Sunday, July 23, 2017

In the Rearview Mirror

Yup, the Hershey Quilt Odyssey show is now a thing of past tense.  In a matter of 5 days, I have gone, taught, and come home.  Such is the busy and fun life of the traveling quilt show teacher.  Leading up to traveling when the prepping and planning and packing (ahem, below...this is half of it!) seem overwhelming, I swear by not taking another show, certainly not one I have to drive to.
But then the adrenaline kicks in, and the students' ah-ha moments occur and you realize that this is why you do what you do. In the heat of the moment, I love teaching, but by the same token, I can see how some teachers fall prey to burn out. 

Despite my apprehension of making this drive by myself, it was not all that bad (if you discount all of the truck drivers in NY and PA...seriously some are very rude).   I drove so that I could bring fourteen tons of crap (above) as well as a van-load of my four books. It was certainly a good decision, as I would not have wanted to ship 100 of these!

I did not take hardly any pictures during the show or in my classroom.  My classes were all nearly full with 20 students, and that leaves little down-time for snapping pictures.  Here's a rare shot of the calm before the storm of my Grids class.
Typically, I bring chocolate goodies to my class, but because we are at Hershey, they do it for us.  My fantastic Innova techs Matt & Keith (seriously, you cannot say enough great about these two guys - just love being in a classroom with them) joked one afternoon when the hotel staff brought Hershey kisses for the basket that they'd rather Reeces.  I left a note in the basket that evening, and on Friday we got the PB cups.  This type of service is hard to beat!
I did 5 classes - Grid fills, Dense & Dainty freehand fills, Narrow Borders, Fearless Feathers and a Design class -- all of which were wonderfully received.  Here's a quickie pic from one of the borders class students...
I also had 2 quilts in the show, and they surpassed my expectations.  Bouquet Royale, which is for all intents and purposes retired, won yet another 1st place.  I say it is retired because this is it's 3rd year, and it's just attending a couple of last shows which it is eligible for.  I still love seeing it hanging. Still a sucker for orange...grins

Ode to Spring also did spectacularly - winning the Best Longarm Artistry award, which comes with a really generous monetary award.  I truly love this wholecloth, and had the best of hopes for it when it was finished a year and a half ago.  It traveled to 5 AQS shows, only placing at one of them.  This experience was deflating, making me question it's quality and design.  Since being at Paducah, though, it has been to two shows, ribboning at both of them, making me feel more confident about it. When it returns home this week it will be sent off to Houston for the real test.
 Here's a shot of a quilt from the show that I really love...will have to look up the maker's name.  I just adore the traditional design and the quilting both.
 Now that I am back home, I can reflect on the show, the teaching and general thoughts of traveling.  I missed getting our first real beach day here at home, which makes me sad.  Hopefully we will make up for that in a couple weeks when we take off for the Mediterranean.  Yup you read that right.  Heading off on a Mediterranean cruise soon :-)

I will leave you with a fleeting thought.  As a teacher, we collect class kit fees. Some of us are able to sell things like books and templates.  At the end of 4 days of teaching (even with the ability to take credit card sales), we have a healthy bag full of cash.  Am I the only teacher who truly hopes they don't get pulled over on the way home, and have to explain this to some officer??

"and your profession is what??..."

Have a great week (and a chuckle too!)!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Week for Edge-to-Edge

My daughter has been at camp this week and I have been blessed with four simple quilts that can be finished in a very respectable amount of time.  I will do no more 30+ hour customs until late August.  I feel too stressed to finish them and then too guilty for child abandonment while I quilt!

Not surprisingly, too, these are all from locals.  I only have a few locals that bring the higher end quilting projects.  Most are edge-to-edge, and perfectly suited to that also.  This one got a wavy-water type quilting in a yellow thread.  Some of the fabrics have beach scenes.

 This was made by the same client.  Love it when quilts are made with truly good quality fabrics.  Not everybody goes to this trouble and expense.  The pumpkins are cute.
We chose a more geometric pattern for the quilting so that it would show over the gridded/checked background fabric.  I also selected a deep orange thread, kind of like the darker shades in the prints so that it would show.  Hope she loves it as much as I do!
 This next client found me to help her with an urgently needed gift.  Somebody had been in the hospital recently, and a bunch of kids were called in to help with this.  Each block has messages written by the kids. Some are more or less legible, but it is still a fun idea. She needed budget and fast quilting, so it is loosely stippled. Nothing fancy, but well loved and will be ready to gift away soon.

The last E2E is a baby quilt for a little girl.  The fussy-cut squares have hedgehog scenes.  It did not read particularly girl-ish to me, so I gave it the flowers.

