Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Making Night Hunter

Night Hunter by Cathy Geier

I've been thinking about the Holy Spirit lately and about the more predatory aspects of His character.  We usually see Him represented by a white dove, coming to us in peace... which He does.  But sometimes I think of Him as a predator, coming after me when I stray and invading my dreams and my heart, always drawing me closer to God through His love.

Here is how I put the elements together to make this quilt.  

Ok, so I know I can't draw worth a flip, try to ignore the dweebie hawk! I usually sketch out my idea on graph paper. This helps me to nail down dimensions, colors and values.  It helps me put the image in my mind into concrete ideas I can make with fabric. In my pattern, each square will be about 2 inches in strips so I know how tall to make the mountains, or how much space the moon will take up, or how far across the sky the deep dark blues in the sky should go. (The 2 inches I mentioned doesn't mean that I'm using 2 inch strips, it just means that whatever combination of strip widths I use should finish around 2 inches when I sew them together.)

It takes a lot of different fabrics to make strip pieced quilts, but you don't need a lot of each print.  I usually just buy 1/4 yard pieces.  When using only a strip or two from each print you can build up quite a quilty palette.  I'm kind of the 'more the merrier' when it comes to buying fabrics! (A Material Girl, lol.)

Ok, lets talk about how I made the hawk.

I found a black and white drawing of a hawk and printed it out. Then I traced over the lines with a red pen. From there I traced the lines on paper and enlarged the design to the size of the hawk I needed for the finished quilt top.  I made TWO of these enlargements. (I'm only showing the top wing part here, the body and the other wing are missing... lol.)

Can you see how I numbered each feather? Each feather will become a 'template'. I traced the enlarged pattern onto freezer paper and numbered each feather on both. One became a master copy, the other one (on the freezer paper) got cut up, feather by feather. The last large copy was used as a placement diagram.

Each freezer paper feather was pressed to the right side of whatever fabric I chose for the feather. Then I cut out the feather and arranged it on a sheet of Wonder Under - sticky side up.  NOW, under that Wonder Under was that 2nd enlarged drawing I made. This helped me keep everything in place.  Since the Wonder Under isn't sticky like Steam a Seam which is temporarily off the market now, I sprayed the sticky side of the WU with 505 Basting spray to make it sticky enough to hold all those little pieces as I designed.  WHEW!

Oh by the way, I quickly realized that those narrow bands of dark color on the wings were NOT going to be separate pieces of fabric! I used a simple Sharpie Marker and drew them on the feathers.

Now on to the mountains. 

I string pieced some 4 inch blocks and arranged them 'on point'. Then I added other strips to them, only I turned under the seam allowances of these loose strips where they wouldn't be pieced. I didn't want raw edges.

Can you see what is happening? I turned under all 'outside' edges and pined the loose strips and blocks together. I top stitched the blocks together wherever they were pinned and I top stitched each folded under seam allowance on the edges.

The only seams I turned under were seams that other patches would not be covering.

I filled in the bottom in the same way. I stitched straight strips to a large triangle, turned under the edges of the strips and pinned them over the exposed edges of the pieced blocks.

Then I sewed them in place and trimmed off the excess. 

This is the backside of the finished mountains. I kept the tear away foundation on the blocks I had pieced just to help keep them from stretching out.  I also tore away any foundation along the bottom of the long mountain range because of the bias stretch at the bottom of those big triangles.  I don't have a picture, but I fused a long strip of WU to the bottom just to keep the range from stretching out. Bias stretch on un-secured edges is a big pain to deal with during quilting, you have to be careful about this!
Mountains are DONE
Time to piece the strips...

I transferred all my strips to the foundation, did I mention that I use a tear-away foundation to piece? It makes things so much easier.

And, that is my cat Ellie. She is a big helper.

Hawk and moon, detail from Night Hunter
Once the quilt top was pieced, I just fused on the moon, the hawk and the mountains. OH, I forgot to take pictures of how I made the moon. Let's just say it involved a HUGE popcorn bowl, a bright white cotton fabric and patches of gray, pink and blue tulle with white shimmery shiny organza. 
The hawk from Night Hunter, after quilting.
I hope you have enjoyed reading, perhaps you've been inspired? As always, comments and suggestions are welcomed! Happy Quilting!


  1. This is truly outstanding. Thanks for all the details. You are an inspiration.

    1. Thank you! I'm glad to stir up your creativity. (I love playing with fabric, so naturally everyone else should, lol.) Have fun!

  2. Wow! That was a LOT of work!
    It is fabulous!!!
    How long did it take, from conception to completion?

    1. I'd say about 2 months or so Zeejah. But I can't work on something steadily and in the last 2 months I also had to finish my second book edits. Thank you so much for the compliments!

  3. I love what you create. This one is beautiful, the colours are gorgeous and I love how you've made the mountains. I've had a go, or at least started to have a go... I cut up a load of strips and layed them out.

    1. I hope you have fun with the process, I know I do. String piecing is a blast, so easy. Its a great way to use up scraps and you can also use it to create interesting backgrounds for more pictorial quilts. Thank you for writing me. :)

  4. What a wonderful piece of ART!! Thank you so much for sharing your process.
    This is the first time I have visited your blog and I can promise to won't be my last!

    1. Thank you Peggy, I'm glad you like it. I just started really trying to get a blog going and I hope it inspires others. I've never done anything like the hawk before and will definitely try this process again. So many quilts - sew little time! Thanks again. :)

  5. Really amazing. So painstaking. I am really impressed with the way you numbered every piece on your drawing. By the way, I think your drawing is great!

    1. Thanks! (By drawing, I'll assume you meant the final version I made of the hawk pattern and not the graph paper one which looks like a gumby seagull or something, lol)