Saturday, March 30, 2013

Aspen Leaves Background

Oops, I forgot to explain the background changes.

When the aspen leaves fall they cover bare dirt or decaying leaves. My brown and black leaf-printed fabric should realistically portray nature. Surely the yellows and oranges would shine on this duller background. Wrong!

I was as certain the green and blue fabric would be perfect in the leaves. The white lines on the fabric could be leaf veins. However, when the leaf was sewed the blue stood out like a sore thumb. Was I just adding wild fabrics for no reason? Should it be ripped out and replaced with a much quieter fabric?

Before going to that effort I pulled various colors from my stash and the blues looked wonderful. Even the green and blue fabric fit in! Before laying it out I thought this combination would be too gaudy, too many bright tones. I thought only a dull fabric would make the warm tones sparkle. How nice to be so wrong.

The fabric on the left is Bamboo Thicket by Michael Miller. I don't know who made the fabric on the right.
After this I also learned to take daily photos to track ideas and changes.

Fret not; enjoy the day.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Aspen Leaves

Walk through aspen groves and listen to the wind rustling the leaves. To top it off aspen turn the most vivid colors in the fall. Entire hillsides of brilliant orange and yellow! These are some of my strongest memories of living in the Rocky Mountains. And I had a good assortment of just those colors in my stash.

For the straight line piecing assignment in our book study I chose to interpret these leaves. I had my recollections and some very old photos. But using out-of-focus or slightly faded photos allows more room for interpretation. (And my sister kindly emailed some current photos. Hooray!)
Original quilt - two aspen leaves in orange and yellow against a bright blue background
Aspen Leaves quilt
First I sketched and sketched and sketched. When the layout pleased me I enlarged it to 18 by 24 inches, the size of my sketchpad. This seemed like a reasonable size to sew.

Original Drawing for Aspen Leaves
Next I drafted a sewable pattern by overlaying a second sheet of paper and drawing with a straight-edge.
Sewable Pattern for Aspen Leaves
Now for the fun part: choosing the fabrics! In reality aspen turn from green to orange and finally yellow. But no matter how I tried, the solid yellow leaf did not look right. So I fooled with Mother Nature. Can you find the orange slice fabric?

Here's a detail of the free motion quilting. All but two pieces came from my stash. Of course, now I'm out of orange... and need more yellow, too.
Detail of Aspen Leaves
Fret not; enjoy the day.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pink & Coral T-shirt Quilt

What can you do with seventeen t-shirts and one woven button-down? Make a t-shirt quilt, of course! Here's the one I made for my daughter's roommate. Her favorite was the woven button-down honor guard shirt. It absolutely had to be included so I appliqu├ęd the parts with text onto the quilt.

Fifteen high school t-shirts combined with coral print sashing, green posts and Texas Mink fringe border.
T-Shirt Quilt in Pink, Coral and Green
I used the colors in the sashing to select colors for the Texas Mink. This time it's limited to coral, pink and green with a bit of yellow. Practice improved the Mink; this border is much fluffier and fuller than the first one.

Fret not; enjoy the day.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Daisy Quilted and Bound

A Daisy a Day is finished in time for the quilt show next month. I used a Mountain Mist Cream Rose cotton batt and YLI Soft Touch, Metler Fine Embroidery and Aurifil Mako threads for quilting. It's linked to the Free Motion Quilting Project because I used Flowing Leaves to fill the background.

Red ladybug on daisy petal against blue background in this original art quilt.
A Daisy a Day

Here's a closeup of the ladybug on its daisy.

Detail of ladybug on daisy quilt

How did I create the legs? I cut them from this Alexander Henry fabric. It's also the reason the quilt was reversed. There weren't three legs in the other direction!

Fret not; enjoy the day.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Creating A Daisy a Day

It's so interesting and helpful to me when people share some of their creative process that I want to do the same. The daisy quilt began with the book study assignment simple leaf and extended into radial structure. I scanned an old family photo, traced two daisies and enlarged the sketch to a workable size.

Drafting the pattern on tracing paper took several days. I discovered predilections for partial seams (Ruth McDowell's puzzle pieces) and drawing too many lines! Partial daisies filled in some blanks. Reversing the pattern put the taller daisy top left. Several iterations were needed to simplify sufficiently.

After labeling both sides of the draft, I heavily retraced all my lines on the back side. Now freezer paper will lay on top of a reversed pattern. All template markings are on the front (paper side) of the freezer paper so no ink bleeds from template to fabric. Later the draft can be turned to the front again to avoid confusion when piecing.
The ladybug was a potential pest. Unsure of the result, I made templates of her wedge and pieced it first. It's easy to rid a quilted garden of ill-behaved insects!

