Sunday, November 22, 2015

Puff puff puffins!

This is the 3rd of 4 quilts I quilted recently for a Maine client who happens to live in Florida.  Smart lady!... with winter coming, that is where I want to be, more than words can say.  This was a challenging quilt for me.  Initially I told her it was well suited for an edge-to-edge, but she wanted it custom.  So, I pondered on, and tried to determine how to make these little guys look more like birds.
 It is challenging when the piecing is block-style!  This is what I came up with.  The birds got feathers on their wings.  Not sure if it is visible, but I used a blue-purple variegated Aurifil thread on these and the blue water background.  This particular thread shows up on the deep navy/black of the birds.
 The pieced blocks were sort of a no-brainer.  They just needed quilting in a pretty way, maybe create some secondary patterns, etc. I like these.
Many people don't know what puffins are.  Some that saw a picture of this quilt before it was quilted thought that they were penguins.  Puffins are similar, but they are indiginous to the coast of Maine, as well as outer locales.  I simply tried to give them a little bit of personality - clamshells for body feathers, pebbles for a face and a beak.
 The background (not sure it shows) is just a swirly water quilting.
 Hopefully it is cuter than just an edge-to-edge.  I think so.
 And for those who want to see a puffin, here is a picture from the quilt's backing.
It's a short week, so I can't muddle through too much trouble in only 2 days.   Sadly, though, trouble has a way of finding me anyways.  Life goes on.

Happy Turkey day~

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Two baby quilts

Many quilters look at baby and child quilts as the perfect avenue to go easy and do an edge-to-edge. I am not so lucky, most days!  My clients send me quilts to do because of my custom quilting.  So, I get to make all the sweet baby quilts look fantastic.  These are actually jobs that are super fun to quilt because they are on and off in under a day.  The ones here took me on the order of 4 hours each, give or take.  They are actually a little lighter on the quilting than I often do, but this makes for a very drapable and snugly quilt.
 This one is for Jan, a very prolific quilter from Napa.  She is often sending baby quilts as well as others.  Her typical quilt though, is appliqued.  This one has just a touch of applique - the birdies and some text.  Applique this large would benefit from having either a puffier batting or stitching on the applique, BUT...there is piecing underneath 2 of the birds, so I opted not to stitch on them.  I personally, remove the back fabric, but I am reluctant to do this to someone else's quilt.  They are still very cute.
 I chose a simple triple stitch/argyle effect on the gray squares.  Though not clear, the stitching lines are both white and pink.

 Here's a look at the back, which is mostly a lighter fabric.  Pretty, gentle texture.  I love a densely quilted quilt, but really, not all need this, and not all want to pay for that.  Simple and pretty is enough.
 Here's a second quilt, but for a Maine lady.  It is relatively simple too.  It's basic so that the fabrics and quilting can show.
 The one thing I had to do was something interesting in that gray rectangle.  We agreed on quilting some of the animals from the fabric in an aqua thread.  I made templates from a cereal box, using Press-n-Seal.  I think I have shown you this (if not, then it is a good tutorial for another day).
 Here's a closeup of Dumbo...
 And the hippo...
 I discovered rather early in the quilting process that I was probably short on my budget (ie, her max cost was in jeopardy if I just quilted as desired!).  Two reasons for this were the two flanges I had to deal with (yes they are as big a pain as you might think!), and she asked me to center a panel on the backing.  I gobbled up 1/4 of my budget before I had taken a stitch!  I had to get creative with the patterns to make the most of my time.

But...I am a sucker, and rather than doing fast feathers, I started with the overlapping swirls in the white area.  They were not nearly as fast as I hoped!  My problem, not hers.  I chose something a bit simpler, and geometric for the large panels of animal and dot fabrics.  Often prints look best with a simple/geometric quilting, as it does not compete with the prints.  Clamshells was ideal.
The border is a 1"-1/4" bead board, which stitches reasonably quick, and looks fantastic on outer borders.  It, too, does not compete with the polka-dots.  Here is my back...YES - it is actually centered.  I don't do that everyday, and I did warn the client it might not be perfectly centered.  It is flannel and super soft.
So, I am down to just a few quilts in my studio, but they are doozies.  There's a large Neimeyer star, a big custom of another pattern, and another Ladies of the Sea.  Not sure if I will conquer these before January, but it does feel good to have all but 2 of my XMAS quilts done, and most of the smaller stuff finished.

