Saturday, October 30, 2010

Logs of Life

I am most relieved that this quilt is off my machine. The last 3 days have been hard to sew. Probably because there has been as much picking out of stitches as there has been of actual quilting. I was calling it Fester because my soul was festering underneath the need to finish it. But now that it is done, the name should be aptly changed. The quilt is an Opportunity quilt for the Folsom Quilt and Fiber Quilt Guild in Folsom, CA. It will be raffled off sometime around the time of their quilt show in February of 2011. This was my first time handling and working with the Cherrywood hand-dyes. I love batiks and the subtle variations that they have. These are similar to those, except that the finish on them is a bit drabber. They are likened to suede-fabric. The blocks on the quilt are 7.5", with 0.5" logs. Unfortunately, I ran into issues with the construction of some of these blocks. They were made by many different guild members, and each one has a different interpretation of 0.25" seam allowance. A few too many of them were closer to 0.1" and had stitches on the verge of popping out. It really challenged my sanity some days.
The last straw was the day I found an area with absolutely no seam, a hole. I just cannot fix that so it is up to the owners to deal with. I hope now that it is completed that all issues can be quickly forgotten. I have learned a few things about working diagonally with quilts. Lessons learned the hard way.
The focal center of the quilt is not really at the center of the quilt so I wanted to accentuate it somehow. The quilting is a little more formal with the pebbling around the almond shapes. I should say that the theme of this quilt show is Back Home Again. The coordinator wanted the quilt to somehow incorporate the Valley Oak, which is indiginous to that area. I hope I have done this acceptably. It is subtle, but it is there in a way that cannot be missed.
I have double batted this quilt - it has a layer of Hobbs 80/20 and a layer of Polydown. The quilt is heavy, and shows the quilting nicely. I used 4 different Superior threads on this: one that matches the border exactly, a lighter beige for the light logs, a medium brown for the darker logs, and then a red was added for accents. I realized that the delineation between the dark and light logs was not laying down well, so I outline quilted each leaf and added swirls in the dark areas with the red too. This helped to make the red leaf squares lay flat. You can hardly see the color difference inthe photo.

The borders of this quilt kick ass. Large plain borders kinda scare me. These are 10", and they are sort of like going onstage naked (not that I'd really know this first-hand) because absolutely everything that you quilt shows. Not like a print or a darker fabric. I'm not sure I handled the space between the leaf swirls and the feather as gracefully as is possible, but then. I do love the narrow 0.5" piano keys.
Here is the back of the quilt. Though I waffled on my feelings yesterday, I am very glad that I convinced the owner to ditch the floral backing she'd sent originally and to go with a solid. This is a medium brown Cherrywood. I think they call the color ochre. It shows all the threads I used so I had to be extremely careful on all my feather back tracking. I think it will be really pretty hanging after it is bound.
It is a pretty texture.
So if you live in the Sacramento area, be sure to go to the Folsom show in February and buy yourself a chance to win this lovely quilt.

