Thursday, November 17, 2016

Beautiful Applique

Since last Monday, when not dealing with the horrible inconvenience of my computer's untimely death, I have been quilting away at this very large and very awesome applique quilt.  I often get repeat offenders as a hired quilter, but this is the first time I have gotten to quilt this particular Kim McLean quilt.  It is wildly whimsical!

It is also massively sized, bigger than my 8' hallway floor.  The lighting yesterday was not perfect for photos, but life with getting my new computer up and running took precedence over obtaining perfect photos.  You get the idea...

 The black and white background fabric is practically blinding to quilt for too long.  Everything starts to blur.  For this reason, I tried to make the job a little easier by using a dark purple thread.  It is a Polished Poly by Glide.  Boy, if you have not heard me say it before, listen now -- I love this particular thread!  To break up the fill, I have a 1/2" linework pattern used both on the outer applique border, as well as in random places on the blocks.
 This is the top border - somehow the photo did not rotate properly.
 The client sent a wool batting.  This is why the appliques have nice poof.  Never the less, they are large, and I did have to do some quilting on top of most of them,  About 6 or 7 different thread colors were used for this.  Such is the life of a very colorful quilt!
 I tried to keep the quilting on the flower appliques light and whimsical.  I don't want anything too realistic or traditional (aka stuffy!).
 Mostly the quilting is just helping the appliques from appearing floppy on account of their size.
 One more look at what 705000 stitches looks like! will be on its way to Virginia before we are eating Turkey next week.
Yesterday, I decided to make use of time as I wait for a quilt to arrive to me.  It is one of those that will have a quick turn around.  This quilt on the frame is actually mine!  It has been boxed and waiting for inspiration for a sad year.  Wait no more...It is getting finished and soon.  It really only has a few things to go and it will be ready for blocking and binding.  It will most definitely make the spring shows.

The red outer border was started, but I was questioning what I was doing so I ripped it out.  While I still sort of question the turquoise part of my plan, I don't question it enough to remove it!  The colored dense quilting will be a different look for me.  250000 stitches of different.
 There are 3 40wt poly threads used on the outer border - deep green, deep purple and turquoise.  It is always surprising how some colors appear when stitched on a colored fabric.  No pink thread was used at all, despite the appearance!
Lastly...I am selling off this Wonderfil Fabulux thread to anybody that is interested.  There are 11 3000yd cones of 40wt variegated.  It retails for $24 per cone.  I am selling for $15.  Email me if interested.  The colors are nice; I just find that I rarely use the variegated if ever.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Handi Quilter Longarm FOR SALE!

One of the best parts of my trip to Houston is that I bought a new machine!  I could never stray from the Handi Quilter family - these machines are too great.  My recent purchase means that I am selling my beloved Fusion (hopefully soon since my new machine is shipping from Utah tomorrow!).

It looks like this... (ok, this is actually my quilt and my arms.  The photo was taken for some 2010 magazine ads!).  For those interested, here are the specifics on my longarm...
24" throat
stitch regulated (or non if you choose)
laser light for doing pantographs
side spool pin for small spools of thread
includes the ruler base
includes the bobbin winder and 20 or so bobbins
includes micro-handles
12' studio frame with underneath batting bar
I have original box that the machine head came in
has upgraded machine wheels & carriage wheels

My machine is 7 years old, but has been cared for meticulously.  Did I say "METICULOUSLY"?...I meant it.  Every year it has been serviced by my licensed HQ dealer and maintenance shop (usually not because it 'needs' servicing, but because it ensures optimal quilting).  Note that the only required servicing this machine has undergone is for timing.  It has been amazingly reliable for 7 years.  If you have followed my blog, then you know just how many high quality quilts I do every year.  Those speak for the integrity of this machine.  I could not possibly quilt the competitive show quilts on anything but a great long arm.

I am anxious to sell this to a motivated buyer -- someone who I hope will love quilting with a Fusion as much as I do.   The machine is located in Gorham, Maine -- this is approximately 1 hour north of Portsmouth, NH and within 4 hours of RI, CT, MA and the fringes of NY.  

Buyer must transport machine.  I prefer for the buyer to be present to disassemble the frame if possible, but this is negotiable.  I still have original installation instructions.  If the buyer is within 3 hours driving distance, I will throw in 1 day of training if desired after you have set up the machine. Please leave me a comment and way to reach you if you have more questions and please make sure any comments that are left have a way to reach you.


