Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Stax Quilt

Designer Tula Pink showed how to make her quilt, Stax, on Sewing with Nancy a couple of weekends ago. My customer made a smaller version of it out of scraps (she, who is the Queen of Scraps!). Fun, and fast to do.

She asked for “something McTavish” in the background and to “tie” some of the larger squares to look like packages. (I must say, sometimes it is so nice when a customer knows exactly what she wants on her quilt. That said, having free-rein is really fun sometimes, too!)

First, Stitch in the Ditch laid all the boxes down nicely. Then, I free-handed the bows. I have recently watched a video (oh, my, I forget...maybe the APQS website...maybe not) which showed how to do something they called Swirl Doodle Fill. Oooh, I so loved the movement and the way it quickly filled up the areas. And, it has a decidedly McTavish look to it.

Karen McTavish. One of the most original and intriguing characters in the quilting world! She sports tattoos of quilted feathers and dreadlocks and has a unique voice and laugh – she's one of a kind. She designed her overall swirling backgrounds – referred to as McTavishing – from the works of Art Nouveau painter Alfonse Mucha. His lovely ladies had graceful, swirling heads of hair that anyone of us would kill to have (says the woman with the board-straight hair).

This is Mucha's poster selling JOB cigarettes. LOVE the hair!

There are as many forms of McTavishing as there are hands who quilt its lovely swaying textures. Some say you can read who the quilter is in the way she McTavishes.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

What NOT to tell your Longarm Quilter...

I once read a comment by a longarm quilter, that she refuses to accept the following from her customers: “Oh, quilt it with any design you like. You have a better idea about this than I do, after all, it's your job.” Her response was to take out the same pantograph pattern with cowboy boots all over it. Suddenly, her customer would have a definite opinion of what to put (or, not put) on her quilt.

I always start a consultation with a customer the same way. “What do YOU see for this piece? How do you envision it being quilted?” And, sometimes it takes a little coaxing on my part for a customer to open up and let me see inside her mind.

Recently, towards the end of the consultation, my customer said, “Well, I guess I ought to tell you what I didn't like about the last time I had a piece quilted professionally.” She went on to explain that her king size quilt was finished with lots of tiny curls all over it. She hated it so much, she gave it away. Certainly, a very large quilt would look out of proportion with any tiny, tight pattern all over it. Personally, I can't imagine quilting any large quilt with a tiny design; it would take WAY TOO LONG. But, more importantly, the quilting motifs must be in proportion to the size of the quilt, especially in the case of a edge-to-edge design. Maybe, that's one of the reasons I don't use pantographs...the design is set in stone.

I kind of got the impression that she didn't originally plan to tell me this little piece of information. Maybe she didn't want to disparage another quilter. Maybe she was afraid to have too much input into the process. Maybe she didn't think it was really important. EVERY piece of information on how you feel your quilt should be finished is an ESSENTIAL piece of information. Or, you could end up with cowboy boots all over your floral applique quilt!

After the customer and I decided on the type of leaf vine to place on the quilt, I doodled a bit on paper and this is what I came up with. The leaves average 4 inches in length. Just right, I think, for the size of the quilt.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Just a peek... show you what awesome texture this flame design creates on this Fireman's T-Shirt quilt. I found this flame on Patsy Thompson's website; she offers free downloads of her sketches. This flame quilts up easy and fast.

Design sketches – I've got a bunch of them! Three binders full of them. I save very one I've sketched for the last nine years. Not that they are all purely out of my own head. Nope. Some I may have drawn while standing at a quilt show, staring at an incredible quilting design that I just have to get down on paper. My purse is full of sketches on notepads that I carry home and draw out on full size paper to file away for later. Some I've sketched out while staring at my computer monitor, browsing through photos of other quilters' work.

Is this stealing? I don't think so. If and when I choose to stitch out one of these drawings, it will still be in my “hand.” I didn't print out someone's commercial pattern. It will still be my interpretation of their design.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

To SID or Not to SID?

Okay, so I've never been a fan of Stitch in the Ditch. The dreaded SID is painfully slow to do, and you only need to be off by a hair for it to fall out of the ditch, or up onto the higher fabric side. And, I'm picky enough that when that happens, I have to stop, pull the offending stitches out and sew them again. Ugh, what a time waster! And, I can't tell you how many times I've heard a quilt show judge say “Stitch in the Ditch should stay in the ditch” as a negative to a quilt's review.

This customer quilt is a simple One Patch for most of the quilt's surface, with an machine applique section. I figured to place my leaf stencil in the middle of each green patch, changing it's orientation with each patch. Wow, was I surprised after the first two rows of leaves were done and I took tension off the quilt to advance it on the roller. Suddenly, the areas between the leaves look all bumpy and almost ruffly.

The only option at that point was to SID around all the green patches. What a difference that made! Each leaf is now framed with a neat seam down the ditch. The lack of contrast between the green fabrics was both a benefit and a curse to the process. At first, it was great not to be able to see if the stitch was not exactly in the ditch. But, then, it was pretty hard to see where the ditch actually was!

I wished I'd tried to get a picture before I SID, but I figured it was too subtle to show in a photo. But, you can totally see now how flat and smooth each patch junction now is.

Okay, I'll try to anticipate this in advance next time!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Stealing time away.....

The joy of working on one's own quilt cannot be suppressed! When you quilt for a living, there is precious little time to work on one's own pieces. Or, at least, that's what you think when you say to yourself “You ought to be working on a customer's piece!”

Here's a peek at a piece I started one year ago, at Quilt Camp with my Peeps. I paper-pieced the feathered star and its flying geese border during the three days we get together each March. Wow! It's already a year later!

I don't think I've ever created a real Medallion quilt. You start in the center with a fabulous block, and then design, piece and add new borders as you go along. A LOT OF MATH is necessary here. No getting around it! The border called Chain of Squares had to meet perfectly at each of the four corners. Yup, it did! Of course, to cheat a little, you put in a “spacer” strip that is not pieced so that you can trim it down, if need be, so that the pieced border fits.

So now I am piecing the 8-point stars to go into the four corners of the next border. The solid (well, not quite solid – it is a batik) border will be getting some kind of applique; I'm still working in my mind what that should look like. I love the organic shapes that Ricky Tims uses and I am definitely leaning toward something like that.

I have completed 4 stars -- can you see which one does not go well with the others? When I picked out the fabrics for the very first star, I was overly concerned with contrast, and only chose the darkest, the lightest and the “quietest” of mediums. After I pieced it, I realized that I had left some of the prettiest fabrics back in the box, and I thought the star was, well, blah. Back to the box to pull some of the more vibrant pieces, and I can see now that the next three stars are much prettier. I will throw out the first one and make another.

Or, maybe should I be working on that king size customer quilt that is waiting on the frame?!!! Hmmmmm.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Pinwheels, Pinwheels Everywhere!

What a darling little quilt this is! A patch of twirling pinwheels forms an on-point diamond in the center. The white path around them just screamed for a fanciful feather.

I considered doing a Continuous Curve quilt line over the pinwheels, but I could see that the quilt's seams did not always meet exactly. Continuous Curve would only have made that situation worse by highlighting the missed joins. So, I suggested quilting down the background, leaving the colored triangles unquilted. What awesome texture appears! She was quite thrilled to see this little piece finished, which she had originally basted for hand-quilting --- that she knew she would never get to. Sweet! Just love it when a piece gets finished that may have sat in a closet until who-knows-when!