Back to the Sunflower

It’s not usual for me to step away from a large project the way I have with the sunflower scrap piece, but I certainly did. Time to refocus and move this project forward.  Progress may continue in a slow manner, however, because I do have several small projects that are time sensitive and need to be completed soon. But for now, here is where I am on beginning the quilting that will fill the background on Sunflower Scrap VI.

Franki Kohler,

Beginning progress

I am quilting with a 60-weight cotton that coordinates with the peach fabric surrounding the sunflower fabric scraps. I’m pleased with the effect this contrast is having — standing several feet away, you cannot make out the detail of the quilting design but the thread imbues a kind of ‘glow’ to the fabric. As the quilting moves away from the flowers and vines I will switch to a light blue thread of the same weight.

Time to get back at it. You can see the beginnings of this project here.

This posting has been shared with Off the Wall Fridays.


Sunflower Scrap VI Progress

Once I’ve made design decisions and have the large elements marked, I have a sense of accomplishment. Of course, there is accomplishment in getting that far, but actually the work has just begun. So here I am making some progress on quilting the sunflowers and vines.

Franki Kohler, Sunflower Scrap VI Progress

When the large designs have been quilted, I will change to a peach-colored thread to quilt around those shapes. That quilting will all be done without any marking ahead. I especially like that kind of quilting because I’m free to change directions, shapes and sizes as I stitch. I can focus on what is happening in the moment and simply enjoy the process. I should be at that stage later today.

Sunflowers Under Construction

I so thoroughly enjoyed the series of foot-square sunflower quilts begun in 2012 that you can imagine my delight in learning that the common sunflower is native to California. I’ve launched into a new piece featuring the sunflower but this one will be much larger — I’m envisioning at least 5′ x 2′. I enjoy working in this vertical configuration and this size will allow me more experimentation with design and quilting flourish.

I’ve chosen a lovely blue batik as background with a peach batik to back the sunflower scraps. The application of fabrics is done by hand applique. Even though batik fabrics are more difficult to needle, I like this aesthetic better than the machine option.

Franki Kohler, Sunflower

I tried piecing on the first sunflower scrap piece and just didn’t like the interruption of the seam lines. With hand applique I have an uninterrupted background that will allow my quilting design to flow more easily.

After fusing freezer-wrap paper to the back of the scrap areas, I’m using a blue water-soluble pen to mark the large quilting designs that will be stitched in navy-blue thread. I’ve been using freezer wrap for so many years and in so many ways that I cannot imagine life without it! It’s simply the perfect tool to stabilize this large area while I mark it. Only these large designs will be marked. When I’m done quilting these designs, the top will be stabilized and I can relax into free-motion quilting smaller designs that will fill the entire top. There will be thread color changes and beads. Stay tuned!

See the rest of the foot-square sunflower scrap pieces — all part of my Native California Plant series — here, here, here and here.

White on White Done

The four designs I chose for the White-on-White theme with Postmark’d Art are done. Ta da! This has been especially satisfying for me because the inspiration for the 4 designs was immediate and all are completed before the official start date for the trade has begun. Believe me, it doesn’t always happen that way so I am celebrating.

Plus — and this is a BIG PLUS — thanks to Kalia, a reader who shared tips on getting better photographs of these postcards, I actually have images that are much truer to the actual postcards. Thank you, Kalia! To honor the time and effort you shared with me I looked into the resources you shared in your comment (see the comment here) and I had great success. (I’m looking forward to even more refinement with my next photo shoot because the recommended wattage for the light bulb was 100 but I had only a 75 watt bulb.) So here they are, all ready to stamp and drop in the nearest mail box. Click on an image for a larger view.

The metallic zing of the thread stitching here still does not show – – I need to do more research on how to achieve that with the camera. I chose an elegant silver rope-braid cording to finish the edge on this floral design.

Franki Kohler, White FloralThe ginkgo fairly begged to be finished with a traditional quilt binding. How could I refuse? Binding a postcard with fast2fuse™ in the middle is a challenge but I think it’s worth the effort.

Franki Kohler, White GinkgoWhite satin cording finishes the edge of the Maple

Franki Kohler, White Mapleand the sunflower.

Franki Kohler, White SunflowerNow, on to a larger project that is calling me.

