Wall-Sized Paint-By-Number

Sometime around last March or April, I got a crazy idea to paint a giant paint-by-number image on one of the walls of our bedroom. We’d been talking about how that wall was so blank and really needed something. Then we’d been at a friend’s sister’s house and liked the giant vinyl self-adhesive trees that she had on her wall, so I started browsing the internet for something similar and stumbled onto a couple of blog posts where people had done giant paint-by-numbers (see here, here, here, and here). I quickly became obsessed with this idea.

In all my browsing, the best place to find images was at The Paint By Number Museum, but you can also search for paint by numbers on places like Ebay and Etsy, though the images may not be as clear. I quickly realized that if I had to distort or crop the image to fit on the wall, it usually ruined the aesthetics of the image. So, I measured my wall and then looked for images that were similar proportions. I settled on this image:


I debated several options for getting the image on the wall, including using an overhead projector (remember those?) and projecting the image onto the wall directly from my computer. In the end, I couldn’t figure out how to get the image enlarged to wall size with one of those methods. Nor could I figure out how to do it a piece at a time while making sure it was enlarged to exactly wall size. So I opted to go old school.


I got out the tracing paper from one of my art classes, converted the image slightly to make sure it was the same proportions as my wall, and then traced it using a light box (you can do this on a window as well). Then I created a grid on another sheet of tracing paper marked off so that every box would be a square foot on my wall, except for the bottom and right edges. I then overlaid this onto my tracing. I did this on separate page so I wouldn’t get confused about which lines were grid versus the drawing.


Then I needed to transfer it to the wall. I marked off the ends of the grid lines along the four sides of my wall. Then I used black thread and taped it at the ends to create the grid lines. This way I could remove the grid lines after the drawing was transferred and I wouldn’t get confused about what the drawing areas were.


I then drew the traced image freehand onto the wall by consulting my tracing. I recommend a really hard pencil, because it will leave thin, light lines. Again, I had a nice 2H pencil and kneaded eraser hanging around from an art class.


It was basically impossible to get a picture of the wall with the image drawn on it. It just didn’t show up. But here’s a close up of a little section:


Now it was time to sort out how many colors the picture had and what colors I would need. I started by scanning my tracing and printing a copy on white paper. I then sat down with a big set of colored pencils and started coloring in all the different colors, one color at a time, making sure I got every section. I didn’t aim to to be accurate in the colors I was using — I was more interested in being able to tell them apart later. Here’s the end result with what turned out to be 17 colors.


I thought it would be too hard to work off this dense image, and I didn’t want to label the sections on the wall with the numbers. I was afraid that not all the colors would cover the numbers well. So, I divided the colors up onto six separate print-outs of the tracing to make them easier to see.


Time to choose paints! Based on my calculations, one of these 7.5 ounce test-size containers would give me more than enough total paint. The question remained whether for the colors with more surface area if I would have enough. Turns out I did! I got the eggshell, which has a nice bit of sheen, but not too much.


Choosing paint colors was kind of tedious. I went to the Home Depot and picked up a few (ahem) paint chips.


I compared these to the print out of the image that I had, and picked colors. Here are my final picks.


And here’s the full set of paints!


Some of the info I had seen indicated that people used sponge brushes to put the paint on the walls. I tried this, and it really was awful. It could be because our walls are kind of textured. But whatever the reason, I went with brushes.


I used the two that are second and third from the left for a while until I pretty much destroyed them (those bristles are totally splayed out!). These are all cheap brushes, again from some general purpose set of brushes from some art class. Nothing special. After I killed those, I moved on to the two next to them. Occasionally I needed to paint large sections and I swished the next to last brush. In one tiny section I used the little brush on the right, but I tried not to be that picky about it most of the time.

I used disposable plastic cups for the paint and paper plates for putting my brushes on.



In the end I put two coats of paint on everything, and three coats on the two yellowish greens at the bottom of the second column in the photo above. They covered really poorly.


I estimate that the painting along took me about 60 hours, plus all the hours I spent figuring out the best way to approach each step of the project.


I found the painting very meditating to do — a total surprise to me, since knitting and sewing usually involve lots of cursing.

And here’s the final result!


And just for fun, I created this animation of all the photos I took along the way.


Bits and Pieces Quilt

Around November I started looking at all of my stuff and thinking that I either needed to “use it or lose it.” That was the beginning of what has turned into a fairly massive clearing out of everything around the house, including my scraps.

I had a pile of scraps that I had saved from trimming up the blocks in my Not So Straight and Narrow Quilts – both the queen-sized one that I had hand quilted (read about this quilt here, here, here, and here) and the throw size (still for sale!) that I made for the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles’ museum shop.

I always thought these scraps were fun and wanted to make something from them, so I thought, “Now’s the time!” So, I started piecing them together. I gave you a sneak peek of this project back on December 1!

Bits and Pieces - blocks in progress

I tried various things, but opted for alternating solid strips with strips that contained little bits of other fabrics.

I ended up with four blocks and then needed to decide if I wanted to shove them all together, or add sashing so I could make a larger quilt, keeping in mind that I wanted this quilt to come entirely from stuff I had lying around. I tried solid sashing – this was the only solid that went that I had enough of.

Bits and Pieces Quilt - testing green sashing

And I tried print sashing, since the blocks were mostly solids.

Bits and Pieces Quilt - testing print sashing

And in the end, I opted to just smoosh them together and make a smaller quilt.

Bits and Pieces - finished quilt top

I’d had some thoughts on how I would like it to be quilted, and realized that not only would it be easier to execute if hand quilted, but that this quilt was actually small enough that such a thing would be feasible.

