Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Another sneak peek

Though there is clearly space around the center still lacking its quilting, here's the central medallion of the quilt.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day work in Progress

Remember a week ago, when it was raining constantly and was only 50F?? Today it is seasonably normal and close to 90F. OK, it's rather shockingly hot to the system. We are installing the upstairs air conditioners, but the downstairs one has to wait until there is a door between the kitchen and garage (or else it will try to cool twice it's rating). Plus, the drywall is going up tomorrow and then will be sanded, etc this week, and the living room window the A/C goes in is right there in the way. We'll tough it out downstairs fro a few days.

I did get to put on a customer quilt this weekend. I think I am several days still from having any more disturbances in my basement. This will be finished and off by then. I hit it hard this weekend, and it is about half-done. Here's a few sneak peeks...
The outer border is rather thin for too much fancy-ness, only being about 5". I like the look of straight lines on the outer border to help ground the quilt. I think that it will work especially well on this quilt since it is a lovely quilt, but with busier fabrics. It is so deliciously romantic. Here is a look at the entire quilt.
I am quilting two faux borders or boxes that are being filled with pebbles. You don't get to see much of it here, but it looks really neat, and it will add a textural dimension to the quilt. I like to see pattern in the quilting that is different from the piecing. It gives quilts a nice depth. I'll show more of this this week as it progresses.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Getting back to normal

With any luck, my house renovation interruptions will be on the decline so I can get back to normal sewing. I have not quilted in 2+ weeks. I've had limited piecing, but even that has been restricted due to distractions. Our house addition/renovation is set to get drywall on the walls next Tuesday, so I have the next 3 days to hopefully knock out a custom quilt.

In the mean time, here's a little progress on something I am puttering with. I have at least 4 blocks to redo because I used the wrong fabric. I assure you without the distractions, and having continuous quilting time, I will be much more focused. I have been unable to leave piecings out because of risk of sawdust, so they all go into bags at the end of any sewing session. It has been too easy to get mixed up on what fabrics go where.
Hope you have a warm & sunny Memorial day weekend-

Monday, May 23, 2011

Back in the Saddle & Riding High

Many thanks to Michelle who sent me the show program from MQS. It arrived today, and I am amazed at the number of quilts, especially in the Wall division. It is a big show and I hope to get out to see it in person some day. Now I have known for a week or so that I won the 2nd place award and suspected that it had a monetary prize. You never want to say "Hey, how much am I gonna get??", but the show program lists all prizes in black & white. $1000. Holy crap. Yes, $1000. One thousand. All I can say is thank goodness the world didn't come to an end this weekend. That check will come in handy, paying for this...
That mess of sticks is my downstairs. My kitchen specifically. It is actually progressing at a miraculous pace, but none the less, it is the reason that you have not seen as much quilty posts in the last few weeks. Hopefully, once the plumbing and electrical work finishes in my basement, I'll be able to get on to the 3 custom quilts that await me. Too much risk right now with saw dust. On Friday, though, I decided I had to sew, so I started on a new quilt that I had designed recently. It uses many batiks, including shades of black. Hopefully the black won't be a complete beast to see to quilt.
It may not look like that much - 16 blocks of each, but it represents nearly 8-9 hours of work. I must be slow I suppose. The largest blocks are only 6"x6". Those smaller 9-patch stars took a long time. I know it doesn't look like much yet, but stay tuned.

I do have a question for you all though. I paper pieced the diamond rectangles, as the angles can be persnickety to get right. I found I had some June Taylor foundation sheets, so I used these rather than regular printer paper. My question...Has anybody used these and NOT removed them before finishing the quilt?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Toddler's first quilt

I finished this quilt last week. It was made by a boy's grandmother for his first bed. She and her daughter picked it up a couple days ago, very pleased with the quilting. I always like days like that.The boats are fused-appliqued onto the blocks, and stitched with a wide zigzag. I outline stitched every one of them to assist the quilt in surviving the rigors of a child. The quilting in the blank areas was near perfect for depicting both water and wind. And an added plus, that it is immensely simple to quilt.
I am gearing up to quilt a large-ish custom quilt, maybe as early as next week. I have held off putting tops on the longarm because builders and a plumber have been in and out of the basement (where my studio is) all week. I'll think all is well, then I'll find a pile of saw dust where there wasn't one the day before. The rough electrical and plumbing will be finished in a couple days and then I should be safe to resume life as usual, at least as far as quilting is concerned. I am going into serious withdrawals. I did a little piecing today, but really want to quilt one of my own pieces...not at the risk however that it may get drips of water on it though (it is completely marked with blue water soluable pen!).

