Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Summer's End

The next 2 quilts belong to a PA client.  As luck would have it, I actually got to her quilts while she was still in Maine on vacation, and she is scheduled to be picking them up tomorrow! 

This is a 62" Lone Star wall hanging (but then, that is probably kind of self explanatory!).  It has a cotton 80/20 batting because she requested less dense quilting.  I feared with wool it moght be too puffy to hang well.  Hopefully I did not over-quilt it.  She really prefers less.
 I'd tell you what thread I used, but I forgot!  I think it is an Omni.  This is a design I have done 8-10 times before.  They always turn out pretty.  There is something about the 8 setting squares that bring it all together.  Another nuance request was that I don't use "skinny, Victorian-styled" feathers.  She said she likes the fat kind.  Of all things, this was probably my most challenging.  I just.don't.do fat feathers.  They don't really adhere to my aesthetic.  None the less, I tried to make 'em fat,
 The diamond part of the star is quilted with simple continuous curves.  This makes a nice soft and drapable quilt.  Hopefully, she will be ok with the few sections where I put denser ribbon-candy and some fills.  Habits of loving dense fill are very hard to break.
 Her other quilt is a large (85x92) modern-ish pieced quilt.  It may be a pattern; I am not sure.  I love the sea-tone of all the mostly solid fabrics.  She wanted this one to be simple, and chose a clamshell pattern.  These are done with my 4" clamshell template, which is honestly a PAI to work with because it is on the large side.  I quilts up pretty quickly, though, despite being all template quilted.
 Here's another look...
My kids went back to school as of today, and work on the stockpiles of client customs are starting.  I have a huge (over 100") Fire Island Hosta quilt ready to load and get ditching on.  It will probably be there for 2 weeks!

I thought I'd show some of the progress on these log cabin blocks... I have the applique going in the 5 "circles" designed and prepped.  Because it is mostly orange and pink flowers, I thought the design needed a punch of another color.  Hopefully the teal will do just that.  This is now becoming my night-time project, and then I will get the floral applique designed that is going on the borders.
 Prep for my October MQX classes is wrapping up.  There is just one left to finish a presentation for.  That trip will be upon me before I know it.  It's a good thing that quilt I have entered is 99% finished!...The Twisted Sister, as I am calling her, just has a few places where I need to "touch up" the quilting.  In other words, I discovered some form of thread crap on the backside.  The places are very minor, but I have spent over 850 hours on this, and it is not worth decreasing my chances of doing well to be lazy now.
For those curious, the name "The Twisted Sister" came to me based on the twisted rope border I put on this.  It also has many of the same fabrics as my 2015 quilt (below) "Bouquet Royale.  Both have fussy-cut hexagons, in similar but different fabrics.  One are the Lucy Boston elongated style, while the current one is made from the traditional hexagons.  I used the champagne-colored silk on both, and a gorgeous bright green silk, which I got hand-dyed.  Just like real sisters, they are similar in many ways, and equally different in others.  Hopefully this quilt will be as successful as her sister (she's just a little bit more on the wild side)!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Big Finish

After the "flood" was dealt with last week, I got to work on this 104" gigantic batik quilt.  It belongs to a guild from NC, and they will be selling tickets in the coming year to raffle it off.  It is so large, though, that I found it a challenge to get a full photo taken in my hallway, but hopefully you get the idea.  There is a center lone star, and then 9 or 10 borders.
It was a "budget" job...no total free reign to quilt as desired, but none the less I was able to give it some custom treatments to enhance the nice piecing.  It has a wool batting, and it is quilted with 40wt Glide and YLI polished poly threads.  I am not sure if the thread color is entirely visible, but I used a medium pink like the sashing on some of it, as well as a soft aqua.
This border of stars was initially going to get the E2E fill, but I decided to modify that play and put the pumpkin seed there instead.  The lighter fabric conveys the quilting nicely -- too well to just give it a filler.  I left he plain blue border and it's neighboring equilateral triangles for the E2E.  The previous photo is before I got the client's OK to go back and SID the perimeter of the stars.  I think that it was a worthy expense.  They are much crisper now.
 ...after ditching
This photo shows the outermost borders...rather than using very traditional/Victorian styled feathers on this, I did a couple of borders with a fernier style of fill.  This always seems to work well on batiks.  Plus, it is a faster motif to quilt when time is truly of the essence.
 I tried to make the center star be the show of the quilt.  There is more detail here.  I copied the continuous curves of the star border here again, and brought in the curved-crosshatching.
 It will be shipping home to the client Monday, and I hope she like it!

