Sunday, 8 May 2022

New Theme Announcement

Thank you to everyone who submitted a new theme. We only have three suggestions but they are very interesting ones and I'm sure they will inspire some amazing quilts.

1. Portrait (of self/family member/pet/famous person) or a reproduction of a famous painting.

2. Boustrophedon

3. Animal Kingdom

I found a fun new random generator here: and it chose:

So our new theme is 3. Animal Kingdom and I'm really looking forward to seeing what everyone will make in response to this one.

The deadline for this theme is August 1st 2022 at 10.00am GMT but remember you can always put up your post earlier and Schedule it.

In the meantime, you are welcome to share your thoughts, ideas and progress here on The Endeavourers Blog.

Happy Sewing!

Janine :)

Monday, 2 May 2022

New Themes


Thank you all for another wonderful reveal.

As you all know, we have come to end of our original set of themes. 

Some of us have been in the group since the beginning and we chose themes when the group started. 

Some of us joined later, though, and didn't have that opportunity so we are inviting suggestions for themes for the next few quarters from members who haven't chosen one in the past.

If you have not chosen a theme before and would like to, please email your suggestion to me or Catherine this week and next Sunday (May 8th) we will post the list here on the Endeavourers blog and Mr Random will select our theme for the next quarter.

We are looking forward to seeing the new challenges,

Janine and Catherine :)

Two apologies...

Hello everyone. 

Apologies for my late posting. I had expected to title this post 'May Day' but, alas, it isn't May Day anymore - unless we are thinking of it's meaning as an international distress call! 

Yesterday we had a long power cut and no internet and by the time the electric came back we had a houseful of family visiting and posting this had gone completely out of my mind. 

Apologies, also, for this hideous quilt! I have wanted to make a May Day quilt with children dancing round a maypole for literally years so it's sad this turned out so horribly :(

In February I found a dolls house with furniture and these dolls on ebay. I plan to paint up the house for my granddaughter and her soon-to-be-born sister but I had no use for the dolls (which are unsuitable for little children). Whilst brainstorming what to with them, I considered a quilt like this and put it together soon afterwards. I used a shadow box because I wanted to a more dimensional effect but I think it's really too small to get the effect I wanted. 

I knew I wouldn't have time this quarter to create a larger, fully sewn version with appliqued figures so I set it aside and thought I'd make something else altogether but time overtook me. Perhaps I will make that other glorious version some other May...

It seems I do better with a theme than when I'm left to my own devices!

I'm looking forward to seeing all the other quilts for this quarter and I'll post about the new themes in a separate post later today.

I hope everyone is enjoying the bank holiday weekend :)


Sunday, 1 May 2022

Quilting with Tea Bags

 For these theme, I decided to explore the use of tea bags and layering with fabric. Inspired by tea bag art by Carol Ann Webster, which I had seen on Pinterest, I saved up some of my tea bags and got to work. I don't have a large variety of fabric types in my quilt room, since I mainly work in cotton. However, I did have some linen-like fabric scraps, and just enough for this project. I decided that each of my pieces should have a tree. Initially, I had thought to do a four-season piece, but changed my mind as I went along. 

The first step after emptying and cleaning the tea bags was to sew them to the linen-like fabric. I did this with a basting stitch in a light thread. My plan was to remove the basting stitch when the block was complete, but in the end I opted to leave it in as added texture to the piece. 

My first little tree is a short little thing, and I'm not sure why now I thought I needed to make it so small. I find it interesting how each tree turned out and still managed to have a symmetry when the quilt was finished. The first tree was cut freehand; with the other two, I roughly sketched out the tree on the wrong side of the fabric and then cut it out. The same fabric was used for all three trees. I used a glue stick to secure the pieces before stitching them down. 

On each of the tea bags, I very timidly used Inktense pencils to add some definition to the sky. I hadn't used the pencils before, so I was being careful. It will be fun to play with them a bit more in other projects. On this first block, I added yellows, orange and reds for a sunset look. I purposely left the fabrics hanging over the edge of the outer piece, as well as let the fabric fray. For the stitching, I used embroidery floss and just stitched what I thought would work. Once the block was done, I frayed the edges of the block just a bit, again to add more texture. 

My second block gives a little nod to "Up North" in Minnesota, where trees sometimes grow between moody black and gray rocks. Lake Superior presides, along with a few gulls gliding in the air. 

The center block was the most difficult tree to come up with. If I had added some stitching to make this trees branches look fuzzy, it might be a Joshua tree, so I gave it a desert sunset look. 

Once the blocks were finished, I pulled fabric and batting and made a quilt to hold the blocks. I found this batik in my stash that has a design with houses and trees, and thought that would be a fun backdrop. 

I quilted it with a square-ish meander, which you can see best on the quilt backing. 

