Tuesday, December 9, 2014

"My Secret Garden" project...finished!

This quilt is for the Personal Apps exhibit at the upcoming Road 2 California quilt conference in Ontario, CA next month.

The exhibit is here described:

Personal Apps
An App is defined as an application, typically a small, specialized program downloaded onto mobile devices. Artists invited to participate in this exhibit have created small quilts that represents them as an individual. The quilts show an aspect of their life or their identity. Curated by Matt Reese and Stevii Graves. 

Each quilt is to be 36" X 36".

Gardening makes me so happy.....so I guess that is a major aspect of my life and identity.

Last summer's garden really gave me so much joy.

What follows is a pictorial chronology of my quilt's construction over the last month...

It started with my review of Sue Reno's DVD on surface design.  You can read about it in this post.
I knew I wanted some lacy clouds, so with Sue's guidance, I printed some, using acrylic paint mixed with fabric extender.

I printed up a bunch.

I also painted some flowers, both pre-made fabric flowers and fussy cut printed flowers from quilters' cottons.  

 I'm so glad Sue's DVD encouraged me to get out those paints!

Then I began my initial lay-out....

The finished quilt actually bears quite a resemblance to this!

The foreground and sky sections were appliqued over a muslin foundation first--then I started adding layers of clouds.  That vintage delicate doily was meant to be the sun...

After this sky area was settled, the garden was laid out the same way, with a few large swaths of green.

Then the layers of flowers went on.

This photo shows a few of the techniques I used for the garden.

I did most of the embellishment work by machine, though.  Those large three dimensional daisies are vintage appliques.

After some initial quilting in the sky, I decided the clouds needed more texture, so I got out my acrylic Titanium white and highlighted some of the subtle lines from the printing.

A layer of lace over that and the clouds were just right!

Then it was time to add some stars to the sky.  This was a 3 day hand-beading extravaganza.
But then...how to quilt that???

I would never have attempted this on anything but my Sweet 16 from Handi Quilter.  The large bed made moving the quilt around easy during the free-motion sewing.

And the open toed foot made it easy to see "where I was going".  Somehow it just worked.  I didn't break a single bead or needle.  I love that Sweet 16!

This velvet bird was a cherished gift from Maureen Greason.  I didn't want to poke holes in it sewing it down, so I glued a piece of wool felt to the back of it, and sewed that instead.

When the top was all done and quilted, it was time to attach the trim borders.  The ones on the right won, after much auditioning.

You just cannot over-measure at this step.  I really took my time with this.

Wearing this machine quilting glove on my left hand really helped me move the quilt along as I sewed on the trim.

After this step I trimmed the batting and backing and just folded it in so it met the edge of the trim.  Then I whipstitched the whole thing closed. 

Let's see, at 8 stitches per inch, 36 inches per side times four sides...that is 1152 stitches plus corners.  But it is better than having to do conventional binding! I used lots and lots of pins, chatting with my sister as this step is kind of boring.

So here it is done.....

 This detail shows my blue bird of happiness, and the silver bird coming down from the stars...

 Here are the flowers growing, straight out of my heart....

And the entire Secret Garden, revealed......

Thursday, November 20, 2014

My First You Tube Video Interview!

Vicki Anderson of Modern Quilts Unlimited magazine interviewed Val and me at Quilt Market last month.
The video came out great!  Thanks, Vicki~

Here it is...(click on the link below.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcNDx9mgFRg#t=59 Allie and Val at Quilt Market

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Surface Design Essentials for the Printed Quilt, A DVD by Sue Reno

I have been an admirer of Sue Reno's work for many, many years--long before we became acquainted via Facebook and our blogs.  I've always loved her botanically based quilts...and the highly evolved design aesthetic she has developed while working with the prints she makes on fabric. 

But I never knew how she did it until now. In her new instructional DVD from Quilting Arts, as Sue says,

I distill my years of experience with four favorite surface design techniques—cyanotype, heliography, collagraphy, and thermofax printing—using clear and concise demonstrations.  There are examples of how I use prints in my work, as well as chapters on the basics of quilt design.  Whether you are new to surface design, or want to add to your existing design toolbox, there’s something here for everyone. 

I am absolutely new to surface design: it has never been remotely part of my repetoire.  I have bought supplies now and again at quilt shows, inspired by the demos and samples in the booths, but rarely used them.
With Sue's encouragement, I pulled some out and put them to work.

Before I show you what I did, I want to say what a pleasure it was to watch someone who has mastered her craft, is so clearly in her element and so obviously enthusiastic about it.  She doesn't waste a word--but gives great detailed advice and logical explanations for everything she does.
As an online teacher myself, I can also tell that the preparation she did for this DVD was extensive, thorough, and meticulously organized.  You will not find a better introduction to printing on fabric with these techniques than this.

That said, if you look at the view out my kitchen window, you will see that now is not the time to try either Cyanotype or Helliographic printmaking.  There will be no sun around here in SW Washington for about 5 to 6 months.  Those techniques require sun and heat, and what we have is rain, rain, and then more rain.

