Yep. It’s true. I have finished the Under the Sea piece after many years of working on it. I can hardly believe it.
I am so thrilled that I have one hand project that is finally done. Granted, I could have just said “this is done” and moved on, but projects speak to me and this one was very chatty. I finally feel like it is really and truly done – enough embroidery, enough embellishment, enough stitching.
The London Portfolio fabric seems to fit the front pretty well and I am pleased with the black binding.
This was not an easy project to finish and included a lot of ripping out, but like Beach Town and the Flower Garden, I am pleased with the style of working and the results. Pamela Allen is a design genius and if you want to learn to design quilts, she is a great teacher.
I wanted to finish Under the Sea by now, but I had to backtrack and do some repairs, so finishing will take longer.
I made the piece into a pillow. To do that I used up the polyfil I had leftover from the dolls I made for my little niece. I didn’t have enough, so I cleared out my batting scraps and used bits of batting for the rest of the stuffing. I would have preferred all polyfil, but as a lot of this project was from reclaimed materials, I thought the batting scraps were fitting.
I wanted to control where the stitching went, so I didn’t plan on sewing right sides together and turning the piece. I sewed wrong sides together, then left an opening I could use to fill the pillow.
The backing fabric is from the Michael Miller London Portfolio collection. This particular print is called Anjou Pour Vous. I don’t know why it would be called that if the collection is called London Portfolio, but I am sure the designer has a reason. I have a number of these prints and will have to use one for a backing.
I also wanted to put a black binding on. I did that to cover the raw edges, then machine sewed the back down. I ran into problems with the black thread catching some of the pillow top and also showing in the corners where it didn’t quite match up with the top binding. Again, I ripped and replaced the bobbin with Aurifil monofilament and restitched the binding so the mismatched binding front wouldn’t have a black line around the corners on the actual top.
Also the larger glass beads are coming off. For some reason, my French knots are not strong enough to hold them with the stress of handling. Again, I am using Aurifil monofilament to secure the beads and not disturb my overall design. The Aurifil monofilament is a hassle to use, so that is also a thankless task.
I will be so glad not to see this project on my to do list when I am finished. I know I will like it again, but right now I don’t.
After several false finishes, I am really done with the top of Under the Sea. This is a HUGE, because I started it in April of 2009 and getting it done has been on my list for awhile. One less handwork project to do can’t be bad either.
I want to make it into a small pillow. Some of the embroidery and beading are close to the edge, so I have to worry about that a little bit. There is still work to do on this piece.
Since this was heavily embellished, I will enter it in the fair in the embellishment category and hope for a prize.
I carved out about 6 hours yesterday where I just sewed. I finished a donation block and started another. I started and finished a Color My Quilt shard. The biggest deal was that I worked on the Rosalie Dace piece I started in Sisters. I haven’t really worked on it since the trip, but my mind has been working on it. I finally cleared off the big design wall enough to get it up there.
I thought I would keep adding letters, but the number of pins in the piece (a problem at Sew Day I can talk about later) and unfused bits flailing around demanded a different course. The quilt really wanted me to sew down and fuse down letters so I did.
The two sets of ribbon/trim letters are sewn down using a zig zag stitch in varying widths. It really took forever because I sewed very slowly, but I am pretty pleased with the way it came out.
For the ‘mary’s daughter’ piece, I used an Aurifil violet-ish color on the top and the bottom.
For ‘William’s Mom’, I used clear Auriful in the top and an an orange 50 wt in the bobbin. I started out with orange in the top, too, but it obscured the circles that are part of the design of the ribbon.
I feel good about the work. I am so pleased to be making progress.
I got the background done pretty sharpish when I got to class Tuesday.
Yes, this is the background. It is the essence of who I am. I guess. I am not exactly sure why this is the background.
The biggest problem with art quilts is construction. To achieve the design goal, the construction can be challenging. the background you see was pretty basic piecing except for the spot where the top of the M comes together at an angle.
For the moment, I am leaving the -v- for later. Rosalie said that she couldn’t see it, so I decided not to worry about it right at the moment.
The next step was to get the ‘ladder’/grid motif appliqued on. I tried strips of fabric, but eventually landed on some ribbon that I have been saving for …something. This is the something. I laid out the ribbon where I thought they should go and looked. I moved them around and looked some more.
Again construction was an issue. The first piece, a piece of thick ribbon that looked like mosaic tile, went on like a dream. The next piece, which was much thinner would not go on. It bunched up, slid around and was generally a pain. I finally put batting on the back and sewed through the ribbon, the background and the batting. This is not ideal, because I have to worry about when to put a backing on and how to quilt it all again. Still, I was in class and had to make do.
The grid, which is kind of like a second background, came out ok. The ribbons aren’t perfect, but they fit with my design.
I got back to my schedule and finished the ribbons by the end of day two. Next up: letters.