Friday, October 29, 2010


If you were here yesterday, then you know that I have encountered a wretched problem for a quilter: pleats on the back. One of the two offending sections is shown above. Yikes, is that ugly or what?! Now I can say that I have only seen one other pleat on a quilt that I quilted, and this particular one had a horribly pieced and sagging backing . This backing, however is a tightly woven hand-dye, and I pieced the back myself, so that is not it. I blame the pleats completely on having to quilt it down diagonals, and needing to leave areas unquilted, while other areas were stitched. I obviously did not have it stabilized appropriately. Shame on me. Live and learn. Never again (I hope).
I ended up with bunchy areas on both sides of this quilt, where 2 areas of diagonal stitching came together. As you can see, the excess in the backing is between 0.3-0.7". Luckily for me, the excess was within 8-10 inches of the pieced backing seam. Unluckily for me, however, there were heavily quilted areas of feathering to remove. UGH.
The entire fixit took me about 1 hour per side. I removed LOTS of stitches. Hopefully I can meld the new stitching into the original without seeing a ton of cut threads. Here, I have tucked in all the excess, in preparation for the hand stitching. Too bad it is three different threads that have to be restitched.
The row of hand stitching above is not very straight, but HELL, what am I supposed to do?? There, some of my pent-up frustration. I'm sure you can imagine the multitude of other foul-mouthed words I have uttered in the last couple days! The unstraight seam might have not shown so much if not for the nature of these nearly solid, yet clearly not solid fabrics. Boy, the backing that the owners originally sent for this quilt which was a hideous floral sure would have concealed this mishap better. Incidentally, I convinced her that a more solid fabric would show off the quilting so much better, so she ordered $100 of Cherrywoods for the quilt instead. Some decisions do come back to bite us in the arse eventually I have learned.
Just so you don't think that this blog has become a bitch-fest, I will show you a couple shots of the front. The quilt will undoubtedly be lovely when finished (yes, once again, tomorrow is my target day for finishing this one:-))). It is an axisymmetrical log cabin quilt, so the florette below is not in the quilt's center. I accentuated the quilting, however, to draw one's eyes to that as the central motif. It looks pretty. Lighter logs are feathered, while darker logs are done with a combination of ruler arcs and swirls. The owner wanted oak leaves incorporated somehow, so they are placed in the red squares as well as along the border.
And the border...This is very pretty in a most coordinated tan thread. It's a 10" wide bordeer so I broke it up into the oak leaf swirls, feathering and 1-2" of 0.5" piano keys.
Stay tuned and you'll see the rest of the quilt, as well as the back. And with any luck, my need to curse uncontrollably is done. This evening I will reload the quilt onto the frame, and tomorrow I am finishing the quilt. Yes, I am, I tell ya. I am finishing Fester! It is nearly 8 hours over my budget and needs to be done!! Cheers :-))

Thursday, October 28, 2010


This is almost an appropriate blog title, given the flaming color of this tree, but that's not really what's going on. We are at the tail end of gorgeous leaf color. The bright red trees are mostly turning brown after this week's rain. Just figured I'd start this post with something inspiration since the rest of this post is kind of whiney. I am fried. Tired. Bored. Just plain burned out. Not on quilting in general, mind you. Just on the one quilt in particular that has been on my frame for 8 days now. Yesterday was my mental "finish it off" day, and it has come and gone. And you guessed it, "Fester" as I have most unaffectionately named the quilt, is still on the frame. It's a log cabin quilt, and it has proved more time consuming because all the quilting is along diagonals. Lots of stop-n-starts. Lots of color changes.

And late yesterday afternoon I discovered the unthinkable. It is like a four-letter word to a longarm quilter. Just gut-wrenching. Yes, (sigh) a pucker or two on the back. My eyes rolled halfway to the back of my head and about 35 obscenities flowed from my lips. If I were not going down diagonals and having unquilted space here and there, this never would have happened. I still have to figure out how to eradicate one of them, even if it means unpicking to the seam on the backing, and concealing the puck there. That means removing a fairly sizeable feather. UGH.

So rather than be more disgusted with my quilting, I chose to do something I generally prefer not to do...gather up all 3 kids and go roaming for the afternoon. The boys had a half-day and were home at lunchtime. It has rained the last 2 days so we were all feeling a bit of cabin fever. I dragged them to 3 or 4 scenic tree-picture-taking spots here in our town, and then off to the park for a while. I just needed to breathe fresh air and not stare at that festering quilt. It wouldn't bother me so much but I really need to finish it so I can get 3 others done. Committments, you know?! We stopped for ice cream on the way home. Way to go, MOM, butter up the babes before you get 'em home to tell them that there's a mandatory 1 hour "play in your room" time from 3-4pm so I can do my damndest to try to get Fester finished.

