The Finish Line

The Walkability Map is nearly done, but resting. The legend and a major message of the map, “We Can Walk There,” became a “border.” For portability, I elected to make it quilt-like; the sandwich is assembled and quilted (just enough to hold the layers together). Still to do is a label, possibly a cartouche with the name of the town, and a binding. Since I wasn’t sure about some of those, this seemed like a good place to stop. Generally I like to come close to the finish, put the piece aside, and later pull it out and reflect on it. Sometimes you see or think of something later that was not apparent before. As long as you are not fast approaching a deadline, I think this waiting period is worth doing.


One of the bonuses of a big city is a big city library; in the Toronto Public Library there were SIX copies of a book highlighted by Mary Veenman: How to Make Hand-drawn Maps by Helen Cann. This book is a rich source of ideas and examples about map making. The author will often cite the work of someone else in discussing a particular kind of map but then show her own work as an example of that type. And Cann’s work is beautiful.

Because the holidays and some traveling are coming up, I will sign off until mid-January. It will be time to finish the walkability map and to continue working on the music piece. Happy times to all in the weeks ahead!

Little Things Mean a Lot

I’m not done with the walkability map! At the end of last week, I embroidered the legend and cartouche for the map which not only looked out of scale (the town name) but also amateurish and inconsistent with the mosaic approach.

After some experimentation with mosaic lettering (and deciding to leave that to the Romans), I decided to incorporate the legend in the border, typing the lettering on the computer and printing on Jacquard fabric. I’ve been fooling around with inner and outer borders. What finally seemed “right” required changes in width and fabric selection that were very subtle. And it takes a surprising amount of time to get there!

Meanwhile, my nephew okayed the layout of the music for another project. And I have been assembling the fabrics for the background–still more to acquire.

Having selected the photos for the BC landscape, I would like to sort out the composition and paint the background before we leave for SC. That way, there is clear direction when I sit down to work on it in January.

Goal for the week still is: Finish the walkability map!

My thanks to Larry Shackleton in Pickering for his diagnosis and treatment of my main machine! Thank heavens for warranties!

Small progress

“Not forging ahead rapidly” would be another way of saying it. I spent much of Wednesday getting my machine to the shop (with Gil asking, “Isn’t there any place in the CITY to take it?”). Larry changed the board (thankfully under warranty) while I shopped for fabric at a couple of nearby places! Gotta use your time wisely!

With the machine performing well, I have tested the legend and title for the walkability map; the design, machine lettering, and spacing has been determined. Determined does not mean easy! I will be sewing out the designs separately from the body of the map and then appliqueing it, trying to push all the right “buttons” as well as to keep breathing.

The shopping was directed at finding the fabrics needed for the rainbow background for the music piece. Yesterday, after a couple of tries, I settle on the shape of the pieces for the background. The arrary will require three colours per section which means more shopping is required! The stencil for the notes is waiting in SC so most of the work will happen there.

P.S. Saw the Anthropocene show at the AGO this week. These photos are stunning! And the message is powerful. Jennifer Baichwal is quoted, “The Anthropocene Project is a culmination of all the conversations we have ever had about art’s capacity to provoke change, as well as the merits and drawbacks of doing this experientially: to not preach, harangue or blame, but to witness, and in that witnessing, try to shift consciousness.” We can employ this approach in our textile work, including the maps!

Goals for the week

1. Complete the walkability map so that I can share with group in London next Thursday.

2. Send my nephew the music score to be sure that it is correctly spaced.

3. Look through the photos from BC to compose the next landscape.

Hit Pause

Forward motion on The Walkability Map has ceased as there is some gremlin in my sewing machine which prevents me from completing the legend. The only thing to do after the legend is maybe a border and/or neat lines which will set off the rest. I was thrilled to find out today that the theme of Quilts on the Creek, July 27, Black Creek Pioneer Village is “Map Your World!” And Valerie Goodwin is doing a workshop! Interested? See

Having completed a mock up of the music quilt, I am experimenting to figure out how to do it! Specifically how to make the notes. The bulbs are about 1/2” thick; with the stems, the notes measure about 1 1/2- 1 3/4” tall. Some ideas:

-appliqué—Having cut out cardboard notes this morning, I can’t imagine cutting these out of fabric unless it is non-woven interfacing. Maybe it would be easier with wonder under complete with paper on the back? Again, the size could be challenging for reverse appliqué.

