Monday, September 27, 2010

The Princess of the Fair

We took the kids to the Fair yesterday. We went into the grandstand for what we thought was to just get some cash from the ATM, when they were just signing kids under 55lb for the Pedal Tractor Pull. My boys naturally flocked right to the line. Then Sophie decided she'd try too. Look who went home with the 20-41lb 1st prize?!! In all her glory, she won her first trophy (check out the tractor on it! ha ha) yesterday. She was less pleased that she didn't get either the pink or purple ribbon to go with it though!
The brothers were more than jealous, as one did get a purple (7th place) ribbon and the other really wanted a trophy, and not a 3rd place ribbon!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Holiday Stars

Thirteen hours later, my quilt for a guild show in October is finally done. This is also the quilt I will take with me to the HQ retreat in 2 weeks. Some of you may recognize these blocks from last year from the Row Robin swap. I think I have used maybe half of the blocks from that swap. The others were ones I made from the same fabrics.
I wanted to custom quilt this top as nicely and as creatively as I could. I made it a goal that my sashings would not be quilted in an ordinary or boring fashion. I guess you could say I really wanted to think outside the box a little bit. In the end, I absolutely LOVE how the sashing quilting brings another dimension to the quilt of otherwise ordinary star blocks.
There is a proverbial ton of pebbling in this quilt...more than a mile's worth of thread went into the pebbling (and other quilting). I think that the pebbling and circles in the sashings pulls the quilt together.
This was the first time (I think) that I have pebbled down the spines of the feathers. I am considering doing this for a much larger border soon (10"), so I thought I'd try it out on something of mine first. First off, I just LOVE these feathers too. Secondly, I have feathered so much on this quilt and the last one I did that I am starting to see definite improvements in my backtracking accuracy. Having 2 batts helps that as well. I added a layer of cheapo-Joann's thinnest polybatt over my usual 80/20 batting. I do notice that this quilt is not a lofty as the last one, which had wool as the top layer instead of the poly. But the added layer makes all of the quilting that much more visible. Here's some closer looks at the blocks...
There are several repeated blocks on the top, and I tried to quilt them the same to be a bit more cohesive on the sampler. Still, the quilting does vary a lot.
The lighter green fabric is very pretty on this one - it has a slight metallic sheen. I wish I had more of this fabric throughout.
These friendship star variants were made by me. Quick, easy and not too boring.
I like the look of the curved cross-hatching. I quilted that on several blocks like this.
Here's another block I made several of (I think most of them went into the table runners last year though!). I love the touch of magenta, and the quilting too is very pretty.
I actually nearly forgot about a horrible near-disaster I had on this quilt. I was stitching along, doing the circles using a template when all of a sudden plexi-glass went all over the place. Aw crap! I actually hit the template with the needle! Now I have inadvertently hit the hopper foot on the templates a time or two and chipped the edge of the templates, but this was a mess. My needle immediately broke in half and kept on stitching for about an inch and a half before my brain registered what was happening and I could stop the machine. After removing the well jammed needle half, I realized the gross damage that stitching with half a needle causes. Thank goodness this quilt is actually mine and not a customer's. It damaged both sides of the fabric. It is along a seamline, thankfully, and is much less visible because of that. I treated the area with "no fray" and will probably forget about it! It will just go down into my chronicles of Longarm Quilting Adventures.
Here's my favorite view...notice how the circle quilting forms the stars at the point where there might be a stone in the sashing? I love when motifs are hidden and unplanned, and then discovered when the quilt comes off the frame.
And lastly, a few pictures from the back...
I must get it bound in the next 2 weeks. UGH. So many things on my plate right now. Before my trip...I must quilt at least 3 customer quilts, two table runners and if time permits, one of my aunt's quilts too. a little fixit job to Primavera before it gets sent off next week. First though, dinner and the kitchen are calling me.
Go sew and have a good weekend.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pinwheel Party

This is a sweetly colored Valentine's Day quilt made by one of my customers. It's the Pinwheel sampler from here. Many of the fabrics have the words "love" hearts on them. The owner wanted it to be warm, and to show the quilting definition. I suggested wool, which is delightful quilted, but this particular package of Hobbs Tuscany wool was disappointingly thin. Plus it only comes in a cream color, so I added a white muslin liner underneath the top. The white faric on the top of the quilt is not overly heavy so the ivory batt made the white look not bright. It, unfortunately, also makes any intrimmed threads or seams a touch visible too. That is just one of the reasons I truly hate working with whites. You have to get very good quality material and be ultra vigilant about pressing away from the white.
I think that the customer will be pleased with how the quilting shows. To offset the thinner wool, I added a layer of white Hobbs 80/20 underneath of it. This was to increase the weight/thickness, but also because the back of the quilt turned out to be half white too (and I didn't notice that initially. With the heavy quilting, the two layers don't seem overly bulky. The wool just gives fantastic definition to the feathers and pebbling. The thread is all Superior So Fine, 7 bobbins of it! That's 1750 yards to be exact! Here's some closer-up shots of several blocks...

