Saturday, March 31, 2012

Cowgirl CQ....Top Finished

This quilt grew to be 65" X 73", much to my surprise.
I had enjoyed making that central section, I liked the piecing process and the colors, wanted to do I kept adding on to it.
And on!
But that is because I realized that I wanted this to be a functional, cozy quilt.  I want to use it.

Next time I will be more deliberate about the proportions of everything...this time the denim strips were limited in width (too narrow, IMO) by the fact that my husband would let me cut up only two pairs of his old jeans.  But I wanted only HIS jeans in there, so that's why I didn't go to the thrift store to get more.
There is a red and black faded flannel in the piecing from his favorite old shirt from our dairy days, too.

Not this one, but something similar, from those good old days. (Note that I am the one covered with manure.  It was always that way. We are sitting here on the steps of the sauna he built, the year we got married, 1981. Crazy kids!)

Anyways, this quilt is about ranch days, our old one and also my cousin Tracy's.  The aesthetic is hers, and some of the fabrics too (and one of her shirts.)  As I was making this, I thought a lot about her.

Setting up my temporary styrofoam "sewing table" was such a help.  I could lay these large pieces out flat, and pin into it as I measured, then going back and securing the pins.  Here is a YouTube about how I made it.

How did I ever live without those flower pins?

When it came time to add the rayon plaid woven ribbon, I knew it wasn't "hefty" enough in weight.

I just happened to have on hand a roll of C & T's "Make it Simpler" fusible interfacing on a 1 1/2" roll.  You can find it here. I gave the ribbon a double layer.

Once everything was assembled, the quilt top did not exactly lie flat.  Frankly, my whole approach had been a bit too slapdash for the intense kind of quality control that goes into a competition quilt. I was just having fun and experimenting!

But I did want it as flat as possible, so I did some judicious nipping and tucking.

One of my favorite elements in this quilt is how the old blocks got pieced in, sometimes in entirety, sometimes in part.  Their vibe and look are really important to me these days.  There is a lot of genuinely old fabric in there, too.  Not repro--old.

I had hoped the straight strips would provide structure and repetition to the otherwise complete chaos of the piecing.  But next time they need to be wider.
Still, this will be a great couch quilt!

I plan on simply machine quilting in the ditch between all the horizontal and vertical bars, with no handwork at all going on.
And--oh dear--I've been rather active on Ebay lately buying more old blocks....

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cowgirl CQ...How I Build Borders

This quilt began as a class demo project back in Witchita last November.  Little did I know then that my Cowgirl CQ would grow into a very large quilt.

Since coming home from teaching I have submerged myself in this project, scarcely coming up for air as I create more borders for it.  I don't want to show you the whole thing until it is sewn together, but the following sequence of pictures shows how the borders have been a building....

First I lay out my pieces on top of the muslin foundation strip.  I have learned to think in terms of how I can "pre-piece" them before I applique them onto my foundation.

Very logical!  Here are my chunks that are now ready for ironing under and pinning.

I took this detail shot to show how it is possible to line up the seams in two different chunks (the gold flower print on the red is lined up with the red and beige plaid.)  This will look much better than if I had "missed" this mark by even a 1/4 inch.

How I love my new flower headed pins!
For ironing under edges and pinning I lay my border strip right over a ruler.  It seems to withstand the heat of the iron tip just fine, and there is no accidentally pinning the muslin into the ironing board cover as I go...

Using clear monofilament thread in a zig zag stitch, all is sewn down securely with no raw edges showing.  Even those hexies are all turned under and neatly stitched.

Now, multiply this times 10 and that's about how much border area I've built since coming home.  I love piecing in the vintage fabrics and lace, and even vintage blocks along with my present day trims and cottons (and a very few silks.)
This quilt is definitely wild and crazy....hopefully when all is sewn together it will appear to have some structure supporting the chaos.  You'll see in a few days, hopefully!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Teaching Travels....

Hello Everybody, I am back!

In the last 10 days I have traveled to Santa Cruz, California and Olympia, Washington, given two lectures and three all-day workshops, with a final trip yesterday to the Trends show at E.E. Schenck Distributers here in Portland--they sell to quilt shops all over the country.

My classes were filled with wonderful students, my audiences were generous and kind, and the hosts from the guilds who put me up treated me like a was just lovely, start to finish.

There is so much to learn about how to teach a good workshop--every time I go out I come home with a lot to think about and incorporate into "next time"--and I am grateful to everyone for hiring me while I am still learning.

I will say that my role seems to be shaping up into providing an environment where students feel free to relax and really truly play.  I want to give as much technical instruction as I can, in as efficient a manner, engaging the diverse skillsets of my students...but most of all I want to hear them say, "That was really FUN!"  And I did hear that, to my great delight!  Because that experience will hopefully carry into their quilt work at home.

So come along to last week's classes with me...

Here are my Pajarjo Valley quilters after working hard all day learning two methods of curved "piecing".  I pushed them for hours and they were still smiling, willing to wave to my camera.

In the second day of classes, the indomitable Rachel Clark, art garment artist and teacher extraordinaire was my student.  She was sitting across from a lovely lady who had never taken one embroidery stitch in her life.  Filling both their needs was a challenging balancing act! 

There is no one like Rachel.  I absolutely adore her.

As an aside, I want to show you something that another student brought in to show me.

Please note the price tag on the left.  Yes, it says, $.99; this heirloom piece was purchased at a thrift shop.  If this isn't a commentary on how our work is valued out there in the cold cruel world, I don't know what is.  What it says to me is that value has absolutely nothing to do with money.
Fortunately, all of us know this!

After my two days of classes and before my evening lecture the next day, my very dear friend and host Tracey Brookshier took me for a little hike at Point Lobos, on the Monterrey Peninsula.

