Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Vintage CQ...Waste Canvas Grids

I blame it all on the great Barbara Meger, a national smocking teacher whom I was honored to teach crazy piecing to last year. I had suggested she incorporate smocking into a crazy quilt block and just look at what she did...

Besides her extraordinary smocking and stitching, what really grabbed me about this block is that grid in the lower right. I just love it!

So on a much humbler level I decided to put some grids in some of the patches of my border blocks. Using waste canvas seemed like the best way to get them accurate.

Just count and stitch. Easy peasy.

This is how it looks with the waste canvas grid removed. (Bev, this is the offending yellow patch, by the way.)
And here is how I like to do that....

I cut away the excess, then cut again to make the strings shorter and therefore easier to pull out. And on this one, I added the second color of thread after removing the grid, figuring I could eyeball that o.k. Again, this lesser amount of stitching makes the grid easier to remove....

...and you get this.

Then I thought, why not just use the grid as a marking tool and dispense stitching through it altogether?

Comme ci...

Comme ca....

....Et voila!

And again, using a larger grid this time....

The chalk pencil is good for the larger grid and dark fabric.

This one uses a third color and I like it, so I will probably go back and add that to the other grids... this one.
(Isn't that Oya needlelace trim great? As well as the pinkish/violet one in the fifth picture from the top? You can buy your own here from Rengin in Istanbul...)

But then I got cocky and tried doing the whole grid stitching process without a marking anything at all.

It was a small patch and I thought I could get away with it. Looks pretty wonky, though, especially with that perfectly woven grid nearby. I'm glad I didn't use highly contrasting colors.

I love these grids and will add more to my blocks, but first I'm taking a small break to work on a present that I can't blog about. I'll be back in a week or so....bye for now!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Vintage CQ....Border Block by Block

I sure have been flying around lately! 4 trips in the last 6 it's been good to have portable stitching for all those airplane rides.
The Vintage CQ border blocks have fit the bill quite well.

I've put in enough work on the individual blocks that it was a surprise when I got them all up there on the design wall to see just how this project is starting to jell.

I thought I'd give a block by block tour here, starting from the upper left corner and going clockwise around the quilt...

Block 1. I added that wide red vintage ribbon in the upper part of the block, and the purple oya trim along the bottom. That's a very strange seam treatment on the middle right...sometimes I just let my imagination wander and come up with something weird. Whenever I look at it I will remember being in a cramped middle seat on a cross country flight....It looks cramped, doesn't it?

Block 2 has that big chunk of a truly vintage crazy quilt pieced into it. I added the floral trim and some big lazy daisy stitches...these are actually showing up all over on this quilt.

Some ombre ribbon, embroidered rickrack, a lace motif, and more lazy daisies were added to Block 3....That "AA" vintage tape was a very nice gift from Freda B awhile ago. I love sneaking it into all my quilts.

Block 4 has another one of the lace motifs that I scattered around the border. It's cut from some old lace that Cathy K sent to me last year. I love having reminders of my friends in my quilts! More of those variegated lazy daisies are here, too. Nice big fat stitches.

Block 5 has even bigger detached chain stitches, done in variegated blue knitting ribbon.

My friend Bev wrote to me that she thought the yellow triangular patch on the bottom left of Block 6 here stuck out too much, when viewed in the context of the overall quilt. She might be right, and I might lop off a little of it. Meanwhile, more lazy daisies...these white ones were worked in Aurofil #12 cotton thread which I LOVE.

Block 7 again has a big chunk of that old crazy quilt pieced into it. I think I will be leaving it alone and not adding to it in any way. But next to it some very large ombre ribbon detached chain stitches and the purple oya hopefully integrate the block a little. Another lace motif will tie it into the other border blocks as well.

Block 8 has my embroidered lucky clover that Conni J sent to me. AI LUVZ IT. (Conni and I are good LOLCat buddies, and we only talk in LOLspeak to each other.) This block is so busy that I am a little stymied as to how to "shape it" with the embellishments so I am letting it speak to me further before I add more.

Block 9 has that big piece of handwoven silk/wool that I bought in Varanasi, India 9 years ago. I so love that fabric.
Yet another lace motifs was added as well as another of those strange seam treatments which fortunately blends in with the orange patch it is on. I'm not snipping it off, though!

Block 10 received some more oya trim, embroidered rickrack, and giant lazy daisy stitches. The jacquard ribbon in the center of the block was from Betty P. I love having her here!
That embroidered white fabric was brought back from the Philippines by my grandparents over 60 years ago...

God Bless America! That's what Block 11 is about, and all the additions are to develop that little theme. Do note the cherries in the fabric next to George Washington! I added the star trim somewhere over Iowa....

Block 12 received two lace motifs and some timid little white stitching on the right. I need to punch this block up a bit.

Block 13 is one of my favorites. It has the Egyptian fabric my peripatetic grandparents brought home from Cairo a long, long time ago. That giant lazy daisy fan is new and I want to make a bunch more of them. The fifth and final of Cathy's lace motifs is here.

