Friday, July 24, 2015

The Making of a Magazine Cover: Modern Quilts Unlimited Summer 2015

Who me?  A cover girl?  No way!!!

But it happened, and I am thrilled beyond measure.  Here is the story....

"Crazy Dresdens" began last fall, when I wanted to have some blocks to demo on in the Wonderfil booth at Quilt Market.  They make such superb threads.  I especially love their #12, Spagetti, for combining machine and hand stitching.  Their #8 rayon threads, Razzle and Dazzle, are great for adding extra handwork with lots of glimmery style.

I loved getting to know the Wonderfil folks as I demo-ed in their booth, and learned a tremendous amount from them. 
Because I would be showing how you can use their thread in both the machine and with handwork, I had to have some blocks ready.

Here are some of the blocks up on my design wall.  I assembled the Dresdens onto plain backgrounds using trims in between the blades.  This is a super cheater way to make Dresdens and you know me, I am not a piecer!
My goal was to include some crazy quilt elements--decorated seams, "random" selection of stitches, threads, and colors (though nothing is really random in my world)--but keep a fresh and simple affect and lay-out.

Here's a detail of a mostly stitched up block.

That line of stitching that looks like quilting is actually a running stitch.  I machine quilted on either side of it later in invisible thread to make it pop up.

Before I put the centers on the Dresdens and in the sashing, I had to do some practice to get my tension right and stitch length where I wanted it.

But once I was in business, away I went!

You can't imagine how much I enjoyed this.  Having an AccuQuilt Go circle die added to my enjoyment, believe me.

I chose a wool batting for it because A) I wanted this to be a warm couch quilt and I love how wool batting just radiates a nice warm glow and B) I wanted the quilting to be very dimensional, to show off that handstitching.

Basting away with pins here.
My Sweet Sixteen made the quilting really enjoyable too.  What a blessing it is to have great tools.

That backing fabric is pretty perfect, too, isn't it?

Here's a quilting detail.

There may be too much "open space" for today's quilting trends...but I wanted this quilt warm, and that means I needed air inside the layers to warm up when the quilt is draped over my snuggling body on the couch on a chilly winter's day.  Plus, the quilt didn't need it a ton of quilting, design-wise.

To see how the rick rack binding was done, you will have to buy the magazine! ;-)

It goes on sale August 1st.  Subscribers will be receiving their copies this coming week.

My thanks to Carol Zentgraf, my editor, and Vicki Case Anderson, the owner of Meander Publishing, for giving me the opportunity to write for them.  I loved every second of this project.


Well, obviously I haven't blogged in awhile.  I am working full bore on my book for C & T, and it is Top Secret!  All I can say is it is not crazy quilting!
It is very hard for me not to share my work, but I want you to know that I am fully documenting everything as I go, and will have an extensive "behind the scenes" look, like this blog post, after the book comes out. 

Meanwhile, I am posting away on Facebook under Allison Aller--friend me!  And I'm on Instagram too, under alliealler.  Lots of garden posts these days... 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Some News! and a Garden Tour

I have been busy for the last 4 months preparing and then submitting a book proposal to C & T Publishing for my third book with them.  It is with great joy that I can report that the proposal has been accepted!

This is why I have posted almost no work since the beginning of the year, and why I will also have to keep what I'm sewing on under wraps for the rest of this year too.  I hate that part, not being able to share what's happening!  But the book is not what you might be expecting, and therefore risky...and that really adds to the fun for me.  So it will be a surprise.

But when I am not working on it, I am gardening.  The two passions feed off each other, as most quilters will tell you.

So here is a brief garden tour...we are 4 weeks ahead of most springs because of the mild and dry season.  It's been heavenly.....

Things have only just barely gotten started out here!
Lots of color and sunshine to come....
And thanks for being patient...  ;-)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

"Jersey Girls" for the Quilt Alliance

Every year the Quilt Alliance hosts a contest/fundraiser, where people create 16" X 16" quilts around the theme for the year.  The quilts are auctioned off after winners are selected by a panel of judges, and tremendous prizes given!

I have loved making these quilts over the years, and have learned a lot from them as they are small enough to free me up for great experimentation.  For a detailed overview of my Alliance quilts, check out this post on their blog for lots of process and pictures:

This year's theme is "Animals We Love".  The contest rules are here.  You still have time to enter!  Deadline is May 1.

Most of you know I spent ten years as a dairy farmer and I still love Jersey calves the best...I miss them!
So I loved making this quilt, "Jersey Girls", because I could look down on their sweet faces the whole time I stitched.

I started by printing up a photo and playing around with the lay-out.  Those white flowers were crocheted for me by my daughter-in-law, Esther, for Christmas.  I really love them and had to use them.

The antique block was perfect, cut in half, to make part of the frame.
I ended up using the lace a different way, though.

Here we are midway through. I've quilted around the calves' faces before appliqueing the photo to the background fabric and surrounding it by trim.
Those little green dots you see are stuffed velvet circles...

