Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The DMC Crazy Quilt Commission--Part 1

DMC has commissioned me to make a small crazy quilt commemorating the trip to France that I won in their recent Stitching Memory contest.  It is to be about my memories and impressions from the trip...and
what a pleasure this project is already!

When I was in Houston I found some perfect reproduction French border fabric at Lancaster Traditional Fabric's booth.  (If you love unusual repro fabrics check out their site.  Their booth was awesome.)

I laid out the border fabric to gauge the size the center would be.  There is the famous DMC horse, (the picture taken at the factory in Mulhouse, France) which will be printed on fabric and put in the place of honor in the center.

Next I created the background piecing for that center space.

The blues say "France" to me, and will contrast nicely with the border.
Once they were pinned, I sewed them all down.

It was such a pleasure to use a variety of DMC's threads to lay down my seam treatments.

It's been too long since I did work like this!!!!

So now the background is finished and I am ready to add the next layer.

It is going to look very different!

A project from my first book, the "Sister's Scrapbook Page", will give you an indication of where this is headed....

My sister is going to be in this one, too!

More soon.....

Monday, November 18, 2013

"Stash's Quilt" for Label One

I've been playing hookey the last couple of weeks, ever since I came home from Houston.
I know I have a commission project to do for DMC, and in my head it is very far along!  But I realized that I have plenty of time to make my deadline.....and I had to get something out of my system...so since I got home, I've made this quilt for Stash.

The backstory:
I went to the Quilt Festival mainly to work in the booth of the Quilt Alliance, the non-profit I am privileged to serve as a board member.  Here I am in our booth with our executive director, Amy Milne.

In the booth you can see some of our auction quilts, which you can bid on NOW, here! They will raise funds to support our mission of documenting, preserving, and sharing the stories of quiltmakers and their quilts.

But as you know, Halloween was during Festival. Amy and I decided to dress up.

Amy became "Label One", encouraging everyone to label their quilts.  She handed out labels printed for us onto cotton by Spoonflower, and made that fetching spool-of-thread hat.  She is holding Michele Muska's auction quilt.

I became "Stash".

Amy and I gathered so many smiles as we walked through Festival that day.  No wonder people love to wear costumes!  I had pinned vintage blocks, laces, and jelly roll strips to my skirt and sweater, made some necklaces out of spools of thread, and a crown covered with buttons.  Too fun!

After I came home I took apart my costume on my sewing table.....

And something came over me.....I really did love how all those things looked together...

I went to my "stash" of vintage 30's scraps to go with those blocks, some 30's repro fabrics, some contemporary Ebay blocks made with vintage fabrics, vintage linens, more of my lace stash...and set to work making a quilt for Label One from Stash herself.  Me!!!!

Using the design wall was critical to the process, so I could keep elements balanced as I worked out my composition.
I just started pinning things up there and sewed together units as I went along.
It came together very quickly.

Because I was eyeballing everything sizewise, when it came time to sew all the units together, sometimes I had to trim, or add a strip...

No biggie...this was a very loose quilt.  The big constant was keeping those lines straight and the corners at 90 degrees.

After I got the top assembled, I knew I was going to add some decorative couching stitching that would also double as quilting.  I had gotten the brand new couching foot from HandiQuilter for my Sweet 16 and was most eager to try it out.
But first, as I learned in my Craftsy class, Design It, Quilt It, taught by the great Cincy Needham, first I had to quilt "ESS"--every stinkin' seam.
It is a very good practice.  I used clear thread with Bottom Line by Superior Threads in the bobbin.

Finding the right kind of couching fiber took a little experimentation.

A single ply was the way to go, although later I learned that size #3 perle cotton was perfect too.  Again, I used clear thread as my couching thread and Bottom Line in the bobbin.  You can see I marked my lines before couching too.

I left tails on either end of my lines of couching, and buried them inside the quilt sandwich with a large needle.

It was very fun, adding this element of embellishment in the same step as my quilting!
(Even though this is going to be a functional, "sane" quilt, after 14 years of crazy quilting, I MUST embellish, somehow or other.)

The last step was to bind the quilt, and as you all know, I loathe making traditional quilt binding.  For Stash's Quilt, I came up with an interesting alternative.

I simply folded the back to the front, and pinned lace over it.

Pins, pins, pins!  I placed them this way so they were easy to pull out before getting to them as I stitched the binding into place, so I didn't sew over a single one.

Sewing it was easy, using a wide zig zag and the clear thread which virtually disappeared.

I think it came out great, and totally fits the style of the quilt.

And here it is!

Stash's Quilt, 70" X 80"

Ahhhh......that felt great!
It will make a great souvenir of our wonderful time in Houston together.
Now, on to my DMC project, for real!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Favorites from the IQA Festival in Houston

Everyone's "Houston" is different: if you look around on Facebook or the blogs and see the quilts that people are posting, it is obvious that we each see such different things!

I'm just going to post pictures...I'm a little overwhelmed, still, to do anything else!

This is a detail from A Pocket Full of Paisleys, by Lorilynn King.  It was in the Embellished Quilts category and my favorite of the bunch.

Here is a look at the whole quilt.

And here is the embellished quilt that won the category.

This stretched my notions of what embellishment is, for sure.

This quilt was masterfully conceived and executed.

This was my other favorite in the Embellished category, Redwork Babies by Nancy Hovis and Jackie Herbert.  Just exceptional work!

The Second Place winner in the Mixed Techniques category is by Masa Yamagimoto.  It is called "Pray  for the Land of Green".

She stood serenely smiling at us all; she did not know English, nor need it!  Her presence was very graceful and look at her quilt!

She folded it back so we could see the intricate lattice work border, and also the hand quilting.

 The commitment to detail and perfection is mind blowing.

Down to the subtle gold embroidery...  I found this to be quiltmaking at the very highest level.  I respectfully gave her a small bow when I left, and her bow to me...well, it was so gorgeous, sweet, and dignified.  It made a deep impression on me.

Another Japanese artist made this quilt, called "Wind".  Masanobu Miyama's piece is about 18" X 20", I would say.

The Texans, by Patricia Styring, was a very popular quilt.  The way it conveys its narrative is superb, I think.

Here is a detail.  What a light touch she has!

I am finding myself drawn to more traditional patterns and quiltmaking techniques these days.  "Recycled Ties: No Necks Needed" by Virginia Anderson just delighted me.

Here's a detail.  So yummy.  And what perfect control she had of that wiggly silk!

Another traditional quilt that I loved was actually a one patch, so simple but so effective.

(Part of) Indigo Trips Around the World by Anabeth Dolins.

And not all the quilts I saw and loved were in the exhibit.  There was also an amazing one in Julie Silber's booth, The Quilt Complex.

There's Julie on the right, utterly delighted by this unusual quilt.

So there you have it, my eccentric selections, winnowed from hundreds!
If you love quilts, if you can, go to the big Festival in Houston at least once....