Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Rita's Strong Quilt--Superbaby

Two months ago, when the reveal of the next challenge word was given, it was my early Christmas gift.  Randy and I are blessed with a new grandson, five month old Ethan Daniel.    This baby boy is a little miracle in our family. Aren’t all grandbabies? When my daughter told us Ethan was Hebrew meaning strong, firm, and safe, the decision was easy! And didn’t we all grow up thinking the strongest man known is of course, Superman?  

Therefore, I created SUPER Ethan – Opps – SUPERBABY. How could I NOT do this month’s quilt in any other way than what you see.

The background is cross-hatch quilted with a serpentine stitch, using a double needle with red and blue thread.  The cape was folded and fused onto the background.  An adorable photo of our happy little boy was printed onto fabric (Timeless Treasures), cut out and fused to the cape.  The blue shirt was then fused on.   I found a copy of the Superman logo on the web, printed and sized to fit the 12" x 12" image.  It is a reverse appliqué application with the yellow fabric on top of the red fabric.  I hand embroidered the word ‘BABY’ on the logo and fused the whole thing to complete the image. And I offer no apologies for being a very proud “Omie”, German for Grandmother. 

PS  From Alice:  Rita is having major problems getting Blogger to allow her to do anything!  Therefore, she emailed her wonderful photo and the write-up for me to post for her.  

Linda's STRONG: Home

     Given the quilt challenge topic "Strong," I remembered the countless lessons and encouragement in my childhood home to be physically, intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, and morally strong. While I thought about other images of strength for this quilt, I quickly doodled my head above a fast scribble of my house on scratch paper (see below).

      No matter how I thought about the flags of "Boston Strong," weights of all kinds and symbols of strength in mythology,  I was always drawn back to the major import of home for encouraging the strength of people, the oversized head image in my scribble very slightly influenced by Francisco Goya's giant.

      I enlarged my scribble and used a light box to pen it with a Sharpie on fabric. I then "scribbled" again with scissors and fabric, spottily gluing down the quickly cut fabric for house and lawn with Aileen's Tacky Glue. The home image is neither calm nor orderly. It's size looms big, multiple and important.

     After being fairly satisfied with the image and thinking that painting would have been much easier, I layered a maroon tulle atop the 12" x 12" to further secure the small pieces of fabric. I also cut a black backing larger than the quilt and brought it over the front sides to hand-stitch a border. I machine-stitched a bit of everything with invisible thread and then embroidered the face and clouds with a back stitch and running stitch, respectively, using no. 8 thread. Click to enlarge the images.

Tricia's Quilt--Boston Strong

Boston Strong

I wanted to work with the Boston Strong message. After the Red Sox won the World Series the city planned the celebration parade. The parade stopped at the Marathon finish line. Several players got out of the duck boats and took a Boston Strong t shirt and The World Series trophy and placed it on the finish line.  It was their way of saying we did this for all the victims.   I was not there but the photograph was such a powerful image that I wanted to recreate that image.

I cut out jersey fabric for the t-shirt and stenciled the words on the fabric. I also stenciled the finish line with shiva paints sticks.  I used the suggestion of using a stencil brush with the paints.  They worked much better.  I spray painted wooden skewers with silver paint and glued on the gold foil flags.  Creating the base for the trophy was much harder and I am not very happy with it.  It used  a pie pan, aluminum foil and a hot glue gun. I am not sure how I could make it differently.

I didn't want to finish with just this image. As Boston continues to heal, a garden club decided to plant yellow daffodils all along the marathon route that will be blooming this year and for years to come for the marathon. I have read that there will be 10,000 just at the starting line. I believe that at least 95,000 have been planted along the route.  It will be amazing to see.  I also wanted to include another journal for the daffodils.

I created the three dimensional daffodils using ultra heat and bond with fabric on both sides.  You can mold it when the fabric is warm.

Our city has become a stronger community thru this tragedy. 