This posting is shared with Off the Wall Fridays.

More White on White

The background fabric here is white with some hints of cream. I used metallic white thread for the leaves of the sunflower — though you cannot tell that from this photograph. And the beads are pearl finish, so they have a sparkle as well.

Franki Kohler, White on white #2The background fabric is fused to fast2fuse™, always my first choice for fabric postcards. This product is a heavy-weight pellon with fusible web on both sides. It cuts and stitches easily, has a great body which holds up to the US Postal Service and the fusible web makes it very convenient to use. The quilting thread is 12-weight cotton. I’m happy with the nice body it gives the design. The piece is 5″ x 7″ now and will be trimmed to 4″ x 6″ to finish it. I have some lovely white satin cord but I’m also toying with stitching on a traditional fabric binding. The final finishing decision won’t be made until I’m ready to apply the address side of the postcard.

White on white is tricky to photograph. I tried quite a few times and used 2 cameras, but the images were not satisfactory at all. I finally scanned the piece and, while this image is not completely true, it is closer to reality than my cameras allowed. The lessons just keep coming!

I’m eager to start work on a third design I have in mind for this white-on-white theme. Stay tuned. See the first white-on-white design I worked on here.

Back to the Sunflower Scrap

I recently shared the beginning of a new project using a scrap of printed sunflower fabric. I thought I had my direction well-defined and that this foot-square piece would be whipped out and on my wall in no time. Nope. That was not the way it was to be. I had some learning and stretching to do.

The image I shared with you earlier was actually the second start on this project. Here’s the first start:

When I put this up on my wall I did not like the leaves at all. I felt that they took away from the focus of the sunflower and I didn’t like that.  And, in fact, I didn’t like the orange fabric I had chosen to surround the sunflower print. So this piece is now a “tester” scrap by my sewing machine. Lessons here: don’t over-do the design; get the color right.

I pieced a new scrap of fabric with a much lighter orange fabric and started quilting again.

I like the orange fabric much more. The lighter color allows the flower to show more easily. But, yuk! The piecing lines are not straight and, in fact, I don’t like those piecing lines at all. Like the leaves that I stitched on my first attempt, the piecing lines distract from the design on this diminutive piece. Lesson here: Carefully consider technique options for the quilt.

So, back to piecing a new top. This time I hand appliqued the sunflower scrap to the orange fabric and finally to the cream/white fabric. The cream fabric is a print but it acts more like a woven fabric, moving here and there when you least need it. I fused a light-weight stabilizer to the back of the quilt top to eliminate that problem.

I decided to rethink thread. I used a variegated thread on the orange fabric in the second attempt. It didn’t really add anything to the overall design. In fact, I decided it separated the center design element too much. I wanted the whole piece to be one integral design. I had used a 50 wt. white cotton and decided to change to a 60 wt. cream cotton for the over-all background quilting. I used the same orange poly sheen thread for the sunflowers but decided to stitch  the leaves twice. Here it is blocked and trimmed to 12″ x 12″.

I am much happier with this quilt. Lesson: The small size of a quilt does not make the decision-making process smaller. Each element needs careful consideration to ensure good design and execution. All of the changes I made during the course of my three attempts were well worth the effort. As my grandmother Preston always said, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” Amen grandma!

Binding and beading are next. I can’t believe I don’t have the right beads! I’m off to shop.

New Work: Sunflower Scrap

Beginning something new is always a shot of adrenalin to the creative flow. While pouring over a stack of Machine Quilting Unlimited magazines, an article by Jenny Bowker (May 2011) called “Starter Scrap Quilting” piqued my interest. Jenny likes to start with a small scrap of large-print fabric, add borders, then extend the pattern of the print out to finish the design. Her extensive library of quilting designs finishes the quilt, truly making it her own.

I used this idea in 2007 — in a reverse mode — to finish Peaches. The hibiscus print was perfect to work with the photograph of my exotic peach-faced lovebird perched atop a cyanotype print of a hellebore leaf. But the solid blue line butted up to the print was too abrupt. My solution was to quilt the design across the border, then paint the design additions. The border became an integrated part of the whole design element.

Here is the beginning of the reverse process:

Quilting in progress: