Thursday, December 20, 2012

Wonderful Wool Applique Quilt

This was sent to me by yet another of my many California clients.  She teaches the wool applique, and this will be used in her upcoming January classes.  I have seen and quilted this style of quilt before, but this one is amazing with all of its details.  Every block is loaded with little details to make it unique, from a crocheted edge, to beads (lots of beads!), to embroidery to things I don't even know what to call them!
Sorry for the quality of the full shot.  The border fabric is from one of my favorite Martha Negly (I think) collections.  It's bold and works so well with the flowers.  I had no idea that the background fabric was a black & white check until it arrived, as it appeared tan in the picture she sent me.  The check presented some issues with quilting, as it had next to no visibility whatsoever.  I quilted the filler around the applique with a dark purple Glide thread just so I could see what I was doing.  The dense fill coupled with her Hobbs wool batting make these appliques pop off the quilt half an inch!
 Having bunches of beads right at the edges of the appliques made ditching the appliques close to the edge challenging (OK...nearly impossible), but the unless you look between the lines (no pun intended) of the check you will never know.  My filler is a pseudo McTavish with a twist as I add pebbles here and there too.
These next flowers (or are they pods?) have embroidered "stuff" on them that look like they are made like I make bullion knots in smocking, only they are much larger and hang freely.  Some of this stuff kinda blows my mind!

With the heavy floral border, I chose simple 1/2" lines to quilt so it would not compete with the patterning.  It almost always works out well.  The floral fabric is stitched with a deep cranberry variegated Superior Rainbows thread.  In the past, I have had sporadic good luck with the Rainbows thread.   Something must have worked here because not a break or shred.
The center medallion is pretty with an assortment of flowers from all of the blocks.  I also stuck in some feathers here to help define the space.  Besides, I think it might get boring with just more dense filler.
 Here is one of these flowers that has a cool little crocheted edge.
Her backing is cranberry colored.  It shows off the texture of the quilting nicely (and picks up lint pretty well also).  Though you can't see it in the picture, the Bottomline bobbins in cranberry and purple are evident on the backing, giving it just a hint of color.  It's a really pretty quilt, and I hope it will be loved.

Although I have quilted one twin quilt and have another quilt being dropped off tonight this week, I am kind of slowing down.  Christmas is 5 days away.  My gift shopping is done.  Most of the wrapping is done.  Boy I wish I'd done that a day sooner, as my boys pulled a sneaky and got into everything 2 nights ago.  I had to go return a bunch of things yesterday and reshop!  Made me madder than you know!  Last thing I want is there to be NO secrets or surprises for Christmas.  This week's quilts are my very early January deadlines.  For all of you that have sent quilts to me, thanks for being patient.  I've been sick for nearly a week, and not keeping up well.  Plus this fall has been 2 to 3 times busier than I anticipated.  All backlogged quilts will be done in early January.  No more rush jobs once Christmas has passed - everyone can just wait their turn :-)  And as always, if you have easy, non-custom quilts you'd like quilted, I am always happy to do these in between my customs to give my mind a break.  See you in the new year-

Monday, December 17, 2012

Flying home to sunny California

OK, maybe not sunny, but definitely not snowy.  We got our first real dose of reality overnight with about 4" of snow.  This morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the kids were still going to school, despite the fact that it was still snowing.  At about 10am, though, the school called to announce an early release day at noon.  It's not as good as a full day, but I still got nearly 3 hours quilted on a client quilt.  I need a full day so I can have an afternoon to wrap :-)

