Thursday, December 20, 2012

Quality over Quantity

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I have a pretty epic finish to share with you.  But first I just have to say, I've decided to stop fighting with myself to keep this blog updated on a regular basis.  I will continue to try to be better about posting, but I will never be that blogger that posts a single sentence or a picture of my dinner because really?  That's what Instagram is for.  Amiright?

So anyway.  I've been feeling like I may be in a bit of a rut lately.  And I wanted to quilt some stuff that I could go absolutely nuts with.  I have several Latte Quilts to quilt.  One of them happens to be Helper Bee's quilt. 
None of the Latte quilts are anywhere near their turn on the waiting list, but I wanted to do one.  So I did!  I took 63 freakin pictures of this sucker, so it will be hard to narrow it down here.  But first I'll give a little explanation of how this quilt is made.
It is an embroidery quilt.  You take several embroidery designs to build blocks, and stitch them in sections.  Once you have your blocks embroidered, you put batting on the back and "quilt-as-you-go" with decorative stitches and stippling.  This is great in theory, but the latte quilt is made with satin and is really a true heirloom.  With the amount of time put into the construction (for us it was a year and a half long class), that just is not enough quilting for it to make the impact that it should.
I did try to warn everyone not to put the batting behind their blocks, as they would likely want me to quilt it for them anyway.  Few listened. 
So what I ended up with was a bunch of quilt tops that had batting sewn into the blocks (and into the seams which makes for some serious bulk), and a bunch of stippling on them.  Have I mentioned I don't like stippling except for in micro?
The other thing is that with it being satin and with it having batting sewn into the blocks, precision is really important, but also really difficult.  So this quilt had a lot (A LOT) of fullness to ease in.
Here it is pre-quilting.

Do you see how the corners are poofy?  That's because the borders are not long enough.  And the entire quilt had to be shrunk down to accommodate for that.  But anyway!  I added another layer of Pellon Legacy Poly batting (that stuff seriously rocks my socks) and started stitching away.  I did things a little differently this time in that rather than stitching in the ditch right off the bat, I basted the crap out of this quilt, outlined all the motifs first and then did some of my filler work to work in that fullness and flatten it out a bit, THEN I went in and did the ditching around the blocks, sashings and borders.
The biggest challenge with this quilt was all of that stippling she had done.  The quilt didn't photograph well on the frame at all for me to show you any of that.  But suffice to say that ALL of her stippling was coming out.  So I didn't have much choice but the stipple over it to hold it all in.  And then stipple over it again.  And then one more time in micro for good measure. 

The part that's glowing is the part that I had gotten the micro-stippling done.  White thread really glows in black light!

So I'm going to try to stop talking now and just show pictures of the quilt completed.  :O)
Micro-stippling all done from the back side

All of the blocks

Center medallion

PreTTy, preTTy settings!

Trying to decide if I would fill in those little spaces...

The whole thing...

That's a lot of quilting!

And a very happy Helper Bee!!

It didn't take nearly as long to quilt it as I thought it would.  Now I have a bunch more to do, but this one was sort of the test run.
I had another pretty awesome finish this week, but more on that later.  
Merry Christmas! And in case you missed it, don't forget to fill out the Quilty Survey for a chance to win some swag!

Quilty Survey and free stuff!!

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The ladies and gent over at Generation Q Magazine have asked me for a favor and I'm happy to pass this info on.  Last month they launched the GenQ 2012 Addicted Stitcher Survery to gather all of the facts and numbers about us!  Please take a few moments to answer the survey questions through the link at the bottom of this post.  The info gathered will help our wonderful industry people to support and create new products that we want.  There's even a bribe!!!!  Read on...

We last poked and probed into your fabricky lives in late 2011, with our GenQ Modern Quilters Survey. And now it’s time to do it again with the GenQ 2012 Addicted Stitcher Survey. (New name, same mission.) We’d like to count noses, pins, rotary cutters, whatever it takes to grab a detailed snapshot of this niche in the sewing and crafting world.

