Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ink Jet Floral Fabrics

I have until early next week to play with a new project....then I'll be working steadily on preparing for my classes in Baltimore.
So I decided to play with some of my flower imagery and had some fun printing this morning.

I've combined my home printed flower fabrics with commercial fabric in crazy quilts before, but I want to see how a quilt looks with only my own prints in it. And lace of course. And stitching, ribbonwork, beading, etc.
16" X 16", say, for another Alliance quilt?

I wonder how much trouble I can get in over the next 5 days?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Elle and Dave....Finished!

The best part about doing crazy quilt "portraits" is getting to spend that quality time with the subject. It's been great smiling down at Elle and Dave while I've been working on this.

The wreath around the center section just evolved as I went along. This is as much collage work as crazy quilting...and the intersection of those two approaches is becoming more and more of interest to me.
So the goal is not "how much can I enrich this with fancy stitching and embellishments?" but, "what do I need to add to make this composition right?" These are two equally valid, but different, questions.

Some detail shots.....

I made the big white flower, but purchased the pink/yellow one on the right at the Dollar Store. All is fair game in C.Q., this we know. The little orange ribbon flower and the crocheted yellow bloom in the bottom right were both purchased and tacked on, too.

These velvet leaves were from the infinitely dangerous 3rd Floor of Britex Fabrics in San Francisco. (If you click on the link, you'll see what I mean.) But I think they are pretty easy to come by. Machine applique made them go on fast.

They also illustrate the collage process. They went on over other appliqued leaves, seam treatments already sewn...I was just building the composition as I went along.

I loved using vintage quilt blocks for the background of the photo, and know I'll be trying that again. The plaid, camo, and paisley jacquard ribbon from Ally's Bazaar helped keep the quilt fresh against that antique background.

Don't those two look so joyfully expectant though? I can't wait to meet those twin girl babies....

Friday, March 27, 2009

Crazy for Quilts...New Contest Info

Amy Milne, the brilliant and dedicated director of the Alliance for American Quilts, has just sent out this letter...I think the news is exciting...and she does a fine job of explaining what the Alliance is all about.


Dear Alliance for American Quilts contest quilt donor,

I am so pleased to write you with exciting news. This year we will add all contest entries (this year’s and the last two year’s contests) into the Quilt Index, an online database now with over 18,000 records of contemporary and historical quilts, and soon to reach 50,000 records. The Quilt Index, a joint project of the AAQ and Michigan State University, is essentially a virtual museum bringing new access to detailed information and images of quilts from museums, historical societies, guilds, documentation projects and private collections. Putting your contest quilts in the Quilt Index is another way that we can document, preserve and share the history of quilts, providing inspiration and information to our audience today and for generations to come.

I hope that this new incentive will encourage you to enter our 2009 contest- Crazy for Quilts. Full information and entry forms are available at: http://www.allianceforamericanquilts.org/projects/crazy/. This year we’re asking for the same small format (16” x 16”), and we’re celebrating the crazy quilt. As usual, all techniques, media and approaches are welcome—from traditional to artistic and all styles in between. As one member put it during our voting last year: “I appreciate the variety of techniques and designs. It's refreshing to see traditional patchwork and art quilts displayed together.”

Last year’s My Quilts/Our History quilt auction and 2007’s Put a Roof Over Our Head quilt auction raised a combined total of over $16,000. This much-needed income allows the AAQ to continue doing the important work of collecting and archiving the incredible achievements of quiltmakers like you. Thank you for playing a critical role in this effort with the contribution of your incredible quilts and stories!

If you’re not already an AAQ member, please consider joining now or when you send in your Crazy for Quilts entry. Members who join or renew for as low as $25/year can enter the contest for only $5/quilt. Another great reason to become an AAQ member is that you will become eligible to vote on the Crazy for Quilt entries (including your own). In a contest like this—the opportunity to vote for your own quilt (and maybe enlisting friends and family to join too J) can significantly increase your chances to win!!

Join online or download an order form at: http://www.allianceforamericanquilts.org/support/support.php.

Sending you best wishes and creative vibes,



Debra Spincic, Deb Hardman, and my cousin Tracy are joining in. Each of their quilts will reflect something totally unique about crazy quilting.

Won't you please join us? If not to enter the contest, then to become a member.
Let's make sure that future historians see how valuable our quilt work is!

Elle and Dave....Leaves and Flowers

I started the frame of leaves and flowers that will surround the central photographic image.
You know I can't stay away from flowers for long!

