Sunday, March 30, 2008

Limited Progress

I didn't get as much done on my March Take It Further Challenge yesterday as I had hoped. Best laid plans and all. Half an hour shoveling the 6 inches of snow that fell overnight, an hour on the phone with a friend who's call I'd been looking forward to for several weeks, and then finding myself being intimidated by this quilt. I've been carrying the idea in my head for so long that now I was ready to make it reality, I was spooked by its emergence into the real world. I suddenly had to figure out the proportions of the trunks to match the size of the background remnant, and everything was so much bigger than it had been in my head. I thought I could at least dive into the making of the lichen, but that too was intimidating me.

So I circled for awhile. I gave the trunk fabric a good pressing. I found my water soluble stabilizer and hoop. I consulted my journal quilt notes for how I'd handled the stitching over fused applique technique I plan to use again here. I hunted around for thread to use for the lichen and detail on the tree trunk. The threads I thought I'd use (the ones in my head) weren't right at all, but other options soon presented themselves. The texture on the trunk isn't so much grey/black, I realized, but shades of dark brown. Something laid out here will work. I'm definitely going to have to make up a sample to try these out.

I thought preparing the sheer would be a no brainer. I've tried out the Misty Fuse enough that I was confident about using it here. Black Misty Fuse under black sheer, right? So why is the extruded web showing through? Should I have used the white instead? Doesn't the package say how perfect it is for sheers? I've not heard any talk of this shadowing and am just thankful that if it continues to show once fused to the background, it will not show much and will look like it was meant to be that way. Would appreciate any insight on this from experienced users.

Well, with that little surprise, I decided to go to the computer and print out my photos to have as reference in the studio. Obviously, my head is less than accurate these days. I printed both color and enlarged black & white versions. It was starting to give me an idea of the size the trunks need to be. Then, just for fun, I tried a copy setting on my printer I've not tried before: Poster 4. This takes an 8-1/2 x 11 page and automatically enlarges it to print on 4 separate sheets that can then be pasted together to make one large poster. I ended up with something larger than what I need, but I think now between the one slightly too small and the one slightly too big, I can sketch up the right size.

I'd hoped to get the trunks cut out, but I still felt too unsure about the sizing, so I decided to tackle the thread lace process to make the lichen. Here you see the Sulky Solvy stabilizer hooped, and I've drawn some guideline shapes on it with a Sharpie pen. I set the machine up for free motion stitching. Not wanting to lose momentum, I didn't look for instructions on making threadlace, but relied on my memories from a class I'd taken quite a few years ago. As I recalled, one needed to stitch the outline first, then start stitching within the shape, making sure to overlap stitches to lock them together. Otherwise, once the stabilizer is washed out, the shape will fall apart into so many strands of thread. The first two I stitched a grid within the outline, then started working overlapping circles over the entire area. I wasn't sure I was remembering that grid thing right, so on the next one I just started doing the loops as soon as the outline was stitched. I was having a terrible time keeping my rhythm and the circle motion going in the same direction. It was one of the few times that speeding up the machine actually seemed to help.

Once I'd filled the stabilizer with my shapes, I unhooped it and cut away as much of the excess as possible. Then it was dump my stitching into cool water and let the stabilizer dissolve while I walked the dog. This is when you hold your breath that the stitching really does hold together...and it did! Here they are drying on a paper towel.

And here are a few of them after completely dry. My - I did a really good job! I'm very pleased with how these turned out - much better than my previous efforts. That was really all I could handle for one day, and it was nice to end on a successful note.

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