25 August 2011

Red Black and White Purse Finished!

Black and Red Purse
Another project completed!  I've had this Red Black and White bag near completion for quite a long time.  How wonderful to get it finished at last!

Black and Red Purse side 2
The butterfly is cut out and appliqued from a large piece of fabric.

Textured Stitches
I love the texture of this basket weave pattern of stitching.

Butterfly Applique
One of the things I love about doing patchwork like this and using the various stitches to quilt it down is how tactile it is.  To help hold the lace down, each flower center was embroidered with satin stitch in variegated thread.  On the other side of the bag, the centers are almost black but by this side, they are mostly red.

Zippered Pocket
I like purses with pockets, so I added a zippered pocket inside as well as one of my labels.  Originally I was going to use the butterfly fabric to line it, but it just didn't seem to work as well as I wanted.  This lovely red fabric is just perfect!

Now I'm back to finishing up the cream/white crazy quilt and knitting the last 20 or so rows on my lap afghan!

14 August 2011

Working Things Out

Trying out the lace
The filet crocheted lace was originally meant to be the border of a linen coverlet, but it's been sitting in my stash for several years.  I'm going to use about half of it on this project.  It adds the perfect touch.  I've tried out different positions for the lace, but in the end, I like it best when it comes right up to the edge of the CQ'd blocks.

A new little patch
Once the lace was pinned on and I stepped back to look, I realized that the blocks seemed slightly out of balance.  If you look at the overall picture in the last post, you'll see that in every corner except this lower left one, there is a small triangular patch that bounces the eye back into the quilt.  But this corner allowed the eye to wander out, even with the lace in place.  A tiny little scrap of the taupe velvet will balance things nicely!  I'll have to open the border seams to put it in, but it will be worth it!

Working out the Lace Corners
The lace has to be mitered at the corners.  Now that I've figured out where the miters fall, I'll unpin it from the quilt top and stitch them on the machine and trim them before stitching them down to the quilt top by hand.

At the Center
At the center of the quilt, I'm debating if I need to add a little something at the join.  A button maybe?  Or a little tatted or crocheted motif maybe?  I'll try a few things out and see what works best!

13 August 2011

Putting the Border On

Borders On
How exciting to finally be at the point of putting the border on!  The next steps are to add the filet crochet lace and then tack the front to the interlining.  That should keep me busy for at least a couple of days.

Trimming the Borders
While I've done a fair amount of quilting, I haven't pieced very many quilts and I've never done a mitered border before.  Jinny Beyer suggests measuring the width of the borders based on the center dimensions of the quilt as she feels that the outer edges get stretched a little.  I think she's right, especially on a crazy quilt with all the weight of embellishment.  Those stretched edges then get eased to fit the center dimensions and helps to ensure that the quilt will lie flatter if hung.

On the first block I made, I only added 1/4 inch seam allowance, which wasn't nearly enough.  By the time all the embroidery was added, that seam allowance just about disappeared!  By using Jinny's method for the border, I was able to get it to fit just fine!

Quilting Book
Jinny makes some truly incredible quilts.  Every stitch is done by hand.  I learned to quilt by hand years ago when I stitched with the Sewing Circle at First Presbyterian Church in Boulder.  Reading through this book is almost like sitting in sewing circle again!  I have found many of her tips invaluable and highly recommend "Quiltmaking by Hand" if you enjoy hand stitching!

07 August 2011

Block 4 Complete!

Cream White CQ Block 4
Since March of 2008, I've been working on the four blocks of my Cream & White Crazy Quilt. At times, it seemed as though they would never be complete, but this weekend, I finished block 4 at last! Allow me to take you on a tour of the details!

Blk 4 detail Leaves Bullion Rose
One of the things I tried to do on all of the blocks is to try new stitches. I've always had trouble with the bullion stitch before, but finally seem to have gotten the hang of it! The leaf in the lower left is a variation of buttonhole stitch. I love the effect! The little leaf clusters are variations on the Fishbone Stitch.

Blk 4 detail Lily of the Valley
The last motif I added was this spray of Lilies of the Valley. It took me a long time to decide what to do here. After spending much time going through books, sketching ideas and browsing Flickr for vintage embroidery motifs, I settled on this one with stems embroidered in a lovely silk peril and flowers in SRE. I think it is my favorite part of the block now!

