Friday, November 18, 2011


Okay, this is downright embarrassing to admit but I will anyway.

I finished a bed quilt yesterday. Guess when I pieced the top? More than FOUR years ago. Yep, that's right. I took Nellie Holmes' class "Pumpkin Pie" way back when I worked at Taylor's Sewing Center in Brockville. That's before I moved here to Colorado. That seems like a whole lifetime ago!

Hubby doesn't like the duvet because he finds it too warm. So we only pull it out in the very coldest nights of the winter. The rest of the time we manage with one quilt and whatever little extra things I can find to throw over myself. That just doesn't cut it. The cold fall and winter nights are just perfect for two quilts, yet I dragged my feet and dragged my feet to finish this one. Why? Who knows.

As I mentioned, taking this Color & Design class has really gotten me into gear about getting things done in my studio. Not only am I enjoying my work more, but I give it more value. I MAKE time to create and do the work that makes me happy in here.

Here it is, finally. On the bed as of yesterday and I am so thrilled! It's toasty and I think it looks great in our room.

We have a queen size bed and this is the perfect size; just enough overhang but not too much.

 I made these two throw pillows from extra blocks I had when I pieced the quilt. THOSE I have had done for four years!

I quilted the top in a simple grid to let the pattern and fabrics take center stage. In the small gold border, I quilted "this band of gold" over and over. And in the large navy border, on all four sides, I "wrote" love song lyrics. That took a LONG time. But it was worth it. It looks like simple stippling from a ways back, but is perfectly readable when you get closer.

When I put my blocks together, I didn't do it the same way as Nellie's sample. The sample was also done in country-type fabrics, which I also love, but as you can see, I chose to do mine in batiks. Batiks are a guilty pleasure of mine!

This was a fairly easy and very versatile pattern to use. If you are interested in purchasing the pattern, I found it here:

Here is what the sample looks like:

Nellie lined up her blocks all facing the same way and I just turned every second one (I think that's how I did it). I love it both ways, in both fabrics. I bet you will love the pattern as much as I do.

Color Class Lesson 1- Neutrals

I just realized that I forgot to post my first project from my Color & Design class! It was a nerve-wracking class- for everyone. Everyone was clamoring to present first and get it out of the way! As a result, my presentation was third from the last of 16 people and we were getting short on time. That meant I didn't have to be up there long, which is good.

To remind you, the project was on Neutrals. Heather prefers that we either design our own project or put our own twist on an existing pattern, and she also prefers that we come to class with our project finished.

I happen to agree strongly with both of those things, as I know Heather is right. It's only by finishing a project that we learn everything it has to teach us. And how am I to learn good design if I never try?

So, without further adieu, here is my project. It was finished, right down to the label on the back, for class :)

This piece is entitled "From the Ashes".

I pieced the cream fabrics in a curved, quilt-as-you-go fashion. The "fabrics" include mostly nontraditional quilt materials: silk, satin, lace, tulle, and even crepe paper. 

The tree was a challenge for me. It started off black, but I found that too stark. I shopped around and just couldn't find a grey fabric that suited me. So I came back home, got out my gel medium, and applied it to the tree with a craft stick, trying to texture it like bark. After it was dry, I rubbed some gray paint on it with my finger, and then I was happy with it! I stitched it onto the the background with a simple straight stitch, applique-style.

The nest is made up of all the stray threads from the project and a few other fibers thrown in. It is held together with a light application of gel medium, and hand stitched onto the project.

I drew the phoenix onto light fabric, backed it with a couple layers of tear away stabilizer, and thread painted it with cream thread for the body and black and gray variegated thread for the wings and head feathers. I really like thread painting and I was satisfied with how the baby phoenix turned out.


We were allowed to use up to 15% of an accent colour, and of course, my phoenix needed some fire!
I considered paint, then thought some kind of fiber would be better. I pulled apart some silk, I tried Angelina- but none of what I had was the right colour. I ended up unraveling a bunch of orange thread around my hand, then cutting it at the top and bottom- it naturally curled and sat like flames! I lightly attached it to some Wonder Under.

Once I had the "fire" where I wanted it, I applied heat to set the Wonder Under, then hand-stitched the phoenix into the nest. 

My last challenge was balancing the piece. I knew, not only from the section in Heather's book, but by looking, that I needed something in the upper right hand corner. I played around with a variety of things, including a metal medallion with inspiring words printed on it, an organza flower (with and without beads), and nothing seemed to click.

I finally decided to use letter beads to spell out words that go with the piece and that's what I went with.
The words are, from top to bottom: joy, courage, patience, comfort, love. I love to use words somehow in my work, and I often "write" with my machine in some way. Heather quilts her name right on her work, and I would love to do that, but I need a little more practice first.

I finished the edges with a technique I learned recently in another of Heather's classes, Edges & Finishes, and I think it suits the piece really well. I attached a label to the back, stating the name, class, and all other pertinent information. My first quilt teacher, Nellie Holmes, told us that attaching a label is SO important, maybe not for now, but for later, when our descendants are trying to figure out what the heck all this stuff is!

The critique I received in class was positive and Heather's main suggestion for improvement was to bring the words a little closer to the bird to show some connectivity. I can see exactly what she means and will definitely do that.

Without any intention on my part, this piece really accompanies a piece that I made a couple of years ago. When I started THAT project, I intended for it to be a triptych, and I had a very specific idea for all three pieces in mind. I only ever finished the first one, and it is still up on my design wall. When I hung this project beside it, all of a sudden it made sense to me! Isn't it funny how things work out sometimes?
I have just a vague idea of what to do for the third one, but I definitely intend to make it during this class at some point. When I have all three done, I will show you the set.

One thing that has really changed for me because of this class is how much I am getting done in my studio. I am not only producing for this class, but have found time to work on and finish other things too! I am more inspired and having so much more fun when I create.