Latest source of inspiration

I'm staying within a very limited color range on my suffragette quilt and none of the colors are very cheery or suitable for floral sprays..  I do want to use some floral sprays on some of the black patches so these Victorian mourning and touring hats are my inspiration..

It so happens where I'm going for spinal therapy is just across the street from my favorite thrift store and I just can't resist a quick stop...  As  luck would have it on Monday I found a black organza blouse with rhinestone buttons, a black crushed-velvet top and some black satin lounging pants...and it was President's Day so everything was 50% off..  I cut them into 2" strips and I'm busy making organza and velvet roses and satin leaves.  I know it will be impossible to photograph black on black but I'll try when I get them sewn on.


Back to my CQ Beginnings -next big project

I read with joy Allie's recent post... When she finishes her current book she is going to do a project with doilies and linens she has been given or purchased on ebay.  Her post plus a student asking how I got started in CQ has reminded me that I want to give my own CQ beginning another go...

For years, long before I even knew about crazy quilting, I collected damaged embroidered linens...I had no plan for them but I just couldn't bear to see them discarded.

There were pillowcases. tablecloths, doilies, and even hankerchiefs in additional to lots of crocheted pieces. All from the days when a home was not properly decorated unless every surface had a piece of needlework adorning it.

In the 80s I used to speak at garden shows and festivals.  Quite often we would also have a booth at these events so I made this vest from vintage linens for my DH to wear while working in the booth... I had just purchased a new sewing machine that could do lettering...and as you can see I was enjoying this new toy.  I thought he was really cute wearing it and he was a good sport when people wanted to "read" his chest..

Since I often spoke several times at these events I wanted something   I could wear every time and just slip over the casual clothes I wore in the booth... This jacket was actually my very first attempt at crazy quilting. I made it when I was going to speak at the International Heritage Rose Conference in Mebourne, Australia.. Over the years it was worn many times and had to be washed by hand... Now showing its years of service  it has become a keepsake.

These are garments were both  pieced entirely with  vintage embroidered linens.  Here are a few close ups..

Tips and Techniques for Assembling a CQ Garment

I put together full double-sized pages of helpful hints and techniques for assembling a crazy quilt garment using vintage linens... covering everything from supply list, preparation, and actual construction... 

It all applies to any garment you wish to make.... jacket, vest, apron, or jumper. Detailed closeups and simple-to-follow instructions.

These directions are now on my Esty site so now's your chance to make something really special with all those embroidered linens you've been collecting....especial those with a stain or damaged edge or two...

I still have a couple big bins of such vintage linens and when I finish my suffragette quilt I am going to drag them out and do some more projects with them...


Courageous ladies are back and my new find!!!

After a long break I'm back working on my suffragette quilt... I will work on it the balance of each month after I finish a CQJP block... The hardest part   is done on all the blocks..

All that's left is the seam work and some beading.. The imagery and story are the focus of this quilt so there is very little extraneous decoration.. The seam work and beading mainly add texture and depth to the piece.. There are a lot of seams though and I hope to make every single one different and interesting.  I've started with the block with Emmeline Pankhurst on it as she is my favorite and the reason for the quilt.

Doesn't it look lovely with the needle book, the block, and the seam journal all coordinated???  But notice the box behind the block... I acquired it on Thursday at a quickie thrift store stop.. How can I help it when they opened a little thrift store across from my post office.. I am over the moon happy with it..

I work on our only table and occasionally it is necessary to move my stuff to eat or play cards or when my   stitching ladies come. What I had used to keep sorta organized (and easily transportable) are the little plastic baskets on the right.

I am delighted to replace the plastic trays with these lovely oriental stacking boxes which I can sit out singly when working or stack to move in a hurry.. It holds all my supplies for whatever the current project is... Thread in the top box and beads in the middle box and silk ribbons in the bottom box... Doesn't it  look  gorgeous besides?

Then as I kept stopping to admire my boxes as I bustled about the house I thought it would be great to have two for when I have two projects going as I do now and even greater to have one with a handle so I hopped on the internet and found this one that I could afford...   I saw them referred to as "wedding boxes" and "dim sum serving boxes".  Mine are plastic but of course my first choice was one of carved jade and rosewood... big dollars for that one.  I just love it when something is beautiful AND functional...


February finished....................