...that became the centers of silk ribbon flowers, made with 13mm RiverSilks.  I had to really restrain myself on the frame, not overdoing it or making the colors too bright.  I wanted all the attention to be on those darling girls.

This was a quick 3 day don't have to always spend a lot of time to realize your vision..or enter the contest!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Joyful Embellishments Quilt Progress

I have been putting time into this quilt as a vacation from a ton of other work going I haven't got every day's stitch on here but there are a lot of them.

It really is a happy quilt!

Here is a detail....

Wish I had more to show you, but all in good time....
Happy Spring!

Friday, January 30, 2015

The Joyful Embellishments Stitch Along Series

Hi Everyone!
I love being published but the downside is that when I am working on things for future publication, I can't blog about them.  So you haven't seen much of me here on the blog lately.

But the Joyful Embellishments Stitch Along, hosted by my co-author and dear friend Val Bothell over on Facebook, is purely for the personal pleasure of it, so I'll be posting my stitches once a week here.

We are already a month into it.  The way it works is, Val presents a photo of a stitch variation every week day, and then we either replicate it or use it as a jumping off point for our own designs.  You can kind of guess which way I'm going with that one!

Mostly this is because I have a pieced crazy quilt top all ready to receive the stitches, but the scale I want to use is much larger than Val's delicate fine stitching.  Plus, all these flowers started creeping in on mine.  Wouldn't you know it!

Here is the quilt top:

Well, there is another border but I'll show that at the end.

In order to catch up, here are my first 19 stitches (not in chronological order, sorry!)  There was one seam I just could not photograph well!

These are ALL variations on the feather stitch.


And here is the quilt with all those seams in place:

It might grow another border before the year is out.  Because yes, this series is going to go on all year.

February's stitch is the herringbone.  My favorite!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

"My Secret Garden" project...finished!

This quilt is for the Personal Apps exhibit at the upcoming Road 2 California quilt conference in Ontario, CA next month.

The exhibit is here described:

Personal Apps
An App is defined as an application, typically a small, specialized program downloaded onto mobile devices. Artists invited to participate in this exhibit have created small quilts that represents them as an individual. The quilts show an aspect of their life or their identity. Curated by Matt Reese and Stevii Graves. 

Each quilt is to be 36" X 36".

Gardening makes me so I guess that is a major aspect of my life and identity.

Last summer's garden really gave me so much joy.

What follows is a pictorial chronology of my quilt's construction over the last month...

It started with my review of Sue Reno's DVD on surface design.  You can read about it in this post.
I knew I wanted some lacy clouds, so with Sue's guidance, I printed some, using acrylic paint mixed with fabric extender.

I printed up a bunch.

I also painted some flowers, both pre-made fabric flowers and fussy cut printed flowers from quilters' cottons.  

 I'm so glad Sue's DVD encouraged me to get out those paints!

Then I began my initial lay-out....

The finished quilt actually bears quite a resemblance to this!

The foreground and sky sections were appliqued over a muslin foundation first--then I started adding layers of clouds.  That vintage delicate doily was meant to be the sun...

After this sky area was settled, the garden was laid out the same way, with a few large swaths of green.

Then the layers of flowers went on.

This photo shows a few of the techniques I used for the garden.

I did most of the embellishment work by machine, though.  Those large three dimensional daisies are vintage appliques.

After some initial quilting in the sky, I decided the clouds needed more texture, so I got out my acrylic Titanium white and highlighted some of the subtle lines from the printing.

A layer of lace over that and the clouds were just right!

Then it was time to add some stars to the sky.  This was a 3 day hand-beading extravaganza.
But to quilt that???

I would never have attempted this on anything but my Sweet 16 from Handi Quilter.  The large bed made moving the quilt around easy during the free-motion sewing.

And the open toed foot made it easy to see "where I was going".  Somehow it just worked.  I didn't break a single bead or needle.  I love that Sweet 16!

This velvet bird was a cherished gift from Maureen Greason.  I didn't want to poke holes in it sewing it down, so I glued a piece of wool felt to the back of it, and sewed that instead.

When the top was all done and quilted, it was time to attach the trim borders.  The ones on the right won, after much auditioning.

You just cannot over-measure at this step.  I really took my time with this.

Wearing this machine quilting glove on my left hand really helped me move the quilt along as I sewed on the trim.

After this step I trimmed the batting and backing and just folded it in so it met the edge of the trim.  Then I whipstitched the whole thing closed. 

Let's see, at 8 stitches per inch, 36 inches per side times four sides...that is 1152 stitches plus corners.  But it is better than having to do conventional binding! I used lots and lots of pins, chatting with my sister as this step is kind of boring.

So here it is done.....

 This detail shows my blue bird of happiness, and the silver bird coming down from the stars...

 Here are the flowers growing, straight out of my heart....

And the entire Secret Garden, revealed......