Friday, November 30, 2007

Beading the Border Blocks, Part 1

To keep the overall texture consistent on the crazy pieced areas of my quilt, I decided the border blocks had to be beaded. So I have begun the slow march around the perimeter of my "H" quilt. A-beading I must go! This is a time for discipline and perseverance!
What I really want to do is play with all my (as yet untouched) new supplies from Houston, which are imploring me to use them from a nearby table.
However, committment is committment!

I am varying the size and spacing of the beads in the border blocks as I did in the central section.

It was fun putting that flag in there for the Old Marine.

That little gold fan opens and is interactive!
These pictures constitute only one quarter of the border blocks to be beaded. I need to watch a looonnngggggg mini-series to get me through this. Any suggestions?

My eventual reward!...
Many of these supplies were given to me by their manufacturers in order for me to review them for CQMagOnline next year, and to create samples using them for their booths. I wouldn't have been able to go this insane with my credit card....
Isn't that flocked fabric on the right cool? It is felt made from recycled water bottles!

So I am motivated to finish this beading.....

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Learning Opportunities

Word by now has gotten around the blogs about Sharon B's new challenge for next year, but I want to weigh in that I think she has a brilliant idea for how to keep stitchers pushing on their artistic and design development.
There's the link to her thorough description of what will be involved...but basically this is a monthly challenge where Sharon will present a key concept (shape, color, or maybe theme) and encourage stitchers to apply that to fabric, developing and pushing it towards a resolved design in a finished piece....whether a crazy quilt block, a page in a fabric book, whatever one wants using various techniques. As usual, Sharon has structured this challenge to be open-ended so that it can fit in well with the individual needs of the participants. Those who join in are encouraged to blog their progress weekly, sending links of their work to Sharon's comment section so that everyone will have an easy way to see how others are taking up this challenge.
All in all, it sounds really interesting...and even though I am such a one-tracked person when it comes to my projects, I am going to really try to break away and work on these challenges month to month.

Another opportunity to hone ones' crazy quilt and fiber arts skills is being presented by the Texas Federation of Fiber Artists. Their Dallas chapter is hosting their 2008 convention on February 1-3 at the Southfork Hotel in Richardson, Texas (a suburb of Dallas). Judith Baker Montano will be teaching two courses, and registration is open to the public, i.e. non-members of the federation. will get you to their home page to learn more about the convention and the organization putting it on. I've taken a few classes with Judith and she is marvelous!

And finally....this isn't about learning, this is just plain fun...a great UTube video my son sent to me that is so cute and sweet, a handsome hunk rapping about his little kitty. "The Mean Kitty Song"

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Filling In With Beads

The more beading I add to the interior of the patches, the more the cumulative effect has me excited. I still don't plan on beading the fans or the letter "H", but the little border blocks are starting to tell me--insistently--that they want the beading treatment too.

We all know I don't want work on this quilt to end, so I am starting to listen to them. Plus, my favorite local bead supplier, BeadCats, is having an open house this week-end. Normally they only sell online, but before Christmas they literally cover every square inch of surface area in one of their homes with their beads so people like me can come and buy. (I don't know anywhere else locally that has the supply of size 15 seedbeads I am going to need for the border blocks either.) I will be sure and take my camera so you can see the open house in action. It's a lot of fun.

All the black area around the central H is now beaded with flat black #11 seed beads.

The same beads are used in all four corner backgrounds. The spacing is by eyeball...close enough!

Once I got all those boring black beads out of the way, I started to have some fun varying the size and spacing of my colored beads. Much of this was already done; I am now filling in all the patches that are still "blank".

Some of my choices got pretty big, too!

And some of the beads are stacked on those itty bitty black sequins, just for some contrast, and to tie in a little more black.

I still have another day on the interior patches of the central section...and those border blocks won't take that much longer, will they?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Chainstitch on Trim Complete

Well, that was a fun little 3 day chore! All four corners are finished now.

There is still so much work left to do on this quilt...I've decided to bead the rest of the patches in the inner section, though not the fans. And the background of the central "H", and the black corner sections will be beaded as well...this is my equivalent to adding quilting.
So that's quite a bit of beading....
And then there is the label going on the back. But it is not going to be just a label. I want to have some photos of my Uncle Hal from a few different periods of his life, and my favorite one of him and me...and the watercolor he did, 55 years later when he was finally able to face his experience in paint, of landing at Iwo Jima....I might arrange these photos like a page from a graphic novel.
Anyway, it will take some time to do...