Once that was done, I bound it and got ready to place the tea bag blocks on the quilt. I debated about how to attach them. I considered an "X" in each corner, or a button, but I wanted them secured a bit more than that. In the end, I opted for a running stitch in a color that coordinates with the background fabric. 

And with that, my little piece was finished. I enjoyed playing with the tea bags as part of the blocks, and will try more of it in the future. 


Tea for Three

 For this quarter's challenge, we were supposed to pick our own theme, go with a direction that had interested us earlier.  I had a lot of ideas, but I ended up doing something fairly simple.

"Tea for Three"

This piece combines a lot of my favorite touches -- personal imagery (this is my grandmother's teapot), computer-printed fabric, vintage linens, beautiful threads, and breaking the frame of the quilt.  It is a little more pastel than my usual taste, but I enjoyed spending time with the peaceful colors and imagery.

Handkerchief butterfly.

Blue teapot.

I enjoyed continuing down some of the pathways that Memories led me to, and I think the two pieces go together nicely.

No Prompt: Thread Painting Peruvian Sunflowers

No prompt made it almost impossible for me to make a decision about what to do for this reveal. I considered all the art quilts on my to-do list, and I considered techniques I might want to try. Finally, I settled on "thread painting" as a technique. I've only done this once or twice before, and so it was a chance to experiment with it a little more.

Several years ago, I requested permission of a life-long friend to make a quilt from one of her watercolor paintings. Kathy and I first met in junior high school. We had the same last name of "Nelson," but no relation. Kathy was in the girls' glee club. I wasn't in the glee club, but I was their accompanist on piano. Occasionally, I needed a page-turner, and Kathy sat beside me for those pieces. Fast forward a couple of decades, and we found one another again on Facebook, and renewed our friendship.

So Kathy and her husband served a mission in Peru for their church. This is the story she told me about the inspiration for her watercolor painting:

"The streets of Viru [Peru] are nothing but cement, sidewalks, brick buildings, and dirt streets. I had spent the day there with our missionaries and I was really sad that it was so depressing. I asked Heavenly Father if I could see something beautiful. As I turn the corner, growing out of a crack in the sidewalk were these beautiful sunflowers. It brightened my day, and it changed my countenance. I realize that God finds beauty in all things, and all people. And that just because I only saw a dusty town, God saw a beautiful garden. And He let me see the town as he sees the people of Viru, full of life, love and beauty."

Here is Kathy's watercolor painting:

And here is my finished quilt, created with Kathy's permission:

Here are a couple of close-ups of the thread-painting. I wanted to say just a little more about it. When I started with the applique, I had to decide whether to make individual petals or create the flowers from just one piece. I opted to let the thread do most of the work, and created the flowers from one piece of fabric. Then, I stitched in details based on the shape of the individual petals, putting just a little extra thread down as a boundary between them. Here's a close-up of the largest yellow flower.

I stitched around the edges of the fabric to hold it in place, but where the boundary between one petal and the next was created with thread, I stitched back and forth over the same line of stitching four times, and then "painted" the remainder of the petal following its shape. I hope you can see what I'm talking about, and I hope it makes sense. 

Looking closely below, you can see that I've stitched veins in the leaves the same way.

Finally, the sunflower theme allowed me to stand in solidarity with the courageous people of Ukraine, and so I created the quilt back using the colors of the Ukraine flag. It finishes at 19 x 24 inches.

My quilt has been mailed to Kathy as my gift to her for her graciously allowing me to use her painting as the subject matter for this challenge. I hope you like my quilt.

All the C's

 Having no prompt for this quarter's challenge meant that, of course, I left everything to the last minute! If I thought that it was hard making up my mind on a project when I had a theme to work to, then it was nothing compared to making a decision when literally "anything goes" :)

In the end I decided that I would like to make a companion piece to one of my earlier Endeavourers projects. So, I chose to produce a companion piece for Making Waves which was made in response to The Sea, our challenge for November 2020.

I have called this piece "All the C's" as it is based upon the island of Great Cumbrae, in the Firth of Clyde, which is shown on the far reach of Making Waves. The island is only accessible by ferry from Largs, a journey of approximately 10 minutes to cover the 2 miles distance. 

 One of the iconic images of the island for the last 100 years (according to the local folklore!) is a rock painted to look like a crocodile. So another C for Crocodile Rock! The rock is easily accessible on the shoreline at Millport, the only town on the island. When we visited recently with our grandsons they felt very adventurous clambering over a crocodile :)

Cumbrae is also the home of the Cathedral of the Isles, the smallest Cathedral in Britain, which dates from  1851. The Cathedral, which is tucked away in a quiet corner of Millport, is a lovely spot on a warm summer's day. The Cathedral houses a particularly impressive organ, which with its equally impressive acoustics mean that concerts are often performed there. 



