Wednesday, January 23, 2008

New Issue of CQMagOnline Now "Live"!

Rissa Peace Root has done a terrific job as the new editor of CQMagOnline, pulling together a fabulous and informative issue for the first quarter of 2008.
Rissa is an accomplished needlewoman and her range is wider than even our beloved crazy quilting have a visit to her blog if you haven't before. She is a spinner, knitter, embroiderer...not to mention a passionate dog lover and belly dancer!


I have pulled together four large 1 1/2 gallon ziplock bags, each filled with the supplies needed for a new project, ready to go into my suitcase for the week at Point Bonita. I don't know if I will start on each of the four, only get partway through one, or be diverted by something entirely different once I get there (like last year's cat competition.)

The first project is to embellish this block, 8" X 8" finished, which will join the work of some other stitchers for this year's hospital quilt. Last year our theme was purple hearts; you can view that quilt here; this year it's butterflies.

My next project is going to be very similar to this month's Take It Further challenge piece, except it will be a piece built around the letter "K"...for Kreinik!

And then there are Manjiree's tomatos, with which I have fallen totally in love. Manjiree has graciously allowed me to use her imagery in what as rapidly shaping up as my Tomato Quilt.
I found another painting of tomatoes by a wonderful artist in Northern Ireland (thank you, Google Images) with whom I have communicated. Julius Guzy has also graciously given me permission to print and use some of his can view them here.
I am very excited at the prospect of combining the beautiful paintings by these two fine artists with the genre of crazy quilting. It feels experimental which is great.

...and then there is my Bad Girl Self who just really wants to come out and raise trouble.
This iron on stitching pattern is from Sublime Stitching.
I've used a bit of Tsukineko ink and also a lick of acrylic paint to color in the image a little bit. Next comes the outline stitching.
I have some wicked plans for this will no doubt be what I work on first!

So that's all for now....I'll report back on February 4th....
Til then, happy stitching everyone!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Friendship Block

Usually at Point Bonita, someone secretly organizes a friendship quilt for one of our's fun to contribute a block, see the quilt come together, and often get presented to the surprised recipient at the end of the week.
This year one of my VERY favorite people there will be getting a quilt, and our blocks are to have the theme of flowers and leaves--any color, any technique, 8" square.

I thought this would be a great way to play with some scraps of my photo transfered floral fabrics...I save every tiny bit of them.

I will cross stitch my name in that little silk patch in the center after I get other embellishment, though, as this is going to be quilted.

This sure was fun!!! Thanks for your well-wishes about my time there...I plan on drinking lots of coffee and sleeping as little as possible!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Cottage Portrait, Finished!

Thanks for all your sweet comments on this little project...obviously it was quite a personal one for me. Glad you liked those rocks, too! Of course, that concept of the glued-on, pre-threaded buttons can be used for anything...bottlecaps, shells, coins, etc...that you don't want to drill.

It was just a morning's work to flystitch those little seams on the frame...keeping the stitching unobtrusive and uniform...again, they are not supposed to be the interest here, so I kept them tame. I liked adding that tad of blue with the silk thread I used, though.

I employed the same foam core method as I wrote about here to finish off the piece. It measures 7 1/4" X 7 1/2".

These are a blast to should try it!

This coming Friday I am leaving for my annual week-long quilt retreat at Point Bonita, California. Between now and then I need to figure out what I'm going to be working on for those 6 days in the studio....from 6 a.m. til 9 p.m. that's where I'll be.
Last year I worked on the "H" quilt...this year my focus will be lots of little projects so I had better start getting organized! I'll let you know what I come up with to do before I leave...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Cottage Portrait...Rocks!

The embellishment around the cottage portrait itself could not compete with the delicate stitching on the printed photograph. I wanted it to hopefully complement it, and set it off, not divert the eye.
So I got to thinking...something symbolic and of the place....

This is the beach right below where the cottage sits, up on that bank. For some reason, the rocks that wash up on the sand here can be very flat and perfectly round or oval. I often collect them when on walks, and have a goodly stash of them here at home. Momentos.
And they would make a really nice little border around the cottage portrait, too!

No drilling for me. I used four-hole buttons, pre-threaded with super strong Silamead thread, and glued them onto the backs of the rocks with E6000 glue, letting them cure overnight.