The theme for February was butterflies and lavender... and it was a fun block to work on... I'm enjoying the colors and all the lace...my comfort zone.  I mentioned when I posted the other day that the block was  out of balance with so much interest on the right side.

The fix for this problem is quite easy and I will probably do it before I assemble the project in the fall..
All I have to do is make the lavender plant on the left of the cottage about twice it's size and add some darker purples. You can see what it would look like with a little photo editing..


Meet Aspen...a CQer with a vision

Aspen was in one of my beginning crazy quilting classes.. The class consisted of accomplished mature stitchers and having a young person sign up was a special treat. I thoroughly enjoyed  this 16-year old young lady's enthusiastic participation.

She had a black block and was very decisive about her choices from the stash pile I provided.. It was obvious she had a vision and set about eagerly..  At each class she was bent over piece with great concentration..

Her mother said she kept at it until she finished and today it was hanging in the thread shop.  Here is an original......

Final touches and a tip shared...

The end is in sight and in the final days it looks like it is going to be a bit unbalanced... too heavy on the right side but I can live with it... Something not planned was outlining the lace with gold (lower left) but I think it needs it.  Tried several gold threads and chose a Krienk very fine.  I've just done a few stitches and it barely shows up in the photo but is just right..

I started the lavender bunch on the right and I wanted you to see the cording I'm using for stems...it is one of my very favorites...and you probably couldn't guess unless you touched (or pulled) it.  It is ordinary elastic cord from the sewing notions..  It is extremely easy to manipulate, doesn't unravel and dyes like a dream...

I've decided the March block is going to be fuchsias and hummingbirds.  My aunt is in the hospital and I'm taking my mom to visit her tomorrow and will have a couple hours waiting so am saving all the silk ribbon french knots on the lavender to do then...


February CQJP progress

Since I couldn't sleep last night I got up and scanned the February block into the computer to fiddle a bit with it..  You can see the butterfly I am "building"    center left.  I wanted the butterfly to echo the lace of the triangle lower right..

Actually most of the lower right lace will be covered with lavender... I added the ruching around the image using TWO needles as I went... one doing the gathering and one tacking it down... I find I am much happier with the end result using that technique... Would anyone like a mini tutorial on that???

So about about 3 am I scanned the block into the computer and did a little photoshop magic on it.

I will do some surface embroidery upper right.. The theme of this block is butterflies and lavender.  I want a large bundle of lavender tied with a meandering ribbon lower right and a large lavender plant next to the cottage..

The vintage lace lower left will be heavily beaded and the perfect spot for the precious enamel charms from the bracelet I got at the thrift store last week...  And I do indeed think the swallow button will perfect for this block..

Between not fun but necessary commitments, taking both dogs to vet, myself twice to doctors and driving my mother to appointments, today is the first day this week I've been home and I need to paint buttons....But I'd rather be stitching..


"Building" Butterflies

Sometimes I waiver when I think of something to post... Is it too silly to post?... or maybe nobody else needs to do this... This is one of those posts but I'm sticking it out here just in case there is someone who can use it...

I love all kinds of butterflies on my blocks.. Sometimes I buy the lace ones, sometimes I embroider them, sometimes I bead them or do them with ribbon embroidery.. But quite often I "build" them from lace. This is especially so when I need a certain size or lacy-ness.  Such was the case today.  I wanted to match another piece of  delicate lace on this month's CQJP... So I found  a similar lace motif and cut off the two ends..  That still left enough of the motif to us for something else...

Then I just have to put the edges together and stitch a body... Voila !!! a butterfly...

If you look at any lace or doily, pretty soon you see butterfly wings in it..


99% finished.....cover for CQJP2013

This  is going to be the cover for the collection of cottage blocks I'm doing for CQJP 2013...  I have a few fiddly things I want to do but since I don't need it until December I can let it rest a bit... You can see how I solved the problem of the ink scribbles lower right.  I am sooooo glad to have this out of my UFO basket.

 I started it in 2010 and  had a few problems with the design so buried it deeply in my UFO basket... Thought you would like to see the beginning... This block is quite small... on 6" x 6" but even still it took forever to do all the knots..

First I used a permanent fine line pen and sketched the cottage on silk... It would be easy to trace a cottage on silk also. You can see I had the angle on the chimney from the very beginning and didn't catch it until much later... The dormer proved to be a problem in the lace so it was abandoned.