(my oldest up in a very yellow and large maple tree)

Things look brighter. I have quilted most of what I can do before conquering the pleats. Maybe Saturday will be my day??

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesdays are Just For Me

Few words today.
Fewer minutes to spare.
Sadly, becoming the norm.
One more corner of leaves done. Seven hours spent. Phew! How long will 120 grapes take? Ha!
One more border added. Mostly square. Mostly flat. OK, kinda flat (like a bra). Seeking quilting ideas from any and all. Two borders left.
Customer deadline. Too many technical issues - ie., stitches not present! Not a good thing. Lots of lessons remembered from my last log cabin quilt stitched on the diagonal. Message to self: remember these learnings! Diagonal quilting takes forever...too many stops & starts. Plus, all the different colors make doing feathers really hard/slow because the thread doesn't match but one fabric well. Should be done at end of week. With a little luck. OK, a lot of luck.
...been daydreaming about my next quilt "Seaglass". Typical of me to be onto the next project when two others are 60 pieced!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday, but no rest for the weary

On my trip to Utah, enough people asked me about Maine's fall color. So here are a couple pictures from my neighborhood. Yes, we have very vibrant red and orange and yellow trees. Fall is absolutely not about just trees with brown dying leaves. It is gorgeous right now (and getting disturbingly chilly too!).

****Back to the regularly scheduled program!***

It has been a week. Yes, just a week. A busy one, crazy one, a tiring one. I am battling a cold that I thought ended nearly a week ago. Somebody did not tell the germs it was OK to vacate my body though. And to make matters worse, I did not have my usual calm afternoon of quilting, and I won't get it tomorrow either. UGH!
I helped to set up for a guild quilt show today. The church looked absolutely amazing when I left this afternoon. It is an old 18th century church, with very lovely features - lots of wooden pews, tall ceiling and many stained glass windows, balcony, etc. Boy, do quilts look great hung across the railings of a balcony. I am definitely getting some pictures in there tomorrow. I have a number of quilts in the show, and what is not in the show, is at my vendor table for my quilting business. So yes, it is a dull and boring 7 hours of sitting, talking & shmoozing quilters and the general public about what I do. Someone really ought to tell them that when you have a show in a town of 45000 people, with 120 quilts, four hours really is sufficient! Nobody listens to me though!
So, here is a dozen or so (ha!) pictures from this week's quilt. It is a client that made blocks from the Modified Traditions blog. The fabrics are Arabella and they are simply devine. I spied this on her blog before she ever brought me the quilt. Really wish it could live here instead!... The greens and coral are so pretty. So, she wanted a nice custom. When I get a new quilt, I let it "tell me" to some degree how it ought to be quilted. I absolutely love feathers, but this one was not talking feathers to me. The fabrics have many swirly scrolls and leaves, so I went with those motifs.
The background is a really nice ivory. Oh, how I love to see ivory used rather than stark white. It is so much prettier and richer looking.
Busy borders can be more challenging because the quilting is not as visible. Plus, it is harder to see what you are quilting on them as the quilting is being done. I went for a purely geometric look in her piano key border with a 45 degree cross hatching. It is simple and clean (OK, not that simple to stitch - does take plenty of time with the rulers, but then).
I maintained consistency with the blocks. There are 2 of each type block I think and similar blocks are quilted alike. I also only used swirls, swirls that make a heart, pansy flowers and the leaves. Fewer designs make the overall plan appear cohesive.
If this quilt doesn't just make you want to go buy this fabric line, what will?? If I only thought I'd make something in it in the next 5 years I'd already own it!

