In between projects

Piasa Bird quilt, paperpiecing
Piasa Bird quilt by Melissa S.

Today I thought I would do something a little different since I have yet to finish my quilting on the Wind Rose quilt and have not started a new project. A couple of my sisters also quilt and I thought I’d share a quilt by one of them.

The Piasa Bird in history and our local folklore. As a child in Alton I remember wanting to take a ride up the Great River Road to see the Piasa Bird, that was our thing back then when life was much simpler. For years there was a beautiful painting of the Piasa on the limestone bluffs and I think it was an honor if you were an artist who was chosen to freshen the image. Today the image sits above a small rest stop in Alton, the image isn’t the same quality but still demands the attention of those who pass by. Its current location is the 3rd that I personally remember.

There are different accounts and legends surrounding the Piasa Bird. It is said to have had sharp talons and teeth,  antlers like a deer, a long tail and a beard. Some in history do not note wings, others do. It was a man eater that terrorized local tribes. Chief Ouatoga of the Illini Indians was said to have gathered his warriors outside the cave of the Piasa Bird armed with poisoned arrows. When the Piasa flew out of the cave they showered it with their arrows and the Piasa’s remains lie in the depths of the Mississippi River.

Its story and  image have been depicted in the book titled “Records of ancient races in the Mississippi Valley” by William McAdams. Explorers Lewis and Clark made note of the image painted on the limestone bluffs near Alton,Il when they explored the region between 1804-1806. Earlier, in 1673 Father Jacques Marquette noted the image during the Joliet expedition. Now the quilt.

Piasa bird quilt, paperpiecing
Quilt by Melissa S.

She used applique and a technique called snippets to complete the top. I’ve not personally used snippets in quilting so I cannot give instructions or rate the technique. She’ll kill me for saying this, I invited her to write a post on the quilt and she said, “No, its too much like work”. LOL. This makes her sound lazy but truly she isn’t. She has been raising children since she was 4 years old and my mother brought me home from the hospital.  She does have a full time job and cares for her grand children as well.  I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I do. Thanks Melissa.Wikipedia on Piasa Bird

piasa bird, applique, paper piecing
Piasa Brid quilt by Melissa S.

piasa bird quilt, paper piecing

Piasa bird quilt, paperpiecing
Quilt by Melissa S.

Finished quilts

medallion quilt: 2 color quilt: two color quilt: paper pieced pattern: flying geese pattern: quilt patterns: circling geese pattern: no curved piecing circling geese: red and white medallion quilt
Red and white medallion quilt

At one time I did not take photos of the quilts as I finished them.

Modern quilt

paper pieced pattern: flying geese pattern: quilt patterns: circling geese pattern: no curved piecing circling geese: red and white medallion quilt
Modern Geometric Three Color Quilt Pattern, pattern by Geta’s Quilting Studio Of course you don’t have to limit yourself to 3 colors though I wish I had.
This pattern was easy and so much fun to make. Her patterns are clearly written, nice photos and very thorough. It was one of the earliest quilts I had loaded on my frame and I really struggled with a quilt design. Finally I settled on spirals and feathers. Inside the blocks are square spirals and the border is feathers. It is also a good pattern if you have a lot of scraps laying around that you want to use up.
This is one pattern I may have to revisit now that my quilting ideas are expanding.

Everything is laid out for my next quilt and I can hardly wait to get started. Unfortunately, the USPS doesn’t share in my excitement or they would come on with it already. I love the convenience of shopping for fabric online but you really have to know what you are looking for. Such as the manufacturers item number. It only takes one $200 mistake to learn your lesson. The first time I purchased fabric online was not with great end results. The colors blended very well on the computer screen but when I opened the package…what was I thinking? After that I limit myself to purchasing only solids and muslin online. However I no longer buy muslin online because the local shop I frequent the most began carrying the brand I like.

Most of the quilts I make the tops are pieced with muslin. Unbleached muslin is right up there with flying geese at the top of my list. Not all muslin is created equal though and if you have ever held it up to the light and there wasn’t much difference between it and gauze you are truly missing out. Choice Fabrics makes a 200 thread count(at least that is what the label states) natural or unbleached muslin that is wonderful. I’ve used it with batiks on my tops and regular quilters cotton and have never been disappointed. My scrap pile also remains small. If you try the muslin please let me know how you like it.

