Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Redwork Forest Scrap Quilt

Update: Scrap the Stash 2016

"Redwork Forest" assembled quilt top. ("Paper and Plums" pattern by Alexandra Ledgerwood.)

Early in 2016, I had set out a few goals for myself, one being the intent of sewing a block a day using only scraps. Well, I soon discovered that a block a day was counter productive; the gathering of materials and set up takes too much time on a daily basis for only one block. The problem was resolved by making one day a week a day to focus on the scraps. This has worked out fairly well, and on December 1st the count was 345 completed blocks, in 4 different colour ways.

Scrap 1: "Gone Scrappy" with warm ochres and olive greens, scraps left over from the warm, sunny "Languedoc" days.


Scrap 2: "Winging It" made with bright and colourful baby quilt scraps.


Scrap 3: "Flower Garden" was a project that I had started in Winnipeg in 2004 prior to our move to the west coast and Montpellier. The squares and sashing had already been cut and all that was required was stitching the blocks together. A quick and easy assembly.


Scrap 4: The rich reds and toile de jouy scraps of "Redwork Forest" are another reminder of sun filled, fun filled days in Montpellier. When the flu bug struck in early December, everything, including me, came to an abrupt stop for the rest of the month.


These strip pieced blocks of Redwork Forest were the final set of blocks for the year, and as of the end of January 2017, all necessary blocks for the quilt were completed, taking the total count of blocks for 2016 to 369, a surplus of 3 whole blocks. Yeah me!

I will now work on assembling the blocks of Scrap 1, 2 and 3 into completed quilt tops, but, in the meantime, Scrap 4 just got stroked off the list. Double yeah!!! (Quilting goals to be set at some future date.)



Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Seams Baby: Colours and Stripes and Feathers; Oh my!


Not really being able to focus on anything other than the inside of my eyelids during most of December, none of my projects got any attention.

Having to miss my favourite little girls 2nd birthday was likely more painful than anything this flu bug could do to me. I consoled myself with some colourful yarns and knitting needles and somehow managed to get a little scarf together.



Just before the big nasty virus launched it's attack in early December, I did get a few gifts in just under the wire. After hundreds of feathers were cut, stitched and turned over many months, (OK, maybe not hundreds, but lots and lots), there were finally enough for this little Owl doll. Ollie the Owl is a creation of Angela Yosten, from her book "Sew Modern Baby" published by Stash Books of C & T Publishers. With big, round googly eyes and colours galore, it has to fun!

Scads of scraps from previous baby quilts were used up for the feathers.

Fusible interfacing and machine applique quickly took care of the details.

Ollie dressed for the party.

With a number of new babies in the family this past year, I stitched up several more Owl towels using up some of the left over feathers.

Left over feathers came in handy for the owl's head.

The face was machine appliqued using a fusible interfacing which softens up nicely after washing.

A coordinated binding, machine stitched on both sides, finished the towels quickly and easily and off they flew to meet their new little owners.

3 sets of towels with handy bath mitts for mom and baby.


Monday, January 23, 2017

Whole Cloth Silk Quilt Update


It seems I blinked a couple of times and 2016 was gone. How did that happen?

Since my last post, there has been very little activity on the Seams French assembly line. Several nasty versions of flu bugs have kept me pretty much out of commission for most of December and the early part of January. Preset goals and deadlines became meaningless when the only thing that mattered was having enough cough meds and tissues in the house. Vulnerability should never be underestimated.

With some wind back in my sails, I decided to start up 2017 by pulling out my whole cloth quilt design that had been shelved since last April.

For a quilt like this, I like to preplan and draw in fairly detailed FMQ lines for focal motifs. I love this part of the process and can get completely lost in it.

Completed FMQ butterfly design.

When designing, I rely on a lot of different resources. Our collection of photos is fairly large and is my first source for ideas and inspiration. Books, art, the internet, etc. are all great references as well and I use them all.


For this quilt, I seem to be drawn to the Arts and Crafts Movement (1880's Britain), to Art Nouveau (1890 - 1910) through to Art Deco (1920 - 1940).

The butterfly got a touch of the diva from Erte, a fashion illustrator from the Art Deco period.

"Erté: Art Deco Master of  Graphic Art and Illustrator", by Rosalind Ormiston: Flame Tree Publishing, London 2014

Another illustration from the same book.

Alphonse Mucha inspired this little hummingbird.

Here she is in progress.

Completed hummingbird.

Below is a trial run of FMQ on some gardenias, inspired by William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement

"William Morris: Artist, Craftsman, Pioneer" by P. Ormiston and N.M. Wells; Flame Tree Publishing, 2010 London

The general design layout of the quilt has been printed out to full size, 100" x 100". It's basically a map of all of the elements, with details to be reworked individually


My Notre Dame Rose Window design has found it's way into the background of this quilt along with a scattering of shamrocks.


I have not set many "SeamsFrench" goals for this year, but finishing this quilt this year is a priority for me. It has been on the back burner for far too long so it's definitely time. Updates will be posted.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Scrap Buster IV: Redwork Strip Trees


My 4th and last scrap quilt of the year uses up most of the reds and neutrals in the scrap stash, much of which had already been precut into strips.


Early in the year, soon after I started this adventure of improv quilting with scraps and stash reduction, I realized how seriously out of my comfort zone the exercise was taking me. To the rescue came several books. Among them is Alexandra Ledgerwood's book, "Improvising Tradition" which focuses on using precut strips.  By clarifying her process of "pairing improvised elements and techniques with traditional designs and methods", she has calmed some of the fear and chaos that improv quilting brings to my mind.


