Anlichan’s birthday present: the quilting

Quilting!  Finally, the long-awaited final post.

Quilting, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, is the hardest part for me.  Piecing rarely fazes me (except when I’ve measured incorrectly, which happens…far more frequently than I’d like).  Quilting is a different animal.  Of course, I’ve known how to piece for years and years – my grandmother taught me to sew as a little girl – and quilting is something I only tackled in 2007, and even then with trepidation.

Part of the difficulty lies in what, exactly, to quilt.  The rest is a lack of practice.  I rarely make anything for myself – the last piece I made for myself was an apron, which of course I didn’t bother to quilt – so whenever I’m quilting it’s on a present for someone else.  I don’t have a lot of free time between projects to practice my quilting skills or try out new stitches.  If I’m trying something new (which I always seem to be), it’s on a gift, which adds pressure.

For Anlichan, I had several ideas about what I wanted to quilt.  First, I wanted to simulate the grain of wood in the “pews.”  This was easy.  I quilted straight lines in brown thread along the strips of fabric representing pews.

I wanted to use quilting to highlight certain features and enhance others.  I quilted an outline around each of the stained glass windows on the side walls, to highlight them.  Then, I quilted diamonds on the walls.  I think of them as harlequin diamonds, but I don’t know if it counts as that without the color variation.  I used a dusty rose color, after much deliberation – I’d wanted something very close to the cream shade of the fabric and I didn’t have any thread that matched the cream to my satisfaction, so instead I went for a light contrast.  (I should add that I own dozens of spools of thread, but I get very picky when it comes to matching colors, so even though I had several choices of white/off-white/gold, not one was quite right.)  I think the effect is really pretty.

Diamonds quilted onto the walls

Note: I used a water soluble pencil to trace lines one inch apart in approximate parallel to the edges of the stained glass windows.  They aren’t perfect but, as I said, I really liked the effect.

Next, I quilted the blue side aisles at the front of the church, below the large stained glass windows in the section of the church that would be side altars (in my head).  I wanted a blue that matched one of the darker blues in the Hungarian print I’d used.  I approximated as best I could – I believe I used a navy color.  I quilted lines radiating from the innermost bottom corner on both blue patches.  (So far, you may realize, everything I have quilted is a straight line.  Straight lines are my quilting specialty.  The difficulty I have actually sewing in a straight line does not deter me from this, as quilting in anything other than a straight line frequently results in much worse results.)  In the center aisles, the one between the pews and the one before the altar, I quilted lines that crisscrossed in the center and radiated to the corners.

The blue lines radiating out from the corner

The effect on the back (you can also see the pink diamonds at the bottom)

I kept the altar simple.  I outlined the cross in gold (an inner line and an outer line) and left the rest unadorned.

The altar piece (I cropped this from a larger picture, so hopefully it's not too blurry) - I'm not sure if the inner line is quite visible, since it blends somewhat into the fabric.

The most advanced quilting I did was on the two large stained glass pieces.  As I mentioned in a previous entry, I’d planned to have them be mirror images with symmetrical quilting, but instead they ended up being the same and therefore I decided to quilt them differently.  I’d bought myself a book of more advanced quilting motifs, where you quilt one motif and then a second on top.  (I am not describing this well.  The book is called “Free-Motion Quilting Made Easy,” by Eva A. Larkin.  I recommend it; I was nervous about quilting more complicated patterns and I found the instructions simple enough that I was able to manage the look I was going for – more or less.  I did, however, pick patterns that did NOT involve curved lines.)  I chose two motifs that struck me as similar and quilted one on each window.  The trick, as I said, is to quilt one motif and then the second, with one on the vertical axis and one on the diagonal.  Now that I look at my pictures, I remember that I didn’t do two motifs on both of them.  The stained glass on the right has an inner and an outer motif quilted.  The glass on the left only has one motif.  I had sewn an inner motif and, disliking it (due to a quirk of my sewing and/or piecing, it wasn’t symmetrical), I ripped it out.   The thread I used is the kind with graduated color – gold, green, purple, and blue – so it matches my fabric choices (but, depending on what color the thread is at any given point, sometimes it contrasts and sometimes it blends).  I’ve used this thread before, in a runner for my parents (among other pieces) – and I also used some of these fabrics in that runner.

Close up of the quilting on the left stained glass window (note: picture was taken upside down)

The right stained glass piece (also cropped from a larger photo - I'm sorry it doesn't show up better)

The back of the right stained glass piece - the quilting shows up (slightly) better here

That completed my quilting.  I sent the wall hanging to Anlichan several months late (three? four?) but she forgave me.

A final shot of the whole wall hanging:

The completed wall hanging


Spry: a recipe! Cornbread Cake

Soo, although I should probably rather keep this blog more strictly fiber-crafty, here is a “recipe” my mother and I are obsessed with these days (since Thxgiving, actually).

