Friday, July 25, 2014

Alisa's Enchantment

Did I mention that this is Alisa's first applique project?  Oh, how I would love to take credit for this as being a great teacher but.... actually, Alisa is a great artist.  Yes, I taught her to needle turn cotton applique and a whip stitch for wool; a bit about embellishment threads, and then she went for it.  

The dark background is stunning in a mix of indigo prints pieced together with a dragonfly print on an indigo background for the border.  Alisa is working on the embellishment, making this even more stunning.  She has set the bar really high for me.

I have always believed that you don't need to start on a small project when learning new techniques.  Learn on a design you love, regardless of size and then you will stick with it.

If you love this design, get the pattern from Material Obsession and join us.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Enchantment Applique


Finally, the tree, hills and vines are appliqued and it's time to start on leaves, flowers and birds.  My background is a variety of cottons and the center piece is a somewhat heavier weight.  The hills and trees are cotton and I plan to use both cotton and wool for the remaining applique.  The variety of texture using cottons and wool will create a lot of dimension and the embellishment will add even more.

 I pinned the hills and tree in place with Clover Applique Pins, and with matching cotton thread and #10 Short Darner, appliqued using  the needleturn method.  The background fabric lies completely underneath the hills, all the way to the bottom of the design.  You may consider this as wasting some fabric but when it comes to a project like this I don't cut corners.  Having the background fabric completely under the hills adds stability and will keep the project "square" during the quilting process.  I could have used a "scrap" of fabric but it would have been a different weight than the background and would have required math.

Diamond Textiles had bundles of their new batik prints at market and with this project in mind, they were soon in my shopping bag.  For me, batiks are a challenge to applique as it is more difficult to hide the stitches - but the colors are amazing. 

The vines were made using a 1/4" Clover Bias making tool.  I cut the strips 5/8" wide on the bias, then sprayed with starch and pressed flat before threading through the bias tool. This method saves time making the strips which took what seemed like forever  to pin and applique in place.  Notice that I don't use fusible or glue - even on a large piece like the tree.  It's just my opinion, but I don't like the way fusible flattens out the fabric and on this type of project I don't glue because sometimes I want to change the position of applique pieces and then there is a glue spot left on the background.  

Some of the small leaves are just one layer of wool that will have some embroidery added, and the larger leaves have multiple layers of wool and cotton. After cutting out the wool pieces, I use a simple whip stitch with matching Aurifil wool lana thread and a size 24 Chenille needle.  I make the stitches small so my embellishment will show, not the whip stitches.

Why do I use wool thread?  The texture or "woolines" of the thread matches the texture of the wool and hides better than cotton.  Can you use cotton?  Of course, it just has more sheen and won't hide as well.  I prefer Aurifil thread as it seems to hold up better while stitching so I can use a longer length (I hate to stop and rethread).  Buying wool thread in a variety of colors can be expensive but Aurifil offers small spools and some quilt shops are now selling a carrying case of colors wound on bobbins.  You can find them at:  American Quilting just give them a call or email.

At this point it just looks so plain........I can't wait to add more layers and lots of stitching.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

In The Beginning

About 2 years ago I helped my friend, Alisa, finish a quilt her grandmother started.  Alisa enjoyed the process so much she has become hooked on quilting - a familiar story.  You can read about Alisa's quilt beginnings HERE, under "Life Stories With Quilts" just scroll down the page a bit.  Now that I have Alisa fully addicted - she refers to me as the neighborhood crack dealer, we decided to make a quilt together.  After searching for a few days we chose Enchantment, a Sue Cody pattern that we purchased from Material Obsession.

We were inspired by this pattern but wanted to make a few changes, specifically add a border to the left side and balance out the size of the borders.  This required some re-drawing and since I was busy getting ready for retreat and Alisa is a great artist anxious to start, she did all the hard work.  Hmmm, sounds like I planned it???  What we liked about the pattern was the full-size template included.  What we didn't like was that the directions were hand written.  Yes, hand written and we couldn't read all the writing.  After spending $40 for a pattern we expected more. This would have been a problem for Alisa as this is her first applique quilt (yes, I don't believe in leading anyone gently).  I just tossed the instructions and told her how to do each step.  Note to designers:  take the time to type your patterns - everyone will appreciate it and it is so much more professional.

Alisa chose a dark background of indigo prints which she pieced together.  I selected this amazing Yoko Saito fabric with birds and trees.  I had a small scrap of this fabric and became obsessed with finding a large piece. My husband was ready to commit me to a padded room watching me search the internet, call stores, try to bribe people out of their fabric, get depressed and then absolutely giddy when I found it in an Etsy shop.

I added pieces of more Japanese prints from my "very special hoarding place". Next, it was tracing and cutting freezer paper templates.

The entire piece needed to be laid out on the floor to make certain it all fit.  Believe me, I'm too old to pin on a hardwood floor but the pain, grunts and groans will be worth it.

Hills and tree appliqued in place.

Since we changed our background, the best way to figure out where all the applique pieces should be was to iron the templates in place.  After my experience of pinning on the floor, I decided to put the quilt onto my design wall and use the handy little Petite Press to iron them on.  Once I was satisfied with the design the little vines were pinned.  Since the templates had to be removed to be placed on the applique fabric, a photo taken with my phone is a handy reference of where to place all the pieces.

Keep watching here to see my progress.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Small Town Parade

Yesterday our summer town had its annual Pleasant Valley Days celebration with parade, fireworks and more.  The parade is a not-to-miss event every year.  Although there are less than 20 full time residents in our town, you can see that families travel to join this annual event.

The street is very narrow which means this is an up-close and personal parade. 

 And, it's an interactive parade.
When Smoky squirts you it's OK to squirt back.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Home Away From Home

 This is where I love to be in the summer months.  In the valley it will be 100 degrees today and here we might get to 80. Our cabin isn't the biggest or fanciest but it is "us" with quilts and woodcarvings decorating every room

 On our morning walk we enjoyed all the wild flowers just starting to bloom.

 We call these Cowboy Roses.  
The fragrance is sweet with just a hint of spice.

 Sweet Peas vining on a dead branch.

Flax and Yarrow bloom alongside sage in the dry rocky soil.

Today I plan some serious "deck time" stitching away on a new project, hoping a deer walks by.

Have a Happy 4th of July!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Dove In Bloom Kits Now Available

 My shipment arrived and now the Dove In Bloom kits are in my Etsy shop, just click HERE
The kit includes the pattern, hand-dyed wool and velvet, hand-dyed silk and cotton threads and a sturdy bag with 6 zippered pockets.

This bag is very well made with heavy duty zippers that will last for years.  The pockets are plastic on one side which makes it easy to see what is inside without sticking together.

I took the kits to my retreat last week and they were such a big hit that I only have 7 left.  Don't wait to order, I don't have plans to make any more when these are gone.  The patterns and bags will not be sold separately - it is a complete kit.

Planning a trip soon?  This is the perfect little "take-along".

Monday, June 23, 2014

Small Town Quilt Retreat

I have been talking about this retreat for months and it's finally here.  My sewing room is stacked high with kits, hand-dyed wool, needles, patterns and absolutely wonderful threads.  

Tomorrow I check my list, and get it all packed to set up on Wednesday. Perhaps some of you can identify with me - I've got all my sewing supplies ready but haven't thought about my wardrobe.  Oh well, you want to see my stitches, not my clothes!  

There are new friends and old registered for my class and I'm excited to spend an entire day stitching.  On Friday and Saturday I will be in my booth so if you are attending the retreat please stop in to say "hi".

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