I hadn't hand sewn much for years, but made 2 Mariner's Compass pillows this past winter by hand sewing and had really enjoyed making them. So I decided to design my own Mariner's Compass for handwork. There are Oriental fabrics in my stash that I've been wanting to use, and so those would be my inspiration. Laid out on the dining room table after washing & pressing, I was able to refer to them easily while designing my project.
I used ironed-flat coffee filters and drafted 8 or 9 star ideas, but none seemed right. So I went to my personal library of design for ideas: 35 years of art books, magazines and loose pages. Yes, this is the 21st century and the internet has everything imaginable, but I like the discovery of opening a book and turning pages. And I can have 7 or 17 different magazines laid open on the floor around me--I can't do that with computer monitors!
I found Gina Perkes' article in the June/July 2012 issue of Quilter's Newsletter magazine about feather quilting. It was her quilt center that caught my eye: a 24-point construction that could be a flower or sun or medallion. It was too complicated for the fabrics I wanted to use, so I set to work drafting my own. I made it 16 points so each peice would be larger. And I made my center big enough to be made of a 'feature fabric,' but small enough that the other fabrics' design could be seen. I drafted 4 different versions until I was satisfied. The final I named "Chrysanthemum."
Next I went back to the fabrics. I decided to use 5 fabrics per flower. From a range of 16 fabrics, I chose 8 and went back to my stash to round out two color ways for a total of 2 groups of five fabrics. My feature fabrics are florals, one dark and one light, so the flowers will contrast each other. Since I would be starting the cutting the project on the road, I laid each group of fabrics out in order of use, snapped a pic & printed it to include in my kit.
I also decided to change the size of one, so I did the math, put it in my scanner and reduced the size. Templates were cut, marked, and bagged (each size in a different bag), and I was ready to get on the road. I thought.
Since I hadn't gathered a travel quilting kit before, I had to stop and think of each item I'd need away from home. And where I'd pack it all. Once I'd put everything together I had to find a single container that would hold it all. I found it! A block portfolio that had been sitting in the closet, unopened for years, was the perfect thing. It has hard plastic ends & zips up both sides, with separate pockets (meant for holding completed blocks), but I packed my fabrics, threads, small tool bag, template baggies some fabric markers and pencils. It was lumpy, but it worked. And it would fit upright in the front seat with my purse and travel maps! In the car, I was able to use the portfolio like a lap desk to trace my templates onto the fabrics. That was such a bonus!
Most of 3 days of car travel were filled with tracing and cutting and sewing. I stayed busy, kept all my sewing bits contained and could pack it all up in a minute. I really enjoyed hand sewing again and now use the portfolio as my project organizer at home too!