Then, one by one I threaded each of the four hanging threads into a needle and brought them through to the back of my fabric.

On the back, I tied off my treads using a triple square knot, and then clipped off the excess.

Combining the rocks with some ribbon would make a pleasing contrast, was the idea...this is River Silk's "Sand Box" collection, which I bought last fall while in Houston. (I am always buying embellishment supplies that remind me of Lake Michigan.)

And here you have it.
It may not be the absolute best most appropriate border for the piece (it is a little heavy), but my cousin will be reminded of all our walks together, and she will know EXACTLY what I am getting at here.
I just need to do a little fly-stitching along the seams there, stretch it over foam core, back it, and mail this off to her!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Cottage Portrait Frame

I had to do some auditioning of fabrics and playing around before I decided what I wanted for the frame. While this is a vintage-inspired portrait, with its oval shape and the cottage being so old (built in the 1890's)...I ended up using some contemporary hand-dyed silk fabrics for my frame, and the treatment I have in mind for the embellishment around the oval is definitely not traditional.

Ironing and pinning my fabrics into place is the easiest way to go here.

I did use a paper template as a guide so that I could get my oval somewhat uniform.

Essentially, this is an applique process, so using the right thread is important. I won this old silk thread collection in its funky Bakelite holder off of Ebay years can see I am using up that thread! It makes a nice invisible stitch, especially on the silk fabrics I am using.
As you can see, I haven't trimmed my border fabrics yet..I applique on the chunk, and then trim it. I piece the same way.

I run a line of stitching around the perimeter and then trim the fabric.

The values of the frame are pretty close to those in the picture. But after the embellishments go on, that will change!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Embroidered Cottage Portrait, Continued

This place truly is my favorite subject...
My Uncle Hal remembered Sunday morning church services on the porch shown in this picture, back in the 1920's...back then the services would rotate from cottage to cottage along the row all through the summer.
There were Fourth of July parades conducted with great pomp as well, with fireworks blown up over the water at night.
My dad had teen-aged parties there where he charmed one and all with his piano playing...he went there with my mom for their of my brothers died there when we were children ( I wouldn't let my own boys go near water without me watching them like a paranoid crazy mommy for years because of that) own summers there were the light of my youth, even when all hell broke loose in my family, beginning with Freddie's drowning...
....and still the place never changes. It exists outside of time. I go there now as a member of the older generation, finding such peace and love and beauty as my extended family has knit back together in our renewed appreciation for one another....

I added a tiny bit of blue Tsukineko ink, mixed with clear aloe gel to keep it from speading, into the sky area above the roof peak...and I've got to redo that stitching along the edge of the porch on the right...then I'll be ready to work on the CQ frame.

On another note, and looking forward towards my next big project.....I found a new blogger who does a painting a day using oils. Manjiree's work just really speaks to me. I wrote her and asked her if I could use a few of her images to transfer onto fabric for my next project...which will be about gardens and the food we grow in them....and she graciously gave permission, also to letting me post some of her images here. Do visit her blog so you can see more of her work.
Thanks, Manjiree!!!

Won't they look FABULOUS in a crazy quilt?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Embroidered Cottage Portrait

Thank you all for your very sweet comments on my TIF for January. You are so encouraging!
In answer to Judith's question, yes, I did have those goals for the challenge in mind that I stated in my last post.

I'm now embarked on a little project that will be a birthday gift for my dear cousin Carol. She and her brother are the owners of the old family cottage now, and she graciously hosts me there on the banks of Lake Michigan for a week every summer. I thought this would be a nice way to let her know how much she means to me.

There are a few hours' stitching on here at this point...
Can you see where the oval shape is marked in pencil? I want to make a little crazy pieced frame around the central picture once it is all embroidered.
But I've only got until Monday to get the whole thing completely finished and I'd better keep my needle in gear!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

TIF January, Finished!

This month's challenge took half the month!

But I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process. Here is what I accomplished:

--My first time using one of my own printed floral letters as the centerpiece to a small quilt was encouraging.
--I wanted to "tune up" my traditional stitching, while trying out Joan Waldman's book.
--I experimented with different ways to "mark" my fabrics to get better looking stitching.
--I wanted to try out the Kreinik threads, which I found delightful to work with. The metallics obviated the need for beads in many ways, too...a pleasant discovery.
--My interest in using waste canvas for lettering has only grown. I still need a lot more experience matching the proper threads to the size of canvas used, however.

