Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wedding Quilt Finished and Delivered

This quilt was finished a couple weeks ago, but it was delivered to the wedding couple yesterday, so I can safely post pictures of it here.  My mom is attending a wedding tomorrow of a former student of her's.  She asked me to help her make a quilt.  Now, she does know how to sew and quilt, so I'm not really sure why I was called in to do as much as I did, but I think it was so that I could have input on what I'd be quilting.  Probably a good thing or I may have had a paisley-heavily printed background to make pretty!
I designed the quilt to be as simple as possible for her to construct.  She had that stipulation - she did have to do something on this project besides the binding.  These are simple stars, made to 12".  The center star was a little more fussy, but not much so.  The Star of David was chosen because the groom's family is Jewish.  I left the background in soft tan fabrics so that the quilting would show a lot.  The other materials are Anna Griffin fabrics we found at a local rummage-style store at $4-5 per yard.  I'd buy more if only I knew what I'd possibly make with them!
She had the border print too in this collection, and I coached her on how to utilize it symmetrically to get the most from it.  I used the scrolls of the border to quilt to.  There is straight lines spaced at an inch outside of the scroll, and feathering inside of it.  There is no shortage of feathers and pebbling for variety and texture.  I also used 1/2" frames to set off the blocks.
 The blocks were fun.I chose a few fillers to use and reuse on the 62" quilt
I also created the frame that runs through the stars, then densely filled every other section to enhance the stripes.
 Here's a closeup of the blocks...
 And the center star...It is feathered, and has an "F" monogram for their last name.
The quilt was delivered to the groom yesterday, and the report to me was that he and his mother (where he was staying) were very pleased.  It turned out lovely, and took me 12-13 hours to do start to finish (not counting the design time and shopping for fabric with my mom).  Mom was skeptical when the top was finished because there was so much tan (and I think she really wanted more blue).  I told her to trust me, and that the tan would be lovely quilted up.  Was I right??@!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

King Quilt

This is for the most part, a glorious Mom's week.  Despite what is turning out to be relatively crappy weather (2 days of rain so far, and probably another coming), all three of my kids are off at camp from 9-4 this week.  I feel kind of bad - my daughter was supposed to go canoeing today, but wasn't able to.  Hopefully my boys will make it to a rope climbing event tomorrow before it rains.  I have a multitude of this and that that I am treating myself to, mostly including tasks involving my own projects.  But here's one chore I made myself complete this morning.  It's a 115" client quilt.  Or it could be 117", depending on where you measure.  It was off-square a little bit, but generally in that excessively huge range.  I quilted it last week, but finally got around to putting on the binding for her today.  Just putting on the binding (and she sent it to me all prepared!) took more than an hour!  Not my favorite part of the process, to say the least!...
It has enormous borders.  I think the 3 borders are like17 or 18" per side.  Her budget preferred an edge-to-edge quilting, but she decided to let me quilt something different on the borders.  I chose to continue the E2E onto the first border, and customize only the outer two.  This helps to show the E2E quilting, because it does get lost on the prints in the center of the quilt.
My border designs are on the simple (aka, not to time or budget unfriendly) side, but they are pretty for this non-frilly quilt.  She has made it for her daughter's wedding gift.
The E2E I did she chose from my book of ideas.  It's a freehand swirly thing that I do.  It quilts up relatively quick, and allows a number of small motifs to be worked it.  Not sure if you can make them out, but I have put in some hearts here and there.
Tomorrow's fun will involve trying to assemble the pieces of my silk quilt.  That should be frustrating!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Some of you may remember this quilt from last year...It's my 40.5" Intertwined quilt, started in Karen Kay Buckley's class nearly 2 years ago.  It is coming out in this month's edition of Machine Quilting Unlimited!  More pictures can be seen at the link.

It's going to a couple of shows in August and September.  It turned out to be 1/2" too large for the small quilt category at many quilt shows, so it hangs pretty in my dining room.

