Black and white

Flipping back and forth between projects…

Last week’s Wacky Quilters worked with black and white fabrics on a colored background. I really thought I would like this graphic background.

KEQ BW May 1

Wrong! Hated it! And I am sooooo lucky. When I fused my pieces to that background, I must have known that I would want to change things, ’cause I only lightly fuse-tacked the pieces. There was only one piece that did not want to release and that actually came off the fusible all right. This also allowed me to rearrange one more time, though I tried very hard to keep the original composition in play.

I liked the idea of green, so I found a piece of my hand dyed fabric that fit the bill and used it.


It’s strange how pieces sometimes go together so quickly and we struggle at other times. As soon as I started placing these pieces on this background, I knew exactly what I wanted to do, including the quilting!

All that remains for me to do on this piece is finish the edge.


We decided on a common size for our projects, so this will be squared up to 16 x 20. I’m going to use my favorite edge finish–cording, but no unusual shaping. Just plain and square.

KEQ BW May 4


KEQ BW May 5

The only things left are label and sleeve and I may get that done later tonight. I love fun and done!

Right now there are chores to be done that just can’t be put off any longer—even though I always try to put sewing first!



Over the last several days I’ve had lots of time to sew—hooray!!!! I’ve made a lot of progress on my City of Red/Gold, but there’s still a long way to go. Here are a few snaps of what I’ve been doing.

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Haven’t decided on what to do with the painted parts, so I’m only stitching on the solid colors so far.

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Simple stitches, but lots of ’em!

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And…there will be beads!

Wacky Quilters–fun!

Knot Even Quilters (aka Wacky Quilters) met this week and had fun with an old favorite exercise.  We started out with a nice round of show and tell. Some pieces had been in the recent Sauder Quilt Show and some were latest finishes. We really do have some talented women in this group! And, just in case you’re curious, I seldom show the people holding the quilts because we usually get caught mid-word or with our eyes closed and that is just not a good look!

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Aren’t they lovely?

Then we got to work on the day’s project.

Rules: Have a colored background square—ish fabric. Bring fused black/white fabrics, cut in geometric shapes.

What we do: Walk around the table and add pieces to everyone’s background, in whatever formation you like.

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Start to finish….

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It takes us about half an hour for everyone to make it around the table and add enough pieces to the backgrounds. Then we take a break and edit/rearrange/re-work pieces on our own fabric. After that, we may or may not go for another round of  “piecing.”

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This time we stopped at the editing phase. And that’s how we make interesting fabric! And what do you do with it, you ask?

This time we decided to go for a cohesive finished look, possibly for display in an upcoming quilt show. We’re going to use them to make a piece that’s 16 x 20, traditional style of front, batting, backing. Now, we don’t make or follow strict rules, so any type of batting/backing/edge finish is acceptable. Size is the important factor and no mounting on a canvas. Can’t wait to see what we end up with!

Hand stitching = slow progress

When a project reaches the hand stitching stage, it absolutely slows down. I’ve spent many years working only with machine stitching and quilting and I love it. However, I’ve gone back to my first love of hand sewing with many of my current projects…and I love it! A real love fest here with every kind of stitching!

However, getting things fused down and ready to sew on my city project made it decision time again. Hand or machine? Little of both?

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I put a line of machine stitches along the edges my buildings. I’m not so sure that machine work is the way to go on this one. Naturally, one line of thread isn’t going to tell the story, but it seems too wimpy.

Since I’ve fallen in love with embroidery again, naturally I moved on to trying that out.

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I’m never too impressed when I first start out. It just doesn’t seem like much. But I’ve learned to keep adding more. To tell the whole story, lots of stitches are necessary.

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One row doesn’t do it, with either machine or hand!

Keep stitching, Kathy!!!

Linking up to Off the Wall Friday.

Loose ends

Have you ever been between projects, looking for just a little playtime sewing? Or in the middle of a big project, needing a little something for a break? I’ve often been in that position and I seem to do something similar every time.

I’ll look around the studio and something will catch my eye. Sometimes it’s a hunk of fabric on the shelf, sometimes a scrap floating towards the scrap basket, sometimes an embellishment that needs a foundation…it’s a spark that starts a little flame of creativity.

In between project

I found a bunch of scraps that look wonderful together. They are all ironed and ready to be sewn together. Will I actually DO it, or is the gathering and pressing and thinking about sewing enough of a distraction? Enough of a break from the big project?