All of the leaves were machine appliqued with a clear thread in a narrow zigzag.

The flowers were made with the millinery tools that I wrote about here. I did add more glue to the glue/water ratio that I pre-soaked my petal fabric in, which helped the petals keep their shapes much better than my last batch of fabrics. And there is no fraying whatsoever.

Now for some fun viney embroidery....

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fun with Elle and Dave

After finishing a long project, it is so much fun to just play for awhile in a totally different mode.
I pieced this large block for a wall-hanging for my expectant niece yesterday. It's 17 1/2" X 21 1/2" at present.

I'll be writing about this piecing technique for the upcoming issue of CQMagOnline
so I'll save process shots for then...

We are all so excited about the twins' arrival!

On another note, by good friend Cindy Thury-Smith was recently interviewed about crazy quilting by her local TV station in Minnesota. Her delightful humor shows through...so check it out..it's too short a segment but a great glimpse of my wonderful friend. You can watch it here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cottage CQ...Finishing and Finished!

The last few days have been spent doing all the detailed steps of finishing my crazy quilt.
I did my very best to keep things square and true...I still have a ways to go to get this all perfect, but I'll keep trying on my next quilt.

Meanwhile, here are the steps I took, once the embellishment on the front was totally completed....

First I appliqued a narrow border onto the front.
Sharon Schamber's great technique for ironing my folded edge helped me prepare my border pieces: I cut a piece of freezer paper 1/4" narrower than the border, ironed it to the back of the fabric, and then had a perfect edge for ironing exactly 1/4" at the fold. Then I simply removed the freezer paper and re-ironed my fold.
***Note***Sharon Schamber has a superlative set of free video tutorials on all aspects of quilt construction here. Any level of quilter will improve from watching these, I promise you.

Next I used all my rulers to make sure my borders were pinned on straight, had good 90 degree corners, that my quilt measured the same top and bottom, and left and right.
This is a good time NOT to be rushed.

Once the border was hand appliqued on, I couched on the row of cording along the inner edge.

Now to the "false back". Normally I use drapery lining--a spongey, somewhat loosely woven flannel--for my batting and a piece of muslin over it, basting those layers into place. This time I just used a piece of cotton quilt batting. I wanted something with slightly more body, and didn't feel I needed the muslin layer.
Here I am basting it into place, being careful not to let my stitches show through on the front. The extra basting you see in that one area is where all the rocks and lucky glass are on the front of the quilt. This extra basting will give that area needed extra support.

The "fancy back" is a lovely silk brocade...I am attaching it with buttons right over the "false back".

Next I basted the edges of all the layers together, before adding my French facing. I didn't want the various edges of the layers sliding around under my presser foot while I was machine stitching on my facing.

This is not a binding...once the facing is sewn on, it gets turned to the back of the quilt, so none of it shows from the front.
I forgot to photograph that, but did write a comprehensive article about the French facing technique for CQMagOnline a few years ago. You can read it here.

Once my facing was sewn on, I had to trim that inner seam so there wouldn't be a huge long lump under my turned facing.

I turned the facing toward the back, ironed it, and pinned some lace along the edge, which is being sewn in at the same time the facing is being tacked to the back.

For my label, I used Barbara Curiel's fantastic idea of using Tshirt transfer paper on a vintage hankie. "Cottage CQ" has been my working title, but "Bryant Family Cottage" is the quilt's formal name.

The finished back doesn't have its sleeve sewn on yet. I can procrastinate on that!

And here quilt from the front, finished.

"Bryant Family Cottage"
32 3/4" X 35 1/4"

I left this image pretty big, so if you click on it you can see some detail.

Thank you all so much for traveling along with me during this long ride...I've appreciated your interest, feedback, and empathy, too. ;-)

I feel I did achieve my goal of combining landscape quilting with crazy quilting. Now to just get the technical aspects refined on the next "place portrait" CQ. I wonder where it will be???......

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Esther's Blog, "Eco-Practical Crafting"

Esther, my son's girlfriend, has been blogging since the beginning of the year.
Her focus is on needlework/crafting from an environmentalist perspective.
I am loving what she's doing!

Her first "unit"--or series of posts--was a phenomenal exploration of using plastic grocery bags in creative and useful new ways.

She gave me one of the totebags she made as a Christmas present, and I use it all the time when I'm traveling to carry my needlework projects. It has held up well.