And a look at the entire back. Yes, another pinwheel...
And a couple of my more favorite blocks from the backside.
dontcha just love the gentle ribboning around the pinwheel?
Aren't you ready to have a Pinwheel Party now?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesdays are Just For Me

Clearly Tuesday rolls around way faster than it should, or else my weeks have more than one Tuesday in them! I feel as though I ought to have more to show for my week, but that is life (and mine is a busy one). I lack just one corner block to being ready to assemble this border. The missing row of the border is just in the sewing room, unpressed - it missed getting into the picture! There is a very simple inner border that I must assemble consisting of 24 HST's, and then the border goes on. Famous last words...
The "Other" quilt... Where do you suppose this stack of 3"x6" straggly squares should go?? This is my 960 square point of insanity on this quilt. These were partially strip-pieced, but I wanted more randomness, so I only strip-pieced sections of 2, not 3 or 4. It might have taken much less time the other way. I need to trim each one sometime when I feel like making a big mess.
These fabrics and my design are quickly growing on me. I liked them and the idea of making a quilt like this from the beginning, but let's face it, I am not a brown girl. I prefer the brights and moderns, and these are well, anything but. I love getting to see how a quilt I designed in EQ7 can actually be sewn to look identically like the design. That is pleasing! Clearly there are a few small rows missing in the below picture (rows that "shim up" the quilt so as to add rows of an easier to work with dimension. Is it starting to look like a marble dance floor?? Wanna dance?
Kidding, seriously!
I have a quilt of my own. OK, I made about half of the blocks and the rest came from the Row Robin Swap last year. Some were used to make a few runners at Christmas last year. Here's the remaining 20 blocks. I'm not crazy about some, and in all honesty, I half-thought this quilt might go to my Etsy shop. That is until I realized I needed to take a quilt to the HQ Retreat in less than 3 weeks, and that my Primavera would be off at a show and otherwise engaged elsewhere. Drat! So, I am custom quilting this sampler, in a typically overkill fashion. I tell you, I am my absolute worst customer. I am picky. I am meticulous. I am too careful. This darn quilt, at a mere 55"x65" may well take me all week! And to make matters worse, I may run out of the pea-green (AKA SoFine #513) thread before I finish, and before the new cone arrives next week. UGH - always something. Anywho, here's just a teaser peak. I'll show more in a week or so. I am clearly playing with a not-so-boring treatment for the sashings.
And one last thing. This is not a "For Me" thing, as it is a sneak peek of a customer's quilt. I will show this one in my next post. Lotsa feathers, pebbles and swirls, and of course, pinwheels!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fall Initiation

Fall officially arrives Tuesday, but almost like clockwork, when the month of September comes, our summerlike weather ends. The days become visibly shorter. It's dark in the mornings when I normally get up at 5:30am, and it is cooling of quite a bit at night. We haven't had a frost yet, but it is only a matter of time. Yesterday was a gorgeous day, going to nearly 70F, so we took the family on what has become a perennial favorite outting - Apple Picking. I love to pick the other season varieties like strawberries and blue berries, but the death of our fridge for 10 days rotted the picked strawberries, and somehow we never got out to stock the freezer with a year's worth of blueberries this season.

Maine had a fabulous early spring, starting in early April. In early May, however, we had one night which had scattered frost. Much of the apple orchards in my area were hit hard. Because this was after they had put on their flowers, nearly a month ahead of schedule, the crop was estimated at only 5% of normal. Despite this, we still were able to easily and quickly pick 2 bushels of apples. Today's breakfast was apple-cinnamon pancakes. Dinner is apple-stuffed chicken. There are apple tarts for dessert compliments of my husband. Who honestly has time to cook all afternoon??? (not me, considering I quilt then!).
Here's my often unruley brewd, looking well mannered and pleased to be having their picture taken. So often the images they give me in this short life couldn't be farther from reality! My middle kid (in white) just did not want to get into the picture.

