Sunday, March 22, 2020

Le petit oiseau de toutes les couleurs

Welcome! Challenge 11.6 of Project Quilting is due in less than an hour and I am frantically writing up my post. The challenge was "Vibrant & Vivacious". It took me 5 days to think about it and 1 full day to make the quilt. It's one of my favourites to date. I hope you like it.

Le petit oiseau de toutes les couleurs

If you're wondering what's up with the French title, it's because this small bird of all colours is based on a song by Gilbert Bécaud (1927 - 2001), a song writer extraordinaire from France. His song, "Le petit oiseau de toutes les couleurs" is one of my favourites. 😊
Le petit oiseau de toutes les couleurs
The song starts with the singer coming out of his home in the morning and the bird is jumping around on the sidewalk waiting for him. It's nice out and the singer decides to follow him. At one point he loses the bird but then hears the bird whistling - he's waiting for him. Finally the singer watches the bird fly off over the sea. He says "I can't fly and I can't swim, I'm a prisoner here. Don't hold it against me. Bon voyage and come back soon"

Drawing the bird and 
starting to fill in the colours
The idea

I had no idea what to make but remembered that I had seen a lot of art quilts with birds in them lately so that brought to mind "Le petit oiseau de toutes les couleurs", and that was that!

I went through my quilting art magazines and saw an image that would do. Since I just drew it from the magazine, mine is quite different - as my son said, more of a pigeon shape but hey, everyone recognized it as a bird, which is what matters!

I ended up drawing the image on a sheet of Ricky Tim's Stable Stuff. It was perfect since the fabric scraps didn't move when placed on it. I glued the pieces down, and when I was done, I simply cut around the bird and then started making the background.

The bird of all colours 

I have a large cookie tin of strips and scraps of solid fabric, mostly Kona. I listened to the song again and decided to have the bird on the sidewalk with the sea in the background. I found almost all of the strips that I needed in the tin, and only went into my stash for the blue fabric for the sky.

FMQ background, mostly with Kimono silk thread.
After piecing the strips, I started free motion quilting (FMQ). I used a heavier thread for the sidewalk and then everything else is quilted with Kimono silk thread. I wanted a shadow of the landscape so as not to distract from the bird.

You can see the FMQ better if you click on the image to make it bigger. The first green layer is grass and vegetation, the next layer of browns is the beach, then it's three blue fabric for the sea and the final two blues are the sky. I even used trapunto for the two clouds.

What I learned
  • I had so much fun cutting up little bits of scrap fabric for the bird. I know that I'm going to be doing more of these and I want to figure out how to make it less messy. I can't stand all those little bits of fabric everywhere - paper is so much easier to cut up, but not as exciting!
  • I finished the quilt by facing it. I couldn't find my favourite tutorial so I ended up just looking at another faced art quilt that I had made and figuring it out. It was a lot more work - I need to find that tutorial...of course it's somewhere in my favourites.
  • Project Quilting is coming to an end for another year 😞 This is my second year participating. Last year I only "discovered" it on the last challenge and had so much fun that I put the event down on my quilting calendar for 2020. I participated in 5 of the 6 challenges. I've really enjoyed myself and look forward to next year.
  • I want to thank Kim Lapacek of Persimon Dreans for the wonderful work that she's done this year. I'm wearing my new Project Quilting t-shirt - it's awesome!
Related links
Linking parties
I'm linking to Project Quilting, Challenge 11.6 - Vibrant and Vivacious as well as Free Motion Mavericks and many other fun linky parties. Let's check out what's going on. Off the Wall Friday, Can I Get A Whoop Whoop?, Beauty Pageant, Peacock PartyShow Me Something Rainbow Linkup, Design Wall Monday, Monday Making, What I Made Monday, Colour & Inspiration Tuesday, Put Your Foot Down,

Project details

Le petit oiseau de toutes les couleurs
Based on the song by Gilbert Bécaud (1927 - 2001)
11¾" x 12½"
Material: cotton - scraps and Kona solids, Ricky Tim's Stable Stuff, glue, Kimono silk thread
Techniques: free motion quilting (FMQ)

Thursday, March 19, 2020

An Exit Strategy Finish at Free Motion Mavericks

Welcome to Free Motion Mavericks' link up for week 272. I'm thrilled to be celebrating a finish!