Here is my completed project, measuring 16" X 16". I will stretch it over foam core after I take it down to my annual quilt retreat for show and tell at the end of this month.

The texture of the lace, braided cord, and rick rack is better suited to this piece than that plain old white inner border, don't you think?

Now that I am in between projects I HAVE to clean up this sewing room!

One other note....the $100,000 Quilting Challenge for 2007 was won by Sharon Schamber, whose same quilt "Scarlett Serenade", was also a Best of Show winner in Houston a few years back.
That's two years in a row this contest has been won by the machine quilting category. So come on all you crazy quilters...this is the year to step up to the plate!
And thanks to all of you who voted for "Crazy for Flowers". I truly appreciate it!

Monday, January 14, 2008

TIF Day 7: Nora

Yes, CQMagOnline's retired editor Nora Creeach is the object of my admiration! She tirelessly promoted crazy quilting via her work on the magazine (without pay) for many years; she also has faced health difficulties with great courage and humor. She's been a real inspiration to me.
Nora, you are the best!

I finished the fourth side of my CQ pieced border...

Say goodbye to that white inner border because by tomorrow it will be histoire. It has bugged me all along, but I've had plans for it, and you will see!

I used 15 count waste canvas, and a double strand of the Kreinik Silk Bella thread to spell out Nora's name. (I kept the value of the letters close to the value of the background fabric, as I wanted it to be subtle, not jumping out at the viewer first thing.) That thread is wonderful...but I will never used it doubled in waste canvas again. What a hassle!!!!
Single strand would have meant fainter letters, but the stitching wouldn't be so cramped and wonky. Plus the tangling on the back would have been far less.

But that's not all I did today....

Here is my longtime photographer, the fabulous Bill Bachhuber of Portland, Oregon, lining up a detail shot of the H quilt. Bill is sooooo good at what he does!

Had a great time with Robert's side of the family in LA over the week-end, with the birthday "boy" doing so well at 85.
Wish I had had my camera for the lovely sunset walk along Manhattan Beach that my sweetie and I took!....But as always, no matter how long or short a time I am away, it is always so great to get home.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Different "Marking Methods": TIF, Day 6

If I can find a fast and efficient way to "mark" my seams before I embellish them, in order to create slightly more even stitches, I will use it. Why not? (I use quotation marks because I do not like using actual pencil or pen marks on my fabrics if I can avoid it.)

So I've been experimenting with a few different methods...and they have potential to be quite useful in the future!

Do note how carefully that drawing was done! ;-) This motif is from Joan Waldman's book, Quilt Savvy: Embroidery Stitches.
This is Golden Threads tracing paper that is used by sane quilters for drawing out machine quilting designs, then basting it over their quilts, and machine quilting right through it. (I went to the manufacturer's booth while at the Houston Quilt Market, and they are incredibly lovely people.)
This paper was designed to tear out easily after the stitching is done.

And indeed it did. I had just done the chain stitch through the paper, and added the other elements free-hand after removing it. I don't think I would have gotten the spacing of the fan "blades" or the curve along the top as nice without the paper. Thumbs up on that.

Next I tried the graph paper method that Joan presents in her book.

A narrow strip of graph paper is basted into place, and the stitching goes over it. I thought this would be helpful for accurately spacing the base element of a seam quickly.

And indeed it was. Another thumbs up.
All this must be obvious to so many of you stitchers out there, but I am slow on the uptake in some matters! How to obtain accuracy, for example....I do like the imperfect look of hand stitching, as with my fly stitching here, but it is still good to have spacing right, otherwise the effect of the seam treatment can be compromised by sloppiness.

Finally, I tried good old Tiger Tape. This product was also developed for the sane quilting world, to help get those hand quilting stitches even and perfect!

I planned a simple cross stitch seam here, because.....
.....a continuous line of cross stitch will unify this curve, and after it is on you won't notice that the piecing seams don't line up nicely in that corner of the white border. I use this gambit all the time.
The only problem with the Tiger Tape is that it was rough on that smooth satin when I gently pulled it off, causing some fibers to pull out. One needs to be aware of that, and not press the adhesive tape in place with to0 much pressure.