She used a paper bag grocery bag for the "batting", and appliqued the outside plastic bag layer with the Macy's star and the stripes...there is an inner plastic layer, and all is machine quilted with clear thread. The top has cotton binding appliqued by hand.
Everyone who sees this bag loves it...she also experimented with spinning and weaving plastic bag strips...very cool. See it all here.

Here she is with one of her woven plastic totes.

She loves to crochet and has been figuring out different ways to chart her own designs for what she calls "Tapestry Crochet"projects.

Naturally I love this one, as it is of my son, Max.
She writes about different methods for creating patterns here.

Her blog itself has a very nice organized look to it...Max wrote her a little program (he's a software engineer) for grouping her posts that is so much more effective than the long list of labels on the side of my blog. I'm going to visit them in a few weeks and get some help to update my sidebar, for sure.
Esther is also going to lead me through the mysteries of PowerPoint...she was the one who created my "ants" title bar up top here, too. Thanks, Esther!

Her blog's next "unit" will be a series of posts on recycling socks--you know, the ones with the holes in the toes. This will start on April 2 (she posts on Thursdays), and I for one am looking forward to it...
So I invite you to check out her blog. Her environmental passion is compelling, and her talent is really rolling....

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Rose Block...Finished!

Ah, what fun to just encrust a block with the simple idea of "More is more!"

After I finished beading the rose motif with my new Two Needle Applique skills, the rest of the block came together pretty quickly.

But first, to that rose....

Once it was done, I realized I just couldn't stand the clunky "shading". The contrast in values between the outline beads and the inner ones was too great. I could not use it as it was, so I had nothing to lose...
...and got out my acrylic paints, a little paintbrush, and just went for it.
I figured that Japanese seed beads are dyed...so why couldn't these be painted?
I like this better.

I cut it out and then used my fabric markers to color the edges of the foundation around the beads.

Then I trimmed it a little more closely, being careful not to snip any of my beading threads by accident.

I filled in the rest of my block with lots of fun stuff...

The yellow roses are from Susan; the fancy flower trim a gift from Betty; the waste canvas seam treatment in variegated pink/mauve was a design shared with me by Pam.
I love having my friends close when I stitch!

This will go off to join its sister blocks for this year's hospital quilt.

And now, to finish that Cottage CQ.....

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tracy's Pine Needle Baskets

My cousin Tracy's fine craft of pine needle basketry has grown from her innate talent combined with her deep connection to the place she has lived for over thirty years. It is an adobe ranch house over 150 years old, at the entrance to a beautiful canyon. Tracy and her husband John run cattle here. They breed and train horses as well. Along the top of the canyon grow the pinon pines that provide the needles and the pitch for her baskets. I took this picture during a horse ride she took me on. Those are the snow-covered Sangre de Christo mountains in the distance. She gathers the needles...even storing them in her freezer to keep them fresh until she can use them. She scrapes the pitch carefully from old injuries on pinon trees. It collects in big goo balls. The injuries are usually because a porcupine has eaten the bark. Removing the excess pitch does not affect the health of the tree. The pitch has been used forever--first by Native Americans to preserve their baskets and as a finish on pottery. The Spanish settlers boiled it into a varnish that they used on wood. The pitch is melted and mixed with beeswax that she gets locally, and which smells like honey it is so rich. She brushes this liquid on the finished baskets, which are "baked" in a very low temperature oven. They smell heavenly....for years. She stores her baskets in a collection of old Victorian trunks. When collectors come to purchase one, they have the delight of unpacking and discovering them. Let's do the same! That beadwork she does along the rims is so great. She loves to incorporate "found objects" in the lids as well. She uses the pine needle "heads" to create patterns. Tracy has always been an illustrator, and this horse is definitely her style. (And why did she take that Two Needle Bead Applique class with me if she could already do work like this? She was kindly humoring me...) In the pine needle basket world, the teacup is a form that all practitioners do their "take" on. It's a neat convention. The only comparable thing I can think of in the quilt world is how one might interpret the "Tree of Life". Everyone's is different but they are all Trees of Life, and they showcase where people are at in their quiltmaking. (I'd like to do one myself.) Those are porcupine quills around the rims of the cup and saucer, and yes, she gathers those too. Tracy gets plenty experimental with her work as well. The following two baskets show again how closely she is attuned to the elements in her environment. This is paper from a paper wasp's nest, applied when the pitch was still wet. I love this. But the last one is my all time favorite... John had shot a rattle snake...Tracy skinned it and applied the fresh skin to the outside of one of her baskets. It "shrank to fit" and is one of the coolest things I've ever seen. If it didn't already live in Italy, I would have traded her a quilt for it. A BIG quilt! Tracy and John were such wonderful hosts to me....it was so good to see them, and I can't wait to go back to the ranch. What fine people......

