Sunday 18 February 2018

A Fragile Nature

Hi Everyone,

I really apologise for being so late posting, and, even now, I can only show you a flimsy!

When I saw our subject was “Nature” I knew I had this photo I’d taken in our garden .....

The Flashing Scissors

which I wanted to interpret into a quilt. I wasn't sure how, until I happened to see a photograph of a hibernating dormouse on the WWF website! I had visions of said dormouse dreaming of its food ..... and I checked they do eat berries and flowers, although whether my plant is the right type I don’t know.

I tentatively drew pictures from both photographs onto tracing paper, outlined them with a black pen, and then, with the help of a light box (a rather Heath Robinson affair of a tupperware box and small torch, torch held in place in the box with some drafting tape, and box held together with an elastic band!) pencilled the pictures onto calico (oops I said muslin in my original description .... I mis-spoke!).

Previously I had only painted fabric with Acrylic paints, and then it was only because I needed fabric of a specific tone to go with whatever project I was working on.

For this project I started with a “new to me” idea ..... fabric paints, and then decided to paint in the style of watercolours. Not such a clever idea in so many ways! I haven’t even painted watercolours on paper before, but I certainly have more idea “how to” now. I guess it did me a favour, as, if I hadn’t started this project, I think I might never have used the fabric paints and they would probably have eventually just dried up in the cupboard!

I’ve also painted binding for this project as the original fabric I was going to use was much too dark ..... I just hope it looks the way I think it will when it's finished.

I ironed all the fabric after painting so hopefully all the paint should last, only time will tell.

The Flashing Scissors

I still need to persuade my sewing machine to let me stitch free motion to embroider my quiltlet, but for now I will put this on hold to consider our next project.

Do visit me, FlashinScissors, to see a few pictures of my process. See you later!!

Happy designing everybody!

Barbara xxx
of The Flashing Scissors 

Sunday 4 February 2018

New Theme Announcement

Thank you to everyone for posting your 'Nature' quilts. It was wonderful to see such a variety of different ideas and such a lovely selection of quilts all inspired by February's theme. If you have not yet done so, please visit and leave comments for everyone and please look out for the final two quilts, which will be posted here soon :)

Today I am going to announce our second theme. 

Our list of themes is here...

And the random generator has selected...

So our next theme is CHANGE/TRANSFORMATION

The deadline for this theme is Tuesday May 1st 2018 at 10.00am GMT but remember you can always put up your post earlier and Schedule it.

I can't wait to see what everyone makes for this. Please share your thoughts, ideas and progress here on The Endeavourers Blog.

Happy Sewing!

Janine :)

Friday 2 February 2018

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Endeavors Challenge

In the late November or early December I joined the Endeavors. This consisted of a group of ladies who were interested in broadening their ideas and abilities in mediums of art with fabric.
Sounded interesting and definitely  a challenge.  We all suggested some topics  and the host picked  one out at random, that being "Nature".  We had 3 months to design our thoughts and finish our project.

What  with Christmas coming up and life "stuff" there was no activity on the sight.  Now with me out of sight out of mind.  So I totally forgot about it.   OUCH!  About 3 or 4 wks. ago someone posted about the project coming up.  The only thing I had done at that point was my design.  My bad,  I can't really blame anyone but my self.  I already had this years calendar.  Just did not write it down.  I'm not even go into the things that have happened up until now.  And it seems I not alone.  And like the others,  I will  have my project finish in time for the next challenge.   Not through circumstances I can  help that is.

Okay, here we go.  My design basics.

First choice of base fabric

Back ground I went with.  Sorry, it's snowing now so no sharp colors.
This will depict the four seasons starting with winter on top and finishing with fall on the bottom
Nature was such a broad theme.  I figured this covered a nice chunk of it.

 There will be a lot of small piecing

This is some of the fabric picked out so far

I'm fairly pleased with what is done so far.  But but totally frustrated I could not finish on time.
I'm think of entering this in the fair if it finishes well.   

