Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Picking Fabric for the Butterfly Wings

A few weeks ago I designed a butterfly design for this blog as shown below.  It was a lot of fun and I was excited to applique it.

I started with a gorgeous solid blue background fabric.  Here's the process I went through in choosing the colors for the butterfly wings.

I started by picking out a bunch of fabrics I liked with my blue background fabric.

Now that I had a lot to choose from, I laid them underneath the blue fabric with just a 1/2 inch showing because all the pieces for this butterfly are very narrow.

I don't like the green with the blue.  And come to think of it, I don't want a green butterfly!

I like the oranges, but with just a thin strip showing, none of them stick out to me.

I really like the stripe on the right side here.  It has a lot of pattern for only 1/2 an inch showing!

Love the color, but it is a bit pale and I want my butterfly to shine.

I like all these crazy prints, but half an inch doesn't really do them justice.

The pinks are fun, but I don't like them much at this scale.

I really like these two prints.  They have a lot of character.

Next, I took my favorites and cut a thin piece of each.  Looking at these thin strips on the blue helped confirm my choice of the stripe in the center right for my butterfly.

My son and I have been reading The BFG by Roald Dahl.  It's one of my favorite children's books of all time.  In it, the BFG calls butterflies, "butteryflies," and so I think I will call this quilt the Butteryfly Quilt in honor of that memory.


Monday, September 28, 2015

Inspired by Shirt.Woot

I often buy silly shirts for my husband from  They have design contests and it's always fun to see what people come up with.  The other day I stumbled upon one I really like called clockwork seahorse.  I must admit that I love steam punk.  There's something about all the gears and little pieces that fascinates me.

Here is a picture of it:

One thing that I always try to do when designing from an inspiration is to change it lots and make it my own.  I can see doing something like this with a different animal and incorporating all the cool gears into the design.  Perhaps a turtle or a rhino or a hippo?


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Blog Quilt #1 is a Finished Top!

I suppose this quilt deserves a better name than Blog Quilt #1, but that's what I am calling it for now. The top is finally done and I am excited to start playing with the quilting!

My current thoughts about the quilting are to have some fun in the very center with a possibility of colored thread.  I haven't started doodling yet and you never know where that will take you.  It will be interesting to see how my thoughts change as the quilting designs progress.  I've also decided that there will be no feathers on this quilt.  It seems a little too modern even though I love feathers.  I also want to play with negative space and shape and perhaps straight lines.  I tend to avoid straight lines because when you are doing them 1/4 inch apart and you get off it's easy to see.  This is the show quilter in me talking.  However, it's a current trend and I love what people are doing with them so I really do want to play with straight lines.

I recently took a my first and a great class on Craftsy by Amy Johnson called Machine Quilting with Rulers on a Home Machine.  It's great and I highly recommend it.  I am currently debating whether or not to buy a ruler foot and try it.  The question in my mind is whether it will help with straight lines or if I'm better off using my built in walking foot.  This is something I need to think about more and perhaps try playing with.

Now it's time to take a picture, alter it to 50% opacity in photo shop and start doodling!


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

I Think I'm Going Dotty

I like dots, though the ones I'm using are more like ovals or grapes.  However, having just outlined 92 of them with double blanket-stitch has left me feeling a little dotty.  It was fun because I got to use a lot of colors and a lot of thread, but I am ready to do something other than dots!

I explored two new threads with this border.  One is Clover Tire Silk Thread.  It's 50 weight and nice and thick compared to my usual 100 weight silk.  When done with double blanket stitch it makes a nice thick line with plenty of sheen.  The red dot below was sewn in this.  I can see myself buying more of this.  This blog is getting me into thread trouble!  I bet I end up bringing back more thread than fabric from International Quilt Festival Houston in a few weeks!

The other thread I played around with was Iris Ultrabrite Trilobal Polyester Machine Embroidery Thread.  It's 40 weight and very shiny and easy to use and work with.  I used two different colors, green, and a medium blue-purple color.  The are the third dot from the left (purple) and the last dot on the right (green with orange dots).  Both were wonderful and I will definitely use this thread again.  I have about 15 different colors I bought at one point.

I suppose that before I go to Houston I should check to see if I am lacking in any colors.  However, that would be hard to know as I have 15 drawers of thread and 4 cases worth.  I know blue purples are hard to find as well as dark teals.  This is definitely something I need to think about.


Monday, September 21, 2015

Mandala Inspiration

My amazing 5th grade teaching partner and friend Michele brought me this book today to look at because she thought I would be inspired by it.  She's right!  I love it.

Here is my favorite:

I also loved some of the other mandalas for quilting designs:

I like this corner design.  I think its interesting that two different designs are intertwined and it looks great!  I'll have to try it as a filler.

