Just to let you know…I haven’t posted in several months, but I also haven’t quit doing so…I will be back soon! Life just got in the way for a while.
Just to let you know…I haven’t posted in several months, but I also haven’t quit doing so…I will be back soon! Life just got in the way for a while.
Yes, that’s right… my July block is finished, and I’m only 2 months behind now. If you not interested in all the details, you’ll find the photo of the block at the bottom of this post.
If you are a follower of my travel blog, Traveling Dancers, you know that we traveled in the east all summer. (I’m also behind about a month with posts to it as well). I didn’t spend as much time on my crafts as usual.
Before we left for our summer journey, we had Christmas in July with our family in Indiana. Had a great time. My CQJP is meant to be a journal of my year, so Christmas in July had to be a part of the block. I found the pattern, Tatted Christmas Tree on the Be-Stitched website. I added red, white and blue beads. This is the tree on my blocking board.
Now the big job was to design my quilt block. We traveled the full length of the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina and Virginia, during July and the first of August. The beautiful mountain scenery had to be my focus.
I started with a photo of the mountains. This is screenshot of the photo inserted into MSPublisher.
Next, using the freeform line tool, I sketched over the mountain ranges. I drew a square box, and moved it over the sketch until I found the section I wanted to portray in the block.
Deleting the photo, I was left with this line drawing for a pattern.
Needing a full size 12.5” pattern, I cropped the drawing into quarters and printed each separately.
I taped the four prints together, then traced each segment (reversed) of the pattern onto freezer paper. I ironed each onto my chosen fabrics allowing 1/4” appliqué seam at the top of each and making sure the bottoms would overlap.
Starting with the top piece, I added each part of the block, appliqueing just the top of each, and then removing the freezer paper. Leaving the paper gave me an edge to turn under the fabric against, helping to shape the curves. After the appliquéing was finished, this was my block.
While traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the stops we enjoyed most was at Mabry Mill. The site contains a reconstructed pioneer village around the original mill. The view is so iconic, some states have actually stolen the image for their own advertising.
While there, we purchased a bag of freshly ground grits, one of Ron’s favorite foods.
I noticed the bag was made of cotton, as the flour sacks of the early twentieth century. I thought it would be fun to include it in my block. After ripping the seams, I colortested it and found that it didn’t fade. I then cut a rectangle from the front of the bag.
This became the focal point of my block. Running behind the patch is the “highway” I have used in my months of travel this summer.
Then, using Picasa, I took 4 photos from the month, and gave them an old Polaroid look. Using Publisher, I added a script font to each to resemble someone having labeled them by hand. I then reversed the images and printed the photos on Tailor Print ‘n’ Press Transfer paper. I wanted this as opposed to the printable fabric, as you can get a glossy look to the transfers, making them look more like real photos.
The photos were scattered randomly along the edges of the Mabry Mill patch and appliquéd. A white on white fabric has been the common factor to all my CQJP blocks. I cut a circle from it and used it as a background for the tatted Christmas tree.
Finally, I was ready for July’s TAST stitches. The first, Bonnet Stitch, I used to outline the Mabry Mill section. I really liked working this stitch.
I also really like the Up and Down Buttonhole Stitch. I used it along the edges of the “Polaroids” and the Oyster Stitch (which I don’t like) on each corner.
Finally, the Palestrina stitch was used to create a red, white and blue border around the circle containing the tatted Christmas Tree. To make it tri-colored, I threaded 3 needles with the threads, then took the stitches alternately.
The four stitches are also portrayed in my sampler sections for this month:
Oyster Stitch … Pussy Willow catkins are one of the first harbingers of spring. Bringing a few branches inside always makes the lingering winter days pass quicker.
Up and Down Button Hole … although a stitch given in July, by the time I stitched this section, it was September and we were hiking at El Morro, NM. The stitch seemed perfect to me to stitch the New Mexico flag symbol. It is a sun symbol used by the Zia, an ancient Native American people.
I had problems visualizing the Bonnet Stitch in some way related to nature, until I came up with the idea of an evergreen wreath. And what better way to portray it than with the red, white and blue of our July Christmas?
The Basque Stitch forms the colorful Cosmos, one of the easiest summer blooming annuals to grow in the Northwest.
