Sunday, October 31, 2010

New Project....and Off to Houston!

Thank you EVERYONE for your kind congratulations on my book. It means a lot to me! I can't wait for you to see it.

Meanwhile, I am so looking forward to teaching at the Crazy Quilt Adventure being put on by Maureen Greeson and Susan Elliot next April (see sidebar of this blog).
I have completed my class sample for my 3-D Flowers class, and here it is!

We won't get this much done in a one-day class, but students will learn how to make everything that is shown here--except those wee butterflies and the cut apart lace daisies, which are made by Simplicity and were purchased. It is going to be a lot of fun.

I want this sample to be in the context of a full-blown crazy quilt wall-hanging, so have made some pieced borders for it.

This seems to be my format of choice these days, a central image with a crazy quilt border. I have a project like it in my book, too. ;-)
It was so nice to be able to dig through my lace and use a bunch of it here, including this lovely hand-crocheted motif that Monica Kowarick sent me all the way from Greece.

She is so talented.

I wanted lots of interest in the borders, but it had to be textural more than colorful as I didn't want anything to compete with the flowers in the center. The seams will be in neutral tans and whites, I think, and the inner perimeter around the center will be blue, added last.

I had to get this done today as I am leaving for Houston tomorrow!
I'll get to see my dear friend Debra...we are going to the event at Festival Tuesday night, the luncheon on Wednesday, and Preview Night that evening.
Then I'll move to a hotel with my roommates and fellow Alliance for American Quilts board members, Amy Milne and Meg Cox.

Thursday-Saturday noon I'll be at the Alliance's fabulous exhibit on the show floor, "If These Quilts Could Talk", which features a sampling of the quilts and interviews in our Save Our Stories project on the website.
They are very, very moving stories and awesome quilts. It is a terrific exhibit and I hope those of you at Festival will make sure to see it.

Meanwhile, the bidding is going on hot and heavy at the Alliance's "New from Old" contest quilts over on Ebay, so do click on over and do some shopping! This is our main fundraiser of the year. There are three more groups of quilts being auctioned over the next three weeks, too.

I plan on blogging my impressions from Festival...not sure what the policy is on photographing the show quilts--I will if allowed. Otherwise, there will be much else to share...

Next stop, Texas!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Book....At Last!!!

Dear Readers....I've been sitting on this news for almost two years, but now I can finally share it: my first book is being published by C & T Publishers in February of 2011!

All last fall while I was posting those weekly flowers for the Vintage CQ, behind the scenes my fingers were flying and my keyboard was redhot. What a great experience it was, producing the manuscript and all the projects, examples and technique how-tos for this book.
Working with the editors and book designer at C&T was a dream come true, too....

I'll tell you more about how all this came about in the weeks to come. It was a Cinderella story....

Meanwhile, just know that my heart and soul and all my experiences in crazy quilting have gone into this book so that--hopefully--others can share a joy all their own by practicing the art of crazy quilting.
Stay tuned for more information!

Monday, October 25, 2010


I love letters. As a design student back in the day, our earliest exercises involved working with letter forms, and for good reason. They are beautiful and iconic shapes in and of themselves.

So I've enjoyed working with them over the last few days on a couple different projects. The first is the Crumb Pillow top...I cross stitched my husband's and my initials in those two central patches--feeling sentimental as our 30th anniversary approaches. Then I made some fabric postcards for a swap that used some of my own flower letters from a few summers ago.

First, the letters on the pillow....I used waste canvas. (You can get it at JoAnn's.)

Here they are underway. I've drawn the letter onto the canvas with a gel pen but I also refer to the chart in the book that I have while I stitch. (Another great source for cross stitch letter charts is this blog, where you can find a plethora of vintage alphabets and cross stitch patterns for free.)

Here are the letters with the canvas removed. I went with the blue and green threads just to provide some contrast with the rest of the colors in the pillow top, so the letters would stand out in all that craziness. That's why I chose the wide-bodied font as well.

And then to my very first ever fabric postcards! They are part of a swap with some of my Point Bonita friends.

What was fun was using silk ribbon to piece with! On such a small scale as this, their selvages and pretty shine made them a perfect choice for some micro-log cabin action. I made my machine stitch short and just flipped and sewed these Riversilks should try it, it's fun!

Finally, I want to steer you to Lynn Schoeffler's fabulous article in the brand new issue of CQMagOnline. In "L" is for Lynn, she gives some great techniques for creating intricate but easy monograms for your stitching work. The rest of the issue is good reading too, so check it out.. ;-)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Crumb Pieced Pillow....Stitching Complete

I think I really enjoyed working on this project because the stitching for once was so simple.
Just the feather stitch, in different sizes, colors, directions, and out of a few different threads---but really, the decision making was minimal here compared to normal crazy quilt work, which made this "fast, fun, and easy", as the saying goes.

My threads:

These are all hand-dyed silk floss from Vicki Clayton and silk perlee from Kreinik (alas, discontinued.)

Don't you love to see the back of a crazy quilt? I do.

As always, I interfaced my pieced "block" (though this was big, by block standards, 20" X 24") with fusible knit interfacing before I began the handwork. It really helps keep things flat and stable without a hoop. I'm not a hoop person.

Here is the piece, every seam covered:

I think this still looks plenty chaotic, but the uniformity of the stitching does tame that somewhat. Or maybe it is that subliminal message that says "yes, she did slow down and take her time here, even though it looks wild!" I don't know...anyway, I like the look!

