June "Sunflowers" Blog Hop

It is REVEAL TIME again and boy did that month go by FAST!! 😲 This month’s themed art challenge over at Art Elements was "Sunflowers" hosted by Susan Kennedy. I always associate sunflowers with gorgeous photos and paintings of the Tuscan countryside for some reason, so my design for this theme was inspired by images of Tuscan sunflower fields against a blue sky. These types of photos contributed to the colors, composition and the feel of my new piece this month.
Left- Sienna, Italy         Right- Tuscany, Italy


**DISCLAIMER: Since sewing and quilting are NOT my area of expertise, I apologize in advance to those who quilt and sew, for any improper use of terminology and/or technique descriptions in this blog πŸ˜‚**



As soon as I saw the theme I knew I wanted to use a very new to me hand sewn quilting technique called English Paper Piecing. My by-love-rather-than-by-blood third mom, Annette, taught me about this method just last year! It’s use of geometric shapes seemed perfect for the sunflower petals and would allow a novice quilter like myself to make clean lines and joins without making my brain explode measuring and cutting all of the little fabric pieces. This was an ambitious undertaking to say the least, since I have yet to complete anything using this method and would now try to make an entire mini quilt, with beaded embellishments, in less than 30 days.
YUP! I’m that crazy.
Paper templates can be bought pre-cut or you can print templates on card stock like this, you just have to be VERY precise when cutting the paper out so everything fits together in the end. Here are some of the tools of the trade and some fabric ready to be basted!!!


Basically for English Paper Piecing (EPP) you are using paper templates of the shapes you want, basting the fabric to the paper and then joining the basted shapes together to form your quilt top without doing all the measuring of little scraps and then potentially joining said scraps in an utterly wonky fashion.


I started joining at the center and worked my way out. The white basting thread and paper templates will be removed after all is joined and pressed VERY WELL to maintain the clean seams!!

I prefer to hand sew over machine as MUCH as possible (in all areas of sewing) so this is a PERFECT quilting method for me! Once you are all joined up, you press the entire piece again to keep your seams intact and then remove the basting thread and pop the paper templates out, leaving you a perfectly joined quilt top!! So easy it’s almost like cheating 😁
I don't visualize well, so I did a "blueprint" drawing to scale at about 21" x 24" so I would know how many and of what, to cut. The blue "sky" fabric I purchased in 2.5" strips to save time so that I could focus on the flower rather than a full patchwork background. I selected this Batik fabric for the backing and to wrap to the front as binding because it pulls all the colors together and it's pretty!!!

LEFT: First round of petals joined to center   RIGHT: 2nd round of petals joined to center
Then you sandwich the quilt top, the organic cotton batting sheet and the backing fabric together and pin the crap out of it!! By far the most tedious and hateful part of quilting in my opinion. πŸ˜’πŸ˜†
LEFT: Blue stripes have been joined, the cotton organic batting is sandwiched in the middle and the Batik backing is underneath with fabric left to fold to the front, binding the finished piece.     CENTER: Flower layer, blue background layer, cotton batting and Batik backing sandwich.  RIGHT: The fully pinned layers ready for hand quilting!!!
You can quilt the layers together in the stitch pattern of your choosing, working from the middle out in case any of the layers shift as you go. We don’t want to have a big pooch of material anywhere in your finished piece.
I quilted the sunflower portion by just sewing each hexagon, gem or diamond an ⅛” inside the seam, following the shape of each piece. I didn’t want to quilt a chaotic design over top of the flower itself, since the fabrics I used are already busy and I hoped to add some beading at the end if time allowed.
I did chose to use a patterned vine template for the rest of the quilt however and using a fine tip water soluble marking pen, transferred the template onto the blue background so that I could stitch through all three layers and quilt the project together!

My stitches are definitely NOT consistent and are a bit too large but since it’s my first effort, I decided they look organic and artsy rather than messy or incompetent (just play along here as necessary! LOL)
Once all of the quilting was completed, I then folded over my backing fabric to create the quilt binding that gives it the finished edge AND brings my batik fabric to the front creating a border.

Here it is fully quilted and ready for beading and stitching embellishment! I am SO in love with the look and feel of this quilted fabric that I want a full size functional handmade quilt even more than I did already!! I wish THIS one was a full quilt but I never could have done THAT in a month. hehheh



I decided to add beading and stitching to create texture since this would be on a wall rather than a functional blanket. 
I chose shiny bugle beads for the leaves and will add stitched veins to them later.

The Tiger Eye chips sewn onto the sunflower center remind me of sun seeds with the irregular shapes and points. Not to mention, I'm just a sucker for gemstones.
I added brown shiny seed beads to create delineation between the head of the flower and the first round of petals. There are round Jasper beads on the hexies and golden yellow beads on all the petal tips to balance the flower body with the beaded center.

