Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Alliance Medallion...Finished!

I wanted to get the center section done before leaving Mexico...and aside from some final tweaking with stash from home (little beads I didn't bring), I succeeded!

I still think that maroon flower needs its fifth petal. I'll add that at Point Bonita.
And a note to Esther...that white flower is to tie in with the black and white fans in the quilt's corners. You'll see!

Now off we go on our journey to the stop, Point Bonita!
(I think I am going to really love Januaries from now on....)

Adios, Condominio Pilar!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Alliance CQ...Center Medallion Progress

Thanks so much for your comments! I love hearing from you way down here.

One of my favorite parts of crazy quilting is That Moment when you start to feel a "critical mass" happening. All the stitching starts to coalesce into the effect you are hoping for.
Such is the case with my medallion center and I am tickled! (Not to mention, as always, relieved).

I've added that ribbon flower on the left, buttonhole stitched more of the leaves, satinstitched some white highlights on the daffodil in the center, tweaked the outline of the pink rose on the right, and put more work into the large petaled red flower in the center. (This flower might turn into an homage to the Oaxacan embroidery before it is done.)
This medallion needs to be loud and proud to stand out from the rest of the quilt!

We have three more glorious days here in San Carlos.
Yesterday was the highlight of the trip so far...we were out kayaking on the bay and found ourselves in the middle of a feeding frenzy of pelicans, gulls, other birds....and dolphins!

I took this is morning (yes, running along the beach in my jammies to get the shot) gives you an idea of what we were in the middle of yesterday, the dolphins leaping in the air and then gliding right under our boat , the pelicans dive-bombing, the water sparkling...oh, it was divine!

We journey home Wednesday, and I leave for Point Bonita Friday...the whole traveling thing will be a continuous blur. But I've just learned that Point Bonita will have WiFi for the very first time. Huzzah! I plan on donning my "cub reporter" hat and bringing you feature posts live from the scene.
And it is quite the scene...quilters' heaven.
Of course we say, "What happens in Point Bonita, stays in Point Bonita"...but I'll try and scoot around that edict!

New Issue of CQMagOnline is Live!

Our fabulous editor, Rissa Peace Root, and staff have worked hard to bring you another issue of CQMagOnline. This free, adfree and beautiful online publication is the only one devoted especially to crazy quilting, and I am most proud to be a part of it in my new role as assistant editor.

This issue has what I believe will be the standard reference on Goldwork in crazy quilting, as presented by Mary Corbet. This is a superlative article and not to be missed.

Other highlights are 20 fresh new seam treatment diagrams from our own Sharon Boggon, a CQ inspired matching game for children (and adults) by Pat Winter, and much more besides. Do click on over and enjoy it!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Alliance CQ...Background Stitched

Good morning!
This is the view from where I am typing...I know, rough, isn't it?

I'm so glad you all enjoyed Leigh's gorgeous embroidery. I must say, it makes me look at my own with new in, let's "pump up the volume" a little bit!

But first, I had to get all the stitching on the black background for my Alliance quilt done so that the patches would be defined. I also wanted to go for that classic crazy quilt "look".

I forced myself to keep to one I thought this would set off the flowers a little better than if I went multi-colored in the black section.

And as for those flowers.....
This IS an experiment, embroidering over Broderie Perse. I've put in one day so far (it was rainy yesterday), and this is where I am so far.

...and here is a detail....

For me, this is the "iffy" stage. This section is nowhere near fully developed so all I see when I look at it is how much work needs to be done to get it to look right.
Faith in the process is a good thing at this juncture!
We'll see what happens....

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Oaxacan Embroidery

Greetings from sunny San Carlos, in the beautiful Mexican state of Sonora...

What a small world it is! One of my co-attendees of the yearly Point Bonita quilt retreat has a condo in the same small enclave where ours is (which actually belongs to my father-in-law). And she is here this week.

Meet Leigh Hay-Martin....

