Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Week Happenings

I have one quilt that I can now show.  It was a gift for my mom.  I started piecing these 20 scrappy blocks in late October, right before heading to Houston.  I think people think that just because blocks are scrappy, that they are fast to piece.  Not so much true.  I still cut strips off of nearly every pink fabric I own!  My niece pointed out that one of the seams looked crooked.  I had to gently tell her that they all were :-), intentionally!  It finishes at about 58"x 72".  It is fun for me to see all the different fabrics that I have used somewhere, or dreamed of using! 
My mom has had 3 of 4 of her chemo treatments for breast cancer.  We are lucky, as it is believed that it was really caught in early stage, despite it being in the lymph node.  It is hard to see, but the setting stones on the sashings is a subtle use of the breast cancer ribbon fabric.  I didn't want it to be "in your face", but that gentle reminder of why we must believe all will be fine was a requirement.  It is backed with a soft pink flannel.  This is just one of the many reasons why I have been on the blog less this fall.  Too many things to do, or to think about.  I will do better in 2014.
I tested out a plan and some dimensions for a faux piped binding on this quilt.  The brown "Believe" is from a Buggy Barn older print that I have intentionally hoarded.  It looks nice with the pink.  I love the subtle touch of the piping.  I will share the recipe for this later, as it is part of an article I will have published later this year.

Just before Christmas, I worked on a client's custom quilt.  She has a larger version of this Patchwork of the Crosses block which I have made a dozen or more of.  Her's are not fussy cut, but are of lovely bold prints. I won't show the entire quilt, but here are a couple snippets.  I love the colors in this block in particular.  If you know of the print at the corners (blue/green), or better yet have any to sell me, let me know.  I did have some, and really want some.  I believe it is Philip Jacobs.
This particular quilt was challenging.  The oddly-shaped white spaces were perplexing to design for.  I sort of ignored the piecing to some degree, and just quilted.  It was requested that the quilting be non-traditional and more edgy (like the modern, lively fabrics).  I hope my "outside the box" approach to the quilting fits this request.
I found another perfect quilt for the Aurifil thread I got last summer - who knew?! is the one below with the variegated colors - I used this predominantly on the printed areas.  There was some white thread and some aqua as well.  That Aurifil 40wt poly quilts like a dream, yes a freakin dream.  I wish it came in many more colors than it does (hint, hint!!).
So, tomorrow is NewYear's Eve.  No big plans here.  I have started on the client quilts again.  I have a couple early January finishes for some nice, patient clients of mine.  All others are being done, trust me.  I'm getting it all done... :-) I worked on my own quilt (the one I showed a week or so ago) a bit lately.  When I have kids home and knocking about, I hate to put a client quilt on the machine. I just don't have the attention span a custom quilt needs.  So...I put my own quilt on.  I am doing the ever-so-slow finishing touches to this show quilt, in hopes of having it done to enter in 31 days.  Fingers crossed.  For everything I finish, I discover something else that didn't get done right.  What a vicious cycle!  It's been too much work to settle for "good enough".  It will be finished right, or not at all.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

