Monday, November 30, 2009

A couple Recent Finishes and a DOOR!

"and a DOOR"?

Yes you read that properly. And the best and most needed door ever if I do say so myself! This is the newly and almost completely installed door that keeps my precocious cat OUT of my sewing room. She does not appreciate not having this here. But since I couldn't convince her with stern words and taps on the nose that my frame is NOT a cat hammock, she had to go for good.
...and back to more interesting things....

This lap quilt was sent to me for quilting. It was made of the nicest (I think) Kona Bay Asian fabrics. Even the black was a high-weave fabric, similar to a batik. I was uncertain about the quilting at first, but then decided to copy some of the wave-like and ripple-like motifs that are in one of the rose materials. I also copied a flower motif into each oc the corners.

The quilting in the center medallion print was kept minimal. I believe the owner is using it as a wall hanging. I outlined a few of the flowers and the Asian ladies, as well as the medallion itself. It gave me a good practice on some simple ruler-work, an area I want experience, but not too much or too fast!

Here is a close up of the corners...The thread is a Floriani and it is one shade above black, so basically a shimmery charcoal. It shows, but not tremendously.

On the other end of the spectrum is this king-sized quilt all done in reproduction fabrics. It is meticuluously pieced, and well made. I stressed over that row of HST''s because they did have the tendency to stretcha tad as I quilted, despite not having a bias edge on the outer edge. I said way more dirty words than a gal ought to say too as this happened. Fortunately, I was able to stipple these potential wrinkles away mostly.

This quilt was nice because the owner sent a single, unseamed piece of backing. I am getting so I really don't "love" pieced backings because it is one more thing that can potentially not lay flat.

I hope that the quilting on this is not too whimsical and that it reflects the very traditional nature of these fabrics and patterns.

And you'll have to pardon my lazyness in taking some of these pictures before I removed the chalk marking pencil!!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Swaps Beware!

I generally go into swaps with eyes wide open, but still expect good quality work from all. For the last 9 months I have been doing a row robin swap. On month two, our hostess went AWOL on medical reasons and we have had little to no leadership or overseeing of quality since. The latter sure would have been nice.

I received my rows back recently. I chose something simple (or so I thought) - a row constructed of five 9" stars. I sent background fabrics out to each person too, which added to my cost since I had bought the fabric. Never in a million years would I have thought making a block (or 5 of them) with points would be so daunting. Of the six rows, only two of them are actually the right length, and are nicely designed & constructed. One row measured about an inch and a half too long. Those blocks definitely are not 9" are they? On top of size variations, I have seen the worst in thread choices. I have one entire row sewn in a rayon embroidery thread (yes, the satiny kind), and on a basting length to boot. Part of this row was even sewn with her tension all out of whack. It sure made ripping every seam out easy, but really, what was this person thinking? I may be able to salvage 2 of those blocks at best by resewing. The other three had too many HST's that had no point on them, and it's just too much work to remake them. My personal favorite was receiving a block that had a piece paper-pieced onto it upside down! Are you telling me that this was not obvious enough to fix before sending? And then there's those other 2 blocks I got that were not even stars, as I had requested, at all. I roll my eyes...

Yes, there are good swaps, and I have been a part of them and I have hosted them. They take vigilance and care to make certain that each person is doing his or her part to make each person that is a part of the swap a quality block/row. This one sadly lacked management to make it successful.

Now, I am left with a pile of at least 8-10 blocks that need reworking, a few that are completely unusable, and needing to figure out how to assemble these so as to salvage what I have despite significant size variations. On a day which I'd prefer to be just sewing, I find myself using the seam ripper for hours. I will make this work because the fabrics and blocks are lovely. Where there's a will there's a way. And for those of you that think I make a living complaining, that's not quite it either. My expectations are perhaps higher than they should be, but it is only because I do actually like many of these blocks that I am bothering to try to repair a large quantity of them Thanks, ladies, for making these rows and for putting up with my fussyness!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Batting Battles

