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)

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Oh my goodness, it is JUNE!

"I'm here, I'm here"...I feel like a student who has dozed off during class.  It has been very eventful around here since the last time I posted!

I think this is the center medallion for my little Repro Madness project featuring the LITTLE TREASURES 6-inch applique blocks that I have been drawing (available here).

I have been so wishy-washy about making quilting decisions.  Too much other stuff going on.  

I feel kind of "quiltstipated" (quilt constipated).  Yep...now I am even making up words to describe my condition...yep, I am a doctors' daughter.  

We made a marathon trip to Michigan and Pennsylvania to see friends, spend time with my FIL, and ultimately get my daughter and her friend to New York City to see the Broadway musical, "Hamilton."  My husband flew up to his Dad's, and worked from Swarthmore for 2 weeks.  Meanwhile, I moved Riley out of the dorm and did all the driving to make the trip happen...whew!

That was a lot of driving, then we came home to get ready for lots of family being here for the week around Memorial Day.

I had doodled this block a while ago, thinking I would use it in another Baltimore album quilt project.  The more I stared at those tiny applique blocks and pieced accompanying blocks from Mary and Ola, the more I thought the center medallion should be a big block.  

I am not going to trim it down for a while...part of me is still not sure. Then, I wonder if the block needs a little something else...like some random pieces of fruit under the vase...or just leave a lot of open space for some kick-ass hand quilting!

I am still struggling with fabric choices for flowers in this project. Using the reproduction fabrics introduces difficulties in trying to add perspective and shading to the blossoms.

Oh yes, and then the blueberries started ripening Memorial Day weekend in North Alabama.  I have spent lots of really early mornings and very late evenings avoiding the heat and direct sun to harvest beautiful berries...

They are so pretty after the rain...I got soaked on this particular morning, leaning into the bushes to pick.  I am working on a drawing to capture the beauty of all the colors that a blueberry can be before becoming tastily ripe!

I have been putting them, dry, on cookie pans, freezing them solid, then putting them in containers, jars, and bags.  I have to work quickly to transfer the frozen berries, but if successful, they don't stick together and can be used by the handful, the "each," or in bulk.

It is Heaven to come in from working in the heat, getting a handful of frozen berries, and popping them in the mouth, one-by-one. Ahhh...

At some point, I want to find a recipe for a low- or no-sugar blueberry spread that I can put up in jars.  Something like a jam. Does anyone out there have a good recipe for something like that??

I am still trying to catch up on stitching all the 6-inch blocks I've created...here is another one from the LITTLE TREASURES Flowers (2) bundle.  I named them Belly Flowers...

Trying to find my groove is continuing to be a challenge.  There is so much to do around the property, so trying to find my own time for designing and sewing is difficult...my own guilt-free time. There is more family coming this month...third and fourth weekends in June.

Plus, my daughter is home for the summer, so we have been playing a lot of music together...her playing French horn or singing with me on piano.  THAT is awesome time together that is well spent!

Many of you have asked about the blocks on my header.  Those are blocks I was working on over two years ago.  We had recently celebrated our 20-year wedding anniversary, and I was in a playful mood, trying to come up with designs to celebrate that event.  Then the accident happened.  

My mojo around that project has been hard to find, but I think I have come up with a center 16-inch block that I love! I am hoping that will motivate me further.  I have seven 10-inch blocks done and ideas for the additional five that I need.

The quilting constipation, or "quiltstipation," in my life has got to stop!  It is time to move forward!

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

"A Nut With Bolts" and more...

Two more LITTLE TREASURES 6-inch blocks done!  I call this one "A Nut With Bolts."

As I am trying to only use reproduction fabrics, I was limited in choices of fresh-tone fabrics.  I chose one that was the right hue, but it had a design on it that was too strong.  I tried the trick of using the wrong side of the fabric...but the little design shows through, which looks a little weird.

She looks a little bruised!

This next one is from the Flowers (2) bundle of patterns.  It is called "Althea Branch."

Just a few more blocks to stitch and I will be caught up!

In stitches,
Teresa   :o)

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Pondering, pondering the center medallion block possibilities...

I am still pondering my central medallion block for this swap quilt containing my applique blocks and pieced embroidered blocks from 2 friends in Michigan (working title "Repro Madness").  I have come to a decision between three blocks:

1)  Remember I had a block published a Quiltmaker 100 Blocks magazine in the last year or so?  I was thinking about doing that block in repro fabrics (here's the version that was in the magazine...lots of bright yellow, pink, red and orange).  Definitely NOT reproduction fabrics...

This block is in the possession of Quiltmaker Magazine...I wonder what they do with all of them?  Maybe they make a quilt from the 100 blocks for each edition of the magazine (this block was in Edition #10), set 10 x 10 blocks.  They wanted us to sign the blocks...they must have had something in mind.

Wait a minute!  I think I prepped one of these blocks in repro fabrics that I never stitched down.  I took a picture...now where did I tuck the actual block during the move...hmm...

