Monday, July 28, 2014

Maine Quilts 2014

Today (and probably half of this week) I will be recuperating from having been on vacation.   Being away is supposed to rejuvenate you, but I find that I have just come home overtired, and with, as usual, too much to do.  The family went to Hershey, PA - did the chocolate eating, roller-coaster riding thing for a week.  While there, I did get to attend the Quilt Odyssey show, which I had 2 winning quilts in.  I will save that post for another day this week though.  It's a fabulous show considering how small it really is.  We drove 9-10 hours home Saturday so that my boys could start a baseball camp yesterday, and I could go retrieve quilts that I had at the Maine Quilt show.

This show was visibly smaller this year.  I counted only 59 judged quilts, which is a good 30 less than the past few years.  They cap the judged entries at 100, so this is WAY off of what it has been.  Each year I hear rumors that this show is in jeopardy of not happening the next year.  I actually believe that now.  I had 2 quilts of my own in the show, and it turns out that I had 3 clients that had quilts in the show too.  All of them did wonderfully.

Here's Wendy's gorgeous blue and white quilt.  For more pics, go here.  She got a great blue ribbon, plus a judge's choice from one of the NQA judges.  This quilt nearly didnt get into the show on account of the shows completely ridiculous rules requiring written approval from a pattern designer. Yes, she used a purchased pattern for a seemingly simple 9-patch Irish chain, which is a well known, traditional pattern.   No, the pattern was not necessary.  I think a monkey could create this type pattern on its own.  BUT Wendy was too honest when she first sent in the application, and then the show coordinator made her get the written approval.  But the designer had gone nearly AWOL, and never responded to emails.  Wendy sent in another application stating that this is a reproduced traditional pattern at the same time I attempted to contact the designer.  It's not that I carry any more clout than she does, but I can be more direct and blunt.  She needs this, please provide it. NOW! Approval arrived via email the next day.  Phew.  It is far prettier in person than my bad-light photo shows, so have a look at the link.
Here's another blue ribbon-winning quilt that I quilted.  Sharleen brought me this last summer.  I really hate when a client brings you a top and says she wants quilting that will win, and not a 3rd place ribbon like her last quilter.  Seriously, folks, I am not the only variable in this equation.  Your piecing, and binding have a good deal to do with it in generic (aka non-machine quilting shows) shows.  Furthermore, how well a quilt does ought to have something to do with it's originality too, but not always, and certainly not at Maine.  This is a pattern that unless you live in a Siberian cave, you have seen many times. Judy Neimeyer patterns are prolific.  Many quilters love to make them.  They look complicated (heck, many really are!).  And I have quilted quite a few of them myself.  This one is the Amazon Star.  I absolutely loathe quilting this particular pattern because ditch stitching those long outer triangles is a chore, even on a 24" machine.  The pattern was clearly not designed by someone that longarm quilts and knows the limitations of quilting (machine hates to go 2' to the left, and some triangles are SO long that they can barely be stitched w/o moving the sandwich.  So, as a result of doing two of the Amazon Stars, and cursing considerably, I no longer accept this quilt.  I am much happier with some simple boundaries :-)  Anyhow, the quilt did earn a blue ribbon.  On top of that, it took home the viewer's choice yesterday.  I am happy that I contributed to a client doing well.  Many people commented to me that it was the quilting that won the awards, which is reassuring.  But, it's a bitter pill when the client is there and doesn't have the dignity to say a word to me.  This quilt also ribboned at MidAtlantic, and she didn't mention it then either.  I know that they aren't under obligation, but seriously, it was a team effort.  She didn't win it on her own.
This is Sue's wall hanging, which I quilted about a year and a half ago.  It's just darling; I loved it before I quilted it.  Here are pictures... She was timid about doing the binding, so it didn't go into last year's show.  So glad to see it this year.  It has some small piecing issues, but is so lovely finished.
My 2 quilts that were in the show both earned exceptional merit.  I have always loved this quilt.  It is relatively simple piecing compared to what some of the show quilters do, but the colors sing to me. The piecing is all large enough that quilting designs can be developed on it.  Sometimes pieces are so small that there's not much you can do on it.  Not here.  This is one of two exceptional merit ribbons at the show, so I am happy.  Two and a half years after making it, it still hangs well too.
 Here's my Springtime in the Geisha's Garden, Best of Judged.  I am constantly amazed at the people that look at something with dense, intricate quilting and automatically assume it is computerized.  I can't count the number of ladies I expained that it was NOT computerized to yesterday.  "But how do you get it so small?", it must be.  Sigh... I don't know a whole helluva lot about computerized systems but I have to believe it would be a complete pain to program it to stitch around all of my appliques! It's now at home resting, awaiting its trip to Houston next week!!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Going to Houston!!

