eye-opener, but I find freezer paper EPP templates to be more convenient than ordinary paper which has to be pinned to fabric to hold it in place. What I do is print out a page of Geta Grama's hexagon templates, layer it over three pieces of freezer paper cut to A4 size, lightly iron them to each other so they stick together, and cut through all the layers to get a whole bunch of templates at once (follow the link above for Geta's detailed and clear instructions, and the templates also work for the "jewel" shape). Then I iron the freezer paper templates to the fabric, eyeballing the 1/4'' around them, and cut the fabric pieces out. 

english paper piecing

The resulting parts can be put into a box or bag waiting to be tucked - no pins needed! That said,  if I'm making a lot of hexies, I usually use the printed paper templates as well, with pins.

english paper piecing

2. Freezer Paper for Pattern Making

After I put together the hexagons for my bubble quilt, I had to prepare the background pieces. I was using two fabrics - the bubbles, of which I only had half a meter and the solid white, which was also limited, so I had to lay out the pattern pieces carefully to make sure I had enough fabric for the quilt. Moreover, the shapes of the "holes" inside the circles and the "edges" around them were all different and quite complex. So what I did was trace the hexagon shape onto freezer paper (dull side), cut out the pattern pieces and then play around with them, arranging them so that to make the best use of fabric (not forgetting a generous seam allowance).

Here is a little mock-up of the technique: a circle of hexies which I want to be filled with one fabric and surrounded with another.

english paper piecing

The shape of the "hole" is traced onto the FP to make a pattern piece

english paper piecing

Now, the pattern piece is ironed to fabric and the fabric is cut with a generous seam allowance

english paper piecing

FP is slightly transparent, so it even allows for fussy-cutting, although if you have to be precise, you'd better use plastic templates (I use plastic folders or pockets you can get in any stationary shop).
Now, the hexies can be appliquéd to the inside fabric. I used hand-applique in my quilt, but if we are to make something that will get a lot of handling, machine topstitching is preferable.

english paper piecing

You can see that the generous seam allowance came handy, as I decided to reposition the motif a bit. Finally, the assembled piece can be appliquéd to the background. I decided not to make a hole in the background in this case, but in my quilt the background was all made up of separate pieces, cut to the corresponding FP patterns.

english paper piecing

3. Freezer Paper for Quilting Templates

The complex shape of the "bubbles" didn't lend itself to any regular quilting, and the idea of bubbles itself called for irregularity, so I decided to do my hand quilting in random circles. I cut several circles of different sizes out of freezer paper and ironed them to the basted quilt sandwich, so that some of them touched.

hand quilting

I then quilted around the circles, the touching shapes made it possible to continue stitching the next circle without cutting the thread. I didn't use the quilting hoop, but I think these kind of templates could be used with a hoop as well.

hand quilting

After I quilted around all of my circles (I had seven of them, I think), I peeled them off and then ironed them to new places, so that they intersected with the previous ones. And so on and on and on - starting from the middle and out in two directions until everything was more or less uniformly quilted.

hand quilting

So, I really find freezer paper an indispensable quilting supply for EPP, patterns, quilting templates and appliqué and I have an inkling that I haven't discovered all of its possibilities yet. What are your favorite ways to use freezer paper?

Linking up to Fabric, Thread and Yarn @ France Nadeau
Off the Wall Friday at Creations by Nina-Marie
Fabric Frenzy Friday at Fort Worth Fabric Studio
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