SAQA Oceania Blog Hop 2016: Dancing Ferns

Dancing Ferns

I rejoined SAQA (Studio Art Quilts Associates) earlier this year and although I am based in Brunei, on the island of Borneo I was able to join the Oceania Group. Every year SAQA hold a benefit auction in which members donate 12” x 12” quilts which are then auctioned to raise funds. This year’s auction start on September 16th and you can find out more details on the SAQA web site. The auction is divided into three sections and my piece is in the third section taking place from October 3rd-9th.This year I entered a quilt for the first time and it is included along with 35 other quilts in the Oceania Collection and you can see details of these and the other participants here http://www.saqa-oceania.blogspot.com.au

Most of the work I do is inspired by the natural world around me and my auction piece “Dancing Ferns #1” is no exception and I have gone from the tropical rain forest to my garden where I have many of these graceful ferns growing and swaying gently in the breeze.

For the background ferns I made freezer paper templates and then used fabric paints and an old toothbrush to splatter paint on a piece of my hand dyed fabric. Using this technique gives a more subtle effect thank filling in the area with solid colour.

stencilled background ferns

I then fused the foreground ferns and appliquéd in place using a small satin stitch and fine 50wt Aurifil cotton thread because I wanted the stitching to blend and not be a dominant feature of the design.

appliquéd ferns

Finally I stitched rows of echo quilting around all the ferns again using the 50wt cotton thread. The echo quilting helps to give a sense of movement which is why I named these Dancing Ferns.

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The next person following on from me in the 2016 Oceania Blog Hop is:

Carolyn Collins carolyncollinsart.com/art-blog on 12th September

And before me was Rasa Mauragis rasamauragis.com/blog

How to add a single fold binding to your quilt

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People often want a reminder on how to sew on their binding once they finish their quilt or wall hanging so I have put together this tutorial for my blog. It also contains instructions for adding a sleeve if you are going to hang your finished quilt.

These instructions are for adding a single fold binding to your quilt or wall hanging using a ⅜” seam and with the finished width of ⅜” for the binding.

First measure the outside edges of your quilt or wall hanging to determine how many strips you will need to cut from your binding fabric. For example, if your quilt measures 20” x 16” you will need a total of 72” of binding plus a bit extra to go round the corners and for joining, so if your fabric is 45” wide you would need to cut 2 strips.

Cut your required number of strips from the width of the fabric 1¾ inches wide. Using your ruler and rotary cutter, cut the ends of each strip at a 45˚ angle, the join right sides together as shown to form one continuous strip using a ¼” seam. I find it helps to mark the ¼” seam on your binding strips. Strips joined using a 45˚ angle like this are stronger and almost invisible when viewed from the right side.

joining the binding strips

joining the binding strips

After stitching trim off the little ends of fabric that stick out.

joined binding strips

Strips joined with a 45˚ seam and the ends trimmed off.

It’s important that you have trimmed all the edges and squared up the corners before you attach your binding.

Lay the binding right side down onto the front (right side) of your quilt, stitch round all the edges with a ⅜ inch seam. Start your stitching 4-5 inches away from the end of the binding and leave that end loose, its good to start about mid way down one of the sides of the quilt.

To miter the corners, when you get close to the corner stop stitching and make a mark ⅜“ away from the edge. Continue stitching until you reach this mark and then stitch diagonally out to the outer edge.

Stitch from the 3/8" intersection mark diagonally to the outer edge.

Stitch from the 3/8″ intersection mark diagonally to the outer edge.

Cut you thread and then fold the binding up at a 45˚ angle, then fold down so that it is level with the edge of your quilt. Start sewing at the fold and then continue to the next corner and repeat the steps.

Fold the binding strip up on the diagonal

Fold the binding strip up on the diagonal

Fold down again so that the fold is level with the edge of your quilt and start stitching.

Fold down again so that the fold is level with the edge of your quilt and start sticking.

Stitch until you are about 8-9 inches away from where you first started stitching and stop
Joining the binding.

Lay the quilt flat with the binding on top and then mark with a pin ½” away from the edge of the 45˚ angle.

