Wednesday, June 29, 2016


It is two weeks since my kids got out of school.  Two weeks of a complete blur.  We went to Mexico for 8 days, and I have been in nonstop baseball-game shuttle mode since returning.  Mostly I need a day to sit, nap, and not have somewhere to go or something to do.  I have the feeling that the next 8 weeks will be similar.  I am not getting much of anything done, but have grand intentions.

FYI...Though most of my clients know that this is the time when I stack the September Custom-quilt queue, BUT I will happily take the edge-to-edge projects throughout the summer.   Smaller custom jobs (baby quilt or small lap quilt size) are fine too.  If you have a quilting need, please don't hesitate to contact me.

In the two weeks leading up to the end of school, I was furiously working to wrap up a couple things. I have added a fun 40" sample to my stack of class samples.  This is for a fills class that I am teaching at Quilt Odyssey in 3 weeks, and again at MQX in October.  With any luck, it will also be taught at the April 2017 MQX as well since it was a well received class.
The sample was fun to quilt.  It is purple Kaffe shot cotton, and I used a bright contrasting orange thread for the middle of the mandala.  I really wanted to show off the patterns for this piece.  Each section has a different design.
I am in the process of designing a silk quilt in a similar style, but it will be pieced.  Maybe by 2019, I will actually start it!  The backside of the sample is black...
I am also working on quilting up the vintage linens I got in Paducah this April.  I have a plan for these as well, but you'll have to wait a bit on that.  These are great small manageable projects that can be finished in 1-2 days.
 I also officially wrapped up the quilting on my next show quilt.  It has blocking and binding to go.  Sounds simple, but I expect this will take 100+ hours.  I had just about finished the quilting in May when I decided that the blocks needed these tiny silk circles -- 126 of them.  I also chose to applique a perle cotton around the blocks.  These two tasks took a whopping 65 hours.  I hope to drop this puppy into the tub today and get it onto my blocking boards.  The binding may take half a lifetime so it's time to get going!
Here's the backside before the dots were added.  I love the solid backing because it shows off the fantastic texture (and the sateen makes it so simple to find the buggers that need fixing!).

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

De ja Vu?

If you are thinking, "I have seen this before", you are right!  This is the 2nd Ladies of the Sea in 6 months, and the 3rd in the past year.  It is a beautiful and daunting quilt to imagine hand appliqueing, and almost as daunting to get to longarm quilt!  This one is a little different in that it has a pale green fairy frost background.
While I like to try to make each quilt individual, I also am challenged because I love the look of the rays behind each boat.  In the end, I did the rays anyhow.  The fillers on this particular quilt are different than the last 2 quilts though.
It has a single wool batting.  All appliques are ditch stitched with Madiera Monolon, and the fill is done with a soft green Glide thread (40 wt poly).  I wanted simple quilting that just let the applique show, but still provided a little bit of a textural variation.
The corner stars were the biggest challenge, as the piecing lacks a little precision.  Too much detailed quilting that couldn't possibly align properly would only show off the anomalies.  I aimed for simple, trying to draw the eye to the texture of the background rather than the star.  I want the viewer to have to really study them to know that they are a little imperfect.
 We all love shots of the backs, especially when they are mostly solid!... It is simply gorgeous.
 this is the border -
612,143 stitches later (yes, my machine has a counter!), this is in the history books and awaiting it's trip home to California!  Big sigh of relief :-)

I am om my last 9 days of freedom before school gets out - frantically trying to quilt up a couple class samples, and work on the fine details of my show quilt.  It was too warm today to have that beastie-boy on my lap, but it may be cooler later this week.  "Must Make Progress", that is my motto.

