Birds of Paradise

Birds of Paradise

Sunday, 14 August 2011

California Dreaming

I purposely waited until after the International Quilt Festival Long Beach to post a photograph of my entry for  West Coast Wonders, called California Dreaming.  The quilt features some of my favorite techniques ---- machine quilting. machine embroidery and fabric postcards.  The photographs were taken by my husband Marvin, my sister-in-law and myself.  Marv did most of the the Photoshop work after taking two classes with Kerby Smith .  It looks deceptively simple, but there were a lot of challenges along the way, and I had to back-track a number of times. The project is also my wallhanging assessment for my City and Guilds Certification.

 The project was inspired by friends who like me to send them postcards from my travels to decorate their bulletin boards.  I started off with a cork tile, which was photographed.  The image was then sent to Spoonflower for printing.  I ordered two yards to allow extra fabric for testing, errors etc.  The postcards are really postcards.  I printed the images or postcard backs onto Electric Quilt pre-treated sheets.  I was able to get two images per sheet. The images were then fused to heavyweight Fast2Fuse.  I used the heavyweight to ensure that the cards would be flat against the background.  I fused muslin to the wrong sides as viewers should not be turning them over!  The edges were satin stitched using several different heavy-weight cotton threads including Sulky Blendables 12wt and Wonderfil Spagetti and Frutti.  Once the postcards were made, I took the ones which needed stamps cancelling to the local post office.  Gino was kind enough to frank them for me!  The background was quilted with a sun and ray pattern in 40wt thread, before I attached the postcards with monofilament thread. I had learnt from previous errors that areas need to be quilted underneath before applying large "appliqu├ęs".  As I knew that the piece would have to be shipped multiple times, if it was accepted into the exhibit,  I had to determine the placement of the postcards to allow for "folding" lines.  I used a wide binding to replicate the idea of a frame.  Once everything was stitched, Marvin  helped me to put real pushpins (thumb tacks) through each card.  We then cut off the backs to ensure that other quilts would not be harmed,  and sealed the backs with silicone to make the quilt safe for travel to multiple venues.  The quilt will be shown at the International Quilt Festival Houston, and International Quilt Festival Cincinnati.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Better late than never

I had planned on completing this jacket in time for the Houston Quilt Show in November, but ran into more challenge than I had anticipated. The jacket was made using Downie Design's Fat Quarter Jacket pattern which looked perfect for the 2 1/2" fabric rolls.

I usually create my wearable art on a "flat" background and can normally avoid having to insert darts. I saw the jacket made up in Cherrywood's sueded cotton at their booth at a quilt show and fell in love with it, thinking that it would be fast with pre-cut strips (anything to avoid lots of  cutting!) So I bought the pattern (which luckily included Cherrywood's suggestions for making it), a Cherry Roll, and yardage for the lining and binding to make the jacket. I went to Downie's booth to try on her finished samples and determined what size I needed.

Once I opened the pattern, I realised that it had princess seams.......... but thought that that would be fine. I made a muslin, and in accordance with Cherrywood's suggestion did not stiffen it with fusible interfacing. The muslin fit, so I proceeded to work on the jacket.  Instead of using uneven size strips which the pattern called for I used even strips, pinned and straight stitched them in place as instructed, leaving the area where the yoke and body intersect to be covered at the end I then free motion zigzagging over the joins using 40wt variegated cotton thread.  I started with the sleeves which were flat. They went fine.  I then made the back, which was slight shaped and that worked. I then started one of the front sides, and found it quite difficult to lay straight-cut strips over the curves created by the princess seams in the bust area.  I soldiered on, free motion quilting them, then stopped where the gap was.  It measured over 3" in places. At that point, I knew that I needed a creative solution, as 2 1/2" strips were not going to do the job.  I consulted other local sewers for their advice, but no one had seen anything like this.

 I finally took the front piece with me to Houston for help. (I even carried it in my hand luggage to ensure that it did not get lost.) As soon as Preview Night opened I made a bee-line for Cherrywood's booth which was customer-free. I talked to Karla who referred me to the person who had made their sample. I will interpose that she is very petite. After talking to her, I determined that the only thing I could do was to buy another 1/2 yard of a coordinating fabric (the color I had wanted to use is only made for the cherry rolls) and cut wider strips, possibly pleating them to make them fit over the curve. I ended up cutting a fairly wide strip for each side of the front to go over the curve.

Once all the quilting was done (the top, muslin and lining are quilted together) I realised that the garment had shrunk up a bit. So I panicked all through dinner on Saturday night until I could get a sleeve sewn to make sure it fitted. Luckily I have been working out hard, and the bicep area, which is usually my problem area, fit. It was also challenging matching the shoulder and under arm seams, as due to the overlapping strips, there are ten thicknesses of fabric at some of the seams. After reading Cherrywood's comments about having to pleat the straight-cut neck binding, I decided to cut mine on the bias, which made it much easier going around the neckline curves.  By now I had used up two 500yard spools of 40 weight variegated cotton. Having had a quiet New Year weekend, I thought I could finish the jacket on Sunday night.  I was sewing away and a needle broke. I was about to change the needle when everything went dark except for my machines which are on UPS's. Yes.......the electricity had gone off.  End of sewing for the night. Then on Tuesday, when I was ready to sew on the last piece of binding (the binding was also free motion zig-zagged on) I noticed that my bobbin had less than 12% thread left on it, and there was virtually no thread on the spool either. A 7:30pm call to my local Bernina dealer Sew Vac Ltd found them open, with two spools of the thread I needed, so I dashed up there and got the thread before closing time to finish the jacket. The button, which I purchased at Laura Murray's booth at Houston is by Crone Art.  Now it is pressed and ready to wear.