Monday, November 26, 2012

Holiday House - how I made it

There was no pattern for this (photos in previous posting). It was totally from my imagination. I used the challenge fabrics to give me some direction as to how I would use them. The white/light fabrics would be snow. The greens would be trees or shrubs. The yellows would be windows. The reds would be curtains and the chimney. I drew in and used crayon and markers for the shingles and front door and steps. I cut out leaves and holly berries from challenge fabrics for the window boughs and door wreath. I also cut out motifs from some of the individual challenge fabrics for tree decorations. Two of the challenge fabrics had snowmen in them and I used one as a door decoration, and one beside the front door although the more I look at him he kinda looks like a "peeping snowman" ... . I used some of the brown-ish tone fabrics for awnings. I used the blue as gingerbread trim around the roof line. One fabric had these really strange Christmas mice on it so I cut out the white fur from the mice and made that snow on one of the trees. The individual components were appliqued and I used a clear thread to secure them to the house. I also used clear thread for the quilting - for the quilting I did a meander on the trees and shrubs and an outline stitch on the shingles and steps and mid-point of the house and the roof line. I added some embroidery trim (french knots, chain stitch for the garland, simple stitching for the candle flames). I added beads as "lights" in the trees and shrubs and the garland, and I also used bead fringe as "icicles". The shape of the piece is the house itself with the trees and steps, so instead of adding a typical binding I just satin stitched around the perimeter and trimmed it close. It's fraying a bit so I may use a very diluted glue around the edge to stop the fraying.

That's it. I have a gazillion ideas for other "houses" like a beach shack, a southern house, a camper, a mountain cabin ... this will be fun. I've been collecting fabrics like wood grains, boards, pebbles, stones, bricks, grass, water, etc. just because I suspected somewhere down the line I would do something like this. Just gotta find the time ...

Design Wall Monday 11-26-12

The guild holiday challenge project is finished ... and the deadline isn't even until Dec. 8th!  But here it is. I've decided to do some additional houses and cottages and bungalows using a similar technique and featuring different seasons of the year (hmm??? Maybe a haunted house??). So, this one is named The Village Collection - Holiday House. It's about 15" x 30" at its widest and longest points.

This was a lot of fun to do; once I started it I became totally absorbed in it. I'm looking forward to making more houses without the constraints of the challenge and being able to use some of the fun fabrics in my stash like the brick, stone, and wood fabrics, however this challenge certainly did make me look at the challenge fabrics differently. Here is a close-up of the bottom right corner. I think the beads add a lot of character to it.

BAM! is ready for the machine quilter (Lilly Lucier, Vanceboro, NC). Am very glad I decided to use black for the sashings and border because the blocks pop. So much of this quilt is comprised of very square patterns so I've chosen a curvy pattern for Lilly to use. And white thread.

Mug rugs seem to be quite popular these days. Here are 6 using motifs left over from a coffee print fabric. I still need to whipstitch the binding, but otherwise they're finished. The bindings are not all the same because I used fabric scraps. The smallest is about 7" square. The largest about 8.5" x 10".

At this point I'm not project-less, but I don't have any new projects actually started. Plenty of ideas, though. And plenty of projects ready to start but will try to wait until after Christmas.

Take a few minutes to visit Patchwork Times today for Design Wall Monday. It's amazing all the spectacular quilts and projects folks are working on.

Monday, November 19, 2012

DesignWall Monday 11-19-12

Please visit Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times today to see what other creative crafty folks are up to.

Last week I mentioned a soft quilt block book that I'm making. The idea came from an episode of Martha's Sewing Room. My book is about 16" square. I sewed together, then turned, two large pieces of fabric that would yield the size I wanted. I cut a piece of foam core board about 15.25" square and inserted that in the cover, then stitched the center seam, then inserted the 2nd piece of foam core board, and top-stitched the open edge. I also cut 8 pieces of batting that, when folded book style would be about 15-15.25" square. However I got backed into a bit of a corner because once I laid the batting "pages" inside the cover I realized I would not be able to use my machine to sew a center seam - so I hand-stitched this. The applique cover was the very first step. The inspiration came from botannical text drawings. I bought a lovely rose print fabric from Cotton Fields Quilt Shop and fussy cut the roses, fused them to the background and machine appliqued them. Then I statin stitched that to a 2nd background, then satin stitched that to the cover. It took longer to fussy cut the roses than it did to make the entire project! Right now the book is holding all of the pieces for the block of the month quilt that I'm working on.