We are our own worse critic

strip pieced quilt

We are our own worst critics. So often I begin a project with fabrics that look well together when laying alongside one another and only after the quilt is finished do I wonder “what was I thinking”? Honestly, this happens with every quilt with the exception of 2. You cant go wrong with a 2 color quilt.. The other, the whole time I was piecing it my nose was curled and I questioned myself. It was only after the top was completed that I truly appreciated the colors and placement.
If fabric choices arent tough enough, what about piecing? Perhaps the lines dont exactly meet, we have all had this happen. One of my sisters will tell me, “if you didnt point it out I wouldnt have noticed or no one will notice but you”. That is reasuring as long as it takes my husband to walk into the room. He has an eye for noticing those little mistakes that “no one will notice”, lol. He has noticed things that I as the assembler did not see.
We have all at one point fudged a seam. We have either neatly puckered or stretched a seamline to make the points meet. Ideally we dont want to do that but the thought of ripping out all those stitches is so depressing. More often than not the problem isnt with the piece you are stitching, it may be several seams ago or several blocks ago and when you start ripping seams you may undo more than half of what you have completed before you find the issue. Two words, paper piecing. With traditional piecing there is very liitle room for error. With paper piecing, as long as you position your fabrics correctly, stitch on the line and match your points when joining blocks you will spend your time stitching instead of ripping. With paper piecing you can see where you went wrong before it’s too late.
Remember Elmers washable school glue? Turns out it is good for more than coating your fingers to watch it dry and peel off so you can admire your fingerprints. If you place a tiny dot of glue inside the 1/4″ seam allowance then dry with an iron you will discover you have fewer shifting pieces. The number of dots to place really depends on the length of the seam you are stitching. For a patch that is 3″ long you could get by with 2 dots. Stay at least 1/2″ away from corners and within the 1/4″ seam allowance. The size of the dot…well grab a sharpie fine tip permanent marker and lightly place a dot on a piece of paper. Thats about the amount of glue, A little bit larger than a period on this page. If you are paper piecing and the paper gets stuck to the fabric, keep a damp rag nearby. Touch just the glued area with your rag and the paper will be released.
Things to always keep in mind if using the glue.
1. Always stay at least 1/2″ away from corners. The glue does add some extra bulk and you will want to avoid seams that will go from 2 layers of fabric to 4 or more layers. Your longarmer will not like you or you will not like yourself when you hit one of these already thick seams made bulkier by glue. 2 layers of fabrc with a tiny dot of glue will not bog down or stop the quilting machine.
2. Always apply the glue within the seam allowance and a very small dot. You will know if you applied too much glue when you are turing your pieces. The glue will spread out and too much will run into your stitch line. A damp rag will release the glue or if its not a lot you can gently pull the fabrick apart.
3. Make sure the glue is dry before running thru your machine. If it is not dry and you have not kept it within your seam allowance it will get on and dry on the needle. If the glue is dry it will not gum up your needle.

Pattern above quilt by :  Very clear and easy to follow pattern.


Gaggle of Geese

flying geese quiltAnother quilt I finished several months ago. It was one of the first quilts I had quilted on a longarm. I still have a ways to go with the longarm but I will get there. This is a paper pieced pattern offered for sale by Better off thread, The 1 seam flying geese border was added by me so if you do purchase the pattern please know the  directions for the border will not be included.

The pattern was great, it was clear and well written. One could get lost in the instructions for many quilt patterns, that was not the case Gaggle of Geese.  If you like paper piecing and flying geese  this would be a great addition to your pattern collection or you could expand on this. My collection consists of  patterns by many quilt designers. There are patterns that I may like one aspect of the quilt but not so much the rest. No one said you have to make the quilt as instructed by the designer although that would be their preference. If you can make the blocks fit from a dozen different quilt patterns and are happy with the outcome, that’s all that matters.  After all, you will be the one the quilt represents every time the receiver looks at the quilt.

Perhaps you are experienced in traditional piecing and would like to give paper piecing a try? This pattern would be a good fit.  A very confident patient beginner could also pull it off but keep in mind there is curved piecing in this quilt.