Monday, July 25, 2011

Trout Wall Hanging

In my first real test of my machine quilting abilities, my mom asked me to quilt a trout wall hanging that she had completed.  We worked together on choosing the border and then I was left to my own devices on the quilting.  This is only the second item that I have ever machine quilted, the first being a vest for my mom.  I was apprehensive because I found quilting the vest to be quite tedious, but quilting the wallhanging turned out to be very fun. Perhaps I am just getting more comfortable with machine quilting, it may also have helped that the wallhanging was a flat object and not a dimensional vest.

To quilt the wallhanging I searched for ocean/water free-motion designs and found the "ocean current" pattern from the 365 Days of Free Motion project.  I didn't want the background to all be water, so I decided to toss in some fish outlines.  This was inspired by the only quilt that I ever sent out to be quilted by someone else.  I did a block-of-the-month wildflower quilt and was pretty burned out by the time I finished the top.  I decided that I didn't want to do a half-assed quilting job on it and to this day am very happy that I had someone else do it.  The quilter did an amazing job, and my favorite part of the quilt was where she hid little critters into the stippling, such as dragonflies.  I wanted to do something similar here, basically hide little fish among the waves.

I created an easy fish stencil by literally just google searching trout pictures, tracing the outlines of the trout that I liked onto a piece of note paper directly from my computer screen (IE I didn't print out the trout pictures; I just leaned my screen back and traced directly on top of it.  This had the benefit of screen backlighting and the ability to resize the picture to whatever size I needed.  Then I cut out the trout outlines for  an easy stencil.

Finished trout "stencils"

I am still trying to find the perfect marking pen for fabric.  The standard my mom and I use are chalk pencils, but they rub off almost too easily and don't give a very fine line.  However, since this wallhanging had a white background, I ended up using the chalk pencils after all because I was very worried about lines not rubbing off.  

I basically planned out where I wanted my fish to be, traced those onto the wallhanging, and filled in with the ocean currents design.  For the first few parts of the wallhanging I also drew in my primary meandering line for the ocean currents because I wasn't very confident in my abilities, but I soon grew better.
Quilting in progress

Stenciling on a new trout

As an "easter egg" I added in little flies at the mouth of each trout.  I call it an easter egg because the flies blend in so well that you can't see them unless you look incredibly closely.  But I like it that way, it's a special surprise for those who put in the effort.

You can barely see the fly even in this close-up!

So finally, here are some pics of the finished quilt top.  Eventually I will probably add a pic of the entire wallhanging on the wall as well.  For the next couple of months it will just be needlepoint for me, but I'll try to post about that as well as time continues.

The entire quilt top, ready for binding