Friday, May 28, 2010

Commission Quilt: Barbara's CQ

It was a dream job....creating the blocks for a 3' X 4' crazy quilt for my new friend and student Barbara to embellish on her own. When she is all done, she will mail the blocks back to me for assembly and finishing.

I've been cranking hard on this all week, as I have other things in line to do, and I want to get her stitching right away. And as of 10 o'clock this morning, the 12 blocks are done and ready to mail.

I started with a trip to Fabric Depot for silks on Monday.

The room where this quilt will live actually has a very controlled palette of warm chocolate, spice, ivory, deep red......and just a flash of green in the paintings on the wall... you can see if you click on the picture. There is lovely scrollwork over the window, repeated on the bed linens and elsewhere in the room that I decided to "pick up" in my blocks too. The quilt will be draped over the chair in the foreground.

So off I went. I wanted stay in total harmony with the room but to add some bright new music to it too.

As always, I used the design wall as I pieced. This shows Block #3 partly sewn and with other fabrics pinned up to guage their potential placement in the block.

And here is how a block in progress looks on the sewing table...

I always work well beyond the size of what the finished block will be. It gives me more options to shape the composition just a bit when it comes time to trim it to size.

This block is all sewn and ready for marking, basting, trimming, interfacing, retrimming, and then zigzag stitching around its perimeter. That's how I always prepare my crazy quilt blocks; this prevents fraying and those silks just want to fray in the worst way!
I used a very light batiste cotton for the foundation fabric this time to see how I liked it.
And I did like it, a lot. If I got distortions in it from my strange curved foundation piecing, the wrinkles ironed flat to nothing, especially after they were interfaced.

This looks rumply but it is actually very lightweight, flat, and smooth. I used "Touch of Gold" fusible interfacing which is sheer but does the job well.

All cleaned up and ready to go.

Here are a couple of the other blocks that I especially like. Remember, this is 100% improvistion as I work, no I never know quite what I'm going to get until it is done. I will pin a partially sewn block into its place in the quilt on the design wall, and that does help me steer things a bit....but otherwise, I'm winging it!

This one is actually similar to the one shown above.
The chainstitched soutache on the red silk does echo the scrollwork in the room, so I made sure to use that fabric in each block.
I did leave at least one large-scale chunk of fabric in all 12 of the blocks, as Barbara wants to embroider motifs on a fairly good-sized scale, and needs that space.

These are each going to finish out at 12" X 12".

Here they are pinned up all together...

It will be so interesting to see what Barbara does with this "base" for her handwork!
I hope she enjoys the could be a long one. I'll let you know when she gets back...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

New From Old Contest Reminder!

Special Reminder from the AAQ May 26, 2010
If you're working on an entry for the New from Old Contest, please keep in mind that entries must be postmarked by Monday, May 31st--however, this is Memorial Day, a postal holiday, so be sure to have your entry postmarked before this date. Thank you and good luck!

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Documenting, Preserving and Sharing the Stories of Quilts and Quiltmakers

Monday, May 24, 2010

Punchneedle Ribbon Flower Class

My friend KT organized this class for her friends in honor of her recent birthday. It was a chance for the ladies to have a whole day together, learn something new, and enjoy being waited on by the great staff at Donato Enoteca in Redwood City, CA.
None of these ladies had never seen a punchneedle before but they got the hang of it, as you will see.

Here we are in the banquet room we took over for the event, with class well underway.

They worked hard, and only one of them said she would hurl her punchneedle out the car window on her way home. She spent the day happily embroidering instead.

But mostly they were excited by what they learned.

Wendy just went for it, sewing her flowers right onto the sweater she was wearing!

And Sarah put hers on a hair clip.

KT, the birthday girl, was quite happy with her sunflower.

And then there was Barbara.....

She was ALL FOCUS...

....except when she looked up to smile at you.
She's done a lot of different kinds of handwork over the years, and the timing was right for this to zap her pretty good.
She decided she wanted to embellish a crazy quilt...but she doesn't I'm going to piece the blocks for her and she'll have a ball completing them.

I went to her amazing home the day after class to see where this quilt was going to live and get a sense of the colors and design she wanted.

This is the view down into her bedroom. The 3' X 4' quilt will be draped over that handsome silk covered chair in the foreground.

This shows more of the room and gives you an idea of the colors I'll be working with.
It's going to be very fun collaborating with this enthusiastic, creative, and high energy gal.

