Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wednesday's Wanderings #26 Oh Glorious Day & #27 "Couching"

 After the week that I have had, there is no doubt that the subject of  this week's WW would be the wedding and the chuppah. My memory isn't very good, so I am thrilled with the notion that a few years from now I'll be able to look at the quilt made from all of these blocks and be able to reminisce about 2012.

 I am getting pretty good at making these little blocks.  I started working on 'the chuppah" first thing in the morning and finished it by lunch, albeit a late lunch.  This is Block #26. 
I'm halfway there.  Woo Hoo!!

I start almost every block by quilting the background.  I just use batting and the background fabric.  There is no fabric on the back.  I will add the backing fabric when I put all the blocks together.
I quilt it. 

I had fun working with markers.  I bought this collection of Bic markers at AC Moore a few months ago.  It reminded me of when I was little and the thrill of getting that big box of Crayola crayons.  The label says permanent. 

Oh the possibilities!

Isn't this gorgeous?

Maybe they should call it semi-permanent?
I wasn't that concerned about using the Bic markers.  I used these markers to mimic the leaves and branch appliques from the chuppah.  I wasn't planning on wetting it. But I wetted a sample anyway. I did not try setting it with a hot iron.

But, I wanted to use a washable marker to mark the letters for the embroidery along the top of the block. Those colored lines would need to wash out. Speaking of Crayola, would their washable markers work?  I have used them in the past, but Test, Test, Test.

Can you see a bit of lettering left behind?  And surprisingly it's from the blue marker, not the pink.  Even after I test, I try to match the color of the marker to the color of the thread for the embroidery.  I have also used washable markers from the dollar store with success.  But I still test both the marker color with each fabric that I plan on using.

I have had a crazy busy Spring.  It has all been wonderful and fabulous.  It started with my book coming out.  Then I went to Kansas City for Quilt Market.  At the same time I had committed to a winter project for The Quilt Life which I delivered at Market.  Next on my agenda was my 3 day fabric dyeing retreat for a fabulous group of women.  Then the chuppah and the wedding. Plus my regular schedule of lectures, workshops, WW's and blogging.  I wanted to have a career as a fiber artist and I think I can say that I accomplished that. 

 I am ready for a vacation, but I don't want to go anywhere.  I just want to stay home.  So I have come up with a new pastime.  I have named it "couching".  It's not the thread kind of couching.  It's butt on the couch, feet on the coffee table kind of couching.

I used the computer for printing. 

What about that pedicure?  Marker.
And where did I get the image for my couching block?
Sometimes you just have to use the real deal, like a self-portrait!!

So this has become my 27th block.  I will need 54 blocks to make my 6 block x 9 block wallhanging at the end of the year. Since I am making one block per week and there are 52 weeks in the year, I need to make 2 extra blocks.   So at this halfway point, I thought this would be the perfect time for my plus one.

So you'll excuse me now.  I'm going to do some "couching"!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Chapter 2. The Chuppah

I started thinking about making this chuppah the same day my son got engaged.  The deal was if he got married by a rabbi, I would make the chuppah.  Since we know a wonderful rabbi, I figured that he would be an important part of the ceremony and I needed to design the most beautiful and meaningful wedding canopy that I could.

 I knew the basis of my design would include a tree. Trees are such a significant symbol for many situations in Jewish .  In the Talmud which is a book of ancient Jewish law, it says that a cedar tree should be planted upon the birth of a son and a pine tree should be planted when a girl is born.  When the boy and girl get married the trees shall be cut down and used to form a chuppah.

To add meaning to this piece of tradition, I sent out fabric leaves to all of the guests with a pen and directions for signing and writing a special wish for the couple.  These leaves would truly make the chuppah a canopy of warmth and love.

There is no standard size for a chuppah.  I decided to make it 6 foot square.  Based on my technique for appliqueing, I chose to make it in 4 quadrants.  I could deal with working on a section that measures 36"x36".  I chose a background fabric that looked like sky.  I backed it with low loft batting and quilted it with a straight line design.

I used a variegated rayon thread.

Then the branches were added coming out of each corner. They were fused and machine appliqued with a blanket stitch. The leaves were added next, except for the ones that would overlap another quadrant.

I squared it up and held my breath as I trimmed it.

I made 4 of these.

After trimming I stitched the 4 quadrants together and added the scalloped edges.I was planning on adding appliqued letters in both English and Hebrew in the center with the traditional saying, "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine".  BUT, I  really felt liked I had achieved the vision of laying on your back and looking up through the branches and seeing the sky.   I auditioned many different types and colors of letters, but they all took away vision.

Swirls of blue organza gave the feeling of the sky without being distracting. 

On 2 of the swirls, I wrote those special words, both in Hebrew and English.