One Christmas Celebration Complete

Our family had our Christmas celebration with my husband's parents yesterday.  We were bumped up a day, with little warning after learning about the ice storm that is hitting us today.  This wouldn't be a safe day to be driving around.  I have been a very busy person the last few weeks.  I didn't even have this little runner quilted until last weekend.  Thank goodness the binding is a relatively quick sew.
This was started 2 years ago in a Harriet Hargrave class I took on invisible machine applique.  I had half of the appliques done way back when.  I'm not really sure why I never finished it, but I didn't make any Christmas presents last year so that probably has something to do with why it sat so long.  The other (and obvious) is that it really is not my color palate.  I was given a layer cake years ago at a retreat, and it just sat, and sat.  I didn't have anything to use it on, but I did bring it to this class, and this was started with it.  The background is made up of several white and red French-style toile prints.  When it came time to finish the applique, I am now on a new domestic machine, and I have no idea what stitch or what settings I was using 2 yrs ago!  The blind stitching on half if it is slightly different if you know to look for it.  Oh, well.  We call it blind for a doesn't really show much.  My MIL isn't much of a stitcher, and certainly not a quilter so I doubt it will be detected.  Then again, I'm not really sure she liked it whatsoever -- a risk always faced when making gifts.
The quilting is with Glide thread.  The background has the free-feathers all over it.  Fortunately, the appliques are simple and do just fine with ditching and simple quilting on them.  No need to overthink it.  And I do like a scrappy border, and the parallel lines are just what it needs.  I even did the binding in scraps of the darker reds.  It all works. I like it.  It is nice work.  Not my colors and designs, but nice.   It at the very least warranted those words, but as I said, people that don't make handmade gifts just don't always appreciate the time and investment we put into our work.  The lack of nice words is completely deflating.  So...even if you hate it, compliment that handmade gift!
Here's one last look at the little flower and heart.  She thinks it looks Pennsylvania Dutch.  I'm not sure.  It's Harriet's design, not mine.  I just hope to actually see it on her table sometime.

Mostly, all other details in my household are ready for Christmas.  Most gifts are wrapped.  Food is bought.  I started some homemade almond joy bars today.  Guess I'll be heading to the gym tomorrow!!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Seeking Opinions

I'm getting down to the details on this quilt.  Well, actually it came off the frame a week ago so I could quilt some client pieces.  I will reload it when all design decisions are finalized (as is any needed pickout!) so I don't waste valuable time.  Outlining and background quilting are done.  What I am waffling on is how to quilt the silk ribbons and the flowers.  Some flowers really don't leave room for extraneous detail quilting, but some do.

Here are a couple options for this pink tulip-y flower, as well as the ribbon.  I can maybe throw in some pretty feathers...
 or do the flower simpler, just providing texture.  I don't have an alternate idea for the ribbon besides just echo quilting 1/4" from the edge and then backfilling the center.   This is not my favorite idea though.  I lean towards the feathers shown above.  They seem graceful.
 Here are 2 more flowers -- the one in the upper left and the one in the bottom right.  The lower left flower will get ditch stitched around each curve and that will be sufficient.
 Which do you prefer?...Above is the 1/4" echo and then fill the center of the petal (upper left flower) or the spikey swirls and row of pebbles on the center circle (shown below)?  I could also just do little veins (lower flower in above pic), but this seems kind of simple, and these petals may really need more quilting.
Generally speaking, I just love how this is coming out.  I am motivated to finish it, which is a good thing since there's only 6 weeks left until the MQX deadline to enter it.  I expect that this will be it's first showing.  It is one of those quilts that for me, just came together so effortlessly.  I started the piecing last March.  The applique was designed by start of the summer, and all stitched by early fall.  I have spent about 66 hours on the quilting thus far.  Gotta say, it is refreshing not to be working on a 100" quilt this time like I was this time last year!  Talk about not being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  This quilt has many memories for me.  I went to Paducah last April, when I really didn't think I'd get to go.  I found the gold/olive fabric there for the outer border after an exhaustive search for something compatible.  When I saw this one, I knew it was the one.  I also bought several pieces of silk, cotton and batik in various shades from soft pink to deep cranberry.  The paler shades were earmarked for some appropriate dogwood blooms on the sides of this quilt.  Having lived in the South for years, the dogwoods are near and dear to my heart.  Fond memories, and sweet symbolisms included on this quilt.  Be patient, all will be shown eventually :-)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

2013 Somewhere close to the top 50

As 2013 is quickly coming to a close, I find myself reviewing the year, the accomplishments, failures, neglects, etc.  There is no doubt that this has been a pivotal year for the business and for my quilting.  I have been happy all 4 years that I have been quilting, but this year has certainly had some great rewards. A huge thank you to those of you that contributed to this accomplishment list.  The names are too many to list, but I know who you are.

