Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Boutis Star to Celebrate the Solstice

A boutis star to celebrate the winter solstice.

Grand Baby H, now the young Lady H, turns 3.
I can't imagine a better reason for celebrating!

Wishing everyone a very happy  Christmas season.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Quilting with Silk: Whole Cloth Sampler

Choosing and Prepping Materials

Although I have quilted on silk in the past, never has it been on a scale like the 100" x 100" whole cloth quilt I am currently working on.

There are  so many things to consider when quilting with less familiar materials like dupioni silk. 

There's the question of  prewashing or not?
Some say yes, others say never.
Underline? When is it necessary?
How will it affect the loft?

Markers react differently on silk. Blue wash-outs can spread and must be washed out after the quilt is made, (you are then committed to pre-washing the silk).  Chalk marks easily and is fairly visible initially, but will rub off long before the large quilt is completed. What will show up the best on a dark fabric?

Battings. Wool? High loft polyester? 80/20?
Combinations of two?
Partial combination, like trapunto style (see below).

Which threads to use? Colour? Weight?
Will it highlight the main motifs?
Which thread disappears into the background but gives the best relief to the design?

As I experiment with all of these variables in the next few weeks, I will document my findings and share the results.

I am enjoying this journey a great deal and am looking forward to the next stage.

I'll be back soon with some early results.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Book Review: "East Meets West Quilts: Explore Improv with Japanese Inspired Designs"

"Enjoy the delight of discovery as you try something new. Give yourself permission not to know exactly where you are going. Yet note that creating improvisational quilts is never arbitrary or accidental; It requires active discernment in determining each design choice."
 Quote by permission of the author, Patricia Belyea

In her book "East Meets West Quilts: Explore Improv with Japanese Inspired Designs", Patricia Belyea introduces the quilter to a fun and fresh method of improvisational piecing using Japanese prints as her inspiration.

Written by Patricia Belyea. Photography by Kate Baldwin. Published by Abrams, New York, 2017.

Patricia's comfortable approach to improv piecing eases the reluctant improv quilter (eg. ... me) to drop those nasty self imposed inhibitions and restrictions and have fun playing with colour and pattern, while at the same time providing a safety net with a few basic concepts.

Using strong solids next to vintage yukatas, as in "The Art of Flowers", Patricia's simplified approach to improvisational piecing makes the process attainable and fun .

Her choice of fabric, colours  and layout are symbolic and thoughtful references to Japanese culture. Each quilt presented is accompanied by a brief description of the tradition represented in the quilt, as in Sakura Spring, which references the cherry blossom season.

Clear, concise construction directions accompany each quilt showcased in the book. The last two chapters present basic quilting instructions with some innovative finishing techniques.

Beautifully written and photographed, the book takes the reader on a cultural exchange, where Japanese fabrics and western quilting techniques create a fresh and freeing take on improv piecing.

Vintage Japanese cotton prints, called yukata cottons, frame the book.

"East Meets West Quilts: Explore Improv with Japanese Inspired Designs"
 by Patricia Belyea

is available through Amazon and on the Okan Arts website.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Boutis and Butterflies in a Tri-Fold Pouch

Little pouches come in handy for a number purposes. They can provide a protective sleeve for cell phones, mini tablets, cameras, etc. Or, by adding a looped cord to use as a handle, it can serve as a small evening bag to accommodate essentials. When I spend a lot of time making something, it's nice if there's a practical purpose to the item.

This is the second tri-fold butterfly pouch that I have made. It is a little larger than the first, and the design has evolved somewhat.

The 2nd, newer version of the butterfly pouch.

The original butterfly pouch; smaller with different motifs.

The latest pouch is lined with a grey cotton and assembled in the same way as I did the first. See the first pouch here.

Open front.

Back and front flap.

This close-up of the butterfly highlights the background filler stitch. The stitch, called "point rapproche" (meaning back and forth stitch), has a similar effect as the basic stipple stitch in machine quilting.

Enough pouches for now.
Time to focus on Christmas ornaments.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Thanksgiving Already!

It's already Thanksgiving in Canada.
Where did the summer go?

Wishing everyone on both sides of the 49th parallel a wonderful autumn weekend.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Boutis: Pouches and More

Although I have not written about boutis in a very long time, it is still very much a part of what I do. Over the last year, aside from making progress on some earlier projects (completing some), I am constantly working on new designs.

With all the time and effort that goes into making a piece of boutis, it's nice if at the end there is a practical use for what I have just made. The pouches that I have been working on can have a variety of uses, such as sleeves for cell phones and sunglasses,  holding sewing notions, etc.  The first six images show three of the little pouches (or sleeves) that have been my experimental playground.

The pattern evolves with each pouch as I work out the design kinks and look for better, more efficient methods and materials. An example is the circular surround enclosing the little butterfly motif below. In it's current state, it looks quite unfinished at the lower end and will need some reworking.

This is a tri-fold pouch which is stitched on a white Swiss cotton batiste.

The reworked version has two additional channels around the perimeter of the pouch which gives it a cleaner finish.

Finding quality, appropriate materials for boutis in North America is also an on-going search. Some of the supplies are available on-line from French sources, but for the sake of convenience and cost, I have been looking for replacements of equal quality closer to home.

Good quality white Swiss cotton batiste can be found fairly easily, however, the colours saffron and purple are also sometimes used in traditional French boutis, but more difficult to find in a cotton as fine as the batiste.

The saffron phone sleeve below is made on a gorgeous, silky like cotton, purchased in person from a Boutis supplier in France, but unavailable on line. I have not found any replacement cotton in colour quite as perfect for boutis.

My cell phone slips nicely into this little sleeve.

I used a Provencal bumble bee print for the lining.

To overcome this problem my friend Karen of Averyclaire Needlearts, who also creates boutis, has started dying good quality white batiste into colours that she likes to use for her work. It makes a very good alternate choice. The purple sleeve below was made using Karen's dyed batiste.

Another sleeve with a few minor design changes.

Aside from the pouches, work on my Notre Dame Rose Window (below) is also progressing. The stitching of all the channels has been finished and I'm now working little needle lace Rosettes into some of the smaller circles. Rosettes and other embroidery stitches are accepted embellishments often used in Boutis.

At the same time, I am re-working my website/blog to accommodate more of a focus on boutis. I am also in the process of developing kits that will be available on Etsy, for those interested in trying this traditional French needlework technique for themselves. The plan is to eventually post some on-line tutorials that will demonstrate the basics of boutis.

In the meantime, this blog and my Facebook page will be up and running as usual.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Machine Quilted Bumble Bee Placemats

Just Buzzing Around

Finishing some "vintage" Phd's (Projects half done) is a quick way to make a bit of a dent in my self imposed goal to "Scrap the Stash" (well, ....., reduce it anyway).

Years ago, when we still spent part of each year in Montpellier, France, these 8 placemats had been cut out and prepped, ready to quilt. But as often happens, the project was interrupted and the materials were "filed" under "Later". Well, "later" finally came this summer and the placemats got done.

To applique the little bumble bees, I used "Appliquik", a light weight iron on fusible, and then machine satin stitched around the wings and body.

The backing fabric is the typical Provencal cotton found in most French markets. The quality isn't the best, but the colours and designs are a happy reminder of those sunny, warm days in "le grand sud".

All of the quilting is free motion. The swirly border is meant to represent the busy buzzing of the bees and the interior "honeycomb" was inspired by Cindy Seitz-Krug's book, "The Grid Design Workbook". The straight lines gave me the chance to practice with my new ruler presser foot.

As there are still many similar Phd's in the stash, there will never be a time where I will have to wonder "what's next?".