Friday, April 5, 2024

Weekly Stitch Entries for March (photo heavy post)

 In case you didn't know, I'm keeping a stitch journal with Kathryn on YouTube this year. We're not learning new embroidery stitches though. It's more of an opportunity to do some relaxed hand sewing each week. 

For the first week of March Kathryn was inspired by Emily Dickinson's phrase "Hope is the thing with feathers..." She showed us the type of feather quilters have historically used to hold together the layers in a quilt and then encouraged us to create our own fantasy feather. I ended up riffing off of an ostrich plume I have.

The following week we made samples inspired by the kawandi that are made by Siddi women in India. 

The patches in true kawandi would have their raw edges folded under. I went with a raw edge method. The corner decorations are called phula, which means flower. The quilt is considered naked without phula on the corners. Kawandi are made without batting as we here in the US know it. Instead they use layers of cast off clothing or other linens. There may be more than three layers depending on how warm the end product needs to be. My sample is only two layers, the top and the back.

I used a large-ish scrap from a recent quilt for the back of my kawandi. 

Kathryn had a special project for us the week of the equinox (spring here in the northern hemisphere). We could make two little folios of fabric. One went into our stitch journals and the other was buried outdoors somewhere to be retrieved at the solstice in June. Kathryn wrapped her fabric with elements from nature and a bit of rusty metal. The whole idea is to let nature do whatever she wants with our bundles and to see what that will be. 

I put a scrap of crochet on the covers of my two folios.

And this phrase stitched on the interior conveys the whole purpose behind the exercise.

My second booklet looks much the same on the outside.

You can see I didn't even bother to press the muslin I used for the folio.

I wrapped my buried bundle with some onion skins and a clipping from the hedge outside my studio window. I think there were a couple more items but I don't remember what they were now. Guess I should have made more notes! I did at least take a photo of where the bundle is buried so I know where to dig in June. (It's under the rock.)

For the last week of March Kathryn wanted to celebrate the friendships that have been created in the stitching community. She turned again to traditional quilt making techniques and had us make Friendship Stars. Hers was hand pieced. I machine pieced mine but then had fun decorating the background with star stitches in a variegated perle cotton. 

That's the first quarter of the year complete. 😊 So far, so good!

Monday, March 25, 2024

Catching Up

I've been doing some more little stitched panels of late, just for the heck of it. 😊

This first one began with that triangle of pink silk on which I placed the key at the very end.

I stitched what would have been seam lines except all the fabric was left raw edge. Then I sprinkled it with French knots, a few star sequins, and some bead chips. 

This one was very simply treated with running stitches... until I felt compelled to stitch over some of the flourish applique. 

The stitching is very subtle on this one but it's there, trust me. 

And this one is reminiscent of a square I made for the Great Big Little Stitchery Swap Round 2. There's seed stitching amongst the little floral bouquets. I tried to emphasize the tiny flowers under the hedgehog with some straight stitches and Colonial knots. All of these panels are in the neighborhood of 3" x5." Well, the one at the top is probably just under 4" square. They've all been sent to the Disabled Artists Foundation for fundraising purposes.

I decided to keep this one for myself. 😁 It's about 3" x 4." Just seed stitching and one column of chain stitches, then an outline stitch to highlight a line that was already in the music print. I'm not sure what I will do with it but I sense there's a fabric book in my future and it could be a cute pocket!


Friday, March 15, 2024

A Very Catty Scrap Happy Day in March

First off,  I have a couple of scrappy finishes to share. This Scrappy Trips quilt had to wait a while to get quilted. When the time came James used a variegated thread and a simple meander to do the job.

60" x 80"

The second finish, this scrappy Remixed Geese, was a more recent project. In fact, Scrap Happy Day in January this year was the motivation to get it going.

54" x 66"
To finish it off I went through my binding leftovers, pulled out all the blues, and sewed them together for a scrappy binding.

This month I sewed up some more of the cat blocks I've been making out of scrap fabrics.

I wondered how many cats I had when this batch was done. I was shocked to see that I have 126 cats altogether. I had no idea there were that many. The question now is what to do with them? It's a harder block to work with in the usual way because it finishes at 5" wide and 9" tall. I can't just plug them into a quilt plan the way I would stars or other square blocks. I've had some ideas but nothing has gelled at this point. Not that all the cats need to end up in one quilt! In fact, I suspect they will make appearances in several quilts. The block is just so easy to make and so useful for larger scraps. 

Scrap Happy Day is hosted on the 15th of each month by Kate in Australia and Gun in Sweden. Participants span the globe, posting according to their own time zones. If you'd like some motivation for using up scrap materials hanging around in your nest leave a comment on either of their blogs. Theirs are the first two links in the list below. And then be inspired by what's being done to recycle, repurpose, or otherwise keep things out of landfills around the world.

