Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mike the Headless Chicken!

Fruita, Colorado, the next town to the west of GJ, has been celebrating a long-gone local celebrity for many years now. Mike the Headless Chicken (read his story here)Days include a 5k run, car show, chicken dance, and other goodies. This year they are including a quilt block contest; the blocks will be matted for display this year, and made into a quilt to be raffled off next year.
I've known about this contest for more than a month, but just wasn't getting any inspiration. I thought about how to do something in CQ, but no idea was "popping". Finally, I thought about appliqueing a headless chicken, with different brightly colored feathers in his tail. Then I checked the website, and suddenly remembered; Mike was a white chicken. No problem, I pulled out my favorite white on white and white on cream cotton fabric collection.
I drew out a simple rooster pattern, and cut each body part out of a different fabric. Then appliqued them to a chicken wire patterned fabric.

I added some chain-stitched feet....

...and now I'm working on feather stitching around the tail feathers.

I'll add some other embellishment stitching, and probably some SRE grass and flowers at his feet. The hardest part, the head, is blissfully unneeded...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

One sweet guy....

There's only one guy I know who always has a kind look on his face. His sweet demeanor is something everyone who meets him will attest to. Never a harsh word, never a frown, never a well-meant comment regarding calories or fat (as long as you don't look at the bottom of the box). It's been too long since we got together, Mr. Sunny Chocolate Bunny.

Even when someone systematically starts nibbling on your ears, you still offer that reassuring smile.

Even your little bunny toes are fair game, and still, you smile knowingly and seem to say, "Go ahead, enjoy my chocolatey goodness; who deserves it more than you?"

Pleasant to end
Is my bunny friend.

Parting is such sweeeeeet sorrow, that I will say, "Hey don't we still have some M&M's?"

I never said I was Shakespeare....

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hearts and Hands for Sendai

Here is a recap of my naked block for the quilt for Sendai (sorry it's blurry):

I attempted to do a bonsai tree on the right, and don't feel like I really captured the beauty of a bonsai, but it is vaguely tree-like.

As soon as I found the pagaoda fabric in my stash, I knew I wanted to add a 3D butterfly to the block, and the monarch is perfect for the colors in the center patch. The red roses are some silk ribbon given to me by Ingrid, and the other flowers were done with silk ribbon that I either already had dyed or that I dyed especially for this block. I think the little metal fan came from Cathy K in a squishie of goodies.
Now to get it off to Leslie, who has her work cut out for her assembling all the beautiful blocks I've seen dedicated to this project.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

3D butterfly-the finish!

To attach the butterfly to a block, I like to stitch down just the body using bullion knots, actually forming the body out of the rows of bullions. I did two browns, then a black, two browns, etc., but you could do whatever combination you like.

Keep stitching until you come to where the body should end; usually the print on the fabric will show that. I ended off the tip of the abdomen with French knots, alternating brown and tan.

Next I added a couple of large iridescent beads for the eyes...

...and some antennae and legs. The wings will lift up off the block, especially if you pin them together for a time.

Kerry L. also uses this method, and has added her own twist; she often does each wing separately, and attaches them to the block and each other with the body stitching. This is something you could do if you find a butterfly print fabric in which only one side of the butterfly wing is shown. Some of the butterflies in the fabric I used are printed this way, and I've used that method too.

I'd also like to try this method just using a printed fabric or batik. One could cut out the butterfly shape and stitch it and turn it just like described here. It would be a butterfly like never existed in nature, but it might be fun!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

3D butterflies

Lynn Schoeffler recently emailed me to ask if I had a tutorial for my stitch-and-turn butterfly motif. She's writing an article for CQMagOnline and wanted to use a butterfly on her work. She was willing to not only give me credit, but refer readers to my tutorial. Well, I didn't have one....yet! I'm taking care of that right now.

Begin by finding a good cotton print with some fairly large butterflies on it. They need to be fairly large so that they're not too tedious to handle (at least for your first one; you can try to go smaller after you get the hang of it), and they also look quite real when they're life-size. But an even more important consideration is that they need to be pretty much symmetrical. This fabric is available at, or search for "creature comforts butterflies".

You're going to cut two images of the butterfly, and pin them, right sides together. At this point, they are just roughly cut out; you'll trim off that excess later, but for now it helps to have that extra fabric to hang on to. When pinning, I try to match up the points of the wings and the head area. If they're not absolutely perfectly symmetrical, you can ease the two images slightly to get them to match up.

I hand stitch around the edge of the images, taking the smallest stitches possible, and leaving an opening on the longest straight stretch for turning. Here I've left the area between the two pins unstitched. Don't finish off your thread; leave it hanging.

Carefully cut off the excess, leaving a bit extra across the space left open for turning, then VERY carefully clip the curves.

Turn the butterfly right side out. This is sort of how they look when coming out of a chrysalis, isn't it?

Tuck the raw edge of the opening to the inside, and taking up the thread again, invisibly stitch (I use a ladder stitch) the opening closed. Press the heck out of it on both sides until it is as flat as possible. Here are two that I made recently, having alighted on my needle carrier. They are simply pinned on here. Next post I will show you how I attach the butterfly to a block.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Project for Japan

Members of quilting groups all over the world are creating blocks to be made into quilts to benefit Japan's earthquake relief efforts. On CQ International, our member Hideko Ishida lives in Sendai. She and her immediate family survived the quake, as did their home, but the whole area is still struggling with issues of survival that most of us never dream of in our worst nightmares.
The current plan is to make quilts that will be displayed in Japan as a sign of our good wishes for the people of Japan. As one stitcher described it, there is a prayer in each stitch on each block. After the quilt display comes down, the quilts might then be auctioned to raise money for relief efforts. Anyone who would like to make a block, either crazy quilted or traditional quilt style, should check out the guidelines here. The logo for "Hearts and Hands for Sendai" was designed by Leslie Ehrlich, who is also going to head up the construction of the quilts.

Here's my block before embellishment: