July 29, 2010

Eclipse Charity Quilt: The Finishing Touches

Ok, my last post was a huge essay....so I'm going to keep this one short and SWEET!  Here are the pretty pictures of the finished quilt, so you can see all the yummy quilting Angie did on it :clap:!

I took these photos outside with the morning sun at an angle, hoping to get that quilting to show up.  It was done with invisible thread, also called monofilament thread, so that it wouldn't interfere with the designs.  Not sure what brand Angie used, we'll have to do a post exploring the do's and don'ts of invisible thread sometime in the future :wink:.

It's a shame the camera still doesn't capture the full sparklingness of this quilt.  All the shimmery Fairy Frosts, rhinestones and beads, and thanks to that invisible thread, all the quilting sparkles in the sun! Mouse over the lower right corner for the controls to stop the slide show for a better look at the pictures.


July 22, 2010

Eclipse Charity Quilt: It's All in the Details

The most difficult aspect of this quilt was the ribbon. How can you mimic the Eclipse book cover ribbon with fabric? One that is interrupted by 20 blocks? The easiest way would have been to put the blocks together with sashing, mark up where the outline of the ribbon needed to go, cut out pieces from one color of red, and fuse them on. But then you get an outline of a ribbon, with no depth and the ribbon pieces really wouldn't form a coherent unified piece. Plus it would look like a tacky afterthought, even if it were stitched along the edges. I wanted the ribbon to look like part of the background, not slapped on top.

To achieve the look I was going for, I would need multiple shades of red in order to show that it is flowing and folding around, with lighter and darker areas. I started out by opening an image of the Eclipse book cover in Photoshop. I tried my hand with the pen tool, outlining the ribbon shape, but that still looked blocky. I then tried the magic wand tool, trying to select just certain color sections, but there are too many shades of the color in a high def image to easily select distinct sections.

And then the Photoshop Guru (my husband) gave me a tip that was an "aha" moment. He took one look at what I was doing one evening as we were watching TV on the couch together (I rarely watch TV without doing something else at the same time) and calmly said, "just Posterize it". I stared glassy eyed at him till he told me what it meant, we looked to see if my "inferior" Photoshop Elements version had it (so far it's been able to do everything that the super expensive CS version does), and we tried it out.

I tried to find an official definition/ tutorial on what it does, but everything out there sounds too complicated or tells you how to use it for other things. And I'm not going to make this post a Photoshop tutorial, it's going to be long enough already. Basically it takes your high quality image and reduces the number of different tones in your image. It makes it look more cartoon-like. So I went from the image on top, with who knows how many tones of red....to the image on the bottom, in which I specified I only wanted 4 tones. Three tones was too simple, didn't provide the depth I was looking for, and I didn't want to look for more than 4 different fabrics to use!

So then I went shopping! For Fairy Frost! Online at our favorite place to shop for FF, Mary Jo's, of course (the shops around here don't carry more than one or two colors). At first I tried doing this combination of reds: a mottled red batik (for the shadow – don't know what it's called) with Scarlet, Blood, and Pomegranate Fairy Frosts.

As you can see there just isn't enough contrast. There is no definition between the 3 Fairy Frosts. I went looking around again, searching locally and online, and even considered just dying some of the Snow (white) FF I had, but finally found a lighter pink color called Lipstick at Fat Quarter Shop. I cringed at the pinkness of it, but one thing I have found over the years is that I tend to not use enough contrast and things look washed out. So I rearranged colors and came up with a new quadruple: the mottled red batik with Scarlett, Pomegranate, and Lipstick Fairy Frosts.

The next challenge was piecing it into the background. At first I thought I would piece it with rectangle and half-square triangles into a "rough" ribbon. I even drafted it up that way in my design (see the second picture above). The fact that it wouldn't be a solid background, but would be in the sashing between 20 blocks and 20 quotes was an obstacle. There was no way around the fact that I would be making things more complicated needing to piece around the blocks and quotes. I couldn't think of how to piece it easily, but I did find a wonderful technique for piecing curves. Fiber artist Dale Fleming has a technique called "Pieced Curves So Simple" and I looked at this tutorial on HGTV to figure it out. I'd previously done regular piecing and paper piecing but this is a whole new method, and it was actually super easy. The curves come together nicely, it was the piecing between all the blocks and quotes that had me yanking hair out!

Here is a quick overview of how the curvy parts worked: I drafted up my design to scale in Photoshop, meaning the quilt was to be 58" x 62", and my design canvas size was 58" x 62". It made for a slow file to work with, but I didn't want to deal with scaling. I had the grid showing on the file and I went through and methodically printed a paper template for each 8" x 10" section that had ribbon on it. I pinned the templates on my design wall behind the prepped blocks and sections of black/grey background fabric sashing. (And if anyone knows a quicker way than manually hitting "print" and giving it the coordinates each time, let me know!) You can see that the ribbon is made up of paper.

Unfortunately I wasn't thinking ahead and did not take photos of the process, but I'll try to describe it as well as I can and include the couple of photos I have. For each section, I cut the separate template colors apart. I used the templates to cut each corresponding fabric, with a roughly 1/2" seam allowance. Then along the inner curve I clipped the seam allowance and folded it over the paper. Using a washable fabric glue stick I lightly tacked down the seam allowance to the back of the paper template. I then lightly ironed it so that it had a crisp edge. I placed the "outer color" (which has the paper template attached) on top of the "inner" color and tacked down just that seam allowance to the bottom color (you can see in this first photo that I've re-taped the two darker reds, cut the shape of the pink and already folded it over the paper template and tacked down to the reds).

Then I peeled off the top "outer color" from it's paper backing to get to the crisp folded edge, and sewed along that seam (in the 2nd photo). Then I removed the paper backing all together, and ironed to smooth it out. I basically "built up" each section this way.

It may sound complicated, and unfortunately I don't have a "tutorial" of my own photos, but it actually is no harder than paper piecing. You just have the extra steps of cutting your pieces into a curves, clipping the seam allowances, and gluing the fabric around the edge of the paper before sewing them together.

This fourth picture shows a clipped edge already sewn onto the reds/pink with the paper removed.

To re-cap the process: I started with an image of the ribbon, I made it into a "cartoon" with only four shades of color . . . and this is the end result:

July 20, 2010

Eclipse Charity Quilt: The beginnings

As we come upon the last two weeks of our Donate to Win fundraiser for Alex's Lemonade Stand, I thought it would be fun to share with everyone some more details about this one of a kind quilt and how it came about.  If you've been reading our blog for some time you'll know that we all met just last winter/spring and in just one year we've been busy with several group projects, all through online and mail collaboration.  The first big one was the quilt we gifted Stephenie Meyer (spring/summer '09) and then our first for charity project, the New Moon Quilt (fall '09).  In February we started planning our third "big" project, also for charity and on our TwilightMOMs Eclipse Charity Quilt thread we opened a call for designs.   Eclipse is my favorite of the "published" books in the Saga, and immediately I felt inspired to make a design for the quilt.  I had seen a small wall hanging quilt in a magazine that looked nothing like I wanted, but had the suggestion of a ribbon running around blocks and felt that a ribbon had to be incorporated somehow.

My first attempt looked like this--------------------------------->
But I wasn't satisfied with how blocky it was, and no matter how much I played with the "ribbon", made up of rectangle and half square triangle pieces, I couldn't get it to look right.
But having everything revolving around a central Eclipse was something that I liked.

In the previous two quilts, it frustrated me that we had to narrow down to only a couple of quotes.  But this done for good reasons: one they were embroidered, so they had to be big enough to be feasible; and two the blocks were the star of the show.   But I love Stephenie's characters and so much of what they say.  If I could, I'd have the whole Saga quoted on my walls!  Recently I've been experimenting with printing on fabric, both the "printable fabric" you can buy, and making my own, and I thought this would be a great way to incorporate more quotes since they can be smaller and still be legible.

<----I have an Edward Cullen fan-made calendar that has this page I really like.   As a scrapbooker, having the scenes shown as labeled "polaroids"  seems so fun to me.  And it's a way to incorporate those quotes I so desperately love.

So I thought, why not make the whole quilt look like a scrapbook page: the Eclipse book cover as the "background"; the appliqued Eclipse as an "embellishment"; the blocks as the "photos"; and the pertinent quotes as the "journaling".  Here was attempt#2 -------------------->

They were the only designs submitted by our deadline and we put them up for vote.   Someone suggested changing the polaroid effect for a framed photo with a separate jouraling tag under each, which has a much cleaner, sophisticated look.  And thus the design evolved to this (with temporary "sample" blocks):

Check back tomorrow to see how the ribbon evolved from something blocky to the flowy ribbon on the Eclipse cover.
(and for some good Photoshop tips!)



July 10, 2010

Eclipse Charity Quilt: Help Us Spread the Word

No doubt, you've seen the movie by now and so you're more excited than ever about getting a chance to win our Eclipse quilt! We donated our time, talents and materials to create this quilt in order to raise money for Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, a charity close to the hearts of the Twilight Fandom. We're collecting donations for ALSF and in addition to your donation (for which we are very grateful), you can also help us by spreading the word! Blog about our quilt and grab one of our buttons to display in your sidebar.

Small Button - 150 pixels wide

Eclipse Give-to-Win Quilt

Large Button - 220 pixels wide

Eclipse Give-to-Win Quilt

We are accepting donations through August 1, 2010 and the winner will be announced on August 10, 2010.

If you blog about us or even just display our button, leave us a comment with a link to your blog and we'll stop by and visit you!