KateGun, Eva, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Cathy,  Tracy, 
JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys,
Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue LVera, 
Ann, Dawn 2, Carol, Preeti,
NΓ³ilinVivKarrin, Amo, Alissa
Lynn, Tierney and Hannah

Thursday, February 29, 2024

February Stitching

 I'm keeping up with k3n's weekly stitch journal very well so far. I've tried to do this sort of thing in the past but without this level of success. Let's hope I can keep it up for the rest of the year! 

You saw the first prompt for February in my last stitchery post. The second week included Valentine's Day so of course we made hearts. Kathryn included a photo compilation of her two grandmothers and mounted that underneath her heart. She was able to use scraps of fabric she'd kept from a grandmother too. Her tag line was "held together by scraps of love." I didn't have those kind of resources so I simply used shades of red and pinky-purple scraps to make a foundation for my heart. Kathryn enjoys kantha stitching, I prefer a bit of embroidery. So, this is how my heart turned out:

An Angela (I didn't get a last name) left a comment on the video for this prompt in which she said, "buttons are like love, they hold things together." That really spoke to me so I made sure to include some tiny heart buttons in my piece. The pink stripe I used behind my heart is a scrap of a maternity dress I wore when carrying our three children. 

The following week was an opportunity to learn how to make pojagi, pieced cloth that Koreans use to wrap gifts and other things. This was a bit intimidating at the outset, especially when Kathryn recommended we use thin fabrics that look good on both sides. She has a lot of vintage sheet fabric that she has eco dyed. The only cloth I could think of in my stash that would look good on both sides were batiks. They are pretty dense though, and would be harder to get a needle through. In the end I used white and unbleached muslin scraps for my sample.

I forgot to photograph it before I stitched it into my my journal, otherwise I would show you that both sides are presentable. The only raw edges are around the perimeter. I quite enjoyed making this piece but my hands were complaining by the time I finished. I found myself gripping the fabric tightly as I stitched. 

In honor of the ninth week of the project - the last week of February - Kathryn had us make 9 patch blocks. Not pieced, appliqued. She gave us the option of turning the edges of our squares under or leaving them raw. She cut her squares freehand. Some of them were more rectangular than square. I didn't mind that a bit and would have left some of mine less than square too. However, I used felted wool instead of cotton cloth and had a template of sorts to use to cut the wool. (K3n padded a few of her squares with a bit of batting. I figured the wool would give a similar effect with less stress on my part.)

I got a sort of wonky effect just in the process of stitching the squares to the foundation fabric. A couple of the squares got trimmed a bit too. I have to say, this was pure joy for me to stitch. I haven't worked with wool very much up to now. Might have to figure out ways to incorporate it more often! I also enjoy seed stitching, which gives so much texture to the background. 

I turned my piece over before I started the seed stitching and discovered I quite liked the look of the back at that point:

Just that sample of colors makes me happy. 😊 

For the record, I'm stitching these pieces onto the pages of a commercially available sketch book. The book measures 8" x 6," and I'm working on roughly 4.5' foundation squares. It's already obvious that the coil spine of the sketch book won't accommodate 52 pages of stitcheries. Eventually I will have to remove the wire binding and then sew the pages back together at the end of the year. Unless I find a decorative tin the right size... Kathryn is an old hand at making fat stitch journals. I'm not sure I'm ready for that particular challenge yet.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Scrap Happy in February

When I'm cutting scraps into patches the smallest shapes I cut are 1.5" squares. They are what I use to make the postage stamp centers for some of my scrappy stars. 

I have a little box into which the squares fit nicely. Until there are too many to fit into the box that is. They have been accumulating in recent months to the point that I had five stacks of squares on top of the packed box. You can imagine how they were toppling over at the least provocation. Obviously it was time to do something with them. 

I began by making postage stamp blocks from each color family. I find it's easier, more efficient, to make a pair of blocks at a time. That way I can chain sew until both blocks are complete. The downside to this method of working is that it can be hard to stop, especially when the blocks are small. It's rather like eating potato chips. Over a few days I had these 18 blocks made...

As well as this lot of fifteen that have light patches alternating with dark.

It's easy to get the seams to nestle in place when you can simply finger-press toward the dark patches. Once the blocks are complete I go to the ironing board and press the long seams open to get the blocks to lay flatter. It's a little tedious but worth it in the end.

The towers of squares have disappeared and there's actually room in the little box for new squares to be added. Now I just have to decide what to do with all these 4.5" postage stamp blocks!

