Sunday, February 27, 2011

I'm on Creative Talk Radio Feb 28th!

Pat Sloan's "Creative Talk Radio" is an internet radio show where she interviews all kinds of quilters and people in the industry...and tomorrow she will talk with me!

Our 15 minute conversation will happen Monday (that's tomorrow) at 4 p.m. Eastern--which of course is 1 p.m. here on the West Coast.
If you post a comment on her blog post for tomorrow, you are in the drawing to win a free copy of my book too! She will pick the winner on Friday.

Look at this nice graphic she made on her radio talkshow page on her website.

Debra, everyone loves those hummingbirds!

It will be fun to talk about crazy quilting: my favorite subject! Maybe we'll entice a few sane quilters to try it out...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

"Alliances: Soil and Sky"....Finished!

"Care less for your harvest than how it is shared and your life will have meaning and your heart will have peace." ~~Kent Nerburn

I decided this would be the perfect quotation for inside the heart of my project for the Alliance for American Quilts... My friend Barbara thought it was a new take on putting a quotation in a sampler, an idea I love and had not thought of! But she is an English professor... ;-)

You do have to look closely to read it. I wanted to fill the space of the sky but not make it too contrasty with all the lettering.

After this stitching was done, it was time to finish the edges of the quilt. I wanted to retain the intricate shapes of those sunflower petals...and that took some doing!

I have layered my top, "batting" (which is really flannel drapery lining) and cotton backing all together, spray basting them with Sulky KK 2000. Next I zig zagged the layers together with a 1.5 mm stitch all the way around the perimeter of the quilt. Then I trimmed as closs to the zig zag stitching as I could.

Then I made two more passes with the zig zag, first at 2.5mm, then at 3.5 mm. I learned this technique from Rosemary Eichorn's book, The Art of Fabric Collage.

I used Coats and Clark variegated quilting thread in the top, and a lightweight embroidery thread in the bobbin.
The edges are not as perfectly clean as I would like, but there were a lot of fine points and I could not for the life of me get the free machine zig zag to work on my %^#$%* Pfaff. Still this is acceptable.

I hope that as a composition this works well whether the viewer can see the writing or not, and that the piece has as much impact and meaning with it as well as without it too.
There is more to explore with this concept!

Meanwhile, this quilt, as all the entries for this year's contest, will be shown in Paducah in April at the American Quilters Society show, as well as at other venues throughout the spring and summer, and auctioned off on Ebay in the fall, proceeds to benefit the Alliance for American Quilts.

I can't wait to see the other entries!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"Alliances: Soil and Sky"....Embellishment Progress

Lots of work has gone into this Alliance quilt project this week-end, as you can see:

Plants have come up in the soil, the carrots are in place, and the flowers, birds, and butterflies have all joined in.
The next phase is to fill in that sky.....

I've been thinking and thinking for a week, trying to decide which quotation to embroider there. I'm feeling the need for some text on my quilts these days and that sky is like a blank page.
I finally found what I was looking for, too!
It is long and will require small letters that will take up a lot of the space. I think I will use fine white thread so the whole thing could almost read as a cloud, but when you look closely you'll be able to read it.
It's a bit risky so wish me luck!

There is also the matter of how to handle the edges of the quilt.

I have an idea for that too, which I sure hope works.....

Meanwhile, my good friend Michele Muska is working on her Alliance quilt as well. Here is what she has so far....

I am loving what she is doing with all that hand-dyed Hanah silk ribbon, velvet, and cording!

Also, I just want to say thanks again to everyone who has sent me sweet and kind letters about my book, which finally got released this past week. It means a lot to me to hear from you!
And now I can finally say, that is what I was doing during the summer and fall of 2009...when you thought all I was up to was making flowers for my Vintage CQ!

If any of you feel moved to, it would be so helpful if you could post a little review up on Amazon on my book's page. There is a button to the right of the my picture that says, "Create your own review", and it is pretty simple.
Thanks again!

Friday, February 18, 2011

"Alliances: Soil and Sky"....Carrots

I bought a special bobbin case for my Pfaff way last November, wanting to try out bobbin work (putting a thick thread in the bobbin and sewing with the back of the fabric facing up. This means the bobbin thread lays on the top when you turn it over.) Here is a nice article from Threads about it.

Well, I finally got around to trying it out, and it worked just great for my purpose--which was to create some carrot tops for those vintage millinery carrots going on to my Soil and Sky quilt for the Alliance for American Quilts.

Here is how it all went!

You have to wind the bobbin by hand, which doesn't take long because the thread is bulky. This is chenille from a weaving store up in Seattle.

I am using a water soluble stabilizer, which has my carrot tops sketched on it. I put it in the machine embroidery hoop you see on the left.

With the bobbin quite loose and the top medium tight, I used a 3.5 straight stitch with a #80 quilting needle and some variegated quilting thread on top. It went quite well.

Once the chenille was all sewn on, I flipped over the stabilizer so I could sew the next layer of thread from the top. I swapped back to my normal bobbin case too.

This is silk thread by Guterman on top with a fine cotton embroidery thread on the bottom. I did have to loosen up the top tension, and I changed my stitch to a 2.0 zig zag. This will give some structural integrity to my little carrot tops when they have their bath.

