Friday, January 29, 2016

CQJP 2015, Smocking Challenge in Lavender - Block 11

I am behind on my Crazy Quilt Journal Project but still enjoying the process.  For block 11 I got to work in my very favorite color - lavender.  Some people don't care for this color but it has a way of lifting my spirit.  They say blue is the number one favorite color which makes sense I guess.

Anyway, this is my first attempt at smocking.  Getting started was a bit tedious and I was glad I only needed small sections.  I marked my fabric uniformly by poking pin holes in graph paper and then marking with a pencil in the holes onto the back side of the fabric.  Once that was completed and gathering threads in place it was much more fun.  I used a checked gingham for my first which was easier.


I stuffed the bonnet with a bit of batting to keep it from going so flat when it is placed in my book.  I hand stitched it in place on the block, hiding the stitching.


Here is a close-up of the smocking on the bonnet.  The bonnet is done with a single piece of fabric, a bit of lace added along the brim and a ribbon bow at the base.  Too bad babies don't wear bonnets as much anymore.


This is the second section of smocking.  I added some little ribbon flower in the center.  This fabric is thinner and I found that my pencil marks showed through the fabric in some areas.  A good lesson to learn before taking on a bigger challenge some day.


This is the last section of smocking I created using checked gingham.  It really reminds me of the bigger pieces my grandmother used to do using bigger checks.  She would make pillows with them.  I think her favorite color was this lavender also as she also used gingham in this color and painted her bathroom a gorgeous lavender color with white trim.


I like the texture the smocking adds on the quilt block.  I could really see it incorporated in a tone-on-tone pillow in a limited amount of course.

Hope you enjoyed this block as much as I enjoyed working on it.  I will definitely be creating more lavender blocks in the future!  I understand there are boards and hand operated machines that simplify the preparation of fabric for smocking but for now I will do it the old fashioned way.  I would certainly invest in something like that if I were to find myself doing a lot of smocking.  Have any of you used these or do you do smocking by hand?  I really would love to hear your experiences!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Mini CQ Block Round Robbin Project

As usual I have several projects in the works.  I wouldn't have it any other way.  I wanted to share the progress on my mini blocks from my first round-robin in the International Crazy Quilters group.  All of my mini blocks have been received and I loved them all.  I did make some minor changes on some such as moving a button, rearranging the birds so they would be in the right direction for the completed project, but kept the beautiful work of those who worked on them for me.


For direction I sent samples of six pastel colors, cream and beige blocks and a request they choose one of the soft colors and have that color be the one they used on their block along with a darker neutral where needed.  I plan to use the blocks in a mini album with lots of laces added along the edge.


Kristie Watson of Indiana chose the peach color.  Love her roses in the upper corner, tatting, sequins and all the other details she added.


Darlene Doerscher of Michigan contributed the turquoise/blue block.  She added the pretty trims, lovely stitches and unique bead pieces forming the flower.  The little bluebird was perfect.


To finish out the blocks I stitch the yellow/gold block.  I struggled with this a bit as the yellow didn't stand out well on the light background and I didn't want the blocks to be bright colors, but rather soft pastel.  Adding the touches of amber helped bring the yellow forward.


Connie Kalina from Colorado chose my favorite color and did such a beautiful job with it.  The lavender bird, tiny pearls and wonderful ivory button were wonderful additions to go along with the beautiful stitching.


I decided I needed a pink block too so I stitched up another block and added the pink.


Lisa Boni, also of Colorado chose the green color as it is her favorite.  Love the floral bead cluster in the corner.  She does such delicate stitching which is perfect for the tiny blocks which measure about 2"x3".


I also created a block slightly larger than the others for the book cover.  It is more in the taupe family with a bit of gold and deep amethyst beads which almost look black in the photo.


Here are the inside blocks all together.  I will be facing each block to a solid colored pastel fabric.  My plan is to make this my 'Inspiration Book' as I want to add favorite verses to the solid fabric surrounded with lace.

Right now this project is gathered together in one of my project bags waiting for me to complete it.  I have some laces gathered and at least six favorite quotes chosen.  I want to finish my CQJP2015 first and then I will be making it into a book also.

Happy stitching everyone!  Stay tuned for more.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Crazy Quilt Journal Project 2015 - Needle Lace

Completed my 10th block for CQJP2015!  It is an experiment in needle lace which I have never attempted before.  So here it is, my first attempt, mistakes and all.  The photo color is a bit brighter blue than the actual block, but you can see the stitching regardless.


The first section I completed was in the center.  I began with the basic Single Net Stitch, followed by the Double Net Stitch and then the Buttonhole Net Stitch.  I then created some crossed straight stitches and wove some rings into that.  

The section on the right contains the Cloth Stitch, tighter and closer at the bottom (my left as I was working) and becoming slightly looser on the other end.  This was a stitch I really enjoyed doing and was very pleased with the results.  

The section on the left was started with Basic Russian foundation stitches to which I added some alternating Buttonholes.  I was getting frustrated here because my series of Buttonhole stitches began to twist.  I realized they are the same as the half-stitches I did in my Macrame experiment in which they were supposed to twist.  Maybe I am working them too tightly?  I would love it if anyone could suggest what I might be doing wrong.  I moved on and did a few Double Russian Stitches, creating a Buttonholed Bar at the end.

Top left is my attempt at a Woven Spider Web.

I then attempted some edgings along the outer tapes.  Top left - Knotted Edging (doesn't show up well); top right - Bullion Picot Edging; bottom right - Pinned Picot Edging; bottom left - Side Stitch Edging.

I enjoyed many of these stitches, especially the Cloth Stitch, and some I didn't care for...yet, but I know they will be great for filling in space and/or adding texture, color or interest using a matching or maybe contrasting fiber on future CQ blocks.  Lots of possibilities.

I'm ready to do another painting now before I complete the next, 11th block.  Hope everyone is having a great start to 2016!