Blk 4 detail Embroidery Motif
This embroidery motif was modified from a vintage pattern found online. It didn't quite fill the area, so I extended it a bit more with some feathery foliage, in keeping with the original design.

Blk 4 detail Button Flowers
Each block has mother of pearl button flowers with stems and leaves stitched in rayon. What fun it has been to go through my button box (which includes buttons from my grandmother and others), as well as my mother's button box and to search out more beautiful buttons on my antiquing forays! The bone bird bead is from a local bead shop, which caters primarily to the Navaho and Hopi in the area.

Blk 4 detail Cast-on Flowers
Another "new to me" stitch were these cast-on flowers. They ended up being much more dimensional than any of the other embroidery on the blocks.

Blk 4 detail Butterfly Needle Lace
In this corner of the block, I used another spider web SRE rose, embroidered a Victorian era butterfly, and appliqued a small needlelace medallion that came from a distant great great aunt who was a missionary to Persia. In my subsequent research, I've discovered that it's related to the Turkish Oya flowers. The bit of crocheted lace is a sample piece made by my Aunt Lois. There is a piece of her lace on each block!

Blk 4 Detail Buttonhole Leaves Rose Trellis
Each block also features a patch of buttonhole stitch leaves as well as a rose trellis.

Cream White CQ
And at last, all four blocks together! In real life, the taupe velvet doesn't stand out quite so much, but the camera lens picks up a greater contrast than the human eye. I stretched the blocks last night and noticed a couple of tiny things to fix on the blocks before I sew them together. Then I'll stitch the seams with some feather stitching to make the blocks flow together a bit more.

What a great feeling to have this big project finally within reach of finishing!

06 August 2011

Thread Book

Thread Book
Years ago, I had a wonderful DMC color card with actual samples of all their embroidery thread colors. I used it all the time to choose colors and make a shopping list from. It was one of the things lost in our fire. DMC makes a Shopper's Checklist which lists all the threads by number, but it doesn't show the colors. Plus, when printed up, I found it to be a little too large for my liking.

So this weekend, I decided to make my own little booklet to meet my preferences. Using a small Moleskine Cahir, I wrote down all the DMC embroidery thread numbers from their checklist. Then I went through my boxes of threads and snipped an inch of each color, pasting it next to the appropriate number. If there is a snippet of thread, then it means I have a bobbin of that color. In pencil, I wrote how many extra skeins of that color I have. On bobbins of thread that I need to replace, I put a star. For a couple of thread numbers, I found that I had two bobbins with the same number, but obviously different colors! For those, I simply pasted a sample of each! The booklet is small enough to keep in my purse without adding much bulk or weight and will now keep me from purchasing duplicates of what I already have!

02 August 2011

Snippets

Snippets of Lace
A little baggie filled with snippets of lace was such a treasure to find when I was antiquing in Phoenix last week! Especially to find all these wonderful little tidbits of delicate tatting! The lovely variegated green stitching is a sweet embroidered tablecloth that fits my table perfectly! I loved that it was in my favorite shades of ivory and green!

Summer Hillside
I took all these treasures outside this afternoon, intending to photograph them amongst the green landscape. But I was distracted by the beautiful sunlight on the hillside, which for the first time this year, has distinct undertones of green now that the monsoon rains have arrived.

Twining
Then I got distracted by the twining of this stem of bindweed as it weaves amongst the curls of one of the patio chairs.

Blossom caretakers
On the ground under the birdfeeder, some seeds have sprouted and among them is this striking yellow bloom, complete with it's little bug "caretakers" hidden in the blossom!

sunflower
On the patio, a sunflower sprouted amongst the violas and is reaching horizontally across my normally shady patio towards the sun.


Nearsighted view
One of my favorite views from the apartment is this lovely little grove of Gamble Oak tucked in an opening among the ponderosa pines. I am so nearsighted without my glasses these days, that what usually captures my attention most is a mix of color and light. By leaving the auto-focus off, I was able to capture the essence of that! I love the bokeh effects! I often think that the great impressionist painters must have all been nearsighted in order to paint light and color the way that they did! Can you imagine a beautiful quilt made with tiny hexagons of colored fabric hand-stitched together to mimic this photo? Or circles of translucent fabrics stitched overlapping one another to achieve a similar result?

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