The final step was attaching the backing and quilting around all of the leaves and branches.  I bound it like I would bind a quilt. I did add a sleeve at the top and the bottom for suspending it from two wooden bars. Holes were drilled at the ends to attach it to the supports.

Planning the frame to hang the chuppah was the next challenge.  I use these quilt display stands when I lecture.  Their actual purpose is for hanging photography backdrops.

The tripod legs were left closed and inserted into a 2 ft length of PVC pipe that was inserted into a flange that was screwed into the dock.

It's hard to see from the photo, but the poles were set up so that they were lower in the back than the front.  The guests could then get a good view.
I wrapped the poles with a satiny type fabric.  I wasn't super happy with how it looked.  I thought I could wing it, but I feel like I should have made tubes and then gathered it around the poles.

A view from the dock.

The newlyweds were thrilled.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Chapter 1. The Wedding

The focus of my writings is usually not my family, but I have to make an exception.  My youngest son got married this past weekend and I am still on Cloud 9.  To see my son marry the girl of his dreams and to be the happiest I have ever seen him, made my heart sing. 

The wedding weekend (who celebrates for only one day anymore?) was centered arounbd our summer home in the mountains.  It started with the rehearsal dinner (or as we like to call it, the Welcom Dinner) at a local restaurant.  I decided that this was the best time to unveil "THE CHUPPAH".  No one had seen it before except my husband and the almost 100 women at my quilt guild!  So it was a surprise for everyone.  It also gave me the opportunity to explain how meaningful it is in the Jewish marriage ceremony.

The bride and groom

Whenever you have an outdoor event, the big elephant in the room is the weather.  We tried not to talk about a PLan B, thinkging a positive attitude would keep bad weather away.  The days before the wedding, it was stinking hot and there was a threat of thunderstorms.  But it tuned out to be one of the most beautiful days ever.  It had rained a bit the day before and that cooled it off.

As MOTG on the wedding day, my list was short. First, I directed my son, Roger, and his buddy Scott, on the hanging of the flags in the yard. Loren and I had made the 150 flags during their visit on  Memorial Day weekend. 

While we were setting up the yard, my DH was doing one of the things that he loves to do - teaching a child to fish:

My great nephew's first fish  (Don't you love that red hair?)

My second job was to set up the chuppah. My DH and I had a plan that we had been working on for 2 weeks.  We thought it was a great plan.  (Tomorrow's post will give all the details of how it was set up with some close-ups.)  We even had  a plan to deal with the wind, anchoring the chuppah to the dock so that it would not act as a sail.  But wind can be mighty. It took a bunch of us and a bit of adjusting to make sure that the chuppah did not end up in the lake.  Even the Rabbi got involved.

Thankfully it did not blow away before the ceremony.

Rabbi Hyman is a family friend.  He has known my son since he was 12.  Currently the rabbi at Temple B'nai Israel in Easton, MD, he drove over 4 hours to perform the ceremony.  He then turned around and drove back home to perform another wedding in MD the next morning.  We love him and he made the ceremony so meaningful and personal.  At one point he stepped outside of the chuppah to talk to all the guests about the symbolism and what it means in the Jewish religion.  Roger wore the tallit that we bought on our trip to Israel.

Before the ceremony, we were talking about  some other items we brought back from Israel.  One of them was a handmade mezuzzah that we had not mounted yet.  It has a scroll inside with a handwritten prayer that blesses your house.  So the coolest thing was the Rabbi said, where is it?  I'll hang it for you.  OMG  Did he mean that? 
Yes he did! And he blessed it too.

After the ceremony, we all headed to a restaurant/hotel in the town of Hawley, called The Ledges.
There are multi-level decks with a view  of a waterfalls.  The bride designed the tablescapes and they were gorgeous. 

On one of the decks was the band. 

The first dance.

 I think I talked non-stop during the Mother/Son dance because I wanted to forget that everyone was watching us.

The bride bought the cake topper on etsy.  It fit the woodsy theme perfectly.
And the cake was delish.  I waited all night for a piece.

A friend of the bride's family decorated the car.

I am so excited for this couple to begin their journey together with a lifetime of love and happiness.
2 sons + 2 wonderful wives = happiness

Chapter 2. - The Chuppah
Details to follow tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wednesday's Wanderings #25 - We're Almost There

I have been sewing away on the chuppah or the wedding canopy for my son's wedding.  I finally finished it this week.  My husband and I also worked out how it will be suspended over the couple and the rabbi during the ceremony.  Next Wednesday I will share it all, but I can't spoil the surprise. 

The first step in my Chuppah Project was to involve the families and friends of the couple.  I cut out leaves from green batik fabric.  I mailed them to families and friends with a pen and a request for them to sign a leaf and perhaps add good wishes.  I also had the guests at the bridal shower do the same. At this point I wasn't even sure what the design would be, but I knew it would have leaves.

