Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Home Is Wear The Heart Is

We have a little spot in our house that just screams for a quilted wall-hanging. It's a really narrow place beside our front door. Years ago, I made an appliqued piece that was red and white and featured... snowmen. It was our first winter here in Canada, and I thought it was so perfect for our new home in The Great White North. But the trouble is, I never made any other seasonal pieces, so those snowmen hung beside our front door all year long!

So, with Father's Day as my inspiration (aka: kick in the butt), I made this new wall-hanging for our home. It features traditional quilt blocks that represent each of the places my husband, Eric, and I have lived... Ohio, Nebraska, Iowa, and Canada. Here's how I went through the process.

All quilting was free-motion, hand-guided on a longarm quilting machine.

This is considered a "whole cloth" quilt. It is made of one single piece of fabric, rather than sewing lots of small pieces together. Unfortunately, my ironing surface is white and the muslin for this piece is cream, so it doesn't show up all that well. I used a variety of marking pens - mostly blue mark-b-gone, which is water-soluble, and purple air-soluble.

This was how I began marking, a grid of 2- and 1-inch squares.

This was a project of do-overs. This was what I thought was going to be my piece. It had blocks for Ohio (where I'm from), Nebraska (where Eric's from), and Canada (where we currently live). But alas, I decided this piece was not going to work. I didn't think it was long enough for the narrow spot by our front door, so I scrapped it.

For the second attempt I decided to try a different route. I knew the blocks were each 6" squares, so I drew four of them, each 1" apart, rather than drawing the grid system I had tried on the first one.

I feel like I kinda cheated, but I'm really glad I did. I used Photoshop and InDesign to print off BW images of each of the blocks (I'm a graphic designer, as my "real" job - I wonder at what point I will start calling myself a quilter as my "real" job). Then I laid those 6" printed designs under the muslin and traced them. It was SO much easier than trying to do all the math and spacing on the fabric. I had already don't it all on InDesign. Yay! Modern technology meets old-fashioned handicraft yet again!

Traced over the print-out with blue water-soluble marking pen.

I used two layers of batting - bottom: Quilter's Dream Select, top: Hobbs PolyDown - so the unquilted areas are super-puffy. I love how smooth and full the surface is after the initial basting around the perimeter.

Again with the do-overs. Here is the Ohio Star, and I was trying to decide whether to fill in the triangles around the outside. I have used clear plastic/mylar sheets to audition quilting patterns occasionally, but I find that it's never quite enough of an audition for me. I almost HAVE to see it stitched out to decide. And getting feedback from Facebook friends also helps! Facebook spoke: no fill. I ripped out the little portion that the pen is pointing to.

Another auditioned component that Facebook helped me decide on was the fill in this Nebraska Block. Again, my FB friends said NO fill, so I ripped it out.

More ripping: After adding a secondary echo around the inside of these maple leaves, I felt like it actually detracted from the look of the maple leaves. So I ripped it out.

All done and ready to take off the frame.

I wetted the piece and blocked it (stretched it and pined it to foam board) and let it dry. 

Hoxie loves taking photos on my phone. She's 3. She made me pause for this photo. Notice the jeans on the table behind me, waiting to be hemmed for months now (converting boot cut jeans into skinny jeans), but not getting done because I'm a quilter, NOT a seamstress! I hate garment sewing!

I ripped out those echoes inside the maple leaves, and used the rubbery end of a Frixxion pen (similar to a pencil eraser) to rub those needle holes every which way and close back up.

All finished, and hanging from an antique, wooden crochet hook. 

Ohio Star: Eric and I met at The Ohio State University, when I was an AgriBusiness major and he was a graduate student in Animal Science. I ended up with a BA in English Literature, and his thesis was on Puberty in Bulls. Yeah, we're a classic love story.

Nebraska Block: After that, we moved to Nebraska, where I worked for the American Shorthorn Association (a breed of beef cattle) and he earned a PhD in Animal Science (specifically, methane production in ruminants, like cows) at the University of Nebraska. It was here that we became engaged and started our married life.

Iowa Star: Then we went to Iowa, so that Eric could attend veterinary school at Iowa State University. I took a job as a graphic designer for a livestock publication. We met so many great people there and grew so much as a couple. Incidentally, THIS block is the one that led me to consider my method of tracing. I did NOT want to figure out all the math of those triangles!

Maple Leaf Block: And last, but not least, a Maple Leaf Block, representing our current home in Alberta, Canada. The place where Eric finally became a working stiff, where we became homeowners, where our two daughters were born, and where we've become our own little family.

Who knows where our journey will lead us and when, but it's been a fun ride so far!

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