Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Beaded Embroidery Stitching by Christen Brown: My Review and a Giveaway!

*************EDIT with Winner!***************
I used a random number generator to pick the winner of the ebook, and it is #7, Karen! 

Welcome to the Blog Hop for Christen Brown's latest book, Beaded Embroidery Stitching
C &T Publishing has just brought out Christen's excellent guide for creating beaded needlework. She covers everything you need to know, from supplies/tools, design inspiration, and stitch diagrams, to 8 wonderful projects, (shown in different color variations too.)  
All the stitches are shown at the front of the book, beautifully grouped and organized for easy reference to the rest of the book, a very helpful feature. The actual stitching graphics, by illustrator Mary Flynn, are clear and excellent, while the color photos of Christen's stitched beauties will inspire you no end!

I have had such fun incorporating just a few of the book's inspirations and techniques into the project below. Please follow along in my process....and don't forget to enter the giveaway at the end, for an E-copy of Christen's book.

I started with a purchased jean jacket from Costco. Being totally enamored of vintage textiles, I appliqued old blocks, lace, motifs, and repro fabrics to the front and back, knowing I would be adding the finishing touches with my beading. I call this, "The Americana Jacket". Very '70's, isn't it?

The front of the jacket.

The jacket back

The first things I wanted to add were beaded buttons (page 68).

Mother of pearl buttons with lazy daisy stitches of perle cotton with a bead

Next came adding some beading to the collar and front pocket flaps.  I decided to use the Continuous Bead Stitch Fancy, pg 52.

The stitch instructions in the book.

Beading the collar

For the back of the jacket, I wanted a heart, so I started with beaded buttons again. 

 My heart template and chalked guidelines, with an array of buttons to choose from.

I wanted an inner heart to go in my button "frame", and came upon a great discovery: these Wash Away Applique Sheets from C & T provide a really great stabilizer for beading onto fabric!

A great product! The paper washes away, too.
The stabilizer placed on a vintage block, fusible side up

This shows the ironed under edges, adhering nicely to the fusible side of the stabilizer, as well as the beading stitches.

The beaded heart topstitched into place, with outline beading being added
The completed heart. Christen gives a great tip for keeping those tiny outline beads in a smooth line, on pg.52.

Once the back was finished, I decided to add some more beaded lazy daisies to the front.

Chain stitch with beads. Notice how the lace has provided my spacing for me.

So here is the completed back of my Americana Jacket. With my bead embroidery stitching, I wanted to add to the complexity of the detail without turning it into a "Rhinestone Cowboy" type of garment, if you know what I mean.  It's still within the vintage vibe I was after, but definitely more interesting.

Design notes: the vintage block used for the inner heart is on point, as is the vintage block in the back yoke.  Also, the stamped brass filigree in the center of the heart mimics the shape of the embroidered "A" motif in the center of the yoke. I think these subtle touches unify the design without being too obvious.

The front of the jacket is just slightly glitzy, enough to make that 70's aesthetic more fun. 

 Jacket front. Two vintage log cabin blocks were used for the yoke; I pieced the vertical strips from repro fabric. Design note: the pattern of the vintage red print along the bottom of the yoke is carried on in the buttons going down the front, another hopefully unifying element to the overall design.

Having Christen's book in front of me really freed me up in this project, and gave me lots of tips.  I have done beading before, as in my book, Allie Aller's Crazy Quilting, but this resource has lit my fire anew!

I am so eager to see and read what my fellow bloggers on this hop will present to you, featuring Christen's book. Be sure and check them out! Especially because each one of us will be giving away a free E-copy of  Beaded Embroidery Stitching. Leave a comment below each blog post the day it is posted, and that night the Blog hop host for the day will choose a winner.  We'll each notify the winner the next day on our blogs, so we can get the email of the lucky winner and email them a copy of their book!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

A Visual Review of my Quilts of 2018

I have been quite productive this year, making studio work, commissions, class samples, gifts, and service projects.

I thought it would be fun to have a visual record here on the blog, in chronological order, to get a sense of where I've been and where I'm heading. Lots of imagery here, but I promise the captions will be short!

A 24" X 24" pillow top incorporating vintage textiles. 

I quilted and finished a vintage top given to me by Nancy Darooge on my HandiQuilter Sweet 16

Two pillow tops made of vintage, Indian, and repro textiles and trims for my friend Geeta Khandalwahl, whom I visited in Mumbai in February with my traveling companion Meg Cox.

A class sample for my Road to California class in January.  It is next to Geeta's book on Godharis of Maharastra.

Conifer and Deciduous, 6" X 10", created on those long flights to and from India

Two versions of my "Gothic Windows" quilt made for my class at the Lincoln Quilt Guild in Lincoln, NE. Vintage and repro textiles are used in the second example.

