The Creativity Project

Have you heard of The Creativity Project by Kim Soper of Leland Ave Studios?  Kim is doing a year long series of weekly conversations with quilters.  There are so many wonderful quilters in this series and we are only half way through the year.  Last month I was honored to be asked to be included and thrilled to be in such great company!  My interview published today and I hope you'll check it out.

Faces in Fabric Part 4- Maria and the Finch

Maria and the Finch (50).JPG

So, let's get back to our faces in fabric series. Today I'll start a two part post about the largest quilt in the series.  This one is for my Undercover Quilters book challenge this year.  The book is Marten Martin by Brian Doyle.  It's a fantastic read and you are in for a treat if you've never read Doyle before.  He was a local Oregon author who died last year, well before his time.  His books celebrate language and nature in the most delightful way.  In this book I've chosen to depict one of the main characters, a girl named Maria.  The scene about her birthday party in a meadow on the flank of Mt Hood was a real favorite for me.  

Maria and the Finch (1).JPG

This quilt has to be a certain size, so rather than leave it up to chance and my crazy improv instincts, I decided to draw a mock up to make sure I can fit in all the parts.  I then traced the face onto tracing paper with a Sharpie.  This allows me to use it as a guide, but not as a pattern.  Remember, I got help for this from Melissa Averino's book, Making Faces in Fabric.

Maria and the Finch (3).JPG

The next step is to choose a face fabric and start building the face.  I keep the tracing out as my guide as you'll see below.

Maria and the Finch (5).JPG
 I first refined the shape of the mouth.

I first refined the shape of the mouth.

 As I said before, I always start with the eyes. I cut the white of the eye, irises and pupils and use the guide for a rough idea of shape.  There will be changes as we go along, but that's ok.

As I said before, I always start with the eyes. I cut the white of the eye, irises and pupils and use the guide for a rough idea of shape.  There will be changes as we go along, but that's ok.

 Then I decide on an upper and lower eye lid.

Then I decide on an upper and lower eye lid.

 Before I go further I like to fuse the eyeball so I don't lose the little pieces. Then I do a couple of hand stitches in the pupil.

Before I go further I like to fuse the eyeball so I don't lose the little pieces. Then I do a couple of hand stitches in the pupil.

Maria and the Finch (10).JPG
Maria and the Finch (11).JPG
 Tweezers are a necessity in my opinion!  I also added the  highlight with a couple of little stitches.

Tweezers are a necessity in my opinion!  I also added the  highlight with a couple of little stitches.

 Once the eyes are complete they are fused, then I can decide on other features.  The lips have a dark fabric placed under the upper lip for definition between the upper and lower.  Melissa also recommends having the upper lip a shade darker than the lower lip.

Once the eyes are complete they are fused, then I can decide on other features.  The lips have a dark fabric placed under the upper lip for definition between the upper and lower.  Melissa also recommends having the upper lip a shade darker than the lower lip.

 cheeks

cheeks

 rosy cheeks, even better!

rosy cheeks, even better!

 eyebrows

eyebrows

 Once I have all the features ready I use the translucent tracing paper to guide placement on the face fabric.

Once I have all the features ready I use the translucent tracing paper to guide placement on the face fabric.

 At this point they can all be fused.

At this point they can all be fused.

 This time I used some very tiny pieces to just outline the nose.

This time I used some very tiny pieces to just outline the nose.

 I also used some skinny pieces to define the shape of the lower face and the neck.

I also used some skinny pieces to define the shape of the lower face and the neck.

Next time I'll talk about how to do the hair!

Out of the Closet

 Inspired by Paul Klee

Inspired by Paul Klee

March was a busy month in the studio.  I made a goal to complete a bunch of UFOs that had been taking up space in the closet and I managed to get through 6 of them before having to move on to other projects.  The first one was an old project from a Rosalie Dace class 5 years ago.  This was a 5 day workshop where we were inspired by the artwork of Paul Klee.  This piece was a real favorite of mine until I started machine quilting it.  I made the mistake of doing that very heavy quilting in the circle and despite trying everything I could think of to flatten it out, I was never able to.  I started hand quilting the radiating lines, then added machine quilting between.  I also blocked it like crazy and nothing worked.  You can see that I didn't complete the hand quilting on the left side.  In the March madness of UFO completion I decided to do the binding and leave it as is.  It's wonderfully soft and I still love the design.  I'm not sure it will see the light of day, but it's now complete.

