Monday, September 1, 2014

2015 Crazy Quilt Calendar: December..."Peace"

Pamela Kellogg invited me to be one of the 12 crazy quilters to create a page for the calendar she produced and has made available for purchase.  I was given the month of December.

When I think of that month, of course Christmas comes to mind.  But that holiday is from only one our world's religions...and I wanted to reach for something universal.  So my block expresses my feeling about the onset of deep winter, and what we all celebrate....

Hence, "Peace".  I photographed my process as I went along.  The 8" block's construction was unusual....

 I began with printing up the template for my lettering.

Using adhesive spray and a light touch, I adhered the paper template to some holographic lame that had first interfacing, then fusible web fused onto the back. Using sharp scissors, I cut out my letters and then carefully peeled off the paper.

For my block's landscape (and skyscape) design, I made freezer paper templates.

I fused some interfacing onto the back of muslin, and ironed my freezer paper templates to the front.

Using the freezer paper templates, I marked the muslin, making sure there was a healthy 1/4" seam allowance before I cut them out.

I used the flip and sew technique to piece each section.

Then I ironed the templates back on for the final marking, trimming, and folding under of the edges.

Here they are all ready for assembly on the block's muslin foundation.  Note, the block pattern is drawn onto the muslin for placement guidance.

Fast forward...this was fiddly work, getting the edges ironed under, pinned into place, and machine appliqued with a clear thread in a small zig zag.  The snowfields were easy after that!  I put the most heavily textured lace in the foreground, to help give a hint of perspective.

I hand embroidered all the sky seams with feather stitch in machine weight silver thread and herringbone in Kreinik metallic threads, then fused on the letters and appliqued them with the clear thread in a zig zag as well.  I like using a Microtex Sharp needle for this step, sized 60/8, to keep the holes as small as possible.

Here is my finished block, with the stars all shining on a peaceful winter night.

Thanks again, Pamela, for inviting me into this project!  The other crazy quilters are:

Mary Ann Richardson
Nicki Lee Seavey
Maria Mulder
Kathy Shaw
Pat Winter
Cathy Kizerian
Brenda Sandusky
Gerry Krueger
Terri Lee Takacs
Betty Pillsbury
Connie Eyberg
Pamela Kellogg

What a great gift the calendar will be for your stitching friends.  Order it here!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

"Tammy" ...and How to Mount a 14" Block

Tammy is my neighbor and one of the best people I know.
We were moms together; we each have two boys the same age, one quiet, one loud...she understands and loves my kids more than almost anyone.
Now that all our boys are grown and flown, Tammy and I are still very close. 

I took some pictures of her during the annual 4th of July BBQ she and her husband Frank have every year...knowing I wanted to use her as the subject of a new "Frame it With Flowers" portrait.  I didn't tell her though!

It's a very portable project and I've taken it with me on my summer travels, as you will see.  I decided to mount it when it was finished, to keep it flat and easily hangable on the wall.

So meet Tammy....

I have learned from long experience that a printed photo has to be thoroughly stabilized before appliqueing it onto a background.  So this photo has three layers:  first it is interfaced with fusible interfacing, then it has a layer of batting slightly smaller than the photo, then another layer of fusible interfacing overall, which holds the batting into place.  This works perfectly.

Tammy showed me this vintage print she found and loves, intending to hang it in the living room that she and Frank are turning into their library, now that the boys are gone.  They own thousands of books.
I took this as my color scheme for the flowers I was going to make.

So I got started.  The outer fabric is vintage linen in a color that matches the frame of Tammy's print.  I am so sneaky!

As I said, this is a great project for traveling.

First it went to Atascadero, CA where I was teaching the class, "Frame it With Flowers".

You can see it on the table in the foreground right.
I love this class so much because the photos everyone brings to frame all have such meaningful stories...

Next I took Tammy to Vermont, where the Quilt Alliance was holding its annual board meeting.

This year's meeting was in the studio of Frances Holliday Alford. We not only brought our own projects to work on during the meeting, but Frances had covered the whole table with canvas and set out markers and paints for us to cover it with during our time there.  Yay Frances!  I circled my place at the table so you can see my project.

Next up was the first Salon of Mark Lipinski's Slow Stitch Movement in New Hope, PA.  He wrote an excellent blog post about it here.  You definitely should check out his website to see what this is all about.

