Shipshewana Dreamin’ – Part 3

Don’t worry, this is my last post about Shipshewana.  I’m not a travel brochure.  But it was a peaceful getaway not far at all from home and so I just wanted to share.

I had the opportunity to meet an Amish woman who sells hand-quilted Amish quilts from her basement  —  some of them she works on herself, some of them she contracts out from others, and some she sells on consignment.

(An aside: the stark contrast between an Amish basement and my own is embarrassing. Hers was empty, with a few things on shelves, not a dust bunny or piece of anything unnecessary in sight.  Mine is filled with boxes from outdated electronics, old toys, old furniture, old books, old pictures.  What a cluttered, junk-filled life we live. )

Here are a few of the quilts she showed me.  This is just a sampling as she had many more. Make sure you scroll to the bottom, because at the end is an absolute masterpiece.

While she gave me permission to take the pictures and put them on a blog, she did not want her name given.  “What if someone sees a quilt and cannot live without it?”  I asked, in my total blundering non-Amish way.

She smiled and gave me a card.

So if you cannot live without one, leave a comment and I will privately give you her info. The prices are very reasonable for the amount of work.

While I did purchase a piece from her smaller-sized collection, everyday I think about driving back out to get the whole cloth quilt.  And who knows?  Maybe she already sold it.

But we can all still appreciate it.

This is one she did herself.  She pieces by machine and quilts by hand.

This is one she did herself. She pieces by machine and quilts by hand.

SHe chose the colors for this, but asked others to do the piecing and quilting.  She said she's not good at curves.

She chose the colors for this, but asked other Amish women to do the piecing and quilting. She said she doesn’t like curves.

amish4

Hand appliqued and hand quilted.  A beauty.

Hand appliqued and hand quilted. A true beauty.

This one is a masterpiece.  She told me an Amish woman in Pennsylvania gave it to her to sell on consignment.  It is a whole-cloth quilt, and the hand quilting is so perfect it almost made me cry.

This one is a masterpiece. She told me an Amish woman in Pennsylvania gave it to her to sell on consignment. It is a whole-cloth quilt, and the hand quilting is so perfect it almost made me cry.

wholecloth4wholecloth3

THe whole quilt was for queen size but with overhang, so very large.  the entire edging was in scallops with these lovely feathers.

 The edging was in large scallops with these lovely feathers.

 

 

Shipshewana Dreamin’ – Part 2

My first stop of the the day was Yoder’s Department Store which opens at 8 am.  Honestly, they have a TON of fabric, and every book, (including modern quilting books) imaginable. I love this place.

yoders3 yoders4I had vowed to myself during this whole trip that I would only purchase items unique to the area.  I love Moda fabric, but I can get that at home.  So I began hunting for “local” goods.

First thing I ran into was this display of reproduction toweling.  I could purchase by the yard and got myself a vintage-looking design.  They had some very cute tablecloths in carriers that looked like handbags and I’d really like to use the toweling to make a handbag…add a little ricrac and I’m good to go!  Also in the display was a special edition “Yoder’s 70th Anniversary” hand towel.  While waiting in line to check out, another woman told me she was going to use hers to create a quilt around it.  What a great idea!

yoders2Of course, I purchased a little bit of anything that had some local charm.

yoders1Do you collect Row by Row?  Get your Shipshewana version at Yoder’s.

rowbyrowNext stop is the Davis Mercantile where you can find many stores, but I just had to see the famous Lolly’s Quilt Shop.

lollysLolly’s is another wonderful place with everything you could want or need — current fabric lines, reproductions, batiks galore, and plenty of solids, books, patterns. Found a wall of Kaffe Fassett florals, with an opposite wall of all his colorful stripes.  Really the largest selection of Kaffe I’ve ever seen.

Lolly’s has a “sister” store downstairs at the mercantile, called Cuddle Corner.

Don’t miss it.

I was amazed at the wonderful things being done with minky!

cuddlecornerFresh textures, colors and patterns…all in minky!  If you have a baby in your life, you need to stop here.  You won’t believe how soft and cuddly this stuff is.  If you’re like me, you’ll want one for your own home for winter snuggling.

