Sunday, July 11, 2010

When there is more quilt than space

I have to say that one of the most useful quilt class I have taken is a class by Sue Patten.  She tells of opening her quilting business by offering to quilt all her guild's quilts.  Some were less than perfect but she was able to quilt out the extra bult by just quilting. 

Now, I have never been a quilt snob as some are.  I don't have a list of things you can't have in your quilt in order for me to quilt it.  I don't audition my piecers in order to quilt for them.  I'm happy go lucky and truthfully, I started longarming because I didn't want anyone scrutinizing my piecing ability........

Here is a quilt that had a little extra... But turned out great!
I used the quilting a rose tutorial on youtube to do the rose buds and then did leaves in the other areas of the block.

Feather and vines in two borders (going in different directions, so we wouldn't get caught up in the direction) and wavy lines in the other border.  There were polka dots in that border so I didn't want to do straight lines in case the dots weren't straight.  And I needed to take up some bulk. 

Again, this was a great experience.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


You've heard about BeBe my special needs dogs.  Here are the other nuts in my house.  I guess in seniority, there is Chippy.  We got Chippy from the Humane Society the first summer we lived in Longmont.  Our first black cat was Rudy.  She was giving to me on my 21st birthday.  The best cat evah.....Anyhoo, what can I say about Chippy.  He's a great cat.  He doesn't meow, he grunts in a cat-like way.  He'll sleep with Sam at night and he likes to hang out in the back yard and in the garage.  This is the Chipster.

Chip likes to sleep in/on black things. 

Then there is Java.  Java is our first foray into greyhounds.  We lost my bestest buddy Delta to liver disease and after about six months we found Java.  He was a retired racer with the name Maui Breezer.  They renamed him Kona which means hawaiian princess ( not good for a boy dog).  Java was/is a great dog.  He loves people.  At the dog park, BeBe will be chasing other dogs and Java will be hanging with the people so they will pet him.  He's my hip dog.  He is always there for a pet.  He also follows me everywhere.  It gets annoying when I am cleaning house.  He'll bump into me it I stop to think.  Java loves his walks. 

By the way,  it is very difficult to photograph a flat dog.  This is a great picture.

Here is BeBe and Java sleeping together.

The Beebster is scared of people.  She'll let Ed touch her when she's been sleeping but generally she won't let anyone but me touch her.  She looks fat here but she's not.  She reminds me of Donkey in Shrek with her long  body, shorter legs and bouncy ears.

Finally, the newest addition.  Ozzy, aka, Little Cat or LC.  He's a nut.  He'll knock you down just becuase.  And I can honestly say, that since he's been around, there is no peace on the table.  Anyhoo, I had a quilt in a box, and LC had to sleep on it. 

LC is totally different from Chippy.  Short Hair, little head, different eyes.  But all in all, you really have to look and compute to figure out which cat is there. 

Monday, July 5, 2010

Quilting with Stencils

One of my friends, Mary Beth, has more time to think that is necessary (just kidding) and came up with a stencil challenge for the folks on AQPS chat.  Well, I'm not a big stencil girl.  I'm more of a 'fly by the seat of my .... kind of girl.  I just let it fly and see what happens.  I also have great customers who generally say, 'do what you think is best'.  That definitely keeps me in my comfort zone but it doesn't challenge me.  I have recently started quilting for a magazine and they tell me exactly what to do and how to do it.  Although, there is no comfort, it gets me out and challenges me. 

As does this one customer.  She likes one thread color, whereas I'm more comfortable matching thread to the fabric.  So I had this great quilt with churndash blocks and applique and I thought about this stencil challenge.  There were alternating blocks, one empty and one with wool applique.  So I chose a stencil from Thimbleberries and freehanded everything else to coordinate.  I'm not sure the pictures are great, but it was a fun quilt and I enjoyed doing it. 

One thing that I can say, the muscles used to follow a stencil are definitely different that the free-hand frenzy.  I enjoyed this challenge and although I won't enter into the challenge because I'm way more surfer dude carefree than most quilters, I learned that any time you challenge yourself, you grow!

Like I said, the pictures aren't great but they are pictures.  The block has the stencil which has a heart and leaves in it.  The thick border (three borders) were a challenge because I would normally do three separate borders (growth) so I did a heart vine, to mimick the stencil. 

The leaves are brought back in the outer portions of the churndash block with the applique and there is a heart loop in the blue sashing.
Here you can see the stencil with the two inspiried parts. 

The quilt was tooooooo cute.  Thanks Mary Beth for the challenge.

Friday, July 2, 2010

New Digs

I thought about this blog today and I tried to think of the last time I wrote something.  I knew it was March 1st but I tried to make it May 1st because that would be easier to explain.  Yikes.  I can say I've been busy but probably not that busy.  So I will try to do better.  I bought a new camera for Mother's Day and I barely got it set up when a wonderful thing happened.

