Sunday, May 31, 2009

Spring CQ...Blue Butterfly

I'm enjoying beading these butterflies!
The top of the quilt needed some attention and final balancing, so one more butterfly flew in to help out.

This design was inspired by a little graphic on a food wrapper...truly!
I had thought the warm red and magenta beads would go in the center of the wings, but that didn't happen.

I'm glad I used the pink fabric for my base, however. It gives a warm undertone to the cool of the blue and silver beads.

All of the butterflies are appliqued on with a simple whip stitch.
It was fun bringing him in for a landing on these African daisies!

Just one more element to go and the embellishment on this quilt is really and truly done...I'll add some Sweet Woodruff "ground cover" along the bottom....

Friday, May 29, 2009

Debra Spincic's Butterflies

Debra Spincic, as most of you know, is opening her new Etsy store on June 7th, selling her hand-crafted machine-embroidered motifs and designs (she'll take custom orders, too.)

Well, I couldn't wait for her store to open, so ordered four butterflies to go onto my Spring CQ.
I am ecstatic with them!

(Please pardon the quality of my photos. I'm using an old digital camera until my Nikon gets back from the shop next week.)

This is how they arrived, on organza with stabilizer on the back, which was a breeze to tear off.

At Summerset's suggestion, I ran a thin line of fabric glue around the edges and let that dry before cutting out my butterflies. It was a wise move; I had almost no fraying or stitch loss whatsoever after I cut them out. It was easy to applique them into place.

I don't have their little antennae sewn on yet!
I chose to place some of them on a background of similar value and color. This was to add interest but not busyness. (Crazy quilts can get way too busy.)

This one found its perfect spot on the checkerboard tie fabric.

This yellow guy's distinct shape stands out, but color wise he still doesn't glaringly jump out at you.

This one begs to be noticed, however.
But the black in him is balanced out by the black in the hummingbirds that are on the quilt, so visually this butterfly completes a kind of circle around the quilt's center with the hummers.
I'll show you the overall effect after one more beaded butterfly finds a home up at the top....

Gratefulness Award

I've been nominated for the Attitude of Gratitude award by Summerset and here are the rules:

The Rules of Accepting and Sharing this Award
1. Put the logo on your blog or post
2. Nominate a few bloggers that show an attitude of gratitude
3. Link to your nominees within your post
4. Comment on their blogs to let them know they've received this award
5. Share the love and link to this post and the person who nominated you for the award.
6. Tell us how you've come to have an attitude of gratitude


As an ingredient to happiness, I can't think of anything more important than gratitude, so I was very touched when Summerset thought of me for this.
In my opinion, the attitude of gratitude transforms every experience into a positive and forward moving one; when we are grateful for whatever happens or to whomever comes into our lives, we learn fast and enjoy much...and we want to give back more (which also strengthens happiness.)

My life--itself the biggest gift--has given me so much to be grateful for husband and children, my precious siblings and their families, my country which I love so much, my home on the hill....this mysterious Creation that my Creator has placed us all in, so full of beauty and drama...and of course, my friends...
Freedom, time, will, joy, creativity, love...all these gifts of God make me grateful. The tough times and mistakes along the way have all been part of developing this attitude, so I am grateful for them too.

My recent experience teaching in Baltimore has given me so much to think about....and I would like to share this award with two bloggers who were instrumental in coaxing me into the new role of teacher...and who inspire me with their own positive and unique attitudes of gratitude.

Susan Elliot, of Plays with Needles
Robin Atkins, of Beadlust

Thanks for your continual inspiration....

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Happiest Tomatoes This Side of Italy

My husband Robert and I have been in the Tomato Zone for the past four days. He planted the seeds on March 15, and the three varieties he has nurtured so devotedly were ready to go into the ground.
Our varieties are Super Marzano for saucing, Sungolds for munching, and Tiffens for slicing. (We love the Super Marzanos; the other two are this year's experiments.)

Because Robert is such a fine gardener, I cast myself in the role of willing apprentice, and did whatever he instructed during our plant out. He loved that, obviously, and I learned a bunch.

So here is how it went!

All three of our varieties are "indeterminate", meaning they are vines and the plants will get really big. They need a support system, and Robert came up with a beauty (with help from the internet). The first post is going in here, and of course he is using a level.
Do please note the cut off rubber boots, now garden clogs. A practical man is my husband.

He is also quite exacting. Here he is measuring and marking exactly where the holes for the plants will be dug, down the center line he has stretched with twine.

The humble apprentice is here at work.
The soil is like chocolate cake mix...fluffy, rich, and yummy.

