Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Spring CQ...Center Block Attached

My brother is here on a visit, so I haven't had a whole lot of time for sewing (we've been doing fun touristy stuff around Portland)...but I did get the center block sewn on.
It doesn't look perfectly symmetrical that way it should...but that's what dangling leaves and tendrils over the sides are for!

Here is a detail shot of the edge of the center block.

And here is the whole block in place.

While Matt and I were out and about visiting some area nurseries, I came upon this rose....

It is called "Dove"...and I am going to see if I can make something inspired by it for the center. Isn't it beautiful?

...and here are me and Matt regressing at Multnomah Falls....

Saturday, July 26, 2008

International Quilt Festival, Long Beach.....A Report

I had a terrific time with my blogging buddies in Long Beach, California!
The picture below is dark, sorry....but there are Barbara, me, Debra, and Rian, about to be served our lunch after a long morning at the show for them, and in class for me. We cleaned our plates, let me assure you....

Our time together was everything I knew it would be...so full of easy and stimulating friendship, lots of stitching talk, and late night storytelling in our pajamas, all of us sharing one big hotel room. What a great gift, for us bloggers to get to spend time together...

I only had one class with Paula Scaffidi, a mere three hours, but it would have been worth the entire trip to Long Beach just for that.
Entitled "Luscious Fruit", the workshop taught how to create three-dimensionally shaded felted fruits, for applique or needlefelting onto textile projects (could be wearables, too, as these items were constructed to be washable).
I am an ethical blogger, so will not post step by step pictures of how I made my fruit...Paula worked hard to put together a class that was just aces....and she deserves to be paid for her great information.
Visit her website to see pictures of the incredible work she does.

I will say that one of the reasons her presentation was so strong was that she made optimal use of her PowerPoint capabilities. As we went through the steps of creating our fruits, she would tell her helper, "Lights down!" and present clear sequential pictures on a big screen of the technique she wanted us to learn next. She even had videos embedded in the Powerpoint that showed her doing what we were supposed to do...again, these were perfectly in sequence so that the class just flowed.
I truly think the efficiency this gave us all allowed her to present much more content than a normal 3 hour class.

Here is a sample screen shot I took from my seat. This shows how to lay out our roving to make a more rounded looking shape.

When a question came up, she had her flipboard all ready to illustrate her answers.

And here is my class project, after 3 hours....

The piece of inner brocade background is 9" X 12", to give you an idea of the scale and size. My little cherries don't have their stems yet, and I need some more velvet leaves.....
I can't wait to finish this!
Paula says she has a book coming out next year, and she intends to include a DVD with it that will illustrate her techniques the way she used videos in class. This is so innovative, don't you think? Her book will set the standard for needlefelting, of this I have no doubt.
Thank you, Paula!

Speaking of standard-setting books, on the flights down and then back home, I had the enjoyment of reading Cindy Brick's new one, Crazy Quilts: History, Techniques, Embroidery Motifs. (It is available on Amazon, but the first printing is almost sold out. A second printing is due to ship by mid-August. You can order it from her website, of course, which is actually better because I think she gets more profit that way!)
I found it to be a very classy production. It is informative, written in an engaging style, and with lots of pictures of wonderful quilts. The printing and production of the book itself is of very high quality. Cindy includes some new techniques to try when making your own crazy quilt, as well as the tried and true traditional methods.
There will be more about this book in an upcoming review in CQMagOnline.

From my reading I felt much more informed about what I was looking at when Debra, Rian and I happened upon a very fine pile of crazy quilts from the 1880's at a vendor's booth. I was allowed to take some pictures of my favorite CQ element...fans!

I love how narrow these fan blades are. These are the exact same colors I used for the fans in my "H" quilt....I was going for this look, as you can see:

Pretty cool that I actually got that right!
Here are some more of the fans from that quilt in the booth....

So nice....

And here is a detail shot....

I include this because it shows how the stitcher very cleverly solved a big problem with these narrow-bladed fans. The seam treatments get really smashed into each other in the little round corner, because of course the seams are so close together there.
Look what this lady did: she provides stitching detail on the seams, but it is not continuous. The eye reads it as such, but really there are just dots and singly spaced Turkey Track stitches that suggest lines of stitching.
I'm going to remember that one...

But what of the quilts hanging in the show?
Alas, what was there was pretty much a retread of what won in Chicago and Houston, with a TON of journal quilt pages on display. The same art quilt exhibit from Studio Art Quilt Associates, the same Tactile Architecture quilts, the same almost everything. Not that there wasn't some outstanding work there, but overall I found this rehash quite disappointing.

