Friday, 23 December 2016

Button Holes and other Christmas Items

     If I can, I avoid having to make button holes, adding zippers to outfits instead. Perhaps I come by it naturally as my mother also used to avoid making button holes ... even to the point of causing me one rather embarrassing moment in grade school. She opted not to put a button hole & button in a waistband of a skirt and instead used a couple snaps, which everyone knows hold quite well when there is no exertion. However, taking a deep breath in preparation to sing the national anthem one morning in school caused the snaps to let loose and the skirt to drop .... and the said owner of the skirt (12 year old me) to drop as well clutching the side of the skirt closed.

     Enough said ... a few months ago my daughter saw a cute pattern to make for her daughter; it was called a "grandfather sweater" and I randomly said .. "Oh, isn't that cute; she could match her great-grandfather".  Well, it wasn't long before my daughter sent me a link to a similar pattern for an adult ... a buttonholed sweater.

     Here's C's sweater that my daughter made from knitted-looking fleece before adding buttons. I'll see if I can get both recipients in the same picture when they open their Christmas gifts on the weekend.

     And the sweater I made for Dad ... (unfortunately, I only have a female mannequin, so it didn't fit quite right.) The sweaters don't quite match, but since this one is called the "Newcastle" sweater and my dad lives on Newcastle Street, it seemed appropriate. The three practice button holes I did were perfect; kind of messed up the first one on the actual sweater and had to rip it out. Big buttons can cover any other irregularities - ha ha.

     A neighbour (who I made the 'weather' baby quilt for 9 months ago) needed some teething covers for her son's crib as the top rails were becoming a little chewed. 
     They look better on the crib than on the floor when I first took the picture!  It is unlikely he will attack the back rail since it is difficult to lean his head into the wall to get his mouth on the top railing.

     And then, I needed another small Christmas present for my son-in-law's parents who will be coming  to stay at my house for a couple days ... and Englishman and a Nova Scotian lady who both like tea. I wasn't sure how big their teapot is, but a Nova Scotian themed tea cozy seemed like the best bet.
     I had a beautiful piece of fabric left from the background of my Europe quilt that gives the misty - foggy look of Peggy's Cove. I sketched the outline lightly on the fabric and then machine stitched over every line 4 - 6 times to get the outline to stand out.  Please note, don't get too far ahead in sketching with a fabric pencil that fades as you are sewing it!!

     Last but not least, my father is creating a doll crib for his great-granddaughter and it looks like it might be done in time for Christmas. He gave me the base measurements and I have created a small covered foam pad mattress (with left over material from the crib railing covers) as well as finishing up a small quilt for Charlotte to wrap her dolls

     Busy with small projects ... and done in time for Christmas.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Venice Complete (Europe 12)

     The canal in Venice has a finished measurement of 54 cm X 75.5 cm (21" X 29 3/4") ... even as I say that it is finished, I can see an area with the gondola that I may add a few stitches.
      I decided I wanted the buildings in the foreground to have more dimension & to look like they were rounded stone pieces, so I tightened up the stitch length while quilting; the pieces further back have a looser stitch so they would lie flatter.  I considered using angelina fibres to give a bit of sheen to the water, but a white coloured pencil did the trick. The dark edges at the base of the buildings are a combination of dark thread stitching and blended Inktense pencils.

    At the end of my Europe trip in May, the guide had mentioned that we send in some photos of our trip to Rick Steves Tours and we could win a trip or maybe get a discount on a trip .... unfortunately, they changed from a 'winning picture' to a 'winning scrapbook website'.  I checked the RS site and blogs are not admissible, so .... it is unlikely they will ever have an art quilt as a challenge and I am not sure that I can or want to create a separate scrapbook website using my quilts.  

Saturday, 12 November 2016

A winter quilt

     Charlotte no longer wears sleep sacks to bed and with the approaching winter, it was time to make her a flannel-backed quilt to snuggle up in during the cold winter months.  I already had the quilt top which  I made some time ago .... 2 1/2 inch strips from a jelly roll in ascending colour darkness (or light).  I cut off a 6 inch strip from one side and flipped it, giving it a 2 1/2 inch white border; I made another cut length-wise off-centre in the body of the quilt top and sewed the flipped section in, adding a 3 inch white binding to the quilt.
     Because C's Mom and Dad wanted a 'fluffier' quilt, I did minimal quilting parallel to the flipped section in the quilt.  The back is flannel, using a panel with a coordinating fabric around it to make it large enough.

