Sunday, August 26, 2012

UFO #1 - Eagle and her Story

(UFO means UnFinished Objects)

31 August, 19:16 (7:16PM) UPDATE
I finished the top!  Here is the Eagle in all her glory.  She is on my unfinished basement floor.  She measures  39.25 " tall and 66.5" wide.  I have never had a wall hanging close to this size, and would love some advice. Will a normal tube pocket do?  I have curtain weights I can baste on the back when its complete to make the lower corners hang right, if needed.  Has anyone used that idea before?

Here is how that fancy cutting of the striped fabric turned out in the border, with mitered corners.  See my Video Library post for the link to learn how to do this.

To see the story of this project from the beginning see below.

Sincerely satisfied for this weeks progress,

The Beginning

My monster project in the works, and a UFO since 2004.  My husband was in the hospital for several days in ICU, and with a one year old at home I needed a stress outlet.  My vision was an Eagle wall hanging with our name held in talons, over a wide fireplace or couch.  So I taped a bunch of paper together and started by drawing out templates for the wings, and then worked my way into layering on the head and body after the two wings were complete.  The issue I did not foresee was needing blue sky on the top and bottom on my wing strips as I cut them out in the wedges I needed to form the wings.  This became a bigger problem later when I had the body and head on, and then had the question...  "How to do I get to the edge to make a border???  OOPS.   So here my eagle is, not yet ready to fly.  At least the cross stitch is done,  now how do I attach it??

I have the top sky squared off now, so that challenge is done.  Now I need help with attaching the cross stitch and making triangle talons look good on those stumpy legs, and finding my bottom edge by using "Y" seams for those missing sky pieces.   

Piecing in Peace and Freedom,

28 August, 10:00 UPDATE
After 48 hours of great feedback and ideas I've taken on the task of getting this Eagle cleaned up and ready for applique on an already squared off background.  I also drew out Elita's idea of (what I would call) basket weaving loops from the Big Eagle to the Name Quilt, using loops and dowel rod.   I am not sure if I will use the idea, but thought it intriguing enough to draw out and will definitely ponder on it while I get the Eagle appliqued..  What do you think?

option 1.  inset the name into the bottom portion of the quilt
option 2.  basket weave loops and hang the Name from the Eagle

Here the Eagle is as of 10:00 CST, head and shoulders now free of sky. 

28 August, 13:00 (1:00 PM) UPDATE
My Eagle is free of the sky mess!!  I would like to never seam rip like that again.  Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.  Or in this case, a corner I didn't want to sew my way out of.  Taking a break to fold laundry I was looking around and noticed the picture of Mt. McKinley in Denali National Park in Alaska.  We were stationed there for two years, and this picture is a favorite of ours and always hangs in the living room.  So, hopefully, will the Eagle when it is finished.  So taking inspiration from the matting and frame, and pulling from my stash here is what I came up with...

I pulled out a light creamy gold for the background, a striped fabric that has golds and metallic glints through out with a black edge to mimic the black framing and gold matting effect.  I'm playing with the idea of trying to embroider the Name on the gold fabric. Then the cross stitch with an added "established" year would stand alone in a frame somewhere else.

Originally I was going to add a black button for the eyeball.  Here is a closeup of head detail, sans button.

A better picture of the striped fabric that cut right would make a great border I think.  STILL have to figure out the feet and talons.  

Struggling, but moving forward

28 August, 12:00 PM UPDATE
Happy Hump Day - Wednesday!  The Eagle is coming along nicely.  I measured and cut out the gold background fabric.  I found the time after the kids were in bed to iron and fussy cut out the borders, which will be mitered.  When cutting stripes to use as borders, iron with those stripes straight - use a long ruler if need be to get the wiggles out.  It will make lining up your ruler for cutting a lot easier later.  Oh, and remember to add your 1/4 inch seam allowance on both sides for attaching to middle and for sewing on binding! 

Here is a close up of those 1/4 inch seam allowances, and the black and light cream border.

 I looked at a bunch of Eagle talon pictures online, and have a basic understanding of how I am going to construct the puffy talons.  I watched several you tubes on stuffing appliques and I have my steps written down for the order of fusing, etc.  Fingers crossed.  I do have extra fabric, but plan on trying a sample with scraps first! 

I ironed fusible webbing to thin cotton batting, then fused that to the wrong side of the talons gold fabric.  I need one more layer of fusing, between the bottom side of batting and the center of the quilt.  I cut an extended leg "tab" in the gold fabric when I trimmed the talons from the gold.  This will slide under the pieced legs and help the transition from puffy to pieced.  I hope!

And finally I cut out a smaller border for the EMBROIDERED Name!!  I designed the embroidery and then challenged my daughter to get her spelling homework done before the machine finished the 10,000+ stitches.  My girl is good, she did it (I never had a doubt)! I matched the background fabric and I think it looks better than the cross stitch for this project.  I'll miter these corners too, and then fuse it to background under talons.

Excited about what I can get done before next Sundays update on Leah Days, UFO project at

Its so freeing to have a plan again!