 Since the rest of my time has been spent puttering between this and that (mostly a whole lotta not much!), I'll leave you with some color from my garden.  Who will I see next week at Quilt Odyssey in Hershey??

Sunday, July 02, 2017

I've gone against my principles

For the past several years -- well, since my kids were not napping, and when I was a well enough known quilter to actually get custom quilts, I have chosen not to quilt the larger of them in the summer.  Occasionally, I hold onto one that I can get done during a week when I might get my kids to a camp or off to my mom's for several days.  That's not happening this summer, but somehow it seems I have quite a few custom quilts anyhow.  Most of these are on hold until September, but one somehow did not arrive before school got out.  Then my machine was AWOL for 2 weeks, putting other commitments behind schedule. I know, whoa is me.  The last thing I wanted to do when my kids got out of school was toss them to their electronics and own doings, but that is what had to happen. Yesterday, guilt took over and I took two of them to one of our favorite haunts by the shore, hiked on the rocks, got ice cream and then picked strawberries.  We all needed a break. 
But the good news is that the quilt I was working on is done...well just about.  I discovered one place I need to fix, but that can be done on my DSM.  It is hugely huge - larger than my hallway. This is Judy Nieymeyer's Vintage Rose pattern.
 It has SO much white batik.  It makes the quilting show beautifully, despite much of the thread being white too.
 This is a challenging pattern for longarmers with a frame under 34".  LOL - we all know that there is no frame this big!  The sections on the design are large and required a good bit of rolling back and forth to quilt.  If you try to budget and cost quilts, keep this in mind.
I snuck in a little soft aqua and soft lime green thread.  It does not show too much in the pictures, but more in real life.  The colored areas, though, all were accented with a variegated Fantastico thread.  It ties the rainbow look together.

 This particular Neimeyer design has a lot of floating geese that are NOT at all convenient to ditch.  It just about killed me to leave them unditched, but seriously, that would have taken forever.  I do have boundaries, and that was one of them!
 I tried to keep the quilting playful and with plenty of movement.

 And then I thought I was about finished.  But I discovered I made a HUGE error.  This is a totally rookie mistake.  I am such a stickler for making notes and taking photos as I quilt, especially the larger quilts.  They are my best resource for remembering what I DID, when that section is not visible.  I discovered that I added 1/2" frames on the bottom half of the quilt, but not on 3 of the 4 sections nearer to the top (like I marked below).  Tell me I wasn't madder than a hornet to be faced with picking out 3 large sections of feathers.  Really, I was.
Here's what I did.  I marked the top where it needed to be stitched and ripped out only the feathers that extended into this area.  The ends were knotted and buried.  It meant I only had to remove 1/3 to 1/2 of the quilting, not all of it. I then requilted the missing feathers. 
The finished feathers look just like they were supposed to. This lesson is included so that you realize that even quilters that custom quilt day after day make silly mistakes too!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Narrow Border - Big Design Release!

I am delighted to finally offer my newest book.  Despite the unusual level of crazy in my life the last couple of months, I am overjoyed to have it finished and finally at the printer .  Narrow Border - Big Design presents over 100 border ideas specifically targeted for those smaller borders under ~3-4" in width. The book features freehand as well as template-based designs, feathered patterns, and my Mix-n-Match shape gallery containing dozens of cookie-cutter quilting designs that can be interchanged to create a multitude of different designs. The color book has 84 pages, and will sell for $25.  Order books here.

This is a presale, and all orders containing this book will ship on about July 7th.

Buy More Savings...ALL multiple book orders that contain this book will receive an additional savings, processed individually at the time of shipping.  Two books = 3% savings, Three books = 5% savings, 4 books = 7%.  This sale is good until midnight EST July 5th.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

More Boats

Those of you that ask questions - I am happy to answer them by email, but if  you don't ever hear from me, then it is likely because you are still set to "Blogger no-reply".  Go into your settings and enter your email addy.

It would only be fitting since we are going on a cruise later this year that I quilt some boats.  This very large quilt was 10 days on the frame, and mostly done in a flurry of last minute quilting before all 3 of my kids finished school last Friday.  I spent some early mornings this week finishing it up as they were still asleep.
 Sue Garman's Ladies of the Sea is always an impressive quilt.  This is either my 5th or 6th to quilt in the last 2 years.  Every time I stare in amazement that anybody has the patience to quilt SO MUCH applique! And this one is another example of exceptional handiwork.
 The first thing I do on these is to ditch stitch the applique using a clear nylon thread.  It is time-consuming...14 or so hours to be exact, but it gives every detail a crispness that you cannot get otherwise.  The rest of the quilting is done in 40wt Glide thread, mostly in a tan color, but there is detail work in green and red too.
 I have tried to make each of these that I do a little different.  Several had a quilted ray pattern like is shown here.  I just wanted something other than that on this quilt.  It got a windy/watery quilting. The feathered diamonds create a beautiful secondary pattern.
 The 10" wide borders are immense and have so much applique.  It takes about an hour to ditch each one, and then nearly 2 hours to quilt the fill!
 The mariner's stars on the corners bring the texture of the crosshatching.
 Each time I quilt this I see things I didn't the time before.  Wish I had a rough number of hours that the maker spent on each block.  Some of the ships have a ton of embroidery and tiny beads in the rigging.

