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. 

Emotions: Delight

Since I found our previous theme, "A Headline from a Newspaper," to be stressful, with this theme I allowed myself the treat of working with a pleasant emotion, the delight that creativity brings me. 

At the beginning of a new project, first I feel a delicious sense of empty space stretching before me -- what will happen? I choose a background and some thread, and as the stitching starts, the threads build up like a seawall, pushing away the outside world, and the passing of time.

Stitching rows of beautiful thread sweeps away the stress of the outside world.

Then, as I survey my lovely supplies of scraps, samples, paints, notions, and threads, all sorts of possibilities rise up and suggest themselves. What colors am I feeling today? How will the lines flow? What elaborate stitches can my machine do? Can I thread another yarn through that afterward? Don't I have some metal around here somewhere?


The bottom border, of my handwoven fabric, is important because that symbolizes that I have previously finished a project, and now I can move on to this new, as-yet-undesigned piece.  The large dark semi-circle with rays shows a fresh project beginning to dawn.

Moving upward, we get into the space I have staked out for working, and the colorful circles and thread streamers are all the ideas that pop into my head. The negative space at the top signifies that the ideas have not solidified yet; no final design has been chosen.

I think someone looking at this piece might say, "It doesn't look finished," but that is the point.  I wanted to capture the positive feeling of getting to start something new, and I am happy with it!

If you would like to see more of how I made this piece, you can see my post about it on my home blog, Deep in the Heart of Textiles.

Feelings/Emotions: The Patchwork Heart

While I was thinking about this theme, and wondering which of emotion or feeling to represent, I thought a lot about the impact of the pandemic on the feelings of all of us.  I did wonder about making a quilt in different shades of grey! But of course life is not really like that all the time and I started thinking about more positive feelings.  A recurring thought in my head was "and the greatest of these is love".

Love is, hopefully, one of the biggest, most optimistic, and most important emotions we have.  It comes in many forms and is directed towards many things.  I decided to make a patchwork heart, with pieces representing all the different loves.  

Inevitably at some point, a heart might be broken and put back together, so one of the pieces is a patch to mend it.   Also in my thoughts though was a line from e e cummings' poem - I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart), and perhaps the patch is also a little pocket.

I wanted the heart to stand out, so I left it unquilted, then I quilted loosely round it to make a kind of aura round it, and then very tightly in the rest of the quilt.

Emotion: Fun


At first I just wanted to express an emotion, so I made a simple little quilt and maned it “Peaceful waves”.

Then I got to thinking more about it. Thought I could do something with mouths or eyes. I found a lot of drawings of emotional eyes.

So I drew several sets of eyes with a permanent marker on cloth, made them into shapes and attached those to a background. The background I had dyed several years ago and never knew what I wanted to do with it.

After I finished this quilt I revisited the first one and made a change. It is now called “Fun”.

Emotions: what colour is anxiety?

This was a tricky one.  Emotions themselves are tricky.  I read online somewhere that if you are cranky, short with people, and frustrated with annoyances building up to exlode, then you are not feeling your feelings.  Suppressing and avoidance doesn't work.  Instead we have to recognise, be curious and understanding in order to let emotions come and go.  

After 2 years of Covid with lockdowns, cocooning, not being able to go farther than 5km from your home, pubs and cinemas closed, no visiting friends or family unless in a bubble most of us have not been feeling our feelings, I should think.  

Now that we are opening back up again after Omicron there is naturally a mix of feelings.  While out walking the dogs we got to talking about depicting anxiety as that seems to me the feeling that runs through all of these past years and the return to people mixing freely again.  I pictured anxiety as a dark blue, not black as that's too despairing.  Gordon sees it as purple and that seems spot on too.  

I couldn't find a dark enough purple so ended up with navy thread and tried a technique called neurographic art to depict what I felt about anxiety.  I had been seeing this technique all over YouTube and the way it works is you write what is bothering you or what you want to focus on, on the back of a piece of paper.

Using a wiggly line draw from one side of the page to the other crossing over if you wish.  You can add more lines and more shapes and not take too much time with the lines - about 3 minutes to doodle.  The main thing is to go back to your drawing and round the sharp corners where the lines cross   Then you can add colour to the different areas created by the shapes.

I wondered if this could be done in thread with free motion quilting.  So I thought I'd give it a go and explore anxiety.  I see it as knots in your stomach and a weight pulling you down. To be quick I drew my wiggly lines onto fabric with a frixion pen and then free-motioned over it rounding the corners.  At first I tried to add colour by thread painting but even with stabiliser I was getting some pulling as I hadn't hooped the piece up properly so I thought I'd add some free motion fillers instead. 

