Saturday, January 24, 2015

"Morning in the Moor" - Project Quilting Challenge 2

Challenge 2 on Project Quilting had the theme Sunrise/Sunset and I admit that I needed a good two days to actually decide what I wanted to do for it, because I was unsure wether I should go with a sunset or a sunrise, the latter won in the end, after several hours of googling. Also, I have a huge love for the cloud fabrics of the Danscapes collection and it just happened, that I still had a piece of clouds with sunrise colours left in my stash ;)

So, here it is, my entry for challenge number two, which I called "Morning in the Moor"

First I want to explain why I called it that. I live in the very north of Germany in midths of marsh land and close to a moor where we always walk our dog. The mornings around fall and also this time of year are foggy, you often see crows flying and there are cattails here and there in the small water channels by the fields, so this picture pretty much represents home for me. 

As a sunrise gradually builds up as the sun goes higher on the sky, I started with the deep reds at the bottom and worked my way up into oranges and pinks, that lead up to the clouds in the blue sky, that is still etched with hints of pink and yellow.

This piece is a wall-hanging again, measures 12" x 19" and is backed with cardboard, which I actually sewed on. But I have an old machine that was used for industrial purposes and it doesn't budge on 1/8" thick cardboard. The actual project was sketched onto paper at first, then I went through my stash for matching fabrics and started to cut out the pieces.

I then used double-sided fusible web to iron these pieces onto a thin muslin. I admit that I use the cheapest Ikea cotton fabric that I have for this purpose, but it works best. I might add that I starched the heck out of all fabrics to make them smooth and sturdy before I started to apply them to my muslin fabric, though. 

After that I added one layer of batting and another simple layer of muslin as backing and started to secure my fused pieces by adding decorative stitches in thread that was matching the fabrics by colour. Burying all the threads took some time, but it was well worth it, I really like the look those stitches created. 

At this point I was unsure if I should go with my original plan to add silhouettes of birds and cattails, but I felt that without anything added to it, the project would've come out looking a bit boring. I actually rehearsed several different layouts in photoshop, then printed one out and cut out the details to then draw them on with my Frixion pen. 

The next part was something I never tried before. I was at a bit of a loss as to how to "fill in" my drawings and I didn't want to iron on more tiny parts with black fabric, as that would've meant more stitching onto those small parts and hey, the edges fray really easy even on bigger pieces. 
I started googling 'machine embroider on a domestic machine', as that is all that I own and let's be honest, you don't buy a fancy embroidery machine for one challenge of Project Quilting ;)

I found several tutorials on Youtube that described it for beginners. It's basically nothing different than doing free-motion-quilting (which I suck at honestly), you use your free-motion foot, lower your feed dogs, and you need a topstitch or embroidery needle since those have a bigger hole in them and the thread runs through easier. After work I went to the nearest store that sells machine needles and got them, then went straight to working on a test piece. It looked a bit wonky at first, but after a few tries I had worked it out and could start on my actual embroidery.

And that is the story of how I created "Morning in the Moor".

I hope everyone loves this one as much as the last! And speaking of... massive THANKS to everyone who voted for me "Four Seasons" wall-hanging in challenge number 1! 

I received 146 votes in the Viewers Choice voting and won first place! Woohoo! Not a bad start for the first challenge, so I definitely have high goals now and can't wait to receive the Aurifil thread that was up for a price for this category. Thanks so much everyone!! :)

Once again, all of the fabrics used were from my stash, so I'm still firmly sticking to the SewMyStash2015 challenge as well! 

See you with the next challenge!
xx Lia

Sunday, January 11, 2015

"Four Seasons" - Project Quilting Challenge 1

It's January, which means it's once again time for a season of Project Quilting and every year it actually comes as a surprise to me, as January is usually a super busy month for me work wise.

This time isn't an exception since the last 2 weeks of this month will be spent with holiday coverage at work and I will have close to zero sewing time, which means that challenge number 2 might be difficult to handle unless I make it a really small project.

All of that aside, it took me nearly a week to finish my entry for the first challenge of season 6 of Project Quilting, which was simple called "Trees".

I already took part in Season 3 and 4, but since then have developed my sewing skills and gotten more confident and I like challenging myself to something new, trying out new stuff and new techniques I've not done before and these challenges are perfect for that.

This time around I was inspired by a picture I saw some time ago of a tree that showed all four seasons at once. I started brainstorming and decided that I wanted it to be an apple tree.

I am calling this simply 'Four Seasons' as that says it all, but I will show some more close-up pictures as there are many details that might go unnoticed on first glance.

