Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Dreaming Big x 2

Happy Tuesday! This week is about dreaming Big. A client sent me two of these gorgeous 44" panels to quilt. I did two earlier in the year to showcase fills and feathers from my books. I use these in my classes when teaching. I have a lineup of quilters interested in having me quilt panels for them similar to the ones here. It's a fun quilt to stitch - who doesn't love a job that is finished in just a couple days?!

So without further adieu, here is the aqua panel.
Here are the 40 wt threads I used...starting at the center with the lime, going to the deeper shades at the outer edge.
Both quilts have 2 layers of batting, 80/20 on the bottom and a wool on the top. This gives the intense texture that each pattern needs. I quilted a different design in each petal, after outlining the petal. I try to keep linear designs beside more swirly patterns so that each shows better. As I near the end of the panel, I find myself consulting my samples for other fills not used. It's a fun process, but sometimes it is hard to find a 47th unique pattern!
 I am always amazed how creative and unique these patterns look when quilted this way, even if many people might not use some of them often. It's the "variety is the spice of life" in action!
 These are a combination of purely freehand fills as well as fills that rely on a premarked grid. I have used square grids on this blue panel as well as a hexagon grid.
 Some of the patterns also need a small bit of marking to execute - it's my secret crutch. The bricks design (below) would be a pure disaster without some premarking!
 There are also some fills in these samplers that will debut in a new class next year, as well as a new fills book (assuming I get off my firmly planted lazy butt and get it started!).

 Seen enough blue?...
OK, then, let's move on to the orange panel. I just love orange, so this may be my favorite.
I ran into a bit of a "oopsie" on this piece. To make it more frustrating, I didn't notice the severity of the bumble until the panel was off and laying in my hallway being photographed.

The center of the flower just looked wonky. At first I tried to rationalize that the center IS awkward, but in the end, I grabbed the seam ripper and made a modification.
 Here's the finished "tweak", looking much more au-natural, and less like one petal was on steroids.
 Like the aqua panel, several threads were used. These are all 40wt, and are either YLI Polished poly (my personal fave) or Superior Magnifico/Fantastico or Glide. They stitch out very similarly, but the YLI is slightly lower sheen and seems to tension easier. It is the larger yellow cone below.
Many of the patterns will look familiar, but I know I used several that were different too.
 Quilted texture is just delicious!  Outboard of the petals is a tight 1/8" matchstick quilting in the deepest color. It frames the quilt nicely. If you are curious how I do this, I uploaded a short video to my facebook business page today.  I am not a skilled videographer, and only have my iphone as a camera, so don't expect ultra-high quality. I do think that the video addresses many of the questions I have received over the last few years.
 Feathers, flowers & leaves  OH My!
 Bamboo, modern checkerboard, ribbons and more!
Hopefully you enjoy seeing the many photos as much as I struggle to pick just a few photos of these pretty quilts to share. Remember... Most of these feathers and fills are taught within my books (see the right sidebar...the green fills books and the gold feathers book). I show photos as well as detailed and numbered illustrations. You, too, can quilt your Dream Big panel similarly.

Or if you prefer to have me quilt it, just drop me an email msolomo1 at Maine dot rr dot com.

One more bit of excitement hit our house last week...we got a new baby. At first, "he" was named Simon. On Friday, the vet informed us that Simon did not have all the male kitten parts we thought he had.  A-hem...Simon was going to need spaying.  Begrudgingly, we came up with another name, Bella. We're pretty smitten. She's a mighty lovable 9 week old kitten. I could most definitely become the crazy old cat lady. LOL!


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Quilt Catchup

It is not that I have not been sufficiently busy. I have become poor at posting to my blog since the advent of facebook. That app has become the time-suck of life!

This post is a wrap-up of some quilts I have done in the last couple months (not counting work I have done on at least 3 of my own quilts).

