Friday, 24 March 2017

Dance of the Goddess

Almost a month ago I wrote about starting a show quilt which had lots of "first time" elements for me. I was so uncertain of every step along the way, I couldn't write about it. But finally it's finished and I can show you the end result:

aurora borealis quilt

The quilt is for this year's Hands Across the Border exhibition with the theme "Aurora". I spent hours looking at Aurora Borealis photos on Pinterest and some of them looked like huge sways of fabric or ribbon, reminiscent of the skirts and shawls of flamenco or gypsy dancers.

So I saw in my head this ephemeral image of a goddess who is dancing in the sky above the sleeping world in her glimmering garments. I liked the vision, but I had no idea initially how to recreate it in fabric, as quilting cotton seemed absolutely inadequate. I went searching for sheer fabrics and after some trial and error decided on using soft netting which comes in lots of colors and also found really beautiful deep navy cotton velvet for the background.

I also had to buy some rayon threads, as cotton didn't match the character of the synthetic netting, besides I needed some more sheen.

I also needed stars to shine through the aurora, so I had to glue some of them before arranging the netting appliqué, which was a nuisance as the diamanté didn't adhere well to the velvet surface and were getting in the way during quilting.

All in all it was tricky - the velvet, the netting, the rayon and the diamanté - each of them separately and all together tried my nerve to the point of breaking :))).

Here are a couple of process photos made with my phone for personal reference. Note that the netting had to be basted and pinned, as fusible interfacing was out of the question.

The whole thing was appliquéd to the assembled sandwich with free motion quilting, then I quilted the background with swirls, thinking of the swirls in the "Starry Night" by Van Gogh. I really like the texture of quilted velvet and the gentle sheen of the rayon thread which makes the quilting visible (which would not be the case with cotton thread).

With all this sheen and glitter using cotton for binding was out of the question, too. I wanted a velvet ribbon, but couldn't find the right shade, so decided on a sateen one. Sleeve, label, application form - and the quilt is ready to be submitted. The show will take place in May and I'm really looking forward to see what everybody else has been up to. So far I've seen Tomomi's absolutely mind-blowing quilt for the show, do check it out.

Linking up to
Off the Wall Friday at Creations by Nina-Marie
Finished or not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts
Freemotion Mavericks at Lizzy Lenard Vintage Sewing

Sunday, 26 February 2017

To Boldly Go ...

It's been a busy week, so just a quick update here before I dive headlong into some unknown waters :))

The theme for this year's Hands Across the Border exhibition is "Aurora", and the idea I had for it required searching for other materials than the "normal" quilting cotton. After some deliberation (and some purchases) I chose deep blue velvet for the background and bright netting for the image. I wasn't sure they would behave well in quilting, so I made a small sample to try it out.

It seemed to work well in small scale, so I can only hope it will be ok in large scale as well. I've already glued several dozens stars and basted part of the image to the background, so I'll be starting stitching tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Linking up to Main Crush Monday at Cooking Up Quilts

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Tips Taken Away from my One Block Wonder Workshop

This past Saturday I taught a workshop on the One Block Wonder Technique at the Eastern branch of the Irish Patchwork Society. It was a busy but satisfying day and I think the participants enjoyed it. I don't have a lot of photos from the day, but I thought I'd share those which have resulting blocks in them (pity I don't have everybody's), as well as the tips we were able to take away from the day.

I'm really looking forward to seeing the finished quilts, though finalizing the layouts may take quite some time.

This is a picture I wanted to print out, but didn't manage to get to the printers'. It sums up what we did on the day very well (both the picture and the phrase were found on the Web).

I will not run through the whole process of making a Now Block Wonder quilt (there are a lot of tutorials around on the Web), but I do want to share some tips which proved handy and/or were learned the hard way.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

The Meadow Beyond Grandmother's Garden

Thanks to the gods of weather for smiling at Dublin fair city today! Lots of sun (probably too much for a good shot) and here we go:

Somehow the mood of quilt chimes in with the mood of the day, with the daffodils opening all around and the grass greener than ever.

The whole idea was inspired by the pretty green fabric with itsy-bitsy flowers:

I have mentioned before that this project started about half a year ago, but I then realized that the first flowers were made last April, so that's more like year really. I don't like projects that long, so I decided agains hand-appliqueing the flowers to the background and instead machine stitched them down to the assembled quilt sandwich, to avoid additional stitching lines when quilting.