Once the holes are dug, Robert adds a large handful of comfrey leaves to each one. Comfrey will provide potassium to the plants...for a little article from Organic Gardening on why this is such a good idea, read here.
He added a little organic bone meal, too, for stem strength.

Here is a nice Tiffen, ready to go. Note the potato like leaves...of course you know that tomatoes and potatoes are kissin' cousins in the Solanaceae family.

This is actually one of the Marzanos going in...and it is saying, "Ahhhhh......" because its roots are going to be bathed in this....

There on the left, Black Gold itself. Compost from last year's weeding, grass clippings, and also innumerable buckets of kitchen scraps. (Never in 28 years of marriage have I had a disposal.)

It is The Good Stuff.

Oh yes, yes, yes!

A fine and subtle cultural point here: Robert snips off the bottom leaves that might have direct contact with the soil, so that they can't get diseased and threaten our happy plants with illness.
I tell him he thinks like a plant and that that is a high compliment.

The compost is watered in...I don't have a picture of the water supply, but this being Robert's garden, you know it is not just plain water.
He has a stock tank with a piece of glass over the the water is warmed by the sun. He's added some liquid seaweed to it too. This is gravity fed by hose to my waiting 5 gallon bucket down by the beds. (Our garden is on a slope.)
Do please note the bent coffee can which makes a perfect waterer.

Once all the plants are in, this magic weaving of the twine inbetween the plants will support them and keep them upright. More twine is added as the plants gain height.

Presenting The Tomato Plantation of 2009......! 48 plants in all...

Next up?

Japanese eggplant and two kinds of peppers...and then the basil....corn, beans, squash, and melons....

What a great time of year!!!!!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Camera Disaster

I am so sorry to report that my beloved Nikon Coolpix P5000 took a bad fall off my sewing room table last night and needs to go to the camera hospital.
Luckily there is an authorized Nikon repair shop in Portland...but I won't even be able to take it in until next I won't be blogging for awhile.

After all, what use is a post without pictures?

Have a wonderful week-end, everyone...I hope to be back posting soon.....

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Spring CQ...Gold Butterfly

I've enjoyed beading these butterflies so much that I added one more to my Spring CQ.
As with the other two, this design is adapted from Sande Abel.

This one was beaded as I sat at a card table outside under the dogwood our positively glorious May weather.

As soon as it was finished, it couldn't wait to fly into the garden with its friends!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Curved Foundation Piecing...A Tutorial

Suze, a very thoughtful gal, emailed me with a link to where my old blog, "Work in Progress", is languishing in Blog Purgatory. She was able to find my old website using an archive site called "The Way Back Machine".

To get to my old blog posts, I had to click on "Visit My Weblog"on the home page of my old website under the main heading...and then start digging around through here.
I was able to find the tutorial I had written about curved foundation piecing for crazy quilting and am re-posting it for you.

Thanks so much, Suze!!!!

So let's turn the Way Back Machine to October 4, 2005....(slightly edited)


My process is kind of weird...I just kind of blundered into this technique!
I had my husband take pictures through the process of sewing this curved foundation piecing, and he made sure that Dodger Barbie would get to learn, too.

Here we go.... ;-)

#1 Here on the right is the piece ready to sew on. The curves are parallel. Notice that one of the fabrics in the chunk to be sewn on hasn't been cut all the way to size yet.

#2 The pieces are placed right sides together; needle down and off we go...

#3 This step is KEY! As I round the curve, I am pushing the bottom fabric to the left with my right hand, and pulling the top fabric to my right with my left hand. As I guide the sewing line along the curve, I am adjusting the fabrics immediately before they go beneath the presser foot, aligning the top and bottom with my hands as I sew.

#4 The finished seam. Notice how it is cupped?

#5 The fabric is flipped and ready to be ironed flat.

#6 And there it is, flat, not too bad! I didn't photograph this next step, but after it is flat on top I will turn the block over and iron it from the back. Sometimes the foundation muslin can get wrinkled, and it's important to iron that flat or the block will end up distorted as you keep adding pieces. This is especially true if you are using heavier fabrics, like upholstery, corduroy, etc.

I trim those seam allowances to reduce bulk before the next step.

#7 Here I am "outlining" the next shape with my machine on that chunk of purple charmeuse, holding it taut and flat with my left hand as I sew. This sewing line will not only tell me where to cut, but keeps the piece flat and in place. No flopping or wrinkling.

#8 Ta Daa! I've cut off the excess purple charmeuse fabric, and here you see the completed curve.

