Portrait of a Girl…and Her Man!

What goes into an eye…

Another quilt-a wall hanging that I finished this year, but did not get around to sharing…

I wanted to make something special for my son and daughter-in-law for their fifth wedding anniversary and thought this would make a great gift. Many of you have asked me how I put together the portrait, so I will try to do a brief summary here. But before I do that, I must record my thanks to a generous friend and wonderful artist, Manju Narain, who is a  master of portrait quilts and who worked as my guide and sounding board as I created this portrait.

  1. The choice of picture is important. Take a high resoltion picture so that you do not lose out on the details. Mentally remove any extraneous elements in the background as you weigh the pros and cons of a particular picture. Does the picture speak to you, tell you something about the person behind the face? I went through several photos, changing them to black and white, checking for contrast and  drama before I zeroed in to this one.  My daughter-in-law, M’s, smile is a blinder and (of course!) I think, my son has a very sweet smile too.
  2. Once the picture was finalized, I reduced the number of colours to five- black, white and three greys . I don’t have Photoshop and was not satisfied with the result obtained with Paint, so I searched online and found a great site which works beautifully well.
  3. I enlarged the picture to 30″ x 40″; then took two full size prints-out, one on plain paper and the other on freezer paper and pulled out black, white and grey solids to work with. I trimmed away the background from the freezer paper print. The plain paper picture would work as a guide. I also kept a print-out of the original picture in colour, for reference.
Portrait Quilt -patchworkofmylife The prints-out on plain paper and freezer paper

4. I traced the outer outline of the figures and the garments on the white background fabric- this will help me in the final placement of the figures on it.  No pictures of this!

5. I began work on my DIL’s (daughter-in-law’s) face and neck first. I built the portrait in layers, like one does with oil paints. 

I decide to use the medium grey fabric as a base for the face on which the features will be built up. I ironed the freezer paper on the right side of the fabric which will form the lowermost layer. I built up the various layers, using the freezer paper templates as guides.  For the really tiny pieces, I ironed a two-sided fusible on the wrong side of the fabric before cutting out the pieces. They could then be ironed in place. (The details, such as the white highlights on the nose, teeth and eyes would come in last after most of the quilting had been done).

For the hair, I used black as the base and pinned the highlights in the dark grey over it . (I later regretted not adding a fusible under the highlights as the thin strips frayed before I could stitch them down.  Another good option would have been to cut and place them just before I was ready to quilt down the piece.)

Auditioning the fabric face on the plain paper print out.

Now I was ready to create Son’s face. Here, the base would be the dark grey.

The base for this face is the dark grey

The basic shapes finished, I stitched DIL’s face in place on the background, using my pencil tracing as a guide.

I referred to the coloured picture to get the highlights and shadows on the picture right.

The great thing about having freezer paper templates is that you can iron them on the background fabric to make sure you are stitching pieces in the right place!

Coming alive!

The deadline for finishing the quilt approached, but we had guests over whom I had to take shopping! That is where I found the perfect danglers for DIL!

The perfect earrings!

Son’s jacket was a bigger problem. He is wearing a light blue jacket in the photo and I wanted to use their garments to add colour and zing to the portrait. Instead, I found this brown furnishing fabric-the texture seemed perfect! I also found the perfect buttons in my mother-in-law’s collection; they came from a coat that belonged to my father-in-law almost half a century ago.

The jacket is furnishing fabric! The buttons are from his grandfather’s coat.

Now I was thinking about DIL’s saree. Also, I needed colour here! That is when I remembered how fond DIL was of orchids and had insisted on purple orchids for her jaimala (garlands exchanged by bride and groom) on her wedding. So we went orchid-hunting! I finally managed to find these silk orchids, so pretty, don’t you think?

White silk and purple orchids for DIL?

Meanwhile, I add more details to Son’s face…

I add more details to the Son’s face

…and find the loveliest black tissue brocade in my stash for DIL’s saree. I auditioned gold tissue for her blouse, but settled on black.

Saree in black silk tissue brocade

This is looking good now!

Love the way it is coming up!

Black brocade saree in tissue silk for DIL

Now that everything is in place, comes the difficult question-to quilt or not to quilt. I began tentatively…

Scared I’ll ruin it!
Oh God! What have I done to it? Should I rip it out?

But, what the heck! Let us jump right in!

My only hope is that quilting the background will improve it!

Well, lots of more quilting-and here we are.  I finally decided to add five orchids to the quilt, four in DIL’s hair and one in Son’s buttonhole for it was five years of married life they would be celebrating!