Put a pin 1/2" from edge of binding

Put a pin 1/2″ from edge of binding

Lay the other end of the binding over the top of the first one and make a mark or insert a second pin where it overlaps the underneath pin. This will be your cutting line for the other end of the binding. Cut this end at 45˚. I find it helps to draw a line on the top binding to show which direction to cut the angle.

Lay the other end of the binding on top and mark

Lay the other end of the binding on top and mark

Lay the second piece on top and mark.
Join the two ends with a ¼” seam, press the seam open, and then stitch the last part of the seam.

Stitch the ends of the binding together using a 1/4" seam.

Stitch the ends of the binding together using a 1/4″ seam.

Hanging sleeve
Next attach the hanging sleeve if you are making a wall hanging.
For the hanging sleeve cut a piece of fabric from the backing fabric the same width as your finished quilt and 9 ½” wide.
Make a seam at each end by turning in ¼” and then ¼” again to the wrong side, press and stitch in place close to the inside edge.
Once the stitching is complete fold in half lengthways and then press lightly to mark the lower edge.
Centre the hanging sleeve on the back of the quilt, having the raw edges even with the top edge of your quilt and then stitch in place using a ⅜” seam. Secure each end by backstitching.
To complete, turn the binding to the back of the quilt, fold in the raw edge and slip stitch in place on the back. Make sure that your stitches are only on the back of the quilt and don’t show through to the front.

Binding turned to the wrong side ready to be hand stitched in place.

Binding turned to the wrong side ready to be hand stitched in place.

Stitch the hanging sleeve in place last.

Stitch the hanging sleeve in place last

Stitch the hanging sleeve in place last. Make a fold and pin level with top of quilt to make extra room so you can insert a rod for hanging.

To make a little extra room in the sleeve so you can insert a hanging rod make a fold in the top of the hanging sleeve tube and align with the top edge of your quilt and pin in place. Now lay the sleeve flat and slip stitch the sides and lower edge in place. Don’t stitch the top edge. When this is unpinned there will be a small fold of loose fabric which will allow for the insertion of a hanging rod.

 

Fan Palms

I have just started work on a new series of  small wall hangings inspired by the fan palms in the Borneo rain forest. It’s been a while since I started a completely new project but this is one I have been thinking about doing for a while now and I finally got started after a recent trip to the forest.

fan palms Lambir

Unfortunately our walk was cut short by a big thunderstorm but not before I had taken plenty of fan palm photos, I then took one of these and made a number of crops so I can experiment with different views of the same design. I drew out my patterns in EQ7 because I want to later scale up any of the designs I particularly like.

I started off with making some freezer paper stencils and getting my old Painstiks out to make the background palm fronds.

stencils and paintstiks

I then traced the design of the palm frond onto fusible web and applied that to some hand dyed fabric. Have chosen to use raw edge appliqué for these small quilts because there are a lot of very narrow inside curves, so I layered up the top with batting and backing then stitched round all the edges of the palm fronds using a matching thread. I then used a darker thread to stitch all the ridges in the leaves.

fused shape applied over background stencil

Before doing this the design had looked very flat, but stitching in all the lines brings the design to life and gives it texture.

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Finally I used a dark variegated thread to make lines of dense echo quilting in the background which again helps to make the palm frond stand out.

Fan Palm square crop

Fan Palm, the square crop.

Fan Palm fronds over stencilled background.

Fan Palm fronds over stencilled background.

Memory Star – 4 patch block

I don’t often do any traditional patchwork piecing these days but I do still enjoy it when I do. I’m teaching a nine block sampler quilt course at the moment and wanted to refresh my memory and make a new class sample so last weekend I made this Memory Star block.

Memory Star Block

 

 

This block has always been one of my favourites and I raided my stash of batiks to make it up in these lovely autumnal colours of burgundy, tan and greens.

The block is a good revision of techniques that we’ve already covered in class already. Half square triangles and flying geese blocks but in smaller sizes so requiring accurate cutting and piecing.

Half square triangles for the corner blocks.

Half square triangles for the corner blocks.