I worked with 2.5" charms, 16 for every season and 80 low volume charms for the background. All the details were embroidered by hand, I also used buttons and KAM snaps for the detailling.
This project was ironed onto fleece with double sided fusible web, then was mounted onto the wooden backing of a picture frame with an additional layer of fleece to give it a little more padding. 

Originally I wanted to use a stretcher frame, but on an attempted last minute buy yesterday, I realised that nowhere in my little city I could find one in the correct size, so off I went with an electrical saw and cut the board of my frame to fit. The finished wall-art is 24.5" square. And the best part? There's a hanger already on it. ;)

But now onto the details. Let's start in the upper left corner with Spring.

This shows the apple tree in full bloom, pink blossoms in different shades. I got these flower buttons a while ago for no reason other than that they were pretty, but never got to actually use them until now.
I also added rain, because trees need rain and water in order to grow and spring is all about growth.

Next up is summer and my tree is full of red apples in different sized, just like on a real tree. The leaves are a rich green now and the apples are getting lots of sunshine.

As we reach autumn there are only a few rotten apples left, that no one picked, or that didn't fall down yet, it's gotten colder and the wind or storm is blowing around the leaves, playing with them. 

Finally we reach winter, the tree is bare apart from a couple squirrels playing in the branches, and the cold wind is blowing, whirling a couple snowflakes through the air.

This is my interpretation of the four seasons and since the challenge was called "Trees", I also added a few fabrics with small tree or leafy prints. 
On top of that I'm proud to add that all of the materials used are out of my stash. Nothing was bought to finish this piece, everything was taken out of my stash or was reconstructed like I did with that backing piece of my picture frame, which is another step within the Sew My Stash challenge that I wrote about in my last post. So, as you can see, I'm sticking to it. ;)

I hope you liked my interpretation of a four season apple tree and I will hopefully have another Project Quilting challenge piece for you in 2 weeks time.

Happy sewing!
xx Lia

Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a fabulous turn into the new year. Ours was pretty loud and filled with lots of anxiety from our dog, but now everything is good again.
For her it's definitely the worst day of the year, sometimes the whole week, depending how recklessly our neighbours are firing their crackers and how many days for...

But anyway, a new year, new challenges and what better way to start the year than with a super cute Block of the Month? Yes! Kristy from Quiet Play has another paper-pieced BOM and while I didn't join the one last year, I started learning paper-piecing with her sewing-themed BOM in 2013 and have been hooked ever since.
So when I saw that she was doing a Zoo Animals BOM, I just had to join, because these patterns are way too cute!

For the month January we started with the Flamingo. And since I have decided to join another challenge called Sew My Stash, I have picked fabrics from my stash - quilting and non-quilting cottons in a mix - to make my block for this month.

A couple hours later and the block was finished. The background is a cotton curtain fabric, that I first thought would be a bit too dark, but this shade of blue really makes the colour of the Flamingo pop. And since the part over their beak is not entirely white, I used that charm square of Figures by Zen Chic. I think he's really pretty and am already looking forward to see which animal will be the block for February. I think my secret favourite is the blue macaw. 

This time around I am planning my fabrics more wisely and will stick to the same background for all of them. Just to make it look more consistent. 

But now back to the other challenge I mentioned before. It's called Sew My Stash 2015 and basically consists of using the fabrics you already have at hand to sew projects, rather than constantly buying new fabric. 
My fabric stash is actually not that big if you count quilting cottons only, it's just one box, plus scraps. I do have a load of other fabrics as well, though. From Ikea, Joann's, the local DIY's, curtain fabric, jeans, upholstery, fleece, linen, countless scraps, so on and so forth. A fabric diet would really not be the worst thing for me, although it will be hard. Much harder than cutting down on chocolate and sweets ;)

We'll see how long I will last. One order from the end of the year is not going to make it to me until April, though. My dear quilting friend Tammy is visiting her son here in Germany in April and will be taking an order that I had shipped to her with her when coming over. That way I won't have to pay horrendous amounts of shipping from the US to here, nor any custom charges. Don't you just love quilty friends? They're the best! Woohoo! I definitely will be displaying the fabrics here when they arrive, because they are a gorgeous rainbow set!

Another little outstanding fabric delivery is a scrap package, also from a friend, that I need for a swap. I yet need to pay for it, but it has been in the works since mid December. So I think I'm off the hook. Other than that I will desperately try and NOT buy any new fabrics. But like I said, let's see how long I'll last. Is Carolyn Friedlander releasing yet another new fabric line this year? Because that could be my downfall then ;)

If you are interested in joining the Sew My Stash project as well, jump over to Project Leasa to find out more about it. 

Have fun on your sewing endeavours!
xx Lia

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