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Monday, September 27, 2010

Vintage Floral Hats

I hit the jackpot on Vintage Floral Hats yesterday at the Elkhorn, WI flea market.  I found 4 of them.  Actually, I found more but ya'll know what I do with these so I refuse to pay more than $4 or $5 for each.  Yes, I cut them up for the flowers:





I try to save everything I can from these.  The netting, the ribbons, the fabric as well as the flowers.  I kind of hate to cut them up because they're so pretty but this is a great way to get vintage millinery flowers for crazy quilting, art quilts and mixed media projects.

If you would like to see how to take them apart, click here.

In other news, mom is doing well and thanks you all for your kind wishes and comments!  She's just thrilled that you all accepted her and enjoy her blog posts so much.  She's looking forward to writing Part 2 of her Creatively Coping With Bi-Polar article.  We'll get that article up as soon as she can sit comfortably with my laptop.

And speaking of creatively coping, my article on coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder Syndrome will be available soon.  I plan to work on that this week along with my next Crazy Quilting For Newbies article.

Today is a sewing day for me.  My treadle machine is just screaming at me!  I have 2 custom orders to piece up and I want to start putting together the blocks for my Winter project.  The theme?  It's a secret!!!!

Before I head out for now, I'll leave you with Kathi's newest pair of earrings:


These are so elegant for Halloween but they don't scream "Halloween".  And Kathi's insists on keeping her pieces very affordable!  They're available for purchase in my shop.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tutorial - How To Clean A Non-Washable Quilt


Crazy quilts, art quilts, antique & vintage quilts....many are not washable or dry cleanable.  So how do you clean them?  It's easier than you think.

All you need is a vacume cleaner and a piece of plastic canvas:


I lay my quilts out on a towel on the floor.  For the most part, decorative quilts are just a bit dusty.  Using your vacume cleaner hose and a piece of plastic canvas will remove any surface dust and hopefully, any dust mites that have made their home on your quilt:


The plastic canvas will hold your quilt & embellishments in place, allowing the dust and dirt particles to be vacumed away through the holes.  I do both the front and the back of the quilt this way.


Just vacume through the plastic canvas.  Vacume with one hand and hold the plastic down with the other.  Move your plastic as you need to until you've cleaned the entire quilt.

To remove any stubborn pet hair, a small piece of masking tape or blue painters tape will working nicely.  Be careful not to pull on your stitches or embellishments.  I use making tape sparingly but it does work to get the cat hair off.

Update On Mom

Mom is doing well.  Still in pain but doing well.  Kathi & I spent yesterday afternoon with mom.  When I left, she was watching QVC and looking through some of my Somerset Studio magazines.

Mom

The surgery went well.  2 vertebrae were removed and a metal plate was put in to relieve a pinched nerve.  Mom has to wear a neck brace for 3 months.  Still trying to figure out how to wash mom's hair for her.  She can't bend over and she can't take the brace off.  The brace goes up the back of her head.  I'm open to suggestions!

I'd like to thank everyone for your sweet emails.  Your kind wishes mean so much to Mom & me!  Thank you!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Crazy Quilting For Newbies - Reference Material

I've been asked by several of my followers to write some articles on how to get started with Crazy Quilting.  I guess it can be overwhelming when you think about the process of creating a crazy quilt block. 

The Moonlit Peacock


Just thinking about techniques, gathering supplies and choosing colors is enough to drive even a sane person crazy!  I of course, would not be one of those sane people!  LOL!!!!  There really is a lot to choose from when it comes to this beautiful art form.

I decided to break it down into manageable sections to keep us all from being overwhelmed.  I'll start with reference materials.

There are gobs and gobs of books on sane quilting.  How-to's, patterns, computer software and so on.  But when it comes to crazy quilting, the reference material is limited.  There just isn't the demand for it.  The following books are my recommendations for newbie crazy quilters:

The Crazy Quilt Handbook by Judith Montano


This, in my opinion, is the Queen Mother of Crazy Quilt reference books!

Running a close 2nd, The Magic Of Crazy quilting by J. Marsha Michler



If you have these 2 books, you've got everything you need from piecing, stitches, embellishing, SRE and color theory.

This is another book by Judith Montano that I highly recommend, Elegant Stitches:



Being that I am in no way a minimalist when it comes to my creative endeavors, another must have by Judith Montano is her Floral Stitches



This book covers the how to's of recreating in thread & ribbon, every flower you can think of!

