Monday, January 7, 2013

Progress on the Seascape Project

Since I have some "at home" time early this month and won't have to stop my project for a long travel pause and then try to figure it all out when I get home again, I decided to get started now:

Using my full size drawing as a reference, I marked the major lines on my fabric....

...using a pink water soluble marker. The blue marker wouldn't have shown up on this fabric. I marked it first so that when I pinned the fabrics and batting together I wouldn't have put pins in places where I needed to sew right away.

I always get questions about how I put my quilts together -- I pin most of my quilts, although I have used spray adhesive to do some smaller pieces. So here's the pinning process, with pictures:

I press the backing fabric first, using Mary Ellen's Best Press, a lightweight starch. I like the feel of the fabric after it's pressed with it, it smells divine and, since I buy the Cherry Blossom variety, it's PINK!

My backing fabric is pretty small, so I was only able to use the 2" binder clips to secure two sides of it to the table. I used painter's tape for the other two sides. The goal at this stage is to hold the backing fabric taut without stretching it. The binder clips are available at office supply stores like Staples. For the size of my table surface, I bought 3 dozen clips; I think they come in boxes of 1 dozen.

My work tables have gotten pretty beat up over the years of pinning, spray basting and everything else. They are inexpensive wood veneer banquet tables -- my setup is two tables, each measuring 30" by 96". They are pushed together in the middle of my room, giving me a working surface of 60" by 96".

Then I lay batting on top and cut it to fit. This is wool batting from Quilters Dream. I'm going to be doing a lot of detailed quilting on this and the wool will give a nice loft to the feathers without going to the extra work of trapunto (stuffed work technique first seen in Italian embroideries). If I wanted more loft, however, I would certainly do the trapunto as well as using the wool.

Then I smoothed the marked top over the batting and started pinning. My pins are approximately 4" apart. That's enough to hold the layers securely but still give me room to sew.

Recently a big box of thread arrived from the Mettler company -- several different weights and lots of colors! I'm pretty sure I can find some goodies in there to use!

I started pulling colors, using my backing fabric as inspiration since my face fabric is a hand dye without a great deal of color variation.

Seaweed #1 in a couple of different shades of green....

Added a few more, using more color variation. There are more greens in there and also a variegated thread with green/blue/yellow. Also sewed in one of the "long lines" on the right hand side that the fish will eventually rest against. Used a metallic gold by Mettler for the long line.

This is a closeup where the variegated thread was used. I like the color and also like the texture in the center stem of the seaweed.

Darker thread used for feathers and then lighter thread (lighter both in color and in thread weight) for the small echo lines that pop those feathers so they look like they were stuffed.

This is what the back looks like so far....

And now, since I'm home, I also have to cook, right? Woman cannot live on thread alone....

The book that I was most intrigued with over the weekend is Rachael Ray's new one, "My Year in Meals". She documents, complete with recipes, everything she cooked for a year in her own home kitchen. Also there's a unique feature of the book (of less interest to me because I'm a wine person, not a cocktail person); if you flip the book over and work from back to front, Rachael's husband John has 100 cocktail recipes.

This is the "Mushroom Lasagna"; it's more of an Alfredo style lasagna as it is made with a white sauce and no tomatoes. I added some left over prime rib from the holidays to make it even yummier.

I also made "Creamy Winter Vegetable Soup" -- a real winner -- and tonight I am making a pork loin roast. Rachael's version pairs it with potato/parsnip pancakes, but since one of my husband and my three fights in 25 years of marriage was over how incredibly filthy I got the stove while making potato pancakes for Hanukkah one year, I decided to make mashed potato/parsnip puree instead! Smart decision, right?

I'm also baking bread, but that seemed like a lot of pale colored foods, so I found a recipe in Taste of the South Magazine for Brussels sprouts with spinach that sounded good -- it's flavored with lemon and also has a chopped red bell pepper in it.

We have friends coming over tonight and we're watching the Notre Dame and Alabama football teams play for the BCS national championship. I really like both teams, so who to root for? Are there other football fans out there -- do you have an opinion on this?

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

More Food and a Project

Dan and I were invited to Robert and Dawna's for New Year Day dinner. Robert is a wonderful cook -- we never say no to an invitation from them!

Dawna's a master of presentation -- here's a picture of her at her beautifully decorated table:

And a closeup:

I had brought crab cakes that I baked and plated on a salad of baby greens and then on to the star of the show -- Robert's wonderful buffet!

Poached salmon with lemon, turkey meatballs and a cucumber the table, Robert passed a mustard sauce that was ostensibly for the meatballs but we put it on everything!

And there was a yummy fried chicken dish and pork tenderloin. With only 6 people eating, Dawna and Robert won't have to cook for a week!

