Thursday, July 31, 2014

"Tammy" ...and How to Mount a 14" Block

Tammy is my neighbor and one of the best people I know.
We were moms together; we each have two boys the same age, one quiet, one loud...she understands and loves my kids more than almost anyone.
Now that all our boys are grown and flown, Tammy and I are still very close. 

I took some pictures of her during the annual 4th of July BBQ she and her husband Frank have every year...knowing I wanted to use her as the subject of a new "Frame it With Flowers" portrait.  I didn't tell her though!

It's a very portable project and I've taken it with me on my summer travels, as you will see.  I decided to mount it when it was finished, to keep it flat and easily hangable on the wall.

So meet Tammy....

I have learned from long experience that a printed photo has to be thoroughly stabilized before appliqueing it onto a background.  So this photo has three layers:  first it is interfaced with fusible interfacing, then it has a layer of batting slightly smaller than the photo, then another layer of fusible interfacing overall, which holds the batting into place.  This works perfectly.

Tammy showed me this vintage print she found and loves, intending to hang it in the living room that she and Frank are turning into their library, now that the boys are gone.  They own thousands of books.
I took this as my color scheme for the flowers I was going to make.

So I got started.  The outer fabric is vintage linen in a color that matches the frame of Tammy's print.  I am so sneaky!

As I said, this is a great project for traveling.

First it went to Atascadero, CA where I was teaching the class, "Frame it With Flowers".

You can see it on the table in the foreground right.
I love this class so much because the photos everyone brings to frame all have such meaningful stories...

Next I took Tammy to Vermont, where the Quilt Alliance was holding its annual board meeting.

This year's meeting was in the studio of Frances Holliday Alford. We not only brought our own projects to work on during the meeting, but Frances had covered the whole table with canvas and set out markers and paints for us to cover it with during our time there.  Yay Frances!  I circled my place at the table so you can see my project.

Next up was the first Salon of Mark Lipinski's Slow Stitch Movement in New Hope, PA.  He wrote an excellent blog post about it here.  You definitely should check out his website to see what this is all about.

Tammy and I were in exalted company.  From left to right next to me is Chawne Kimber, Liza Lucy, Mark, and Meg Cox around the table.  If you don't know Chawne's work, drop everything right now and go see her quilts here.  And her astonishing redwork here.  (Not for the faint of heart!)  The fact that Chawne is a full professor of mathematics awed me for sure, but her work does even more.

Liza is business partners with Kaffe Fassette and she had a whole room in her home with his fabrics for her mail order business.

Treasure indeed....

Then I came back home and finished up my project.  Here is how I mounted it:

1. I cut a piece of batting to fit 1/2" larger all around than the finished size of my block, which is 14" X 14".  I adhered the batting with a shot of Sulky fabric adhesive spray.

2. I couldn't find any foam core in Washougal where I live, so I went with some clean heavy cardboard from a box.  This was cut at 14" X 14".

3. Using wide painters' tape, I gently stretched my project over the batting and cardboard and taped it to the back.  I found that first ironing the folds along marked lines was very helpful.

4. The back of the cardboard needed some padding too, so I cut a piece of scrap fleece exactly 14" X 14" and sprayed it to the back of the cardboard.

5. I cut the backing (also vintage linen) and finished it to size.  But before sewing it on, I prepared the means to hang the block with cording.  I inserted each end to the back of the backing fabric, and zig zagged the ends in place.

6. It was easy to pin the prepared backing to the back of the cardboard--I just inserted the pins straight in to secure the layers. Then I took it outside and finished up, removing the pins as I whipstitched the backing to the folded over edge of the block.

And there is my Tammy.
One of my favorite parts of this project was looking down at her smiling face the whole time I worked.

Here's a detail:

I liked making that kind of wispy outer frame out of the big embroidery stitches.  ;-)

Tammy had no idea this was happening so when she came over to tour the garden (she and my husband are great gardening pals)....

....I led her into my sewing room so she could see her portrait on the design wall.
Well, she started to cry which made me so happy.  Bulls eye!

Is there anyone you want to frame with flowers?  Try it, you will love it!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Checking In and Catching Up!

I've been out in the garden this spring....not blogging so much!

But I have finished some here they are...

First is "Be Kind".  My Uncle Hal's dear wife Deb gave me the cross stitch piece that I used in the center of the quilt.

This was quite experimental for me, combining crazy quilt fabrics, supplies, and techniques in a traditional machine quilted format.  I loved every second of making this...

This detail I hope shows the quilting, couching, machine and hand stitching all combined together.

Next, I finished up a long term project called "The Red Guest House".  This is at my cousin Tracy's ranch in New Mexico.  I started it in one of my "Home Portraits" classes. 

This also was experimental, combining vintage blocks with embroidery, lace, photo printing on fabric, and some contemporary repro fabrics too.  It captures the feel of the place, and is really an homage to my cousin.

A throw quilt top came together quickly using blocks from my "Pretty Crazy" pattern for Brookshier Design Studio.  I can't wait to quilt this on my Handi Quilter Sweet 16!

Cheery, isn't it?

So I've been having some fun, exploring new ideas.
I'm getting more and more drawn into using vintage textiles in my work...and was recently given some very precious blocks from Lisa Boni  that I will be working with later this'll be hearing more about that project when the time comes.

And another dear friend has sent me some vintage quilt tops that I will be practicing my machine quilting on...yes, I know, you heard that right.  I have a deep desire to make functional quilts again, traveling in the footsteps of women lost to time who went before me....but adding my own quirky elements, never leaving the 15 years I've spent crazy quilting too far behind.

Here is one of them...

Lots of room to groove and practice in those white areas....

Speaking of history....
I was honored to be interviewed by the Why Quilts Matter: Quilts, Art, and Politics project undertaken by the Kentucky Quilts Project, Inc.  They asked me about the connection between crazy quilting and today's art quilt movement and made me do some deep thinking on the subject.  Take some time to look over their site...there is treasure there!

I've got some traveling ahead, but expect to be blogging more regularly after I return home in a few weeks...til then,  Happy Stitching!