Bits and Pieces Tan Section

So, I hand quilted.

Bits and Pieces Yellow Section

Bits and Pieces Green Section

Bits and Pieces Gray section

I tried out the idea of pieced binding in an effort to use more of my little scraps, but it just wasn’t working for me.

Bits and Pieces Quilt - Testing pieced binding

I ended up with a solid binding, and I’m really happy with how it turned out!

Bits and Pieces Quilt

And just so you can see how big it is, here it is hanging over our loveseat (fyi – it’s stuck on the wall temporarily with double-sided tape! Kept falling off while I was trying to take the pictures!).

Bits and Pieces Quilt

Not bad, for coming entirely from my stash (including the backing, the binding, and the batting!).

Since I finished the Bits and Pieces quilt I’ve been working on a second scrap/stash quilt – this one made from scraps from my Greek To Me quilt – for which I have the top and the backing assembled, and I’m currently pondering how I want to quilt it before I baste it together. There’s always something else in progress around here.

And the cleaning out progress has been pretty impressive. I managed to whittle my scraps down to probably 1/10 their original amount. I literally wanted to cry when I saw some of the really sad bits I had kept. I do not want to show up on some hoarders show one day!

Blue Skies Quilt

Blue Skies Stash Quilt

It’s hard to believe, but this quilt is already finished!!

I really had fun putting this one together. I swear that when it’s fun, it always turns out well. And it was even more fun because I just went with my gut on things and didn’t over think the fabric arrangements or the quilting or anything. It ended up being about 46″ x 56″.

This is one of my favorite little sections of piecing.

Blue Skies Stash Quilt - Detail

But really, I love the whole thing.

Blue Skies Stash Quilt - Detail

As I mentioned before, I would have gone with some wacky color backing, or at least wacky color binding, if this had been for me. But since it’s a gift, I went with options I thought the giftee would like better. I lucked out in finding enough already-made gray binding in my stash to bind this quilt. Like, exactly enough.

Blue Skies Stash Quilt

The quilting is much more obvious on the solid back.

Blue Skies Stash Quilt - Back

I really love the variations in the quilting. Some of it is lines, some of it is square spirals (if that makes sense), and some of it is concentric triangles. And I opted for different densities of quilting in the different sections. Some sections are really close and some are 3 or 4 inches apart, and in some cases I varied the width within the section. It made it much more fun to do!

I even managed to get the label made and put on. That’s my least favorite part!

Blue Skies Stash Quilt

I found it really fun to give myself the challenge of making this only from what I had and making the pieces work together somehow, while making it as big as I could. In fact, I really am liking the idea of trying this out with other colors from my stash. Maybe a red one, or a red and green for Christmas? The wheels are turning, but I still have one more Christmas gift to make first!

Ultimate Stash Quilt

I love it when a plan comes together. – Hannibal Smith, “The A Team”

I was hoping to make a certain person on my gift list a throw quilt this year, so when I was digging through my stash recently trying to find fabrics to make farmer’s market bags, I pulled out all the blue and white fabrics I could find. Blue is the perfect color for this person, and I was hoping I could find enough to make a throw quilt for her.

Stash Quilt - checking how big I can get it

I laid all the pieces out in a rectangle-ish shape and decided that if I didn’t chop them up too much, I would have enough to make a throw. So, once I finished the farmer’s market bags (and a hat sample I was knitting for the shop), I started in on this quilt, and I am really excited about it!

Stash Quilt - Laying it out

My goal was to make it as big as possible, but for it to still be pleasant to look at and not just a complete mess. I ironed everything and arranged it on the wall and then started and sewing and rearranging as necessary. This was a really fun way to work. Sort of a plan, sort of just winging it. And I’m really happy with how it turned out!

Stash Quilt - Finished top

Here’s the finished top laid out on the backing. Early indications were that it was going to be maybe 47″ x 57″, but it will likely lose a couple of inches in trimming and quilting. If it were for me, I would do the back and the binding in some totally different color, but I’m trying to think of the giftee here, so I went with just a solid blue (can’t remember which Kona cotton color this is).

But I did make some pretty complicated quilting plans.

Stash Quilt - planning the quilting

I wanted to do something a little more complicated, since the quilt itself is fairly simple. This is just a rough idea. I definitely opted for winging the quilting a bit as well.

Which I can say, because I managed to finish this quilt on Tuesday! The binding was hand sewn to the back, the label made and attached, and the quilt washed (to remove the water-erasable marker I used during quilting). I should have some finished photos of this quilt for you soon. I didn’t actually think I would have it done before I got up the “in progress” post about it!

At long last…Crochet!

I dug around my blog looking for the post where I told you that my single solitary New Year’s Resolution for 2011 was to crochet. And I couldn’t find it anywhere. So strange. I really thought I’d blogged about that.

At any rate, my coworker Gail and I cooked up a plan in the spring for her to teach me to crochet some time when we were both working in the shop and it was really quiet. Then months went by, and we never had a chance to do it.

Fast forward to last Thursday. Gail and I found ourselves hanging about the shop without any customers. And we suddenly realized it was the chance we had been waiting for!!

Behold, a tiny crochet sampler, done by yours truly.

A chain, followed by one row each of single crochet, half double crochet, double crochet, triple crochet, and then a bunch (or whatever you call that!). And after I finished that, she showed me how to do a little square.

My First Crochet!

I was so excited that the next day at work when it was Gail and I again, I picked up a crochet stitch dictionary and selected the Saturn Motif to try.

Crocheted Saturn Motif

Watch out, world! I’m on a roll!

P.S. Reminder about the Secret Garden Fabric giveaway that ends on Wednesday!

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