Friday, August 19, 2016

The floods of 2016

With the horrific floods that are occurring in southern Louisiana right now, this hardly ranks amongst the worst in history.  But it was definitely an unpleasant surprise last Sunday to say the least.   This is my basement.

I was off with 2 of my kids at a party in the afternoon.  My husband was home doing what husbands do -- nothing.  After the fact, he mentioned that he *had heard* a trickle of water, like a leaking faucet, but when the two faucets near him rendered nothing, he quit looking.  First clue - when you hear running water, and nobody is home...GO AND LOOK FOR IT!!

Ladies, you can relate.

I went down my basement stairs about 4pm, and immediately realized something was grossly wrong. It was overly humid, when each descending step typically becomes cooler, and more arid.  Then, as I got to the bottom, I realized there was water seeping underneath the door.  Freaking panic set in, and I started screaming.  Nothing like screams to get the flame lit under the helper's ass.

So, the hot water holding tank, which is connected to my furnace sprung a leak last Sunday.  Everything bad happens on a Sunday.  We are probably blessed this didn't happen on December 22nd when our kitchen faucet drain decided to leak profusely, making us sinkless until the 27th of December.  First order of business was to figure out how to turn off the water.  Normally, the wet area in the next picture (which is really after most of the water was sucked up and removed, has a pad of 1" foam core boards, and each of my show quilts lays flat on it.

My foam core boards were essentially floating.  The colored foam mats, which are about 1/2" thick, were floating too, and they were the slippery hazard we navigated the basement on.  It was like stepping on surfboards to get around.  My husband got the shop vac prepared, as I started moving everything to higher ground. Problem is -- I had a client quilt loaded on the longarm, so that real estate was taken, and I had my own mess of sorts on my ironing table, and the 3 6' tables in the studio.  A quick shuffling of stuff was in order.  This basement is something like 24'x30', and the water had made its way to all 4 walls.  We have no sump hole or way for it to get out.
The furnace circuit was shut off and after a bit of trial and error we found the valve between the boiler and the tank to shut off the water migration.  Lucky for us, and we learned this after the fact, when this valve was closed, a vacuum was initiated in the tank, keeping the 50 gallons of hot water from coming out!   It could have been a hotter mess.

All of the photos I have are clearly well after the clean up had begun.  There was no stopping to snap a few keepsake photos! 

This is the offending tank...Bad tank.  It was leaking at the bottom black ring.
 The one issue I had was that I had 5 or 6 show quilts floating on the foam core boards.  Big Bertha (98"x98") happened to hang off the boards by a couple inches.  What hung off, immediately got wet.  This quilt was soaked about 8-10", and proceeded to soak the quilt that was laying on top of it, Shenandoah Falling.  Well, Shenandoah Falling is made from Cherrywood scraps, none of which were prewashed.  This quilt was only blocked in cold water.  The water from the tank was very hot -- so hot that the temperature in the basement when I discovered the disaster was 84F.  Normal basement temperature is only 74F.

When Shenandoah got wet, an area with red fabrics immediately bled, and it also bled on the quilt beneath it.  Fortunately, both of these affected quilts are older.  Shenandoah is admittedly, my least successful show quilt, ever.  I still like it.  AND...it is going to the NWQE in a week.  I was not pleased to see the mess!  Big Bertha, a 2013 quilt, has been to over a dozen shows, earned over $25k in winnings, but I want it in good condition because I have two exhibitions coming in a year.  It made me sad.
 Piles of everything piled onto the work tables...

By all accounts, having two damaged personal quilts, and some printed materials for my upcoming classes  damaged, is SO minor.  We just count our blessings that this did not happen in June when we were in Mexico.  The basement, my quilts, and EVERYTHING would have been in a swimming pool.