And finally, July is finished, only a little over 2 months late. Here is the finished block, “Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway”.
I’ve slipped rather far behind with both the Take A Stitch Tuesday (TAST and Crazy Quilt Journal Project (CQJP) during June and July. See blog posting just prior to this one to see why I fell behind.
We spent the month of June at McCormick’s Creek State Park in Indiana, volunteering as camphosts (a position we’ve had for the past 5 years). We also had two major family events in June. A granddaughter and a grandson both graduated from high school.
This is a rather lengthy explanation of how I made this month’s block. If you have come just to see a photo of the completed block, it’s at the very end of this post. If you would like to read about the evolution of the block, read on.
I wanted to commemorate both our stay and the graduations in my crazy quilt block. I finally decided to divide the block into two halves, one for each graduation and somehow have the park running between the two. It seemed logical to base the park portion on green tree colors, as our campsite is surrounded by trees.
I also wanted to incorporate Alyssa’s school colors, white and purple, and Cameron’s of blue and red, along with their photos, if possible. The question was how to make them all come together? I finally decided to create a green, leafy mosaic running diagonally down the block and blue on each side.
At that point, hexagons seemed to provide an answer. I could print the kids’ photo, name, and school symbol each on hexagons. Then I would make the park mosaic from hexagons slightly smaller. I would include some park photos as well.
The hardest part of each block for me is always deciding on the design. Once I’ve decided, then I really enjoy laying the block out, perhaps even more than its construction.
I used MSPublisher to lay out the block. I’ve used this program a lot over the years as a quilt design tool. I found that my 12 1/2” block would hold 18 hexagons in the diagonal part. The three park photos would be centered.
I had often thought of trying English paper piecing. This seemed like a good time to try it on a smaller scale than most projects. I could not get the templates for the hexagons sized precisely enough with Publisher, so I switched to Adobe Photoshop Elements to help there. Once I had the two exact size hexagons, I duplicated them, and printed them on cardstock. I also used Photoshop Elements to crop the photos into hexagon shapes.
If you need more information on English paper piecing, you will find a detailed tutorial with explanatory photos at this site: Hexagon Paper Pieced Tutorial by Janet M. Davies.
I used Tailor Sew-In Colorfast Sheets to print the photos onto cloth. For the names and school icons, I used Tailor Print-N-Press Transfer Sheets to print them on my white on white fabric (the one fabric common to all my blocks.
I basted all the individual hexagons to the cardstock forms, then played with the ones for the center until I had them laid out in a pleasing pattern. Once I saw how I wanted them, I turned them over and numbered the hexagons to correspond with my pattern numbers. Numbers 3, 10 and 15 would be my park photos. Then I just pieced them together by number.
I found a denim look fabric swath to use on Cameron’s side of the block, and a pastel star printed blue for Alyssa’s. These were basted down to the muslin block base. Pictured to the right of it is the completed green mosaic and those for the graduations.
After pressing, I removed the cardstock forms. Before sewing the fabric to the cardstock, I had punched two holes in each form. I used these holes for the first stitch as I basted the hexagons to the forms. This was the only stitch that penetrated the cardstock, so now it was a simple task to cut that stitch, and remove the forms by flipping them out with the closed scissors inserted through the larger hole.
I blindstitched the green mosaic to the block, but before adding the graduation mosaics, I wanted to embroider them with the first TAST stitch of the month, Buttonhole Wheel. I used it to embellish the center of each three hexagons. Cameron’s presented a bit of a challenge as I wanted to use both red and blue. I threaded two needles with the colors, and alternated the stitches, simultaneously creating a two buttonhole wheels with the same center.
Now I attached the graduation mosaics to each side.
I also stitch a square to my TAST sampler with each new stitch. I created hollyhocks with the Buttonhole Wheel, one of my favorite flowers from the past. Growing up in rural Indiana, every yard had hollyhocks growing, usually around the sides of the outhouse. I’m not sure, unless it was just the ladies way of adding a little color and beauty to every corner. I snapped this photo at the George Rogers Clark National Memorial in Vincennes, IN a few years ago.
Back to the quilt block. The second stitch of the month was the Cable Chain Stitch. I used a variegated green floss to add the stitch around the perimeter of the center mosaic.