But between hanging with my good buddies, studying with Paula, reading Cindy's book and also getting some quality time with my father-in-law while staying with him in Manhattan Beach last night....it was a terrific trip.
Always good to be home, though!
Let's hope they do better next year and include a competition.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

New Issue of CQMagOnline Goes "Live"!

I invite you to click on over to CQMagOnline, as the latest issue has just gone live!
This is the only publication devoted exclusively to crazy quilting, and it just keeps getting better and better. There are projects, tutorials, feature articles, reviews, and the Reader's Showcase this quarter is particularly strong.
Have a look!!!!

I'll be zipping down to Long Beach for the next 2 days to take in the International Quilt Festival's new show there, and also a class by the great felter, Paula Scaffidi. I get to meet up with my blogging pals Debra Spincic, Rian Ammerman, and Barbara Curiel, too. How totally fun!!!

Back at you with Festival pics this week-end......

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Spring CQ...Center Block Pieced...A Tutorial

This is more a "process" type post than a formal tutorial...but I took pictures all along the way as I pieced the central block for my Spring CQ, and this might help you to approach your piecing in a similar fashion...if you are so inclined!

I must say that this procedure was influenced by my working with Carolyn Cibik's CD of CQ Block Designs which I have reviewed for the upcoming issue of CQMagOnline. I know it should be obvious, but I had never planned out a block ahead of time before piecing it, until I used Carolyn's method; now I probably always will. (Her CD is great, by the way.)

There are 15 pictures in all, so let's get to it:

This is the drawing of the block, on freezer paper. I wanted the lines to suggest plant growth.

I traced the design onto muslin using a light box. I should add that I redid this using water soluable ink on a different piece of fabric....as I didn't want any permanent pencil lines that might show through all the white fancy fabrics I planned to use.

I traced each patch with Golden Threads quilting paper. The line marked is the sewing line.

Can you see how I was able to center the motif on the fabric within the patch, by seeing through the tracing paper?

All the patches are cut out. Notice I leave a huge amount of extra fabric around the edges. This is because I am not counting on 100% accuracy when I start sewing, and I need some wiggle room.

To mark my seam lines, I machine basted right on the seam line, through the paper and the fabric patch.

Then I tore the paper away.
If some of the basting thread pulled out during the tearing, I went over the seam line with my water soluable marker.

I decided which order to sew my patches onto the foundation muslin and began my usual flip and sew method. I lined up the lines of the basting stitches to get my seam lines, sewed along them, and then pulled them out after my seam was completed.

After I checked to make sure the seam was o.k., I trimmed off the excess before flipping and ironing it flat.

The edges of these patches look sloppy, but the basted (or marked) seam lines enabled me to line everything up just fine.

Sometimes I would have to join two patches before joining that unit onto the block, sewing it down as one piece.

Like this!
I was very careful to line up the seams so that there would be one long curve when these pieces were sewn together. Yes, I did use some pins for this! (I try to avoid pinning whenever possible.)

More seam trimming....

See how that seam in the center reads as one continuous curve arching up and to the right?
Nailed that one! *Whew!*
This next unit shown above here is being made of three patches before being sewn on.

And here is the whole block.
I have stitched the supposed finished edge as an outline, but when I held this up to the quilt, I realized that I need to make the block slightly larger. Glad I have that extra fabric along the edges.

And here it is in place.
I have interfaced the back of the block, trimmed it with pinking shears, and zigzagged along the edge to stabilize it for embellishing. As it is, I trimmed it a little smaller than I should have, though I'll be able to get away with this....

....but now I have to decide if I like it enough to use it!
I'll see how it looks in the morning....

Monday, July 21, 2008

Spring CQ...Corner Arcs Finished

I'm so glad you all enjoyed my garden tour! It IS nice out there...and has been so inspiring to me all spring and now summer.
My in-laws have come and gone and we had a fine visit. Even so, I managed to complete covering the seams in the green corner sections of my quilt while they were here...mostly because I get up at 6 a.m. and they get up at 10! (And can you believe I actually made blackberry pancakes, bacon, eggs, and fruit salad for 8, served it up all at once and it was good? I am no cook, but I was pretty proud of that sleight of hand.)

Here are my green corner arcs, all done I think.

The upper left arc....

...and the upper right.

The lower right arc....

...and the lower left.

The seam treatments are simple in these sections, just as they are in the center section. They also repeat from arc to arc. At this point in a crazy quilt's development, I have to pull real hard on the reins to keep it from getting away from me and becoming too busy.

Now I finally get to work on the center! I'm going to try to get that pieced over the next day or two.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Garden Tour!

