Thursday, March 31, 2011

Schmalberg Wallhanging in Place!

I was so happy to get these photos this morning that I had to post them right away.
I love where the Schmalbergs put my wallhanging!!!

See it?
Here's a close up view....

I am wearing a VERY big grin!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

For the Schmalbergs...Finished!

M & S Schmalberg, as I have written, is the largest manufacturer of hand-made custom fabric flowers in North America. I first learned about them from an article in the Wall Street Journal last summer. You can see the short video about the Schmalbergs here on their webpage; it is embedded, so scroll down to it. When I saw it, I was a goner.

Most uncharacteristically for me, I called them out of the blue, and our friendship began.
I'll get to meet them at last in New York in a few weeks, and am very excited about this!

So you can imagine it was quite a joy to make them a wallhanging for their showroom.

What a fabulous place!

As you can see, the walls are yellow and the tables a nice rich maroony-wood. That is what determined the background color and edging for my little wall-hanging.

Once the lettering was on, I started by laying out a base of leaves. These are sewn on with a clear thread in a narrow zigzag stitch.

Then I pinned on all the flowers.

I decided the pink letters needed a little more definition, so I just straight stitched around them using an Aurofil #12 thread. I pulled the thread tails to the back afterwards and knotted them.

It was fun picking out the various beads for all the flower centers.

I can tell you, it will be a total honor to have this hanging anywhere in their showroom.
A family business that preserves this artisan tradition while providing good jobs for others, in the face of foreign competition, rising prices at home, and changing markets....they embody an American ideal to me.
Plus...oh my heavens....the FLOWERS!

I'll be sure and post about my visit there in a few weeks... ;-)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

For the Schmalbergs

I've been adding bits of flash to Jill's Quilt....

.....but am taking time away from that now to create a wallhanging for my friends at M & S Schmalberg. They make custom fabric flowers the old fashioned way, on brass molds and by hand. They are located in the Garment District in New York City, and I will get to meet them when I travel to the East Coast in a few weeks!

I've done lots of lettering on quilts over the years, but never with wool felt. After this, it will be hard to use anything else. It is very forgiving and has a nice saturated look.

The letters are cut out and ready to be sewn onto this prepared background (prepared with interfacing, that is. I never machine applique anything without interfacing anymore, if I can help it.)
That Sulky spray is to adhere the letters to the background for sewing.

Before the letters went on, I put that pretty lace that my dear friend Pam Kellogg sent me over the background, to make an interesting texture.
Then after smoothing the sticky letters on, I zigzagged around their perimeters with a clear monofilament thread.

I changed needles for the smaller letters, to a Microsharp size 60. This leaves the smallest hole, which even though this is felt, is a good thing. There is less distortion in the sewing if the needle is fine, too.
I used the lace to keep the letters lined up...spacing is always an issue too. It worked fairly well.

And you just know what is going to happen next......

This is going to be a very enjoyable week-end!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Jill's Quilt...The Pink Bandana Challenge

I don't know her, but I love her. She is Susan Elliott's friend Jill, whom you can read about here. Jill is undergoing treatment for breast cancer and she is my inspiration for the quilt I am making for the Cherish: Pink Bandana Quilt Challenge. (There is information for you to enter it too, here and here.)

I started this quilt for the demo at Fabric Depot last Friday, but thoughts of Jill, her courage, and her refusal to give up her happiness in the face of breast cancer totally inspired me all week-end as I roughed out the blocks and design for my quilt.

The quilt will measure 45" X 54". The blocks at the moment are all roughly 6 1/2" square.

And my sewing room looks like a tornado hit it!

We're all among friends here so I'm not too embarrassed....!

Here are a few close ups of the naked blocks...

I used the Go! cutter for the hearts, which made them very easy.

And I used one of Simplicity's little square rulers to lay out trim in those squares within the blocks.

Those flowers are from the Schmalberg's. (More about them in a couple of weeks.)

This is early days of course and there is a lot of tweaking to do in the composition, etc. The blocks will each get their due attention over the next few months...but the impulse was strong to do this NOW and I am glad it is ready for its next phase of development.
But for the present, there is some cleaning up to do.... ;-)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bandana Quilt Challenge Demo Event

My friend Michele Muska is in town, putting on a great event at our local Fabric Institution, Fabric Depot in Portland, Oregon. I've been a customer there for 20 years.

Her company, Simplicity, is sponsoring the Cherish: Great Bandana Quilt Challenge. It is a contest with some big cash prizes...all to promote breast cancer awareness, raise money for research for a cure...and get people to try Simplicity's wonderful challenge tools, too.

At least one of the little rulers here must be used in making the quilt entry....entrants must also use one of the pink bandanas Simplicity has produced in their quilt somehow, too.

Michele has asked me to demo my own take on this challenge at Fabric Depot tomorrow, so I will be there having a blast working with some fun supplies and inviting store customers to join me at the sewing table.

To prepare for this, Michele came out to see me yesterday and did we have fun!

I put her right to work, trying her hand at embellishing one of the crazy quilt blocks I had made using the rulers (in my own offbeat, CQ way of course.)

Michele is a fine fiber artist herself, so she jumped right in....

...and pretty much immediately invented her own unique seam treatment, which we named "Michele's Knotted Chain Stitch".

I played around with some Simplicity trims....

..which was really a lot of fun, and so fast! That little ruler helped me keep things square, too.

