Friday, March 30, 2018

Spring Hardwoods

Spring Hardwoods
 Will wonders never cease - here I am updating my blog after only 1 week! Yay me! However, you might not hear from me again for quite a few months - I want to repaint my bathroom and spend more time outside for awhile. 

I just finished this wall hanging for a class sample so I thought I'd show you how I did it. 

Background batik and some leaves

 So, for me the hardest part of putting these landscapes together is finding the right fabrics. Often I have bolts of leaves that haven't sold well and then suddenly the right batik comes along and viola, I can use up the leaves making kits. 

If I ever quit teaching - and some days I think I'd like to quit - it's mainly because it is such a pain always looking for fabrics that go together. You might not realize it, but I have to buy bolts and then often I sit on them until I find other fabrics which go with the bolt I bought... etc.

And then there is the serious problem of finding appropriate leaves. Natural leaves are the hardest thing to find and I just don't understand why manufacturers won't make more of them. The leaves you'll see me add at the very end of this project are like 4 years old now and I bought 3-4 bolts of them at the time. I'm down to one bolt now and then I'll be stuck if nothing else has come out.

And to make matters worse, I run a very small online store so fabric representatives don't meet with me. This means I have to order most of my stuff online and often the fabrics aren't quite what they appeared to be when I get them.

Ok, complaints over. But maybe you'll have a better understanding about what it takes for me to come up with class projects.

Anyway... back to this one.

Finished foreground
 Like I said, I need fabrics which go together. Luckily, I had 4 fabrics in stock now that all went together and went with that light background batik. When making a landscape like this, the darkest values - or most intense colors - need to go into the foreground. I blended two all-over tree prints and used a little bit of a rich pink meadow floral to create the foreground and mid-ground.  The white and pink all-over trees fade a bit into the distance because they are lighter values. I used the right and the wrong side of the rich pink floral.
2 fantastic markers
 I used a plain brown bark fabric for the tree trunks. (If you noticed, I changed out the tree on the right because it was too skinny. While a skinnier trunk would have been fine, I have branch patterns and the branches can't come out of a tree trunk that is nearly as skinny as they are.)

One of the things I enjoy most is highlighting and shading using markers. The two I like most for making highlights are the ones pictured above. The Recollections marker can be found in the scrap booking section at Michael's.  The Galaxy marker is also in the scrap booking section but at Hobby Lobby.

I make lots of long white streaks to create my bark and then I go over those streaks with black and brown sharpies - or a fabric dye marker such as Marvy or Ushida. (Sharpies can bleed I've heard but I've never experienced it because I press with a hot iron and I think this must set the dye.)

I pretend the sun is coming in from one side of the landscape so I keep one side of each tree lighter than the other.
My textured tree trunks
 I don't blend in my marker streaks - those long streaks look like bark.
Adding distant foliage
 Next step is to add some distant foliage and these patches  must blend into the background. Did I mention that I was lucky to have coordinating leaves with this batik?!

I messy cut some background shrubbery and clumped them together to suggest that there is a tree or sapling back there.
Working on the tree canopy

 I think of working on things like this as a bit like making a collage. I don't worry about overlapping shapes and prints and I glue patches to the background using a simple glue stick. (I like Elmer's the best because it's nice and soft.)

I do want to blend in some darker values in the canopy so I brought in a darker tiny leaf print. I use the front and the back of fabrics whenever I can. 

Work continues on the canopy

 Once I have everything glued down, I fuse on the branches. (These are patterns I supply with the kits in class.) Often I'm asked why I don't fuse down everything and it's for 2 reasons. Adding a fusible behind everything might build up too many layers in places and the quilt will be really stiff there and won't hang right. This is especially true of the tree trunks. If you fuse them in place then right down the center of your quilt will be a layer of stiffness that no amount of quilting will fix. The quilt will not hang flat on the wall. 

I fuse on the branches because the fusible is spread out over a wide area and won't effect the drape of the quilt. Plus, they are skinny and can unravel easily. The fusible makes them more stable.

Fused on branches

 More fun ahead! I learn so much from my students and when I taught this class in Kentucky a few weeks ago, one of the ladies there was a painter. When we got to the place where we were coloring branches, she began highlighting them using a circular motion around the branches. (When I watched her I was amazed and couldn't wait to get home to try her technique out!)

If you've seen the way I color branches by checking out my boards on Pinterest, you'll see that I did something new here.

(I really like it!)

Highlighted branches

 I highlighted the top of each branch and used a dark marker to shade the underside. 

And there you have it - the top is mostly done
 This was a small quilt - about 18 x 30 inches or so and I really liked it so I added borders to make it bigger.
Leaves in the border

 Then of course I had to add more leaves in the border. I love these leaves!
(Only one bolt left - ugh!)

All done
Hubby is a hydrologist with the US Forest Service. He had classes in dendrology and we could never figure out what KIND of trees these are. Not maples - the leaves aren't right. Not oaks for the same reason. Not bassword. Not elm - the bark is wrong. I'm too fussy about being accurate and that is why I'm calling it Spring Hardwoods - why not?

Well, that's it for me!
Comments welcome and happy quilting. 


  1. Thanks for the insights and how you processed through to a gorgeous finish. I think I know the name and origin of your trees; the live on the magical island called Lulu Land, and they are Annie Oakleaves. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    1. Nice, lol! An imaginary tree. I just googled Annie Oakleaves - did you know there is a blogger with that name!? Anyway, thank you for the compliments and happy comment. You stick to it and I'll keep thinking. :)

  2. I had no idea that someone was using that as a blog name. My husband calls me that all the time.

    1. That is a really sweet pet name, he sounds like a keeper.