Half square triangles for the corner blocks.

Flying geese blocks for the spokes of the star.

Flying Geese blocks

Careful pressing and accurate stitching make the blocks easy to put together.

Careful pressing and interlocking seams make it easier to piece accurately.

Careful pressing and interlocking seams make it easier to piece accurately.

It’s not a difficult block but it does need some care when putting it all together and making sure all the half square triangles are going the correct way. It’s easy to make mistakes!

It's easy to make a mistake when putting it all together!

It’s easy to make a mistake when putting it all together!

The same block made in a different colour scheme combining some of my hand dyed fabric, batiks and a print.

Memory Star in grey and purple

more hand dyes

A spent a few days last week dyeing fabrics as some of my stock of certain colours was starting to get low. I tend to use more greens in my work than anything else and I always need dark greens for backgrounds and borders and bright, vibrant greens for foliage. These fabrics are often very hard to find in commercial fabrics and sometimes I will dye a piece of fabric several times to get just the colour and texture I want.

some of my recently dyed greens

some of my recently dyed greens

I also like to use dark blue-blacks for backgrounds and borders and these too have a much more interesting depth of colour to them after a couple of dyes. Paler colours are also great for backgrounds.

dark blue and greysLately I’ve been using more reds, oranges and golds which are great for sunset scenes or vibrant tropical flowers, and look striking on a dark background. When I have done the Festival of Quilts in the UK my greens are always the first to get snapped up, but here in Brunei  people seem to love these bright colours. Maybe it’s the tropical climate.

These vibrant oranges and reds are great for sunsets or tropical flowers.

These vibrant oranges and reds are great for sunsets or tropical flowers.

In my last batch of dyeing I also did some paler pinks and purples which are also lovely for flower appliqué. They make me think of delicate wild flowers in the Spring time.

pastel pinks and purples

My new Janome

I’ve been back home just over three weeks now and slowly getting back into my normal routine and enjoying my new Janome 8900QCP.

I already have the 6600 and the Horizon 7700 but since the beginning of the year I had been thinking about switching my 7700 for the newer model. I was put off by the price but when I was at the Festival of Quilts they were doing a special deal which made them very attractive. I didn’t actually get a chance to try the machine until literally ten minutes before the show closed as the stand was always busy and I didn’t have the time to be able to wait. With the show closing I had to come to a quick decision, so I went for it. The stress I had with the shipping to Brunei almost made we wish I hadn’t bothered, but once it arrived I was very glad I had.

The machine is very similar to the 7700 but as it says in the blurb they’ve kept the best features and added quite a lot of small improvements  which make quite a difference to the quilter. I love the extra large foot pedal which stays put when you are sewing rather than sliding off across the floor.

They’ve got rid of the convertible foot plate and there are now two separate foot plates. I never had a problem with the convertible plate but was always worried I would forget about it and use it with the wrong stitch. The new foot plates are very easy to switch too, no more screws but a small lever to release, then they just snap back into place.

I do a lot of appliqué so was keen to check out all the available stitches. I think there are a few more than on the previous machine. There is a memory setting which enables you to set your preferred settings for any stitch which is very useful. (I think the 7700 had this feature but I never got round to using it)

Experimenting with a few different threads and stitches

I also tried out some setting for “invisible” machine appliqué.

I will also be doing a lot of free motion quilting on this machine and rather than have to fiddle around with tension I used the blue dot bobbin which I already had for my 6600. This bobbin is designed with a different tension, especially suitable for quilting, and I found it worked perfectly in these samples.

Of course Oscar had to come and try out the machine too!

Forest Giant revisited

It doesn’t seem like like I’ve been back in Brunei a week already. In some ways it feels like I’ve been back longer, and the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham feels like an age away. Having my own stand there for the first time was a great experience, and I really enjoyed meeting and chatting to so many lovely people from all over the world, as well as catching up with a few ‘old’ friends. Thanks to everybody who came by, it was really a pleasure talking to you all. Lots of people wanted patterns so that’s something I’m going to work on for the future.