On Monday, I was able to get a tech to come and install a whoppingly expensive new tank.  I was side-tracked furthering the cleaning of the basement, sweeping all the floors, cleaning all the floor mats and foam core boards.  And then, I got to the reblocking of the two damaged quilts. Here's some of the red bleed...

 and the bleed went through to the backside too.
 The quilt discharged a lot of brown dye (I did a cold soak), but a hot soak would have made the piping at the binding pucker, so I went conservative.  It is fine...red dye on the back is gone, and that leaf I showed is better. Not gone, but better.
 On Wednesday afternoon, I prepared the tub for Big Bertha...submerged by the water-filled laundry baskets.
 She blocked very easily (or maybe I just have stopped worrying about each and every little minute detail).  Today, I took her off the boards, and was able to place all the other quilts back where they usually reside.  I think it is time to get some 2X4's to raise this palate up just a little bit.
 My kids have been away the last 2 days, giving me that one time all summer to attempt to quilt a big client quilt.  My head and heart are feeling stressed and drained, but with only one week of summer left, it was time.  This is Michelle's guild raffle quilt -- the guild is in NC.  It is a 104" huge quilt!  It has taken its toll on me the last week, but is nearly finished.  I have just one thing to wrap up this weekend!
 Full reveal photos when I get it off the frame.
Hopefully I haven't scared any of my clients -- your quilts are ALL just fine.  They were all stored in a safe location, off of the floor.  Those of you who use your basement as a quilting studio, though, beware of what can happen...keep things safe down there!!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

August's Endeavors

With August half over, and school starting in 2 weeks, I can't tell if I am thrilled that the kids will be going back soon or in a panic mode because there will truly be a TON of things for me to actually get finished then.  Probably a bit of both.

A few weeks ago, I sat down with my soon-to-be 10 year old daughter to help her begin her next quilt.  She hopes to have it done for MQX in April.  This year's project is a 40" wall hanging which I designed.  Each year there are new skills for her to practice - this year she gets triangles, use of the 1/4" walking foot (which she received after last year's quilt was already pieced), and we will also do a simple blanket stitch applique in the white center square.  She's going to find a cat silhouette to put there.
 Her threshold for how long she enjoys doing semi-mundane tasks like strip piecing is about 45 minutes, but on a project this small, it doesn't take much longer!
 The color scheme for this quilt all started with a free cone of very bright neon-orange-pink thread she won from YLI's Jim Miller after last year's MQX win.  It's going to be interesting and bright!!
 I have done a few client quilts.  FEW, being the operative word.  This is one of the more custom jobs of late, although there have been some edge-to-edges as well.  I don't think that the fabrics photograph nearly as pretty as they were.
 It's a custom, but far from the "overboard-custom" (break the bank custom!) I sometimes get to do!
 I have spent seriously ALL summer getting a binding on my next show quilt.  It will debut at MQX in October, but that decision was not made until last week, when I nearly had all of the binding done.

 "Why does a binding take all summer?", you coyly ask...Good question.

1. I am slow
2. I bite off more than I can chew.  This is a double-piped, scalloped binding, with a looped-corded facing detail.
3. I had to do it twice because the first attempt at a silk binding looked cruddy (not my word, but you get the gist!).

All's well that ends well.  The binding and facing are now on.  It will get some pearl and crystal details, as well as a sleeve and label.  There are a few other small things to fix, but the light at the end of the tunnel is definitely not a trail.  It will make the deadline.  Photos in October.  You forgot what quilt I am talking about.  Not surprised...It's the fussy-cut hexagons, green stars, all on champagne silk (scroll back a couple months).