Then I did a light color wash with alcohol inks.

Then I added the lace..  The lace on the cottage walls is a very old precious piece from Cathy Kizerian.

Then I  started the french knot flower garden and got the path done and then quit...  When I actually assemble it for the cottage book I will add a crazy quilt border and LOTS of lace...



The minute I put this block on the screen and said it was done, I realized I hadn't attached the special button I painted for it.  Then I couldn't find the button... But found the button when I was looking for the butterfly charm bracelet I got at the thrift store last Wednesday.

Note button left center... I painted the flowers on the buttons to blend with the flowers in the trim...   Each block will have a special bird from our garden...

I've started to gather stuff for the February block which will be butterflies and lavender... You can see I found my 99cent butterfly charm bracelet...with pink wings no less.  I don't know about you but I'm always buying skeins of the variegated thread but when I  use them  the span between color change  is so great that you never get the lovely effect that it has in the skein. I'm going to use them on this project anyway...  I believe this block will have a button with swallows.  And I just adore the funky brass beads.. They are quite irregular and suit this theme so well... Have I mentioned how much I LOVE thrift stores? LOL

 I have been gone from home far too much....

And Sunday the Bohemian Waxwings migrated through on their way north... They only stay a day or two and sometimes I miss their visit.  They're usually my highlight of this time of year but after all the excitement over the owl and new birds last week, the waxwings were lesser news....still handsome birds though and glad we're on their route.


January 2013JP done!

Done!!!  I got all the bees in LA at a cool bead place Susie took me  in the garment district.  I'm so sorry I didn't buy more there...  Notice the tiny bee skep which fills the corner lower left.  Also as my luck would have it, I found this fabulous necklace with teeny tiny, brass, faceted beads which I just had to use immediately (around the cottage)  Many strands and I love them....you'll see them often in this project.

The piece has been almost finished for a week but I've been waiting for our pension checks to come to get new printer cartridges to print a page of cottages. I mostly refill our cartridges at Costco but if I'm going to be printing images I get new ones as it does make a difference on the color quality...

 Don't forget I have this tutorial...
 The most important things you can do are BEFORE you send the picture to the printer. 

Also the old source I had for printable fabric sheets doesn't answer emails or calls even tho they still have a website.  But I found this site  which sells both cotton and silk sheets of high quality.  Personally I prefer the cotton myself...200 count. I can recommend them.


Stash acquisition tip

I have had an idea for a series of blocks that has been fermenting for several years... For this project I'll need lots of VERY teeny tiny cotton prints  and trims ....which are not that easy to find anymore... I used to find them easily  in the infant section of the thrift stores... But not as many as now most infant clothing now is made of soft knits... Occasionally they have precious velvet and lace special-occasion outfits for infants and I snatch those right away.  But I lucked out on Wednesday and not only did I find this teeny pink cotton print, it was loaded with precious trims and doll size buttons... even the hem is embellished.. So it is safely tucked away.  So when cruising the thrift stores, don't overlook the infant and toddler sections.. Little girl party dresses often have spectacular trims, ruffles, and lace.

This project was my second choice for CQJP 2013 so you'll have to wait until 2014 to see it unveiled... But if you run across teeny tiny cotton prints, save me a piece or two..


Incredible week for new birds on the farm.....

Wednesday when I went out in the morning to feed the chickens there was a tiny owl trapped in the chicken house.. It was so tiny I could hold it in the palm of my hand...I was sure it was a baby fledgling...but not!  It was obviously in distress and I wasn't sure if it was injured or just frightened ... Luckily we have a friend who lives close who is an owl expert and I called him immediately.. He has had over 20 years doing owl research and owl rescue.  He came and picked up the dear thing.

It was an adult Northern Sow-whet owl.  At maturity they're only 8" tall and weigh less than 4 oz.  Since it is nocturnal  we had no idea we had them on the farm.. They eat mice and we have plenty of those for sure. The great horned owl is a frequent visitor but it's huge and noisy..

AND on Monday we had another new arrival.... a bunch of Pine Grosbeaks...  The adult male is striking in its flaming red feathers with black and white accents.  He was like a valentine be-bopping around my mountain ash tree.

I am doing some stitching but have been mostly trying to get organized for the next round of CQ classes.
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