Special tip from the gal at the counter: a stretch needle works best with minky.  We have this discussion at work from time to time…what needle for minky?  This gal says stretch is best and I believe her, but I will try for myself as soon as I sew up my quilt.

cuddlecorner2cuddlecorner3Around every corner in Shipshewana, you’ll find merchants that are selling hand-quilted quilts.  Having done a bit of this, I fully understand the time, effort and work that goes into these kinds of handmade masterpieces.

wallofquiltsIn the next post, I’ll share a few Amish handmade quilts I was shown when an Amish woman showed me the quilts she sells for herself and for other Amish women from her home.

Hint: absolutely breathtaking.

Shipshewana Dreamin’ – Part 1

I recently made a road trip to Shipshewana IN…someplace I had wanted to visit for a long time.  I was not disappointed.

My trip overlapped the annual Shipshewana Quilt Festival by one day, but to be honest, I avoided the festival.  I spend a lot of time with quilters at work.  I’ve been to expos and festivals.  What I really wanted to do was experience what was truly unique to Shipshewana.  (Don’t worry, of course I visited the quilt shops…more to come on that!)

rearviewmirrorIt’s Amish country as you may very well know.  I was careful not to take any pictures of them, but they do not mind a pic from a distance or shots of their homes or buggies. ( I asked.)  I took several carriage rides and asked many questions.  They use cell phones for business and rely on solar panels and wind turbines for electricity although many of them also have propane or natural gas at home.

Spending time in this pastoral setting really reinforced to me the hazards of modern living: speeding cars with impatient and intolerant drivers, over-reliance on technology, and the toll the lack of fresh air and exercise takes on our modern bodies. All Amish, at least those in Indiana, ride bikes or take the carriages.  Horses look healthy and are a way of life for them.  So many Amish live and work in the town, I really expected them to hide from tourists.  But frankly, they are friendly, willing to talk about their lifestyle and very open and gracious…but private where any person or family would be private.

The way they decide whether or not to tolerate a technology is whether it will reinforce or tear down the community.  Cars will always be out, because it is a way for anyone to escape community rather than build it.  Same with TV’s and computers and phones.  But they live in a real world where they have to make a living so cell phones for business or compressors to help milk the cows are tolerated.

I took a tour of an Amish house, sat and ate a home cooked meal with a family, saw them milk cows, toured the farm and was genuinely warmly welcomed.  I visited the Menno-Hof, a guided tour museum of the history of the Anabaptists.

This farmhouse actually looks a lot like my grandparents’ farmhouse in Wisconsin.

farmhouse1garden1Look at this garden!  Every farm had a beautifully tended garden like this…not a weed in sight. Ever.

shipshewana1The town of Shipshewana is charming by any standards, with local restaurants and shops. I’ll give a rundown of some of the quilt shops in the next post.

In this photo, the carriages were parked at a house funeral for a well-known elderly gentleman.  What a lovely site.  And life goes on.

funeral1funeral2pies1

Quilting vs. Gardening: It Must Be June

I’ve been busy.  Too busy to write a blog.

And not only too busy, but too boring.  And while I don’t mind writing a boring blog, I’m not sure you want to read one.  All of that aside, I have also reached the point in the year where all good quilters/gardeners have to make some decisions.  Inside or outside.  Quilt or garden. Flowers and vegetables or blocks and table runners.

And while I may be able to hold it all in my mind simultaneously, I certainly can’t work on it all simultaneously.  So although I have some very ambitious sewing plans and classes lined up, as my farmer grandfather used to say (and do), “Make hay while the sun is shining.”  Of course, he made hay in August, but you get the idea.

In the hopes of providing a little temporary entertainment, here’s a gallery of recent flowers from the garden.  Most are done blooming, so I’ll be back in the sewing room shortly.  In the meantime…it’s summer…let’s all go for a walk!

Improv and More

I have started working on an improvisational quilt.

Basically , it means I start sewing before I have any idea what I’m creating. For anyone who knows me, this way of doing things is right up my alley.  I just purchased this book, “An Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters” by Sheri Lynn Wood.

improv2

Naturally, I flipped through the book and then started without so much as reading a paragraph.  I promise I will go back and read. The book looks great.  I just was inspired by the word “improv” and began immediately.

improv1

 

Here’s a sneak peak and to be honest , I don’t know how I will complete it. Just know that it’s a gift, so I don’t want to divulge the whole quilt til it’s been given away.  At that point, it’s done and there can be no regrets or turning back.  For now, it’s simply a work in progress.