Barbara's Strong Quilt-Above The Trail

I have always loved birds of prey flying free and strong with the air currents.  I live near Mission Trails Regional Park and am left breathless seeing these beautiful creatures sailing through the air.  When I am in my upstairs studio, I often hear the calls/cries of the Red Tail Hawk and lots of Crows/Ravens (I can't tell which they are) chasing each other!  Yesterday, when I got home at 4 pm and pulled in my driveway,  I looked at the sky and there was a large bird playing with the currents.  There was a smaller bird nearby and I realized that it must be learning to fly from it's parent.

This piece has machine pieced borders, hand appliquéd bird and hand quilted trails.  The edges are faced like in garment construction.  I find this kind of hand work very relaxing and meditative.


My original design idea for “strong” was to construct a quilt based on strong women.  However, while I was contemplating design elements, Nelson Mandela died. I deeply admired Mandela and his power of strength through difficult times, so I decided that my quilt must be about him. Years ago I purchased two pieces of African fabric from a South African man at a booth at the International Quilt Festival in Houston.  I had no idea at the time what I would do with it.  I was simply drawn to the irregular hand-dyed cloth with gold embossing.  I immediately pulled it out of my stash to use for this project.  I looked at picture after picture of Mandela on the Internet.  I loved one of him holding a dove about to take flight.  But, not knowing who had made the photograph and thus how to seek permission to use it, I decided instead to make a hand drawing of Mandela based on a statue in Johannesburg.  He is in his classic pose with a clenched fist raised in the air, the same image that flashed across television stations immediately following his death.  After seeing the photo of Mandela with the dove, I knew that I also had to incorporate a dove.  I looked at old Christmas cards from the 1960’s for inspiration and drew the dove in flight that you see here.  Mandela and the dove are raw-edge appliqued to the background.  I made the dove with 4 layers – using an off white fabric with 3 layers of shiny tulle appliqued on top. Mandela is made from the African fabric with a banner across his chest.  Each of these elements is free-motion outline quilted.  I used a decorative stitch above his head going from the dove upward to simulate Mandela rising to the heavens.  Then I used white pencils around the dove and Mandela to produce a “glow” effect.  I added an applique with Mandela’s name and his birth and death dates. The back of the quilt is the full pattern of the African fabric with a panel applique containing words of strength that describe this remarkable man.  An African bird from the fabric is appliqued in the right-hand corner.  The same African fabric was used for the border.  A simple, but I hope powerful, symbol of strength.

Lois' STRONG Quilt

I pondered a long time about the different types of strong.  It was such a good theme, so many options, thank you Tricia.    I kept going back and forth with the strength animals - As we just returned from a South African Safari trip, where the brute strength of these animals in their natural setting was awesome to behold,  and the mascots in schools of animals used to depict Strong in a collegiate mascots. Not being from the South and witnessing the strength of the support for Southern Conference Schools - their loyalty to the Mascots, Flags and Banners of these teams everywhere, and the strength of their followings have intrigued me.  So I decided to combine them in my own version of strong.

I appliqued on the red letters - obviously to give the piece a collegiate feel as my last step.

I did my applique on untreated cotton canvas.   I drew the elephant on white velum, and used Fantastic All purpose inks, and their fine tip applicators and alcohol to paint on the fabric,  I wet the fabric first, did my drawing to size on paper, then taped it down, pinning the fabric over it, so I could see through the marker drawing done in permanent marker thru the thin cotton untreated white fabric. By wetting the fabric i was able to blend my colors better and not get harsh lines from the ink.   Be sure to put plastic under the whole project so your table surface stays clean.

After the painting was done and dry, I ironed it, then cut it out. I sprayed the back of it with Web Bond TA 101 and ironed it in place on the canvas.  Then I started thread painting with my new Sweet Sixteen.

When the elephant was completed, I decided it needed more texture so I put canvas colored thread in my machine and started free motion drawing, beige on beige on the canvas. It was a fun piece to do,and I learned a
lot about using the inks as well as practicing thread painting, which I am becoming obsessed with!!!!

