Monday, November 28, 2011

Shannon's Eye of the Storm: Guest Quilt

I hope everyone had a fabulous and joyful Thanksgiving.  We had such a lovely time with my parents in New Mexico; Mike got to relax in the armchair with his iPad and the football games while my Mom and I scurried around quilting and crafting as much as possible.

My blog isn't important enough to have guest posters, but today I have "guest quilt" to share with you.  My mother, Vicki Conley, is a talented potter and "real" art quilter (as opposed to I, who am an art-quilter-wannabe-who-is-still-figuring-out-how-to-have-even-free-motion-stitches).  She is super-awesome and always working on a million projects, but she doesn't blog so I've decided to feature some of her fabulous quilts occasionally so people can see them!

The lovely quilt one I have for you today is called "Shannon's Eye of the Storm".  My mom started it in 2009 at an Empty Spools quilting seminar with Janet Fogg (who also makes super-incredible art quilts).  She had several goals for the project, one of them was to incorporate traditional piecing, specifically the storm at sea block, into an art quilt.  In my non-quilting life, I'm an eye-disease researcher (in our lab we study inherited forms of macular degneration), so my mom went with an eye for the subject matter in this quilt.  We both liked the storm-at-sea -- eye of the storm -- eyeball connection.

Shannon's Eye of the Storm.  70" x 70" (c) 2010 Vicki Conley.  Hanging at the 2011 Dallas Quilt Festival
She designed the quilt so that there are curved rays radiating from the center of the eye, and each ray has storm at sea blocks pieced into it.  She hand drafted each storm at sea block to fit into the curved block spaces in the rays and chose subtly shifting shades of cream-brown-white for the sclera in order to suggest the spherical curvature of the eye.  The black background is a piece of hand dye she made, and the background is quilted with the pattern of the storm at sea block.  The pupil is an immunofluorescent micrograph of a mouse retinal section I took several years ago in which the different neurons responsible for transmitting visual signals from the eye through to the brain are labeled in red, green, and blue.  She printed the image on fabric and then added beading to emphasize the cells.

Before becoming an artist, my mom was a scientist, and still retains a love for scientific/geometrical/biological things.  This quilt wound up being the first in what I think of as her anatomical quilt series, which now has several other entries.  I was recently lucky enough to move into a small office with a large-ish wall, so now the fabulous eyeball quilt (as I call it) has a permanent home amongst other eyeball lovers!

I hope you enjoy!  Do any of you quilt with family and friends?  My mom and I have so much fun quilting, designing and brainstorming together- it's really wonderful to have someone to bounce ideas off of.

Friday, November 25, 2011

And the Winner Is!

Things are going crazy here as we rush around trying to leave town for the Thanksgiving holiday.  I'm really looking forward to seeing all my family, although the 8.5 hour drive isn't too fun.  Hopefully I'll have enough light to crochet for a while, and thankfully Mike prefers to drive.

I thought I'd pop in quickly to share these easy yo-yo ribbons I made for a recent event Mike and I were running.  We don't usually have prizes but it was a special month so I made up these two ribbons (sorry the pictures are crummy, I was having a disagreement with my camera).  The winners were almost certainly going to be non-crafty men, so I tried to use not-too-girly fabrics, hard with my stash dominated by brights.  I think the two winners liked them!

These are really easy to make if you need prizes or awards, The large center is just a big yo-yo and with the felt circle sewn over the middle and the label part fused with fusible.  They make fun custom prizes!

I hope you all had a happy and grateful Thanksgiving!  Thanks for stopping in and visiting my corner of the web!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

WIP Wednesday: I did it!

Some of you may recall from a couple Wednesdays ago that I really wanted to get the quilting finished up on my Big S dragon quilt before Thanksgiving.  In the interim, I got sick, got distracted, and got busy, but I'm so excited to say that I actually did finish it!

The last few days I've been madly quilting whenever I have had a free minute, and last night after packing to go away for the holiday I finished up the last section. It's been sort of crazy, so I didn't have time to get final pictures, this is one I snapped quickly a few days ago.  Hopefully next week I can share some more.

Even though the quilting is finished there are still several things left to finish this quilt up.

1. Do something with the dragon's head.  Right now the head isn't quilted and has no facial features.  At the very least he needs an eye and maybe some fun embroidery.  Any ideas blog friends?

2. Soak to remove quilting guidelines and water soluble thread.  I'm sort of scared about this because I know I have at least one really dark navy fabric that will bleed all over everything, and has in fact already bled on some bright yellow next to it, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed for this step.

3.  Square up and block.  I blocked some before quilting but need to do it again since it's gotten a little wonky.

4. Bind/label.  I'm still not sure whether I'm going to do a faced binding or a traditional binding with piping.  What do you guys think? Color ideas for the binding?

We're leaving in just a couple of hours to go visit my family in New Mexico.  I'm super excited as there will be hiking with the dogs and Christmas tree hunting in the mountains, and hopefully quite a bit of time on my mom's longarm working on a project I haven't even shown you guys yet! (It was number 1 on my tackling the UFOs post from way back in early summer!)

I hope whatever your Thanksgiving plans are they involve spending time with people that you care about.  I'm so grateful for all my supportive family and friends and hope you all have a great holiday!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tote Bag fun!

I've previously mentioned that I have the pattern for Amy Butler's weekender bag sitting in my "projects waiting" stack, and you know I've made bunches of pouches.  Even so, my bag thirst was not quenched and ever since travel handmade I've been wanting to sew a tote bag, but had a hard time justifying it.  I mean, who needs another tote bag- I have a whole car full of the cheap ugly ones that I use to carry groceries (when I remember to take them in) and two or three cute ones I use to haul general stuff.  However, I've been crocheting quite a bit lately and didn't really have anything for all my yarn and projects and needles, so I thought I could make a cute bag for that stuff.

Then last weekend I went to Dallas to visit my sister and we stopped at a quilt store in McKinney while out and about.  I was supposed to be stash building- looking for tone-on-tones in the sale fabric section.  Alas, this gorgeous fabric caught my eye and I could. not. resist.   I loved the raspberry, pink, orange, and white on the khaki colored background and the giant flowers were just stunning.  Sorry, I have no idea what it's called or whose line it is, if anyone knows, please chime in!

I decided therefore to make my tote bag.  I just wanted a basic sort of bag with one big inside pocket for patterns but otherwise just open.  I didn't really use a pattern or follow a specific tutorial, but was inspired by the look of these (here and here).  Check out travel handmade if you need links to specific guidance, but the assembly was really straightforward, pretty much like any other lined pouch-type-thing.

These are my outside front pieces, I fussy cut flowers from the fabulous focus fabric and pieced around some scraps I had in my bin.  I'm sorry, the pictures don't do the vibrancy of the fabric justice;  the colors in those flowers are really rich and bright.

The sides of the bag are the same focus print and it's lined with some fun Hawaiian fabric I got a few years ago. It's interfaced with flannel because I was out of actual interfacing, and I put some faux piping around the outside edges to give it a little extra color.   I'm really pleased with the way it turned out, now my yarn and crochet accoutrements are very happy, and I get to look at those great colors!

I hope everyone is having a joyful Thanksgiving week!

Friday, November 18, 2011

I Have Concrete!

I'm super excited to start sharing this with you guys (pretty much in real time).  I'm starting to build a studio!  Or rather, my fabulous contractor is building me a studio.  I've been saving up for a long time to try to buy a long arm quilting machine, but realized a while ago that we don't have anywhere in our house one would fit.  So I either had to build a studio or buy a different house.

After much hemming and hawing I decided to build a studio in the backyard of our current house and after much e-mailing back and forth things are finally getting going.  I'll be sharing in here as stuff happens, right now it's just the part that's boring to everyone but me.  So far, all we have is the foundation and a little sidewalk, but I'm so excited I keep rushing out into the back yard to gaze lovingly at it.  Mike thinks I'm nuts, but has been very supportive.

I wanted to get doggie paw prints in the siedewalk, but by the time we were able to get out there it was too late for anything but the date (11/11/11- the last binary date of this century my sister told me).

So to make up for the lack of paw prints, here's a picture of the great flying Bentley for you all!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Celebrate Color!

So my apologies to everyone who has already seen this quilt, but I decided to enter it into Celebrate Color so I needed to make a new blog post.  I've been ogling at all the fabulous fall projects over there, if you haven't yet you should check it out, it's a great compendium of all different kinds of fall-inspired crafty creativity.

Celebrate Color

I originally made this quilt for Jenna's SewHappyGeek Tablerunner/Wallhanging swap.  I just found out today that my partner received and loved it.  I was super excited to get to make something fall oriented.  I love fall, the colors, the temperatures, the brisk breeze and falling leaves, the smell of the first fireplace fires.  I have wanted to make a fall quilt for a while, so this was the perfect opportunity and turned out to be tons of fun!

Here's the finished wall hanging, it's about 24" square.  If you're interested, I've described my design process a little bit below.

I drafted my pattern on 8.5 x 11 paper, then traced it onto a transparency and blew it up/reversed it using an overhead projector.  Here's the full size pattern copied onto freezer paper.  I foundation pieced the tree trunks, and the whole thing was assembled using Caryl Bryer Fallert's appli-piecing technique (previously described here and here).

The leaves were cut out of fusible-backed fabric using a scallop-blade rotary cutter then fused to the top a few at a time.  After squaring up I layered the backing and batting and free motion quilted in patterns that I thought looked good.  I used this fun mottled batik for the back.