For seam treatments, I have several recommendations..  For my seam treatments, I use a combination of techniques.  The first is a book by Carol Samples called Treasury Of Crazy Quilt Stitches:


Carol teaches how to create an unlimited variety of stitches and stitch variations.  I think you can see by the cover that this one will not disappoint!

Carol also offers a set of marking templates called, Dream A Seam Templates. I have these templates, I use these templates and I love them!  Unfortunately, I've spent the past 15 minutes searching for an online purchasing source but so far, I've had no luck.  I will send an email or two out and see if I can locate an online shop that carries them.  I'll update this post as soon as I find one.

The other technique I use to create my seam embroidery is my own technique devised in my days of designing charted counted cross stitch patterns.  It uses Waste Canvas aka Tear Away to create perfectly sized & spaced stitches.  I wrote a book on the technique called, Elegant Crazy Quilt Seam Treatments:

Elegant Crazy Quilt Seam Treatments

A complete guide to working Crazy Quilt Seam Treatments with Waste Canvas. Create perfectly spaced and sized stitches every time!

This book covers the how-to's of working with waste canvas on crazy quilt seams, what size threads to use, how to calculate, helpful hints and more.

Included are 72 charted border designs and 9 Bonus Feather Stitch designs.

This is an E-Book and is available as a  PDF file.  It will be sent your email address which I have to do manually.  The book is $17.00 US.  Payment via PayPal can be sent to my email address.

So those are the books that I recommend to start with.  And if you're into history, like me, here are few good ones:

Crazy Quilts - History, Techniques, Embroidery Motifs by Cindy Brick



This is a must have book for CQ history.  Well researched, well written and loads of photos!  Worth every penny!

And this, is the Holy Grail of Crazy Quilt history books, Crazy Quilts by Penny McMorris:


This book is long out of print so be fore-warned, if you want it, prepare to pay for it.  I bought my copy on Ebay for $50.00.  To me it was worth it as I collect every book on CQ that I can find but if you need to watch your money, like most of us do these days, the book by Cindy Brick is just as good if not better.

Finally, this little book is just cute & fun!  Quilting News Of Yesteryear: Crazy As A Bed Quilt

This book contains over 200 newspaper articles dating from 1880 to 1945.  All referring to crazy quilts.  It's just a sweet little book to have and can be rather amusing to read.

There are also a few good online sources for crazy quilting reference material.  First, is Sharon Boggon's Pin Tangle blog.  Sharon offers stitches diagrams and motif ideas with loads of links and photos.  Sharon updates her blog almost daily so I suggest bookmarking her site and visiting regularly.

Another good online source for Crazy Quilting is CQMagOnline.  This is an online magazine written for crazy quilters by crazy quilters.  It's published quarterly and well worth the time to visit.  Be sure to read the archives.  Of course, you'll be reading for hours and hours but the eye candy and tutorials are well worth the time.

Little Brown Bird Purse 2


So that's the list of reference material that I recommend.  I hope you find this post helpful.  In my next article on Crazy Quilting For Newbies, I'll discuss supplies.  What to purchase and where to find it.

Maple Leaf Brooches

A quick little update everyone.  Mom is doing well.  Not sure yet if she'll be home today or tomorrow.  As soon as I know, I'll post another update.  I'd like to thank everyone who left comments wishing mom well.  I will read all of your messages to mom when she gets home and settled.

As for me, I'm starting to think that 37 1/2 milligrams of Zoloft is a little too low. But I'm stubborn as a mule and will try to ride it out.  I certainly won't ask my Dr. to decrease it again, at least until after the holidays.  Geez, it's been almost 2 years now.  I'm really disappointed that the depression from the breakdown isn't gone yet but at least I know where I'm at with it.  So, still taking one day at a time.  I do think my eyes have stopped jumping as I can comfortably read now.  I can really tell though, that this is still here.  Maybe it'll be gone by Spring.

In other news, Kathi has made some beautiful needle felted leaf brooches:



These are in the shop now.  She also made some Oak Leaf Brooches.  I'll add them to the shop later today.

Finally for today, Angel Brooches with Roses:


These were for a custom order.  I may do a few of these for the shop for Valentine's Day.  I just love those little angels!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Update On Mom

The surgery went well and mom is doing fine. She was all excited about your messages and can't wait for me to read them to her when she gets home.  I'll keep you posted.  Due to mom's Bi-Polar, they want to keep her an extra day so she'll be home on Thursday.

I've not been feeling good the past few days.  Withdrawals I think.  This is getting old.  Anyway, I want to write a Crazy Quilting For Newbies post.  If I feel better later today, I'll get that up for you.

