Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Further Embellishment on the Floral 9 Patch

What with all the traveling, little projects, and flower pictures taking up my creative time, there hasn't been much of a chance to work on the Floral 9 Patch. So I am just getting back into it, trying desperately to keep it's overall composition in focus as I go completely around the bend with embellishment pattern and detail. Flowers make me do that!

Today I'll just show a few little areas...when I get to the next good stopping point overall I'll show the whole quilt....which may end up having a further border around it, too....

Here is the lower right corner block. Those bright blue flower beads would not be denied!

Stephanie sent me this wonderful blue leafy trim, which I added to the bottom center block. I actually committed to making all these bullions, and by the time I was halfway done, I had a good feel for them. (I am not enamored of making bullions, esp in stitcky cotton perle.) The added sparkely montees are maybe my favorite beady things in the world. I love montees!

Here is the same seam treatment repeated at the top of the quilt. That green polka dot ribbon is new.....

That ribbon now shows up in four different places on the quilt. It cracks me up.

The next step really is to get going on the center of the quilt, which is requiring lots of thought before taking the plunge...

....and thanks for your encouragement re the crazy quilt kits. There is so much work yet to be done before they go up for sale, but I wanted to share my thinking.....

Sunday, July 29, 2007

My First Kit!

Over the past several months I've been mulling over various ideas for a web-based business. While I still haven't finalized my plans and ideas, I am experimenting with creating complete crazy quilt kits, using my own floral fabric as well as hand-dyed fabrics and ribbon from various sources, plus beads, threads, etc.

These kits would be intended for people just getting into crazy quilting, who don't have stashes built up, or who don't want to do the designing or color choosing, but want the fun of the sewing and beading.
I would include patterns and stitch guides as well....

This kit here is actually a birthday present for my niece. She really enjoyed working on her little jewelry pouch while we were in Michigan together, and asked for another project. So I created the "B" this morning and printed it up....then pieced a large block--really a small wall-hanging--and gathered her embellishment materials. I hope she enjoys working on this! I LOVED putting it together.

Here is her "B"...

...and here is her project, with lots of trim, beads, and threads to choose from. I did fuse some lace around the central letter because, well, I just wanted to!

I would be willing to create custom kits for sale while I am working out the bugs of my commercial ideas...already pieced, and with embellishment supplies included for you to use....so if you are interested, email me at aaller@airspd.net and we'll discuss size, color, and price....it won't be inexpensive but it will be special!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Garden Tour 7.28.07

I wish I was a better photographer so I could capture how vivid the flowers are all around the place...I've tried all different times of day, too....and though I'm not satisfied with these pics, they do still take you on a tour of sorts! You'll get the idea. ;-)

The front border...and yes, the paper wasp nest is still there!
It is very misty this morning so the light is flat...but you can still see the comically tall nicotianas, and those pink spire-type things are hyssop, which attracts the hummingbirds right outside the window.

The perennial garden yesterday afternoon....that big tree in front of our house is a pink flowering dogwood. It was 5 feet tall when we moved here 16 years ago!

Here is Robert watering his new carrot bed. This view shows not quite half of the big garden. You can tell we're on a hill...the Washougal River Valley is below us.

Well, you can't garden all the time!

Here are three of my five "production flower" beds. The tall one in the rear is just a wildflower mix; zinnias are in the center and godetias along the front. That sunflower is a volunteer right in the middle of the path, but who can pull up a sunflower?

I adore the godetias! (I think they are also called "clarkia".)

My poor overcrowded zinnias, with those asters struggling to catch a breath of sunshine! I really need to thin these plants, but can't bring myself to do it.

Well, it is off to the Vancouver Farmer's Market....we have to get some ideas for next year's garden!

Friday, July 27, 2007


"S" is for Stephanie, dollmaker extraordinaire, who sent me a most gorgeous doll as a gift...."Fleura" (Stephanie's name for her, which I am chosing to keep) has immediately assumed the maternal role in my "reader's corner", part of which you see below.
Stephanie, she is a treasure and for always....

The more I look at Fleura, the deeper her character becomes to me....
I never had dolls as a girl...but I sure love them now!

And here is Stephanie's "S".

My garden was indeed blooming at full tilt when I returned from Michigan....I am just waiting for the sun to come out so I can give you a tour.....

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Home from the Beautiful MidWest...

I've been almost two full weeks away!