Here's a little blurb in the current Quilter's Newsletter I stumbled upon last week.  That is a partial pic of my Jester's Folly quilt, which will be on its way to the Shipshewana Quilt Festival in a couple weeks.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Sea of Blues

Here is a light custom from last week.  It is pieced from a variety of fabrics - both cottons and a teal batik.  I was wrapping up a couple easier quilts before I loaded one last big custom (the 3rd Ladies of the Sea of the last year!).  I could have easily just done an edge-to-edge pattern, but this is a gift for a special person that is getting married.  I had the OK to up the ante a bit.  The ivory fabric is a great place to let the quilting show more. 
To keep the time manageable, I still mixed in some fillers, like the swirls on these blue octagons. Mixing more custom techniques, like those quilted with rulers or feathers, with the faster fillers is a great way to give a quilt a custom look without an enormous cost. 
The outer border is this speckled dot.  I did a quilt last year that had a good bit of this on it, and knew not much of anything but linework was going to show.  Save the time for plainer fabrics.  While there is some ditch-quilting, there is not as much as some quilts.  This, too, helps to keep the cost from that of a show quilt to that of a pretty bed quilt.
It has an 80/20 batting and is quilted with YLI polished poly beige thread.

Here is the back, looking very aqua in the photo.  Ironically, it is a deep green. Strange!  The ivory bobbin shows quite prominently here!  It makes me wonder if I should have selected a soft green or aqua thread instead, so there was less visible contrast on the backside!
 I have one other small secret to let out of the bag...I came across this on Amazon recently.  Though the editorial gurus at AQS are busy at work deciphering my patterns and chicken-scratch, somebody has already posted a glorious cover shot of my upcoming book!  This is scheduled for a fall release, but I will update everyone on that when I have previewed the draft and know better.  The book is a new style for AQS - one that shares my history, design inspirations for the 3 quilts shown on the cover.  It also will give full patterns as well as quilting motifs.  Seems ambitious!
See you in a week (if I am a good girl!)

Monday, May 23, 2016

Something Old

It is only fitting on May 23rd, my first official day of being 50, that I entitle my post "Something Old".  The birthday was just about everything I expected, or dreaded, it would be.  I realize it is just a number, but the number 34 was a lot better.  It was a happier, funner time.  The realization that you are a half-century old is hard to swallow.  It definitely bites to think that you are on the downhill side of your life.  All of these thoughts and feelings hit me hard yesterday.  It didn't help matters to have a 14yr old in complete "don't care" mode when we were trying to get out the door to go out to eat, or getting THE pan my husband really wanted for his birthday wrapped up for me, or the bit of very disappointing news that came out at dinner.  It all left me wanting a do-over... a do-over from about 2000.

I have been doing a few things for clients that I don't think I can show.  I did a little quilt for a book Bonnie Browning is publishing with AQS last week.  Once the book hits the shelves later this summer, I can show it.  I also did another client quilt, but the photos are still on my phone.  I have hand stitched about 70 tiny silk dots onto my quilt.  It still has loads of work to go before I can bind it, but its making progress.  This week I must do a Ladies of the last large custom for a while.

A month ago, I resurrected this.  It was appliqued in 2012.  Actually there are 4 blocks, which I designed -- two are based on ceramic tiles.  I was set to finish this 1-2 yrs ago until I discovered another quilter had made one of the blocks nearly exactly to mine.  Coincidence or did she find the tile too? clue.  Either way, I quit.

 It was initially conceived to have a center peacock, but I have omitted that, figuring it might get done sooner this way.  I dreamed up some green frames, added some blue bias trims, and machine stitched it on.  I had bought a bunch of fabric, and wanted to use it (ie, not buy more).
 My sketch of what I envision doing is here.  There is a little more applique to do, someday.
 Here's my "cheater" background.  With the fabrics from 4+ yrs ago, it is hard to find more of them now, and it turns out that I don't have quite enough.  SO...I pulled some junk flower fabric and pieced the background with it.  This is because once the plates are appliqued down, this "junk" will be cut away and tossed anyways. this shows.  It's not yet stitched, but given all the baseball I have in my future, I may have some new car projects.
Stay tuned to 2020, when I will show another update to this slow-moving quilt!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Hang my Head in Blogger Shame

I have been busy.  I have been lazy.  My blog has been under severe neglect.  So Sorry....

Let me show you what I have been working on since returning from Paducah.

