Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Pretty Row to Sew...

This is a row of 9" Ohio Star Variation blocks (also called Henry of the West, among other names). I pieced and joined the row because I'll be going on a quilting retreat next week, and the occasion will mark the beginning of a Row Robin exchange. There are 8 of us, all members of the Country Road Quilters, participating in this activity.

We begin with 2 yards of a design fabric and 3 yards of a background. I thought that bright pink and green floral print might turn into quite a happy quilt. We stitch the first row of our own projects. It can be any size, any style, and any combination of blocks that will measure 54" wide when finished. I made the six 9" pieced blocks for mine. This row goes into a bag with the rest of the fabric to be passed along to the next quiltmaker on the exchange list.

We'll each make a row inspired by the fabrics and rows we find in each quiltmaker's bag, and then pass the bag along to the next participant in a couple of months. Eventually, after it's visited each participant's sewing room, the bag containing 8 rows will be returned to its owner. I like scrappy quilts, so it will be fun to see what fabrics get added in and how the whole design comes together.

Participants will reveal our first rows at the retreat, and then we won't see our project again until the end. That's when the rest of the work begins... designing, arranging, and sewing the rows into a quilt top for completion. Meantime, we'll flex our sewing muscles throughout the year, making blocks and rows for 8 different quilts. Should be fun!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Trapunto Class...

This raised-design trapunto pillow is the result of a class with teacher and quilt artist Mark Sherman. Our local guild, Country Road Quilters, brought Mark to the group with a lecture and trunk show, followed by a workshop. His prize-winning, show-stopping quilt "Wings and Feathers" is shown below. As with many quilts, pictures don't do it justice. You can't see and appreciate the crystals... it's loaded with them.. or the fine quilting and details. Plus he used his hand-dyed fabrics to create the quilt. You've probably seen this one at shows or on the AQS calendar. Spectacular!

Anyhow, we learned a lot about trapunto by machine. Mark's method is accessible to quiltmakers of all skill levels. That's because we used a machine walking foot to create the butterfly shape. And his class kit was filled with products that he has tested and found best. We began with two fat quarters of a solid-toned fabric, and marked the butterfly. Two layers of wool batting fill the shape, which is stitched and trimmed, then layered with the batting and backing. Washout products and adhesive spray made the project easy and manageable. I decided to practice my free-motion quilting skills and turn the piece into a pillow. My go-to place for quilting help is Leah Day's Free Motion Quilting Project. She offers video tutorials of designs like the "Bubble Wand" which I used for part of the project.

It was a most enjoyable and instructive class and lecture. I admire what Mark has achieved in just a decade of quilting, and his stories of his early experiences are entertaining. One of his earlier quilts is shown here. You can see more of his work on his website Remarkable Quilts. And Valerie, a classmate and blogger, also has an example of her project you can see here. She did a beautful job quilting it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Quilters Who Love Their Cats...

What is it about cats and quilts? It's almost as if one was made for the other. Not only do we quilters love our cats, but I, for one, permit all sorts of mischief in the sewing room. Even when she disrupts a project, I'm tolerant of, and even amused by, Lily's antics. I'm pretty careful with pins and thread, and have otherwise tried to cat-proof the room. But I've finally accepted that very little is sacred to her.. she's taken a bite out of batting, knocked assorted small objects to the floor, and tunneled into fabric.

Quilters love their cats so much that they can't resist depicting them in their work. At quilt shows there are often cat-themed quilts on display. The designs range from realistic to whimsical, like the ones shown here. The remarkable quilt at left, was exhibited at the recent Friendship Knot Quilters' Guild Show in Sarasaota, FL. It's a "distance quilt", meaning that when you stand close to it, the design is obscure. But when you stand back, the image of the cat emerges. I'm sorry I don't have the title and maker's name, but the work is exquisite. The lively folk art cats are blocks in a quilt displayed at The Villages Quilt Show. I'm always drawn to quilts like these.

And what's better after a day hard at play in the sewing room than a relaxing nap on a quilt?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Vintage Note Card Swap...

