Tuesday, November 1, 2016

This is the newest mini quilt in felted applique technique called 
Cat Faces in Wool.  It is a good beginner pattern to start needle felting because it is only 15" square.  

I had a duplicate design that I made by accident.  It was exactly like one of the birds in the Birds in Wool quilt top I am working on.  So I just made it into a block.  Maybe I'll frame it.  It is 10" high x 11" wide.

This is my wool birds quilt so far.  I am going to add two more birds in the corners at the bottom.  The borders and the cornerstones are just pinned on, so they are a bit wonky.  The borders are 6" wide to give you an idea of scale. 

The question right now is which border arrangement will I choose? or something totally different?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Birds quilt in progress

It is always a challenge to think up a new theme to try for my Felted Applique technique.  I have been kicking around the idea of birds since my Birds and Flowers machine applique pattern is about to run out.  There is so much more I can do with felting than machine applique to make the birds look more real with shading and hand embroidery for the details.  The trick to getting the birds to look like their real buddies out at my bird feeder is getting the beaks the right shape and with sharp points.   The dove at the bottom left still needs legs and feet, but they may go into the border.

Birds and Flowers

The crazy quilt stitching where the blocks overlap is my unique take on basic stitches like feather stitch or herringbone stitch and adding more stitches to the “arms” of the base stitch like a chain stitch, or fly, or French knot (I prefer a Colonial stitch to French knot because they don't get pulled to the wrong side of the quilt top).
Birds and Flowers

On our trip to Manchester NH for the World Quilt show in August, I was working on the 12th bird in the car.  We got out of the car for breaks and the bird went missing.  I thought maybe he fell out as I exited the car.  Once we got home I found him in between the passenger seat and the console.  The gremlins follow me around and rearrange things like The Borrowers did in the book I read as a kid.  I am so happy I didn't lose this bird, but the quilt top is square and he doesn't fit anywhere.  Now, I need to increase the number of birds to make another row.  I have time yet.  Somebody suggested that I include a hummingbird and the throated flowers they prefer.  If you have a suggestion, email me back.  All new patterns will appear on my home page of my website as they become available.

The plan is to have the finished birds quilt photographed so the cover is ready for the printer in California in early December.  We need the covers to complete the pattern by mid-January when I start teaching it in Orlando and Hampton VA and Somerset NJ at the beginning of the year.

I am working on one more project to submit to MAQ to teach on Sunday next July.   Four Cat Faces will be in the group for the pattern.  This is what I have so far:
Cat Face

You probably recognize her as Grumpy Cat of internet fame. I am struggling with striped cats, trying to get three more examples.  Although they are pretty in the photographs, they just don't work for a pattern, especially for people who possibly can't draw.  So I need to simplify the designs.  Everything is a learning experience for me.  There will be solid colored cats or maybe like a calico cat with spots of color. I have ten days until my proposals are due.  There is no guarantee that MAQ (Mid-Appalachian Quilters guild) will choose my projects.  I'll cross my fingers.

If you are interested in taking one of my classes in Hampton VA, make sure you sign up in December, because last year my two half day classes sold out very fast.  The classes aren't ready for sign ups yet, so keep checking back.  This show is probably the best and largest show on the east coast.  It is well worth making the effort to attend.  You will be inspired.  Plan on taking it in for two or three days as there is so much to see.

We had a lady at our show in Oaks PA last weekend who wanted to try my Felted Applique technique but she didn't see a theme she wanted to do.  I suggested that she choose a machine applique theme and I gave her a free conversion pattern with tips so she could learn what to do when she got home.  She chose Fancy Fowl.  I helped her choose a hand dyed background and an applique fabric, and she chose the roving colors to do one chicken.  She was thrilled to be exploring something new.  We'll meet again in Hampton.  Now this works both ways, if you like the critters and layout of one of my Felted Applique quilts, you can make it a machine applique quilt in cotton or wool fabric.

I made a terrific discovery when I quilted the Woolly Fish with WOOL batting.   I quilted it on the sewing machine because wool is too thick to hand quilt.  I only quilted on the background in spiral shapes (to indicate water and movement).  What I learned was how lofty wool batting is.  Where I didn't quilt, the appliques popped out creating a very nifty bas-relief effect.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Woolly Fish Quilt is finished!!

 Woolly Fish, the idea of it, is so crazy.  I used the drawings from my Tropical Fish pattern which I first published in 1990 as a cotton quilt.  I've been focusing on wool since 2007 when I found the felting tool.  I have been tweaking my technique ever since.  Behind each critter is a wool applique on top of a hand dyed wool background.  Then I used the felting tool with three barbed needles, to poke wool hand dyed fibers, covering up the applique so you can't see any of it.  The applique serves as a easy way to copy the shape of a design without tracing.  More and more fish appliques were arranged and poked and then the environment was incorporated into the design...a sea fan, sea weeds,  kelp, sea cucumbers that look like tubes, and corals...

The backgrounds are composed of 10" hand dyed strips, going sideways.  Some were not the right size for the width of the quilt as it was developing, so I added scraps by felting the backgrounds together and embroidering over the joints, or adding more felting representing sea weeds. Nothing was pre-planned.  The quilt had a mind of its own, and it told me what to do next.  Most of the fish have 3-D side fins. They were made by felting directly of the foam block without a background.  Just keep turning the piece of roving over and over while your poke with the felting tool. When it won't pull apart, then you can use scissors to cut it to shape.

I had the good fortune to visit the NE Aquarium just before Thanksgiving.  I took lots of photographs of the vegetation so my quilt would have more visual interest and that gave me more opportunities to embellish.  Here are some of the photos I took:

That cauliflower looking coral could have been done with beads, French knots or ruching the fabric. I didn't use this idea, but I may sometime in the future.

A cute puffer fish.

 Brain coral!

 Lots of textures and colors.

Tubes and flat corals.

A wonderful starfish sucking on the aquarium glass.

Spiral shaped coral.

Not all my blocks which I had photographed in an earlier blog entry, made it into this quilt.  My thinking was that this block's colors didn't work with the other blocks.

Here is what one block looked like then in the last few weeks I've been adding a border, and  embellishing with beads and embroidery.
This block was not working with the colors of the final quilt, but I am working on it to show that the Woolly Fish could work as a smaller wall hanging. I wanted the tubes to stand up and the feather stitching on the tubes made them stay where I wanted them.