This quilt is all boxed up to be sent home tomorrow.  I never got great pictures of it, and figured today which was very cloudy wouldn't yield those.  It's very dark and overcast.  It's a cute lap quilt, with hexagons hand appliqued all over  it.  The middle and border fabric is a cutesy print with birds, but not one that shows the quilting really well.  I chose do do a very fun and effective free-roaming feather for the border, and a large-scale McTavish type filler in the middle.  I hesitate to call it that because it barely resembles a McTavish, but it sets off the applique.  Each of the hexie clusters were stitched like different flowers.  I know that the owner will love this one when she gets it back!
We are slowly getting ready to come to that holiday "stop".  The last minute quilters are still out there.  I have a rush job quilts that need to be done by early January, one I hope to get to later this week.  My 8-yr old has been happily wrapping for me this year, but I can't trust him to wrap for anybody in this house!  He and my husband went treking through the woods yesterday and came back with a great little Charlie Brown Christmas tree.  It was free, and is infinitely better than the 3' fake one I had set up on a box.  All decorated now, and I didn't have to do a dang thing (just the way I like it!).  I am so unmotivated this year to decorate and shop and get ready.  Some years it is tolerable; not this one.  We are now down to the week count down.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Feeling Fruity

December is just pumping out the custom client quilts.  With kids out of school and a period of no quilting coming, I am plugging away at my backlog of custom quilts before the January batch arrives.  None have come in for 5 or 6 days...must be a sign that people are feeling the need to shop instead.  I've got enough right now to get me into the dead of winter, but each quilt is different.  And each is a joy to quilt, so keep them coming!

This one just went home to northern California today.  I have no idea whatsoever what pattern this was made from, or exactly when she made it.  She had started hand quilting it and removed those stitches to send it to me, feeling that it may be years to completion otherwise.  The design is so incredibly quirky and differet, that I just love it.  It is really fun to quilt pieces that you haven't seen 14 other people make and quilt.  

The block backgrounds are made of 4 pale blue/ivory prints.  They may be vintage, but I'm not sure.  They are thinner, and seem kind of old-fashioned, but what do I know.  Her needle turn applique is excellent.  And the selection of materials enormous.  I was initially planning to quilt in some colors on top of the leaves (add some veins) and other fruits, but realized it would take 6 green threads to blend this with all of the colors of leaves she used.  I opted for the monofilament outlining instead.  This allows the applique to shine, and to have a slight bit of poof.  I only quilted on top of the applique fruits in a few cases, when they were just too big to leave.  And in one of these cases, I still did not because the fabric from below was shadowing unfavorably.  Hard choices.
 The selection of fruits is so fun.  I'm guessing the ones below are cranberries and cherries.
Freehanded meandering feathers are not super fast to quilt when all this applique is in the way, but they give a subtle and pretty background to allow the appliques to be the show.  I used an ivory thread.  It shows a little on the blue sashings, but not enough to matter.  The sashings sink into the background, as I wanted.
 Don't you just love the grapes?!
 My daugher, the only tomato eater in the house, would love this one --right there with all the "real" fruits!
 I have 2 more customs planned to complete before the kids are out on the 21st.  Then, I can relax and figure out what to wrap, what to buy and what to return because it was a crappy buy.  As for today, kids are about home.  I need to go outside and discard of a half-rotting pumpkin on the porch stair, and if whim hits, I may even take down the Easter egg wreath by the front door.  You can tell we aren't even thinking Christmas here yet!  Actually had the "do we really want to get a tree" discussion last night too.  Talk about an odd year.  The 4' fake tree that goes on the balcony may make its way to the living room instead.  Joy!

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Calendula Embroidery Quilt

This rainy December day finds me in a mood to do nothing, not even sew.  There's wash going, and groceries need to be shopped for.  Maybe tomorrow.  Seventeen days until Christmas and I just don't give a flip.  I have come to hate Christmas more and more.   It is too commercial.  Candies go into the stores on November 1.  They can't even get the Halloween candy on sale before they are stocking the Christmas stuff.  Stores are mobbed with crazies.  I'm not a fan of shopping whatsoever, but somehow managed to go out a couple times this week to try to get started.  I'll probably take much of it back in the end.  That's the problem with gifts - nobody really needs things.  I have no idea what people really want, and I just hate blowing money just to give something.  I miss having time with my mother -- something  she and I apparently don't share.  We never get time together at the holidays, because she always has the other family at her house.  During the school year, either I have work to do or her visiting time is only for the kids.  Now, things are just a mess and I'm caught in the middle of her obtuse insensitivity.   How on earth can someone not see how horribly they are hurting another person?  She's upset with me this year, and has decided to go away for Christmas.   It's going to break my kids's hearts.  This year, I am just mad.   Super mad.  And right now, I want to stew in it so don't tell me to get over it.  Not yet.  I deserve to be hurt and upset.