Jane's Strong Quilt

“Strong” is a wonderfully  inspiring theme for a quilt. My first inclination was to use the image of a tree. Trees are very strong. I could see the huge oak tree in my father’s yard, the windswept trees clinging to a cliff or canyon wall, or the willow tree that bends with the wind. However, while I was considering the tree, we had an ice storm. It wasn’t a horrible ice storm, but it coated the limbs and broke several. Three fell on the studio roof. Many trees around town fell over and quite a number of people were left without electricity. It made me think about water. Water created the Grand Canyon and many caves. The giant Mississippi River continues to be a force to be reckoned with each spring. The frozen water can break the trees.
I had an experimental piece on my design wall begging to be finished. I started with canvas as a backing. At the time I was interested in multidimensional work, so I used alpaca fibers and yarns for the batting. It was not real batting. On top I used scrim/cheesecloth. The stream is dyed cheesecloth. I machine quilted the background minimally to take advantage of the texture in the “batting”. Then I painted the background with the gold and purple. I added some hand stitches and beads. The beads can be drops of water or pebbles in the stream. After trimming the piece to 12 x 12, I tried finishing the edge with black zigzag stitching; but I didn’t like that. I put silk ribbon over the stitching that pleased me. The silk is that scrappy sari silk ribbon that is cream colored.

Sara's Strength

I loved the word Strength. I decided to dedicate my work this month to the massive effort I've been making on strengthening my body. I also am keeping in mind my self-challenge of trying a different technique to execute my concept each time in order to try out the many tools I've been collecting over the years.  This time I used a fabric collage technique I learned from Susan Carlson.  I took a picture of a set of dumbbells on my mat table in my home exercise room (a room I need to visit more often - not sure why it seems easier to drive to the gym :) ). I printed the picture out and traced the dumbbell outlines and light contours with a black marker on tracing paper. I brought it to the copy shop and had it enlarged it 120%. I then traced the enlargement onto muslin. I pinned the muslin on top of paper on a foam core board and sat down in front of it with a pile of brown fabric scraps and Aileene's Tacky glue. I cut and placed pieces of fabric on the muslin, trimming the fabric to my outlines as I went and filling in gaps where needed. When I was done I cut out my dumbbell image and tested it on different fabric backgrounds. I chose a piece of cotton from a sample given to me by my friend who runs a Fine Linen store - it has a flowery pattern woven into it and has lustrous texture. I tacked the image to my background fabric with the tacky glue and covered it with black tulle before quilting it with batting and backing. I quilted the image with a black thin thread from Wonderfil. The background was quilted with a  similar thread that matched the background. I chose a leaf motif for the background to coordinate with the flowery design on the background. I used wavy lines below the image in homage to the table the dumbells sat on.

Andrea's Strong

B & W and Marimekko All Over

cotton, organza, screen printed, machine pieced and quilted 


Strong contrast, strong design evoking strong memories of Harvard Square, Cambridge Ma. in the 1960's and 1970's.
I have loved the bold designs of Marimekko fabric since I first saw it in a small store called Design Research.  My mother made curtains for my first apartment in 1972 from a favorite Marimekko pattern, "Ataman".  Needless to say, I still have those curtains and even though they are faded and tattered, I have not been able to throw them away, but was able to recycle, at least a 12" square, for the back of this quilt.
The background is pieced using 5 different Marimekko fabrics ( I still collect them! ).  The text is a paragraph about the architect Benjamin Thompson who opened Design Research in 1953 (tmagazine. screen printed on black organza and fused after quilting.  I believe my love of silkscreening came after having had the opportunity to visit the Marimekko factory in Helsinki Finland in 1968, and seeing how the designs were screened onto the fabric.

