Saturday, February 04, 2017

On Hiatus

I have just finished quilting an 8-day very large custom quilt.  This top was immaculately pieced, and layed as flat or flatter than anything I make.  The pieces on this are all single pieces, and are enormous.  Every time I quilted something, it required rolling the quilt back and forth on the frame to be able to quilt the entire section.  I just cannot describe how tiring that was for my shoulders every day.  To say I was happy to have it done yesterday was an understatement.
 This quilt is similar to my Postcards from Venice quilt that I made in 2010-11.  Her's is better pieced! I decided to quilt the medallion similarly, but a little different.  I put feathers in the criss-crossing bands, and lines radially out the brown patches.  The biggest problem was finding a thread that worked on all 3 colors because if it didn't, there would be a TON of tying off.  I chose a Superior Fantastico for the feather bands, and then a turquoise SoFine for the brown.  Initially, I started the brown with brown thread, but tracking from one section to the next in brown looked crappy.
The center is fused applique.  It's a great design for this type of quilt, with the lovely Arabeque details,  Because it is fused, though, it lays kind of stiff, and not puffy like applique should.  The very center is a great piece of machine embroidery - a very nice touch.

I wanted to bring the Arabesque feature of the center medallion out into other areas of the quilt, within a reasonable budget anyways.  I chose a 9" stencil, and embellished it as is shown.  The stencil itself is rather simple, but the shape is why I chose it. It is quilted in the same variegated aqua thread as the feathers were quilted in.
 I then added the arch above the stencil, and the pebbles on the stencil, as well as a line of echo quilting around the stencil.
 Next, in a 50wt turquoise thread, I added the feathered details.  I just wanted the texture here, not the thread.
The area under the arabesque arch is stippled in a brown So Fine thread.  It brings a subtle color to the turquoise fabric. It also works because this is a Shot Cotton, and it is woven with turquoise and brown threads.
The area outside of the arch is quilted with a fill, also in the turquoise thread.  The next photo is deceptive because it does not indicate how huge this triangle really is.  There are actually 8 of these triangles.
I copied the same stencil to the outer border, but in a smaller size.  I also added a rope stencil detail about 2-3" from the edge.  This is a nice way to subdivide a very wide border.

 Linework 1/2" spaced is outside of the rope, and a fill in brown SoFine is inboard.
With this behind me, my next 2 weeks are about getting my stuff wrapped up.  I loaded a piece of silk today to quilt off a teaching and book sample.  That should be finished up early this week.  I have one more class sample to quilt - just a nice small 20" star, nothing too taxing.  I am gearing up for my kids' vacation week in 2 weeks, when I have to get my daughter's quilt loaded and help her quilt this. Neither of us are all that psyched this year, but at a mere 36", it should at the least be relatively quick. Here's a sneak peek at a fills sample I have started...Lots more fills to come!
Hope your weekend is better than mine ... :-)

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Big Surprises and Progress with a Client Quilt

Last week brought phenomenal news.  The Road to CA show in Ontario, CA -- where I hope to possibly teach in the future, took place.  This is a big show, on a level just beneath Paducah and Houston.  It attracts many well-known talented international quilters.  Much to my complete surprise, on Tuesday night, I received an email with the results of the judging. I had 2 quilts out there.