  Hooray, the parts are in for my quilter here and will be put on tomorrow.  Maybe the drama is over.
When the time comes I will be quilting free style on my domestic.
Please visit the Endeavourers   HERE

There are some very pretty and interesting work being shared.
Have a Blessed day

Nature Inspiration: Feathers

I feel so late in the game... sorry about that. For this challenge my inspiration was feathers. I so often find feathers around the garden or on my walks and never tire of picking them up or seeing them being carried by the wind.
I made this mini quilt using Ana Maria Horner's feather pattern. I chose Essex linen in gray I think it captures the texture and color of my inspiration perfectly. You ca read more about it on my blog.

So happy to be part of this group.


Thursday 1 February 2018


Well I must learn about scheduled posting so that these posts go out at the right time, still better late than never! It is great to be part of this group which promises to be inspirational and exciting!
I  love the theme as it is very broad and can be interpreted in many ways. I made a slightly ambiguous mini quilt which could also be interpreted in many ways. It could be the Sun, it could be a flower, or an anenome; such strange flower-like animals.
The background fabric was dyed using Procion dyes and the print was made from soft-cut lino. I used slightly thinned acrylic paint for the linocut and used a brush rather than a roller to have better control of the colours. It was then ironed with paper place on top to push the acrylic into the fabric.
This close up really shows how much variation there is in the printing.It also shows the variegated thread. I used two; a blue, purple and green one and one of different green hues. Looking at it now a little orange would have been good. Just lately I feel more and more drawn to orange, It was one of my favourite colours as a child and I loved to put it with purple!
The binding is ice-dyed Procion which gives a lovely mottled effect. I did slightly pad the centre to make it stand out more but it doesnt really show up in the photos
I am looking forward to the next intriging topic!

Force of Nature

I was intrigued by our first theme, Nature, but also a bit daunted as it is such a huge topic, where would I begin?

Having posted on that dilemma earlier I set to thinking.

This photograph of moss covered dry stone walls in the Lake District in my first post on this blog, set me off in the direction that I finally decided on for my first quilt for this group. I was really taken with the power of nature to overcome man made obstacles. I live right on the seafront on the West Coast of Scotland so I see the power of nature on a daily basis!

I did a bit of research and discovered these photos of abandoned places overtaken by nature.

This Tunnel of Love in Ukraine really caught my attention so inspired by the photo and the stories of these abandoned places reclaimed I set to work.

This is what I came up with. I have called it Force of Nature.

I decided to leave traces of the man made in my quilt, so there are blocks of grey to represent buildings and scraps of russet shot cotton to represent the rust and decay. There are also scraps of fabrics representing the thick stems of the shrubs and trees that will eventually hide the man made structures.

When I was searching through my fabrics looking for greens to use in the quilt top, I came across a piece that had accidentally been left in the sun so was bleached along the fold. If I had noticed this earlier I would have left other pieces out too but, of course, I didn't leave myself with enough time to do that. (Nor it has to be said enough hours of sunshine in my part of the world either!)

The quilt is free-motion quilted in a random leaf pattern in several different shades of green. I used a variegated embroidery thread for some of it but it was slightly too thick I think, so did not stitch up as easily as my normal polyester threads, hence there is only a little of the quilting using it.

The quilt back was a grey/white sketch fabric and the binding was a green/sunflower fabric and a black/grey townscape fabric. I wanted to include the manmade and the natural in the binding to finish off the quilt.

I really enjoyed the whole process of this challenge, particularly having to think about and research around the theme. As ever with more time I would have probably done some things differently, but as the time limitations were of my own making, I cannot complain :)

#1, Nature: Winter Blackbird

It's very exciting to be a member of this new group, and this, our first, theme was a fantastic one to get started with!

I had all sorts of ideas right from the beginning, which in the end were abruptly abandoned when I looked from my dining room window into the garden below and saw a beautiful male blackbird sitting in a Cotoneaster bush.  Right there was a view representing the beauty and vitality of nature, even in the middle of the city.