Tammy and I were in exalted company.  From left to right next to me is Chawne Kimber, Liza Lucy, Mark, and Meg Cox around the table.  If you don't know Chawne's work, drop everything right now and go see her quilts here.  And her astonishing redwork here.  (Not for the faint of heart!)  The fact that Chawne is a full professor of mathematics awed me for sure, but her work does even more.

Liza is business partners with Kaffe Fassette and she had a whole room in her home with his fabrics for her mail order business.

Treasure indeed....

Then I came back home and finished up my project.  Here is how I mounted it:

1. I cut a piece of batting to fit 1/2" larger all around than the finished size of my block, which is 14" X 14".  I adhered the batting with a shot of Sulky fabric adhesive spray.

2. I couldn't find any foam core in Washougal where I live, so I went with some clean heavy cardboard from a box.  This was cut at 14" X 14".

3. Using wide painters' tape, I gently stretched my project over the batting and cardboard and taped it to the back.  I found that first ironing the folds along marked lines was very helpful.

4. The back of the cardboard needed some padding too, so I cut a piece of scrap fleece exactly 14" X 14" and sprayed it to the back of the cardboard.

5. I cut the backing (also vintage linen) and finished it to size.  But before sewing it on, I prepared the means to hang the block with cording.  I inserted each end to the back of the backing fabric, and zig zagged the ends in place.

6. It was easy to pin the prepared backing to the back of the cardboard--I just inserted the pins straight in to secure the layers. Then I took it outside and finished up, removing the pins as I whipstitched the backing to the folded over edge of the block.

And there is my Tammy.
One of my favorite parts of this project was looking down at her smiling face the whole time I worked.

Here's a detail:

I liked making that kind of wispy outer frame out of the big embroidery stitches.  ;-)

Tammy had no idea this was happening so when she came over to tour the garden (she and my husband are great gardening pals)....

....I led her into my sewing room so she could see her portrait on the design wall.
Well, she started to cry which made me so happy.  Bulls eye!

Is there anyone you want to frame with flowers?  Try it, you will love it!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Checking In and Catching Up!

I've been out in the garden this spring....not blogging so much!

But I have finished some here they are...

First is "Be Kind".  My Uncle Hal's dear wife Deb gave me the cross stitch piece that I used in the center of the quilt.

This was quite experimental for me, combining crazy quilt fabrics, supplies, and techniques in a traditional machine quilted format.  I loved every second of making this...

This detail I hope shows the quilting, couching, machine and hand stitching all combined together.

Next, I finished up a long term project called "The Red Guest House".  This is at my cousin Tracy's ranch in New Mexico.  I started it in one of my "Home Portraits" classes. 

This also was experimental, combining vintage blocks with embroidery, lace, photo printing on fabric, and some contemporary repro fabrics too.  It captures the feel of the place, and is really an homage to my cousin.

A throw quilt top came together quickly using blocks from my "Pretty Crazy" pattern for Brookshier Design Studio.  I can't wait to quilt this on my Handi Quilter Sweet 16!

Cheery, isn't it?

So I've been having some fun, exploring new ideas.
I'm getting more and more drawn into using vintage textiles in my work...and was recently given some very precious blocks from Lisa Boni  that I will be working with later this'll be hearing more about that project when the time comes.

And another dear friend has sent me some vintage quilt tops that I will be practicing my machine quilting on...yes, I know, you heard that right.  I have a deep desire to make functional quilts again, traveling in the footsteps of women lost to time who went before me....but adding my own quirky elements, never leaving the 15 years I've spent crazy quilting too far behind.

Here is one of them...

Lots of room to groove and practice in those white areas....

Speaking of history....
I was honored to be interviewed by the Why Quilts Matter: Quilts, Art, and Politics project undertaken by the Kentucky Quilts Project, Inc.  They asked me about the connection between crazy quilting and today's art quilt movement and made me do some deep thinking on the subject.  Take some time to look over their site...there is treasure there!

I've got some traveling ahead, but expect to be blogging more regularly after I return home in a few weeks...til then,  Happy Stitching!

Monday, May 26, 2014

French 9 Patch

I've been experimenting!
I set a challenge for myself to combine these things in one quilt:
--vintage blocks, laces, hankies, trims
--3 D embellishment
--hand embroidery
--machine quilting

What you see below is the result of this exercise.
I named it "French 9 Patch" because most of the trims are from my trip to Paris last September, and also because the white embroidery on the black reminds me of French handwriting!  The kind we saw on all the blackboards along the sidewalk cafes...
Like this image from Three Little Words

The whole quilt was driven by the small motif in the very center.