And then there is the whole process of structurally finishing the quilt with the false back, fancy back, and binding....which in this case is going to be ruched. And then there is the hanging sleeve...If I am done by Christmas that will be great!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Finishing Details for the H Quilt

Thank you all so much for your sweet and kind comments about that glad you like it! I like it, too.
And the pies were good!!!

The last major detail before I finish this quilt is to outline the double inner border of ribbon trim with some chain stitching. This was always in the plan, but had to go last, as I wasn't sure which colors I would want to use.

The red trim has a variageted Valdani #8 cotton was the inner, brown trim that was hard to choose for. This nice collection of hand-dyed cotton perle threads, also size #8, is from a lovely family-owned company called Weeks Dye Works. I got these from them in Houston at Quilt Market.

I thought two colors would be a bit more interesting than one here.
One corner down, three to go....finishing this up is making me kind of sad!

But both boys are home to take my mind off it!
What a study in contrasts brothers always are...Max the computer whiz (who has just been offered a real job with Amazon upon graduation this spring), and Chad the jock. What a pair to draw to....
They're out cruising electronics stores at the moment in celebration of Black Friday.

No one ever tells us when we are new moms how strange the transition period is between when they are boys and when they are is a poignant time for me!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Waste Canvas Lettering Complete

Blogging on Thanksgiving morning! I am about to step into 4 hours of joyful work in the kitchen, but my goal was to get the letters finished on the H quilt and pictures up for you to see before I start my cooking marathon.
I am really happy with how these came out. They enhance the vintage quality of this quilt for sure, and properly honor my Uncle Hal.

You can see the quilt needs some serious blocking, but I am sure it will straighten up.

It is highly unlikely that anyone in his entire life called H "Harold"!

The youngest of the 4 Bryant brothers, H was named for his father.

From the time he was 18, H was a Marine first and last. He was with Charlie Company, 1st Battalian/21st Marines/3rd Marine Division, a humble American hero of the battle of Iwo Jima.

Here is an overall view...the writing totally changes the affect of this quilt, does it not?

O.K., it is on to the pies.......Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Why We Quilt

This is the bottom line, to me, of why we all do what we do with our fabric....seeing a loved one so cozy under our quilts! My niece Naomi was here for the week-end, bringing huge rays of sunshine with her. She still needed to snuggle under a quilt, though...winter's coming closer!
Love you, Bomie!

Removing the Waste Canvas

After my lettering was stitched through the waste canvas and directly onto my quilt (includingover seams and some previous stitching), I clip the canvas close to my lettering and then pull out the threads of the mesh with tweazers.

There is something innately satisfying about this!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Adding Lettering to the "H" Quilt

I have been anticipating this step toward finishing up the "H" quilt with great pleasure! I'm at the point where I get to cross-stitch the inscription onto this memorial quilt to my Uncle Hal.
I am using 14 count waste canvas with the letters drawn onto it with gel pen...this after spending a day doing a paper mock-up (I made b&w copies of the canvas to use as my graph paper). I had to make sure all the words would fit in their alloted spaces.

I chose my font from this wonderful book that Sharon Boggin pointed us to awhile back on her blog. (Sorry I can't find the exact post, but if you Google Linn Skinner I know you can track down this book.) My font's design is attributed to a German named Schonsperger, possibly from the early 1500's.

Here is the paper mock-up of the first corner's phrase. If you click on the picture you should be able to see it better. It says, "IN MEMORY".

Glad I did the mock-up first, so that I could adjust for little spacing issues before permanently marking the waste canvas with my gel pen. Here is the canvas, basted into place and ready for stitching.

I decided to use yellow thread so it would be very easy to read the lettering against the black background. (Remember, the canvas will be gone.) The yellow stitching also picks up some of the yellow/orange in the main section of quilt quite well.

Rather than using a double strand of silk floss, I am going with a single cotton perle, very fine, sold under the name "Flower Thread", by DMC. I'm using a nice fine milliner's needle, too, as it has no bulge at the "eye" end, thus enabling me to pull the needle through those itty bitty squares in the mesh quite easily.
So the next week or so will have me spelling out my love to my Uncle Hal. This is really bringing him is wonderful!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Art of Turkish Needlelace: OYA!

A few commentators on my last post asked about is in, what is it? (And why would I spend the entire proceeds of the sale of a nice sewing machine on a stash of it?)

For a great introduction, read Barbara Blankenship's article about oya in CQMagOnline here. There is contact information at the end of the article for purchasing oya from our lovely friend Rengin in Istanbul, too.

Here are some pictures of this wonderful and ancient needleart from the villages of Turkey. I love using it, particularly on my floral crazy quilts, because it adds such wonderful dimension and interest.

This is a picture Rengin sent me of some of her stock. Each flower is about an 1" or so in diameter, handmade using simply a needle and thread (rayon, I believe).