An experiment combining my stained glass technique, vintage and hand dyed fabrics.  I consider this a fail.

But I love this one, a throw quilt made from vintage blocks, hankies, curtains, crocheted and embroidered table linens, and hand block prints from India.

Another success, combining vintage blocks from my friend Lisa Boni and Peppered Cottons, from Studio E Fabrics, along with my stained glass technique.  This is currently being big stitched, then it will be machine quilted.

 The jury is still out on this Vintage Spring top. I think one more, dark-in-value border on the left and right sides would have made me feel better. (Too late for that; it's already pin basted waiting to be quilted.) But I did love pushing the envelope on how to combine vintage textiles in new ways.

This was my major piece of the year, the commission for Camp Newaygo in Western Michigan.

 June Collage, a gift for my brother Matt, combining vintage textiles, repros, and embellishments.

Nan, my mother.  A class sample for the World of Quilts Alaska Cruise I taught on in August.

Class sample for my Stained Glass Leaves class on the Alaska cruise.

Two pillow tops for hostess gifts during my travels to Michigan in August.  Both incorporate vintage textiles and some hand embroidery.

A commission for Karen South using her and her grandmother's blocks, as well as vintage textiles belonging to her grandmother.

A memorial quilt for the widow and daughters of my dear high school friend, Dr. Douglas Mossman of Cincinnati, Ohio.

I quilted up this adorable panel to make a baby quilt for my new grandniece, Grace.

For the first time in over 30 years, I made myself a garment, this Tamarack Jacket from Grainline Studio. It fits and I love wearing it!

Vintage Autumn combines vintage blocks and fabrics, Indian block print fabric and trim, repro fabric, embellishments, and a handful of silk scraps (the orange triangles). 

When Paradise, California burned to the ground one day in November, nearby resident Cindy Needham, one of the quilt world's finest instructors, organized a multi faceted relief effort for quilter survivors in the area.  A quilt drive was part of that, so I made this and sent it on down.

My cousin Tracy really liked it so I made one for her during the week between Christmas and New Years.

 Buffy, a Christmas gift for my son Chad's girlfriend, Deidre.


That brings me to the present.  
Obviously, the main theme is combiing vintage textiles in new ways, a direction I've been hashtagging #herhandsandmine over on Instagram
I've been working on what I call "Snowflowers" to go onto what will be my Vintage Winter quilt.  Each "flower" is a doily that's been enhanced with fabric and embroidery.  They'll be appliqued onto a background, looking something like this:

This is a longer term project, and is reminding of the crazy quilts I used to make.  The more time spent working to realize the vision, the richer and more enjoyable the work on it becomes.

And that's like life, right?

Vintage Summer waits in the wings for next year when all the flowers are up and inspiring my soul.

Happy 2019, my friends!

Friday, August 31, 2018

Memories that Linger: Epilogue.... A Reminicent Sketch of Camp

My "Memories that Linger" quilt was installed and unveiled at Camp Newaygo last week.  What a thrill that was!  (To see the seven posts about the making of this project, look at my blog archive list for 2018 and you'll find them.)

It was very moving for me, to see the quilt hanging in its forever home, looking like it had always been there.

My friend Meg Cox had asked me to jot down some of my own memories of Camp Arbutus. It was just a little ways north of Camp Newaygo and identical in spirit.

My own lingering memories were so much fun to write......


Memories that Linger, Indeed: A Sketch of Camp

A trunk filled with everything you need for 2 months.  Yes, we lucky ones were drop kicked from our boring, sweaty homes in the suburbs to an old growth pine forest on a lake for a summer with our friends. We were freed from the dynamics of family, dysfunctional or not, and sent to camp.

After an endless 3 hour drive north, finally seeing that beloved camp sign, turning down the long gravel road to the greeting area by the main lodge, that trunk bumping in the back of the station wagon—Arrival made the heart beat so fast! 

No electricity in our cabins. No running water or heat (or AC). Certainly no internet or cell phones.  Bunk beds were squeaky, mattresses were thin, an orange crate was your storage area, and there were 6 of us plus a counselor in a very small one room space.

Slide Inn, photo by Don Harrison. My home for the summer in 1969 as a camper, and 1974 as a counselor

But we didn't care about those spartan cabins.  We loved them. 

We ate together around big tables on the huge screen porch of the lodge, three pretty awful meals a day—powdered eggs and Wonderbread for breakfast, cheap bologna and more Wonderbread for lunch, mystery meat, instant mashed potatoes, and overcooked canned vegetables for dinner.  Watery Kool-aid (aka, "bug juice") was the campers' beverage; the counselors drank the worst coffee in the world, hardly improved when we would sneak soy sauce into it.  Ice cream squares like Styrofoam appeared on a good night for desert.
But we didn't care about the food. We were hungry!

