One down, one to go

Hooray! I finished the big orange leaves. Wish I had a better name for it, but that will come eventually.

I’m so happy to be finally using up those big oval pieces. Now it’s on to the finish of the big blue ones!

I started the quilting on the orange top and bottom parts. Sometimes simple lines are the best, especially when the spaces are meant to recede and support, not stand out.

I’m taking a thinking break over the rest of the piece. Three choices running through my head right now.

Subtle blue

Not so subtle white

And really bold white

I also thought about turquoise, orange, black, about each tree being different and metallic, of course. In fact, I started with a blue metallic but it turned out to not work well. I may try it again before I finally decide. Really need some time to think.

I’ve been looking over some of my older photos for various reasons and found one that I had totally forgotten I had even made.

Wet cyanotype and I really love it. I shall have to get more of the fabric or the chemicals and try it again.

Another project I thought of is one for which I could not find a picture, so I had to take one. It happens to be one of my never-to-be-sold pieces because I love it so much! It’s only 12 x 12 but was a total joy from start to finish.

House by the River

Detail

An early beading project that cemented my love of beading.

So….a day or so being the teacher for my grandson so his mom can actually do her work from home and then I’ll be back to my projects. Probably this schedule for the rest of the ‘school year’. Perhaps a bit of garden clean up for a smidge of outdoor activity if it doesn’t rain too much! Spring time…loving it!

Spring or sew?

When the weather starts to warm up and it’s sunny, it’s really hard to stay indoors and sew. So I don’t! I make sure to get out for a walk every day, even in social distancing times. Today was a nice, long one and spending time raking and starting a new rock garden are just a bonus. Fall is best but spring runs a real close second.

But I’m on a roll with my projects and getting happy with my results. I pulled out the embroidery that made me unhappy on the big orange leaves and went back to the machine. Couching yarns and cording are exactly what was needed. The leaves were big and bold and the supporting threads needed to be also.

I started with a beautiful thick-and-thin yarn and made a “stem” to support the leaves and then outlined them with a nice rusty orange color yarn.

And, yes, I absolutely could have couched both of these down by hand but I want to live long enough to see a finish here! Inside the orange, I quilted little leaf shapes with a copper metallic thread. Can’t see that sparkle in this picture, but it’s one of those details that you notice when you get up close. And the advantage of using a print for the backing, of course, is that you really never notice if your lines are wonky or there’s a skipped stitch from that pesky metallic!

All of the rest of the quilting is a nice blue, except for one line of turquoise metallic. I wasn’t sure it it added anything but I’m tired of picking out my poor decisions, so I left it in!

Here’s my favorite trick of the day. When it’s time to square up a piece, I take advantage of my wonderful work table. I lay the piece on the corner of the table, placing it where I need to trim. I fold it down and run a piece of tailor’s chalk along that table edge and get a perfect squared up corner.

I turn it and measure or use a t-square to place the other side, repeat and have a great square edge.

All that’s left is to finish up the edge now and it’s gonna be another one of my favorite finishes. I’ll couch on a round of that orange yarn and it will be done! And I should have time tomorrow to do that AND get the blue trees started. Maybe blue metallic…

 

Blue and orange

I’ve been alternating work with the big orange petals and the big blue petals. And alternating with my decisions on the orange petal one!

Started to go with the hand stitching decision and now I’m not sure that’s what I want to do!

I am totally fine with the big, thick orange stitches. Perfect. Then I started sewing on the black and white, and tried out several stitches.

I

Haven’t found the correct one yet. So now I’m re-thinking and may go back to a machine finish idea. Nah…that’s probably pretty certain!

At least the blue leaves were always planned to go with machine finishing. And I turned them from leaves to stylized trees. I’m just beginning the stitchwork with navy blue cording for trunks and a couple of branches on each tree.

I felt like I was taking chances by doing this without stabilizer or batting but I didn’t want the zigzag of the cording to show on the backing this time. I got lucky and it worked fine.

I’m ready to get it layered up and quilted now. Perhaps I’ll find a spot for a little bit of shiny thread!!

And having that small piece of that center fabric made me use my improv skills a bit more! I’m happy with this one so far!

Busy fabric pulling

My first task for the day was to select a quilt top to be prepped for finishing. I took the easy way out. I only had one quilt that already had a back ready, so that’s the one I picked.

This was a mystery quilt that I made at a retreat quite a while ago. I did not like my fabric choices by the time I got to the third clue, but I had to go with what I had at the retreat. It’s small, so should be quickly finished, and will be finding a new home as soon as it’s done!

Not sure what color thread I want to use for the quilting. Pretty sure it will have a lot of straight lines, though!

My second task was to start a new art quilt and I planned on using my other set of big leaves.

I like the way they looked on the white canvas so that’s where I went with my fabric pulling. White/light/low volume, and it was okay.

Wasn’t quite satisfied so I tried the other end of the spectrum with blacks.

I was unexpectedly happier with these than with the lights. I was ready to go with one of these and took one last look at the fabric shelves. Of course something else caught my eye and I thought I’d try it just for laughs!

And then more orange…

Okay–I really, really love orange and I don’t think I can go back to the black or the white!

The choices are getting real now. I’m so enamored of this orange print that I may try to use it…even though I could certainly use a bigger piece of it.