Here's the back story.  I gave up my sewing room last year when my son got his drum set.  He got the big room in the basement to house his drums and multiple guitars.  I took the same sized but not quite the same family/office space downstairs.  My old sewing room was long and skinny and there was alot of storage space on one end because there were no doors, etc.  The new room is the same size but there are doors and windows on all sides so I wasn't able to store my nuts for winter.  It was a rude awakening when I got everything out and I had another room filled with my 'quilting stuff'. 

At the same time as the room swap, we bought another longarm machine.  So things were tight, to say the least.  I was able to quilt but there was no piecing at all except if I went some place else.  Things were ok but I was always on the look out for a solution.  I found a couple of great places but they involved moving to  a different house.  Besides the stinky economy, I love my neighborhood.  We back to a park and a walking path and we are minutes from where we need to be. 

I got desperate in April or May and thankfully my husband found an add for an affordable commercial space.  When he finally called, it was perfect.  1050 square feet, with a big garage door and a commercial front.  Well, I've been there for a month and a half and I LOVE IT.  We have partitioned off the back third and have moved all our storage there.  Both machines fit great and I have a great sewing space.  I think that one of my friends will probably teach classes there and I have already volunteered to accept quilts for the quilt guild quilt show.  The best thing.... I finished three quilts for my family and two magazine quilts since I've been there.  I hope to finish three more this month.  So here are some pics.

This is the 2002 Milli on the 14 foot table with the Compuquilter system.  See the fabric partition that separates the storage space.

This is the 12 foot table with the 2008 Milli for the majority of the custom quilting.

Ironing and thread and dog bed, although the dogs have only been there once and they were freaked out.

There is an 8' x 8' office space that is partitioned off.  This is where the sewing machine is.

The front of the space and the cutting table and plenty of peg board space for tools and rulers. There is still alot I can do but it is definitely a bright working space.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Working with Blocks of Different Sizes

I was commissioned to complete a quilt for a woman in town.  This delighful woman quilted before she started golfing.  She had completed a couple of quilts for her daughter many years ago.  She also had hand pieced 23 blocks in the early 80's.  Stored in a Pizza Hut box, she asked me to make a quilt for her son.  It took me a while to figure out how to put them together, mainly because they varied in size so I wasn't going to be able to just sash and go without loosing a portion of a number of the blocks.  I'm sharing my process just in case you find yourself in my situation one day.

The blocks varied in size from about 11 inches to 12 1/2 inches.  In order to use all of the blocks in close to their original size, I decided to make the blocks the center of a square in a square and then trim the new blocks to the same size.  This was my process.

With the largest blocks at 12 1/2 inches, set on point, the with of the new block at a minimum would be 17.67 inches (remember the pathagaream theorem?).  So I needed to cut setting trianges large enough to cut down.  I cut 17 inch squares out of muslin diagonally twice to make these trianges.  I then sewed theses trianges to each side of each block.  I trimed the edges off of each side as shown here.  You can see that I didn't loose any of the block to excessive trimming.

Then the finished blocks look like this:

Because there were only 23 blocks I added to blocks to the bottom left and right with the center square filled with the border fabric.  It matches the original fabric nicely.  Here are the filler blocks.

I then cut down all the blocks to eighteen inches.  All the blocks were preserved in the original size and state.  I then added two inch finished sashings and corner stones, and just a three inch border.  The quilt finished to 106 x 106, which is a little larger than I wanted.  But I am glad that this remained my customer's quilt, my influence was minimal.  Quilted all over with Joann Hoffman's feather meander.  And here is the finished quilt.  All I need to do is finish the binding.  And get it back to my customer.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Chicken Chili Recipe

This is a great recipe that originated with my quilting friend Ocee.  I've modified it only because I lost my copy and have had to make due a couple of times.  It is really easy and really good.  Hope you enjoy!

  • About 3 cups cooked cubed chicken breast.
  • 2 - 24 oz. jars of salsa. (I usually do one mild and one medium)
  • 2 cans of Northern White Beans
  • 1 can of Black Beans
  • 1 can of Corn
  • 2 tablespoons of Chili Powder
  • 2 cups of Chicken Broth
Add ingredients to a large crock pot and cook on high about 4 hours or low for about 8 hours.  I usually make cornbread to serve with it.  Oh, and where's BeBe?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sponsored by Mom

I have to say, the journey I find myself on while raising my son is great fun.  I made Sam take piano lessons when he was little which lasted about three years.  He did a good job but wasn't loving it.  He desperately wanted to take guitar lessons so we bought him a guitar and signed him up.  Thinking now, that was only about 3 1/2 years ago.  In that time, we've learned about, listened to, read about and studied many great guitarist and bands.  His guitar teacher once said, that when he asks some of his students what songs or styles they like, they shrug their shoulders, I don't know.  He said Sam on the other hand, could tell you Randy Rhodes' pedal configuration in 1982. 

Somehow, we live in an area with great guitar synergy.  The local guitar shop has great clinics with some amazing musicians. I've learned a lot about guitars through this process.  Sam is a great teacher when he's trying to talk us into buying him a new guitar, pedal or something else he truly needs.  We had a 15 minute conversation a couple of days ago about picks.  So he has taught me a lot!  But it is really cool when we go to a clinic and I really understand the lingo. 