-stamped—Am looking to see if the dollar store nearby has some fun foam to try this out. Stamps online are generally too small or there is not enough variety.

-stencil—this is possible but could be extremely tedious with the amount there is to do.

-transfer—not quite sure how to do this. Got some good prints from material on the internet.

-couched string/yarn. It is messy looking, but maybe if an embellishing machine is used to push it into fabric…

-sketched with sewing machine—also, messy looking

-use built-in embroidery patterns on the sewing machine. Picture stitching half a circle, leaving the needle in at the end, turning the fabric and stitching the other half. To get the parts to match it is essential not to put any resistance on the fabric at all. NONE. I have had wonderful support from the Bernina educator in Canada about how best to achieve the desired results.

-stitch outline and then paint it, or vice versa.

I would welcome other ideas!

Went to a SAQA pod meeting this morning and it was a wowser!

Goals for the week:

1. Keep experimenting on the notes.

2. Get the sewing machine fixed.

Moving on and Singing a Song

Progress report on Mt. Pleasant walkability map: The mosaic is finished. The marshy areas are indicated with a randomly placed machine embroidered stitch. Yet to be sewn is a motif for the golf course (good idea from classmates at Canadian Embroiderers Guild) and the bias circle around the highlighted area. I am working on design of the legend, will prepare it separately, and appliqué it.

Do Re Mi quilt: The mock up of the melody line is complete, measuring almost 13’. Thus far, I have been using music and lyrics available on the web but have noted discrepancies in the musical notation and spelling of the lyrics (“dear” not “deer” for example); in future I will be using published versions of the song in books from the library! I have sought expert advice on musical notation from our film-score writing nephew; doubtless he will be amused at the simplicity of my questions!

Meanwhile I have been on the hunt for ways and means of making the notes on fabric: Stamps, appliqué, embroidery. There are surprisingly few resources for any of those techniques; size and flexibility of use are the two main issues with any approach; many of the motifs are a cluster for decorative purposes. AccuQuilt has a die that yields the right size notes and I have a friend who has the GO cutter; maybe I could twist her arm to use the machine and add to her die collection? Last night I experimented with some built in embroidery motifs which might do the trick; the bulb of the notes would be comprised of back to back satin stitched crescents yielding a blob about 18mm deep. I am wondering why these motifs do not end up the same size, whether you sew in two directions or in one by mirror imaging.

Goals for the week:

1. Complete the walkability map except for applying it to batting (which I will do when it gets to SC).

2. Check the lyrics and music of the mock up against published versions of “Do Re Mi”. Make a mock up for lyrics embedded in the staff (Note: Technically this contravenes the definition of a moebius loop as words are uni-directional).


Still working on walkability map in order to have reasonable progress when I go to CEG, London tomorrow. One question is how to complete certain areas outside the focus and I hope to get some ideas on that. The mosaic bits are being fastened down with Aleene’s Tacky Glue (look for the bottle with the lid the same size of the bottle so that the glue can be stored point down); I do not anticipate sewing these pieces down.

Book: Freestyle Machine Embroidery: Techniques and Inspiration for Fiber Art by Carol Shinn, Interweave Press.

The book was published in 2009 but is new to me. Shinn covers the mechanics of free machine embroidery very clearly, probably better than anyone since a little book by D.J. Bennett. It seems that Shinn’s main interest is in creating fabric from heavy stitching on wash away stabilizer, blending threads to create “new colours.” She renders portraits using this technique, among other things. The discussion of combining threads is informative. For me, the best part of the book is the gallery of work by various artists, many of whom have taught at CEG. This collection is a rich source of ideas.