Here's my first ladybug. The second and back legs look fine but the front leg/head combination is really Ms. Pac-Man. Darn; that visualization will stay with me forever!

After three more attempts and one day searching the fabric stores (it's tough, but someone has to buy fabric) I pieced a ladybug I can live with. Time for fabric audition.

Daily photos tracked frequent fabrics changes and allowed more thoughtful reflection. For example, although the last layout is misaligned, it still reads as flowers and is more vibrant. Something to consider next time.

Here are several possibilities for the border. Which would you choose?

The pieced top is here. I'm still quilting it.

Fret not; enjoy the day.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Live Oak

My first post was a out of chronological order but I was so excited how well it was going! So let's start at the very beginning.

Ruth McDowell's work is spectacular. Additionally, she is one of the most generous teachers, sharing information in her books and classes. The Live Oak is the result of a two-day workshop.

I wanted a quilt of my children climbing the tree in our front yard and had many photos to choose.  As I recall they could always be found in the tree or in the creek; but no photo had all of them in the tree at the same time. (Isn't that always the case?) The tree was sketched and photos enlarged by differing amounts to get the children to the same scale. Next the photos were positioned on the tree and overlaid with tracing paper to draw a line design. Then it had to be drafted into something sewable. At this point the class was over.

Working steadily at home the quilt was completed in two months and juried into the 2003 AQS Show in Paducah. It's still my favorite.

An original art quilt of three children climbing the live oak in their yard.
The Live Oak

Time passed. Although ideas kept running through my mind, the mantra was, "I'll do this when I retire." Now is the time.

Last spring I proposed a one year Book Study in my guild to jointly discuss Ruth's book, Piecing: Expanding the Basics. She re-wrote it as two books, Piecing Workshop and Design Workshop. We agreed to meet monthly with sketches, work finished or in-progress and two fabrics we found hard to use. The point was to study her techniques and determine how we could apply them to our own work. Five other quilters joined and we've had a blast. The group found solutions to drafting problems and explored uses of some of the ugliest fabrics ever! We progressed from the samples in Piecing Workshop to original designs of our own.

Here's the monthly outline I wrote from Ruth's books. They are such a rich source of topics, it was very difficult to narrow them to twelve.

1. Sew her sampler with straight seams, inset corners, linear elements, curved seams & inset pieces
2. Sew a small maple leaf quilt
3. Sew a small lily quilt
4. Sew a pieced & slipped landscape
5. Design a simple leaf
6. Design a tessellated block
7. Design a block with radial (wedge) structure
8. Sketch or sew some setting variations
9. Create a design with a different structure (such as log cabin, braid or clam shell)
10. Create a design with people, animals or man-made structures
11. Draft an original landscape 
12. Begin a series by abstracting or simplifying a previous sketch

Next time I'll show some of the steps in my recent work.

Fret not; enjoy the day.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

T-Shirts with Texas Mink

My children kept all their t-shirts through high school. Each had deep personal meaning and could never be recycled no matter how pilled and stained they became. Once kiddo went to college, however, they were never worn again. At last I had my Wicked Way! (Translation: T-shirt quilt.)
The eldest also had loads of hair ribbons, bandanas and other washable mementos. I decided to collage everything onto the quilt. The ribbons and bandanas are the foundation of the fringed border which my mother named Texas Mink. (Translation: Showy but not expensive.) The process took a few evenings but made the quilt so special.

Quilt of high school t-shirts sashed with blue plaid and hot pink posts. Border is a confetti display of Texas Mink fringe.

It turned out so well I made another when she graduated college. I think my Texas Mink has improved.

Quilt of t-shirts with aqua-blue sashing, pink posts, and Texas Mink fringed border.

Fret not; enjoy the day.


Monday, March 18, 2013

I'll Give You a Daisy a Day

Bright red ladybug rests on the white petal of a daisy in this original art quilt.
A Daisy a Day quilt top
What a beautiful day for a bicycle ride through the blossoming trees! When I ride my bike I can hear the birds warble, watch the water dance down the creek and smell all the goodness of the earth. I've found a spot where the mallard and his mate love to dunk their heads searching for goodies on the shallow bottom.

I had to sew some of the joy of spring into my current quilt. Using Leah Day's Flowing Leaves, I've finished most of the background of my daisy quilt. I don't think I'll quilt so heavily on the daisies; I'm still working that part out in my mind.

Intricate, small leaves stitched in royal blue thread on the back of this quilt.
Free-motion quilting
Fret not; enjoy the day.