I have written in the past of my love of Craftsy classes. One of my favourite is 'Design it. Quilt it' by the uber talented Cindy Needham. In one of the lesson she talks about her stencil stash. Well I was jealous! I just had to have a bigger stash of stencils. Lets face quilters are just hoarders with great taste. I needed to add stencils to my magazine, gadgets, fabric and book stashes.
I discovered a few web sites (all in US) all with the most amazing stencils. I have rarely seen ones as intricate and large in Australia and and so after much wish list making put in a large order. I did share postage with my sister, who being a quilter needed some too!
First thing I had to sort out was storage. Stencils are a bit delicate and don't do well if bent or not stored flat. I used ring clips to put similar sized ones together and 'S' clips to hang them from a rod over my cutting table. I can't tell you how often in the first few days I'd just sit in my sewing room admiring them.
Now, my husband is a generous man and is happy to support my hobby (more like an addiction) but likes to see me use the things he funds. So when my sisters (well the 2 that sew) and my mum decided to do a cushion swap, I wanted to use the stencils as I knew my cushions would feature free motion quilting. I mark them using Frixion pens, I love them and have had no issues, though I would recommend everyone test them out themselves.
I made two for my mum as I couldn't decide which idea I liked best. I stitched out in red thread (Silk Finish by Mettler) a stencil of a Victorian border design. I found I had to go over the design twice as wherever there was travel stitching the pattern looked darker. I also added little swirls and embellishments to the original design. This is something I learnt from Cindy's class. You don't have to stitch out the stencil as it is - you can make it your own. After 'Mctavishing' the background in a white thread (I think it as Bottom Line by Superior thread) I added an applique of a silhouette of the Eiffel tower. I still am immensely proud of this one cushion and it is one of the favourite things I have made. The other cushion was a block from Elizabeth Hartman's metropolitan quilt pattern which I quilted in a wavy grid using a twin needle to give more texture.
For my sister Lynda I actually used a stencil designed by Cindy Needham. I quilted it using 'Silk finish' thread (Mettler) on left over raw silk from my wedding dress (made a decade earlier) The lilac border fabric is left over from my bridesmaid's dress.
I used little pearl buttons for the closure the cushion. Silk was OK to sew on, though I had to use fine needles so that I didn't leave visible holes. It has such a lovely luster that my poor photography doesn't show. This, would you believe is the only photo I could find of all the work I did on this cushion.
Last, but not least was the cushion I made for my sister Kristine. This was the one I actually did first. This was heavily inspired by Cindy Needham's class. She talks about adding dimension as a design element and combining different stencils. I stitched a stencil of basket of flowers and then colored it in with Prismacolor pencils and used a fabric medium to set the colours. Behind the basket in very fine thread I stitched out a feather heart stencil. I really like the idea of combining stencils and picking and choosing bits I like. It's funny it is like no one had told me before it was OK to break the rules. I also like how the heart disappears under the border adding interest - this too is something Cindy gave me permission to do. I used to think if a motif doesn't fit a block you had to re- size or find another, as though somehow seam lines formed some kind of barrier not to be crossed! I honestly think Cindy's class changed how I viewed the design component of quilting more than anything else has. I recommend it very much!
I love all the cushions I received. A pleated log cabin, a cathedral window and a redwork cushion. I look at them everyday. It as such a fun thing to do.
At the end of this post is a picture of everyone's cushions ready for swapping. We should do a swap again. We were so excited making them and them exchanging them. It was really good not thinking about what I like but what someone else might like - their colours and styles. This swap was done last December when all our families went away camping together.
I am linking up with Gemma from prettybobbins.com I-quilt linky party.
Take care and try and do a little of what you love each day.