Goals for the coming week

1. Continue work on walkability map if necessary.

2. Trials of approaches to music notes

Proof of Concept

So with many trials and much tribulation, I finally printed out the sketches on poplin and affixed them to the strip map using Wonder Under. The bond does not seem particularly secure—maybe because of acrylic paint on the surface (there in an attempt to enhance the picture with the organza print outs) or the course nature of the canvas? Because I had no black bias tape and considering the overall quality of this effort, I finished the edge with satin stitching (using the Bernina 2A overedge foot). Call this product proof of concept! Overall, I would say that this needs more pictures or needs to be shorter. There is a long length comprised of mountains without particular features (just like the drive itself).

As I mentioned before, I have had great difficulty in printing out these sketches at the right size—and in this case, with enough intensity, even with printer set at max. It did help to create a “canvas” of the intended size to draw on; the canvas expands to the full screen of the tablet which makes drawing easy. Getting the right size pen tip isn’t quite so obvious. More experimentation required!! Another snafu was that I couldn’t print out the sketches on one page except by cutting and pasting to create one page. The directions on how to print things on one page on the Mac just didn’t work. Maybe somebody with a Mac knows how to do this?

Moving on, I have sketched the full walkability map and am working on the target area. Have assembled gray fabrics to surround that area. Google maps will help identify areas with houses and areas with businesses. My goal will be to have finished placing the”mosaics” by the time of the CEG field trip to the library at Western.

Meanwhile, a couple of things going on in the background: The bathroom reno is nearly complete (not a moment too soon) and the wall is in need of a picture! And—ta da—formal permission came through on use of the Do Re Me Song for another piece! I am astounded to have heard from the agency; writing the second request, I mentioned that the show to which I intend to submit this requires that copyright not be an issue. Maybe that got their attention? Now I just have to figure out how to do what I have in mind!

Goals for the week:

1. Work on walkability map.

2. Try a layout of Do Re Me project on paper.

3. Look at pictures from BC trip for possible wall “mural.”

More and More Maps

The Flood Map (“Formerly Marsh, now Streets that Flood”)

After the map class last week, I thought I would review the process for making my flood map of Charleston which I did earlier this year. I made NO notes about transferring the street grid! I remember transferring the grid to freezer paper at the window—and doing it right and wrong sides up (originally for another project), but have little recollection of transferring it to the cloth! I believe that I worked on the window with the pattern underneath, marking the major streets. After placing the major streets, I filled in the lesser streets “freehand” while consulting the printed map. I could be making that up!

The street lines are fabric with Wonder Under beneath. The brown streets were cut using a serger with needles removed; in order to help guide the fabric, I created a “fence” from a old credit card taped to the right hand side of the machine bed in front of the cutting blade. The orange streets were cut with pinking shears. (The bridges were added later.). After pressing the streets into place, the streets were sewn down using twin needles which made short and very neat work of that (Mary V., you might be able to use this approach as well.)

Two layers of batting were added underneath, then three layers of netting around the edge of the peninsula. After sewing the netting down, I trimmed out the batting away from the central portion of the peninsula to achieve some relief of that center section (higher than sea level).

The compass rose was constructed on a teflon sheet before applying (strategically to distract from the fact that the ocean had to be pieced). The neat lines were cut on the serger, as above. Neither element is stitched down (It just seemed too dicey.).

The whole piece was applied to canvas (like a gonfolon) to insure that it hung flat (yet to be tested). The edges were finished with satin stitch using a foot that has a prong over which the right hand zig is sewn (Bernina Foot 2); this foot keeps the edge from distorting. My plan was to make 2 passes, but only did one even though the coverage was not 100%; I thought a second pass was pushing my luck!

Every step of this project had me holding my breath, particularly because I had no surplus fabric! I was so glad to finish, and then so disappointed to find out that the show I expected to submit for was not happening:(

Progress on the strip map

I have redrawn and re-sized the sketches. I found that I have only Extravorganza and TAP so thought I would try the latter. The images didn’t transfer, so am now awaiting a delivery from Amazon.

Do you have preferences of brands for printer-ready fabric?

