Sunday, March 25, 2018

Someone Else's Design

Last year, I decided to try a different (for me) method of landscape quilting, and pulled my copy of art quilter Cathy Geier's Lovely Landscape Quilts off the shelf and started cutting and auditioning fabric strips. (Click on photos to enlarge.) This would be my first (and so far, only) time making a landscape quilt based on someone else's design.

The project came to a sudden halt when my machine went in the shop for four months, followed by the holidays, followed by a two-week bout with the flu for both me and VVHH, followed by his knee replacement and recovery. We're not quite back to our normal schedule, but there has finally been a little time in the studio to pick up where I left off (after a delayed finish for my Wyoming landscape quilt--see last post). 

Using one of the beautiful background designs in Cathy's book, I first sewed sky and mountain strips to a piece of fusible interfacing and a piece of tear-away stabilizer. The same was done for the water and foreground.
Lots of thread colors were needed
to blend in with the strips.

Since I chose to use raw-edge strips (no seams), each edge was zigzag-stitched. This proved to be tedious but necessary, as even after that, several pesky ravelings eventually popped up and had to be clipped. I still prefer that to seaming the strips.

The two halves of the quilt top were then joined by satin-stitching the water line. Then the sailboat applique was cut and pieced using Cathy's full-size pattern, which is included in the book along with some other applique patterns.

The sail edges were meant to be turned under, but again I chose raw-edge applique instead---forgetting my sails would consequently be a little too long for the mast. I compensated by zigzagging an extension of the mast top in white thread (not shown in the photo), which worked pretty well.
    Then it was time to tear off the stabilizer on the back. The quilted texture wouldn't have been nearly as obvious with that much stiffness left in the sandwich.

Deciding to spare my neck and shoulders as much strain as possible, I chose some decorative machine stitches for the quilting, so that the dual feed foot could do the work of moving the quilt. Only a bit of free motion stitching was done, some of it while using quilting rulers, where painters tape marked my stopping point at the arc of the sun's rays.

A sandy beach was added between the water and land, and shredded polyester batting served as foam at the water's edge, secured by white tulle and clear mono-poly thread.

A variegated boucle yarn was machine-couched
for some definition between the sand and the grasses.

The quilt needed more action, so two other sailboats and two eagles were cut and fused from fabrics in my stash. Clear mono-poly thread was used to quilt them, along with the large boat.

So here's the finished quilt...

...and a photo angle that shows the texture better.

Again, the background (except for the beach and waves) and the large boat are from Cathy Geier's Lovely Landscape Quilts. Detailed instructions and the applique pattern are in the book, and you can embellish the quilt as much as you want. All this one needs now is a label.

As mentioned before, my main sewing machine spent 4 months in the shop last year. I live in the South, yet on the first full day of spring this year, all of our kitchen appliances and one TV were fried when a tree branch bearing eight inches of heavy, unseasonable snow snapped a ground wire coming into the house---but my sewing machine survived! The surge-suppressor power strip it was plugged into did its job and died protecting the machine. Same for all the computers and other televisions in the house. Surge-suppressor power strips are well worth the investment, waaaaayy cheaper than replacing or repairing computers and appliances. Yes, we fortunately are covered by homeowner's insurance, but there's still the deductible to pay.

Have a great week, and here's wishing you true spring weather!


Saturday, January 27, 2018

Wyoming Whimsy

This week, it's a finish for the Wyoming quilt. Yay!!

I didn't realize the camera was slightly tilted--which makes the top of the quilt look a bit wider than the bottom. Be assured it's perfectly square. (I'll take a better shot of it for the Etsy shop.)

Here are a couple of zoomed-in views.

This quilt is based on a photo taken by my daughter-in-law, Shannon, at String Lake in Wyoming last year. Here's the original...

...and here's the saturated version I used for color inspiration. The colors I put in the quilt are a little over-the-top for me, almost fantasy-like; hence the quilt title, Wyoming Whimsy:

Many thanks to Shannon. I had been floundering for landscape quilt inspiration at the time, and was thrilled to get her permission to use the photo.