My new quilt just finished last October, won the top award!  Best of Show at a show like Road is still kind of unthinkable for me.  This is a fun and personal quilt for me.  It represents fabrics, colors and processes that speak to me, and to have it rewarded so well is sweet.  And yes, that is one monster-sized ribbon, over 3' long!
 My other quilt that was there, From the Bride's Trousseau, also did well -- Outstanding Traditional Quilt.  This is another of the top and very well paying awards.  It is hard to believe.  I was considering retiring this quilt before it was sent to Houston, where it ribboned.  It may have a show or two left to attend.  It has certainly exceeded my expectations for a little whole cloth quilt.
 While the show was going on, I was here in frigid new England quilting on my client's quilts.  This is Carol's.  She from Panama - can't you tell by her warm, sunny choice of fabrics?!  I love the orange. She hand pieces her quilts too.
I did a mini for her a couple years ago that was this same pattern.  This one is 70" square.  By the end I was getting mighty tired of ditch stitching these circles, but it turned out wonderfully.  When she gets it back, she'll be happy. 
 here's a closeup...It has wool batting, and orange YLI Polished poly thread.  I ditched every circle, and they were echo quilted twice to make the framing show more.  These are done with continuous quilting across the entire row.  How, you ask?...bu sneaking in the ditch now and then where it won't show.  I'd never do this with all the apparent stops and starts.  Her backing is crazy busy, so it hides everything.  It would have been totally different with a solid backing.
 I'm up to more little projects than I can count or show.  Here's a sneak peek at one of them.  I have started (well, now it is closer to done) hand-painting a part of this new show quilt.  It has a name now, "Taking the Uncharted Road".  It seemed like a fitting name with it's mariner's compass and the binding that most certainly did not come with directions.
I have a couple of other surprises, but they will come out in due time.

Right now, I am trying my best to prioritize that which must get done, and I am not entirely sure it will.  My mood is deep in the dregs of winter.  The new president and his petty, unnecessary ways have me feeling sad and depressed, and not as productive as I'd like to be.  Nobody wants to read about a political sob-story on a quilting blog, but suffice it to say he is a complete embarrassment, and I am ashamed to be an American right now.  He is everything I thought he'd be during his campaign and more.  Sadly none of it is good.  I have a bad feeling, and it is hard to shake.

There, said.  Done.  Now we can get back to the goodness you came to this blog for.
Have a good week,

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Amazing News!

Well, Heavens to Betsy...Look at that - Somehow half of January crept by without me realizing that my blog hadn't been updated.  I have certainly been busy (perhaps not quite as productive as I ought to be, but definitely busy doing something!).

Much of my time recently has been spent working out the details and creating the samples for my new classes which will debut this April at MQX.  You all know by now that this is definitely my favorite quilt show.  It's a real good thing too that it is under 2 hours from home!!

Oh, and a tidbit of book news.  My AQS book, though delayed, is moving as quickly thru the editing process as possible.  Nobody wants it done and published more than me and my AQS editor.  Due to their downsizing, a small yet pertinent detail that the book WAS supposed to contain the quilt patterns seemed to slip through their cracks.  It has been resurrected, and they have this detail to get put onto CD, and then she's off to the printers!  AND <>  I have the complete manuscript for a second book which I am self-publishing all done.  I have already printed a proof copy, and am currently researching possible local print shops to run the books for me.  It is about the Grid-Based fills, and will accompany one of my favorite classes that will be taught at MQX.  Now, if I can get kids in school, husband outta the house, I just might make the other self-published book I have on my back burner, if not by April, then soon after.  Phew... yes, I have been busy.

I have learned today that I have actually been nominated for this!...Really not sure how this happened, but mighty grateful.  I have spent years trying to make this blog an informative and educational experience for quilters.  More recently, I have been teaching them in a classroom setting too.  Somebody must have been learning something :-)

Let me tell you about this award.  It does not have to be given to a teacher that is teaching at MQX this year.  It will go to the teacher that inspired and educated the most.  If you find it in your liking to nominate or vote for a teacher, here is the link.  Be sure that you write something though about how or what this person did because those voting on the recipient are looking more specifically at what the teacher did, than the quantity of votes.

I am gearing up to custom quilt a couple of beautiful client quilts, just as soon as their batting arrives. In the meantime, here is a glimpse at some of my craziness.    This is my quilt that will actually debut at MQX.  I have yet to choose a name, but it is coming right along.  The very-crazy binding/edging has been an adventure and a half, and I am sure you'd love to hear about HOW exactly I made it, just as soon as it goes to show.  I am getting ready to (maybe) add some hand-painting to the interlocked arches around the NYB blocks.  It's still a big "maybe", because I am kind of chicken to take the first step!
When not writing or editing, I have been busy like a bee creating some samples for my new classes. This is a sneak peek of one of them.  When I am done, I will have several similar mini-quilts, all geared to assist in showing my design process.  Thank goodness to my mother, who made time to whip up 2 of these star blocks for me.   Though my class is technically full, I am very likely to be trying to teach this class at other venues as well, including MQX midwest in late September.  

