Monday, September 11, 2017

Art Quilt - 4 Horses Part 2

I spent several days drawing leaves, vines, flowers, ice crystals and whatever else I could dream up on the horses using Frixion pens. They erase with heat so when I make a mistake or want to change something I just iron it away and start over.

I waffled a while on whether or not I would quilt the horses first then paint or paint first then quilt. So it took me a while to get started but I went with paint first.

I started with the Winter horse first, mainly since its the first horse from the right and rest of the quilt is rolled up onto a cardboard tubing. I decided to paint it gray with some kind of icicles coming up from the hoof landing on the ground. But for now, just trying to get the horses done and you know, looking like horses.

The second horse in the Spring horse and I decided to make it a palomino color which is a golden color with white mane/tail. Since white on white fabric never really shows up, I went ahead and added some gray to help it stand out. This horse also has green flowering vines crawling up it's legs.

These two horses are not finished by any means. I still need to darken and highlight some areas and of course no flowers or vines painted in yet. This is more like a good rough draft.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Kaleidoscope Quilt

I came across a video from Red Heart Designs on YouTube demonstrating square triangles. It's basically a kaleidoscope quilt, which I have never done before. It was nice to be able to listen to the video multiple times especially for figuring out how much fabric you need and how to do the measurements. Basically, you get 8 repeats of a fabric pattern and cut it into strips then into squares then cut those in half to get triangles. Each group of triangles is 1 block that you sew together. Remember to keep everything pinned together and you're good to go.

The most important thing about selecting a fabric for this type of quilt is contrast not colors. So fabric that is black and white is usually a good pick. You just have to make sure that there's an interesting pattern not just plain stripes or something.

This is the fabric I selected. It's Kaufman Lumina Metallics Floral Bouquet Peacock, which is a mouthful. There's very dark blue to light cream colors with pinks, purples and greens. There's leaves, flowers, petals, heart shapes and vines in the pattern. The fabric pattern also doesn't have a lot empty space. This maybe bad/good depending on what you want. I also selected another fabric from that series Starry Blender to use as sashing. You don't have to use sashing but I think it frames the blocks nicely.

My fabric repeat was 23 1/2" so I got about 8.5 yards of fabric. I wanted a little extra fabric for borders and got cutting. The cutting of the fabric is really important. You want the repeat of the pattern to be stacked on top of each other exactly. To find the repeat of the pattern simply look at the selvage lettering and pick the first letter. Slid your finger down the selvage until you find the exact some letter again and that's the repeat. You can also do this by locating a particular item, say a heart, in the fabric pattern and slid your finger along the fabric in the exact same location until you find the heart again.

This is after I cut my fabric into strips, squares and then triangles. You can see along the center cut there are several layers of fabric and they are all the same.

Each triangle is one block, so at my sewing machine, I laid the triangles out with the same point into the center. Then I would flip one triangle to the right laying it on top of the neighboring triangle.

Just line up the two pieces as accurately as possible then sew from the tip down. Starting at the tip can be hard since that little tip of fabric might get jammed down into the feed dog so be careful.

After sewing two pieces together, open up the seam and iron. Notice you will have some dog ears. It's the only time you get them but you need to trim them away. Continue sewing until you have 4 sewn pairs instead of 8 triangles. Remember to iron each seam open. This helps keep everything flat.

Continue sewing two pairs together to get a half. Line up the seams.

Now, sew the two halves together to make 1 block. Line up the center seams and pin and pin again at the two ends. You can add more but I didn't feel the need. Here's a good tip from the video. Start at the CENTER and sew out and then flip it over and sew the other side starting from the center.

After you get them all sewn together they need trimmed down into a square. I trimmed mine down to a 9.5" square and I got 30 squares. Here's some of the trimmed blocks.

I laid all 30 squares out and put them where I wanted them. I put a pin in the right side of each square where I needed sashing and sewed the rows together. Next, I cut sashing for the long horizontal sections of the rows and sewed that on. I cut my fabric into 1.5" for 1" finished sashing.

I also wanted to use the main fabric for the border. That way you can see the fabric as a whole. I chose 5" borders so I cut the strips 5.5" wide. I also decided to add a flange in aqua between the sashing and border. Think of the flange as a mini border. I cut some aqua batik in 1" strips, fold it half and ironed. I placed the raw edges along the sashing edge and sandwiched it in between the border and sashing. Place the flange on the top/bottom of your quilt and baste/pin it in place then do the sides. Then you can attach your border. I just pinned my flange on and I really should've basted just to make sure it doesn't slip around.

This quilt was really fun to make. One fabric produced 30 different blocks and not knowing what the quilt was going to look like when I started was new to me and I'm glad it turned out so well. I don't have the binding and quilting done yet but here are some pictures of the finished top.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Four Patch Charm Quilt

You know how your looking around on the internet and you might be on Pinterest, a magazine website or a blog post and you see a particular quilt pattern that you really love and you bookmark that webpage and tell yourself, "one day I will do that quilt, it's awesome!" and within a week or so you forget all about it?