I have some pictures of a client quilt finished recently.  It's a Halloween-ish quilt (I think), called Callendula, by Crabapple Hill designs.  It has an absolute boatload of straight-stitch embroidery.  
 Here's some close-up shots...The embroideries are mostly outlined.  This took me quite a long time, but it does help to define the details nicely.  Then I just quilted around them with different designs to help to define the scene.
The motifs are colored with something - colored pencils or crayons?...I'm not sure what, but it makes them stand out from the neutral background.
 The Witching hour clock and books, which are rather amusing...
 Here I quilted a spider's web and some flames.
 You would not believe the amount of lines in this broom!   I guess it's probably not sweeping bats, but I wasn't sure how to quilt dirt.
I mixed up the fillers on the pieced blocks.  It didn't seem cohesive with the design to custom quilt them each differently, so I treated them as a background unit.  They got  some feathers, and some whirly swirls.
 Gotta love the crows.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Complete Insanity

Here's the picture of total insanity.  I'm adding a scalloped binding to my already 100" quilt.  There are about 104 scallops, and they are about 3-1/4" long.  Or I should say short.  It took a whopping 6 hours to machine stitch the binding to the quilt.   I predict about 10 hours to hand stitch it down.  I ought to have my head checked!  It will look great, but really?...about 10 minutes per scallop?!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Aunt Millie's Garden

I have seen several of these Aunt Millie's Garden quilts done up at the shows I attended last year.  Quite often they are appliqued on white or seemingly odd color backgrounds not becoming of all that effort.  This one is fantastic.  There are many different brown prints - maybe a dozen or so.  It is homogeneous in color, but still has that scrappy quilt look.  I'm quite pleased with  how this quilt turned out, and home that the owner will be too when it makes it's way home to her next week.

You see, Megan finished this quilt nearly 2 years ago.  It has been sent to two previous longarm quilters who simply put it into their ever-so-long que for quilting, and then all but forgot about it.  When I read about her problem, I was extremely disgusted. Soon after, she contacted me about quilting the quilt for her.  Despite receiving the quilt about a month later than I anticipated (she opted to reverse one of the applique borders), I am happy to be getting this back to her by the date I originally stated.  It is very important that a quilter is up front with the client about when quilts can be completed.  I, personally, would never send a quilt to one that told me it might be 6+ months.  I don't care how good he/she is.  I realize that there are quilters with unreasonably long backlogs that still get many quilts sent to them.  I just am not one of them.  I pride myself in being able to turn the quilts over within 3-5 weeks, typically.  Enough ranting...On to the quilt!

She's chosen to only do 9 of the 12 blocks.  I think it looks great.  What I wanted to do was break up the very boxy construction lines with quilting that is "outside the lines".  I really dislike the look of taking a quilt that is blocks and sashings and just quilting a filler into the blocks and then doing something different on the sashings.  It looks stiff and boring, and not something not really fitting a show quilt.  And Megan mentioned that she wants to enter this in a show or two.
Hopefully you can see how I placed a large square on point, and allowed it to protrude into the border.  It's filled with 1/2" straight line filler.  Inside that square, is another square filled with pebbling.
The center of the quilt has a medallion of sorts (below).  As you can see, it just centers on the applique without regard for the sashing.  I love the curved cross-hatching used as a frame for the applique.
Maybe the quilt scheme shows a little better here...I spent a whopping 8 hours ditch stitching all of the appliques with a clear monofilament thread.  All in all, this quilt took about 20 hours to complete - over 6 hours over what I had expected it might take (yes, I clearly lost my shirt on the project, but the end result is definitely worth seeing at a show!).  
 After the ditching was done and the 2 frames were finished, I went around and chose fillers for the spaces.  The dense fills help to make the appliques pop.  That and the fact that I used a Hobbs 80/20 batt and a Tuscany wool batting!  The corner blocks had echo quilting.  The inside of the borders was quilted with a ruffly kind of snailing stippling.  I'm sure it has a more technical term (or not), but I have no idea what it is.
The outside of the borders is done with a nice McTavishing and feathers along the vines on 2 sides, and a hip straight line pattern on the other two sides.  This quilt is textural very appealing.
 The only appliques that I chose to quilt on were the center circles of the 9 blocks.  They got a small feathered wreath.  Given more time and budget, I could have definitely done more quilting on the appliques themselves.  But the reality is that they look pretty good as they are, and since the batting has wool, they will probably hold their shape nicely.
 One last look...
This quilt was done with both Superior Magnifico and Glide, in two shades of brown.  I had never used the Magnifico, and it performed wonderfully -- just like the Glide in fact.  The Glide costs less and comes on a larger cone, so which do you think I will use more??

