Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Sarcastic Daily Rant

OK, so I am contemplating entering a quilt in the Paducah quilt show (or at least sending the application of intention - the rest is up to the jury selction committee). My quilt is 63"x78". There are two categories for those that are first-time Paducah showers. This seems like an appropriate place for me, right? There's the "Large" category, for widths 60"-110" and length 80" or more, and there is the "Small" category, for widths 40"-60" and length over 40".

If you are not rolling your eyes and choking on your tongue, then you should be. I might not have ever caught the issue, except that my average-ish sized quilt does not fit into either of these categories. Hypothetically then, I can put a quilt that is 59.5"x110" in the Small category (doing math...that is 6545 sq.in.) and another which is 60"x80" in the Large category (4800 sq.in.). Remind me again which is the Large quilt...

So I emailed somebody about this at AQS, and their reply is for me to just enter the quilt in the regular Large quilt category, widths 60-110" and length over 40". This is where anybody that has showed at Paducah before would have their quilts. Doesn't this sound like harder competition?? Hello...??... Or is the length for the First-time Paducah entry of 80" really a typo, since there is a regular Small quilt category too, with widths 40-60" and length over 40"??

Tell me I am not crazy.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Stars & Cables

First off, because our second favorite thing to read about on a quilt blog is food, here's the well-asked for recipe for the chocolate bourbon pecan pie I made for Turkey Day. Trust me, it's not for those of you counting calories, but it is so yummy.

I finished this quilt up earlier last week for a client. It's rather small, 43"x55". Bette accuracy would have come from paper piecing the stars, but she chose not to. From afar, the accuracy is somewhat of a mute point, as it is not really evident. But, she gave me a picture of how someone else had quilted it with large sweeping curves, and I found thisextremely difficult to implement neatly when star points were not always where they should have been.
Never the less, she was very happy with the end result. It is being made for her son, who is chairing a PTA raffle for a school out in Kansas. I used a second layer of a poly batt to give additional poof. I must stop buying these from Joann, however, because this Mountain Mist batting is just abismal. For all you quilters that love things on your quilts to "pop", invest in wool or use Hobbs polydown. The suff at Joann's is just plain disappointing. Cheap, yes. Not great though.

As the closeup show, the stars didn't puff nearly as much as I wanted. I used a cotton batting that the client brought as the bottom layer (and Warm & Natural is just too thin for my taste too). I quilted 2 different fillers in the sky background, and randomly chose a dozen or so stars to do microquilting on to highlight them (using the gold Glide thread). The effect of the gold was very evident on the back...

(and you can see the second filler that I used too) - line that follow the curves through the stars. Now, as a batting comparison, here's a picture of where I am on my quilt, which has a layer of Hobbs 80/20 and a layer of Legacy wool. Notice how the cable motifs pop. There's no saggy look there. Use of good batting most definitely does make a difference. Don't sacrifice here because you think it is on the inside of the quilt and won't matter. It most certainly does.
My cables are free-handed, and hence some of the longer lines are not as straight as I'd hoped for. I'll decide after this is off the machine if I need to pick out and straighten some of them. It's got pretty nice texture though :-)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Progress on the Center

This is not finished, but is definitely taking shape. Looks like kids will be home the next 5 days so quilting time will be limited, mostly in the predawn hours. Gotta make a chocolate bourbon pecan pie tomorrow to get ready for Turkey day.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


If you have not heard me previously, I LOVE GLIDE THREAD!!! Oh my goodness, this thread sews like a hot knife through butter. I have used other trilobal poly threads, and had issues with shredding or little pokies on the topside. Not with this thread. I love it so much, I ordered 5 cones last night. Fot those of you that like a good deal, 5000m of this thread costs only $7.20! A bargain on top of it being great thread. I foresee using this gold thread so much I got another cone. It's like all the bene's of a gold metallic, without the hassles.I have spent 12 hours so far (I like to get up super early), and have SID'd the entire quilt, as well as worked on several sections. I am pleased with this very-showy floral vinework on the purple. I will backfill around the pattern with a blendable plum thread.The feather through the greens looks nice, but I haven't decied if it is "fancy enough" for this quilt. It looks good, mind you, but it almost seems run of the mill. I am aiming for a little bit more outside the box .

I have done 3 of the 4 of these squares, and I like how they are turning out.