Official word came in today that two of my 2014 quilts were accepted into this year's IQA show this fall!! I'm always surprised, because this is Houston.  Nobody really knows what will happen at Houston.  Last year's quilt got in to my delight and then received the harshest scrutiny of it's short life (despite having enormous winnings at all other shows).  So, I entered these two rather half-heartedly, still feeling somewhat jaded from last year's experience.

 "Springtime in the Geisha's Garden" is one of my very favorite quilts.  It holds special memories because I bought many of the fabrics on my first trip to Paducah.  It is largely made by hand, and quilted beautifully.  But then, so are most of the quilts that get into Houston.  This one is in the mixed category -- it will be up against others that are pieced and appliqued and/or painted AND quilted to the hilt.

My other quilt "Autumn's Surrender" is simpler at first blush, but hopefully that will not be it's downfall.  It is silk, and is quilted with everything out there to see -- even from the plain, solid backside I gave it.  It is beautiful too, in a different way.  It is in the Merit Machine Quilting category, as this quilt is all about the quilting.  Hope this was a good decision!  This coming week, it is in Pennsylvania at the Quilt Odyssey show.

I don't know yet if I will make the trip to Houston.  I really want to, probably more than last year.  The dang hotels are SO expensive, to the tune of $250-300 per night.  The likelihood that I'd win anything to cover the trip is slim.  I have even another quilt that I quilted that is part of an exhibit of the show -- one of the late Frances Benton's applique quilts, an exhibit I'd love to get to see.  So, I need to figure things out and make a decision pretty soon.  Airfares only go up and hotels do sell out.  If I wait until the week of September 9th, when judging results are announced, there may not be much available.  Hard choices!  Good news anyhow.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Slug Pushes Onward

Sitting here at what is pretty close to the middle of summer, it is almost unbelievable hard to fathom how hard it is to be productive.  It is partly having someone else constantly needing or wanting something.  Partly it is the nice warm weather.  I have vacation eyes on right now, as we have a trip to Hershey, PA coming up soon.  I have been pushing through the smaller custom quilts, at an albeit slower than usual pace, but they are getting done.  I have also been doing some other things.  I have a quilt being pieced,  a little each week. Thank goodness it isn't complicated piecing!  Here's a couple client quilts I finished within the last week or two.  

This is only a 20" wall hanging - just my size!  It is pretty wool applique.  It was wicked fun to quilt.  If all my quilts could be this fun... 
 I double batted it to show off the relief, and used a nice SoFine thread.
This one will be making it's journey home come Monday.  It is 60" or so.  I definitely do love a good traditional quilt now and then.  Figuring out what to quilt just comes naturally.
 This has a wool batt too (single), and is stitched with ivory, red and green Glide threads.
 I have recently done an article about sashings (set to be published in a few months), so this quilt let me put some of the things I had thought about to good use.  These sashings are wider, and I wanted them to show.
 The feathered circles in the corners tie into the feathered circles I placed at the center of the flowers.  Choose motifs and repeat, I keep telling myself as I quilt.  This is how you bring continuity to a design.
 There are some other feathers on the ivory triangle border, but mostly it is pretty freehand quilting.
Here's a peek at a few of the "other" things I have been doing...  This is part of my daughter's quilt that she is making.  All I have been allowed to do is the rotary cutting and the ironing.  These are 8 of her 9 blocks (the center one has a piece of custom fabric designed and being printed by Spoonflower.  It has a 3" border, and will finish about 64" square.
Here's a staged layout of my next larger quilt, mostly silk.  These are the hand-pieced elongated hexagons that I started last October.  I had silk hand-dyed to match the blocks, and I am hand appliqueing the ribbon applique now.  I have just about half of it left to stitch.  It's on the larger size, a hair over 80", so the quilting will be quite time-consuming.  I haven't done one close to this large in nearly 2 yrs.
I have been also busily scribbling out quilting designs for a smaller (40") silk quilt.  That one may get started next month, as it will be faster.  You'll have to wait to see that though.

