May 31, 2015

lovely blog award

The lovely Jayne at Twiggy & Opal has nominated me for One Lovely Blog Award.

What a cool surprise. Blogging is a great outlet for me and I like the process of photographing quilts and writing about them. 

But the best part? My blogger pen pals. They're my "Amen Sisters!" (credit to Maria Shell for that great line).

So when you get nominated for this award, here's the rules.
One: Acknowledge the sweet person who nominated you. Thank you Jayne!
Two: Share 7 things about yourself (deep dark secrets? or maybe a few things no one knows).
Three: Nominate 10 other blogs/bloggers for the award.

7 things about me nobody knows
1. Sometimes I 'tear up' at TV commercials.
2. I'm a classical music nerd. Huge fan of Gustav Mahler!
3. Love, love, love movies! Here's a few faves: Moonstruck. Moscow on the Hudson. American Beauty. Inglorious Basterds.
4. I believe Quentin Tarantino might be the biggest genius to ever hit Hollywood.
5. Of course I love football too. Fave NLF teams: Houston Texans, Greenbay Packers, New England Patriots (in that order).
6. I can speak a half dozen phrases in Cantonese.
7. The quilt we sleep under every night came from Pottery Barn! (Kinda sad, but funny too. Maybe I should remedy that. One day!)

Here are 10 blogs I nominate for the Lovely Blog Award (in random order). There are so many others I love and follow... too many to list!

I would of course add Twiggy & Opal to this list, but I think the idea is to pay it forward!

May 29, 2015

zebra art quilt, part two

This zebra art quilt is still a work in progress!  I'm only halfway through the quilting process, but I think its interesting to show progress. For more info on how these are made, you can read part one in this series here.

There are dozens of variations of black fabric and an equal number of different white fabrics... and I created hundreds of applique shapes to create depth. As the bodies and faces are quilted, the black, gray, white and cream, even brown, thread will add even more dimension.

I especially love the way the zebras just pop off the fuchsia background.

Check back soon ... I will keep posting my progress. I'd love to hear your comments on this so far!

Wish my photos were better. Houston is having another stormy day today - so my lighting is not very good. In fact, we've hardly seen any sun this month... and this is after torrential and deadly thunderstorms on Monday night.  Happy to be safe and sound and to have a few minutes here and there for quilting!

Linking up with Off the Wall Fridays ... Finish it up Friday ... and Free Motion Mavericks

May 27, 2015

big ironing board DIY

For years I've been annoyed by that tapered end on every ironing board. I mean who uses it?  Its good for clothes I guess, but any clothing of mine that needs to be ironed goes to the cleaners. There are only so many hours in the day, truly. No need to judge. But I do take my ironing for quiltmaking seriously, so I finally took action and now have a REAL ironing surface.

I've looked at the big board that is marketed to quilters and sits on top of your regular iron table. It's about $150. That option seemed bulky and somehow, seems like a bad compromise.

I considered building a big board from scratch (well actually, asking the husband to build one from scratch). There are quite a few blog tutorials out there and the materials can be acquired at a reasonable price.

Then I came across a blog with a tutorial to modify a side table from Ikea (with a table for ~$150). A side table is long and narrow and taller, so ideally more suited for converting to an ironing surface. Basically with this option, you would purchase the table, then install your own custom made wood top rather than install the top the table comes with. So you'd still need to build, or cut, the top. The Ikea in Houston did not have any side tables in stock (and wanted $99 to ship it. So forget that!) 

I started searching for other side tables and I found the one pictured above online at Walmart for $220. Target has the exact same table online for $270... um, Target, you should call the manufacturer and get a better deal.

Anyway, I recognize that $220 is not exactly cheap... quite a lot for an ironing surface in fact. But this particular table is the perfect size! The top is 60 inches long and 17 inches wide. And I have to say, it is incredibly well built, especially when compared to most Ikea furniture. And it has 2 drawers and a shelf underneath. Best of all, there is nothing to ask the husband to build. No trips to Home Depot. All done!

Here is a picture of the new table and the old iron board lined up side by side. They are both the same height, but the old ironing board is considerably shorter. The new one is very solid, no movement whatsoever.

Here's how to cover it.

First, cover the top with a layer of batting and staple it in place underneath.

Next, add a layer of Insul Bright (you can find it at JoAnn's). This stuff helps reflect heat, its used in a lot of pot holders and such. I highly recommend using a layer of Insul Bright, especially when you're using a solid wooden surface like this one - because there are no vents to release heat like the ironing board has. Staple the Insul Bright in place.

Finally, cover the top with silver "utility fabric" common to most iron boards, also sold by the yard from JoAnn's. You can staple this in place, or in my case, I sewed the edge all the way around and inserted twine to pull it taught so that it is easy to remove for washing.

Lastly, I am pretty tall... and who wants to hunch over while ironing? So I purchased bed risers and was able to lift the whole table 8 inches. These risers are incredibly steady and worth the extra $15!

I've seen some quilters cover their ironing surface in beautiful fabrics, especially home dec fabrics that are sturdy. I did consider that option... it certainly would make the room look brighter and more interesting. But, I know it will get dirty fairly quickly and then I think a nice decorative fabric would look really sad if its dirty. 

So, I opted for the practical route. I'm happy. And thrilled that there is no more tapered end!

May 19, 2015

zebra art quilt, part one

A new art quilt in the works - two zebras. I've created the zebras using fused applique and the whole thing is temporarily fused to white muslin. I plan to cut away the excess muslin and then fuse the whole thing directly onto a colorful background fabric. So ignore the white background for now.

Also, once I start stitching the zebras, some of the exaggerated color around the eyes, for example, will be muted a bit when its covered in thread.