What’s Your Oldest UFO? was the question of the day at guild last week. I had to confess** to the Self Portrait.
I started this piece in a class with Pamela Allen in 2006. The class was great, I learned a lot and finished two other pieces, Flower Garden and Beach Town from that class. Those are great pieces, so why is this not a great piece. AND why is it not finished?
I have always thought the problem was the hair, that I couldn’t find the right hair. I don’t even know if I have tried to add hair. I have thought about adding hair, but I never seem to do it. I like the eyes, but wonder about a nose and lips.
I also like the flowers at the bottom. They need some enhancement, for which embroidery will be great.
Clearly this is more of an image of the way I think about myself or the way I was at one time in my past. I would like to finish it since it will involve beading and embroidery, which I really like. Somehow I can’t seem to do it.
** confess is a strong term and I am only using for the sake of emphasis. There was no judgment and lots of laughter as we listened to each other.
I finally finished Down the Drain on Friday night. Completely finished: quilting done, binding on, sleeve sewn down. Done.
First, as I mentioned, I finished the quilting. Of course I could have stopped any time, but was clearly on a mission. I kept quilting minutely almost every single open space.
I finished hand sewing the binding on earlier this week. Normally, the combination of tightly woven fabric (an AGF solid) and Aurifil make for slow going, but the combination worked great! My needle went through the fabric with no problem and I sewed the binding in only about 4 hours.
I stitched the sleeve down in only about 2 hours. The whole process of making this quilting was so relatively painless. The experience was not and continues not to be painless. The actual process of making the quilt went so smoothly. I guess it was meant to be.
I finished quilting the art quilt, Down the Drain, a few weeks ago. I don’t know why I didn’t post it. My only explanation is life got in the way.
I am pretty pleased with my quilting. I found that doing the work on the 6600 was relatively painless. The border quilting is not perfect. I couldn’t have done perfect quilting if I had wanted, but I also wanted to express that life isn’t perfect, people aren’t perfect and we have a chance to improve.
I have machine sewed the binding and made the sleeve.
Once again, 9/11 is upon us. It sort of snuck up on me this year. There hasn’t been the hoopla surrounding the event as there was last year. I guess there has been too much other stuff going on.
What Comes Next hangs in my workroom so I look at it every day. In some ways, it can be construed as an altar, because I do look at it every time I pass by and hope that my wish espoused in this quilt is not too far away. It isn’t just part of the background even after so many years.
Like Down the Drain, this quilt was meant to be and came together relatively quickly and with few problems.
I still remember 9/11. I had an almost 5YO. DH was out of town with our BIL on a vacation. I didn’t even know what had happened, because I don’t listen to the news before I head off to work. My mom called me in a panic telling me to turn on the TV. I didn’t want to and couldn’t imagine why it mattered. I couldn’t imagine something like the actions of 9/11 happening.
What’s worse is what came after. The wars, ISIS, Al-Quaida, the European cities under siege, the huge debt that will crush us all one day. The mess that is the Middle East. I am not saying that those things wouldn’t have happened anyway, but I think a different response was required.
You saw the other day that I had finished the first layer, or perhaps it was the second layer?
I really kind of liked this look despite the slightly depressing look, but I was on a mission.
I used a satin stitch, but not a dense one stitch down the River. In some cases I will straight stitch first, but I didn’t in this case. I try to keep track of the settings so I can use the same density again. I often start with the density I used to sew on Merit Badges and then adjust from there. Despite the siren call of temptation, I always test the density before I sew on the actual piece. Have you every tried to rip out a satin stitch. It is doable, but I don’t find it to be fun.
After applique’ing down the River shape, I moved on to the broken hearts.
After making some hearts some time ago I have a trick, so I used it to make the heart shape then cut into them with very sharp scissors (should have used my Karen Kay Buckley scissors) and made the broken part. I put fusible on the back of the hearts and pressed them down. I use Soft Fuse. I have used other products, but that is my current favorite.
I had to play around with the placement of the hearts. I wanted them on the background, not on the borders or covering the River. Once they were placed where I wanted them I satin stitched them down and added the tears. I think tears coming off of a heart is powerful imagery.
The signs took a lot longer. I needed to add sticks and get the placement right, trim the shapes and write the messages.
I don’t know why I wanted these Easter Egg colors, but they seemed right. I didn’t even have to hunt for them as they magically appeared in a convenient stack of fabric.
I fused the sticks, then found they didn’t show up very well, so I stitch around them to highlight them. I still don’t think they show up as much as I wanted, but I am okay with the look.
This is very much a quilt where you get one view from afar and need to come closer to get a more detailed view.
After sewing the background together, I thought there might be a small chance I was done and could move on. No dice. I would like to say that my Muse gently stroked my hand encouragingly. No such luck. The VIMH #2 was impatient and insistent. “keep going,” she said (loudly). She has no patience because she knows I know what I am supposed to do. When I don’t do it she has no patience for my prevaricating.