Some of you have pained expressions, and you’re probably sighing with annoyance at yet another attempt for the corporate q-niverse to stick its demographic-hungry noses into stuff that just isn’t its business. The truth is that all of us stitchy types thrive when our industry answers our needs. And that’s what this survey does. It helps to provide information to the industry so our needs, and wants, can be better met.

Please take a few minutes to whip through the survey (it’s shorter this year) and tell us all about you. And there could be swag in it for you. The survey will be live until the end of the December 2012, and on Jan. 1, 2013, we’ll choose FIVE lucky survey-takers who will each receive a box of fabric, books and small stitchy goodies valued at $50.

Just use this link to find your way to our 2012 Addicted Stitcher Survey. And please freely post it far and wide, encouraging your friends and sew-pals to also participate! Thank you so much for being a part of this second annual survey! And if you want to know more about what we do, check us out at

Stand up and be counted!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Glorious Autumn: Pumpkin Patch(work) Tutorial

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Heeeeellooooooooo (in my best Mrs. Doubtfire voice)!!!  I know it's been a while.  But more on that later.
For now, I have a cute little tutorial for the Glorious Autumn Block Party hosted by the wonderful Michele.  If you haven't already, you should go over and check out some of the awesome tutorials by some pretty awesome people!

Doing this block was a great excuse for me to spend my Sunday sewing in a feverish panic.  ;)  It's called Pumpkin Patch(work)! And it really goes together pretty quickly.

What you'll need:
 8 1/2" square for background
(3) 2 1/2" strips for corners
5 1/2 x 7 1/2" scrap for pumpkin applique
1 1/2 x 2 1/2" scrap for stem
(4) 1 x 13" strips for frame (I tend to use a very scant 1/4" seam allowance so my blocks always come out a little larger than the pattern calls for - which is okay as long as it's consistent.  I find it easier to cut the strips longer and trim them down once attached!)
Coordinating thread for applique and embroidery

To start:
 Sew together your 2 1/2" strips.  This will form a long strip set that measures 6 1/2" in width.  Sub-cut (2) 6 1/2" x 6 1/2" squares from the strip set.

Cut each of these units diagonally, corner to corner so you have four triangles.

This will be the layout of the main part of your block:

To sew the corners onto the center square, center them so that there is an equal amount of overlap on each side.

Repeat for the next three corners.

Now for the applique!  You can download the "pattern" here.  Except no!  To download from that link, you have to be a registered member of Scribd.  Oops!  You can download it here instead!
It totally looks like a butt, doesn't it?  I know.  Awesome.
Use your favorite applique method to apply the stem and pumpkin to the block.

I used a really easy turned applique method.  If you want to try my method, you will need some water soluble stabilizer (Floriani Wet N Gone or similar).
I cut the applique template out of paper and traced it directly onto the wrong side of my fabric.  I then sewed around my drawn shape with the fabric right sides together with the stabilizer.

Once you've completely sewn around the shape (with a backstitch at your start and stop), trim to a 1/8 - 1/4" seam allowance and clip the curves, then turn it over to the stabilizer side and cut a slit big enough to turn it right sides out.

Smooth out all the edges (which I had obviously not done yet!) and press your pumpkin.  Repeat for the stem and applique it to your block.

Next, add one of the 1" strips to each side of the block.  Trim it flush with the block, add the other two strips, then trim again.

I added a couple of free motion embroidered squigglies coming off of my pumpkin as well, just for the fun of it.

And you're done!
If you'd like to print this tutorial, you may do so with the "printer friendly" button on my sidebar.
And so that you can see what the block looks like in repeat, I made a little wall hanging.  What I like best about blocks like these is that they're so versatile.  You can change it up by changing the applique, or doing no applique at all and leave the center of the block for quilting motif.  Anyway, this will now go in the massive pile of things I need to get quilted!

