Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sewing Room ReDo...Old Work Discovered

After the epic dual shelf collapse in July from which I found no time to properly recover, my sewing room got so bad that it became literally unusable.  Finally my schedule opened up so that I could take the three days required to dig to the very bottoms of the piles, the backs of the drawers, purchase new shelving and bins, and generally do an archeological dig through my sewing life of the last 17 years.

I thought I would show some of my old work that predates my blogging and crazy quilting.  I found a bunch of color copies in the bottom of a cabinet....this from the Age Before Jpegs....
So come on along, setting the Way Back Machine to the mid 1990's or so....   ;-)

I was into Broderie Perse, at least my own take on it, in a big way for many years.  You will notice the flowers were as much in evidence back then as they are now; I must have cut out a jillion of them from commercial quilt fabric.  This piece is 8" X 11".  I probably made 35 of these little "sayings quilts", as I called them.
Here's another one:

This was for a friend, using her chosen phrase and favorite flower, the iris, and bug, the dragonfly.
I was into cutting out a lot of letters back then, too.

This is skipping ahead to early CQ days, but the letters and flowers are still there.  It was for a friend's doctor's office.

She's a gynecologist. ;-)

From there the stained glass quilt phase began.  I found a picture of one that I had totally forgotten about making.

I think this must have been for a church Christmas bazaar.

Then the fabric collages veered into landscapes.  I miss doing them and may have to circle back to them one of these days.  (There is a small one in my book, though.)

I remember being very inspired by that birch bark fabric, and using up every inch of it.

Pale winter sunlight....   This was for my oldest brother who likes it c-o-l-d.

Maybe my strangest piece, this is a collage (a work in progress shot) rendering of one of my Uncle Bill's kachina dolls.  He hung this in his fancy office when he was the head of the F.D.I.C. in Washington, DC, which made me very proud.  In exchange for it, he gave me his mother's oak workroom chair, which I am sitting in as I type this.

I read every single one of the 20 Brother Cadfael mysteries during those years, and decided to make a fantasy rendering of what I thought it might look like in the old England of the books...

This was large, very detailed, and kind of burned me out on landscape collage!
The next piece is a small embroidered wool landscape that I loved doing very much, for my friend Cindy Thury-Smith.  She fulled the wool in it.

Cindy loves lavender, so I used a Van Gogh painting of lavender fields as my inspiration.  Notice that the trees are needlepunched? 

Sometimes it feels good strolling down Memory Lane... But now, everything is re-organized, slightly rearranged, and ready for new work.

This view is looking into the room....
...and this view is looking out, back toward the rest of the house.
But what is that on the table?
In the foreground are the contents of an envelope of goodies my friend Tracey Brookshier sent to me.  On the end of the table is this....

A UFO!  This is when I was using all vintage cottons, I was just in love with them.  I had bought some rubber stamps for the precision "paper" piecing, except that the guidelines were stamped on muslin.
I really like this and will have to finish it...someday....

I've got lots of threads I can use....   

Friday, September 23, 2011

Teaching the "Pretty Crazy" Pattern

I didn't tell my delightful students this, but yesterday was the first time I have taught my "Pretty Crazy" pattern to sane quilters.  I can't express what a thrill this was for me.....because.....they got it!

My two hour "Make and Take" class at the Northwest Quilters Expo was sponsored by one of the top rated quilt shops in the country, Greenbaum's Quilted Forest, of Salem, Oregon.  The way we set up this class, Greenbaum's would supply kits for the students to buy in class, and I would come to teach it.  I had to have faith that their kits would be good, as Salem was too far for me to go to check on them in person.  I worked with their office manager, my friend Lisa Encabo, to give them all the information they needed.

I was just blown away by how beautiful and professional those kits were.  Look!

Here is the kit from the front...included is enough to make a four block "crazy pillow" variation from the pattern.  And the back....

Just beautifully, enticingly done!

At 10:30 yesterday morning, my students arrived and I had 2 hours with them.  My goal was that each would master the "concept" of this pattern, getting one block sewn by the end of class.
Remember, these are sane quilters.  Crazy quilting, with all the strange supplies and out-of-the-box, improvisational sewing is not the normal way they work.  But they have great sewing skills.

Oh, they took to it like ducks to water.  I was sooooooo happy.  And even though they all had the same kits, everyone's block looked a little different.  Bingo!
I think my job as a teacher sometimes is to guide students in how to play.  I hope that doesn't sound presumptious, really I don't.  But what fun it is to have that as my work!

Kathleen was concentrating!

Robin was cranking!

I was too busy to take any more pictures than these, but it does illustrate that my ladies were engaged and emerged successful at the end of class.
A teacher could ask for nothing more.....   ;-)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"Pretty Crazy Green 9 Patch"...Top Finished

I wanted to get this little project done in time for the class I am teaching at the Northwest Quilters Expo on this coming Thursday, based on my Pretty Crazy pattern.  My goal is to show what versatile results the pattern can give, from basic cotton quiltwork to elaborate looking crazy quilting....and almost all of it by machine.

I've just added a bit of beadwork, some three dimensional embellishment to the center block, and what I call a "faux binding" around the perimeter of the top.

As you can see, it is just a hint of beadwork, in the center of the ombre ribbon flowers, along the black velvet ribbon, and that little bugle beaded flower in the upper right.  It is just enough to add to the visual complexity of the piece, without taking very long at all.

