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Showing posts with label sunflowers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sunflowers. Show all posts

Monday, February 8, 2016

Pillow talk

I have finally finished a project that wraps up my recent Craftsy Class--Quick Strip Paper Piecing. I've really enjoyed this class, taught by Peggy Martin. This project is a pillow using Martin's New York Beauty Block. 
  
 
This is the completed pillow, both from the front and the back. It is pretty heavily quilted, and I enjoyed every minute of it.


 











Story behind the project


I really wanted to make a pillow. I had an old pillow--a very old pillow in fact--that I wanted to transform from a hugging pillow to a decorative pillow. For years, I have had this really comfy feather pillow. I've washed it, vacuumed it, hugged it, and more often than not, thrown it around in my sleep,...The poor thing was once a king-sized pillow, but due to its age, and feather loss, it was reduced to half its size.

One day when I was making the bed, I decided to fold the pillow case in half around my favorite pillow. What used to require a large king-sized pillow case was now reduced to half of a standard one. And they say people shrink when they get older!

That got me thinking. As much as I loved hugging this pillow, it was time to re-purpose it into something pretty. When I saw Peggy Martin's New York Beauty pattern, I knew this was my answer. The bedroom is decorated with sunflowers. I just love the yellow and orange tones of these smiley-faced flowers. I also love the sun shapes, such as those seen on CBS Sunday morning. I'm so drawn by those pleasant shapes that make up the beautiful star that shines on us and sustains us each and every day.

It took a little while because I don't have the time to quilt as much as I'd like these days, but I finally finished my pillow. I can't imagine making a whole quilt in this pattern, because I just don't have the time. But I know that if I did, it would be a real spectacle. I love the pattern. I love Martin's technique. And I love my new pillow.

Here's what it looks like on the bed surrounded by all the other flowery projects I've loved doing over the years. It matches my big sunflower, a painting I did in a class several years ago which remains one of my favorites. Now, if only I could get my act together and paint these walls yellow. I've been wanting to do this for years and just not yet gotten around to it. One of these days,...

Sunday, June 22, 2014

More than meets the quilter's eye

sunflower quilt
While this may look like a sunflower quilt wall hanging, to me, it is so much more.

My thanks to Jenny Doan of the Missouri Star Quilt Co. for the pattern that is "so me," as observed by my good friend Nancy. I am all about yellow, and happen to love sunflowers. This pattern brought me back to my childlike sketches of flowers. And, like Jenny Doan has admitted, I too love Dresdens. In fact I have a purple Dresden Plate quilt in the making. (Hmm, need to get back to that.)

Not only is this the first time I have ever free-motion quilted a piece larger than a 12-inch block, but this quilt taught me more than I ever imagined. I consider it totally instructional. I can almost imagine free-motion quilting an entire quilt, though I recognize that is some distance into my future. The bottom line is that learning is doing and practice is invaluable.

The best thing about this little piece, which measures about 22" x 35" is that I was able to stipple over the entire background surface of a quilt for the first time. I've never done that before. I love stippling and found it to be comfortable and relaxing. I completely love the texture after washing the quilt. I think it is beautiful. 

I've previously mentioned that my quilting story began fifteen years ago. I was hooked on quilting when I first saw a stippled quilt. It was a small wall hanging, not unlike this one. I was completely dumbfounded about how much I loved the texture created by stippling. To me, a quilt isn't done until it is washed. Doing so creates absolute magic where the entire background puffs up in just the right places. 
McTavishing 
I tried my hand at McTavishing, the technique pioneered by award-winning quilter Karen McTavish, and now used by quilters the world over. I've never done it before either. I admit I need practice, but I will definitely be doing this again. I like how it looks. I like doing it. 

My weak areas continue to be stitching in the ditch, (SITD). More practice is needed because I'm just not good at that. I also need work on travel stitching. I suspect that I get so comfortable that I get careless. Need practice.

I'm thrilled with my new sewing machine, which I've discussed previously. I was careful to change my needle when I changed my bobbin. I believe that was twice during this project.
picket fence

I loved quilting the pickets in the fence, because I decided to try to make them look like wood, including a tiny knot hole here and there. I was comfortable enough to simply play with that whimsical touch. 

The other part shown in this picture, is the binding that I am totally unhappy with. I will be taking it out. I never sewed a binding on a quilt before and will likely never do it again. I was tired though, after working on this for the entire day. That is a poor excuse. I will rip out both the top seam and the one that affixed  the binding to the back of the quilt. I will sew it to the front and hand stitch it to the back, as I usually do. I need the practice hand-stitching anyway. 

The border--arg! That was a real bone of contention with me. I prefer not to mark quilting patterns if I can help it. I now realize the value of marking in borders and sashing. I initially had, as the pattern depicted, a 2.5" border made from varied brown 5" strips. It really looked nice initially. Then I attempted to quilt them in a braid-like pattern free hand. Not good! So, before squaring and binding, I shortened the length and width of this piece by about 2.5" all around because I simply cut off what turned into an ugly border. I will not do that again! From now on, I will mark the pattern. Borders are so prominent and when the quilting is ugly, well,...it just won't happen again.

The three flowers, all different, all fun to quilt. I already know I'm not good at making spirals, so I actually marked this one in the first center. I also marked the grid lines in the second circle, just to keep it uniform. Those are the only marked parts on the whole piece. The third center uses pebbling, one of my favorite overall textures.

The bad news is that I got pretty good at "unquilting," or ripping out seams. I always tend to make stupid mistakes. Taking out free-motion quilting stitches is far less enjoyable than putting them in. For the most part, the stitches are small and difficult to take out. It is very time-consuming, which is why I spent two entire days at this. 

I have one more tip. When unquilting, or ripping out a seam, I hold tiny threads with a pair of tweezers. That is so much easier on the fingers. Instead of a seam ripper, I like to use an old sewing machine needle. It is sharper generally, so it gets into tighter places. Because free motion stitches are much smaller than regular stitches, a tiny needle seems easier to maneuver than a standard seam ripper.

I have no idea what my next project will be, but I can't wait to begin.