Leigh lives with her husband in Jerome, Arizona. She stays down here in San Carlos for several months each year.
Her quilt on the couch fits so well with the Mexican textiles, don't you think?
She's a fine quilter, and has a nice little set-up in their condo for that.

Of course that is one of Leigh's quilts on the bed.

Leigh and her husband, Richard, spent a week in Oaxaca over Christmas. While there, she purchased some vintage and new textiles that feature the traditional embroidery of the region. They are so lovely that I thought you would enjoy seeing them.

I am going to let the pictures speak for themselves, as I don't know enough about these to give much information. But I can say this is worked in cotton on velvet, by hand, and is a satin stitch. The black showing is the velvet background fabric.

Here is a detail.

The second piece..... also quite old, and worked on a mellow wine-colored velvet.

There are more....

...amazing, isn't it?

Here is a detail....

...and below is how it looks from the back....

...There is a backing fabric, no batting. One thing I find so impressive is the total lack of distortion normally caused by such intensive stitching.

The next piece is contemporary, and shows the entire outfit.

These are worn in religious processions.

Here's a close up...the stitching is a little different.

This is all chain stitched...and maybe done with a tambour hook?
From the back it looks like this....

Maybe one of you can tell me how this was done...

Leigh's husband bought her this magnificent vintage outfit for Christmas....

The way the flowers change scale just enchants me...
The lace is stiff and pleated...

I think Leigh said the lace is from England.

She has a book about all this and I've taken some pictures so you can see these costumes as they are meant to be worn....

Surely she is one of the most beautiful maidens I have ever seen.
Two more images from this book follow...

Imagine how it would feel, to be part of this!
And this.....

I would love to travel to Oaxaca one day to experience this in person.

In the meantime, the sisterhood of the needle and the spirit brings all of us together...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Travel Project

We don't leave until tomorrow, so I've been keeping the pedal (the sewing machine pedal, that is) to the metal to get a project ready to work on while we are away.

Since pushing so hard on the experimental side of crazy quilting has worn out my brain a bit--that Cottage CQ has been hard--I've hankered to do something traditional and familiar. When you see my Alliance CQ it will look familiar to some of you, too.
And yes, this is going to be my contest entry!

Let's start with the day before yesterday.....

I don't spend a lot of time on my drawings, do I?

I did decide to graph this quilt out, though. I knew I'd be tracing my fan blocks off this drawing, and the center oval, so wanted to be fairly accurate.
I thought I was going to use some of that cool black and white fabric there, but I ended up not. It will look great on the back, though.

I've done a zillion "cut out flower" quilts--or Broderie Perse--in the past, but never combined them with floral embroidery on top of the collaged flower fabrics.
So I guess this will be a little experimental, after all.

This process felt SO familiar. I spent years during the 1990's doing this...cutting out the flowers, spraying them on the wrong side with 505 Spray and Fix, smoothing them into a collage....

....until "done".
The next step is zigzagging around the cut edges with a clear monofilament thread.
Got that done Monday night.

Yesterday I spent piecing, which is so fun and which I don't get to do nearly often enough. Crazy quilting takes so long...the piecing is maybe 5% of the time spent on a project. Anyway, I got the border squares, fans, and central black section all done by last night.

This morning all was assembled.

It's a lot like my "H" quilt. It is 16" X 16".
Gotta fix that wonky oval...I'll deal with that later.
I've interfaced the back, zigzagged the perimeter...and now I just need to pull out some threads, ribbons, and needles for embroidering this on my trip.

Oh, and I had better pack some clothes, too...
Thanks for your bon stop, Mexico!

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Break for Some Flowers

I took a break from my Cottage CQ bubbles this week-end to make a little floral sample for a class I'll be teaching this spring. I've got lots of work to do to prepare for this teaching debut of mine! So it was good to pull out the bright colors of spring and do some different stitching for a few days....and start thinking about writing up all those hand-outs....

I had some nice sunrises as I worked away....

The fog forms above the river below us...I always love being above the fog (instead of in it, especially in my own head.)

