Homage to Judith and Carole—Block of the Issue

Allison Aller © 2012

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Judith and Carole, 9 1/2” X 9 1/2”, by Allison Aller, 2011

Last November, I was honored to be on the teaching staff at the Victorian Stitchery Retreat in Wichita, Kansas, along with Judith Baker Montano and Carole Samples. Their books on stitching opened so many doors for me, as I am sure they have for you too. They are truly two of my crazy quilt heroines.

When I returned home from that wonderful experience, I decided to make a block honoring them, using a photograph I took of the two of them as the central focus. The block design is offered here, in the hopes that you might enjoy honoring someone too.

Block Diagram

The diagram shows the finished size of all the pieces. They are numbered in the order they are sewn onto the muslin foundation. Note that pieces 2/3, 13/14, and 15/16 are sewn together as units and then appliquéd as a single unit. Piece 18, the photograph, will cover all the raw edges of the piece edges in the center of the block. In turn, its raw edges will be covered by embellishment.

My personal method for “piecing” is actually applique: I trace my diagram onto freezer paper using a light box, including the numbers and orientation arrows (“this side up!”) on each piece.

Then I cut apart the freezer paper templates.

Each template is ironed onto the right side of that patch’s fabric. I cut out the fabric leaving a ½” margin around the edges of the paper template, clipping the curves where necessary. These edges are in turn folded and ironed under before I pin and then appliqué the patches to the block in the designated numerical sequence. I sew them on using clear thread in my sewing machine and a zig zag stitch. (Note: This process is covered in detail in my book, Allie Aller’s Crazy Quilting on page 32, called “Method 2”.)

The block has been pieced and the center photo appliquéd on.

I created two initial “frames” to highlight the printed photograph at this stage. The first is made of wired ribbon and silk ribbon, twisted together and then machine appliquéd around the photo with a wide zig zag stitch in clear thread. The second frame is “on point”, made of buttons. Later I added some chain stitching around the inside of the twisted ribbon frame for a further bit of definition.

Detail of center photo.

For the embellishment of the block, I used simple trim appliqué, single seam hand stitching, and some appliquéd fabric flowers from M & S Schmalberg, topped by some premade ribbon flowers from Maureen’s Vintage Acquisitions.

Then I went “off road” and machine appliquéd some gimp with my sewing machine in a freeform design to make one final frame around the outside of the block.

Detail of machine appliquéd gimp

At the same time I made this block, I made two others for my friends Mark Lipinski and Jodie Davis, using the same concept.

Evan and Jeff, Mark’s family

Jodie and Hank the Hunk, Jodie’s late, beloved horse.

I gave these blocks as gifts to them, complete with squishies of embellishment supplies, in the hopes of getting them started crazy quilting!


1. Information about the 2012 Victorian Stitchery Retreat can be found at www.valoriebothell.com
2. The books I love most are Elegant Stitches by Judith, and A Treasury of Crazy Quilt Stitches by Carole, now a collector’s item but available on Amazon.
3. For a tremendous article on how to print photos onto fabric, see Lynn Schoeffler’s “Fabric Printing: Here We Go Again” in the July 2011 of CQMagOnline. http://cqmagonline.com/Volume10/Issue03/articles/1064/index.shtml
4. Fabric flowers can be purchased from M & S Schmalberg online here: http://www.customfabricflowers.com/
5. The white ribbon premade flowers can be found on this page at Maureen’s Vintage Acquisitions: http://www.maureensvintageacquisitions.com/servlet/the-Special-Embellishments-for-Crazy-Quilting/Categories 
6. Maureen also carries beautiful hand dyed gimp here: http://www.maureensvintageacquisitions.com/servlet/the-Tentakulum-Hand-dsh-dyed-Gimp/Categories
7. I will be appearing with Mark and Jodie on the internet quilt channel, Quilters News Network, on their show, “Quilt Out Loud” sometime in February! http://www.quiltoutloud.com/

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