The second UFO finish is another one inspired by Paul Klee (Little Painting of Fir Trees).  This was also from the same workshop with Rosalie Dace.  In this case, the top was done except for some organza overlays that I had intended to hand stitch over the top.  It was that part that kept me from finishing it, so in the end I just quilted it as is.  I think this is more my style and I really like how it came out!

 Inspired by Paul Klee's Little Painting of Fir Trees

Inspired by Paul Klee's Little Painting of Fir Trees

 Studio dog Scrabble

Studio dog Scrabble

Quilt number 3 was this Starry Owl quilt.  The blocks were mostly done and I just needed to combine them in to this small community quilt that was donated to the guild.  

 Starry Owls

Starry Owls

IMG_9974.JPG

Quilt number 4 is called Autumn Baskets and it's a wall hanging.  These blocks were started several years ago when I taught liberated basket classes.  All the blocks were finished except for one.  I had to frame the blocks and put them together.  

 Autumn Baskets

Autumn Baskets

IMG_9984.JPG
IMG_9985.JPG

The fifth quilt is another owl quilt and will also be donated to community quilts.  This one required more work as I had only the smaller squares that you see above.  I added strips to make each block 9.5 inches square.  This is a favorite size for charity quilts because I have a 9.5 inch square ruler, so cutting to size is super simple.

_SHI4058.JPG

When I'm making a charity quilt I like to keep things simple and having blocks of consistent size help with that.  I know that most people work with consistently sized blocks on a regular basis, but when you are a liberated/improv quilter you are often working with various sized blocks which is fun to do, but requires more time to puzzle together.  On this quilt I also used many of my most vibrant, rainbow colored hand dyed fabrics. I think these are beautiful, but I almost never use them in my regular work, so I was happy to use them on this bright and cheerful quilt.  I hope it brings some cheer to a child in my community.

 back of the owl squares quilt

back of the owl squares quilt

Owl Quilt finished.jpg
 My Happy Stars

My Happy Stars

The last quilt for this March madness UFO series is called My Happy Stars.  It was made from some star blocks that were already finished. I also had some colorful curvy shapes made with wedge shaped pieces.  I ended up cutting those down to rectangles to frame the stars.  I really like how this came out and when I showed it on Instagram lots of other people liked it too.  In fact, one person asked about purchasing it and I was happy to take her up on it.  She even got naming rights!  I hope she likes it for many years to come.  

_SHI4040.JPG

Blog Break

We are in the process of moving house and things are pretty crazy.  I'll be back in a few weeks with photos and stories about this week in which I am not only moving, but finally going to meet Joe Cunningham (aka Joe the Quilter)!  See you on the other side!

 This is my studio closet which is well on it's way to filling up.  More photos later!

This is my studio closet which is well on it's way to filling up.  More photos later!

String Pieced Potholder Tutorial

I had several people ask for a potholder tutorial, so here it is!   Please ignore any funky curvy mat lines below due to my camera lens.

First, here's what you need for one potholder (finished size 8.25"):

  • one piece of muslin, 9" x 9"
  • a handful of strips cut to various widths (probably about 1.5" to 2", but I don't measure)
  • 2 pieces of batting cut to 9.5" x 9.5" (or 1 piece of Insul-bright and 1 piece of regular batting)
  • one backing piece, 9.5" x 9.5"
  • binding, 2.25" x 40"
  • loop piece, 2" x 4.5"

You'll be creating the string block by using a stitch and flip method on the piece of muslin.  I like to start with one wider strip right side up, down the middle.  Then add another strip wrong side up with the right edges aligned and sew it down.  As with all my piecing, I turn my stitch length down to 2.00.  

When that piece is sewn on, open up the strip and press it down.  Add another strip the the left side of the middle the same way.  Keep going until you've covered all the muslin.

In order to preserve as much fabric as possible, you can adjust the length of the pieces as you go (see the right side photo above).  The corners of the strips should always go off the end of the muslin at least 1/4".  

When you are done it should look like the photo on the right.  You'll notice that little tiny corner of the muslin peeking out, if that happens, it's ok.  I've added in a bit of extra on the muslin to account for things like that.

Flip over the block.  You need to trim the block to 8.5", but also watch out for that little corner.