So here is my winter blackbird.

You can read more about him on my blog

Nature Challenge

Everything about this challenge is new to me.  When the subject was selected, my mind kept trailing along the HUMAN NATURE path.  I had to pull it back a couple of times.

I knew I wanted to try something Landscape.  It's one of the things I want to accomplish this year, but with much better results than this project.  But practice makes perfect.  And I sure do need to enhance my "landscape" fabric stash.

The project is completely hand stitched.  The pieces were appliqued using the freezer paper technique.  There is some embroidery embellishments, but I didn't want this to look like a Crazy Quilt block.

If you would like to see more about what I was thinking when I stitched this piece, please visit my blog.  The link will take you to the home page.

I am excited to know what the next prompt will be!!

Nature challenge - Making Waves

Hi everybody, I'm excited to see what our first challenge has created and so eager to read all the posts today.  I am very happy to share my quilt idea which for the moment is called Making Waves.

Mine is a top only at this stage and not a finished piece - apologies to all.  I have had an issue with a disk in my back and sitting is giving me trouble so no sewing has been going on, but there has been drawing, pattern making and lots of fusible used to get me this far so I hope it is ok to post this for our first challenge.  To read about the process and how I went about making this please visit my blog: Charly & Ben's Crafty Corner.  For this post I thought I might share some of the inspiration and influences I noticed in the making of this wave collage.

I'm a member of the Irish Patchwork Society (IPS) and in addition to having monthly meetings where we share show & tell, speakers and demonstrations, there are annual challenges to make quilts for exhibitions.  I'm the chairperson at the moment and it was one of our tasks on committee last year to come up with the theme for our National Exhibition.  This was a lot harder than I thought and we rejected a whole list of things!
For some reason we were all feeling very nautical and decided in the end that we wanted something water or sea related.  Maybe it was all the political stuff going on, or the fact that in Ireland you are not very far from the sea but for some reason we settled on Making Waves, thinking this would give ample scope for our members to go in lots of different directions with their quilts.  So that was on my mind and when the topic of nature came up I just couldn't shift it so decided that while I may make something else for the exhibition due in May, I had to do something with the wave and get it out of my head onto paper.

I pulled a few items into my sketchbook to see what it was that grabbed me about the idea and I found that I loved the Sashiko design available on Urban Threads because of the curve and the feeling of the wave falling in around you.  This became the inspiration for the sketch below to work from as a pattern. 
The idea of a paper pattern to work from came from Tracey Watson, an art quilter and member of my branch of the IPS.  She uses what she calls a cartoon to work from to make the most beautiful nature inspired quilts and creates curved templates to put her quilt together in sections.  Not being quite able for that with little to no sewing, I did attempt to approach my wave in the spirit of this process.  I did discover that I am not very good at drawing with a mouse and drawing on paper, scanning it in and scaling it up would have been quicker!
I also find that I am heavily influenced by the projects I have made most recently and the fabric out on the table close to hand.  Somehow, what I've just used makes it's way into the next piece!   This block for a class I am teaching in March on the elements of a modern quilt was looking down at me with it's improv pieced section and I thought, wouldn't it be cool if I could use lots of different fabrics to get a pieced effect on the wave?  The problem for me, was how to get all those flowing sections of the water and curve, using lots of different colours and pieces.  I mulled it over for a while, getting quite stuck.  Then my friend Louise asked if I had seen Shannon Brinkley's collage quilts using animals and cityscapes, so I had a gander, read up on her process and was thoroughly intrigued.  I didn't use Shannon's process but I was inspired by it to make the wave section a collage and this is the result.  I hope you like it!

This was a great first challenge and start to our group.  Looking forward to the next one!

An Endeavourer – The Journey Begins

I love spending time under the open sky, hiking trails.   I made quite a few nature theme paintings last year, and I was looking for another creative angle. I love natural sciences, specially astronomy. Looking at nature through a science-coloured-glass gives me a deeper joy and that is what I wanted to use for inspiration.