I liked this stitch, and as I added it to the block, I was reminded of a string of beads. From there, it was easy to decide how to add it to my nature themed TAST sampler.
As a child, my mother told me of a “bead plant” that she had grown as a young adult. She said it produced beads that you could string together and that they would last forever. She thought the name was “Job’s Tears”. For years, I searched for the seed, and finally a good friend discovered some at a seed exchange. Keep in mind, this was a long time before we were all internet users…today it is a simple matter to locate and purchase the seeds.
The plants grew easily in Indiana, looking like fragile cornstalks. Seeds formed on the top in clusters, and soon dried and hardened on the plant, in varying shades of gray and black. (I’ve taken the following images from the internet, as I don’t have a pictures of the ones I grew.)
As the seed grew dry enough, you could easily detach them from the vine. There was a little tuft of growth in one end that easily pulled out, leaving a clean hole through the center. They truly were beads!
They were pretty in their natural state, but I also sprayed some of them with clear polyurethane when I wanted shiny beads.
But I tend to digress. Here is my Job’s Tears from the Cable Chain Stitch, including a “necklace” border.
Usually there are 4 new stitches each month, but June included a “catch-up” week, so the third and last stitch of the month was the Palestrina Stitch. I found this a hard stitch to master, but finally was able to stitch it rather fluidly. I love the way it adapts itself to corners and turns.
For the block, I used it to create a border around the graduation mosaics.
With the ability to curve the stitch line and to vary the length of the “arms” of the stitch made it an ideal stitch to create woodland ferns, another of my favorite plants. It also fascinates me how a fern can grow seemingly out of the rocks. The first photo was taken at McCormick’s. The second near our site this morning. We are currently camping near the Appalachian Mountains, and the woods are full of ferns.
This is my fern from the Palestrina Stitch.
All that was left was to add some tatting to the block. Leaves from the pattern, La Feuille Frivole, by J Paulson was the perfect link to tie the center of the blocks with the side. I tatted 5 and scattered them on the block.
And here’s the June completed block “Hosting and Celebrating Family”.
My CQJP and TAST projects were set aside for the month of June.
I have made a sequined felt Stocking for each grandchild, and am now continuing the tradition for the great grandchildren. Grandma Jeanne cares for the great grandchildren’s stockings, so I decided to make one for Molly while in Indiana for the summer, so that I wouldn’t have to risk losing it in the mail later.
The kit came with a red background, so I switched out the red with blue felt to more resemble snow on a sky and to coordinate better with sister Grace’s stocking.
This is the finished stocking made from a kit “Snowman and Friends” by Bucilla.
This is the stocking made for Grace last year.
Granddaughter Alyssa loves to read, and asked me for a bookmark. I used the pattern, Flower Bookmark, by Rachael Mohler.
And finally, for grandson Cameron’s birthday, I stitched a dragon card. Although hard to see, this will give you an idea of the card. The dragon is stitched in silver/black metallic thread, and the puffs of smoke in metallic red. Before finishing the card, I cut “smoke puffs” from grey paper with the words, Happy, Belated, and Birthday and attached them with the red starburst stitches on the left of the card. He was out of the country over his birthday.
We were on the road again in May. Spring brings so many wildflowers to our nation’s roadsides, it seemed natural to choose “Roadside Flowers” as my CQJP May theme.
I originally planned to use many different floral prints, but as I searched for fabrics, they just didn’t seem to coordinate. I finally chose just two floral prints and 3 shades of green. I decided to paper piece a fan shape for the block (it seems as if most crazy quilt designs contain random shapes; no matter how I try not to create symmetrically, I seem to keep returning to symmetrical designs), so I laid out the long strips of the block on paper to use in piecing.
The first TAST stitch of the month, Crossed Buttonhole Stitch was used to embellish the center most seams of the block. I’ve been surprised to see how decorative variations of the common buttonhole stitch can be.
On my TAST Sampler, the stitch became a Crossed Rail Fence.
The next week’s stitch was the Half Chevron, and it embellishes the next two seams on the quilt block. I like stitching this stitch.
I also used it in a circular pattern to create a purple thistle for my TAST sampler. My designing of the thistle is described in a prior post.
