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!

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!