Monday, February 27, 2012

"Home is Where the Quilt Is"...

Every year I am most happy to support the annual quilt contest and fundraiser held by the Alliance for American Quilts.  I am not eligible to win, being a board member--and the prizes are really great--but I love the design challenge and to join my fellow quilters in this effort.

This year's theme is "Home is Where the Quilt Is", and the quilt must be shaped like a simple house, in the set dimensions of 15" X 19 1/2".

Did I love making my quilt!  It was inspired by this part of the view out my sewing room window.

Especially that little barn.....

I did have to simplify everything of course...
Here are a few more details...

This tatting was given to me by Marie, who was in my last post. I just brushed it with some Tsukineko ink to turn it into the sun.

I can't leave out three dimensional flowers, can I?

It's been too long since I've played in the flowers!  Spring must be coming to the Washougal River Valley....

I have been collecting vintage quilt blocks for a long time and felt that they would help with the theme of this quilt.  I pieced those white and green flying geese using vintage fabrics oh...about...20 years ago!

The contest quilts will be displayed all over the country this summer, and then auctioned off on EBay in the fall, as in years past.  The income is critical for the Alliance for American Quilts which as a non-profit accomplishes so much on a very lean budget.  I hope you will make an entry too; find the information here.

There is a HandiQuilter out there for the winner, as well as many other prizes.  But most of all, you will be supporting a great cause and participating in a wonderful challenge, keeping our quilting tradition fresh and new!  The deadline is June 1, 2012, so you still have lots of time....

Sunday, February 19, 2012

How to Iron a Straight Line

This might be an old trick to you appliquers out there, but I just learned it from one of my students yesterday while giving a workshop on my "Pretty Crazy" pattern at our delightful local quilt shop in Camas, Washginton: RiverQuilts.

Yes, I said "learned this from one of my students".  That is one of the many rewards of teaching--I always come home with new knowledge!

The Pretty Crazy pattern calls for lots of fabric strips with ironed under edges. Marie showed us an easy and great way to iron under those edges in a perfectly straight line, without burning your fingers.

All you need is a ruler, a smooth dressmaker's tracing wheel, like this one, and a hard surface.

What you do is run the wheel along the edge of the ruler where you want your fold to be.  This "scores" the fabric, not cutting any fibers, but making a nice dent.  Marie says she can get as small as a 1/8" fold this way (good for those fine flower stems in applique.)

Here is the flannel strip with it the edge folded up, before it is even ironed! 
I didn't get a shot of the ironed strip, but you know it turned out perfect.

Thank you so much, Marie!!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy St. Valentine's Day!

Sending love to all from my hearts to yours!

Don't miss Barbara Brackman's post today about the Hearts and Gizzards pattern that was my inspiration for the plaid Go Crazy quilt...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cowgirl C.Q.

I started this project last fall in my Curved Piecing class at the Victorian Stitchery Retreat.  When I got home, I did more work on it, which you can read about here and here.
While I was waiting for some ribbon to arrive for completing my Herringbone Hearts project, I decided to add to what I am now calling my Cowgirl C.Q.

I call it that because it is inspired by my cousin Tracy, a cowgirl down in New Mexico.  A few of the fabrics are from her, including one of her old shirts.  The vintage fabrics and blocks mixed in with the reproduction fabrics and the denim is an aesthetic that definitely reminds me of Tracy...

So I got out the fabrics that I used last time and added a few more that evoke Tracy to me, and got to work. 

Here is my pieced chunk, most of the way done.  I use a basic collage technique to add my patches, pinning them in place and sewing them down with clear thread in a zig zag applique.  This chunk is about 18" X 31".
When it was done, I cut it in half and added it to my project from November.
Now it looks like this:

It has been great fun using some of my burgeoning trim stash, as well as treasured bit of lace I've had a long time.  Some of my husband's worn out clothes contributed fabric too (that red and black plaid is from an old flannel shirt from our dairy days.)  And of course, a few butterflies flew in....

The ribbon has arrived so I will put this away again for now, but it's nice to know it is waiting for me....

Saturday, February 4, 2012

13mm Silk Ribbon Herringbone...A Tutorial

I've heard from quite a few people wanting to know about puffy ribbon here is how I do it!

To surround each heart in the 9 blocks in "Herringbone Hearts", I used 5.5 yards of ribbon to stitch the 40" around each heart.  Let's see.....that is 360 inches stitched!  Right as I was finishing up the last one, I took some photos to show you. 

This shows a stitch being made.  It is important to make sure that ribbon doesn't twist as you pull it through.

I just use my scissors as a laying tool, pulling the ribbon through with my left hand while tugging gently in the opposite direction with the scissors.  The laying tool enables you to keep some "loft" in your stitch. You don't want to pull the ribbon too taught, or it will flatten out.  The 4mm ribbon herringbone you see stitched along the seam lines within the heart was meant to be flat.

Pulling the needle through all those layers of cloth is made much easier using a pair of pliers.  My embroidery students all know I give out pliers in class for them to keep. ;-)

Whoops!  This is what happens if you don't pull your ribbon through all the way to the front and keep stitching: you get a loop and you've wasted precious ribbon!  So always check on the back that you've pulled your ribbon all the way, without making it too tight of course.

This is how I add the next length of ribbon.  I've cut off my needle from the previous length and left a "tag" end of about an inch (you don't need that much though.)  With my next length threaded and locked onto my needle, I pierce through the tag end, into the block (but not all the way through to the front, so this won't show).

I pull the ribbon through, and then pierce the very end of it with my needle.

After I've pulled it through, it looks like this.  Not beautiful, but there is no knot.  All these layers of ribbon lie flat, and don't have enough bulk to matter.  I am ready to keep stitching.

One more point I want to make: be careful that you don't pierce the ribbon accidentally as you stitch.  It definitely messes things up if you do, so give a care and make sure you have just gone through the block fabric, not catching any ribbon.
(By the way, back of the block has some fusible knit interfacing on it.  I always interface my blocks before I stitch on them.)

Coming down the home stretch here!  355 inches done, 5 to go....

And finished!
Ah..... my hands need a rest.
Now to join all the blocks together.  And yes, there will be herringbone over the blocks' seams where they've been sewn together, but not in ribbon, thank goodness.  Stitching with thread will feel like a breeze!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Herringbone Hearts

I decided to change the name of this 9 block heart project because the only stitch I am using is the herringbone.

I am starting to get to know this stitch...have you ever heard about how in music conservatories, beginning students are told to play just one note over and over for long periods, so that they can gradually learn to hear the whole spectrum of sounds within it?  I am feeling a little like that with this stitch: the repetition is teaching me about embroidery in a new way.  The herringbone has yet to reveal itself entirely to me...or maybe...I just love the herringbone stitch the best!

Anyway, I am almost done embroidering all nine hearts, but it has been awhile since I posted, so here is one of the finished ones...

I do love that 13mm silk ribbon from River Silks around the perimeter of the heart!  One spool just barely makes it all the way around...

Back to my herringbone now....   ;-)