All posts by Marci

About Marci

Having first retired from social work in 2008, I've now had time to work through seasons of all play, and seasons of part-time work, while I figured out how best to make use of my "golden" years. The internet provides so much assistance in finding unlimited ideas related to finances, hobbies, travel and staying healthy, but I soon found my passion in quilting. The vast array of techniques have resulted in seeing inspiration everywhere, and practice is always rewarded with improved skills. Of course, grandchildren and family still get priority, but I see this as a pursuit that will remain interesting into my old age.

Discovering Portrait Quilting

gemma selfiegemma selfie
For some time now, portrait quilts have intrigued me.  After studying them, listening to You Tube tutorials, reading and imagining, I finally jumped in and gave it a try last week.  There are as many styles and techniques as there are quilters, as we all know, so I kept reminding myself that there is no wrong or right when it comes to quilting.

I started with a selfie,Selfie for grandma posted by my son, as selfies already  have a nice low number of megapixels, making it easily simplified, and because the distortion makes me smile.  This was to be a trial piece and I anticipated it would go in a scrap pile somewhere when finished.  It really surprised me, therefore, when I actually started to really like it.  Many authors have mentioned that, with art quilting, you need to feel free to just go where the quilt takes you, and that it will often take it’s own direction.  Initially it was to be just the isolated head of my granddaughter, but as that neared completion, the distortion of the selfie begged to be explained, so the cell phone border was added, complete with hand embroidered icons and a sparkly “screen”.  The title then went from “A Selfie for Grandma”, to “Facetime with Gemma”.

The simplified process was as follows:

1.  Using a photo editor, the head was isolated and simplified using a poster app.

2.  The result was printed in gray scale and I then traced around each piece I was seeing, using parchment.  By cutting the parchment pieces apart, you have a pattern.Selfie for grandma

3.  At this point you need to consider the process you plan to use.  If doing hand applique you need to add 1/4 inch all around each piece, but I planned to bond and machine applique,   Bonding is applied to each fabric you plan to use, then the pieces are cut out.  (I traced onto the bond paper, so had to place my pattern face down as well.)

4.  The face on mine was treated as a base, with the smaller pieces ironed on.  Then the whole face was bonded to the background fabric.  I stitched close to all the edges before making a quilt sandwich, and used hand and machine embroidery on the eyes, eyebrows and eyelashes.  The rest of the quilting and machine embroidery were done after layering the quilt sandwich.

If you wish more detail on any of the steps, feel free to contact me through the comments.  I am always ready to talk about quilting.

A “Simple” Quilted Wall-Hanging

SimpleThings quilt

The second project completed while passing the winter in South Carolina, is the above quilt, inspired by the shaker tune, “Simple Gifts”, as well as by the fabric seen below.

simple fabric

“Simple Gifts”

‘Tis a gift to be simple,

‘Tis a gift to be free,

‘Tis a gift to come down where you ought to be.

And when you find yourself in a place just right,

’twill be in the valley of love and delight.

The quilt top was pieced very randomly, to demonstrate the concepts of freedom and joyfulness, using this fabric with coordinating solids.  I chose to call it “Simple Gifts from the Valley of Delight”.

After completing the top, some machine embroidery was added, to delineate fantasy flowers, and to add a different “gift” word to each of the print squares.  I wished the appearance of the words to be subtle, so that the viewer would have to seek them out, much as in life,  we need to be watching for the presence of these gifts in order to recognize them when they occur.  Below is a close-up of one of the squares, that shows the word “joy”.

IMG_201Simple Square close50130_112630

Finally, the quilt sandwich was built, and I had the pleasure of adding the free-motion quilting,  This was a fun quilt, Put together in recognition of the generosity of a brand new friend, who seems to always put the needs of others before her own, and who told me to use whatever colors inspired me, as there is no color which would not be welcome in her home.

t

Creating a Donald Duck (or any other favorite character) Quilt

finished donald

Sometime before last Christmas, I set aside blogging, as my then current projects were all to be top secret gifts.  Now as a snowbird on Hilton Head Island, with nothing more pressing than to enjoy the sun and do some quilting, it’s time to return to sharing. My first project after settling in was this quilt, in order to fulfill a Christmas IOU.  Well before Christmas, I  made several false starts that ended with tabling the project until after the busy holidays.  This had shown me what didn’t work, and made it easier to find a process that produced what I had imagined.  Below is a simple version of the steps.  Don’t hesitate to contact me if you need more details.

first three steps

1.  The first step was searching out the images I wished to use and transferring them to my blocks.  I found mine in Google images which is acceptable when making an item for your own use.  I used a printshop type program to create like-sized images and to print them. .  At this point you could use whatever method you prefer.  (Print directly on your fabric, print a heat transfer or print a copy and trace)  I was forced to trace, as I had brought copies and have no printer with me.  Make extra paper copies with any method, to use as patterns for the applique.

Fused applique2.  In choosing fabric, I was guided by Donald’s original cartoon images, only darkening them a bit to suit my own taste.  I then chose to work the rest of the quilt in those colors, adding only a striped fabric to draw the design together.  Fuse your fabrics to Wonder Under or the bonding product of your choice.  Cut patterns from your Donald image and trace them right side down to the Wonder Under backing of the appropriate colors.  Cut out the pieces and bond them to your block using the transferred image for placement. I then stitched around each piece, very close to the edge.  Donald is always shown with black lines around each object so I tried using my machine satin stitch for this, but wasn’t happy with the look, so ended up using hand embroidery for his lines.  Your might, however, wish to experiment with your machine.  A blanket stitch might have sufficed.

