Thursday, November 20, 2014

My First You Tube Video Interview!

Vicki Anderson of Modern Quilts Unlimited magazine interviewed Val and me at Quilt Market last month.
The video came out great!  Thanks, Vicki~

Here it is...(click on the link below.) Allie and Val at Quilt Market

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Surface Design Essentials for the Printed Quilt, A DVD by Sue Reno

I have been an admirer of Sue Reno's work for many, many years--long before we became acquainted via Facebook and our blogs.  I've always loved her botanically based quilts...and the highly evolved design aesthetic she has developed while working with the prints she makes on fabric. 

But I never knew how she did it until now. In her new instructional DVD from Quilting Arts, as Sue says,

I distill my years of experience with four favorite surface design techniques—cyanotype, heliography, collagraphy, and thermofax printing—using clear and concise demonstrations.  There are examples of how I use prints in my work, as well as chapters on the basics of quilt design.  Whether you are new to surface design, or want to add to your existing design toolbox, there’s something here for everyone. 

I am absolutely new to surface design: it has never been remotely part of my repetoire.  I have bought supplies now and again at quilt shows, inspired by the demos and samples in the booths, but rarely used them.
With Sue's encouragement, I pulled some out and put them to work.

Before I show you what I did, I want to say what a pleasure it was to watch someone who has mastered her craft, is so clearly in her element and so obviously enthusiastic about it.  She doesn't waste a word--but gives great detailed advice and logical explanations for everything she does.
As an online teacher myself, I can also tell that the preparation she did for this DVD was extensive, thorough, and meticulously organized.  You will not find a better introduction to printing on fabric with these techniques than this.

That said, if you look at the view out my kitchen window, you will see that now is not the time to try either Cyanotype or Helliographic printmaking.  There will be no sun around here in SW Washington for about 5 to 6 months.  Those techniques require sun and heat, and what we have is rain, rain, and then more rain.

I do not have the supplies or a screen for Thermofax printing either.

This left the Collographic technique, which is essentially building a collage on a flat surface and using it to print with.
Sue describes this technique as freeform, playful, and unexact.
That's for me!  Plus I had some acrylic paints, textile medium, and brushes on hand.  Stripped down to its essentials, the Collographic technique doesn't require any more than these basic supplies to try it out.

And I had a purpose to print for too.  I'll be making a 36" X 36" quilt for an invitational show, and needed some sky fabric as well as some brightly colored, vivid flowers.  It's going to be a garden quilt.

Before I began making actual prints, I warmed up, so to speak, by painting some flowers, some that had been fussy cut from printed cotton, and some that were pre-made by M & S Schmalberg

What a difference a little paint makes!
Already, Sue's DVD has made a big difference in my coming quilt...I'm glad I tried something new. (These flowers will be raw edge appliqued eventually.)

Then it was time to take the plunge and make my first ever in my life print.

My goal for the sky was to create interest and movement, almost like the wind.  I had this idea....

...that I would use a piece of the very textural lace I have in my stash as a stamp.  I didn't have the Gelliprint or breyer or other supplies Sue mentioned for the collograph technique, but I knew I could make a print by just loading the lace with paint and....

I made several prints, adding some water to thin the paint down, doing multiple prints on one piece of fabric...

or using a finer piece of lace....

In the end I had a nice assortment and had had a blast printing, too.

I felt that Sue was right there with me while I worked.
Below is a screenshot I took from the DVD.

And here is me, having big time fun.

I started laying out my sky on a muslin foundation...early days, just playing with the elements I made, plus some other hand-dyed fabric my friends Val and Stacey made.

I'm thinking that quilting around that printed lace is going to be very wind-like.

The flowers are going to be extra special with their added pigments, too.

I  am going to paint some more flowers.  Can't imagine NOT painting them anymore.

At the end of Sue's DVD she shows in many quilts how her deep immersion in the techniques she presents is put to committed purpose.  Her body of work is truly inspiring.  One technique she mentioned towards the end, when she talked about the importance of the actual quilting to the overall design of the quilt....she quilts in two layers sometimes!  First she echo quilts, then goes over that with another layer, in heavier thread, in a different design.
Never ever would I have thought of that concept...but you'll be seeing it in my sky....

I have one minor quibble with the DVD, because I am such a newbie to printing.  I would have really appreciated a Supply List and Materials Resource list.  What was required for each technique went by pretty fast, and I wasn't familiar with most of it. Even a list put up on the screen so I could pause the DVD to write it down or take a screenshot would be a big help.  At the very end of the DVD they flash a website,  Maybe they sell everything....if they do, putting together "beginners' supply kits" would be helpful.

But any internet savvy shopper can find what is needed, so this is a minor point.