I painted some pre-made ribbon flowers and tacked them on with a bead in the center of each one, couched down the stems of the readymade craft leaves, and stem and buttonhole stitched around the green velvet butterfly (from M & S Schmalberg, shown on the bottom row, second from right if you click on the link.)  The butterfly needed some extra definition after everything was on the block, so I went over it with some Neocolor Watersoluble Wax Pastels and then painted it wet with water to blend the colors.

The flower stems are large fibers that have been simply couched down.  That little cloisonne frog was the final touch for my central embellishment "tableau".

I've been using trim a lot lately to function as a visual binding, or narrow outer border.  It is so easy to apply--I just attached it with a clear thread in a zig zag stitch, folding and mitering the corners as I got to them.

This picture actually shows the place where the trim starts and stops, in the corner.
Here is that corner from the back:

No big deal!
I am leaving the backing off this sample so I can prove to students how little handwork was involved overall.  I am really trying to demonstrate how much interest you can get with quick machine work.
When it IS time to finish this, I will just take backing fabric, iron the edges under to exactly fit the size of the top, and zigzag stitch it to the outer edge of the trim, around the perimeter.

Of course, a lot more handstitching and beading could be added, and it would be fun...but this is an exercise in getting the maximum visual impact for the least amount of handwork.  I want sane quilters to see that crazy quilting is actually quite doable....!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tomato Emergency!

There is a lot more out in the garden than this, almost ripe.
You know what I'll be doing for the next several days.....not sewing!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Garden Tour

Our summer well and truly arrived late this year, but this September has been in the 90's and everything is ripe!
Let's have a quick walkabout...

My garden hasn't quite gotten the attention it deserves this year, but those SuperWave petunias always come through.  That vine overhanging the wall on the left is a cucumber!  Anyone need any?

Robert would love to be able to spend more time in his garden as well, but it is still very, very productive.  In this picture are the eggplant, carrots, dill, leeks, onions, tomatoes, and the peppers that got way too much nitrogen from the horse manure compost so they are all leaf and no pepper.  Ooops.
Can you see Pumpy there in the upper right, poking her head up?  Click on the picture to see!

Here's a better shot....

It's been a fun time with Pumpy this summer!

Unlike last year, this has been a great one for tomatoes.  Here is a small vignette from our tomato plantation: these are Sungold cherry tomatoes and are they good!

I just picked these for a friend who LOVES our tomatoes.  The big ones are an heirloom variety called Tiffin.
We broke our personal record with one of them this week.

31.05 ounces!

The pots at the entryway to the house have a little show left to put on....

That chrysanthemum on the right is going to be especially spectacular.  The harbinger of fall.....

I have a very busy couple of weeks ahead....happy September to you all! 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Mark's Quilts....

I want you to meet Officer Mark Vasquez of the Manhattan Beach, California police force.

By the time he was done with them, people used to thank Mark for giving them tickets. Really!  He conveyed his genuine interest in peoples' safety, and he was funny.  Who could resist that smile?

...and here is his family...

This is my favorite picture of the Vasquez family: Mark, his wife Lee, and daughters Madison and Ashley.  It captures their spirit!
Mark and Lee fell in love in high school; I think Lee was 15 and Mark was 16.  Because Lee is my "niece-in-law" (my brother-in-law and sister-in-law's daughter), over the years I've watched Mark and Lee go through college--each on atheletic scholarships--get married, and have their children together.  Their love has been a joy to the whole family, and to everyone who has known them.

Always, Mark was upbeat, energetic, full of strength.  So when he was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma (a cancer of the blood) four years ago, he took it on like the Superman he was.  He underwent arduous treatments, raised money for research for a cure, continued to work as long as he could, and even served as his daughter's softball coach this spring before his body could no longer tolerate treatment and he died. 

At his funeral, the Chief of the Manhattan Beach Police told the hundreds of us gathered that Mark in his six years of service on the force touched more people than he himself had in thirty years as a police officer.  Knowing Mark, we all knew this humble police chief had spoken the truth.

So you can imagine what an honor it is for me to be making memorial quilts for Lee, Madison, Ashley, Manny--Mark's dad--and Don, Lee's dad.  I've been working with Mark's extensive t-shirt collection and some of his other garments, with the goal of creating each of them a cozy blanket to wrap up in, full of Mark's energy and memories.

Here are some of the gives you a little insight into the life of a committed policeman....

Mark trained hard, had fun, and on the serious side, he definitely took care of business.

I used my rotary cutter to trim out the shirts.

....until I had a pile of the graphics.

Because Lee has continually thought of these quilts as "blankets", I decided to make them as cozy as I could. I am appliquing the tshirt graphics onto thick polar fleece, then will machine quilt them.  Technically, this makes the most sense to me too, rather than trying to interface and then piece all those knits, and then layer them with batting and backing.

So I've started on Manny's blanket first (Lee sent me five boxes of shirts and other garments of Mark's, specifically chosen for each person)....

I laid out the main elements first directly onto the polar fleece, and then filled in the horizontal and verticle spaces with fabrics from other garments, pinning everything into place.

The next step is to hand baste everything down.

Then I will machine applique over the basting, and then machine quilt overall.  A binding will finish the blanket.

I've been thinking a lot about Manny (shown here) and Mark, of course, as I work....about fathers, and how great they are.

I did suffer an accident, unrelated, in the last week...burned my left thumb quite badly making jam!  So my work on this project has been slowed down considerably for the moment.  But it is what will be going on here for the next several weeks.  It is good work, and I am so happy to be doing it.