I do not have the supplies or a screen for Thermofax printing either.

This left the Collographic technique, which is essentially building a collage on a flat surface and using it to print with.
Sue describes this technique as freeform, playful, and unexact.
That's for me!  Plus I had some acrylic paints, textile medium, and brushes on hand.  Stripped down to its essentials, the Collographic technique doesn't require any more than these basic supplies to try it out.

And I had a purpose to print for too.  I'll be making a 36" X 36" quilt for an invitational show, and needed some sky fabric as well as some brightly colored, vivid flowers.  It's going to be a garden quilt.

Before I began making actual prints, I warmed up, so to speak, by painting some flowers, some that had been fussy cut from printed cotton, and some that were pre-made by M & S Schmalberg

What a difference a little paint makes!
Already, Sue's DVD has made a big difference in my coming quilt...I'm glad I tried something new. (These flowers will be raw edge appliqued eventually.)

Then it was time to take the plunge and make my first ever in my life print.

My goal for the sky was to create interest and movement, almost like the wind.  I had this idea....

...that I would use a piece of the very textural lace I have in my stash as a stamp.  I didn't have the Gelliprint or breyer or other supplies Sue mentioned for the collograph technique, but I knew I could make a print by just loading the lace with paint and....

I made several prints, adding some water to thin the paint down, doing multiple prints on one piece of fabric...

or using a finer piece of lace....

In the end I had a nice assortment and had had a blast printing, too.

I felt that Sue was right there with me while I worked.
Below is a screenshot I took from the DVD.

And here is me, having big time fun.

I started laying out my sky on a muslin foundation...early days, just playing with the elements I made, plus some other hand-dyed fabric my friends Val and Stacey made.

I'm thinking that quilting around that printed lace is going to be very wind-like.

The flowers are going to be extra special with their added pigments, too.

I  am going to paint some more flowers.  Can't imagine NOT painting them anymore.

At the end of Sue's DVD she shows in many quilts how her deep immersion in the techniques she presents is put to committed purpose.  Her body of work is truly inspiring.  One technique she mentioned towards the end, when she talked about the importance of the actual quilting to the overall design of the quilt....she quilts in two layers sometimes!  First she echo quilts, then goes over that with another layer, in heavier thread, in a different design.
Never ever would I have thought of that concept...but you'll be seeing it in my sky....

I have one minor quibble with the DVD, because I am such a newbie to printing.  I would have really appreciated a Supply List and Materials Resource list.  What was required for each technique went by pretty fast, and I wasn't familiar with most of it. Even a list put up on the screen so I could pause the DVD to write it down or take a screenshot would be a big help.  At the very end of the DVD they flash a website,
shop.quiltingdaily.com.  Maybe they sell everything....if they do, putting together "beginners' supply kits" would be helpful.

But any internet savvy shopper can find what is needed, so this is a minor point.

When I was at Quilt Market last month, I took the time to search out Sue's quilt, "Silk Mill", in the Tactile Architecture exhibit.

Now I have a much more informed idea of the skill and vision that went into the creation of this art.

Sue invited some other quilt artists on this Blog Tour, to offer their response to her new DVD.  The schedule is here:

11/5/14: Sue Reno http://suereno.blogspot.com/
11/6/14: Susan Brubaker Knapp http://wwwbluemoonriver.blogspot.com/
11/7/14: Allie Aller http://alliesinstitches.blogspot.com/
11/8/14: Diane Doran http://www.oohprettycolors.blogspot.com/
11/9/14: Vivien Zepf http://sevenpinesdesigns.blogspot.com/
11/10/14: Virginia Spiegel http://www.virginiaspiegel.com/blog/
11/11/14: Cynthia St. Charles http://cynthia-stcharles.blogspot.com/
11/12/14: Natalya Aikens http://artbynatalya.blogspot.com/
11/13/14: Lyric Kinard http://lyrickinard.com/blog/

I can't wait to follow along.

Thank you, Sue, for unleashing a whole new form of energy into my work.  It was fun, and I am grateful.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Quilting the New Classics by Michele Muska

What a great book!

Quilting the new Classics by Michele Muska  is absolutely packed with information and fresh inspiration for all quilters. Ten traditional quilt patterns, such as Yo-Yo's, Bear's Paw, and Crazy Quilts are featured in both classic and modern presentations, complete with instructions for each of the 20 quilts, by 20 different working designers. Therefore, this book is a great introduction to quilting as well as a tremendous new resource for the seasoned quilter.

Michele's philosophy on creativity that fed the concept and execution of this book is worth noting:  In all her artwork she strongly believes in working in the moment, and quilting is no different. She enjoys the process of creating as much as the end result. That is what Michele believes her new book "Quilting the new classics" will do for her readers. Her hope is for readers to take liberties in the creative process once they learn the basics. It is also why she gave the designers in her book free reign to design a quilt based on the pattern they were given.

I was honored indeed to be asked to contribute to the Crazy Quilting Section, being given the task of creating a "modern" crazy quilt.  And I surely took some liberties!