 A couple more pictures...
 There are loads of little circles...see?!?
 And the backside is just as beautiful.  For those wondering, my machine is home and stitches well (although this quilt does not have any fine threads).  I did test quilt it using silk on my personal quilt for a day or two before I loaded this beast!

Thursday, June 15, 2017


Here's a post about a handwork project I have going.  Wishing I could get it going just a bit faster.  It was envisioned to be a Paducah entry for next spring, but that means it must be done and bound by early December.  That seems unlikely. Never the less...

I started by making 4 of these bold blocks, all by hand.  The circles are silk, which just happened to coordinate nicely.

Next came 4 of these. They are slightly smaller than the first blocks, and also with silk circles.
Where is this going?...good question.  I thought I had a plan until I laid the blocks out to confirm the color selections for the larger center block. 

Hmmm... Not so sure I like all of them on the gray silk. It seemed like a good idea initially, but now I'm not so sure.
Then I pulled this scrap of what I "think" is grass silk Radiance.  I say "think" because I really don't know.  I have that many colors.  Kind of thinking it might be a better background choice. Not sure, but maybe.  Just ordered a few yards. I think it may be a discontinued color.
 It's time to make what I have work because I spent the bank on a summer vacation instead.  Either way, I need to get the center block pieced and then get onto the applique for the corners - one of the two designs!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Roseville & Big Shipment

 Some of you may be aware that I have had issues with my new machine as of last December not liking to quilt silk thread.  It was first detected in about February, and I was so busy with other things that I didnt give it too much thought.  Recently, when I was quilting my show quilt, and thinking I'd do some background fill in silk, it reared its ugly head again.  I futzed with it for nearly 8 hours over the course of a couple days.  My local rep's tech person who has done the servicing on my old machine for 7 years came to visit last Thursday.  After nearly 4 hours, he couldnt get it to run reliably. I was starting to feel pretty frustrated.  Not quilting silk is a definite deal breaker for me since my personal quilts use a ton of it.  Handi Quilter corporate got involved, as they should.  Anybody that knows HQ knows that their people are just fantastic.  I tried again to trouble-shoot for a day or so with their advice and suggestions.  On Friday, we decided that sending the head back to Utah for their top techies to look at it was best.  That is why the machine you see has all of it's "stuff" (handles, lights, laser, etc) removed, and awaiting another strong arm to get her into the big padded box.  With any luck in 2 weeks, she will be back and I will be onto those client quilts that seem to have slipped behind.  It is most unfortunate that my kids have 3 more weeks of school.  This is total crunch time for me.

Learning of the machine's fate on Friday, I had to burn the midnight oil this weekend to get my client's Roseville quilt finished.  It was partially ditched when all the troubleshooting began, and came off my frame 3 times last week. Lucky for me, I had a good plan of what I wanted to do, so after the ditching was done, the fills were fairly straight-forward.
I cannot imagine how many months my client spent appliqueing this -- it is absolutely phenomenal. Her applique is very clean, not a thread to be seen.   There is no excessive thickness like some appliques have either.  
There is certainly no excess of space for creative designing on my part, but I added simple frames and dense fills to pop the lovely applique.  One layer of wool batting is all it takes for this type of loft. 
 This freehand-feather filler is great for small backgrounds, and it fills in beautifully and quickly.
The center has so very much applique.  
And have a look at this insane embroidery...How many knots are there?!  It was a little challenging to quilt around, but hopefully looks ok.  I went a little lighter on the quilting  here since I had to use the 40wt thread.  Thank you machine, I would have much preferred the silk thread!
 The colors are simply yummy - it is a truly gorgeous design and execution.
 Some appliques were of a size that required stitching on them, but I always just try to keep this simple.
 Hope you enjoyed the pretty applique show...
 One last peek.
The next two weeks will be a diversion so I can deal with future teaching gigs, class prep for upcoming teaching, and finishing up a new book on the borders designs.  It all sounds so officebound. Maybe I will get some time in on this small quilt I have started.  These 4 star-dresdens are done, and there are 5 more needed.  It's most likely a pipe dream thinking this can possibly be done before the December Paducah deadline, but this girl is still dreaming just a little.
Have a fun quilty week!