Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Stitching while camping...


I know, right?  TWO posts in two days from me, right?  Totally atypical of my life lately, but I will take it!

There are forty appliqued blocks in Sue Garman's fabulous quilt pattern, "Afternoon Delight."  Here are the first fourteen, all stitched, soaked and pressed.  They will be trimmed down to 6-3/4 inches before piecing them into the quilt.

This first block was so FUN!  At first glance, it looks like one red fabric.  Her intention was for us to use FOUR different fabrics in making this one...such a fun, and I must admit challenging, little detail.

Me, and the method I use for hand applique, were up to the challenge!



These blocks were the perfect little sewing project to take along for camping in the great Canadian outdoors for a week or so.  The fabrics and busy reproduction backgrounds were perfect for hiding dirt and accidentally squished little spiders...

...I did wash out a couple of small stains from a squished little spider and two mosquitoes at which, I fully admit, I took direct aim! Take THAT you Zica virus-carrying, Olympics and vacation-spoiling little jerks!

But I digress...back to the blocks...


I love Sue's designs.  These are such interesting shapes...I enjoyed tackling all the little points and inside corners on some blocks and the miniature Hawaiian-like, gently curved shapes in others...

Sue, I found serenity while stitching your designs and I thought about you with every stitch!  We will see if my serenity holds up when I tackle the piecing of all those double 9-patch blocks, LOL!



I had gotten a little tired of picking out reproduction fabrics for my tiny, original applique blocks that I have been designing and stitching lately, but fabric choices for this project were fun and easy.  I just kept grabbing for my favorites from the various reproduction bins.

Some patterns, like this next one, had a single piece making up the design so I was free to go for big pieces instead of poking through my tiny scraps.



Love, loved, LOVED this next one, despite all the tiny circles (about a half inch in diameter).




This one reminds me of Christmas Cactus blossoms...










You can find Sue Garman's pattern for "Afternoon Delight," and all her other beautiful creations, at her web store here.  Here is the finished quilt made by Sue:

Afternoon Delight - Complete Pattern Set

I found this picture on Pinterest of the finished quilt, taken at the AQS Lancaster quilt show and made by Judy R. Williams and Michele Pettorini:

Afternoon Delight, Judy R. Williams & Michele Pettorini at AQS Lancaster:

There are a lot of pictures of this quilt on Pinterest in other color ways...it looks really cool in retro 30's fabrics.

I finished the stitching on the the big block I showed in the last post.  It is soaking in water to remove the washable glues.  I have to make a decision about how much embroidery embellishment to do on it, especially on the faces.  I am really on the fence about that.  I will at least embroider Steve's glasses since I already did that on another block that will be in the quilt.

Happy to be stitching,
Teresa   :o)

Monday, July 25, 2016

Progress on my "Contentment" project...


Today is the 26th anniversary of the day I met my husband, Steve, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. How appropriate that I am working on this center medallion block for the ongoing anniversary project called "Contentment" that I started some time ago.  

The blocks that are currently in my blog header are also part of that project.


The block will be trimmed to finish 16-inches square after the stitching and glue-removing soaking is done.  I chose to draw us as we were then, instead of the older, lumpy way we look now, LOL...

Artistic license...also using modern fabrics and modern style of clothing.  

I glue-basted the larger units together working right on the pattern and even did a little hand-stitching before inserting the pressed background fabric on the pattern and continuing the layout.  I can do this without the light box and it makes the complicated, puzzle-like construction a little easier.

I keep drawing this stuff more and more complicated...at some point, I will have to start re-drawing things in an easier fashion!


My more recent applique efforts have been on small blocks.  I decided to prep and stitch the outer arbor of this larger block first to make the block a little easier to work on when I start hand-stitching.  The outer arbor is made up of two bowers, one containing flowers and one containing hearts.

I love working on my portable light box.  The vintage pattern weights really make the glue-basting easy to manage.  I have been scanning Ebay and have added an additional couple of sets of the weights. I really prefer the hard plastic, old style weights to the bean bag type that are commercially available now...probably because I used, and got used to, the older ones first.

Hopefully I won't find out some day that they contain some dangerous, leeching lead and/or radioactive substance to make them so delightfully heavy.


My light box is 12 x 17 inches...I wish it was a square instead of a rectangle, but sliding the work around on the surface is not a problem.  The pattern weights keep things from shifting around.


After doing the heart bower, I re-positioned my pattern and background fabric on the light box to work on the flower bower on the other side of the block.


I drew the two bowers to tangle over our heads...after all these years, our lives are happily tangled in the same way.


