Do Your Civic Duty

Civic Duty, 16x16

Civic Duty, 16x16

This quilt has become all the more relevant today as the horrendous news comes out of Washington today.  The US will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.  This decision takes the country backwards and I am furious.  If I had room I would have put "as if your grandchildren's lives depend on it".  It's possible that if the 50% of Americans that did not vote in the 2016 election had exercised their civic duty we wouldn't be in this mess.  

This is my entry for the Quilt Alliance contest this year with the theme "Voices".  I have added this to my Threads of Resistance series even though it was not made for that exhibit.  I will keep adding to this political body of work as time goes on.  

This quilt is hand appliqued, hand embroidered, and hand quilted.  The letters VOTE are hand appliqued.  The other letters were created with a layering technique that I learned in a class with Heidi Parkes at QuiltCon.  I don't think she fuses her shapes to the batting, but I did because I didn't want the letters to shift during quilting.  I used my stencil set to cut out the letters and fused them directly to the batting.  Then I layered over it a very thin shot cotton (Kaffe Fassett).  I appliqued VOTE to the shot cotton before I layered it all and started hand quilting.  I bought only two sizes of the stencils and this is the smaller size.  The capital letters measure 2.75" tall.  As it was, I had to play with the layout to get the words to fit within the 16x16 parameters for the contest.  

In the end, while this was a technique I wanted to try, I'm not sure it works as well as I would have hoped for a word quilt  This is the sort of quilt that invites closer inspection and so it works well that way, but from a distance it's hard to see the layered words and lighting makes a huge difference.  I decided to hand quilt with red thread around "life" because it needed more color.  I used pearl cotton for all the stitching on this piece and I love the bold line it makes.

I will be mailing this off to the Quilt Alliance tomorrow.  The contest deadline has been extended to July 3rd if you decide to raise your voice and let your opinions and thoughts be known.  All the contest quilts are donations to the Quilt Alliance and will be auctioned off this fall.

I Like Pie

I Like Pie, 35x35

I Like Pie, 35x35

Today's quilt is another one made in the last few months.  Winter and early spring are always busy in the studio, prepping for various quilt contests, challenges and local quilt shows.  I Like Pie was made for the Undercover Quilters book challenge.  This year the book is Kitchens of the Great Midwest by Ryan Stradal.  This quilt isn't related in any particular way to the book except that it's a pie cooling on a kitchen windowsill.  

I had this stack of Denyse Schmidt fabrics that I have been saving for something special.  The pie is created with needle turn hand applique.  The rest of the quilt was created with liberated piecing.  I quilted it in a combination of free motion and walking foot machine quilting.  This quilt is smaller than usual as we decided to make our group quilts smaller this year.  I think I was the first one to finish my quilt, but I look forward to seeing the other wonderful quilts by my UCQ friends.  

The backing of this quilt is a favorite bird print from the stash, because who doesn't love birds!  I created the label on the computer and printed it out on fabric.  

A pie cooling on the windowsill seems like the embodiment of comfort and home.  The outer border of shoofly blocks is an indication of one of the things you might have to watch out for when you leave said pie on the windowsill to cool. 

I love to bake and pies are a particular favorite.  I make lots of different types of pie, always with a homemade crust.  This pie is my quilted version of a good old-fashioned apple pie. 

These Kitchen quilts will debut at the Mt Bachelor Quilters' Guild Quilt Show in the Park on August 19.  The quilts from last year's book, All the Light We Cannot See, will show at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show on July 8.

There's more to come as I catch up on the studio activity from the last few months. Stay tuned!

Something a Little Lighter

Vintage Grandmother's Flower Garden Blocks and Yo-Yos

Vintage Grandmother's Flower Garden Blocks and Yo-Yos

Thank you all for the comments on my previous post.  It's a little scary to put your feelings out there so I appreciate all the support.  I have replied to the comments and you can go back and read them if you're interested.  Today I thought I'd talk about something lighter.  This project came about after a request for me to put together a quilt for a special event.  I'll talk about that later, but for now this post is a little bit about the process so far.

I had recently gotten the book Textile Collage by Mandy Patullo.  It's an absolutely beautiful book and very inspiring.  I especially love the cover image and the other animal pieces in the book.  I have an old cutter quilt that I've used in various ways over the years, including the Christmas ornaments I made last year.  I had a piece that was big enough for this new project, but I needed some vintage quilt blocks to play with.  My idea was for a quilted garden, so Grandmother's Flower Garden blocks would be perfect.  I took a nice day in March to make a trip to Sisters to browse the antique shops for some blocks.  

