Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Snowflake Quilt

Just like last week's quilts, this one had a long dormant period. I originally designed it as a wedding present for a friend getting married in December 2007 in the Bountiful Temple. I had a lot of free time at my part time receptionist job, so I passed the time by designing a snowflake that incorporated the temple and hearts. I thought this would make a good present since I had absolutely no money to buy anything.

 Temple detail shot

Cutting out the design took several steps. First I drew the whole thing on paper, then trimmed to a one sixth triangle section of the drawing. I cut that out and traced it onto a poster board for a template. Then I traced the template six times onto fusible webbing. Then I ironed the webbing onto the backside of white fabric and I cut the the whole thing out. The snowflake part of the design is all from one piece of fabric. I then cut out the orange-brown background, which is also one piece of fabric. I placed both the brown and the white pieces on the red, lined everything up and fused the different sections together with the webbing on the backside of the white fabric.

By this point I was getting a little tired of the whole thing and started to question if my friend would really want a decorative wall hanging. I decided to make her a snuggle quilt instead. (Snuggle quilts are too small for a twin, but big enough to snuggle under.) I had some red and green flannel in my stash so I made her a pieced flannel quilt. I thought it would be useful and not a burden, as art gifts sometimes are. The flannel quilt wasn't as intricate as the snowflake, so it was less of a burden on me too. ( Unfortunately I don't have a picture of the flannel quilt.)

The snowflake quilt stayed folded up and put away for years until I finally decided to finish it for myself this year. I added the green triangles to make it rectangle and hang able. Then I zigzag stitched over the whole snowflake. I quilted it with red thread and stitched around instead of over the snowflake.

The finished quilt is 31 x 36.5 inches
It can work as a Christmas quilt and a Valentine's Day quilt. It could work as an anniversary quilt too since Alan and I were married in the Bountiful temple just three weeks after Christmas.

Next time: love, snuggle quilts, and football.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Birds in a Bush Quilts

My next quilts were originally going to be wall art for a basement apartment in Bountiful that I shared with my friend and roommate Stephanie. Steph is a great interior designer and had wonderful ideas for our apartment. We both decided we loved birds right around the same time. (In fact it was a little scary how many things we ended up doing or liking at the same time. We often came home from work to find we were wearing matching outfits.) I started drawing birds all over my church journal. (This is a journal I take to church to take notes, but really I just use it as a sketch book.)

 I wasn't happy with any of my designs so I started to look for inspiration in my many art books. The danger of this practice is that I inadvertently steal designs. (Or in this case, blatantly steal designs.) I just loved a design I found on page 108 in An American Celebration: the Art of Charles Wysocki. It's a design with birds in a bush with a whirligig on top and a heart on the bottom. My homage to the design isn't exactly the same, I simplified some of the birds, changed all the colors, left out the top and bottom of the design, and added a couple of my own birds.

I started in good form. I drew the design on a large sheet of paper, traced it onto fusible webbing, cut out all the tiny little pieces, ironed the pieces to the back side of different fabrics, cut out the pieces from the fabric, peeled off the paper from the backside of all the pieces, then assembled it with the fabric all right side up like a collage onto the black background.(With fusible webbing you end up with a mirrored image of your original design.) I then carefully ironed all the pieces down so I could eventually sew them in place.

This sounds like and is a lot of work. I forget why I stopped there, but the design got folded up and put away for 3 years. Most likely I was a little burned out and wanted a break, and later just forgot about my project. Last Summer I pulled it out again and decided I still wanted this design on my wall. By then Alan and I were married and we had a new king sized bed with a big blank wall above it. I have always felt that blank walls are kind of hostile, so I had wanted to put a painting above our bed. Alan discouraged the idea of a heavy frame right over our heads in case of an earthquake, so I found my old abandoned wall hanging and got to work sewing around all those tiny little pieces.

The finished quilt is 24 x 25 inches

I also had two smaller companion quilts, they are inspired by the same book and were assembled the same way at the same time. They are each 17.5 x12.5 inches

I hadn't really decided how I was going to group them until I finished all the quilts. I usually hang my wall hangings by curtain clamps on a curtain rod. Three quilts would take too many curtain rods, so I bought some black push pins and tacked them all to the wall.

Lots and lots of fun little birdies, that are quiet and don't make a mess.

Next time: Pumpkins and Crows, an applique quilt with an actual pattern!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Patriot Quilt

Some of my quilt designs are original and some are variations of patterns I've found in a magazine or online. I really do prefer to design my own quilts. That is the fun part for me and I don't make quilts just to make them. However, adapting an existing design has it's own challenges that can keep the process from getting boring.

Today's wall hanging quilt is a variation of the Three Tours quilt by Tony Jacobson that was featured in Fons and Porter's Love of Quilting magazine in the March/April 2012 edition here

The original has seven blue stars and fourteen double stars with some difference in the color choices and the finished size is 70 x 78 inches. In shrinking and reducing the design I had to draw the entire design out and figure out the relative size of each piece. The process was not unlike the logistical stage of an original design, and therefore, interesting.

This is my version. The finished quilt is 26 X 36.5 inches.


There are five of the blue and white stars,

 and ten of the red, white, and blue double stars.

Each finished star square is 5.5 x 5.5 inches and each red stripe is made from two or three strips of the two red fabrics for dimension. The white stripes are not pieced and alternate between the solid white(from an old sheet) or the printed white.(Which is unfortunately very hard to photograph.) Each finished stripe is 1.5 x 19.5 inches.

There are two red, two blue, and two white fabrics included. I try to only use fabrics from my stash whenever possible and was able to keep from buying anything new for this quilt. In fact the backing is a blue waffle knit left over from another quilt. I have no qualms mixing knits with woven fabrics if I can get away with it without too much distortion in the design. This knit was fortunately not too stretchy to use.

I could hang this quilt for every patriotic holiday, but last year I just had it up from Flag Day through the end of July.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Summer Grass Quilt

We have a gorgeous field with tall grasses behind our yard. It's occasionally used for a cow pasture, but I've seen many kinds of wildlife there. For me, looking out the window is like having a landscape wall painting that's always changing. 

Last summer I wanted a wall hanging quilt  to fill in between my patriotic July quilt and my autumn quilt. I designed a pieced quilt with tall uneven grasses like the field. My design originally had very straight, equally spaced pieced lines for the grass with applique flowers and bugs and a pieced sun.

I changed the design a few times, but wasn't happy with the grass piecing and  the curved sun pieces, I decided to drop the flowers and the sun and go for a simplified design. I used a single background 25.75 x 20 inch piece of faintly striped yellow fabric. Then I used four colors of 3/8 inch grosgrain ribbon for the grass. I used the stripes of the background design to align the ribbons. I then machine sewed down the middle of each ribbon to place it. This also gave the ribbons a wavy look. I decided I didn't like the equally spaced grass and added more in between the some of the existing grass blades. Everything but the grass is hand sewn.

I'm including close up shots since the details are hard to catch from a distance.

I used scrap pieces of black cotton knit fabric for the base of the bee, fly, and ladybug, then buttons for body color on the bee and fly. The bee's stripes are made with embroidery floss. The inch worm was the easiest with buttons and buttons alone.

 I quilted around every blade of grass, without stitching them down so the sides stick out a bit to give dimension. I used yellow quilting thread on the background and black thread for the bee and fly flight pattern stitches.

 The ladybug and butterfly wings are rough edge applique. the butterfly's body has layered buttons and the wings are quilted with white thread. The antennae are embroidered in black.

The finished quilt: Summer Grass
Next time: patriot pieced quilt.