So, the only thing left was to quilt the background. As this quilt is not intended for show or something, just for pure FUN, I thought I'd practice my "blended quilting" or "freeform quilting" or whatever you choose to call it. The idea was to use small-scale patterns between the flowers and larger ones in the free space. It didn't quite work out like that, as it was difficult to judge the spacing and scale when the thing was crumpled under the machine arm. However, I did practice a couple of large feathers and spirals and some kind of flowers.

So, that's finally done and now I can't wait to start a new project, that's been waiting around for some time.

Linking up to Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts
Free Motion Mavericks at Lizzy Lenard Vintage Sewing

Monday, 6 February 2017

New Beginnings

It's been a long while since I have written anything in the blog, but I have two excuses for it, and I have something new to show as well.

The first excuse is that we have moved home in January, and everything is still a bit of a mess. One of the great things about the new place is an extra bedroom which became my sewing room! It's tiny and  somewhat dark and it still needs storage, but it's all mine, which is super cool.

That's about all there is to it - an ironing board, a table and a design wall.

The second excuse is that I went back to school - started a Graphic Design course at the Dublin Institute of Design, which means I now have homework to do! = less time for quilting :((

I used the transition period to finish the handwork that has been in the making for about half a year - a bunch of EPP flowers in three sizes and three designs.

Bright, happy and fun like a box of candy ;)))

The idea was to play with the different shapes and sizes to create something beyond grandmother's garden, something like a sun-lit summer meadow. The layout took a lot of experimenting and progressed from something like this...

... to something like this:

I think this has a bit more drama. I'm working on finishing it now and hope to be able to present it in a couple of days, provided the weather permits taking pictures outside (don't know where exactly - miss the old fence).

Linking up to Main Crush Monday at Cooking Up Quilts

Monday, 2 January 2017

Winter Sun

Now, this may seem a bit out of season, but I think it only makes it more welcome:

machine pieced flower quilt

A bit of history first. Last year I made a storm-at-sea bed quilt for my brother- and sister-in-law, and used the scraps from it to make a small wallhanging to match:

winter landscape quilt

This winter "landscape" has been on their living-room wall since, and every time time I saw it in person or in Skype I thought they need something more summerly for a change. What with one thing and another, I only got round to making it in December, in time to make it a New Year's Day gift. My sister-in-law loves sunflowers, and what could be more summerly than that?

It's machine curve piecing, one of my favorite techniques that works so brilliantly with oversized flowers (if you haven't tried curve piecing yet, check out my butterfly block tutorial and pattern - it's really easy!). Here is the finished top:

pieced flower quilt

In case anybody still needs proof that quilting texture is responsible for about half of a quilt's appeal ;)) I used very simple quilting on the flower - pebbles for the middle and "vein" curves for the petals.

pieced flower quilt

pieced flower quilt

At the last moment I decided to play with my beautiful variegated YLI threads on the black background, where they would be more prominent, and added a kind of "halo" around the petals. The rest of the background is quilted with the same pattern in black, which is almost completely invisible.

pieced flower quilt

I really enjoyed working on this bright project, it really seemed to add sunshine to the room when it was on the design wall. I hope it will add some light and warmth to its new home, too.

pieced flower quilt

Linking up to Main Crush Monday at Cooking up Quilts
Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River
Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts

Friday, 23 December 2016

Wrapping Up Christmas Sewing - the Mug Rugs

Now that some of these have already been given and some have just a couple of days to wait, I'd like to give an account of (part of) my Christmas gift making - mug rugs.

These are 8'' and feature beautiful animal-themed fabric I have left over from a Christmas quilt made two years ago.
Christmas patchwork decor

The next ones are 6'' squared and are a part of my poinsettia craze. If you haven't seen my tutorial for them yet, check it out.

Christmas applique

Christmas applique

Finally, the 7'' Nordic mug rug which featured in another tutorial, has a family now! Family shots:

Christmas patchwork decor

Christmas patchwork decor

Christmas patchwork decor

Merry Christmas to all!

Linking up to Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Off the Wall Friday at Creations by Nina-Marie
Finished or not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts

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