Monday, December 26, 2016

Two Christmas Projects

Last week I foolishly decided on Dec 20 to make up a couple of very last minute presents.  I often make gifts, but have been turned off in recent years because I never but never see what I make in one of their homes.  Maybe I should take a hint. Probably, definitely.   But Christmas was being done at my house, and both sides of the family would be there.  It would be more awkward to make something for one and not for both.  Seriously, it is not like I had the time for this.  I have a couple client quilts I really needed to get quilting on, but I have been working out issues on my new machine, and one of them is still prohibiting doing anything very large.

Last Sunday, I sketched these runners up, and had them mostly cut out within about an hour.  No time to overthink anything.  They are simple and use the pretty fabrics as the "show". I had the tops pieced within 3 hours on Tuesday, still quilting on a client quilt. My window to do the quilting was when the client quilt was done...Wednesday.  Keep it Simple - that was the rule.
I have made a couple of other seasonal runners for my MIL - spring and fall I think.  This is the Christmas/winter one.  Not sure if I hit the mark or anywhere close to it judging by her always questionable expressions while opening, but I like it.  It has some great red and gold fabrics I have hoarded for many years.
 The other runner is in blues, my mom's favorites.  It's dark, but hopefully not too dark.
 Gray is something of an unlikely choice, but it lightens up the design, and shows the feathers.
 These were done with Glide and YLI Polished Poly threads.  Single batting.  These dots have the worst machine applique known to man, but I lacked time for the handwork.
I even did both bindings by machine.  Happily, the binding is just about the best machine binding I have ever done.  Not having the corners did help.
 Few more close-up shots...

Christmas is just not my holiday.  Too much greed, and hyperness.  Why can't people just give one appropriate gift, selected specifically FOR the recipient?  It always bugs me when a gift is chosen because it is something YOU like, but then the recipient is like "huh?"  I always get these.  There's a few that are special, and then piles of not-so-special.  We all need to work harder to just seek out the special, Oh well, it is all over.  Everything but the lingering 400 boxes in our garage, and the stuff all over the living room.  I need another nap just thinking about it all.

Anybody with a 14, soon-to-be-15 year old knows that they don't willingly say "take my picture", so we have to hold onto the few we get. It may have come with a bribe of Thai food.  I'll never tell.
 And here you have it, the 2016 forced-smile family photo.  "Smile once, and we can all go eat.  Be goofy and grumpy and we'll try this all night".

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A newly finished oldie & a discussion on ettiquite

For those of you that don't know, I sold my Fusion 2 weeks ago.  It was a bittersweet moment as the new buyer and I took her apart, a month more than 7 years after I first put her together.  We made hundreds of great quilts together and started a business together.   What you may not realize is that while I was in Houston, I bought a new machine...a new Fusion!  It was installed 10 days ago - just 3 days after the old one headed to its new home.  I have been working on a few of my own quilts to "work out the kinks", before tackling a custom client quilt.

I finished a couple of small things 2 days ago when I got that wild hair to do something for myself. Somewhere near 6 yrs ago, I made this runner for myself.  The blocks were made from fabrics used in a block swap I participated in.  For whatever reason, I had 9 or 10 leftover blocks after the quilt was made, so a few runners were made.  I kept one of them.  This would have been sometime during the first year I had the old longarm.

 These particular star blocks were actually made by me, although most of the blocks on the quilt were made by others.  You'll see that in a moment.  I quilted it fairly simple.  It was pretty, but nothing terribly special.  A 50 wt So Fine thread was used.  This thread is great, but it is flat and appears somewhat utilitarian.
I didn't know how to make feathers then (or not at all well!).  It was also apparent that my machine was having a timing issue too, as there are places of skipped stitches.  What always bothers me is that when clients come to drop off or pick up quilts, we use my dining room.  It always has a runner on the table, and not a one of my runners were quilted in recent years.  They may have nice colors and piecing/applique, but the quilting is not in any way indicative of what I can do.   I am often ashamed. It was time to rectify that.
 Here is the quilt where most of the swap blocks went -- all in the same color scheme which I love.
I quilted this right before I went to the Handi Quilter retreat in the fall of 2010.  It was done knowing it would likely be in the ad that was being shot during the retreat.  I tried to quilt it as good as I could! Here's a peek at what the ad looked like...This is actually a banner that hung at trade shows.