Such fun I had. Hope the owner appreciates it as much as I do.
Sampler quilts are so much fun to sew. If only I had the time... They are perfect for those that tire of making 50 of the same block (like me!).
Have a good weekend. And quilt more that I likely will~

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tuesdays are Just For Me

I know you have seen this quilt ad nauseum this year, but the very nice quilter Melinda sent me these. She lives in the Atlanta area, and taught classes at the Georgia Quilt Show, where the quilt was last week. Melinda has done my Four Seasons Quilt Swaps in past years, so I figured she'd be happy to take a few pictures for me. "Primavera" earned a Special Recognition ribbon. I'm not sure what this ribbon really means, but it is better than a kick in the pants! Mostly, I wanted to get the opinions from another set of judges on my work.

As you might have guesses, I did have plenty of time last week in airports to stitch on this piece. I managed to get the entire ribbon swag appliqued on mostly before I left. I am onto the 2nd corner appliqueing the vines and leaves.
Here's a poor quality closeup shot. The stems are actually stuffed with yarn to give them some dimension. There is quite a bit still missing on these corners, like the many (many!) grapes, embroidered tendrils, few flowers and leaves of a different shape.
The grapes are far from hard to make, but I figured I will need in the vicinity of 125 grapes for the border. Yikes!! I have about 12-15 of the templar circles in the appropriate sizes,so I have started to make the grapes a few each day.
And, lastly...look what arrived yesterday in the mail! Here is the offending pair of scissors that were confiscated by TSA last week. I really never thought that the'd actually arrive. My husband, of course, saw them and said they should have just arrested me for attempting to take them on a plane! Nice guy... They are a brisk five and a half inches long, but are not in the least bit pointy! Like seriously, how could I threaten anybody with round edge scissors??

Sunday, October 17, 2010

My Aunt's Star Sampler Quilt and Fun with TSA

In early August, my aunt from CT brought me a bag of 5 of her quilts for finishing. She's a semi-prolific quilter, who I suspect has a fabric stash orders of magnitude greater than my own. I have a few of her sampler quilts as well as others. This one I chose to do more custom quilting on the star points and the border. The 12 sampler blocks are all done with a uniform filler pattern.
I had to be especially careful on the green border because my thread was not quite as dark as the fabric. Unfortunately, every now and then, I find that I just don't have quite enough thread colors (yes that does happen when you only own 100 cones!).
I love the look of feathers as well as stitching feathers, so it's no surprise that I really love this quilt finished. I hope she does too.
I think with a nice burgundy binding, it will be just fab.
So, are you wondering what Fun with TSA really is all about?...or were you smart enough to read between the lines??
So, in the afternoon before I left Handi Quilter, I opted to pack up all my immense goodies to carry back on the plane. I was too anxious to leave them and wait for UPS to come next week; I wanted to use them this weekend! The box was heavy and I fully expected to send it through with my suitcase as checked luggage. I arrived at SLC airport 2-1/2 hours early. I was already a bit irritated to be there so far ahead, but another gal going to the airport with me has 2 replacement knees, and she needed extra time to go through security and to get to the gate. Me, I arrogantly assumed I'd cruise through security. When I checked in, the agent told me that the box was small enough to fit on the plane, so I opted not to pay another $25 to check it. I got my boarding passes and proceeded to security. As I approached, I realized that I may have packed a pair of batting scissors in the box. I waffled as I was in line as to if I ought to just fess up my mistake or just turn around and caugh up the $25 and go check the box. I clearly made the other choice! The TSA person at the line before the xray told me that the scissors were probably OK. Many pair are allowed now, if they are 4" or under. So I went on. As I put my shoes and box on the xray conveyor, I was (of course!) singled out by the xray person for a random personal xray check. As she is pulling me aside to run the wand over, I can hear the xray people saying "oh, what are these?...they look long. Are they scissors?..." Oh, I thought, this is not going to end well. After hearing horror stories from my roomate on this retreat about security stealing from her, I was hyper vigilant about my purse and box. Soon, me and my belongings were all in a not-so-private part of TSA security, only separated from the gauking public by a couple of glass walls. One rather butchy female (or so I thought)TSA agent was wanding me, and patting areas I reserve for only special persons, while the other two TSA men were going through my alleged contraband box of quilting supplies acquired on this retreat. They found the quilting shears (ONLY AFTER UNPACKING THE ENTIRE DAMN BOX), and then intelligently comment to me "you must be a quilter". Gosh Golly, whatever gave them that impression?? Was it the 5 yards of fabric in that box? Or the $200 in quilting templates? Or the 7 latest editions of all quilting magazines I was given?? They are sharp, aren't they?! Anyhow, butchy woman had to give me a way too personal pat down. She whispers in one of my ears "Is that an underwire bra?". If I was not shocked to be standing with both arms out to my side for this unnatural interrogation, I might have been more amused. She probably just wondered why someone that clearly shops in the juniors department for bras really needed an underwire! I hope she got some gratification from confirming that it was not a u-shaped weapon, because I sure did not! Anyhow...long story short, we retaped up my box. TSA walked me to the giftshop opposite security and let me buy an envelope and stamps to send myself the scissors. They have not yet arrived, but a girl with 25+ yards of batting downstairs can dream. And then he whispers in my ear "I really should have taken your toothpaste, but I let that go"! Like I didn't have enough humiliation that night! And I have Carrolyn to thank for making me be to the airport so early so that this bump in my plans did not make me miss my flight! Oh, the absolute joys of flying!!
Have a fun week sewing whatever you have!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Handi Quilter Retreat, Installment #3