The group bathrooms had concrete floors, sinks with orange rust stains around the drains, daddy long leg spiders in the corners of the showers. The older girls required those mysterious feminine hygiene disposal buckets that had a pungent fecund smell. It was freezing after a shower to wrap up in a towel and walk back to your cabin and you always got your feet dirty again right away.
But we didn't care about the bathrooms. We went swimming in the lake twice a day.

Not only was there no family from home at camp (two cousins and my little sister totally lost their family aspect at camp)—even more importantly, there were no boys.
Of course, by age 12 all we thought about at night was boys….and in the dark, after taps, one of us would whisper a story from "True Confessions" magazine out loud by flashlight, and there would be strange heavy breathing coming out of those bunk beds. "Naked and Alone on Mainstreet" was a good one…and you got in serious trouble sneaking out to visit the boys' camp down the lake ("She was sent home, Oh my God!")
But our society was complete unto itself without them.  Just for the summer, not for our whole life.
We learned to sail, canoe, shoot 22s, arrows, ride horses, pass inspection, play tennis, compete in sports—all without those boys trying to beat us. They weren't even in our minds.

We had crushes, paired up and broke up, followed charismatic girls as leaders; we put on skits and danced flirty polka dances on rainy nights in the lodge; had dramatic melt downs that involved smoking contraband cigarettes in the woods with a friend's arm around our shoulders; we lit campfires and sang our hearts out in four part harmonies under the trees and the stars---all without those boys, and it was good.

Lucy and Alice, the two counselors standing in the back during morning sing, developed a deep friendship that thrilled all of us all summer.

Our camp ceremonies were extremely serious, and always conducted in silence. Dressed in our whites, we would line up by cabin and take a special trail to a campfire deep in the woods used only for this purpose.  The mosquitoes would be fierce. Our procession was led by two girls selected (by whom?  We never knew.) for the honor by their good behavior and overall camp spirit. They wore special Indian style fringed dresses, their faces darkened with grease paint, and held aloft blazing torches made of poles with kotexes tightly wired to the end that had been soaked in kerosene overnight—they burned for hours and smelled terrible, but more of them around the campfire did help with those mosquitoes.
We sat in our cabin groups around the fire, and Indian role call was given—each cabin had a tribal name.  When your tribe was called, you pounded the ground where you were seated with the flat of your hands, which raised a ton of dust. After the roll call, two more girls appeared from the woods, also in Indian garb, and did a special welcoming Indian dance around the fire.
I can still do it.  I was one of those girls one year.  It was one of the highlights of my growing up years.
Then the actual ceremony would begin.

Over the weeks of camp there were several ceremonies, and we looked forward to all of them: a welcoming ceremony, an awards ceremony, a Final Vespers ceremony, and at the end, the sacred Birch Bark ceremony.  This last was the most special of all.
A genuine and ancient birch bark canoe hung in the lodge.  Once a year, at the end of camp, we all, in our whites of course, lined the steps from the lodge down to the water front.  Extremely carefully, the birch bark canoe was lifted from where it hung and passed between the line of girls down to the beach.  Getting to touch the birch bark was very moving and quite thrilling as it passed through our hands on its way to the water.
One girl was chosen for the honor of paddling the birch bark.  No one knew who she would be until she appeared, again dressed in Indian garb with grease paint darkening her skin, slowly walking up the beach to the canoe, at sunset.  We would all gasp when we saw who it was—the choice (again, by whom?) was always perfect.
 We would sing the special birch bark song—only sung that night—as she paddled out into the lake.
And hopefully the ceremony would end before the canoe sank, as it was very leaky.  We always quickly returned to our cabins before our camp director Mac would quietly motor her barge out to the canoe and rescue it and the paddler.

 The birchbark canoe

The next day would be Final Banquet, (fried chicken!) followed by the final ceremony (unofficial)—that of being picked up by one's parents to be taken home.
You would wait in dread for them to come.  When you spotted them walking towards you, as you sat in the greeting area where you had been dropped off two months before, you would wail and sob as bitterly and dramatically as you could. (Some welcome for Mom and Dad, right?) You would cling to your friends who were crying with you, vow eternal loyalty and love, and be led away up the road to the station wagon in the parking area. So sad! Crying so hard!
On the drive into Traverse City, you would then brightly ask, "Can we please get some real ice cream, Mom?"
The song sung at camps all over the US, that inspired my quilt:
If there were witchcraft, I’d make two wishes,
a winding road that beckons me to roam,
and then I’d wish for a blazing campfire,
to welcome me when I’m returning home.
But, in this real world there is no witchcraft and golden wishes do no grow on trees.
Our fondest day dreams must be the magic that brings us back those golden memories.
Memories that linger, constant and true,
memories we cherish, Arbutus of you"

 Nejee Year, 1970, in our Sunday whites  Don't let this decorum fool you.