Here is my little sample. It measures 9" X 10".

There are some old friends on here, and a few new ones, too...the primula and the achillea.
That sweet little vintage monogram ribbon in the lower left was a gift from my dear friend Freda. I think I'll be signing all my projects with it from now on. Thanks, Freda!!!

Well, my quiet routine is about to be disrupted by a LOT of traveling. We leave Friday for Mexico, and right after we get home, I turn around and am off again for my annual quilt retreat with 70 other quilters---it is the most wonderful "same time, next year" gathering--at the little YMCA conference center at Point Bonita, California. So my posts are not going to be as regular as they normally are....but I'll pop in a few times between now and the 7th of February.

Meanwhile, I do want to say I am so excited about the interest in the Crazy For Quilts contest being held by the Alliance for American Quilts. I can't wait to see what everyone creates!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Crazy Quilt Contest Alert!!

There is a wonderful national contest specifically for crazy quilts this year and I want you all to know about it!

It is sponsored by the Alliance for American Quilts, a superb and truly unrivaled online resource whose aim is to "document, preserve, and share" all aspects of American quilt history up to the present (and into the future). Do check them out...and give yourself a lot of time to do so, too.

This year's contest is not only going to be a landmark showcase of the state of the art of crazy quilting today, but will serve as an important fundraiser for this nonprofit organization. All entries will be donated to the Alliance and auctioned off online once the contest is judged...the judging is done by Alliance members online too.
(For $25 per year, it is a very worthy organization to support and join.)
All quilts must measure 16" X 16" these are not large time commitments we are talking about here.
And there are prizes!

Here is the official press release put out by the Alliance's head of P.R., Meg Cox (author of The Quilter's Catalog: A Comprehensive Resource Guide, a book I own and love.)


The nonprofit Allliance for American quilts announces a contest today for quilters of all ages that honors the spirit of the crazy quilt.
The rules are simple: quilts must be 16 inches square (in honor of the AAQ's 16th anniversary), and they must celebrate some aspect of the crazy quilt style.
Contest quilts must be sent to the Alliance by June 1 and become the AAQ's property. The crazy quilts will tour to several exhibition venues, including the National Quilting Association's annual show in June. The quilts will be auctioned off in the fall to benefit the Alliance and its mission to document, preserve and share the history of quilts.
To encourage the participation of younger quilters, the Alliance has created two categories within the Crazy for Quilts contest: Ages 30 & Under, and Over 30. There will be prizes in both age groups for the first, second and third place winners.
The principal focus of the AAQ is its website, the free, public portal into its fast-growing database of vintage, historic and significant quilts. This contest encourages quilters to actively use the website to inspire a personal interpretation of a crazy quilt, so a special online "gallery" has been set up to showcase the site's vast collection of crazy quilts online, which exceeds 1,000 images. The crazy quilts are found mostly at the Quilt Index, a project jointly run by the AAQ and Michigan State University.
At the special Crazy Quilt gallery online, historian Merikay Waldvogel has posted an essay about "What Makes a Crazy Quilt Crazy," and offers links to some of her favorite crazy quilts on the Index. She also shares ideas about how to create a modern interpretation of this 19th century free-form style. To find the Waldvogel essay and her quilt picks, simply go to the Alliance homepage, , and click on the link marked Crazy for Quilts contest.
"We hope people will interpret this contest theme as creatively and broadly as possible and we would really like to see younger quilters and first-time participants enter," says Amy Milne, executive director of the Alliance for American Quilts.
Quilts must be sent with an entry fee: Alliance members get a big price break.
The full rules and entry form can be downloaded at the website

I hope many of you CQers will participate in this worthy---and I know it will be historically significant--event!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Cottage CQ....Playing in the Waves

I knew this was going to be fun!!!

I gathered my materials, starting with these....

This funny pile of orts (def: n. Archaic, crumbs, scraps; this is a great Scrabble word!) is actually a bunch of slivers of fabric that have been rotary cut at the fold line.