I have a full week of sewing being planned.  All three of my kids are off to day camp.  I have a binding to machine stitch on to a 117" quilt - thankfully the client is doing the hand stitching!  Then it's off to my fun stuff.  I have a ton of paper foundations prepared, and some of the pieces even cut.  I'm not even sure if I will touch the longarm this week.  Though my visions of what is really possible are often lofty, I plan to get my 40" silk quilt put together.  Just have one piece of silk awaiting the prewashing and then I'll be ready.  It's a little fidgetty how it will go together, so that may not be as simple as it sounds.  Fortunately, the mariner's star and all pieced blocks are done.  It's only got assembly left.  And another quilt I have started, the 2012 version of a mosaic floor, is underway too.  I showed the center a week or so ago.  Two of the 4 borders receiving the orange applique are done.  Each of these takes me nearly a week of hand sewing in the evening.  Maybe I'll even show an EQ7 plan for the entire quilt so you can see where I am...I hope to get all paper-pieced units made up, and then the corner sections.  It really needs to be assembled after the applique is done (or else I have a lapfull of fabric to hold and sweat under as I hand stitch!).  It seems realistic that I can assemble the next 4 corner sections, only after a significant amount of paper-piecing.  Other fun things for this week include having my car inspected, making a list of threads to hopefully buy next weekend at VQF, and maybe even go grocery shopping sans my kids!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

NQA Awards

It is officially one week into summer vacation (Is it 9 more to go?).  Through fire, I am dealing with the reality that is my summer. In simple terms - No daily afternoon 3 hours quilting sessions.  So far, I haven't felt the overwhelming need to have that sanity break, but I am sure it will come.  Today is day 2 of our heat, and at 8:45 am, both boys are back inside complaining of how hot it is already.  When they can't or don't play outside, mama gets to hear about it!

My quilts came home from the NQA quilt show yesterday.  Here's the ribbons that came home with this one.  They are both about the longest ribbons I have received!  It's not the typical blue ribbon for first place. They are in the NQA's black & yellow colors.  Attached to each ribbon is a cute little bee pin.  When added to my others, they definitely make for an interesting addition.
It is a tiny pin...I almost couldn't zoom in close enough to get it clearly.  As I have said before, I think that this show is my best personal showing with any quilt.  I know I won the best of show at the Maine Quilt show last summer, but the competition at NQA is orders of magnitude greater.  And getting the best machine quilting awards is such a freaking huge feather in my cap!!  I am still overwhelmed at that one.  Shocked and overwhelmed.  So, you can imagine my frustration and disappointment to open the box and find nothing monetary inside!  It had never dawned on me that a quilt show that attracts the number of big name quilters as this one does, would only give ribbons as prizes.  It's my own expectations to blame, but gosh, I was looking forward to a little vacation cash!  My husband had to remind me that I do this (make quilts and enter into shows) for the pride and joy of sewing (and hopefully winning).   And this IS true, BUT...I really want/need a vacation to Florida too!  I'm pretty sure I can't just pay Delta with my pride.  The category I won first in had over 30 entries.  It was one of the larger ones.  And, I clearly bested at least 100 quilts for the machine quilting award.  So yes, lots of pride and joy, and learnings to remember when I have a  quilt to enter.  Lesson...The Minnesota Quilt Show is the same weekend as NQA, and it pays the winners :-)
So as you can see, my humble 24" mini quilt made in the last round of a round robin I used to host, is beyond covered.  A few of my show ribbons have overflowed to my daughter's room (ah, the pink ones!), but this is in need of some changing.  There are several new ones, as of this spring's shows - three teacher's ribbons, three honorable mentions and a 2nd place (and the monster NQA ribbons!).
I am working on two customer quilts through the weekend (I hope the'll be done by then), and then next week is Mama's week.  All 3 kids are going to summer camp.  I may have client work, or I may work on my own things (or gasp, clean up the house??!).  In 10 days I am headed to the Vermont Quilt Festival.  It's another regional show that attracts a great blend of quilts.  I expect the variety and caliber to be pleasing.  Plus, it's a night away - can't beat that.  I've decided to take my mom and daughter, and make it a fun outing.  The boys can fend for themselves for a night :-)

