Gathering inspiration, ideas, materials, tools, information; Gathering together with friends, new and old; and Making things beautiful, delicious, healthy, sustainable, and useful ~ Gather & Make.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Woodland Creatures quilt ~

A quilt? Hmmmm, yes. But what type? How large? Which technique to use? Reverse applique? Of course. But I adore applique as well, with some embroidered embellishing. The ribbon climbing daisies are stunning, and simple quilting is sublime. Couching offers texture and depth. I didn't want just one: I wanted them all! The light bulb went off, and giddily, greedily I thought, why not? I could have them all. Like an old-timey stitching sampler only on a larger scale, I could incorporate whatever techniques I desired. I would make an old-timey stitching sampler quilt.

The idea of making a quilt had been tumbling around inside my head for quite some time. It had to be outside the box, not your regular "exact" or "precise" quilt. I admire quilt makers, with all their edges and points that match up perfectly; but such methodical calculations make my brain hurt. My quilt would have to be different ~ organic, curvy, free-flowing. I had never made a pattern before, let alone designed a quilt. Where to start?

My favorite tablecloth had poppies (I adore poppies), stems at the edges, growing and flowering into the middle. I was enchanted and inspired by this viewpoint. This was to be my muse, the beginning spark.

I started making notes and gathering ideas, images. Wallpaper from Anthropology made my heart sing. The bunnies and mushrooms were sweet and charming, thus the woodland theme was born.

Alabama Chanin has a selection of beautiful stencils. I already owned a few of them. At that time some of their artwork was free and downloadable from their website. I had learned how to make stencils at their classic, week-long studio workshop. I made their fern and climbing daisies stencils. Natalie's first three books go into great detail on how to cut out your own stencils. I used a Japanese hole punch when making the climbing daisies stencil. It made quick work of cutting out all the tiny holes.

I started sketching ideas, utilizing the stencils I had. I liked bunnies and hares, but thought a jackalope would add a touch of humor.

I used the "Alabama fur" technique with the jackalope's tail. The red accents on the mushrooms are French knots. 

My husband had captured a beautiful picture of an eagle in flight. I printed out the silhouette of the eagle.

You can see the eagle here, as well as a view of the sleeping fox.

Mushrooms and foxes were sketched and sized accordingly with a copier.

At our local newspaper, they have free end of rolls of paper. These large rolls came in very handy!

I put together a paper template in the dimensions I wanted the quilt to be, 60 inches by 46 inches.  I drew long, curvy lines, delineating the pieces of the quilt. I knew I wanted to couch these seams to give them texture and make them look like branches. I spray painted the flowers in and about the "branches", while leaves and ferns were painted around the outside edges or forest floor.  I then placed the animals, switching locations, sizing and re-sizing to make a good composition.

I traced the pattern pieces and cut them out. I added a quarter inch seam to all non-edge sides. I put in grain lines, and lettered each of the pieces.

Each pattern edge was labeled with the corresponding number of the pattern piece that would be up against it. This made it easier when putting the quilt together.

Before I cut out the actual quilt, I experimented by sewing a small sample together. Curvy seams were uncharted territory for me. When the sample was stitched together smoothly, I was ready to cut out my actual quilt. It was a little, it was very unnerving when I cut into my actual yardage! Would the large pieces sew together successfully? Would everything lay okay? A leap of faith, and I cut and sprayed and stitched and cut and quilted and sewed and couched and embroidered, all the while not knowing if it would successfully come together.

Here is one of the pieces in progress. I sandwiched a swatch of blue fabric in between the front and back. Then I stitched and reverse appliqued the leaf element. The mushrooms were traced onto this piece. I then cut the mushrooms from gold colored fabric and appliqued them on. I finished with the French knots as seen above.

Here is a close up of the appliqued leaping fox. There are the ribbon climbing daisies. The ribbon is fiddley to work with, but well worth the effort.

I first sewed the quilt together, then I couched the earth colored pull into the seams with black thread. The tone on tone flowers are simply quilted. The fern is satin stitched with embroidery floss in two different colors, with the knots left showing. 

