Thursday, December 13, 2018

Variety is the Spice of Quilting

This is a mixed bag post. I love how my job as a longarm quilter allows me to constantly mix things up. That's because all my customers are unique and I get to work on their projects. First up shows the not quilted/quilted transformation. This really shows up well on solids. This sweet quilt will be flying across "the pond" next week where it will be delivered to its new home.
Just add thread!  I love how this turned out.  My customer is calling the quilting Billows, and has assured me she will be wanting it again on another piece. 
I love the neutrals she chose for this quilt.  Sage green, custard yellow, white and grey.  They all play so nicely together.

Glorious texture.

Next up is a free form, corner triangle top full of Kaffe and dots.  The organic zig zag called for wavy lines and fun feathers.  This piecer really likes lots of quilting and I tried to keep it whimsy.
Beautiful fabrics and colors...

I loved finishing this one for my friend, her choices of colors and prints give me confidence to be more adventurous with my fabric choices.

Winter has arrived and PN pulled together this super cute panel pattern. By taking out one strip of black, the snowman takes center stage.

All those snowmen and birds needed to shine, so a simple straight line quilt motif was perfect for those borders.  And I love this corner.  The pattern called for paper piecing the corner block for a perfect match on the strip pieced border.
The panel is super cute!  You can keep this one out until the daffodils start popping up in the spring!

And after getting all my customers Christmas quilts finished and delivered, we took off to Maui. Sunset in Kihei at The Cove.  This was our last night on the island and the sunset was absolute perfection!

 My view each night from Sugar Beach Resort.

The view each morning as the sun rises over Mt Haleakala.  The perfect time for a walk along the beach.

Every year I am amazed at the hedge of poinsettia at our friends place up country on Maui.

It gets cut back every year, and continues to flourish.  As hard as it is to feel the Christmas spirit while the weather is so nice, this view does not disappoint.

We had a full moon while on vacation and I got up early to snap this photo.  It's not the best shot, iphone camera's are only so good.  This was about 6:10 a.m.  The moon was so bright, I'm glad I got up just to see this!

Once home, I was itching to get stitching and I had this little piece of redwork all stitched up.  It was done last year while on vacation and to keep it easy and get it finished, I did a simple 1 inch cross hatch and bound it with a plaid cut on the bias.  Finished is good!

Since I was still feeling like I was on 808 time, (Maui time), I used up a small left over from my guys last years pillowcase!
We came home to a surgery appointment for my guy.  He's resting comfortably as I type this.  That's because he is still numb from a very intensive shoulder surgery.  We are looking at a rehab time of 12+ months.  They say this is one of the toughest to recover from so we will be staying very close to home for the next 4 -6 months.

Aloha to you all, and keep stitching.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Empty Bobbins and Project Boxes

This has been a year of finishing up projects that I've deemed worthy of my time. Boxes have been emptied, and tops have been created. I've only got a couple of my own quilts quilted, but I've finished 100+ quilts for other piecers /quilters this year.

A few years ago I participated in a 1/2 sq triangle swap and they have languished in a box, just waiting for the right project.
I found it and have got these 25 fused, machine appliqued blocks into a quilt with a fabulous scrappy sashing.  Using the black and white setting to check for balance.
I love how these blocks make the applique shine.  At first I thought it might overwhelm them, but once it was all together, I couldn't be happier.  Once it's quilted, I'll do a full post on this quilt and pattern.

Here is my view from my sewing table.  You can barely see the water in this photo, but it's really closer than it looks in this photo.  3 or 4 years ago, I made a cutting error on a cream fabric.  Blocks were cut on an AccuCutter to 2" and I needed 2 1/2" blocks.  Not to worry, they would be used up at a later date.
 That date came, and I decided to make an "ocean" quilt.  The crazy idea morphed into a need for 81 blocks that contain 49 2" squares.  And I didn't want repetition so I have pieced each square, one by one!
 I had to keep track of the strips so each pile is pinned with seven strips containing seven squares.  I only need 81 of these strip packs.

Keeping a post it note attached to the inside of the box kept me from recounting over and over.  Now these need to be stitched into blocks, and set with sashing that has yet to be picked out.

We bugged out for my guy's "bucket list"  vacation.  Manhattan is such an amazing city and no matter how long I spend there, it's never long enough.  My guy will never return, but he checked off Peter Lugers Steak House and Katz Deli  from his foodie list.

I, on the other hand, wanted to hit the ground running.  Taking the time to say hello to NYC's finest is always a good idea.

I passed him on my way to the garment district.  First stop on my list was VFW Quilts.

A tiny shop that packs a punch.  Victoria carries RJR solids and they are my favorite, so I stocked up on them.  Random colors were chosen just to pump up my solids bin. 

We jumped on a cruise ship for 7 days after we exhausted ourselves in Manhattan.  Stops included Boston and Halifax.  We had a lovely day in Boston, and spent our time walking the Freedom Trail.  Once home, I was motivated to pull out these old blocks I started using Victoria's V template.
Yikes, what was I drinking when I put this one together.  Remember, there is no shame in using a seam ripper.

The above block now looks like this block.  Oh how I am loving these orange and yellow combos.

A few more choices, a few more blocks and back into the bin they go!  This is a worthy finish, just not right now.
I hope you have some projects that are worthy of finishes.  These have kept me in my studio and busy at retreat days this year.  There are a few other finishes now hanging in my closet, in line to get quilted.  Fall is here, my Dad is moving and I've been helping him a bit, we are dealing with health issues with my guy and that trumps everything, so my priority studio time is customer quilts. 

