No Country for Fools

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Big Snow, February 2019

Last week we had a huge snowstorm that went on for several days and in the end we had nearly 3 feet of snow on the ground. It was a record amount for this area and led to all sorts of cancellations. It’s also been so cold since then that not much as melted. Now, a new storm just blew in and we’ll get several more inches. I can safely say that just about everyone is kind of sick of snow. We live so close to the mountains that we’d be just as happy to have it stay there and not come down to town! Anyway, it does give one lots of indoor time to catch up on projects when you aren’t clearing snow.

Western Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark

No Country for Fools, 21” x 24”

No Country for Fools, 21” x 24”

One project I managed to finish is called No Country for Fools. it’s inspired by Temperance Creek by Pamela Royes. This book was chosen by QuiltWorks as an alternative to the Novel Idea book this year. In this case, the author lives in Oregon and she will come to town for the quilt reception and will do an author talk the next day. Here’s a link to the book trailer which is pretty fascinating. Maybe you’ll want to read it too!

The title of this quilt comes directly from the book and is a description of the area of eastern Oregon where it takes place. I took one line that the author had about a dream that she is reminded of just as she drives toward her new life in the wilds of eastern Oregon. Her dream was about a crow flying beside her car window as she drove.

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I used some old shirts that my dad was done with. I cut them into various odd shapes and saved a couple of labels that I incorporated. I combined the shirt fabrics with some Japanese taupes that were in the perfect colors. The background was pieced improvisationally. Then, I appliqued the bird down and added some hand embroidery with embroidery thread (some of which was hand dyed).

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This piece measures 21” by 24”. I machine quilted it around the embroidery. I would have liked to hand quilt it too, but that would have taken too much time and I am having arthritis issues again so I have to be careful.

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I really love the fabric that the bird is made from (you can see it up close below). I have this stuff in several patterns and colors and it’s really different from any other fabric I’ve used. I call it bubble fabric, but I don’t know the official name. The pattern is created with texture rather than printing. These fabrics were made by Diamond Textiles and I haven’t seen them in a long time, but they are really great for turned under applique because they are thin, but very sturdy and the turned under edge just holds a crease really well. I added the embroidery embellishment by just following the pattern on the fabric.

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I washed the old shirts from my dad, of course. But I also didn’t obsess about stains or holes as you can see below. They tell the story of the cloth and the quilt, so I actually highlighted them.

I have seen a few of the other quilts in this exhibit, but I am really looking forward to seeing them all up. It should be an excellent exhibit. If you can be there, the reception is Friday, April 5, 5-7 pm and the author talk is the following day. Contact QuiltWorks directly if you are interested.

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Faces in Fabric Part 5- Maria's Hair & Body

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Maria in the book is a young girl so I wanted to do some hair that was carefree.  According to the book, she has short red hair.  I found one of the faces in Melissa's book that had the sort of hair I wanted so I followed that idea by using one fabric as the base of the hair and another fabric cut up to represent strands of hair.

First I did some auditioning of background fabric and hair fabric.  

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Then I trimmed around her neck, face and hair line.

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I thought the striped orange fabric was what I wanted, but first I cut rectangles to audition in case I didn't care for it.  I also auditioned a couple of sky fabrics and a couple of shirt fabrics.  I was looking for a combination that went well together.  In the end I decided to go with the orange stripe hair, turquoise sky and yellow frog shirt.  I liked the colors together and the frog fabric just felt perfect for a nature loving girl.  I didn't have enough of that particular turquoise, so I went shopping to get a large piece of something similar to use for the background.

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Once I cut a shape for the background hair I used the ombre orange fabric in photo #2 to cut the strands.   That was a good choice because there were several values of russet orange to choose from and I could easily add highlights to her hair.

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I spent a fair bit of time refining her hair, cutting the strands just so and figuring out how to place them.  When I was satisfied I used my large square ruler to carry the whole thing to the ironing board to fuse it.

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I didn't get photos of this, but at some point i decided her neck was too wide, so I trimmed the sides and added the brown lines again.  

With the whole hair and face fused I could work on the rest of her body.  I made tracing paper templates for the bird and her arms and shirt.

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I made the bird and fused it together, then the shirt.  I think I did cut that from the pattern.

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I purposely put her arms behind her back so I didn't have to worry about her hands. and once the shirt and arms were ready I fused it all to the turquoise background.