Now, off to a craft store to find tracing paper so I can start printing out foundations for some paper piecing I have planned for next week on my newest mosaic floor quilt.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Photoshopping a Quilt

I am getting accustomed to what my next 9 weeks will be like, slowly but surely, and whether I want or like it or not.  The sad reality is that I will have little to no daytime quilting.  My 3 kids are like fleas, always in different locations, and just when you think you might do something productive, they run in demanding something else.  If they do come in, I find that they leave behind a path of destruction - toys left here, a shoe there, and the bathroom, Oh Lordy, don't even get me started there.  Next week my boys go to a day camp, and I am thinking that I'm going to sign my daughter up too just so I can have a week of peace.  I will have a couple of client quilts to then, unless I miraculously get them finished and then I can work on this quilt (or another I have started!).

This picture shows the 24" center on point, as it is in the quilt, with the 4 corner units (making it about 34-35" square) just sitting there.  I'm working to finish the ivory and orange appliques before I assemble the unit.  Appliquing with a smaller piece is easier than always having a 35" block on one's lap.  This is especially true since we have upper 80's coming in 2 days.  Yea, the beach is in my future!
The 3-1/2" terra cotta border is getting appliques in orange, just to bring the orange color out a little bit.  It's a bold and rich pumpkin-like orange, and I love it in the center.  I just thought it needed a little accentuating.  From a distance, I suspect it will appear mostly monochromatic, but up closer, the detail will be evident.  I saw a similar type design on a floor in Italy.  I'm currently stitching the orange applique on the 2nd corner.  They take a few hours to sew.  Just to see what it'd look like, I Photoshopped the corner onto the other locations.  I haven't pressed this at all - It will look better when it's done.
Here's a peek at the corner, again, not pressed.  I am toying with either trapuntoing the filigree, or running a thick yarn through the applique to help poof it just a little.  I'm a bit gun-shy of real trapunto because I snipped my quilt top the one time I did it.  That would make me livid.  Each of these corners have about 8-10 hours of hand applique beyond the hours spent piecing the star and florette.
I work on this when I can, but mostly at night.  I have a monster 117" quilt on the machine right now, nearing that done point.  My husband took the kids a bit this weekend so I could quilt, but during the week, I get only about 1 hour in the early morning, and things don't get finished quickly at that pace.

Time to look into that daycamp! piece of aqua silk arrived so I can get the silk quilt all together.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Topsy-Turvy Roller Coaster of Show Quilting

Before I get into what I intend to say in this post, let me toot my own horn.  

Honk Honk!!

I found out this morning that my quilt "Meet Me at Giverny" (shown below) has not only won first place in it's category at the NQA quilt show in Columbus, OH, also won the best track-mounted quilting award.  I am completely shocked and blown away by BOTH of these awards.  I got notification early this morning from Sherry Reynolds (many of you know of her from her America quilt, which has won everything in sight as well as been on the cover of Quilter's Newsletter magazine) that my quilt had taken 1st, and another ribbon, but she didn't tell me which quilt it was!  I really figured it was Sea Glass.  So funny.  Just recently, I was told it was the Giverny quilt.  Sometimes its an interesting, and not always patient process to unravel the results of quilt shows when you are not there.  Would be nice if they'd just call or email, eh?!  ...and I still don't know how Sea Glass did.  Sherry has pictures to email me when she gets home.

(picture taken at MQX, April 2012)

If you are a quilter that creates quilts for quilt shows, then surely you will relate to this post.  The whole process of making a quilt, sending it to a show, then patiently (or not so patiently) waiting for the process of having it judged and getting the results, etc can send a person through a complete ringer of emotions.  Obviously, only a few quilts end up receiving ribbons, but somehow we endure the process just for that possibility.  And it yields different results every time.

