Don't miss out on CQJP2015! - Post # 1497

It's time to register for the CQJP2015 (Crazy Quilt Journal Project) and you want to do it soon so you don't miss out.  Because 2014 was devoted to the finishing my suffrage quilt I didn't participate in CQJP and missed it all year.. I like having the structure and focus of a monthly block  and ending the year with a body of work. 

When I started collecting photos of suffragettes, I also collected photos and ads for corsets..  The whole constrictive aspect of corsets versus the fight for personal freedom seemed like an obvious connection and I originally planned to make a collage of the corset photos on the lining of the suffrage quilt.

But the corset photos really needed to be a project on their own..

But  now I want to do something with that collection and the CQJP2015 will provide the perfect opportunity..  The ads are so bizarre and this one makes one wonder how a corset can be the embodiment of grace and what made "flexibone" unbreakable.

In 2012 my theme was my dog Morris and in 2013  my theme was cottages and I love them both.  I not only like working with  a theme, I try to include specific techniques to experiment with.  This year I want to experiment with more floral surface embroidery than I usually use and I want to really make a dent in my stash of lace with these blocks.  I want to use this project to really go through and sort out my laces.. As I think it through I will post my final goals.

This journal project was founded by Kathy Shaw.  There is a blog site to register, see the rules, check out previous years and also a page for questions and answers.  There is a time limit to register so do go now and don't miss out... http://cqjp2015.blogspot.com/


Painting and Sadder Note - post # 1496

This is one of the new buttons I've painted with my new lens.  Keeping in mind that this button is only a tad larger than 1", look at the detail in the basket. 

While I'm waiting for Nikki's blocks I have been painting and painting and painting...  flowers, owls, cats, frogs and ladybugs on parade.  They are in various stages of completion and then need to be sealed (which takes 3 days) so it will be a few days before they are posted.  I do not often paint cats.  I have a problem with cats...they all end up looking like dogs...

And if you do any craft or art work that required acrylic paints I have a great tip for you.. For years I used wooden skewers as  stirrers until I discovered that the cup stoppers from Starbucks are the best thing EVER...

I put out the word and everyone is saving them for me and I have a lifetime supply because they are easily wiped off and reusable...  The little flat knob at the bottom is perfect for getting just that small dab of paint...

Now the sad note! I planted this place for wildlife and it brings me great joy and I am perfectly fine with nature taking its course.  We are not overwhelmed with deer but we have them daily eating up the apples, and other fruit.  I love watching them day-to-day and have favorites. 

This year it was a beautiful doe who brought her fawn when it could barely hobble.  They have been in the garden every day fattening up for winter and to drink from the heated water pan we put out for them when it is freezing.

Here it is this morning cleaning up the sunflowers seeds the birds drop... It had been alone for 2 days and when I drove home from taking care of my mother yesterday  I saw the doe ... dead...  hanging from a hook in front of my neighbor's garage  If you remember a while back I was walking in my forest and heard a whiz/click and found a motion camera hidden in MY trees focused on MY trail on MY land.  Yep.. that same neighbor.   The same one who sits on his deck and shoots at owls, hawks and anything that moves... We tried to make this a no-shooting zone but couldn't get enough support.

The fawn eats a bit and spends the rest the day standing at the gate watching for it's mother...  Without mom it will be easy for the coyotes to pick it off..  Makes my heart so sad.


Major purchase - Post - #1495

For as long as I've been painting buttons I have been using this  magnifying lamp...  I have spent more hours than I can count peering through this lens.  But the time has come that I need a much stronger magnification.