The stitching is truly the best part and I intend to change the character of this significantly once I start adding the line element with thread. The idea is to make this look more like fur, less like fabric... I'll also add the mane and whiskers with thread.

In the meantime, here's a look back at the progress from the last 5 days or so... in reverse order.

I actually started by drawing the image on paper. Then I converted that to applique shapes and covered both bodies with a layer of white applique (using dozens of different white and white on white prints) in order to properly form the zebra body shape. Next, I laid different shades of black over that - paying close attention to following the outline of the white shapes. I think this step will help create depth in the image... that's the plan anyway, versus just laying down one long strip of white next to one long strip of black. In my opinion, that would make the image quite flat.

I should add that this image is based on a photo that I took in Tanzania a few years ago when my husband and I went on a photo safari. Quite an adventure.

This my second black and white animal - so I have now officially launched a series. (My first art quilt series in fact.) Here's the first in the series.

Stay tuned for the next step. Fuchsia will be involved!

May 15, 2015

must be May - time for the Spring Blogger's Quilt Festival

Teresa Duryea Wong. Improv Double Wedding Ring, 2015. Cotton, wool: 70 x 80 inch. Hand embroidery, machine quilted.
Here's my Improv Double Wedding Ring. I'm entering this quilt in the Blogger's Quilt Festival (Home Machine Quilted category) hosted by Amy's Creative Side.

I loved making this quilt. No rules, no rulers, no pattern. Just cut and sew. Then, spend the next three months adding lots of meticulous hand embroidery work.

I also spent many hours covering this quilt with free motion quilting. I love the way the stitching shows up on the back of the quilt - almost as interesting as the front! I opted for a dense patchwork motif for the borders and spirals for the wool centers. Each strip in the wedding ring is outlined to highlight the Japanese cotton print and the hand embroidery.

Teresa Duryea Wong. Improv Double Wedding Ring, (Back view) 2015.Cotton, wool: 70 x 80 inch. Hand embroidery, machine quilted.

This image really showcases the quilting.
Teresa Duryea Wong. Improv Double Wedding Ring, (Detail) 2015.
Cotton, wool: 70 x 80 inch. Hand embroidery, machine quilted.
Teresa Duryea Wong. Improv Double Wedding Ring, (Detail) 2015.
Cotton, wool: 70 x 80 inch. Hand embroidery, machine quilted.

Round Top, Texas.
Teresa Duryea Wong. Improv Double Wedding Ring, (Detail) 2015.
Cotton, wool: 70 x 80 inch. Hand embroidery, machine quilted.
The Blogger's Quilt Festival is a wonderful online festival for blogger's around the globe. Be sure to check back on the Blogger Festival and vote!
If you'd like to read more about the making of this quilt, here is my last blog post; and here is the previous one.
Teresa Duryea Wong. Improv Double Wedding Ring, (Detail) 2015.Cotton, wool: 70 x 80 inch. Hand embroidery, machine quilted.
Teresa Duryea Wong. Improv Double Wedding Ring. Close up photo of the hand embroidery, 'cast on' stitches. 2015.
spring 2015 BQF Button

May 13, 2015

back from Bryan: the book tour begins

Some super kind quilters in Bryan, Texas invited me to come speak last night to the Brazos Bluebonnet Quilt Guild about the history of Japanese quilts.

The Brazos Bluebonnet guild is a lively bunch and about 70 people turned up to hear the story about how Japanese would-be quilters learned their new craft in the 1970s  and 80s from America.

I offered pre-orders last night for my new book: Japanese Contemporary Quilts and Quilters. Its due out in August.
Japanese Contemporary Quilts and Quilters. By Teresa Duryea Wong. Available in August.

I did my best to make the lecture lively, especially since this guild meets at 7 pm ... it was about 7:45 before my talk started. Once they turn down those lights... well you can't be boring or your audience will nod off. I know that certainly happens to me when things get boring.

In my day job, I coach corporate folks on how to speak to the media, government officials, investors and other audiences. One of the first rules of a great presentation is to engage your audience. Put yourself in their shoes and give a lot of thought to what they'd want to know. Then give it to them... step back, imagine that your audience knows nothing about the history of quilts in Japan, and approach the content from that perspective. What would you want to know?

Here's another easy tip: Don't read your presentation! Talk... and talk like a real person... not a robot. It amazes me how many people get up at various events and read their presentation word for word. Hey, people, if you want to read, just send me an article and I will read it myself. Your audience wants to hear you talk. They want to know who you are and what you've got to say.

And lastly, practice. Out loud! I did. In fact, I practiced... and practiced... and edited and cut and edited again... and then practiced some more.  All the while my buddy Tom was right there at my feet... he's wondering why I'm talking and no one is listening.

Well, actually, my poor husband had to listen to me (multiple times)!  Thank you dear!

And my BFF traveled with me to Bryan last night and helped me set up and provided awesome moral support. Thanks Amy G!!

It was an honor to meet some of the Brazos Bluebonnet Quilt Guild members and we had a great dinner before hand at Fish Daddy's. I should have snapped a group pic! Next time. Thanks to Linda, Maggie, Mary, Cathleen and Cynthia. Great to hang out with you.

May 10, 2015

new book listed on Amazon for pre-order

Amazon has listed my new book - available for pre-order. Delivery scheduled for late August. Its also listed on the Amazon Japan site.

"Japanese Contemporary Quilts and Quilters: The Story of an American Import"

Pretty soon I plan to add an e-commerce page here and sell it directly from my own site.

Its quite exciting to see it listed out there in the real world, even if Amazon is offering its typical steep discount, which in my case significantly reduces my already small royalty. And so it goes...