Before I got to the stitching I tea dyed the vintage cutter quilt piece, the flower garden blocks and the yo-yos to give them a bit more of a vintage feel and to harmonize the colors.

My first task was to applique the flower garden blocks to the cutter quilt.  I wasn't keen to applique around all the edges of the outside hexagons, so I trimmed all the blocks to circles (though some were a little wonky, as you can see above).  This had the added advantage to leave me with some tiny bits and pieces which would be useful later on.  

Once I had the large flowers appliqued down (along with some bias tape stems), I thought it would be good to do some quilting through the blocks and the cutter quilt.  At this point there was no other backing on the quilt and I decided I would add one later, so I could leave knots and such on the back and they would get covered up later.  By not adding a backing at this point I had the fewest layers possible to make the quilting a little easier.

As it was, some of these vintage fabrics were very loosely woven and some were even coming apart at the seams.  These were all hand pieced hexagons and pieced with a running stitch rather than a whip stitch which would have likely made the seams stronger.  However, some of the fabrics were densely woven and a real bear to hand quilt through (case in point- that plaid below).  On the ones that started to come apart at the seams I did some very rough mending.  It's noticeable and even in contrasting thread.  Some might think it's the work of a novice stitcher, but I really did it that way on purpose.  You'll notice it especially in the photo above on the flower with the pink center and black and white petals.  I did some simple hand drawing of the quilting lines on the flowers and quilted with pearl cotton, size 8 or 12.

The next stage was to add some denizens of the garden.  All along I had planned on a bunny, but as I was getting ready to do the bunny it occurred to me that the garden needed birds too.  Don't know why I didn't think of them earlier.  I did these birds with the techniques from the Textile Collage book.  This is where the tiny scraps from the flower garden blocks came in handy.  These were so much fun to stitch and just full of personality! I can't wait to do the bunny as well.

Once the animals are done I plan to add a backing fabric.  It will be a thin Kaffe Fassett shot cotton because it will be easy to stitch through. I'll add some quilting lines around the flowers and animals, but the quilting will be fairly light.  Some might ask why I'm adding a backing at all.  The main reason is that the cutter quilt's backing is very tender.  It's already starting the shred, so it needs some more support.  The finished project also needs to be fairly sturdy, but this cutter quilt is so soft and drapey at this point I wasn't sure how it would do.  

The last stage will be binding and adding the yo-yos in various places to fill in the garden.  I will also add some embroidered ladybugs and bees a la Sue Spargo.  I wasn't sure if my plan would work in the beginning, but I feel like it's coming together well. More on the finished project in a few weeks!

Threads of Resistance: An Update

#hashtagsofourtime, 35x36

#hashtagsofourtime, 35x36

Threads of Resistance is a traveling exhibit of fiber art pieces on the theme of resistance to the current administration and all that it means for Americans and the world.  You can read more about the mission of the exhibit and see all the entries by clicking the link above.  There were over 500 entries and just 60 were accepted.  I entered three pieces in the exhibit, but none of them were accepted.  Since I spent nearly two whole months working on these pieces (they are all hand stitched and very intensive), I thought I should give them their due here.  

I was inspired to make these three because of the aftermath of the 2016 election.  After the inauguration, it was clear the new administration would do everything in its power to damage our country and the values that we hold dear.  I still believe this and I also think it gets worse every single day.  The almost meditative state of hand stitching allowed me to process my feelings during such an difficult time.  The first piece, #hashtagsofourtime was inspired by all the new the social media hashtags which continue to fascinate me.  I bought a couple of sizes of alphabet stencils just for this project and used a chalk line to mark the letters.  Then, I did a back stitch on the lines.  After the words were finished it felt so disturbing to me and I was feeling rather depressed, so I added the applique to fill in the spaces and try to lighten the message a bit.  I hand quilted it with pearl cotton.  This one still makes me feel uncomfortable and will likely never see the light of day unless it's sold or is admitted to another venue.