To begin with I knew what I didn't like about the magnifying lamp that I was using..  Besides the incandescent bulb, the spring arm was controlled with little knobs which were constantly loosening no matter how hard I tightened them and I sorta solved that with a pieces of wood and clamps..  Then there was the lens and lamp... It only was adjustable up and down - not side to side... AND weight of the lens and lamp always caused it to gradually sag downward.  So I was constantly adjusting it...  So I not only wanted a stronger lens, I wanted a better quality piece of equipment.  I knew that this is a major, one-time purchase and I wanted to be as informed as possible

I learned quite quickly that magnifying lamps are available from about $38  to about $400.  First you are confronted with an alphabet soup of initials... KFM, LFM, IFM, LED, and ESD plus what seemed to be endless choices for mounts, length of reach, lights, position of lights and  circles of increased magnification.  etc...and then there's the shape of the lens and the quality of the lens itself.  I was desperately wishing there were somewhere I could just try one...  I had already ordered one that was mid-range price and sent it back as it had a problem with distortion and the lights were on each side of the lens which was terrible.

Then much to my delight and  surprise at this very moment Shirlee Fassell  published on post on this subject.  She was having the same problems but her husband bought a lamp at All-Spec and she loved it... And that is how I came to order this..

And I can tell you right off the KFM refers to the quality of the construction.  This lamp is heavy duty construction and suitable for use in a lab and when I position it, it stays there.  The head is completely adjustable... side  to side, up and down and tipped every which way.  This is especially nice when I am working on MOP buttons which have weird reflective areas.  I had a 3 diopter (strength of lens) and moved up to a 5 diopter and chose a LED lamp which is dimmable.   The lens itself is optical quality and fabulous..  This model  (click to find site) was about $340 plus shipping and  I could not be happier. This is definitely a case of getting what you pay for.   The next post will be a special edition of buttons done under the new lens.


The parrot next door - post #1494

I finished the monochromatic block in the CQI wool RR. It is the last one and the only one where I was not pressed for time so I enjoyed doing it up right. Don't miss the red-eyed tree frog button (lower right) that I painted for it.  

My best advice to stitchers who are uncertain about color choice is you will ALWAYS be successful if you do either one of two things... 1. Use a very limited palette such as above  or 2.  Use EVERY color.

My closest neighbor is 1/4 mile from me and his  ex wife had 3-4 fluffy little white dogs who barked all the time...  She moved out last fall and when spring came and he would have his door open I could hear a barking dog.  So one day I saw him on the road and asked him if he had gotten a dog or if his wife had moved back... He informed me that neither had happened.  He had a parrot who had learned to bark like those dogs when he was excited.  Mystery solved.

I have no active stitching project in progress although I could drag out the peacock piece or finish the cottage piece for Judith Montano's class.  I could even tune up some of my old RR pieces.  But I'm waiting for the next Diva block to arrive (Nikki's) and am using the time to paint with my new toy  (more next post.)



Special People - Post #1493

The people I met in Houston through my quilt, jacket or blog were all wonderful.  It would be hard to find a photo of me that I'm not grinning ear-to-ear... One morning I had to go early to get video taped and whenever I had a spare minute I found a quiet spot and started stitching... This particular morning Masako Sakagami asked if she could join me.  She spoke no English and I spoke no Japanese but we had the most lovely visit.

She loved my jacket and asked if I would stand so she could photograph all the motifs... which I did and then she saw the little needle book that I made with Susan Elliott and she photographed...  I showed her my page for broken needles but I couldn't remember the name of the ceremony (of course now I do...harikuyo).  Susie knew a few Japanese phrases but not enough to make this connection.

She is a kimono designer in Toyama-City and her quilt won 1st place in the landscape category and it is quilted. embroidered and painted.


My wanderlust granddaughter came last week for a short visit and I thoroughly enjoyed having her.  As I mentioned before she spent 5 months last winter backpacking all by herself all over South America.  She stayed in hostels, traveled by local buses and did it all on $100 a week for food, lodging and transportation...  She boarded down volcanos, traveled up rivers into jungles and climbed to the top of Machu Pichu.  Molly made the most of her visit as you can see here.

I loved looking at all her photos as she is an extraordinary photographer.  Here is one of my favorite shots.  Aren't these the most beautiful and elegant women you have ever seen?


Contrast with value, dimension, size and texture - post 1490

At the CQ Adventure in 2011 Cheryl A. had a tone-on-tone RR block which was all greens. She was looking for ideas for adding contrast without depending on other colors.  Several of us thought of green critters to use as a focal point...   we came up with a lot...  grasshoppers, alligators, frogs, turtles, lizards and various bugs.  But I knew if  I ever had to do a monochromatic green block I'd add a parrot.  So when Theresa color blocks arrived I was delighted the green one was available.