I thought the piece needed an inner border to keep the center motifs contained. I thought a dark border would work. Not being done with those 1.5″ squares yet, I cut about a gazillion more out of black and white fabrics. The fabrics were mostly dark, but the white provides a little space.
I cut enough for two rows, then put them up on the wall.
The effect seemed kind of heavy to me, so I put one row up and compared the two. One row seemed best to me, so I sewed those together and put them on to the quilt.
I really wanted the ‘River‘ to go underneath the border. I fiddled with that concept a lot, then finally gave up.
Part of the problem was that I was going to have to applique some of the squares and I really didn’t want to do that. I also didn’t think it added anything to the quilt overall. It was hard to tell, though, and it made me sad not to be able to work out the technical details.
I got busy trimming the River as I didn’t want a 20 inch third border.
I needed to make the water filtering into the drain end up in the corner but not on the edge, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to applique the drain.
I was still trying to figure out how to get the inner border over the River shape. This point in the process decided me, because I was already thinking about quilting and how I would manage that with this border on top.
Trimming the bottom of the water going down the drain was also a problem because of the angle of the viewer. I looked at water sluicing into a drain, which didn’t help me, because I was looking at it from on top. Even if I stood on my head **in** the sink, I wouldn’t have been able to get the same angle. Finally, I decided that my viewers weren’t stupid and would figure out what I was trying to say. I am not 100% happy with the outcome, but sometimes one has to make compromises.
After trimming, sewing, ripping and sewing again, I finished the second layer.
The weather has been very gray lately, so the quilt, being predominantly grey at this point, looks depressing. It isn’t really. The grey made into the second border is a bright clear grey. Even thought I don’t get the interwoven feel I was trying for, I am pleased with how this came out.
As I said yesterday, I saw Sarah Ann Smith’s quilt, Speak Up, Speak Out and a whole bunch of stuff coalesced in my mind. Mind you, I didn’t even really know that all that stuff was rolling around. I have been feeling stressed out since the Inauguration and all of the stuff stressing me out suddenly came together.
As I said, I started working on my project from a couple of drawings in my journal. I had no measurements beyond “not big” when I started working on the background.
I, again, used Mary Mashuta’s Pushed Neutral technique. I have done this in the past with other neutrals and now I use the same techniques with colors. This time, I worked with grey. Some of the greys are a little dark, but I keep telling myself the darks create disharmony, which is one thing I was trying to do. This quilt should unsettle you. I think, ultimately, the whole idea worked.
I did move some of the squares around to get the right mix of locations with darks and lights of grey.
I needed to work on this project, but I did not want comments or to provoke the storm I know will come with this post. I wasn’t quite ready. I still am not ready. As long as I still have freedom of speech I will post this quilt. I knew about the Threads of Resistance project and I would love to be a part of that, but I don’t do well with challenges. I wish I did because I’d love to be a part of that show.
The stress started on my birthday, which was January 20, not just because it was inauguration day, but also because I was at an event where people were happy to see President Obama leave office. They didn’t like him because he was black. For them it was No-Bama Day. For me, even though I didn’t know it at the time, it was the beginning of a stressful, distressing time.
I walked around waiting for my ATM card not to work, to be made subhuman, like in the Handmaid’s Tale. I started really to fear that the better country we were making would be dismantled. You might think we don’t need the EPA or the ACA and that is your right. I do not want to create a Sh*tstorm and this is not a political blog. I feel we do need clean air and health care for everyone. My feelings coalesced when I saw Sarah Ann Smith’s quilt, Speak Up, Speak Out.
When I saw her quilt, I realized that another in my political art quilt series had been brewing in my head without me really knowing. I thought “this is the quilt I wanted to make.” I said so to Sarah and she said to make my version.
I thought about it for a long time, then I drew a picture in my journal. I thought that would be the end of it, but I couldn’t get the image out of my mind. I drew it again, a little more refined and more to scale.
I drew it over an over, continually refining, adding detail. The whole process went so smoothly that I kept going into piecing and cutting and sewing and quilting.
As I write this, the piece isn’t quite finished, but it will be soon (YAY! Another finish!). What happens to it after that, I don’t know.
Shockingly, I have been quilting. I have been working, pretty much, on one quilt for a month and I am finishing up the quilting.You’ll see the quilt soon
Yes, **I** am doing the quilting. Don’t expect greatness, because mostly I am doing straight line or straight-ish (as Kelly would say) line quilting.
I am really happy with the 6600. This machine is made for quilting. It has a built-in walking foot that works like a charm. I had very few tension problems even with different weights of Aurifil. While I miss not being able to piece, I am not dreading quilting like I was with my other machines. I think the larger space between the needle and the harp helps, too.