Thursday, September 12, 2019

September 12...monthly blog installment

Yes, I know a month goes by in the blink of an eye, in blog-times.  Plenty has happened in the last month, just mostly un-noteworthy!

I went to Grand Rapids last month for a week to teach at the AQS show. This is a fabulous show, in a great venue. I cannot say enough about the happy vibe of this city (in the summer anyways). It is right on a river, and has walking paths on both sides, with numerous bridges. It's an outdoor's-person's mecca. I taught 6 sold out classes and all went quite well. It's been an interesting few months getting back into the groove of quilting and teaching. My show in July was a good start, but Grand Rapids really got me feeling the joy again.

I had a decent show there too, with both of my entries earning blue ribbons. The first is one my my wholecloth quilts, "Persistence". It is actually a greenish color, but it looks off in photos.
 This is a 71" wall quilt called "My Secret Garden". I love this quilt, and really need to get the nasty monster I am finishing done so I can work on another that I truly love.
 After I returned from Grand Rapids, I had 4 days before my family went away to a house on Lake Winnepesaukee for Labor Day weekend. Oh, and I should also note, that the kids started school...this is key because quilting progress doesn't happen without it!

This lap quilt belongs to one of my local ladies, and forever friend of my mom's. She's an immaculate piecer, which makes my job easier. Batiks hide everything detail related so the center is just quilted with a freehand edge-to-edge. I put prettier feathers in the lighter setting triangles.

Last week, with it officially September, I started on a box of 3 quilts from a new client. All I really have in my stash of client quilts are custom, so there's no point putting them off!
This Be Happy quilt is identical to one I did a year or so ago. The background fabric is so heavily printed to the point that nothing really would show so it's stippled, just so that the beautiful applique can pop. It has an absolute ton of applique too!
 I love how the maker customized the little jar with her initials...
 When fabrics are heavily printed, texture is the only tool quilters have to get things to show. I paired dense stipple beside the beadboard border and the 1/2" striping of the inner border so that these would show. The thread is just a white 40wt, probably Glide.
Here's the back, only because backings are so pretty to see.
 Kendra sent another smaller quilt top, but this one seemed better fit for an edge to edge. Do I hear a great big "Yea"?? Heavily printed fabrics are pretty, but can mask quilting. 1920's reproductions are some of the hardest to get quilting to show on. This is just a simple and very appropriate design for this quilt. It will make a great lap quilt.
Last up is this lovely 98" bed quilt of stars. I knew with all the ivory fabric that it could be custom quilted and look great. The client agreed. A few things to note...it has a red backing so I knew from the start there would be only air-erasable marking pens. I would not risk having a red bleeder. This means that any marking has to be simple. The quilt has a single Hobbs 80/20 batting, and is quilted with both white and aqua YLI polished poly thread. I now use Wonderfil's 80 wt in the bobbin because Superior Threads no longer wants to stock neutral SuperBobs, and hasn't for many months. It's frustrating changing, and paying more to do it, but you do what you gotta do.
After quilting 2 rows of the stars, when the quilt had lifted off the floor, I discovered this...
Tell me my heart didn't nearly fall out of my chest. I contacted the owner and got her OK to do a manual fix. I wasn't going to remove the quilt from the frame to fix this on my machine and risk pleating the backing. All take-out and repair was done by hand.

Here the blocks are removed.

 You can see how I just take a small running stitch to put it back together. I've done enough handwork to know that this will never fall apart.
The finished repair...When the block was up on the horizontal part of the frame, I did press the seam before quilting. The points are not perfect because a good bit of the seam allowance was fraying. Though her points are generally very good on the quilt, this is not the only location with a tipped points so I didn't fret too much.
 The finished quilt is so pretty. Feathers are a great finish and create so much movement on the quilt.
 The star blocks are 15" blocks, which is a good size. I always have students ask me what size machine should they buy. This is a perfect example of when a smaller longarm would have driven me crazy...With my 24" machine, the 15" blocks were about all I could manage to reach (either because of the ruler base or my short arm syndrome!).
 I'm going to show how the swirly paisley sashing was quilted because I have received numerous comments on facebook about this, on this quilt as well as a few others. It's so simple, but is a more unique design than some that are used. I also quilted it in aqua thread to tie in with the outer border.

The center 5" block of the star was quilted using a stencil. These can be a great tool to use.
 One last peek...
Hopefully I won't take another month before I post again. I just loaded the most gorgeous and crazy-pieced quilt. It'll blow minds!



Monday, August 12, 2019

Summer 2019

I knew I had procrastinated writing a post, but when I realized the last one was June, I will admit being surprised. Summer has been going ok, but I have failed to show much of anything. I will say that this summer has had much less quilted work than past summers. I have nobody but myself to blame for that. The kids have been around, and it has been harder to just sequester myself downstairs and work. I have also had more custom work, which takes longer and more concentration, etc. Somehow it just seemed easier to wait on it until September.

That said, some quilting has been done. This is for a MA client. She made this for her husband. The center square is her design and is embroidered.
 The quilting is in a fine gray thread and just echoes the stitching.
 Because it is intended for a man, I kept the quilting more linear and masculine. Except for the center, it is quilted in burgundy thread. This is one way to keep costs down -- less thread changes.
The next quilt is a wall hanging. Erin is a client that I have quilted extensively for over the years. She sent 4 quilts, two of which are done. The next two are huge and very detailed (2 week jobs). This one was a fun piece to quilt.
 It is quilted in coordinating 40wt threads. I also double batted it since I knew the quilting would be dense. The applique is beautifully stitched by hand.
 Some stripes for the border, and a double ribbon candy to resemble a ribbon.

 Neutral backing fabric makes for a gorgeous back!
 This is Erin's other quilt. It's to hang in her daughter's room. The piece is in the vicinity of 35x45".
This is also double batted.
 I love this paisley pattern in the narrow border. I have been meaning to do a tutorial on it, and it's variations. It's freehand and so easy to quilt (no markings!).
 Such pretty applique...
 Her daughter's name and birth date are quilted in rose thread at the bottom. I go over the lettering 3 times to make it pronounced. These will be heading home soon.
 And, another neutral back with loads of texture!
I quilted this top last week. It's 70x80 or so with 30 of these embroidery blocks. This is the most intricately and beautifully stitched embroidery I have ever seen. She had to have taken forever doing it.
 And, after quilting...
 The quilt has a single wool batting, and pretty traditional quilting. Each plain square has a free-hand quilted feathered wreath. Quilting around the wreaths is in a soft green thread. Though the photos dont show it well, these squares are a pale green Grunge fabric.
 The rest of the quiting on non-embroidered blocks is white Glide. The embroidered blocks are done in a basic 1" crosshatch using clear nylon thread. You just cannot avoid the embroidery; it will make the blocks look odd. I have done many of these over the years, and quilting right over it works the best way.

 And, you guessed it...another pretty back!
 Here's a loon at the embroidery on one of the blocks.
So, I managed to quilt 4 quilts between late June and mid August, so what else did I do this summer?...

You mean, besides putter away my time in my garden or shuttling kids to and fro?

Well, my middle kiddo learned to sew. He made 4 quilt tops to be donated to Project Linus. I cut all hiss squares from my scraps and "encouraged"...He has to have 20 volunteer hours as graduation requirements. He'll be halfway there by Sept. 
 Here's one arranged on the floor...
Four were quilted. I did this part, mostly because it's faster for me to do it. He has no great burning interest in learning to longarm.
 And here they are awaiting a binding fairy...
 In July, I taught at the Quilt Odyssey show in PA. I took my youngest two kids along for the ride. They hung out at the pool, played mini golf, and basically tried to stay out of trouble while I worked. We had a day before the show to go to Hershey Park.

Creating a new quilt has been as slow as digging a tunnel to China. I currently have the units all appliqued to put most of it together. BUT...I decided to add embroidery on the colored border pieces. It's pretty, and ties the units together nicely. Only a slight delay!
 I test dyed some fabrics in hopes of creating the yellow fabric I used. I want this on the other border of this quilt. I know...I have fallen off my rocker because I hate yellow. But...it will work, I have a plan! Now I just need to actually dye the silk yardage and hope it matches the swatch!
 Other summer fun...

He got a perm. Don't ask, I have no answer. He just wanted it.The 1980s have come back.
 It's been warm here and we made several beach days of it. I don't need bribing to go to the beach, ever.
 At the beach, everybody is content, everybody behaves, everybody finds their own fun.
A week ago, I got to relive my 16-yr old's happy place. I have been one of the biggest Queen fans over the years. When I was 16, many of us went to see them - back when Freddie was still alive. My school buddies were all over the warmup act, Billy Squier, but not me...It was all about him...That curly-headed guitarist had me 37 years ago. He's still as phenomenal as ever, and they are lucky to have a great vocalist so we can still experience them live. It was fun!
I am inching towards the finish line on next year's show quilt...It has a name and a few secrets that you will just have to wait to know. But for now...it is off the frame, trimmed and blocking, and binding, painting and embellishments are started.
Now, I am in full force mode of getting ready to go to teach next week at the AQS Grand Rapids show. Hope to see you there!