Another picture from Rengin. Oya are traditionally worn as borders on scarves. These are for sale.

This is one of several necklace/earring sets that Rengin has for sale...she has found a wonderful artist who makes these. The necklace flower looks to be about 3" wide.

This is all that remains of my personal oya stash. You will notice there is some lovely needlelace trim in the upper left of this picture. Often seed beads are incorporated into the trim as it is made.
Rengin says that this is a dying art, so you can see why I want to stock up!
I also love the idea of monetarily supporting the women in the villages still creating the oya.

If you are interested in purchasing some oya, I encourage you to link to Barbara's article above, read more about oya, and contact Rengin.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Potholder #2

I had to try those Tsukineko Inks!
And I must say, I like them a whole lot better than the paintsticks for this application. The colors are clearer, go on like a breeze, don't gunk up the threads, and are more blendable.
Have a look and see what you think.....

This time I decided to trace Pam's image, as I didn't want all those blanket-stitch looking lines on there. They took too long to sew, and weren't necessary for the design, so I got out my trusty 25 year old lightbox.

I used an erasable quilter's pencil to mark with.

This was much faster to sew, and the line is not so heavy without the black printed ink behind the stitching. This cotton is interfaced, by the way.

I am just getting started applying the inks mixed with the aloe. What a slick trick; I give this technique four stars!!!!! The ink did not lose saturation, and did not run a bit. It was easy to get quite articulate with those fantastix coloring tools, too.

Finished, heat set, rinsed, ironed.

I went through my cotton stash to find green and black prints. Amazing that I came up with five of them!
I tried to do a better job on lining up the binding, too.

The decorative stitches on my bare-bones little Brother Pacesetter PC 2800 machine are very nice, but......

I won this new machine as my prize for being a finalist in the $100,000 Quilting Challenge, and I have yet to take it out of its box. I keep thinking I am going to sell it on Craig's List so I can buy a ton of oya from my friend Rengin in Istanbul. That way I will have a stash for life and could sell some on Etsy too.
When I brought out the manual just to see what kind of decorative stitches were on the machine, I was overwhelmed by the choices, diagrams, buttons, etc.
Does anyone else get turned off by digital choices and steep learning curves like me? Sad, isn't it?
I am still thinking about that oya.......

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Potholder for Mary

Reading the blogs of my fellow textile practitioners has always been stimulating to me, but these days especially there are lots of ideas and approaches that I just want to try out so much! I'm loving Debra Spincic's use of machine embroidery in the center of her crazy quilt blocks. Cat over at Baumcat has been inspiring and charming me with her small scale crazy quilted style pieces. Rian Ammerman is whipping up some hotpad trivets for hostess presents this coming holiday season....and Pam Kellogg gave us a vintage rose embroidery pattern by Alice Brooks over at KittyandMeDesigns.

All of these elements came together in a wee spasm this afternoon, when I just wanted to make something. Nothing fancy, certainly not A.R.T....just something fun, fast, and maybe useful.
My sister could use a new potholder, so that's what I decided to make. What she really needs is a new coffeemaker....she has the coffeemaker from hell. But for today I started with a potholder. You need one to make coffee at her house, as the carafe for her machine has no handle, and is from a different machine so it doesn't fit properly.

This is pretty pathetic, Seester. (I know, my kitchen is worse.) You must tilt the carafe in there just right to get the coffee to trickle down into it, and then you need a potholder to carefully tilt and pull out the hot, full carafe.

So, a potholder for Mary's coffeemaker!
Rather than print up Pam's pattern and then trace it onto cloth, I decided just to print it directly ON to the cloth.

I just stitched over the black ink with a straight machine stitch and black thread. This part was boring, I'll admit. But it has that "hand-guided" look!

I was all ready to use that neat trick I learned in Houston, where you thicken the Tsukineko inks with aloe...except the only aloe in my house was colored green. So I got out the paintsticks instead, along with Shelly Stokes book on how to use them, and a tole painting book I got on the cheap when our local Ben Franklin went out of business (boo hoo).

You need stencil type brushes to apply the paintstick pigment, so I sacrificed some old funky brushes by giving them a stubby haircut. Voila, stencil brushes just the right size.

I used parchment paper for my palette, just like Shelly said to do. I scrubbed my brushes into the paint on the palette, then applied it to the cloth. The paint went on fine, but it gunked up the stitching. I went over the black threads later with a brush dipped in paint thinner, and that cleaned the thread off fairly well.