Halloween Pumpkin Doorhanger 2

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fiber In The Park - Earlville, Illinois

Kathi and I drove about 1 1/2 hours south yesterday to the Fiber In The Park fiber show in Earlville, Illinois.  It was a gray, rainy and very dreary day but perfect for us little chipmunks who are diligently stocking up for Winter!  LOL!!!

So what's a fiber show you ask?  It's a gathering of vendors who produce a variety of supplies for spinners, weavers, needle-felters, knitters and mixed media artists.

Wool, alpaca, mohair, angora and other natural fibers are featured at these shows.  Here are my goody's from yesterday:


I'm rather fond of hand-dyed sheep curls also known as "Noils".    I bought quite a few last week at the Jefferson, WI show but of course, I had to have a few more!

I also picked up some Angelina Fibers which I'll talk about in future posts.  Oh, I have so many things that I can share with you!

Anyway, I picked up some mohair and as you can see, some specialty fibers which I like to use on just about everything I make!

So what do I do with all these things?  Well, if you look closely at this cuff bracelet that I made, you can see how I use some these things:


I'll explain further in a future post but for now, I just wanted to share my goody's!

Here are the links to a few of the vendors that I purchased items from. 

First, Esther's Place is where I bought some Angelina Fibers and the large cards of misc. yarns.  Esther's Place is located in Big Rock, Illinois and offers all sorts of wonderful supplies & classes!

Kitty Grrlz Knits & Spins offers gorgeous Hand Spun yarns & hand knits.  I bought the little bag of specialty fibers from Bobbi-Jean.  Beautiful yarns in that little bag!

KnitSpin Fibers and Yarns offers Handpainted Home Spun Yarns & rovings.  Kathi picked up some beautiful roving from this vendor.

It was a small show compared to the Jefferson, WI show last weekend but as you can see, it didn't stop me from finding some nice supplies for my projects!

Kathi packed a healthy lunch for us which I we ate in the car and then we headed back.  We stopped in DeKalb on the way back for "ladies room" break.  Little did we know we'd find some wonderful little shops there to look in!  After a Hot Chocolate at a nice little Coffee House, we roamed the antique shop and specialty shops on Lincoln Hwy in downtown DeKalb.  I picked up these little sweeties:


The little painted pictures are vintage and from the antique shop there.  I paid $6 for them and plan to use them in my Guest Room when I repaint it.  It'll be pink.  Are you surprised?  LOL!!!

I bought the little cat doll in another shop there.  It's made of vintage fabric from Japan!  I just fell in love with this little guy!

When we arrived back at my house, we sat and looked through our new stash and had an iced tea.  The perfect end to a lovely day.




Friday, September 17, 2010

Autumn Fiber Art Cuff Bracelets

The newest additions to my little corner of Etsy:


Lots of different fabrics, beads and embellishments.  I have got to make some more of these!  I can see them for all the different holidays and with a huge variety of themes.

I used elastic inside so there's no fiddling with fasteners.  They stay put!

In other news, I've been asked by several of my readers to do some articles on Crazy Quilting For Newbies.  Gladly!  I'll start on that series in the next week or so.  I've been working diligently at mom's on a variety of projects and haven't had time for much stitching lately.  But I'm itching to get back to it and I can most definitely feel the need for some down time.  Quiet, sit on my butt and stitch time!  Just me, my cats & my TV.

I'll be taking my laptop over to mom's today so she can write her Creatively Coping With Bi-Polar article.  I'll upload that as soon as we have it ready.

Tomorrow, Kathi and I are going to another fiber show.  I haven't used anything that I bought at the fiber show last week!  But Kathi and I look at this way, we're like chipmunks stocking up for Winter!  LOL!!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Autumn Decor

First, I would like to take a moment to say thank you to my sweet friend, Allison Aller for being my guest blogger yesterday.  I hope everyone enjoyed meeting Allie and seeing her gorgeous Place Quilts.  Allie is the queen of landscape crazy quilting and I so much appreciate her willingness to be my guest.

I've been quite busy with my projects lately.  I tend to start a bunch of different things in a bunch of different mediums, both here at my house as well as at Mom's!  So for today, I'll share my latest in Autumn Decor!

This is my Crow On A Pumpkin centerpiece:


And my Harvest Cornucopia centerpiece for Thanksgiving:


I've been experimenting with soft, muted and understated colors.  I love the bright colors of Autumn but am finding that soft colors are more soothing to me.  Definitely cottage in style and tone!

