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?!