The four blocks I made using this method are here:

These eventually became this quilt, called "Cool and Warm":

The borders were pieced on long strips of muslin using the same curved piecing technique.

This technique yields blocks and borders with much more randomness than the curved applique technique I am currently using...and now I am kind of missing that element! We crazy quilters have so many choices....

I hope this is of use to some of you....

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Spring CQ...Achillea

Sometimes crazy quilts need to go to sleep for has my Spring CQ. When I laid it away last summer, I somehow knew that it wasn't finished, but I was kind of "used up" and didn't trust myself to keep going at that point.

The same thing happened with "Summer Lake Day", only that quilt slept for two whole years before my friend Tracey Brookshier helped me figure out what it needed!

The outer two borders were added at Tracey's suggestion....the "woods" element, essentially. It seems obvious now, but back then I was stuck.

With the Spring CQ, I've decided that it just needs more detail, more lushness...and it being spring again, inspiration is revisiting me too. I don't know how much time I'll have to pour into this right now, as I have some other projects lined up and waiting like planes stacked up on final approach at LAX.

But for now..."Achillea", or yarrow....

Little rick rack flowers!
The best kind of rick rack for this is rayon 3 mm....hard to find, but Mokuba does make it. Used here is cotton 3mm that my dear student Maureen kindly gave me after the rick rack I had put in the kits for class prooved so hard to work with. (Bummer! Thanks again, Maureen, and all the others who brought rick rack from their stashes to bail me out.)
I did use some of the smaller rayon rick rack here too....

I like the contrast in fibers, color and size the two rick racks give. This is on the left side of the quilt...

...and this is on the right side.
I'm not going for pure symmetry, but for balance.

Other elements I've added to the quilt are these lovely vintage motifs that I bought at Tinsel Trading last week with Susan.

The threads in these are silk and metallic. Aren't they wonderful?

Here is an overall shot of the quilt with all its new elements, including some white lace flowers that are pinned onto the center section but are not sewn down yet...they'll be more for texture than anything else.

Those vintage motifs are sewn on along the very bottom edge on either side of that California poppy. They are contributing to the kind of grassy, grounding effect I'm going for...I will have to add some clover along there too....a "weed", true, but definitely part of the garden scenario!
Can you spot the achillea and the two beaded butterflies? (One more of those is coming.)

I truly love how machine embroidered motifs mix with other elements in crazy quilting.
My friend Debra Spincic and her daughter-in-law Laura are teaming up to start a business selling motifs for quilters and other needleworkers. I've ordered 4 more butterflies from them via email (their Etsy shop is almost ready..)
Visit Debra's blog for details!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Butterfly for Uncle Bill

Spending some quiet time in the sewing room has been a great way to let my trip to Baltimore and NYC "soak in", as I've been beading away.
It's also given me time to reflect on the abrupt passing of my Uncle Bill, who died "with his boots on" yesterday at 88. Only last Friday he had an opinion piece published in the Wall Street Journal!

He was a dedicated public servant who always looked out for the taxpayer, was a true lover of his country, and a brilliant economist as well. His work in education was all important to him too.
This is a nice obituary of him...
I was very, very proud to be his niece.

Again, I used a pattern from Sande Abel.

It is just a small thing...but every time I work on or look at this quilt, this butterfly will remind me of Uncle Bill....
...I hope heaven is ready for his prodigious energy, too!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Butterfly Motifs

One of my friends wrote this morning and asked me if, now that I've experienced teaching, I would like to do more of it.
The answer is yes! So if any of you out there are interested, drop me a private email and we'll talk....and thanks.

I really haven't been doing much stitching over the last month so it felt good to have a little fun over the last 2 days creating some butterfly motifs. I used two different techniques.

The first one used waste canvas, with a design by Pamela Kellogg.

The second one was beaded onto cotton fabric, with an archival interleave paper basted to the back to act as a stabilizer. Robin Atkins teaches this method, and you can find the paper on her website here.

The design is by Sande Abel. I just eyeballed my butterfly according to the photo, which was torn from an old beading magazine and sent to me by my cousin Tracy. If you might (understandably) want to work more accurately, you can download a real pattern for a small fee here.

Once I had all my beads on, I prepared it for applique...

...cutting off the excess fabric....

...carefully trimming the paper on the back without inadvertently snipping any threads...

...stitching the excess fabric to the back.....

...and appliqueing it in place.
Look where it landed!

The waste canvas butterfly landed on the Spring CQ too.

This quilt has been resting over the winter. All along I've planned on adding a little more detail and complexity to it. Now seems to be just the right time.

Especially as there is so much inspiration right outside my front door!