Nedra's Strong - La Famille Zeringue

My mother just celebrated her 92nd birthday in December.  She lived alone and drove until October when she was forced to move to an assisted living facility when it was no longer safe to live alone.  She is the only living child of Athanasie Zeringue, my maternal grandmother.  Although I don’t know the complete story, my grandmother left her comfortable life on a plantation to become the wife of a farmer.  Times were difficult due to the weather dependant nature of farming and the effects of the Great Depression and they frequently had to relocate.  The family grew quickly; 11 pregnancies produced 9 children.   The older children had to help with chores and care for the younger siblings.  All of the children eventually were needed to help plant and harvest the crops, sew clothes AND attend school when possible.  My mother shared many stories of their farming life - it was a hard life but the family was very close and shared many good times when they relaxed on Sundays.  They were a hardy family.  My grandmother lived to the age of 85 and five of her children were in their early 90s when they died.  My favorite aunt, Mathilde, died at 93 but continued to cut her own grass with a push mower until she was 91!!  I will never forget how hard they all worked to make better lives for themselves and their children. They exemplify STRONG to me in all respects.

I chose an oak tree to represent the Zeringue family.  It was the obvious choice as it embodies strength and they grow abundantly in Louisiana where the family farmed and lived.  My mother is represented by the lone leaf on the branch.  I sketched an oak tree and then traced it onto freezer paper to use as a pattern.  Four layers of tuille were needed to achieve the right shade of brown and were basted together. The freezer paper pattern of the tree was lightly ironed onto these layers.  I pinned the tuille and pattern onto my background batik and stitched around the edges of the pattern.  When done, I carefully cut away the excess tuille.  I also made several leaves using a similar technique and  stitched these onto the background at the bottom of the tree.  Batting and backing fabric were layered and the piece was machine quilted; Zeringue is stitched into the bark of the tree.  I also machine quilted several leaves in the background.  The extra leaves on the ground and in the background represent the previously deceased family members.  Fused strips of background fabric were used to bind the piece.  

On the back is the handwritten invitation for my grandmother’s wedding and a picture of the plantation where my grandmother lived which I printed onto fabric and used for the backing.

Carol's STRONG

So this word was a bit of work in thinking it up. I went to shapes as a reference and found that the arch is one of the strongest shapes. Consequently, I chose this Double Arch Bridge which is not far from where I live. I like history and seem to find forgotten places that I take photos of, like this bridge. (my first choice was The Egg - but it seemed too "Easter")

Here's the history of the bridge:

The Double-arch Sandstone Bridge or more commonly known as the Sands Bridge, is a historic dry stone arch bridge over the Spicket River on Hampshire Road in Methuen, Massachusetts. Built without mortar between the stones, parts of it date back to 1735. It was used to handle traffic between Methuen and Salem NH.
The location: Along the old Dracut Path, was a marshy area of the Spicket River that could be forded by horse or cart. The ford eventually was bridged. The earliest town record, from the Town meeting of 1730, show a simple plank bridge was used which required regular maintenance at the cost of the township. The wooden bridge was replaced with the more durable stone arch bridge in 1835. Solid abutment supports were constructed on each river bank. A wooden frame shaped like the underside of the bridge, was constructed over the river. The stones where then set on the frame, without mortar. The bridge was filled in with rubble and dirt, which over time would compress against the abutments. The wooden frame was then removed. If constructed correctly a stone-arch bridge should last indefinitely, the Sands Bridge is not a well built bridge. Photographic evidence shows the keystone had slipped by the late nineteenth century. The bridge was used consistently until it was taken out of service in 1963 when the Spicket River was rerouted and Interstate 93 was built.
It was added to the National Register of Historic Places June 20, 1984.

I started with a sketch of the bridge and then went right on to the collecting and cutting of fabric.  I thought I would need to buy some, but decides to NOT get any more fabric - I can do this!

I stitched the stones, the dry leaves are tiny cut up fabrics with a netting sewn over them. I used some Inktense Pencils to do the artsy type of swamp look for the background. The edge was turned to the back in place of a binding.
Anyway, this was done in three days - with all the goings on and holidays, etc, I just think it slipped through the cracks. BUT it is done and I am very happy with it.

