BCQuilter's Weblog

Outside the box

Posted on: 25 July 2008

Have you ever wondered what was outside the box?  You know… when someone suggests to you, to leave your comfort zone, and step outside the box, or even think outside the box, to try something new.

According to Wikipedia:  Thinking outside the box is to think differently, unconventionally, from a new perspective. This phrase often refers to novel, creative and smart thinking.  This is sometimes called a process of lateral thought.

Some of us are very adept at “thinking outside the box” in quilting, and some are not.   That’s okay.

Thinking outside the box.

Thinking outside the box.

What has this to do with me? with quilting?

I have ventured into another venue… well actually three.    Does that make any sense.   Maybe I’ll try this angle.   I have been working on a small project and I used three techniques I have not used before.

First a little background.   In 2007 our Quilt Guild held a Silent Auction – everyone brought something they didn’t want/need etc.   The committee bundled some items together, and laid them all out with “auction” slips.   The buyers (guild members) wandered around the tables looking at all the goodies, and placed bids on things they were interested in.  Some items were very hot, and the bidding quite intense.   At the end, all slips were gathered, items paid for, and the members oooohed and ahhhed over their new treasures.   One treasure I bought was a packet of various fabrics with a few panels.   One of these panels was of three perch.  What am I going to do with this Perch Panel?   A gift for my father-in-law.  And so it sat, while my quilt room went through its renovations.

I got in a rut working on a quilt, and needed something else to work on for awhile, and the fish panel let me know it was its turn.   I originally was just going to quilt around the fish, add some borders, and that would be it.  Well….. that is NOT what happened.    I looked at it, and looked at it.   Hmmm… I could do some close background quilting using the pebble/bubble motif.   Ooooh… I have some beads (not really ready to start beading embellishing, but I’ve been getting some beads for the day when I’m ready.)… hmmm… maybe I could use some beads to make a lure and hook, then have a fishing line.   Oooh…

So beading I went.  Note to self.   LESSON #1 – Square up the panel/block before beading… hard to lay down rulers on top of beads to get a square cut.    I asked Hubby if I could see a couple of his lures… he’d been fishing with his dad recently, I knew his tackle box would be handy.   Hmmm… okay the bead idea will work for the lures…  ooh… hooks… he doesn’t use the tri-hooks, so I asked if I could have one, and if he could cut the hooks off the shank.  Nope.  So he gave me three older hooks to use.

I poked the hook tip into the fabric, so it looked like the fish had been hooked.  Then beaded the lure on.  Then used some crystal seed beads to represent the fishing line.  Ohh… this looks cool.    Hmmm… maybe a LESSON #2 – Do all quilting before adding bead embellishments… hard to quilt close to the beads… Pop!  Oops… seed beads don’t like to be hit by the sewing machine needle.

Borders.   Hmmm… I decided to use a green, as all three fish had some green in them… but the piece I had was not enough.  What to do… .well there is some yellow… grabbed a scrap (or two), of some yellow/gold fabric, and made some cornerstones.   Put the borders on… hey… I think I’m onto something.

Quilting.  This was so much fun.  I decided to use a high loft polyester batting, I wanted puffy fish.  I stitched around each of the fish.  Then I used a variegated darkblue/blue/white thread for the bubbles/pebbles for the background.  Wow… those fish really popped out.   This is starting to look very cool, if I do say so myself.

Now how to quilt the borders.   “Ah-Ha” moment.  I’ll add some fishing rods, and Shauna suggested having words on it… so Gone Fishing was added to the bottom border.

Top, left and right borders had fishing rods added.   Now how am I going to do this.  I know… remember the “Ah-Ha” moment… I’ll thread paint them.  I used a variegated dark brown/brown/cream thread, this would represent wood… and old wooden fishing rod. I should point out… that I have never thread painted before.  It was soooo much FUN!!!!  LESSON #3 Do thread painting before sandwiching/quilting, otherwise everything gets sucked into the threadpainted area.  In my case the borders are now very very very wonky.  What to do about a reel?

BUTTONS…. I have jars of buttons.  I’ll use them.  After choosing between black and gray I chose to go with brown.  They fit better.

I then used Sharon Schamber’s Binding method (as seen through my Quilting Video page).  I decided I didn’t want to hand stitch the binding, after all, this is a wall-hanging.  So I chose a green/yellow/blue variegated thread to stitch down the binding, using one of the decorative stitches on my sewing machine.

And here is the finished project, with the three new things I tried:  beading embellishment, thread painting, and background quilting.

Thanks for sharing my leap into things unknown.   I challenge you to “think outside the box” on one of your next projects.  Or make a small project to try something new.   You could always give it away *grin*, or make it into a pot holder or something.

Try your hand at bead embellishing, or thread painting, or add some dimension to a quilt by using some close background quilting.  You’ll be amazed at the results.


6 Responses to "Outside the box"

Alice, it’s fantastic. Not just the finished wallhanging and the methods but how you worked through the design process.

I didn’t realise you had thread painted the rods – they look great!

The idea of the hooks, beads, the bubble quilting – marvellous! BTW –
your jars of buttons look terrific displayed on the window ledges.

I think you may have found your groove and a limitless creative outlet. Your quilting/patchwork will never be the same.

Cheers, Ann.

Thanks Ann. I may never be the same… LOL. I keep saying I don’t have a “style”, and I hope I never get one. And I am finding I don’t have “stages” either, you know the “miniatures”, or “stars”, or what have you. As for the rods, I just went for it. Although now, I know… thread paint (with stabilizer), before…. long before quilting! -Alice

It’s great that 3 different methods could come together to great effect.

I looooove the bubble quilting! Did I mention circles are ‘doing it’ for me right now? May have slipped out! 😉

My Mum does a lot of free-motion machine embroidery/thread painting, check out her owls –


Her method is to thread paint onto tulle that’s on an embroidery hoop (put the hoop on ‘back to front’ so to speak, so the fabric can remain flat against the flat bed of the machine). She then carefully cuts around the design and either applies it to a background or becomes a part of the animal or bird.

You’ve done such a great job of the rods it might be worth trying Mums method to expand your skill, or at least developing your own. The possibilities are endless!!

So, what’s next? 😀

Jen :o)

Jen, I love your Mom’s work, those owls are awe inspiring. I think my thread painting will have to develop a lot more, before I tackle something like what your Mom does… but… hmmm… it would give a quilt a three-dimensional spin too. Now look what you’ve gone and done, got my brain working on possibilities again. I am definitely going to have to find some work soon, to put these ideas into play. Thanks for the wonderful comments. I was truly amazed at how this little experiment turned out. -Alice

Your fish and lure is perfect, and the button reel! Too cute.

I love adding 3-D embellishments to my quilting projects (and before that to cross-stitching). One of my faves was using long black fringe for a horse’s mane and tail on a cowboy-themed baby quilt. Everybody kept reaching out to play with the silky “hair”.

Looking forward to seeing your next project(s).

What a wonderful idea! Love the hooks on your gone fishing quilt and the quilting done on it. Great job! 🙂

Hi Alice,
Finally catching up. I LOVE this quilt. It is really creative. I will be going back through all that I have missed. What a wonderful blog you have.

Also thank you for your kindness regarding Deacon.
I know you know the feeling and loss. You kindness truly means a great deal.

Take care,

[…] 2008 EDIT: Rose where did you get that red (Stained Glass Rose Wallhanging) – 12 Mar 20008 EDIT: Gone Fishing – 30 July 2008 EDIT: Summer Porch Comfort – 08 August […]

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