Last week I took two days and attended a one day workshop with Maria Shell and then took in the QFA Museum's annual show in Everett WA.  Click here to see all the winners.  Have you taken any workshops this fall?  Do you have any planned?  I know Houston is coming up and many of you will be making the trek.  If you are going, travel safe and have fun!

Keep stitching,

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Corduroy Obsession - No R & R

The title of this post could stand for No Rest & Relaxation, but it really means No Rulers or Rotary.  OK, that's a bit of a white lie, I did use a rotary cutter  4-5 times to clean up a curve or two in the center of an edge where I knew if I tried to trim it back with scissors it would look like a blind barber cut it.
So how did I get to here?

I started cutting up my collection of pants on Saturday, August 4th.  It was a great day to be outside, which I highly recommend.  The little nubs of fabric create quite a mess.  I got out my sharp shears, cut off the hem, then snipped up along the seam line about 1"-2", then gave it a good tug. This allows the fabric to tear right up the grain line. I made piles of each color and then thought "oh, I'll just start with a test block".

My cutting table quickly turned to this,

.....and the floor in front of the design wall turned to this.

4 blocks 2 starts and I felt it was a bit dark.  By bringing in the apple green twill in the above photo, I got the color punch this needed.  As much as I love red, I only wanted that to be a small color accent. On the 7th, Tues night, our guild had Movie Night, and the first film clip they showed was on Gee's Bend, the makers and their quilts.  How perfect.  This just added to my energy to keep working on this piece. 

This is the first strip of green that I added and loved how it played with the other colors.  As you can see, I'm not cutting exact strips, either width or length.

Really loving the green and I've got the start of a few more blocks.  I might be on day three of this project by now.  I became obsessed with it.  I made sure I had time to work on this every day.

I had to start flipping my camera over to black and white to see how my constrast/value was coming along.  Color can trick you into thinking you have contrast, but this method is foolproof.

Here I'm testing out the dusty pink around my 9 patch center.  I liked it and went for it.

I'm getting closer to having my 12 blocks finished.  My goal was blocks that finished approx. 18" square, and I was using my cutting mat for a guideline.  Mixing up block centers added interest as well.

Back and forth, color to B & W.  This really helped me with decisions, both during the block building process and the layout of the blocks.

Here I"m playing with the last few blocks.  I'm paying attention to what color the strips are going to be on the outside edges as compared to the blocks it will live beside or above.  I'm also trying to orientate the brighter colors so the strips are going in all directions.

Here I am continuing to mix up the block placement, look at the center construction of each block and make decisions on the next blocks.  I usually worked on 2-4 blocks at a time.  I loved how working with such a controlled set of fabrics allowed me to make quicker, better decisions.  I didn't agonize much at all.  I also didn't go to my stash, stare at it, pull out 27 fabrics, audition, ponder, fold, refold, and then put away 27 fabrics.  I felt I could be more productive and creative working with this limited pile of fabrics.

With all the cut offs from longer strips, I started piecing these small sections together.  They were stitched with no regard to the quilt top or how this start would finish out.

Another block in the making.  I now have a pile of small "starts" ready for another quilt, on another day.

Now it was time to put the rows together.  I stitched the top row and used that as my guide.  The second row was put together and added on.  At this point, I could see that the bottom of this section was narrower that the top. When I pieced the 3rd and 4th rows, I measured them up against the top row, and when I added the bottom section, I pinned it heavily and worked in the little extra I needed to straighten out the bottom of this top section.

My finished goal was a top that was pretty flat, straight and square.  I succeeded.  Is it perfect? Nope and I had no expectation of that.  But being off by an 1" or so, I'm super pleased.  Even thought I didn't measure, pin, or rotary cut, I got a very good final project.  By tearing the corduroys, the fabric grain was very good.  When trimming off each round of strips, I learned that I was cutting with the corners curving out, so some small adjustments were made and my blocks were getting better.

This top was finished on Tuesday, Aug 14th.  Yes, I work.  I quilt for others and finished 4 customer quilts in this time frame, and spent a full day with my family.  I got so engaged in this "new" process and I realized how wonderful it was to work with such a limited group of fabric.

Some notes on working with corduroy.

Rip the fabric, but do this outside if you can.
Keep your vacuum close.  I used it every day in my studio, sometimes twice in one day.
Clean your sewing machine, and clean it often.
Use wider seams.
Choose block construction ideas that do not have seams all coming together in corners.
Work seams open when possible.

Here is under the throat plate area, and I had already cleaned it once in this process.

Bobbin area after one session of sewing.

These little bits will go everywhere, and even after you vacuum, you will still find them in nooks and cranny's.

Those small starts I mentioned?  Here is what I already have to work with when I decide to pull out these fabrics again. I'd say that's a good start.

The top is finished, I've stay stitched all around the outside and have a flannel back made for it.
Have you worked in this manner before?  I know I get stuck in the "decision" mode so often.  Having too many choices can sometimes hinder our creativity.  There will be more quilts in my future that use limited choices.  I can always add in something new if I think the piece needs some new friends, but this was a very good lesson for me. I've stepped through a new door in my quilt making process with this piece, and I like it!
What new ideas have you tried this year?
Keep stitching,