Fast forward here! I heat set the paint (not being able to wait 24 hours for it to dry). Then pieced my rose into a little CQ block (8" X 8")...then actually used my machine to embroider the seams. It's been years since I've done that. What instant gratification!
Here are the components of my potholder. I used two layers of the Insul-Bright batting. I don't want my sister to burn herself!

Well shoot, I was way too lazy to make a proper binding for this little project. I just fused an ultra-suede binding to the front and the back of the edges and zigzagged them down. The unevenness kind of wrecks the nice effect but oh well! If it was too perfect looking she wouldn't use it anyway....

I did go and buy some clear aloe so next time I will try that trick with the inks on the other embroidery pattern...

Monday, November 12, 2007

We Are Family

Thanks, you all, for your fun comments on the grievous mess in my sewing room! It's nice to know I am not the only one....

I've been offline and gone for the last 4 days, attending a reunion with my three siblings and our spouses, kids, and so far, one grandchild. My sister did an AMAZING job housing us and feeding us. We all had laugh hangovers every morning...I fell asleep (being one of the earlier ones to turn in at night) listening to the sounds of waves of mirth rising up the stairs from the living room.

We siblings are the ones seated...our mom has been gone for over thirty years, and our dad moved on from our family when we were young children, so we four have stuck together tightly through all these decades.
God has showered me with blessings!!! And may your family receive those same blessings of friendship, unconditional love, and flat out hilarity, too....

Now, to go catch up on my blogging pals!.....

Thursday, November 8, 2007

"The Mess Where Pretty Little Things Are Made"

...This is the title of a post that Alma Stoller (whose blog I read with relish) just put up on her blog, showing pictures of her workspace. Then she dared her readers to show theirs.

OK, Alma, yours was just chaotic enough that I feel brave enough here to reveal my own!
When I am going full bore on a project, I let keeping things organized slide...I'm just too busy using stuff to put it away! I need everything out where I can see it! I only clear the decks when it gets to the point where I can't find something as soon as I put it down in here....

Do I really want to do this? It is actually quite embarrassing!....

I was so proud of myself when I got all my threads organized in these little plastic boxes from the Dollar Store. All that silk floss dumped out is my Vickie Clayton stash from last Christmas. On the window sill are my Dodger Barbie, Jake and Elwood Blues, my grandmother's matador dolls from Spain, and the other girls in my collection. Beneath the table are bins of silk and velvet fabrics, occasionally all folded.

The crazy quilt "small pieces" stash, organized by color. Art supplies and fabric printing stuff piled on top. Yes, I do know where exactly everything is...

Machine threads, books, craft supplies; sky, Sonji, and repro fabrics, wools and odd yardage on top. More cottons in bins below the books.

OK , the bead storage definitely needs help. (Really, I feel so exposed here! What a little exhibitionist I am!) I can hardly fit all the drawers in at once anymore. Wide silk ribbon and funky craft ribbon live here too. See how nicely my rolls of paper fit crammed against the wall?

Here is the central work table (I'm not showing you the sewing machine table or the desk table or the second table under the windows with all my new stuff from Houston on it) where I am actually sitting and typing to you all now. The design wall is blank at the moment, as the H quilt takes possession of it while I am not working on it. You can see more boxes of fabric beneath it. Max made that handsome wooden step stool in 9th grade shop class and I use it every day.

This room is a wreck!!!!
OK, who else is game to give an unvarnished look into their Creative Mess?

Tomorrow I must leave this fecund aerie, however, for a long week-end/fantastic family reunion/early Thanksgiving/celebration of my niece's 30th birthday in San Diego at my sister's house. Back at you all next Tuesday!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

"H" Quilt, Fans and Beading

First I want to thank everyone for their very kind comments about and support for "Crazy for Flowers"....I appreciate you all!

Even though I got filled to the brim with inspiration, new ideas, and new supplies too while at Quilt Market in Houston, I am back to completing the "H" quilt...starting to come down the homestretch here, and I am constitutionally incapable of exploring other textile work until this is done.

So I've been adding more little fan embroideries to the large central body of the quilt, and have begun beading inside the patches as well. It is a version of quilting in a way, providing texture to all those "blank" spaces. Some of the beads are going on on top of teeny tiny black sequins, just for variety.

These dang wiggly bugle beads gave me fits, and I will probably cut them off and redo them.

This fan will probably have some more spokes added to it down the line. I do love those amber beads!

This quilt is getting way over the top, but H would like that.

Here's a larger overall shot that shows how those seed beads are starting to fill in as overall texture.

...and more seed beads. I am varying the spacing and size of them too a little bit, just for contrast.

When all the beading and fans are done, the next step is going to be a new one for me: I'm going to do some waste-canvas lettering in the black corner patches....I bought some evil 18 count canvas for the fine print, too!