Thursday, August 21, 2014

Back in the Saddle

Whew, it's been a rough summer.  My 91 year old father's health failed in May, he passed away in June, but his memorial service wasn't until July.  Since returning from his funeral, I've been pretty much a hermit, hanging out in my studio and working on a couple pieces, and even painting my studio, but not blogging.  

Piece number one, with the working title of Family Dinner,  has been in the pipeline for a year or so, but I've never gotten past the pattern making stage until now. 
 It's kind of fussy...the wings are made out of dozens of gray-ish fabrics,.  I'm not satisfied with the bird body on the right-hand side--more problems to be solved.

I'm doing a raw edge machine applique, rather than turning under each piece, as I felt the frayed edges were in keeping with the feathery look.   I'm using my usual construction method of tracing sections of my large cartoon onto freezer paper--for instance, the wing on the far right which is about three-quarters finished--then cutting each individual piece out of the freezer paper pattern, ironing it on to the desired fabric, cutting each little piece out, one at a time, placing the little freezer paper piece on the fabric, cutting it out, and placing it back in the the correct space

.Because this quilt is more complex than some of my others, I am determining which side to cut right up to the edge of the pattern, and which side to leave enough of seam allowance to tuck under adjoining pieces as I go.  Sometimes I work all of that out before hand, but I was getting in a muddle, so I just figure out the placement for 4 or 5 pieces at a time, and so far anyway, that seems to be working.

What is different about this project, is I cut a piece of white backing fabric the size of each section.  For example, in the photo above, the each wing and each bird body were handled separately, and a piece of white cotton the exact size of that section is the foundation.  Each small piece of fabric is lightly glued to the the backing fabric which hold it in place until I stitch it.  This solved two problems for me...
  • First of all, it gave me a firm foundation for each section that has LOTS of small pieces in it.  I've found with this many small pieces, only slightly attached to each other, with no backing fabric, things can fall apart and seams can open up if there is any strain on the fabric. 

  • Secondly, since I am using a lot of light colored fabrics, it helped with the transparency issue.
 After a section is complete, I use clear mono-filament thread on the top, and 60 wt. cotton thread in a neutral color in the bobbin and free-motion zigzag around each piece.  I've found using the free-motion foot keeps the fabric flatter and avoids the issue of pushing the fabric into a little pleat.  I use a narrow zigzag,  I'd say 1/16th inch or so, or 3 little bars on my Bernina.

Next time:  The second piece I'm working on, which is really messy, because I'm making fish prints as part of the quilt.

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