Monday, June 29, 2009

Vintage CQ...Flower #2

The leaves could have been a little smaller, as they cover just a bit too much of the black space.
But I have 28 more flowers to go, so I think I'll hang on to this one anyway!

Meanwhile, the gardens are flourishing. The two shots below clearly demonstrate the "his" and "hers" approach Robert and I each take to growing things.
It's no wonder we have separate gardens!

Mine is cottage-like, improvisational and spontaneous, planned but then the plans get overtaken by new growth and crazy ideas.

Robert's approach is precise. In the foreground, left to right, are the pepper, basil, eggplant, and melon beds, with the background having (also left to right) onions, carrots, the tomato plantation, and a wild patch of last year's Shirley Poppies and leeks, which I insisted he keep.

Yin and makes the world go round, doesn't it?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Vintage CQ...Flower #1

My first flower has bloomed on the central star of a wheel block.
I enjoyed creating just a small motif to fit the space.

Each one will be a tiny vignette...

The next seven months are going to be very busy for me, and I will not be able to blog about what I am up to! But I am very excited about this project that has come my way....

So my posts are going to be more spare for the next several months...I do plan on keeping on posting about the Vintage CQ, albeit at a slower pace.
And there will be garden news, and I'll be writing about my upcoming trip in August to Lincoln, NE and the International Quilt Study Center and Nebraska State Historical Society's exhibits on crazy quilts...I'll post some shots from my beloved Michillinda in July, too.

Of course I'll be keeping up with all of you, too.... ;-)
How could I not?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Vintage CQ...Wheel Blocks' Seams Stitched

I got some stitching done on the wheel blocks in Cleveland last week and on the planes going to and fro across the country.
It was enough to give me a wee reality check on my plans for the size of this quilt.

I think I am going to downsize...;-)
I can capture the feel of the original quilt and also merrily discover my own interpretation of it, without having to make it so large.

I decided to use the same stitches and types of thread throughout this central section of the quilt, so as not to distract from the nice geometry with too much clutter.

A fly stitch between the triangles, and a blanket stitch around the four-pointed stars...that was it.
For the fly stitching I am using 2 ply silk floss from Vicki Clayton. The button hole is of Stef Francis silk perle from Maureen Greason's Vintage Acquisitions.

Here is how they look pinned to my design wall.

I am going to add one more row of four blocks along the bottom.
When these are sewn together, of course there will be the flystitching to do along the seams between the blocks as well.

The black stars are so eager to have their three-dimensional flowers embellished in their centers...
Soon now!

In the meantime, the garden grew so much while I was away.
And we had our first harvest dinner the night after I returned home! Snap peas, celery, onion, spinach, garlic, basil, oregano....all fresh from the garden, with a handful of strawberries for desert! Sooooo good.

This new hod was made in Maine and purchased from Territorial Seed.
It feels wonderful in my hands as I load it's going to get so much use this summer!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Terrie Mangat's "Labor Day Fireworks"

I've just returned from Case Western University Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio where I've been visiting a very dear relative. I cannot give enough praise to the Medical Intensive Care Unit there...they've been voted the best MICU in the country for five years in a row and I saw firsthand why that is so.

My days were spent mostly in the room of my loved one (who is starting to do better, thank God)...but taking a break to go downstairs to the cafeteria, I would pass this extraordinary quilt each day.
By the end of my time there the quilt had become a most exciting old friend, and a true source of comfort and inspiration.

Here is its description:

I have long known about this quilt and also have been a huge fan of Terrie Mangat's for years. As you will learn below, she was influenced by someone who has meant a great deal to me in my own crazy quilting I felt a special kinship to this piece and it brought me joy every day I was at the hospital.

(It is behind plexiglass...I tried to get as little reflection as possible in my photos.)

The thing with Terrie is that she was a pioneer of the fearless use of materials and processes in her quilts. While the art quilt world has been profoundly affected by her early use of embellishments, of course we know that crazy quilters had been embellishing for a century before Terrie started doing it.
But Terrie was one of the first to totally abandon any conventional aesthetic of embellishment on quilts. I doubt she considers her work crazy quilting at all....
...but I do. Her use of all kinds of fabrics, her deliberate but spontaneous piecing, her wild but focused use of embellishment, continually developing her surface: all mean crazy quilting to me.
Of course, she paints over the whole thing as part of her process, and that makes her unique.

Let's take a closer look.

She has pieced the foundation, added sequined appliques, painted over that....

Sometimes she has applied the sequins directly into the wet paint. After the paint dried she added more stitching and what looks like puff paint lines to depict the firework's trails of smoke.
Truly, how cool is this?!

Those green glass beads along the top were stuck on into wet glitter glue. I so love how she painted right over the velvet....

She used zippers.
She used pipe cleaners.
The white sequins are sewn over what looks like a pieces of a cut up sweater, and I can somehow imagine Terrie peeling off what she was wearing that day, and rabidly cutting it up because it was just right for the background of the white sequins...

