alex-anderson

I just discovered that Alex Anderson is offering a series of videos on hand and machine appliqué over at The Quilt Show website.

If you’re not already a member you do need to register but no $$ involved, the classes are free. Check it out at the appliqué classroom page and follow Alex through many hand and machine techniques. A great resource!

Cheers,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

wanted

Would you like to contribute an article to All About Appliqué? Come on down!

You can show us a special tip or trick, give us a photo tour of your method, demo a product, review your favorite book, etc. etc. Any method of appliqué is great! Use anybody’s pattern, or your own, just be sure to give the pattern source. Shoot me an email to kay at kaymackenzie.com (you know the drill, use the @ sign and no spaces) and let me know what you have in mind.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to know how to blog! If you can write an email and attach a photo, you can do this! I’ll turn your material into a fantastic post.

Many thanks!
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

At the Pacific International Quilt Festival last fall, I was delighted to see that a fellow PVQA guild member had won a big whopping prize!

meri-ribbon

Best of World! It’s a big world, and I was so impressed!

You can click on the photo to get a larger view.

I asked Meri to tell us something about herself and her work.

Meri ~

I was born just outside New York City in 1945 to a family which, on my father’s side, has had literally generations upon generations of artists (I have never met a Henriques who wasn’t one sort of artist or another!). I received a BA in Fine Art from the University of California at Berkeley, which wasn’t terribly useful when it came to making a living! Fortunately, my husband does that for us, so I’ve been able to live the life of a housewife and non-starving artist.

Meri

Meri


In past years, I’ve worked on building costumes for the San Francisco Lamplighters under the guidance of the brilliant designer Melissa Wortman, and I’ve costumed shows for the now-extinct Bay Shore Lyric Opera Company in Capitola.

In 2006, I took my first trip to Guatemala on one of Priscilla Bianchi‘s wonderful Guatemalan tours, and fell in love with what I’ve come to think of as the ‘Rainbow Country’. My first Guatemalan quilt, ‘Las Mujeres Azules de Guatemala (the Blue Ladies of Guatemala)”, a result of that trip, was just published in Lark Books 500 Art Quilts.

Las Mujeres Azules de Guatemala by Meri Henriques Vahl

Las Mujeres Azules de Guatemala by Meri Henriques Vahl

I made a return trip with Priscilla in the fall of 2008, and the ‘Flower Market’ (the first quilt shown here) was the result. Here’s a description of my process. I began by putting the quilt back face-down on my worktable. Over this, I spread a layer of natural cotton batting, and then took out my scissors: I was ready to start creating…

The main central picture in the ‘Flower Market’ quilt is a fabric collage using recycled Guatemalan belts and huipiles (woven blouses), Guatemalan fabric, some cotton batiks, and a few flower prints that were cut into very small units. Because I couldn’t find all the flower prints I needed, for example chrysanthemums, I fused cotton fabrics onto Wonder Under and then cut them into narrow strips and ironed them down (just in case I sneezed or the cats got into them!). I also included short lengths of yarn in several places for flower stems, and layers of dark blue tulle (in the flower buckets, for example) to create shadows. Note: there are no seams in this area – it’s all raw edges.

For the faces, I took the photographs I was working from to Kinko’s and blew them up in black and white to the size I wanted, then traced the outlines onto tracing paper, which I then reversed, drawing the image onto freezer paper. Now I had a reversed image.

Next, I ironed fine off-white cotton onto the freezer paper and drew the faces with Aquarelle Caran d’Ache colored pencils using a very interesting layering technique that dates from Medieval times: I first drew the outlines in dark blue pencil, then shaded in the shadows; then came more pencil over-layers of tan, rose, brown, yellow, and black around the eyes. Once I had achieved the effects I was after, I used Sharpie permanent pens to add accents to the eyes, eyebrows, mouths, etc. I also used this same coloring procedure to draw the small baskets and any flowers and fruits I didn’t have store-bought fabric for.