When I did start to think about the design, I wasn't getting excited about all those green leaves.  I thought the design would be a bit dull.  So as you can see below, I added other colors to jazz it up.  After I finished the chuppah, I had some leaves left over.  I didn't want to throw out the extra leaves or put them on a shelf and save them  for who knows what.

I decided to use them up and create something unique. 

I used the leaves "as is" for the bottom 6 petals and blanket stitched it down.  For the remaining six petals, I folded a leaf in half and fused it to itself and cut out a new shape.  They are only stitched down in the center, leaving the inner petals 3-D.

The wedding is in 3 days.  I am starting to get excited instead of apprehensive.  If you have been the Mother of the groom, I think you will understand.  I can't wait to share everything.  I'm warning you now that next week, if you decide to come back and visit, make a cup of tea, sit down and check out the details of the chuppah and the wedding story.  It will be a long post.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Interview With Barbara Persing

The speaker at our guild's June meeting was Barbara Persing. Barbara has a new book that was just published called "Listen To Your Quilt".  (I love the quilt on the cover.)

 Barb is also a member of our guild.  What I find so amazing that this Spring 3 of the members of Calico Cutters Quilt Guild have had books published - Barb, Lisa O'Neill ("Sliver Quilts") and moi (as Miss Piggy would say).  To me, this shows the power of belonging to a guild.  Guild meetings become a place to empower, encourage and inspire each other.

"Listen To Your Quilt" is all about choosing a quilting design or designs for your quilt.  We can all use this help.  She gives a 4 step process that involves choosing a category for your quilt, a style and an intended purpose.  The last step is choosing the best thread color.  It really helps to simplify  the choice of a quilting design. 

Barbara has a long arm business and she has quilted everything from traditional quilts to art quilts.  She has exhibited and won awards at such nationally prestigious quilt shows as  The International Quilt Festival in Houston. You've got to know that you can learn something from her.
One of her newer pieces created by painting with ink.
She was generous enough to answer a bunch of my questions.
What is your favorite part of quilting? I love designing new quilts and choosing fabrics.  If by "quilting" you mean the actual quilting on my machine... I would say I still love the challenge of deciding on what quilting designs and thread color to use. Then seeing how it all comes together in the finished quilts.
Do you have a favorite color? I don't have a favorite color but I do prefer bright clear colors.
How long have you been making quilts? I have been making quilts for 30 years.
You currently have video lessons on The Quilt Show website. What was it like to film that? I am not comfortable in front of a camera and in the video lessons I have no one to "chat" with. For me that was very hard to do. I didn't feel natural.
Your sister is also a quilter. Is there quilting in your family history? Not so much a quilting history but a sewing history. Our mom taught me and my 4 sisters garment construction. Our mother is an amazing seamstress and she passed her love of sewing onto us. Mary and I are the only quilters but all my sisters sew.
I love your "Sampler". It's the quilt on the cover of your book. How many different hand dyed fabrics are there and how long did it take you to collect them? I bought the hand dyed fabrics as fat quarter bundles because I thought the colors were amazing. I purchased them all at once without knowing what I would use them for. All the bundles were hand dyed by the same company. I believe it was a husband and wife business and they are no longer in business. It was a couple of years before I made the quilt so I had the border fabric hand dyed for me by Dippy Dyes. I needed three yards for the border and I could no longer get the fabric from the original source. So you can see this is the perfect justification for buying fabric because it's pretty. We eventually get around to using it all!
Can you share 3 of your favorite tips? Press and then press some more.
It is always worth it to use good quality fabrics, so support your local quilt shops.
If you are going to put borders on your quilt find a good resource and review the proper technique.

Thank you Barb,  I wish you lots of success with all of your quilt related endeavors,

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wednesday's Wanderings #24 - A Study in Perspective

I love how fences delineate the curves of the landscape.  They are an exercise in perspective as well.
These fences segment the pastures for the stables at Ridley Creek State Park.  I have always wanted to put them in a quilt.  Doing this little piece (6 1/2" x 8 1/2") gave me the opportunity to do it in a relatively short period of time.  But one day I still would like to make a larger quilt.

This is the run-in shed for the horses. 
and a close-up of the horse.  I made the mane out of wool embroidery thread.
This section of the fence is right along the road that we walk along to enter the walking path at the park. Sometimes Bailey is not attached to her leash (shhhh, don't tell) and she thinks the horses are for her to play with.  As she runs towards the fence, I freak out!  She has not run under the rails yet.

A few weeks ago I made a block with my interpretation of the wisteria growing in the park.  Unfortunately they ended up looking more like grapes.

I bought new buttons that were much smaller and lighter in color. 

 Now I am satisfied that they look like wisteria.