Golden yellow outline stitching gave subtle definition to the outside edge of the whole sunflower. Blue scatter beads on the background help to balance the bead work on the flower itself and my label on the back finishes the piece!!


This quilted wall hanging was a JOY to create and took me right down to the wire with the one month deadline. It definitely pushed my “sleep is for the weak” mantra due to me still needing to crochet several orders while only wanting to work on this!! LOL 😁

This across the surface photo helps to show the dimensions and textures.

"Summer Sunflower"

For those of you that made it through my long story LONG blog entry, I hope you have enjoyed the process as much as I have. I can’t wait to be able to continue making the English Paper Piecing hexagon quilt that I originally started last year when first shown this method!!
I have learned from this challenge just how COOL it’s going to be when it’s finally done someday. πŸ˜πŸ˜€
Love and Light,
πŸ’– Raven


SEE THE ART CREATED BY OTHER PARTICIPANTS FOR THE JUNE "SUNFLOWER" CHALLENGE BY VISITING THEIR BLOGS!!! 


Guests

Raven (you are here now, in case you are loosing track ;)

AE Team

Comments

  1. Wow that's so beautiful. I also used Tuscan sunflower fields as my inspiration.

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  2. Wow - what a fabulous interpretation of the theme....your finished quilt is just so joyful!

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    1. Thank you! It is very HAPPY colors. It doesn't really go with my more subdued living room but I may have to hang it for a while at least to bond with the finished look ;)

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  3. WOW Raven... just WOW!!! I hate sewing but reading your blog - transfixed with each step! - makes me want to cut up shapes in paper and fabric. I can't use a sewing machine, I end up whizzing along and going wrong, as I have a heavy pedal foot! but your quilt makes me want to have a go :D

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    1. Thanks Laney. It was really fun and I am now DYING to have a handmade quilt for my bed more than ever!! I know how to hem straight lines on a machine but don't trust myself for more than that...I often shouldn't operate "heavy machinery". Hahaha

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  4. That is gorgeous!
    I can't sew for toffee, so it's twice as impressing to me!

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    1. Thanks Cat! I am the same way about art forms I struggle with or have NEVER tried before...I am all the more stunned by people who can create things in glass and textile arts and ceramics because it seems more like magic than even an acquired skill!!

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  5. Really a beautiful piece! I especially like that you added beads, It adds some texture and shine. Well done!

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    1. Thanks Kathy. I haven't beaded, other than stringing beads for jewelry, in a long time and I had to get reacquainted with the wafer thin beading needle and needle threader! Kind of relieved to switch back to my yarn and hooks after playing with beads for a week or so. Love the added texture though, so it was worth the crossed eyes!

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  6. Um, WOW Raven! I can't believe how many steps that took to finish and it is absolutely gorgeous! And the beads are a perfect addition! I'm so glad you were so inspired, it's no wonder you want a large quilt like this! Thank you so much for sharing your work this month!

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    1. It was more steps than I took into account when I decided to jump in at the beginning of the month but I am so pleased I pulled it off by the skin of my teeth (what an odd thought that is...). Thanks again for such a great theme!

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  7. I am no quilter but having tried it a couple of times I know that it is hard work. I wouldn't of challenged myself to do something as complicated as your sunflower pattern in a million years. On the whole the quilt looks beautiful

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    1. It definitely was a challenge within a challenge to be sure. I had to be careful not to neglect my crochet orders about halfway through the month. LOL It was fun to go outside of my yarn world for a change though and I look for to maybe exploring some of the other mediums I'm drawn to in the months to come!!

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  8. That you managed this in one month is impressive! What a beautiful and stunning piece! I think you should go for a large quilt right now (or make a themed quilt with different panels fitting different theme challenges? ;) )!

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    1. I'm a little in shock that it came together in the time frame of just under 30 days myself!! I didn't think about how crazy it was when I decided to go in this direction by I'm so pleased that I dove it without my usual overthinking and rationalizations. I do think I need to get back in the habit of allowing one day a week where I get to work on the hexagon quilt I started in the fall. It should feel REALLY easy after completing this much more complex trial run. =D

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  9. Just fabulous! the beads add such a nice dimension. And I for one appreciate your step-by-step progress reporting. As a novice quilter myself, I am encouraged to try paper piecing now... because lacking the discipline to make a large quilt, art quilting with new techniques is really fun! Great work!

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    1. I hope you do decide to try out EPP!! It makes the intimidating parts of quilting SO MUCH easier and the finished result is still a real deal bonafide quilt!! It's great for those of us that maybe don't want to spend so much time measuring and cutting and want to just DIVE in!