Once my picture was complete, I carefully spread a single layer of black (yes, black!) tulle over the entire surface, added lots of pins to hold the pieces in place, and then spent hours and hours free-motion quilting over the whole thing, to ‘trap’ everything in place. The stitching (finally!) completed, I squared up the picture and then added the borders, using the usual traditional piecing techniques.

I have taught this fabric collage technique in the past, and will be teaching it again at the Monterey Peninsula Quilters Guild on July 11, 2010, and also doing a presentation the next day for the Guild (I believe non-members are welcome to take their classes and attend the lectures). It’s a thrill to see my students take off on their own exciting explorations with this marvelous liberating and fun technique! Since there is no piecing involved, anything goes — and wonderful landscape can be achieved in just a brief couple of hours!

And, I can’t wait to go back to Guatemala and find out what else happens!

Kay here ~ thank you so much Meri for talking us through how your create your stunning quilts. I’ll also look forward to seeing what your next trip inspires!

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

I had a question from a reader.

Hello,
Help.
I just started my first wool applique with wonder under and I had to move some of the pieces around after I had adhered them….do I cut a new wonder under and re-iron them or is there some thing else that would work better? Thank you for your help in this project!
Bonnie

I don’t work in wool myself, but my first impression is that pulling up a fused wool motif might stretch it. Kay Moore, who gave us a wonderful and comprehensive article about wool appliqué. reminds me that this very issue is why she doesn’t work with fusibles (along with wanting to keep her wool projects soft and pliable).

Kaye thinks that if the wool applique piece has not been distorted by pulling it off the background, then Bonnie can use it again, not trying to re-fuse it but simply pinning it to the background and stitching. If there is distortion, then Bonnie should start again with a new piece of wool. Bonnie, hope this helps!

Along about the same time I was looking into this question, I noticed a new book about wool appliqué: Penny Rugs: Sewing Wool Applique by Janice Sonnen.

penny-rugs

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

That’s the way a fantastic tea-themed blog post starts out, over at Quilt Inspiration! Find out why Eleanor Roosevelt thought so in this comprehensive article all about tea, teapot quilts, and teapot fabrics.

Oriental Teapot by Verona Flint and Kay Mackenzie

Oriental Teapot by Verona Flint and Kay Mackenzie


Quilt Inspiration is written by Marina and Daryl, a team of quilt lovers and “idea collectors.” There are many other fascinating themed articles as well on their exceedingly nice blog, so fix a cup of tea and relax awhile.

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Tasty precuts make great ingredients for A Baker’s Dozen!

A Baker's Dozen from the staff at That Patchwork Place

A Baker's Dozen from the staff at That Patchwork Place

Most of the staff at Martingale & Company (parent company of That Patchwork Place) are quiltmakers. In this collaborative pattern book they challenged themselves to use the yummy precut assortments available today… we’re talking jelly rolls, layer cakes, honey buns, turnovers, dessert rolls, fat quarters, and charm packs… to whip up a bakery case of delectable quilts.

Note: It isn’t required to use precuts. Each set of instructions also gives fabric requirements for pulling from your stash or from bolts at the quilt shop. But just in case you have been tempted by those luscious jelly rolls, layer cakes, etc., the book gives information on how to handle them, sort them, to wash or not to wash, and what to do about those confusing pinked edges.

Staff from all areas of Martingale contributed to the book, from web manager to the marketing department to customer service and relations, print and production, editorial, book design, illustration, accounting, author liaison, acquisitions and development, and the social networking coordinator, who quilted 11 of the quilts! I thought it would be fun to hear something about the process.

Mary Burns, Marketing Coordinator, tells the story of her quilt Flying Shuttles.

cracker

The Editorial Department put out a call to the staff for designs using precut fabrics or fat quarters. I don’t really consider myself a quilt designer. I think of myself as just your average quilter. Everyone here is so encouraging though—I work with such wonderful and creative people—so I decided to jump in!