I should have entitled this post "Pure Greed". Or "Gluttony". Whatever you call it, it was so completely over the top and unexpected. I was suggested that we bring an extra bag for "goodies" but I thought we'd mostly be purchasing these. I only spent about $20 the entire weekend. My kids are happily devouring the bag of SLC salt water taffy!
The pin cushion was a gift from one of the gals that couldn't make the trip. A few of the items above were purchases, but mostly all of them were given to us. That is 3 spools of Rowan thread. Now, if most of my Kaffe Fasset fabric was not purple!?@
On Tuesday's ruler's lessons, these templates were tossed at us like candy. It is almost unbelievable that I nearly bought some swag rulers recently and just figured I could keep making due using the circle templates that I have! And then to get more circles too! I have a few circles which I like because they are like a doughnut, rather than solid as these are. I do prefer to follow the inside of the template rather than going around the outside of a large circle. These circles, do however, have lines for making similar size arcs which is great. I now have templates in 4 sizes for making clamshells. And another handy small ruler for a number of things (aptly called the Versa tool). Awesome, I tell you, just awesome. And rather a pricey gift :-))
We got HQ's collection of DVD's on all kinds of topics from groovy boards (which I have yet to buy) to other techniques. I need to set aside an entire weekend to view them! This is a $99 gift! Catch my drift??...they must really love us!
Here's a new collection of current magazines. All are new to me but one. JOY!!
And a nice sampling of batting. I'm not sure what to do with the packages of 6 sheets of 18"x18" batting except piece them together and use for runners or smaller things. I got some new batting scissors, but there whereabouts will be covered in another day or two (in my Fun with TSA post...I'm sure you can read between these lines!!). That sack of threads is a mixed bag of nice spools compliments of Superior and YLI - I think there is a nylon, a candlelight yarn, King Tuts and a couple others. Everyone's bag was a little different.
On Monday afternoon, we took a shopping spree trip. HQ gave us a $50 gift certificate, to which the quilt shop took 20% off of the total bill too! I grabbed a number of small cuts to maybe make some runners with, and 2 yard cut of a pink flowered print to do a dress for Sophie. The precuts (jelly roll, layer cake and charm squares) were given to us by Moda and came in one of the bags that HQ had prepared for us. Again, each of us had different precuts. My jelly roll is Christmassy, but it is not looking likely that I will get anything made for this Christmas! I did select some cuts too at our shopping spree to do myself a holiday table piece, but again, the same thoughts apply. Life and quilting are pretty busy at the moment.
So what could possibly be left to say about my weekend...Sometime near the end of this month, our pictures and videos will be finished with editing. They took head shots and quilting shots of us with one of our quilts to create our Handi Quilter advertisement for the magazines. HQ advertises in 96 magazines annually, so we can expect to be in about 6-7 ads next year. On top of that, there will be a taped "story" going on their website and on YouTube. Our mugs will also be going on the side of the HQ truck, which travels from quilt show to quilt show throughout the year. Are we now famous???... hardly. Happy for sure though!
I got word yesterday that my quilt Primavera is receiving a special recognition award at the Georgia Quilt Show. I'm pretty pleased at that!
Have a good weekend. Now that most of my retreat posts are done (All but Fun with TSA), I guess I have to get sewing!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Handi Quilter Retreat, Installment #2

