Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Ted in Technicolor


Ted in Technicolor, appliqued over a hand painting background
72 x 40 inches

It's been a LONG time since I've posted anything, like since March 2021. Our family moved to Middleton, WI so I could be closer to help my aging parents. We sold our house in Waukesha in February 2021, Ted - my husband - retired in January that year then we spent a few anguished months in a tiny rental trying to buy a house while getting ready for my daughter's wedding with a family reunion out of state in August. 
 How do you spell stress?!

For the few months leading up to Ted's retirement I began teasing him that he is the oak tree of our family, specifically a Burr Oak. He's steady, strong and protective, though perhaps a little weather beaten. (3 kids, me for a wife, cancer and 5 knee surgeries will do that to a guy!) Anyway, I began to think of making this theme into a quilt to honor him on the occasion of his retirement. 

Naturally I began taking pictures and looking at oak trees. 

A mighty Burr Oak tree

                                                                  More oak trees!

I thought I'd make a tree on a landscape background fabric that I had in my stash. The fabric was pretty dull for what I wanted though - here it is. 

The fabric was from Northcott Silk but I don't remember the name of it anymore. Anyway, you'll notice the rather dull grayed colors, especially in the foreground? After playing around with Inktense Color blocks I decided to paint it. I got out my blues and greens and created this foreground for the landscape. 

The start of my painting - the foreground

I kept adding more and more paint because as Inktense dries, it gets lighter. 

More and more green and blues

I was really happy with the way it was looking! I added more green bluffs and I wanted the water and the sky to sort of blend together so it would be hard to tell where one ended and the other started.

Green bluffs, blue water. I added more green in the foreground where the tree would be placed.

Once the bottom part of the fabric was done I began on the top. I added a lot of yellow, orange and red - but mostly on the right side to keep the landscape from looking too much the same on both sides of the tree. 

The next step was creating a pattern. I found a tree I liked, and photoshopped it to stretch it out enough to fill the long piece of my painted fabric. Then I printed it out on a bazillion pieces of paper, taped them all together to create the full size pattern and then taped that to my sliding glass door and traced it all on freezer paper. Whew! My arm was tired after 2-3 days of tracing branches!
(Yeah, I don't mind work when it's fun!)

Here is my pattern - 

Once the tree was traced out - and no I didn't trace out all those teensy tiny branches - I laid it out to double check how it would look on my background. 

Yep, that'll work! 

Now for the real fun - picking out branch fabrics! 

I love batiks! (Bet you can't tell.) They are woven tighter and don't fray as much on the edges. Plus there is so much color movement throughout the fabric. They are perfect for this project. 

As I began, I cut out the major empty sections of my freezer paper pattern. Then I pressed the whole tree to the background fabric. I then fused Wonder Under to the wrong side of the batiks I picked out. Using a tiny scissors I carefully cut out each piece from my paper pattern. If you notice those smooth arcing lines in my branches? I didn't want each branch to be the same fabric throughout. I wanted the colors to change and get lighter in value as the branches grew away from the trunk. 

You'll also notice the small hash lines in the above pic? I soon realized that I would have to draw them on every connecting piece. I had cut out the first few pieces from my pattern and pressed them to the right side of the fabric I had chosen and then cut each pattern piece out and fused it to the background. I started building from the bottom up. 

Soon I became the Hash Line Queen. 

As I filled in hash lines, I had to decide which branches came forward and which were behind them.

Adding all those hash lines was a bit tedious, but absolutely necessary to fit all the branches in all the fabrics together correctly. I also began to write which color each branch should be, but I got so involved I forgot to take a picture of that for you. 

So here you can see the start of my branches. The colors change from dark to lighter purple, or from blue to red or purple to orange. It was such fun to play with these colors! 

After a while I decided to see what would happen if I got out my white highlighting marker and some colored fabric dye markers to make my branches look 3 dimensional. Wow I was a happy camper! When I got sick of cutting out bits of branches I played with my markers.

Here you can see how I sort of decided which colors would go where. I didn't want 2 branches in a row of the same color, plus I wanted a balanced look so I didn't want all the red and bright orange only in a few spots. The other thing I had to keep track of was the change in value of the background from the light yellow above the green bluffs to the deep red of the sunset sky above. I had to make sure the top tree branches would stand out from the dark red sky. 

And once again, the finished quilt top! 

The only other thing I want to mention is that Ted asked me to make the tree out of "manly colors". 
Hardy har har!! If you look really closely, there is one brown patch on the thick part of the trunk. 
Poor hubby! (Manly colors?! BORING. Lol, I don't do manly colors!) 

I've had the quilt top ready for stitching since March 2021. I actually got 2 hours a couple of weeks ago to work on it. There is a bible verse and a song made from Ecclesiastes 3. 

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
     a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
     a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
     a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
     a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
     a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

On that last note, please pray and support Ukraine. We've all seen the horror stories and Ted and I have friends there. It's horrible what is happening to Ukrainians as Russia is trying to eliminate them as a people.  Please don't get tired of hearing about the invasion and do your best to help where you can. 

Also, my 'new' website people have disappeared so I still don't have a website up and running. 
I may never go back in business now, but I still have a lot of fabric so I don't know what I'll do with it all. Perhaps sell it using paypal? I don't know. 

Anyway, that's all for me. Hopefully it won't be another year before I have time and energy to post again! Warm wishes to all of you! 


  1. I really needed this gift of visiting your blog today. My brain has been stuck. I love your "Gotta Dance" quilt - your Grand Canyon landscape - all of your landscapes - your bright colors - and now - "Ted in Technicolor". Wow! I must spend more time again with you through your work - here in your blog - in my heart. Thank you for getting me "unstuck". Thank you! Thank you!

    1. Hi Carol, thank you so much for the compliments! I'm glad you found some inspiration here, man this is a hard time of the year. No holidays to look forward to, no sun in the sky, just brown and gray. All. Day. At least that's what's happening in Wisconsin. I haven't done any more work on Ted but I keep hoping one of these days I can get back to my quilting.
      Quilt on!