I hope you'll check out the Glorious Autumn Flickr Group to see all the blocks the participants have made.  And check back soon! I've got a pretty spectacular customer quilt finish to share.  :O)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A mishmash of fun-ness!

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I'm getting a moment to sort of breath for the first time in a while, and my first priority is a post here!
Luckily, I'm waiting on the FedEx guy to bring me a quilt top that needs a super fast turnaround, otherwise I would be quilting (read: neglecting my blog even longer).  I really don't do it on purpose, I promise!
I'm thinking this post will give you a bit of insight as to how fried my brain is lately, because I will likely be jumping all over the place.  I hope that's okay with you!
I've posted a lot about Jo/Chimera.  I'm mentioning it again today for two reasons!
First, once that quilt was finished, Thomas and I decided that I would get to babsit it a few times a year and include it in my trunk show.  But then I took it a step further and decided to use it for a class sample, along with two mini-versions.  I just this morning finished quilting the first mini-version.  As this is for a class, my goal was to quilt it in an undesirable way - but I just couldn't.  Here is the mini!

 And just for fun here's a closeup of my weirdness deciding to do two random rows of pebbles on one side...

So there's reason number one.  Second, the original Jo appeared in the premier issue of  Modern Quilts Unlimited!  It's in the Limelight section.

And here is the magazine hanging on my Wall of Fame, along with other magazines and news articles and letters and gifts from my amazing friends!

And yes, I do keep every single thing that is sent to me!

The original Jo now lives on my wall with BeDazzled that just came back from its exhibit in France!

Another cool thing about this particular issue of Modern Quilts unlimited is that they did a profile of Jacquie and included in that profile was her Bridges quilt.  One of my favorite people in the whole world, Sheryl Schleicher quilted that quilt!

Hmm, okay I guess I needed to rotate it but that's okay because here's another picture of two of my friends standing with the quilt in Houston from the MQG exhibit!

I hope they don't mind me posting that! The quilting doesn't stand out much in this photo because it's subtle/AWESOME.  If you haven't seen detail shots, you should pick up the magazine.  It's amazing.

Those two friends are Natalie Carlton and Karen Marchetti.  I LOVE THEM!  Karen and I missed each other by a couple of days, but I did get to hug Natalie for a bit before I left for the airport.  Karen had a quilt both in the show at Houston, and also one in Modern Quilting Unlimited's sister publication booth for Machine Quilting Unlimited.  Why is this notable?  Because I got to deliver her quilt!
I first saw Clouds in my Latte at MQS, which I believe was its debut show.  My friendship with Karen at that time was in its infancy and we have grown so incredibly close over the time since then! Now anyone that knows anything about show quilts knows that you're NOT ALLOWED TO TOUCH THEM!  Buuuuuuuuuuuuuut...

I couldn't resist.  I laid it out on the floor and instinctively just dived right on top.  It's an amazing beautiful quilt.  Want proof?  Here you go.

Let's see... what else can I tell you?  Oh!  I don't know if I mentioned this on the blog or not, but right before I left for Houston I quilted a Savanna Bop baby quilt.  I didn't post it because it was supposed to be a secret from the mama that I quilted it.  She had her baby while I was in Houston and reading the texts from grandma had me in tears.  So happy for the whole family!  Here is the quilt.  Savanna Bop is just such happy fabric...

And speaking of Thomas fabric, remember this Frippery quilt I posted made by Kim?

Kim and I are sneaky.  She actually made that and I in turn quilted it as a gift for Thomas and his wife for their upcoming new arrival.  I knew it would get barfed on and peed on a lot, so it had to be quilted sufficiently to handle many, many washings.  :)

Oh! And one more thing about Thomas!  Way forever ago I quilted this quilt for him.  It's called Doppelganger (we call it Barney though).  It's a giant remake of the very first quilt I ever quilted for him and it's on the cover of Generation Q that debuted in Houston!

Here is a photo of the back.  I adore how Thomas pieced a giant monochrome log cabin block for the backing.