I had a fat quarter pack of Kim Diehl’s “Country Haven” and I knew I wanted to do something old-fashioned and folksy to go with the décor of my 1901 farmhouse. I found a traditional pieced block called “Cracker” in my trusty Judy Hopkins book 501 Rotary-Cut Quilt Blocks. I set the blocks in circles and called it Colvin Mill Wheels, after a historic mill near my sister’s house in Virginia.

At the last minute, I sketched out an alternate layout of Cracker blocks in vertical rows—and that’s the one that was chosen. (Hooray for last minute inspiration!) At that point the quilt didn’t have any appliqué, but after I pieced it and sewed on the cream border, it just looked like it needed something. I sketched out a flowing vine, some leaves, and folksy flowers. Fortunately, they were thrilled—but I only had a couple weeks before the deadline for finished quilts— and I was scheduled to be at Spring Quilt Market the first week and on vacation at my sister’s in Virginia the second week. What was I thinking?!

As Marketing Coordinator, one aspect of my job is to get everything ready for our booth at Quilt Market. The month up to and including Market is extremely hectic. I stayed up late every night the week before we left, finishing the pieced borders and machine appliquéing all my vines and leaves, cutting out all my folksy flowers and flower centers and packing them all in my carry-on—didn’t want to risk losing it!

I use freezer paper applique on the wrong side of the fabric, with the shiny side up so that I can press the seam allowance to the sticky side, then cut a slit in the back and remove the paper. I machine-appliqued the vines and leaves and hand-appliqued the flowers and flower centers. I finished appliquéing the centers onto the flowers on the plane; it really made time fly!

When we got to the hotel, I laid the quilt out on my bed and figured out where I wanted the flowers to go. Despite my valiant efforts, by the time Market was over, I still wasn’t finished appliquéing the flowers—how naïve of me to think that I could work hard at Market and still have time and energy to finish the quilt! So off to my sister’s house the two of us went, my quilt and I, with a promise that I’d email a photo of the finished quilt before the deadline. It’s kind of fitting that I finished it in all the way across the country in Virginia, near the Mill that originally inspired me to use the Cracker block.

I changed the title of the quilt to “Flying Shuttles” because the way the Cracker block turns left and right reminds me of how a shuttle flies through a loom. When I showed it to my teenage sons at home, the Cracker blocks reminded them of the old Intellivision game, Astrosmash, and the space shuttles that you had to shoot to win. Either way, I just love how this quilt turned out–and apparently I’m not the only one, because the quilt has been chosen to be in That Patchwork Place Quilt Calendar 2011—I’m Miss November!

So there’s my saga, hope you find it amusing. The hardest part about designing a quilt pattern is that you have to write down everything you do, and have it make sense to someone who’s never done it before. Now I know! It’s not as easy as it sounds!

Cathy Reitan, Martingale’s author liaison, set a personal challenge for herself with her design.

Circles and Chains by Cathy Reitan

Circles and Chains by Cathy Reitan

I have always created with textiles, starting in high school with fashion sewing from patterns and then moving into copying store fashions. As I moved into my 30s and had a family, the focus changed to children’s designs and home dec sewing with a little bit of quilting. With the dawn of children having their driver’s licenses and freedom from being a slave to the car, I began to quilt. You know, the kind of quilting where you plan a project, shop for the items you need, and work on it for significant lengths of time, not just in stolen moments.

I usually use traditional civil war colors and patterns with a lot of hand work. When the opportunity to design a quilt for A Baker’s Dozen came along, I set myself a goal of using colors out of my normal color palette and geometrical shapes that where also not the norm for me. Circles and Chains was the result. I combined the traditional Irish chain block ( just could not completely give up the traditional) with the geometric fast-fused applique circles. I made couple of sample blocks and threw them away because the colors I picked were not strong enough to support the jelly roll I wanted to work with. Back to the quilt store for the brown and yellow solids and another trial block was made. The effect of the deeper color was much better with my jelly roll. I used several colors I love to hate, primarily orange paired with turquoise which is color that I am repeatedly drawn to but matches nothing in my house. Now I just need a child to give up a bedroom so I can decorate with a new color scheme!