My visit to my childhood home on Lake Michigan was everything I knew it would be, filled with family, friends, lots of walks on the beach, great food, sunset viewing, and of course, stitching on that Best Porch in the World. The weather was perfect, too.
But before I even got there I had the supreme good fortune to stay with Pat Winter at her gracious home in Chesterton, Indiana. What a warm hostess she was!!!! Meeting Pat was a deep joy...we hit it off instantly and discovered ourselves to be true kindred spirits. I will always treasure our walk on the beach, where she had an eye like an eagle for the lucky glass we were hunting for. (She calls it "sea glass", or "mermaid's tears", and has literally gallons of it in her collection.)
Her crazy quilt work is just incredible when you get to see it "up close and personal". What a talent and inspiration she is....I am already looking forward to next summer when I will see her again before my annual trek to Michigan!

Here is Pat laying out some cards of fibers for me to choose from for the projects I was taking to the cottage. So generous is she....and beautiful!

Pat's studio....the place where dreams come true. Her organization is definitely inspiring to this packrat.....

Pat's lovely 1880's brick farmhouse out in the country...it's graciousness reflects her spirit. (Stop blushing, Pat, it's true!)

Here we are at the train station in Michigan City, about to say good-bye. It was hard not to cry....

But on I went to Michillinda, where the cottages were built 110 years ago, and remain almost completely unchanged. The place is timeless....one of my neighbors there has spent every one of her 95 summers looking out at the lake. My own family has been there since the 1920's.

Here is a morning shot. There is a wide area in front of the cottages (about 20 of them in a row, on the longest stretch of flat ground above the lake between Chicago and Mackinaw)....that leads to the edge of the bank. The beach is 60 steps below...

The view from the top of the stairs going down to the beach. The lake was very calm that day!

But on to the sewing. I had pieced some little jewelry bags for my gals to embellish. They loved it--first time embellishing for all three of them! I enjoyed my role as teacher, too.

My sister-in-law Laura, and cousin Carol, are hard at it here.

Lovely niece Amaleah was a natural. It was so fun for me to see these ladies get into it!

Amaleah's project.

Laura's project.

Carol's project.

And here is mine. Pat, do you recognize those sequin butterflies? ;-) And also the little blue and pink flower sequins?

Here is a detail that shows my first attempt at using waste canvas to enable me to try counted cross stitching onto my block. The motif is from Pam Kellogg...thanks, Pam! I loved doing this and want to use this technique alot more. It is so satisfying!

It was sad to leave Michillinda. It always is....but it is good to be home. I am still "digging out from under", but hope to visit all my blogging friends' blogs soon!


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Garden Tour 7.11.07...and Farewell for Now...

Tomorrow I am leaving for 12 days and will be offline, so this is my Adios! post to all my blogging friends.

I will miss my son and husband of course, but I am really torn about leaving my garden! I went around this morning before the hot sun came up, documenting its current state of affairs so that I can compare that to what I see when I get back home.

The front border is getting a little shaggy...but the hummingbirds are not complaining! The paper wasps nest under the eves continues to grow and is creeping out my son's friends...but we are unharmed in any way by the wasps, and I just think their paper nest is so cool.

The sweet peas are starting to flop over the wall, the way they are supposed to. They smell so good.

The perennial garden is blooming out pretty well, but there are still plenty of plants left to open.

Robert's garden...this is not the whole thing but it gives an indication of his gardening style. The newly sewn bed is more carrots. There is a new juicer in our future.
Note the weed bucket alongside the established carrot bed. I have filled it countless times.

And THIS is why I am sad about leaving. ("You reap what you sow, Mom", says my son darkly, disgruntled because I will not be in the kitchen for 12 whole days!) These are my "production flower beds" that are poised to explode with color while I am gone. I have caught up with the weeding and should have thinned the flower plants but that is hard to do because I don't know what half of them are. We used all kinds of seed mixes, leftover seeds, donated seeds, etc. But I do know the show is going to be spectacular.
Lots of flower fabrics and floral letters are going to be my harvest, too!
Those funny towering globes are last year's leeks going to seed. I left them in place for their visual charm, but it turns out they are a fantastic bee pasture, especially for honey bees.

Leek honey. Sounds charming, doesn't it?

So au revoir, mes amies! Catch you on the flip flop...and keep on enjoying your summer.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Floral 9 Patch, Center Left Block Embellished

I've been able to get a little time in on the Floral 9 Patch in between weeding, watering, and preparing for my trip.
I'm working my way from the outside in on this quilt, block by block, mostly. The center will be last.
As before with this quilt, my focus is on using the embellishments to shape the overall composition....

That's an overall shot...

....and here are some details. That purple rayon triangular trim is neat, isn't it? Lotsa bang for the buck...

I tried to carry over those little blue flowers with the yellow centers into the seam treatment alongside them.

Those thick herringbones done with 7mm ribbons were used to compensate for the seams they cover, which were too straight. I kept the colors and values close to the patches behind those seams so that they didn't stand out too much...just enough to help the eye move along there, but not stop for too long.
My idea of fun!