Over the last week, I have had the complete displeasure of working with battings that are outside my comfort zone. I typically use exclusively Warm & Natural or Hobbs Heierloom, which is very similar to the other one. I know as a longarm quilter, I will have to adjust to whatever the customer wants to use, but I don't have to like it! And, FYI...the photos that are in this post have nothing to do with it. They are just some of the quilts I have worked on recently.
It is a wonder to me how or why stores still sell mid-loft polyester batting anymore. I can see it's use in reappholstering furniture, but it is awful for quilts. I don't really think I like it for lofty quilts either. My tastes have been altered by actually doing the process of quilting the quilt. I greatly love sleeping under the loft of a down comforter, but when it comes to longarm quilting polyester, "No Thank You!". It is hard to keep the edges of the top pulled out where they belong. Fabrics slip around on the poly. And I have to readjust where I have come to know my tensions belong when I switch to this unnatural batting. I won't fault anyone that uses this batting. Afterall, poly batts are less expensive. They are just a pain to quilt.
above...Adrienne's 1st quilt "Batik Knots on Whites". It's not a "fluffy" as this picture indicates. Maybe it is just the swirly, cloud-like quilting that makes it look that way!
I also got to play with another batting. I am pretty sure it is a poly-cotton blend that Joann's sells in bags. I have most definitely used this batting, and in addition to that, I really like the batting in the finished piece. It is soft, thin and very pliable. BUT, this product is not carded. And by that, I mean, in it's construction process, it has not had "carding" which is done either with hot water or hot air jets, and is done to give a product strength. It forces crossing of top and middle and bottom fibers. This batting was a total pill to pull under the rollers of the longarm with out causing stretching and/or holes (and consequently much cursing too). As a general rule, I'd prefer to tell those wanting to longarm a quilt that a packaged batting is not ideal unless they want to press the batting, but this batting just adds further dimension to that thought.
Above...Adrienne's 2nd quilt - bright & Black Sampler. I just love the color & variety of this quilt. It was a total joy to quilt. Though much of it is just a colorful stipple in variagated thread, some of the individual blocks are pretty interesting too.

My 3rd batting experience was very likely from a customer that brought her own Warm & Natural. It had been folded in a bag rather than on a bolt, as I keep them. I had to constantly massage that quilt to rid the batting of it's wrinkles. It was a pain, but at least the batting held together!
I am anxiously awaiting quilting a couple more pretties sent to me from Patty in Florida this weekend (and using my own batting too). I have about 6 quilts waiting in my queue before I have to go looking for more business or tackle one of my own. & white bearpaws. This is such a fun quilt. And I really hemmed & hawed over how to quilt it until the owner told me that she likes feathers and curves. Then it was clear. The back has the most awesome lobster fabric on it too!
And I have awesome news!...Last night I sold my first quilt from my Etsy store. I swear I was about to abandon that store and the notion that anything was ever going to sell (resign myself to resorting to the holiday fair circuit to rid myself of half a dozen nice quilts). Now there is hope, I think that maybe more could sell before Christmas.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pretty in Blue & Yellow And Red & Green

Despite most of my household being really sick, including me, I have been quilting a bit as I have the energy. Lisa sent me a couple table runners to do and another quilt. This is the most interesting of these (to me). I hope she likes it too.
The thread is a chocolate brown, but it does appear to blend away on the marroon fabric, and have the appearance of a deep cranberry in other areas. I love how threads can have the illusion of another color.
And another finish. This is a great lap quilt. It has nice piecing and I always love scrappy quilts. The owner's only request was no stars. I did a couple rows of leaves and tendrils around the outer borders. The periwinkle blue sashings are done in vining leaves too. I used a soft butter yellow thread.
Each of the Lemoyne stars are done like swirling pinwheels. It is an interesting effect and copies the tendril motif.
Again, I like this and hope the owner does too. It will be mailed home to her this week.
Have a restful and well weekend. Here at my house, three of us are recovering from what seems to be Swine Flu. Or if not, then we have fevers, chills, horrific coughs and other assorted ailments. My mostly unsympathetic husband better hope he avoids this one. Paybacks are no fun!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A little of my own sewing

