Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A milestone, a (sorta) finish, a couple of funnies and an important message...

Pin It I'm thinking that I've had a productive year.  I've talked numbers before, which I'm trying not to do anymore, but I just feel waaaaay deep down that this deserves some recognition.

Yesterday was a big day for me.  Why?  Well, it was Tuesday, of course.  Hello?!?!

No but really, it was a big day.  As I was reading along my "list", trying to make a plan for the next week or so, I realized that I was working on my 100th quilt of the year.  This is the first year that I've kept tabs on just how many quilts I've done (which isn't that spectacular since it's... ya know... only my second year and all) but I was just a little excited.  I didn't take pictures of it because it was "just" an all-over quilt design and I'd already had it folded up and ready to go by the time I realized that it was meaningful, other than the fact that it was an awesome quilt in general.

Regardless of my time off from March through April, I think 100 quilts by the end of September is awesome!  It's also extremely telling...  my back hurts.  :)

Aside from that 100-quilt-mark, yesterday was just so ridiculously productive, I couldn't help but be in a good mood and work, work work.  Truth be told, I was running back and forth from my embroidery machine to the Gammill, trying to make the best of my time.  It was worth it.  I finished border number two for BeDazzled!

I'm so close now, that I can taste the vindication for the relentless hours of work that went into this.  That outside flower?  Yeah...  again...  supposed to be pink, so that it all flows (pink, yellow, pink, yellow), but I was too tired to fix it and just changed my thread colors.  I really hope it looks cool when it's all done.  I may or may not make some more changes to make it blend better.  :)

After I finished the border piece, I decided to start working on the label for my ovarian cancer quilt.  I already had my embroidery unit ready to go, right?

It was because of my ovarian cancer quilt that Ms. Karen McAwesome gave me my "McLisa" nickname to begin with.  So.  This particular label?  Well...  you'll see...

Yes!  Yessssss!

I keep thinking about this quilt in the future...  people trying to find facts on it and wondering, "who is McLisa Sipes?"  It makes me laugh.  Don't take that away from me!  This label will be on this quilt no matter what happens or where it goes.  True dat, yo.

Speaking of Ms. McTavish... Check this out:  Karen is part of a project that is nothing short of spectacular.

Brave.  An event to celebrate 30 years of The Duluth Model and the safety of women all over the world.  This is an event that hits close to home, and means a lot to a lot of people that I know and love.  If you support charity events, and would like to own a piece of work created by a couple of world-renowned artists, please check it out.  But really, check it out even if you have no intention of donating or purchasing.  The amount of time, work, effort and fabulosity that is going into this is amazing. I've said it before and I'll say it again:  This is a cause you don't want to dismiss.  I cannot express in words the pride I feel in knowing that there are people willing to speak out.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Something a little different

Pin It I realize that I probably talk about Karen McTavish entirely too much (by the way, she gave me another nickname today:  "McRockstar!!!").  When people inspire you, it's only to be expected, right?

A few weeks ago, Karen shared a video that she and her sister, Kathy (a cellist, poet and artist) made together.  Now I'd like to share it with you.

I would hope that if you know (and even if you don't know) just a tiny bit about Karen as a person or what she's been through, you'll be able to see the beauty, pain and meaning in this video.  And why it makes me cry.  Every. Single. Time I watch it.  Watch it all the way to the end.  I hope you like it.

The Quilt/ I

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Evolution of a BeDazzled block

Pin It So, there's this thing I've been working on that's been taking up the vast majority of my "free time" lately.  I've mentioned it once or twice and even shared a couple of photos.  It is my BeDazzled quilt, that I'm obsessed with finishing by December.  And by "finished", I mean all of the embroidery stitched out, the entire quilt put together and then quilted, show quality.  And possibly adding Swarovsky crystals.  All by December.

Why December?  Because I start teaching the class in January!  I prefer to have the sample for any class I teach completed before the classes start.  First, because it gives people a much better idea of what they're signing up for, but also because then I know I've got it finished, and it won't sit around collecting dust.  Yeah.  All of that.

Just to jog your memory, I'll show you a couple of pictures of some of the first blocks, which are much smaller than the others.

Crazy cool, right?  The thing is, it has become increasingly apparent to me that even people that are signed up for the class don't really know what's going on, here.

These blocks are embroidered applique.  You start with pieces of plain fabric, place them "just so" on a piece of plain background fabric, and then you stitch the crap out of it in pretty, bright and vibrant threads.  So in short:





Voila!  Four-to-ten (or sometimes 12...  or 14) hours later, you've got a completed block!

Pretty cool, huh?  It's amazing what a difference thread can make.  I've finished all of the blocks for the center of the quilt.  I've also finished one border, and am 3/4 of the way finished with another.  So I have 2.25 borders to complete, and then some embroidery in the cornerstones, then I start construction!

Here's an awful picture of one of the borders:

And since it's such an awful picture, I'll go ahead and show you this one for detail purposes:

And while we're talking about detail, let me just show you this one too...