Here is the third side of the border complete. You can see the cross stitching came out nicely on the left there, and that it reads as one smooth curve.
One side to go! This one is going to have some waste canvas lettering on it.

JoWynn mentioned this book in one of her posts. It sent me scooting off to AbeBooks, my preferred online purveyor of hard-to-find used books. My copy arrived in the mail from London last week, and I am thrilled! There are dozens of alphabets charted out for cross stitchers. I am going to pick one out and work on it this week-end, while my DH and I fly to Los Angeles to help his father celebrate birthday #85.
Back at you Monday!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Lure of Waste Canvas...TIF Day 5

The Take It Further Challenge is off to a great start across the web. If this is new to you, do check out Sharon Boggon's blog that explains what is going on. She is the fabulous instigator of all this purple and green activity!

My experience with using waste canvas for the lettering of my "H" quilt was so enjoyable to me that I wanted to try it out again on this month's challenge. I used one charted lace pattern--in teeny tiny 18 count--generously supplied to me by needlepoint designer friend, Judy Harper. (You can see more of her elaborate charted lace here; Judy gave me a beginner pattern to start with.)
I also used large-holed waste canvas to try out one of the cross stitch based seam treatments in Joan Waldman's book. No way would my large X's be even without some help.

This is the canvas basted into place with the stitching completed.

The canvas has been removed. You can see that the yellow cross-stitched pattern below took a lot more work. Very dainty; it looks like a trim.

Here is a shot of the completed second side....

....and an overall view of the N at the halfway point (along with some of my gorgeous stash of Kreinik threads).
There is a fan in its future.....

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Take It Further...January, Day 4

I am using Joan Waldman's book brought out by the American Quilter's Society, Quilt Savvy Embroidery Stitches, to inspire my seam treatments. These are very traditional and based on lots of research into old crazy quilts. It just seemed like a good fit for this project, something formal.

It is sloooowwww going for me, though. I find myself using single strand floss for some of the seam elements, ME, the queen of the fast and chunky!

So far I like the look a lot, but I am going to have to address the fact that the border is going to overwhelm the letter....if I don't embellish the letter too. I kind of planned on doing that, but now I know I have to.

There is a seam treatment on here that Pam Kellogg graciously charted out for us, too. Thanks, Pam!....

A close up shot. I want my stitching to show up, but not be too contrasty either.

Sharon picked out a really nice palette for us.
I am not staying slavishly with it, however, but using it as a jumping off point. There have to be a few sparks flying, after all. For me that has meant veering into the reddish side of purple.

Oh....and thanks for all the pizaa suggestions, too! ;-)

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Take It Further...January, Day 3

I finished piecing the other two sides of the border then constructed my little wall-hanging (for that is what this will be). It is currently 16" X 16".
Those inner white borders are not perfect and the corners are not mitered. My Bad. But they will be covered by lace and stitching so I figured I could get away with it.

As piecing frenzies go, this was all too short-lived. But I do plan on doing another take on this using a different letter when this one is done. The concept has definite potential.

But there is another concept I am trying to refine and work with too, and many variations are in my future, esp. since I've been cranking on my bread machine A LOT over the holidays and want to keep on with it:

Turkey pepperoni, roasted garlic cloves, onion, green pepper, olives, mushrooms...cheddar, mozarella, and parmesan cheeses, all yummy is the crust that needs work. It tasted too olive-oily, had not enough salt, and I really need better pans.
The quest for the perfect pizza is part of my own personal Take It Further challenge!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Take It Further...January, Day 2

Yay, I FINALLY got a great print the very first time around on my fabric for my N!
I used:
*PPFD (prepared for dyeing) cotton sateen from Dharma Trading, pre-soaked in Bubble Jet Set, then ironed onto a full page label. The label paper guarantees smooth passage of my fabric through the printer.
*My new (used) Epson R1800 printer, set to Best Photo, Ultra Matte Presentation.

Even though you don't need to pre-treat fabric when printing with pigment based inks, such as the Epson uses, it helps to and here is why...the chemical coats the fiber molecules just a little bit, so that keeps the ink from dispersing quite as much as it normally would; hence the crisper image. I think the colors end up more vibrant as well.

The design challenges are about how to showcase the flowered letter without competing with it. The controlled palette helps, and also keeping a lid on abrupt changes in value within the frame, shading the darker patches toward the outside edges.
What kind of stitching to use will of course be the next big question.