This first one was brought to me by a local woman. She'd made this for her son and daughter-in-law for their wedding. As her story goes, her son had a stuffed elephant as a child and the DIL had a stuffed worm. The quilt was supposed to depict both of them, in her own original way. She initially had another quilter longarm quilt it (first photo). She was very dissatisfied with the quilting because some of it was very open and didn't fit the piecing. Other areas of the quilting were poorly thought out, having wide open stippling instead of something a bit more visually interesting. Scales of quilting from section to section were not at all similar. 
 (original quilting by previous quilter)

The owner ripped out a lot of the original quilting before I got the quilt. My job was to make the elephant more interesting, replacing decorative quilting where wide open stippling had been. I also ditch stitched all applique seams to make it lay better.
 The other thing she had me do was add something into the background to fill it in more. I never would have chosen what the previous quilter did. It was computerized and did not fit the piecing at all. This type of piecing has so many options for easy continuous quilting with way more interest, but since I didn't want to rip out what was there, all I could do was add to it, as continuously as possible. It sits beside that fairly dense stipple, so leaving as is was not happening.
 I don't really love what I added, but it fills it in better, and the hearts keep with the "wedding quilt" theme. Regardless of what I think (and it probably stems from the fact that it does not fit the piecing), the owner was happy.
 The elephant was fun. The tusks previously had no quilting, so the addition of echo lines made them pop. The elephant's legs had a stipple, so I made quilting in this area better match the ears (which had a variety of fills). There was not a lot of rhyme or reason to the previous stitching, but at least now he is cute and more cohesive.
 The little worm got detailed too, right down to her cheeks.
In a perfect world, the client would have removed all quilting and let me start over, but that seemed unreasonable to ask. I also would have used a wool batting not this ultra-thin cotton which is flat and does nothing for the applique. In the end, she was much happier with the wedding quilt, and that is what matters.

Next up...one of the few edge-to-edge quilts that I did. Admittedly, I quilt predominantly custom quilting, but 10-15% of the jobs I get are really best suited to an edge-to-edge, like this one.
Next up is this very cute baby quilt made by a long time and great applique quilter. It's a baby quilt for somebody.  Who can predict what animals will be all the rage?...Earlier this year and last year I quilted several elephant quilts. Now, llamas are in.
 The trick with them is to give them semi-cute features - like eye-lashes. I also tried to give the fur some swirls for character.
Much of the background is quilted in a swirly feather freehand. It is a front-side edge. This particular pattern is one of many that "starts with a swirl" that are in my Dense & Dainty book. They can be stitched much smaller for a dense background fill. They also scale up for a nice edge-to-edge.
  And of course the backing is a super-soft llama flannel too!
This quilt was done last month after I returned from MQX Midwest. It is a large Neimeyer design. Earlier this year I quilted a Bali star, which is similar. It has the rings and no applique, but it also has the additional star points with the rings. I like this better. It is simpler and more true to a traditional wedding ring quilt.
The pattern actually only has 2 open corners, so these fan and feather motifs were very pretty there. To balance the curved crosshatching on the corners, I opted for putting CCH in the center of the quilt too. This is a location where I have done differently in the past, but I really love how it settles the quilt and brings a very-traditional look to it.
 I then put the feathers in the smaller melon shapes. The ring of framing and pebbles takes forever because of the stopping, knotting and burying but it is a lovely frame.
 This quilt is double batted with 80/20 and QW wool. That helps to bring out the texture.
 There are 3 colored threads used between the 4-patch centers and the continuous curve on the rings. I needed to choose threads that would not disappear on any of the materials.
 Because solid backings are lovely, here are a couple pics of this quilt's backside...

 Really pretty!

