Monday, July 25, 2011

Part 4 - Appliqué and the Beginning of the Details
I have all the sand and shoreline appliquéd down, so now it's time to add the mountain.  All the edges get glued in place.  I cut out one continuous piece of bonding agent to do this.  Then once the appliqué is done, I trimmed the excess off so that's it's the same width as the rest of the quilt.

When I appliquéd it, I tapered it into the ocean...  I like the way the sun is just a bit behind the beach and the mountain is running down into the sea.

Now that all the background elements are in place, it's time to add the foreground details.  I want to start with the grass shack on the beach.  In the drawing, it's not obscured by any palm trees, and I like that.  So I need to know where it is before I start adding trees.

First, I drew a rough picture of the shack to get the size right; actually I drew several!  Once I was happy, I cut the fabric to build the shack.  I trimmed it and refined it several times - notice all the cut away pieces!  The fabric is very directional, as are the sides and roof of the shack.  The finished building is actually several pieces of the same material. 
Then I appliquéd it in place.  I did the door first with brown thread since I wanted the bottom of the door caught in the green of the shack.  I used a narrower stitch to bring up the details of the building (the corner).  I used a variable width zig-zag stitch to make the thatched effect on the edge of the roof.

It looks pretty nice now, but it will be even better with the palm trees in!  The original drawing has a whole bunch of trees going clear into the distance.  I need some thought time to decide exactly how I'm going to accomplish this!  The next installment will be trees!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Part 3 Continued - Building the Face

So now that the quilt is the correct size, it's time to put interfacing on the entire back.  This stabilizes the quilt and keeps it from stretching while being appliquéd.  I use a lightweight iron-on interfacing which is just perfect for this application.

Once the interfacing is done, the rest of the background pieces get cut and laid out.  In this case, it's just a matter of the mountain.  I laid the fabric on the face of the quilt and drew an outline with my chalk pencil, then I cut it out.  All of the raw edges are now glued down on these main background pieces.
Next step - appliqué!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Part 3 - Building the Face of the Quilt

So, now it's time to start building the face of the quilt.  Sometimes, I'll use a piece of foundation material and applique everything to it.  But this time, the background piece are so large, that I'm going to build the face without a foundation.  The first step is to sew the 'water' to the 'sky' forming the horizon.  Happily, the horizon is typically a straight line of sorts so this works out well.

But looking at it, I decided that I want the setting sun sewn into that horizon seam.  So I ripped out a space in the seam, placed the 'sun' in it and resewed the seam.   Perfect!  Now it's time to applique the edges of the sun to the sky.  Typically, you fold under the raw edges of material to be appliqued.  But with the numerous curves in my quilts, it's bulky and impractical.

I glue all raw edges to be appliqued using Heat-n-Bond.  It comes in a big sheet rolled up.  You iron it on, let it cool, remove the paper backing, then iron it in place.  This not only glues the raw edges so they're less likely to fray; it also replaces pinning and basting.
I don't glue the entire piece.  Of all the good things about this product, when set, it's pretty dense and very hard to hand quilt through.  So I cut small strips and shape them to the edge of the piece I want to stabilize.  The picture at the left shows the Heat-n-Bond ironed the first time.  The paper backing is still on it.  Time to remove the paper, iron it in place and applique it down.

I cannot believe that I did this!  I've got this beautiful, curved applique on the front and the entire back of the piece is a mess!  The fabric was folded under when I did the applique.  Time to rip it out and do it over.  As I said earlier, if there was no frustration in a quilt, I would feel as though I failed......

Time to put some shoreline in.  Looking at this, it's a little plain, I think.  Plus, it's not quite as wide as the water.  Hmmmmmmmmmmm.....

So I added another layer of different 'sand' and cut out the bay.  The edges will be glued and appliqued later.

Every edge gets hand-basted in place, with whatever color thread - the worse the match the better for me as I'm going to pull it in just a little while.  Basting all the layers down makes all these pieces a single, flimsy at this point, piece.  Once all the edges are basted, I can attach interfacing to the back and stabilize the entire thing.

Now that all the edges are basted, I can show you all the layers of material.  They actually could stay where they are - they would get quilted in place.  But leaving this excess yardage in a quilt is a bad idea for a couple of reasons.  First, it makes the quilt uneven and bulky.  Second, it's such a waste of material!  All these scraps will get used somewhere, someday in another quilt, or a doll outfit, or in bean bags!