Of course I don't have any pictures of the front on my computer (they're all on my phone) except for this closeup showing that it's actually quilted in three different thread colors - you'll see it if you squint hard enough.

A couple of other cool things about Houston, once again my Sedona Star was there.  It had just gotten back from France and well, then went to Houston for Festival (not Market, I never did get to see it hanging live and in person) and then was sent home.  I hadn't seen it since I dropped it off in Houston last year so it was a very pleasant surprise!

The amazing and wonderful Alison Glass showed off her Lucky Penny quilt, though I didn't get any pictures of it actually AT Market.  It was so much FUN quilting this quilt! I love it when there's tons of room for fun and am told to do whatever I want!

I had dinner with Sharon Schamber and her beautiful amazing incredible awesome daughter Cristy!  That was the first night and I was exhausted from not sleeping and travel, and they got to town and started booth setup.  A buncha tiredsies!

Okay I think that's enough random babbling for now, don't you?  I'll be back with plenty more! Have you missed me???  :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Making of Graffiti

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Every once in a while I get this wild idea on a whim that I need to work on something for myself.  These ideas usually hit me at really bad times.  I tend to go with them anyway because while it happens at really bad times, the truth is that there is never a good time, so I'd better do it while I've got the notion.
Last Saturday I finished up a customer quilt that I'll be dropping off while I'm in Houston.  I did that on a whim too.  I decided that with the quantity of quilts that she sent me, I may as well quilt one up for her and try to save her a bit on return shipping.
I had been eyeballing my fresh bolt of grey Colorworks Premium Solid for quite some time, and decided to tear some yardage off to be sure I had some in my stash (because I've already gone through a whole bolt).  But it didn't stop there.  I pressed it, loaded it, and started stitching.
It's unfortunate that while I had the idea to work on something for me, I wasn't feeling particularly creative.  I've well-documented that I prefer to use the "non-plan-plan" for most everything that I do and it normally works pretty well for me.  In this case I don't feel that it did.  Now for the record, I am not dissing my non-plan-plan.  I love my non-plan-plan.  However I'm wishing that I would've taken more time to think carefully about it as I made it up.  Though I don't think that would've made a difference.  Houston is right around the corner and my heart just wasn't in it.  My mind was on other things.
I am not proud of this piece.  I am proud of myself for taking time to do it.  But I am not proud of myself because I didn't do it right.  When I'm quilting for my clients, I make sure that every little detail is as perfect as I can make it.  With this piece, this piece for myself, when I screwed something up, I always told myself, "I'm not fixing that, it's just for me".  When I noticed something I didn't like, I told myself, "Oh well, it's just for me."  Next time I'm going to try harder.  I'm going to teach myself that I'm important too, and because it's for me is all the more reason for me to be able to look at it and be proud to hang it on my wall (which was this piece's purpose from its inception, now I just don't know what I'll do with it).
 I'm going to try really hard to only point out my favorite parts. 
 Anyway.  Here we go!  Lots of pictures.

Day 1: The threads
Day 1: this is as far as I got.  Not too inspired but at least I got my swirlie tree in!

Start of Day 2: two-tone triple stitched disappearing curved crosshatching

Off the frame for one of its many turns and had to check my progress

All kinds of disappearing design on this one

Checking progress again

I really should've finished that section of pebbles before calling it a day because...

I knew it was happening and did nothing to stop it.  Distinct line between day 2 pebbles and day 3 pebbles

You have no idea how mad at myself I was when I realized what I did!

So I had to fill the whole thing in, and that's when I started hating it

Last thing to do and kept changing my mind

But I like what I finally decided to do

End of day 3

I love the disappearing checkerboard

I love my disappearing triple curved crosshatching

Love my swirlie tree

I don't even like stippling! But I like lime green ANYTHING

I wish I was happier with it because it will likely be a very long time before I get to work on something for myself again.  But I've learned my lesson.  Be nicer to myself and give myself the same courtesy that I give to you.  :)