Third Plus Revisited – and More

Purple Rhododendron coming into flower in our front garden.

Hi Everybody,

Signs of Spring have come to western Scotland at last. It’s feeling warmer and, although it is still disappointedly wet, there is so much colour appearing the garden.

Much of my time has been taken up caring for my new family of ducks over this winter. I had no idea they would be such hard work, not so much the ducks themselves, but being outside every day cleaning a pen and pond in all weather, the snow and the constant rain being the most challenging.

This pond was fresh, clear water only hours before. Hard to believe!

I can’t wait for drier weather when I am not sliding around in mud and my ducks return to being pure white again.

Yuk Yuk

I have been working on my ‘Third Plus’ experiment that I spoke about in my last post. However,  it has not been as successful as I had hoped.  I began by deciding to try using a wash away appliqué sheet,  as I had been given some for Christmas and had not tried them out.

I cut the face shape I wanted out of one of the sheets which, thankfully, was thin enough for me to trace my pattern through it. I then cut out the shape and covered it in fabric, folding the edges over the shape and gluing them down using a Sewline fabric glue stick.

The appliqué sheets are fusible on the shiny side. I chose to fuse the shape to the background fabric afterwards to stop the shape moving rather than fuse the wrapped fabric to the shape. Next time I might try it the other way around.

I thought the seam around the face looked ugly so I decided to cover it with stem stitch, using a variegated blue thread. I cut a boat out of paper to help me decide where I might place it,  though later I made it smaller. I wanted it to look a bit like a boat and a bit like a hat. You can see some puckering beginning at this stage. I have not had this happen when I have used ordinary paper inside a shape, though it could be just that I pulled my stitches too tight. I probably should have stopped and investigated but I thought it might iron out eventually. It didn’t.

This is the embroidery and appliqué completed. If I was pleased with it I probably would have added more to improve the shape of the lips and brows. The puckering seems worse now but it is possible that it will improve when it is quilted with some wavy lines. We’ll have to see. I haven’t washed out the appliqué sheet inside the face yet either and I wonder if that will make any difference. Apparently you can choose to leave it in, which may give the shape some depth, though it feels a bit hard and inflexible. This doesn’t really matter for a picture but it might matter if you were using it on a cushion, for example.

Although it is not finished as yet, I put the project in a frame to give you an idea of how it would look, proportion wise, but it was after five in the evening and so the picture looks quite dark. You’ll get the idea, though.  I do like the idea of a two-tone background, so I will definitely try that again.

‘Lady of the Lake’ 8 x 8 inches

The only other thing I’ve completed this week is ‘Farm in the Hills’, which has been equally disappointing.  I thought tossed cows in the ‘fields’ around the farm would be fun but now realise I should have fussy cut them all the same way up. Most of them look upside down. So, I’m not very happy about this one either. I can’t believe I finished it before I even noticed!

‘Farm in the Hills’ 8 x 8 inches

I ran over my index finger with my rotary cutter as well, so I was sewing wearing two plasters and a surgical glove so that I wouldn’t bleed on anything.  Not a great week for sewing, then.

In progress, despite all this, is ‘All Roads Lead Home’, which looks a bit more promising.

‘Al Roads Lead Home’ 12 x 12 inches

I have yet to add a window, perhaps  some vertical lines on the roof to suggest slates, and I want to put some hens or geese or something suggesting movement in the bottom, right hand, square. Then there is the quilting and binding to do.

As soon as the weather changes I shall be taking a break to go out in the garden as there  is stacks to do before everything  leafs up, explodes into flower, and the grass starts growing again. I also have to embroider something special for a friend’s birthday in April.

Next post? I have the embroidery bug at the moment, so I am thinking of attempting some Paisley Birds as a complete change from appliqué and design guides, though my Scottish themed EPP quilts will be chugging along, in between, as usual.

So, until next time, take a moment to enjoy the flowers….

A pink Camelia bud in the back garden.

New Year, New Work in Progress

Happy 2019,  Everyone!

January 2019

We are already steaming through January, snowdrops are out all over the garden, and it seems pleasantly warm for this time of year. Spring is not far away but no doubt we will be in for some nasty cold spells before it arrives.

Lily’s first egg.