As you can see I have already added my handsome parrot.... now the challenge will be to add more interest and variety using only greens.... I want to do that with contrasts in
value, size and texture.

It would be especially difficult to mark on the wool so AGAIN I have turned the block over and drew the leaves on the back and basted the lines to show through to the front.  Now I will fill in foliage, berries etc. with various greens and various materials.

 I did an extensive post   in 2011 on adding variety and interest with contrasts in dimension, size, and texture...  You may find it interesting.

If I hadn't done a parrot, my second choice was a John Deere tractor...


How was the shopping?

Well as you can see there were no lack of choices of ways to part with your money!  Aisle after aisle of temptations. There were totally dream items like the gold-plated embroidery from France ($400)and a gypsy booth that had the most fabulous trims EVER and I wanted the whole booth.. I coveted all the lace garment booths (well anything lace) and shibori ribbon booths.  It seemed endless.  This picture was taken at the early entry.  Once the doors opened to everyone, you could barely move.
  But did I buy anything?  Not much... This is the sum total of my purchases.
Two new kinds of threads to try. When buying new threads to try I almost always buy green because I will be sure to use them up.  Some wonderful Bodin embroidery needles, two packages of cording, two bag patterns and a vest pattern,

That does not mean I'm not going to buy many of the things I saw there.... just not all at once..  I will definitely get a couple different sizes of the serrated scissors that everyone raved about and I'd never heard of.  Also I want a template guide for trimming custom cording but it is $25 and is a ways down the list. 

Also I will  most definitely get all 3 weights of Solvy ( or something equivalent) as we saw it used in exciting and original ways.  I have never owned or used it but it was everywhere in the sampler workshops..

The first "sampler" we went to was 2 hours and had 9 tables going simultaneously and you could pick and choose and move about at will.  The demos were about 20 minutes and then repeated.  It was "mixed-media Miscellany"  Susie and I separated as our interests were different and then we shared information afterwards.  I especially enjoyed the innovative printing on organza and experiments with varieties of fiber.... both suitable for CQ.  But my favorite was creating "fabric"  with solvy and with bits of fibers, threads, and ribbon... I immediately thought of using this in landscape and sea scape  applications.  Sometime this winter I will be doing this. This was by Christen Brown and she has a book I might consider.

The second "sampler"  was also 2 hours and the same format.  It was HUGE and had 29 stations...I had to leave this one early but even still got lots of information... Both samplers gave out booklets with overviews and instructions for all the stations..  I loved this concept and certainly got a LOT for the money.

We spent  time hashing over what we want as our next joint project and we quickly decided  that it was another BoHo bag with lots of lace.  Remember the winter we did those? 

Susie had hers along and everyone loved it.  We like them but both had things we wish we had done different so we are going to do bags again...  Hence the bag patterns.  Using up some of my ridiculous lace supply and  organizing and destashing the rest has priority.  I am going to see if I can get some of my local CQ group to join in.

I thought this pattern fit what I wanted and was suitable for CQ  It does have a zipper on the inside section as well as more pockets inside.  You can see this pattern done in a variety of ways at http://www.studiokatdesigns.com/products/quattro

Also somewhere in the future I want to do another vest with vintage lace and roses.  I thought the pattern I bought would work as it has lots of surface area without a lot of tucks, darts. etc. .  Susie bought a jacket pattern to use with lace.

So the vendors and the workshops revitalized us both and has given us lots of impetus to create more stuff.  Everybody needs more stuff....right?

I have more Houston posts coming and will work them in with other news.

AND my wandering wonderful granddaughter should be arriving some time today for a few days.



Back story on butterflies....

The ideas of butterflies was actually a late addition to the vest and they were all done by friends.. I wish I would have thought of it sooner.  These are friends whom I consider special blog friends although I have met 4 of them in person... Their butterflies have become such important parts of the vest that I check them all when I wear the vest and think of each and every stitcher with love.