All ready except for the final highlights and the binding

The binding was done, dots of white Inktense pencil inks added to the teeth and noses, hanging sleeve attached and I was ready to share the pictures of their gift with the children on their wedding anniversary. I brought it with me when I travelled to the US to visit them. Here is the portrait on their dining room wall. Incidentally I used the ‘Hang-it-Dang-it’ hanger to hang it and it worked wonderfully well!

A final close look at the portrait before I say goodnight!

In its home!

(For those of you who have been waiting, I did not take enough pictures, so a detailed tutorial will have to wait till I do my next portrait quilt.)

Tana’s Ikat Quilt

Continuing with my quilts for 2018, here is a quilt I made in January this year, but never got around to sharing on my blog.

A quilt for my daughter…

For this quilt, I recycled an old bottle green khadi silk saree, which I have had for years (and which has its very own story) and an ikat silk dupatta in cream and green with a border in plum red.  I designed a really easy pattern-joining simple panels with minimum seams-to take  into account the unravelling which inevitably comes hand in hand with working with silk. One day, perhaps, I will write down the pattern and publish it-it is something even a total beginner can handle!

I bagged the quilt with a backing  recycled from another favourite saree, this time a muslin,with a Bagh block print.

I had it hand-quilted in the market by a tagaiwala, a  quilt-maker whose family has been in this profession for several generations. The quilt is filled with nearly two kilos of carded cotton-wool and is really, really warm, to take care of winters in Jaipur, where we have no centralized heating. I think he has done a great job of the quilting, don’t you?

Details of the hand-quilting

 

Cathedral Window Cushions

Traditional Cathedral Windows with a modern look!

I just realized that I had not shared my finishes for 2018 here! So here come the fitted box cushion covers I made for an ell-shaped bench at the entrance of my son’s house. My daughter-in-law had seen these cushions and loved them, so I thought of making similar ones for her.

The cushions were 15″x 24″and 15″ x 39″ and deciding the size of the windows posed a problem! I decided to make 4.5″ windows and add a 1.5″ strip along the back and side edge. The math worked perfectly and it turned out quite well, I think!

The cathedral window patchwork cushions find their final resting place.

You can see another of my cathedral window finishes here. And if you want to make your own windows, there is a tutorial I did in two parts. In yet another tutorial I discussed the cathedral window math.

As you can see, this is probably the only kind of patchwork I have done more than once! But, at the cost of repeating myself yet again, cathedral windows–no, never again!

The Dreamcatcher At Houston!

Felt amazing wearing this ribbon!
Would you believe that I forgot to take a picture of the quilt by itself?
Preening in front of my quilt!

Nearly Insane—One More Block!

This 6″ block of the Salinda Rupp quilt was fairly simple, as you can see! I opened the seam at the edge as I plan to eventually assemble the blocks by machine.

Incidentally my new machine has arrived, haven’t had a chance to open it yet. It sounded like a great buy–has ten feet, including walking foot and free motion quilting feet and an extension table too! All just for $140 from Brother– I think it is Model 3340.

Block 81

Vital Stats

Number of pieces: 44

Difficulty level: Easy

Technique used: EPP

Block 81 Nearly Insane

So Houston, here I come!

Seasons in the Sun – Quilt Framed!

I show you how to frame your finished quilt behind glass, even adding a border!

My quilt of my son…probably my dearest quilt!

My quilt Seasons in the Sun has been lying around in a shelf for over three years now! I live in a dusty place and it was necessary to put it behind a glass frame. In any case, it did not even have a hanging sleeve!

I was also not sure how to hang it behind glass and browsed the web for a solution. I finally decided to get a box frame made, fit it with a hanging rod and hang the quilt inside. The carpenter was ready with box frame a few days ago, but I could not get myself to stitch yet another quilting sleeve (after two on the Dreamcatcher and another on my son and daughter-in-law’s portrait quilt! That reminds me that I am yet to share pics of that portrait here).

So I was saying that adding hanging sleeves must be the most tedious part of quilting and I wanted to avoid it come what may! I decided I would mount it on board, like pictures are, but how? I did manage to work out something, and here is a mini-tute explaining what I did and why.

How to Display a Finished Quilt Behind Glass

Preparing your Quilt

1. Measure your quilt as accurately as you can, including the binding and then measure the finished binding. My quilt measured as follows

36.5″ x 50″ including binding. My binding was 1/2″ finished, so excluding the binding, my quilt finished at 35.5″ x 49″.