Here is my take on the Nature theme.  Please visit my post An Endeavourer - The Journey Begins for my inspiration behind this piece.

That Tiny Touch of Nature

In the middle of December, I was out gathering some native grass seed with a conservancy group, when a small bird demanded my attention.  She was a Sedge Wren, and I knew she was perfect for this project.  Just a tiny touch of nature on the edge of a huge city -- so easy to overlook but still surviving, still bringing a spark of diversity into a monoculture of humanity.

Sedge Wren

About three years ago, I had taken a picture of a Carolina Wren, and the curving lines of the branches and vines around it caught my eye.  I realized how shrubs that are nondescript to us, are important shelters from the birds' point of view.  I had done several small sketches and practice mini-quilts from that picture.

Carolina Wren

Since that first Carolina Wren picture, I have gotten other pictures of wrens and sparrows sheltered within branches.  I thought a series of them as a wall hanging would make a great project for our theme, but I only finished this one small square.

The original photo had composition issues, with branches taking up the majority of the space, and blocking the view of the wren, so I simplified it to turn it into this quiltlet.

I painted dye on the corners of an old linen napkin and machine quilted lines to suggest the leaves.  I printed the wren on inkjet printer cotton and appliqued her on.  The white area I had left for the tree branches was too white and plain, so I added some color with fabric crayons.  To emphasize the lacy gray-green lichen around the bird, I stitched some rayon braided ribbons and pique trim in loose loops.
I will post more of the details on my blog Deep in the Heart of Textiles.

As with a lot of pieces, I can see a lot of room for improvement here!  But I had fun making it, and I am glad to commemorate one of my own nature encounters.

Don't Poke the Bear...

When the word 'Nature' was drawn as the subject of our first Endeavourers Quilt theme, I was more than a little daunted. My impulse was to try to make a small quilt that would somehow encapsulate a sense, or a least an aspect, of the natural world as a whole and yet it is so vast!

And I really wanted to make something inspiring and uplifting (or at least cheerful) for this first reveal (and I apologise to my fellow Endeavourers for failing in that because because this first reveal seems like the most inopportune time for a sad post) but, truth to tell, although I love being surrounded by countryside and the starry owl filled nights and the ever changing seasons and the antics of the wild creatures, Nature as a whole, with its current mass extinctions and the degradation of the natural environment, fills me with concern.

How this led to a bear baiting analogy is something for which I can't altogether account but some recurring thoughts that kept coming into my mind were an image of the world in photos taken from space, the phrase 'Don't poke the bear!' and this stanza from The Burning of the Leaves by (Robert Laurence-Binyon)

"They will come again, the leaf and the flower, to arise
From squalor of rottenness into the old splendour,
And magical scents to a wondering memory bring;
The same glory, to shine upon different eyes.
Earth cares for her own ruins, naught for ours.
Nothing is certain, only the certain spring."


So I decided to make a bear as globe-shaped as possible using some map print fabric and I originally considered having some people with a stick to suggest that when provoked to a point Nature can be expected to roar back.

But too much of the story was missing in that, even if Nature can roar at us (metaphorically) in storms and tsunamis and floods and droughts and suchlike, it overlooked the enormous and irreplaceable loss both to individual species and habitats and to diversity. So I decided to leave out the people and have the bear floating alone in space. And that was when I chanced upon the saddest video I have seen.

And I added a tear for the albatrosses.

For the albatrosses themselves and for all that suffer similarly and for Nature as a whole that we have come to this.

I hope that one day I will be able to make a sequel to this quilt with a happier bear...and I'm sure my future Endeavourer quilts will be happier as I'm really not in the habit of making sad quilts!

Making the Quilt

I hand quilted my background from the back using the stripes in this fabric as a guide and using ordinary sewing thread.

I used a piece of black lined from and old dress for the front and the quilted gave a subtle textured effect.

