Saturday, April 28, 2007

Inspiration in Stained Glass : Part 2

Here are some more inspirational stained glass windows. This time it's from a Romanesque Church in Issoire, France.

Some of these patterns would make excellent projects for learning Electric Quilt (ie duplicating these patterns in this computer program). Since these patterns are hundreds of years old, means they are safely part of the public domain, in terms of copyright,.

Most of the other old churches we visited had very ornate painted stained glass windows--a very different style, and one I couldn't even begin to translate to fabric!

Inspiration in Stained Glass : Part 1

These are some photos I took on our trip to France this Spring. These are some of the stained glass windows from the Romanesque church in Orcival, France. Look like anything a quilter might recognize and appreciate?

It makes me wonder how the stained-glass artisans and the quilters influenced each other through the years ... They were probably all sleeping under the same quilts! Too bad textiles don't tend to last as long as stained glass! I'd love to see quilts from this period, too!

Orcival is a tiny village in The Massif Centrale (sparsely populated highlands of eastern-central France). It's amazing that such a small village has such a fantastic and historical church right there. The outside was covered in scaffolding (Jacqueline's curse for this trip), or I'd show you the outside, too.

Here's a shot of Orcival :

"Book Ends" Memory Quilt for Mary B.

Here's where my work life intersects with my after-hours interests ... I'm a Health Sciences Librarian by day. My Library Director and mentor for the past 9 years will be leaving her post April 30, 2007, as a result of a re-organization effort by Administration to contain costs. Her job was eliminated after 35 years. You can read my tribute to Mary Bayorgeon here.

In this blog post, I want to write about the making of this Signature Quilt for Mary.

I started in 2005 by asking Mary what her favorite colors were ... Little did Mary know what I was up to. She answered quickly : red, blue, yellow. Primary colors, and I promptly went out and bought fat quarters in those colors. I chose the Rail Fence block because I thought it looked like books on a shelf--fitting for a career librarian. And the rails allowed a generous amount of space for signatures and messages.

Here's a page from my actual Sweet Leaf Notebook (where I scribble and sketch out ideas well before I sit down in the sewing room with them) :

In December 2005, I drafted a letter and mailed it with a Rail Fence Quilt block and a SASE out to many of our library colleagues past and present. Most of them wanted to participate, and wrote back what a wonderful idea this was to honor Mary.

Method of Construction :
* The Rail Fence blocks were strip pieced, then cut, and sewn into blocks.
* I used Marti Michell's Quilting in Sections. This method works remarkably well for making the quilting manageable on a regular home sewing machine because you are quilting smaller sections at a time. The best part is that once a section is done, it's done. You don't have to go back and do the quilting! My only complaint is that the joining seams can get bulky on the back-side.
* Quilting motifs : The Rail Fence blocks are quilted with a corner to corner "swoop" that comes out looking like a star in the 4-patch blocks. On the borders, I used a cabbage-rose design. It's hard to see behind the gold print fabric, but was a great way to practice free-motion quilting.

This is the drawing of the cabbage rose motif I stitched into the borders of Mary's quilt :

After drawing it on paper about 30 times, it was easy to do via free-motion.

* Bonnie McCaffery's binding method worked well with the reversed blind hem stitch. My hand sewing is really not very good, so I was overjoyed to see this mostly-by-machine binding method.

Lessons Learned :
1) Don't use rayon thread for the machine quilting. It may be beautiful, but it's not strong enough. By the time I had finished the quilt to present to Mary, I could see that some of the rayon quilting threads were breaking in places.

2) Seam covers are a little bulky on the back side. I started sewing these by hand. But I soon realized that it's much faster and makes the seam more secure to stitch these seam covers by machine with clear polyester thread. My hand stitching took too long to do, and it started to pull out before I finished the quilt.

3) On collecting signatures. This was easier if I could be there to explain to the signers that they needed to use a special pen and leave a seam allowance. Most people I asked to sign were not quilters, so they just gave me a funny look when I said "seam allowance."
Not everyone quilts, nor has an understanding of fabrics. For the blocks I mailed out to people, I included a letter that explained participants should use a permanent marker (Sharpie-type) or even a regular ball point pen--NO GEL PENS. Mary Horan, a fellow quilter and Librarian, suggested that I iron a piece of freezer paper to the back of the rail so the fabric would be stabilized when people tried to write on it. (If you haven't tried writing on a loose block, the fabric wiggles without being stabilized.) Again, some of the non-quilters who signed at a distance somehow thought the freezer paper was some kind of transfer paper, so they signed the paper on the back of the block. I had to "forge" some of these signatures to the right side when I got the blocks back, and peeled off the freezer paper. I think there were only 2 blocks that had ink that ran after I removed the markings for machine quilting. Again, some of the non-quilters didn't know what a seam allowance was, so some of the words got cut off in the seams.

4) When I had the blocks laid out on my design wall, I thought this was going to be a huge quilt! By the time it was sewed together, it was a lot smaller.

5) I also kept a spreadsheet of the following :
-- Who I had asked to sign the blocks
-- Date block was sent for signature
-- Was Block Returned? Yes / No
I gave Mary this spreadsheet when I gave her the quilt. This helped her know who had already signed the quilt, and who she wanted to make sure she asked to sign the quilt herself. A few people forgot and signed the completed quilt again (No big deal-I started this project 2 years ago!). She could also see who I had thought to ask to participate ...
I suppose I could have also kept track of where each signee ended up in the quilt and listed the x/y location of each, but I wasn't that thorough.

I pictured Mary putting this quilt on the back of a couch, or something ... Mary plans to hang it on a wall in her home. As soon as she said that, I had to add a hanging pocket!

Mary was really touched and honored that I would have invested so much time and effort into making a quilt for her. It's the least I could have done for all I've learned from her in the past 9 years! She said no one has ever made a quilt for her. She will treasure it. That's why we Quilters Quilt!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Darting Needles Name Tag

I finished my name tag for Darting Needles Quilt Guild, Appleton, WI. This guild has a wonderful list of programs and guest speakers.

For the name tag, we could do pretty much whatever we wanted. I chose this flying geese block. I have a little green feather butterfly I wanted to include, too, but my husband thought it took away from the the rest of the block. So the butterfly is stuck to my sewing room wall until it finds a better home.

Needle Felting

This is my first experimental attempt at needle felting.

This is the front side ...

I used the Clover needle-felting tool over a foam block (instead of the brush Clover sells with the felting tool).

Fibers used :
Wool curls/locks (blue and red)
Silk strands (green and gold)
Angelina (pink)

Here's the back side (a pleasing water-color view) :

Ailin and the Lion

Here's the baby blanket I made for my new little niece in Japan. I bought the kit at Nancy's Notions. The fabric is super-soft and cuddly Minke.

Sorry, I am NOT taking orders to make one for your grandchild. I suggest you learn to sew one yourself! It'll be fun!

The pink-yellow-green blanket the baby is laying on was made by my Aunt Rosita Matucheski. She is also known as the Queen of Embroidery Machines, so she added the Apple-Jacks-like kids embroidered on the borders.

Not pictured are the baby quilts made by Aunt Marge, Aunt Marie, and my mom, Holly. I come from a long line of seamstresses ...