Then I got out my luscious little bin of blue Kreinik metallic threads...

I love Kreinik's threads!

Finally, I got out all my bubble-esque beads...

I have done a few lake projects with bubbles in the waves....but I'd never beaded over wave-printed fabric before. I was excited to start and see what would happen.

I pinned the orts in place...some along seams, and some "cross country". I couched them down with the Kreinik thread, and then added a line of herringbone stitching below.

Then I began sewing on bubbles!

This is just the beginning...but oh, I do think it is going to work.
Happy times...

Marie Alton's Crazy Quilt Brooch

I was the very lucky winner of Marie Alton's blog drawing last month. Marie is a fabulous silk ribbon embroiderer, and also does beautiful crazy quilt work. You can find her blog here.

She loves making miniature projects....and my stickpin brooch shows how much detail she can include in a very small space.

This measures two inches in diameter.
Beautiful, isn't it? Thank you, Marie!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Cottage CQ...More Trees!

Sometimes it takes living with a work-in-progress for a long while before necessary additions become apparent.

As I was preparing my "lucky glass"--or "sea glass", as some call it--to be sewn onto the quilt, it just hit me that there wasn't quite the balance on each side of the arc of the trees that I wanted. I needed to add a little more of the pine tree element on each side.
So after I got my lucky glass sewn on, that's what I did. For five hours.

But first, here's the process with the lucky glass. I handle the bits of worn glass the same way I do rocks...glue a buttonback onto each piece and then sew it on.

That pathetic wrinkled tube is E6000 glue. I am really due for a new one. But I managed to squeeze some out, apply it to each buttonback with a toothpick, and then push the backs onto the lucky glass pieces.
It took about 3 hours to set up.

In order to sew them on, I needed to make a hole for each one through the quilt to accomodate the protruding shank of the buttonback.
I got out my scalpel of a seamripper and just made my cuts.

Surgeons must be bold and decisive! Confident!
This was still scary going back.

The shank is poked through to the back here. I use Silamead beading thread for this because it is extra strong.

Now for an overall view...

I've couched on the initial "wave lines" along the bottom section. These will guide the sewing on of a zillion little beads (read, bubbles). Also more stitching will follow these lines.
I've also decided what I'm going to write in the sand below the line of lucky glass, too.....

I have much work left on this project but can now at last get a glimpse of the finish line....and this is my favorite part of the race, too, that sprint to the finish.

Thanks so much for your comments and suggestions, especially with regards to those shingles on the roof! I'm going to wait to decide on that until the rest of the quilt is done....meanwhile, all those bubbles are the next order of business.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Cottage CQ...Cottage Embroidery Finished

There may be a few finishing touches, but the embroidery on the central cottage image is pretty much done.

It was a challenge to keep it all flat without the use of a hoop, but overall that worked out alright.

See for yourself.....

I tried to keep a light touch with the flower border along the front of the porch. The stitching is just to augment the imagery that is already printed. It's not supposed to draw a lot of attention to itself.
I filled in the area of the grass that's in shadow, but decided I didn't need to do the whole lawn.
And it was fun to do the flag!

There will be some tweaking down the line, but this is surely it for now.

Next it is time to shift gears and think about those waves along the bottom section of the quilt.....

I hope to get this top done before leaving for Mexico on the 17th of this month.
We'll see!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Cottage CQ...Buttonhole Leaves Completed

These took an amazingly long time!
I went through two 5 yard skeins of silk floss using them single strand for the darker leaves and double strand for the lighter ones.
I outlined the tree trunk and honestly don't think I need to add anything more to it.

Now I get to embroider the flower border along the front of the porch. I've been looking forward to this part for weeks and weeks..... You know me and flowers.......
Then I'll do the flag....but I think I will skip that satellite dish. ;-)

Happy 2009 everyone! Thanks so much for your interest in the blog and your comments over the last's to many millions more stitches amongst us all in the new year.....