It is the volcanic energy combined with the long term commitment of time for all the handwork involved that compells me so.

You can read more about Terrie in one of the fantastic "Save Our Stories" collection of interviews of quilters (numbering more than 900 now) on the website of the Alliance For American Quilts here.
In that interview you will learn that an early influence on her was our own Martha Green, crazy quilter extraordinaire and a huge inspiration to me. They were friends in Oklahoma City back in the 1970's.
"Yeah, Terrie and I go way back..." Martha told me when I asked her about this.

Terrie's own website is here.

I mentally thanked Terrie every time I walked by this quilt, for its gorgeous blast of energetic freedom. It's just exactly what is appropriate and needed in a hospital setting.....

Monday, June 15, 2009

Vintage CQ...Wheel Blocks Finished

Wouldn't you know it took about getting half the blocks done before I figured out the ideal pinning placement?

This made the sewing quite easy.

Which is not to say that these blocks are especially accurate. My goal is to line up all the corners that make up the centers of the wheels, and "let the chips fall" where the black points all connect.

There will no doubt be some nice decorative buttons sewn over where each of the black points meet. ;-)

These are all trimmed and the edges zig zag stitched, and pinned to the design wall.
The black won't dominate so much once each diamond gets its floral motif sewn into its center, and the rest of the colorful blocks surround this center section.

I'll be leaving soon on a family visit, and don't expect to be back for a week or so....I won't be posting between now and then.
But I should get some of these seams in the wheels embellished!
Happy stitching, everybody.....

See you later.....

Saturday, June 13, 2009

New Project:..the Vintage CQ

For quite some time I have wanted to work with the design from an actual vintage crazy quilt, only updating it with fresh colors, fabrics, and embellishments. When I saw a picture of the following quilt, I knew it was the One for me.

I can't remember where I first saw it...maybe one of you will?
Anyway, I love the combination of crazy piecing and sane quilt piecing as well, the randomness and definite design. (My pet theory is that the woman who made this was also a sane quilter, not just picking up on the huge fad of crazy quilting.)

So as with all my large quilt projects, I start with my block blanks up on the design wall.

I like the proportions of the blocks a lot.
I don't have the border up there yet, as one of my good friends still has to come up with a piecing diagram for me. It looks kind of tricky.

I decided to start with the wheels in the center section.
Not wanting to piece those funny black diamonds, I came up with a true "cheater" version of the little 5" blocks, one that has the advantage of no bulky seam allowances too. This will come in handy when I am embroidering all those nice black diamond's nice and flat under them.

Each block is roughly laid out with pre-sewn half-square triangles.

I only need to square up one of the four corners.

Then I adjusted the lay-out, just barely overlapped them, and ran a zig zag down the center seams.

I was off and running....

...while getting reacquainted with my stash, which was really fun.

Next is to applique those black diamond shapes, which will turn these blocks into wheels.

I started with the exact finished shape cut out of freezer paper.
I ironed it onto the black dupioni silk and cut it out with roughly 1/4" extra seam allowance.

Using the freezer paper as a guide, I ironed under the extra fabric. Then I peeled off the freezer paper.

I pinned on my shape and machine appliqued it in place using a fine black thread in a narrow zig zag stitch.
This is not exact...but all these seams will be covered by little stitching, and this is supposed to look vintage, not 21st Century Quilt Police Perfect.

You can see the wheels starting to emerge.
When all the blocks are trimmed and sewn together this will look quite cohesive.

But I am not planning on assembling them right away.
I personally feel that part of what adds to the "vintage" look in crazy quilting is the way each block has been worked on independently, and then all the blocks are joined together in the end.

In recent projects, like the Spring CQ, I've been exploring the look you get when you assemble the entire top has a more controlled, unified look. But this time I just want to be able to grab a stack of little blocks and add seam treatments any which way, "working the stack", as Martha Green would say. It's perfect stitching work for under the trees next to the hammock! Or on an airplane....and is the kind of project that can be interrupted and taken up again, not necessarily pursued in one sustained effort.

Before I start any embroidering, I do think I will piece the rest of the quilt blocks (not counting the already dreaded border). But first I have 20 more diamond shapes to go....

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Garden Tour 6.09.09

Your comments about how I shouldn't do housework made me laugh!

Tending to the gardens is another story, of course. Over the last week my garden has added new color every day. It is so exciting....

I have two of those pink flowering trees, and each June they give me a week of a gazillion flowers. I wish you could hear how loud the bees are in these trees.

We're still just at the beginning of the summer's show...

It is so good to see all these old friends again...

Robert's garden is coming along apace....

The tomato plantation is positively thriving.
Planted above it are a bed of onions and one of spinach and carrots; down the center of the garden, top to bottom are the first bed of broccoli, another bed of onions, then the two kinds of peppers, then a whole bed of basil, (YUM!) then a bed of Japanese eggplant. Below them will go the dreaded winter squash (Robert loves to grow it but we are tentative about eating it) can't see the beds of corn below where the squash will be.