  • one box Jiffy cornbread mix
  • three eggs
  • one can of creamed corn

Mix together, and bake at 350F for ….thirty mins to an hour, in a 8×8 or 9×9 pan.

And it’s delicious. Wonderfully sweet and moist. Perfect for breakfast.

Give it a try!!

Anlichan’s birthday present – more pictures!

One of the stained glass windows attached to the altar piece (picture is upside down)

The "front" of the church - the altar, the two stained glass windows, and the aisle

Here's where I sewed the back of the church (pews and walls) to the front.

The walls didn’t end up lining up with the top of the pews, so I added a little extra strip of blue fabric to make it straight.  I used blue – the top blue fabric is from my Hungarian blue and white collection.  My real-life church has smaller side altars and that’s why I set off the aisles below the stained glass in different colors.  I wanted to designate that space as being separate from the main front of the church.

The fabrics for the back, next to the altar piece

The assembled back

The assembled front

Quilting pictures to come in the future!

Anlichan’s birthday present part 2

So, my promised second post is a day late, but the holidays have thrown everything off for us.  We’ll get back on track for the new year!  (Hopefully.)

I was sitting in mass one day thinking about the way the interesting lines of perspective as I looked at the pews – the way they seem to be set on a diagonal going towards the horizon line.  I thought it would make a really cool quilt.  I never make quilts that show a picture – mine are usually blocked quilts – but I thought I’d like to make a quilt of a church.  I figured Anlichan would appreciate that.  🙂

I sketched the layout I had in mind, a sort of aerial view showing pews, the walls with stained glass, and the altar.  (This quilt was mainly inspired by my church, or at least Catholic churches in general.  If I were INCREDIBLY TALENTED and I had about a year or two, I could attempt to actually replicate the decoration of my church, which is beautiful and features columns and intricate mosaics, but I had to simplify things considerably.)  I started with the pews.  I cut and sewed squares of colored fabric to represent people in their Sunday best.  I cut brown fabrics in prints that I felt more or less replicated wood for the pews themselves.  You can see those in some of the pictures I uploaded in my last post.  Each row is one square shorter, going from the bottom (which I envisioned as being the back of the church) to the top (nearing the altar).  Weirdly, one side ended up being longer than the other – it’s easier to see in person that they’re not symmetrical.  I don’t know how that happened, but my measuring skills are not as exact as they should be.  I used a simple pale yellow fabric for the aisle between the pews and in the “front” before the altar.

The sides of this piece are angled, to mirror the lines of perspective going forward in a church.  This meant that the “walls” of the church needed to be triangular.  I had some tricky measuring to do in order to sew the stained glass I pictured and still make the walls fit to the pew parts.  I’d originally planned to have three triangular “stained glass windows” on each side but the measurements thwarted me completely and I settled for one stained glass window made of three triangles on each wall.  The measurements still nearly frustrated me completely, but I think they came out nicely in the end.  The third picture I posted last time shows that stained glass.

This left the altar and the pieces of stained glass to the left and right of the altar.  The altar was simple – squares of white around squares of gold that I used to make a cross.  The stained glass to the left and right were supposed to be mirror images of each other, but they actually are the same.  I like for prints to be facing “up” when I sew them, and in order for the stained glass pieces to be symmetrical the irises in one would have to be upside down.  It bothered me too much.  (Insight into my neuroses.  You’re welcome.)  (See the fourth picture I posted last time.)

I used some of my Hungarian prints for the back (I wanted a touch of blue and white for Anlichan, but that didn’t fit with my vision of the church, which featured lots of gold and color – again, the design was based on Catholic churches), bordered with gold to tie it in to the front.  I made a strip of fabric to hang it.  It is very large – larger than I’d realized it would be; I think it’s two feet by three feet, give or take.  I needed that space to execute my grand vision.  🙂

I sewed the front and back, good sides together, leaving a space at the bottom to turn them inside out.

It is my bedtime, so the quilting will have to wait until next time.  I leave you with more pictures!

My grand vision

The altar piece

Rozsamaria’s fun with ornaments

This is actually from a project I did last year, because Mama and Papa S have requested an addition to their decor (which I have yet to work on). For Christmas of 2011 I made all of my relatives ornaments.  I was trying to save money and ornaments use things I already have.  I made them as personalized as I could.  Some of them were embroidered by hand, mostly with backstitching (see my first post ever).

I apologize for the blurriness of the pictures.

backstitching on ornament

I appliqued the star with a blanket stitch.  This ornament was for my brother.

I embroidered two little hearts, one outlined (with a backstitch) and one filled in.  This ornament was for my sister.  She loves moose.  The shape is a quatrefoil.  It was a little complicated to sew, actually.

I made this for my parents.  I made the hearts separately and I sewed them together, then stuffed them.

This is also for my parents.  I appliqued the dog with a blanket stitch, just like the star in the picture above.

I know this post is two days late.  It’s one of those weeks.

More ornament pictures to come!