Presenting Exit Strategy 1 

Exit Strategy 1
Can you believe that all of these blocks started life as creations for the One Week Improv Challenge with Amy Ellis of Amy's Creative Side, and grew up to be this? (If you haven't been following along, see Related links below.)
Improv block
Improv block with added

I shared with you most of my progress in last week's post. This week, the big change was adding quilting in the sashing, some beading with pearls and garnet, and some wonderful roving. I even did more braiding 😊

I finally figured out how to FMQ around the top triangle of the first block. I was using some gorgeous variegated thread in block 4 and noticed that it was a perfect match for the fabric around the triangle.

I also added some dark purple wool at the top of the block. I had a hard time getting those beads on since the beads couldn't go through the larger needle needed for the yarn. It's called perseverance!
Beads, yarn and beautiful variegated thread
I started FMQ the sashing with triangles. Then, of course, I had to add something in the horizontal sashing, so my son created some smaller hexie templates for me.
Adding FMQ triangles and hexies in the sashing
The second block remained mostly the same, except for taking the purple of the FMQ on the right, outside of the block.
Only minor changes to Block 2
I added FMQ around the braided leaf in the third block. For a change, the feathers filled four different fabrics. I knotted and braided the roving in the middle of the piece to try to connect each block and create movement.
FMQ feathers around the braided leaf
In the fourth block, I started by FMQ spirals with that variegated thread that I mentioned earlier, and then added large wavy lines in the dark purple fabric.

Adding swirls
I wanted to add some beading in the right top corner. In my stash, I found a fresh water pearl and a regular pearl from my trip to China. I also added garnet stones on top and around the pearls.
Beading pearls and garnet
What I learned
  • This has been such a wonderful learning experience.
  • I learned that I can trust my intuition. I may not know what to do, but it does come eventually.
  • Working on one area of the piece often brought about an idea for another area, such as the variegated swirls and then using that same thread in the leaves of the top triangle.
  • One of the hardest thing to figure out it enough or is it too much? My son is very good at letting me know if something doesn't work or if something is missing.
  • Exit Strategy was my March OMG. I didn't think that I would be finishing it on time since our Fibre Fling show was cancelled and I didn't feel any pressure to finish it, so I'm really thrilled that it's done 😊 
Related links
  • The best place to see the progress of Exit Strategy is on the Exit Strategy page. You will find a description of the overall project as well as links to the various posts.
Linking parties & One Monthly Goal (OMG)
I will be linking up to the March OMG finish link up as well as many other great linking parties. Join me and let's see what everyone is up to. Needle & Thread Thursday, Midweek Makers, Colour & Inspiration Tuesday, Put Your Foot Down, Off the Wall Friday, Finished or Not Finished Friday, Friday Foto Fun, Can I Get A Whoop Whoop?, Beauty Pageant, Peacock Party, TGIFF,

Great News! Exit Strategy 1 was featured on Dione's Colour & Inspiration post.😊

Project details

Exit Strategy 1
18½" x 18½"
Techniques: improv piecing, FMQ, English paper piecing, embroidery, beading, couching, braiding, shuttered windows and open work, reverse-appliqué
Material: batik, silk roving, yarn, recycled silk sari yarn, silk thread, pearls, garnet, beads, Murano beads

Free Motion Mavericks

Thanks to everyone who linked up last time. As usual, we had some great projects. I do want to highlight a great wall hanging quilt based on a children's book, and done using a new technique from an old during the "Dust off A Quilt Book" Blog Hop Challenge. If you didn't see Frédérique's Grand Nord quilt, make sure that you check it out!
Grand Nord by Frédérique at Quilting Patchwork Appliqué
Now it's your turn!
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Mid-March Updates

So far March has been chaotic to say the least. I haven't felt like doing anything serious or difficult, so here is an update of some ongoing projects.

Exit Strategy - more hand stitching

I added some interesting bits by hand to my Exit Strategy 1 piece.

I chose some variegated yarn but wanted to do more with it than just couching. What to do - I don't knit or crochet but I remembered that once upon a time, I could braid.

I quickly found a hair braiding video on YouTube and amazingly enough, once my fingers started, they knew exactly what to do! I was very impressed since I haven't braided anything in many years.

Making a braid of variegated yarn

Adding the braid around
the embroidered leaf

I didn't really like the FMQ that I had done around the leaf (it was a darker green), so I couched the braid over the stitch line. I like that better and will eventually FMQ in the negative space around it.
Couched yarn
At the bottom of this block is a very thin strip of fabric that got mostly chopped off. I wanted to add something over it, but after playing around, I found that I didn't have to hide it. I just added couched yarn for better visual interest and movement.

The piece of couched yarn is made of recycled silk saris. I love that it goes from one colour to another. The piece that I added starts with a grey blue that matches the whole piece while the orange part is the same as the one used in the bottom-right block. I'm deliberately trying to add some connections between each block. That's also why the yarn extends outside of the block. 