I have to return to getting my teaching goodies ready next, as well as a show quilt that may or may not be ready for MQX.  The quilting is still not finished.  My personal motivation is largely to blame. I am writing patterns for a couple of quilts - boy who knew how much work that would be?!?  You probably think I forgot about the hexagons.  Not a chance - They are just about to get the backing pieced so I can have some hand applique to do.  I want that quilt ready for the fall shows.

...sigh, the crazy lady clearly has her head in the cloud.

Quilt on, friends!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Two of Four are done and FOR SALE

For the last week, I have been working my way through a box of 4 client quilts, 3 of which are customs.  I currently have the 4th on my machine right now, so it is a good feeling.  This is the first one I did last weekend.  These are woven fabrics, many Japanese style prints.  The wovens definitely make for a shiftier quilt to stitch, but I think it turned out beautifully.   My client called it a Diawobo quilt -- a term I am not familiar with.  I call these Dresdens.
 There was obviously a good bit of ditch stitching, but I wanted to make good use of the open tan background too.  The quilt has a single layer of 80/20, and is stitched with a great 40wt Wonderful Masterquilter thread.  I am about to purchase about 15 cones of this stuff with a big gift certificate I won earlier this year (I like it THAT much).
 I like the borders - kind of simple yet effective.  The sashings took near about forever.  Lots of detail when they are done like this.
 I really like the unexpected pops of color on the Dresdens.  Or maybe it is just because this is MY color green.  Either way, they are pretty.  I gave them a simple treatment, not wanting to mash down the applique too much.
 Who doesn't love feathers, I ask you?!?
Quilt #2...Another custom.  This one I initially suggested was a good candidate for an edge to edge, but the client had another idea!  It forced me to think about things a good bit, but I think the finished quilt is great.  I had a couple of waving/ruffly outer borders to contend with so it was a good thing I did the border I did.  An edge to edge may have been more challenging to keep these flat and square.
 Here is the entire quilt...
 It is constructed from Asian-like fabrics, most of which are heavily gilded with gold.  I chose to stitch each block with a different pattern (many are repeated though).  There are some cross-hatching, some linework, some sashiko clamshells/orange peel/etc.  Some sections received feathers.  It was an eclectic gamble that I think paid off.
 It also has a single 80/20 batting, but this time I quilted with a gold colored Glide thread.  This particular thread appears much like a metallic, but without the hassles that metallics like to give me.
 The squares on point were placed on the sashing and border to break it up, and create visual interest.
 Here's the back...
 And a couple more shots with better lighting...

Another topic - please share if you like
I would like to sell this top.  I started it several years ago.  It has been hanging around 1-2 years because I sort of thought I would get around to quilting it.  Truth is, though, it just doesn't meet my current aesthetic.  It is 70"square.  Only a couple small areas of the applique are unfinished.  If you are interested, leave a message (make sure you are not blogger-noreply) with a contact email.  Here's some other photos.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Busy Times

Things are moving at warp speed.  The kids have just started 2nd quarter of school.  When I am not pulling out hair over getting them to do all of their work, I am trying to get crafty with how on earth I will possibly get all of my work done.  This week I did get an article wrapped up and submitted, but now I have to get planning on the next one due January 3rd.  I have a very special, very secret (for the time being) project that has kicked into high gear this week.  Truth be told, it's kicking my butt with things to do, but that will pass.  I am just ecstatic that it is happening, and sorry, but you will have to wait a few months for more details.

This Monday and Tuesday were my designated days to pull my hair out on this quilt of mine.  I do like it, but getting it quilted is just taking more patience and planning than I like.  I had goals for these 2 days - mainly to do the green border and the central section.  I did get a couple more areas done too.
This is a before...notice the blue triangles.

And the "after", with a little more definition, and texture.  Inching my way closer to the finish line.

The aqua part of this was not stitched previously.  I knew I wanted to do a daring scallop effect using the red thread.  It brings the red from the outer border, into the center section of the quilt.  It is also where I as the quilter, pass that point of no return.  There is no ripping this out if I don't like it or if it sucks.  Luckily, it didn't suck!  In fact, I rather love it.
 I do still need to finish the pale green of the center circle, but it is mostly done now.  In a few more weeks, when another 4-6 client quilts are knocked off, I will reload this and quilt another couple of days.  Heck, I might actually be done by July at this rate!
Last week, and probably a few days before that, I quilted on this behemoth.  It's a client quilt, and is like 100"x108" -  There are more stars than I can count, and I fessed up to getting bored to the maker. She herself spent 10 years making it!  It is gorgeous, and the quilting certainly brings out great features, but the repetitiveness of it is just hard to do 7 hours a day.
 Here's a set of photos I like.  I had the quilt all done, but I felt like the green areas were not utilized properly.  I suggested to the client to let me quilt some red in them - it needed more texture, and stitching green would not show as effectively as red.  She agreed to the added 5-6 hours.
 Here's the finished look - Boy did that make a difference or what! I love the effect.  This quilt has just a cotton 80/20 batting.  The ivory is stitched with a bazillion yards of 60wt Bottomline, while the red is a 40wt Omni.  The client was very happy.
 Three days ago, I awoke with the intention of taking an easy day, and doing an edge to edge, but I decided I'd start one of Erin's quilts.  I had never done a Fire Island Hosta before!  Her quilt tops are always impeccable, and this is no exception.