My next task is to create the flowers and maybe some butterflies or dragonflies and then I can quilt it!  It's been on the design wall for a while now, but I plan to work on this in July because it's due in mid-August.  I am also contemplating adding a little marten face to hide in the flowers.  Updates will certainly be on Instagram in the meantime, but I'll do at least one more blog post about this quilt eventually.  

That's all for Maria, but I have one more fabric face to show you next time.  Stay tuned!

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10 Days in January

Ranjana's Chai, 26" x 17"

Ranjana's Chai, 26" x 17"

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This Year's Novel Idea book is No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Stayal.  While I was reading the book I had a hard time coming up with any quilt ideas for the QuiltWorks Novel Idea Challenge.  This year is the 15th year for the Novel Idea program at our local library, and it's the 8th year that QuiltWorks has done a special gallery show for Novel idea quilts and other artworks. I've done it every year and I didn't want to mess up my streak!  I like the book quite a bit, but have to admit to being a bit disappointed that there was barely any mention of nature and no birds that I can recall, my favorite subjects for representational art.  I did eventually find a passage that inspired me: 

"She had taken down a large assortment of cups and saucers, and a shiny silver serving pot presided over them like a proud parent.  Fancy, loose tea leaves, and containers of cardamom and ginger were at the ready.  The kitchen was made beautiful with their smell.  She was going to make true Punjabi tea." 

I decided to dig into my stash of silks for this project.  The silks reminded me of Indian sari silks and silk ties as evidenced by the cover (one of the main characters works in a men's accessories department).  My silk stash includes various types and weights of silks including silk ties and silks of unknown origin.  I first set out to sort the bunch and determine which colors to use.

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I decided to use a very warm color palette, perhaps influenced by the book cover.  Since I don't work with silks very often and I decided this piece would be machine appliqued, I started a sample piece to try out my techniques before doing the real project.  Below, you can see "It's Teatime!", the 12" x 12" sample the I ended up finishing as well.  The sample will be displayed with the finished piece above in the gallery show.  I learned a few things about the silks I wanted to use and how to finish the edges.  I had never done satin stitch applique edges so I had to try that and I also wanted to get a somewhat sketchy look to the design, so I played with the free motion lines in a dark gray.  After finishing this I was able to move on to the larger project.

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It's Teatime! 12" x 12"

It's Teatime! 12" x 12"

Let's also back up just a bit to that teapot shape.  I knew I wanted to do something somewhat authentic, so I did a google search for Indian tea pots and was astounded to find these vintage Indian teapot designs.  These pieces are so lovely and complex and even though I didn't try to duplicate anything like this, I did use them as inspiration for the shape of the teapot. 

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Once I was ready to create the large piece I used Mistyfuse to attach a couple of larger pieces of silk to a backing of harem cloth.  Harem cloth is a gauzy cotton fabric, very lightweight, that I've used for hand stitching projects that need a little stability.  It works well with the silks to add the stability, but little weight or thickness.  Then I took patches of various colors and patterns of silk and used Mistyfuse to attach them as a background that would sort of bring to mind a patchwork table cloth.  I did a straight stitch along the edges to keep them in place while I attached the objects.  

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I sketched out various styles of tea cups on cardstock to use as my patterns.  For these I used Wonder Under to attach them to the background.  Wonder Under is easier to use than Mistyfuse because it has a paper backing, but I really don't like the stiffness it adds.  I would probably stick to Mistyfuse for future projects like this.  

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I figured out how to use the satin stitch on my machine, then I machine quilted around the objects and created the lines in the background with free motion quilting.  To add details to the objects I used free motion quilting in dark gray or a matching color.  I also did the sketchy dark gray lines to go around the edges of all the objects.  When I do that I go around at least 2 times, sometimes three or four times if I need to restate a line.  To make the words for the containers I used free motion stitching on a piece of silk that was fused to another piece of harem cloth.  This made it stable enough to stitch on.  I practiced the words on some muslin and then just went for it.  My main concern was to get the words sized right for the containers.

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I then added some more fusible to the back of the words and cut them out to add them to the containers.  I added some more stitching around them for character.  All the photos below are of the finished piece, with binding, label and sleeve attached.  I did the binding with a lightweight shot cotton because I didn't know if the silks I have would be sturdy enough.  I really like how this came out and have more ideas for future projects.

