Friday, October 30, 2009

Princess from Legend of Zelda in the House

Halloween was never my favorite holiday.  I'm not a night person to begin with and I grew up in the country where it wasn't easy to trick or treat.  That said, it has to be one of my daughter's favorite holidays.  Like - what other holiday do you get to dress up like a princess and get free candy?!  (I'm paraphrasing her words of course!)  Tessa typically starts thinking about Halloween in August.  I try to put her off - but she keeps bringing it up every few days until its finally here.

Well - its finally here.  This year she decided to go as the Princess from the Legend of Zelda game.  Of course, its the kind of costume that you just can't shell out $50 and buy - so the whole family pitched in and made it.  It took up all my creative time this week.  With a little research we found out exactly what Zelda looks like.  I recycled two shirts from Salvation Army  - added trim and  - presto - you have a tunic and a top of a dress.  I found a blog on line that showed me how to make a skirt in 5 minutes.  30 minutes later - it was done!  Who knew that my sewing machine did clothes too?!?!  Wow!  My husband, Paul, helped out by following directions on another blog.  He took time this week to make all of Zelda's "armor".  It came out very real looking considering it was made out of craft foam.  I finished off the look by doing her decorative pendant in the front.  I used only fusing and did no sewing on it - finishing it off with decorative gems.

Now, both Tessa and I concede that this is not exactly Zelda - just my creative vision of Zelda.  The hot pink parts are purely Tessa - since in her words again - you can never wear enough pink.  All in all - it came out to be a very warrior tough looking princess worthy of any Trick or Treat Raid!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Animal Quilt Challenge Completed - Psalm 124: 6,7

Oh Blessed be God, We've flown free of their fangs, free of their traps, free as a bird. 
Their grip is broken.  We're free as a bird in flight.

I'm so please to finish this Fast Friday Fabric Challenge.  The challenge was to make some kind of animal - including human and to use some kind of dimensional technique such as stuffed applique, cut away  etc.  When I read the challenge early Friday morning, I groaned out loud.  I mean, like, I've never done an animal quilt (if you don't count baby quilts) in all my life.  So I had no idea where to start.  All day, while I was at school, my mind was thinking on the subject matter.  Finally, in the end, I thought  I would just settle on a body part of a person.  I've always wanted to explore that subject.

Then I started looking at all my inspiration books and caught a picture of an art deco bird.    That was it!  I started sketching - putting in lines and taking out lines.  I really love art deco and this love bird had really caught my attention.  That said, my finish design was really complicated and the final quilt would be a major project.  Since the idea of the challenge is to complete the project in a week, that would not  do.  So I pared down the sketch and made it a study of a future project.  This literally is only half the design.

I decided to try to challenge myself to work with only commercial cottons.  I liked the shape of my last challenge decided to use that.  It fit the bird theme and I liked the irregular shapes.  To give the piece dimension, I quilted the base, then added the bird on top - making the bird's body puffy without being stuffed. His wings were double fused to a base fabric and cut out  - only be anchored to the piece by the tips.  They are quite stiff and you can bend them in any direction you want.

I'm happy with the piece and I'll be sure to put this kind of thing on my list of things to do.  It is 22" by 8" and took about  10 hours to complete (including the original design work).

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Quick Present

Well for the first time in my life, I forgot about my mother's birthday until a few days before.  Usually, I start thinking of what she might want a month before, but this fall has really gone fast.  Plus she's been busy with a down sizing move into a new log cabin they had built.  Its all very exciting but seems to have over shadowed everything else.  Still I did manage to call and I promised I would make it up to her in November.

That said - I wanted to make a little something to say I was thinking about her.  Of course, this whole month has been about getting rid of things for my mom - so what could I possibly make?  I decided that she's still reading and every reader needs a book marker.  I've seen the nice ones on etsy  - so I decided to make one myself.

I chose this design because it reminded me of the great acreage my parents chose for the cabin - its on the banks of a creek on the edge of the Adirondacks.  The marker is just rough edge applique with a lot of thread work in it.  It has a cotton batt and I used free motion quilting for the thread work. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Everyday Arches - One Down - Five to Go

Happily I'm finally done with the first in my arches series that I started in a class by Elizabeth Barton at Quilting by the Lake. I would like to sit and rest on my laurels but  - sighhhhhhh - that is not to be.  We all promised to make at least 6 of them in the series.  Luckily we took the time to make at least 5 or 6 good drawings, so at least I have a start on the next one.

This one though is 24" by 24" and is made from commercial and hand dyed cotton.  I used a collage method of appliqueing it to a pellon base and then put some thread work in.  I machine quilted it mostly using just my regular foot with feed dogs up.  I didn't add as much stitch work into it as a lot of pieces have been lately only because I thought the strong features of the design could hold its own.  There is no fusible in it.