Deciding that after all the holiday eating we really needed to notch it down a bit, lunch yesterday was "Cleansing Ginger-Chicken Soup" from my new Canal House cookbook. The recipe calls for poaching a cut up chicken in water, ginger, onion and seasonings, then removing the breast after 30 minutes and let the rest of the flavor go into the broth.

I really couldn't waste all the rest of that good chicken! So I took out the breasts, wrapped one up in Press & Seal and stuck it in the fridge; cut the other one up, divided it between two bowls and ladled in that yummy broth. I let the rest cook for a while, removed the legs and thighs and refrigerated them and then cooked the rest to result, after straining, in a quart of healthful broth just waiting on the refrigerator shelf for inspiration to strike.

Now, on to sewing:

I wanted to play more with free motion, making a wall hanging that I could carry around with me on my teaching rounds to show some techniques. I wanted to make a large sketch but didn't have a roll of paper, so I unrolled some gift wrap, cut it to the size of my fabric and anchored it on my table with several copies of my latest issue of Generation Q Magazine!

My plan is to stitch a seascape with feathers for the seaweed at the bottom and some fish, bubbles, etc.

This is my backing fabric, a batik I've had in my stash for a while....

My face fabric is a hand dye from my friend Saundra Seth.

This is my actual working sketch; roughly 20"x42". Since this workshop teaches the use of thread weights, types and colors to create depth in free motion stitching, I drew the sketch using three different markers: black for my heaviest stitching, purple for medium weight and pink for background. Then I pinned it to my Big Board and propped it up in my sewing room where I can use it for reference throughout the sewing.

Now to mark the major lines on my fabric, layer it with wool batting and make some thread decisions. Hmmm.....all those beautiful Mettler metallics -- definitely need to use those!

To see more, click HERE!!

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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year -- Football and Crab Cakes

After a totally busy year including a lot of travel, both personal and professional, I got to spend some up close time with my Brother DreamWeaver machine over the last couple of weeks. I was hoping to finish two quilts for two sisters, age 7 and 9, who I love dearly, but with life intruding was only able to finish one and get a good start on the second.

Since, however, you can't gift one sister with a quilt without another one for the other sister, I think the gifts will be given for Valentine's Day -- a worthy goal!

So here's a picture of the first one; I made this for the older sister, Sammie:

Closeups of some of the quilting:

Used all of the leftover fabrics on the back; had a lot of small pieces so it took me almost as long to piece the back as the front!

You can see the quilting better on some parts of the back:

I don't always think about posting quilts in progress; perhaps if I did, it would inspire me to finish more of them? While browsing on Pinterest the other day, I came across a blog that encouraged bloggers to take the pledge to post our progress, not just our finished work. I thought that was pretty cool and decided to do it!

The website for taking the pledge is a pretty fun site, so you might want to stop by. Web addy is: Since I don't know how to make links from the iPad, you might have to do a cut and paste thing to get there.

In the spirit of the pledge, I decided to post pictures of Lauren's quilt, safety pins and all. I haven't started to quilt it yet, but it's all pinned up and ready to go:

There weren't as many leftover pieces on this one, so the back is a little simpler:

Sammie's quilt was pieced using a pattern from P&B Textiles by Nancy Odom called "Gather Sunshine":

Lauren's was pieced from "Winter Pinwheels" designed and published by Tiffany Hayes who owns Needle In A Hayes Stack, Fabric for both quilts was chosen by and purchased from Dawna Harrison, co-owner of my local quilt shop, Bolts in the Bathtub, The three of us can make a lot of quilting happen!

Now on to the New Year's Day food! Dan and I are going to dinner at the home of Dawna and her husband Robert. Robert is making all kinds of wonderful goodies; I'm contributing the home made bread I just took out of the oven:

I bake it on a large rectangular stone right on the silicone sheet you see there to the left. It browns up really nicely and I don't have to worry about the dough sticking to the peel when I toss it onto the stone. Just slide it on, silicone and all!

The other thing I am bringing is some crab cakes that my mother sent us as a holiday gift:

Dan and I each had one last night and they were really good. I like to serve them on top of mesclun tossed with a light olive oil vinaigrette and the crab cake on top. These are large crab cakes and one per person will easily work for a first course.

Along with baking the bread, I watched quite a bit of the Rose Parade this morning -- the floats are always so beautiful! It's daunting to imagine how much work and how many man-hours go into each one...then I didn't change the channel and have been watching the Capital One Bowl between Georgia and Nebraska -- good game! Georgia's coach just got orange Gatorade poured all over him -- geez, that's got to be cold!!! The guys pour it, ice and all, you know!

Waiting for the Rose Bowl game.....

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Home -- Palmdale CA

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