Feb 28, 2015

the elephant in the room... a machine quilting commission

An elephant in the room, at least in textiles... a bright and beautiful elephant in fact.

This quilt was made by my quilt buddy Amy G. She commissioned me to machine quilt it for her and I had great fun with this one. The elephant and flowers are mostly quilted the usual stipling technique. However, this beautiful teal fabric background was quilted using an 'all over' continuous line adapted from a Leah Day design called confused spiral.

I loved this quilting design for 3 reasons: first, it reminded me of a slightly exotic pattern which seemed to fit (considering where elephants come from); second, I was able to quilt this edge to edge pattern without turning the quilt that much (since I quilt on a regular machine - not a long arm - not having to turn the whole quilt every 30 seconds is a huge benefit); and third the pattern covered the whole background in nearly one line (meaning I didn't have to start and stop continuously and bury threads).

I quilted the entire background using a matching Aurifil thread - it was a perfect match. The elephant is quilted using two different variegated threads - both Aurifil.

The photo above show the quilt before quilting.
Lovin' the way it turned out!

Linking up with
Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays
Lizzy Lenard's Free Motion Mavericks

Feb 15, 2015

gumball toy capsules to the rescue

This may be the single most colorful, and certainly the cutest, solution to storing all those hand embroidery threads and lovely Valdani spools!

Where to start? Well, just whip up this zippered project bag. If I can do it, you can too. No need to fear the zipper.

This bag is loosely based on a pattern from By Annie. It has a quilted back and vinyl front. Its 17 x 17 inches.

The batting for the back piece is Soft and Stable (also from By Annie) - great stuff! And the front is a 16 gauge vinyl. The handle is made with a large decorative piping material (3/4 inch I think). Both the vinyl and large piping are from JoAnn's.

Now the best part. These 2 inch toy vending capsules are the perfect size to display and store my Valdani Perle Cotton size 8 spools.

And when I dump them all in my project bag, it looks like a gumball machine filled with wonderful toys.

As you can see below, I punched a small hole in the lid of each capsule so I can access the thread through the lid without opening the capsule. Next, I cut a tiny notch in the side of the lid to clip the thread after it is pulled through the top so it would not unravel while in the project bag.

The idea came from my quilt buddy Amy G. She bought similar capsules from a vendor at International Quilt Festival. Those capsules sell online for $8 for 10 capsules (the hole is pre-drilled). I found mine on Amazon for $15 (incl. shipping) for 100 capsules. Only took a few minutes to punch the tiny holes (used a leather punch) and cut the notch. These capsules are not as high quality as the ones sold specifically for thread use, but they are a whole lot more cost effective. I filled almost 50 of them immediately.

But wait, there's more!

I whipped up this little matching zippered 4 x 6 inch pouch to hold my scissors and needles and such. Who wants to dig through a ton of gumball capsules to find your scissors?

Oh... there is also some actual hand embroidery taking place ... in between tote-bag making.

This quilt is a folk art, 'improv pieced' Double Wedding Ring. All the fabrics (with the exception of the wool and cotton border) are imported from Japan and designed by Keiko Goke. More here.

I also made a zippered project bag for my quilt buddy Amy G. Same technique - quilted back and vinyl front. Love her fabric choices!

Now when I carry my quilt from room to room, or on trips, everything I need is in one place. This bag also happens to be the cutest storage system I own. Don't you agree?

Feb 13, 2015

Celtic cross finished at last

What a fantastic week! After almost a year of starts and stops, I finished this white Celtic cross.
Teresa Duryea Wong. Dawson Hill, 2015. Machine pieced, hand applique, machine quilted.
 Cotton, cotton and silk thread, glass beads, vintage handkerchief, lace.  39 x 49 inches.
As I stand back and look at this cross, I am in awe of the finished product and proud that this is an original design... with a most unlikely inspiration.

In late 2013, the husband and I traveled to Nebraska, for quilt research actually. Nebraska is home to the International Quilt Study Center and Museum. And as things happen in life, Nebraska is also where my parents grew up and where most of my family lives. (I'm a native Texan.)

During that trip to Nebraska, we visited the tiny St. Mary's cemetery where my father is buried. Many of the families that once lived, worked, farmed and worshiped in this part of America were Irish Catholics. The Celtic design is mostly credited to Scotland and Ireland, and sometime to St. Patrick. Nowadays, you see it most often as cemetery markers.

