Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Flight of Fancy Wrap Up

Before I show you the next thing I'm working on, I thought I'd answer some questions and comments I've received since I started the birds quilt.

 First, the scale. Here is my hand next to a typical bird block. These are not small.

 For my readers outside the US, the ruler above marks the size of the block in centimeters.

Here you can see the size in inches.

I'll make the bird bigger, if I want to accommodate a particular print.

The birds aren't my creation. I don't know where they came from. I saw a photo somewhere in 2009 or so, and figured out how to make them on my own. I have a tutorial for them here. It's pretty basic, but you should be able to work it out on your own. In this photo you can several of the triangles I used to make the bird wings. I always find fabric that looks "wingy." The tutorial gives you a way to look for "wingy" stuff.

I don't mind hard work, but I hate doing "busy" work, or what I call "stupid work." So when I know I'm going to make a lot of birds, I make a big strip of  "legs" and then just cut off what I want.

And if you think I cut a strip of fabric 3/4" wide for a 1/4" finished leg, you are crazy. I sew a wide piece to the white, then trim some off, as you can see in the photo above. It makes for a much cleaner edge, and it's a lot easier to iron. No burnt fingers!

 I don't make the beaks all the same size. (That would be boring and predictable, which isn't very interesting to look at.) Sometimes I want them small, and sometimes I want them bigger. I always "audition" different fabrics, and then test where I want them to go.

I never use plain white as a background for my quilts. (In fact, I don't use solids at all.) I always use a variety of White on White (WOW) fabrics. You can see them in the Black and White Crayons quilt, above. This quilt, by the way, will be in AQS shows in Daytona Beach FL, Phoenix AZ, and Lancaster PA later this year. This quilt also has six black and white birds, which just goes to show you how flexible they really are.

 Pat, years ago I bought a very large cutting mat, 48" x 96", but I cut it down to fit on my worktable and had this long piece left over. It's useful for cutting long things. It's the green underneath the panel above. The long ruler came from one of the "big box" hardware stores (Cees: that means it's a GIANT store.) Sometimes the best tools don't come from a fabric store. And the great big 45-45-90 triangle right next to the ruler on the lower right came from an art supply store.


Because I "fussy cut" fabric for my wings (to get them to look just the way I want), people always ask if I cut a piece right out of the middle of a piece of fabric.  Well, yes!



I find it amusing when I see bloggers show off how many empty spools of thread they used in one year. I sew ALL my quilts using medium-gray thread. I buy a giant spool of it at the quilt shop, and it lasts about a year. I keep a little container near my sewing machine with 20 bobbins pre-wound with this gray thread. It's not fun to have to stop in the middle of a seam and wind a bobbin.

Before I forget, the finished flimsy measures 62" x 78" (or 157 x 198 cm).


I should probably also mention that I do not use any patterns or templates when I make my birds or letters, and they are NOT paper-pieced. It should go without saying that all my quilts are completely original and designed by me, and no, there won't be any patterns for my quilts. Ever.

However I have absolutely no problem sharing any and all information about how I make what I make, and why I make the choices I do. And you could never get all that in a pattern.

Besides, I think you should make your own quilts and not anybody else's. You all get yourselves dressed in the morning without help, you can make your own quilts too. It's not rocket science.

If I missed anything, leave a comment or email me. I'm always happy to hear from readers. You all help and inspire me more than you know.








9 comments:

Cheryl said...

Thank you for sharing your process with us. There's always more than a few things to learn even if I never make a bird quilt. But, they are so fun that I just might have to! Wonderful!

jotokla.com said...

Appreciate your generosity and insights, and as always, thanks for sharing the process!

Pat said...

Great post, Lynne. I've mentioned a time or two that I have made some birds and I made them before I ever saw yours. I also do not remember where I originally found them but wherever it was they did have a pattern for them. The pattern was facing in only one direction and I had a lot of fun making some going the other way, I always say I can't paper piece b/c I'm too dyslexic and I think I had the same issue turning the birds the other way. :D I love that you use WOW for your backgrounds. This is a lesson I've definitely learned from you; it makes things so much more interesting. And I totally agree about the big spool of gray thread. I love your blog and your approach to quilting and I always pick up little tidbits from you.

Jennifer said...

"Besides, I think you should make your own quilts and not anybody else's. You all get yourselves dressed in the morning without help, you can make your own quilts too. It's not rocket science."

and this. THIS. is why you are one of my favorite bloggers/quilters! come on, IT'S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE!!!

Millie said...

(Sound effect of Lynne laughing) Thanks Jennifer! This makes my day!

Quiltdivajulie said...


Great post -- lots of process info! Even though I've made the birds and know how large they typically are, the way the look in blog photos IS smaller than real life, so I especially love that photo with your hand beside the bird.

Robin said...

Thank you so much for this post. I've loved your birds since I first saw them and definitely have them on my to-do list (maybe some tiny ornament sized ones too....)

Mary Ellen said...

I want to make some birds. I hope you take that as the compliment it is meant to be. Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery and all that.

journeyhouse said...

Thanks so much for sharing. It will be hard to wait until spring for the workshop. I have already Googled my route from Keene. Laura