I’m not sure, but I do have more than one little pile of gathered materials that have never been sewn…

Progress and lessons learned

Having uninterrupted time in the studio really is a blessing. So much progress gets made, even with all my indecisive dithering, that I can almost say this top is ready for some stitching!

This piece was always going to be fused, not pieced, so I put fusible on the back of all the fabrics I had selected, except for the sky/land piece.

City Red:Gold 1

Since I’m not great at drawing, I knew I couldn’t just draw my city silhouettes directly on the fabric and cut. I decided to draw them on strips of freezer paper, which I could then iron on to the fabric and cut. Worked like a charm.

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I could have used a ruler to draw the lines, but I didn’t want precision. I wanted an organic look, so rough drawing and rounded corners when cutting.

First lesson learned, and it’s one of those duh! moments–when you cut that skyline from your fabric, you can flip the other half of the strip and use it, too! Really…duh!

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So, no worries about making a mistake–it’s a twofer. Goody…I can make a second one.

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Second lesson learned: you don’t have to follow the lines too closely when you’re cutting. It really doesn’t matter!

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Third lesson learned: you don’t have to draw a separate strip for every single fabric. As soon as you cut one of the strips, you have two silhouettes available for another strip. And you can even slice them up and rearrange for a different skyline. I did find, though, that if I used the freezer paper twice, it didn’t want to stick well enough to cut out a third strip…which was fine for this one. I had more strips drawn than I needed and was only trying to see how many times I could use each one.

And here’s the lesson I wish I had learned on the very first cut: don’t worry about “wasting” fabric by cutting narrow strips. Put the cutting line in the center of a wider strip. Then you have your two silhouettes and you have enough fabric to vary and increase or decrease the spacing between skylines. This is the piece almost ready for the stitching.

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And these are the strips for the ‘other’ piece–much narrower. If I make this piece as it stands, it will be quite a bit smaller than the one above…My guess right now is that I’ll end up doing something a bit different with this one.

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I have a new set of construction questions and decisions coming up now. Fuse to a foundation fabric? It’s got one layer of fabric and a layer of fusible on every strip and some of the strips overlap so there could be multiple layers of fabric. Then there’s batting and backing. Too many layers? Machine stitching or hand stitching, or a combination of both? Border/no border? Binding, facing, envelope turn, alternate edge finish?

As I’ve said before, I post things in real time, as I do them. I don’t create a completed project and then dole out blog posts a few at a time. So….when I have time to work on this again, I’ll get you all up to date on those decisions! I’m hoping that I get lots of time in the studio over the next few days. I’m having fun working on this one and want to keep at it until it’s done!

City of…what?

I’ve had this project in my head for literally years. I painted it a long time ago and want to make it in cloth. In my experiments with dye, paint and stencils, I created cloth that I think will work. Today I started to get real about it.

Inspiration painting:

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I started throwing stuff up on the design wall, which is my usual first step in designing a project. It wasn’t long before I had fabric spread out all over the place.

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More on the table

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Decided on the following combinations of fabrics to use for my city silhouette lines.

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It took a while and I almost gave up when looking for a fabric for the sky and the ground. I’m not positive that I have what I need, but I’m close. This piece of fabric dyed up beautifully, but I only need a tiny bit for a sky!

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You know, the more you search, the more you are reminded of all the gorgeous fabric you have. I was momentarily distracted and almost switched to a different project idea when I came across this group.

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But I held firm and I think I have a layout plan.

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The way I’m planning on using these fabrics, I actually have enough to make two very similar pieces or make this one twice as wide. I think I will be happier sticking with my original rectangular format inspiration. Making two at once will take away some of the fear of ruining one-of-kind-materials. I have that fear all the time and sometimes it paralyzes me and prevents me from moving forward with a design. That’s a bigger block for me than any other and I always feel better when I brace up and make the first cut!

My thoughts are turning now toward the actual construction methods I will be using. I think fusibles but I don’t like to draw everything in reverse and hope it comes out all right when it’s cut and flipped over.

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Maybe my drawing will be on freezer paper. It has worked for me before. I think it will work for me again this time!

My brain has had a workout planning fabrics. I think it needs a rest before it’s time to draw and cut and fuse. (See how I’m putting off cutting into that fabric?) I’m going to let things roll around inside my thinking space for a night and I’ll get back to it tomorrow. There are things that might change, but I think the contextual design work on this project is done.

And somehow I’m obsessing over the name of the piece! I believe I want to name it City of Red Gold, or City of something, but probably in Spanish or French. I’ll have to see how it sounds in other languages, but I want to be able to say it correctly, too. We’ll see how that all works out!