This week...I am quilting one of my own. I need a nicely quilted piece to take to my retreat in Utah in just 3 weeks (and my 100" Summer on the Beach" quilt is just too large to travel with). I'd hoped to take "Primavera", but it was accepted into the Georgia Quilt Show that weekend, and will be taking a short trip next week. Besides, I have a Guild show, and I need another quilt for it. Kill 2 birds with one stone. I have a couple other customer quilts to get done at the end of the week too. Nothing huge, thankfully.

Visit back this week where I will show some fantastic pictures of a pinwheel quilt made by a client of mine. They are really pretty~

Friday, September 17, 2010

List of Completion

I most happily retrieved my LA from the annual servicing yesterday. I am quilting rather slowly on a custom quilt right now, with hopes of having it mostly done before the end of the weekend. Not sure if my luck will hold out though. Here's some of the putter-stitching I did in the last week, in my feeble attempt to chip away at my To-Do list (below).

This block went out to Leanne in Canada, for the Bees Knees. It was due last month, but, hey, better late than never.
Here's one of my September blocks for the same Bee, it went out to Marlene in KS today (I think!!). She wanted paper pieced spider web blocks. They are not yet stitched together. The batiks are prettier in person than in picture.
Here's the entire set of blocks headed to Carol in the Quilt Block Round Robin. Mine are the pink and plum ones. Again, more batik blocks.
and here's mine. Nothing too crazy here; just needed to get them done, and be sure they were of correct size.
Jaclyn asked for these circles. It's a crummy method for making circle (not her method), if you ask me, unless the background fabric is dark. The way they are made forces the seam allowance to the outside of the circle, and the damn blue circle fabric shows through on the lighter one. Oh well..the fastest circles I have ever made at any rate.
And shall we see how I did at my weekly list?...

1. piece two tops, twin sized, commission jobs - Both are in 2 large pieces, and were awaiting the border fabric, which arrived today. Sometime in the next 8 weeks I will finish and quilt these.

2. quilting bees...Blocks are all caught up (see above)

3. piece backing for one of my own quilts - NOT DONE, but I did piece one backing for the commission quilts instead.

4. finish paper piecing on my Italian floor quilt (this is only a personal goal - there's no pressing deadline here) - Done...see previous post.

5. piece the next rows on this quilt top so that I have it available for hand appliquing when on trips or at appointments. In progress...

6. Plan the quilting for a sweet pink & white custom quilt that I must do as soon as Mr. LA is back home. Planing done; quilting is 25% done.

7. Figure out how to get out of making 3 Halloween costumes. If you have read this blog long, you know that despite loving to sew, you know I hate to make costumes. Goal: Make one lamb costume and buy 2 boys costumes, somewhere, somehow. Bought one bunny costume at consignment store. It needs bunny removed and ears/tail modified. Not completely effortless, but simpler! I also found parts to one Dracula costume for middle man. Could this be true??? Halloween costumes to sew?? (Ha HaHa Ha~.....)

Next week's Agenda...
1. Finish Pink Pinwheels quilt currently on LA
2. Quilt one of my quilts that I will bring to the retreat
3. Quilt (or start) another customer job
4. Finish the row of hand appliqued ribbons (#5 above)- all but 3 corners are done.
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How Lucky am I?

I know I say this often, but seriously, how many great things can keep coming my way??

A few days ago, I got an email from a great longarm quilter. She's quilted many a ribbon-winning show quilt (seriously...have a look here), and teaches super design classes on how to design the quilting for your quilts (rather than the "stand and stare" technique). She also teaches Quilt Whispering at MQ Resource, which is an absolute must for any machine quilter. I took the class in the early winter last year, and with her technique and guidance, quilted this quilt. She gently convinced me that this quilt ought to be entered in the Machine Quilter's Exposition in April of this year, which reluctantly I did. It turned out winning the Rookie of the Year Award. Total shock. So, she knows what she's talking about. Anyhow, she emailed this weekend to see if I might be interested in quilting a quilt she'd originally been slated to do, but couldn't because of an injured elbow. Holy cow! Turns out that this is not just any quilt. It is fairly high visibility. It is a raffle quilt for the Folsom, CA quilt guild show, to be held in February 2011. I looked a little bit, and this is a 3 day show, and similar sized guilds in that area have netted several thousand dollars for their raffle quilts. It sounds like it is nearly as large as the Maine Quilt show. I am most honored to have this privilege and responsibility passed onto me. More than that, I am shocked and delighted that she thought I was worthy of it. Wow, in a word. Wow.