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Give it a Twist

Life is giving me twists right now. Why should your quilting be any different?? Rather than doing a conventional curved cross-hatching on the sweet, old-fashioned quilt such as this, why not consider a Terry Twist. This type of free-handed pattern is aptly named by quilter Sally Terry, and is a fun and soft alternative to standard CC.
Now, back to painting (UGH)...

Friday, May 13, 2011

New Ribbons

This post was written a couple days ago and Booger (aka Blogger) lost it somehow. I've been unable to login for almost 2 days. On the weekend, my MQX judges comments and teacher's ribbon arrived home. The quilt went out to MQS in Kansas for a few more days. It should be back here in a week or so. When I opened the package, I was delighted to find that there were actually 2 ribbons inside! Apparently I also received the Photographer's Choice at MQX. I only wish I had been there to see it hanging on the quilt.
As some of you know, MQS (Machine Quilters Showcase) is currently going on in Kansas. It is another big, international machine quilter's show that attracts as many good machine quilted quilts as does MQX. I sent my quilt out there as a longshot more or less to gain exposure, and to get more feedback from judges regarding what I need to work on and what I do well. Yesterday I learned through the MQResource grapevine (people that are there), that my quilt did in fact earn a ribbon - 2nd place to be exact! I'm over the moon about this - the news couldn't be more fantastic. Here's a picture, albeit very blurry, but one nonetheless, compliments of someone that is there at the show. It is definitely a very interesting ribbon!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Good News through the Grapevine

Last weekend, a package arrived from the MQX folks. I had been expecting it for a week or so - my Teacher's ribbon and judges comments. The actual quilt has gone on to MQS in Kansas until Saturday, when the show ends. Much to my surprise, when I opened the package, there were 2 ribbons! I had also received the Photographer's Choice award (and a lovely large purple ribbon that my daughter just "had" to have hung in her room!).

I knew that the MQS award ceremony was last night, and that the show opened yesterday. So I have been anxiously awaiting any news from out there. This morning, I saw a posting on MQResource by someone that is there for the show. The posting listed some of the names of winners, and my name was on her list! I'm ever so curious to hear what ribbon the quilt earned!

edited...One of the MQR quilters that is at the show right now has posted that my quilt earned a 2nd place ribbon in the wall quilt category. I'm over the moon right now!!!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Machine Applique

Generally speaking, when I applique, I stitch it by hand. Recently I have done both needle-turned applique as well as a method I learned in Karen Kay Buckley's class that uses starch and heat-resistent plastic templates. Both of these work well. But I have a project that has over a hundred appliques, of all different (rather randomly cut) sizes. I didn't really want to embark on stitching them either method. And my satin-stitch applique is rather rough looking. I spent some time researching machine applique, and found something interesting. I modified the technique slightly. Here it is.

You have to have this product called RinsAway. It is a water soluable stabilizer. But it's not like most of the others out there. This appears like a paper when dry, with some degree of integrity, and when soaked, it completely disappears. I ordered mine from Joann's. The local store did not have it in stock.

From the RinsAway, I cut two pieces that were roughly the same size. Take a water soluable (cheap) glue stick, the kind the kids use is just fine, and glue the two sheets together. The methods for this applique I found on the internet only used one thickness of RinsAway, but when I tried to work with it, using 2 layers is MUCH easier. When it is dry, cut the shape that you want your applique to be. My shapes are all random, and are intended to look like pieces of sea glass.

Next, with the glue stick, glue the RinsAway template to the backside of the fabric. Cut out the fabric around the shape, leaving no more than 1/4". Next, rub the glue stick on the edges of the shape and smooth the fabric around to the backside, as shown next.

Next, I glued the pieces where I wanted them on my quilt. Now you are ready to stitch. Not having pins all over the quilt is handy.

I used a narrow and relatively short zig-zag stitch. I also have a Madiera Monolon (clear) thread on the top and a neutral colored bobbin. The Madiera thread has come highly recommended as a low-sheen clear thread. I had always been a fan of Superior's Monopoly thread, but it's not being stocked routinely by them. I haven't been able to get a spool of it in nearly 6 months. Clear thread is a bit of a pain to work with, but in the end, it's worth it because the stitching does not show.

OK, it does show if you are 2 inches from the stitching, but seriously, once this is quilted and you are a few feet further away, it will be completely blind. There are show quilts that I know are machine appliqued that are nearly impossible to see the stitching on.

The next step is to soak the quilt in cold water for 20 minutes or so. If you are using colors that may bleed, you may want to prewash everything first, or even do what I did here (attach color catchers to the reds before soaking). After soaking, allow the quilt to dry flat. I wanted to remove the RinsAway before I quilted the piece, but it is completely plausible to quilt the top first, and then soak it to remove the RinsAway. In the end, the appliques are as soft as if they were needle turned!
Now I am off to finish the design for the quilting. I'd love to get it onto the frame later this week and hopefully quilt it before Sophie is out of preschool at the end of the month (and before I have disruptions in my basement from plumbers or electricians needing to work!).

