Thursday, November 26, 2020

Finished stars and making plans on Free Motion Mavericks

Welcome to Free Motion Mavericks, week 308. The stars on the Pinwheels & Stars Baby Quilt are done. In this post I'm going to wrap up the free motion quilting (FMQ) of the stars and plan the next part of the quilt.

FMQ star designs

At the end of July, I proposed seven possible FMQ designs for the six stars on the quilt. By November, here is what I ended up with. If you missed any of the posts, the links are in Related links below.

Making plans for the negative space

I designed the quilt so that the centre could almost be a wholecloth quilt. I've made a couple of quilts like this and love that some of the sides have blocks but that the centre is all negative space. This time, I'm going to be brave about FMQ the centre. It's going to be in colourful thread that will NOT blend in! That is a very scary thing to do, but I do believe that if the centre part is well planned and practiced, that it should be fine! This is not a project to do the night before it's due ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Here is the quilt so far.

All of the pinwheel and star blocks have been FMQ

A better image taken during the day 

This is my initial idea for FMQ the centre.

A space theme to go with the stars

As you can see, I have a lot of work to do (especially if I want a rocket that looks like a rocket!). I'm sure that I will re-arrange these but at least I have an idea of what could be included. I would also love to include something that could represent the Milky Way, so I will be playing around with this a lot.

What I learned
  • It's been a lot of fun finding and practicing various FMQ designs. 
  • This is the scary part - but as I mentioned, planning and practice should help me do this well (not perfect, but good enough).
  • I will also have to deal with some of the puckering in the fabric in the middle of the quilt. I will undo the stitching at the end where there are no blocks, so that will help.
  • I love researching the various elements to figure out how to represent them - how to draw them, where to put them and what colours to use. This is where the various elements of creating art come in - such as focal point, mouvement, contrast, etc. 
  • I also have to learn to draw that spaceship! ๐Ÿ˜Š
Related links
Linking parties
I will be linking this post to many linking parties. I hope that you'll check them out, but not before posting your FMQ projects below. Remember that you can also post projects other than FMQ!

Free Motion Mavericks

It was a quiet party last time but as always it was great to be seeing everyone's amazing and diverse free motion quilting. I don't know if you realise this, but the hardest part of hosting Free Motion Mavericks is deciding on which quilt to feature! So, here goes... if you haven't dropped in on the Joyful Quilter's lovely little wall hanging with lots of texture, then take a few minutes to drop by to see it.

Look at all the texture on that little quilt
by the Joyful Quilter

It's your turn now ๐Ÿ˜Š

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Monday, November 23, 2020

Progress on my son's quilt

Some of you may have seen this quilt a few times - mostly when I was setting objectives, and not so much in progress ๐Ÿ˜ž. To fill you in, I am remaking a quilt that my mother made for my son. The quilt was loved to death, so I said that I would remake it - but unlike my mother's original quilt, it will not be hand-quilted!

Progress Made

It may not look like a lot, but the lower part, underneath the black, took me most of the day. There were quite a few re-dos since I'm using the old quilt as a pattern. I have no idea how my mother pieced it since there are very few seams. Wherever I can, I'm making triangles and strips, but it's really not easy to figure out. 

Progress made on Part 1

My mother made it based on a photo in a quilting calendar. Unfortunately I have no idea who made the quilt - so if you have ever seen it somewhere, please let me know!

Here's my plan. I made Steps 1 and 2 earlier this year (see Related links below). This weekend, I worked on Step 3 and I'm hoping to have Step 4 finished by the end of the week (or month since it's almost here).

The plan for Part 1

If I can get that far, I figure that I can make finishing the quilt top my One Monthly Goal (OMG) for December. It's so difficult not to get side tracked with other projects that require much less brain power!