Done and all ready to insert the happy couple with their shared basket of hearts and flowers...






Now everything is glue-basted into place and I am ready to finish the hand-stitching.  As per my usual style, all edges are turned under...no raw edges in this work!  


We were in Canada for our annual trip to family property in the 1000 Islands.  It is a little rustic there, so this was not a good thing to work on while vacationing.


With only a little solar power available on the St. Lawrence River "island," really a peninsula at Grass Creek, pressing of freezer paper or fabric is not possible.  Plus, there is very little room in the car to pack sewing stuff.  So, the light box and iron were out of the question!  

I miss my mini-van, which could hold a lot of my stash on trips, LOL!


I worked on prepping applique blocks for a Sue Garman quilt called "Afternoon Delight" while I was out of the country.  I will show progress on that next time.  Sue is currently dealing with a serious health issue, and I was using her project as a sort of prayer vehicle, like Rosary beads, saying little prayers of healing, strength and comfort as I worked on the blocks.  Send her some love as you say your prayers.

I am working "Afternoon Delight" in repro fabrics with scrappy backgrounds that hide dirt easily, LOL!  A good project for the outdoor, camp feel of Grass Creek.


I did take a small, flat piece of plexiglass, which I used with my husband's Kindle-like device as an emergency light box (some of my neutral, repro fabrics were a little busy to see the paper pattern through during placement without a little help).  

I thought this was genius, if I do say so myself!

Now that we live in Alabama, our annual pilgrimage to Canada now includes almost 1200 miles of driving, ONE WAY (used to be 430 miles from Michigan...).  Our lives seem to revolve around family property.  We stayed in the one cabin on this 11-acre peninsula this year that is not on the river, it is in the woods.  It is called the "Turtle." (Thus called because it sits on a big piece of granite, sunning itself.)


Normally it just has a double bed in it, but we moved a bed in for our daughter as well.  We were cozy...


I am sensitive to the wool blankets there, so we always take quilts. I won the one on our bed as a raffle quilt, back in Texas in 1994. The other one is a scrappy "leftovers" quilt I made for my daughter eons ago (the leftovers include 13 of the intended 26 blocks for an alphabet quilt I never finished, LOL!)  

Ahhh...civilization...home-made, hand-quilted quilts, even camping in the Canadian 1000 Islands with no electricity or running water!



What is behind the second door?


Yep, you guessed it...an indoor outhouse!


This trip was a cool escape from the hot and steamy southern weather. The temperatures at night near Kingston were mostly in the mid 50's...GREAT sleeping weather in the open cabin.  It is so hot and steamy now that we are home...and it isn't even August yet...

When the wind isn't up, the St. Lawrence looks more like a lake than a river...







The "Boat House," with Howe Island "lit up" by the fading sun across the river.


The "Main House," which is the heart of the "island."  It contains the kitchen, eating porch, living room, and store room.  It is slightly uphill and has a great view of the river.


There are two other sleeping cabins and lots of room for tents. Steve's side of the family owns this rustic retreat.  We've missed just one summer in 26 years.  And Steve's family spent so many summer vacations up there before I met him.  It is a lovely family tradition. I love Canada!  It is so beautiful and the people are so nice!

Friends, I have been struggling with this move from Michigan to Alabama.  I have not met local people yet and feel so isolated.  The move-in continues, with trying to establish spaces of our own in this large, family-shared home and property.

There are different things about living in Alabama, and not just the climate.  There is currently a rattlesnake in the detached 3-car garage where we keep some of the work and recreational vehicles, up, away from the house.  My husband went up there yesterday, opened a door and there it was...then it slithered back away from the door, under lawnmowers and other equipment.  Crap!  

Good thing it has been dry here and I don't need to get the riding mower out of there this week!  I did acres of mowing before we left for Canada.  One of the door thresholds needs to be repaired so that critters don't get in there...just add it to the list of things to do.

I guess things take time, and I just need to be patient and take the time to discover the area and new friends.  But mostly, I need to be selfish and carve out quilting time for me.  I need that or I am going to sink.  I did sign up to go to a retreat in late September...that will be fun and something to look forward to!


I left blueberries on a few bushes before leaving for Canada.  That was sad...they were so good this year!


In stitches,
Teresa   :o)



Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Old quilts, old people...new quilts, old people or new people?!?

I am stuck in a quandary about appliqued center medallion blocks...if you make them more modern, does that make them weird?  Does human applique on a quilt have to look antique to be considered serious?

I have many favorites inspired by old quilts...like "Phoebe"...and there are so many delightful versions of this medallion out there.