In machine embroidery, I am preparing to teach a Software Inspirations class based on a tutorial from Sylvain Bergeron, Bernina educator.  In it, we learn to create textile fabric using embroidery…like argyle.

argyle1This is done completely in software, then stitched out as machine embroidery.  It can now be cut up and used as a handbag piece, or in a quilt, or basically used as any other fabric.  Would be fun to do a small series of these in different shades and then put them together as a quilt or table runner.  Although I’m sure this image looks black and white, the thread used in the squares is actually a mauve with white lines, on Moda’s black grunge fabric.

That being said, like many sewists, I spend a lot of time in the garden in the spring, head back into the sewing room when it rains or as the weather gets too warm and buggy to be hanging around outside.  I leave you with a few lovely pics from around the area this past couple of weeks.  The earth is stunning.

peonies2

Peony tree

Wild  phlox

Wild phlox

Crabapple tree

Crabapple tree

Quilt Market Mash-Up

quilt market springQuilt Market 2015 is in full swing in Minneapolis this year.  If you’re not familiar with Quilt Market, it’s the place where all the fabric designers and fabric makers and product developers present their new products to potential buyers (shop owners).

It is a twice-yearly event, spring and fall.  I am hoping to attend the one in the fall, but we’ll see as things get closer!

For this year, I am content to live vicariously through social media.

If you want to follow along with all the chatter and visuals and news, here are a few ideas for getting the scoop.

On twitter, instagram and facebook, follow the hashtags:

#quiltmarket  #fqsquiltmarket #showmethemoda #modagoestomarket

Fat Quarter Shop’s blog site will be live tweeting, updating, creating youtube videos and much more.

Art Gallery Fabrics is streaming live at certain times during the show.  Find out more here.

Want a visual overview?  Head over to #quiltmarket’s Instagram stream.

That’s enough social media to hold me for awhile — especially since I’ll be working into the weekend.  Have fun and enjoy all the new and exciting stuff out there!

 

Adventures in Transfer Artist Paper

I love transfer artist paper.  I’ve used it a number of times with differing effects.

transfer artist paperYou can purchase this online or at craft stores, possibly your local quilt shop.

It works only with an ink jet printer, and your results will come easier to you if you have a little bit of experience in photo software, like Photoshop or Corel.

You print the image onto the paper and then iron the image onto your fabric.  The BIG difference between TAP and printing directly onto fabric paper is that the transfer actually becomes a part of your fabric…any fabric.  It never washes out.  It’s permanent.

botanical transferYou can see on this image that this botanical transfer prints right over the fabric and the underlying pattern shows through.  This particular print worked beautifully because it ended up looking like dew on the plant.  The instructions say you can print on wood, glass, stone, basically anything, as long as you can iron on it.  It takes a little practice but here are a few tips:

–Always use a hot DRY iron —  no steam.

–Remove the transfer while it’s still hot.

–Illustrations tend to look more interesting than photos, but worth trying both.

–Reverse anything with lettering before you print it on TAP or it will read backward.

–Cut as close to the image as possible before you iron it on your fabric.

–Try ripping the edges of your paper before ironing.  It gives a torn, aged effect.

–Experiment, experiment, experiment!  If you are a photography junkie like me, this is a great way to play with your images.

Here’s an example from the upcoming Software Inspirations program I’ll be teaching next week:

transfer artist paper 3I also added some embroidery to this project, which is actually a travel pillow.

cameraThe final image is from a Messenger Bag, the project I created from a previous Software Sampler lesson — a good text example of using Transfer Artist Paper to convey an emotion, a worn timelessness.

I’ll leave you with my all-time favorite quote from Macbeth:

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

transfer artisp paper3

Photography and Stitching on Organza, with a Touch of Needle Felting

I worked on this piece several years ago, but I recently brought it out again because of my work with Transfer Artist Paper. (I’ll show you that in my next post.)

In this example, I transferred my photography onto printable organza.  You can buy sheets at an art supply store or even an office supply store…certainly online as well.  They are designed for ink jet printers only.

printable organza sheets

I played with black and white photography and used a (more or less) abstract photo and began a collage. stitch on organza  You can see from the photo that I added a number of different layers of texture — background fabric, organza photo, embroidery.

