Sunday, March 31, 2013

Les Couleurs Botaniques

"Joyeuses Paques" Happy Easter

A visit to the local greenhouse this past week provided for a colourful and cheerful welcome back to the south of France. Although the weather has been unseasonably cloudy and wet, the brilliant burst of colours at our favourite gardening centre did much to brighten the mood.

This gloriously golden primula found it's way home with us.

The shop was ablaze with brilliant oranges and yellows.

The citrus trees in the yard were heavy with fruit.

Kumquat trees ready to be planted in someones garden

Neon pinks and oranges seem to have joined chartreuse as the "les couleurs du jour".

Pretty arrangements ready for Easter.

More primulas that now brighten up our balcony.

It's no wonder that so many quilters and other fibre artists choose flowers as their design subject. The natural beauty and brilliance of a flower is always inspirational, and will always find a welcome home in all things thread and fibre.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Project Updates: Boutis and More!

It's that time of the year, and we're on the road again. Well, we're almost on the road again. By this time next week, I should be sitting at my desk in Montpellier and posting my blog from there. Hopefully the sun will be streaming through the windows with a warming hug, welcoming us back to the clear blue skies of the south of France. After a winter of oppressive dark clouds and of unusually heavy rains, the blue sky will be welcome.

For the flight over, aside from the usual books and magazines to keep me occupied and entertained, I like to have a further variety of options to choose from.

My hummingbird boutis has seen some progress and will come along with me. Cording does not require the same precision accuracy as stitching does, so it's a good project for travel.

As you can see, there is still quite a bit of cording to do.

Because redwork is easier to see when lighting is less than optimal, it is also a good project for travel.

These four little embroidery pieces will find themselves as part of a bedding ensemble, or perhaps set into some natural linen and made into a cushion for the couch.

Redwork works together well with the red and white toile de jouy that is so popular all over France.I like the muted white of muslin as a base for redwork.

This redwork goddess is inspired by another piece of toile de jouy that I have since used up, but I think she will partner just fine with this piece of toile de jouy as well.

I have not yet decided what her final destination will be.

Last summer, while I was taking classes in boutis from Madame Francine Born, I purchased several of her designs, preprinted onto cotton batisite. She sells her kits as well as the required materials for boutis on her website.

This one, titled "Le Mireille", is coming along to France and will provide many happy hours of stitching.

Sadly, my whole cloth quilt did not get nearly the attention this past winter as I had hoped it would. It will stay here and wait for my return in late summer.

When in France, I tend to focus on boutis because those resources are readily available there. For that reason, I am not taking a lot of other work with me. There is a small stash of quilting fabrics waiting for me there as well, so hopefully some traditional quilting will take place over the spring/summer. I will continue to post my progress as well as any new, fun finds.

 Talk to you soon!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Placemats: Project Organization

Because I sell some of the things that I make, it's important to have a system in place whereby I can easily identify the fabrics used in the item, as well as find the pattern and construction details. It has taken a while to design a system that is functional and efficient. Since I have only recently started to use this system, time will tell how useful it will actually be. Organization is an ever evolving process for me that must adapt as requirements change.

Last year, I sold these four placemats. Since then, I have had a request for 4 more that are the same or similar. Because the red and beige bird "toile" was the only fabric left in the stash, the other fabrics had to be matched and re-purchased.

Placemats-"Cours I"

To help with this process of matching fabrics, my daughter and I had catalogued all of my fabrics according to colour a few years ago. A 3"x3" sample was cut from each fabric and glued to a sheet of cardstock with other fabrics from the same colour family.

As I purchase new fabric, I cut a 3"x3" block from it and add it to the file.

Underneath each sample I keep a record of the name of the fabric, where it was purchased, and the cost.

Even once the fabric has been used up,the sample stays in the file for future reference, so that I can use it to purchase a matching fabric, as is what I did with these four placemats.

When fabrics are used in a specific project, I make another card of samples and keep it in a binder, (in a photo sleeve), along with the construction details.

Here, the card in the bottom slot ("Placemats-Cours I"), has samples of the fabrics used in the original placemats. The top card ("Placemats-Cours II) has the samples used for the new placemats. The red and beige bird "toile" (second from the left) was the only fabric that was still in the stash. All other fabric had to be purchased. The backing (the first sample on the left of each card), and the solid beige are a very close match to the original. The original binding (beige with gold scrolling), was more difficult to match, so I chose a solid burgundy instead.

The new placemats have been pieced, and are ready for quilting. Other then the solid burgundy binding, the fabrics are very similar.

Placemats-"Cours II"
The pieced top is laying on the backing fabric, with the burgundy binding loosely draping the edges.

My hope is to eventually update the binder to include most of my recent projects.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Empty Spools Organizing

What do you do with all those little bits of thread left over on an almost empty spool? Well, you save them until a couple of meters of that exact colour might save the day (or the quilt). Right? Hmmm...! More then likely, they will just keep multiplying and become more and more irritating as they get in the way of the new spools that are invited to join the collection.

They seem to multiply like bunnies!

Well, the other day I had an inspired idea.

I pre-wash almost all of my fabric before I use it in a quilt. Before washing it in the machine, I finish the edges with a zig zag stitch to prevent the fabric from unravelling. As I was looking for just the right shade of burgundy to do that, all of those almost empty spools kept getting in my way and falling onto the floor, rolling all over the place. To keep them out of the way, I removed them from the thread drawer and placed them on the table, near the machine. Hmmm...! It was a light bulb moment. (Why did it take so many years?) 

As it happened, I had enough "reddish" spools to clean up that I even got to match the colour of the fabric, (as though it matters!).

Now, it did get a little tedious re-threading the needle several times on a single edge, but I did get rid of a number of those irritating almost empty spools.

These were the spools that I used up on the 4 lengths of fabric.

The spools at the top of the page are what's left in my drawer after the "purging" therapy session. Once they're gone, we start on those spools of interesting colours; you know the lime greens and neon pinks!