I went out at 6 this morning to take pictures before the sun came up. I always like the colors best at dawn and just before dusk....

My gardening style is of the cottage variety...things get flopped over and grow on top of each other. It's not random but it is pretty free-form...a lot like my quilts!!!!

So let's take a stroll...

Lavender and "Super Wave" petunias, about to dive over the wall..

Hydrangea, stock, miniature roses, chives, digitalis, Russian sage, tea rose, nicotiana, marigold, day lily..

The brassica corner! Broccoli and kale here, with New Zealand spinach below the kale. I read that brassica flowers attract beneficial insects to the garden, so I have let some of the broccoli go (those yellow flowers on the left). I must say, I have had zero aphids or white flies this year.

This is probably the glam shot of the whole series. You can see how the California poppies have taken over almost the whole path here. (They haven't opened up yet because it is early in the morning.) It is hard to see, but I have celery, dill, and coriander growing amidst the calendula, roses, borage, and lavender. Again, the herb flowers are bringing the good guys to the garden.

See those snapdragons on the left? Not blooming yet. I started those from seed last MARCH, and have been waiting and waiting and WAITING for them to get going already. The variety is "Heavenly White" (from Thompson and Morgan Seeds); they are supposed to smell great. I want them in the center of my Spring CQ, along with the other white flowers I have, some of which have also not bloomed yet, especially the phlox and michaelmas daisies. White cosmos, roses, and nicotiana will also go in the quilt's center.

My trusty bench, under the purple buddlea bush, which I have to keep whacking back.

I love these santolina "shrubs" (when I bought them years ago they were in 4 inch pots). They look like yellow polka dots to me. Nice how they are growing through the deer fence.

This is the border right in front of my house. (That's the garage in the background.)In the lower left is a wonderful hyssop plant..I have it right by the entryway because its pink flowers attract dive-bombing hummingbirds. Look, there's one now, in the upper right corner of the picture!

One time I was up in my garden watering, and a hummingbird was literally diving in and out of the petals of a red rose, like a porpoise in the waves of petals. I was transfixed, watching, and slowly walked closer and closer until I was right next to the rose bush. He was having the best time!
That little bird--and they are real athletes, by the way, with immensely strong muscled necks--finally popped up out of the rose, hovered looking at me, then flew over and landed right on my thumb.
He was just saying hi.
I almost died with delight.

Come back, little guy!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Spring CQ..Inner Section Stitching Finished!

These seam treatments went on pretty quickly for three reasons:
--they are all a single line of stitching; no multiple stitch/thread treatments were used
--I repeated several of the thread/stitch choices in different areas of the blocks, hence reducing "design time" (and hopefully integrated things)
--I was highly motivated to get these done. Enough already! I want to get to the quilt's central section, but couldn't start on that until these seams were done.

Some of you have been with me from the beginning on this quilt, and no doubt you are ready for something else to look at, too. But in the interest of being thorough, I thought I would lead you around, block by block, to see how the seams were done, then follow with an overall view so you can get the effect as a whole.

But first, here is a look at how the lace/cretan stitch seam treatment went on:

This is the tape lace being attached with a cretan stitch...I got a lot of detail for very little work here.

This is how I got the tape lace to the back of the quilt...with a big honking needle...

...which I pulled through with pliers.
I pulled that gold trim through the same way. It is secured to the back of the quilt with a few stitches of beading thread.
Sometimes it helps to make the hole first with the big needle, and then pull the trim through.
Those big needles changed my life!

O.K., here we go round the center.....

This is in the upper right corner of the inner section, and I'll be showing them going clockwise...

I just had to sneak that line of blue in there...

This is the lower right corner.

Center bottom....

Lower left corner....

There is a tiny bit of green stitching along two of the edge seams along the left. Several of the blocks have this. It is the only green seamwork in the whole quilt, outside of the four corners. It felt so good to use that green!

The upper left corner....

...and the middle top.

And here is the overall view...

I really want this project to "read" as a crazy quilt, and that is why I tried to almost exaggerate the stitching on the seams between the patches here in the inner section, by making them big and simple. The way the quilt is laid out, really like a sane quilt with its color block type areas and nine patch center, and also the way the flowers go all over the place is not very crazy quilt-like. It is certainly not random. So I had to "make the point" here that it is very much a crazy quilt even so!

This is an excellent stopping point, because....the In-laws are coming!
My FIL, SIL, her DH and DD are arriving Thursday evening, and son Max arrives the day before. With all the stitching I've been doing the house and garden are a wreck, so I have to "pay the piper" and get things spiffed up inside and out for their arrival.
It will be so good to have them here....

I'll post some garden shots in a few days....Cheerio!