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Quilting with Shadows

Earlier this year, I wrote about a wall quilt I made that depicted the skylines of Minneapolis and St. Paul. This quilt was made as a retirement gift for a friend who spends a lot of her time volunteering with various organizations, serving on foundations and helping her friends and family members within the Twin Cities. She truly has a heart of giving and I was hoping this quilt would show her that the people around her appreciate all that she has done.

After completing the quilt, I decided to make a few more wall quilts before giving it away. Being in a study club with five members, I realized that if I were to give her a wall quilt for retirement, the others in the group would know what to expect when they retire. Thus, four more wall quilts were completed over the summer and fall. And, while she retired at the end of 2019, I was recently able to gift this wall quilt to her.

One of the other wall quilts I created was for a friend who will be retiring at the end of 2020. When thinking about a theme for her quilt, I kept coming back to how often she posts pictures of her family, especially her children, and the great ways the all interact together.

Her family represents several heritages and she loves to travel. So, the quilt design I selected was a piecework pattern called “Trip Around the World”. This classic piecework pattern involves using uniform squares, radiating out from a center. While this pattern looks time consuming with all the squares, using strip quilting makes this pattern super easy!

The colors of the quilt were based upon colors in a fused glass plate that she purchased from me a few years ago. At the time, she said the colors matched her home.

I also wanted to depict her family in the quilt, but without detracting from the beauty of the piecing. To do this, I decided to use the quilting to show her family.

The entire quilt was first quilted with a rather simple swirl design.

After that was completed, I quilted a shadow of a family. To design the quilting of the family, I used a photo of a family of five jumping and expressing joy. Each person of the “family” were quilted with a different color of thread.

A sixth member of their family is also included in the quilting. Eighteen years ago, at just under the age of three, one of my friend’s daughters passed away from childhood cancer.

I know that she is still in the minds of her family, so I wanted to include her as well. In the shadow quilting, I stitched a girl on a swing. She is seen swinging on each side of the family, thus, creating somewhat of a circle around the rest of the family members.

This was an enjoyable quilt to make and even more enjoyable to recently gift it to my friend. I wish her a wonderful retirement!

Featured

My Cat loves my new Jelly Roll Rug

I love fabric, and so does my cat.  She will crawl under, lie on top of, and occupy any surface that has fabric on it.

Whether it’s a pile of quilts…img_2289

A quilt on my sewing room sofa…img_2256-1

My footstool…

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A drawer of fabric that I am trying to find something in… img_5257

A quilt on my sewing frame…IMG_2723

Or just a basket of scraps.img_5260

She pretty much spends her entire day in my sewing room, sleeping on one soft surface or another. This weekend was no exception. She was my constant companion (for good and bad).

Having ended a long week at work, this weekend I really wanted a “mindless” project that didn’t require much thought but would make me feel like I had accomplished something.  A Jelly Roll Rug seemed like the perfect project to work on.  For a nice tutorial on making a rug, see Erica Arndt’s video.  I had never made one before and surprisingly, it was a rather quick project and perfect for my weekend.

I’ve seen Jelly Roll Rugs in the past and have thought that I would like to make one.  In fact, nearly two years ago, I sorted through some of my scrap batik fabrics thinking that they would make a lovely rug for my sewing room.  The fabrics were stacked in my closet, and promptly ignored because of other projects that I wanted to make.

IMG_5244Taking this pile of fabric out of the closet and placing it on my sewing desk was “heaven” to my cat.  She kept wanting to lay down on top of the fabrics. To make the rug, instead of using a Jelly Roll, I sorted my fabrics into a rainbow gradient and cut my own 2.5″ strips.   I used a total of 22 different fabrics.  Rather than doing a standard jelly roll rug pattern, I wanted each fabric to make one complete circle around the quilt.  This meant I needed to complete each round before added the fabric for the next round to the  project.  I also pieced my fabric with straight seams rather than cutting at an angle (I hate to waste fabric).

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Starting with one strip of the first fabric, each round increased in size.  The last round used 3 strips of the darkest fabric.  Thus, I used anywhere from 2.5 inches to a maximum of a quarter yard of fabric.

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For the batting, I cut 2″ strips from scrap batting until all of my leftovers were used up (Yeah – I emptied an entire storage container of odd sized pieces of batting!).  When I ran out of leftover batting, I decided to try using a precut batting spool.  This was an easier and quicker way to work on the rug. To manage the roll, I clamped a wooden rod to my sewing desk.  With the roll on the rod, the batting came off  without twisting. This also kept the roll off the floor where my cat would try to play with it.

IMG_5247I found a handy folding tool that I used to make the project go faster.

All in all, this was a fun project that I was able to complete in one weekend.  If I had used a precut jelly roll and precut batting, I could have easily completed it in a day.

 

I now have a colorful rug on my sewing room floor.IMG_3378

And, my cat seems to enjoy it as well.  Luckily she has no claws!

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Home

Over the past days, the governor of Minnesota has issued numerous executive orders that have impacted my life, the latest of which is Emergency Executive Order 20-20.  This order directs Minnesotans to “Stay at Home” for the next two weeks. Since my dental office is shut down and my son returned from NYC,  I have already been staying home.

With some of my unexpected free time, I have finally finished a quilting project that I started a while ago.  The inspiration of this quilt came from my sister-in-law.  Last summer, she asked me to design a wall quilt of the Paris skyline for her to make.

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Brief directions to make the background of a skyline quilt.

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After I designed her quilt, I thought I would make something similar – a wall quilt of the twin cities – Minneapolis and St. Paul.  For the background of the wall quilt, I followed the instructions I had written for my sister-in law, except I used blue batik fabrics from my stash, rather than purple.

The background was loaded onto my quilting frame and quilted with evenly spaced horizontal lines.

For the skyline, I found several images on-line.  By combining ideas and removing most of the white areas,  I had a nice skyline of Minneapolis and St. Paul. 

After importing these images into my Cameo software, I cut the pattern of the skyline out of starched black cotton fabric that was sandwiched between Heat-N-Bond Lite and freezer paper.

These silhouettes were then ironed onto the background. Using several different quilting fill patterns, I then quilted detail to differentiate each of the individual buildings.IMG_4391IMG_4392

Because the Twin Cities are known for the numerous parks and parkways, I added  green fabric along the bottom edge to depict the landscaping of the cities.

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The wall quilt was then bound and ready to hang. 

Over the past week while looking at the wall quilt, I felt it needed something more.  Last night I augment the design with some “bling”.

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With the help of one of my sons, I found a Star Constellation Chart. Using 3 mm heat transfer rhinestones, I replicated the constellations that would be visible over the Twin Cities. I also added some rhinestone on a few of the towers. 

Hometown wall quilt complete!

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As I went for my walk this morning, I was reminded that this may be my “hometown” for now.  And, my home may be impacted by the events of today. But I need to look past today’s news and worries about tomorrow, and take comfort in the fact that my hope is not bound to the circumstances of this world. In short – this world is not my home – my home is indeed in Heaven. 

 

 

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.

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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.