Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bead Crochet patchwork bracelet

   Often regarding a craft, I say, "It is so easy to do!" Not so with bead crochet. I always say it is the most difficult craft I have ever learned.
click to enlarge
    However, it is a very portable craft. On vacations, in meetings, and waiting for appointments, it is relaxing to have something involving small motor skills. 
    For my birthday Nancy made a patchwork crocheted beaded bracelet that I had admired. I wanted to make more since I am so into quilting these days. The patchwork is a 6-around pattern. This diamond pattern is found in many crochet bead books and on-line but you can create any pattern.
    It is good to start learning by stringing 6 different colors, repeatedly, on a topstitch thread and we Beadsprouts use Gutterman's 30m thread, a size 10 or 11 crochet needle, glass seed beads, a bead blanket made of a cut-up Velux blanket, a long wide-eyed needle, and a good light with magnifier. Sitting in the sun helps to see. There are wonderful books with techniques and YouTube demos on-line. Gradually you can expand to work in silver and gold, pop-up and other beads to vary. Below I have included the patchwork pattern.
    I was excited by the craft six years ago when Anna mentioned that she and her friends each made a segment for a necklace for the birthday girl in their group. The Beadsprouts were soon to follow. In this pattern for the patchwork bracelet, B stands for the background color. Vary the colors As and Cs. Usually 42 to 44 inches is a good length. String the beads, wind them around the thread spool, put them in an eyeglass case and you are ready to roll. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Vineyard Landscapes: a future journal quilt

   If Martha's Vineyard survived the hurricane, my beading friends and I will go to the island for our annual retreat. We each take a surprise craft to busy our hands at downtime. In the past, we have beaded glasses, flatware and tops of tins, decorated candles, cards and felt flowers, put our world in a bottle of sand. But this time, I could not think of a single craft I was interested in. I went to the fabric store for inspiration and bought too much work.
click to enlarge
     In art you find good things happen from mistakes. I have decided we will fuse and stitch individual landscape quilts. When you teach, you learn. I made white cardboard frames, 10"x 10" on the outside and 8" x 8" on the inside, so each beader can design within limits. I ironed Wonder Under to 10 pieces of color for each of the six of us; and all that is needed is to iron the shapes we cut out onto the background piece.
     I also cut larger "sand" backing (the bottom piece) that can fold over the sides to bind the mini-quilts when the quilting is finished. The second sand piece up in the photo is the background to which the beaders will fashion and fuse their cut-outs with an iron:  grass, foliage, trees, rocks, sand, sea, sky, people, umbrellas...wherever inspiration leads. The background with their toppings will be spray-basted or pinned to the batting which I cut for each artist; and decorative stitching can begin for accents and interest. 
     For a design, the beaders can go abstract, look at watercolors of a Vineyard scene they have painted from the window, follow a favorite Vineyard photo, or work from their imagination. I might hint at the hurricane. I can't wait to see what they will do. In the meantime, I need to gather fabric scissors, needles and thread, pins, embroidery thread and needles, sketch paper and permanent markers. The ladies should have beads on hand to further embellish.

Note:  August 27 and Sept 4,  2011 blogs for other get-away bead crafts. Click bead in Labels and scroll down.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Dyeing for fun: a play date for grownups

    Nothing like a play date for this blogger, especially with clever art quilter Susan. We had been talking about how we were not going to get into dyeing fabrics for our art quilts, but we found two simple ways to do it, neither requiring rinsing or breathing loose pigments.
    Susan ordered several bottles of Adirondak color spray ink, put drop cloths on the floor and table, set up a drying rack and a back screen. We squeezed the water from and laid presoaked white cloths, silk, cotton, and white on whites on papers in the protected area, picked up bottles in analogous colors and sprayed. Then we squished the fabrics in the palms of our rubber-gloved hands and hung them on a rack to dry.
    I had taken some Createx air brush paints that you also do not need to wring dry or rinse . We folded dry PDF cloth (prepared for dyeing) into different origami types of configurations as one does in tie-dye, then bound the pieces with rubber bands. We laid them on another piece of fabric and squirted transparent air brush paints into the folds of the fabrics. Then we put the fabric into plastic bags for an overnight rest. In the morning we will see our results, drying them further and ironing to soften. Marquetta Bell-Johnson in her Hand-Dyed Quilts book recommended using these paints.
click to enlarge
    Before going over to Susan's, I collected materials and ran across a Better Homes and Gardens magazine article to remind me I had once before dyed fabric, back in January 1978. Our family created simple crayon batik pictures and I sewed the panels together for a window treatment.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bambi, the Unexpected Gift: a journal quilt