You have all heard of the expression "involved from day one"... well Susan Elliott has been involved with my blog since  day two..  She commented on the second post I did .... 1485 posts ago and has been with me ever since.  She has encouraged me when I didn't even know I needed encouragement   and has been a treasured source of inspiration.  I met her in CT at the big CQ adventure and not only is she insightful, she's a incredible force of energy.  She constantly sends me things she thinks I should read or do or need... I owe her a so much...

The butterflies came about because of a blog friend whom I have never met in person but  when we do meet it will be as old friends.  Lisa Boni wrote and said she would like to contribute in some way to the vest and I suggested a butterfly and I am so grateful that she thought of it... I have followed Lisa's blog for years.  Not only is her work exceptional but she carries the serenity and thoughtfulness found in her needlework to her home, photography, art work, garden and family.  And we both share a love of birds... Some day we shall sit and stitch together...I just know it.

I met Susie Wolfe through CQI and the blog.  She has to be the most extraordinary seam person I know.  She is so meticulous and precise. Every CQ site on Pinterest has examples of her work..  We have stitched together  many times (most recently Houston) and when we are together the ideas just explode... She is just so much fun, fun, fun.. and we spent a lot of time in Houston planning what we are going to do next...  If I broke a leg, had a stroke or needed help, I know I could call Susie and she would be on the next plane.

Marilyn Nepper and I have never met in person but she comments on almost every blog post. For which I am ever so grateful... It is so helpful to know there is actually a person out there reading what I write.  We correspond often as we have so many things in common.  Besides needlework we are both country girls, share problems of eyes and joints and commiserated over the loss of a beloved dog.  We also both love birds.   Her butterfly is so colorful and fanciful that I was delighted to have the perfect fabric in a patch to compliment it.

I found Janet Popish  through CQI and we were in early round robins together..  We met in person at the very first CQI retreat... She is deceptive and easy to underestimate as she is quiet and gentle..  But still waters run deep as she is very perceptive and wickedly funny besides being a marvelous stitcher.  I am set in my ways when on a project but if Janet made a suggestion she is one of the few people I'd listen too.  A couple times she offered excellent advice on the vest and if she comments on a blog post I know I "done good". This incredible butterfly is teeny tiny French knots...hundreds of them.

Last but certainly not least is the butterfly from Laurie Burgesser.  It did not arrive until the day after I left but I knew it was coming and had a spot saved for it.  So it was with me in spirit and is on the vest now...  Years ago Laurie started calling me her NuMom and I think of her as my "rainbow daughter."  I adore everything she does as not only does she have a marvelous sense of color she touches her work with delightful whimsy..  Her romance novel quilt is one of my all time favorites.  When I was gathering my intense colors for this vest, I thought of her often.

So this post is a great big hug and thank you to my "butterfly friends" and I am so happy to have you as part of this project and forever friends as well!!!


Tips & tricks for awkward corners!


Some times when you are piecing a block you quite often end up with an awkward   corner really too small for a motif treatment..  And Mary's block is a good example except that she has four such corners.  I could put a little motif in each corner but that would not help the problem. 
I have a bag of tricks for just this very thing...
1.  I try to bring the patch into block by moving some of its color and adding something that makes the shape less defined.  This time I chose flowers the same shade as the block and moved some down onto the purple along with some foliage.
2. For the upper right corner I chose something bold to attach to it to make it work as a larger unit.  Notice how it overlaps the seams to help include the small patch into the block as a whole.
3. Another option is bring some element from the block down into that patch and it just disappears..
4. Sometimes rather than make a small patch seem larger I divide and conquer to make it smaller... With two or more pieces of trim you can downsize a patch.  On fact it becomes so small it hardly seems like a patch at all.
So now there is some variation in the four small corners which were so similar in size and they all have their own personality..

5. Another technique I use often and could have used here is to add a coordinating trim (usually ribbon) to make a block larger.    In this case I could have added a wide purple ribbon to the little purple corner patch which would have doubled its size and made the turquoise  patch smaller.   I use this technique often...

