Tag Archives: dragon

Full-sized Applique Quilt

Early last year my closest friend told me she was getting married. I knew I had to come up with a really great gift. I combined two things she really likes; art and warmth, and decided on a quilt. She’s Anne McCaffrey’s biggest fan, so I knew it would have to have a dragonrider in there somewhere. I reread Dragonflight to get a scene in my head and then came up with a design:

I had a slight problem though. I had no idea how to use my little sewing machine much less make a quilt with it. I have a bad habit of choosing the most difficult thing I can come up with when trying something new. I took my design to my esteemed mother-in-law to ask if it was possible, and she suggested using applique might be best. To the internet I went! I read tutorials and watched videos to learn of this mysterious applique technique. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any examples of projects larger than a place mat, so I knew I would have to adapt as I worked.

I began by printing out my design in full size, taping together several 8 X 11 sheets of paper (R.I.P. my ink cartridge). I think it might have been worth it to use a projector and trace or even pay a copy/print service to do it, but let’s not dwell. I kept a stack of notes handy along with my original design to help me select the ~80 colors of fabric I used. I only needed small pieces of most, so scraps came in very handy. My design was fairly busy, so I used only solids or very subtle textures.

This was the hard part. I went through and numbered each of my notes, lowest layer to top layer to keep track of which shapes would need to be laid down first, and which would be saved for last. I used a very thin, plain white sheet as my base. Then, I cut off a piece of my paper-backed fusible webbing large enough to cover my first piece–the yellow background sky–leaving an inch or so outside the lines for extra wiggle room. I traced the approximate shape I needed onto the glue side of the paper. Next, I cut out a piece of the yellow sky fabric large enough to fit the webbing, and ironed them together glue-side to wrong-side of the fabric. After it cooled, I cut out the shape using the lines I had drawn on the transparent webbing.

After ironing the backing onto several shapes and cutting them out, I laid them in place with the paper still on to make sure I didn’t have any gaps through which the white sheet could show. Once I had all my pieces cut out, it was time to glue them down.

I laid my white sheet over my printed template and marked the corners with a pen so that I could take it up and put it back in the same place every time. I marked the positioning for my first layer (the yellow sky) and then put it up on the ironing board. I removed the paper backing from my piece, situated it according to my marks, and steam-ironed it into place. I closely followed the directions on my fusible webbing for what settings to use on my iron.

Layer by layer I glued down clouds and grass until I had it looking like the original design, pausing here and there to make sure it all still lined up.

I really wanted the dragon and rider to look right, and this was the most intricate couple of pieces in my design, so I saved it for last. I traced the shapes with a marker to make them show through the back and traced from there onto the paper side of the webbing. That way it was easy to carefully follow my lines and fit the pieces together.

Trace each piece onto the webbing and iron onto the wrong-side of the fabric.

Cut out each shape, peel off the webbing, fit into position, and iron down.

With everything cut out and ironed on, I was ready for the next big step. I chose to use solid, dark blue for borders and backing to hold my busy design together. I squared up the edges, sewed on the border, and put together the top, batting, and backing. I decided to sew them together in one go instead of doing the top by itself because I didn’t want to go back over and clutter the design with a single color of thread if putting the backing on later. Plus, just sewing the edges of each shape was plenty to secure the whole thing well.

My mother-in-law gave me a rundown on how sewing machines work, and I pored over the instruction manual to mine before beginning. I collected thread of each color I would need to match or nearly match each color of fabric, I threaded my bobbin with dark blue for the back, and I zig-zag stitched the life out of that quilt.

Difficulties! My machine was quite small, so I really had to roll and bunch up my quilt to fit it in there and turn it this way and that. I’m lucky I had a nice big dining table on which to work. The number of layers of fabric my needle was punching through varied from three up to eight or so, so I had to adjust the tension quite a bit to make sure my bright top thread wasn’t showing through the backing and vice versa. The glue between layers also added some stiffness, so I bent three needles and snapped another clean in half along my way. Nevertheless, after some problem-solving and perseverance, I successfully finished all the major sewing.

All that was left was to trim it up and add the binding. It was strange switching to a straight stitch after months of zig-zagging, but finally it was complete. The thicker layers of applique and lots of ironing made the quilt a little stiff here and there, but I picked a nice soft fabric for the backing to counter that issue, and it seems to become more flexible the more it’s folded and bunched. It would make a nice weighty bed quilt or look great hanging up on a wall.