... and let you know that those hearts on the ends of the feathers?  Yeah.  They were supposed to be pink.  :(  That was a pretty rough weekend, sewing-wise, and I decided *not* to fix it. I could've fixed it.  I didn't want to fix it. Can you believe it?  The so-called-perfectionist that I am?  =]

In other news, yesterday I found out that someone has been taking pictures of my work and claiming it as their own all over the internet.  So while I already have right-clicking disabled on my blog, all of my pictures from here on out may also have some form of copyright or watermark.  Thankyouverymuch! 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

2Corinthians 8:3

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"For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord."
Let me just say right off the bat that I am not a religious person.  Once upon a time, I was.  Very much so.  That is no longer the case.  However, I'm always happy to help a religious cause.  =]

Many, many, many months ago (I'm talking 10 months ago), I was asked by a friend/customer if I'd be interested in quilting a top for the Methodist church fund raiser auction.  I happily agreed, but after some time went by and I heard nothing more of it, I had completely forgotten about the entire conversation.

Imagine my surprise when a couple of weeks ago, she called me on the phone to ask if I was ready to quilt this top!  I'm sure she could detect a hint of panic in my voice when I said that I was most certainly ready.  Of course I was ready!  I'm always ready.

I was sooooo not ready.

She dropped it off two days after that phone call.  I couldn't help but notice before she even got it out of its bag that she neglected to mention it was a king sized quilt.  She also neglected to mention that it was a Dahlia quilt, which would most certainly require custom quilting!   I have nothing against doing custom quilting on charity quilts.  I just would have rather had time to plan for it.  I was given a week and a half to complete it, so that they would have time to bind it, get the label on (which I still have to embroider for them) and have it on display for a bit before the auction.

I really, really, really wish that I would have known in advance what I was up against.  Not because I minded doing it.  I was actually excited to do it.  But because I could've done it so much BETTER.

A Giant Dahlia would've been the perfect top to do some fun and fancy trapunto feather swags in the corners, maybe even some scroll work, all kinds of cool stuff.  But I just did. not. have. time. to. plan.  Waaaah!

I did the best I could considering the time restraint.  Nevermind the fact that it was a combination of piecing both by machine and by hand, a combined effort of a total of six people digging through their respective stashes and stitching up this beauty.  This massively pretty quilt top!  It was interesting!  Luckily, she just wanted something relatively simple:  Stitch in the ditch and a heavy backfill...  Piece-o-cake!

Anyway, it's late and I'm babbling so here's the quilt already!

Not the best pictures in the world, but they'll do for now.  You know, until I can get a couple of copies from the auction.  Can't wait to see how it does! 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Short and sweet. But important. To me.

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Hello again, everyone!  I know, I know...  I let forever go by again without so much as logging into my Blogger account.  Bad, bad Lisa.  But really, I cannot even tell you all of the crazy things that have been going on around here that have kept me away.  Eventually I will have something ready to show you that will explain a little bit, but that time is not now!
I felt compelled to right a blog post today because I finished something yesterday that has been one of those projects that I just "had to" do.  I don't mean that I was required to do it, I just had to do it.

When I was home recovering from my hysterectomy, I pieced four quilt tops.  Mostly because I was going stir crazy and desperately needed to do something, but it had to be something that I could do.  I made this-and-that, and one day it just hit me that I had all of this Ovarian Cancer Coalition fabric from Blank quilting, and what better time to piece an Ovarian Cancer Awareness quilt than when I was holed up from "that" kind of surgery?

Does anybody remember seeing that quilt?  When I thought up the idea, I immediately knew that of course, I had to use Blank's "Inspiration" line.  I also knew that I wanted it to be extremely simple so that the focus would be on the quiltING, rather than the quilt, itself.  And the above picture is what I came up with.

Early this week, I decided that since September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, I should probably get this guy all quilted up and awesome before the month was over.  And that is exactly what I did for the last two days.

I knew right from the beginning that this would be the perfect project to do a little color trapunto, along with some regular trapunto.

That's the back side of the quilt with half of the blocks trimmed for color trapunto.  I decided that with mid-September fast approaching, regular trapunto wasn't going to be an option as it's extremely time-consuming, and that faux trapunto (two layers of batting) would have to do.  I know, I know...  I talk smack on faux trapunto all the time but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do!

Once I got the top loaded for final quilting, I knew I wanted to do tons and tons and tons of McTavishing.  These things always sound like a wonderful idea in the beginning, but once you get started you always wonder, "What the hell was I thinking?!"  The best thing is always the hardest thing right?

I decided that since the majority of quilting was going to be backfill, it would be cool to stitch a few hidden messages into the blocks.
Like, the ovarian cancer logo, Break The Silence.

I stitched a couple of other "secrets" in, including my initials and "2010" but you'd never be able to spot any of it unless you were specifically looking for it.  By the time I was half finished, I was definitely ready to get that puppy off the frame.  When you're McTavishing that much, you swear to yourself that it looks like utter crap.  Here is the finished product:

(You can click the images to see full-size, better detail!)
I have to tell you about the exchange that I had with Karen McTavish herself (she is literally my hero, in case you didn't know and I was so sad to miss spending time with her at MQS this year) when she saw my pictures of this quilt (You'll have to forgive the language if the "eff word" offends you):

Karen:  "holy fuck wow"
Me:  "Omg Karen! I SO needed that! The whole time I was quilting this I kept saying to myself, "well one thing's for sure.. I'm no Karen McTavish..." Haha! =]"
Karen:  "No... You are. McLisa."

Good enough for me!

So, Happy Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month to all! (This ended up being not short at all, huh?!)