Thursday, January 18, 2018

"Memories that Linger"....Part 2: A Warm Up Exercise

In Michigan, camp takes place in the woods. 

I live in the Pacific Northwest now, and though this is indeed tree country out here, the feel is obviously very different, especially in scale.
So I did a little warm up piece to start to get myself back into the Michigan woods like those above.

I started with a background, needlefelting hand dyed silk fibers from Treenway Silks and bits of silk and wool fabrics onto a base of printed cotton.

 6" X 11" background prepared with felting

Then, because the hand was still so easy to stitch through, I developed two representative trees...just to start thinking about them as I embroidered....

"Conifer and Deciduous" Copyright Allison Aller 2018

Because my wallhanging will be 5' X 6', I don't think I'll be able to go into this much detail....but one thing leads to another.....

"Memories that Linger", a Commision for Camp Newaygo, Part 1: Introduction

I am embarking on a highly personal journey with this project. It interweaves deep themes of friendship, girlhood, family, memory, and love of place (This last is especially important to a Taurus like me.) It's the most meaningful artistic challenge I've undertaken in my life. I intend to blog about the creation of the wall-hanging I am to make for Camp Newaygo and where it takes me--both inwardly in my heart, and outwardly in the sewing room.

"Memories that Linger.." is such an apt title. (It's a phrase from a favorite camp song.)  This journey is about the memories we make, and how we deliberately refine them as we age...It's about the ones we want to keep and nurture, and the ones we need to nuke into oblivion. It's about how we can choose how memories linger.....Do they rule us or do they sustain us? Do they define us? Do they propel us forward or hold us back?

But don't worry, this will not be À la recherche du temps perdu....just simply a story of growing up, told in fabric and in thoughts, and how "you can take the girl out of the Mitten, but you can't take the Mitten out of the girl...."


Annie, one of my oldest and dearest friends, and her sister Ellen commissioned me to make a wall-hanging for the newly renovated and expanded lodge at Camp Newaygo, in Newaygo County, Western Michigan, near where we grew up.

 The mitten

The newly renovated and expanded Lang Lodge, Camp Newaygo.

Camp is very important and dear to Annie and Ellen--all the women and girls in their family for three generations have gone there. Thousands of girls who have attended since its founding in 1927 feel the same strong love and gratitude for camp as they do.

I myself went to a similar camp north of Newaygo, called Camp Arbutus. This cabin, Slide Inn, was my perch above the lake as a complicated 12 year old who found peace in the woods, and also as a much more complicated college-aged counselor at age 19.  Camp was my refuge from family drama back home; it was my joy in being outside and up north; it was where my heart got broken by mean girls but mended by sweet ones. Camp was also where I learned to sail, tie knots, shoot arrows, sing in 4 part harmony, and sneak cigarettes in the outhouse.  But I digress....

 Slide Inn, Camp Arbutus, Mayfield, Michigan   photo copyright Don Harrison

Camp Newaygo has reinvented itself over the last 20 years or so, becoming a year round conference, event, and community center, as well as maintaining its girls' camp programs in the summer.  

Aerial view of Lang Lodge, Camp Newaygo

Until Annie and Ellen hired me for the commission, I was oblivious as to how this reinvention of Camp Newaygo was made possible. I certainly didn't know how much it involved my own father.
Nor did I anticipate how my old friendship with Annie would be reinvigorated with such beautiful love by this place and this project.

This plot is indeed a thick one!....

Friday, January 12, 2018

Examples of the Glue Applique Method for Stained Glass Quilts

One of the techniques from my book, Allie Aller's Stained Glass Quilts Reimagined, is called the "Glue Applique Method".  I'll be teaching it at Road to California next week, and have been busy making new quilts to showcase the versatility of this technique.

Here it is in solid fabrics, really a fun kid's quilt:

Then I tried it in wool and cotton flannel.  This functional quilt is nice and heavy and warm.
Here it is up on the design wall.
Below is a detail of the center section.

Then I wanted to try using a vintage Dresden block and mixing some vintage fabrics in with contemporary and hand dyed fabrics too, to create an unusual piece:

It's not quilted yet...I really like it because it is so different!

Then I made a very simple quilt as a "class sample", to show my students how big a bang graphically they could achieve with very simple sewing.

If you look at each of these quilts, you can detect the common block design, right?

