Wednesday, December 28, 2011

530 Buttons Later....

This step in finishing my "Go Crazy" quilt took a wee bit longer than I thought it would!

First I had to source the backing fabric, which I found at the Pendelton outlet store in my home town of Washougal, WA., a beautiful orangey-red melton wool for $5.95/yard.

Then I had to find some buttons for the back. I planned on sewing my yellow pearl buttons on the front, while securing them to the back of the quilt with a mix of multi-colored 2 hole buttons.  I found those in an antique store in my nearby town of Camas, WA called A Twist on Time.

I love my Pendleton store.

They have beautiful clothes at a serious discount, 2 miles from my house.  I rarely shop anywhere else.  They also have a nifty selection of woolen fabrics, woven on site there at the mill, that for some indiscernible reason are deemed "seconds" so are very cheap.

Beautiful woolens, the selection always changing at the Pendleton store. 

And great buttons at A Twist on Time in Camas.  The owner, Belle, let me dig through the bin and pick out just the 2 hole buttons I wanted, which was very gracious and helpful of her!  A baggie of all I needed cost me $4.00.

So then I got to work....

I used the intersections of the blocks to space the larger buttons, and a ruler to find the center of the black diagonal shapes for the smaller buttons.  I sewed the yellow ones to the colored ones, front to back, and then hid the knots.  I did this 265 times...   ;-)

These buttons' function is not only decorative, but also to hold the quilt together quite securely, so no quilting is needed.

Here is the quilt pinned up on my design wall.  It measures about 62" X 62".

I am very tickled by how the back turned out, I must admit.

I have fantasies of some future grandchild toddler sitting on this quilt and carefully exploring all the different colored buttons on the back...

The final question of course is how to handle the binding.  I've thought of lots of ideas, and will settle on one so that I can have this finished by New Year's...I hope!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Pete and Katie

Readers may remember the project my nephew Andy asked me to make for him to give to his girlfriend Kaylie, called Love by the Moon.  Well, another beloved nephew, Peter, made the same request, for a wall hanging for him to give to his girlfriend for Christmas.

What an honor and a pleasure!  Pete had a quotation he wanted to include, and the rest was up to me.

Just like little girls and boys
Playing with their little toys.
Seems like all we really were doing
Was waiting for love.
                                from "Real Love" by the Beatles

It was the "little girls and boys" that gave me my direction...

This measures 15" X 20", and is mounted over foam core.

Here is the back:

It is just whip stitched to the front along the edge of the foam core, with all the edges tucked in nice and neatly.

I used flowers from my friends at M and S Schmalberg, and some appliques from Tinsel Trading, treasure from my recent trip to New York.  The trim is from an Indian merchant on Ebay...

They look pretty happy, don't they?
She was very pleased with her gift, Pete says....and his Aunt Allie was thrilled to be a small accomplice in support of this real love.....

Sunday, December 18, 2011

"Go Crazy"....Top Complete!

Busy, busy, busy!  I had this done by 4 p.m. Sunday, well ahead of my goal.  I would have kept on working at assembling the quilt, but I need to buy some backing fabric and did not have a car today....alas, RIP my '99 green Subaru Outback wagon, which bit the dust Friday...costs more to fix than it is worth....I loved that car... and #2 son needed his parents' other Subaru to get to work today.  So no backing fabric!

Anyways, getting the top done was a major push...

This detail shot shows the new look of the quilt, now that the blocks are joined and feather stitched.

Each one of those seams had to be tied off, beginning and end.

Sometimes I'd add an extra stitch or two using the tail of the thread.

Then I'd bring it to the back and knot it with the bobbin thread.  I used #12 thread in the top, #30 in the bottom, with a #90 topstitch needle.  Because all the seams had been pressed open, I had double fabric thickness for the embroidery, which worked out nicely.

Now the quilt looks like this:

The top measures 65" X 65".

It is about to be transformed again when I add the buttons, which are going to be not only decorative but functional:  they will hold the quilt together, serving the same purpose as tying it would.
I'm thinking about backing this with wool, maybe because it is so cold out right now.  But I do want to use this quilt for getting cozy on the couch.  Wool would be nice for that...and I think it fits the rather rustic theme as well. 

I want this bound and finished by Wednesday night!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"Go Crazy"....progress

It's been a year since I started this quilt, engulfed in a fabulous frenzy making the blocks using my Go! AccuQuilt cutter.

Since then I've embroidered all 144 blocks with the herringbone stitch in different threads/ribbons and shades of blue.  On airplanes, while on the phone, in the car....because the stitching was easy, I could do  it anywhere.  But there sure were a lot of them!

Now I've got the blocks assembled into groups of four...

What is it about plaid that is just so delicious?  Wool, silk, cotton flannel, it is all so yummy...even more so when they are all together.

Here is an overall shot...

I love the sane quilting aspect of this work, trimming the blocks, getting their corners to meet exactly.  It is like focusing an image with a camera, tightening things up.

