Monday, February 29, 2016

Raven's Nest Art Quilt "Hungry"

One of my quilting friends has suggested for quite some time that I should make nests that are seen up in the rock ledges and cliffs.  I finally think she's right!  So, this quilt is my first foray into a raven's nest that would be built high up in a rock wall.  I had the idea and then as serendipity works, this idea was cemented during a show on Public Broadcasting about our National Parks.  They showed ravens in one of the segments.  As I watched it, I paused the TV and took photos with my phone camera, then printed a couple of them for my sketch book.  I also looked for other pictures on the internet to help me see the details.  My photo cropping tool helped to select a initial layout and then I sketched the design full scale.  Here are some of the pictures I used as my inspiration.

The full scale sketch

The background fabric produced by Northcott Fabrics that is called "Stonehenge" was perfect for the background.  I bought it in 4 colors, and decided on the darker yellow-beige for the background for this quilt.  Then I painted some details with Derwent Inktense pencils and fabric medium.  Here is the background after it was painted.  Since most of the bottom will be covered up with the nest and the birds, I didn't bother painting in that area.  So far, so good.

The painted background fabric
Next, I moved onto the birds.  Here are a couple of photos showing them in progress and fused to the background.  I did the coloring before I trimmed the edges.  

The pile of fibers that I thought might work includes raffia, yarn, felted wool, goat hair, bias binding and thread.  All of these fibers are re-purposed.  We have this great exchange at our quilt guild, called the "Free Table", where many of these items were donated.  Portland, Oregon is home to "Scrap", which is a great low cost exchange place for artists.  And last by not least, one of my friends graciously donated packages of goat hair.  I'm always on the lookout for fiber that I can use for these nest art quilts.  Got any you care to part with?

The nest was added after the quilting and edge treatment were complete.  Invisible thread and a hopping motion made it stay tactile.

"Hungry" by Joanne Adams Roth

I hope you like it!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Holiday Quilt, Part Three and Gray background

I'd forgotten how long it takes to piece a bed sized quilt.  Since I've been working on my nest art quilts this last year, I think I've gotten spoiled at how quickly you can work through your ideas and get a piece finished.    This quilt, called "Chic Kisses" has been pretty fun to make and it is really brightening up my studio during the dreary winter days.  (This quilt top is so big that it was hard to get a nice picture of it!)

Chic Kisses by Joanne Adams Roth
I used to pooh-pooh gray quilts because I live in a gray climate.  Yes, it's really as rainy in the Northwest as everyone claims.  We had a record amount of rain this past December, and it sure feels like we've been under gray skies ever since then.  But the modern quilters really like gray.  So now I'm starting to like it too.  Because I really like the modern quilt look.

I found two fun gray print fabrics with a hint of sheen to them in Sisters at The Stitchin' Post this fall.  They are both called "Shimmer" , which is produced by Robert Kaufman.   I decided this quilt was the perfect place to use them.  Then, I decided to use gray for the background and had to run out and buy that at Fiddlesticks in Vancouver, WA.

Now that the top is all sewn, you can get a sense of how "gray" this quilt is going to look.   I think I'm going to use some of the gray scraps for a smaller holiday quilt too.

Who knew I'd be sewing gray during the gray time of the year?

Let me know what you think of gray in your quilts.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Holiday Quilt, Part Two and Chain Piecing

I have continued to work on the holiday quilt that started with scraps.  It's looking more complete now, although I still have to square up the blocks and get them sewn together.   I thought that I would have more lime green pieces, but after sewing up the scraps I cut, I was surprised at how much turquoise/teal shades I ended up with.  I guess I must like that color pretty well now too!

Chic Kisses progress
The technique from the pattern, "Chic Kisses" and the Quick Cut Ruler (QCR ruler) that is sold to go along with the pattern, make this block pretty easy and quick to sew.  There is a bit of curved piecing and some guessing as to what size of block you might want, but other than that, most of the pieces are over-sized so that you get to trim at almost every step.

Pieces ready to sew, right sides up
I'm showing you my quick piecing technique, which is just stacking your pieces, then chain piecing.  This makes things go so quickly that I have now completed sewing all of the pieced arcs!  I thought this step would take me months and months.  So, I am very happy!

