Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Strolling through the garden

This wonderful applique piece did not get finished before the maker died unexpectedly. So a couple of her friends finished it and asked me to quilt it for the family. I was honored to do so.

First of all, a big shout out to longarm quilter, Susan Lawson, whose idea I borrowed. I have collected a few photos of applique quilts that do not have sashing, as I find it difficult to plan quilting for this situation. Creating diamonds in the intersections of the blocks and adding feather borders was a perfect solution. Thanks, fellow longarmer!

Then I filled in the blanks with various background designs and densities.

I discovered as I started this piece, that she lightly stuffed each applique piece. This gives them great dimension. Her color and fabric choices are just lovely. Sit back and stroll along her garden.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Paradise in Blooms

I'm glad someone is willing to take on one of these fantastic Judy Niemeyer patterns. I'm sure that I could never piece one of these. I find it hard enough just to quilt them! I found several on google, although not too many pics that show the quilting. So, here are mine.

I may have gotten carried away with this one. I used eight different threads, including Aurifil invisible.

Texture! That's what you get on this one. Wool batting helps that a lot. You can leave triangle shapes open so that they fluff up wonderfully. Thanks also to dense fills.

Fun photo of the back shows the various thread colors. I did not want any thread to scream too loud on the front, so I chose to match thread colors as much as possible.

Whew! She's done and ready to go back to her owner.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Wooo Hooo!

It's been a long time coming. If you have followed this blog for any time, you have seen my Blue quilt in various stages of completion. Two and half years to design, piece and quilt this from my collection of blue and white fabrics. (When you quilt for customers for a living, there is precious time to work on your own things. So, I grabbed time where I could.)

It has paid off! I'm here with Tangled Up in Blue (thanks, Bob Dylan for that!) which is sporting Best In Show and Best Professional Quilting ribbons!

Best In Show – I never imagined that!

This is our regional show, the Rim Country Quilt Roundup. A show my husband and I started 11 years ago in central Arizona.

I could not be more proud...or giddy!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Ta Da Done!

Two and a half years after I started it, my blue and white medallion quilt is finally finished!

After discovering the Zentangle art form several years ago, I knew I wanted to use some of the designs as inspiration for quilting. And, that is what I have tried to do with my quilt. The next picture is of a tangle named Leaflet. It translated beautifully to continuous line quilting and looks, I think, quite smashing in the bright blue thread. (I used four colors of blue Glide thread over this quilt, in addition to Aurifil clear nylon for the stitch in the ditch.)

The odd shaped dark blue batik corner was a definite challenge. I sketched, stitched and ripped out designs for 2 whole days until I settled on this swash, inspired by the tangles Finery and FeatherFall. The actual FeatherFall also appears in the aqua triangle.

In the star's background fabric, I was inspired by the tangle Cockles and Mussels.

And, the center is based on a lotus mandala.

You do not know Zentangle? Google it or search for it on Pinterest. It is a relaxing way for anyone to draw beautiful designs, one stroke at a time!

Happy Doodling!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Last Row...

...and only a border to go!

While the two sleigh blocks are my favorites because of their detail, this Hawaiian-style cut of the Holy Family is so special. Isn't it beautiful in its simplicity?

And, who wouldn't love poinsettias in a Bean Pot?!!!

And, Christmas Cactus. (I killed three of them last year! There must be a secret to growing them...)

I especially like the way the red Bells just pop, due to the dense stipple in the background. (I shot this at an angle to show its 3-D effect.)

I've thoroughly enjoyed this piece and kind of don't want it to end. Kidding! I'm ready to be done and on to something else. Double Wedding Ring, anyone?

A Merry (albeit early) Christmas blessing to you all!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Blocks 9 – 12

People have complimented me on my photos for this blog. The quality of inexpensive cameras today really helps. But, the best aspect of my photography is lighting. And, I take no credit for that. You see, my studio has a big picture window just to the left of my longarm frame. It's a northern exposure, so no sun comes in that window, but tons of light, which creates the shadows that highlight the quilt line.

The reason I mention this, is that sometimes, great texture shows in the studio, and therefore in the quilt photos, only to have that texture disappear when the quilt is hung in a show or on the wall of your house. This has been a great frustration to me. And, one that I try to keep in mind when I plan quilting. Am I spending too much time creating complex quilt motifs that will never been seen? I'm afraid I have in the past.

Hopefully, that will not be the case of the Christmas in Baltimore quilt...but it is still a possibility. With that in mind, here are Blocks 9 through 12.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Blocks 5 – 8

So, here we are again with Row 2.