I spent a while this morning designing these triangles. There are 16 of them andthey need to have a good impact. After doing one, I stopped, thinking that this will get picked out. The poppy seems hard to disinguish. Got any better thoughts??
Oh, how I love to quilt my own quilts (and I seem to be being a better than usual customer too!)~

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ready, Set, Go

The top is done. Backing was sectioned a month or more ago -- a daring red surprise that will show all gold bobbin threads. I should be running to the hills in fear. I sat on the floor and hand stitched 2 large pieces of wool batting together that I had from last year's projects. I have mojo to spare today. I cleared the customer quilts that are due so I can devote 2 weeks to this project. OK, maybe 3 if it comes to that.
Judy Woodworth gave me a cone of Glide military gold thread at MQX for being a good class helper. I LOVE this thread, and I have been hoarding it to use on the above quilt. It looks like metallic, without the issues. I did a good sized testrun with the gold thread yesterday, on a completely different color fabric just so I can really see how it stitches. It gave me a few pokes now and then, but no more than Bottomline or Invisfil would. The most grief I am getting is from my high-maintenance bobbin winder that often does not like to wind the Bottomline bobbins unless I stand there and hold the thread as it exits the cone. What a baby, I tell ya. I will probably still use some Invisifil for areas of dense stitching, but there will be much gold on this one.

Two and a half hours later, the newest babe is loaded with double batts. I discovered a bit of marking that had not been finished so I did that too. I hope my plan comes out as I envision it because it will be beastly if not impossible to remove. I smell sunflowers...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tuesday is Just For Me

Here is where this was a couple weeks ago...Four stars, painfully pieced. Four corners, even more painfully paper pieced. I hear about people that just love paper piecing, but I gotta say, it is my nemesis. I hate how wasteful it is, so I tru not to waste so much, but then I just end up picking out these teeny-tiny stitches and cursing profusely & in more color that this quilt has. I am most happy that thepaper piecing is done, and it is onto the hand applique.
As of today, two of the art nouveau-esc panels are done. The other two are started, but not put onto the background yet. I will probably add a swirling and colorful appliqued border to the quilt to help tie the vastly different styles together.

My other complete accomplishemt is the completion of my daughter's holiday dress. Albeit, it has been done for more than a week, just awaiting buttons. But now it has buttons and is finito. I guess colorful is an increasing trend in my sewing.

No annoying collars for 5-year olds to just stain. I love the simple red ruffle instead.

It is fancy enough for her, and for the holidays, without being covered with snowflakes or santas so that she won't wear it past January.

Rather than putting a tie in the back, which can be uncomfortable for sitting, we did 2 pretty flower buttons. I did this on dresses 2 years ago and it was a hit with the girls.

It is made to look like a pinafore and jumper, but it is all one dress, and it is edged with tea-dyed eyelet trim. Somehow, the eyelets I like best come in white, and cream is always prettier.

The rest of my week is all about catch up...getting some wool batting pieced in preparation to quilt one of my own pieces, and finishing something that is currently loaded. I have kids home too many days next week so the progress must come this week.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Lottsa White!

This quilt is made by a client for whom I have quilted several quilts in the last year or so. She is making it for her mom in Florida. It has 64 of the hexagon blocks, and bohemoth white borders - nearly 10 inches on two sides, and 16" on the other two! The mere thought of single borders of this width scares me, but when they are white it is like culture shock.
The end client "Mom", is completely into the modern look. Though she did not really know what she wanted, she did comment that she didn't want the feathers or pebbles. Ahh...sigh...two great quilting standby's out of the picture. She selected the Razorgrass panto, and initially suggested it for the entire quilt. Having the massive borders with a single and very edgy pattern did not seem like it had enough interest, so I dared to try to suggest other options (knowing that the things I love to quilt and think would look fantastic were not designs she wanted!).

I sketched up the border above. It's graphic and combined the two elements she liked - the watery look and the Razorgrass pattern. The zig-zaggy boxes will drape down the sides of the bed and help to break up the other 2 designs. The client loved the design and so we went with it.

Razorgrass gives an abundance of texture. It will look fantastic when the quilt is washed (which it would be a zillion times if a white quilt were in my house!).

The back is largely white as well. I think that this is a sheet, rather than the Kona or Bella solid that is on the front of the quilt. The back has scraps pieced into it , but is mostly white, showing off the patterns well. Regarding the sheet...I have used sheets before without any trouble whatsoever. I caution people that if you use a sheet, select one that is NOT a close weave. This was rather tightly woven, appearing like a batik fabric. Though I personally use batiks on the backs of quilts, I would not suggest a backing that is part regular quilting cottons and part tightly woven fabric.

