Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Boutis and Butterflies in a Tri-Fold Pouch

Little pouches come in handy for a number purposes. They can provide a protective sleeve for cell phones, mini tablets, cameras, etc. Or, by adding a looped cord to use as a handle, it can serve as a small evening bag to accommodate essentials. When I spend a lot of time making something, it's nice if there's a practical purpose to the item.

This is the second tri-fold butterfly pouch that I have made. It is a little larger than the first, and the design has evolved somewhat.

The 2nd, newer version of the butterfly pouch.

The original butterfly pouch; smaller with different motifs.

The latest pouch is lined with a grey cotton and assembled in the same way as I did the first. See the first pouch here.

Open front.


Back and front flap.

This close-up of the butterfly highlights the background filler stitch. The stitch, called "point rapproche" (meaning back and forth stitch), has a similar effect as the basic stipple stitch in machine quilting.


Enough pouches for now.
Time to focus on Christmas ornaments.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Thanksgiving Already!

It's already Thanksgiving in Canada.
Where did the summer go?

Wishing everyone on both sides of the 49th parallel a wonderful autumn weekend.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Boutis: Pouches and More

Although I have not written about boutis in a very long time, it is still very much a part of what I do. Over the last year, aside from making progress on some earlier projects (completing some), I am constantly working on new designs.


With all the time and effort that goes into making a piece of boutis, it's nice if at the end there is a practical use for what I have just made. The pouches that I have been working on can have a variety of uses, such as sleeves for cell phones and sunglasses,  holding sewing notions, etc.  The first six images show three of the little pouches (or sleeves) that have been my experimental playground.

The pattern evolves with each pouch as I work out the design kinks and look for better, more efficient methods and materials. An example is the circular surround enclosing the little butterfly motif below. In it's current state, it looks quite unfinished at the lower end and will need some reworking.

This is a tri-fold pouch which is stitched on a white Swiss cotton batiste.

The reworked version has two additional channels around the perimeter of the pouch which gives it a cleaner finish.


Finding quality, appropriate materials for boutis in North America is also an on-going search. Some of the supplies are available on-line from French sources, but for the sake of convenience and cost, I have been looking for replacements of equal quality closer to home.

Good quality white Swiss cotton batiste can be found fairly easily, however, the colours saffron and purple are also sometimes used in traditional French boutis, but more difficult to find in a cotton as fine as the batiste.

The saffron phone sleeve below is made on a gorgeous, silky like cotton, purchased in person from a Boutis supplier in France, but unavailable on line. I have not found any replacement cotton in colour quite as perfect for boutis.

My cell phone slips nicely into this little sleeve.

I used a Provencal bumble bee print for the lining.

To overcome this problem my friend Karen of Averyclaire Needlearts, who also creates boutis, has started dying good quality white batiste into colours that she likes to use for her work. It makes a very good alternate choice. The purple sleeve below was made using Karen's dyed batiste.

Another sleeve with a few minor design changes.

Aside from the pouches, work on my Notre Dame Rose Window (below) is also progressing. The stitching of all the channels has been finished and I'm now working little needle lace Rosettes into some of the smaller circles. Rosettes and other embroidery stitches are accepted embellishments often used in Boutis.


At the same time, I am re-working my website/blog to accommodate more of a focus on boutis. I am also in the process of developing kits that will be available on Etsy, for those interested in trying this traditional French needlework technique for themselves. The plan is to eventually post some on-line tutorials that will demonstrate the basics of boutis.


In the meantime, this blog and my Facebook page will be up and running as usual.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Machine Quilted Bumble Bee Placemats

Just Buzzing Around

Finishing some "vintage" Phd's (Projects half done) is a quick way to make a bit of a dent in my self imposed goal to "Scrap the Stash" (well, ....., reduce it anyway).

Years ago, when we still spent part of each year in Montpellier, France, these 8 placemats had been cut out and prepped, ready to quilt. But as often happens, the project was interrupted and the materials were "filed" under "Later". Well, "later" finally came this summer and the placemats got done.
 


To applique the little bumble bees, I used "Appliquik", a light weight iron on fusible, and then machine satin stitched around the wings and body.


The backing fabric is the typical Provencal cotton found in most French markets. The quality isn't the best, but the colours and designs are a happy reminder of those sunny, warm days in "le grand sud".


All of the quilting is free motion. The swirly border is meant to represent the busy buzzing of the bees and the interior "honeycomb" was inspired by Cindy Seitz-Krug's book, "The Grid Design Workbook". The straight lines gave me the chance to practice with my new ruler presser foot.


As there are still many similar Phd's in the stash, there will never be a time where I will have to wonder "what's next?".

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A "Summery" of Quilting

Sew with the Flow

Having started this post sometime in June, it was to be a bit of an update of what was on my stitching list for the summer. As often happens, unpredictable events take us from our routine schedule and force a re-prioritization of plans. Therefore the post never got published, and the motto "sew with the flow" became my daily mantra. A number of the projects below have been completed, progress was made on some, while others were not even touched.

First up on the list of priorities was the whole cloth silk quilt that I'm making for my husband and myself. The design is well under way, and as soon as there is a large chunk of time, I will start transferring the pattern onto the silk. It will not be an easy task, but I'm very anxious to get going on it.
Hummingbirds and gardenias are a major design element.

As are shamrocks.

The top of the quilt is a teal dupioni silk (centre of the photo). On the back will be the dark navy/tealish Northcott cotton that is on the left. The turquoise solid cotton on the bottom right was an option for the back that I decided against.
To see how it would hold up, I pre-washed a meter of the silk, which I am using for the trial pieces. Although there was shrinkage, it's not serious at all and I love how soft and manageable the silk has become. I will definitely be pre-washing the whole 9 yards.