Scrap Happy Day is hosted on the 15th of each month by Kate in Australia and Gun in Sweden. Participants span the globe, posting according to their own time zones. If you'd like some motivation for using up scrap materials taking up space in your nest leave a comment on either of their blogs. Theirs are the first two links in the list below. And then be inspired by what's being done to recycle, repurpose, or otherwise keep things out of landfills around the world. 😊

KateGun, Eva, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, 
JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys,
Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue LVera, 
Ann, Dawn 2, Carol, Preeti,
NΓ³ilinVivKarrin, Amo, Alissa
Lynn, Tierney and Hannah


Saturday, February 10, 2024

A Quick Stitchy Update

Tori's (koolkookykreatures) postcard stitch along prompt for February is Zodiac Mind Warp. That really threw me for a loop. Tori said we could use anything from astrology to astronomy. My mind went first to the Chinese year of the dragon but I didn't feel up to stitching a dragon. Nor did I have any dragon imagery on fabric that would fit into the 4" x 6" format. When I turned to astronomy I came up with something I could do:

Sirius, the Dog Star. 😁 The background is a single piece of quilter's cotton (with sparkles!). Sirius was cut from another print, laid over a piece of felt, and then blanket stitched in place. Simple but effective. 

The theme for week 5 of K3n's weekly stitch journal was "Hidden Histories, Untold Stories." This was from a show catalog from an exhibit in the Victoria & Albert Museum. Kathryn used English paper piecing to make a single flower shape. Her templates were cut from copies of old letters or documents, thus the hidden history. Hexies to fit onto a 4.5" square was too fiddly for me. I chose to use a layer of feed sack cotton over a handwritten synopsis of my family's history. There was a hole already in the fabric, which I stitched around to create an eyelet. Then I made a couple more holes and stitched around them. I basted the fabric onto my paper, hiding most of the history (more than I intended as it turned out!). 

English paper piecing speaks to Kathryn's English heritage. My ancestors were all laborers, mostly working the land. I feel like the feed sack fabric speaks to my heritage. 

For the first official week of February Kathryn invited us to work with those types of fabrics that can be challenging: anything slippery, sheer, ravelly, thick, etc. She encouraged us to "listen to the fabric" and work intuitively. I found a piece of satin, a couple of silks, a velvet, and a loosely woven scrap to work with. 

 There were tears in that blue silk. I just tacked them down with a matching floss. That green velvet moved as I cross stitched it in place. I decided to leave the scraps in the shape they came to me rather than trimming them. The tan woven scrap covers up a gap between the velvet and the yellow satin. Another piece of silk was stitched on top. Then the sheer with the turquoise rectangle went on top of the yellow satin. Finally, I rolled a narrow strip of organza and couched it in place. I'm pleased with the result. Surprised, actually, that I had that wide range of fabric types that fell into a cohesive color palette! 

Sunday, January 28, 2024

January Round Up

I completed the scrappy Remixed Geese quilt top I began for Scrap Happy Day. You can see that post here. In the end I chose to keep working until I had the full set of geese called for in the original pattern. I didn't have to make very many more geese to get to 54" wide and 66" long.

 A few of the short seams between geese had to be taken out to simplify assembly of the top. I don't mind reverse sewing in cases like that. The next step will be to make a back for this one. 

On the slow stitching front I have kept up with Kathryn's weekly stitching prompts. So far, so good! You can see week one here and week two here. For week 3 the prompt was "diversity." Kathryn made tiny samples of kantha stitching, boro stitching, darning, and quilting. All over the world the same simple running stitch is used to create or preserve textiles. I chose to cut scraps from fabrics from around the world instead and secure them in place with that same simple stitch. I was delighted to find fabrics in my stash that represented textiles from all around the globe.  

Working from the upper left corner clockwise I have Australia, the UK and/or the USA, Africa, India, the Polynesian islands, Japan or China, and Guatemala. I sewed around a button (which I then removed) to get a circle started. The circles began concentric but evolved into a spiral. 

Kathryn presented week four as an exercise in randomness. It was also a way to use up narrow strips of fabric and leftover threads. A selection of strips went into a container from which we could pull blindly. The first strip was sewn on with large running stitches, essentially basting stitches. Then another strip was sewn on, pulled at random from the bag. We even tried to choose the threads from our ort piles at random. Once I had all my strips in place my square looked unfinished to me. I carried on using up leftover thread ends to cover my piece with stitches.

And for the Color Inspiration project... You can see what I made for the initial prompt in this post. I included subsequent prompts onto a single "page" for my little fabric book. First we were to use a complimentary color to the color we originally worked with and also add black and white. Then Annie tasked us with including a shape as well. I chose a triangle for my shape and cut them from a black and white print. At that point I couldn't see how to include a complimentary color. The black and white was all it appeared to need for contrast.