Block 14 has the blue plaid Millenium ribbon that Kathy S sent to me especially for this quilt. There are more big stitches added on the seams and a twisty ribbon as well.

All of the blocks are assuming their own personalities to me as I spend more time with them as individuals.
.....Yes, crazy quilting is a world unto itself, isn't it? Anthropomorphizing blocks, are we?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Embellishment Class

In February we had a day of piecing, then in March we covered basic embroidery, and a month after that (which was yesterday) my seven students and I spent a day exploring silk ribbon embroidery. We also tried out some embellishment techniques.
I'm so proud of how well they all did!

Because this was a techniques-oriented class series, they did not walk away with finished projects. My goal was to give them the "building blocks" of basic stitches and familiarity with some new materials to work with on their own when our classes were done. So after piecing blocks during the first class, we made samplers for the second two classes. But a few students got pretty far with the 4-block project I had suggested they do.....

Valarie completed all four blocks using the curved piecing method she learned, and put her embroidery skills to use right away.

Gloria is understandably happy with her four block square.

Lisa showed us how she organizes her crazy quilt project to be efficiently portable. She has pulled the supplies she wants to work with and photographed them placed over the seams she will embroider with them.

She says this eliminates the distraction of too much choice, though of course she can change her mind along the way.

She brings the print-out of the photo with her so that when she catches an hour's stitching time during her lunch break at work, she can get right with it. Very clever, Lisa!

Joyce is a consummate weaver, but she has wanted to learn embroidery for crazy quilting and she bravely dove right in. Here is her sampler from yesterday:

That herringbone was giving her fits at first but she got it in the end.
As a teacher introducing SRE to first time students, I was very concerned that they learn how to keep the ribbon flat and untwisted as they made their stitches. Hopefully, that will stay with them!

Marge's sampler will hopefully remind her of some of the choices she has for using the fun supplies that are available to us all these days.... this Glitter Hologram thread from Superior that Lisa was showing Marlys.

I am really enjoying teaching. What they say is true: you learn so much from your students, and quilters are the nicest people in the world.

Thank you so much, ladies!!!!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cotton CQ Finished and Vintage CQ Tweaked

I NEVER work on two projects at least, I haven't before this spring, as I keep playing hooky from the Vintage CQ. It has been languishing on my design wall and is starting to stare me down!

So after completing the center of my Cotton CQ and allowing a few more butterflies to land on it, I spent some time adding "bits" to the Vintage CQ....mostly trims, colored lace, and a few lace motifs as well. I'll get stitching on it again this week while I'm off on a little road trip.

Here's how the center of the Cotton CQ came out. I didn't add much, just enough to give it a little dimension.

I so love doing these...

Here's the whole thing:

Do you think if I produced a pattern for this kind of thing that people would buy it?
There is so much potential with this approach....


The Vintage CQ as of a month ago is on the top, and as of this morning is on the bottom.
I suppose you might have a little trouble seeing the differences unless you click on them both and put them side by side on your computer screen, but there are actually quite a few additions (and I did unpin the black ribbon around the center section in the bottom photo, as it kept getting in the way, but it will return).

This stage in a long term crazy quilt project always feels like I'm focusing a camera, or concentrating a sauce. The quilt is just gradually and more sharply defining itself.

See you in a week!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Cotton CQ...Seams done

Thank you all for your very kind comments...I do love hearing from each and every one of you!

Lori asked if the butterflies are cut out from fabric.

Indeed they are. They are machine zigzag stitched with clear thread first, then gone over with a machine buttonhole stitch in Exceedingly Well Behaved Fashion Twist Kreinik Metallic Thread. I have never before had the pleasure of working with a machine metallic that did not shred on me. It is great stuff.

My seam treatment style on this piece is simple and hopefully graphic enough to enhance the whole but not "take over".

So I matched the colors and values of the ribbon and threads to their respective backgrounds. I wanted this to read "crazy quilt" but not get too busy.

Still, that center of appliqued flowers is no longer "holding its own". I've been waiting for last to develop and build up the center with ribbon flowers and stitching.
After all, aren't we supposed to eat our desert last?

Even though the weather has been really cold and wet (good for stitching), we still get some spectacular lighting around here in early spring...

...and it changes from minute to minute.

Hope your weather is better than ours!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Cotton Approach to Crazy Quilting

A fine teaching opportunity has recently come my way!
I won't mention what it is until I'm done with this project that I am just starting for it, though...

I happen to love working within a set of parameters. For this project they are these:
--my crazy quilt must be made with all cotton
--my embellishments can only be silk ribbon, cotton floss, and cotton perle. Nothing more, nothing less!

So for the first time in years, I went out shopping for cotton quilt fabric. Seriously, it has been since the year 2000. And was it ever fun....

Here is my basic palette. The colors are a definite continuation of the ones I used in my previous project.

And here is the 18" X 18" crazy quilt in cotton, all pieced up and ready to embroider...

I had to sneak a little Broderie Perse in was my deja vu with sane quilting that made me do it, honest.
It was kind of strange to be working with just cotton after all these years, but I like it a lot. I could see doing more of this...just don't make me quilt it!