Since the arrival of my three ducks last summer, my sewing has suffered mainly as a result of a massive change in routine. It’s much harder to get a good run at anything without some kind of interruption. It’s clear that I have to change the old routine and work differently. I had my first duck egg appear four days ago which was quite exciting and have been collecting one each day since.  I hope she will sit on some in Spring and give me some chicks.

I haven’t been able to settle on exactly what to do this year. I had wanted to dye and paint my own fabric and do something more ‘arty’ but looking at my stash tells me that I really need to use that up first. I am unlikely to go back to it.  That said, I am sure I am going to be tempted to buy a few bits now and then. And there is no reason why I can’t be a bit more ‘arty’ with scraps. At some point.

I have begun January with some experiments and some UFO’s that needed to be completed. That said, all of them are still in progress and need a good press, which was not my ideal for this post. My first experiment was with Liberty fabric. I have usually used just small pieces of it against a neutral background and that has worked well. The prints are so bright and busy, I wondered if they could ever work if you put them all together, so I thought I would try something and see. This is ‘House with Love in It’ using reds, greens and navy blues. It still needs some surface embroidery on the house and some binding. I went for a mix of sizes of print and one that reads as a solid to see if you could mix prints in this way. Does it work? I’m not sure.

‘House with Love in It’

Liberty fabric is quite hard to work with as it’s so fine, pins and needles make holes unless they are very skinny ones and its floppiness makes it hard to keep square. An online friend suggested spraying it with starch first and I think that’s a great tip to try.

The second little quilt is one I started a while back but have now managed to finish the top. I took an old traditional American block called ‘Farm Friendliness’

‘Farm Friendliness’ bock, borrowed with thanks from quilterscache.com via Pinterest

and altered the pattern slightly to give me me more large triangles to suggest hills. On reflection I think I should have make the squares at the corners into half square triangles but it’s too late now. At the time I thought half a hill would look odd.

‘Farm in the Hills’

I’ve also added tossed cows and a farmhouse. I’ve photographed the quilt top against a piece of black and white striped fabric because I think that might make a fun binding. I still have to quilt it to suggest fields, which may make the squares look more appropriate, and add some doors and windows to the farmhouse.

Another experiment is this house in a frosty wood:

My idea is to extend the trees, or a single tree, beyond the image, out into the frame. I want to cut between the branches and sew it on a bit like this:

‘Frosty Morning’

I’m not sure how I will manage it. Perhaps use some wash away interfacing, I don’t know. We’ll see.

‘Over the Hills and Far Away’

I am working on some appliqué to complete the top of this, larger quilt, ‘Over the Hills & Far Away’ which was mentioned when I started it, in a post long ago (See ‘Over the Orchard and 5 Lessons Learned’, October 2017 ). I still can’t decide whether to place the house on the bottom row where the trees are (they will all have trunks), or in the next row up, as in this photo. I have kept away from true greens as there are none in the border.

There is more appliqué to sew down to put the finishing touches to this fabric picture ‘Down in the Glen’,  which also featured in an earlier post (‘Tartan or Plaid, What’s the Difference?’, September 2018). It has been sitting around waiting for me to decide what to do with the trees. I have finally decided to unpick them all, as well as the roof of the house, and insert some batting. I am hoping the slight puffiness will give more depth to the picture.  Then I just need to bind it and put it in a box frame.

I am also in the working on several mini ‘house’ quilts and fabric pictures  to use up scraps, like this one, still in progress:

‘House Under a Wishing Star’

All of them need to be squared up and given a good press. Finishing touches need to be added, then they need backing batting and binding.  So, not even half way through, really (sigh). I never like showing my work like this, half finished, but maybe it’s helpful to see things in progress, to see that they can look pretty awful until they are finished.

So that’s it for now. I have the binding to finish on two Unicorn quilts for a Unicorn post shortly, as well as some more Scottish themed pictures and a couple of ‘House Angel ‘ and ‘Garden Angel’ pictures.

All of these are 8 inches square but I am planning a move to 12 inches square. ‘Down in the Glen’ above, is 12 inches square and I like it better. I used to think this was too big but have had a change of heart. I think very small removes some oomph from the picture. What is your favourite size of wall quilt? Do you you like small squares, long and thin, poster size? And why?

Till next time…..