When we decided on a theme - Elizabeth had us write a paragraph on it.  She said that our designs should match our paragraphs - which made sense.  As I went through the design process, I noticed that every time I had trouble with it  - it was because my design decisions didn't match my paragraph.  Very cool!

So here it is. . . .

Arches are everywhere.  Their symmetric curves are found in the most unexpected places.  Of course, they're in our local gothic churches, but also on a sewer grate and a milk crate sculpture.  Architecture can be so straight.  I want to explore how the arches' curve looks against it.  There are so many interesting parts  in arch design.  I want to use strong contrast in values and unexpected color palettes to celebrate these amazing everyday arches.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Value of Pinwheels

So over the last month, I've been working diligently on the pinwheels quilt. I take it everywhere I go.  First it was the whole job of basting up the blades.  Then I separated them into  color and values to piece into the wheels themselves.  Little by little it seems that I've been making progress.  

As the pinwheels are done another  couple problems pops up.  How many do I really need??  How am I going to lay them out????  Since this quilt really isn't from a pattern (although I've been influenced from the traditional pinwheel quilts I've seen) I guess I am Queen of My Universe and I can decide how I want.  Its good to be Queen.  (grin)

Now how does one - even a queen - decide on  a layout.  For me, since I'm one of those, as Cynthia Corbin told me,  "Paper Quilters",  I like to draw it out.  Yes I took my pencil set and some scrap graph paper (don't all quilters have scrap graph paper?!?!) and I sat one evening to make value sketches.  Over the last year, Elizabeth Barton's great blog has totally convinced me of the "value" of this step (okay  I'm a better quilter than a pun maker!) So now I routinely make them no matter if its a traditional or an art quilt.

Anyways, I came up with 4 sketches and I was anxious to test at least one of  them out.  I took all the pinwheels I've made so far, the sketch I wanted to test first and a bunch of pins.  It took me an hour but I got them up somewhat in the value they need to be in.  Looking at the layout, pointed out two things to me - 1 - I'm only half way done with this quilt - sighhhhhhhhhhh and 2 - if I use this layout (and that's if ) I would want the scoop of the light colors to go way further into the quilt.  Here they look like an after thought.  

So its back to the pinwheels for me - I still have to stitch up the last of the blades and then the process starts all over.  Since the laid out wheels only measured 45" by 60" , I still have a long ways to go for a full size quilt.  My gosh - do you know how many trapezoids that is?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Blog Quilt Show Entry - Genesis 1: 3,4

 Genesis 1:3,4
 And God said, " Let there be light", and there was light.  God saw that the light was good and  
He separated the light from the darkness.
54" by 54"
Machine pieced/Hand quilted
Commercial and hand dyed cotton

Once again, another great idea from a blogger - hosting a blog quilt show.  Clever huh?!  I thought I would the use the opportunity to post one of the quilts I made a few years ago, Genesis 1:3,4.  It is the last patterned quilt I had made, coming from  McCall's magazine.  I really haven't done any patterned work for years and years, but I saw this and thought - Gee if the colors were placed better this quilt could really pop.  Plus I loved the size.   It was a great exercise in value and it was really nice to leave all the design decisions up to someone else. It has a ton of hand quilting in it  - all done in - Gasp! - rayon thread.  I had no problem hand quilting with the rayon and it really gave it a nice shine.  Since it was meant for a wall, I wasn't worried about strength and wear.

You can get the links of the other entries or enter the show yourself by clicking here - Blog Quilt Festival.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Space Challenge Finished!

Well my first challenge for the Fast Friday Fabric group is finally finished! (Say that fast three time!)  I can't say that I'm completely happy with it, but there are some elements I really like.  I did end up using my daughter's complex cloth made from tempura paint and sea salt.  It worked up lovely - has a great textured and the color really set nicely with the iron.  I just won't throw it in the wash any time soon (grin). 

         The piece is only 18" by 8". I used a commercial print from Paula Nadlestern's designs for the little star bursts.  I embellished this with Glitter, holographic thread from Superior threads.  The shine you get out of this thread is crazy so I don't use it often.  It did move through my machine well though.  The last embellishment was fusible little gems that I bought at Walmart.  They went on well but getting them all ironed into place was a exercise in patience. 
         I finished the edges just using a free motion stitch all along the very edge.  I never did that before and I thought I would like to try it out.  The bit of green color and texture around the edge seems to be working.
I was happy with the use of color and texture in the piece.  I was not happy with the free motion quilting that I used.  I used a sulky metallic thread and it just doesn't come out evenly with my machine.  I've tried all sorts of tensions, needles etc and its never worked well.  I should have just used a nice shiny rayon and it would have been fine. Still it was nice to try the iron on gems and see how cool tempura paint works on fabric.