I thought this would be where I'd finish it and backed it with this night time fabric because anxious thoughts can wake you up in the middle of the night and keep you awake for hours counting the endless stars.

Then I remembered I had some acrylic paint that I wanted to try on fabric.  These are the only colours I have but luckily I think they go well with the project so far.


So I added some paint in the spaces and think this is where I should have left it .  I like the open spaces showing the background fabric through.

But instead I went the whole hog and added in more blue and don't really like it so much.  Oh well, live and learn!

I have to say this was a fun little project even if it was a dark subject.  So anxiety maybe blue or purple but in my world its pink and turquoise too.

You'll Feel Better on February 1st


My quilting mojo has disappeared. Still, when this quarter's theme -Emotions-was announced I knew exactly what I wanted to do. The project in my mind was way bigger and more complex, but, given my missing mojo, this will do. 

When I was a teenager and young woman and living at home with my mom, a brown teapot shaped like this one figured prominently in daily life. I remember it filled with cinnamon or Earl Grey or Constant Comment as well as plain tea.  We would sit by the kitchen table and talk and sip. A pot of tea started each day and ended each night. And a pot of it would also show up any time I was upset about anything.

My mother applied tea to any hurt, any emotional upset, big or small, with the words that still live in my memory, "Have a cup of tea. You'll feel better." And, somehow, it did help. Thanks, Mom.

P.S. This little quilt is lined in heat proof stuff so I can use it as a mug rug.


Hunt for Roses

 This quarter's theme - Emotions/Feelings has been in the mix for a long time and for all of that time I have had no idea how I might interpret it! Indeed for most of this quarter I have had no idea how to interpret the theme in a quilt :)

It was very fortunate for me then that reading an article on the filming of the second series of Bridgerton I was reminded of the whole language of flowers, widely popular in the UK in the Regency and later Victorian eras. I knew that I could use this language to interpret an emotion into a quilt. 

Pink roses symbolise Joy and Gratitude in the language of flowers. Even despite the events of the last couple of years I have lots to be joyful and grateful about in my life, so this piece which I have entitled "Hunt for Roses" is my recognition of that. In fact as I was completing this our youngest son announced his engagement to his lovely girlfriend, which was definitely another reason to be joyful! 


Whilst I was contemplating the creation of my pink rose, my local Textiles group announced the theme for work in January would be "Renewal". My original intention had been to use fabric paints to create the rose but the announcement of the month's theme gave me the idea to use up some of my OH's shirts that are no longer required. You can see that he was partial to a pink dress shirt in his working life :)


At a workshop in October last year, a friend gave me a piece of rust-dyed linen that she had going spare. I wanted my piece to resemble an vintage botanical illustration so when I came across the fabric in my stash I decided that it would make the perfect backdrop for my pink rose

Early in the first lockdown here in the UK, the Creative Craft Show usually held in Glasgow in March was moved online and one of the workshops given illustrated a method of reverse applique that I was keen to try for the rose. 

I found the ideal rose template here and traced it on to tearaway stabiliser then pinned that to the back of my rust-dyed fabric. The shirt fabrics were stitched to the front of the fabric and then cut away around the stitched line to build up the rose.

The stem and leaves of the rose were traced and fastened to the front of the fabric before the outline was free-machine embroidered and then filled in with Inktense blocks and pencils and some added fme for the veining on the leaves.


I was tempted to leave the rose at this stage but then decided to quilt around the rose petals, stem and leaves. The photograph above is the quilting as seen from the back of the piece. I was glad that I added the quilting as it adds definition to the rose petals, which in hindsight I think it needed.

As I was intending to replicate a vintage botanical print, my original intention had been to embroider the botanical name for pink roses below the applique, but I hadn't replicated a specific rose or type of rose so didn't think that was the right choice. 

Instead, I found this quote from an unknown author which fitted my theme of Gratitude and Joy.

When life throws thorns hunt for roses.

As you can see I embroidered roses with a light pink thread but it just didn't show up against the rust-dyed fabric, so I ripped it out and redid it with the sepia-toned thread used for the rest of the quote.


My DH has been busy painting chairs for our dining room, so I prevailed upon him to paint a picture frame too. The finished and framed quilt now hangs in our bedroom to remind me every day to be grateful for all that I have :)

One of the many things that I am grateful for, and that has brought me much joy over the past few years, has been membership of this wonderful group of inspiring quilters. 


I send you all a virtual bouquet of pink roses.

Looking forward, as always, to seeing how my fellow Endeavourers have interpreted this quarter's theme.