 I like the circular border here.  Random curls.  Another quilting motif to try as a background filler.

I love this design, it's like clamshells, but different and more interesting.  A third great background filler.

So many possibilities, so little time!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Creative Block meets the Borders

Stuck.  That's how I am feeling!  I have been trying unsuccessfully to figure out the borders for this quilt!  I know I want to incorporate either the flowers or the Hawaiian design I used in the center of the quilt.  So I've been laying things around the edge looking at it:

The problem:  I don't like any of them.  So I put the basic idea in to Electric Quilter 7 and started playing around:

I kind of like the triangles above, but it still doesn't feel right.  I have doodled and doodled and doodled.  Stuck.  Stuck.  Stuck.  

Finally, I started thinking about traditional applique borders.  I knew that they often had swags, so I started playing with that idea.  Below is what I came up with.  It has the Hawaiian motifs connected by dots!  Finally, I was excited!

It took me a week to go through all these thoughts and possibilities.  Sometimes I have to remind myself to be patient, the design will come!


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Oops...I forgot to use Stabilizer...

So as I was stitching my four "snowflake" blocks for the centers of my flowers, I forgot to use stabilizer on the last one.  I didn't realize this error until it was complete.  For these blocks I used a 50 weight Aurifil cotton thread in a matching color because I didn't want any sheen.

I took a photo of the two blocks so you could see the difference. The one on the left was stitched with stabilizer.  It is still really flat.  The one on the right was stitched without stabilizer and you can see that it has a more ripply texture around the stitching.  It turned out okay, probably because each fabric was spray starched to death beforehand.

I was curious what the difference would be when I had ripped off all the stabilizer (I use Rinsaway by HTC, but you have to tear it off).  I use a seam ripper (carefully) or a ball-point awl (couldn't find it today) to help rip the pesky inner points of stabilizer.

The picture below shows the same two blocks after ripping.  The one on the left still has stabilizer behind the dark gray, I don't rip that part off.  The one on the right has no stabilizer at all and is clearly more ripply.  In the long run, both of these blocks are going to work fine, but I was definitely happier with the stabilized block.

Lesson learned!


Monday, September 14, 2015

International Quilt Festival Houston Ribbon!

I am ecstatic!  I just got an email that my quilt, Harmony's Loop, has won an Honorable Mention Ribbon at International Quilt Festival Houston.  I have entered many a time, but have never placed.  I'll take the Honorable Mention!  I am so excited!  I can't wait to see it hanging in person in late October!  I love this quilt!!!!!!!!!!!!

I entered this quilt last year and was sad when it didn't get accepted. I guess the second time is the charm as well as switching it's category form innovative applique to traditional applique!


Saturday, September 12, 2015

What do I do with the Centers?

So I finally decided how to set my blocks as shown below.  Each dark rectangle has a flower in it. However, I decided I wanted to do something in the center squares to tie the flowers together.

So I started doodling ideas for how to connect those little dots on the flower blocks.  Reading The Inbox Jaunt's recent series about doodling really cemented the doodling process with me.

I then took the idea I liked the best and doodled this:

I really liked it, so I refined the center into this:

You can see that my original intent was to connect the dots.  However a friend suggested I turn the image like this:

This setting has an advantage.  It still gives the block connection, but I don't have to worry about connecting the dots exactly.  This is definitely still pretty and easier to construct.

So I sat down and cut out some pieces.  I figured that it would be simplest to use a whole rainbow of fabrics with dark gray underneath like so:

Here are the pieces cut out as I had originally planned.  It's overwhelming to my eyes.  They don't know where to look.  I was so disappointed that it wasn't going to work!

In this picture I tried rearranging the pieces to see if I liked it any better.  No such luck.

What if I took off the dots and moved where the pieces connected?  Nope, I still don't like it and it still feels like too much.  I even tried laying a black and white fabric in the center and that didn't work either.  I was getting very frustrated.

What if I simplified it and only used gray and one print?  It was getting better.  The dark gray definitely works.  Still, it wasn't great.

I love this pattern.  Except the thought of doing the double blanket-stitch and having it still look symmetrical.  There was no way it was going to be easy.  I must admit that I am a perfectionist and wanted it to turn out nicely, so I kept going.  I cut a snowflake-like shape out of paper:

I love it!  The one piece really draws the four flowers together without being overwhelming!

But...I have learned to try all the possibilities before starting, so I rotated it 45 degrees. I like this even better because it looks like the flowers are growing out of the stems.  I decided to go ahead and simply use the dark gray to make the shape.  Here are the finished blocks ready to have the extra pieces cut and be sewn together:

This girl is a happy camper! :)