And now the tail...  I didn't want to mark on top of the block so I turned it over and sketched a tail.  I already had the peacock body in place so positioning it was no problem.  Then I did quick basting stitches over my lines.

Then I could turn it back over and embroider over my basting stitches.  I use this technique over and over and over again and have long meant to write a proper tutorial on it... Mary Corbet had an article recently on transferring designs and working from the back wasn't mentioned so I am determined to get a tutorial worked up and send it to her....

So I used all the colors in the block in the peacock tail and carried it right down into the pesky little corner patch!!!!!


Perfect class by complete accident.

 One of the things on my "to do" list was to photograph and study  different ways of sashing and doing borders...  When the class schedule came out there were some on borders but I had limited funds and most called lots of supplies...not for me.  But there was "Border Design Workshop" by Karen Buckley that was  an inexpensive lecture requiring no supplies and just 4 hours... I couldn't have found the more perfect class if I had searched for months...  You can see upper right how intricately she drafted the border to make fit it the quilt...

 Back tracking..... you may have noticed until the suffrage quilt, I  almost NEVER assemble  blocks other than the Morris book.  I finish all the larger blocks to be displayed singly and all the RR blocks languish in baskets waiting.  But next on my list is assembling the CQJP cottage blocks. 

But most of the assembled CQ blocks I've seen have rather simple sashing and borders.  I wanted something rather spectacular for a set of blocks which took a year to make....  Then along Allie...all her borders and sashing are always an integral part of the whole piece... what an inspiration she is.. And the border on her Houston entry was breathtaking.  This is the border she recently did for a relative and I loved it.  I knew I wanted to head in this direction...

Now Karen Buckley is a famous applique quilter and doesn't do any CQ but she had so much practical and technical information that was just what I needed.

Her first statements were what I wanted to hear:
1. Sashing and borders should include elements of the quilt itself.
2. Who says that all strips and pieces have to be the same width, same fabric, same color, or even the same size?

She gave us a video of the entire lecture PLUS a roll of this "tracing" paper she uses when drafting a border to a perfect size.  This is actually a roll of paper chiropractors use on the headrests of their tables...  It is 8 1/2" wide, transparent, and a nice substantial weight.   I can see MANY uses for this paper and never would have found it otherwise.  I will be looking for a source when it runs out.  I actually found a source...  Amazon 

  In addition there was a wealth of information on designing borders, designing corners, making everything fit and tips on overlapping elements. Also on how to recover when you make mistakes...  She makes and uses lots of coordinating piping and had tips on that.  Plus she had some wonderful tools I will HAVE to buy as the budget allows. And I love how she used sizing with her applique work...definitely can use that idea.

So since early last spring I have been collecting fabrics I thought suitable for the cottage piece... florals, ginghams, checks, and polka dots.  I could probably make a bed size quilt from all this....  I'm hoping you will all follow along as I start this project.

This was the only class I took but did go to two sessions of rooms full of demonstrations.  I got lots of ideas on techniques applicable to CQ I'm anxious to try.... more on those later...


Jacket...oops! vest!

In the final stages the jacket became a vest.  I simply didn't like the lace sleeves and I ran out of time...  but I will probably wear it more  as a vest.  Susie never had any trouble finding me in a crowd.  I could hardly walk more then a few yards and someone would stop me to look at it and it was photographed over and over again... 

I still have a few final touches I overlooked.  Like there are lots of spider webs and I forgot the spiders.. 

I wanted it to have the look of an antique quilt and it does... The colors are WAY out of my comfort zone but in the end I love it and it was perfect for my Houston adventure.....

I am trying to get organized and will return all the threads used for the seams to their color groups... But I thought you might like to see them still on the ring before I disassemble it.  I really went through a lot of thread on this project...  More about the special butterflies later...
  You can see that all the colors I chose to use for the seams are just a shade off from jewel tone but it worked... There were some greens on this ring that I have already removed for the wool RR.

The pattern was Butterick 5789 but you can see  I shortened it a lot and changed the hem line...  and I started it April 26th
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