3.  Once the blocks were complete, I cut an assortment of various width strips of each fabric and laid them out to decide on my design.  Some people complete their design on paper and then know exactly what to cut, but this is the method I chose for this project.

laying out the design

4.  Now you are ready to sew your pieces together and create a quilt sandwich of backing, batting and the top.  I have recently begun using a spray bonding product in place of pinning.  This works so much better than pinning if you plan to free-motion quilt, which is my preferred method.

That completes your quilt.   Next blog I’ll share another simple wall hanging created as a thank you for a special friend.

A Place to Practice

My modest sewing corner.
My modest sewing corner.

As I was leaving my last free-motion class, a fellow student commented to me that she found it hard to find 10 minutes a day to practice. Now, I’m so excited about the process that I could hardly relate, until I realized that it is much different if you have to drag all of your supplies out each time you work. It was just this year that I created a space in the corner of my basement. I had a craft spot there since moving in, but only used it for really messy projects because the basement is an unappealing storage space. Having a quilting and sewing spot is entirely different, however. Once facing a blank wall with the fabric surrounding me and my project before me, I am lost in my own world. And the big difference is that I can now work for short periods that I wouldn’t have considered if I had to set everything up.

Now I just need to work on that blank wall. I have some ideas perking.

Iris Thread Sketching

The completed piece
The completed piece
Iris detail
Iris detail

My sewing machine has been humming, and I’m eager to post about it. As a pledge just made to 81 other quilting bloggers, I’ll include more of my processes, trials and tribulations, from this day forward.

I started this piece as another way to practice my free-motion quilting without boredom. There are so many possible processes when working with thread and fabric that I am constantly trying to incorporate more. These pieces will be far from perfection, but will make me happy to see posted on the walls of my sewing cave.

I first randomly pieced the iris print and white Kona cotton. This was layered with batting and more white Kona for the backing. As you saw in my previous post, I fastened the layers together with just a few pins and was on my way. Using white in my bobbin and various colors of polyester embroidery thread on top, I free-motioned around the lines of the iris, and when comfortable with the patterns involved, I continued onto the white background with approximations of what the rest of the flower might look like, if these particular plants were mutants. (I don’t think it looks too bad, over-all, if one isn’t too judgmental.)

When satisfied with the “sketching”, I changed the upper thread to white and completed the background using some of the free-motion that I am actually supposed to be practicing. I finished with a traditional binding with the hand stitched back side.

I like the way this method makes the print fabric begin to resemble applique.

Meanwhile, two new presser feet arrived in the mail today, so I will soon be doing some applique and might also be able to complete a better machine stitched binding on quilts which are to get a lot of laundering.

They Say Practice Makes Perfect

Practice "sandwiches"
Practice “sandwiches”

Here is the starting point. Class was wonderful fun, but to become accomplished at free-motion quilting takes a lot of practice. Learning to pace your machine to your movements is what it is all about, and what I will be struggling to learn. These are the practice “sandwiches” we were told to bring with us, made up of a backing, batting and front piece. The fabric can all be muslin, off course, which will keep the cost down and allows you to clearly see colored stitches. Mine were on a pale green, just because it is a color I like to look at.

I’ve also started some thread painting on the sample below. Stitch length is not so important here, and it looks better with more layers, as opposed to the more controlled look I am trying to develop above.

Thread sketching preview
Thread sketching preview

I used pins to hold this together, but this isn’t necessary on the small samples. The finished piece will appear soon, unless other fabric calls and distracts me.

Finally Finished!

HQ 1<a

After a full year of dragging this lap robe quilt about with me, it is finally finished.
This is the quilt which has been the inspiration for my desire to perfect free-motion quilting. The quilting is hand done, and I have now realized how few hand quilted projects I would be able to finish in my lifetime.

HQ3

Here is the detail. My stitching is coming along, but it was during the long process of finishing that I began to experiment with free-motion.

I do love the colors in this quilt and am drawn to batiks. As you can see, it is another simple design, purposely chosen for ease of hand quilting. It would, however, equally have lent itself to free-motion. So on I go to perfect those skills. First class tomorrow! The teacher has directed us to Patsy Thompson’s website to make copies of the free-motion designs offered there at no charge.

Using Scraps for an “I Spy” Quilt

(click on image for details)
(click on image for details)

This was a fun quilt created for my youngest granddaughter. It was inspired by my own love for playing “I Spy” as a child, so may have amused me more than her. But it provided yet another opportunity to work on my free-motion quilting. I used my clear 4″ template to find fun picture segments for the squares and used a simple flower motif for the quilting. (Three more days until my first class!)

Remembering the Flowers of Summer

Poppies wall-hanging

Poppies detail 1

While excitedly awaiting my first free-motion class, I have taken time to record some of my earlier work. This wall quilt of poppies was completed last summer. I was working on my hand-quilting, and chose to outline the flowers and mark lines for quilting the borders. Because I am currently more focused on the quilting process itself, you are probably beginning to see my penchant for simple piecing. One of the things I love so about quilting is the many aspects of the art. There will always be something new to learn.

Moving Along in Free-Motion

Piglet overview

Piglet detail - Shelter House

The second of my free-motion practice quilts produced better results. Someone had donated Winnie-the-Pooh flannel, which inspired adding Piglet to the front. I discovered a free-motion pattern that pleased me and seemed easy to do, and was on my way.

I have read from other quilters that each quilter finds they are drawn more to either curvy designs or linear designs. I seem to be a curvy. This was fun and relaxing. Unfortunately there are places on the back that do not yet please me. I have learned that speeding through the sharpest part of the turns can create messy bobbin threads. Another case of “slow and steady” winning the race.

Today I picked up the materials list for my free-motion class with Patsy Thompson, and see that I must have 15 to 20 9X12 inch quilt sandwiches ready to go by next Tuesday. Sounds as if she will work us hard. You can check out her website by Googling. Much to see there.