I have found this summer to be very unproductive as well as unmotivating for me personally.  I have started more designs and projects, only to feel like they'd never be finished.  Two weeks ago, I abandoned all of them to cut into a stack of 12 pink and orange FQ's that came home from Hershey with me.  I have had a log cabin quilt on my bucket list for ages.  There is nothing like a little easy, mindless piecing.  You knew it had to have silk, right?! Applique is being designed for the 5 circles (actually, this part is already done), as well as an 8" silk border that is not added yet.
 I had one more little task on my list.  I decided this year to make a small quilt to donate to the IQA silent auction to be held at Houston in October.  My Bouquet Royale quilt is there, so I modeled the 23" piece after this one.  maybe the familiarity of the parent will help bidding on the little one, which I will call "Petit Bouquet"
 After a much unexpected trip to the longarm doctor this week, and two down days, on Friday, the majority of the quilting on this mini was finished.  It shares similarities of it's parent, but some things were modified/simplified.  I love how it turned out.  Just needs a quickie binding before mid-September.
I had some info about some client quilts lately.  The Maine Quilt show was 2 weeks ago.  I usually enter it, but because all my quilts were in Quilt Odyssey the week before, I had nothing available.  BUT, something I quilted for a client, Cathryn Renault, won both a purple ribbon as well as a Longarm Quilting Excellence ribbon.  Purple ribbons are the best, representing 98-100pts.  The quilting ribbons are new this year - and this one came home to me!  How sweet is that?!
 Another client that I have done much work for over the years, Erin from IA, had 2 quilts in the IA State Fair, both of which earned 1st place ribbons.  This was quilted over a year ago, but was really beautiful.
 This Fire Island Hosta I quilted in the winter I believe.  Kudos on both quilts!
With summer wrapping up, the kids are busy moaning about going back to school.  We've done plenty from Mexico to the beach to a lake to picking blueberries, to just getting out in the heat. Maine has been very dry this summer, and warm since late June.
 My 14 yr old is "too old" for such outings, but these two still appreciate it.
 OK, he did come to a day at Funtown/Splashtown, but not much else.
Her birthday is next week, and I am hoping for hot weather because I have something water-related planned.  Then it's off to the quilting room for me, and off to school for them!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Book News

I had a conversation with none other than Meredith Schroeder of AQS yesterday.  I have wonderful news that AQS is indeed publishing by book, due out in October of this year.  I should have a preview soon.  As long as it is selling well, it will be possible to get reprints of it.  At this point, my concerns are alleviated.  It is still disheartening that AQS is no longer taking new book contracts. Their books were always (IMHO) superior in quality to others.  Quilt times are changing... Amazon has this book already listed for presale, as does the AQS website.  Sadly, all 2017 books were terminated.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Quilt Odyssey

I arrived home last night after spending 4 days at the Quilt Odyssey show in Hershey, PA.  I taught 4 hand's-on longarm classes, which went wonderful, but the highlight was most certainly being invited to have a retrospective exhibit of my quilts.  I sent 17 quilts, spanning 21 years of my quilting...as I told people if you start at the current end of the exhibit and walk backwards, you'll see the "good, the bad and a few ugly".  It isn't an entire lie :-)
For the most part, the exhibit was chronological, but this little beauty (choke, choke) somehow got placed among some of my 2012 quilts.  I nabbed it from my mother's house, as it is her's.  I got several "thank you's" from other quilters for daring to include what is the oldest and most definitely ugliest quilt I had access to.  I did make quilts prior to 1995, but the earliest went to Goodwill over 6 years ago and the other resides with my brother (unless they have trashed it by now too).  This is classic-ugly though with it's blue and peach and green calico fabrics, and absolutely no design sense whatsoever.  It is hand quilted.  Everybody starts somewhere; this is mine.
When my daughter was born, I started three wall-hangings -- this is one of them.  They were to be my "Legacy Quilts".  Each is different, but they all share some of the same fabrics.  Two of them are finished, and I sent this one to hang at Hershey.  It's also hand-quilted.  My color and design sense is at least tolerable here!
In 2008, I started this quilt for my daughter's bed.  She was two.  They are hand appliqued, and it is also hand quilted.  It goes on her bed part of the year, when she has the fancy to use it.  Being that she is now making quilts, there are three others that this gets to alternate with!  It's called d"Girly Fun". Alas, I have learned that quilts need to be named and labeled!  This went to the Maine Quilt Show in 2009 and got a whopping Honorable Mention.  
The quilt hanging beside it ("It Takes a Village") is also my mom's.  It is one of the first that I quilted on my longarm.  Stitching is very simple as I was much more interested in the piecing.  My quilting skills had not been honed.
I'm a bit out of order by a year or so, but this ("My Summer") is a little mini I made after making a similar one for a swap partner.  It' raw-edge appliqued, which I NEVER do, and machine quilted using my domestic machine.  I was never very good on the DSM, and it was the fact that I wanted to make bigger quilts that motivated me to buy the longarm in 2009.  Never the less, I really like the beachy scenes because the beach is just about my favorite place.
 If I were really being accurate, I would have sent my first accidental show quilt, "Summer on the Beach".  For those interested, search the blog back to April 2010 (MQX).  But, seriously, this quilt has horrendous piecing faux-pas and less-than-mediocre longarm quilting!  It, however, was THE quilt that spawned my love of making show quilts.  It is the reason you have the rest of these to see.
The above piece "Primavera" is from 2010.  It's hand appliqued batiks, and is longarm quilted.  It did go to a couple shows.  Mostly it lives in my study.  The colors are me, as is the medallion style.