Sunday, November 06, 2016


Houston is a wild and crazy place.  It is like the annual mecca for quilters of all ages.  Some go for classes.  Some go because they teach, or vend.  Others go because they have quilts in the show.  But many, many - on the order of nearly 100,000 go to see the massive number of quilt exhibits and the acres of vendors.

Me...I went because the IQA paid for my trip.  Like, seriously, was I going to pass up on this once in a lifetime opportunity?...Heck no!  

I entered 2 quilts, and both of them received awards.  I was notified in September that one of my quilts was getting a top-8 award.  They would not tell me what it was though.  They do like to keep suspense.

I flew to Texas early on Tuesday, hoping like crazy to make all my connections.  The awards was that evening.  It's a big affair, with many of quilting's known faces attending.  The 1st place winners in every category, as well as the top 8 winners are hanging in the ballroom.  As each award is announced, a black drape is revealed, showing the quilt.  If you kind of know where they tend to hang the particular categories, you can assess whether you think your's is hanging :-)  When they did the Merit Machine Quilting category, though, I saw the drape, and whispered to a gal beside me "this is your's...mine is too large for that space".  But to my surprise, I was wrong!  My wholecloth actually won the 1st.  It's pretty exciting when both of your quilts are hanging at the awards!

Thanks to having been to the awards previously, I also believed that the $5000 top awards were all to the right of the stage.  It was clear none of those drapes could cover my 80" quilt.  I was pretty excited.  By the same token, I knew the BOS drape was too small.  That narrowed it down!  

My Bouquet Royale won the World of Beauty.  It is an awesome award, and hangs on one side of the BOS quilt in the show.  I could hardly be more delighted to have won this.
 This was taken at the awards.  My new silk scarf was a perfect match to the quilt!
 Here's From the Bride's Trousseau...flatter than ever.  It is really nice how Houston cares for the quilts.  I blocked it just prior to shipping, and specifically asked that it not be folded.  It has clearly not been folded.  It should return home in pristine condition to send to Road to California.
 Here's a glimpse of a few of the quilts hanging in the awards.  I did not take any other photos.  Usually there are too many people blocking them.
 The top winners hang in the show with lovely signage, a chair to rest your weary self on, as well as the largest coordinating bouquets you have ever seen.  These arrangements are all different too, and they match the quilts.  The flowers beside the best of show were in shades of blue and white, and had the most fragrant lilies.
Here is the signage about my quilt.  
And my flowers...  I would have loved to have taken these with me.  It is bigger than most arrangements you see at weddings.
 They don't let you roam around the show incognito either.  I had that lavender rosette (which matched my lavender ribbon) signifying I was a top winner.  You can't even go into a bathroom in secret!  It really is a big deal, and they do treat their quilters with lots of appreciation.
One last shot... (look, no pins in quilts either!)

On Wednesday, there is a winners luncheon.  It is free to all ribbon winners, and us top 8 get to have to make a short speech.  It is hauntingly nerve-wracking, but fortunately we all know about this in advance and can somewhat prepare if we want.  I just remember my knees knocking, and thinking how thankful I was that I was not first, nor was I hungover.  It's cool to see these quilts hanging there above us, as we ate spaghetti noodles, on display for the 200+ guests!  I hope we were neater eaters than watching my 14-yr old gobble down spaghetti.  Digressing...

So if you were not present at the luncheon to hear my knees knock, here is a transcript of my speech. We all spoke of different things.  Believe me, I had serious envy over the Korean and Japanese ladies whose English was limited.  It seemed like a great advantage if you were nervous.  Life goes on...

I am so blessed to be here with all of you, and to share my passion for quilts with you.  Thank you.

Three years ago, I made my first trip to Houston.  As a seasoned traveler, let me say that this   trip was quite typical for me.   I missed a connecting flight and spent the night at the Newark airport.  With all of my sharpest sarcasm aside, this was a pivotal night for the inception of this quilt.  I had recently discovered the elongated hexagons or Patchwork of the Crosses that Lucy Boston popularized over 40 years ago.  Despite thinking I hated English paper piecing and the oh-too-traditional grandmother’s flower garden designs, I found myself in that airport with a sewing box full of fussy-cut hexies, and absolutely nowhere to go.  Using my former-engineer ingenuity, I devised a way to piece the hexies without the nagging papers.  By dawn, I had several blocks hand pieced and was finally boarding my flight to Houston!  The beginning phase of this quilt did more than piece a few hexagons together.  It kindled a full-fledged love of hand piecing which continues to this day.  I am somewhat unique in that my profession is to quilt by machine, yet my choice is to stitch the top by hand.