I'm glad I went for it, because I am very satisfied with the results. My woodland creatures quilt is sweet and cozy, and it makes me smile. If you like, you may view my quilt along with many other beautiful quilts now through July 19th, hanging at various establishments in the Old Mill District in Bend, Oregon. It's called "Around the block quilt walk", and it is part of the The Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, the largest outdoor quilt show in the world, which is being held Saturday, July 11th, in Sisters, Oregon. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Tunic ~

A couple of years ago I bought my first tunic. I don't ever remember having such a multi-tasking, useful piece of clothing. Extremely comfortable, the right tunic can also be rather flattering, and a magician at disguising all manner of maturing body blips. It can be worn alone as a dress, with leggings, jeans, shorts or a skirt, and layered up for winter wear. I was hooked. I began searching for the perfect tunic. I looked in stores; I looked in thrift shops; I looked online; I looked through sewing patterns; I looked at Pinterest; and of course I started a Pinterest board totally dedicated to Tunic ideas.

Last year, while participating in the Alabama Chanin workshop at the Edible Schoolyard (read that post here), I finally found exactly what I was looking for. Kristine Vejar, owner of A Verb for Keeping Warm, was wearing it, THE perfect tunic, made up in the Alabama Chanin way in their indigo organic cotton fabric. I felt a deep satisfactory sigh of relief, knowing that my search was successfully completed, and went posthaste to purchase the "Endless Summer Tunic" pattern at A Verb for Keeping Warm.

I happily brought it home, placed it lovingly in my sewing cubby, and there it sat, all ...year ...long. It was a very busy summer, but really, I wanted a tunic pattern with sleeves, and this one did not have sleeves. I had decided I would still make it up, and wear a t-shirt under it if I wanted sleeves. At that time I didn't know how to put sleeves into something sleeveless. I would never have attempted it.

Fast forward 14 months, and I am even more delighted that I purchased this pattern, because it was the ideal project to bring with me to my pattern and alterations class in Alabama. Diane helped me make a sleeve specifically for this tunic. We started with another sleeve, and measured the perimeter of the armhole of the tunic and the existing sleeve. The existing sleeve was a little small, so we just added on to make it the same measurement. There was some fussing with the directions. I did not put the fusible interfacing in the yoke. I did not put the pockets in. I did not hem the bottom, though I think I may go back and hem it to match the sleeve hem.

It was well worth the effort, because I really love the way this tunic has turned out. I felled the side seams, and left the front and back seam open. I may go back in and redo the front and back seam, because I like the extra stitching that the felling provides. I also put a little extra detail on the back of the yoke.

I know I will get a lot of use out of this tunic. I know I'll make more, and perhaps even sleeveless tunics as well. It's nice having such options.

Monday, June 8, 2015

As I sit here, my mind is still spinning from my amazing week in Alabama. I know it will take a while to digest all that I have learned. This past week I was in Florence at the Alabama Chanin Factory, taking their first Patterns and Alterations week-long workshop.

My journey began at what my friend Penny likes to call "O-dark-thirty". The only redeeming quality about leaving so early is the fact that I flew out of my friendly little local Redmond airport. How can people be so kind and smiling at that time in the morning? I don't know, but I have never found a sour soul working there. There are no cattle prod lines, usually only a few people, oftentimes a friend or neighbor, in front of you.  My husband was a dear and drove me; though if you decided to drive yourself parking is only $10 a day, with the seventh day free. It makes my trip always begin on the right foot, flying from this quaint hub.

My layover in Denver was long enough for breakfast. I was delighted to try Farm Fresh Eatery. It was the best airport food I've ever had.....oh, wait, tied with the sushi place in SFO. I was served a veggie omelet with carmelized onions made with free-range eggs, a slice of good seedy toast, and red potatoes with green onions. My meal was so satisfying and delicious, I easily didn't eat until dinner.