      I'm a little relieved to hear you say that you enjoy seeing the process. I realized last month and more so this month that my blog style is more like a behind the scenes report you might turn into class for credit rather than a blurb about what the theme inspired in me and what I feel about sunflowers like many other blogs. (I have only just created this blog 2 months ago and their is still STEEP learning curve going on around here....ahem). I seem to make them more tutorial almost than conversational and always rather loooooooong but I'm hoping to refine my blog style and skills with each challenge!!!

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  10. Wow, wow, wow, I looove this quilt! You did an amazing job with this one. Though I know squat about sewing, I could totally follow along on your journey/adventure with your detailed steps and pictures, so good job there too. :-)

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    1. Thanks Anita. I'm trying hard not to get too step by step in my blog style...I think it's the lover of behind the scenes footage of my favorite movies and watching how things are made myself that makes my blog posts almost borderline tutorial rather than sharing a conversation about art and creation but I'm working on getting out of my head a little more each time we have a reveal. I'm glad that it was fun and easy to take the journey with me at least and that you enjoyed my finished piece!!!

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  11. Girl.... This is amazing... I so love it. I wish I could even attempt at making quilts. I am so intimidated.. Have a great weekend.

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    1. Thank you so much. I am thrilled you like it.
      I am VERY intimidated and impressed by quilting and as I said, my other mom Annette is super gifted at quilting and I am just in awe. I will forever be grateful that she introduced me to this more laid back beginners method of templates so that I might someday work up the nerve to make a whole usable quilt of my very own!!!

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  12. This is breathtaking. I can't believe you got all that done in so little time. I think it would take me a year to get just the top done, not to mention the quilting and adding beads. It's really completely gorgeous.

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    1. Thanks! I can't believe I finished in time either...I was prepared to post a WIP if necessary. It is only about 21" x 24" which definitely helped. Someday I will make a REAL quilt but I'm happy with my wee learning "quilt" wall hanging for now. Proof, it can be done! LOL

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  13. This is beautiful!! I am super impressed at your paper piecing. I have never tried it, if/when I quilt-I always do raw edge. So the fact that you pieced it with edges turn under and did ALL the quilting by HAND is jsut awesome! The tiger eye chips for the center of the sunflower really add the perfect touch. Well done!!

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    1. Thank you!! I have never done raw edge myself. Too intimidated by getting straight seems or pieces not lining up when it all comes together. I think the paper gives me the crutch needed to not worry about messing up the shapes until after they are joined and pressed and much harder to mess up. I DO love my hand sewing so I look forward to more sewing projects this year I hope!

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  14. OH MY GOSH! I have childhood memories of my grandma making English Paper Piecing hexagon quilt but with just the hexagons and in a dizzying array of colours and patterns, something I had almost completely forgotten, so thank you! I have loved reading your post and wow that is one amazing piece of art, I rally love all the effort you have put into it and the added seed beads is just perfect!

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    1. YES!! The quilt I started last fall when shown this method will be all hexies because I figured starting simple and all the same shape would be a good way to ease into the daunting world of quilting. It will be flowers of hexagons spaces across blue/purple hexagons to make up the rest of the body....in theory. And it may not get done until I'm 50 but I"m okay with that. I certainly feel more confident about continuing to work on a quilt that size now that I've had some success with my sunflower test run. ;)

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  15. Wow, just wow!!!!
    A full quilt of them, stunning!

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  16. Wow! (Notice how everyone starts with Wow!). This is so impressive! I don't sew, but your post really helped me to appreciate all the work that goes into creating a quilt. You really created a beauty.

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    1. LOL. Thanks...you guys are REALLY good for my just sprouting creative confidence. I love being connected with such a talented and supportive group of individuals! These challenges have been good for me and getting out of my comfort zone and actually CREATING instead of just executing patterns with my crochet. I love it, don't get me wrong, but I wouldn't have thought of myself as creative before trying these challenges. Skilled yes, but not creative. I've found some untapped joy in these themes!!

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  17. As I mentioned in some of your Instagram peeks Raven when you were beginning, and then some progress, I knew this piece was going to come out beautifully. I could tell by your choices of fabric .. and the stones and beads even add a certain 'je ne sais quoi' to the whole thing!! I also love your swirly quilting effect. Bravo, bravo, bravo as we say in French.
    Alysen

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    1. Thank you for all of the support with my progress sneak peeks! I can't tell you how much I appreciate hearing that someone sees potential in something I have designed all by myself for a change. I am a pattern follower by habit and by choice and it's been great having your positive feedback along the way! As always. I also appreciate this great feedback from everyone at the end. It is very generous of all of the participants to take the time to comment something along the blog hop. I know this one had quite a few people this month so I have much gratitude for the time all have given. <3

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  18. That is so COOL! Love all of the fab details, and the colors. ♥

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  19. What an amazing piece you've created! I'm so impressed with what you accomplished in just a month. Love the beaded embellishments! Lovely work.

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