Posts Tagged ‘embroidery’

Crazy Quilts, A Lifetime Commitment

November 20, 2019

Recognizing that the last three blocks I planned for this crazy quilt will not be finished in the foreseeable future, I sewed the nine blocks I have together. Then I waited for them to tell me how to embroider over the seams.

I got bupkus. In desperation, I sewed a line of chain stitches down one seam. The blocks remained silent.


Like all good quilters, I’ve got books on every aspect of the art. Three of my embroidery books were easy to reach, so I started going through them for inspiration. The books won’t shut up. Every page is screaming, “Pick me! Pick me!” The blocks, however, are shaking their heads, saying, “Don’t even think about it.” I hate to tell you what my threads are telling me.

So, I’m guessing this project represents a lifetime commitment. Anyone have any advice for navigating the crazy quilt relationship?

Luck and wisdom!

Embroidery, or Picking Up Stitches

November 13, 2019

My crazy quilt pile called to me this week, so I consolidated the stack and picked up some blocks. The floral block above is done enough. I’ll put more stitching on it when I put the top together, but it needs some context before I can decide what I want to do.

The block above was easy, as I had always intended to use an outline stitch for the koi. I set the block aside because I discovered I didn’t have enough blue embroidery floss to finish the design. Luckily, a delicate peach floss caught my eye while I could still adapt the color scheme.

This block needs more work, but will also need context before I know what to do with it. I’m calling it done for the moment, because I’m pretty sure I could cover the entire thing with stitching and still not be happy with it.

One thing I am happy with is my decision not to save all the last bits of floss. Instead, I’m going to fill a scrap of Aida cloth with blocks of color. You can see the beginning above. I may put beads on it as well. We’ll see what the project tells me to do.

The thread in the box is the part of my collection I could get my hands on. I know I have more floss and specialty threads somewhere, but they’re playing a real good game of hide and seek with me. This is why cleaning my sewing room has been a grand adventure for such a long time. I really have no idea what I’ll find when I finally get to the last pile.

Luck and wisdom!

Completing the Challenge!

February 20, 2019

I am working on the last project for the guild’s Unfinished Quilt Challenge. This is actually project 14 on my original list of 18. I turned one project into a tote bag and one project was shared early by mistake, so I’m completing more than 12 projects in this year-long challenge.

This top started with a square that my grandmother had marked to embroider. She used the famous blue pen, which is supposed to wash out but probably won’t as it has been sitting there for at least 25 years.

I may attempt to take out the blue dots by carefully applying water with a cotton swab. If that doesn’t work, I can always bead over them, or just keep them as a design element that will anchor the piece in a specific time of quilt history. As long as I’m finished, I’m going to be happy with it.

Luck and wisdom!

Improv Art

November 14, 2018

The improvisational piecing panels swam to the top of the nearest pile in the sewing room, so I finished the quilt.

I knew I wanted to do something with the raw edges of the panels, so in the true spirit of improvisational art I used what was at hand. Some thick embroidery thread and beads left from another project either had to go in the very next project or be put away. You don’t need to be psychic to guess what I did.

I’m pleased with the quilt, but I do wish I knew why this one worked and other improv pieces I’ve tried didn’t. Perhaps the stars were in alignment, perhaps I’m honing in my signature color palette, perhaps I like it because people I’ve shown it to like it. Fortunately, I have lots more scraps for more experiments.

Luck and wisdom!

A Journey With Embroidery

November 7, 2018

There is something about embroidery that turns my fingers into a (nearly) perpetual motion machine. The top for On To Africa needed more embellishment, so I started adding a few lines of embroidery here and there. Before I knew it, the journey to a quilting-ready top was finished.

One side of the top is more heavily embroidered than the rest, but I’m okay with that. Most of this work was done by another artist (and I still don’t know who – none of my friends remember where I got the blocks either), and I’m perfectly content to let her work get all the attention.

I first thought I would leave the center appliqued panel alone, and fill in the open space with quilting. Then I realized the jacquard will absorb all the quilting, so I might as well embroider the living daylights out of it.

Shameless self-promotion alert, embroidery on the journey into space is a pivotal plot point in The Chenille Ultimatum. If you need a good giggle, give the book a try.

Luck and wisdom!

On To Africa

October 17, 2018

The expedition in my sewing room took another turn. I finished a simple pieced quilt, and now must start pulling random blocks, most with African-themed embroidery, into a coherent piece. This is the finished quilt:

These are the blocks that need organizing:

I appliqued the tree block and made most of the embroidered blocks, although a few were done by someone else. I don’t remember how I managed to acquire the patterns, thread, and partially completed blocks. Perhaps I bought them at a silent auction, perhaps they were given to me by someone who knows I like to embroider, perhaps they were left on the doorstep in the dead of night (no, I would probably remember that).

