Week in Review 2023 – 08/11

How Many Steps?

How many steps does it take to make a simple 12″ x 12″ wrapped canvas quilt? Honestly, I have no idea. Even the simplest techniques take a handful or more steps. Over the 36 years I’ve been quilting most steps are second nature, like getting dressed in the morning. It isn’t something I think about. It is only when I am trying something new or a technique that has alluded me in the past that I realize how much there is to it.

My husband and I spotted this fledgling, stunned and fearful on the street. Couldn’t resist taking a photo before safely moving it to the abutting yard.

Step One

Last week I shared my process for going from photograph to design. This is the first step of any quilt. Well, deciding what to make is truly the first step. The next step is figuring out how you will go about it.

This is the general concept/lay out I designed.

There are many steps to go from the design to a finished project. I began by thread painting the owl. This is actually the second owl. Sometimes a step is admitting when something isn’t working. I threw out last week’s owl and started over. Why? Because I felt the need for the browns and beiges to be better distributed and to scaled it up, as well. After all, the owl is the star of the quilt.

I love using hot fix crystals to represent stars and yes, add some bling. 🙂

Once I finished thread painting the owl, it was time to turn my attention to the background or in this case, the night sky. Free motion quilting is one of my favorite steps. I begin with doodling potential designs on paper, move to a “test” quilt to try it on the machine, then simply start quilting. I have learned it pays to quilt first, then add the design elements, if they will be thread painted, whenever feasible. This way the quilting flows naturally around the design elements. You can see I opted for fanciful cloud shapes and horizontal lines.

Appliqué Decision Time

How many ways are there to appliqué? Let’s see. There are needle turn appliqué, fusible appliqué, appliqué by machine using either a blind hem stitch or satin stitch and… more. When it comes to the moon, I felt needle turn would be the best method. First, though, I turned to the internet to learn how to make perfect circle appliqués. Since. I’m left handed, I also refreshed my knowledge of how to do this as a left hander. Yes, there is a difference.

Check out the moon. It is hand appliquéd.

Thread painting is great for details, but not great for pushing a needle through by hand. It creates a stiff shape that must be attached by machine. Therefore, I always use a thin machine satin stitch on my thread paintings. Also, it “seals” the edges. I create my thread paintings on a layered substrate, which includes batting. So, sealing the edges is a vital step.

Time for some bling. This is the final step. Aren’t those hot fix crystals fun? They are very eye catching in the right light.

Rainbow Scrap Challenge

This is a detail of the thread painted owl.

OK, technically this isn’t a Rainbow Scrap Challenge project. However… the color of the month is yellow and the yellow owl’s eyes draw you in. So, close enough, right?

I’m linking up to the following posts:

By Gwyned Trefethen

I am an artist who uses fabric, thread and miscellany to create designs gifted to me by my imagination.


  1. So realistic I had to scroll back up to see the real owl 🤣 your quilt is amazing! these months of working on it has paid off towards a glorious quilt!

    1. Helen, fascinating that you see the thread painted owl as realistic, while I see it as “off”. Maybe I will give it a rethink over the weekend. Thank you for providing feedback.

  2. Oh how interesting!! I think I was using PhotoShop Elements some years ago to do basic photo editing, like color correction, straightening, removing red eye etc. I definitely never delved into layers or any of its fancier capabilities and I think I stopped using it when I switched from a PC to a Mac and discovered that they only had subscription plans available anymore. I’m glad you rescued that little owl and as always, your process for translating what you see in the natural world into fabric and thread is fascinating!

    1. When Adobe switched over to Adobe Creative Cloud and an annual fee to use their suite of products it made it difficult to justify using Dreamweaver, the application I used to design my previous website. Since quilting is my avocation and not vocation, paying ~ $350/year simply didn’t make sense. Photoshop was part of the Creative Cloud. However PSE is not. So, I continue on with PSE. It definitely functions on a MAC. I’ve been a MAC convert for close to 20 years.

      I do enjoy challenge myself by designing my own work.It is second nature at this point.

  3. What a great inspiration that little owlie was! The thread painting gives him a very realistic look. And bravo on the needle-turned moon – looks very dimensional. Thanks for linking up to TGIFF today!

    1. I actually needle turned a double layer of fabric for the moon. The top layer is white with a whisper of the blue. The second layer is a scrap of muslin. I’ve learned that appliquéing a light on top of a dark layer can result in the seam allowance detracting from the look. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your kind thoughts.

    1. Indeed I did, Nancy. Think of it like rearranging furniture. There are many ways to configure a room and even a home. I saw the owl on the ground and thought I bet it would work in the sky. Let’s find out. I’m glad you like it.

  4. Pretty embroidered owl, I like the shadows on her sides, and the moon is a great scenery for it! Fabulous mini quilt!
    Thank you for sharing your process, and linking up 😉

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