Exit Strategy 1 - so far

FMQ another journal cover

I started quilting a journal cover for a very special friend. Since Lise loves pink, I thought that this special piece of vintage Japanese fabric would be perfect for her. I started by matching my Kimono silk thread to the fabric.

Silk thread to quilt the flowers
Here is the first try. To practice my FMQ for tension etc. I started on the yellow flower in the corner since most of it will probably not show on the finished piece.

I used a brighter yellow for the outline and tips of the flower and then FMQ the base of the petals as well as the middle with a yellow-orange.
FMQ the yellow flower

First try at FMQ

I've now finished FMQ the Japanese vintage fabric. It's always difficult to figure out how to quilt the negative space. I decided to just echo the flowers and leaves.

Finished FMQ
What I learned
  • From a learning point of view, I thought that it was fascinating that my fingers would still know how to braid after at least 15 years. The funny thing is that when I was thinking about it, I would get all mixed up. I really had to let me fingers do their thing!
  • I was explaining what I was doing to my son, and he pointed out that I have an "isolated space" at the bottom of the top-right block with all of the FMQ. I'll have to think of something to make it connect with the rest of the piece.
  • FMQ with silk thread is always a pleasure. This was no exception.
  • I didn't have the energy to participate in Challenge 11.5 of Project Quilting but they just announced Challenge 11.6 which is "Vibrant and Vivacious", so I'm hoping to be up to the challenge.
  • The Fibre Fling 2020 sale and show has been postponed from April to October. This will certainly give all of us more time to make art. It's also going to be more difficult to finish my Exit Strategy piece for March's OMG. 
Related links

Linking parties
I'll be linking up to many fun linking parties, including Free Motion Mavericks with Muv. Don't forget to link up there this week. Slow Sunday Stitching, Can I Get A Whoop Whoop?, Off the Wall FridayFinished or Not Finished Friday,

Thursday, March 05, 2020

Mixing it all up at Free Motion Mavericks

Welcome to Free Motion Mavericks' linkup (week 270). I finally have some free motion quilting (FMQ) to show you 😊.

Mixing it all up

As you may know, I really like to learn and try new things. I especially love mixing up all kinds of techniques that aren't usually found together, such as embroidery, improv piecing, beading and FMQ. That's what Exit Strategy is all about! Here's what's been happening to that piece.
Adding FMQ to Exit Strategy 1
You can see some of the FMQ that's been added. Let's look at each block.

Block 1 is about triangles and organic straight lines (i.e. not so straight 😊 ) I only have the top triangle block to FMQ. I'm not sure what I'm going to do there yet, but I'm likely to follow the path of the fern print.
Block 1 - the triangles
Block 2 is all about texture. It's more diverse with embroidery, lots of couched fibres and a hexie. At this time, I believe that it's finished, but of course I reserve the right to change my mind. The FMQ has created a lot of contrast and the light blue triangle in the middle, which is not FMQ, is very puffy - I love it.
Block 2 - Texture and contrast
Here is a shot looking down at the block to show some of the texture and FMQ.

Block 2 - At an angle to see more of the texture
Blocks 3 and 4 are more structured. I think that they may need more embroidery in a couple of spots and maybe a few seed beads.

Block 3 - A more structured block
I've FMQ the two orange blocks but I haven't figured out the rest yet.
Block 4 - Still considering my options

Making Triangles - Shuttered Windows & Openwork

When I first wrote a post about this piece, I said that I would explain how I made these triangles. I read about this technique in "Exploring Textile Arts" by Creative Publishing International (2002). I combined two techniques. The first is a type of negative or reverse appliqué, like when I made a Mola piece (see Related links). The other technique, what I call "thread lines," is used in Openwork but can be added on top of the open triangle window.
Shuttered Windows and Openwork

  • Draw a triangle on the fabric.
  • Decide which side of your triangle will be the "flap", then cut one of the other two sides of the triangle following the line.
  • Place a contrasting piece of fabric, face up, under the drawn triangle.
  • Sew over the entire outline of your drawn triangle. 
  • Cut the other side of the top fabric of your triangle (make sure it's not the flap).
  • Move the flap of the triangle (the uncut side) out of the way. 
  • Sew a zigzag, satin or decorative stitch around the two cut sides. If your top fabric does not fray, you can add your thread lines before this stitch.
    • Thread lines: You will be following the previously stitched line around the two open sides of the triangle. Using a straight stitch, back stitch a little, then lift your sewing foot and extend the thread across to the other side of the triangle. Back stitch the thread in place and continue to where you want the next thread to cross the triangle. Keep doing this until you have the number of threads your want.
    • This can also be done by hand. 
  • Pleat the flap of the triangle and use a button or bead to keep it in place.
Since I didn't want to use a zigzag, satin or decorative stitch around the triangle, I just covered my machine stitches with a blanket or a chain stitch.