These pictures are from Melinda in NSW, Australia.

Or this one from Kel in Australia.




That quilt has such a lovely, pastoral center, but the setting is what I call old-fashioned or dated.  If the figures were wearing more modern clothing, would it ruin things?  Would it make things seem more cartoon-ish?  

I find versions where the fabrics are brighter and updated, but the style of clothing still remains a little dated.



As I experiment with drawing medallion centers, I have to admit that dressing women in long dresses or skirts allows me to overlook and avoid certain details of anatomy and style that are difficult...like legs, nice shoes, etc.  

And big, floppy coats on the depicted men make things easier, as well.



This example is from Mayleen Vinson of the "Q is for Quilt" blog.  It was machine quilted by Jan Hutchinson.







This all made me start to think...does it diminish or undervalue the work to make the clothing more modern?

I have a hard time drawing life-like people...I get annoyed by the simplicity and cartoon-ish quality in my own work, yet I find it completely charming and lovely in the work of everyone else (we are all so self-critical, aren't we??).



This is the "center" of a center medallion quilt that I started for my parents' 40th anniversary quilt a few years ago (minus the embroidery details, that I still need to do).  It is a part of a larger center medallion that I started the fall before the accident and I showed it to them Christmas 2013, right after their big anniversary, since I obviously had not finished their quilt, LOL...


I drew them in the kind of clothing they often wore, and even gave them both stethoscopes, as they were both doctors.  They are surrounded by motifs that depict their interests, accomplishments, and beautiful home that they built together.



Drawing them in antique clothing just seemed wrong...they either wore hospital scrubs, jeans, or outside work clothes.  I put the piece away for two years and recently got it out to consider how to finish it.  Now it will be a much smaller project...a wall hanging, I think. It was going to be a queen-sized bed quilt.



Here is the whole center medallion, minus the embroidery details, which I still need to do...this square will be 34 inches finished.  I will think of some kind of border to put around it.


  
Every motif has meaning...the oak tree (property is covered with them), the pink dogwood (Mom's favorite tree), the peacock (we had one as a "pet" when I was in junior/high school), the chicken (they had them), the bird in hand (Mom fed every bird in the northwest corner of Alabama), the hammer (they worked on or built every house they ever lived in), the daffodil (favorite flower), the pine tree (it's Alabama...), the fish (had a catfish lake), the garden items and the animals.



The blue bird of happiness at the top of the piece is pulling a banner that will read, "The Good Earth," which is the name of the project.



Boy, I really need to go in and do all the embroidery details...that is a lot of "blind" animals and unfinished-looking artwork, LOL!



I've drawn and appliqued other people in modern garb...when I made Steve's "Boxer Rebellion" quilt a few years ago, from his old boxer shorts, I depicted him...from the waste up...without garb...



My 'totally-supportive-of-my-quilting-obsession' husband used to joke "that quilts should only be made from old clothes and scraps, like the pioneer women used to do."  Well...his boxer shorts were looking pretty ratty and thin, so I bought him new undies and made him this wall hanging (to hang in his office cubicle) from his old undies.  Ha-ha-ha...



I even quilted him "six-pack abs!




...take that, you cheeky bastard, LOL!  I won ribbons on that quilt, but I think the best thing was all the people that walked by it at the quilt shows and read the story about it on the tag.  My husband's undies were hanging in quilt shows...and in his office at work! Priceless...

But I digress...

The blocks currently hanging out in my blog header depict me and Steve through the years, and I drew us in mostly modern-looking clothes. This project is called "Contentment."



I am also wishy-washy on whether to embroider facial details or not...since I have done it on one, I will probably go back and do it on the others...



No faces on the next two blocks so I don't have to make a decision about whether to embroider faces or not, LOL!




I have designed a 16-inch center medallion for those seven blocks, along with five other 10-inch blocks to join the previous seven around it.

And when I did my version of the Civil War Bride quilt, called "Life of Riley," I drew a family portrait block of us at the time...kind of coming out of a wall portrait.  Again, I was unsure about embroidering faces, so I just stitched Steve's glasses and hid Riley's face behind a book (which is usually where her face was in those days...).


So I don't know how I feel about the modern versus antique idea of people depicted in quilts.  As people enjoy making new versions of quilts from our past, the dated clothing continues to be the norm. Maybe that is because people are using a lot of reproduction fabrics to make these quilts, maybe the older style of clothing is easier to applique, or maybe I am just nuts to be worrying about this at all!

Do you have an opinion on this??

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)