And believe it or not, the whitish fabrics floating a little ghost-like around the edges, are used-up bounce dryer sheets.  They are shredded and needle felted onto the surface, with embroidery on top.  (Incidentally, the photo is a detail of a wrought iron gate on the side of the road, which surrounded an old farm family tomb.  It is just down the street from my house. The gate has since collapsed and been replaced with something much less ornate.  But the tomb remains.)

In the detail below, you can get a good look at the needle felting used to attach the organza and the dryer sheets.  On the organza, the more felting I did, the more the organza began to sort of pull apart and shred, which gave it a wonderful, antique faded look.

detail machine embroidery

detail needle punch organza

The embroidery over the top added a whole new level of detail and interest. This is one of those experimental pieces that gets more interesting the closer you look.  I really enjoyed playing with textures other than simple quilt cotton.  Our sewing machines are designed to sew through many different types of fabric and materials.  While quilt cotton is easily accessible and stunningly designed these days, you just never know what fun things you can use in your “art quilting” travels.

Machine Quilting with Embroidery

I love doing my own quilting. But it’s not the easiest thing in the world, is it.

I’m actually OK at it, as long as the quilt is less than twin size.  Bigger than that, and well, let’s just say I am still in the process of hand-quilting a queen size quilt I started quilting over a year ago.  Still, I find it difficult to bring myself to hand over my quilt to someone else.  Maybe one day I will change my mind.  But for now, if I make a quilt, I want to be the one to quilt it.

So I have been experimenting with using my embroidery module to quilt.  The largest hoop I can fit on my machine only goes to 8 inches wide, so that limits the size block I can quilt.

Nevertheless, my first experiment is with a simple block and a couple of simple quilt designs.

machine quilting 2I know the hoop looks like it will go wider, but I am using a hoop that’s larger than my machine will go.  (For all you Bernina fans, I have a 780 machine and a jumbo hoop instead of the maxi hoop.)

Using King Tut variegated thread from Superior, I got a beautiful stitch that really added dimension to the quilt.

IMG_3625When doing this kind of quilting, the trick is to use a machine that has “perfect placement”.  This simply means that even after you have the block hooped, the machine gives you the option of moving the design in tiny increments to get your placement just right.

I still need to add the binding, and this was not a huge piece.  But I look forward to trying this with larger and larger quilts.

I also have another technique in mind that I will be trying soon, so I’m hoping to show you more options using your embroidery.  Lots and lots of quilting embroidery designs are available.  Let’s make the most of our embroidery and get those quilt tops quilted!

quilt in the hoop

 

Maybe You Stitch on the Edge Too!

An edgestitch is exactly what it sounds like.  A stitch on the edge.

Most sewing machines have a specific foot for this purpose and Bernina’s foot #10D is, of course, one of my favorites.

On the way to sewing this baby quilt I decided to add a ruffle.  So I cut 2 1/2 in. strips as you would for bias binding.  Only I needed twice as much to form the ruffle.  Because I wanted the ruffle to last through many washings, I decided to add a stitch right on the edge of the fold prior to ruffling.

edgestitch foot3I moved the needle 2 points over to the left, to stay just inside the fold.

rufflingNext I started to ruffle. You can see I am adjusting the ruffler to get just the right amount of “bite” so that the ruffle isn’t too curvy, but also not too flat.  You can see the edgestitch along the left, on the fold.  In general, when creating a ruffle, you need your length of the ruffle fabric to be twice the length of the fabric it will cover.

Then I attached the ruffle. (I don’t have a picture of that.)

edgestitch foot

Next, I attached the binding over the raw edge of the ruffle and the raw edge of the quilt.  It naturally wanted to turn itself with the ruffle on the outside, so I went ahead and did another edgestitch along the top front of the quilt.  The binding lays flat underneath.

edgestitch flawlessThe whole thing was only possible because I have rounded corners on the quilt…no miters. And I used a bias ruffle and a bias binding.  Isn’t that a gorgeous edgestitch?  Nothing like having the right tool for the job.

edgestitch foot4Now all I have left to do is to hand-stitch the binding on the back.  The binding is longer than usual because of the way the ruffle is attached.

almostfinishedNow all we have to do is wait for the baby.