For the bear, I cut a head and a body shape in scraps of Soft and Stable and basted my print fabric onto them. This was an experiment and seemed to work quite well but the flatness and print made the bear-ness of it very indistinct.

So I marked with a frixon pen and stitched over the features in thick lines with two strands of dark brown embroidery thread. Then I slip stitched it to the background adding more stuffing and, finally, went around the embroidery with some lines of needle sculpting using using a thin cream sewing thread. The tear is crochet using six strands of embroidery thread.

Thank you to everyone who is joining in with this challenge. Although my offering, this quarter, is not very cheery, I'm very happy that we are all sewing along together and I'm very much looking forward to seeing all the other Nature Quilts and, of course, to the next theme, Janine :)

Ice Dyed Mandala Flowers Quilt: Divinity


The first theme presented by The Endeavourers  is Nature. For two long months, I let the word roll around my brain. Such a broad topic needed narrowing, and so I asked the question, "What mental image do I see for the word nature?" Weather? Mountains? Animals? No, when I close my eyes I see flowers both wild, cultivated, and magical. Newly opened, allowing these eyes the first glimpse of  seductive blooms--never ceasing to amaze me with spectacular color and detail beyond the imagination of the greatest artist. And no matter how I pose the question, "Who could dream so vividly?," I am brought back to a divine creator. Therefore, I've titled this piece, "Divinity."

The Creation Process

These 4 separate pieces were created nearly 2 years ago in my studio through a process known as ice dyeing. You can read the details at Mandalas Created with Ice Dyeing at Pink Doxies, my home blog. I knew at the time they were interesting, but had not been able to see their possibilities until this project came about.

Stitch & Chalk

I started by sewing the four individual mandalas together. Then using chalk, I drew the details out. The flowers were fantastical! Not only did they remind me of exotic species, but of butterfly wings. I could see fairies in some of them. They were translucent and felt as though the sun shone through them. How they had changed! 

Using my long arm to freehand the details felt natural. I used a pale grey 50# So Fine thread so there would be only the slightest outline. I was not sure I wanted to change the overall feeling of the mandalas. There were so many subtle color changes, and I was only echoing one.

I was careful to not overwork the quilting process, but in the middle of one flower I realized it was flowing into the next. 

These pieces share similar properties of radial symmetry, but the colors are very individual.

These 'scales' appeared from the screen the fabric laid on during the dyeing process. I had to outline them.

Buttons & Beads

I had 4 vintage buttons in blue glass. I placed one in each center, and started to bead. At first I was hesitant to add too much, but each of these flowers needed visual weight to make them stand out from a distance.

The first flower center I finished taught me the biggest lesson. I placed it where I saw the center, but isolated from the rest of the piece. This button appeared 1/4" or so off center when seen from a distance. I naively thought it would add to the individuality of the flower so left it in place, and added the beads.

No matter how I turned it or who I asked, they made a face. It was 'off'. We expect most flowers to have symmetry, and this one did not. I was also disappointed in how the bead colors blended into the background. A few hours to stitch, but only minutes to rip out. I was learning.

Brighter colored beads, more symmetry...

...and a button at dead center looked much better.

I played with a slightly asymmetrical center here. 

This flower was the largest of all. 

To highlight the center, I added seed beads to the points of the inner petals or are they stamens perhaps?

A thick ring of seed beads create stamens in this flower.

Many beads were stacked, and a few sequins added more reflection.

I had just added the binding of a hand dyed orchid colored fabric, and the sun was shining so brilliantly. That's unusual for an Ohio winter so I had to snap a shot of the backing to let the quilting stand out. A few minutes to take in some light, then home to hand stitch the binding.


Such an interesting and varied theme this quarter, and I'm looking forward--as I'm sure you are, to seeing how the rest of The Endeavourers interpreted Nature. Share this game today, and tell us in the comments, "What do you see when you think of Nature?"

Come on, Doxie girls. 

Let's go sew.