How I love California's magical coast.
Tracey and I have been friends for quite awhile, and so spending the long week-end with her and her husband Joe was a true joy.

Thank you, T!

A brief stop to regroup in Washougal, then it was time to load the car and drive north to Olympia, where the Washington Star Quilters gave me a very warm welcome, first for my lecture, and the next day for my "Pretty Crazy" class, teaching from my pattern of the same name.

My hosts were Larry and Beverly Dunivent, who is a quilt historian, appraiser, lecturer....but most of all, quiltmaker.  I met Bev last September when I hired her to do official appraisals of all my quilts.  (I highly recommend her.)

Bev and Larry live in Bev's childhood home, the one her parents built as they were living in a tiny cottage on the property.  That tiny cottage is now Bev's studio.  You have to see it. (The following pictures are from both last week-end and last September.)

This is obviously the old kitchen.
But now it is my kind of kitchen...

Who wouldn't rather have bolts of fabric and piles of batting in their potato and apple bins?

It's a cozy space divided into two areas by the cabinets.  This is the wall across from the kitchen, filled with antiques, all of them with long family association and meaning for Bev.

Coming around into the sewing space, you'll see organized drawers of projects and antique blocks, labeled boxes of threads, lots of's all just so inviting.

One corner has these nifty Ikea shelves filled with folded fabrics just ready to be used.

One of Bev's many quilts on display is this one of the childrens' note how she handled the cedar shakes, so inventive!
This quilt depicts the real cottage next to the house, built in 1925 and where Bev played as a young girl.

Her grandchildren play there now!

Larry was the cook and fed me a great spaghetti dinner and hearty breakfast in the morning to get me all fueled up for teaching.

These are photos on Bev's design wall of her and front of quilts that he made.  He is proud of his work and making more, too.
It was such a privilege to stay with them....

...And to teach the great gals of the Washington Star guild.

Here they are gathered around a family crazy quilt that Janet brought in to share.  It's a particularly bright one for the 1880's, we all agreed.

I was humbled and thrilled by the generosity of Janet and Beverly when they gave me fabrics from their stashes from Japan, France, and....the 1930's.

Janet purchases kimono fabric from Ichiro & Yuka Wado of the Kimono Flea Market ICHIROYA in Osaka, Japan.  Janet loves doing business with them and thinks of them like family.  The selection here is a small part of her stash...but enough for me to do a whole is very inspiring silk.

Beverly gave me some authentic charm squares from Provence, France...and...

...a vintage block (pieced on newsprint dated 1947) alongside some reproduction fabric Beverly designed many years ago, from fabrics in her collection.  These I will treasure...

I pretty much floated down Interstate 5 to get home after class....

Then Sunday I met my friend Michele Muska of Simplicity Creative Group at her booth at E.E. Schenck Distributers.  Here we are in front of my quilt, hanging in her booth.

She is a very talented designer. Watch for her project on the cover of Knit Simple magazine next month!

Obviously I have been richly fed in many ways over the last ten days.  I have a lot to digest.
I'm grateful to everyone...and send my love and thanks to them all.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Herringbone Hearts...Anatomy of a Border

There was this experiment I just had to try.
I've been wanting to see just how far I could push the use of a single stitch in a crazy quilt, to put a greater focus on the threads and use of the supplies in general within the context, of well..... herringbone, without the distraction of the visuals caused by lots of combination stitches.
And this push of my personal CQ envelope involved some 38 mm silk ribbon. And pliers!

I started by laying out the "base" fabrics for the border, green silk that had been interfaced and then the edges sewn because it is very ravel-y and was going to be subject to some heavy stitching abuse.

I measured the distance across the quilt every 12" or so to make sure my strips were parallel as I pinned them on.  I knew that I had to applique them as I would never be accurate enough otherwise.  No turned under seam was necessary though, as it would be covered by trim later.

May the quality control expert took a break to look out the window while I was sewing on the green silk.
Then came the trim.

I got this green woven metallic trim off of Ebay from a seller of Indian sari silks.  There are lots of great trims to be found on Ebay!  I liked it for this quilt because it has hearts in it, and the metallic would add some shine.
So I pinned it in place...

....with many extra pins where the trim would cover the Evil Velvet.  Otherwise, no matter what, the trim would slip while I was sewing it down.
Ha, you velvet!  I own you.....

Corners are always a big deal in quilting--no avoiding that fact.  So I did my best to miter these neatly.

I forgot to photograph running that line of brown herringbone along the upper edge of the trim after it was sewn on.  I was too excited to try my experiment, using really wide silk ribbon in a herringbone stitch.  This is 38 mm from Dharma that I dyed.  It has a woven edge; it's not bias cut.  I needed it that way because it would shred as I pulled it through the silk otherwise.  But this ribbon, in a giant needle and pulled through with pliers for each stitch, held up perfectly fine.
It is really puffy, isn't it?

It was so big and wide that I used my finger as a laying tool as I pulled my stitches into place!

After the 38mm ribbon was on, I went back and wrapped the herringbone stitch above it along the trim.  I was going for more of a raised look and added just a little more color, to blend in with the stitching on the blocks.

This definitely changes the look and feel of the quilt.  It is exceedingly textural now.

In this picture I have ironed under the base border fabric and pinned it.  I will back the quilt later but this is about how it will look finished (squared up better though.)  I have to be very careful with the iron around that puffy herringbone because one false move and it is flat forever.

I'm going to be away teaching the next two week-ends so it will be a little while before I am back here..but I'll keep in touch by reading your blogs and will be posting to Facebook along the way as I travel to Santa Cruz, California and Olympia, Washington.  See you soon!