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bead Class with David Dean

Ah, Santa Fe!
My cousin Tracy and I had a bowl of green chili stew overlooking the plaza the night before our Two Needle Applique class with the great Native American beader, David Dean.

Under his grandmother's tutelage, David started beading broomsticks with pony beads when he was five years old, and he's been at it ever since.
He taught us the deceptively simple technique of Two Needle Applique, which is basically couching lines of beads down onto leather or fabric.
It was a small class, and there wasn't that much technical instruction required, so we were lucky to hear lots of stories about how he views different Native American tribes practicing their beadwork. Cheyennes are meticulous, and the Sioux are much more loose; Pueblo are highly traditional and the Navajo are wild and improvisational, for example...
We learned how to "museum up" new beadwork to make it look old. He does a lot of museum restoration so he knows all the tricks.
What a great story teller and teacher he was!

Here is some of the work he brought to class to show us.

I believe the background is called "Lazy Stitch", but the roses and butterfly use the two needle technique.

Many of these objects were made for the various Native American dances David and his family participate in. It was really fun to hear about those, too.

This includes Mickey Mouse here, for a five year old nephew's costume!

The picture applique is magnificent I think.

Those are size 22 beads in the salmon there for detail. You don't have to use the same sized beads throughout a picture.
He said, "If you can draw it, you can bead it," and suggested looking at childrens' coloring books for great design ideas.

David showed us how to draft the mandala-like designs (I wish I could remember the term for them) that he beads.

He makes it look so easy.

But they are NOT easy! So beautiful and powerful, though.

It is rather slow work--but very enjoyable.
Of course it can be used in crazy quilting. (Every needle and beadwork technique can, just about.)

I gave it my best shot.....

The beads are supposed to lay flat, not stick up in little bumps. That's because I made the classic beginner's mistake of trying to fit too many beads in the space available.
But I hope to get better. This is a really great technique, and I loved learning it from such a master.

My cousin Tracy is a master of her pine needle basket technique. (She would not agree to this, but I believe it is so.) I did a photo shoot of some of her work and I'll post that tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Spring in the Columbia Gorge

Oh, one last thing before I go.....I really wanted to share this photo.
My friend Mitch Hammontree took this from the viewpoint of Cape Horn in the Columbia Gorge, not too far from where I live. This is what early spring looks like around here....turbulent!

But it is also sweet.....

My first flowers!
Yay, Spring!!!!
......Bye again..................

Rose Block

This is the fifth year that a group of us crazy quilters will create a quilt together that is donated to a cancer treatment center. Barbara Blankenship and Victoria Brown co-ordinate the project, which is an outgrowth of those great Art Bra calendars that Vicki produced in 2005,2006, and 2007 to raise money for breast cancer research.

This year's theme is "Roses"...we were all given a piece of rose colored dupioni to use in our blocks and then let loose to interpret the theme in an 8" X 8" block. (To see the other blocks being created this year which are totally fabulous, visit Barbara's Flickr page.)

This struck me as a great way to use my new millinery flower technique! My inspiration was the pink "Fairy Rose".

My block is pieced and ready to go. I've cut out petal shapes and am ready to light that flame to heat up my tools.

This really is so easy.

To create a bud, I used a small pre-made rosebud on wire for my stamen. Instead of gluing the petals on at the base, I just sewed them on one by one. That was much easier for me.
This picture shows me wrapping the wire stem with some nice green wool yarn.

(Sorry for the fuzzy shot.) I did use a little bit of glue on the leaves of the calyx, which was cut from some ultrasuede.

These vintage velvet leaves were a little too big, so I just cut them down to a better size.

I couched down the wrapped stems and just whipstitched the leaves on.
The top rose was sewn on like the bottom one, but I mooshed up one side and held it in place with the calyx which I tacked on over the flower's base, to get a different look. Those are rayon French knots in the center of the bottom rose.

I'll be taking this block to work on while I'm visiting my cousin Tracy in New Mexico over the next several days. Before we head up to the ranch, we're going to spend a little time in Santa Fe to attend a workshop together at the Bead Fest. Fun!

I'll be back in a week.....I don't think I'll be able to blog from there but if I can I will.
Otherwise....Adios, Amigas....