I got quite a few naked blocks done and ready for people to play with can see where I've cut up the bandanas and pieced them into the blocks. This quilt is hopeful and cheerful, as it should be...good medicine for the fight!

Michele and I had such a great timetogether, and we look forward to the event tomorrow. Hope you can come!

You can get information about entering the contest here and here, too.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Crazy Collage Experiment

I just finished a long project for my friend Tracey Brookshier, a pattern (with samples) that will be debuted at Spring Quilt Market!
The work involved sewing with strictly cottons, so when it was completed and mailed off, I wanted to play with my CQ fabrics, emphasis on the word play!!

When I was a very little girl my grandma used to set me up with all kinds of bits and interesting papers to make collages of in her playroom. I loved doing that and would get absorbed for hours. And it was that exact mindset that fueled my experiment with crazy quilt collage. Here is how it went...

The "blank page", 20" X 20".

I have this luscious floral printed pink charmeuse silk that I wanted to feature...also that rich cotton print on dark blue that Tracey had given me because she knew I loved it.

It was like fitting together a puzzle.

I pinned everything down, but left the edges raw, not turning them under.

Everything got stitched down with clear monofilament thread in a zig zag stitch.

I knew I wouldn't have time to hand embroider all those seams, plus I wanted to see how it would look with machine embroidery (one of the goals for this project being speed.)

I chose some Kreinik Soie Perlee thread (alas, now discontinued) for my machine feather stitching. It is silk and about a size #12 perle, and you can stitch with it using a size #110/18 topstitching needle. I like how it looks.
I left long enough thread tails at the beginning and ending of each seam that I could thread them into a hand sewing needle and bring them to the back of the piece, where I knotted them off. Good T.V. work in the evening.

Here is where I am now after two afternoons of work.
It's fun to take time off and just play, to see what happens.... ;-) Like these flowers finding their way around the center!

How's a girl supposed to get any work done around here?

I guess I will have to give up and give in to this today!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Linda's Bouquet

I had such an amazing trip to Dallas.

The board meeting of the Alliance for American Quilts was super productive and again, I am blown away by the caliber of the people who serve. We have PhD historians, archivists, captains of the quilt industry, writers, media personalities, corporate marketers, and yes, some quilters in our group and the mix is stimulating and so much fun.
We were hosted by Mark Dunn, president and CEO of Moda Fabrics, and were given a complete tour of his facility, where our meetings were held. This was Quilt Heaven, make no mistake about that! He treated us like royalty and is the nicest man you'd ever hope to meet. Barbara Brackman, quilt historian extraordinaire who does the reproduction fabrics for Moda, was on hand and gave us not only a brilliant lecture, but also a very entertaining and myth-busting interview for the Quilters Save Our Stories project, conducted by our board president, Meg Cox.

I took a zillion pictures and plan on posting more about my trip soon....

But it is funny, when I got home I was too wiped out to do that yet. All I wanted to do was make something! So that is what I have done, whipping up a little surprise for my lovely roommate Linda Pumphrey as a thank-you for being so good to me. So this post is about my experiment for her....

I started with my bag of scraps and my Go machine, with the two flower dies, the Rose of Sharon and the Round Flower.

I noticed when she was looking at my book that Linda liked the vintage handkerchiefs pictured on page 82. So I chose one of them for the background of my piece, here shown interfaced and next to my little Go shapes.

I used Glue Baste-It to collage my shapes into place on the handkerchief base. I was able to move them around after I had glued them too, with a slight tug to loosen them.

Once the shapes were laid out, I covered them with tulle (a technique Linda and I had talked about), and layered this top over batting and a thin silk backing. Then I quilted it, the tulle and stitching trapping and fixing my shapes in place.

I quilted around the rose shapes in the handkerchief too.

I added a few more shapes, beads, and some lace trim flowers on top of the tulle. All of this is an experiment, remember...I had no idea how it would all work!

Then I finished the edge in just the same way as for "Soil and Sky"....first zig zagging....

...then trimming, and then zig zagging twice more around the edge.

The back looks kind of cool...but do kindly remember, I have had almost no practice machine quilting in over 10 years!

And here it is finished, about 12" x 12".

It was very fast and spontaneous and a fun way to use those Go shapes. I think the concept has potential and would like to try it again....but I plan on using colored tulle next time instead of white (have to buy some) and piecing the background.
I'm going to have to break down and put more design thought into the quilting too... ;-)

It's good to be home, as there is lots to do between now and the Crazy Quilt Adventure next month!
But a big thank you again to Mark Dunn, the great people at Moda, Barbara Brackman, and my fine fellow board members for a fantastic meeting.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Off toTexas

I'm heading to Dallas for a board meeting of the Alliance for American Quilts. Our host is Mark Dunn, the CEO of Moda Fabrics, and our meeting will be at Moda's headquarters! Hopefully I'll be able to take some pictures and give you a virtual peek when I get home.

There is always a featured speaker at our meetings, and this time we are lucky indeed to have Barbara Brackman. As well as her talk on a vintage fabric swatch book that Mark had given her, she will be interviewed by our president, Meg Cox, for our Quilters Save Our Stories project. This will no doubt be highly entertaining as well as informative, as Barbara is one of the funniest people I know.

By the time I get home, I'll bet those daffodils will be popping open!
See you in a few days....