When I was standing in the middle of that cemetery, I was stuck by this large family marker (with a Celtic cross carved in it) bearing the name of my grandmother's family. For me, all these ideas, all this history, memories of my family and thoughts of my faith flooded my mind. As we drove home, I was determined to capture all this somehow.

So I began working with photos of this particular cross and pondering ideas. Previous 2014 blog posts about making this quilt are March, part two April, part three November and a week ago.

I built the foundation for the cross from hundreds of one-inch squares, which are machine pieced. Each one inch square is machine quilted with a tiny original design - inspired by the quilting of Hilary Florence.  The batting is an ultra-firm Peltex. I used this instead of traditional cotton or wool batting because I wanted the cross to be sturdy when hanging. 

The Celtic designs on the four arms of the cross are hand applique and hand stuffed trapunto. Here's a close up.

Teresa Duryea Wong. Dawson Hill, 2015. (DETAIL) Machine pieced, hand applique, machine quilted.
 Cotton, cotton and silk thread, glass beads, vintage handkerchief, lace.  39 x 49 inches.
The circle is completely cut out so that light comes through and around the cross.

I took the quilt to a professional fine art photographer to photograph it for competition. When he placed a light focused on the background behind the quilt - it almost brought tears to my eyes. It looked so beautiful with all this lovely white light shining right through the circle.

The center features four small circles which are appliqued (one for each gospel). Layered on top is a vintage handkerchief which I embellished with a beautiful lace which mimics the same Celtic design. Next I hand-sewed glass pearl-color beads over the lace. The handkerchief is tacked onto the quilt, so it floats off the surface.

Teresa Duryea Wong. Dawson Hill, 2015. (DETAIL) Machine pieced, hand applique, machine quilted.
 Cotton, cotton and silk thread, glass beads, vintage handkerchief, lace.  39 x 49 inches.
Detail photo of the tiny clear glass beads (with gold centers) hand sewn around the outside edges.
I titled my art quilt "Dawson Hill" and I've entered it into the Sacred Threads juried quilt competition. This exhibition is open to quilters in US and Canada and features art honoring themes of peace, healing, grief, spirituality and joy. The exhibition will be July 10-26 at a church gallery outside Washington D.C. 

If this quilt is selected, I'll be thrilled. If not, that is okay too. The journey of making this and the memories that resurfaced while making it are priceless. And I think there may be a beautiful permanent home for it out there somewhere.

I'd love to hear any comments, thoughts or stories of your own along these lines!

Linking up with
Off the Wall Fridays
Needle and Thread Thursday
Free Motion Mavericks - a new FMQ blog (new to me anyway).

Love sharing the quilting love!

Feb 6, 2015

Celtic Cross almost finished

The pieced Celtic Cross art quilt I've been working on for the past 6 months is almost done!

The picture above is a vintage handkerchief in an embroidery hoop - a work in progress still! I've added vintage lace in a Celtic loop design that mimics the design on my cross, and I'm in the process of hand beading it. This will be tacked on to the finished cross - right in the the center.

Here is a photo of the inspiration (left) and the work in progress cross (right).

Next week I'll be posting the final finished piece. I have an appointment next week with a professional fine art photographer to photograph this - so I have a deadline to meet! 

Since the whole thing is white on white, it is very difficult to photograph properly.  Each time I try, the color turns creamy or gray... or some other mushy color. So I'm hoping a professional photographer with the proper lighting will know how to handle this. A a professional photo is critical since I am entering this in a big competition.

More on all this next week! Stay tuned.

Here is my previous post on this particular journey - from Nov 2014.

Linking up with Off the Wall Friday.

Feb 3, 2015

when high fashion and quilted textiles meet

Quilted textiles and high fashion have always inspired one another. But this Spring 2015 collection from Valentino takes these ideas to a whole new level. Valentino's collection was inspired by Shakespeare, Dante's "Inferno"... and one of my favorite artists, Marc Chagall. I never would have thought to pull inspiration from these 3 luminaries all at once, but the results are just stunning. Almost every look in the collection features some small applique or embroidery. And several of the pieces are flat out refereces to quilted patterns and quitled folk art.

I found these so unusual, and so fashion forward and even wearable, that I thought it would be interesting to share them here.

In this one below, the model is pratically wearing a whole quilt for her skirt.
And this one could definitely be an art quilt in my house. Or, I would totally wear this dress. It works both ways. I love it and the Chagall reference is a nice surprise. 
Look at the applique detail on this vest. It is leather with a shearling lining. Not sure how wearable this one is, but it looks amazing on the runway.