Stitch on~

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Audubon Christmas

Now that kids are out of school, I am working on whatever I can, whenever I can.  My only stipulation is that if I do custom quilts, they are on the smaller size.  No queen and king full customs before late August. This one is for one of my many California clients.  She wants to put it into a show in August, so I did my best to get the quilting done in time for her.  It should be arriving home today.  This is Kathy McNeill's Audubon Christmas pattern, which she made and showed on the circuit.  It is now available as a pattern from AQS.
 It is a rather aggressive applique pattern, but this client does lovely applique.  It is right in line with much of the work she has sent me for quilting.  A few months back she sent me the Baltimore Autumn applique quilt, which was drop-dead lovely.  This quilt may have been a kit -- I only wonder because the fabrics are wonderfully chosen for each applique.  They make the birds very lifelike.
 I quilted it similarly to the photos that are included with the pattern.  I might not typically do this much stippling, but it does help pop the detail stitching and appliques.
 Some of the areas where Kathy did detail stitching in colored thread, this client chose to do with embroidery.  This made my job a little simpler.  All I needed to do was some outline stitching.  The appliques are all ditched in a monofilament, while the majority of the quilting is done with white Glide thread.  The white fabric is Fairy Frost, which has a natural shimmer like snow.

 The quilt has one layer of wool batting.  I urge any and all quilters that make applique quilts to consider using wool.  The difference of this over cotton is oh-so evident.
 I think the cardinals are my favorite block.  There are some ghost leaves and feathers on this block.  The birds are really pretty.
Time for me to go find something productive to do :-)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The New Generation

Summer is officially here and I am getting so little done.  I had two work days last week, but I only did client quilting on one of them.  I spent some time this weekend working on one quilt, but not enough to keep my head above water.  I must prioritize the kids's needs and wants better and coordinate when they do things, when friends are over, etc so something is accomplished!  Easier said than done.

On Friday, one son had a friend to play with and the other was still at music camp.  It gave my daughter and I uninterrupted time to work on a new quilt project alone.  She picked up fabrics at MQX and Paducah, and all that was stopping her was me determining a simple enough pattern and time.  On this quilt, she is doing the piecing of the top also.  Last year's was pieced by me and quilted by her.  By doing her own piecing, she is (1) learning this part, and (2) she can enter it in many more shows -- more specifically Vermont next June, where they give sewing machines to all junior quilters!  Pretty sweet.
 She has some interesting black and white prints, a pretty ombre purple that came from Caryl Breyer Fallert's studio (a Paducah find), and some solids by Michael Miller that we have yet to stitch with.  The Couture Cottons are very nice solids.
This pseudo-Paris themed quilt has a fun Eiffel tower print, which she loved.  Don't really know how the zebra print worked into it, but it is there!   The other black print I had, and thought it looked rather Parisiene, so we fussy cut the design and ran with it.  The plan is to have a fancy star with a pink poodle (completed with rhinestone collar) as the center block.  It doesn't exactly sound beginner so I best be pondering how to do this simply.

I have done a few other quilts lately, but two can't be shown as they are going into client books.  Here's one from May though that I had not yet shown.  This client (I believe) made this as one of her first quilts.  It has great piecing and technique, and was fun to quilt.  It got lots of feathers and other frills.  Feathers are placed where they will show best, but with the paisley print, it is a waste of time to feather that~

Here's a look at some of the blocks...
 and a few more blocks...

 I have quilts at a show this weekend in Shipshewana, IN.  I got the word that both of them took home a nice 1st place.  The shows are great in that they keep food on our table during the times when it is challenging for me to do the larger client quilts.  Plus they feel my soul to be able to make this type of quilt.

Though I am busy, I welcome the edge-to-edge type quilts.  If you happen to have any tops that you might want an all-over type quilting on, I can definitely take those this summer.  Just drop me a comment or email.