Yeah, we've all done it, don't lie. Anyway, I was going back through my bookmarked webpages basically cleaning out what I don't want anymore and I found this Four Patch Charm Quilt from Tamarack Shack. I bookmarked this quilt years ago and I since I re-discovered it, I decided to get my backside in gear and get it done. It's a simple quilt yet very interesting, which I think is it's appeal. Tamarack Shack was also kind enough to put up a PDF file with instructions on how to make the quilt.

This quilt uses 96, 5" squares. So look for some charm packs or get your scrap fabric out and get sewing! I couldn't find any charm packs that I liked so I bought some fat quarters to cut up. Yes, this will make more cutting for me but cutting 96 squares isn't that bad. I decided to go with Gemstone Stonehenge gradation fabrics because of their rich color. I also bought 7.5 yards of bali batiks handpaints sunflower oyster fabric for the top, binding and backing from If you've never shopped on, I urge you to check it out. I love saving the fabrics to the design wall and when I have enough for whatever project I'm making, they're all saved in one place. I just hope they're all still available when I do want to buy them.

This quilt is a bunch of half square triangles which I didn't realize just looking at the photo of the quilt but the instructions on the PDF are very clear on how to go about making this quilt so I won't reiterate what's on the PDF.

I washed all the fabric, iron everything and got cutting my fat quarters into 5" squares. Next, I cut up my background fabric according to the instructions and once I had all my pieces together I started sewing.

I didn't have any trouble sewing the blocks together or cutting them on the diagonal but I did find I had a lot more trouble with the squares being stretchy after cutting everything on the bias. I had more trouble than what I'd of liked to have had anyway so if your a beginner sewer try to have a more experienced sewer around to help out. Another area I had some issues with was the bulk at some meeting points. Some were super thick to try to sew through so I trimmed out the bulk a few times but some were still really thick to have to deal with.

I laid out my squares according to the diagram and got sewing. I was very pleased with how everything was coming together but I will say making sure your seams lined up correctly was a bit difficult. I consider my sewing skills to be intermediate and I had some trouble and some of them look pretty "off" in some places but I can't help it. I'll rack that up to learning experience and I'm sure I'll do better the second time around. I also noticed after I got borders sewn on that I have 2 blocks out of position. Needless to say it's a glaring mistake in the quilt top and I'm going to have to fix it. It's really frustrating because I checked each row after sewing them together if everything looked okay but even checking it, I still messed up.

Anyway, I completed this quilt top working on it for a few hours each day and got it done in about 6 days. I'm sure if you really wanted to get it done quickly you can do it in a long weekend. I'm hoping to get it quilted soon and I'll post a photo of the quilt completely done in the coming months. My quilt top measured 63x69" when finished to give you an idea of size.

All an all a really nice quilt and the instructions were clear.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Art Quilt - 4 Horses Part 1

Yes! I've started my 4 horses art quilt. I've made some additional decisions since my last post so here they are.

I bought 4.5 yards of PFD (prepared for dyeing) fabric. This fabric hasn't been treated with any stabilizers and I've not washed it. The fabric is supposed to hold onto paints/dyes really well. I didn't wash it but I did throw it into the dryer on the refresh cycle so a little steam was added but that was it.

I created my own image of four horses and projected it onto the fabric and made an outline of the horses. I decided to make the horses realistic in coloring and decorate each one with seasonal themes. So for example, I decided the Spring horse will be a palomino color with white mane/tail and then I'll decorate the horse with flowers, leaves, ribbons and whatever else I can come up with. I might applique them on or just quilt them. I'm not sure about that yet.

I'll probably take some scrap fabric and do some experimenting and see which one my art brain likes the best. There's no right or wrong way to do anything, it's just a matter of which way you prefer to do it. If you're really good at applique that way might be your preferred method if you're better at quilting and painting images then go with that. So I'll have to decided what to do. Might be a combo of both in the end. I'm also kicking around the idea of painting some kind of theme related scenes on the horses. For example, I've been thinking about Summer. How you draw summer? What reminds you that time of year? I think hot, dry weather. So I'm thinking about drawing a hot sun and desert scene on the rump or belly of the horse. I want the viewer to see "hot" when they look at the horse and trying to convey that is going to be a bit tricky. But you get the idea. Not sure if I'll do it or not but I want that to be subtle too so no applique. It would have to be painted image on the horse. But it's just an idea so I have to kick it around a bit.

If I do paint, I've decided on using Jacquard Textile paints. They're opaque, blend well and you can get the paint in bigger quantities than what I used the last time. So I better get to it!

Here's a few pictures of my horse sketches.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Tracking Classes

River and I have been taking a tracking class at SkyDogs in Columbus over the last several weeks. She does a lot with scent work and barn hunting and seems to like to use her nose but tracking classes are not really popular and hard to find. However, one of the owners of SkyDogs lost their dog who is both blind and deaf a few months back and she thought a tracking dog might have been able to find her but there wasn't any available. Thankfully, she did find her dog about a mile away from her house, but this experience gave her the idea to start a tracking class in the hopes that some dogs could be trained enough that if someone has lost their pet, a group of tracking dogs could try to find them.