The trial piece has been underlined with a very light fusible interfacing. So far, I'm not crazy about the relief I'm getting with it, even though I'm using two layers of wool batting in some places. Will I regret it if I don't use it?

In my on-going attempt to reduce the stash, I hauled out these 8 placemats that had been cut to size back in France, with applique templates ready to go. The bumble bees are machine appliqued and held in place with a light fusible web along with a satin stitch.

They also gave me the opportunity to practice ruler work with my new ruler presser foot and "Kelly Cline's" machine quilting rulers.

Along with the placemats that had been pre-cut were about 6 more meters of the yellow and white striped fabric, left over from a project in France. Tablecloths were an easy project that used up most of the fabric and became the colour inspiration for the table setting for our "Summer Solstice" party.
As there was still a lot of fabric, I made a second tablecloth for our balcony table.

The Lady H has graduated to a pillow, so new bedding was required, including these flannel pillowcases.

And last but not least, there was a little time to get my Scrap IV Flower Garden quilt from last year stitched together into rows. Another session should have the rows together and ready for sandwiching.


The next post will be a bit of an update on Boutis, which is still very much a priority in my stitching life.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Yukata Quilt: Border and Backing

When I came back from the "Curves and Composition with Yukatas" workshop a few weeks ago, the four quadrants of my quilt top had been sewn together but not finished with a border. Borrowing an idea I had seen in one of Patricia's quilts, I decided a square in a square 3" block would use up some of the scraps, plus add a bit of a "glitzy necklace" frame around the  butterfly.


The idea was to encircle the 1" jewel coloured squares inside a navy border.


When I ran out of the navy fabric, instead of cutting into another chunk of the navy yardage (which has been purchased to be the back of my silk wholecloth quilt), I decided to make a few of the blocks using just the jewel tones. These were casually interspersed around the border.

I tried to add the more colourful blocks in areas of the quilt where the navy came to the edge.

After the border was completed, there wasn't much of the "Yukata" fabric left over, but I managed to get a centre block made with what was left. Although none of the red yukata that I used as sashing on the back is on the front, I had cut into it for the butterfly, but decided against using it there.


And, as you can see, I caved in and did cut into more of the navy yardage to finish the back. Hopefully my quilt shop still has some of that navy on hand so that I can replace what I used for this project.

The quilt is now ready to be sandwiched and machine quilted.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Yukata Cottons and Curves

My absence from the "blogisphere" does not equal idle stitching hands. Currently there are  7 or 8 boutis projects on the go, all in various stages of development. Progress (although slow) is being made on my whole cloth silk quilt, there's been a little bit of "scrap busting" happening, and even some fun summertime sewing. Updates on those in future posts.

But last week, I participated in an energetic, productive, fun-filled quilting workshop in La Conner, Washington called "Curves and Compositions with Yukata cottons".

La Conner, WA is a pretty little waterfront town, half way between Vancouver and Seattle.



The five day workshop is organized and taught by Patricia Belyea of OKAN Arts. Patricia imports and sells vintage Japanese textiles called "yukata" cottons, around which we based the designs for our quilts.

Patricia Belyea of OKAN Arts.

"Yukatas" are 15" wide, hand-dyed cottons, traditionally used to make summer kimonos.


Passionate about these textiles, Patricia has an amazing collection that she sells from her home shop in Seattle. The rich, jewel like fabrics will dazzle you with their vibrant colours and draw you in like a magnetic field.

Some of these fabrics were in the pop up shop set up next to the workroom. It's the best kind of candy shop, no calories!

A sampling of the colourful yukatas that came home with me.

She also has yukatas in the traditional indigo and white ...


... as well as indigos that Patricia over-dyes to create more subtle tones.


During the five day workshop two projects were created. Participants were encouraged to move beyond our comfort zone and incorporate these vibrant prints into compositions of our own design using Patricia's technique for "no-fail" piecing with curves.  

Project A focused on creating a four quadrant quilt top.
Although most chose a traditional four block square layout,....


... the layout of the blocks was up to the individual quilter.

Chris composed her blocks to create a continuous design that flowed lengthwise.

Gin's final layout is still to be determined, but I like this kimono-like shape that she had up on her design wall.

Project B (see Patricia's example quilt below) took the concept of curves into a larger composition. We had all brought fabrics from our home stash and were encouraged to incorporate it into the quilt top along with the yukatas.

Patricia's example quilt for the second project.

By week's end, we had designed two quilts, all in various stages of completion. Many of the participants went home with two finished quilt tops. Sadly, not all of us were that efficient.

My project at week's end. (Insert heavy sigh!)

Two of the participants, who had taken the course last year, were given further instruction on piecing tighter, more complex curves. They learned a technique for inserting a curved ribbon into the finished quilt top (below). The results were amazing; there was no puckering in the top and it lay perfectly flat.

Rose completed this striking quilt during the week, using Patricia's technique to insert the tightly curved, narrow ribbon into the finished top.

To see more of the quilts from the workshop, check out Patricia's blog. And while you're there, take a look at some of the other exciting things her blog has to offer. If you ever plan a trip to Japan, her website is a great resource for everything from quilting info to the practicalities of travel to Japan. And if you're ever planning a trip to the Pacific NW, consider participating in this workshop.

Patricia's carefully planned schedule for the week anticipated all of our needs and requirements and provided an environment conducive to productivity and fun. Everything about the week was delightful, from the energetic productivity in the classroom, to the easy going camaraderie between the quilters. Coming home with a finished quilt top is a bonus.