Those two large-ish patches in the center, the brown one and the maroon one above it, are fairly begging for some motifs. I'll work on those next.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Crumb Pieced Pillow Top

I didn't get as much stitching time in on my trip as I had planned (except on two very long airplane rides), but there is enough here to show what is happening...

All featherstitch! You've got to click on the picture to see it.
I'm liking the old-timey effect very much....

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Crazy Crumb Piecing...A Tutorial

After piecing up the Bars and Stripes quilt, I had lots of snips of fabric left over on my sewing table (and floor). I always save these and stuff them in a bag, but this time I decided to use them right away to piece a pillow top to go with my quilt.

My bag of crumbs from many projects... ;-) It is packed, too.

Martha Green teaches a fast and effective way to put these small irregular pieces to use in crazy quilting. I learned this from her.

You start by chain piecing two crumbs together. Just randomly, and the edges don't have to line up perfectly as you sew them. Just make 1 + 1= 2, a long line of that. Then cut them apart and iron open each pair. In the photo above, on the left are the ironed open crumb units, (odd term, isn't it?) and on the right is part of my chain of pairs.

After all your units are cut apart and ironed open, you chain piece all your units together, two at a time, and then cut them apart and iron them open again.

At this point my units have four crumbs in them. This is still quite random.

But once in awhile a little shaping with the scissors is called for... here. But mostly I personally like to just sew units together without thinking about things.
Too much.
The units get larger and larger until it is time to fit them together like a puzzle on a foundation fabric.

The edges of the large units are ironed under, then pinned into place (you can see some pinning at the bottom of the picture above), and finally top-stitch appliqued with a clear thread. Sometimes an extra snip or two of fabric needs to be added to a unit or between two units as this final positioning and sewing is done.
It really is like fitting a puzzle together....

...til you have something like this! It measures about 20" X 24".
The look to me is very old fashioned, constructed as this was like so many of the original crazy quilts were, with every scrap being used.

It is also very busy. I'm thinking I will use very simple hand embroidery--all in one colorway, all in just one kind of stitch--on the seams to try and unify things, calm them down. I've never tried that so I want to see if it will work and how it will look.

Good handwork for the road too! I'm gone until next week...Happy stitching, everyone!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Bars and Stripes...Day 7

Thanks for all your input on the machine quilting/hand embellishment question for this quilt. Machine quilting was the runaway winner, but the idea of adding a little handwork afterward was also suggested and I like the sound of that very that is what I will (eventually) do.

Here's a little series of photos that show another piecing strategy I used along the way.
If I have an area where I know I want to include certain fabrics in a particular scale of shapes (that makes sense, right?), I will lay them all out puzzle-like first, then figure out how to sew them all together.

This is the bottom of the right side dark bar. I wanted to use these farics to mimic the opposite corner in the quilt, the top of the left side bar. (It's a compositional thing.) So I freeform cut out all the pieces, making sure to oversize them to account for seam allowances, and laid them out over the muslin foundation.

It was a fairly logical progression, sewing them together....

...making bigger and bigger "chunks". You'll notice I did have to add that pink shape on the left, as I had not left enough room for seam allowances after all!

Sorry about the difference in lighting here.
I also added that tan cotton on the left, as the maroon shape above it was too large. (Yes, I just slapped it over the maroon--did not rip out or cut anything....!)

And here is everthing pinned up on the wall together, as of this morning.

I am really quite pleased with it!
I may tweak a few things after this sets awhile, though. Some of that pink is pretty bright.

Now I have to spend some hours restoring sanity to my sewing room...and then I am going to wait to sew this together until some ribbon arrives from my friend Kerri, who kindly offered to send some that she thought would be good to help edge the bars.
So this project will sit for a week or so...and I have a little traveling to do in the meantime.

But I do hope to play with all the little shards of fabric that piled up in the process of piecing this quilt before I leave, crumb piecing them together for a matching pillow top. Hope to post that in a few days...

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Bars and Stripes...Days 3 and 4

After finishing the two inner "light colored" bars, I pieced the outer one that goes on the left. This, after I folded up most of the lighter fabrics and got them out of the way, and selected out the darker ones.

Here they are all piled up on my sewing tale. You can see I have two ironing surfaces, one to the left and one to the right of my sewing machine (the one to the left is that small square below the cutting mat.) I sew standing up too....this arrangement is the most efficient for me. The muslin foundation for the bar is just to the left of the sewing machine.

As I piece along, sometimes I know what fabric I want, but I don't know the shape.

So I'll sew on a chunk.....

....flip it and press it....

...and then trim it to size.

Every once in awhile I pin the bar up on the design wall to see how things are looking...

..and decided that the center of this flower was too light and stood out too much, so I knocked it back with a fabric marker. Then back up it goes so I can check again...

It was better!

I'm standing on a very sturdy step ladder, by the way.

My son Max made it in 9th grade shop class. I use it every day and it makes me think of him!
My other son is often just on the other side of the design wall...

Chad is here watching and listening to a YouTube cover of the song "Waterfall" which is really, really good.
(Better on headphones, though.) I love it when Chad plays "DJ" while I am working...

So now I have three bars pieced and will work on the fourth one today.

I like the darker value on the outside! *whew!*

I'm playing around a bit with the "Stripes" sections and know that those have quite a bit of evolution ahead of them.

My big question is whether to embellish this at all or just quilt it. Hand stitching would look so nice and I would love doing it, and yet I might get over my phobia of machine quilting if I just went for that on this project...decisions, decisions...