     Instead of washing the flannel before using it, I waited until the quilt was done to help give a more puffy look when the flannel shrunk a wee bit in the washing / drying. Charlotte snuggled in, stayed warm and slept through the night!!

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Venice continued (Europe 12)

     Great plans often don't get completed within the timeline.
     I had some unexpected company for a week (my daughter from Ontario flew in as a surprise) and Venice got put the side.

     So ... topstitching and appliqueing are done.  The batting and backing were added and today, the  machine quilting will begin (depending on new interruptions)
     More shadows need to be added; I will see what I can do with thread and if that doesn't quite meet my needs, I will add a bit more with Inktense Pencils.
    Last weekend, we had a SAQA - Atlantic Canada retreat and I got a chance to work with several mediums, playing around with colour.  The Inktense Blocks were much easier to work with and to blend colours than the pencils, so that is next on my wish list. I should be able to get a set of 24 for under $70 at Curry's.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Venice (Europe 11)

So .. do I finish an old project or start a new one???

     This photo of Venice has been calling to me. A very grey picture except for the buildings where the canal starts to turn. On our Rick Steves' 21 Day Europe Tour we were able to rent 4 gondolas & a pair of Italian musicians late one evening and we drifted through the canals with our gondolier managing the oar.
 The art quilt size will be approximately 30" X 24" and a little less white/grey

     I couldn't find any material that I thought suitable for the water ... starting with the lighter patterned blue means I can make it darker with Inktense pencils, fabric markers or paint and add angelina fibres to give the luminescent quality.  Lots of threadwork is needed for all the architectural detail. (probably not the detail in the corners of the arch ... I believe the figures are naked men. ha ha)

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Colour Challenge Revisited

     I am not always a stickler for rules if I am there when they are being created and I can ask if exceptions or modifications can be applied, but when you come into a project after it has already started and you see that the first few creations by other members are following the rules, you work within the given guidelines.
     So ... that being said, the Colour Challenge was meant to be a series of 10" X 8" pictures, mounted on small canvases so they could be hung.
1. July - Complimentary
2. Aug - Analgous
3. Sep - Triad
4. Oct - Tetrad
5. Nov - Split Complementary
6. Jan - Monochromatic
7. Feb - Achromatic - no colors - black,white, greys
8. Mar - High contrast or low contrast - color only
9. Apr - Full color - pure color, outer edge of color wheel

     But then cracks began to appear .... some people decided they wanted to do different sizes; some only completed certain colour months .... Hmmmmmmm.

     Although I was pleased with the overall concept, I really didn't like the 9 separate pieces (completed mid-June 2016) ... and being the artist, decided that if I wanted to modify the work, it was my choice!!

     All the binding was removed from the 9 pictures; they were trimmed and sewn together in one block, with a narrow dark grey border. (approx size 30 1/2" X 24 1/2")

     A few of the house lines are not exact matches but I like the overall look much better. This would be an interesting picture if I chose one of the colour challenges and did the whole picture that way .... maybe in just achromatic or perhaps in monochromatic.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

It's Done!! My Scrapbook of Europe (Europe 10)

     I completely finished the Europe quilt on the weekend. I have even managed to clip all loose threads (I think) but, it turns out my camera does not want to cooperate.  My daughter came by to take photos.
     Although the maps lay flat on the fabric in the beginning, the extra stitching / quilting of the background fabric caused the maps to pucker loosely in the middle. I ended up having to go over every orange thread highway I had created, as well as some of the outlines of the pictures

Haarlem, Netherlands

centre of town, Rothenberg, Germany
     I thread-sketched the tulips on the background instead of making a separate picture: two reasons ... didn't want the wall-hanging to look cluttered and I really liked the background fabric & didn't want to cover it up.
Rothenberg, Germany --- one of the gates in the town wall
Florence, Italy