Kathi has been playing with her collection of roving and other needle-felting supplies.  We've been to 2 fiber shows this Summer and are going to another on Saturday.  Here are her latest Autumn Home Decor projects:



Check out her hand-felted leaves!  Those are gorgeous!!!!  And I love how she added a tiny black spider to them.  I have a 3rd one here but haven't done the photos yet.

My Autumn Cuff Bracelets are done so I'll try to have photos of those for you tomorrow.  I'm so pleased with how they came out!  I used elastic in them so not buttons or other fasteners to mess with!  Stop back to see them.

I'll leave you with a photo of a tiny visitor to my home last night.  I went out on the front porch for a few minutes before I went to bed and found this precious little creature sitting on my window frame:


If you've never seen one before, this is a Praying Mantis.  They're totally harmless and usually rather elusive.  I was so thrilled to see one that I had to grab my camera and capture his visit!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Guest Blogger - Allison Aller

It's the 15th of September and that means, that I have another Guest Blogger to introduce you to.  I met Allie years ago through our mutual love of crazy quilting.  I have always been taken with Allie's fearless use of color and her beautiful embroidered landscape quilts. 

Landscape quilts are so unique and no one does them better than Allie!  When I invited her to be a guest here on my blog, I asked if she would discuss her process.  Please welcome my dear friend, Allison Aller of Allie's In Stitches.

Portraits of Place in Crazy Quilts

My dear friend Pam has invited me to guest blog today on the subject of creating "place portraits", created by embroidering over photo-transfered imagery, in crazy quilting.  I've enjoyed stitching these for the past several years and am glad to share my experience.  You might like making one too.
The reason I call these "portraits" is because these finished pieces reflect not just the visual representation of a place, but also the stitcher's feelings about it and love for it.  Your stitches as they integrate with the photographic image on fabric create a rendition of your subject that is yours alone.  It doesn't have to be slavishly realistic, either, as many portraits are not!  What matters most, I think, is that you have passion for the place you are portraying.

This is not a technical article but just a description of the process I use to create a place portrait.  Links for relevant technical tips as well as relevant supply sources will be given at the end of the post.

The basic steps are as follows...

Preparation of the Print onto Fabric:


1)  Choose a photo of your home, garden, or a landscape you wish to have as the central image of your portrait. 
2)  Transfer your photo onto fabric.  There are many ways to do this and in fact several whole books on this subject! (1; see below)  What I like to do is print my digital photographs onto commercially prepared cotton or silk fabrics that are ready to run through my printer and accept the pigment inks I prefer to use.  Epson printers use pigment inks; HP uses dye-based inks.  I have found that the dye-based inks fade too much over time to be satisfactory. 
The products I like best are EQ Printables for cotton, and Color Plus Textiles for silk (2)  Be aware that the cotton is harder to stitch through than the silk, as it is tightly woven.  The silk, however, does not yield as vivid as a print, colorwise.
3)  Once your image has been printed, rinsed, air-dried, and ironed according to the package instructions, I find it extremely useful to interface the back of the print with fusible knit interfacing.  This stabilizes the printed fabric for stitching.
4) In order to prevent "over-handling" of the print while stitching on it, I like to machine baste 3" strips of muslin around the perimeter of the print.  This is temporary, but will prevent the edges of the print from being stretched out or frayed from handling during stitching.

Embroidering Your Portrait

The main concept to keep in mind when choosing your embroidery threads is the relationship of the scale of the threads to perspective in the portrait.  What I mean by this is this: the father away, or in the distance in the photograph the area you are stitching on, the thinner your thread should be.  The thickest threads belong in the foreground of your portrait. This helps a lot to give the illusion of depth to your scene.  I never embroider anything in the sky; in real life, of course, the sky is so much farther away than any landscape element that it appears totally flat....so I like to keep it that way in my place portraits.  Flat, flat, flat!
Also, it makes sense to start your embroidery in the background areas, and then move to the midground with your stitching, and finally, to embroider the very foreground area.

Let's have a look at some projects...

My first attempt at using this approach was for a quilt called "The Home in the Garden".
Here is the photograph I used.  It's my garden in July!



I cropped it, printed it onto cotton, and began developing it with embroidery. In this picture the evergreen on the left, the tree behind it, and the pink sweet peas on the left have been stitched.