OK, so the first thing is to precut all of your pieces and stack them right sides up with the sewing side on the top.  Clip them all together (so that you can take them to sewing days with your friends!).  When you're ready to sew, you just pick the top pieces up and sew them together.

Chain piecing showing how to line up pieces
The picture above shows how close you position the next piece so that you don't waste a lot of thread and time.
Chain piecing in the machine

The next picture shows you how the pieces are all chained together so that you can reach and get the last set, clip the threads and keep on going.

The last picture shows how to clip the threads between the pieces.  See how easy it is to chain piece!

Chain piecing with just a few threads to clip

Monday, February 8, 2016

Holiday Quilt, part One

I realized during the holiday season that I no longer have a seasonal quilt for our bed.  I gave my red and green Baltimore album quilt to a friend many years ago, and she also picked out my smaller quilt that was green and red.  Everyone knows how much of a holiday fanatic she is, and I'm glad that she has these 2 quilts in her collection.  But, now I don't have any!

Sew Kind of Wonderful is a company that makes contemporary quilt designs and they also developed a quick curve ruler to go with their book and patterns.  I loved the look of "Chic Kisses" and thought it would be just the right pattern to make a holiday quilt for our bed.

I pulled out red, green, turquoise, white and gray fabrics from my stash for this quilt.  Here's a picture of the fabrics, and the stack of wedges that I cut in preparation for sewing.

Fabrics for this quilt
Wedges cut and ready to sew
It has been fun to sew the wedge pieces together and decide on the layout of colors for this quilt.  Look at how much space this has taken up on my design wall.  It covers the entire wall!

Holiday Chic Kisses in progress

I intended to make this quilt with fabric that I already had on hand.  Well, one thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was out to Fiddlesticks to buy the background and the solid colors I needed for the little wedges.  I'm so thankful for my local quilt shop and the friendly owner and staff.  What a gift for all of us to have these wonderful shops in our neighborhoods!

I hope you like the progress so far on this quilt.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Background Makes the Quilt

I think that the background makes the quilt on many of my fiber art nest quilts.  The background for this quilt started out on a different quilt, but got put aside when the nest covered up the feature I like the best about this background, which is the illumination in the center.   After looking at it on my design wall, I decided that I would add a couple of birds (and of course, a nest!).

Here are the paper sketches showing my idea:

Two birds, nest and tree sketches

I consulted by little helpers, the M&M granddaughters, and they said the birds had to be blue and the nest should be purple.  No surprise there... this is the second time they suggested a purple nest.  I wonder what color they'll like when they're old ladies.  I would always suggest lime green, or a cousin of that color!  Well, maybe not for this quilt.

I refined my sketches and built the two bluebirds with Steam-A-Seam 2.   I like this fusible for it's ease in temporarily placing pieces until they look right and fusing the pieces only at the end.  I placed my sketches underneath a sheet of parchment paper.  Then as I cut the pieces of fabric, I placed them on the parchment paper.  When they were all in place and matched the sketches, I put another sheet of parchment paper on the top and pressed to fuse the pieces to each other.  After this cooled, I peeled off the birds and placed them on the quilt.

Lower bird showing sketch and bird

Upper bird on top of sketch

Since the main feature of this art quilt is the light radiating from the center, I needed to shade the birds a little bit.  I used colored pencils, paint, and fabric medium for this step.  The eyes were added with a black permanent marker.  There was no way I was going to attempt the legs and feet of the birds in fabric!  Embroidery floss and an outline stitch is how those features got added.  The lower bird needed to be offering some material for the building of the nest, so I also embroidered that detail with purple and silver embroidery floss.

Friendship before quilting

close up of lower bird

This is the first nest in the series that is supposed to look like it is in progress.  The purple materials on the lower edge of the quilt are the same as in the nest, which include embroidery floss, gray tulle, and shredded cotton fabric.

I used several colors of thread to quilt this little art quilt.  The ombre effect of the fabric is best highlighted with subtle changes in thread color.

And here is the finished quilt.  I hope you like it!

Are You My Friend by Joanne Adams Roth