This last quilt was going to be a custom, then it was going to be an edge to edge. I even ordered a new pantograph to use on it. Fast forward through a few issues, and the client and I settled on a modified hybrid of edge-to-edge and custom. The clamshells are really a custom treatment because they are fairly time-consuming, but they are quilted in an edge-to-edge fashion. It does a great job of melding the 100 very different blocks.
 Here's the backing...It is a sateen I have never seen.
 And lastly...here is a quilt I quilted in the spring for a CA client. You might remember it because it took forever, or because I wrote a blogpost about how I dealt with the fact that the borders had WAY too much fabric in them -- a problem I deal with far too often. Anyway, the finished quilt is amazing, and my client entered it at PIQF, a very competitive quilt competition in CA. Her quilt won an honorable mention out of nearly 50 entries!

Time for me to get to work trying to finish the binding on my next show quilt. I'm about ready to throw try #3 into the fire and leave it without a binding at all!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Wanted Kaufman Radiance PFD

If you have any Radiance PFD that you'd be willing to sell, please email me at msolomo1@maine.rr.com.

Kathy Molatch...you left me a comment on my last post but I cannot reach you via blogger. Please email.
Thanks

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Fabric Nuances

I have been busily quilting away on a client quilt, but I sneak time to work on the binding of my next show quilt which will debut next spring. I have envisioned a binding similar to the one on the above quilt, with quilted scallops, though I want it a little bit different than this one too. The scallops (100 of them to be exact!) are made from cottons and silks and are piped with dark purple silk Radiance fabric. They are quilted on the longarm before getting the backing and piping on my domestic. Fast forward about 25 hours or more, and these are the result. Some call me patient. Some just use the word "crazy". Take your pick. Depending on the day, I use either.
The scallops are stitched to a mounting fabric which will have a facing used to secure to the backside of the quilt.

Last week, while playing with the almost finished quilt, I decided that the addition of the crisp white to the "binding" would look really awesome. My plan is to make a leaf shape from white to put between the lavender scallops. The original quilt at the top has quilted scallops with prairie points (constructed the traditional way). 

The only problem with this plan is that I don't have enough of the pure white silk Radiance, and my favorite fabric in the world has been discontinued. White batik could have been substituted, but...you know how it is when you get a thought into your head. I just HAD to have the shiny fabric. I love silk that much!

I went to the internet and scoured it for dark, hidden sources for Radiance. They are still available, but they are getting harder and harder to find, and the numbers of colors available lessen daily. I located a silk-cotton satin on Etsy, and ordered a couple yards. When it arrived, I was ecstatic because the hand and appearance of it was that of Radiance. But...and there is always a but...when I compared it to the white Radiance, it was most definitely a slight ivory and not pure white (sure wish I'd done this before ordering another 5 yards, but that is exuberance for you!). The ivory is not acceptable for this quilt. Perfect perhaps for a whole cloth quilt, someday.

(new mystery silk-cotton satin on left and pure white Radiance on right)

My first thought was to somehow bleach this to white. Those who dye knew better, but I tried anyway. I did not just throw the 2-yd cut into bleachy water, mind you, I only used a small swatch. I also used a colored piece too as a control -- curious to see what my bleach would do. The results below are counter-intuitive. While the taupe silk blend did lighten slightly, the "white" actually darkened to a more cream color.  It did not get lighter whatsoever.
I was going to be on to Plan B.

Plan B means going to a fabric that I am unfamiliar with, but that I think will probably work acceptably. What say you?...Bridal satin.

I went to Joann's today and got a yard of good quality bridal satin. There were many colors and weights to compare to my swatch. I have only quilted on polyester satin a couple times, but I have no reason to think it won't work fine. I do know others who have used it.  In the end, the color is the best choice. See below...

 (bridal satin)

(white bridal satin on left, not-so-white silk blend on right)

The sheen will be nice and the color is perfect. When I finish off a client quilt mid-week, I will load this up and make some quilted "leaves" so that the binding can be finished. I am so anxious to get this quilt finished -- I love it THAT much! "Value of Violet" will debut at its first show early in 2019.