All in all, this job is great. It allows me to do what I love to do almost any day. And it forces me outside of my comfort box now and then to try things I might not personally choose as well.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pre-Christmas Quilting

I must admit, I gasp when I see posts of people who have ALREADY put up their Christmas trees. Somebody really needs to remind them that it is early November. There used to be a protocol to holiday timing, but nowadays it seems that Halloween candies appear on the shelves in August. Our tree is usually lucky to be up by December 10-15! This is not my piece, but the owner will have it all bound and ready to hang by the holiday season.
It's a fun little wall-hanging. I actually saw it in a magazine a few days ago. The pictures have a hard time doing it justice, but I felt like all that green space, though seasonal in color, needed a little livening up. In a variegated greens Rainbow thread, I quilted a tree. The stitching does show above the many deeper greens, but it is subtle, as I wanted. In the tree, for a touch of interest, are a pear and a partridge.

Originally, the owner sent me a picture of a stars and loops pattern and wanted this all over the quilt. She's a beginner quilter who just needed a little guiding along. Though this edge-to-edge is nice for some quilts, this one seemed to be calling for more personalization. I chose to do the loops and stars in a deep green blending thread in the background around the tree. A perfect compromise.

Close up of the bird...

The top of the quilt is fused applique stitched with clear thread. I simply outlined the shapes, added a few veins to the holly (she is adding red buttons). I put in a ghost star in the sky and connected the stars with a ribbon. If it were my quilt, I'd probably put some sparkly crystals in the ribbon to showit off.

Have a fantastic long weekend!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

A Quilters' Gathering Show

Yesterday, I drove to Nashua, NH for A Quilters' Gathering. It's smaller, juried only, quilt show of mostly regional quilts. I say mostly because there were a few from well known quilters that are not from anywhere near here too. In August, I signed up for an invisible machine applique class from Harriet Hargrave. The only invisible machine applique I had done ("dabbled in") was for attaching the pieces of sea glass in my quilt shown below, and despite thinking this method yielded ok results, I felt I needed more education. At the time, the quilt had not yet gone to any shows and I did not have any judges feedback about how the appliques looked. I thought the stitches were darn near invisible though! The quilt went to MQX and back without so much as a comment about the applique.
My quilt was fortunate enough to receive one of the ribbons - 3rd in machine quilting excellence. It's pretty hard to do better when this was the quilt that received 2nd! There were some nice quilts at this show. The show had particularly bad lighting though. I like the many different farmers-wifeish blocks and their setting on this quilt.

This is a nice landscape.

Elements of this quilt are nice. I think it received one of the color compatibility ribbons for its soothing look.

The machine quilting of the 9-patches is particularly interesting. My guess is it is computerized, but it's cohesive with the theme of the quilt. I'll add it to my bag of interesting tricks to try sometime.

And the center block is something I'd like to applique.

Speaking of applique...the class was about 5-8 too large so the overall pace of it was not really to my liking. Lousy liting in the room too. But nobody can deny that Harriet is a pioneer in our industry. She's taken tomatoes and eggs in the face so that we might now succeed in our craft. She noted that in 1983 she was in Houston at Market and brought a machine quilted quilt for the 1st time. The thought of this gentile quilting society and their reaction of her when the machine quilting storm started is just unimaginable. I guess it is the same thought as this. What if someone sent a quilt to a show today that was only constructed with glue. Fast forward 30 years and they are all made with glue. She's honed techniques for machine makers to make our lives easier, and faster. She's also a steadfast believer in the fact that anything polyester will ruin the world so never mention that you longarm with poly thread. You go to her black list almost immediately. Kind of an inside joke here, but only kind of since I couldn't find her beloved cotton thread in a store Friday and showed up with something not cotton (gasp!!). Even if the class more of less reiterated things I have read elsewhere, I think it is always educational to have someone with as much weathering in this business talk to you for 6 hours. You cannot help but learn something. Even if it is largely just respect and gratitude. Expect to see more applique work from me. I have honed in on my skills and can do it better and faster now.

Back to the show... I always like interesting geometries, even if this style of quilt seems overmade of recent years. The black and white color scheme was appealing and different. The Delft blue color scheme was lovely, as were all the pieced stars which I know first-hand are a PIA to piece. This person won a couple ribbons for her nice quilts.

There is an appealing simplicity here. Guess the judges saw it too.

The quilting has areas which I like - She's obviously tried the dual-curve cross-hatching ruler from Ronda Beyer (which I have and am awaiting the perfect spot to use!).

Lori-Lyn King had 3 small quilts in the show. I have seen this somewhere this year. It's trapuntoed to brilliance. The colorations are from placing a pieced (or moreoften a single) and immensely bold color underneath the top trapunto layer. And then apply kick-ass quilting.