Monday, June 16, 2014


My mailman brought me the double-whammy for mail today...a copy of Karen McTavish's new book and a magazine I have been writing articles for which I have 2 articles currently in ! 
The exciting part of Karen's book, besides that it is Karen's book, is that I have a quilt in it!  I was approached last fall about being a contributor, and this is one of my few quilts that has such visible McTavishing on it.  It photographs very nicely.  This quilt has had one heck of a competitive life and has managed to get into some fun other things like this book, the catalog cover for VQF, and the AQS luggage tags too.  Pretty exciting.
 My copy of the July/August Machine Quilting Unlimited also arrived.   There is an article about the quilting of my Shenandoah Falling quilt.  Though the quilting on this one is edgy and graphic, I have pulled it from any Modern competition categories.  As a whole quilt, it is not fitting the modern aesthetic as they want it to. OK, fine, no problem.  It's been moved to an art category instead.  It will no doubt still fall under scrutiny of those Modern pundits that think that they know better.  It does have modern quilting motifs even if the overall look may be more contemporary (as they say!!).
I also have a writeup on piped bindings...and a nice published photo of Springtime in the Geisha's Garden.  I am sending this quilt off to the Shipshewana Quilt Festival in IN tomorrow (it is at the end of the month). Hoping for a nice result there.  If you don't already get this bi-monthly magazine, you should consider.  It comes by subscription, or can be found at some Joann's and some bookstores (Barns & Noble is one).

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Frances Benton IQA quilt

I am finally onto the handstitching of this quilt's binding.  This is heading to IQA to be displayed at IQF in the fall.  I was asked to quilt one of about a dozen of Frances Benton's applique tops.  As the story goes, at some point she stopped making quilts and began making just tops.  I just wonder when I die if I will have that many that are actually finished for quilting (versus being in a bunch of pieces, as the reality is!).
My best guess is that this top was made in the late 1980s, or early 1990s.  I am just guessing based on the aqua print used for the sashing and the border.  It's kind of thin, and has painted "calico" on it.  It just reminds me of material I used WAY back when.

When I started on the quilt, I felt strongly that the quilting needed to fulfill two objectives.  First, it should compliment the quilt, and secondly it should be in keeping with the era that I believe the quilt was made. Twenty years ago, quilting designs and motifs were simpler, and more traditional.  Beyond that, time would tell.  I double batted this with Hobbs polydown and Hobbs 80/20 battings.  It gives a nice amount of lift beneath the appliques, and shows the relief of the quilting.  I chose Filtec Glide ivory thread for most of it.  I know in the era, it would have been hand quilted with cotton thread, but this is dull and I just wanted another element to the quilt.  The slight sheen is good.  There are touches of SoFine and Invisifil and monofilament on the baskets too.
 Many might comment that swags are out.  In today's quilting I would most definitely agree.  For a quilt like this, though, I couldn't think of a more time-appropriate motif.  This outer border is nearly 11", so I had to do some magic to break it up a little.  The swag gives a nice visual element, and it plays very nicely with the very linear block setting.  Inside of the swag, I feathered, outside of it, I pulled a modern filler which I like.  The McT has good movement, and is easy to get in and around all of the applique nicely.
So that it wouldn't be too boring, I placed the curved cross-hatch motifs in the corners of the border as well as the center of the borders.  It ties together with the Xhatch in the blocks, and fits the space beautifully. There are free placed sprays of feathering along the grape vine too.  I didn't go 100% overboard with feathers, as this IMHO lacks a sense of design.  Good design incorporates a few key motifs, and then they are repeated to create cohesion...feathers, cross-hatching, and linework.  I think it works; I just hope others do.
 Here's another look at the corner and border.  There are over 500 of these grapes or berries, all of which are outline stitched to give them definition.  My arms are very glad this task is done!
 It is always interesting to see how a block design done in one block will look when there are 12 blocks.  I love the secondary designs that form, like the illusion of the xhatched circular wreaths.
The fabric on the sashings is a very hard type material to work with.  It is a densely printed calico.  I didn't think that feathers would show up on it.  I didn't honestly know what would!  I chose to stitch linear 1/2" spaced lines instead.  The cornerstones are where a little modern flair sneaks in again.  I knew I had selected a fine red and ivory stripe for the binding, so I wanted to bring a little red in on the sashings.  But these things are hard to get thread to show on unless it is densely stitched!  These diamonds are "scribble filled" (ladies lingo "densely stippled, and stippled again!").  To quilt anywhere like this is a complete leap of faith. Seriously, there really is no pulling all of these stitches out!  I knew after I had a few of them done that I loved the effect.
Just a couple more pictures...  Here is a block~ I hope these would suit Frances' image of how she wanted her quilt finished.  I just wish I could see all of them in Houston this year...not sure that trip will be in the cards unless they accept my quilts (and I hear of an award!)...too many ifs probably.
 This is a quick peek at the back.  It is a soft aqua, and looks really pretty.  Not any visible thread other than the red diamonds - just texture.  The quilt needs a very good blocking to straighten a few lines and make it lay flat.  These very large borders suffered from the same fate that many do - excess fabric at the edges.  I suspect a good block should take care of it though.  Given my history with bleeding fabrics, I won't touch this with a 10' pole though!  Red and white...No way!  Hopefully Frances was better at prewashing than I sometimes am.
This is the before picture...I think it looks pretty nice finished!  Hopefully the clients will as well.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Winner and more fun