Saturday, September 29, 2018

Twins

Near this time last year, I started on a small 40" whole cloth quilt with the hope of finishing it by the December 1 deadline to enter it at spring Paducah. It was the second quilt I will show in this post, in green silk. Long story short, in about October I felt that it was having insurmountable issues that I did not want to battle. I had used white batting despite the quilt having a black backing fabric and there were lots of batting pokies. I also chose a daring black thread for much of the quilting, and highly contrasting threads are difficult to execute cleanly.

I pulled a piece of peach silk from my collection (that is the correct word if you don't want to be viewed as a hoarder, which is really more appropriate when discussing how I "collect" silks). I marked the same quilt design as the green quilt and decided to quilt a second whole cloth, this time with matching thread. In November of last year I was nearly done, but I was so PO'd with part of the binding which just didn't lay properly, that this quilt too went into a bag.

The upshot of these not-so-fun adventures is that there was no Paducah entry for 2018.

In the late spring of this year, the magazine I have written for for almost 5 years (Machine Quilting Unlimited) decided to stop production, leaving my writing days in limbo. I had just about completed an article about making a traditional whole cloth quilt, and it used both of these quilts, as well as my 2 previous quilts. When one door closes, another opens. I quickly contacted AQS to see if they might publish it. The rest is history because it went to print in the last edition of their magazine. Somewhere in that process, I decided to rip off half of this binding and fix it. The quilt went to AQS in KY for photography for the article and has been there since, attending their summer/fall shows. It has yet to ribbon, but the finished quilt is pretty and up to my standards.

Here is Persistent Peach.
 It is stitched with 40wt poly threads and 100wt Invisifil for small scale details. When I was done, I added a detailing in a rose 30 wt silk thread (not in these pictures) using my domestic machine. Many of the key motifs were outline stitched.
 It was finished with a couple dozen hot fix pearls, keeping the detailing classic and simple.
 Persistent Peach was the second of these quilts stitched, so I chose to do a few things differently from the first, which I will show in a minute. The basic frames and feathers are the same, but fills are different. I love how the wider point crosshatch plays with the dense box fill. Scale differences are so important with neighboring fills.
 Here she is hanging at fall Paducah. The judges comments suggest it didn't do well because it was in the incorrect category. With no better or more appropriate category for the quilt, I chose "Art". It turned out to be large, with over 50 quilts, and apparently a poor choice. Wish that those who juried had caught this. Oh well. The upshot from their comments is that it is well made.

The second quilt (green one) is named Persistence. I probably should have named it "Crazy Bat just couldn't get me right, but here I am anyway". It was at MQX Midwest last week, and came home with a sparkling 1st place ribbon. Looks like despite my initial worries, I did something right on it.

If you scroll back a few posts, I did document how I finished this binding -- a definite first and last for me. It was fiddly, and more work than I really wanted. What better place to try something different and untested though than a small quilt that you are somewhat uncommitted on anyway.
 You can notice the differences in the quilting between the quilts, even though the main "bones" are similar. In the end, I love the effect of the black thread. I added 30wt silk black thread detailing on this quilt too. It is heavy enough to reinforce the frames.
 In retrospect, I wish I'd done all the quilting in black thread, but that's experience talking. Next time...

One of my hurdles on this quilt was the center. I think it was quilted and unpicked 3 times. Here is the original. It was removed because I couldn't get the star centered.
I think I requilted the star at least one more time before realizing that something was amiss.

Plan B is below. Yes, I know the circle is not quite at the center. Damn. THAT quilting is not being removed though. I was starting to see damage on the fabric. I searched for a broach to stitch on, but they all seemed bulky.
 Plan C involved appliqueing a circle to the quilt, falsely creating the center where it belongs. I know that this is technically not a whole cloth any more, which is fine because I have the peach quilt which is. At MQX, this was entered in Small Wall. Often the presence of another color on the binding disqualifies it from whole cloth anyway.
 Crystals were added around the circle to hide the fact that it is applique, and to draw the eye to the center.

Here's the crazy edge...
I am glad that the two quilts are done. Persistent Peach will be at AQS's Virginia Beach show next week, while Persistence is at PIQF the following week.