Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Workshop at Point Bonita..."May"

Our fearless leader of the Point Bonita quilt retreat, Kathy Ronsheimer, asked me if I would lead the guest workshop this year. What an honor!
Our artists-in-residence, Bettina Havig, Mickey Lawler, Judy Warren Blaydon, and Nancy Halpern give fabulous new workshops every one "guest teacher" is invited to offer a workshop each year too. Attendees usually pick one workshop per year from these offerings, and it is really hard to choose, too.
Actually this year there will be two of us filling the guest teacher slot. Lynn Koolish, author and editor at C & T Publishing, is showing students how to paint on fabric using C & T's new Surface Design Center products. (That's the workshop I'll be taking. Very excited about it!)

And I will be teaching a little project showing how to make a small embellished portrait.

8" X 8", 2009

Each of my students will be bringing in their own photo-transferred "subject" already appliqued onto background fabric, and then they will be learning the flowers shown here.
I can't wait to get the needles into their hands!

Monday, January 25, 2010

New Issue of CQMagOnline is Live

Our editor, Rissa Peace Root, has done another fantastic job. Check it out!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

More Needlepunch Ribbon Flowers

My friend Freda was so nice to lend me her Dancing Needle. I purchased my own (here) so sent hers back with one of my flowers.
*edit* The large Dancing Needle--also known as the Ribbon Needle--this one.*

Freda is a very elegant lady (and as warm and sweet as she is beautiful) so I tried to make something she might enjoy.
I liked using the velvet millinery leaves a lot.

Then I tried to needlepunch some ribbon on needlepoint canvas, wanting to see if it would work...

For the larger ribbon it did, but I couldn't use anything smaller in the center. Sewing those beads on was easy, though.
I did like not having to use a hoop for this, and I think it will cut out and applique just fine on a quilt.

This one is about 3" wide.

The annual quilt retreat at Point Bonita is in a week! Because this marks its 30th year, we are all encouraged to make a challenge quilt, 18" X 18", to celebrate with the theme "Point Bonita, My Second Home". There should be some doozies. I'll post mine here when it is done...having some fun with it!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

D.C. Area Fundraiser for the Alliance for American Quilts!

The nonprofit Alliance for American Quilts will host two fundraising events in Washington, DC on Thursday, March 4.

The "Connected by Threads" events will celebrate quilts, quiltmakers and quilt history through the lens of two speakers, Dr. Carolyn L. Mazloomi and Le Rowell, both board members of The Alliance for American Quilts (AAQ). Mazloomi will speak at the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm including a tea reception, and Rowell will speak at a dinner and silent auction from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at the DACOR Bacon House. The events will benefit the nonprofit AAQ, a national organization that documents, preserves and shares the rich history of quilts and quiltmakers (
. Both Mazloomi and Rowell will be sharing quilts from their own collections and studies. "Connected by Threads" is sponsored by Lisa Ellis of the Sacred Threads Exhibit and maker of Art Call, the on-line artist registration, jurying and exhibit administration system,, and the Rowell Family Charities. An individual ticket including both events is $85 for AAQ members and $100 for nonmembers. Individual event tickets are also available.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Live by the Sun, Love by the Moon...Epilogue

Andy has returned from visiting his girl Caylie back East. He presented her with his gift, the wall hanging he commissioned from me, and I do believe it had the desired effect. :-)

There is no better medium for conveying love than quilts...this we know!!!!

I received this remarkable letter and picture this morning, and am so happy to share it with you who have followed this tender tale.....

Aunt Allie,

It’s nice to meet the creator of my amazing Christmas present! My name is Caylie and I am your nephew Andy’s girl, as well as the recipient of your beautiful artwork. I’ve had the gift for a few days now and I still smile every time I look at it hanging on my wall. It has definitely been the most thoughtful and special gift I have ever received. Andy is, by far, the most thoughtful, sweet, and genuine person I have ever met. You are very lucky to have him as a part of your family. I only wish I had met him sooner. His ideas for this were perfect. He knew how much I love watching the moonsets over the ocean with him. And he even incorporated one of my favorite quotes “Live by the by the moon” into it. Perfect, perfect, perfect! Between his perfect ideas for the art and your creative hands, it’s the greatest gift ever....

And the fact that you blogged about making my gift made the story behind the art so much cooler! You had so many people excited about the progress on your work and so many others excited for Andy and I. And Andy definitely scored “major points” with this gift! I don’t think he will be able to top this one!

I noticed that there were many followers to your blogs that were eager to hear what I thought of it too. So if you want, feel free to post my letter and picture on your website.

I hope someday when I’m out on the west coast we can meet and I can thank you in person!

Thank you so much Aunt Allie!!


Caylie my dear, you are most welcome!
May you and Andy watch many, many more moonsets together....
Aunt Allie

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Vintage CQ...Finishing the Center in Progress

All those little wheel blocks are sewn together, but that doesn't mean the center is finished!