     It was so hard to create the awesomeness of this cathedral. There was so much detail --- I gave up on trying to make all the statues in all the little alcoves; the picture was too tiny to add them.
Colosseum, Rome, Italy
     I have seen pictures of the Colosseum everywhere but did not expect it to be so HUGE!  It amazes me how some of the buildings were created all around this site without the cranes and backhoes and equipment that we have today.
Cinque Terre, Italy
     Here is a place that I need to return to ... and perhaps walk the mountain path that connects the village along the coast. My tour friends and I took a boat to visit 4 of the villages.
Beaune, France
     The Burgundy region .... even though many of the places we visited were not that far apart (compared to traveling in Canada), I was amazed at the differences in architecture between one country and the next.
Paris, France
     And last, but not least, Paris .... a few too many people in all the 'touristy' spots, but I enjoyed walking the several kilometres from the cathedral to our hotel on my own, stopping into little shops and taking many photographs of buildings.
 The additional thread-sketching that I did on the background fabric: 1. the tulips (top, mid-right), 2. Amsterdam (top left), 3. the gondola in the Alps, Switzerland (middle right), 4. the gondola in Venice (bottom right) and 5. a cathedral top Rome (bottom mid-left).

     13 pictures in raw-edge applique or thread-sketched and six maps to represent 3+ weeks of travel.  Not sure what I will do with the rest of my photographs (close to 400!) ... there are a couple that I would like to do as stand-alone larger pictures. We shall see....

Thursday, 15 September 2016

King Sized

     Years ago my daughter picked out various green fabrics and asked me to make her a quilt. She wanted a stripy quilt ... I showed her a variety of designs that would look good with her greens, but still she wanted a stripy quilt. That's what she got.
     She has since married and I made them a beautiful queen-sized quilt, thick and warm for the winter months.
     However, this summer, she and her husband (who is 6'5") decided to buy a king-sized bed, which, of course, meant they needed a larger quilt.
     Out came the stripy quilt ... I added 35 cm (14") panels to the sides and the bottom. There wasn't any of the original fabric left but with strips in the same tones, it was easy to find enough fabric to match (most of the fabric came from my stash and I only bought a few fat quarters to compliment the original).

     Working each panel was easy to machine quilt and I practiced swirls, circles  and random stipple ... the difficulty came with attaching the panels to the main quilt .... king-sized quilts are HEAVY!!
I checked out a few Youtube videos ... this one made the most sense for what I was doing although 
 the presenter was working with 9" blocks and I was attempting to add panels that were the full length of the quilt.
"How to Join Up Quilt as you Go Blocks" by Gourmet Quilter

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Europe top (Europe 9)

The top is now done ... I had originally planned on doing more pictures but two things changed that plan.
     One ... I found some really pretty background fabric and I didn't want to cover it all and
     Two ... the blue-grey fabric that I had for doing the frames of the pictures was only a fat quarter and I was unable to find more of the same fabric.  Several other fabric colours were auditioned but I liked my original choice the best; without more fabric, there was no need to do more pictures!
     I used a brown fabric to frame the maps.

     This was hung on the clothesline on a slightly windy day (well, where I live, everyday is at least slightly windy with most days being very windy) ... hard to keep the fabric to stop moving long enough to take a picture.
     Since I didn't want to cover all of the background fabric, I chose to outline several more Europe scenes. Top centre has red tulips; top left has buildings in Amsterdam along a canal -- hard to see in the shadow; centre right has a mountain gondola from Switzerland; bottom right has a Venice gondola going along a canal and to the left of Italy is a church dome.
     Once I finish quilting the top, I will do some close-ups so the outline pictures can be seen better.  
     The piece currently measures 38" X 43" and has taken 88 hours to get this far. :-)

Thursday, 4 August 2016

On to Beaune (Europe 8)

     Beaune France, a beautiful town, the capital of Burgundy wines. We walked through the hospital Hotel Dieu listening to the history on our headphones. I opted for the francais set and understood perhaps 1/3 of what was said .. I had to stop and 'rewind' several times since my hearing seemed to be slower than their speaking!
     A couple blocks from our hotel, several friends and I stopped for supper, sitting in an outdoor cafe and enjoying some people-watching.
     This particular piece took just under 7 hours to complete. I am getting the hang of doing the work and my efficiency and accuracy are improving. 
     Again I have left out some little details ... like the tiny windows on the roof, an extra chimney & the people and umbrellas.  I notice odd things when working on these pieces ... in this picture, the shutters on the lower windows are not full size ... and I realized that it is because of the tiny Juliette balconies. I may go back and add the gold coloured diamonds between the windows on the mansard roof.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Background (Europe 7)