Now look in the lower left corner...

That's #12 Aurofil thread in a feather stitch over the center seams...I have one block down, 35 to go....then I'll assemble them and cover the seams between the four block sections with more of the feather stitching.  My goal is to have it done by Monday.  Wish me luck!!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I'm a Bluebird!

Do you all remember that great song, by Paul McCartney?

It inspired my little project, along with this lovely velvet bird from Maureen's Vintage Acquisitions.

Maureen commissioned the birds to sell from my friends at M & S Schmalberg Custom Fabric Flowers.

For my segment on Quilt Out Loud last week, I demo-ed how to make a curved applique crazy quilt block.  After I got home, I decided I would finish the embellishment so viewers could see "the rest of the story".

Here is is!

That's one of my floral collage photos in the center.  The show will be airing in early spring, hence the theme.
I do hope you will click on the link to the song, above.  It is so pretty...I played it many times as I was stitching.

But now it is back to Christmas carols....   ;-) 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Quilting Out Loud at the Newark Museum

It was a "pinch me" week-end in the New York City area!  I flew in late Thursday and back home early Sunday, with every second in between filled with rich and wonderful quilt-related experiences...

I spent all day Friday in the Garment District visiting M & S Schmalberg Custom Fabric Flowers and my other must-stops to shop for treasure. Right after I got back to Newark, my friend Jodie Davis arrived at the hotel and we turned in early to be fresh for our big day Saturday, filming my segment of "Quilt Out Loud" at the Newark Museum.  Our reward for that was a party back in the City....

The Newark Museum is an unsung gem.  Among many, many other things, they have a huge quilt collection, most of which never sees the light of day.  But right now a fabulously curated show is up that gives a sampling of what they have. Included are some crazy quilts that have never been publicly displayed before now.  Have a look!  (All photos are posted with permission.)

This is the Hall Family Crazy quilt, completed in 1882 in Providence, Rhode Island.  It was a multi-generational family collaboration which I found fascinating.  Some of the makers could NOT get with the crazy quilting program and made traditional quilt blocks that they then embroidered.  Others simply embroidered their squares.  There are a few randomly pieced blocks but not many!

This block is amazing, as it was done by the great-grandmother.  She cross stitched her birth year, 1791!  The curator, Ulysses Grant Deitz (great great grandson of the president), believes that as a child she learned stitching on samplers, and carried that tradition through into her crazy quilting.  Isn't that cool?  I think he was right.

There were several crazy type blocks....

But more of them were strange hybrids like this one....

...and this one, which totally cracks me up.

The border is very fine though....

Beautifully rendered...

Ulysses said he didn't like the next quilt.  I'm glad that didn't stop him from including it...

....because I think it is awesome!  But I love fans...and have never seen them set like this.
The backing fabric is really neat too.

All of us were trying to imagine a whole dress made of this stuff.  I think it would have been fabulous but the guys weren't so sure.  We all decided it must have been fabric used as linings for mens' smoking jackets.

A later crazy quilt, from 1920, is from Louisiana.

This was made by an African American lady named Mrs. Barbeau.

I really enjoyed talking with Ulysses, whose official title I think is Curator of Decorative Arts.  He was really interested in the social context in which all these quilts were not only made, but donated to or purchased by the museum as well.  He had both knowledgeable and fresh eyes, and the exhibit is fantastic.

In the morning, Ulysses filmed a tour of the show that will be on Quilt Out Loud early in 2012.  In the afternoon, it was my turn to be on camera!

The crew was so good that my experience was fun and stress free.  Jodie and Mark are such pros, as were the sound and camera guys, the oh-so-gentle director, and the production assistant too.  I was in good hands.

It was fun watching them at work.....

...and it was fun being a part of it too.  My segment was shot in the weaving studio.  (All those looms made me so hungry to start weaving again.)  It will be aired in February 2012.

When we were all done and had hugged the crew good-bye, Jodie and I took the train into Penn Station and walked the few blocks to where our friend and fellow Alliance for American Quilts board member, Victoria Findley Wolf lives.  She was having her 4th Annual Girls Party and invited us!  There were two other Alliance board members there too, so we had a mini-reunion.

That's Meg Cox, me, Jodie, Marie Bostwick, and Victoria. 
Can you tell how much we enjoyed being together?  It's a night I will never forget....

And now it is good to be home after logging many miles of fall travel.  I've been a very lucky girl...  ;-)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

CQ Strips....continued

We came back last night from a lovely Thanksgiving down in Warner Springs, California.  Today I just had to sew the CQ Strips project together. This measures 22" X 24" and really will make a great pillow.

I could spend months doing variations on this theme and technique!  It is like my Bars and Stripes from last fall (which I sleep under and love every single day.)

I did want to mention that the Mark Quilts are all finished and were given over to Lee, her daughters Ashley and Madison, and her father Don over Thanksgiving.  (Lee will bring Manny's to him...Manny is Mark's dad.)  It was a private affair so I didn't take any pictures...but I will say they were very, very happy with their quilts, and I was so glad to be able to make them.

