Well, I decided to host and Autograph Quilt Square
Exchange, because I wanted my very own Friendship Quilt. So the first
thing I did was post to various list, then poll interested people, then start a
Yahoo Group to help keep the participants in contact, share ideas, post photos
and talk over the details. It is a private group, so any participants must
write to me to ask to join.
This is the way it works. I'll be the swap mama.
Interested folks will create signature quilt squares with a 6" finished area,
leaving at least .25 to .50 inches for seam allowance. Then they will send
the finished squares to me at the address below, along with a self-addressed
stamped envelope for a return square. Once a month, on the second Saturday,
I will collect them all. Then I will switch them up and send back a square to everyone who has sent one
on the following Monday.
Foreign participants can contact me to arrange for a way to cover postal fees.
Members of the list are not required to complete even a single block, but
hopefully enough of us will want to participate that some of us can make and
swap enough blocks for a pillow, a wall-hanging, or a quilt. Since squares
are only swapped once they have been completed, you can make as many or as few
as you would like. I can not handle special requests, except for novices
who wish to be partnered with other novices or people who want to trade with
There are no themes, but the block should be a personal
representation of the maker. There is no restriction on fancies versus
cottons, but you would not want to make a signature quilt out of junky fabric,
because it represents you as an individual. That said, I can see a funky
fifties square with awful fabrics, colors and maybe even a poodle. There
is a way to make anything work in this type of block. We figure the fewer
restrictions, the more room for people to be creative.
My personal experience:
I knew I wanted to use my wedding dress in my blocks.
After all, meeting and marrying my husband was central to my life over the last
three years. When I asked my husband if he minded if I cut up my wedding
dress to do this and he said "not at all." To me, it will be more meaningful to
share the fabric and the squares, than to leave it hanging in your closet for
the next forty years. So now I have lots of spark organdy to use and
As I was going through my fabrics, I realized that I had a
lot of fancy fabric, especially in white, ivory and candlelight. Suddenly
it seemed right to use them, because that was really what lead me to silk ribbon
and crazy quilting. Plus, I discovered that what drew me to neutral blocks
was that it forced you to focus on the embellishment. So I sat down at the
sewing machine and started with a pentagon of the dull satin and spark organdy
from my wedding dress. Then, piece by piece, I sewed, ironed, marked & cut
each piece, until I had a finished block ready to embellish.
|Click to enlarge.
||This block would not scan and was difficult to photograph, because of
the lack of contrast. I tried several things, then got my husband to take a
series of photos with and without flash, placing the square on a dark
fabric. I chose a non-flash photo, so you could see the silky textures of
the fabrics, even though the colors are not exactly true. Once there was
some stitching in place, it did scan better.
||The first thing I decided to embroider was the letter "R" in the middle
of the block. Since I am a big fan of Shadow Work, I decided to freehand the
R, then work it up in a multi-colored thread. I had just purchased some
"Oliver Twists" thread collections from my local Bernina Sewing Center and I
decided to use color pack 001, since this was my first block! So the colors
are going to be rich browns and copper, both clean and oxidized! Next I
stamped the block with "How Does Your Garden Grow" and used a very tiny
chain stitch to work the lettering, backstitch for the bee and flower, and
French knots for the bee's flight path. Next I got out my box of ribbon from
Carolyn at Pink Peppercorns and found a ribbon I thought went well with the
thread and made French Knot Roses around the stamp. Then I came back with
YLI silk floss and made leaves using lazy daisies in groups of three, with
the occasional odd single leaf.
||Next I added a spider web and yet another pearl
spider. Then I got out some beads that I picked up at a Dallas bead show
with two other participants in this swap and did some beaded embroidery
seams. One is Beaded Extended Fly
Stitch and the other is beaded
feather stitch, except I completely covered my thread with beads, six
per stitch to be exact, instead of just one as in the diagram.
||I added a Trapunto paw print, appropriately sized for
my dogs, then free hand embroidered their names above and below it, all
using the same variegated cotton perle from the Oliver Twist fiber pack,
color 001. I also used some of the chenille from the same pack and
couched it along the seam line near the spider web. I also added a few
brass charms, a Peace Dove and a dachshund.
||I was struggling with how I was going to put my name
on this block and I finally decided to make a small faux credit card with my
name in tiny letters. I don't exactly know what they says about me,
but it seemed like a good idea at the time. I did not want to use any
trademarked names, so I just freehanded the work Gold Card. The irony
there is that I don't think I have any gold cards.
||Things changed by the finished block. Some of
the charms were moved, to accommodate some lace. No block from me
would be complete without some rolled roses! These are done in ribbon
from Carolyn at Pink Peppercorns.
Final seam treatments done, plus I added the year and an enameled pin of
Winnie The Pooh.
I was in a rut with piecing, all of my blocks
looked the same, so I just got more books, then just went funky and freehand.
I discovered I really hate following a pattern and sometimes the fabric
determines where it will go. Only one of these blocks started with a
pentagon, because that was the rough shape of the end of a piece of my wedding
dress. One block got a little funky when I realized I had not included any
of my wedding dress. I did a less than admirable job of adding it into an
almost finished block.
I think the most important thing I learned
about piecing several blocks at once is to have your ironing board near your
Other good tips are:
Keep a ruler and a pencil handy for marking
sewing lines on your fabric.
Check twice, cut once.
You can never use too many pins.
Don't be afraid to leave generous seam
allowances, it is easier to trim away excess fabric than to rip out a seam and
Be careful not to cut your foundation
fabric when trimming away seam allowances.