I am learning that is just the way that subjective events are.  As much as we want quilt shows to be purely about the "facts", it is not the case.  If you send the same quilt to 10 different quilt shows, you'll be surprised how differently it will come out.  I have seen how traditional quilts do better in certain parts of the country, and how some shows seem to favor more arty quilts.  Before I sent this quilt to its first show this year, I was fairly confident that it would be middle of the pack.  It's very much to my taste, but lacks applique, and my quilting is monochromatic, maybe not as complicated as other people do.  My machine is hand guided so every bit is unique - good or bad.  I thought it was not my best binding, and that the outer edge seemed to have a tendency to ruffle just a bit more than my other quilts.  Of course I am always my worst critic, but that is natural.

Turns out, the quilt took 2nd place in its first show, and having spent lots of time on the show floor, I heard plenty of great and complimentary comments.  I was overjoyed, and figured I just didn't know what a judge looked for!  It went on to MQS, it's 2nd show.  MQS was big this year, and was stacked with so many great quilts.  It seemed daunting to read the good quilter's names that sent quilts this year.  My quilt only came home with a Teacher's ribbon.  But the judges comments were what came as a total shock.  They liked the binding and the hand painting.  But they clearly disliked and thought inappropriate my choice of the Stonehenge fabrics, stating that the mottled appearance made seeing the quilting difficult.  Most of the quilting is in gold Glide, and I thought it showed quite nicely.  Opinions...Judges are not wrong, but it's obvious that their personal tastes can and do affect how quilts are judged.  There's a subjective part to the scores - how they rate the overall appeal of the fabrics/design.  There will always be winning show quilts that I really detest.  

So, where does this leave me?  or you if you like to make show quilts?  ... Follow your heart.  Make what makes you happy.  Incorporate small bits of each critique into your next quilt without taking it all completely to heart.  As soon as I got the MQS critiques, I bought 7 yards of more Stonehenge fabric and immediately started on another quilt. pretty mottled fabrics! (big grins!).  My ego may have been punched a bit by the comments, but I knew well enough what I like and needed to follow through with that.  I will be a better quilter because I respect the comments of the judges, and I like to know what they like.  It helps me to choose one thing to try to do better next time.

I anxiously await the NQA judges comments.  Though it's great to know what judges don't like, I find it more comforting to know the things that they think I have done well.  Show quilting can be an obsessive hobby.  Learn from it, have fun, and know that the best end result is that others can enjoy what you already love.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Quilting a Custom Lap Quilt

I designed this simple quilt for someone else to make, and I will be quilting.

I came up with this very simple layout of 9 stars -- 4 of them of an Ohio star pattern, 4 in a 4-patch star, and a star of David.  It is a lap size, and has plenty of space to quilt it pretty.  The colors in the EQ7 design are only for design purposes.  There's no bright neon green in the quilt!
She brought me the top and backing on Wednesday, and I started it yesterday.  I'm close to or just past the half point with 6 hours quilted.  I'm trying to fill the large-ish tan areas with lots of feathers, and design.  My machine is being a pain in the ass with me, or I'd probably be further along.  Remember the mini-quilts I did in Feb?...After doing them, I was pretty sure that the timing of my machine was off.  I couldn't sew with So Fine without skipped stitches.  I managed to get around this just fine by using a 40wt or 30wt thread - either Glide or Omni.  This quilt is being stitched with Omni, and unfortunately, it's occasionally skipping stitches when I sew with a ruler going up or left.  Picky!  After this quilt, I will definitely get it to the shop to be retimed.  I have a few things coming down the road, and I want to be able to sew with the fine threads.
So, my star quilting is a little simpler because the background is what is really seen.  And it is feathered to heck and back.
We found wonderful Anna Griffin fabrics at Marden's, for a whopping $4.50 per yard.  This large-print is cut so that the 4 borders each have this design symmetrically.  I think the finished border will be lovely.  I have more SID and still need to outline the other side of the ivory scroll, but you get the idea.