So, there you have it "All the C's" a companion piece to "Making Waves". Now in an ideal world I would finish this post with a photo of the two pieces side by side, or even a photo of All the C's with Cumbrae in the background. Sadly, as a result of leaving this challenge project to the very last minute I finished this last night and, as I am currently in France it would be a bit difficult to see Cumbrae from here:( 



In addition, having searched the house from top to bottom before leaving for France I could not find Making Waves, so, naturally, assumed that it must be in France. Having now searched the house here I cannot find it here either so I have no idea what I have done with it! Hopefully, it will turn up in a most unlikely place when I am not even looking for it :)

Looking forward as always to seeing how my fellow Endeavourers have responded to this no prompt challenge!

Big Stitch Embroidery

In March, my branch of the Irish Patchwork Society had a sit and sew night.  We try to do that once a year where all of our members gather round our tables and we all work on the same type of project.  We've done EPP (English Paper Piecing), Needleturn Applique, Hand Quilting and this year I volunteered to lead the group in what I call Big Stitch Embroidery (uses big stitch quilting with embroidery stitches).

Inspired by Laura Wasilowski, whose book Fanciful Colourful Stitches is in our branch library, I came up with this bird house and a flowers in vase design, that we could make on the night. It's a technique I had wanted to try and I had it in mind for this Endeavourer's challenge as a new to me technique.  I thought it would be fun to share with our branch too. Two birds with one stone, so to speak.

I love perle cotton (I've been told this is primarily used for crochet but quilters have adopted it for hand stitching).  I used size 8 and 12 for this project but embroidery floss works just as well.

Using scraps and Bondaweb fusible paper, I cut shapes to make the applique and took inspiration from Laura Wasilowski's book (she has a class on Craftsy too if you want video instruction) to add embellishment with embroidery stitches.

I used cross stitch, running stitch, stem stitch and back stitch to outline the shapes and french knots, pistil stitch, sheath stitch and stab stitch to add texture and it was a lot of fun!

It doesn't take very much scraps of fabric to make a composition and I found it very relaxing to add in the running stitch as a quilted background.

This was an odd size as I was winging it (?) with the composition.  Originally I thought about binding the piece but almost everything I have made in these challenges has ended up framed.  I searched through the frames squirreled away about the house and found this, that just about fits.  

Its a teeny bit tight, and I may have to look for a bigger frame, but for now I have some happy birds building a nest and are ready for Spring. It makes me feel like I could get on with the weeding and planting and get the garden all ready too.

This was fun and reminded me how nice it is to do handwork once in a while.

Fabric origami


A while ago I wanted to do some folding of fabric like origami and found a few books with instructions.

I had a few problems with the instructions and asked my husband for help since he had done some origami in the past. I really like the Stonehenge fabric from Northcott and found that I had 5 inch squares to use for all the squares. To fasten the center of some of the squares, I inserted a button then decided to put on in every square. Finally I got 7 squares finished and made the small quilt. Here are close-up of the different squares:

Because I needed 9 squares to complete the quilt, I made two with of the same square for the 2 corners.

Friday, 4 February 2022

That was another fantastic reveal!

Thank you everyone for another year of amazing quilts.

As you know, we have finally come to the end of the long list of themes chosen by members at the very beginning of The Endeavourers so for this quarter we have decided to do something a bit different.

Rather than announcing a theme, today, we are inviting you all to choose either a Theme you would like to work on or Technique you would like to use in a quilt. Your theme/technique doesn't need to be a secret so, if you want to post about your plans and works in progress during the quarter that would be great.

You should post your finished 'Choose your own theme/technique' quilt on May 1st 2022 10.00GMT.

Happy quilting!

Janine and Catherine :)

Tuesday, 1 February 2022

Feelings: Happiness

 It took me awhile, once again, to come up with an idea for this theme. One day, as I was pondering the theme, I thought "my feelings are a bit like a lava lamp - they ebb and flow throughout the day". That thought stuck with me as I was pondering what to do. Then my daughter gave me a piece of fabric for my birthday that reminded me of a lava lamp, which in turn, made me think of growing up in the 60s and 70s, which led me to think about my brother's red Beetle, to listening to 8-tracks in his Beetle on Sunday afternoons, and a favorite song, The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) written by Paul Simon, performed by Simon & Garfunkle. And that, my friends, is how this quilt emerged. 

See that crazy multi-colored print with the oranges, aquas, pinks, etc.? That's the print my daughter gave me. I went with my improv waves because they are so relaxing and fun, pulling in coordinating fabrics. But I'm getting ahead of myself. My first task was the bottom panel with the words "Feelin' Groovy". I found a font that looked a bit like the 60s and traced it onto Kona Silver fabric. I applied fusible fleece to the background and used different colored threads to add pick stitches around the lettering. 