When I was at Quilt Market last month, I took the time to search out Sue's quilt, "Silk Mill", in the Tactile Architecture exhibit.

Now I have a much more informed idea of the skill and vision that went into the creation of this art.

Sue invited some other quilt artists on this Blog Tour, to offer their response to her new DVD.  The schedule is here:

11/5/14: Sue Reno
11/6/14: Susan Brubaker Knapp
11/7/14: Allie Aller
11/8/14: Diane Doran
11/9/14: Vivien Zepf
11/10/14: Virginia Spiegel
11/11/14: Cynthia St. Charles
11/12/14: Natalya Aikens
11/13/14: Lyric Kinard

I can't wait to follow along.

Thank you, Sue, for unleashing a whole new form of energy into my work.  It was fun, and I am grateful.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Quilting the New Classics by Michele Muska

What a great book!

Quilting the new Classics by Michele Muska  is absolutely packed with information and fresh inspiration for all quilters. Ten traditional quilt patterns, such as Yo-Yo's, Bear's Paw, and Crazy Quilts are featured in both classic and modern presentations, complete with instructions for each of the 20 quilts, by 20 different working designers. Therefore, this book is a great introduction to quilting as well as a tremendous new resource for the seasoned quilter.

Michele's philosophy on creativity that fed the concept and execution of this book is worth noting:  In all her artwork she strongly believes in working in the moment, and quilting is no different. She enjoys the process of creating as much as the end result. That is what Michele believes her new book "Quilting the new classics" will do for her readers. Her hope is for readers to take liberties in the creative process once they learn the basics. It is also why she gave the designers in her book free reign to design a quilt based on the pattern they were given.

I was honored indeed to be asked to contribute to the Crazy Quilting Section, being given the task of creating a "modern" crazy quilt.  And I surely took some liberties!

Now, then, how did I do that?

Crazy quilts are by nature over-the-top, busy concoctions of stitching, fabrics, and embellishments, all in a somewhat random design.  Not what I think of as "Modern" at all.  To me, a modern CQ would have to bestripped down to what I perceive is the essence of the genre: random piecing, some seam embroidery, a mix of fabrics. Nothing extra, just a bold and graphic take on the pure form of crazy quilting.

So that is what I tried to do, and I loved every second of my quilt's creation.

There is a brand new construction technique that Michele's free rein allowed me to explore.

Full instructions are in the book!

And it is the same from all the designers: beautiful traditional renditions of time honored quilt patterns are juxtaposed with their modern, liberated interpretations.   (Valerie Bothell created the traditional crazy quilt in her exquisite Victorian manner.)

Plus.....the book's design itself is absolutely gorgeous. You will get so much value for your purchase.

I will be hosting a give-away of one copy of this marvelous book, drawing one name from the comments to this post exactly one week from today.  So you will have until Sunday night, November 9th to enter.  Please make sure I have a way to reach you!

Other stops on the Blog Tour for this book are below.  You'll be able to see how others have contributed and what their process was like.

21--Leslie Tucker Jenison
22- Jannken Smucker
23--Valerie Bothell
24--Kaari (French General) :
25--Elisa Sims Albury :
27--Victoria Findlay Wolfe
30-Pat Sloan

2--Kristin Omdahl
FG, IG Newsletters:
22-- Marie Bostwick

Thank you, Michele, for this awesome opportunity to create something new, which for me was very exciting.  I know readers will find so many great ideas in this book's pages.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Round the World Blog Hop

I have been nominated by my very talented fellow C & T crazy quilt author, Jennifer Clouston, to participate in The Round the World Blog Hop.

There are a few questions that we have to answer so people can find out a little more about us.

1. What crazy quilt/sewing things am I working on?

I am a "monogamous" quilter, so usually don't have more than one project at a time underway.  But because I've been doing a lot of sewing for the market, so to speak, I've done lots of little projects showcasing various patterns, supplies, or techniques.  Here are a few:

This is for Wonderfil Threads.
Here is a detail:

I am interested in exploring the addition of quilting to the embellished crazy quilt surface.

Another small piece, done at the same time...

This work combines machine and hand embroidery in CQ stitching, another avenue I wish to travel down further.

A piece for an upcoming magazine article also addresses these design ideas...

A major UFO I do have going is waiting...for me to become better at free motion machine quilting!
It combines Broderie Perse, vintage textiles, crazy piecing and stitching, by both machine and hand...all things I love dearly.  It is to be a functional bed quilt.

I've actually assembled the entire top since this photo was taken.  The quilting will be very prominent, and key to unifying all the elements.  I am just not there yet...

 I have loved working on it, all aspects....

From the Broderie Perse to the piecing and embroidery, it has been a wonderful project.

With lots of great outdoor stitching time too.