I’m pretty proud of my first quilt. It was fun and challenging, and I’m probably never doing all that again. Whew! Maybe this will be useful if someone out there needs help figuring out a large applique project. Oh, and my wedding gift was very well-received!

Pumpkin Carving 3

It’s that time again! Like always, my friend Gloria came for a visit and brought with her a lovely jack-o-lantern-to-be. This year we went with a scene from my work in progress, Dragon Scales, featuring two girls offering a gift to an intimidating sea dragon. It was a little tough to sketch out, and the ripples in the water were difficult to cut, but there were no major mishaps. Success!

Since we carved our pumpkin a little early, it may not last all the way to Halloween. Luckily I know some tricks for keeping a jack-o-lantern looking great for as long as possible. One method to keep it from drying out and shrinking is to coat the carved edges with petroleum jelly. It’ll get a little gooey, but it’ll still look nice when it’s lit up. Pumpkins will also last a lot longer if you keep them cool in the refrigerator until it’s time to set them out on the porch and show them off. Unfortunately, I don’t have much space in my fridge this year thanks to the heaps of extra spaghetti my husband decided to cook last night.

Pumpkin Carving 2

Wow, October’s almost over already. This year’s jack-o’-lantern–procured and scooped out by Gloria, drawn upon by me, and carved by both of us plus my husband–is complete. Two dragons either locked in a mid-air battle or going for a friendly flight together (whichever you prefer). It’s a little less complicated than last year’s. Turns out it’s a challenge to crowd three people around a pumpkin and all carve at the same time, but aside from a slight miscommunication which resulted in Dragon#2’s wing being amputated, it was a success. Dragon#2 recovered.

Anywho, I hope everyone who takes part in Halloween has fun this year.
When the time comes, may all you trick-or-treaters get good hauls.
All of you on the other side of the doors, I hope it’s a slow night and you get to eat most of that candy you bought.

Speaking of trick-or-treating, I can’t help but wonder when this holiday went so astray. We had several visits to our door last year, and I really felt like there was some enthusiasm missing from most of those encounters. I mean, aren’t you supposed to take on the countenance of some spooky, creepy creature to frighten me, and then threaten to haunt my house and play tricks on me lest I pacify you with some delicious treats? Aren’t you at least supposed to call out, “Trick or treat!” when I open the door? Last year I had some kids just reach up and snatch my candy without a word. I had some kid take a handful of chocolate and then ask for a bottled water while I was at it.
Don’t get me wrong; if Spiderman shows up at my door one night and wants some of my supply of Reese’s, I’m not likely to turn him away. And if I see that your costume took a lot of effort or creativity, I’ll likely bestow some of my beloved candy upon you in appreciation for the art. But really, you could at least ask me nicely if you’re not willing to threaten me for it. This year if I find some half-hearted zombie cheerleaders on my porch holding out their bags in silent expectation, I’m just going to keep my bowl of treats to myself and ask what I can do for them. Granted zombies might have trouble speaking up, but they could at least groan at me. Especially high school zombies. Can’t you buy your own candy? I can make exceptions for a few little princesses or witches or incredible hulks who are too shy to speak to a complete stranger and are being ushered along by mom with the flashlight waiting in my driveway, but come on. I was a very shy unicorn myself and I still dutifully shouted, “Trick or treat!” with the rest of them when the doors opened. I want to play along, but I need some effort here.

Pumpkin Carving

My friend and I have a pumpkin carving tradition now for Halloween. We started off last year with our first one which had a simple castle, tree, and a couple clouds. This year we did two together, and we definitely topped ourselves. The first was a smaller one with dragons burning a village (she made sure to write beneath the village that it was an “Evil Town” so it was okay to burn it). Our second was a giant Abmiram scene! I thought you’d like to see. 😀

My friend requested a scene with Dakova and Tari in battle vs. an evil spirit in front of an esrodri flying across the moon, so I drew it out.

We carved it together. The flames under the evil spirit were probably the hardest to cut out.

And we lit it up to see how we did! We had to go back and carve away more pumpkin behind Tari for all her little bow lines to show up. It was one thick squash.