Which is the step after this one, where I have cut away as much of the stabilizer as possible before dunking my little tops in some warm water and swishing them around.
When they come out of the bath, there is no more stabilizer!

Here the tops are being glued to the wire coming out the top of each carrot. When it comes time to sew them on, I will just hand-whip stitch those feathery leaves onto the background, about halfway up their length. I want to leave the tips free.

But first some some embroidery needs to go on here before attaching the carrots, as they would get in the way of my stitching.
They were fun to make though, and I can't wait to plant them!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Victorian Stitchery Retreat Fall 2011

I am so pleased to let you know that I will be teaching at Valerie Bothell's Victorian Stitchery Retreat in Witchita, Kansas this November!
I dearly love our nation's Heartland and am so excited to be part of this year's VSR. It will be held at a new venue for the retreat this year, the Hotel at Old Town in the center of a wonderful pedestrian friendly and culturally rich part of town.

I'll be teaching a class in Home Portraits, which you have seen many examples of here on the blog...and another in a technique for creating curved crazy quilt blocks with a border too.

Read Val's post for more information; she'll be showcasing the other three teachers in her next post (each one of whom I wish I could take a class from myself!) will find information on how to attend there as well. Would love to see you in Kansas!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Alliances: Soil and Sky"....New Project

The Alliance for American Quilts is once again holding its annual competition/fund raiser.

This year's theme is "Alliances: People, Pattern, Passions"; the quilt size is again 16" X 16", and the deadline is March 7th, 2011. (The deadline is early this year because all the quilts will be shown at the American Quilters Society show in Paducah, Kentucky in April!) You still have plenty of time to create your entry.
There are many great prizes; check them all out here, along with the contest guidelines. The Grand Prize is the winner's choice of any long arm machine made by HandiQuilter. Winners are selected by online voting of Alliance can become one and support this great nonprofit for the small fee of $25. This about covers the entry fee for the competition, too, which is but $5.00 for members, $25 for non-members.

Because I am currently serving on the board of AAQ, my quilt will not be eligible for the contest. But I still love participating, and my quilt will be auctioned off with all the others on Ebay in the fall.

I've just started my entry, "Alliances: Soil and Sky". I've been wanting to make this quilt for a long time.

I gathered my elements....

....started laying out my basic background with pins....

...and sewed it down with clear monofiliment thread in a narrow zigzag stitch.
These paintings (except the top one, which is by Manjiree) are by Julius Guzy. Both artists graciously gave me permission to use their work in a quilt.

I have begun arranging a possible frame around the perimeter.

We'll see...
Naturally all kinds of green shoots are going to emerge from the soil, and some pithy phrase will go across the top...I love working this way and am so glad to be starting on my Alliance quilt. It's about Spring, too, isn't it? ;-)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Home from Mexico, Point Bonita, and Berkeley!

Januaries are busy in my world...lots of great things are jammed together!

I had a 24 hour turnaround between Mexico and flying down to the Bay Area for the annual Point Bonita Getaway, a week-long retreat at the tip of the Marin Headlands with 60 other quilters who come every year. As always it was terrific.
Here are a few scattered shots....

Flossie Barnhardt was cranking on the Go! machine, really liking the Drunkard's Path die's possibilities.

She liked how easy it was to sew these up.

There is always such a variety of work happening at PB. My tablemate Laurie was using a calendar of classic guitars for inspiration.

That's a Fender made by the great Master Builder, Christopher Fleming.
Laurie got five guitars going. She plans to stretch them over thin plywood and hang them on the wall in their rec room. Cool!

Such an original idea!

The work of Rebecca Rohrkaste completely thrills me every year. She is a colorist like no other, and her use of the textural element in printed fabrics is peerless.
This year she was working large on a deceptively simple quilt that over the week utterly captured me.

She is a master of value control as well. (This picture is a little distorted, lighting wise. The quilt is actually not that dark in the lower right.)
Rebecca also has branched out in recent years into the new medium of Book Arts. Late at night she will pull out these little miracles to show me and send me reeling. Here is a link to a gallery site with a picture of one of them.
Due to copyright constraints, I can't lift the photo from the next link to show you, of one of Rebecca's quilts from 8 years ago. But you HAVE to see it here. Go now, and you will see what I am talking about with regards to this great quilt artist.

I was working on a pattern for my friend Tracey Brookshier's company, Brookshier Design Studio. We are going to debut it at Quilt Market in May, so I can't really show it to you yet. But I had a great time working on it.

I was just minding my own business, sewing along...
We all have our own styles of working, it is true. My friend Holly was making this... naturally her work area looked very neat and precise. Exemplary!
On the other hand, I am a crazy quilter, just doing my thing. When I came back from a hike, I was rather shocked to find my area had been marked off with yellow tape!

Caution, it says Caution!
As Vito Corleone says, "What did I do to deserve such disrespect?" They couldn't have a point, could they?
In case they did, I picked up and straightened out my PigPen mess just a little....;-)

I never found out who did it, either.
How we love Point Bonita....I can't wait until next year.

Teaching at New Pieces in Berkeley was fun and went well. I am enjoying teaching more every time I do it because the students are always so great and teach ME so much!

And now it is good to be home......