Thursday, July 22, 2010

June BJP Finished!

This was a fun one! My words for the month of June made me think of my totem animal, rabbit.

stuffed rabbit, component for June BJP by Robin Atkins,detail
So this is how it all started. I had a package of bunnies pre-cut out of different batik fabrics and selected one that appealed to me. A black bunny with square spirals... What could be more cute than that?

I decided to make a slightly stuffed (dimensional) bunny, by cutting out a back piece, inserting some quilt batting and beading around the edge with picot edge stitch.

stuffed rabbit, component for June BJP by Robin Atkins
Here's how the back looks.

stuffed rabbit, component for June BJP by Robin Atkins
And here's the front.

Now what? Well, doesn't a bunny just love to leap and frolic across little hills and fields of flowers? And wouldn't pink be just the right color... my favorite color as a child to go with my childhood favorite animal?

decorative paper painted with acrylics by Robin Atkins
I painted the above paper some years ago (acrylic paints on heavy drawing paper... stenciling, stamping, glazes, textures, layers). The white spiral design is purchased rayon lace paper left over from a bookmaking project.

Next I needed some pink felt for the hills and my words. This time I decided to try stitching my words with embroidery floss. I used a double strand of variegated silk floss and the stem stitch. For the first two words breathe and believe), I "just did it." But I could see that my size and spacing weren't very good that way. So for the other four words, I stitched guidelines on the the felt, which you can see in two of the words below.

embroidered words, components for June BJP by Robin Atkins
Next I stitched the hills together using various embroidery stitches. Then came the beads and embellishments! The most fun part! I stitched the flower and leaf beads in place and then embroidered around them. It is so sweeeeeet to embroider on felt.... I love the feel of it!

bead and thread embroidery by Robin Atkins, bead journal project, Believe
Here's how it looks finished. Since my primary word for June is "believe," that's the title of this piece... Believe! (Click picture to enlarge.)

I believe in
  • asking for what I need and want
  • writing, writing, and more writing
  • surrendering rather than fighting
  • breathing deeply and mindfully
  • laughing as much as possible
So there you have it! I believe my dear totem animal guide, rabbit, is enjoying a leap into the stars... definitely in the pink!

Monday, July 05, 2010

I'm Baaaaaaaaad

Robin's motorcycle, Suzuki 800 Intruder
Oh dear! I just looked at my last post... June 20th. Good grief! What have I been doing? Visitor from Europe for a week (including 4-day motorcycle ride... wheee... fun... above picture is my Suzuki at the summit west of Lillooet, BC) and quilting. So guess I'll post about the quilt I'm making...

It's a large double-bed quilt, a graduation present for my niece, Margaret, who is just getting her MA from the U of Minnesota. I suggested we feature pictures of her on the quilt and she asked for soft green as one of the colors.

It started with various pictures I collected from my own albums and from Margaret. Below are three of them.

Margaret in bunny costume
Margaret with her mom, original picture
Margaret graduating with her BA, original picture
Obviously, they needed some work. Here they are again, worked in Photoshop. I took out a lot of the color on all of the pictures and then added a sepia photo filter to even them all out. I gave each a border in a color similar to the fabrics I had collected for the quilt.

Margaret in bunny costume, print-ready image
Margaret with her mom, print-ready image
Margaret graduating with BA, print-ready image
Besides the bunny costume picture above, the one below is my other favorite picture of Margaret. She's looking at a tattoo she had just gotten on her shoulder.

Margaret looking at tattoo, print-ready image
I printed the pictures on poplin fabric using my ink jet printer. The fabric sheets came from Jo-Ann's Fabric. It's easy. Print the pictures, peel off the backing, hand wash to remove the sizing (stiffener), dry and iron. Permanent color and ready to use fabric! (I don't see the product I used by Crafter's Images on Jo-Ann's website anymore, but this product looks similar.)

fabric strips for Margaret's quilt
Then I cut piles and piles of strips of fabrics in various widths... 1 to 3.5 inches wide.

Randomly selecting strips, I sewed them around the pictures to create blocks. Below is a picture of the top 12 blocks (I did 20 in all) on my design wall. The 4 top left blocks and the 4 top right blocks are already sewn together to form two large blocks.

Margaret's quilt, top 12 blocks, in process
Because of the random widths of the strips and different sizes of pictures, the blocks are all different sizes. No problem. Just takes a lot of time and fussing to figure out what to put around and between the blocks to make it all come out the right. I used strips, piano keys and 9-patches to fill in the spaces.

Below are the finished blocks, sewn together and bordered with soft green. Notice the strips of fabric sewn together (piano keys) draped over the chair? I sewed them around the outside edge. They will drape down over the edge of the bed and make the quilt large enough.

Margaret's quilt, center top is complete, needs piano key borders to finish
The next step is to piece the back of the quilt and get it to a professional quilter. I thought about doing the quilting myself, but don't think I could roll it up tightly enough to fit under the small arm of my 1972 machine and I definitely don't have time to hand-quilt this one.

This has taken me many, many more hours than I expected. It turned out to be quite fussy getting the blocks to fit together pleasantly. Plus I ran out of many of the fabrics and had to labor quite a bit to get the piano key border to look good. No pictures of the finished top yet... maybe after it gets quilted.

Quilting is challenging for me. I'll be happy to get back to work on my June piece for the Bead Journal Project. I'm making progress, but haven't taken pictures yet.

My main word for July's BJP is FOCUS! I'm looking forward to starting that one soon... What a great word, eh?!