As they say at awards ceremonies, "the results are in. The envelope, please!" Well these beautiful note cards made in a vintage style were in the envelope I received over the weekend. More than 35 members took part in the swap on Lenna Andrews' Creative Swaps blog.

Each of us made 3 notecards with envelopes, using our own images, or ones Lenna supplied, along with trims and embellishments. We had the option of making a second set of notecards to trade, and that's what I did. I showed some of the ones I sent here, and two others are at the end of this post. Once she received all of our cards, Lenna then made the trades and shipped us each a package containing cards made by other swappers.

The first card above is one made by Leslie Sowden. I just love the prize pig image she used! She chose this image because she has a favorite and cherished photo of her mother when in her twenties, also holding a pig. Karen Owen's Garden of Delight card is at left, complete with a purple flower and punched filigree edge. This was the first swap both Karen and I participated in. We agreed it would not be the last!

Susan Stewart, another Floridian, made this Ship at Sea card, above. She lightened the edges of the dark cardstock and added Angelina fiber behind the image. So pretty.

The image of the woman with the roses on a balcony is one supplied to us by Lenna. I just love this romantic image and used it in several of my cards. Happily I got one back from Sue Emmerson in Australia. She threaded ribbon through eyelets and added the prettiest charm. And the envelope echoes the roses.

Buttons, beads, metallic thread, fiber leaves and a doily all work beautifully together in this notecard by Sharon Walworth, left, from Rhode Island. The schoolgirl image is just the right touch. And there is lots of movement and shine on this card made by Becky Sunderman from Arkansas. The red fibers and red glitzy floral background pick up the bits of red in the image- the sandals, flowers, trim on the dress. Just lovely.

I was taken by the hat in this free image from Clearly Vintage, so it appeared in several of my cards that were sent for the swap. This swap was so interesting, and it's exciting to see and receive the array of designs others have made to interpret the theme. I hope to take part in the next swap which Lenna tells us will be little books. Looking forward to seeing how this is set up.
I wonder if any of us will use these cards to write someone, or will we save them as little art works to admire?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Gone Fishin'...

This project is the result of a class I took at Deborah's Quilt Basket shop in Venice, FL. The class was titled "Fabric Seascapes" and was taught by Debbie Jones, the originator of a fusible technique she calls "fabric decollage". It's kind of a combo of decoupage and collage, using images cut from fabric and adhered to a background. No stitching is required, as these are meant more for framing and display. However, Debbie has some examples that she has quilted if that's the direction a student wants to go. Most of our class chose to have their collages matted by Debbie's husband who is a professional framer.

The class was great fun, and Debbie is an extremely informative and organized teacher. She had abundant sealife motif and background fabrics at the ready. We cut and fused our way to making these vibrant seascapes. If you look closely at the detail photo above, you can see that she had some beautiful marbled silks she made available to use as shell fish on the ocean floor. And we used lots of glitzy fabrics and eye-lash yarn for sea grasses.

Our scissors skills really got a work out. And I learned a lot of new techniques, but foiling was one of the most fun. I was surprised to learn that not much foil gets used up with each application. The bubbles rising from the fish were made using foil and glue. Here's the foil sheet after they were completed. There's plenty left for more projects.

Of course I had to purchase some fish fabrics, because I'm sure there are going to be more projects!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Exploring What Florida Offers...

We took an overnight trip to Dunedin and St. Petersburg, FL, this week. In St. Pete we visited The Chihuly Collection, a permanent exhibit of privately owned glass artworks by Dale Chihuly. The collection is housed in a museum on the waterfront, and is within walking distance of several other art museums, including the new Salvador Dali Museum. You'll know you're in the right place when you see this large amethyst glass sculpture outside. The tower in the distance is that of the beautiful Vinoy Renaissance Resort.

The Chihuly glass is breathtaking to say the least. Be sure to click on the link above to get an idea of the exhibit as photos are understandably not permitted. It was a warm and breezy day, and we did a lot of walking in the downtown area. I'm drawn to courtyards, so could not resist taking a photo when we came across this one, left.

Known for the arts, St. Petersburg has a number of public art installations. This Millenium Gate, at left and below, includes a number of metal sea life sculptures and is just one of them. We had a lovely time, and a most enjoyable experience.