He also has planted pole beans, peas, potatoes, more broccoli, summer squash (again, ick)....The melons still have to go in, as well as the soybeans--this year's experiemental crop.
Good, good eatin' is coming at us this summer...and lots of harvest kitchen duty come September.

My flowers are again inspiring my next big project, which will not wait for me to play anymore. It's been churning long enough (a few years, actually)...I'll introduce it next time.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Little Felted Landscape...Finished

The fence was moved and a few flowers added to the foreground.
Thanks for your suggestions!

I wish I had given myself a little extra room at the bottom, because when I stretched the piece around a piece of Fast 2 Fuse Heavy Weight Interfacing, I had to cut off that little bit of green that showed where the trees were growing out of the ground.
Now the trees come straight up from the bottom of the picture which is slightly dorky looking...but next time I'll be aware of that.

One interesting discovery I made was that I could use the oil pastels directly on the felted wool fiber....then refelt it. This gave me a little shading along the edges of the hills that I liked.

I'm not sure what I'll take on next....maybe *gasp* some housework!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Little Felted Landscape...Continued

Adding the detail is always an interesting challenge when working at this tiny scale (the piece is about 10" X 10") to get everything to "read" right, when objects can't be rendered in their exact size?

But I guess that's why they call it "Folk Art"!

I'm not quite sure about that fence....I like the perspective it gives, but it seems kind of spindly compared to the thick leaves on the trees.
I might have to tear it out...which is much easier in stitches than for real!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Little Felted Landscape

Thank you so much for your lovely comments about my Spring CQ!

Always after finishing a long term project, I need to play around a little with different techniques, just for the fun of it and to get myself thinking in new ways.

My Babylock Embellisher and all the pretty rovings I've collected have been ignored for way too long, so I decided to do a little landscape of the view out my sewing room window.

I started with a square of black poly felt. I have the sky fabric there because I can't stand having texture in the skies of any textile project.
Texture brings the surface "forward", and skies are supposed to be in the deep background. I never like seeing them quilted (except for well executed trapunto clouds), or in this case, fuzzy. So I just fused that sky right on there.

Those overlapping planes of hills out the window actually reflect the twisty-turny course of the Washougal River below. I thought I would try and catch that....

Well, try....
Those soft pastel pencils are there to help me add a wee bit more definition to the sky.

Nothing like adding an element in the foreground to make the background look better! I used sock weight yarn and felted it in place.

This is where I am as of this morning....
Lots of detached chain stitching is in my immediate future.....

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Spring CQ...Finishing and Finished!

It's like closing a looooong and good book that I knew would have to end....
I even enjoyed the final steps of finishing this quilt!

Ever since I first discovered Annie Whitsed's method of using a "false back", that has seemed the best way to go when constructing the layers of my crazy quilts. Click on the "Assembling the Quilt" section under the "All That Jazz" category on her sidebar for the excellent series of posts that educated me about her method. (Remember, you have to work your way backwards through the posts. Thanks again, Annie.)
I wrote about it also in CQMagOnline here.

Later in that year, I wrote about the French Facing method (here) that gives a nice finished edge to a crazy quilt without having to bind it in the traditional quilterly way.

These are the techniques I've used in finishing up the Spring CQ.....

I started with a sandwich of the quilt top, cotton drapery lining, and then muslin, first pin basting and then hand basting it together. My stitching lines were every two inches.

When this was done, my "pretty back" went over the muslin, being hand basted around the perimeter and then attached with some pearls on 10" centers. (No photo of that, sorry.)

This is the facing going on.
I used a lightweight vintage cotton print because it wouldn't add too much bulk, and ironed crisply.
It is easier to sew this on before trimming the finished edge, in my experience.

All the facings have been turned to the back and pinned, ready to be whipstitched down by hand.

Then I sewed on a little trim...just because...and I think it makes a nice transition between the facing and the backing...

...and added just a little pink to liven things up. The back looks very springlike....

And the front, well, you all know what the front looks like by now.....

Spring in the Garden
42" X 42"

It came out remarkably square, and lays nice and flat. Amazing!

Thanks for coming with me on this, my favorite crazy quilt adventure to date. I've got some gardening to catch up on...then we'll see what happens next in the sewing room... ;-)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Spring CQ...Sweet Woodruff

Galium odoratum, or Sweet Woodruff, is a ground cover that I first planted from two little 4" pots about 10 years ago...I love their tiny white flowers and the way they have spread all over the shady parts of my garden.

In this picture the flowers are just about done.

When I was at Accessories of Old back East, I purchased some teeny tiny flower sequins. I knew they would be just right for creating this flower.

Those are #15 seed beads in the centers of the sequins.

And here you can see they have spread all across the bottom of the quilt!

Now I must finish up this project by adding the backing, and facing the edges....but I have some trim that will look so good going around the perimeter of the quilt...not a binding, not a border, just a little outline...which of course must be beaded and embroidered. That will be another three days' work or so...

I am having trouble saying "good-bye" to this quilt, can you tell?..... ;-)