Here's my November batch of blocks for the flickr QBE - Quilt block exchange. There's a pinwheel in pink, white and soft green for Mary. Pink and green block for Wendy. More red and aqua for Jennifer. Black & white is for Alicia - with a hit of color too. And pink and green for Rachel - Sweetteamom. It's always nice to have these done. And next is a showing of the blocks I have received over the last 2 months. I asked for 12-1/2" pink and orange. I totally love how they all go together. Hopefully in the coming months I will find time to get these quilted.
I took a day last week before my flood of quilts arrived to longarm quilt one of my own. It's one of my favorite tops, in some of my favorite fabrics. I held off doing it sooner because I didn't want to mess it up with utter inexperience. Now it is all bound too. It's lots of Kaffe Fasst and Carla Miller prints.
This was my first time using the pantograph patterns. This one is called Splash, from Willowcreek designs. It took about 4 hours to do this measely 60"square quilt! I didn't realize how dense it would be quilted! The quilt back is very textural. I like that.

And here's the whole quilt, but before binding. It's called "Sophie's Garden" - all the flowers just remind me of a summer garden.
And lastly, here is my holiday quilt for the Four Seasons Quilt Swap. My partner does not celebrate Christmas. I selected her specifically so I didn't have to sew something red & green. I loved the challenge of designing this. I used EQ6 to design the top, so that it had the candleabra and the snowflake. The snowflake and dreidle's, which are appliqued on, are in shimmery Fairy Frosts.
I had to do a little research on the internet to figure out what Hebrew letters to put on the dreidles. It has reached my partner, but I don't know what she thinks yet. I spent a long time designing and paper-piecing (which is NOT my favorite thing) this. I just hope she likes it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fall Leaves Quilting

I pondered for about a week before it came to me. I just love the leaves, and the batiks, and didn't want to overpower the design with the quilting. The owner sent me thread she liked - Rainbows from Superior. It is a shiny, almost rayon-like thread (but it's 40 wt polyester). I had not yet sewn with this thread, not even on my other machine. Despite liking the look of the thread when the quilt is finished, I completely HATED the experience of sewing with it. It has a tendency to ravel, and it broke way more times than a regular poly would. I have heard from my rep that variagated threads sometimes do that. Not sure I will use it again soon...But that's just my humble opinion! Is it a perfect color for this quilt? Absolutely.

Please do double click and look closer...

Despite my fledgling abilities and the new thread, the quilt really turned out attractive. There are a few places on the back where I think the tension does not look ideal I used the 18 needle that Superior recommends for this thread, but it seems like the hold size is too large for the tightly woven batik fabric. I suspect once washed, all will be just great though. I also thought I was going to run into a pucker problem. The borders are very nicely mitered at each corner. Lovely, yes, but prone to streching. Fortunately when I removed the quilt and rotated for doing the last 2 borders, it quilted without incident. Phew. Those residual white marks have been removed too (marking chalk).

Before I started sewing, I was watching the leaves dropping all over my back yard. I knew exactly what I wanted to do for a pattern. The simple swirling loops depict the motion of the leaves so beautifully, without overpowering the background with this colorful quilting thread.
I think it turned out pretty. Just hope the new owner thinks so too. It's off to her in PA today.

Monday, November 09, 2009

A Bonnie Hunter Christmas Lights Mystery Finish

Many people have been making Bonnie Hunter's Mystery quilt lately. I received this a week ago for quilting (and am expecting two more within a week too!). Technically, I am really only longarm quilting all-over patterns, but since the owner of this has sent many very nice goodies to me in the past, I wanted to try to make it pretty (ie., a little more patterning than just "all-over").
My feathering is a work very much in progress, but these that I did in the triangles actually look pretty good for free-form work. The other borders have a looping border and a swirling feather design.Here's the view from the back. I know it's not perfect, but I like how it turned out. I used a pale sage green thread rather than a gold. I thought that the sage blended better on the central region of the quilt which is busier. It also was not quite so bold on the darker fabrics of the borders.

And another piece going to the same recipient...a 14"x50" table runner. It looked like fall to me so I tried some free-form leaf-like feathers with echo quilting. She's nice to give me such free reign to try these things.
It is always nice when design and reality coincide - I did sketch this out on paper before starting to sew!Stay tuned...I should have more goodies to post.