In any event, this is my next project, and On to Africa is the working title.

Luck and wisdom!

A Sci-Fi Crazy Quilt

April 4, 2018

When Ann Anastasio and I wrote our first novel, Death By Chenille, we planned to create patterns for the quilts mentioned in the book. I volunteered to make the crazy quilt we described. I thought it would be pretty, and I love to embroider. Well, our third novel, The Chenille Ultimatum, has just been published and I’m finally getting started on the blocks. I have them pieced, but not embellished.

I believe this one will have yellow chevrons

Although we have mentioned this quilt in all three books, we haven’t described it lately so I had to go back and read the description. I’m one of the authors–you would think I could remember my own words. Not so much. “Self,” I said, “this crazy quilt idea is getting crazier by the minute.”

We described one block bisected with an embroidered ribbon

The quilt plays an important role in getting the aliens to trust the humans. The embroidery stitches tell the story of the first time they visited Earth. I had worked out what each stitch meant. Unfortunately, I succumbed to the worst lie writers tell themselves: “I’ll remember this later. No need to write it down now.” Of course I don’t remember what I had in mind and now I have to come up with embroidery patterns that fit.

The cross-stitch tells the story of the first time the aliens visited Earth

Our books are cozy sci-fi, which means the science is wibbly-wobbly because humor is more important than equations (our aliens disguise themselves as bolts of beige fabric, for Pete’s sake), so I’m hoping our readers are the cozy and forgiving sort. I am counting on the kindness of quilters who will agree that a finished quilt is beautiful, even if it doesn’t entirely fit the description in the book.

Luck and wisdom!

Progress and the Pixies Against Pride

March 28, 2018

At the risk of angering the Pixies Against Pride, I am celebrating progress again by almost completing something from my list of unfinished projects for the guild challenge.

It looks slaunchygoggle here, but it is straight and flat

Yes, this quilt looks horribly off-kilter. Trust me, the blocks are straight, but my camera angle wasn’t, and I suspected the pixies were trying to knock me down a peg so I let it go. I quilted most of the piece on my home machine, then decided to add a few beads with hand quilting.

White beads on white fabric = texture

My art quilt group is exploring texture, and I briefly thought about using this quilt because of the beads. It doesn’t really fit the parameters of the assignment, however, so I took another look at my list of unfinished projects and pulled out a collection of embroidered and appliqued blocks.

I’m not sure these blocks fit the assignment either, but I’ll try to get double-duty from the project. Just don’t tell the pixies.

Luck and wisdom!

Leftovers

March 7, 2018

I had some green felt left over from the project with ribbon roses, and some hand-dyed purple cotton thread, so I decided to resurrect my purplework project. Purplework is like redwork, just in purple. I thought I had sketched some patterns a long time ago, but I couldn’t find them. “Self,” I said, “wing it.”

Target or alien spaceship?

To be honest, I did use Helen Stubbings’ Simply Redwork for inspiration. The motif in the picture above is the whole reason I bought the book.

These flowers are from her book too. Once I finished them, I took out some other embroidery books and played.

Sea creature or alien spaceship?

I’m not sure what I was thinking with this one. I might add beads, or I might turn the pointy motif into a tiny sea creature by adding legs and antennae.

This last piece definitely needs more beads. I started with a paisley motif, but stopped partway through because I liked the idea of hanging flowers. Now I’m not so sure. The great thing about this project is everything was left over, so even if I’m not entirely pleased with the result I’ve learned something for the next time.

Luck and wisdom!

Cityscape in Felt

February 28, 2018

The last Challenge Group project was to take a piece of art and mess with it. I pulled out my art books, looking for inspiration, and found it in a Howard Behrens cityscape of San Francisco. I messed with the concept by putting it on felt. This is what started my journey.

From a book of Behrens’ work – a street in San Francisco

This is what I got after stripping together some scraps that didn’t always match Behrens’ colors but suggested buildings to me.

A street, an ocean, a sky

I put the pieced work on felt because the felt was there and I thought I could see if I liked the idea of matting the pieced section. Then I thought, “Self, leave it on the felt and do some embroidery. Pretend it’s a crazy quilt and see where it leads you.” This is what I’ve done so far.

This may turn out to be one of those never-ending story quilts. I’ve added a few lines of embroidery, let it rest a day or two, added a few more. As I dig through my floss and specialty thread collection, I have been inspired to push the design in a different direction. Who knows what it will look like when it is closer to done?

Luck and wisdom!