OK, off to make dinner before there is no power!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

New Adventures

I have been scattered lately.  I have been trying to finish off a show quilt that had been doing it's best to put me in a grave, and my focus on all other things has suffered.  Usually I only have a couple of projects going at a time, but I've completely let myself go recently.  I have a pieced split carpenter's star all in it's diamonds, ready to make the last 16 setting blocks, then it can be assembled.  It is getting a good bit of applique, which I have been sketching out the last 2 months, but the basic background of the quilt is pretty far along.  I have another mostly all applique quilt that I started a couple months ago in the works too.  I just about have 3 of 4 primary blocks finished.  You haven't seen any of this.  It will probably get worked on this summer when I can't go downstairs to my studio on account of having 3 kids in the house.  Then at MQX I bought some silk and started designing a 40" (or slightly smaller) quilt.  I started that one this week.  If you neglect the fact that I miss-cut one of the fabrics, it probably would be done before next week.  Today I put the center, a Mariner's star together.  It's in 2 large pieces.  Well, the entire star block is only 10" square, so large is clearly relative!

But 2 weeks ago, it would seem I went through a mild mid-lifer and decided I wanted to make another mosaic floor quilt.  I thought I might get more of it pieced before kids are home, but, I always think that.  I am happy with the quality of the piecing and that is what counts.  The mosaic on point is 24" square.  With the additional 4 corner triangles added (and 4" more of the coral fabric) the block will be up to about 35".  The entire quilt is really fun and repeats some of these motifs. It will be around 68".  
I love to design piece-work, but sometimes it is just much better accomplished with hand applique, as is the case with these triangles.  The scallops are all hand appliqued.  They are about 7/16" wide, finished.  Each of those florettes in the triangles will be outlined with the wide bias in ivory as well.  This is a great task for me because I can sew this in the evening.  The only thing done on machine on the triangles are the paper pieced black-white-brown florettes (seriously, they are not broccoli, but what is a better name??!).

Though I like the intricate details of lots of piecing, I have to think hard about leaving some open space for machine quilting.  My preferred style of quilts is hard to be competitive in machine quilting shows because I don't leave enough "show off" space.  It is a happy medium.  I don't want to make a large quilt out of minimal piecing because to me that is boring to make, even if it has plenty of room to be made beautiful with quilting.  But I want all of my efforts to be rewarded at the shows I enter too.  Happy middle ground...always in search of it.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Client's Child Quilt

I finished this quilt about a week ago.  It's a large twin for the 6 yr old daughter of a client.  She made it from a (or several?) Moda jelly roll.  My appologies, I am just not up on the Moda prints to tell you what it is.  It's busy and lively, and has no shortage of cherries!  All she told me was "Make it pretty".  Hopefully I have accomplished that without going completely overboard.
This is the kind of quilt that is hard to quilt more than an hour or two at a time, since the background has so much of the same thing.  The pebbles are rather on the large side, some larger than a quarter, and I interspersed some spirals (reminiscent to me of lollipops) in amongst the spirals.  Though there seems like a lot of white background, it is rather narrow, maybe 2", to do anything more with.
 The tulip-ish piecings were quilted out to look kind of like whimsical flowers.
 The back is pretty.  It's a mostly solid green and shows the texture nicely.
She's coming to get this quilt on Monday.  It's sad to see such a good client for the last time.  Her husband is Coast Guard, and they are moving to Alaska in a few weeks.

I have been a very distracted quilter lately.  I've been up to too much designing, for me and others.  Been up to starting too many projects.  I think this is happening because my kids are out of school in a week and a half, and I am scurrying to get a good start on anything I might hope to accomplish this summer.  It may be a summer of predominantly hand applique work that I do in the evenings.  I have the kids lined up for a few weeks of day camp so I can keep the business moving along, and I do still quilt early in the morning before they awaken.  So despite my distractedness and lack of meaty blogposts, I do have some things to share...soon...when I have the time.