This is my mom's quilt, made for her sister for her 80th birthday.  Being busy, I told her "only if it's an edge to edge".  3-4 hours later, here it is.  It is stitched in a soft peach thread that matches the fabric.  It seems a bit odd, but with all the printy blues, I just wanted to see the thread.
 Rumor has it, my aunt loved the quilt.  Here's a look at the backside, which is a soft flannel.
 After that quilt I did another edge to edge for a client's grandson -- Minions!  I seem to not have any pics of this adventure though.  My next quilt, for a gal in Portsmouth is this "kaleidoscope" quilt.  It's not too big, somewhere around 50" square.
 It is batik, but I struggled to create texture that would show.
 Lots of lines, some feathers, and other textural patterns.
Here's a look at the center.  The challenge comes trying to ditch some of these sections that are not pressed to the side.  Piecers, please consider this when you opt to press many seams open.  It's always nice to have points pointy, but that is challenging when they cannot be easily ditch stitched.
 ..and of the backside.
 I am working to maybe finish my hexie quilt.  Maybe is a pretty big word these days.  I'd like to consider having it done for MQX Midwest in Oct, but who really knows.  The quilting is 99% done, and I am now deep, deep in the trenches of the detail work.  I am appliqueing pearl cotton around the hexie stars - to the tune of over an hour per star.  Only 14 more to go...sigh.  On the bright side, it looks great.
Last week, I told a friend and fellow quilter, Jackie Kunkel, that I would take a quilt of her's -- one that has a really quick turn around.  It arrived Saturday, and I quickly got to work designing what I would do.  It is very modern, and is to show her new fabric collection with Island Batiks that will debut this fall at Market.
 I can only shop small snippets until October, but believe me, I am itching to show you all of this beauty!  I really hate many modern quilts.  Until now, I really thought I hated quilting them more.  Boy, have the tides turned.  This one was actually fun.  I got to use so many interesting filler stitches. I credit this to my Dense & Dainty class on fills that I have taught, and will teach at Quilt Odyssey and MQX Midwest.  This quilt just sailed!  The only ruler work is on the triangles -- everything else is freehand and imagination.
I have a couple other quilts in the works that I will likely procrastinate on showing, as that seems to be the trend.  It's not my desire, but it just happens.

How do you keep it all together?!?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Vintage Recreating

It's been a whirlwind 2 weeks.  I got back from Paducah last Friday.  After sleeping 12 hours a night for a couple days, I am beginning to feel half-human again, and interested in working!  I went with my mom and 9 yr old daughter.  Sophie has always been great to travel with, but until this year we never shared a bed other than a king (so I never got to fully experience her ability to keep me awake!).  She's such a good traveler, taking every person and quilt in stride.  I really don't look forward to the year she tells me she doesn't want to go.  I am still amused of one particular story.  On Thursday afternoon I slipped away for a 1-1/2hr class.  Sophie and my mom wandered in town, going to shops.  They apparently went into one store where the shop owner (whom I do not know who was) knew Sophie by name!  My husband jokes that when he comes to Paducah he wants someone to refer to him as Sophie's dad.  Apparently she is known in this circle of life!
just some of the fun that came home with me...

While in Paducah, I got to rummage in too many antique stores.  There are many, but the last one I wandered into was the jackpot.  I just love the antique linens.  I managed to find (ahem, cough, choke!) quite a few.  Rest assured, though, I do have a plan!

I could hardly wait to mount this table runner on a piece of orange silk that Debra Linker dyed for me and get quilting yesterday.  As you can see, these linens were made by humans, and are not perfectly square or straight.  I'm ok with that, as I just love them.  Such a sucker for orange...
 I cut away the silk from beneath the linen so it did not show through.  It was mounted on my DSM, trimmed, then immediately loaded on the longarm.  It is quilted with several threads - major motifs are in a golden YLI polished poly, while dense and outline stitching is with 100 wt silk and invisifil.
With trepidation, I did mark this with purple pens.  You never know if older embroidery thread is going to be color-safe, but I spritzed it with water anyway.  All was fine.  I will enter into each one that I quilt carefully.