But it is really going to get hot today and tomorrow, so we'll be heading to the river....

The Washougal has the best swimming anywhere!!!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Sunday Morning Flowers

It's still the season of purples and pinks...the hot reds and oranges will come in a few weeks...

It sure smelled good gathering these this morning! With my favorite Portland radio station KINK playing acoustic music (Leo Kotke, a lifelong favorite, on at the moment)...well, it sounds good too. They have a live acoustic stream......

A happy and blessed Sunday, everybody!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Pat Winter's Comfort Doll Project

In her June 23, 2007 post on her blog, Gatherings, my friend Pat Winter initiated a wonderful service project. Her idea was for stitchers to create "comfort dolls" to be given out to abused women who have taken refuge in shelters, to reach out to them and bring them a little ray of love and support. She has all the information for this project on her blog, so do consider participating!
I just finished my very first doll. Right away as I began working on her I gained a new appreciation for the fine work of the soft doll makers out there...Stephanie Novatski sure comes to mind. I couldn't even get the arms turned on my doll...and look here how Stephanie has made individual fingers on the hands of her Hoffman Challenge doll! Amazing.
I ended up adding the lower arms on separately, which worked o.k. And I used beads for those hands...

This doll is about 6" tall.
I'll be delivering her in person to Pat, as I am stopping by her home in Indiana on my way from Chicago (where I'm flying into from Portland) to Michigan next week. I am so excited to be able to spend time with this dear friend!!! To actually sit in her studio, swing on her porch swing, stroll through her garden, and most importantly, to walk her favorite beach on Lake Michigan with her...what a rare treat!!!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Just Piecing Around...

You all know how I love to piece, and don't get to do it as much as I would like to...mainly because I usually work on largish crazy quilts, and once the piecing frenzy is over, it takes months of embellishment to finish a quilt.
But I had four little projects to piece for an upcoming trip I'm taking, so I had a blast whipping them up yesterday.
Next week I'm traveling to the annual Girl's Week with my cousin, sister-in-law, and my Uncle Hal's widow at the old family cottage on Lake Michigan. I am bringing stitching projects for us all to work on as we while away the glorious hours on that porch I love so dearly.

We are going to make soft jewelry bags...basically a long block folded into thirds, with the sides sewn up and a front flap hanging over. Because my ladies are not quilters, I prepared their blocks for them, but I am going to teach them some embellishment techniques and stitches. One of the gals, Deb, is a World Class Cross Stitcher, so I am going to bring some waste canvas along with some of Pam Kellogg's wonderful cross stitched CQ seam designs, (a superb free online resource: thank you, Pam!!!) and have Deb teach me a thing or two, too.

I took a few pictures throughout the morning of my Piecing Party...

I have found I like drawing the block's piecing pattern onto my foundation fabric. This acts as a guideline for when I start sewing and flipping my fancy fabrics...but as you will see, the four blocks I made are similar in their pattern but definitely not the same. Keyword: guideline! Here is my pattern taped onto my "lightbox" ready for tracing onto the foundation fabric.

I ran out of muslin for the foundation so chose some old pre-printed "lace" panels from my sane quilt stash. I've had it for 25 years so don't need to keep saving it! I like that it is lightweight with a slightly loose weave...easier for stitching through later.

These floral initials will be the front flaps of the bags.

Each block has some lace pieced in it somewhere. I like the way this heavy lace essentially turns that patch visually into a large scale print. The green linen below it was already sewn and flipped; then I machine basted the lace over it before sewing on the next piece.

There we go, all tucked into place. The edge of the lace makes a nice pre-fab seam treatment, doesn't it? The great Martha Green (crazy quiilter extraordinaire) would call that a "con", and she'd be right.

This time the lace is machine basted to the patch before it is sewn and flipped as one unit. Here the lace acts to divide a largish plain patch, so I get lots of added visual interest for virtually no extra work. Another con.

This shows how part of the block is pieced into a chunk before the chunk is sewn on and flipped.
Isn't that hand-dyed silk shibori AWESOME? My friend Vicki Day did that...

Here are two of the bags-to-be, ready to be interfaced and have their edges zig-zagged, and then handed over to my gals to sew on.

And here are the other two.
I started throwing some seam treatments onto mine yesterday at the 4th of July party we went to...a ten year old girl was watching me and occaisionally throught the evening she would shake her head and say, "You never stop sewing do you?"
Nope, I never do....

This is where the stitching action will be! My family has gathered on this porch for about 90 years now...we keep overlaying new summers of memories here, some tragic, some joyful. This summer's are going to be mellow....