Here is a close-up of the next step. I'm hoping to get up to the red strip done, or maybe even the beige one since it's right underneath it. After that, I will probably work on the bottom left corner and hope that it all matches up somehow.๐Ÿ˜Š

The next and final step in Part 1

What I learned

  • I thought that this would be difficult and I wish that I could tell you that it was easier than anticipated, but I can't.
  • Since I finally find the link to my previous post, I need to read it to see if there is anything that will help me NOT make the same mistakes.๐Ÿ˜Š
  • I need to stop working on this project BEFORE I get too tired. I ended up cutting off a bit of blue fabric that I thought was too wide - but it turns out that it wasn't and now I'll have to add another inch or so to it.
  • I have placed the part that is done on my design wall so that I can't forget about it!
  • It may not be enough to count the quilt top as a finish in my PHD but I will be thrilled. The quilting of it should be much easier and I can use it as a project for my Free Motion Mavericks posts (I love two-fur!)

Related links

Linking parties

I will be linking up to many fun parties. Let's check out what's going on out there! Patchwork & Quilts, Monday Making, Midweek Makers, Design Wall Monday, Can I Get A Whoop Whoop?

See you on Thursday for Free Motion Mavericks!

As I mentioned, I am linking this post up to One Monthly Goal for December. I want to finish both Part 1 as well as the rest of the quilt top. That's a very ambitious goal but I know that my son would be thrilled!

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Creating a stitcher's journal with paper and fabric

I'm back to making hand-stitched projects based on our latest workshop at's 2020 Stitch Club. This week's teacher is Ali Ferguson who showed us how to make a stitcher's sketchbook or journal with paper, and then to cover and embellish it with fabrics.

Making the Journal

This is the first workshop that I finished the project only a few days after it had started. I was hooked! I couldn't leave it. 

My new stitching journal

For my paper, I chose some printing paper (one with a gardening motif that I bought years ago, some brightly coloured paper, as well as the normal white stuff). I also found some lovely writing paper that I got as a gift when I was in my teens. It has my name (maiden back then) printed at the top. It was smaller than the other papers but I added them in separately and adjusted the holes. My book is made up of 4 signatures - those are the folded sheets of paper that make up each section. Once the signatures are complete, they are bound into the journal.

For the front cover, I used part of a panel that I created during Gregory T. Wilkins' workshop in July (see Related links below). For the back piece, I used fabric that I painted using a plastic fork and blue Colour Vie paint. The book spine tabs were printed using a print block that I made during a virtual workshop with Christine Chester, as part of the Birmingham Quilt Festival. I just coloured them using Sharpie markers and then sewed on some fun buttons.

Printing block made with
Hรคagen-Dazs sticks
Making marks with a plastic fork

The fun really started when I embellished the journal.

I started by using only batik fabrics, but then I got even more creative and took out all of those sheer scraps from making my last two sheer projects.

One the inside cover, I covered up the button stitches by gluing on some pieces from a cute scrapbooking sheet. I stitched a diagonal border on the opposite page and stitched the bottom of the page to the next one to create a pouch. I even attached an upside down label ๐Ÿ˜Š.

Inside cover with a pouch for keepsakes

My journal has 58 pages, so I won't show you pictures of each one of them! All of the pages have some stitching on them, but I will show you my favourites.

I made this one this morning. I stitched the fish to the background fabric with a running stitch and then added some French knots. I practiced my "writing" skills based on Joanne Sharpe's The Art of Whimsical Lettering book. I haven't practiced this in a long while but I now have an excuse if I write in this book!

"So long, and thanks for all the fish" Douglas Adams quote
with stitched fish

The fish (above) and the purple batik and organza piece below are on the back of my personalized writing paper. You can see the printing flower paper on the other side.

Using batik and silk organza scraps. They are attached
using embroidery stitches

This is one of my favourite pages. I drew around an oak leaf from my neighbour's yard and then stitched it with this amazing yarn made from Tencel (some type of pulp fibre). The colours are amazing and it's made locally by Trail Head Yarns (see Related links). 

Oak leaf outline with stitching using Tencel yarn.