Walkability map

The plan is to create a rectangular map with a circle showing a mile radius from our home. I have been experimenting to determine what is the most effective colouring for the mosaic. Follow my progress from bottom left counterclockwise. To begin with, I used a number of greens of different shades to indicate the tree canopy, but this is another case of color value being more important than hue. When I compressed the value of the greens, the buildings stood out better. Now I’m working on how to show the area outside the mile radius. Applying gray tulle is OK but could be challenging to create a border round the circle. Next up is using all grays.

Goals for the week:

1. Finish the strip map.

2. Try the mosaic in grays.

3. Try contacting the copyright holder of the Do-Re-Mi song again.

Not Quite through the Journey

Having darkened the lines of the sketches, I printed them out on Extravorganza and applied to spots on the map that had been painted with a 1:3 dilution of acrylic paint to fabric medium. I adhered the pieces of organza with white glue; the organza virtually disappears. And so do the sketches! You will wonder what those lines were like BEFORE I made them heavier! I may mess around with the sketches and see whether I can improve them, then print and paste over what is there. On this small scale, it is difficult (for me, anyway) to get a bold enough look with enough detail for the pictures to be “read.” I think that a binding would be good on this—maybe black?

I didn’t get to trying the musical notes this week as I started working on a sample for another map! This time, a map on the walkability of our neighbourhood in Mt. Pleasant, SC. I would like to make it using a mosaic technique.

Goals for the week:

1. Finish a sample to try colours for the mosaic.

2. Apply binding to the strip map.

3. Make another stab at the sketches for the strip map.


New book: Layered Cloth: The Art of Fabric Manipulation by Ann Small

Published in 2017, this book. This book was highlighted in the Sept., 2018 issue of Quilting Arts magazine; happily, the book was available through the Toronto Public Library. Seeing the title, I didn’t expect much as it seemed to me that Colette Wolf had already written the bible of fabric manipulation. What Small has done is to push techniques further.

She starts with layering (sewing channels across 5-7 layers fabric, cutting through the channels, and forcing the fabric to “bloom”). Small uses this technique to create landscapes by changing (1) the colours in the stack as well as applying small pieces to the top of the stack, and (2) the direction or nature of the stitching. She also cuts through part of a grid structure to create open work.

Two other very interesting techniques she details are trapunto used with layered fabrics on the top and kantha stitching to create texture. While overall, the book does not seem totally coherent as to topics, Small does some very interesting things. Be sure to look at her fish kimono.

Progress on Strip Map

Strip maps are an ancient way of describing a route by showing key features of the landscape on a long piece of hide or fabric. Medieval strips maps showed things like groups of trees, mountains, churches, villages, streams, etc. Modern day versions show the numbered roads with exits and mileage; examples include the AAA Triptik and routes from Google. My version will show the general road direction with sketches of key places appropriately situated. I have drawn then sewn on a canvas strip the route from Toronto to Charleston, S.C. based on directions in Google maps (thankfully, we are no longer driving it!). I have painted scenery using Jacquard Dye-Na-Flow. The medieval maps had primitive pictures; I think that my scenery meets that criterion.

Using an app for iPad called Procreate with an Apple Pencil, I am sketching those locations on a custom size “canvas” 2.5X2.5” that I hope will be small enough for my purpose. With the Möbius map, I had a lot of trouble getting the sketches scaled down appropriately (I was using a different app, using a canvas the size of the iPad, and reducing the pictures to about 1.25X1.25”.). From the trials I’ve done, the size looks more or less on; what is not right is the weight of the lines for the sketches. Procreate uses layers so that I can draw over the lines on a different layer and not have to start all over. (Whew.).

Goals for the week (may be ambitious considering the havoc of a home reno going on here as well as gorgeous weather)

– Finish the sketches for the map.

– Start trials of how to create musical notes about 1” tall. Anybody out there ever done this? There was a quilt in Burlington for the recent SAQA show where the music must have been silk screened. I would think about appliqué, either on top or reverse.

– Keep looking for a place to make thermofax screens.