She Persisted, 29x31

She Persisted, 29x31

She Persisted was actually the first one of the three that I finished.  I love the phrase "Nevertheless she persisted" and knew that it would be a rallying cry for the cause.  While rummaging in my stash I came upon the vintage Lady Liberty embroidery that I had forgotten I bought on one of my antiquing trips.  I love using old embroideries and linens in new projects as a way to bring new life to them.  I decided to add the quote by Emma Lazarus that is found at the base of the Statue of Liberty.  I used a pencil to handwrite the words and did a back stitch over the line.  The stripes were pieced of two different linen/cotton blend fabrics in my stash. I thought the state names especially fit the project.  For the bottom part I took the stencils and marked them with chalk to spell out the phrase and then filled in the spaces with a running stitch.  During this time I developed a love of pearl cotton and so it's what I used for all the embroidery and hand quilting on these three pieces.

Only One Earth, 29x29

Only One Earth, 29x29

Only One Earth is the one that is most dear to me and the only one that will exhibited here at home permanently.  It's completely made by hand- hand applique, hand embroidery and hand quilting.  I wrote the words and had to play around with it a bit to make them all fit perfectly.  I used a blue water-erasable pen to hand write the words and did a back stitch over them.  Then I hand quilted over the concentric circles.  

#Resist, 15x9

#Resist, 15x9

Before I started the three main pieces above I was waiting for the stencils to arrive and wanted to try out some techniques to decide if I could do them in a larger piece.  I made the #Resist piece first and quickly decided that my idea to do a running stitch outside the letters on anything larger than that would be the death of me.  This one took rather too long and wasn't any fun.  I did end up finishing it though.  

I also made the piece below and I did enjoy doing the back stitched words, but I found that doing it with script lettering was more fun for me.  I rather like the wonkiness of a hand written line, so I'm sure I'll do more in future.  The Nevertheless piece is hanging in my studio and will likely be a permanent fixture there.  You can read the original blog post here.

Nevertheless, She persisted, 13x6

Nevertheless, She persisted, 13x6

Finally, I ended to taking the first two small pieces and making postcards from them.  The She Persisted cards have sold quite well and are out of stock at the moment, but I might make more if there's interest.  Let me know in the comments.  The #Resist cards are still available in my Etsy shop.

If you've read all the way to the bottom I thank you for sticking around.  I'd also like to share a link to a wonderful blog post that I came across recently- Quilty Habit- Why Make Political Quilts?.  Jessica has been able to express her thoughts on the matter so clearly.  

The most important thing to know is that there's nothing new about political quilts.  They've been made probably since women have been making quilts.  They were especially noted during the years before women won the right to vote.  Contemporary quiltmakers have been doing fabulous political quilts since the resurgence of quilting in the 1970's.  I joined the ranks of political quilt makers when I made a quilt commemorating the second inauguration of President Obama.  I was really proud of him (still am) and his achievements as the first black president and someone who shares my beliefs.  I showed it at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show in my Featured Quilter exhibit that year and had only one complaint about why there were no quilts about President Bush.  I said anyone can make any quilt they like and so that wasn't for me to say.   If my politics don't match up with your politics, well that's the way it is.  You are free to make your political art and I'm free to make mine.  That's one of the beauties of this country.  Quilts are just one medium for expressing oneself, so it makes no difference to me whether a political opinion is expressed in a drawing, painting, or quilt.  In most cases a quilt will take a heck of a lot longer than a drawing or painting so one must feel strongly about it before beginning.  I will be submitting my quilts to the United We Quilt website soon.  Meanwhile, I will be looking for other possible venues for these three quilts in the future.  I'll post here if anything comes up!

QuiltCon 2017 :: Improvisation

Lincoln by Kim Soper (@lelandavestudios),  First Place Improvisation, People's Choice

Lincoln by Kim Soper (@lelandavestudios),  First Place Improvisation, People's Choice

I saved the best for last!  Today's post is the last one in my QuiltCon 2017 series.  See the archive list in the sidebar to see the other posts.  The improv category is really where my heart is at the show and this year's quilts were fabulous as always.  Lincoln, above, is truly an improv achievement.  I still don't quite understand how it was done.  It was such a hit that it won People's Choice as well as First Place in the category.  Well done!

Also interesting to note that these first three quilts placed in the category and look how the colors are so harmonious!  