The quilt on the left was actually started in 2009 at a Karen K. Buckley class on hand applique.  If there is one person who I can say has influenced my style most, it's probably her.  Learning a few of these techniques fostered my love of applique and handwork, which is actually seen on many quilts over the past several years.
 "Sea Glass", on the right is a fall 2011 finish, and one of two I have done that is not a symmetrical medallion style.  Being the engineer, I feel most comfortable designing and quilting the medallion quilts, so this will just never be one of my favorites.  One viewer asked me if the blue swirls were an octopus!...It's supposed to be a wave.  My now-12 yr old loved to go hunting for sea glass at the time this was made.
<>This is my 2011 quilt, and first intentional show quilt.  "Cartoline da Venezia (Postcards from Venice)", made to depict an inlaid Italian floor, was also my first Best of Show, earned from the Maine Quilt Show.  I hate the colors in this - they are not me and the experience of making and showing it taught me to follow my own inclinations about color.  Quilts for show are often very colorful. 

So that is exactly what I did..."Zen Garden", which is very recognizable with the viewers since it went to nearly 2 dozen shows, and has been in several magazines including a MQU cover-girl, is all me.  It's scrappy, pink green and purple.  It has a couple BOS's in it's history.  It was supposed to be in a book too, but we can thank AQS for all of it's mis-doings in closing their book publishing.  More on that crap another day.
This is another of my 2012 quilts, "Meet Me at Giverny".  It shares many of the same colors, and is named for the lavender print which always reminds me of the Money water lilies paintings when seen up close.  On this, I hand-painted a detail for the first time.  This quilt too has a couple of BOS's, but is lesser known to viewers than Zen Garden.
"Shenandoah Falling" (2014) was made as a modern quilt, but it was never modern enough for any of the judges, despite the quilting being  much more edge and graphic.  It's my other non-symmetrical quilt.  After the first crash-n-burn with brown, I did go that route again, but these colors are more pleasing to me.  It earned a couple of ribbons, but its claim to fame is probably having been on a bill-board and much of the 2015 Paducah signage and advertising!

The small quilt above on the left "Kaleidoscopic Calamity" is another 2013 finish.  Though this has shown well, even earning a top-8 award at AQS Paducah in 2014, its not the "love of my life" by a long stretch.  The fabrics were ordered sight-unseen.  I didn't really like how thick they were, but being frugal, I made the quilt anyways.
Everyone knows about Rainbow Nouveau (2012) and it's bleeding problem.  It is the reason I can so intelligently and passionately preach prewashing (and Vicki Welch's advice on how to get rid of a bleed!).
"Autumn's Surrender"(2014) is my first of the silk Radiance quilts -- the beginning of a passion that I don't see ending too soon.  Viewers love the way the quilting looks on both of these silk quilts I sent to the show.  Simple piecing, gorgeous quilting.  This isn't my typically chosen color scheme, but the icy colors sure do personify the stitching.
"The Jester's Folly" (2015) is one of my faves.  Doesn't get much better than pink and green.
The last one, and she hung on the backside of the aisle, is "Big Bertha" (2013).  Though many of my quilts have won Best of Shows, this was the first one that truly surprised me.  It was MQX, and I just never saw it coming.  OK...correction, I never really see them coming, but I didn't expect to BOS at MQX well, ever!   The lighting at this quilt was fantastic, and judging by comments I overheard, it was a favorite of viewers.
Looking down the aisle...
...ok, just a couple more
This time with a goon in an orange shirt...
I did have two quilts that were actually in the competition part of the show. "Illuminations" won a 1st, and my white silk "From the Bride's Trousseau" got a 2nd.  They kind of took second fiddle to seeing all but 3 of my quilts in one exhibit though.  Yup...three of the most recent quilts are off in AQS's hands for their summer shows. Fingers crossed...

Thanks for looking~