Blended Cultures

IMG_3900Of the four quilts that I entered this year in the Minnesota State Fair, I have described three of them previously.  Now that the busy summer schedule has settled down, it’s time I describe the fourth quilt I entered.

This quilt was made a the request of someone I know.  He asked if I could make a quilt for his new grandson. My response was “sure – what kind of quilt was he thinking of”.  Further conversations helped focus my design ideas.  He said he wanted the quilt to be twin sized and to incorporate the cultures of his son, who is Swedish, and his daughter-in-law, who was adopted as an infant from India.  This sounded like a fun quilt to work on.

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First, I needed to figure out the main piecing theme of the quilt.  After sending several ideas to him, he selected a large eight pointed star pattern.  My design incorporated blue and yellow points for the Swedish half of the star and red, orange and green points for the India half of the star. At the top of the quilt, one of the blue points was adjacent to a red point to bring the two cultures together in an American section of the quilt.

IMG_3103After selecting several batik fabrics, I started piecing the quilt.  While piecing, I was drawing out ideas for the quilting.  I wanted to incorporate, with just thread, some images that reflected the heritage of the child.  By using thread and not applique, the main design of the quilt would not overwhelmed by too much going on with the fabric. For inspiration, I sought some advise from several friends who are from India and Sweden.

For the Swedish heritage, I stitched out a moose, a fox and some rosemaling. For the India heritage, I stitched out an elephant, a peacock and some paisley patterns. For the American heritage, an eagle was stitched. Each of these designs were stitched out in the background sections between each point of the star with a thread color slightly darker than the fabric. In the other three sections, I put the child’s birth month, date and year.  The designs were surrounded by a diagonal hatch fill in the same color as the fabric to help the images show better.

 

Around the star, several circles was sewn.  Between the lines of the outer circles, I thought it would be nice to include the child’s name – so that was sewn in the bottom section of the circles.  To fill the rest of the circle, I once again consulted my friends.  I thought perhaps there would be a phase that was specific to each culture that I could stitch out.  I asked my friends if they could give me a list of three phrases that might be said of or to a young child, or more specifically a young boy.  When I compared the lists, I was surprised to find one of the phrases was on both the Swedish list and the India list.  That phrase “May you live long, my son” was included in  the quilting.  The phrase, in English, was stitched at the top of the circles on the quilt.  Then, on the Swedish side of the quilt, it was stitched in Swedish.  And, on the India side of the quilt, it was stitched in Hindi. To fill in the space between the name and phrases, paisley patterns were stitched.

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The rest of the background was filled with some stitching to replicate Scandinavian rosemaling. This was then highlighted with some straight hatch fill.

I had not intended to enter this quilt in the fair.  However, while working on it, the design was coming together so nicely that I asked permission to enter it. My quilt entry was named “Blended Cultures – Swedish and Hindi heritage in an American Boy” and was enter in the Commemorative Quilt Category.  The blue ribbon the quilt was given was a nice surprise for a “last minute” entry.  This was such a last minute entry that I forgot to take some close up pictures of the finished quilt before dropping it off at the fair.  And, the day I picked it up from the fair, I had promised to deliver it to the family that it was made for.  So, some of my photos were taken rather poorly while in my car.  But, alas it’s still a really fun quilt and I am glad I had a chance to make it.

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Sunshine in St. Kitts

Spring Break has been a great escape from the snow of Minnesota.

Day One: MSP – MIA – SKBIMG_3215

We left behind the snow in our front yard…

Day Two:

…and after settling into our villa, we awoke to sun, sand and beautiful landscape.

Day Three: Tour of the Island

Overlooking the Southeast Peninsula of St. Kitts

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Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Ocean, Frigate’s Bay and Basseterre.

Basseterre’s sites and Wingfield Estate.

Romney Manor and Caribelle Batiks

 

Brimstone Hill Fortress

 

Convent Bay

Lots of Sheep

Day Four:

My Birthday – Time to relax in the sun

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Sunset Dinner in Frigate’s Bay

Day Five: More relaxation in the sun

And some really cute cats to play with.

Day Six:

Ferry to Nevis

First Hotel in the Caribbean and Bathhouse (the water was really, really hot!)

Montpelier Estate – really quaint hotel!