 So, rather than doing this the right way (remove binding, then skin the quilt top from the batting and backing, I foolishly did it the hard way!  I basted fabric to the binding and loaded it all to the longarm.  I then proceeded to remove the quilting section by section, requilting as I went.  Had I done it the right way, I'd have added a layer of batting...something it really needs. Oh well.

 I used Glide threads on all of it.  This 40wt thread has a pretty sheen, giving this a more formal look.  It is also much more densely quilted -- more to my aesthetic.  There's much better ditching, and more ruler work, feathers and cross-hatching.  It is just a nicer quilting, representative of my added 93 million stitches of experience!  Yup, that was the stitch counter when my machine was sold.

If you have gotten this far, then I have a very important thing to discuss.  You may have discovered that you are not able to right-click and save photos from my blog.  Many people do this so that they can repost them somewhere else.  Less reputable folks do much worse.  I believe that these are my work, and my property, and I don't want people to do this.  You may also have noticed that I have an explicit copyright statement on the right sidebar too, asking you not to use my materials or photos without my consent.  Artists should not have to write this, but I have.  And I do expect others to respect that.  I make quilts for show, and create techniques that I teach, and do NOT want them to be widely dispersed by others.  This is my livelihood.  Please respect it.

I have recently discovered many photos were taken by a website called QuiltersHub, as well as many others that post them to Pinterest.  Quilting Hub posts quilters photos, but receives income for every person that visits their site.  They are profiting off of us, without our consent, and it is wrong.  Please take note that I will stop sharing things if this continues.  The large watermarks on my photos above are really irritating to look at, I know that, but I don't want my information copied against my will just because some of you know how to do it.  Too many people that post and repost to Pinterest don't bother to give credit to the artist.  Even if you do credit the artist, GET THEIR CONSENT!

Thank you.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Snow Day Tip

Don't expect to get Snow Day Tips too often.  I certainly hope I don't have to create very many of these!!  Not being a fan of that white crap (and the icy freezing rain stuff that is falling on top of the 6" that came down last night), I don't have too many things that can be productively done today while all 3 kids are home.  

My new long arm is being installed tomorrow, and I had planned to go out and start my xmas shopping today.  That plan was foiled!  So, here you go - here's a post getting back to the roots of what this blog used to be - something quilters could get advice and tips from!

I have been hand appliqueing these borders since the beginning of last month.  The will go onto a quilt I pieced earlier in the fall.  While I finish the stitching on the 3rd and 4th, I removed the marks from these.  As is so often the case with applique, there was a little distortion of the background fabric after all the pieces were attached.  I removed marks, and tried to press them, but they still looked like this. 

Never fear, though, there is always a solution, and one that I have used before, so I was confident it would work again.

I took the borders, and pinned them onto foam core board, taking care to keep the first edge nice and straight.  It is not stretched, just pinned on.  I ease the opposite side into what looks to be the right location.  I am pretty sure that the bias vine is the culprit of this issue, so as I get the opposite long side of the border pinned, I also pin the vine .  It is being slightly stretched, so that the entire border will again lay flat.

As an aside...There are many ways to make these vines, one in particular leaves no stretch at all. BUT...I used the bias-maker tools, which of course sometimes do stretch the material.  Had I waited 3 weeks to applique the vine onto the quilt, the vine would have probably shrunk back to its original length (facetious - maybe it does not really take 3 weeks).  But, again, I immediately basted the vine onto the quilt so it could be appliqued on.