For one of the signatures, I used a piece of scrapbook paper instead of my personalized writing paper. It's just too cute!
Adding scrapbooking paper in one of the signatures.

My first embellishments were rather simple but as I got going, they became more layered and creative. 

Starting to get the hang of layered embellishments.

As I mentioned, I made the fish this morning as well as this one. I love adding the sheer fabrics. This one has lots of texture which may get flattened a bit when the journal is closed, but that's fine. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Adding more stitching and using sheer fabrics

What I learned
  • In this journal, I want to experiment with stitched layers and then place the pieces in the journal. I would like to use more interesting embroidery stitches but this needs to be done separately and then attached to the journal. 
  • You may have noticed in the image above that the page is getting pretty crumpled. That's what happens when the paper is handled too much. I've figured out that the best way to add the stitching is to put the piece together first and then stitch it on or even better just tack it on with a few stitches.
  • I tried to do the button hole stitch on the paper but just couldn't hold the paper properly. 
  • In the end though, the crumpled paper won't show since I'll be filling this journal up with lots of pretty stitched pieces!
  • BTW, I've actually finished my Marks & Stitches piece - it's even framed! I'll write a post soon...
Related links
Linking parties

I will be linking up to all kinds of fun stitching and quilting link-ups. Let's see what's happening in Blog Land! Colour & Inspiration TuesdayPatchwork & QuiltsOff The Wall Friday, Beauties Pageant, Slow Sunday Stitching, Oh Scrap!Monday Making, Midweek Makers, TGIFF with Storied Quilts, Free Motion Mavericks with Muv, Needle & Thread Thursday, Put Your Foot Down, Finished or Not Finished Friday, Can I Get A Whoop Whoop?

I'm also linking up to Meadow Mist Designs' Favorite Finish Monthly linkup as well as Sandra of mmm quilts' DrEAMi - if this isn't a squirrel, nothing is!

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Stars with Swirl Hooks & Flames on Free Motion Mavericks

Welcome to Free Motion Mavericks, week 306. It's been a month since I last free motion quilted (FMQ) a star. Today I'm going to show you the last two star blocks on the Pinwheels and Stars Baby Quilt. 

Swirl Hook Star

The first star today is the Swirl Hook Star based on Angela Walter's 4 Ways To Machine Quilt Star Blocks (see Related links below). 

In the last star post, I mentioned that I had been practicing my Swirl Hook. Of course I hadn't practiced it since then, but as soon as I started drawing it, the Swirl Hook came right back. It's amazing how the hand remembers the motions! 

Swirl Hook Star based on Angela Walter's design

Original design

Swirl Hook Star with pinwheel neighbours

Star with Flames

This next star is based on a mix of Leah Day's flame designs. 

Star with Flames

I practiced the flame designs and thought that it would work well in the star. When I started FMQ it, the flames were taking more space than I anticipated, so I ended up putting a large flame in every second point of the star and then making smaller flames in the alternate 4 points. Since the middle was a sort of spiral, I was able to use it to get back and forth to each flame.

You can see the FMQ better on the back of the quilt. Click on the image to enlarge it.

The back of the Star with Flames design

I also added a flame in each corner of the block.

Star with Flames and some pinwheels

What I learned
  • Practicing a design by drawing it is incredibly important to FMQ it correctly. I was pleasantly surprised that my hand still remembered how to draw the Swirl Hood design.
  • I didn't expect that my flames to be so large, however since I had practiced using Leah Day's tutorial (see Related links below) I had practiced making flames of different sizes, so it was easy to find my way out of a possible mess.
  • It would take a lot of practice to get consistent designs but I'm very happy with my results.
  • In my next Free Motion Mavericks post, I'll write a summary of the star blocks and start planning out the middle of the quilt!
Related links
Linking parties

Free Motion Mavericks

We are still getting a lot of Free Motion Mavericks joining our linking party! Thank you so much for coming by and posting, and leaving comments. It's great to be learning from each other and looking at the eye candy ๐Ÿ˜Š

Today I would like to share Avril's new jacket. Sandra of mmm quilts finally made a cover for her longarm, Avril. She quilted a series of panels on beautiful Island Batik fabrics and then sewed them together to make the cover. There are over 49 designs from the quilting world's best-known teachers. If you didn't see her post, check it out!