One Monthly Goal (OMG)

Exit Strategy 1 is my March monthly goal. I need to have it finished by March 31 to place it in the Out of the Box's Fibre Fling 2020 Exhibit and Sale.

What I learned
  • Some of the FMQ designs practically shouted out to me but some are keeping very quiet. I'm going to have to listen carefully to those quiet ones.
  • I will be adding some embroidery, particularly to Block 3. I'm hoping that it will be easier to FMQ after that.
Related links
Linking parties
I'll be linking up to the March OMG linkup, as well as a number of great parties. Let's see what's going on in quilt land😊 What I Made Monday, Colour and Inspiration Tuesday, Midweek Makers, Put your foot down, Needle & Thread ThursdayPeacock Party, Finished or Not Finished Friday, Off the wall Friday, Can I Get A Whoop Whoop?, Beauty Pageant, Friday Foto Fun, Oh Scrap!15 minutes to stitch 2020, Monday Making, Design Wall Monday,

Free Motion Mavericks

We had some wonderful projects link up last time. Mel Beach experimented with using two threads at a time in her FMQ while Caryl Quilts is really practicing her FMQ and getting lovely results. If you didn't see their post, check them out!

Caryl Quilts - FMQ an improv scrappy tablerunner

Mel Beach - playing with thread combinations

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Finished Book Blocks

The Summer Book Club QAL may have finished a while back, but I just finished my last two book block minis. Better late than never - and I'm really happy with them. I think that they will look good in my colleagues' cubicles😊

Mon jardin mini

Patricia requested a garden scene on her book cover, something like the Garden and Pond mini that I finished last fall. There wasn't much room for a full garden but I wanted to put at least a couple of different plants.
Mon jardin 
This week, while reading a quilting post, I got sucked into the rabbit hole that is the Internet and ended up at Dover Publications, the company that publishes, among other things, books of images that can be used in art pieces without copyright infringements.

I bought the ebook version of "400 floral motifs for designers, needleworkers, and craftspeople", from their Dover Pictorial Archive Series. This book has some really lovely and uncomplicated images of flowers that are perfect for free motion quilting (FMQ). I used some of their images for the daisies and the forget-me-not on the book cover.
Daisies and Forget-Me-Not
FMQ feathers in the border

I had almost completed Paula's book block (you can read more about it in the post listed in Related links below) but had no idea what to do with the border. I wanted to FMQ something but didn't want it to distract from the book. Finally I settled on FMQ feathers using Kimono Silk thread from Superior Threads. This matching, very fine thread was perfect for the border.

FMQ feathers in the border
Here it is! All finished 😊
Fantastical Book 
What I learned
  • It was so much fun FMQ the borders and the flowers in the garden. The hardest part was deciding what design to use.
  • As usual, quilting with the silk thread was so lovely.
  • I'm so happy that I made the time to work on these. I can't wait to give them to my colleagues.
  • This was supposed to be my February One Monthly Goal (OMG) but I forgot to link up! So, unofficially they are my February OMG😊
  • Although they are not part of my PHD list, these are two UFOs from last year, so I believe that I finally have two finishes. YEAH!
What's on this week
  • My next deadline, March 30, is for submissions to FibreFling, the annual show and sale for Out of the Box (OOTB) Fibre Artists group. We are able to exhibit 4 pieces, that were not shown at other OOTB shows. I have a few pieces that I've done since the last show, but I would like to finish my first Exit Strategy piece. I haven't worked on it since my January 5 post - so it's time! My goal is to work on it this weekend and write a post with an update as my March OMG. 
Related links
Linking parties
I'm going to be linking this post to the PHD March linkup, UFO Busting as well as Free Motion Mavericks - it's Muv's turn to host this week. Check it out! Needle & Thread Thursday, Put your foot down, Midweek Makers, Colour and Inspiration Tuesday, Off the Wall FridayFriday Foto Fun, Can I Get A Whoop Whoop?, Beauty Pageant, TGIFF, 15 Minutes to Stitch in 2020, Monday Making, Design Wall Monday, Peacock Party,

Project details

Mon jardin
7" x 8"
Techniques: FMQ, foundation paper piecing
Material: cotton, silk thread

Fantastical Book
7 ¼" x 8 ¼"
Techniques: FMQ, foundation paper piecing
Material: cotton, silk thread

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Birds in the Air with Project Quilting 11-4

Challenge 11.4, "Birds in the Air" certainly challenged my creativity because I was determined to avoid making the traditional block at all cost! My accuracy challenged and tired brain was revolting against all of those HST (half square triangles)!