After completing 25 of the hexagon blocks, the wild garden of blooming color and prints needed a serious taming.  Otherwise, it was going to take a far better quilter than myself to make any quilting visible. It dawned on me that my love affair with silk was possibly going to save this quilt.   I made a renegade choice to marry the bold cotton hexagons with a satiny silk background - something I had never seen done in competition.  I had no idea what judges might think of my unusual choice.   The silk would supply the perfect place to show-off detailed machine quilting, an absolute must for any quilt I would later show.    Thirteen shows later, I know that being unique and unorthodox has paid off.

If Bouquet Royale never made it to the Houston stage, I would still be overwhelmingly proud of her successes.  The reality is that Houston is one of this quilt’s last shows.  So, as the journey of this quilt comes full circle back to the trip that inspired its first stitches, I look back proudly.  The journey wasn’t without bumps in the road, but it was a passionate endeavor I hope all quilters may experience.  I challenge each of you to dare to be different.   Do a few of those things that the so-called quilt police tell you not to do.  Your quilt; your rules.  Invent a better process rather than using one you already know, just because you know it.  Do a new technique or use an unlikely fabric because you can.   Use colors that simply make your heart sing - like orange.    Who knows, three years later you might find yourself here at this podium.

As I conclude, let me say a personal thank you to the judges who found my quilting special and unique.  This is the type of feedback that keeps me coming back to this job which I love day after day.   Thank you Brenda and Handi Quilter for giving me the best long arm with which to create my quilts.  Allowing me to grace the side of one of your trucks is an added perk too.   Thank you Vicki and Meander Publishing for giving me a great magazine to write for, and share my quilting experiences with other aspiring artists.  Six and a half years ago, a fellow quilter suggested I enter a quilt in a show.   I had no idea the creative fire that would unleash within me as a result.    My journey has been like a Cinderella story.  Don’t be afraid to Dream Big -- You never really know where those dreams may take you. 

 Back to the real show...How about some quilts?!...

This is the winner from S. Korea and Cynthia England, standing with her BOS.  It is all machine pieced.
My photo probably has better zooming, but I liked the photo with them in it too.  I think Cynthia said it has 4800 pieces.  That's a whole-lotta pieces.

This is Mickjung Jang's quilt that won Best Thread Artestry.  The entire design is stitched in thread. She and Bethanne Nemesh were originally in the Merit Machine Quilting category, before being bumped to the top awards.  I definitely capitalized on their success too (or else my wholecloth would have taken 3rd!).
 Melissa Sobotka's very real replication of pillows from Istanbul.  Her quilt is called Silk Road Sampler.  Much can be done with fusible and batiks if you know how!  This is not a photograph.
 One other quilt, which happened to get the Best Contemporary Artestry award is simply amazing.  This is Unknown Man by a pair from Brazil.   He is hauntingly gorgeous.  So is the quilt.

Here is my little silent auction piece.  The auction does not close until today.  When I left yesterday, an Aussie quilter and Handi Quilter were in a bidding war.  We'll see where it goes (both told me that they really want it !).
 I took a few pictures of the thousands that were hanging.  It can be inundating looking at the many special categories of quilts.  There are about 10 times as many "other" quilts as there are competition quilts, and many are just as good.

by Barbara Lies - gorgeous color and the black you see is her signature cutaway technique.
 This is from a special exhibit - love all the critters.
 From Susan Carlson's special exhibit.  This quilt is at least 20 feet long and so cool.
 Here is a closeup of the gator...a photo really does not do it justice.
 Many Dear Janes were on display.  Naturally green and purple caught my fancy.
 And a new quilt by Gail Stepanek and Jan Hutchison - seriously, this will win big in the coming years.  It has subtle beauty in the piecing and Jan's signature amazing quilting.

I loved getting to stand by my quilt and talk to many, many interested quilters about my quilt and my processes.  There are the probing questions which I love, as well as the 4000 times I am asked "how long did that quilt take to make?".  I met several of my long-distance clients and many bloggers or facebook friends.  The community is connected in so many ways.  Yesterday, still, I had to say goodbye to the warm 80's of Houston to fly home to Maine, where winter is approaching.  It was indeed sad!  I had these gorgeous flowers in my hotel all week that I got at the awards.  I hated to leave them - seriously, how often does a girl get a dozen roses and then some?!...I snagged a bunch of the mini yellow roses, and headed for the airport.  When I awoke this morning, I discovered my family had gotten me an arrangement of red and yellow roses too.  What a home-coming.