I had so much fun making this quilt and I hope you enjoy looking at it.  I want to let everyone know, if you've been hesitant to try an "art quilt" or something without a pattern, don't be!  The freezer paper technique I use (of Caryl Fallert's) is super easy and enables anybody to design pictorial quilts.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Winter is coming!

I've been wearing blazers to work and there was frost on the grass and dog toys when I went outside this morning so I was in sort of a wintery mood and thought I'd show you guys these snowflakes I've been madly crocheting in the evenings. I'm pretty picky about no-Christmas-before-Thanksgiving at home, but if you don't start crafting early, it seems like there's never enough time! Anyway, I made these from the same fabulous old pattern leaflet I talked about here, and am going to give them to my extended family at Christmas.

After crocheting them you have to starch them. I did one batch using sugar starch which is the nastiest stickiest mess you've ever seen, but gave a very nice stiff ornament. The second batch I used old-fashioned liquid starch which was still messy, but not quite so bad. It didn't make as firm an ornament, but it was still plenty stiff for the snowflakes to hold their shapes.

Here they are pinned up to dry after starching:

Incidentally, I ruined a bunch of pins doing this- I tried to wash off the sugar starch but then the pins just rusted so I've kept the second set of pins separate just to use for this kind of project.

And here they are finished.  They're each a little different and there are three more that I haven't done yet.

This is one of my favorites- it's actually the same one I made the other day with the bigger yarn.  When I made it with the bigger yarn it came out very trivet-like but with this thread I think it looks very snowflake-like.

This one wasn't actually from the snowflake book- it was supposed to be part of a gerber daisy doily I was going to crochet.  I crocheted three of these, two blue and one white before deciding I wasn't terribly fond of the pattern and didn't really have the desire to make bunches more.  I think it passes ok as a snowflake-type ornament, but secretly I think it looks like some sort of squidish sea monster!

This is my other favorite (below).

Are you guys working on Christmas crafts yet?  Going to be giving any as gifts this year?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

WIP Wednesday: More Quilting on the Big (Neverending) S Quilt

As usual, my works in progress are many! I've been making a few small Christmas gifts (to be shown later) and starting to work on the upcoming costume project which maybe I'll post about next week. In my few remaining minutes of craft time, I've been plugging along with the quilting on my Big S quilt. It's really not that big, but much bigger than the small 8.5 x 11 S quilt I made earlier in the year. The quilting is going fairly slowly, but I am making progress. You may recall (from here and here) that the dragon is sort of S shaped with his foot in the center of the bottom circle part of the S. After much contemplation, I drew radiating lines every 20 degrees using the foot as a center point and filled the space with a fun filler from Leah's Free Motion Quilt Project.  She calls it channels and paths, I call it smiles and frowns.  I used different colors of thread depending on where I was quilting so some sections stand out more than others.  I alternated the smiles and frowns in adjacent sections, sadly that meant ripping out A LOT of quilting when I forgot to alternate several times.  Ripping out quilting is no fun at all! Sorry I forgot to get an overall picture, but here are a few shots of the new quilting.

The ugly red/orange lines are just marking lines,  they're water-soluble marker so will disappear in the end (as will the ugly white water soluble thread).

I'm finally done with this pattern and starting on a new area of this quilt!  I had hoped to be finished by Thanksgiving, but that seems pretty unlikely at this point.

What WIPs are you guys working on now?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Swap Quilt-The Quilting

On Friday I showed some in-progress shots of the design and piecing for my swap quilt, today I thought I'd show a few pictures of the leaf process and the quilting.  To make the leaves, I put fusible on the backs of several different squares of yellow-orange-brown fabric then used a scalloped rotary cutter to randomly slice up the squares.  My mom saw that tip on The Quilt Show, but I can't remember who she said gave it.  Mom- if you remember, put it in the comments for us please!

I then just gathered up handfuls of the leaves and added them a few at a time, pressing every so often to adhere them well.  I tried to use a variety of fabrics and some fabrics with multiple colors to give a little depth to the process.

After I was done with the leaves- off to squaring, batting, and spray baste.  I used a variegated yellow thread to quilt the leaves on the light colored trees in a leafy pattern and a dark purple/maroon thread to do the leaves on the darker tree.  I quilted different "trunky" sorts of patterns on the trees and stones on the pathway using my happy brown thread. I enjoyed doing the stones, I tried to make them get smaller as they got further back to help with the perspective.  I had some trouble with the maroon thread on the dark tree, but all the rest of my threads did all right.  Here are some up close pictures of the quilting.  Sorry for the picture overload, I wanted to take a bunch of pictures since I'm sending this quilt off before some of my quilting buddies get to see it.

I used this nice mottled batik for the back.  Unless you look too closely, you can see the quilting but not the mistakes!

This was such a fun swap,  thanks so much to Jenna for hosting it an I hope my partner loves her wall hanging.  What about you guys?   Are you guys participating in any swaps right now?