I should entitle this post "Quilts Everywhere". But seriously, should I have expected anything less?? Of course not. It was fun to see all of the quilts that I recognize from HQ magazine ads all over their walls, and then some. The one below is from Brenda's office, and a book of her's too (I think). Though you cannot see the quilting, it is truly gorgeous. I love combining the very traditional patterns into a more artistic quilt.

The 2-story ground floor/entryway has many great quilts hanging. Here's just a few. I could use my entire blogger memory if I posted all of them.

And did you really think that I'd go to the bathroom and not bring my camera?...ha ha. Both bathrooms are decorated with no less than 5 quilts each. Seriously, you gotta love this place. It is a mecca of inspiration at every turn.
Both days of the retreat were filled with creative quilting lessons. On Monday morning, we took T-N-T...thread, needles and tension. The lecture was started with a larger-than-life model of a quilting needle (which I should have taken a picture of). It was about 18" long and 1.5" in diameter! The thread discussion was good, since I have become mostly fixated on using Superior's So Fine thread because if its ease of use and the fact that it rarely breaks. I rarely take the time to retension for other threads. After the lecture, we were given a bag of 8 very different threads, and had to tension our machine for each, and in a specific order. They were not in an easy order either! We did a metallic, poly-nylon, silk, King Tut, a couple of YLI threads and a So Fine. It was a great exercise. These threads we did not get to bring home, but we did get a nice bag of Superior and YLI threads as a gift. It also covered some basics on continuous-line quilting in the afternoon. My continuous-line snowmen and other things were not the most sightly stitching I have ever done! After dinner Monday evening, Suzanne Hyland (CEO Mark Hyland's wife) did a session on quilt design. Most people really loved how she held up several quilts and showed why or why not custom quilting is not a good decision. Learning to read a quilt is an acquired skill for most people, and for some I have learned, it just never happens. I feel fortunate to be able to see quilt potential and possibilities for quilting designs quite readily. I like to see how other good quilters choose to quilt pieces. More often, my problem comes with the battle between quilting what the quilt needs and what the client's budget is! I have done Carla Barrett's Quilt Whisperer class, and so love the approach she takes with students, and where to look for inspiration. Anything I learn above that is just gravy from here on out. Tuesday's lesson was on ruler work. When I first started quilting, I HATED ruler work. Slowly it has grown on me. This particular lesson was really good too. Of course it didn't hurt that these 4 fantastic educators (below) gave us the motherload of rulers and templates! More on that in another Installment of this retreat. These ladies are each very talented, and do a really good job of conveying knowledge to people of all abilities. Kudos to them!
(and dontcha just love that quilt behind the educators?!)
Here's the posh quilting studio...To see 18 longarm machines is to make me drool uncontrollably! It's beyone my wildest dreams! And naturally, there were quilts on all walls of this space too.
Are you bored with this yet??...Hope not, I have at least 2 more days of this. Just wait until you get to hear about my "Fun with TSA" post...
Have a good Thursday! I have recovered enough from my busy trip and redeye flight to probably start a twin quilt this afternoon! Joy to all~