The first thing I cut away was the piece of the sky that ended up behind the water and beach.  It's a large piece that I'm sure to find a use for.  But as soon as I did this, a thought occurred to me...  I never did measure the width of the sky to begin with.  All of the other pieces conform  to whatever that width is.  After measuring the sky, I measured the back.  At it's current width, the quilt face will be 4 inches wider than the material I have for the back.  Damn!  To just cut the edges down will throw the whole thing out of proportion.  I could piece the back, but on a quilt this size that's not what I do.  The only way to fix this is to take it apart and start over.  It must be time to go fishing.  Time spent:  4+ hours.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Polymer Clay Chocolate Cake by Haffina

HAF (the Handmade Artists' Forum) has done it again!  They dreamed up a contest where all of the entries had to have something to do with food.  You won't believe what people came up with!!!  

Voting is open now and everyone who votes and leaves a comment is eligible to win a prize!  So go to the Iron Chef Challenge, drool over all the goodies, and vote!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Part 2 - Shopping Complete!
Close up of the 'sky' fabric
Before the shopping began, it was time to determine what the finished size of this quilt would be.  So I measured the 'sky,' and worked from there.  I decided on 40 inches of sky, plus one inch of border, two inches of frame and binding - the quilt will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 43 inches wide finished.  I'm seeing this as a rectangle, so I'll shoot for 36 inches tall.  From there, I made a list of how much yardage I need for the frame/back (the largest piece of fabric I'll need), and rough measurements on all the detail materials.
All the fabrics laid out
Close up of the sands, palm tree trunks, hut and palm frond floss
After almost two hours in the fabric store, this is what I ended up with.  The material in the mountain will also be the frame and the back.  I've added fabrics I already owned that seemed to be 'sand,' and a mottled bright orange/yellow I had for the sun.  I rarely buy thread on this shopping trip as I have a large collection.  It's a matter of getting the fabric home and then seeing what's currently in inventory that will work.  It seldom happens that I have every color I'll need, but this is one of those happy occasions!
Now everything goes through a complete laundry cycle (wash and dry).  I do this to remove any non-set dyes and to make sure that something won't shrink after the quilt is assembled.  All of these fabrics are 100% cotton.  Once the laundry is done, then the fun begins!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Part 1

Three Peaks quilt - completed in June 2011
When I finished my most recent quilt (Three Peaks, shown to the left), and posted pictures of it on The Handmade Artists' Forum, one of the people who responded suggested that I write an article on my blog on how a quilt goes together.  "I wonder how many people realize how much work goes into one!" she wrote.

I've been thinking about this idea for a while now.  Certainly, I could write, "first you do this, then this, then that," etc., but how boring that would be!  I decided that  the best way to accomplish this would be to journal a quilt from start to finish, complete with pictures, notes and frustration...  yes - it seems that every quilt I make comes complete with frustration.  If there isn't at least one time during the process that I am tempted to throw the whole thing in the trash and start over, I would think I had failed!

Each quilt starts with an idea.  For perhaps a year, I've had a picture in my head of a quilt...  a lonely beach and a blazing tropical sunset.  I can literally see the quilt.  There are two problems to overcome once the idea is there; I need to be able to create a rough sketch of the mental image, and, I need to be able to find appropriate materials.  Depending on which I think will be more difficult determines the order in which these two things are attempted/accomplished.

For this particular quilt, I knew from the beginning that the sky was going to be an issue, so I have been searching for months for a piece of yardage that looks like a tropical sunset.  I finally found it just last week.

Now that I own the sky, I need to have a sketch to work from so that I can  determine and collect the other materials which will be used.  I will be the first to admit that my drawings are horrid and rarely resemble the finished quilt.  But it's really strange...  if I can sort-of draw it, I can quilt it.

This drawing is the sixth!  It took me that many tries to get something I believe I can work from.  Looking at the pencil sketch, I can build a shopping list.  I need something dark and warm for the  Diamond-Head-looking mountain; I need water and sand, I need palm tree trunks and thatched hut.  I think I already own the sun.  The more I look at it, the more I am certain that the palm fronds will be embroidered; so will the sun reflections in the water and the rays in the sky.  The fabric will be selected first, then the embroidery floss.  I like to frame my quilts with a border and the binding.  Typically, the border and the back are the same material.  I have no clue what that will be at this point.

So the next step is finding the materials.  I will write again once I have accomplished that!