A conceptual Birds in the Air block

A conceptual Birds in the Air block

Since I didn't want to make those HST, I though of alternatives. When in doubt, I go to my strengths. Could I make a Birds in the Air block with free motion quilting (FMQ)? Sure, why not?

Ironic aside: it would have been much easier to piece the block with those dreaded HST than to figure out all of the challenges that came from making a conceptual block. 😊

I'm not sure what my thinking process was, but I tend to start with the obvious, such as birds within the HST, which then suggested a blue sky fabric. Since I've been working a lot with my dyed fabrics, I was sure that I could find something.

I made the block but since it was the size of the finished block and there was no gripping space for FMQ or embroidering, I added a square of backing fabric so that there was about 1½" extending on all sides of the block. Then I stitched the conceptual HSTs on the blue fabric.

I originally though of embroidering most of the images on the block but I ended up procrastinating long enough that I didn't have enough time, so back to FMQ!

Adding Trapunto

I thread stitched the birds and then decided to add a little bit of trapunto for the tree after watching Patsy Thompson do it on BluPrint. I added a layer of batting between the fabric and the backing and then stitched the top of the tree. I repeated the process for the tree trunk.

You can see a little bit of the Trapunto on the tree trunk, where it's puffier.
The background trees and the grass in the foreground were free motion stitched next. At this point it was Saturday afternoon and I was getting a little nervous, so I decided that it was time to FMQ and bind the piece. I could embroider the rest after I had finished the quilting.

I cut around the block and the backing, leaving the original layer of backing to extend about a ½". I cut batting to this size and then used a lovely green batik as the final backing. I cut this piece 2" larger than the block.

Free Motion Quilting

Details of the embroidery and FM stitching
I had no idea how I was going to FMQ this piece since I didn't really want to add more thread to the
piece. Then I remembered that I received a free spool of Invisible Thread at last year's Quilt Canada. I decided to take the plunge. I used the Invisible Thread as the top thread and FMQ the conceptual lines of the HST in the top half. I then stitched-in-the-ditch between the blue and green fabric and then around the tree, grass and background trees.

I bound the quilt and then started embroidering. I ended up hiding the trapunto on the tree top when I added couched fuzzy yarn all over it. I liked the trapunto effect but I like the texture more.

Does it sound like it was a long drawn out process? Well it was. I am happy with my finished piece and I learned more than I really wanted. But it's done and I think that it's lovely 😊

What I learned
  • It took me a while to figure out how the Birds in the Air block was made....until I turned it on point.
  • This piece almost didn't get finished. After cutting and sewing the two large HST, I had no idea what to do. As I mentioned it was too small to work on and deep down, the thought of embroidering all of it didn't appeal to me. It sat for a few days before I finally started free motion stitching it.
  • When I showed my almost finished piece to my son, he said that the birds are upside down. My daughter and I both think that they're correct. Maybe there's more than one way to draw birds in flight?
  • I added trapunto to the tree top. It was a little harder than I expected since I did it between the backing fabric and the stitched birds were sort of in the way of my cutting around the batting. I ended up cutting my backing fabric since I knew that it would be covered with batting and a final backing fabric. At that point, I really felt like I was channeling my mother's MacGyver energy. 😉
  • I would never have tried using invisible thread but one of the teachers on BluPrint recommended water soluble thread, especially to stitch around trapunto areas. Invisible thread isn't quite the same but I used it instead and was very impressed. The thread did show up a bit, although most of it was later covered by embroidery. I believe that they sell a few kinds of invisible thread - I think that a more smokey colour would have been better. I'll have to look into that!
  • Since I have less than an hour to publish this post and link up, I'm going to stop now!!!
Related links
Linking parties
I will, of course, be linking up to Project Quilting, Challenge 11.4 as well as many other fun linking parties. Make sure that you visit some of these and get inspired! Off the Wall Friday, Slow Sunday StitchingCan I Get A Whoop Whoop?, Put your foot down, Colour and Inspiration TuesdayFriday Foto FunPeacock Party, Beauties PageantMonday Making, Midweek Makers, Needle & Thread Thursday, Free Motion Mavericks, I'm also linking up to February's Favourite Finish Monthly Linkup

Project details

Birds in the Air
7" x 7"
Techniques: FMQ, embroidery
Material: hand-dyed cotton, wool, embroidery floss