There are 2 layers of batting - wanted to maximize the texture.
 It is truly gorgeous in person.  I just hope the photos convey this.
It is so nice to just "quilt" deadline, no judge, no jury, AKA no cares!!
 Have a look at this gorgeous hand croched lace?...I'm no "frilly" gal, and I hate the itchy kind of lace with the best of them, but this is beautiful.
And the back is pretty showy too.  I don't think I will even bother picking out the small thread nest :-)
I will end with one of the very few selfies I have taken.  It's in front of my 2nd place winning quilt The Jester's Folly, at Paducah.  If my mother could take a clear photo, I wouldn't have to resort to selfies!!

For those curious, I am doing client quilts, and I especially welcome the simpler quilts.  I am coming up on summer when the custom quilting will go on hiatus.  If you have something you'd like to be quilted with an edge to edge, please contact me.

Sunday, April 10, 2016


It is the Sunday morning following the close of MQX, and I am one tired puppy!  I drove to NH on Wed, taught 3 classes, saw the show, drove home Friday, and turned around yesterday and did it all over again with my daughter.  I need this next week to recuperate before Paducah!

The show and all of it's many sides far surpassed my expectations, once again.  This will always be considered my home show, and I will love it for that reason alone, but it has so many fantastic things...Where to start?!?!...

I did 3 classes - all 4-hr hand's on.  I got the absolute best room of Handi-Quilter machines.  I know we are not supposed to share any favoritism, but seriously, I LOVE my HQ, and having each student on their own machine, with the ability to advance their project at their own rate is priceless.  I had my projects all printed at Spoonflower. They were printed in colors, and had quilting lines marked so that I did not have to do this myself!  Students loved these projects, and raved about them.  Good choice Me!  This is my Templates...Ruler the Roost will be offered in TWO sections at MQX Midwest in October -- it is that popular.  It is also at Quilt Odyseey for the 22 lucky ones who have already signed up (all sold out!).  I may need to simplify that class's project though because they double up on the longarms.
 Here's the back of the project for my Beautiful Backgrounds - Grid Based fills, also being taught in 2 sections at MQX Midwest.  It was a good class too.  This was the first time I taught this, and will do a little "tweaking" before the next one.  That is to be expected.
 Grids...the frontside.  Love this sampler!
The Dense & Dainty class did as many freehanded fillers as could be quilted in 4 hours.  The intent is small, so the sample is not huge.
 Each machine has a laminated sheet of a dozen designs (there are about 100+ different designs in the room) and students get to rotate these sheets around.  They are there to create ideas, and I go around the room assisting on how to stitch ones they ask about.  There is just no way I can give a lecture of instructions for all of them, and this lets them pick and choose.  Some are quite intuitive, while others need a little explaining of what to quilt first.  I found these "cheat sheets" to be very useful, and students were able to photograph them if they chose.
Some quilted designs everywhere, while others stayed between the lines :)  
I designed this fabric and had it printed at Spoonflower to compliment the sample I made for the class, shown below.  The sample is actually Shot Cottons, but I loved the arabesque shape, and hoped others would find the variation from a plain black fabric interesting too.  I think I might change it up to be a deeper gray, as it shows the thread a little better.
 and a closeup...

On to the show!...My daughter Sophie, who is 9 had a quilt here too.  Her category had 8 kids in it. This was her first completely free-handed from the front-side quilt.  Last yrs was free-handed but it was largely done using channel locks.  I really didn't know how she'd do among the other kid competitors.  Much to her joy and my surprise, she took the first place prize!!  To her, the best part was getting another sign like this one for her room, but the win did come with either a sewing machine or $100 (she took the moolah!).  She's already on her way to spending it on more fabric for her next project.
I'll show you my quilts and then the other quilts in the wholecloth category. 

