Maria and the Finch

Maria and the Finch, 40x40

Maria and the Finch, 40x40

The past few weeks have been super busy getting this quilt ready to show last Saturday at our guild quilt show.  If you were following my Instagram feed I was noting the amount of time it took for the machine quilting.  It turned out to be about 20 hours just for that, plus another 5 hours to do the facing, sleeve and label.  Not to mention countless hours I spent designing and creating the fusible pieces.  You could also count the hours spent making the four smaller faces which gave me the confidence to start this quilt.  All in all, I'm only counting hours so I can have an honest answer when the inevitable question comes up.  I don't do that for every quilt I make and I know there are some quilts I've sold for a pittance compared to the amount of hours that went into them.  Luckily, I don't think I'll ever sell this one.

Maria and the Finch is 40x40 inches which was the size my book club determined for every quilt in this exhibit. A consistent size helped make this a very cohesive exhibit which you'll see in a future post.  

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My first task for getting on with this quilt about a month ago was to make the marten face.  I based this image on the book cover.  You can see the cover in the last photo of this post.  I wanted to make it look like Martin was hiding in the flowers and originally intended to put a lot more flowers in the mix. As I was adding flowers I changed my mind and made it a bit more simple.  

Once all the pieces were fused down I pinned it and got out a bunch of threads to get ready for quilting.  I ended up adding more colors of thread.  This free motion quilting included lots of thread changes which is one reason it took so long.  In addition, I prefer to bury my thread ends and I like to do that as I go which makes things a little slower.

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I started with the all important face.  First I got out my previous face samples to study for a bit. It had been a while since I did them and I wanted to get a feel for the process again.  Then I just dived in!  It's not perfect, but do you know a face that is?

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I love looking it at on the reverse too.  In order to keep from having the fabric bunch up I worked my way from the face out to the edges.  I did the shirt next, then the flowers and the marten before heading up into the sky.

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The bird got it's quilting, but the legs didn't get done until later.  They are just heavily free motion stitched lines.

I attempted some fur texture on the marten's face and body.

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Doing a person's skin is a particular challenge.  I've gotten used to doing the faces, but when it came to the arms I wasn't sure what to do and ended up with these lines.  The rest of the quilt is pretty densely quilted, so I wanted to keep the amount of quilting similar throughout.

As with my other face quilts, I don't do any stitching at all until the applique is fused and the quilt is layered with batting and backing.  Therefore, the stitching I do to hold the fused pieces down is also the quilting.  I also add stitching to every single piece.  I just prefer it that way and I don't trust the fusible stuff to keep it all together over time.

Below you'll find my label which I create in Microsoft Word and print onto printable fabric.  I hope you'll consider reading Martin Marten yourself. It's a wonderful book and the quilts our group made are really fantastic.  More on that in the next post!

Faces in Fabric Part 6- Frog Lady

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Frog Lady is the last of this series of faces in fabric.  She came about because my friend Erin wanted to come over and make a face with me.  I went through each step with her until we got to the hair and she had to go.  It was a fun afternoon!

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Erin is doing a self portrait for our Undercover Quilters group.  She loves bright colors and especially purple, so it was really cool that she found the perfect Australian print for her hair.

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I wanted to have some fun with the hair, so I pulled this African print from the stash and fussy cut the curls to do a wild hairdo.  I had also just finished with Maria's frog shirt and had some scraps lying around.  It seemed natural to add the little frogs to her cheeks, though I did just pin them on for a while to make sure I liked them.  

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Below you'll find a bunch of hair photos that all look a lot alike.  I spent quite a while tweaking the curls until I got them just so and could fuse them on.

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Finally it was time to quilt it.  I really have come to like the adventure of the quilting.  I no longer worry about whether I'm doing the "right thing" when it comes to the quilting lines.  I just do it and each one is a little different.  I have to say, though, I love the pink eyelashes on this one!

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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Faces in Fabric Part 4- Maria and the Finch

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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.  

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!