I have one more trip before the holidays get underway: Thursday I'm off to Newark to shoot an episode of Quilt Out Loud with Jodie Davis and Mark Lipinski of QNN-TV.  It is going to be very wild and fun, full of surprises I have no doubt.  I hope they'll let me blog about my experience!  Wish me luck that I am not too dorky.....    ;-)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

CQ Strips

That class sample from the last post wasn't meant to stand alone...There are several options for cutting up a whole cloth collage/appliqued CQ...into borders, into blocks....or into strips, to be alternated with fabric strips.

I just thought denim would be good here, some of my husband's jeans that wore out over the summer.  And lace of course, along with.

I don't have time to sew this up before leaving for our family Thanksgiving get together in California tomorrow...but I think it will make a really neat pillow when I get home.

Meanwhile, have a lovely holiday everyone...and thanks for being so kind to come visit me here.....xoxo

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sewing Table Retrofit

Fall has definitely progressed while I was away.....I had wonderful travels, and have more ahead of me over the next 2 weeks...but for now I am back in the saddle here at home in the sewing room and loving it.

Before I begin quilting all of the quilts for Mark's family, I just had to finish up the curved piecing sample I started in class in Wichita.  I loved the fabrics and colors and couldn't tear myself away from them.

I am really enjoying this collage applique style of crazy block construction.  It is so totally right brain and free form.
And it doesn't take long.

This measures 18"X 22".
Some detail shots.....

Apparently some of my vintage blocks and fabrics are finding their way into the mix these days.

And I am very glad to see them!

But now it is time to get those quilts for Mark's family completed.  I knew that I needed the best possible surface for quilting these, but I don't have a recessed sewing machine table.  What to do?
I found my answer on Squidoo.  My humble and heartfelt thanks go out to Alaskan quilter Marguerita McManus, who has some YouTubes up about how to make a foam core sewing table.  This is such a brilliant solution!!!!

With the foam core and heavy vinyl sheet over it, I have a large flat slippery surface flush with my needle on the old Juki.

Admittedly it is not the most elegant solution, but it works great and was very inexpensive!

And so it begins.....a long quilting journey over the five quilts.  Mark, Lee, Manny, Don, Madison and Ashley will keep me good company along the way....

Friday, November 11, 2011

Wonderful Wichita

It couldn't have been a better week.  Gathering at the Hotel at Old Town, students and teachers enjoyed classes, camaraderie, and the friendly and helpful staff at this restored hotel.
It was a neat  neighborhood full of restaurants, shops, and museums, all easy walking distance.

We all raved about this place!

I taught for three days, two of them being my "Home Portraits" class.

My students worked hard, each of them bringing their own unique "take" on this concept.
Bonnie's house, below, is one example.

This photo already has a painterly quality.  She is defining the house in stitching here, but later on will have a blast with the foliage.  In class we talked about how each person would create a "setting" or context for their portrait, and that was really fun.

During my second session of this class, I had three cousins who all brought the same image, a drawing of their grandmother's house where they used to play together as children.

They were so much fun!

They all plan on finishing these by Christmas and giving them to their mothers, who are sisters.  Is that cool or what?

Sandy, the oldest, had brought a beautiful wedding dress for the evening's build-your-stash event (where old dresses are cut up for everyone to get a piece.)  Her cousins insisted that the dress was too beautiful for that, and made her put it back in the car!
I agreed with them....but asked if I could "try it on" (putting my arms through the sleeves) before they did.  I had never worn a bridal gown (got married in something simpler) and just had to try it.

A bouquet of Judith Montano's silk ribbons for sale completed the array.
I can cross this off my bucket list!

I think everyone learned some new approaches for their own work in the Curved Piecing class.

Busy, busy, busy!

Everybody put their own spin on it.

This student couldn't stand lace, but she loves monsters.
Crazy quilting can take many forms!

There was a great show and tell with some terrific attendees' work for all to admire.

I so wish I could remember names better...this hexagon set CQ was so original and beautifully made.

But the crazy quilt I loved best was this one:

It just speaks to my is like a many layered poem that I want to read and read some more.

Here are my fellow teachers taking a closer look at a quilt being passed around.

Candace Kling and Judith Montano were a delight to get to know....and learn from.

Another teacher was Carole Samples, who gave a lecture on categorizing crazy quilt blocks that I will never, ever forget.

What a national treasure she is!!!

I can't thank Val Bothell enough for hosting this retreat and doing such a beautiful job for everyone, bringing us together to share our love of crazy quilting, embellishment, and stitching.

Unfortunately, our fellow teacher Gerry Kreuger was busy teaching when we grabbed a chance for a group photo...but the rest of the crew are me, Judith Montano, Candace Kling, Dixie Derksen, Val Bothell, and Carole Samples.
Thanks to everyone who came and made this so special....