Working at Martingale is a great place to inspire creativity and take the next leap of faith because there is always someone to encourage and praise your efforts. There is always someone to bounce and brainstorm ideas with. Of course with so many beautiful samples coming in from authors the list of projects I want to make is always longer than the hours left in my lifetime!

Adrienne Smitke from the illustration department describes the collaborative effort that went into her design.

Ladybugs!

Ladybugs!

This quilt was a team effort, and I think that’s part of why I like it so much. Not only are the colors and motifs cheerful and welcoming, when I see this quilt I think about all the different elements of its construction and how many different hands helped stitch it together.

While I really like sewing, I love shopping for fabric. I could spend hours browsing either online or in the fabric store through the ever changing rows of color and pattern. It is more often the fabric that helps inspire the kind of quilt or project I want to make rather than the other way around. I had been trying to come up with an excuse to work with Momo’s Wonderland fabric line since its release. While browsing for ideas, I took a closer look at the polka-dot print in this fabric line and discovered that some of the dots were actually ladybugs. Inspiration struck and I knew ladybugs would make a cute and easy appliqué design. To compliment the ladybugs, I pulled three simple flower shapes from the print used in the border.

As a technical illustrator I spend a lot of time working with Adobe Illustrator (a vector drawing program), so it was easy for me to draw the full size applique patterns on the computer. This allowed me to easily tweak and size them as I needed to fit the blocks. You don’t need to be a professional designer to use a computer to create your own patterns. Many computers already come with drawing software, or you can simply Google “vector drawing program” online to explore the many options available. It can take a little time to get used to the drawing tools in these programs, however you shouldn’t be discouraged. Like with any skill, practice makes perfect.

Once the quilt design was complete, that’s when the teamwork began. I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish two complete quilts (my other quilt in the book is “Rose Garden,” page 62) in the time available, but my co-workers came to the rescue. Despite that they were all working on additional quilts of their own for A Baker’s Dozen, they pitched in and each took on a part of the process.

While I cut and sewed the pieced blocks, Karen Soltys worked on the appliqué blocks. Karen has a wealth of great tips for how she made the machine appliqué simple and easy. First she traced all the large shapes on fusible web and then, before cutting any of them out, traced the smaller shapes inside the larger ones. She cut those smaller pieces out of the centers of the larger ones, and fused them onto their contrast fabrics. This not only saved on fusible web, but made the finished appliqué blocks much softer and more flexible.

After all the shapes were fused to their fabrics and then to the white background blocks, Karen machine-blanket-stitched around all of the shapes using chocolate brown machine-quilting thread to add definition to the designs. She recommends using open-toe presser foot so that you can easily see where you’re stitching. In addition, she used a 50-weight thread (“regular” sewing thread) in the bobbin, which required loosening the machine tension a bit so that the bottom thread wouldn’t pull up to the top as she stitched.

Karen handed off the appliquéd blocks to Cathy Reitan, who hand-embroidered the beautiful details for the flower stems, lady bug wings, and antennae before assembling the blocks and borders into a quilt top. Karen Burns, who did the stunning machine quilting on almost all of the quilts in the book, stitched all-over swirls in the appliqué blocks to help the motifs stand out, and then added flowers in the borders reminiscent of the flowers in the fabric pattern. Finally the quilt came back to Cathy, who sewed on the binding and hanging sleeve. It was really thrilling to see how all of the blocks and pieces were assembled into a stunning final product, and to know each of us had a hand in it. Now the quilt hangs behind my desk at work and each day I am greeted by its cheerful motifs and reminded of the teamwork that helped put this quilt together.

I really enjoyed hearing these stories, hope you did too. Martingale has supplied a copy of the book to give away, so leave a comment before 7:00 p.m. California time on Saturday, May 8, to enter the drawing to win this delicious collection of quilt patterns. (U.S. and Canada only)

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie