Monday, March 30, 2020

Slow Sunday Stitching and Virtual Challenges

Hi! I hope that this post finds you all safe, healthy and just as importantly, enjoying some quilting or stitching time.

Community Stitch Challenge

This week I joined the Community Stitch Challenge on Facebook. The event is organised by and the first challenge this week was given to us by Sue Stone.

Sue Stone is an amazing textile artist who works mostly with simple stitches, embroidering scenes of everyday life. She teaches many courses and one of her exercise is to stitch four samples using only one type of stitch. This was the first challenge. She had a short video explaining the challenge as well as a set of worksheets explaining the exercise with examples and notes.

Running stitch sampler using a variety of thread
Running Stitch sampler using various threads
I started the sampler by making the top green stitches. I started with the middle diagonal line. I got very quickly bored with that while realizing that making stitches that matched was harder than it looked. I'm happy to say that by the time I was finished, I could stitch in even(ish) rows. As you can guess, by the fourth square I was tired of filling in all of the space and I played with weaving some of those stitches within each other.

On Friday, Sue Stone did a Q&A session on Facebook. I missed it but I'm very happy to say that it was recorded, so that was a lovely way to pass my Sunday afternoon.

After this exercise, I was inspired to stitch a couple of meditation blocks. Since I had been working with running stitches all week, I continued this in my blocks. They're not the best I've done but it isn't about good, but about meditation.

Experimenting with running stitches on a meditation block
Experimental meditation stitching block
 I like this one - it now has some interesting texture, just not so square :-)

Running stitches around and inside a patterned piece
Adding running stitches to a patterned fabric

On and off I've been working on some larger blocks to practice my embroidery stitches. This one is a chain stitch block. I love working with the hexies. It's a work in progress. I'll be adding some of the many chain stitch variations.

A chain stitch block with hexies in progress
Chain stitch block in progress
Have a good week. Stay healthy and sane.

What I learned
  • As I mentioned, I got bored quickly when I was trying to get those first stitches to match in a row. I guess part of my boredom is my frustration of not being able to do something. However, I just ended up changing direction and making my stitching area smaller. I think that this may have made it easier to stitch more even rows of running stitches. 
  • I joined the Facebook page of the group. I'm not a fan of Facebook and usually avoid it but it was really nice to look at everyone's stitching. There was some pretty cool stuff there.
  • The next challenge will be announced on Monday, March 30. I'm really looking forward to seeing what's next 😊
  • It's wonderful doing slow stitching when I'm in the mood. It usually takes me a while to relax enough to enjoy it.
Related links
What's on this week
  • Watching and then making the second challenge, a stitched collage, with Cas Holmes on the Community Stitch Challenge. 
  • Continue working on my son's version 2.0 of his grandmother's quilt.
  • Make a whole bunch of face masks for my sister-in-law and anyone else I know who needs them.
  • Have a great quilting / creative / stitching week. 😊
Linking parties
I'm linking up to Slow Sunday Stitching as well as many other fun linking parties. Let's see what everyone is up to this week. I will also be linking up to Free Motion Mavericks - it's Muv's turn to host this week. Find out about her award winning marmalade. Sounds scrumptious! Design Wall Monday, What I Made Monday, Monday Making, To-Do-Tuesday, Midweek Makers,

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.😊
Update: I linked to Sarah Goer's fun linky, Show Me Something Improv.

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