Naturally, it’s at least 10 years old, so that won’t happen!

And I could not believe what I found as I was pulling fabrics. MORE stamped maple leaves!!

I’m not sure if I want to make more of what I did with the other ones,

but there are certainly enough of them now that I could make a huge piece! More on the back burner…another UFO…not a big deal, but it means re-thinking another one that I thought was all figured out!

Anybody got any of this fabric????????????????

 

Screech of squealing tires….

Can you hear the squeal of those tires on the pavement from the abrupt change of direction? Another lesson here on “What Not To Do” or “How I Extended the Timeline of My Project”….

I had my project totally set and ready to go. Layered with the batting and basted in place. Selected a nice, heavy thread to start my embroidery and took my first few stitches…

See the little white ‘stitches’? Those are NOT stitches!!! That is the batting being pulled through with that thick thread that I want to use. Bearding like I have never had before–but I’ve never used this particular weight and type of thread before, and of course it’s the only one I want to use. Screeeeeeeeech!

Took out all my basting and removed the batting. Meaning? Simply that my embroidery is now going to be done almost all by hand, and not quilted as I go. It means that I will need to be aware of leaving areas for quilting so that I can add it later, either by hand or machine. IF I don’t change my normal presentation with batting and quilting for texture and softness. That’s a possibility now, too.

I also have the leaves machine stitched to the plaid background and they were not all nice and even…which I thought would not be noticed by the time the piece was done.

Well, I’m really noticing it now and I’m not happy about it. Which means that after I have my first embroidery done, that machine stitching will have to be ripped out.

And it looks so much better without that harsh line. That’s really what made me change to a simple running stitch to start, instead of a stitch on top of that machine made line to hide it.

Now a project that could have been done in about 2 weeks will most likely extend well into the summer. I can’t sit for hours on end hand stitching, so working time will be in short bursts. I’m almost positive that I will be happier with the results and that I will love the time I spend on it. It also means that I’m not going to be posting about this until it’s close to done.

Hmmm–do I want to start right in on the blue leaves that I set aside? Or get another quilt ready for quilting? I did say that one of my goals this year is to always have a quilt ready to go, so I should probably get that done first. Looks like I have my ‘work’ list all set for the next few days! It’s always fun to go through the quilt tops to select the next one for quilting, too.

Could be a few days before the next post…I have a LOT of tops to go through!

 

Romping in the leaves

Not the leaves in the yard, this time, though I do love to do that. My subconscious did it’s job when I gave it a little processing time and I came to the studio ready to make decisions!

Decision 1 is that there will definitely be NO mash-up of blue and orange leaves (or should I be calling them petals?). Do I love them enough to make two similar pieces? I think so. And the blue plaid and orange leaves are first.

But before I put the silk plaids and blue leaves away, I wanted to take another look and try to sneak in a decision on that one, too.

I’m not totally eliminating either of these plaids, but I’m not in love with them. Just because, I grabbed a pure white canvas and put the leaves on it. Hmmm…

Not eliminating this idea either! But back to the orange.

Before I even decided on any layout options, I wanted to give the background a little texture. I did not want to have to worry about totally straight lines in that plaid and going nuts if things don’t line up.

A few lines of double needle stitches gave it some texture, but I’m not sure it took care of the straight lines. I may not be able to get as wonky with it as I would like.

Now to the layout. It was always going to be long and tall. But organization–random, more straight and traditional looking or kinda random with some overlapping?

This is where my friends on IG and FB helped me clarify my thinking and I chose that third option, kinda random with a bit of overlapping.

I have this version all basted and ready for it’s next steps.

It’s time to step back again and let the subconscious sort through the options…how much machine work, all hand work, lots of embroidery or beads…?  My subconscious is sure getting a workout this week!

Too, too much!

I have said it before but too many choices make things so much harder. I have such an over-abundance of materials that I can say “What if…” just about 100 times too many! I was pretty sure that I wanted to use the black and white with bright leftovers that I had. I figured I would either put them on individual squares and embellish them or try to put them on a background all together. Here’s what happened when I started to pull fabrics.

Individual blocks on these light backgrounds (because they were already cut into squares) did absolutely nothing for me. And I tried one more light background, a vanilla grunge.

Even less than blah.

Could I possibly use the leftovers of that orange line of fabric?

Absolutely no way!

I knew that I did not want plain, flat black so I tried some prints and colors. Soooo many more than I have pictures of here!

Again…not! So I went to what I wanted to try in the beginning–but I had felt the obligation to try out some cottons first. Open up those silk plaids!

Easily eliminated all the ones that were mostly red. The ones with blue, pink and purple-ish were kept for further consideration.

I liked this one a lot with the orange petals. And this one with the blue petals.

Laid them out next to each other for a possible combined piece, but that’s probably too busy-busy.

Still haven’t eliminated all the plaids–

and it could simply mean that I need to make two similar pieces.

As I looked over my stash of fabrics, and had so many possibilities running through my head, I felt overwhelmed by the potential. I totally could not process any more and need a break. Time for my brain to slow down that spin and make some choices subconsciously. When I go back to it, things should be much clearer. Aaaand, I posted on IG and FB and got some feedback help from my friends. Things should be much clearer tomorrow!