Because so much of my scrap stash is precut strips, I found the book particularly appealing. Her pattern "Paper and Plums" with the 12 1/2 inch equilateral triangles was perfect for all of the red and neutral strips in the stash.


The strips are sewn into 12 1/2 inch widths and then cut at precise 60 degree angles. That's a lot of stripping.


I did have to dip into the larger stash to top up the strips, but for the most part, these strips were all left overs from previous projects. Looking at the red blocks now, I'm not crazy about the toile de jouys in the mix, (I find the light background quite jarring), but because the main purpose of this exercise is to use up all scraps, they went into the blocks.

The quilt requires 32 full triangles in red as well as 6 half triangles. I'm about half way there.


The neutral triangles are completed; 31 full and 8 half.


My cumulative block count for the year is 345 to date, which leaves 21 blocks to complete before year's end. Here's hoping that I find the time!

In the meantime, we're battening down the hatches and hunkering down for a second weather system moving in overnight and bringing in colder temps and more snow.  Earlier in the week, this was taken from our balcony.



This amount of snowfall is unusual for this town and Vancouver really slows down with any amount of snow, so I might just get an extra day at the machine this week.



Sunday, November 27, 2016

Boutis Christmas Ornaments

Celebrating the 1st Advent with Boutis

Just in time for the season, I finished these three elegant little boutis ornaments designed by my friend Karen at Averyclaire NeedleArts and available as a kit in her ETSY shop. Using only a running stitch, these ornaments come together quickly and easily following Karen's clearly written instructions.


Included in the kit are all materials required to finish the project, including three different colours of yarn. From time to time, a hint of colour may be added to boutis by cording the channels with a coloured yarn instead of the traditional white.  I chose to do the first ornament below, "Noel", using only red yarn for the cording.


The snowflake is done in the traditional white on white.


The colours of yarn included in the kit are white, red and green. The last ornament has been corded with all three colours.

There are a number of ways to finish the edges of a boutis piece. The most common, and the method I used on the first two ornaments, is a narrow rolled hem invisibly stitched to the back of the piece. Another technique frequently used on smaller projects is the buttonhole stitch, which I have used in this last ornament below.


The ornaments are available in a kit which includes the 3 patterns with clear, concise instructions, fabrics, thread, yarn, needles and finishing ribbon. The little crystal on the ribbon was my own addition. Because they do whip up fairly quickly, there's still time to get them done for Christmas.


Further information on these kits can be found at Averyclaire NeedleArts.



Thursday, November 10, 2016

Boutis Solstice Stars

A Pocketful of Starlight

When the lovely Lady H (grand daughter extraordinaire) made her debut into the world on the winter solstice of 2014,  the quilt to mark her arrival was filled with a galaxy of stars to wish upon.
 

To make sure she never runs out of stars upon which to wish, on each winter solstice another star will be added to the collection. The label on the back of the quilt was made into a little pocket; a place she can safely keep these wishes and promises.

Winter Solstice Star 2014
Her arrival was marked by a quote from William Shakespeare.

Year 1 (below) was celebrated with beading and hand embroidery.

Winter Solstice 2015.

Year 2 is coming up very quickly, and boutis will mark this years celebration. Some beading and embroidery will very likely will likely find it's way into the design as well.

Made with a fine Swiss batiste it will have a white top and ochre back with gold embellishments.

Below is a variation of the same star set into a circular border of "point de vauvert", (the same pattern surrounding the perimeter of  the saffron rose window shade). A little too large for the "pocket", this white on white boutis ornament could swing in a window like a dream catcher, or it could  be a new addition to the Christmas tree.


These stitch up fairly quickly, so there's a good chance they will be finished on time.



Thursday, October 27, 2016

Saffron Boutis Window Shade


This saffron window shade is the second version of my Parisian rose window boutis. As in the first wall hanging, this one is also framed with free motion quilting.


When I originally designed the pattern, I made two versions of it. One on a white batiste, which became a wall hanging, and the second on this ochre coloured batiste.

Using the same technique of reverse applique for finishing, I framed it with a 1/2 inch brown border before being setting into the background.

Because this piece will be illuminated from behind, to do it justice I felt it should have another section of boutis, where light from the window could work it's magic. I made a smaller version of the same pattern, using only the center  rosette. This was also framed with the brown border.

This done, I felt it needed even more definition so I added another saffron border before placing it into the lighter yellow background fabric which would be finished with machine quilting.

With the top completed, the batting was placed on the wrong side, keeping the areas beneath the boutis free. To keep the batting from shifting during construction, I basted it into place close to the edge of the circle before layering the backing fabric on top.

Keeping the boutis exposed, the backing fabric was centered over the boutis and hand appliqued into place.

The back of the finished window shade, measuring 14" x 25", shows both areas of the boutis exposed.

And here at last with front side up, (below), the completed shade is hanging in a window allowing the light to work it's magic. As you will notice, the lower rosette was stitched onto a different type of cotton batiste. Although the 2 fabrics looked almost identical in colour as I was working with them, the difference in quality became very apparent against the window. The top rosette was stitched on a better quality, finer fabric than the lower rosette. But that having been said, I don't mind the richer, deeper gold that shines through the lower boutis.