What If: A Color Study by Lynn Crymes (@lwcrymes), Second Place Improvisation

What If: A Color Study by Lynn Crymes (@lwcrymes), Second Place Improvisation

The Second Place winner (above) and Third Place winner (below) appear to be distant cousins.  I really like the techniques and fabrics used.  This is my favorite way to sew.

Scattered by Jess Frost (@ElvenGardenQuilts), Third Place Improvisation

Scattered by Jess Frost (@ElvenGardenQuilts), Third Place Improvisation

Finding Harmony by Cinzia Allocca (@2psquilts)

Finding Harmony by Cinzia Allocca (@2psquilts)

Finding Harmony is quite beautiful.  The improvisational curved piecing works so well for this composition.  

Asterism by Daniel Rouse (@dsrouse)

Asterism by Daniel Rouse (@dsrouse)

Asterism and Yay or Nay appeal to me because of the color scheme.  Asterism is created with repurposed jeans.  Yay or Nay is one that I saw in progress on Instagram.  Debbie worried that the X blocks would detract from the overall theme, but I, along with many others, encouraged her to keep going with it.  I love the resulting composition!

Yay or Nay by Debra Jeske (@aquilterstable)

Yay or Nay by Debra Jeske (@aquilterstable)

Still With Her by Liz Harvatine (@ladyharvatine), Judge's Choice- Elizabeth Spannring, detail below

Still With Her by Liz Harvatine (@ladyharvatine), Judge's Choice- Elizabeth Spannring, detail below

How could I not love this one!  I had seen it online, but it was great to see in person.  I have said before that my favorite thing about improv quilts is to find the unexpected.  In this case, the turquoise bit in the binding is something I never would have considered.  Love it!  This quilt started out as a giant Hillary logo which Liz created the day before the 2016 election.  The day after the election she decided to cut it apart, add to it, and put it back together.  I think the result is absolutely fabulous.

Sunday Best by Michelle Wilkie (@ml_wilkie)

Sunday Best by Michelle Wilkie (@ml_wilkie)

Michelle's quilt is a wonderful example of what I would call liberated quilting.  There is a fine line between liberated quilting and improv and perhaps this one straddles that line with sections that are not really based on a traditional block.  In either case, I think this one would have also done well in the Modern Traditionalism category.  I love the colors and the judicious use of black and white.

Quilt One Half by Sarah Lowry (@stitchingandbacon), detail below

Quilt One Half by Sarah Lowry (@stitchingandbacon), detail below

The quilts above and below are both by Sarah Lowry.  She really has a handle on the improv techniques that I love to do and her use of color and print are really great.  The color scheme she used in the Flicker quilt is so unusual, but makes perfect sense when you discover the title of the quilt.  She made this quilt "to capture the movement, shape, and color of a flicker's feathers".

The Northern Flicker. A Quilt and a Bird. by Sarah Lowry (@stitchingandbacon)

The Northern Flicker. A Quilt and a Bird. by Sarah Lowry (@stitchingandbacon)

Rescue Mission by Stephanie Serrano (@venusdehilo)

Rescue Mission by Stephanie Serrano (@venusdehilo)

Rescue Mission has such a happy vibe!  I love the colors and use of various triangles.  Stephanie rescued some scraps to create this quilt.  The Morse code SOS was added to the top and bottom of the quilt while the "quilting expresses various lines of communication and miscommunication that might occur during a real-life rescue mission".

Bazaar Quilt by Tara Faughnan (@tarafaughnan), detail below

Bazaar Quilt by Tara Faughnan (@tarafaughnan), detail below

Tara is known for her use of color and this folded fabric technique.  She says this one was created "as I went, row by row, with no idea of the final outcome".

Berg #2 by Kathleen Probst (@mod_in_your_eye)

Berg #2 by Kathleen Probst (@mod_in_your_eye)

Kathleen's Berg series explores the idea of transparency and is influenced by mid-century modern design. 

Serendipity by Sarah Hibbert (@quiltscornerstone)

Serendipity by Sarah Hibbert (@quiltscornerstone)

I love Sarah's use of print in this quilt.  She used various cottons and linens to make this wonderfully fresh design.

Wild Abandon by me!

Wild Abandon by me!

Wild Abandon was my own entry in the Improvisational category.  It was made entirely with pieces from the scrap bin and machine quilted with a walking foot in a completely random manner.  It was great fun to do and I'm sure won't be the last scrap quilt in this vein.