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One last thing before I go, you'll notice I put a bird on it!  As I said before I was disappointed to not find a mention of a bird in the book, but when I saw the phrase "assortment of cups and saucers" I immediately thought of adding a bird to one of the teacups.  I then added the pink flowers and also decorated the teapot similarly for balance.  You'll also see my machine stitched signature in the last photo.  I don't do it on every project, but I probably should.  The Novel Idea quilt exhibit will be displayed at QuiltWorks in Bend, Oregon for the month of April.  The reception is on April 6, 5-7 pm.  

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Quilts, Quilts, Quilts!

On the design wall

On the design wall

My design walls have been filled with color these last few weeks.  I've been sewing up a storm which actually started with some simple garment sewing which I'll get to in a future post.  Today's post is all about the quilts.  This one is straight from the scrap bin and will be donated to my guild's community quilts program.  I separated the colors in the bin so I could get this very hot version.  Cooler ones will also happen when I get some free time.  

baby size community quilt

baby size community quilt

Arches and Tunnels

Arches and Tunnels

In the first picture you got a glimpse of Arches and Tunnels which is an applique quilt that I started about 2 years ago.  I finished the top a month or so ago and took it to a local long-armer for quilting.  I said I needed it to be done in time to enter into QuiltCon and she delivered, finishing it with over a month to spare.  I did a facing and will post photos when I get a chance for the official ones.

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Also on the design wall is the gray and yellow shorebird quilt called Shoreline.  That one needs more gray on the sides so it's going to hang out for a bit.  The one in front is finished and while it's also straight from the scrap bin, the fabrics were a little more curated than the hot pink version above.  By the way, I used up every bit of that red print which is why it's called Every Last Piece.  

Every Last Piece

Every Last Piece

The last one you've gotten some glimpses of is this piece below that I started in the Maria Shell class I took earlier this year. It's been on the design wall ever since and it's time to get it done.  I hope to be able to enter it into QuiltCon, so I better get cracking!

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Once Upon a Quilt

Once Upon a Quilt, 24x36

Once Upon a Quilt, 24x36

A few months ago I was contacted by Jeanette Pilak, from the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, about a new fundraiser that they were planning.  It would be a quilt book.  An actual book made with quilts!  Sounds like a pretty cool idea, huh?  She asked if I wanted to make a piece for this book.  There would be 12 quilts and they would be displayed in a giant book July 3-8.  Folks would be able to bid on them in a silent auction.  I was intrigued.  The theme of the show this year is Storytellers.  

I accepted the challenge and went about working on this quilt which I call Once Upon a Quilt.  I wanted to make something that celebrates the history of quiltmaking, celebrates the anonymous quilters themselves, and shows what you can do with old quilts to repurpose them.  It all started with the vintage cutter quilt that I've been using on various small projects over the years. I used that as the base for this quilted flower garden.

Then I went on a search for some vintage grandmother's flower garden blocks, yo-yos, and some other old blocks to cut up to use for the animal applique.  I tea dyed all the parts and the cutter quilt to bring a sense of history to the grouping and to harmonize the colors.  I cut the flower blocks into circles and hand stitched them down.  They I added quilting stitches through those layers.  The vintage cutter quilt had become quite tender on the back, so I left knots where I sewed things down, knowing I would eventually add another back to the quilt after most of the stitching was completed.  

Then I added the birds and the bunny.  These were so much fun to do.  I used a raw edge technique inspired by the work of Mandy Pattullo in her book, Textile Collage.  Lastly, I added a bunch of vintage flower yo-yos, newly made flower yo-yos, and the hand embroidered bees and ladybugs.  This whole piece felt like an experiment from beginning to end.  I really like how it came out.  I added a little bit of hand quilting after putting on the extra backing.  The quilt is completely hand stitched except for the first stage of the binding.  I hope that it is appreciated by show goers.  I probably won't do more projects this big in this style, but I like the animal collage technique in a smaller format and I'm sure I'll do that again someday.  

Look for the Storyteller's Book in the courtyard of the Open Door Wine Bar in Sisters, Oregon July 3-8.  You can read more about the book in the Show Guide PDF.  You'll also find more about the various special exhibits around town on show day.  I have 4 quilts in the show this year.  Look for them in the following special exhibits:

  • 2017 Storyteller's Book- Once Upon a Quilt
  • Mountain Meadow Quilters Guild- Log Cabin Quilts- Dancing in the Streets
  • SAQA Central Oregon-Pathways- Oglethorpe Square
  • The Undercover Quilters- All the Light We Cannot See- For the Watchers and Dreamers

Hope to see you at the show!