The following week our TAST group explored stitching the bullion stitch. I have avoided this stitch in the past, imagining it to be difficult, yet as I began stitching it, I found that I love the shaping and appearance of the stitch. For the sampler, I created “Dragonflies among the Cattails”
On the quilt block, the stitch was used on the next two seams with a variegated floss. As I stitched the seams, I envisioned the stitches as flowers hanging from a vine. However, as I completed the block, it worked better rotated, and the bullion flowers became upturned.
Next came the Butterfly Chain Stitch, a natural for Kites on my TAST Sampler…Why kites on a nature themed sampler?…. What better way to be a part of nature than to be out on a crisp March day in the sun, flying a kite?
One of my best school memories date back to the years when I was in the 5th and 6th grade. I wasn’t fortunate enough to go to a one room school, but it was close – a “three room school” with two grades per room (and teacher). On those particular years, our teacher allowed us to bring kites to school, and to fly them in the nearby vacant lot during the lunch hour. The sky blossomed with kites of every color.
We often took advantage of his good nature, and would make sure the kites were at their highest right before the bell rang to return to class. Ten to fifteen minutes later, we would breathlessly arrive late to class, (“I got the kite down as ‘quickly’ as possible, honest” ) with very little reprimand forthcoming. Looking back, I can see that the teacher, seemingly strict in many ways, remembered what it was like to be a kid in springtime.
I used the Butterfly Chain Stitch on the next seams of the quilt block, again as flowers, but the blue floss (with yellow centers) I chose to complement the fabric colors, does not show up as well as I’d like.
The last week of May brought the Knotted Cretan stitch. I struggled with this stitch trying to decide how I could incorporate it into my sampler which has a nature theme. I finally came up with a fantasy pinwheel flower, picturing it in full bloom, budded and partially blooming.
For the quilt block, I decided to create a simple variegated green vine running along the last 2 seams of the flowers.
I used the white on white fabric, common to all my blocks for the quarter circle of the “fan”. It seemed a little plain, so I added a flower from a lace panel Bernice shared with me.
As I had in May, to symbolize our travels, I added a “highway” bias strip to the block. It was the adding of this element that changed my mind on the orientation of the block, and I turned it 180 degrees from what I originally planned.
As we entered each state in May, I snapped photos of the Welcome signs.
These became the signs on my quilt block
Finally, all that was left to add was a tatted element. I wanted to use all the floss colors I had embellished the seams with, so I wound 5 bobbins, each with 2 strands of DMC floss. I used a poster tacky adhesive to stick the 4 flower color bobbins together so they wouldn’t tangle.
I used Sheron Goldin’s pattern, “Mother-In-Law’s Edging” and the same technique as she describes for a double bobbin, except that instead of a double bobbin with 2 thread colors for the flowers, I have 4.
The 4 flower threads are held together and the green bobbin is used to encapsulate them for the core. In other words, the stitches are not flipped.
As I came to the place for a flower, I removed the bobbin holding the blue thread from those stuck together, and tatted the flower made of rings.
Then, I placed the blue thread bobbin back with the other three, and resumed the encapsulation stitches with the green. I dropped the 4 flower threads after 12 encapsulation stitches, and added a ring of green between each flower.
Here’s what the edging looked like after a couple of flowers.
Since my embroidery embellishment was symmetrical on the sides from the center out, I placed the edging colors in the same sequence; here’s the finished tatting.
I didn’t bother hiding the thread ends, as they will be included in block side seam later.
And this is the finished “Roadside Flowers”:
The Butterfly Chain Stitch seemed perfect to me for a kite tails. So… here are my Red, White and Blue Memorial Day Kites, one of my simpler elements on the sampler.
This week’s bullion stitch immediately said “cattails” to me. I love to see a patch of cattails in a pond. And a few dragonflies just completes the scene. Both the cattail tops and the dragonfly bodies are created with bullion stitches.
Some have asked to see the sampler as it is at this point. Beginning at the upper left, each section represents 1 week of TAST. There will be a second row of sections inside the first to enable all 52 weeks of 2012 TAST. I’m still contemplating what should go in the center. At this point, I’m thinking perhaps a crazy quilt design of 12 blocks, with each blocks filler stitches being the TAST stitches for a given month. What do you think?