Here is the embroidery a little further along.  You can see I have sketched out where the outer edges of the finished embroidery will be.  I have used stitches with the most dimension in the foreground--French knots and bullions for flowers, while simple detached chain stitches and fly stitches work well for foliage.  Straight stitches in the proper scale and color work perfectly well in mid to background stitching.

An interesting phenomenon is that the viewer's eye and brain will "blend" the photographic and stitching details so that the mind really reads this as one consistent image.



I like to frame my portraits with crazy piecing and stitching, but I try not to let that get too busy, so that the portrait in the center keeps the viewer's main focus.  Staying with one color in the piecing helps, as is keeping the seam treatments simple.
The final size of this piece is 16" X 16".



This next project is shown actual size.  It is a 2" covered button!
The stitching is obviously all in the foreground; you will notice (if you look closely) that the trees behind the cottage were not stitched.  That would have brought them too much  into the foreground, no matter how fine a thread I had used.


I used this same subject, the old family cottage, for a couple other portraits.
 

In the first photo, you can see the initial embroidery of this small scene.  I went for a more "impressionistic" look this time.

As always, the foreground stitching was added last.


The finished piece, measuring 8" X 8", again had a simply crazy pieced and embroidered "frame", with an inner border of rocks that were gathered from the beach below the cottage.  This piece is mounted on foam core. (3)

The next cottage portrait was much more elaborate.  I used a larger printed central image, which was 10" X 13".  There were also other printed photographs integrated into the piecing around the central image, which formed more than just a frame, but a much larger compositional context for the center.
This was technically quite difficult!



I started with many prints laid out roughly in the positions I thought I would be using them.

Fast forward now to where the quilt is pieced and the outer piecing is starting to be embellished.  Notice that some of my piecing seams were deliberately designed to act as tree trunks and branches, once they were embellished.


These buttonhole leaves were inspired by the great work of Lisa Boni of http://ivoryblushroses.blogspot.com/
She makes the best buttonhole leaves ever!



The final embroidery of this central image was fairly light-handed.  I outlined all the major architectural shapes of the cottage, highlighted the flowers in the border in front of it, and did lots of straight stitching in the grass in the foreground...and also spent three days making all those buttonholed leaves.  ;-)


Each project and image will guide you as to what kind of embroidery needs to be done:  you will discover that for yourself. 
This whole quilt took about 4 months to make.  It measures 30" X 30".



This summer I decided to do another garden portrait, again using the procedure described at the beginning of this post.
One difference in this project, called "High Summer", is that once it was finished, I mounted my embroidered central image onto fusible craft batting before appliquéing it over my crazy pieced "mat".  (4)
This gave me a nice smooth edge, "stretched" the embroidery so that it was flat, and caused it to be just slightly raised above the surface of the quilt.



Here is "High Summer" completed.  Again, the frames are kept to a single colorway in order to showcase the central embroidered image.


This is 18" X 22".


Finally, I want to mention that there is an alternative to inkjet photo transfer that I sometimes use to get my image onto fabric.  Transfer Artist Paper, or TAP, is an updated version of the old Tshirt transfer paper.  You reverse the image you wish to use on the computer, print it onto the TAP, and then iron it onto your fabric.
You get a sharp print easily with really good color...the only hitch is that it is harder to stitch through than inkjet printed fabric. (5)

"June" was made using the TAP.  It is small, about 10" X 12".



If you are inspired to try this approach with a "place portrait" of your own, I would really love to see it.  Drop me a jpg and a note about your project at aaller@gmail.com.
Thanks!

Resources:
1) Several books on photo transfer published by C & T are here:
http://www.ctpub.com/showproducts.cfm?WPCID=1126
2) EQ Printables is here:
http://www.electricquilt.com/Shop/Printing/Fabric8.asp   *Note*  The Cotton Lawn is easier to stitch through than the Cotton Sateen.
Color Plus Fabrics are hard to find but a good source is here:
http://www.outofmymindprints.com/fabric.htm  I especially like their silks, but all their fabrics are great.
3) See my article in CQMagOnline for how to mount small quilts onto foam core.
http://www.cqmagonline.com/vol07iss02/articles/806/index.shtml
4)  I like Fast 2 Fuse from C & T, as it has fusible web on both sides and is just the right weight.
http://www.ctpub.com/productdetails.cfm?PC=896
5) find TAP at many online sites; just Google it!



I'd like to thank Allie for taking the time write such an informative and interesting blog post for my readers.  Please take a moment to hop over to Allie's blog and say hello to her.  Allison's work is pure perfection.  You will never be disappointed in the eye candy you find on her blog.  Thank you dear one!
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