A peak at Avril's new jacket by Sandra at mmm quilts

It's your turn now!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Sunday, November 01, 2020

Translucent meanderings

I can't say enough about how much I've enjoyed playing with fabrics with's Stitch Challenge 2020. As you saw from my last post, I have even used free motion quilting (FMQ) in some of these projects. 

Using sheers on my abstract template

This is the first piece that I did based on Sabine Kaner's workshop. She showed us how to make an abstract template by crumpling a piece of paper and then drawing along the ridges of the lines. You can read more about it in my last post which is in Related links below. For this first piece, I used a regular sheet of printing paper, which resulted in lots of lines!

My first impression was of a map of a country or a continent, but I kept it abstract as I put things together. Sabine Kaner's art is abstract but she doesn't use sheer fabrics. It's almost all recycled fabrics with lots of heavier textiles like wool, with lots of texture. I love the look of her work but I had just finished Vinny Stapley's workshop where she works mostly with sheers. I just didn't want to stop working with sheers, so I interpreted Sabine's workshop in translucent fabrics. It made for a very different project.

Working again with sheer fabrics

Here is my crumpled paper pattern placed over the light box. There were some really small sections that would have been impossible for me to applique with different fabrics, so I placed sheer fabrics over a couple of areas, but embroidered them to reflect the small sections within them.
Abstract paper template

This is what the piece looks like when it isn't in front of a window. The colours are much more vibrant.

Translucent Meanderings

As I looked closely, there is something really cool that happens to the stitching when the piece is in front of a window as opposed to against the wall. You can see both here.
Stitches seen against the wall
Stitches seen through the light

As I was writing this post, I had the piece in front of me, leaning on the window. I observed those cool stitches at the very top of the piece and was wondering how I got that effect. They look almost like a chain stitch - but upon closer inspection, I saw that they were a blanket stitch - that I could see both the front and back of!!!! How cool is that?๐Ÿ˜Š

You can also see this kind of effect in the pink piece on the top right of the piece. Against the wall, they are just ordinary seed stitches, but against the window, they are meandering all over the place. Even the running stitches appear as one solid line against the light.
Sheer remnants - what lovely colours :-)
The sheer fabrics that make up the piece are from all over the place. The backing is from a sheer pair of curtains that I purchased at Ikea (I have great plans for them!). I used some very fine silk from a scarf that I picked up in China, a black lace camisole that was my mother's, on fabric that I attempted to sew into a skirt for my daughter and another from a rather useless see-through bathing suit cover! Last month I dyed some silk organza and a little bit made it into this piece. The flower at the top of the piece is from a piece of commercial lace. I also used all kinds of thread and embroidery floss in the piece, including some couched yarn.   

As you may imagine, I am now on the lookout for all kinds of sheer fabrics and I plan on dyeing more silk organza. I believe that these last two projects with sheer fabrics are the beginning of some great fun and adventure!๐Ÿ˜Š

What I learned

  • I find that hand-stitching sheer fabrics is a lot easier than machine-stitching them.
  • It looks like I'm going to be collecting more than just quilting cottons! There are so many kinds of sheer fabrics - from old curtains to some lovely sheers and tulles of all colours. 
  • I also love dyeing silk organza. The colours are so rich. So far I have some amazing fuchsia, violet and dark purple. It's going to be a lot of fun playing with the different dyes!
Related links
Linking parties

Project details

    Translucent Meanderings

    10¼ " x 10¼ " 

    Materials: sheer fabrics (silk, silk organza, tulle etc.),
    embroidery floss, sewing thread and yarn

    Techniques: applique, embroidery, couching