31 August, 13:48 (1:48) PM UPDATE
I thought I should share my progress.  It is sometimes a lot of work for little impact, and that can sometimes be frustrating, especially when the kids comment "It looks the same, what did you do?"  Having a list of the tasks and putting a big check mark in that box can help with the ho-hum things. 

[x]  Mitered corners on border, on the name

[x]  Studied tail (see above photos), and realized after looking at Eagle photos that I was missing the rest of the fan of tail feathers!!  Pulled out box of material from the project and ironed, measured, sewed and fused NEW tail feather fan - in three pieces, see below photo.

[x]  Fused Eagle and her new tail feathers, and name block

[x]  Satin stitched out side edge of all pieces, and then outlined the blue center body.  This took a trip to the store to get more thread ( new machine, new upgraded thread).  Added navy blue, gold, burgandy and red to my thread colors.  First purchase of thread I stuck with the basics: black, white and a medium tan/beige.  I also have two variegated threads, one an "autumn", and one a "christmas" to play with on later projects.

I also found a few You-tube videos that helped, and in future posts I will remember to write them down so I can include them!

Things I learned:

The new thing I learned, after watching several videos: when satin stitching, start with a straight stitch to anchor the thread, and end with straight stitch to the side (moving fabric to line up with new needle position).  Fixed my loose threads at both ends!  Yes!

Next?  Borders!  Add batting and backing and then auditioning quilting designs...

Crossing things off the list,


  1. Hi Laura, what if you sewed binding all around your aida cloth, making it effectively into a finished sign. It could then be sewn (using the seam where the binding meets aida) to the larger piece, and perhaps you can applique talons over the top of that to make it look like the eagle is carrying the sign. If you use a little batting, or possibly felt, behind the talon applique, they might look "beefier." Good luck!

  2. Thank you Karen, that is a great idea. I voted on your page which border I liked, and added an idea as well. I'll see if I can get the binding on the cross stitch and work on the bottom "Y" seams for finishing out the sky.

    1. Thanks for your advice, too! I have a lot of good ideas to think about with regard to my borders. I am looking forward to seeing how you finish your quilt, too. I think the "right" way to finish it is simply the way you like the best--that guarantees it really is your style.

  3. The fabric in your first pictures at the top is to die for. It is absolutely beautiful. I am sure your finished project will be beautiful. Can't wait to see the final result.

  4. You could always paint in the blue as Leah showed us how a couple of weeks ago. This prject is worthy of a finish:) Can't wait to see it!

  5. Wow! This is one tricky UFO! Personally I'd do this: carefully cut out the eagle and applique it to a new sky / blue background with the cross stitch pieced in place. Just because something was mostly pieced does not mean it must be completed that way. I hope that makes sense!


    1. Emma, this fabric was purchased in 2010-2011, and I looked on the web at for pattern 5633 (info was on the selvage) but I wasn't able to find it. Thank you for the encouragement.

      Danielle, thank you for the idea, I have been trying to inhale Leah Days blog and website, and you tubes, in the last 4 days since finding her. I haven't watched the painting video yet.

      Leah, I realized today as I was ruffling through my fabrics for this quilt that I don't have enough to finish the sky without going to a new fabric - sky fabric selvage is dated 2003. I haven't tried applique, so I'll be looking at more youtube videos! Starting with a squared off background definitely appeals at this point.

      Sincerely serious about moving this project off the UFO list,

  6. I'm with Leah on the applique solution, less stressful solution to my thinking. I also love Karen's idea about padding out the claws over the name, great idea.

  7. Hi Laura,

    I was thinking that perhaps you could finish the talons more like loops, inserting a small dowel rod through them, and then have the name sign backed & hanging from loops as well that would go on the rod. A bit like hanging a curtain from two different directions! lol Could be interesting though.

  8. Hi again,

    I realised my previous suggestion might not make sense. I was thinking further along the lines of what Leah suggested, with the area above the eagle appliqued onto a blue background butleaving the bottom part left just turned under & backed. A bit like finishing off a table topper. This way you could insert a rod at the top with ease & the bottom rod would keep it weighted & help stop the turning up of the ends.

    1. Elita, you have me intrigued. I updated this post so I could add a sketch of your idea, let me know if this matches your vision...

  9. Wow, it looks great Laura! I think a normal rod pocket would work fine for this. If you want to hang it without seeing the mechanism (rod, string), make the rod pocket a little shorter then the quilt width and use a nail on either end of the rod. Here's an idea to make it hang straight: you could put a narrow rod pocket along the bottom and slip a dowel rod (or two since this is wide) in it.

  10. Karen, thank you! I've never hung anything close to this size before. Only, small door hangers, and such. And mostly temporarily, for specific seasons. This is one I see as more permanent. I like the dowel rod idea. Now I'm teasing myself with the idea of trapunto - looked at Leahs goddess video and fell in love with the idea for behind the eagle - sun rays?? or clouds? or both? More to figure out. But I need a smaller beginner project to try the technique on first. I feel like I need more technique practice. The last thing I want to do is mess it up or rush.

  11. Wow Laura, you did a great job with your eagle It turned out nice and I like your mitered corners. Karens Idea for the rod pocket is a great one. I have used this method when hanging curtains and it worked well.