I appliqued it onto the center of a vintage hankie and everything proceeded from there.

I loved using my trims, flowers, vintage blocks, and of course, my favorite silk ribbon from RiverSilks.

Here is the whole quilt, finishing at 37" X 37".

It presented me with some interesting challenges...and I would like to pursue this new direction!

Monday, April 14, 2014

"Hungarian Medallion" for the Quilt Alliance

Every year the Quilt Alliance hosts a combination competition/fundraiser for quiltmakers.  This year's theme is "Inspired by..."; entrants choose a quilt from the Quilt Index or the Quilters Save Our Stories project, and make a quilt inspired in some way by that quilt.  Read about the contest here.

I love the idea of tranforming an old quilt into a new one...I think most of us do.
And working on a small scale quilt, 16" X 16", makes it easy to try out some fun new ideas without spending too much time....

Plus, this contest has sent us all scurrying to the Quilt Index and finding treasure after treasure there, as we seek the one quilt we will use for our inspiration.

And here is mine:

I've always loved medallion quilts and also Broderie Perse (the technique of cutting out printed images from cloth and appliqueing them onto another cloth background.)  The other element that really intrigued me were all those triangles!  I love how they look with the cut out floral motifs.
This quilt is from the 1820's, and now lives in Tennessee.
Its full record in the Quilt Index is here.

Below is a blow by blow account of how my quilt came together.  I'll try to go heavy on the pictures and light on the text!

Well, I am not an accurate piecer by trade, so I did an end around to get my little triangles.

This is some woven plaid silk dupioni.  I figured I could cut apart those little one inch squares, cut those on the diagonal into half-square triangles, and then fuse the triangles over another piece of the plaid silk.
Tricky, eh?
The photo above shows the one piece of silk with interfacing (the background) and the other with fusible web (for the triangles), both ready to be fused.

The corners are cut, ready for their triangles. I tried to be very careful here, but didn't account for the fabric being off grain a little bit.  This came back to haunt me later, but....not too badly.

All the little triangles are set in place, ready to be fused.  The embroidery in the center is Hungarian (hence, the title of the quilt.)  If you Google Image Hungarian embroidery, you'll see all kinds of cheerful beautiful stitching.

Once the triangles are fused, they look pretty "real"!

I decided to quilt "in the ditch" (except there was no ditch) with Silk Serica thread made by Kreinik.

All done!

Next, for the Broderie Perse part....

First I had to get the center embroidery on there...

(There's a ribbon covering the raw edge of the embroidery, but I forgot to photograph that.)

I played with lots of lay-outs of cut out flowers and also premade ones from M & S Schmalberg.  This is the one I liked best.
I fused the cut out flowers into place, appliqued them with clear thread in a zig zag, and attached the premade flowers with silk ribbon French knots.

But I wasn't finished yet.  I wanted to bring out the embroidered green elements from the center out into the rest of the quilt.

Memory Thread, by DMC is my go-to viney maker of choice!
It is so easy to work with.  I just pin it in place...

...and couch it down with fine silk thread.

The last step was to fill in those leaves....

3 strand cotton floss in a satin stitch did the trick.

Now, you should know that this quilt was assembled a little bit differently than a normal quilt.  I spray basted the batting into place before I quilted with the red silk thread.
So after all the quilting, applique, and hand stitching, the back looked like this:

The combination of the batting and interfaced background fabric made for a very stable stitching surface.

A detail....

I think I might try this again sometime....

I put a nice cotton backing over this and just quilted around the center diamond.

Then it was time for the label.

Measure, measure, measure.  For the writing I used a Pentel Gel Roller for Fabric.

No smears or bleeds...I love this pen!  It is waterproof and permanent too.

The final finished quilt....

I used velvet ribbon for the binding, which is nice...but I want to take that Craftsy class, Finishing School, with Mimi Dietrich. 
I want it perfect next time!

As I am a Quilt Alliance board member, my quilt won't be eligible for the contest, but it will be part of the traveling display of contest quilts this summer and fall, and for sale at auction on Ebay in November.

It is so fun to enter, and it feels so good to support the great work of the Alliance.
The prizes are awesome too.
So....what are you waiting for?  The deadline is June've still got plenty of time!