Now, then, how did I do that?

Crazy quilts are by nature over-the-top, busy concoctions of stitching, fabrics, and embellishments, all in a somewhat random design.  Not what I think of as "Modern" at all.  To me, a modern CQ would have to bestripped down to what I perceive is the essence of the genre: random piecing, some seam embroidery, a mix of fabrics. Nothing extra, just a bold and graphic take on the pure form of crazy quilting.

So that is what I tried to do, and I loved every second of my quilt's creation.

There is a brand new construction technique that Michele's free rein allowed me to explore.

Full instructions are in the book!

And it is the same from all the designers: beautiful traditional renditions of time honored quilt patterns are juxtaposed with their modern, liberated interpretations.   (Valerie Bothell created the traditional crazy quilt in her exquisite Victorian manner.)

Plus.....the book's design itself is absolutely gorgeous. You will get so much value for your purchase.

I will be hosting a give-away of one copy of this marvelous book, drawing one name from the comments to this post exactly one week from today.  So you will have until Sunday night, November 9th to enter.  Please make sure I have a way to reach you!

Other stops on the Blog Tour for this book are below.  You'll be able to see how others have contributed and what their process was like.

21--Leslie Tucker Jenison
22- Jannken Smucker http://www.janneken.org/category/blog/
23--Valerie Bothell
24--Kaari (French General) : www.frenchgeneral.blogspot.com
25--Elisa Sims Albury : www.stitchoutsidetheditch.com
26--Heather Joneswww.oliveandollie.com
27--Victoria Findlay Wolfe
30-Pat Sloan  http://blog.patsloan.com/

2--Kristin Omdahl   www.styledbykristin.com
FG, IG Newsletters:
22-- Marie Bostwick http://www.mariebostwick.com/

Thank you, Michele, for this awesome opportunity to create something new, which for me was very exciting.  I know readers will find so many great ideas in this book's pages.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Round the World Blog Hop

I have been nominated by my very talented fellow C & T crazy quilt author, Jennifer Clouston, to participate in The Round the World Blog Hop.

There are a few questions that we have to answer so people can find out a little more about us.

1. What crazy quilt/sewing things am I working on?

I am a "monogamous" quilter, so usually don't have more than one project at a time underway.  But because I've been doing a lot of sewing for the market, so to speak, I've done lots of little projects showcasing various patterns, supplies, or techniques.  Here are a few:

This is for Wonderfil Threads.
Here is a detail:

I am interested in exploring the addition of quilting to the embellished crazy quilt surface.

Another small piece, done at the same time...

This work combines machine and hand embroidery in CQ stitching, another avenue I wish to travel down further.

A piece for an upcoming magazine article also addresses these design ideas...

A major UFO I do have going is waiting...for me to become better at free motion machine quilting!
It combines Broderie Perse, vintage textiles, crazy piecing and stitching, by both machine and hand...all things I love dearly.  It is to be a functional bed quilt.

I've actually assembled the entire top since this photo was taken.  The quilting will be very prominent, and key to unifying all the elements.  I am just not there yet...

 I have loved working on it, all aspects....

From the Broderie Perse to the piecing and embroidery, it has been a wonderful project.

With lots of great outdoor stitching time too.

I hope to finish it this upcoming winter.

2. How does my work differ from those of it's genre?

In a nutshell, I would have to say that my crazy quilting is firmly based in my 25 years as a traditional and art quilter.  I am most interested in fabrics and design, especially the use of color in composition.  As the years go on, my CQ work is getting simpler and more graphic, more related to "sane" quilting and not so focused on intricate embroideries. In fact, that was the subject of my second book, written with Valerie Bothell, Quilting...Just a Little Bit Crazy.  I love the hybridizing of quilt genres.

What is on the design wall right now exemplifies this...it is for Simplicity Creative Group, showcasing their 5 sided crazy quilt template.

As always, the completed top will be just the "first layer" of the completed quilt...there will be lots of fun machine and hand embroidery and machine and hand quilting too.

3. Why do I create what I do?

Well, why do I breathe?  ;-) It's my joy, my response to the beauty all around me.

4. How does my creating process work?

It's sort of like gestation during a pregnancy...I don't know how else to describe it.  When a piece is going to be born, so much of the work goes on internally before it comes out and my hands make it.  It's a very mysterious process to me, and I love that.

When the time comes, I just start pulling fabrics and supplies and dive in.  I almost never sketch ahead of time, and if I do, it is laughably crude, like this:

I've learned to stay extemely flexible, designwise, as I move through a project, and will change course radically if need be.  But once committed, I will spend days completing a repetitive detail if the quilt needs it.

I plan on doing a lot of experimentation over the next few years, branching out into new hybrids within the quilt/embroidery realms. I'll be in the sewing room.....

I would like to nominate the following three people to carry on the round the world hop:

Valerie Bothell, at   http://pinkbunnykansas.blogspot.com
Lisa Boni, at http://ivoryblushroses.blogspot.com/
Sharon Boggon, at http://pintangle.com/

Thanks, Jennifer, for the invitation!