   Bambi was a very influential movie in my life and I wanted the children to view it. Many said it was too scary; but my grandchildren loved the movie and wanted to see it repeatedly. Every night we kept them during the move to another state, they shouted eagerly: "BAMBI, BAMBI, BAMBI," when I asked what bedtime movie they wanted to watch.
click to enlarge
      Although the children did not appear anxious over the recent move and on the drive to their new home started asking 15 minutes out of town how long it would take to get there, the icing on the packed snacks was that when Joe drove into the new driveway four hours later, David, 2, spotted the statue of a deer on the neighbor's lawn and hollered out, "BAMBI!"
      As as the day went on, Joe looked out the window to see an antlered deer in the woods across the street; and by the time he rounded up the children to view it, a doe appeared. The animals remained there until eventually a car drove by to spook them. What a gift for the children on the arrival in their new home, one that made the grandmother quite thrilled, necessitating a journal quilt for this special occasion of gratitude.
      I found a fabric that looked like the deer in the movie. I made the white ribbon by fusing Wonder Under to the back of white fabric. On the Wonder Under, I drew the bow and ribbons freehand, cut them out and ironed them, fusing to the deer fabric. I quilted by using a blanket stitch on my sewing machine around the ribbon and a free motion funny grass stitch between the deer. I cut the quilted block to an exact 12 x 12 inches but then imperfected it when adding the iron-on hem binding and zig sag stitch to secure.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Roundup Time: a Moving journal quilt

click to enlarge
    The grandchildren recently moved four hours from us. We were able to assist by keeping a 7, 5 and 2 for a week. Hannah learned to cross-stitch. They drew, painted, wove lanyards and worked on a journal quilt with me. Joe the saint, played with them in the pool almost daily. Crafts and swimming are symbolized on this background of not tears, but lots of water splashing.
     The vehicles stand for the many rides to the pool and Joe's driving the little angels and Emmit their dog to their new home. At the end and the beginning, the grands had been so well prepared for the move that the giraffe security blanket, left behind, has not been missed. Ooops, I free-motion added Hannah, Erika, David, Joe and LinLin's name to the quilt with Summer 2011...but forgot both dogs, Emmit and Farley. The names are barely visible but I wanted to record.
      Perhaps I could have added more interest to the quilt by framing or projecting the memories trompe l'oeil. Once again, I used the half-century old hem binder.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Material Girls Adventure: a journal quilt

     In late June, my friend Ann and I headed west to the Material Girls Quilt Guild show in Leominster, Central Massachusetts.  We took off the day for culinary pleasures and art. Certainly, Jessica's works at that show were a major draw. We started at a top diner, did the show in depth, and stopped for a seafood lunch and baskets of farm strawberries on the way home.  I couldn't ignore this outing when there is a strawberry challenge quilt to be made for the Journal Quilt Connection 12" x 12" group! (see last week's strawberry blog)
click to enlarge

     But sometimes things don't work out! I wanted a basket weave pattern (such as I found at the fabulous  Quilter's Cache/Marcia Hohn), alternating the yellows with the reds); but I didn't have enough basket yellow.  I thought I would have a learning experience this afternoon and gamble on two prints of no contrast. I learned my lesson :*{ I did a basket weave and I used some strawberries albeit accompanied by kiwis. I alternated the strawberries with cars and put a simplified strawberry pattern on the back and drew it around the sides for a binding. Let me tell you, the back looks better than the front. Why the cars? We drove and drove and drove! all over the place, having a good time looking for quilt stores, inspired by the fabulous show where we saw great talent and picked up inspirational books and fabrics. Such sweet memories make me fond of this troubled little journal quilt!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Strawberry Fields: a journal quilt

   The Journal Quilt Connection, a Massachusetts 12" x 12" quilt group, has members choose a theme for each month. I chose birthdays or beginnings for July and posted these earlier. Pam's theme for August is strawberries. For me, that was a tough one, since I prefer cherries.

