Monday, December 20, 2010

Happy Holidays!!!

Wishing you all the best of holidays with much joy and love....and a Happy 2011!
See you in January, everyone.....

Friday, December 17, 2010

My Back Pages...In Quilts

Not philosophical brilliance as penned by the great Bob Dylan, but more like A Brief History of My Quilt Life as seen on the walls of my sister's house in San Diego.

I was down there all week helping her recover from major surgery (she's doing fine) and realized that she has a complete cross-section of my quilt life on her walls. "They always look better in my house," she tells me.. ;-)
So I thought I'd give you a tour....I just went from room to room snapping pictures.

Here is the convalescent with my nephew Paul. Behind her is an experimental garden scene from 2004. I never finished it as I could not figure out how to...but she rescued it from my UFO pile and I am glad she did. My favorite part is the knitting I did for the dirt!
Here is a better shot of it...

I tried so many different techniques here that I will not bore you with them. But I did like that knitting.
But let's go back further...

"For Cadfael", 1997. I was reading the entire 20 novel series then and was mentally in Shrewsbury all the time. This raw-edged applique collage was my version of Cadfael's garden going down to the river.

This technique had kind of morphed into stained glass quilting around the same time. I made several of these very large angel themed quilts.

"Take Heart" was for my sister when we needed some cheering up. I was going through an extended Louis Comfort Tiffany phase at the time.

Meanwhile, one of Mary's sons, Andy (the subject of last year's "Love by the Moon" adventure) got briefly interested in sewing when he came to visit, so he made the quilt below...with no help from me except for free access to my stash and machine. He was about 12 at the time.

This is about 30" x 30". Is it not great??
Andy asked me to make a portrait of his bird around then too so I did.

Silver lives up above the lizard's cage now.

I had a few more large landscapes in me in the late 1990's...."Foliage 4" was my fourth attempt at fall leaves and I tried to give it an arty "I'm making a series" name. (I don't do that anymore.)
Mary was up visiting and saw that I had the quilt stored and she just wanted it. So it is on long term loan to her.

It does look nice there I think.

When she was getting married to her current husband Geoff, I decided to make him a "welcome to the family" quilt to give him comfort for when all of us new in-laws began to drive him crazy. But he put it on the wall instead....I wish he hadn't. After 10 years of us he could have definitely used some comfort!

It's behind the frame above their bed and not tucking someone cozily in, which is a shame.
It did mark the beginning of my move to making very simple bed quilts, almost one-patches. In this one I was inspired by that great white birch bark fabric.

Along came their daughter Qwen, so I made a quilt for her too.

Crazy quilting was just getting rolling for me then, in 2001. Qwennie here is 9 already!

Later I made her a portrait of her mom for her room.

Embellished prints had begun....

I've held onto my large crazy quilts since then except for one, which again is on loan to Mary because she thinks it would be better for her to enjoy it than for me to store it.

She has always loved this one and, while there are things I like about it, there are more that I don't. So I didn't mind sending it off.
It turns out that what she REALLY loves, now that she can see them, are the beads that belonged to our mom that were her favorite things to play with when Mom let her sort her jewelry. The necklace had broken long ago and I saved it, then used part of it here. I had no idea those beads meant so much to Mary but she says every time she looks at this quilt now it makes her really happy.

Well, my sister makes me happy. So I commemorated our friendship in a piece for her 50th birthday.

"Sisters Scrapbook Page" is one of the projects in my soon-to-be-released book!
Hopefully readers will be inspired to commemorate their own special relationships too.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Home Portrait for Meg...Finished!

I can't wait for Meg to get this in the mail on Monday!

It was so much fun adding the "weather" to this piece. I plan on developing this whole concept of home portraits more fully over the next year, teaching it too. (Stay tuned....)

A detail.....

The flurries of snow actually act as a secondary frame--there is another across the lower left corner. They each cover a part of the photograph that would have been difficult to augment with stitching or just wasn't that visually "necessary" to show anyway.

This measures 12" X 15".
Gosh it was fun to do!

Now I have a couple of quick Christmas stockings to whip up...a niece lost her Christmas box during her last move, you see......

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bars and Stripes...Finished!

This quilt is finished and now at work keeping me warm at night on my bed!

Many times I have made a throw quilt by quilting a pieced top onto polar fleece. It is so easy and I love the fuzzy-on-one-side, cool-and-smooth-on-the-other-side nature of these quilts. I had never tried it with a full sized bed quilt before, though, so I used a microfleece blanket (thinner than polar fleece) from my local BiMart in Washougal. This worked out well indeed.

Basting was easy--I just used safety pins. Quilting was easy--just straight lines along the bar panels. Plus the quilt "sandwich's" minimal bulk allowed me to work this very large quilt through my Juki with no wrestling matches.

Maybe I should call this an Open Faced Quilt Sandwich!

Anyway, as to the finishing...wait til you see how quick that was.
All in all, as Borat would say, this was a "Great Success!"

First though, have a look at Bars and Stripes' predecessors....

This was actually my second ever crazy quilt, made in 1999. It is all cotton (I didn't have anything but in those days) with cotton batting and backing, and you can still see the influence of all the strip piecing I was doing then in these blocks. I free-motion spiral-quilted it for a neighbor's daughter, who was going off to college.
The bars are actually made of blocks.

This quilt also alternates bars of plain fabric with crazy pieced ones. This time some of the CQ bars are composed of blocks, and others are long pieced bars on a foundation.
This one, made of all silk, was quilted in the ditch between the blocks and along the bars, but not around the individual pieces. My sister-in-law has it.

For my quilt, I wanted to keep the quilting minimal, but have it show just a little bit. Plus I wanted to experiment with using #8 perle silk as my quilting thread.

As long as I went slowly, my Juki could handle the heavy thread just fine. I used a size 110 Jeans needle, a free machine foot, and the feed dogs UP.

One of those recessed sewing machine tables would have been nice, but we make do!
In this picture you can see I switched machines to apply that lace (using a zigzag, which my Juki doesn't have). I had put the quilt on the bed and decided that a little more lace needed to be on there.
Quilts don't live their lives on design walls, after all. Seeing it in situ showed me what adjustments I needed to make.

Even though I love my Bias Tape Maker from Simplicity, I still didn't feel like making a traditional binding for this large quilt, which is somewhere between a Queen and a King in size.
Then the very forgiving nature of the microfleece gave me an idea.....

It doesn't fray.
Plus, there was no exposed batting edge that needed covering--so no binding was required at all. I just had to cover the edge of the quilt top, really. So I sewed on rick rack! This attached the two layers to each other around the perimeter of the quilt as well.

First I zigzagged down the center of the rick rack with a narrow clear thread.
Then I made a second line of stitching, this time using just the straight stitch on my machine, to secure the tops of the V's in the rickrack to the quilt top.
It was the easiest "binding" I ever made, and I love the way it looks on the bed.

It is just so cozy, draped over a down comforter.
I still need to make some pillows, including the crumb-pieced one from earlier this fall.

But right now I want to get back to Meg's Home Portrait....

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Home Portrait for Meg...progress

I'm enjoying creating my little snowstorm for Meg's home portrait!
I've prepared this small piece (it is about 12" X 14") for lots of handwork while I am on the road this week.

I used some Mickey Lawler SkyDye fabric in the frame to suggest a pale winter sunrise...had to get a smidgen of warm color in there. Mickey sure knows her skies!
There is lots more tree embroidery to do, and the house embroidery needs refining...but what I am most looking forward to working on are all the little snowflakes and beading to come...

Back next week. This should be finished by then....happy stitching to you all!