Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Belive in Miracles (21 x 25)

I wasn't able to finish this piece by Christmas day, but if we fall back on the notion of Christmas continuing for 12 days, then I finished right on time.

After I turned in grades I came down with a really bad cold, but Christmas came nonetheless, and once the wrapping paper was recycled, and the leftovers packed away, I was happy to sit down and put the finishing touches on this piece.

It seemed only fitting, crazy quilter to crazy quilter, to add some seam embellishments to the outer border of Allie's quilt.  And I took a page from one of her techniques to use these beautiful shiny ribbons--some have beads, and all have metallic threads, in lieu of a conventional binding. I hadn't set out to do this, but I had four perfect ribbons and I also wanted to avoid cutting the points off on these embellished blocks, so it was a happy solution. I didn't follow Allie's instructions exactly, but the basic idea is there.

I added some mother of pearl buttons to the floral part of the composition.

Another close up.  You can see that I extended the halos with more buttons and with beads.

A lot of handwork is like prayer or meditation.  It infuses objects with spirit and with intentions. It's a wonderful opportunity to make a quilt for someone like Allie who is tuned into these messages in the cloth. This has been a fulfilling project, and in many ways it's been an unexpected form of  dialogue between two quilters.

I hope everyone is enjoying the holidays in the ways you love the most and with friends and family.  I am sadly behind on my blog reading, but I'll be catching up over the next few days.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Embellishing Allie's Madonna

I've now come out from under the semester's work.  Finals are over, grades are submitted, and I'm officially on vacation.  Between the madness, I've been working on Allie's Madonna, which became a serene meditation to counterbalance the busyness of work.

In the final composition I added that pink and white inner border, which to me adds breathing space to this piece.  I then machine quilted the whole piece with metallic silver thread.

The floral part of the composition got some hand embroidered foliage: the dark green is rayon ribbon and the light green is silk thread. The ribbons are top stitched with machine embroidery using rayon thread.

I took a close up of this part of the outer border because it's a little joke I've inserted into the piece.  The green fabric has that line of stitching because it was cut from a pocket of a night shirt.  I love this fabric and it's appeared in other projects, but I wanted to hint at its prior life.

The Virgin's crown was beaded with all kinds of sparkly things: beads, sequins and pearls.

The halos on the Mother and Child are embellished with tiny mother of pearl buttons, which reflect light like you wouldn't believe, although it's hard to capture on camera.
This is the first layer of embellishment.  It only seems fitting to finish this by Christmas, and the final layer is nearly done.  More pictures by Saturday. 

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Allie's Madonna

Allie Aller and I agreed to a swap several months ago.  She made me a CQ, "Barbara's Door", one of her lovely and extra-special house quilts, which I have hanging over my sewing machine for inspiration and mojo.  In exchange, I am making her a Madonna Quilt.

I began with an image from Flor Larios, who sells fabric transfers of some of her painted images.  I love the innocence of the figures in her work, plus the baby Jesus in this picture reminds me of my son Alex when he was a baby.  He had the same round face and heavy black hair.   I framed the image with a vintage napkin, which I strategically cut and pieced in order to get the parts of the rose print that I wanted.


I used the left-hand and bottom ribbons in the final composition.  Allie sent me the woven ribbons, and the bottom one, which says "philosophy: believe in miracles" came to me with some wonderful bath salts from my daughter Allie.  I've been saving it for a project like this.  I also found the bit of lace in my stash.  It's the perfect size for a wreath or crown for the Madonna.

I look these pictures with my phone, so they're not so crisp, but I used some textured fabric samples to piece half-square triangles for the outer border.

This is the rough mock-up of the piece.  I must confess that I got stalled for a long time at this stage: there was something I didn't like about the composition, and I couldn't put my finger on it for awhile.  In the meantime, I sewed and ripped out the pieced border in multiple configurations, several times.  Finally, I successfully wrestled it to the ground.  Next I'll show you the final composition and some embellishment.

Sweater Genesis

  A few years ago I learned to harvest yarn from old wool sweaters.  I don't do it so much anymore, with the exception of if I find...