The group of people who are currently in the tracking class, already has some good experience with scent. Now, we just have to teach the dog to track a certain scent over a distance and outside.

Over the last few weeks, we started slowly. We did simple easy finds with lots of rewards and treats. Every dog in our group did well once they figured out the game. After several classes, we finally moved outside where the challenge increased significantly. The heat, wind, varying surfaces (pavement, grass etc) and other scents from dumpsters, people, animals all make tracking one scent very difficult.

The person who is hiding, drops a scent article and then walks a large distance and hides behind  the corner of a building, dumpster or large shrub or car in the parking lot. The handler and dog team then have to find the person hiding. River has done really well so far.

I also decided to do a bit of practicing on our own. We did two searches for my husband. One morning he walked .3 miles to our local elementary school and sat next to a light post behind the building. Our normal walk never takes us near the school but River seemed to know exactly where he was.  Although she didn't follow in his exact footsteps, which is technically the goal, she didn't have any trouble finding him.

Our second search took my husband .5 miles from the house and ended at one of the ponds in the neighborhood. He was hiding behind a really big pine tree. I noted all the places River seemed really interested in and on our way back home, my husband mentioned places he touched. Sure enough, those locations were the same.

We'll keep working on tracking longer and longer distances and with each time she'll learn more and soon we'll start tracking other dogs.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

New Art Quilt - Horses?

I like making quilts with patterns and I recently purchased a paper piecing pattern called Paradise in Bloom by Judy Niemeyer. I haven't even selected fabric for that one yet but I will. It's early stages for this quilt but I'm hoping to start it soon.

Lately, I've been feeling the need to start another art quilt. I like the freedom of no pattern. It's mine and I can do what I want with it using whatever technique I want to try out.

I've been thinking that I'd make something to do with horses. I originally thought I'd make a quilt featuring carousel horses using the four seasons as a theme. Then I got to thinking that maybe I'll just use real horses instead but I haven't really decided. A picture in my brain is starting to form and it's looking more and more like real horses that are running. And big. Did I mention that? Like 45x120" big. Like scary big. Then the artist part of my brain scoffs and says, "Go big or go home." Stupid art brain...

Not sure how I would handle such a big project but I'd have to be able to hang it up on the wall and draw and/or paint it. I could probably paint it on my dinning room table like I did when I painted the black rhino (see previous posts from my animal quilt in 2015) but I'd rather not because I have to paint each section half at a time, move the fabric then paint the other half and it's a pain. But I'm still seeing four large horses with a seasonal theme but I obviously have a lot of details to work out. It's not out of the question though.

I also want to try some coloring fabric techniques using crayons. Either using them directly on fabric or melting them first then coloring fabric. I've never used them before so maybe my next post will be all about fabric and crayons.

If I do try painting, I'm not going to use the ink I used for my endangered animal quilt since this will be much larger. I'll need a lot more paint and a much bigger brush. So this is my designing, brain storming, figuring out I'm insane stage regarding this art quilt. It's fun and terrifying all at the same time.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Bluebirds and New Visitors

Unfortunately, I haven't seen any bluebirds lately. I'm still putting out live mealworms but I only see house wrens and the occasional chickadee on the feeder.

I have seen two new visitors to my backyard in the last few days. House wrens are small brown birds with a loud singing voice and the other day I saw a larger brown bird chasing what I believed was a house wren. I didn't think much of it until the larger brown bird landed on the mealworm feeder.

So I got my binoculars and watched the feeder and got a good look at the larger brown bird. It looked very similar to the house wren just bigger and with a lighter stripe of cream/yellow through it's eye. My mom mentioned she saw a Carolina wren on her feeder and this little guy matched her description.

If they've been around my yard, I didn't notice them before but it clearly has a cream strip over it's eye, which the house wren lacks and it's belly was a nice buttery yellow color.

I've lived at his house for 18 years and I've never seen bluebirds until this year and there was one other visitor I've seen once in 18 years, which was just a few years ago in my yard. Until this year.

I have a serviceberry bush in my back yard and this year, it seems like there's a lot of berries on it, which are now turning red. I was sitting on my back porch and saw several robins (adults) and a few juvenile robins playing in the tree no doubt stuffing themselves on berries. Robins are also distinctive with gray tops and orangey chests but I noticed two other birds that didn't have those colors and were actually a lot harder to see. So when I looked with binoculars, I saw a brown gray/yellowish colored bird with a black strip in the eye area and I knew what kind of bird it was. A pair of cedar waxwings.

The pair of waxwings kept landing in one of the pines next to my house and I got some really good photos of them. The sun was out the sky was blue. Perfect. Hopefully these guys will make a nest in the pine tree and stick around for the summer.

I've also taken down my regular bird feeder. The house sparrows are a noisy, messy menace and it's been a lot nicer to just have the finch, hummingbird and the mealworm feeders up. The finch feeder has goldfinches and house finches and the mealworm feeders has wrens and bluebirds. Guess I'll have to put out some fruit and see if the waxwings will stick around for oranges.