2. You need to decide if you want a border around the finished quilt. I had to add a 5″ border beyond my final quilt size, because I was working with a frame that was already made.

3. Once that is decided, you can calculate how much fabric you will need.

If adding border:

Fabric 1: Can be any solid ; I used inexpensive poplin. This has to be equal to the size of the quilt minus the binding plus total 1/2″ for two seams. I will call this the backing fabric.

Fabric 2: For the border. I could not decide what I wanted for the border. I would have liked a sky blue mitered border, but I did not have enough of the fabric in my stash. I also did not have enough green fabric in a single colour, so I pieced my border using whatever I had at hand.

To calculate the fabric needed for the (unmitered) border:

Width of border:

Width of border+ width of binding + 1/4″ for seam joining border to backing + 1.25″ to wrap to the back of the mounting board.

In my case this was 5″ + 1/2″+ 1/4″ + 1.25″ =7″

Length of border:

2 readied strips, width of border x length of backing ( for me 35.5″x7″)

and

2 strips of width of border x width of backing plus two widths of border minus 1/2″

( for me 7″x 49.5″ plus 14″ minus 1/2″, that is 7″x 73″)

If not adding border

Make a backing fabric equal to final size of quilt plus 1.25″ all around ( to wrap over and to the back of the mounting.

You may be tempted to skip the backing all together, but adding an additional backing protects your quilt, because it ensures that it does not come in direct contact with the board.

4. Prepare your backing by adding the borders. Spray starch and press all seams.

5. Sew the backing to the quilt:

Lay the prepared backing flat, right side facing up. Arrange the quilt, also facing up, on top of the backing. ( I spray basted the two layers together!)

Pin-baste these two together, so that the binding seam of the quilt falls exactly over the seam joining the border to the prepared backing. Now we are ready to sew.

You can machine sew, exactly at the inner edge of the binding, turning over frequently to check that you are not straying from the seam line on the fabric below. I did not feel confident about machine sewing, so I flipped over the pinned- basted layers. I folded the border back on the backing and slip-stitched the two layers together. I could ensure that the seam line on the backing fabric was joined to the seam line of the binding on the quilt exactly. That at the end of it I was left wishing I had stuck to a hanging sleeve, is quite another matter!

Border added to finished quilt!

Once this was done, I folded the border back and ironed it. Here you can see how it looks. The binding is free, not stitched down, and I like that ‘quilty look’.

If not adding a border, the mount has to be exactly the size of the quilt.

The Frame

I do not know any technical carpentry terms, so this is going to be written in a layman’s language!

I wanted teakwood for the 2.5″ wide frame, but the carpenter recommended pinewood, saying it was lighter. I did not want a simple frame, so I extended the bars beyond the frame. I designed the frame with the horizontal bars longer than the vertical ones to enhance the expansive feel the final picture would give.

The frame designed to give an expansive feel to the final picture.

The original plan, as I mentioned, was to affix a rod inside the frame and hang the quilt inside. But, with my change of plans, the hardboard that was screwed on to the back of the frame was removed and trimmed to fit inside!

– So, first the glass was fixed with strips of wood (1/2″ square section). I hunted across my city for plexi-glass, which would be non reflective, but it was not available anywhere. I then opted for the thinnest glass, 4 mm(?) thick.

– Next, the prepared quilt was stretched across the mount, the edges wrapped to the back and secured with painters tape.

We did think of gluing it to the back, but decided this was a better solution, as it would be easier to remove in case needed.

-The quilt was now placed inside the frame. Note that it does not touch the glass, because of the 1/2″ thick wooden strips between the quilt and the glass.

– The hardboard mounted with the quilt was secured with wooden strips nailed over it into the frame ( the way glass is). So no nail goes through the fabric anywhere.

– Ready!

I do believe this looks much neater than just hanging a quilt inside a glass box! I am now planning to frame more of my quilts to display them without fear of dust ruining them! And without harming the quilt in any way with glue or nails etc!!

Here are some more close-ups!

I love the way the binding acts as an inner frame to the main quilt.

I matched the add-on border to the binding!
I touched up the face with Derwent Inktense pencils before framing!

The Dreamcatcher at Dusk – IQA “A World of Beauty” Judged Show 2018 Finalist!

Woohoo! The Dreamcatcher is going to Houston, Texas and am I excited, or what!

I am on a vacation at the most gorgeous place, where I have no pics of the quilt to share with you. So I will share a pic of this lovely little lily pool here, instead!

Best of luck to all the finalists!