     Found some beautiful Robert Kaufman fabric for the background. It wasn't what I was first looking for ... I had seen fabric with maps and stamps and travel pictures on them, but realized they would look too busy or overpower the work that I was doing.
     The photo doesn't do it justice; it is soft and feels luxurious (& probably a little too expensive for the background, but I'm blaming the price on the lousy exchange rate we have with the US) ; the colours are a multi soft blues, beiges and greys with a little bit of darker blue. Kind of resembles the mix of sky colours we had while traveling. I've added a medium-weight fusible interfacing to the back.
     After pinning the completed pictures and maps I have so far (Switzerland will be done by tonight), I think I may have to revise my plan a wee bit or I will end up covering most of the background fabric. Perhaps in some areas I will outline sites in navy or shades of grey-blues directly on the background. My plan was to complete another picture for Holland (perhaps the canals), another picture for France and possibly one of Venice.  Maybe a gondola would look better as an outline ... Hmmmm.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Florence (Europe 6)

     I thought if I could master the Eiffel Tower, then I could try a similar approach for one of basilicas  that we saw ... create more of an outline rather than a lot of little fabric pieces. Originally I was going to use a cream-coloured fabric, the original colour of the church, but our guide talked to us about buses now being rerouted away from the building since the vehicle pollution had caused much of the building to be covered in grime ... and they were in the early stages of cleaning the building. The background fabric is a pale grey with darker grey smudges.
     I traced the outline & some main architectural lines of the building from my photo and using that as a template, began to sew in a light beige thread. Once the outline was done, then I drew in extra lines, and went over everything in darker greys, blacks and beige threads and a touch of red on the tower to the right. The final part was much slower ... using a gold metallic thread to outline and cover many the arches and doorways. (discovered if you want to pick up speed, the metallic thread stretches and breaks!)
     Drawing with pencil is sooooo much easier. Sewing machine needles are not meant for curves. Trying to get all the little arches done on the windows was difficult to get them all the same.  And I figured it was totally impossible to add the little statues inside the arches, so left them out. I ended up using black fabric marker for the doors.

     Lots of people hanging around; there were even a number of army personnel and trucks nearby standing guard (one just to the left of my photo and a group behind me ... you never knew if you should be worried because they were there and expecting something to happen or if you should be happy they are keeping the place safe!)

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Switzerland and Italy (Europe 5)

     This is going to be one very large wall-hanging. 7 buildings are completed. Originally I pulled out 26 photos for consideration, narrowed it down to 20, decreased it again to 15 .... and will probably need to drop the number again ... I don't have enough wall space to hang something this big when it is done!!

     This building in the Swiss Alps, we saw on our walk down from Schilthorn Mountain in the Lauterbrunnen Valley ... we took the gondola down 2/3 of the mountain then walked along a hiking trail, stopped for lunch and took another gondola down the last 1/3. Since the mountain is close to 3000 m, I am glad we didn't need to walk up or down it!!
     The quilt will need some small pieces for overlapping so this house is a stand-alone.  It still needs some trimming ... 4 hours to complete.

     On to the Cinque Terre in Italy ... the village of Manarola
     Auditioning fabrics; there are more white houses in this section of Manarola but I wanted to be able to show the separation of the buildings.  The turquoise on the right is actually green screens covering a renovation site. Not sure what I will do for the railings on the balconies ... either find some fabric with close stripes or sew individual posts.
     [Found a piece of fabric at Atlantic Fabrics that had overlapping sections of 'lined paper' that worked great for railings!]
     The photo was enlarged and I traced many of the houses onto Vellum or Tracing paper to use as templates. The coloured bits are cut from fabric with fusible web, ironed on to a background fabric. This time, because of the number of windows, I decided to outline them in black thread and colour them in with fabric markers. I had a little sample of one of the fabrics and tried all my marking choices to see which worked best in this case (Fineliner, pencil crayons, Inktense - dry and wet, Ultrafine Sharpie, Fabric Markers and Papermate Flair pens).  There are a lot more balconies in the photo, ... yeah, wasn't going there!! Artist's choice to quit or modify when necessary!
     Also decided to add a bit of colour on the railing sections to reflect the buildings behind them instead of the white of the fabric. Completion time: 8 1/2 hours.
     All the Cinque Terre villages were adorable and picturesque.  The people must have very strong legs as everything you do requires going up and down hills and stairs! I think this is the village we walked quite a ways up to get to the church.

PS ... the collection of hours. Non-quilters always ask, 'how long did it take to do that?' ... this time I will have a close approximation of the time although sometimes I begin to work and forget to note the start time. 