Finally Annie encouraged us to add texture to our work. I outlined the triangles with a black yarn couched in place. While I was digging through my small stash of yarns I came across a kinky purple yarn intended for doll hair. That purple was just about perfect as a compliment to the yellows I'd used. I dug out some beads in the same shade and couched the yarn in place with them. 

You probably can't see the beads in the photo, not very well at least. I stuck to smaller sizes to avoid adding extra bulk to my page. I also stitched triangles in the background areas with more yellow thread. 

And that pretty much wraps up January here in The Magpie's Nest. I do have a new quilt project underway but I'll save that for a post of its' own. 😊

Monday, January 15, 2024

Scrap Happy in January '24

 When I realized Scrap Happy Day was coming up I also realized I hadn't done any patchwork to speak of for a month or more. That's shocking in a way. Well, surprising at the very least. There's always plenty to work with around here though. The first thing that came to hand was a pile of scrappy flying geese. I'd been sewing them up between seams of other projects and just setting them aside. Up on the design wall they went, just to see if I had enough to do anything useful. 

Not enough - to my way of thinking anyway. But I knew there was also a pile of triangles cut ready to become geese. They just needed background triangles cut and sewn into place. The next day I had enough to really play with. I tried out a few traditional layouts and then remembered the Remixed Geese design.

I didn't have enough geese to follow the pattern exactly. The original design makes up into a 54" x 66" quilt top. I was short by more than a dozen flights of geese. I still had some triangles I could make up into geese...

After I make and insert one more flight of geese (to go into that lower left corner) the quilt top would finish at 54" x 60."  I may choose to stop it there. I understand that quilts for folks in wheelchairs prefer quilts on the smaller side. Even that may be too big to keep from getting caught in wheels or dragging on the floor. Heaven knows I have plenty of scraps I could cut up into more geese! Now that I've been motivated to sit at the sewing machine again maybe this will finish at the size indicated by the original pattern. 😁 I won't wait until the next Scrap Happy Day to finish it up though. One way or another, this quilt top will be completed soon. 

Scrap Happy Day is hosted on the 15th of each month by Kate in Australia and Gun in Sweden. Participants span the globe, posting according to their own time zones. If you'd like some motivation for using up scrap materials hanging around in your nest leave a comment on either of their blogs. Theirs are the first two links in the list below. And then be inspired by what's being done to recycle, repurpose, or otherwise keep things out of landfills around the world. 

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Second Week of January '24

 So far, so good! I've managed to stay on schedule with the weekly prompts I've undertaken for the year. One may not be weekly, but has been so far. 

The second week of Kathryn's Weekly Slowstitch 2024 was a depiction of balance between light and dark.  A strip of a light fabric and one of dark overlaid with a circle cut from a third fabric. Then seed stitching and some couching. I didn't follow Kathryn's lead exactly. She used some twined cloth to create a light and dark frame around her circle. I chose to couch a black yarn with white embroidery floss.

Kathryn also did a double running stitch with a black thread and then a white one around the perimeter of her square. I don't especially enjoy running stitch so I simply blanket stitched the perimeter to hold the layers together more securely.

The other current weekly project is Annie Claxton's Color Inspiration project. I thought I would be making a case for my Iphone for the first prompt. Unfortunately, I miscalculated the dimensions. The phone wouldn't fit in what I ended up with. Now I'm planning to use the piece I made as a cover for a fabric book. I'm hoping I can respond to future prompts on fabric and have them become the pages in the book. 

The first prompt was to explore one color in any or all media of your choice. I chose yellow.

First I laid down various yellow prints and stitched over them with assorted shades of yellow threads. I was a little surprised that I gravitated to orange-yellows more than the lighter lemon yellow. On such a small project there wasn't room to include the full range of yellow I have in my stash. (I began with a strip of batting 4" x 14." You're only seeing half of that strip in the photo above.)

This project gave me an opportunity to use some items I've had in The Nest for some time. Things I didn't have a clue how or when I would use them but couldn't bear to part with. Like the plastic feather you see on what has become the cover for this eventual book. 😊

The label is from a man's silk tie I took apart years ago. I used running stitches, back stitch, and cross stitch on this side. Oh yes, there are two lines of herringbone on either side of the beaded trim too. 

More running stitches and cross stitches on the back along with some fly stitches around the pink polka dots. Managed to include some beads on this side too. 😁 

The next step for the Color Inspiration project is to create with a complimentary color scheme, include black and white and one shape. This should be interesting!