   When I remembered John Lennon's Strawberry Fields, I began to warm to the theme. After about age 4 1/2, John Lennon (according to Wikipedia, and other sources on the Internet) lived with his aunt next door to a Salvation Army orphanage named Strawberry Fields. If I understand correctly, he loved to play in the wooded garden behind the home, especially when he heard the band starting up. I could also relate to Lennon's talk of trees as well as the elms in his memorial in NYC. 

click to enlarge
     People have studied the song's lyrics and made references to how different John felt from others. One source said he experienced visions that others didn't. There is in the second verse: "No one I think is in my tree." John said, "...therefore, I must be crazy or a genius."You can find all this and more if you Google Strawberry Fields Forever Wikipedia and check other URLs.

      To create my quilt, I first drew simple shapes of boys and trees. I decided to cut silhouettes out of black fabric and applique them to the abstract strawberry field. I used Wonder Under and and then a blanket stitch. I knew I needed to quilt the background so I just started sewing straight stitches from the center out. A tiny border was called for so I used a 50-year-old iron-on hem binding I found in the attic. I stitched over that. Maybe I should quilt the boy and the tree but I don't know what would work. Perhaps I should have tried the "scribbling" open zig-zag black stitch painting earlier recommended by Susan! Maybe invisible thread to break up the expanses?The backing is a larger more realistic pattern of strawberries and kiwi.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Old friends and new friends: a journal quilt

     Sometimes one can get busy and out off shape. We were so busy helping the grandchildren move, that I got off schedule in producing my one-a-week journal quilts. I don't know if I can go back to create them all, but this is a start...somewhat anemic, but a start. That is what is so good about a blog. It makes you get back to work!
click to enlarge
We need old friends to help us grow old and new friends to keep us young.   ~LC Pogrebin
      Several things come together in this 12" x 12' journal quilt.  I found some fabrics I like for bags and bookmarks, neither (like friends) of which I can have too many. I like inspiring quotations and have shared them recently in birthday thank you's. But mainly, this journal quilt is about new friends. I introduced Trilla and Alice in the Southwest recently who found that both their fathers were journalists for the AP and that the two couples have much in common. I have had fun making new quilting friends and traveling down some challenging new paths that will get me back to painting I am certain: Donna Jean, Andrea, Susan. and Ann. 
        I joined the fabrics in pillow case fashion, using a black and off-white spider web backing. It seemed witty and wise. I free-motion stitched the names and blanket stitched everything else, but so help me, I cannot figure what else to do.  I guess I could pump it up with black and white bead trim...and that could stand for dear old weekly friends. I have affection for the subject but need help on the quilt. Enjoy.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fleece blankets: a security craft

   The grandchildren are moving four hours away and staying with us a week during the move. We engaged in many crafts. While at Ben Franklin picking up gimp for lanyards, Erika spotted a special sample no-sew, easy-tie fleece blanket.
click on photos to enlarge
    Already having spent enough on crafts, we got a half yard of the duck fabric and a half yard for the backing. When we got home I cut the fleece in two and each child decided what she wanted to do with it. Erika wanted a blanket as big as she could make with her piece and Hannah wanted to split hers for a pillow and a smaller blanket.
      For Erika's we squared off the fabric, cut out 4-inch square pieces from each corner and then cut 1/2" x 4" strips to be tied into a half knots. We found that if we tied the knots right on the board just after cutting, it was less confusing.
                       For Hannah's blanket, since it would be smaller, we cut out 3" square corners, rotary cut the 1/2" x 3" strips with great care. This was a good lesson in learning how to square up fabrics, measure, plan in general. For the edges of the pillow, a pinking rotary blade added interest. A stitch was made on the outside, about one inch away from the edge, leaving an opening for polyfil. Hannah stuffed and then the sewing machine stitched up the stuffing hole, right on top.Very cheerful results.
      Here you see they have their sewing kits loaded with tools and a basket overflowing with their stash. Hopefully they have enough sewing know-how to continue their art :*) in their new home. Hopefully the duck fleece blanket will hold Erika until her security blankets, left behind here, make it back to her.