And on a lesser note, but still a good one, I got a call last night letting me know that my Olivia quilt won the Project Linus 2010 Book-Blanket Challenge. That's 3 for 3 for me (and yes, that's a slightly happy, slightly smug grin on my face). I won a $25 gift certificate to a local quilt shop. This is good timing because I need some background fabric for the Sea Glass quilt I want to start later this year, and I may need more of a couple of Stonehenge fabrics for this quilt. I keep modifying the outer borders in EQ7. I have not been completely happy because I wanted it to have a more mosaic-y feeling, as well as feel like the many colors of fabric are cohesively blended throughout the quilt. I am much happier with this now, so much so that I have started on that mosaic border, consisting of nearly 2000 3/4" squares this afternoon! I heard this morning that the parts ordered for Mr. LA might not arrive for me to pick it up tomorrow (very grumpy sigh), and that if I want it, I'll have to bring it back to have them installed when they arrive. I may get it and coordinate the parts while I am in Utah next month. I am feeling tense about getting started on several custom quilts that are awaiting my attention. I should be quilting, rather than tweaking EQ7!

Have a good week-

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tuesdays are Just For Me

Quilt #1...
Progress is sort of slow, but it is happening. Neither of my quilts-in-progress are fast movers on account of their complicated design. And it doesn't help that I sort of tweak the designs as I go too! These swag blocks are partly machine pieced and partly hand appliqued. In hindsight, this methodology is a little awkward, but I couldn't find another way to make them and have 2 background fabrics withougt getting a lot of seam bulk. I still need to do the corner blocks, and then they can all be trimmed to the proper size and stitched together. There is actually a narrow border that will go around the center grape block, before the swags. I have not made it in case when I finished the applique swags, they didn't come out exactly the size I expected. This inner border is easy to modify the size of.
Here's a looksee at the EQ7 rendition of where this quilt is going. The large tan outer border will be mostly taken up with more grape applique. These 3 shades of beige/tan are actually all hand-dyes. It is being designed in color and size, mostly, to hang in my living room. Our couch has a tan and plum print, and we have 2 deep purple chairs. Next year sometime, the downstairs is undergoing a major remodel/renovation (new and larger kitchen, same for the dining and living rooms). The quilt may be finished around that time, at my rate of sewing!
Quilt #2...
This quilt takes on a completely different perspective with these corner pieces completed. Remember, this was last week... The paper-pieced blocks were very time consuming. Sometimes I hate being a perfectionist. Other times I applaud my anal-retentiveness. It is delightful when mitered corners come together so flawlessly. I don't know why I am doing another quilt on point. I usually curse myself when it is time to assemble these. Time will tell.
These Stonehenge fabrics are really growing on me, especially with the addition of the 2 more earthy toned choices. It is definitely looking more and more like a mosaic floor. So far, it is about 40" square, on it's way to around 60-70".
It is time to regroup with the fabrics I have left and consider how much I like the next border. Refer to here... I am waffling a little bit on using the geese, and how to color coordinate them better. I know I love the outer intertwined border, but what goes between this and that is up for discussion.
Also still on the drawing board is the center of the rosette. I have this layed out, but it may not be what I eventually stitch!
How have I done on that sometimes evasive To-Do lis for the week?? I am SO ready to get Mr. LA back. So ready!!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I am Chipping away at that List

Despite doing solely non-longarm sewing (aka "that List"), and actually making decent progress (maybe I will post that at the end of the weekend), I thought I'd show a baby quilt that I sent off to it's California owner earlier this week. She does textbook perfect needle-turn applique. It's always nice to quilt her work since it's square, and neat, etc. - and very beautiful. It is one lucky baby.
I quilted another quilt similar to this for her a month or more ago, but this one is a little bit larger. I tried my hand at the ribbon candy for the sashings. I need to practice this a bit more, but it looked pretty decent (maybe because the sashings were striped and the quilting didn't show that much!).
I also pebbled only around the periphery of the appliqued hearts to make them pop out. And a little bit of curved cross-hatching on the 9-patches, done in white and pink.
...and lastly, one glimpse at the back. It is a soft flannel, and actually shows off the textural patterns nicely.
I got an email from her yesterday saying that she loved the quilt, so my work is complete :-))