The fly stitching in the seams between the triangles in each block must now be added to the seams between the blocks. I am adding little silk ribbon flowers at the intersections of all the black diamond points too.

It is slow but very agreeable work.

I'm placing a Swarovski pearl at the center of the wheels themselves, just to help define them a little bit.
The outer blocks are up on the design wall calling to me...but I may not be able to dive into them until my quilt retreat at Point Bonita at the end of the month. That will be such a joy....

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Esther's Hats

My son's girlfriend Esther is a clever artisan who works with recycled materials in all her projects.
She gave me a tour this morning (I am visiting them) of her recent series of hats, and I flipped for them. She has them in her Etsy store.
Have a look!

Angry Robot

She uses reclaimed sweater yarn and felt from recycled bottles. The thread is from Goodwill.
She is serious about this aspect of her work.
The used hat stand was purchased on Ebay, and paper mache-d with torn grocery bags and a paste of flour, water, and salt. (Find some recipes for this here.)

Dogs in Galoshes

Trees in Love

Surprise Encounter

Happy Sunnyville

She has many projects in the works and they all share the same high standards of environmental respect. Add that to a quirky and compelling design sense and you have some very interesting fare coming off her needles!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Vintage CQ...Outer Blocks Pieced

Some of you have asked about what I meant by constructing crazy quilt blocks "the traditional way", so I thought I'd show my take on that.

It's really just cutting out shapes, ironing under edges, and basting the whole thing together on a foundation before sewing it all down.
Here's how it looks on an old and unfinished crazy quilt:

This is about 8" X 10", the size of most of the blocks I made. You can still see all the basting threads.

But I decided pin basting was faster and more accurate...

Very occasionally I would flip and sew a couple of pieces together, but mostly all my blocks came together like this.

Sometimes I would sew part of it down before adding the rest of the pieces, but usually not.

I topstitched everything with clear monofilament thread. In the bobbin I use a rayon thread by is so thin that a lot fits on the bobbin at once. This is a good thing. Also, it is strong but still lightweight enough to make it easy to tear off a patch, if need be, in order to switch up the block's lay-out. A quick hard tug and zip, it's off with no damage done.
I did that quite a bit, actually!

Here are some more blocks:

...the "Ribbon Block"...

...and the "Tapestry Block". The leaping critter is actually a photo transfer of a picture I took of a wonderful textile that was in my great-grandfather's furniture store in Indiana well over a hundred years ago. Obviously I wasn't going to cut that up...but I could still use the design this way.

I've had some fun mixing the old with the new like this. I pieced some fragments of that unfinished crazy quilt into my blocks, and salvaged a few of the embroidered motifs as well (the flowers in the top right corner above are an example). I also pieced in some old fabrics from that quilt in with my own contemporary fabrics. And each block has one of the vintage Kensitas flower cigarette silks that I bought from Maureen a few months ago.

My friend Conni Jenkins, of The Scoop, the Score, and the Deal had sent me a really cool artist trading card with an embroidered clover leaf on it. Well....I just had to put it in the quilt too.

She stitched it on some lovely felt she made with her embellisher.

It totally belongs here. It's the same perle cotton and style of embroidery as the antique motifs!

My goal has been to combine vintage and contemporary in this quilt, and I feel more successful with my second attempt at the border blocks.

The blocks are all trimmed, zigzagged, interfaced, and ready for handwork.

The last two major CQs I made (the H Quilt and the Spring CQ) had much more controlled overall designs. The tops were assembled first, and as a whole, before embellishing.
But in the old days crazy quilters almost never worked that way. Their piecing was random and they finished embroidering their individual blocks before assembling them into a top.
It truly gives a different look. So that's what I'm doing this time around.

There is a lot more work to do on the center section first though....

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Vintage CQ...Piecing Frenzy!

Now that my flower blocks are sewn together, it is time to piece the blocks that will surround the center section. My first attempt at these blocks last summer didn't work--they were too loud for this "dignified" (read: traditional) a crazy quilt--but that's o.k. because oh, do I love piecing!

So I pulled some fabrics, cut out my muslin foundations, pinned them in place on my design wall, and have gotten to work....

I am using the same construction method for the blocks that they used in the old days....laying out the patches, basting them into place, and then sewing them down. I really think the method of block construction determines the "look" of a CQ, and I am going for that antique feel this time around...mostly. There will be a few aberrations!

In keeping with this approach, I'm including a ribbon commemorating our country's Bicentennial. It was a gift to me from my cousins, who found it in their mother's sewing basket after she passed away in November. I am so proud to include it in this quilt, in memory of my Aunt Sally.

The little fan is from an old, half-started cutter CQ that a friend sent to me a few years ago...I finally realized that I would never finish it, but I certainly would love to mine it for fabrics and even some of the motifs.

So I've got many pleasant hours of sewing ahead of me over the next few days...