Hope you enjoyed this quilt.  And I hope Megan likes it too.  I will look forward to seeing it hanging in a show somewhere.

On to my next custom...

PS...If you are out there and want to have a quilt quilted in a simpler edge-to-edge, please contact me.  I am in desperate need of some less time consuming work to do now and then!!!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Millie in Action

Despite it being a long holiday weekend, I have been trying to quilt on this client quilt an hour and a half each morning before my troops are up.  Today I got a little extra time and was able to complete all of the ditching of the appliques.  This is Aunt Millie's Garden, and my client has only used 9 of the 12 blocks in the design (thankfully!!).  I spent a whopping 8 hours ditching the many appliques.  Yea you read that correctly...Eight hours of stitching monofilament.  This is a sweet pattern, but it really doesn't leave a decent amount of space around the appliques for much quilting.  If I made it, I'd make each block at least 1-2" larger on all 4 sides.  Never the less, I am still trying to work a creative quilting scheme into the layout.  You'll know if I succeeded  by the end of this week!
It will be good to have the kids go back to school tomorrow.  Then it is only four weeks until the next vacation hits us.  I'm not sure when the vacations became such a drag.  Surely, sometime in my life I loved them.  Not so anymore.  Mind you, it's not really been so bad having my kids home and hanging around (if you can get accustomed to the many "I'm boreds", but they take a huge hit on my quilting work at a time when I am truly swamped.  Actually, it's the eating holidays and Christmas that I just loathe.  Easter Bunnies are cute.  Fourth of July has a good outdoor spread.  But Thanksgiving is like a cesspool of too much cooking, too many opinions, not enough caring and listening, lying, people being people, deceptions revealed, and all the things that are so much part of a big family it can make you rather run for the hills than try to enjoy a family turkey day.  Next year may well be different.  I just don't need celebrations if that's what they are.  Days like that just make me dread the next holiday.

For all interested, my cat Sally came home on Tuesday after spending 4 nights at the vet.  She got IV fluids, and several xrays, all revealing "suspicious" items but not confirmed items in her intestines.  When she began to eat again on Sunday afternoon, after nearly 5-1/2 days not eating, she began her road to recovery.  Nothing un-natural has come out of her, so it makes us wonder what really was wrong.  I've purged the kids' rooms of potentially dangerous things, in hopes of avoiding a repeat $627 experience!  This is putting a severe financial burden on this Christmas, which coupled with my existing dislike of the holiday, isn't helping matters.  But we are all happy to have her home.  I'm good only purchasing the essential Christmas gifts so long as we aren't burying my kids's cat this week.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Trying to Be Real

