Saturday, September 23, 2017

MQX Bound

Maine is enjoying what is inevitably our last real dose of summer this weekend. It is in the 80's, and I couldn't be happier. While most of my fellow teachers that are heading to MQX this coming week are probably busy double and triple checking their packings, I got to do that over a week ago.  Last Saturday I drove an entire van (back seat down) of stuff to Janet-Lee, MQX owner who lives in NH. She drives a trailer to Springfield, IL and I am fortunate enough to have a spot in the trailer for all my things.  Mind you, there are 17 quilts in here that are part of a 19-quilt retrospective exhibit too.  This teacher really does not pack as heavy as the van suggests! Never the less, when I pack to go to Road to CA in January, it will be eye-opening for sure as this trip is via air and class supplies must be shipped!
A week ago, I wrapped up a client quilt. It's a cute Fig Tree sampler. Though this is a custom, it did have a desired budget.  I opted to use a greater part of this budget on the outer borders and sashings, where details will show more.
 Timing required that the house and pieced blocks would get an edge to edge.  I chose these relatively tight nested swirls.
 Here's a look at the border, quilted with an ivory Glide thread.
The backing is an ivory cotton, so all the quilting shows!
With one week before I was traveling, I chose to load my quilt and plug away on it.  I started this in March or so, but the summer was so busy that I never got back to working on it. I can happily see the end in sight, despite there still being quite a few areas I need to get back to.  Sometimes decided when something is really DONE is hard.  Kindly do NOT copy these images to pinterest or anywhere else.

The center of the quilt got dense backfill around the scrolly design.  I know some of the scrolls are not perfectly symmetrical.  I don't really care, either. The finish line is in sight, and done always trumps perfect.
I think this next picture is sideways, but whatever. Quilting on asymmetrical logs is challenging. They are not good for a cross-hatch, which was my first thought. I quilted this floral/feather pattern in a turquoise thread, then matchstick filled behind it in a turquoise silk thread.  I know you are thinking..."turquoise thread on orange & pink fabrics??". Yup.  It helps the design to show more AND it ties in with the other pops of turquoise on the quilt. It's a gutsy and perhaps less-common thread choice, but I hope it will be right!
With every quilt I make, I am always looking for THAT project which will not produce those "AW crap, wish I'd done this differently" moments. As much as I quilt, they still occur! Here, I put a deep turquoise piping between the aqua and red 1" borders. It looks good, but NOW I am asking myself why the piping is not between the ivory silk and the aqua? DOH! Anyhow, I have tried to use quilting to help frame the quilt with these borders. My hunch is when I take it off the frame tomorrow, I will like how it looks. That's my theory at this point, and I'm sticking with it!

I am getting to details, which is a good feeling.  Yesterday, the dozen or so fussy cut butterflies got their antennae, bringing them to life.

 Have a good week...One last reminder - I get SO many emails with questions. I hate to appear to be ignoring you, but if you ask something in a comment AND have your blogger settings to "no reply", there is just no way I can get you an answer.  Please take a moment and confirm that you have an email address entered in your settings.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Let the Custom Quilting Marathon Begin!

This is my kids' 3rd official week of school, but the first two were weeks of only 3 and 4 days, respectively.  Never the less, the sight of them heading off to the school signals my cue to begin loading and quilting the backlog of custom quilts. I am down two of these, both going home to the same client. In another month or so I will feel caught up, hopefully!

This is a 98" Niemeyer Bird of Paradise quilt.  It was beautifully appliqued.  I wish I could do such a nice tiny machine zig-zag like she did. As you can see, the quilt is way too large to lay in my hallway to get a photo, but then, most of us have seen this quilt and are familiar with it anyways.
Most areas are ditch quilted with clear nylon - to the tune of nearly 9 hours of ditching. It's not fun or exciting, but it does stabilize the quilt, making crisp points. After ditching, I can move wherever on the quilt with a single color of thread until it is time for a different color. 
 Lighter areas (this is actually lavender) are the place for more "showy" quilting designs like feathers. I can quilt feathers in my sleep, so these are a nice choice.  Plus, they give the design movement.
 Quilting does not show as well on the darker fabrics, and it was not reasonable to use a contrasting thread just to make the stitching show. This quilt has enough busy with the many colors and patterns.
 Most of the threads match the fabrics, except where I wanted just a touch of the turquoise or hot pink to be brought out. From 10 feet away it is not obvious, but up close, it shows. Quilting is about giving something to see at different distances -
 Eight spiky flowers...

The second quilt is the Circle of Life by somebody. LOL - middle age brain fart.
This is smaller, near 70" square.  Yes, you are looking at a black 80/20 batting.  This is so there won't be any little white pokeys visible on her pure black backing fabric.
If you are thinking that black quilts are hard to quilt, you are right. The color just sucks the visibility right out of the room!  I actually ditched this one with the black thread.  Clear threads come in truly clear and a "smoke", which is greyish.  The clear is nice and invisible on fabrics lighter than orange or green, but on deep tones can look a bit shiny.  The smoke is invisible on colors darker than red or purple, but shows on all lighter colors.  You can see where I am going with this...It is a catch 22 scenario.  A lose-lose proposition. Neither option for monofilament will work well.  Black, however, can be nested right next to the black fabrics and be reasonably natural looking, AND it allows designs to be quilted that are intended to be stitched in black thread too.

The large black background borders were feathered in dark purple.  It is subtle, but it shows. Again, this quilt needs little "in your face" quilting, just some texture to enhance the beautiful piecing.
  Another look at the black...
 The center is pretty, but I kept the quilting simple with continuous curves, quilted in black.
  Detailed quilting in color was done on the setting squares -- in 8 different colors.
 Hopefully the owner will love this as much as I do. Her piecing and applique are spectacular; I just wanted to elevate that with appropriate quilting.
I have two more light-customs in my queue, a magazine sample quilt, and then I will be able to take a week to load and work on one of my show quilts (the one that started all the machine issues with silk thread). I will be in Springfield, IL between September 26 and 30 at MQX Midwest, so if you are there, drop by and say hi!