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......

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.