Monday, May 09, 2011

Mother's Day

Finally, a nice weekend in the Northeast. Not cold, not wet - nice, typically spring weather. After last week's rains, the gardens are coming in nicely. I spent (no Mother's Day does not afford me the luxury of a "free" gardener - some things my husband just doesn't do) over 6 hours this weekend trimming bushes, clearing leaves from my flower gardens, and pulling weeds. My hands are still too sore to quilt anything technical! The garden below is not in my yard (I wish!), but visiting this tulip garden has become an annual event for us. We've done it every year except one since my oldest was 1. Some years they are relatively cooperative about getting the obligatory pictures taken. Others...well, just look.
My typically cooperative daughter was little Miss Silly Pants yesterday. She wouldn't stop giggling. My 9-year old kept picking and trying to eat the grass. I know...small things. In retrospect, it's better than the years when each kid tried to eat the tulips. But, still getting a good picture of all 3 when there is not a means to strap them to a seat is like herding wild kittens.

I have another dozen shots kind of like these. A bum in someone's face. A tongue out. Funny teeth. Micky-Mouse ears. Nanny-nanny-boo-boo looks. I'll have a ton of good ammo to show at their weddings someday.

This is about as good as they got. Not bad either.

My house is a flurry of activity and noise this morning, Finally. The framers are busy at work on the addition. Despite a frustrating setback a week or so ago with a previous builder, we are not behind schedule whatsoever. The foundation/excavator finished up Friday, and the building is starting today. Not much I like better to see at 7:30 on Monday morning than a lumber delivery...except for maybe the school bus :-) Have a good week. I'll be getting some quiltier things to show soon.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Penny Longarm Quilting Sale

Penny per square inch Stipple-Only Sale!

I am offering a happy May Sale on those quilts you'd like done with a stippled pattern (sorry...I will quilt all other patterns, but the sale is only on E2E stippling).

This is a great deal! Get those quilt tops finished and out of the boxes! Stippling is a fantastic pattern for the busier and scrappier quilts and for your utility or child quilts that are subject to repeated use and washings.

If you are interested, email me at msolomo1@maine.rr.com or post a comment with a way for me to get in touch with you. I have batting to supply so that does not need to be sent. My website is here.

I will post if I close this sale, but at this point I expect it to be open through the month of May.

Please feel free to post about this on your blog :-)

As always, the quilt tops should be as square and flat as you can piece, with a backing that is a minimum of 3" larger than the top on all 4 sides.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Catching Up

I have discovered a few E2E quilts I have not posted on the blog yet.

This is a nifty pattern, and the fabrics are delightful. It has an Eiffel Tower print too, but I don't think I got a picture of it. The owner wanted a fleur-des-lis pattern for the quilting. I was fortunate enough to locate the Heraldry pattern, which she loves. The piecing was textbook - nearly every row of the pantograph landed at the same location across the stripes - I never would have predicted that! I have no idea where this pattern comes from, but just yesterday, I came across this very pattern made by another quilter...look here...scroll down to the 2nd quilt.
Here's a sneak at one of the fabrics used on the back. Is that not just adorable??! Perfect for a toddler girl.

I finished this quilt just after I got back from MQX last month. It is for the owner's son, as he graduates from college. It is pieced from both cottons and Homespuns, and is quilted with a King Tut thread that she sent me. I have to caution you all about mixing these 2 types of fabrics. Though I managed to quilt it with good tension throughout, I can see that the cottons and the Homespuns are woven differently, and as a result, they tension differently. In my opinion, I would not mix them for a quilt being machine quilted. This pattern is the Popcorn pattern.

And lastly, another quilt for a man. These have to be the hardest for me to quilt. It's a fine line in quilting it pretty and not allowing it to be too feminine. Are feathers permissible? I used one of my newer pantographs called Plush. It's swirly and whimsical - to go with the dogs in the quilt.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Rainbow Stars

This quilt came off the frame a day or two ago. It was pieced by a friend. She used each fabric only once, except for just 2 -- That's 500 small scraps of different fabrics! Until I offloaded much of my scrap bins last month, I could have done this easily, but the thought of individually cutting each one is daunting! The end result with the white fabric is bold and beautiful. I just love it, and know that she will too.
She gave me freedom to quilt it "however". So here's what I did. A few parallel stripes, some pebbles, some swirly fill, and a fun heart & feather variation at the center to give it a medallion focal point.

It took longer than expected, but the end result is well worth the time.

Hope you are off enjoying the great May weather (unlike me, experiencing it through a very small basement window, from my work studio).