Kathy's Strong: SPARKY

This is our beautiful Wire-Hair Fox Terrier Sparky - the epitome of "Strong" in his strength and his courage.   Sparky is a rescued dog who adopted us December 21, 2012.  When we first made his acquaintance, Sparky was quite a mess.... he'd been thrown out of and/or hit by a truck and was found wandering on a rural highway.  He had huge ear-to-ear stitches across the top of his head; was skinny as a rail; was on medication for his injuries; and had just been neutered!  From head to tail he was hurting, but this beautiful, funny, high-energy canine stole our hearts the moment we saw him.   Sparky came home with us that same day and our family has never been the same !   We completed our first year just a few weeks ago, and we're thrilled that Sparky's adoption is complete - we are a "Forever Family."

To accomplish this Canine Portrait, I took the picture shown below and uploaded it to iPhoto on my MacBook computer.   The only changes I made were to crop the photo and "blur" the background a bit.  The photo was then printed onto Jacquard "Ink Jet Printing" Cotton (for use with inkjet printers & copiers).

Wanting to try some new techniques, I enhanced some areas of the printed image with Derwent Inktense water soluble Ink Pencils, and Caran D'ache water soluble wax (crayon-like) pastels that were purchased on-line from Dick Blick art supplies.   I had a blast "painting" with these water soluble pencils and crayons  ... no rules... just play time :-D

I heat-set the image then fused it onto black ultra-suede.    Inspired by Jennifer Day's extraordinary quilts at the Houston International Quilt Festival, I "thread-painted" over the entire image using several different colors of 40 weight, 50 weight, and monofilament threads.   Hours and hours of time were spent on this part of the quilt, which was time well spent !

For the border area, I free-motion quilted various sizes of round "pebble-like" circles to give depth and interest.   This quilting was done with 30 wt. Madeira rayon thread (my favorite of all the threads !)

This quilt was so much fun to make !  I was able to try new techniques, play with thread, and pay tribute to one of the strongest characters I've ever had the pleasure to meet - Sparky !

Alice's Strong Quilt--Strong Women

In Memory of Kathy; In Honor of Susan

I come from a family of strong women.  Grandmothers, mother, aunts, sisters, cousins—all strong in different and amazing ways.  Our two daughters followed along in this tradition.  Until she suffered two overwhelming and devastating bouts with depression, our oldest daughter Kathy accomplished more in her 47 years on Earth than most people do in a lifetime.  Our youngest child, Susan, is the woman I admire more than any other. She juggles careers as a therapist and a part-time university teacher with mothering her two active boys, being a devoted wife to a wonderful husband, and somehow has time to be on a tennis team and participate in competitive races.

Thus I chose to symbolize my strong daughters as athletes.  Kathy ran in several New York marathons and kept on running almost daily for twenty years.  As a way to memorialize her sister, Susan then began running as well, participating in races with her husband and two sons.  As a teenager, Susan was on her school’s basketball team and played one year in college.  Because I am probably the most un-athletic woman imaginable, these athletic abilities of my daughters have always astounded me and made me proud.

Of course, their other accomplishments out-shine their athleticism, but depicting a runner and a tennis player was easier than depicting a woman  standing before a crowd, speaking out for human rights; or one sitting counseling a troubled soul; or a woman in a courtroom or a classroom; or a mother performing all the myriad duties of motherhood joyfully—images of these overwhelmed my abilities, and so I took the easy route with this quilt.

My Strong quilt is dedicated to my beautiful and strong daughters—Mary Katherine and Susan Christine.  Their pictures are on the quilt’s back—Susan on the left, Kathy on the right.  The backing fabric is a commercial one depicting young women swimmers.  There’s an inside joke here:  Kathy loved to give people nicknames.  One of the perhaps 10 or 15 she had for her little sister Susan was C.O.W., which stood for Child of the Waters, because from an early age onward, Susan loved so to swim! Kathy even made up a song she’d sing to Susan using this nickname.

Construction details:  copy-right free coloring book images cut from black felt and fused onto the background with Wonder Under; batik background fabric quilted in a grid before the appliqués were applied.

the back of the quilt

Close-up photos of Susan and Kathy--our wonderful
and accomplished and STRONG daughters