Thanks to the many FB friends that continually inquire how things are going with my cat.  To catch everyone else up, she quit eating this past Tuesday.  She's only 4 so this is not a normal thing.  On Thursday, she stayed with the vet, had xrays and got fluids.  They were quite sure that day that there was nothing in her intestines, and that the next step was blood tests.   I was kind of surprised at the clean xrays, as I know she chews and eats foam when she can find it.  I've seen it in her catbox.  As an aside, I have raided the boys' rooms for all foam, gimp and anything that looks chewable, but I fear it may be too late.  We took her home to mull this additional cost over.  These tests would only reveal something we didn't want to deal with like kidney or liver malfunction.  She ate something on Thursday evening and Friday morning, so I was hopeful that things were looking better.  Then she refused all day Friday, despite taking appetite stimulant pills.  Yesterday I took her back to the vet to have the tests.  She's lost nearly 3lb since this started.  They drew blood and ran additional xrays, this time at no cost.  The bloodwork was clean, but the vet thought that the xrays were "suspicious" - not anything obvious on them, but not nothing to say a conclusive diagnosis.  My gut is that foam, since it is mostly air, would appear like a gas pocket in the gut.  We can take her for an ultrasound, which costs $400, and will tell us for certain if there is anything there.  If there is, she's headed to surgery.  If no, then we are nowhere closer to knowing what is wrong, and we will have shelled out over $800.  It is daunting monetarily.  The vet is suggesting exploratory surgery, at a cost of anywhere between $500-1200.  The higher end will be reached if they find things in her intestine and have to remove them.  With having already spent $400, this is reaching the obscene.  They won't euthanize a young, and fixable cat because the owners cannot afford to pay.  But they see nothing wrong with sending her home to die a slow death in front of our 3 children.  It's heartbreaking.  It won't be a good Christmas this year, I'm afraid, and this is going to take every bit of our possible summer vacation fund too.  It's not like I need things to depress me this time of year, but this is sure doing that.  Somehow, I need some good news so I can get my quilting mojo back.

On Friday, I finished this quilt.  It's so pretty - lots of great batiks in one of my favorite patterns.  It was a very fun diversion to the Hell going on in our lives.
 I used 4 colors of Glide thread - red, purple, gold and green.  I also did something different.  Rather than ditch quilting all of the points, I chose to stitch on the triangles.  The addition of the thread gives another dimension to the design.  In many places the thread is a contrasting color, and this thread has a great sheen on top of the batik.
 There are feathers, sunflowers, leaves, swirls, rays.  It sounds like a lot, but it's all about the organic look.  I see this quilt as a garden with its colors - the NYBs are flower or sun-like.  Maybe my head is fogged, but I think it all turned out good.
 The center...
 And closer up it reveals a sunflower with sun rays out of it.
 The red is sub-framed to bring it out.

 I feel like there are too many pictures here, but I really like this quilt.
 The outer border.. I may never do ribbon-candy ever again.  Its one of those designs that seemed like a good thing until I realized I had about 600 inches of it to stitch!
 Her backing is a rainbow sherbet-like Indian batik.  The four different bobbin colors hardly show up because of all the backing's color.  I think you can see the patterns though.

I have a much dreaded T-shirt quilt loaded up next.  They are not my favorite quilts to sew.  Each one seems to have it's own bag of issues.   They are always tension headaches because of the greatly differing thicknesses across the top.  But business is business, and right now with cat bills looming, I have to press ahead.  Have a good Sunday and send good digesting wishes to my stupid Pica cat.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Winter Snow & Ice

I just quilted this 30"x36" wallhanging for a client.  It's one of my favorite quilts to do in a long time.  Small enough to hold my interest, and when they are smaller, it is easier to put detail in without feeling innundated.  I used 2 batts since it's a wallhanging.  There's a layer of poly on top of the normal Hobbs 80/20 to give the extra relief to the details.  This quilt is kind of in the style of Louisa Smith's strips and curves method, with the kaleidoscope circles/snowflakes.  It's incredible how a printed fabric can piece to make so many intricate shapes.
I stitched using a metallic silver thread from Wonderfil.  I am very pleased with how this thread stitched.  I had only one break, which is not my typical experience with metallic threads.  They sell several threads that I have enjoyed using.
The snowflake blocks are actually only made from 8-45degree wedges, despite appearing more complicated.  I simply outlined some of the key lines in the geometry and let the fabrics do the rest.
 Her backing fabric has the butterflies, so I chose to outline just this one butterfly for fun.
 Rather than doing a ton of SID on all the 1/2" strips, I stitched a squiggly line down the center of them.  If gives a very textural look to the quilt.  All circles and blocks are ditch stitched though.
 The back shows the variety of fillers - feathers, swirls, curls, pebbles, squiggles.
Now, I'm off to run a few quick errands, and then onto her 2nd quilt...a lovely NYB.