Hermitage Plantation Inn – another really nice hotel.

Lots of old churches – all still active.

Back in St. Kitt’s

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We have one more day of sunshine before heading to back to Minnesota.

Hopefully Spring will arrive soon.

Fractured Tree

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“Fractured Tree” wall hanging.

I enjoy reading historical fiction books. When reading, I like to look up information about the events happening at the specific time in history.  This helps me understand the book’s story line better.

I enjoy these books even more when there is a reference to the art of the era.  Having recently I read the latest book by Jennifer Chiaverini, I did some additional reading about the history of quilting.

One of the sources talked about Depression Era quilts.  Many of these quilts were string quilts made of small fabric scraps stitched together to make a piece of fabric large enough to cut a pattern piece. These larger pieces were stitched together to make a quilt block. The quilt blocks were put together to make a quilt top. This method was used during hard times when money and fabric were scarce.  Scraps of all sizes were utilized.

 

Over the past decade, this method has also made a resurgence within the art quilt community.

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There were several pictures of a string quilts that have caught my attention.

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One of the quilters that I really liked was Ursula Kern.  Her string quilts are breathtaking.  The illusion of movement and shape that she creates is absolutely amazing.

 

 

 

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I decided that I wanted to try to make a string quilt wall hanging for my sewing room.  With wall space limited, the only spot I had left to hang something was adjacent to my four seasons landscape quilt.  So, in keeping the the landscape theme, I thought a tree might fit the area well.

 

Looking at tree clipart images, I selected one, traced it out on pellon, and then divided the pellon into a 7×11 grid. Each section of the grid (2″ x 3.75″)  was used as one block of the string quilting.

Since I have a lot a scraps from various other quilts, and not wanting to purchase more fabric right now, I pulled out my scraps, sorted them by color and started creating each of the blocks.

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Pieced, but not quilted.

 

The seventy seven blocks were sewn together (with numerous changes to match my design better). The illusion is somewhat like a stained glass window – I really like it!

For the quilting, I used one layer of Quilter’s Dream Cotton batting.  To create texture for the tree and shrubs, I placed pieces of Quilter’s Dream Wool batting in these areas between the cotton batting and the pieced top.  The background sky was quilted with straight lines and the tree was loosely quilted to allow the depth of the batting to show.

 

Burst – Quilting closeups

A friend recently pointed out that I had not posted pictures of the quilting of my Burst quilt, as I had originally said I would do.

So, here are a few close-ups.

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Small corner Burst
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Small middle Burst
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Large Burst

And, the full quilt hanging on my wall.

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I especially like how the doll quilt turned out.  Kinda wish I had made the bed quilt the same design! Maybe, some day, I will make this quilt again (perhaps with a black background?)

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The Minnesota Great Get-Together

img_2410.jpgThe Minnesota State Fair is currently taking place.  If you are not from MN, you may not realize how big our state fair is.  While MN only ranks 12th in size and 21st in population, it ranks second in state fair attendance, with over 2 million people attending each year.  This is just behind Texas at 2.25 million visitors.  However, Texas is second in land mass, second in population, and their state fair runs for 24 days (twice the length of the MN fair).  Thus, I would say that the Minnesota State Fair outranks even Texas.

The fair is so popular that, even on a rainy morning like today, there were lots of people in attendance.  What do people like to do at the fair?  When I asked some of my friends, they replied: eat the food, attend a concert, eat the food, see the animals, eat the food….

I think you get the picture – there is lots of food to eat if that is what you are interested in.

For me, the State Fair is a place to go to see the craftsmanship and creativity in the Arts and Crafts Building. Today was no exception.  After getting very wet walking from the transit center to the A&C building, I spent a couple hours walking around taking pictures.

Here are my quilts:

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Me (with my wet hair) in front of “Burst Doll Quilt”, which received a first place in the child quilt category.
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“Burst” bed quilt received a second place in the pieced bed quilt category.
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My reversible tree quilt “Childhood Memories” received a second place in the mixed techniques category.  Unfortunately, you can only see one side of the quilt and none of the shadow painting.  
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“Window on My World” placed fourth in the wall quilt category.  I re-entered it this year because I was surprised that it did not place last year and knew that there was a different judge this year. 