Once the pins are all in place, and the border is nice and flat, I spray the border until it is all soaked. This is when knowing that all fabrics were in fact presoaked leaves me without so much as an iota of concern that these gorgeous fabrics might bleed!  When the border is dry (I leave it 24 hrs), remove the pins.  It will be flat and perfect!!

Monday, December 05, 2016

It is December

It seems hard to believe it has been several weeks since I last posted, but I have been technology challenged.  My computer died, without little warning.  It was related to an automatic Windows update that it just couldn't work right with.  The reality is though that the computer needed replacing.  It has just been a challenge replacing ALL of the software my older computer had.

My longarm has sold -- it will all be official this weekend when the buyer comes to pick it up.  I am very excited to be getting the new one set up next week!  I just hope the new buyer knows how great that machine is.

I have done a fantastic custom quilt that I am not really allowed to show.  I am hoping that a snippet of the backside does not get me in trouble.
 Since my machine is going away on the weekend, I cannot load the usual jobs I quilt because they won't be done in time.  I did this small-ish class sample last week.  The applique is mediocre at best, and not done by me.  My class is A is for Applique and will be a design-centered class with a focus on applique quilts.
Christmas is coming; the snow that fell today is a cruel reminder of that.  If you've been around long enough, you know how much I really loathe the holidays!  Never the less, my youngest wanted to go see Santa yesterday.  He's a really good Santa too.
 This past weekend, I whipped up a quick sample from a couple charm packs of Shot Cottons.  It is in the process of getting a bunch of grid-based fills.  It's not exactly a fast task as I have half of the piece remaining!

 Sneak peek... Yup, black thread is daring!  if not crazy.
I will be back soon...with more interesting things to show!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Beautiful Applique

Since last Monday, when not dealing with the horrible inconvenience of my computer's untimely death, I have been quilting away at this very large and very awesome applique quilt.  I often get repeat offenders as a hired quilter, but this is the first time I have gotten to quilt this particular Kim McLean quilt.  It is wildly whimsical!

It is also massively sized, bigger than my 8' hallway floor.  The lighting yesterday was not perfect for photos, but life with getting my new computer up and running took precedence over obtaining perfect photos.  You get the idea...

 The black and white background fabric is practically blinding to quilt for too long.  Everything starts to blur.  For this reason, I tried to make the job a little easier by using a dark purple thread.  It is a Polished Poly by Glide.  Boy, if you have not heard me say it before, listen now -- I love this particular thread!  To break up the fill, I have a 1/2" linework pattern used both on the outer applique border, as well as in random places on the blocks.
 This is the top border - somehow the photo did not rotate properly.
 The client sent a wool batting.  This is why the appliques have nice poof.  Never the less, they are large, and I did have to do some quilting on top of most of them,  About 6 or 7 different thread colors were used for this.  Such is the life of a very colorful quilt!
 I tried to keep the quilting on the flower appliques light and whimsical.  I don't want anything too realistic or traditional (aka stuffy!).
 Mostly the quilting is just helping the appliques from appearing floppy on account of their size.
 One more look at what 705000 stitches looks like! will be on its way to Virginia before we are eating Turkey next week.
Yesterday, I decided to make use of time as I wait for a quilt to arrive to me.  It is one of those that will have a quick turn around.  This quilt on the frame is actually mine!  It has been boxed and waiting for inspiration for a sad year.  Wait no more...It is getting finished and soon.  It really only has a few things to go and it will be ready for blocking and binding.  It will most definitely make the spring shows.

The red outer border was started, but I was questioning what I was doing so I ripped it out.  While I still sort of question the turquoise part of my plan, I don't question it enough to remove it!  The colored dense quilting will be a different look for me.  250000 stitches of different.
 There are 3 40wt poly threads used on the outer border - deep green, deep purple and turquoise.  It is always surprising how some colors appear when stitched on a colored fabric.  No pink thread was used at all, despite the appearance!
Lastly...I am selling off this Wonderfil Fabulux thread to anybody that is interested.  There are 11 3000yd cones of 40wt variegated.  It retails for $24 per cone.  I am selling for $15.  Email me if interested.  The colors are nice; I just find that I rarely use the variegated if ever.