Here it is in (mostly) batiks:

And then there is the quilt that started it all, "Windy Sunshine", a project in my stained glass quilting book.  Here is a detail:

Different leading techniques are used in the quilts in this post, (all covered in the book), and I think they do stretch the idea of what a stained glass quilt can be.
Pretty fun!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

My Block for the Designer RSVP program, Studio e Fabrics

I was honored and thrilled to be invited to participate in Studio e's Designer RSVP program, whose purpose is to showcase their lovely line of Peppered Cotton Fabrics.
These are yarn dyed "shot cottons", meaning the warp and weft are woven with different colors--giving the color a depth unusual in a cotton solid.

Pepper Cory, the fabric line's designer and well known quilting authority, teacher, and maker, talks about how versatile these cottons are, how good at "playing well with other fabrics" in her recent segment of The Quilt Show.

As designers, we were instructed to create a 16" X 16" block using only Peppered Cottons, in a style that was unique to our own personal work.  Being interested in stained glass quilts, as you know, I decided to make a stained glass quilt block.

Here it is framed, and ready for Quilt Market, where Pepper will present all the designer blocks.

They are from:
Sue Pelland Designs;
Janice Pope of Anything But Boring Designs
Valerie Bothell;
Robin Koehler;
Barbara Black;
Kelly Ashton;
Susan Marth;
Kathy Delaney Quilter;
Bonnie K Hunter;
Gyleen X. Fitzgerald;
Pepper Cory;

My block was inspired by a vintage quilt in the collection of Julie Silber.  I modified and simplified the original applique.

Here is my drawing:

Feel free to use it as you wish!

I love creating patterns from vintage sources and discuss that process step by step in my book, Allie Aller's Stained Glass Quilts Revisited.  Check it out, it is a great resource (if I say so myself.) And do stop by Studio e's booth at Quilt Market, #2319.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

View My New Episode on The Quilt Sjhow!

Here is the link to my show:

There is a trailer at that link to give you a peek.  Subscribers can see the whole show.

It was a joy to work with such a team of talented and truly joyful professionals.  They brilliantly structured my show so that information from my new book on stained glass quilting was presented so clearly. We had two great demo sessions and looked at a lot of quilts. I am really grateful for the opportunity, and the wonderful experience, too.

Click on the book's cover over on the sidebar here, below my profile photo, and it will take you to Amazon, where you can order my book, if you are inspired to learn more.  But meanwhile, this week enjoy the show for free!

Thank you so much, Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims.  You are the best!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Stained Glass Flower Portraits: A Tutorial

These "headshots" of individual flowers from my garden--below--are just supposed to be quick portraits of each one, little personality captures.  So they are not really portraits, but more like mug shots. ;-)

I've made four of them so far.  The first one doesn't count because it was a warm up, but by the fourth one I'd streamlined my step by step process, from photograph to finished laid out collage (none of them have been sewn down yet.)  I took some photos along the way so you can see the stages I go through.

A snapdragon.  I planted a lot of them this year.

I made a pencil sketch from my photo.

From this drawing I went to my favorite enlargement website, Rapid Resizer, and made a pdf file of the drawing at the size I wanted, printed it up, taped it together, and used it as my finished design.  I took my individual pattern pieces from that.

Here you can see the taped pattern on my light box.  I have already placed my blue background fabric over it and traced it, to help me place my collage fabrics accurately.  I use a Flexion pen for this tracing step, because I get a fine sharp line that is instantly erasable with the tip of a hot iron.

Once that tracing is done, I start tracing individual shapes for my collage onto freezer paper.

 These shapes are ironed onto the front of the fabric I intend to use.

Since the fabric for this piece is raveley silk, I interface the back of it first, before cutting out my freezer paper shapes.  This is fusible knit interfacing, which I buy by the bolt.

This picture shows some shapes that are ready to be laid into place.  You can see the traced pattern on the background that will help me with alignment. The great thing about using the Flexion pens is that you don't have to slavishly follow the traced pattern, as the line isn't permanent.  What a help that is!

I use a little smear of a glue stick on the back of each of the fabric pieces, just to hold them into place. I really don't like to use fusible web in this situation, because A) I can't reposition fused fabric, especially delicate fabrics like silk and B) I like my collaged fabrics to be not quite so flat against the surface of the background fabric.
Here is my snapdragon, ready to have its stained glass leading put on.

The last step is the outlining, or adding the leading.  I've covered that process in my book, Allie Aller's Stained Glass Quilts Reimagined. Click the link to find it on Amazon, or ask for it at your local quilt shop.  It is from C & T Publishing.

There are two more...a lily and a rose.
Each is about 8" X 8".

I look forward to making more of these this summer, and hope this gives you some ideas for you to try too.