While pressing the binding toward the edges (before hand-sewing the back), I used these finger/thumb protectors for the first time. I've never burned my fingers doing this task, but have come pretty close a couple of times, so was glad to have found this product in Nancy's Notions catalog.

And speaking of Nancy's case anyone hasn't heard yet, we lost Nancy Zieman--master seamstress, quilter and teacher, and longtime TV host of PBS's Sewing With Nancy--to cancer on November 14, 2017.

She will be missed not only by her family and friends, but by hordes of people who never even met her--including me. You see, my introduction to landscape quilting came through Nancy's show one memorable October day in 2009. And I've relied on her garment-sewing expertise for decades. What a teacher, and what a lady. Thank you, Nancy.

Enjoy your weekend!


Friday, January 19, 2018

Getting Back on Track

It seems almost anti-climactic to say my main machine is back, following a stay in the repair shop that lasted from August 9 until almost Christmas. By that time there wasn't much opportunity to quilt, with all the holiday prep and celebration going on and the sea of wrapping paper and Christmas storage boxes covering every surface in the studio.

Then on New Year's Eve the flu came to stay for about 10 days. But this past week, work has resumed at last. Yay!!

One quilt did get made on my vintage Singer during fall season, but was waiting for a finishing touch. As soon as the big machine came back I sewed one of its decorative stitches, a tiny evergreen tree, in the middle of each block, and the quilt was ready in time for Christmas.

Then, during the week between Christmas and New Year, before the flu struck, the Wyoming landscape, previously pieced and waiting for the machine's return, was quilted. (These landscapes are too big and too stiff to quilt on a regular-size machine, so this one had sat waiting for a couple of months.)

Next time I post, this will have been bordered, steam-blocked and other words, DONE!!! My first finished landscape quilt in 5 months.

Feels so good to say that. Landscape quilting is my passion, and I haven't felt like myself for some time now, with this forced hiatus. The one saving grace--and thank goodness for it--was that my interest in knitting has revived, big-time. But it feels great to be getting my quilting bearings again. There are some other pieced projects that were also waiting for the machine, so time to get moving on those, too.

Have a great weekend!


Monday, November 20, 2017


....and waiting, still. As of today it has been 3 months and 11 days since my sewing machine went into the shop.

Long story short, I'm told that the Janome Horizon Memory Craft 8900QCP is the only one of Janome's models in which the LCD light is tied into the mother board. When one goes, so does the other. The light, which was my issue, is an inexpensive part. The mother board, however is far from inexpensive. And apparently there are enough Janome 8900 owners having this issue (found two other people with the same complaint in my Janome 8900 Yahoo group, which is fairly small) that the factory has the mother board on backorder until the end of this month.

Since projects are piling up, I decided not to add any more to the pile except this one, pieced from the October Quilty Box selection, curated by Leah Day.

Leah has been my go-to for free motion quilting tutorials for years now, and I really like the batiks that she designed for this project. Here's the tutorial for this quilt.

So the top is finished, but the quilting, which will be free motion outline quilting, is waiting for the machine. (Refer to the previous post to see why I'm rolling my eyes at the use of that phrase.)

I also made the quickie project included in the Quilty Box, the Tutu Notions Holder and Pincushion, which only required a small piece of fabric and a canning jar, lid and screw band to complete.

Haven't decided what threads, etc. to put in it yet.

What has really changed in the last two months, while waiting for the machine, is that I've become obsessed with knitting again. After sewing the buttons on a long-finished sweater for granddaughter Lucy...

...I've started a sweater for her from Alice Starmore's book, The Children's Collection, from a pattern called "Secret Garden." The book's photos of the sweater, which is made from a different color yarn than that pictured at the link, had me practically drooling. I'm knitting a size well in advance of Lucy's age so I can take my time and break away when needed, for landscape quilting...that is, if my machine ever comes back!

Have a great week and, if you're in the U.S., a happy Thanksgiving.