Sunday, November 08, 2009


As usual, I am overwhelmed at the response to low-cost longarm quilting. Thank you so very much!!

If you have said you would send me your quilts, please do. I am currently awaiting flimsies to quilt :-)

If anyone else is interested, please bookmark this blog. I may open this offer again before 2010, when my quilting prices will go back to a normal offering, I just don't know. Right now, however, I have more than I can handle.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Extension of Longarm Quilting Extravaganza

I seem to have a lull in my quilting. I am expecting more quilts, but they are not here yet. If you saw my original post a couple of weeks ago, and did not respond quickly enough, here's your chance again. I am reposting this offer and will close it when I feel I have enough interested quilters. The catch is simple, to qualify, you must send me your quilt within the next 7 days for quilting. Here's the info (reprinted)...
This post is designed mostly for those quilters that love to make quilt tops, but don't love or have the ability to quilt them. As a special for the months of November and December, I invite you to send me your quilt tops, and let me quilt them for you. This is a great way for you to complete some projects, and possibly have some fantastic Christmas presents too. Plus, I am offering a wonderfully low price per quilt since I am eager to "kick start" my longarm quilting business.

Here's what you can expect from me...
a creative, all-over quilting design that compliments the quilt top. It may have some detail quilting, but I am not promising more than a pantograph-style quilting. Some of the styles that I quilt proficiently include a peacock loop pattern, general meandering, loops & hearts, vining leaves with flowers & curling tendrils, swirling pattern, ripply water, and more, etc. My repetoire of quilting expands daily, so if you have an idea, just ask. I do some basic feathering if the quilt "asks for it" as well. I will select (with your help)
a coordinating thread, with top and bottom threads being the same color.
I can supply batting if desired too. I use Hobbs Heirloom 80cotton/20poly. My batting prices are: $5 for baby quilt (to 40"x40"), $7 for a lap quilt (to 60"x60"), $11 for a twin quilt (to 65"x85"), $14 for a queen quilt (to 90"x95"), and $20 for a king (to 108"x108").

I am finishing quilts daily, but my website has detailed pictures of some of my quilts completed to date. By week's end, I should have several more shown there, as well as pictures from some of my first customer quilts.
My quilting is neat and expressive. I assure your finished quilt will reflect my personal sense of carefulness. You will not be disappointed.

I will take these on a first come-first served basis. If you are interested, please email me as soon as possible to reserve your spot, and I will send you the mailing information & contract you will need. My email is Also let me know if this must be sent back to you by December 1 because it is a present for someone.

Here's my asking prices for quilting for my business launching special for the next 2 months...
baby quilt (to 40"x40") $15
lap quilt (to 60"x60") $20
twin quilt (to 65"x85") $28
full/queen (to 90"x95") $35
king (to 108"x108") $48

These prices include the quilting only. Batting is additional unless you provide it. I ask $4 per quilt for thread & needle (I change for every quilt), which is very reasonable. Similarly, the quilt will be returned to you at your shipping cost. I will use the USPS. I will take a personal check, cashier's check or Paypal. Please note that I will charge an additional 3.5% if you choose Paypal to cover their fees.

I'm asking that anybody that reads this kindly post something about it on their blog. Word of mouth is so paramount to getting a business off the ground.
Regarding the backing & batting (if you decide to send it)...They must be 5-6" larger than the top (which also shall be square). In other words, if your top is 60"x60", the backing and batting must be about 66"x66". I will return this excess to you if you want. I often use this for bindings on my quilts.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Block Party

Are you interested in joining a virtual quilting bee?

I, myself had eyed the work of the Block Party group for quite a while. In fact, I tried to start my own block swap on flickr a while ago, but there was not adequate interest so I dropped it. Well, I read recently that this group is coordinating a year-long quilting bee, whereby some of the group's works may be published in a book they are co-authoring! That is pretty exciting.