It is so great to be working with green again! The "H" quilt had almost no green at all in it.


And now for those who Make My Day when it comes time to reading blogs. I have thought a lot about this, and I must say that I love the friendship aspect of blogging most of all. The artistic inspiration I see and read about is a close second, but matters of the heart count first every time.
Debra, Rian, Barbara C, Marty, Judith, Judy, Fran, Kay, JoWynn, Sharon, Pam, Julie, Susan, Vicki, Vero, Rengin, Robin, Sonji, Pat, and now my other Barbara B all are incredibly dear to me, and You All Make My Day.
There are other new friendships forming too as a natural development of our widening web of connections. If I forgot anyone it is because I am an airhead and not because I don't think the world of you, too!

Thank you so much for adding such richness to my life!!!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Take It Further...January, Part 1

"The Letter 'N' "...I well remember that song from Sesame Street about a million years ago.

I started my January TIF by printing up a paper copy of my N so that I could do a little design sketching before getting started on the sewing. Yes, this kind of planning was part of my goal for this challenge. Can't totally wing it every the time, can I?

I've used some "trash paper", as we called it in college, to overlay my first design idea. Essentially, I am framing the letter.

A second try. This time the lines are taking off from the pattern in the lace background. But they are too dominant, design wise.

This could work. The squiggly border is supposed to indicate lace.

Ah, the fun part...pulling fabrics! Nice how my letter here follows the color palette Sharon gave as an option for this first month's challenge. Greens and purples are showing up all over the web, it is so cool.

I was thinking I might couch some cording as a border somewhere in this piece, so here are the threads I will use to make my cording, also from Sharon's palette. They will end up in seam treatments as well.

Here are the threads wound onto their bobbins. I am using the Diva Cord Maker
that I bought in Houston last fall. It functions like the Japanese Kumihimo cord maker that Vicki Welsh wrote about here. It comes in three sizes and you can even use strips of fabric in the larger bobbins and make large funky cord out of that. Some people use a string of seed beads wound around one of the bobbins, and that line of beads adds great glimmer and texture to the cord as it is woven in. The possibilities are endless.
My friend Barbara Blankenship used the Cord Maker to create the tree she has on the beautiful crazy quilt she made for her son. See it here on her brand new blog; do click on the picture...and leave a comment to welcome her to blogging, too!

So here is my cord, made while watching Emeril AND 30 Minute Meals this morning on the Food Channel. Baked apples even now are cooling on my kitchen counter, thanks to Rachel Ray. (I am hoping that watching cooking shows as I sew will rub off on my culinary abilities. I keep the sound off, though.)
So tomorrow I will piece the background, print up the N on silk, and get to work here. Of course, I won't be stretching out this project over the whole month. All in one go, that is me.

Sharon B and Vero were very kind and picked me for one of their Make My Day blogging awards. Thanks so much, ladies! I am thinking about the ten blogs I am in turn supposed to am I going to choose from the 30 or so I stop in on regularly? Tomorrow I will let you know.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


I loved how Sharon B bit the bullet and posted her UFOs (that's Unfinished Objects, in case you don't know.) With the impetus of New Year's to propel me into the same kind of reckoning....I will post mine, too.
If you don't count unquilted sane tops, of which I have about 5 from many years ago, I only have two UFOs from my current stitching life as a crazy quilter. This is because I am a dogged one-tracked mind type of person, Taurus the bull forging ahead with blinders on. I do one thing at a time, start to finish. Period.
Except for these two items...

This was a warm-up waste canvas project before doing the lettering on my H quilt. I counted wrong somewhere in the center of the rose and put it away in mild disgust. But now that I look at it, who cares? I should finish this and piece it into a crazy quilt.

This was started at my Point Bonita quilt retreat two years ago. My brother Ben had sent me this image of the Holy Mother, which I really love; Debra Spincic did the image transfer for me.
I'm not sure why I stopped work on this, except I didn't like stitching through the batting. (I had tried building my piece directly onto batting instead of muslin, which was a mistake.)
But I would like to come back to Her I think.

But I will start in on my Take It Further challenge for January first. There is someone I very much admire for her courage....I won't invade her privacy by giving her name, but it does begin with.....

.......the letter "N".