First off, thanks for playing along with my Clothworks giveaway.  I received more comments than I could practically handle!  I used the random number generator, and the winner of this is Sunny.  I have emailed her. If she doesn't respond by tomorrow, I will draw another person's name.  Thanks again, and refer to the Clothworks American Made Solids tour for more chances to win.

Here's a quick peek at some of the fun I am digging out to play with. I got these fat 8th bundles in April at MQX....They are so yummy, and soft, almost silky.  This is Michael Miller's Cotton Couture.
 In Paducah I got several shades of gray (yea, I know it is an odd choice for me!).  I just ordered some 4th yard cuts of a few additional colors too.  Gotta love Fabric Depot because they will cut a quarter yard.  I just needed a little more depth of color.
Here are all my colors, minus the grays.  I am playing with a HST die for the Accu cutter I also got at MQX.  I won't use this too much, but I think it is great for my daughter.  No knives and blades!
Here is a part (albeit small) of something I am starting.  Love all the colors!...and my crazy ironing board cover doesn't help any!
With 7-1/2 days of school left, I am frantically trying to finish a couple of client quilts.  This is one that IQF sent me to do.  It will be displayed at the Houston Quilt Festival quilt show in November.  There will be several of Frances Benton's quilts there.  She made many applique quilts.  It screams 1989-1990, but I am trying to bring it up a few decades with the quilting, all the while keeping somewhat in the traditional style in which it is made.  I need to check with my IQF contact to see if I can show more.  I have nearly reached the bottom of the 105" quilt.  Now I need to go back and outline all the appliques and do some detail stitching.  There's still probably 3 more full days of work, plus a very large binding!

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Clothworks American Made Solids Blog Tour! (and a giveaway!!)

Welcome to the Clothworks American Made blog tour!  I am day 12, practically the mid-point in the tour. One person/blog from each of the US states was chosen to represent their state's image in this tour.  In case you haven't seen these fabrics, they come in loads of pretty colors..

So, sit back and I will give you the short and skinny on my state...Maine.  Most people think that Maine is pretty cold, and they would be right, most of the time.  This winter was excruciatingly  brutal, lots of snow, etc.  I have come to greatly dislike the climate.  Though born here, I have only lived here for the last 18 yrs. I am much more of a southern gal at heart.  Things that are iconic to Maine include the gorgeous rocky coastline (certainly not our frigid beaches!), moose, wild lupines, blueberries, black flies -- just to name a few.

Perhaps you love to shop here...(I do!)
We like to go here and hike along the rocks and explore the tidal pools.  This is the Portland Headlight.
AND...the one last icon that I have not mentioned is what I chose to make my license place to represent guessed it, the lobster.  I have clearly chosen the cooked variety, but isn't that what everybody comes to Maine for anyways??!

 My block has a little free curved piecing, and some machine applique.  Those that know me know I am much more of a hand appliquer, but there was no way I was doing all those little pieces by hand!  Here's my sketch if anybody wants to try to reproduce this.  Sorry, he loaded sideways...
My Fabric Giveaway...
Leave me a message and tell me if you have ever been to my state...what was your favorite thing to see or do while you were here?  And could you possible stand the 60-100" of snow we get annually (heck no!!)?...On Saturday June 7th, I will draw a name and that person will be mailed one of Clothworks' fat quarter bundles of this fabric!  It is a fantastic offering, and they are giving away 50 of these - one for each state!  You can refer to the Clothworks link I gave above and follow the remaining state's blogs too for other chances to win this great fabric!

~ Enter only once (duplicates are deleted)
~ Be sure you are not Blogger-no-reply
~leave me an email as a contact with your name

Happy Lobstah-Maine Tuesday!