Some of the other quilting highlights:

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Sweepstakes winner – Mary Alsop

 

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Best Hand Applique – Terri White
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Best Machine Quilting – Marilla Schmitt
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Knit & Bolt Award – Susan Nevling

 

Some other crafts that caught my eye:

 

“Childhood Memories” – finished quilt

 

When designing a quilt, I like to plan the quilting at the same time as the piecing.  This allows me to think about adding something unique to each quilt.  My recent project for the two sided tree quilt was no exception.

The quilting of the tree, leaves and background would be fairly straightforward.  Wanting to add something special to the quilt, I thought about what I could add to the tree.  One idea was to place flowers or shrubs at the base of the tree.  Another was to add some animals.

My final idea, and the one I actually used, came while reviewing some photos from my childhood.  These photos brought back memories of things growing up.  I decided to add theses memories to the quilt.

I needed to invoke the idea of a memory without overwhelming the quilt.  To do that, I planned to used only thread to make the images appear very faint.  After stitching, I realized  that the images were there but extremely hard to see.  Having recently purchase some textile medium (InFusion Textile Medium) that was very lightweight (did not stiffen the fabric) and shiny, I decided to use this to enhance the visual effect of the memories.

I am really happy how they turned out.  If you look closely at the images, you will see a boy leaning against the tree reading a book, a girl on a tree swing, and their faithful dog laying on the ground near them.

Painting

 

Here are the full images of the quilt front and back:

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Hand applique and embroidery

How do you applique a two sided quilt?

You think, think, plan, think some more, plan again and then finally jump in and do it.  That kinda describes the process I went through when contemplating the idea of embroidering an identical tree on both sides of a quilt.

Idea #1

  •  adhere light weight fabric adhesive to the back of two pieces of fabric for the tree trunks
  • draw the tree trunk onto the fabric and cut out two identical trees
  • adhere the tree to one side of the quilt and baste in place
  • adhere the tree on other side and then machine embroidery through all layers of the quilt and tree
  • machine quilt the details onto the tree
  • Concern – machine quilting will cause the quilt to be “flattened” and lining up the edges of the tree on each both sides of the quilt would be difficult

Idea #2

  • baste stitch the outline of the tree onto the quilt
  • cut out fabric to match the tree
  • use needle turn embroidery to stitch the tree onto each side of the quilt
  • machine quilt  the details onto the tree
  • Concern – it might be difficult to control the amount of fabric involved while doing hand embroidery

Idea #3

  • pin large pieces of the tree fabric to both sides of the quilt
  • machine quilt the tree details onto the tree
  • trim the fabric approximately 5/8″ – 3/4″ away from quilting details
  • use needle turn embroidery to stitch the fabric to the quilt
  • This was ultimately the idea I decided to use for the trees, sun and moon

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Daytime detail:

I decided to hand applique leaves onto the daytime side of the quilt.  To do this, I pinned pieces of green fabric onto the quilted tree.  Then I machine quilted the outline and veins of a leaf onto each piece of fabric.  After cutting around each stitched leaf, I used needle turn embroidery to secure the edges of the fabric.

Nighttime detail:

I did not want to use the same technique on the nighttime side of the quilt. So, after completing the daytime side, I used the quilting lines as a guide to paint faint green fabric dye onto the leaves and then hand embroidered outlines around the leaves.

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Unfortunately while quilting the leaves onto the daytime side, my long arm machine handles fell off the machine while I was working on a leaf.  When this happened, the needle broke and the broken needle tore the fabric through all layers of the quilt.  This picture shows that even on the backside of the quilt, the broken needle tore the fabric. I was really bummed!

To fix the tear, I could applique a leaf onto the daytime side.  But, how do I fix the tear on the nighttime side.  I could applique leaves on this side as well.  However, that was more applique then I really wanted to do.  And, I had really wanted the two sides of the quilt to use different techniques.  This was really frustrating.

Ultimately, I decided to add a bit more detail to the quilt.  By appliqueing an owl on the nighttime side and a cardinal to the daytime side, I was able to repair the quilt and no one can even tell that the quilt was torn.

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A good repair and some nice details for the quilt! I have added more details to the quilt that were really fun to do.  I will post about those soon.