I remember putting it somewhere "safe."  That means I won't find it for a while, LOL.

It is a little Christmas-y looking in the red and green...I may prep another one, which may be easier than finding the missing block...I KNOW where to find the pattern sketch.

2)  I was thinking of drafting something antique-looking, maybe a little Phoebe-ish.  This is the center of a Phoebe quilt, if you aren't familiar with it.

Phoebe quilt:

Something like that would be very pastoral and traditional...

3)  I have some sketches I drew of our family when I was working on my "Civil War Bride" quilt.  I ended up replacing 10 of the 20 blocks from Corliss Searcy's pattern to make the quilt more my own.  I used this family "portrait" block in that quilt.  But there are others...

4)  And then there is this block I drew of a flower vase...it doesn't have a lot of personality, but it might fit the bill.  I have been prepping the flower motifs to stitch together before stitching it to the background (so I can cut the background away later, if I choose). 

The larger rose blossom is almost as big as one entire little 6-inch block that I've been working on recently, LOL.  This block will finish about 16 inches, so, as Bernie says, it seems YUGE! (as compared to my recent output...)

It is a real challenge to make anything more complicated than folk art pictures with reproduction fabrics.  The designs are distracting, most have a design that is too large-scale for subtle shading and little pieces, and the colors seem dull and lifeless.  

I messed around for two hours before deciding on the fabrics for this 15-piece rose (plus the six leaves)!  Thank goodness I had true reds, dark reds, orange reds, pinkish reds, and brick reds in my stash.  

It is unfortunate to spend time drawing a complicated rose only to have the fabric choices all "read" as the same red and just make the whole thing look like a big red blob!  

Maybe that is why so many intricate, antique red/green applique quilts have fairly simple flower blossoms.  They had so few fabric choices 'back then' to distinguish each flower petal...so why bother?

I think I am leaning toward this block.  At any rate, I will make it then put it all up on a design wall and ponder the results.  I will be in and out for a few days, so I hope to get it all glue-basted to the background today or tonight.

I have a few more LITTLE TREASURES 6-inch blocks glue-basted and ready for some serious hand-applique stitching time (and embroidery stitching) as well...

Thank you for your hugs and prayers this week...I felt every one!

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Monday, May 2, 2016

I think and draw faster than I stitch...

I have had the applique done on these 6-inch LITTLE TREASURE blocks for a while, but I finally got around to getting the embroidery done.  They are destined for my Repro Madness quilt made up of swap blocks in reproduction fabrics.

I was tempted to ink the writing instead with a Pigma pen, but went with embroidery at the last minute.  The writing is so small, but I have not played much with inking stuff, so I decided to play it safe.

Do any of you ink details on your applique blocks?  Is there something better to use than a Pigma pen?  I have several classic Baltimore Applique books (I love Elly Sienkiewicz!) where wonderful flower details, shading and writing are added to blocks by inking.  I need to be brave and try it!  I have only done this on quilt labels...

(The patterns for these two blocks are available in the LITTLE TREASURES - Misc (1) bundle offered in my web store.  I almost have a second Misc bundle and a group of Dog and Cat designs almost ready to go!)

I can't believe Riley is finishing up her first year of college this week.  It seems like only yesterday that the stork delivered her!

I got more practice last night in making French knots as I finished this next block.  I also had a freak eyeglasses incident.  I was just sitting there, stitching and watching a little TV, when PWOING...a loose screw must have fallen out of the right side of my glasses, the frame popped open, and out plopped my lens!

We search in vain for the screw in the carpet, found another pair of glasses to scavenge, and managed to cobble things back together.  I cannot see the side of a barn without them, I am so near-sighted.  I am glad I wasn't driving or somewhere on the property by myself when it happened!

Good thing I go to the eye doctor this afternoon!

Anyway, it is good to have these two important blocks finished for my quilt.

I counted up my blocks last night, and I have really boogered myself...I am going to have to make some pieced 6-inch blocks for the balance to come out correctly on this quilt setting.  I am not the speedy, perfect piecer that many of you are, so it will be a challenge.  

It will be good for me, but I am not as fast with the piecing as I am with the hand applique.  It will also not be as portable, and I am really needing portable projects for the next month or so.

I also glue-prepped a little stack of more 6-inch blocks this weekend so I have lots of stitching to do!

We are having a thoughtful week.  Today marks a year since my dear mother-in-law passed away, and tomorrow is the 2-year anniversary of my parents' fatal car accident.  

I am still sifting their belongings as I continue to blend our households.  It is a blessing to live in this house they built and care for the treasure forest legacy that I share with six siblings.  It is a constant reminder of their love and care, both for us and the earth, but some days it is still a bit heavy.

Their roses are blooming now, just as they were when I drove all night from Michigan to get here after the accident.  I miss them so much.

In stitches,
Teresa   :o)