Go on over to flickr if you are interested in a monthly block swap, with just 1 block committment! Sign up quick, or flickr mail Jessica (aka about your interest.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Just thoughts, Few Words

What am I doing?...itching to make acceptable feathers. Yea, right...what longarm quilter isn't?! Practicing like crazy and scouring the internet for technique. My best resource...No surprise here; she's awesome. I'm obviously not, but I try often.
Playing on a different medium...canvas. It didn't give me the tensioning hickups I expected. I have a customer wanting this very fabric quilted, and I am a little stumped creatively as to how to "geometrically" quilt in the style of the fabric, and still have it look good. Freehanded geometric is just an oxymoron. It will just look sloppy if not executed perfectly.
Not wanting a floral design, I tried something different. To me, this pattern settles the busyness of the geometric fabric, without competing with it. The wavy motion sings to me nicely, but I'm not the determining factor. Really I just want a good idea that is more interesting than stippling.
Don't get me wrong, stippling works just grand, and many people love it, but I prefer it when the stitching is not so evident, and all stitching shows on this fabric due to the multitude of colors. Stippling is a perfect quilting for more printed fabrics (less solids), and less variation between fabrics and thread. Just my opinion.
What's your's?

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Happy Halloween

Happy belated Halloween! Here's my feeble pumpkin pair. Usually my husband carves the beasts, but it was Thursday afternoon, and he hadn't so much as thought about them. I was sick and not patient enough to carve anything too elaborate. The kids thought they were great. Amazing.
I also made a plate of spider cookies for my son to take into his kindergarten class. He said they were a hit! The teacher even commented how tasty they were...not bad for store bought peanut butter cookie dough, hershey's kisses, some licorice and pearly eyes!
I love to sigh a sigh of relief when Halloween comes AND goes. It's a great holiday for candy makers and dentists, but as a quilter, I really cringe when September comes and I realize that I have to sew costumes (a dreaded word) for my kids. I know, it is silly. They are not that painful in reality and the kids just love to play in them year round, but I never find great pleasure in that process. As usual, I was finished with these mid afternoon, and bailed on fighting my machine which was burping at the effort of sewing on velcro. I snagged a few safety pins and called them done. I had really wanted to sew Sophie a princess dress, but she had her head set on being some kind of animal (lamb or bunny), so I let it go. I told her I couldn't find one of those so I got the horse/unicorn instead. Once she tried it on, the look in the mirror said it all. It was a keeper. And she trotted all over the busy neighborhood last night like she owned it.
She made Obi Wan Kenobi (left) and Anakin Skywalker (right) eat less and run more to keep up with her. These boys always get great compliments on their costumes. After a few years of having pirates, we now are stuck in that Star Wars phase. I sewed all but the brown pants. They had dark brown faux sweade hooded capes, (gasp, I mean "cloaks"), but they were left behind on account of our freakishly warm 65F day. Summer returned for a day.
Bryce, AKA Obi, was not so cooperative in the afternoon for pictures so I snapped these via tele lens while he was stewing his anger off in the woods! Except for his pleather boot covers, which caused such a fit because they wouldn't stay put, the costume was a hit. The boot covers are lucky they made it out of the driveway!In anticipation of a cool night, Hayden's (AKA Anakin) shirt is flannel. I bet the kid was roasting last night. But he couldn't have been as hot as the furry unicorn!
The back (not quite as cute as last year's purple and pink unicorn, but still fun!)...
...and the happy front, but the gorgeous red lace-leaf maple tree.
Star Wars costumes would not be complete without a full-out light saber war either.
We all know that kids love candy, and this little junkie of mine is no exception. One of our neighborhood friends was offering kids that he knew a "trick". He was holding out a plate of broccoli and apples for the kids. My boys rolled their eyes, and proceded to walk into the house and look for the candy bowl, which of course was hiding nearby. Dear Sophie, who rarely passes on any type food, happily took the broccoli and the candy. Te candy went into the pumpkin bag, and she ate the broccoli. Go Girl!
The anticipated rain storm held off until about 7pm, when all the little kiddos were inside. It threatened early so most of our neighborhood was out even before it was dark. The dreaded teenage trick-or-treaters started coming about 6:30 when we were about out of candy. The rain held off the remainder of them! A good night was had by all.