Use a long stitch setting to sew your
pieces down. The fabric will remain secure, but will be easier to rip
out a bad seam without marring your fancy fabrics.
Needles are cheap, don't let yours go too
long without changing, especially when sewing delicate fabrics.
Pin or stitch organza/organdy to a base
fabric before trying to add it to your block.
Keep your sewing machine clean and oiled.
Nothing is worse than having it jam up and damage delicate fabric and your
came block number two. With a whole new color scheme and theme. I did not
meant to head toward the water, but it was what happened half-way through my
block and certainly seemed to fit. I was having more trouble with this
block because my name was a central element. Once I decided to add the
crab and seaweed, which obscured my name a little, it started to feel right
||Block number three has become the "Eeyore"
block. I used a stamp from All Night Media and fabric ink to get the
design on the block, then I stitched him up in Eterna silk mini-twist.
First I outlined him in back stitch, then I used a single strand in long and
short stitches for the body. I used two strands in split stitches for
his mane and tail. I also reverted to a more whimsical way of signing
my block, by adding a Discover® Card. It is
interesting how several elements remain constant, but the blocks are all
Block number four was all about yellow!
There are some repeat elements from other blocks like Oscar & Louie, the paw
print, the key with tassel, the credit card as a means of getting my name on the
block, pooh bear, how does your garden grow and roses! This block had a
completely different look despite all the repetition. The letter "R" was
stamped onto the block using a rubber stamp from Anna Griffin. Look for an
article on how to make the pansies in Volume 3, Issue 2 of the CQMagOnline.
I enjoyed the yellows so much, that block number four was all
about yellow too! There "How Does Your Garden Grow" stamp, the key with
tassel, the credit card with my name, Oscar & Louie with a paw were all repeated
elements. The chicken feet from the last block were done in variegated
embroidery floss this time and an enameled pooh was added. I also use a
moon, since that is the ruling planet for my sign of the zodiac and I added my
husband's name and tons of flower beads!
Block six was different. It was all about fabric
stamping! Eeyore, Pooh, the Homemade by:, the butterfly, the tea cup and
even the lobelia were stamped images that I embroidered over. The lobelia
are SRE in French knots. The Cala Lily is also SRE, with a leaf stitch
from 20 mm silk satin and silk floss bullion for the calyx. The stem is a
chain stitch with the first one wrapped around the base of the flower.
Block seven also featured Oscar and Louie's names and a
Trapunto paw print, but it has some different motifs, including a Magnolia that
was featured in the April 2004 issue of CQMagOnline.
Block eight almost made it into the trash. This block
was trouble from the start. I tried to draw a design onto the satin and it
bleed immediately, so I washed the block, but not all of the ink would come out.
I opted to place a large white rose patch over that spot. Then when I
stamped and painted the redhat woman with Tsukineko Fabric pens, it bled
slightly, even after setting with an iron. Ironically, the signature did
not feather or run, so it may be that my red and purple pens were juicier than
my black one. This block also featured bullion roses on a piece of my
wedding dress in the center section.
Block nine was one that I almost did not make. I had
started a block using all hand-dyed silks when someone said they wanted one with
a piece of my wedding dress. I pieced this block and started it. I
had a little trouble with the hand piecing, because the fabrics were slick and
thin! The Harrison Fisher print determined most of the seam treatment
color. I used a compatible gold, pink and gray 1000d silk. Then I
decided on the pink & green hand-dyed threads from Oliver Twists for the
embroidered motifs, both of which came from a Dover iron-on transfer book.
And now for something completely different....This block was
made of silk scraps from a swap with friends, with a single piece of satin and a
piece of spark organdy from my wedding dress. There is a Shadow Work
flower, ribbon work grapes, a fancy "R" done in DMC Coton a Broder with flower
thread and ribbon accents. One of the members made me a special block and
I have owed her a return block for months! Even though it is labor intensive, I
like embroidered motifs and prefer patches large enough to accommodate them.
This block also has a Mississippi themed silk print and was
made from the same silk scraps as the block above. Like before, I used the
spark organdy from my wedding dress to do a large stylized flower in Shadow
Work. This block also have several ribbon embroidery items and although
the piecing is plain, it gave me a lot of room to work large motifs and
concentrate on my seam work.
This block was pieced at the same time as the two above.
This time I did the same R in Shadow Work with thread and ribbon embroidery
accents on the spark organdy from my wedding dress. I also did a large
composite silk ribbon and silk thread floral motif, a butterfly stitched in long
and short with a single strand of DMC at a time, and added my dogs names, some
charms, the year and a enameled Pooh pin.
This was also pieced at the same time as the three above.
This time I did the R is satin stitch, using Needle Necessities over-dyed floss
in pale shade. I repeated the stylized flower in Shadow Work on a piece of
my wedding dress, but I had to make it a little smaller to fit this block.
The butterfly was stitched thread painting style, using a different color
palette than above. I also repeated the the SRE motif from an earlier
block, using just the stems and ad-libbing the flowers.
This one is very similar to those above, except that I used a
different silk print and more pieces and colors.
Yet another variation on a theme. The shadow work R
seems to stand out better with a variegated floss. This block uses a lot
of Needle Necessities over-dyed floss and ribbon from Carolyn at
Pink Peppercorns, who I am glad to
say is back at the dye pot!
I did the same shadow work R in a different colored
variegated floss. There is also a lot of Needle Necessities over-dyed
floss and MORE ribbon from Carolyn at
Pink Peppercorns. I also used
one of the larger Pooh Enamel pins on this block and made a bouquet wrapped with
a lavender organza ribbon. There are several pastel glass rice pearls used
and silver Japan thread.