This is "Illuminations", my quilt that came from the Playing in the Swamp broken lonestar.  As I mentioned last time, it was mostly pieced 4 years ago, and left to die in a box.  Fortunately it only went into hibernation.  I still don't feel the total love for it that I do for some of my silk quilts, but I am glad it is done.  The fact that I never completely loved it is probably why I was so completely shocked when it won 1st place.  I could have entered this in Solo or Large Wall category.  Solo had at least 3-4 very good quilts, while Lg wall had about 35 quilts in the category!...take your pick - be with the big name quilters or be with twice as many quilts??! As it happened I was in the large category, and it still fared well.  In fact, this quilt earned as many points for the machine quilting as my next one did (and it won an additional award for the quilting!).  
It was hanging in a nicely lit spot with both great overhead light and a skylight.  The quilting on the dark blue fabric showed well.  Though this quilt is largely about the colorburst and placement of color, I also need the quilting to be there because I enter in machine quilting shows.  
 Here is the center...

This is my Ode to Spring, which I have showed a few photos of previously.  I have always believed that this would do well, despite the few bloopers I know that it has.  It's start this year at R2CA and MAQF left me wondering, but this show gave me some confidence.  I trust the NQA certified judges that MQX hires.  I know that they weigh all aspects of the quilt (overall appearance, complexity, and technical components) appropriately when a winner is chosen.  I was most pleased to get the 1st place, and seriously delighted to get the Best Machine Quilting.  This is the 3rd year in a row to win that award.
 Here are a few photos I took...It was so much fun getting to talk to the many quilters there about the designs I chose, and the funky edging I did, and other aspects of the quilt.
 the center...just a touch of metallic. I don't love the stuff enough to use more!
 Filled Ginko clamshells are always a favorite.  And that herringbone too, but maybe not so much a favorite of the students in my grids class!! It is challenging to stitch.
 just a tiny spider web.  It is about spring, after all.  Heaven forbid, no spiders though!
The raying matchstick herringbone filler looked great too.  I love how the many fills take on a different appearance with the slightly different thread colors used.  This is just one of the great features of silk, and how the light plays off of the silk fabric.  Hopefully you can see how I have gotten hooked on silk fabric!

There were 6 whole cloth quilts in this category.  I'm going to show snippets of all because there is nothing like a whole cloth to show off the quilting!  This next one was quilted on a domestic machine (yes it is large!).  It won the 3rd in the category and best machine with a sit-down style machine.   It came from Australia, which may explain the wrinkling.  Some of the quilts needed a day or two to hang out the creases.  Even my silk quilt looked much better by day 2.

Rachelle Dennenny's A Touch of Blue has trapunto, with a subtle amount of blue stitching.

 This is Juanita's Pearl by Sue Hawkes.  It is also a very large quilt - bed sized.  It won the 2nd.  Incidentally, this was a 2014 NQA Masterpiece Quilt, as decided by 5 very good judges!  It is rather daunting when you know you have a Masterpiece quilt in your category...sort of diminishes your confidence!  I feel pretty great now though.
This quilt is also trapuntoed...must have been done at least twice because there is pink and green for the roses.  Someday I will get brave enough to try trapunto (one and only time I did try, I clipped part of my top!).
 Here is the center - very pretty and elegant.
 This is Wickedly Green by Deborah Poole.  At about 4' square, it is a managable size!  The color is  more indicative of the 2nd photo too.  It's a satin or silk, so the lighting plays with the true color.
I watched her make this via facebook posts, so I was extremely surprised for it not to ribbon.  She's very meticulous in her grid quilting and all designs are exceptionally well stitched.  I might have placed the ribbons differently if I were a judge ;-)
 Another non-ribbon winner is Imperial Majesty by Donna James.  Smaller yet, this is dupioni silk.  It too refuses to be photographed with true color (room lighting is low).  It is more of a deep blue.   Not sure why it appears almost purple at times.  It received some coloring afterwards to fix a dye mishap where there was bleeding during blocking, so the motifs look different in color than the background.
 Here is a closeup.
 and another...

 The last wholecloth is by Gina Boone.  One of Gina's other quilts received my Teacher's ribbon.  This quilt has some pretty features.
She's learned this beaded piping.  That has to be tough to make the beads take the sharper points of a scalloped binding though, but it is a great finish.
I will leave you with a snippet of the center of the Best of Show by Molly McNally Hamilton.  This quilt is large, and I'm not sure I have one of the entire quilt.  It is so much me in the color and design. I just love her orange flowers and apple green (border).  The quilt is truly lovely.