One of the wall hangings that many people commented on was my “Forest Giant”, a new version of  apiece I first made several years ago. A lot of people were interested to know how I made it so here it is again with some pictures showing the various stages.

I started off with a piece of my hand dyed fabric for the background, then added a few strips of fabric for tree trunks and then the main tree.
When I made this design before I used a single piece of fabric for the base of the forest floor but this time I decided to add various hand dyed strips to give more variety.
Then began the very time consuming process of adding all the leaves. I used lots of different scraps of fabric to give depth to the design. I backed each scrap with fusible webbing, the cut leaf shapes. Each leaf was then added individually. I would do a batch then fuse in place a few at a time …… not a good time to sneeze or have one of the cats walk over my design board!
I continued in this way until the background was covered as much as I wanted it. Then it was time for the final details and free motion stitching to complete the piece. I used a large number of different threads to achieve the look I wanted.

Isle of Wight landscapes

While I was at The Festival of Quilts last year I was impressed by the beautiful landscape quilts by Kathleen Matthews. I bought her book “Stitched Textile Landscapes” but it is only now, six months later that I have had a  go at trying out her techniques, and this is what I came up with, inspired by some photos taken on the Isle of Wight when I was back there a couple of years ago.

This is the place where I was born and grew up so it has many fond memories for me.

My inspiration photo and a selection of my hand dyed fabrics for the background. The pieces were first pinned and then stitched in place, quite a fiddly job with all the small pieces.

The background assembled and stitched in place. It looks quite plain at this stage although already you get the feeling of depth. The fun part comes with the free motion stitching which really brings the design to life.

I used mostly rayon threads for the free motion embroidery, but a few cotton and polyester threads too, depending on what colours I needed for the look I wanted.

I was really pleased with the way this turned out so I decided to try another one based on another Isle of Wight photo. This time the view from Forelands beach where I used to live, looking across to Whitecliff Bay and Culver Down. I used to look out on this every day and have always wanted to make something inspired by this view.

The first stages before the thread embellishment. I didn’t have any hand dyed fabric the right colour for the sea but found a piece of piece of cloth I painted years ago which was just perfect.

The finished piece. I think there might have to be a series of these as I’m really enjoying making them and I have heaps of photos for inspiration and it makes quite a nice change to be doing work inspired by a different location, although this technique would probably work for some of my rain forest designs too.

Seed Pod Reflected

I started work on a new appliqué quilt wall hanging in November and just got it finished last week.

This design is inspired by the seed pods of the Pom Pom tree that one can find washed up on the beach here in Brunei.

I originally worked on this theme as part of my City and Guilds “Creative Quiltmaking” course, and the quilt I made, which was one of my assessment pieces was actually pieced. Even at the time I was doing it I wanted to make it again as an appliqué piece using my now hand dyed fabrics. I used one of my sketches to create a design in EQ7, and the theme was to do with using a mirrored image, so this is what I came up with for my pieced quilt.I later modified this design so I could use it for appliqué. This is the initial design.I felt the fabric needed more texture, so I hand embroidered every appliqué piece before applying to the background.  I still felt the design lacked something as there was a high empty gap between the two halves of the design, so I used some of my leftover cut out pieces and experimented with placing them in the middle. 

This looked much better and to balance the design I added two more pieces top and bottom and two pieces to the outer edges which ave more of the feel of the curves of the original seed pod. Detail of stitching. 

I echo quilted using a fine thread. 

“Tumbling Birds” – The finished quilt

After several months and many, many hours of work my “Birds and Flowers” quilt is finally finished and hopefully on its way to Birmingham (or maybe even already there).

Virtually all the applique was done with Aurifil 50 wt cotton thread and I used the same for the quilting. I actually did this part quite quickly because I when I first started to quilt the design it wasn’t looking so good with lumps and bumps all over the place so I wanted to get it finished and smooth again.

Before the quilting was done I also added some hand embroidery to make the stems for the little pink flowers.

Also to add a bit of interest to the larger leaves.

And hand dyed cotton thread on the tail feathers.

A section of the finished quilt. 

 Another section of the quilt showing some of the embroidery detail.