It was a great week-end! Thanks so much, KT!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Back from the Ranch

My sister and I visited our cousin Tracy and her husband John at my cousins' ranch in Wagon Mound, NM this last week. So many wonderful things happened!

We dove deeply into the family scrapbooks from my mom's young life which Mary and I had never seen; we rode in the canyon looking for arrowheads and caves; went on beautiful hikes; had intense discussions about quilting and art (Tracy got me started in quilting in the '70's). We shared a campfire in honor of my uncle, Tracy's dad, who passed away a year ago, and things got good and rowdy....

But most of all this trip demonstrated that when family and friendship merge together, it is just pure unadulterated joy...

Here's a little tour....

The Main House was built in 1800 and has been added onto over the years.

Mary and I had the red guest house all to ourselves which is just a short walk from the Main House...

I had a cozy room, didn't I? While snuggled under the quilts I could hear mountain lions screaming under the stars at night and wild turkeys gobbling in the mornings....

My sister and I were joined by Jag and Swig on our morning walks.

They would follow us back to the barn.

It sure was pretty.....

We all loved Ralph, an orphan calf that Tracy was raising. He followed us around and reminded me of my dairy days...

We spent a lot of time going through old family papers together, but we did talk quilting some.
Tracy bequeathed all her dad's old ties to me, and I got to thinking about how I could use them...

I laid them out on the floor in a very rough fashion with some old fans in two of the corners, just to see how they'd fit in the Vintage CQ...
He wore these ties to all the meetings, dinners, conferences, flights, classes, and broadcasts he made during his career in government, business, education, and television over the decades...I love the idea of my uncle's life being part of this quilt, especially because my aunt is already here with her polka dot scarves and the Bicentennial ribbon. We'll see....

Tracy gave me some of her quilt blocks from when she used them in her work as a professional illustrator back in read that right; as a quilter she was way ahead of her time. I'll share those in a future post.


Thanks, are the absolute best!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

17 Totebags....

I am on the run! I'm about to leave on a 5 day adventure with my sister, but had to get some prep work done for a class I'm teaching as soon as I get home.

Part of the class involves introducing the students to crazy quilting. This is no ordinary class, you is also a birthday party one of my best friends is giving, and the class is the party activity!
She wanted me to prepare kits for her guests/my students, and I decided the kits should go in totebags decorated for the occasion. The ladies will each have silk ribbon and embroidery threads, a simple how-to booklet, needles, scissors....oh all sorts of lovely things in their totes.

But I had to get those totes done in a big hurry!

I ordered them from Dharma and dyed them up with some very old Procion dyes I had on hand.
The colors were selected to go with the Sassa Lynn thread collections I ordered from Carolyn at Evening Star Designs.

Jean at RiverSilks obligingly put together the ribbon palettes I had picked out for each colorway too. I pieced blocks to tie it all together, the tote, the ribbon, and the threads, and then attached the blocks to the totes with various trims....

That was so much fun, doing the piecing. I don't get to do that near often enough.

It was complete and utter mayhem in my sewing room as I dumped out all my trim onto my worktable so I could pick out borders for my blocks. Each totebag is different.
You can see the ribbon collection and Sasse Lynn thread twist in the foreground next to the tote.

They are all is one of the purple ones with its trim all sewn on, ribbons and thread.

This was such a fun and wacky 4 days!!!!

My secret project of the past week or so is intended as a house present for my hostess, so I will post it after I get home next week.

I can barely catch my breath. Adios, amigas!!!!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Samplers of Deborah Bryant

As I am having much trouble with my "secret project" and am positively butchering my waste canvas mind turns to the wife of my dear Uncle Hal, Deb, the most accomplished cross-stitcher I have ever known.

When I visited her last fall I tried to take pictures of just a few of the pieces she has been creating over the decades as her great life's work. The walls of her home have scores of them, all subtly different, and they lend a sense of wisdom and serenity to the atmosphere where she lives that is profound.

Here are but 9 of them; they were hard to photograph in their frames with no shadow or flash...Be sure and click on them to be able to see her magnificent stitching, and read the inspiring words, too.

...and the Masterpiece, which I believe took her two years:

The cumulative effect of being surrounded by all of this, as I have said, is calming and uplifting at the same time.
You can see a few of them on the wall behind us...

She gave me one of my very own, too, which I will always treasure:

I love you, Deb!