I have a wool batting and Glide or YLI 40wt thread.   The printed batiks are hard to get designs to show. There is a TON of ditch stitching with clear nylon, and lots of wavy quilting and fern-like leaves.

 The big fern leaves...
 The back of this one is a contrasting green - love the color.  It really shows the quilting (especially since much of the thread is not green)

It's gonna be another busy week or two, but that's all part of the fun of it!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

October Finishes

October has been challenging on many fronts.  I have many quilts to get done before Christmas, some quite large and some very detailed.  I also have two of my own in the works, or I should say "in the finishing stages".  There are always other stragglers that are being stitched on but not at the quilting stage.  October has been a wretched month though for the stay at home worker.  The kids have had 3 days off, and have a 1/2 day next week.  We are very busy with soccer, and gymnastics, and homework - making me have not enough tine to process and think about designs.  Being scattered and disorganized causes stress.  I have an 8th grader -- he creates WAY too much of that anyway.

Here's a few finishes.  This is a redwork quilt.  I would have loved to have had more budget to do custom quilting on the pieced stars, but that is life.  This was the only place to realistically cut the cost down, so they are E2E.
 The redwork scenes were custom quilted with simple details.
 Looks like this one uploaded upside down...dang.  Guess you get the idea tho!
Another in red and white... Ohio stars.  It has budget-friendly custom quilting, with some ruler work and lots of feathers.
 It has a cotton 80/20 batting, and Glide white thread.  The arc feathers create a pretty secondary pattern.

The only area of this quilt that was challenging was the sashings.  The striped fabric didn't always meet at the same place in the print, and some of the intersections were not ideal -- making most conventional designs for sashing quilting not good choices.  I needed to choose a design that drew the eye away from the sashing piecing. The next pic shows what I mean... Most intersections were decent, but half a dozen or so needed adjusting.
I chose this red stipple-filled square/diamond to bring the red into the sashing.  This is a traditionally-pieced quilt using more modern fabric choices, so I felt that I could juxtapose the traditional feathers with a more modern sashing.  I think it worked, and draws the eye away from the piecing.

 The back is completely white, and the only non-white thread is on the sashings.  It looks really cool.

Last quilt - from a couple weeks ago.  This quilt is all in Westminster prints and coordinating solids.  The prints are challenging to quilt, as it is hard to get patterns to show effectively.
I used line work, some feathers and free-handed continuous curves.
 The center has a panel of hand-stitched hexies.  Fun to see everyone's interpretation of the newest craze!  Remember this picture...I'll refer to it in a minute.
 More continuous curve and flowers that are stitched by following the print on the fabric.
 The thread of choice for this quilt was a lavender Glide.  It blended with nearly everything.

This is the first quilt in ages that I got off the frame, was pleased that I made the estimated budget, photographed, and then stood back and said "hmmpphhh? I don't like this".  The next morning I reloaded it, and added a good hour of stitching to the grey square border.  The puffyness just wasny sitting well with me, and the quilt didn't lay properly.  This area was underquilted.
 See how much better this looks compared to the photo I referenced above?  All I added was dense filler in the gray triangles.
This quilt is home already, and the first two left here yesterday, en route for the west coast.

I have a monster 100+x100" quilt loaded presently that I am doing my darndest to procrastinate the quilting on.  I am currently 15% done, with little motivation to get through it quickly. Sigh... I am going downstairs to work on my hexagons for a couple hours.  I have taken off the star points I showed a month ago, and with newly dyed silk in hand, am redoing these blocks.  I will add that I just love how they are coming out.  The backtracking is worth my effort.  These will be gorgeous set on the champagne-colored silk, someday!
I'll leave you with a glimpse of New England's fall color, taken a week ago, and my pretty littlest bunny.  I, personally, refuse to believe that fall is ending because that doesn't leave me in a good mental state for what comes next.  I'm just not cut out for this climate.  Just wish my husband could get it.