The other project I'm working on these days is a "challenge" from the Rocky Mount Quilt Guild. We were given 36 charm squares and one "ringer" piece of fabric. The challenge is to make a quilt piece no larger than 30 x 30 using the fabrics provided; we can also add one additional fabric that has to be either white or muslin. Many of my charm squares were duplicates so I had about 26 different fabrics to play with. I immediately started looking for "outs" in the directions! The directions did NOT say I could not dye, color, or paint the fabric. And they did NOT say I had to use ALL of the fabric provided, just some of each fabric. So, I'm making a whimsical holiday house; the "ringer" fabric is being used as a "stained-glass" window in the attic. It's not yet named. I'm to the point now where I need to machine quilt it. One of the guild members recently showed an art piece where instead of using a conventional binding method she simply did a satin stitch outline around the perimeter of her piece and then trimmed the piece close to the satin stitching and that finished her edge. I know it would never do for a show piece but it was a unique and interesting binding technique that I plan to copy for this house. Once you see the final cut out of this house you'll understand why. Once it's machine quilted and the edge is finished, I plan to do quite a bit of beading. Beads can be used for "lights", "snow", and "icicles". Maybe I'll have the piece finished to show for next week's Design Wall Monday. I've already added some embroidery accents. I will probably use a marker to draw in shingles. I'm contemplating also using a marker to lightly draw in "boards" on the house. But then I remember that my friend Lori accuses me of getting too involved in details so I'll mull that one over.

I've enjoyed creating this house and my imagination is swirling with other houses and cottages and buildings that would be fun to make without the constraints of a challenge.

Happy Thanksgiving to all. Safe travels to all who hit the roadways or airways or waterways.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Design Wall Monday 11-12-12

Happy Veteran's Day! Thank you to all who have served our wonderful country.

Please visit today for Design Wall Monday.

Here are the finished block of the month blocks - 20 of them. And the sashing strips. I may change out the red sashings and use black fabric instead but I didn't have enough black fabric and was trying to make do with what I had on hand. And while I like this, even though it is quite wild looking, I'm thinking black sashings and borders would make the individual blocks "float" or pop out a bit more. Maybe lend a bit more balance to the quilt. I've named this quilt BAM! After looking at it more, I will definitely audition black sashings before doing any sewing.

On one of the televised sewing shows recently, a guest showed a "book" she made to store quilt blocks that are works-in-progress. What a cool idea! Foam core board is cut and inserted in the back and front covers, and batting makes up the "pages". So, I've started my rendition. On the front cover I'm going to add a floral applique - after looking at it in this photo I thnk I'll curve the corners of the applique to soften it a bit. Maybe next Monday I'll be able to show the finished "book".

This is my sewing buddy. He's a lot of company and makes sure to let me know when I've been sewing too long (in other words, he's tired of being ignored!). Sometimes he even helps by rearranging blocks on the design floor. He's been my buddy for 2.5 years and during that time I don't think there has been a day go by that he hasn't made me laugh out loud.

The Pumpkin Patch - This piece is about 10 x 15, and is crayon dyed. I'm happy with the way it turned out.

For the next Design Wall Monday I hope to have the BAM! quilt top and the quilt block storage book finished. So, till next week ....

Monday, November 5, 2012

Design Wall Monday 11-5-12

Well, I just can't believe it's already November. And between now and the end of the year there is something going on every single weekend so my crafting time will be limited. Please take a few moments to visit for Design Wall Monday.