Last night, I accompanyied him to a Guthrie Govan clinic.  Don't know who that is?  I didn't either but the place was packed.  The guy sitting next to me said that Guthrie was pound for pound the best guitar player out there today.  The clinic was assoicated with Suhr guitars which makes the Guthrie Govan Signature Guitar (pictured to the right).  We couldn't stay the whole time due to homework constraints but it was a great time.  He is a fabulous guitar player.  And I have to tell you, that guitar is pretty amazing, as am I.  Thanks to Sam, I was totally understanding of the Humbucker pickups, 24 frets, the Waa sound, and the challenges of tuning associated with the Floyd Rose bridge (that's associated with the metal thing or Whammy bar that sticks out of the Guitar Hero guitar that wobbles the sound and helps rack up points).  I'm a ROCK STAR, because I sponsor one.

So a quick plug for Todd at Guitar, Etc., there's a link to the left.  Oh, and did I mention, Sam is as passionate about drums, too, but that's another story.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My Style of Quilting

I sometimes wonder if my quilting style is boring. Not on one particular quilt but if you took them all and looked at them, would the quilt police note how they all look the same. I hope not! But I do have a style.

After seven years of longarming quilting, I do know somethings about my quilting.

I'm not formal. I love to look at those beautiful quilts that have formal feathers and perfect crosshatching, perfect wholecloths, etc. But I'm more of an ADD quilter. Maybe one day, I'll spend hours marking a pattern, but not yet.

I'm not a microquilter. Once again, I admire microstippling, but I just can't.... Again ADD quilter.

I do want it well quilted. I do like the sharpness of stitch in the ditch.

I'm an enhancer not a star. If the quilting is the first thing you see on a quilt, I didn't quilt it. I like to match threads and add texture. I like the WOW, when the light shines on it just right and you can see what is really there. This kind of style doesn't bode well with picture taking so I don't take a lot of pictures because frankly, unless the light is perfect, you can't see what I've done.

With that being said, here is how I plan a quilt.

I like to use feathers and feather derivatives in the border. Because I don't like to mark, I tend to break the feathers up and put the portions up as I progress the quilt. That way, the border is done when I get to the bottom and I don't have to turn the quilt or anything.

I try to keep the different quilting patterns to three or four per quilt. For instance, on the snowman quilt, I have straight lines, loops feathers (and Terry twists).

I always fill spaces. I never leave thin borders or sashings empty (because the batting isn't stabilized). On a very few instances, I've left triangles or small squares empty but for specific reasons.

I don't like to stipple unless I really can't think of anything else to do.

I don't like to over quilt but I do like to moderate texture a bit. So I'll have areas of heaver quilting and lighter quilting.

I'm still looking for inspiration for the next great filler. Lately, I've filled background spaces with straight lines, freehand, so the spacing can vary. Here is one of the quilts I completed last week.
I did my feather portions in the border segments and then did lines in the inner and outer thinner red border. I tried to do loops in the area of the snowman collector but there wasn't enough space for it to really work so I ripped it out and put in the thin vertical lines. It looked great so I decided to carry that through the background of each block.
With the background being somewhat dense, I added the lighter quilting in the two block borders. Loops in the thin inner border (yes, quilted) and a two leaf feather swirl in the wider border (Deloa Jones sashings inspired). Finally, I did Terry Twists in the squares. Again, the texture is varied but consistenly throughout the quilt.
Finally, I have a double look in the blue border which mirrors the thin sashing loops (carrying the themes through). I simply outlined the applique pieces and secured inside as necessary. Then because I had trees in all the blocks and the border, I did a simple wavy crosshatch in each of them. Again, carrying the theme throughout the quilt.
Can you see the quilting? I must have quilted it.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Guild Breast Cancer Quilts

My local quilt guild makes quilts every year to present to those who have been touched by breast cancer. The block of the month committee heads this process up. This year, we were given directions and four squares of the theme fabric. We were to add a cordinating and a white fabric. Anyone in the guild can then nominate someone who they want to receive a quilt. If there are more nominees than quilts, they then draw names (so they won't have to decide who is 'more' deserving). Twelve quilts were completed this year. Four were made on point. I got to quilt two of the quilts this weekend.

I loaded up both machines Friday night and spent about eight hours quilting both quilts. I have only used my CQ machine on Edge to Edge quilting because I haven't quite got the machine to glide like I would like. So doing custom on this machine was a bit of a challenge. The wheels are better ajusted now but it still needs help. These pictures show the quilt block and setting square designs used with CQ. Sue Patten designed the block pattern and Darlene Epp's designs were used in the white setting areas. I filled in the other areas and the border.

The second quilt was done all freehand on my 2008 APQS Millennium. Here are the corresponding freehand quilt blocks.
Not a bad start to the new year. I really enjoyed this project. Now back to a couple of customer quilts.