PPS ... in the end, the house in Lauterbrunnen Valley didn't make it to the quilt top ... it will have a special place on the back side with the title & date.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

A bit more of Europe 4

Europe continues to grow.
     I've added the map of Germany, highlighting the main highways / autobahns.
The maps are done on hand-dyed fabric with a fusible interfacing. At one point I was tracing the map onto tracing paper and decided that was nuts, time-consuming and inaccurate, so I went to Staples (copy centre) and copied & enlarged the maps and used them as the templates.  Using a very small stitch length, the paper map tears away easily.
      The next picture is Rothenberg, Germany, facing the clock tower.  Smaller pieces  are fabric with fusible web and the background has fusible interfacing.
      Except for the Eiffel Tower, all pictures are approximately 7 X 10 inches.
     If you go just beyond the opening in the tower, there is a little dress shop to the left where I bought my granddaughter's hand-smocked dress. 
     The original picture ... I eliminated the dormers on the roof and combined two store fronts on the left for the fabric picture.  I am finding little windows really annoying! By the time I add sashing and crosspieces the fabric starts to shred.

     Off to Italy for the next picture ... the Colosseum in Rome
     I eliminated some of the detail behind the openings on the first floor and by the time I added the stitching, I opted out of some of the finer details in the stonework. Usually I layer every thing on top of the background piece but this time, I cut openings in the face of the Colosseum and inserted the inside of the arches and the background.
     And of course lots of thread ... used the satin stitch for the columns. I think I used 7 different thread colours to try and capture some of the stone shading ... there are a couple areas I may add a bit more, but for the moment it shall 'sit' pinned to the mat until I decide final placement.
     My 'mat' is the flannel backing on a tablecloth, hooked over a door in the studio.  There are 3 more countries to produce (France, Switzerland and Austria) and I am not sure how many more pictures to complete ... that will depend on how big I want to make the final product!

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Europe 3 ... a beginning

A couple more pictures to add to the Europe quilt ...

     Rothenberg, Germany, a beautiful village in Bavaria surrounded by a town wall that I walked around taking random pictures of roofs and grey skies. Our first evening we walked with the Night Watchman who recited a humorous history of invasions.  This building was in the town square.
And the original:
     I am leaving the dormers off the roof since the tiny pieces of fabric shred too much. My copy of the picture took 8 hours to complete.

    We visited 6 countries on Rick Steves Tour ... my version of Italy took 2 1/2 hours and Holland took 1 1/2 hours to complete the outlines and the major highways.
      Italy had a little mishap while working on it on the back deck (a container of bubble solution fell over and drenched it); it has been rinsed but needs to be re-ironed!

     The pictures are approximately 17 x 22 cm (7" x 10"). Each piece has been backed by fusible interfacing; the larger pieces of fabric are placed in position and smaller pieces have fusible webbing on the backs; and of course, massive stitching holds everything in place.

    The next one is the windmill in Haarlem ... 7 1/2 hours to finish the top. My original picture seems to have disappeared from my computer file ...

     Not sure yet how I'm going to put all the pieces (maps and pictures) together; I am thinking I might make skinny white borders on the pictures to match the way photos used to be printed ... once I get all the pictures done and see how big the piece is going to be, then I can make final decisions on assembling.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Sidetracked (Europe 2 - Paris)

     Once a month I meet up with a fabulous group of creative women ... and each time I come away having learned something new, something old with new applications or even something extra that enhances a skill that needs more practice.

     So yesterday we learned something new: one of our talented ladies (Linda F) showed us how to create and bind a book.  It is 18 cm X 24 cm (approx 7" X 10 " )

     The pages are fairly thick ... strong enough for water colour painting. I have 30 pages in this book. I wouldn't mind trying again but with thinner pages, more suitable for writing.

     I also worked on a dress for Charlotte ... she wasn't so keen on it when she first tried it on, but I am hoping that now the warmer weather has arrived, it will be more suitable to wear. I picked up the fabric while in Holland the end of April.

     And finally, I am working on some ideas for my Europe quilt.
     The first picture, obviously is the Eiffel Tower. It is 38 cm X 22 cm. The background fabric has fusible interfacing which I thought would be enough for all the top-stitching but with the additional work as I proceeded down the tower, I think I should have used two layers of the interfacing to help stop the wrinkling. I can probably get it to lie flat once I quilt it. I haven't decided how many pictures I am going to include from my trip ... nor how big the quilt will eventually be. 
     There are several photos I have taken that I think I may create as single / separate pieces. Time will tell!