I haven't had much time for sewing but have managed to work a bit on two crayon dying projects. I'm at the point on both of these pieces where they need to be quilted but I don't have any clear thread, which is what I want to use. The last time I posted on Design Wall Monday I featured the whimsical flower piece that I call The Ladybug Garden. Several folks asked me for crayon dying directions. I'll go into some detail on that now.

I learned of this technique from the blog Please take a few moments and go to her blog. It's delightful. Her work is so original, whimsical, and fun. Somewhere in her blog she describes her crayon technique in detail. I've played with it as she describes and have adapted it to the way I like to do it. It's very similar to her technique, with the main difference being that I make the quilt sandwich and do the quilting after the outline stitching is done.

Okay - here is the way I do the crayon dying. First, draw your design either on paper to tweak and then transfer to fabric later, or directly onto fabric if you're a confident artist. I have minimal drawing talent so I do simple drawings like The Ladybug Garden (above), or I get designs from stamps I own (the pumpkins) or photos (the fishing cottage) I've taken and have translated into line art using Picasa photo software (free download from Google). Anyway, once the drawing is the way you like it and the size you want, put it on your lightbox and trace it onto fabric. My lightbox is the dining room window. After the design is traced onto the fabric, outline it with a marker - I use a thin black Sharpie. I also mark the detail lines. Iron something like freezer paper or a good stabilizer onto the back of the fabric. Then color! Don't be afraid to blend colors. Don't be afraid to really bear down to get a lot of color on the fabric. On The Ladybug Garden I ironed a pretty heavy-duty stabilizer on the back and left it in place for the outline stitching that comes later. For The Fishing Cottage piece and the pumpkin piece I just used freezer paper. I did make a fun discovery when I did the pumpkin piece above ... textured tone-on-tone fabric adds a delightful design element to the piece. In the pumpkin piece there is a vine design in the fabric that beautifully compliments the pumpkins (I think). A happy accident.

Once you're satisfied with the coloring it's time to iron off the excess wax. There really won't be a ton of wax on the fabric but you will need to protect your iron and ironing surface. I went to our local newspaper and bought an "end roll" of unprinted newsprint- they sell end rolls for $2/inch and for $10 I bought an end roll that is more paper than I'll probably ever use in my lifetime! You can also use old muslin scraps, paper grocery bags, etc. Just iron the piece until no more wax comes off onto the paper.

So, after you've had fun coloring with crayons and the wax has been melted away you're ready for the next step which is outline stitching. Mamacjt does her outline stitching in black, and so have I for the most part, however you can most certainly play around with using other thread colors for the outlining - I used some other colors in The Fishing Cottage piece and am totally delighted with the result. Mamacjt also makes her quilt sandwich prior to adding the outline stitching, so it shows on the back. That doesn't really appeal to me so I do the outline stiching with either interfacing/stabilizer or batting on the back of the piece but not the quilt backing, not yet at least.

I'm very new to machine quilting and the step of adding the outline stitching is an excellent exercise for becoming more familiar and comfortable with free-motion stitching. Don't look too closely at my pieces because you will see that I didn't stay "on the lines" very well. But after the pieces I've done recently I can tell I'm getting better at it!

After the outline stitching I do whatever embellishing I want to add to the design like beading or embroidery - as long as it's not embellishments that would interfere with free-motion quilting. In that case, I will add those type of embellishments after the quilting step is completed. However, if you're hand-quilting this is a moot point. Both The Ladybug Garden and the pumpkin pieces have been embellished and that's where I've stopped at the moment.

After the outline stitching (and maybe some embellishing) is completed, it's ready for quilting. This is where I add the backing fabric and quilt the piece however appeals to me. I typically quilt the background around the design which makes the design pop a bit (I think). Then bind it, add a label, you're done!

I think it's a fun technique and I've totally fallen in love with it. At the ArtRageous Quilters meeting Saturday one of the members demonstrated the crayon technique from the book "Creative Quilts from your Crayon Box" by Terry Linn Kygar. It's a delightful book and her pieces are simply beautiful. Terrie describes her technique as "melt-n-blend meets fusible applique". I'll be attempting some of the exercises from her book soon.

I hope you'll give this technique a try.