I even added a button for the center of that funky little flower to dot the "i". To outline the letters I used fabric markers. 

The panel got a bit poofy from the dense stitching, so I had to ponder how I was going to anchor that to the rest of the quilt. More on that in a bit. 

For the improv waves, I pulled coordinating fabrics and just had fun. Then I stitched the wavy strip section to the word panel. I decided to use fusible fleece on the waves section, too, so I didn't have to deal with two different weights of batting. I quilted waves through the strips, attempting to add those lava lamp "blobs" that ooze up and down. I don't know that I was successful, but I enjoyed myself. 

To anchor the panel as best I could, I just did a quick stipple around the edge of the seed stitching. 

My backing and binding is another fun fabric in my stash. The colors seemed to tie in well with the waves. 

Feelin' Groovy reminds me of the feeling of happiness. When all is right with the world, and everything feels carefree. While that is hardly the case in our world today, at least my memories can take me back there! 


Feelings/Emotions: Getting to Know You

Inspiration for this prompt took me in a number of different directions. I thought of songs about feelings and emotions: “Lights Will Guide You Home” was a contender. Also, books that made me cry: Steinbeck's, “The Pearl” was high on my list. I considered people I love and people I'd lost and people I'd loved and lost. That last one brought to mind this photo taken by my husband in April of 1984, just moments after the birth of our third child, Matthew:

When I remembered the photo, I knew it was just right for this prompt. Rendering it into fabric was challenging and worrisome. Here is my finished quilt:

A year earlier, we'd lost our newborn baby girl, Holly, to a rare and random chromosome anomaly known as Trisomy 18. Here is the one and only picture we have of her:

Holly gave every indication prior to her birth that she was healthy. My pregnancy had progressed with no indication anything was amiss. We went to the hospital and gave birth as any parents would, waiting with excited anticipation for the announcement of her gender. We were stunned when we were told within five minutes of her birth that her condition was "incompatible with life," and thirty-six hours later, Holly died. We were devastated. 

Matthew was born 14 months later. I had an urgent need to hold a healthy baby in my arms, to see healthy pink color, and to hear a vigorous cry. When he was placed in my arms for the first time, I wept uncontrollably. (As I write these words, it still makes me tear up.)  Mike caught this tender meeting on film. Strangely, I've never been able to choose a single word that would adequately describe my feelings in that moment. If I were forced to choose a word, it would be “bittersweet.” It was probably a mixture of joy and relief, but also one of sadness. As confusing as that mix of emotions was, I can tell you this with certainty: Matthew’s safe arrival brought sunshine and joy to an otherwise dark time.

For this project, I used an app called "Vector Q" to create a line "drawing" of the image.

From there, I taped some transparencies together and pinned them to the image.

Then, I traced a pattern template and numbered the different values of color.

And then I began the tedious process of building a fabric portrait. Although I’ve done plenty of pet “pawtraits,” this was my first attempt at a human face.

It was a difficult and worrisome process. For the longest time, I couldn't see anything in what I was creating, and I despaired about whether it would turn out. Given the subject matter, it was important to me, and I wanted to do a good job on it. One afternoon, I left the sewing room feeling particularly bummed about how it was going and took a break for about an hour. When I returned, I could see the faces emerging when viewed from a distance, and I began to feel more optimistic.

When the fabric portion was finished it was time to "paint" the faces with thread, giving them texture, and adding in details. I followed the advice and instructions given in this book:

There's also a Facebook group of the same name, and I paid attention to what folks were doing there. 

I used three different colors of variegated threads to fill in the skin on the two faces, and a dark brown to add details.

Matthew's hair was done using a combination of fabric and thread detail.

This section of the chin was the most difficult to decide on a thread color. It isn't perfect, but it's the best I could do with what I had on hand.

The lips were challenging in that it was difficult to decide where to stitch and what color to use. Here, I used a rose colored thread.

For my own hair, I used a dark brown variegated thread, and I was happy with how this part turned out. It was a bad hair day. Pretty hard to mess this up.

When the faces were finished, I used a swirling meander to finish off the outer areas and the space between mother and baby.

This handprint fabric was in my stash, and it seemed like a good choice for the border. For that, I quilted a row of looping hearts.

Here is my finished quilt again. It ended up at 20 x 27 inches:

Following Holly's birth and death, my cousin sent me a piece of Austrian crystal with her condolences. We hung it on our Christmas tree for many years as a way to remember our missing daughter. It hangs now from this wooden crescent.

When I saw this crystal fabric in a quilt shop recently, I decided to use it as the quilt back.

February 11th will mark what would have been Holly's 39th birthday. After so many years, our family has long been at peace with the events described here. I hope you like my quilt.