I like to use my 9.5" square ruler to trim the block.  Here I am just lining it up so that I have that top right corner covered.  Trim those two sides, then turn the block and finish trimming to 8.5".

Here it is looking nice and neat.  When you are doing these blocks they look so messy until they are trimmed and all of sudden they look beautiful!  Next, layer your top with the two pieces of batting and the backing piece.  If you are using the Insul-bright, layer it this way: backing, Insul-bright, regular batting, string block.

Added bonus:  These blocks are exactly what I used in all those community quilts!

You can of course do any kind of quilting you want.  I did a super quick stitch in the ditch with the walking foot.  For the quilting I change my stitch length to 3.00.  

At this point the tutorial will also turn into a binding tutorial!  This is the method I use for all my small pieces.  That means any piece where the side where the binding ends meet is less than 12 inches or so.  Of course, it could be used on any size piece if you like this method.

You might wonder why there are two photos that look alike above.  On the left are the potholders right after quilting.  They are a little puffed and wavy on the edges.  On the right are the potholders after a good pressing with steam.  I think this step is very important in any finishing.  You'll get a much nicer binding result if you take the time to use your iron as you go along.

After pressing, trim the potholder to 8.25".  Also, notice the edges here.  When I was quilting I also stitched around the edge of the block (about 1/8" from the edge).  This is also an important step for a nice finish.  If you look closely you'll see a couple of spots where trimming the block actually trimmed off a little bit of the edge stitching.  On a small piece like this, it's wouldn't worry about it.  On a bigger quilt I would go back and add that edge stitching again.

Okay, so now the potholder is ready for the loop.  I actually prefer my potholders to not have a loop since I keep mine in a drawer, but I know lots of people like to hang them up, so I discovered this cool method which creates an inconspicuous loop on the back.  Take your 2" x 4.5" piece and press it lengthwise along the middle.  Then press the two sides into the middle.  Fold it over and top stitch along the open side.

Now, figure out which side is the top of your potholders and lay them out.  Turn them over and place the loop in the middle of the top edge on the back of the potholder with the raw edges aligned.  Baste in place.

Prep your binding by pressing it in half lengthwise.  Then open up at one end and fold over the corner as shown above left.  Fold the lengthwise fold back into place.  You've created a little pocket to accept the other end of the binding.

Place your binding piece with that little pocket on the backside of your potholder as seen above.  The pocket needs to be placed so that it's just about in the middle of that side.  Start sewing about 1.5 inches down from the end of the triangle (see photo above).  You will stitch on the binding as usual, but this first side only gets that small amount of sewing before you turn the corner.

Stitch around all sides of the potholder, mitering your corners as you go.  When you get to the beginning, stop and trim the end of the binding so that it is longer than the pocket.  It should fit in there without catching on the beginning stitching of the binding.

I like to use my seam ripper to tuck that end in before completing the stitching.

As you can see above, the binding was placed right over the basted on loop.

Now's the time to get your iron going again.  I do this on every single binding I do and it makes a beautiful finish.  Press the binding outwards and get the tip of the iron right into the miters.  

Then pick up the potholder and pop the binding on the corners to the other side and iron the edges all over to the right side, pressing your mitered corners as you go.  When you do this you make binding a cinch whether you are binding by hand or machine.  

Here's a little aside (and possibly a rant):  I am always astonished when I see that people with dozens of binding clips going around a quilt.  There's absolutely no need for so many clips!  I can do a hand stitched binding with three clips when I take the time to press it all first.  I use three clips and just move the current one to the end of the line as I go.  Try it!

So, here you are!  You are almost done.  Now you just need to top stitch the binding edge on the front of the potholder.  By the way, this method is what I use on every community quilt I do.  If you are spending hours hand stitching a binding on a community quilt, you are not using your time wisely.  Try this on the next one!  Just remember to stitch the binding to the back of the quilt to start!  I still make that mistake sometimes.

Anyway, here you go.  You don't need to pin or anything, just turn down your speed if needed and use a regular stitch length (2.40 on my machine).  Use your fingers to help the binding stay folded.  Pressing makes this a breeze and saves time.  I don't use pins or clips when I machine stitch a binding no matter the size of the quilt!

Ta da!  You are done and ready to take them to the kitchen or gift them to some lucky someone!

See how that loop is well hidden on the back.  Easy to use if needed or keep folded back if not.