Some color gradations are subtle, but look closely. I learned in my trupunto class at MQX to respect those that do this technique. It is hard, especially when there is another color to show through.

Another ribbon winner, and a very large hand quilted Jacobian applique piece...

It's pretty, but the center almost seems like it needs more of something. The quilting was in colored thread. Lots (LOTS) of radiating lines.

And the grandma of them all...again! Linda Roy. Master hand quilter. How on earth does she find time to make all of these very detailed and hand quilted pieces?? Does she have a secret machine that makes if look hand quilted?? Nice thought. Seeing this has made me add a quilt to my "Must make before I die" list. The solid color is amazingly dramatic. I'd avoid white like the plague, but I love the concept of allowing the white trapunto and applique to show the details.

Just look at the sashings...That is a modified cathedral window technique. Way cool. Linda's quilts rarely dissapoint. As a former hand quilter, I still love the notion that they are still made, and there are some out there that beat the pants off of a machine quilted quilt too!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Breaking all My Rules

I have been back on this quilt the last couple of days. I am moving kind of slow on account of a cold, but I figure it is better to futz up my own work in that state than someone else's. I have most of the Dresdens hand appliqued. There are 4 left which go in the corners of the tan. It's easily as bright and bold as I envisioned. The 4 borders are taking forever to get on. So far, 3 of the 4 sides have 3 borders. The miters will be done once the last border is attatched. But after getting 3 done, I just felt like it was more grounded, almost to the point of being boring. And I don't do boring.
So, I contemplated how I might infuse some of the bright fuscia into the outer borders. Maybe a piping... Maybe a bias-bar design of some sort. And then I realized that I had left a couple of the extra Dresden plates beside the not-yet-attached green border, so that the points stuck out like prairie points. Hmmm...Interesting! Now I really do despise prairie points and I think that they just look too prairie-like and hum-drum. OK, the word I am searching for is really "Ugly!". I hate them, so I have been pondering for a few hours between nose blows how to incorporate the idea of pointy bright fabrics in my design, without actually using those overly-folded things that make quilting the quilt challenging. You can see that I tried a number of thoughts (in different fabrics)...

Initially I wanted to micro-pipe the edges of the points in the fuscia fabric. That was way too hard to make look good. Then I thought maybe I would paper piece them and just stitch the narrow fuscia border. But I loathe paper piecing when not truly necessary. I tested different sizes. Then I tested just stitching a machine embroidered design on the edge of them in a fuscia thread. That actually worked, and didn't surpass my required levels of frustration. It is simple, yet it brings the punch of color that I am after. I may also test embroidering every other one and alternating them with darker points. These will probably also be blind stitched down so that they cannot flap. But basically, I am happy with the look, and I will save the fuscia fabric to micro-pipe by the binding.

Then I spent an hour cutting 2-1/4" x 4-1/2" pieces of all my various greens for the points...

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Tula Pink (I think) & Pinkalicious

Here's a client's quilt. It's a 92" square large quilt with a rather lot of piecing. She wanted more than a typical pantograph so I devised this pattern to create simple secondary designs. With the very heavily patterned fabrics, it is nearly impossible to quilt it to show a detailed design, but the infinity quilting shows nicely on the simpler aqua squares, and the secondary designs are evident amidst all of the color and patterns.

It's all freehanded; no rulers, computers or gizmos. It's a modern-ish quilt so I opted to not use straight lines (plus there was not adequate backing on the edges to do so), but rather I did squiggly lines to add texture. The client chose a wonderful Hobbs Tuscany wool batting, so the quilting appears lighter and airier. Believe it or not, I think that wool batted quilts are much more comfortable year round. They are lighter than the cotton ones. We use our's with wool batting in the summer (in a bedroom that is airconditioned only some of the time). The wool will show the details of the quilting so much better than a cotton ever will.

The quilt is stitched with Superior's Bottomline bobbin and an aqua So Fine thread on the top. The matching threads help to make the quilting only show up as texture. With so much patterning and fabric colors, it's hard to select a thread that will actually show, so this is a fine choice.

The back of the quilt, though pieced, is simpler and really shows the patterns of the quilting.

This week, we have also had the excitement of Halloween. My 3 ghouls (Pinkalicious, JailBird Zombie and some Transformer dude) seemed to brave the late October cold without incident to bring home pumpkins full of candy. Only poor mom got to freeze.

Ya see, the day before, we somehow managed to get 8" of snow dumped on us! Look, the grass is still green (it needed mowing!), and there are still green leaves on the trees! It's insane, I tell ya!