Block 5 has lots of space, so I filled it up with paisleys. Sweet.

Block 6 also has space, so we have pebbles with occasional shells.

Block 7 – Oooh, I'm so happy with how this turned out. After outlining the interior petals and leaf spaces, I was at a loss as how to quilt the background because there are still a lot of teeny spaces formed by the leaves along the edge of the design. It just popped into my head to echo those shapes a couple of times. Then what? Keep going! The echos fill the space out to the boundary. So cool.

Block 8 is a little more open than the reindeer was, so I have added little feathers to the continuous curl design.

I've got some non-quilty commitments during the rest of this week, so progress on Row 3 will be slower. See you when I get it finished!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Block Row One

I've had several people ask if I can post the Christmas in Baltimore quilt, as it is being quilted. So, this is Block Row One of four rows. 

The hardest part of this row was quilting into the spaces of the reindeers' antlers. Those little spaces are only ¼ inch wide.

I have decided to try various micro fill designs, especially because some of the spaces are so small. So, I have here stipple, curls, swirls, and a little free-form feather thingy.

As you click on the images to see them larger, please note that the applique is so well done that you never see a speck of the applique thread. This woman is a master at applique.


Until the next row...

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Sneak Peek

Here's a sneak peek at the first border of this gorgeous Christmas in Baltimore quilt by a talented California hand-applique artist.

But first, let me explain, I have a Love/Hate relationship with monofilament (or, invisible) thread. When it works for me, it works beautifully. But, there have been times, when switching to it from my regular trilobal poly thread (love me some Glide thread!), I have been totally unable to balance the tension. To the point where, on several occasions, I have cursed out loud that “I will never use the darn stuff again!”

So, I told this quilt maker that I would use Glide, and match all the threads colors to the fabrics.

But...(I whined) invisible thread is really the best option for any piece that needs lots of stitch in the ditch and applique outlining.

Okay, so I put on my Big Girl Panties, loaded a practice fabric sandwich and started fiddling with the tension knob. Invisible threads (whether nylon or poly) have a certain amount of stretch, and are quite a bit finer than regular thread, and they like to run with the top tension a bit looser. Fine tuning your tension when switching thread types just needs to be done.

OMG, I got the tension absolutely perfect on the very first try! I know there is nothing wrong with the thread or my machine. Tension is absolutely the longarm quilters responsibility. But, I still don't know why it is working now as opposed to before.

Sometimes it feels like dumb luck!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Islands in the...Pebbles

So, you have a big area that you wish to fill with pebbles, but, (sigh) they take such a long time to do! A way to lighten the load, as it were, would be to incorporate something larger into the pebbling. So, I call this Islands in the Pebbles!

The outer border has spirals, curls, and feather fronds thrown in randomly. The pebbles fill the spaces in between. The area around the Christmas stockings just uses the curls...slightly larger pebbles with an extra curl inside.

And, can you see that cool design in the dark red border. I hope so. I found that on pinterest. (Which is a place where one can get lost for a long, long, time! LOL)

Happy Pebbling! (Something I never thought I would say when I first tried it. But, now, it's one of my fav fills. So, if you are struggling to quilt nice looking pebbles, just keep trying. They do get better!)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Feather Attitude

When I first started quilting I thought feathers had to be strictly designed. A spine that is drawn out using tools like cardboard cut in perfect undulating curves, plumes that were laid out in the right angle, and all the correct size...these were the perfection to attain.

All you have to do in take a design class with Sharon Schamber or read books by Judy Allen (“The Art of Feather Quilting”) or Lee Cleland (“Feathers that Fly”) to see that there are RULES to designing the perfect feather! 

                        (feathers from Judy Allen's book, pink thread on pink satin)

And, of course, this leads to stunning quilted feathers. But, there are other feathers, too!

Certainly there are sophisticated quilts that demand this sort of perfection. Ah, but there are others where you can be much freer in execution. Look at this Christmas Dresden Fan, for example. 

First of all, the feathers have no spine! And, there are curls thrown in. The original feather I copied started with the curl, feathered over it with three plumes, then switched to add three or four plumes off in the other direction. But of course, all such designs must fit into the space allowed. And this space has chunks taken out by the tips of the fan blades. So, I convinced myself to just go with the flow.

And, I love how it turned out.

Sometimes you have to let go and be free.

Break the Rules. Find Your Freedom. Live Your Life.

What if I fall? But, Darling, what if you fly?!!!