I hope to finish it this upcoming winter.

2. How does my work differ from those of it's genre?

In a nutshell, I would have to say that my crazy quilting is firmly based in my 25 years as a traditional and art quilter.  I am most interested in fabrics and design, especially the use of color in composition.  As the years go on, my CQ work is getting simpler and more graphic, more related to "sane" quilting and not so focused on intricate embroideries. In fact, that was the subject of my second book, written with Valerie Bothell, Quilting...Just a Little Bit Crazy.  I love the hybridizing of quilt genres.

What is on the design wall right now exemplifies is for Simplicity Creative Group, showcasing their 5 sided crazy quilt template.

As always, the completed top will be just the "first layer" of the completed quilt...there will be lots of fun machine and hand embroidery and machine and hand quilting too.

3. Why do I create what I do?

Well, why do I breathe?  ;-) It's my joy, my response to the beauty all around me.

4. How does my creating process work?

It's sort of like gestation during a pregnancy...I don't know how else to describe it.  When a piece is going to be born, so much of the work goes on internally before it comes out and my hands make it.  It's a very mysterious process to me, and I love that.

When the time comes, I just start pulling fabrics and supplies and dive in.  I almost never sketch ahead of time, and if I do, it is laughably crude, like this:

I've learned to stay extemely flexible, designwise, as I move through a project, and will change course radically if need be.  But once committed, I will spend days completing a repetitive detail if the quilt needs it.

I plan on doing a lot of experimentation over the next few years, branching out into new hybrids within the quilt/embroidery realms. I'll be in the sewing room.....

I would like to nominate the following three people to carry on the round the world hop:

Valerie Bothell, at
Lisa Boni, at
Sharon Boggon, at

Thanks, Jennifer, for the invitation!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Quilt Match Manhattan 2014...the Winner!

I knew that Francis Holiday Alford would be making the trophy winner's belt, and I WANTED it.

It would be awarded to the champion of the designer match-up competition at the Quilt Alliance's Quilters Take Manhattan celebration and fundraising event last week-end in New York City.

This was the fourth year the Quilt Alliance has hosted QTM at the Fashion Institute of Technology's campus in the Garment District of NYC.  And it sold out! There were 350 attendees, Amy Butler was our keynote speaker, Mark Dunn presented beautiful quilts from his vast collection, there were live "Go Tell it at the Quilt Show" interviews, vendors, workshops, an after dark party at the loft of Victoria Findlay Wolfe....and the Quilt Match.  Lots of fun quilt-centered schmoozing and inspiration occurred!!!

But what was the Quilt Match?  3 designers were given 1 hour and a pile of fabrics they had never seen before, pins, fusible web from Mistyfuse, scissors, and a design wall.  We were each allowed to bring 1 yard of our own fabric of choice, and in front of the live audience, had to create a quilt top!  (To be sewn down later.)

My fellow contestants were John Kubiniec and, because our third quilter missed her train, a very intrepid audience member, Encyclopedia Brown, volunteered to fill in.

John and I were hamming it up, the day before...

We were on Meg Cox's tour of The High Line urban park (also part of the weekend's events). John and I became super new friends.  ;-)  Even if he did bring a banana peel for me to slip on on stage!  (He was kidding.)

But once the Match Up began, we were all focus.

My fabric of choice was "Pretty Day" from Shades Textiles, a sky fabric I have loved and used in my work for over 20 years.  So I knew I wanted to create a landscape quilt...Cherrywood Hand-Dyed Fabrics and Moda donated our "pallettes", which we were not allowed to see beforehand.  The Moda fabrics were in a style I NEVER use, so this was very challenging.

One hour are the three quilts:

Encyclopedia didn't have her own fabric of choice so she used some Cherrywood for her background.  This evokes her Jamaican roots.

John brought a neutral solid for his background, and made a medallion style quilt with a whimsical floral basket in the center.

I indeed went for a landscape, and did my best to make color, value, line, shape, perspective, contrast and whimsical appeal work for me. Especially keeping in mind that this was going to be viewed from a distance, the audience needed to be able to "see" it from afar.  This was a designer challenge, after all!
The winner was decided by the audience's raising of hands!

Do I look happy, being attended by Mark Lipinski, the Match Up's emcee?  I forgot to put my shoes back on, having kicked them off in the frenzy of my hour designing.
Yes, I am happy!  The belt is mine!!!!!
I'll be wearing it at Quilt Market next month, oh yeah....

We had such a blast.  Thanks John and Encylopedia for making it so much fun.

And you might want to mark your calendars for Quilter's Take Manhattan next September! 
Learn about the Quilt Alliance,  and its mission of preserving, documenting, and sharing the stories of quilts and quilters everywhere.

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!