I arrived in Huntsville, Alabama, another convenient, small airport, early afternoon. I had just enough time to rent a car and drive straight to Tom Hendrix's Wall. I had visited there on a previous trip. The Wall is truly a magical spot. If you are unfamiliar with it, please read this article from the New York Times. It is a fascinating story.

It was early evening by the time I arrived at The Wall, and I was fortunate to enjoy the serenity of the property on my own. The sound was exactly as I remembered it; leaves rustling gently with the breeze and tiny birds sweetly calling out to one another. I wish I had this recorded to play every single morning, it is that soothing. Tom and his wife arrived just as I was about to depart. He was as vital and engaging as ever. Tom informed me that earlier in the day they had had over a hundred visitors.

I continued on my voyage, enjoying the farmlands and lush vegetation, the occasional kitschy sign. I felt a big grin when I correctly remembered exactly where the Fame Recording building was. I feel an affinity for this place, almost akin to a second home. I arrived at the Marriott Mussel Shoals just in time, as a huge thunder storm began to let loose.  I was happy to call the Marriott home for the week. It is clean, comfortable, has great service, and a pretty view of the river from my balcony. Truth be told, there was little sleep for me. I was just too excited for my workshop to begin.

Monday morning couldn't come fast enough, and I practically floated to the Factory. I first noticed a group of ladies forming in the Cafe area. It was First Mondays @ The Factory. Seeing this group of women made me so happy. They were all gathering together to stitch and share and catch up with each others happenings. I've been wanting to implement a stitching circle here in Bend, and seeing these ladies gives me further incentive to make it happen.

Upon entering the workshop area, there were hugs, smiling faces, and jovial greetings all around for old friends and new. I wasn't sure what to expect for a week of patterns and alterations. I just knew these were areas I knew little about. We all sat down and penned our visions of what we wanted from the coming week. Our hopes, desires, and expectations were all now written down in an organized, concrete plan instead of buzzing around willy-nilly in our brains. What a brilliant way to begin.

I may not have known what to expect in regard to patterns and alterations, but I did know how wonderful the food was at The Factory. I arrived with great expectations in the gastronomy arena and was not disappointed! Every part of every day was a treat; fresh roasted Factory coffee with organic cream, tea (hot, plain or sweet), crushed ice for beverages, breakfast to die for, and lunches to tantalize the tastebuds and satisfy the soul. The use of organic, local ingredients and the expert preparation of meals brought everything to the peak of perfection. Check out their daily menu for a sample of their fare. Natalie's son, Zach, is an amazing chef. He not only brought us wonderful meals, but prepared afternoon sweets and snacks that fed our bodies and nourished our working minds.

Fresh squeezed orange juice, cheesy grits, potato pancakes, and picture framed eggs. 

The week whizzed by all too quickly for my liking. Oh, we had sufficient time for all of our lessons and learning; but I could have stayed for a month and still not wanted to leave! The Factory is filled with art and inspiration every which way you turn: The Alabama Chanin team exudes Southern hospitality with their kind, helpful attention.

We took our measurements and created our slopers. These are customized patterns, specific to your own body measurements. From these master patterns, or slopers, we were taught a myriad of ways to alter and change things up to our liking. We could narrow down to a pencil skirt or flair out to a full-on circle skirt and everything in between. I learned to make and set sleeves, change up necklines, add and subtract length and width in varying ways to create a variety of silhouettes. I could feel myself become comfortable with patterns and alterations where I never had been before.

I learned what changes I should make when using a non Alabama Chanin pattern, yet still utilizing cotton jersey and the Alabama Chanin hand stitching methods. I also made a pattern from scratch of a favorite t-shirt that I did not have a pattern for.

Waistband details of the Marcy Tilton patterned pants made in the Alabama Chanin style. 

Diane has a wealth of knowledge, with 50 years of sewing experience. She is generous, patient, kind, and easy to follow. She was a wonder to work with. I don't know where else you could have gotten so much information in such a relatively short period of time. Amazingly, I feel all the knowledge has sunk in and comfortably available, that's just how excellent an instructor Diane is.

