Thursday, October 22, 2009

Last Bouquet...and Vintage Floral #21

No frost here on the west slope of the Cascades quite yet. There are still a few valiant bloomers putting out their last hurrah.

I drink in the color and detail, trying to imprint them on my mind for the long gray winter ahead.

It's a bittersweet feeling!

My flower for #21 is done, not nearly so flashy as the real thing.

They look a lot like poinsettias to me. The way they are placed will make a nice contrast to the other blocks, most of which have their flowers centered in the middle.

If I had time I would join my local EGA chapter and get some better embroidery skills. I am tending more toward the quick and graphic in my stitching, and could use some practice with this kind of fine hat is truly off to the embroiderers!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Vintage CQ...Charted!

My friend Maureen Greason has brilliantly drawn up a chart for the Vintage CQ, full size (but showing a quarter of the quilt). Now I can truly start thinking about the wheel blocks in context.

Some of you may remember I had a go at making the blocks that surround the center section this past summer. You can see them here. And while the blocks are kind of fun, they are too boisterous for this quilt. So though I am back to the drawing board, Maureen's chart is going to make it much easier to visualize my next attempt.

I pinned a few of the flower blocks in place so you can see them in context.
The quilt will finish out at 52'' X 67''.
Didn't Maureen do a spectacular job?

She makes charts for her crazy quilts, too. You can see her current project's chart here.
We are both participating in the 2012 Challenge on one of the crazy quilt make a large crazy quilt by then for an exhibition...and I believe this one of mine is going to take that long!

A technically savvy sane quilter would make decently short work of that border, using strip piecing or templates. I have a feeling I'll be machine appliqueing it onto a whole cloth foundation. More control for me that way; I am just not an accurate of all the quilt's components will be tricky in the end, too.

I only got a start on Floral #21 this week...

Thelma Bradshaw's concept was to use threadpainting to fill in some tatted flowers she had made. I didn't have anything quite like that, so am using some lace flowers as my base.
My threadpainting is strictly of beginner caliber...but it is fun to try!

So thanks again, Maureen, for the fantastic help with this quilt.
She has a wonderful web business for embellishers and quilters called Maureen's Vintage Acquisitions. Her taste is exquisite and I love absolutely everything she carries. Pay her a visit!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Vintage CQ...Flower #20

As promised, the poppy!
Ann Cox's book has been a brilliant guide, although the font is a little small and I find her instructions a bit wordy. But I am sure that every single thing she says is important, so I squint and pay close attention.

This is a "medium" level flower, and it did take quite awhile, but it was fun, and worth it.

There was a lot of multi-needle action going on!

You gather the edge of the ribbon with a fine thread, and then bury the end of the ribbon (13mm, from RiverSilks) with a large needle, being careful not to munch your gathering thread. It is all rather pickier work than I am used to.

The concept is this: you bury both ends of the ribbon, (knotting it off on the back with threaded needle #3), then you pull on the gathering thread, then you tack down the petal at the gathered base, catching the fine thread. This shot shows petal # 3's second end being buried.
I would never have thought of this in a million years.

Painting the ribbon after it is in place is not that hard...especially with a black background! ;-) You do have to be careful not to let the paint run, and I had my blow-dryer handy to zap my ribbon dry as soon as I was done putting the Dye-Na-Flow on it.

I decided not to give my poppy a black center because of that black background, and went with the pale green one that some Shirley poppies have.

This, too, is quite picky work, but there is a reason Ann Cox's flowers look so nice.
Can you see how this is gathered twice, first the circle of silk around the interfacing/stuffing core (oh yes, you don't just use stuffing, you provide a flat surface for the stuffing to rest on), and then around the perimeter? This gives a smooth and even surface for the center.

Ann shows you how to wrap the threads used for the pistols around a large needle so they will be of uniform length when you cut open the loops.

The stem was just some couched yarn, and the leaves some 4mm ribbon in a fly stitch.
It's sweet. I like it.

Here is a reminder of the quilt that inspired all this....

I wish I knew the name of the maker, or even the source of the photograph, but alas, I don't.
It is sublime, isn't it?
I had made some blocks this summer to go around the central section of wheel blocks, but have decided to scrap them. They are too loud and--alright, crass--for these dignified flower blocks. I don't wish to replicate this quilt exactly, but I'm going to have to try again with the outer ring of blocks.
But I still have 10 flower blocks to go....and that's only making 30 of them, not the 40 this quilt has.

For my next one, I plan on borrowing a concept from Thelma Bradshaw. Her work is so amazing....

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Brush with History...

Such occurred this week...and a deep curtsy to fate I offer for it! Two textile treasures found their way to me.

The first is this glorious silk quilt, passed on to me by a lady in California.

The quilt historian Barbara Brackman described it thus, after seeing a jpeg of it:
"Boy it's a pretty quilt. I wouldn't call it a crazy quilt since it seems quite sane to me. I think an embroidered silk medallion, about 1880-1900 would describe it nicely."
In fact, it was made in 1890 by a woman named Eve Ollie in Buffalo, New York, so good call, Barbara!

It does have a few elements of crazy quilting to it though, namely, that there is no quilting or batting. But it isn't tied either! What is unusual is that traditional crazy quilt type stitching along some of the seams holds the front and the back layers of the quilt together.

Not all of the seams are embroidered...(click on the picture to see better). I don't think Eve was into embroidery, but she sure had a lovely collection of silks.

Even the backing fabric is of silk. See the stitching lines on the back?
I get goosebumps, going back in time into another woman's life, via her stitches and fabrics.
I will cherish this...

A very different scenario produced my other historical treasure...try to imagine, at least 60 or 70 years ago, women in Russia hard at work producing handmade bobbin lace for commerical sale...

This collection of bobbin lace was given to me by a very gracious lady named Kay Pauling. Her late mother-in-law left this lace to her in 1981; Kay had kept it all these years but decided to pass it on to me as someone who would use it.
What Kay didn't tell me until we met was that her mother-in-law was Ava Helen Pauling, the wife of the great 20th Century scientist, Linus Pauling.

photo from Oregon State University

Dr. Pauling won two Nobel Prizes - in 1954 for Chemistry and in 1962 for Peace. He was globally admired for his tremendous contributions to chemistry and for advocating peace. Dr. Pauling shared the spotlight in this latter endeavor with Albert Einstein.

Kay told me that Ava had purchased the lace during one of their trips to Russia.
So indeed, the wings of history have brushed me by, leaving the lace in my hands....

I wanted to find out more about it, so I scanned it and sent the image to Betty Pillsbury, the wonderful CQ teacher and friend (who used to make bobbin lace) and also to Lacis, the lace museum and textile supply shop in Berkeley, California.

Jules Kliot of Lacis wrote to say,
"An interesting collection mainly due to the attached labels.
The laces themselves appear to be handmade with the exception of the one on the extreme right.
Designs are generic and could have been made most anywhere. There are examples of torchon, Genoese, Cluny. all considered as "straight" laces.
There are many traditional Russian designs, but not in this collection."

Betty sent me some interesting links about bobbin lace, such as this beginner's guide. We thought this link on torchon lace described my lace, too. This site on English laces has more on the torchon lace.
Kay had told me the lace was of cotton, but Betty suggested it might be linen, and on closer look, I agree with her.

I am so grateful to Kay for entrusting this lace to me. It will be well used.

It's been another busy week, so no stitching of my own do I have to week, hopefully, we will have a silk ribbon poppy!