  1. approximately 100 client quilts
  2. 2/3 of which are custom
  3. 7 show quilts (and this does not count my own)
  4. 4 of my own show quilts...patience they will be revealed in due time
  5. OK, they will be finished in due time.
  6. The count also neglects several gift quilts
  7. I should have kept track of thread cones purchased.  It is greater!
  8. THAT would be my perfect gift (since I am a thread junkie)
  9. or a computer for the machine...
  10. OK, that one requires a $10k lottery first
  11. My daughter longarm quilted her first quilt this year.  
  12. She's only 7
  13. I sent 8 different quilts to 20 different shows this year
  14. They brought home five honorable mentions, two 3rds, six 2nds, six 1sts, one best machine quilting, and four Best of Shows
  15. and several other things like judge's choice and teacher's ribbons
  16. Yes, there are always a number of shows that your beloved quilt just comes home from, sans ribbon.
  17. But this was a tremendous year at the shows - more big wins than before
  18. I had a few ribbons also on client quilts.
  19. Memory is fuzzy, but there was a 1st at Jax Quiltfest, BOS at a prominent NJ guild show, best machine quilting at a prominent greater-Atlanta guild show, and a 3rd at NQA.
  20. My clients that dare to enter shows do well too.
  21. Handi Quilter asked me to be a part of their advertising again.
  22. A crazy 3-hr photo shoot lead to a great magazine ad that is still running in quilting magazines
  23. I am also on the side of a truck
  24. Crazy, huh?
  25. Zen Garden was chosen for the cover of MQU magazine
  26. There was also a nice article on my life in quilting inside, with pictures of my quilts
  27. Zen also graced the Vermont Quilt Festival class catalog cover
  28. Speaking of covers, sort of...Rainbow Nouveau was used for the Georgia Quilt Show's banners, catalogs and advertising this year.  How cool?!
  29. I wrote an article for MQU magazine about the design of a client's show quilt
  30. It came out in November
  31. I was asked to write 7 more articles for the magazine for next year.  Who could refuse?
  32. My quilts were also included in at least 3 other magazines this year as well.
  33. I got two quilts into AQS Paducah
  34. After not being accepted last year, this was a high accomplishment.
  35. After winning nice cash at the Lancaster show, I took myself to Paducah for the show.
  36. Zen Garden was sporting an HM, and hanging amongst the world's best quilts.
  37. Truly, this is the creme de la creme of quilts.  Yup, technically better than Houston.
  38. Summer brings a screeching halt to high-production quilting (kids home), so I changed focus to my own hand work
  39. One of next season's quilts is mostly hand appliqued, and nearing completion
  40. It's gorgeous, if I do toot my own horn, just a little.
  41. One of my new 2013 quilts, Big Bertha, was accepted into Houston this year.
  42. MQU magazine asked me to come to Houston to the show, and to work in the magazine's booth
  43. So, I got to experience Houston, and see my quilt in the show.
  44. Not sure I will enter this one again soon though.  Many rogue thoughts for a private discussion.
  45. So I leave this 2013 with quilt designs running rampant in my head.
  46. What will 2014 bring?...
  47. Use of more silk fabric
  48. I am considering several things from teaching to a book to publishing patterns, in no particular order
  49. ok, the book is a crazy pipe dream.  The others seem more tangible.
  50. But I do have one of my own quilts that is being published in someone else's book, as well as one I quilted for someone in a different book.  Not too shabby.
  51. I am grateful for all the wonderful client quilts you send me.  Keep making them.
  52. They give me creative license to practice what I love and to create new designs.
  53. I hope to actually quilt a couple of the tops that I seem to have been hoarding the last 12-18 months.
  54. I hope to post to this blog more frequently
  55. and waste less time staring at my friends facebook entries
  56. I've met several of my FB pals in real life this year at shows, and they are great people.
  57. What will you create this year?
  58. What are your goals?
  59. Have a great holiday

Friday, December 06, 2013

December progress

Only a couple more days in my schedule to putter with this beauty.  I have a few last quilts to finish off before Christmas.  I still have a lot to do on it, and some areas to take out thanks to tension that turned out to be less ideal.  But none the less, it is coming along very nicely.  here's a peek at a small (and almost completed section!).
Please don't repost this anywhere.  Thanks