We gathered together with Natalie throughout the days and learned the history of the company, and Natalie went over the physics of sewing and tips and tricks. Even though I've been to previous workshops, I learn something new every time.

This workshop was filled with invaluable information. I feel so grateful that I was able to attend. I feel inspired just from having been at the Factory and by all the women that I met at the workshop. Each and every participant had their own take on what they wanted and needed, and they all brought something new and exciting to the table. I can't wait to see pictures of their finished projects over the next weeks and months.

I'll leave you with a few images of samples made from their New Leaves stencil and others. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Gifty Bling ~ I have been in a blingy mood lately, making all kinds of fun sparklies for relatives, friends, and I couldn't help but make a few things for myself.

First up are a trio of earrings for Mother's Day.

Amazonite, apatite, and moonstone on sterling and aluminum. 

Tourmaline (don't you love all the colors?) and sterling.

Green garnet and gold vermiel. 

With lots of birthdays coming up, I was into using sterling and Karen Hilltribe silver, leather, and some pearls.

This leather wrap can be worn as a bracelet or single/double/ or triple strand necklace. The leather was a bit too bright and shiny for me, so I used some sandpaper to distress it. I started with 60" of leather, and with all the knots and 21 pearls, the final necklace is 41". 

Ancient Roman glass, pearls, sterling and leather.

I was beyond ecstatic to find another cache of this amazing ancient Roman glass. Each piece is unique, the patina luminescent, rustic, gorgeous. 

Trio of necklaces in tarnished sterling, gold, pearls, moonstone, and raw diamonds.

The top necklace is really a longer necklace, 38",  wrapped twice.  

This second necklace is 21" long. I've strung pearls and gold, and used a pendant that I had made many years ago using PMC in a reverse mold that I had made from an impression of a button. It feels good to finally have it made up into a wearable piece of jewelry. 

The bottom 30" necklace is rosary style, each tiny pearl or stone is linked together. I love mixing gold and silver together, especially using tarnished and bright silver. In this necklace I've linked different colored cultured pearls, moonstone, a few gold vermiel hex beads, and silver together. The longer necklaces could also be wrapped multiple times to form bracelets. 

I've put my pliers, wire, and stones away for a while, until I feel inspired to go on my next blingy binge. 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Introducing - Jackie O ~

I was recently in Jackson Hole for a girls' trip. Amidst the skiing and eating, and biking and eating, and hot tubing and eating, and just hanging out and eating, we did get a wee bit of poking around and shopping in. We mostly hit the "op" shops or thrift stores, but we did meander past a boutique that happened to be selling some mannequins, the same type of mannequin that I had been wistfully dreaming of purchasing online. Lucky me, for they were less than half the price, just the right size, in tip-top shape, and yes, we did have room in the car to bring her home. So I purchased her, strapped her in the back seat next to me, and we became best buddies on the 12-hour drive home. Since she hailed from Jackson Hole, we appropriately named her Jackie O.

When weather and lighting permit, I will bring Jackie O outside and snap a few pics of her attired in my newest projects.

This is the fitted dress in ochre.  I used the Angie's Fall stencil, brown paint, maroon thread, in negative reverse applique. I wasn't sure which color thread I wanted to use, so I stitched up a little sample to see what I liked best.

I felt the burgundy gave me a little color pop without looking too busy.

Here is the same fitted short dress pattern, also in Angie's Fall stencil, reverse applique, tan paint, gray thread. I used the organic cotton that I indigo dyed last summer (read about it here) for the bottom layer, and Alabama Chanin hand-dyed indigo organic cotton on top.

The paint was so subtle that I had a really difficult time seeing it when working the pattern. Note for next time, use a darker shade of tan!

Here's the same dress with the indigo skirt I made here. I like the extra layer in the cooler weather, and it looks pretty too. I paired this outfit with my brown cowboy boots and brown leather moto jacket. The A. Chanin wrap cardi in black with my black wedges will look nice as the weather warms; and white flip flops with no skirt in the summer.

Close up of skirt/dress layering.

Here's a few pictures of Jackson Hole, breathtakingly beautiful.