Friday, May 25, 2012

A kinda-sorta Market Recap

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Ooooooooh, my lovelies.  I wish you all could've been at Market with me to share in the fun.  Some of you were.  And it just tickled me to be walking down an aisle and have some of you come up to me and tell me that you read my blog.  People really ARE reading this drivel!  YAY!
One of you even drove alllll the way to Kansas City JUST to meet me.  I think you're insane, but I love you anyway and I'm glad that we were able to connect.

I realized yesterday that I don't have a whole lot to share with you because *gasp*!  I only took 15 pictures the. whole. time.  But I will share some of them with you!
Everyone says that Market is all about business, business, business.  And it absolutely is.  But who says that business can't also be fun?  Because Market?  It's FUN.  Ask anyone that went to the Modern Quilt Guild Meetup!
Market was -again- fun, and so fantastic in so many ways for so many people.  The debut issue of Generation Q in print form was hugely successful!  The booth was always busy.  I think that could've been in part due to the candy cigarettes, but mostly because it was a little corner of awesome.
I have done some quilting for Megan of The Bitchy Stitcher fame, and she is also the Creative Director of GenQ.  I absolutely adore her, and had never met her.  I think I let out such a high-pitched squeal when she showed up in the booth that only dogs could hear.

I was holding onto her so tightly that she may have lost a few brain cells due to lack of oxygen.  Sorry, Megan!
I got to hang out a lot with my BFF, Thomas.  We had a blast!  I followed him around the show floor and he introduced me to a lot of people that I hadn't met yet.  Including Jo Morton, who gushed about my quilting on this quilt of Thomas's.

That... was awesome.
While walking the floor, the wonderful ladies of American Patchwork & Quilting decided that they needed to get a picture of Thomas and myself with our magazine cover.  I'm so very thankful for that, otherwise Thomas and I wouldn't have gotten a picture together!

Not only did we get to see the cover (and autograph them for each other), but I got to see the actual quilt again, as Andover Fabrics had it hanging in their booth.

They also hung my Savanna Bop quilt in their booth!

David Butler (rawr!) came to hang out with us for a bit in the GenQ booth and steal some magazines to have in Amy's booth...

And Melissa's (very first!) booth was so perfectly perfect that it almost hurt to look at its perfection!

Seriously awesome.
That's all of the pictures I have to share.  But I got to do tons of other fun things.  I met up with and hung out with Shelly of Prairie Moon Quilts, Victoria Wolf of Bumble Beans Basics (she's even more gorgeous in person), Rob Appell recognized me at the MQG meetup (squea!) so I chatted him up for a while, Anna Maria Horner was calling me "Princess Lisa" the whole time, there really are just too many things to mention them all.
And now I'm working on some really freakin' cool things and I can't wait to share them.  Before I can share them I need to really put my pedal to the metal and figure out what, exactly I'm doing!
For those of you that I ran into at Market, thank you for letting me know that you read this junk I put on this here bloggy thingy!  And for anyone that missed it, I promise it was a totally sucky experience.  ;P
Soon I will have a new client quilt finish to share with you.  I started quilting it on my birthday (Tuesday, I'm 31 now!).  And it's a doozy!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Odds and ends and "stuff"

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It is highly likely that this will be my last post until after Quilt Market and MQS.  I have a big embroidery event that we're hosting on Tuesday and then I'm leaving for KC on Wednesday.  I planned to start packing early but it's been busy around here, and I've just been too tired.

Aside from Lynn's quilt I've been working on several other things.  I quilted six other client quilts in the last week and a half.  One of them was a sweet little graduation gift for an acquaintance's daughter.  The quilt top was made by the graduate's grandmother shortly before she died.  It was constructed from the clothing of the graduate's mom and aunts from when they were younger!  How cool is that?  The top had a little bit of an attitude problem, but I disciplined it into submission.
Before on the left, loaded on the frame.  After on the right after trimming.

I did another graduation quilt for a young lady that has earned a music scholarship to college, so her grandmother went all out with a musical theme in the top.  Grandma wanted custom quilting on a panto budget but I think I came to a compromise that left us both pretty happy!  It needed a little more quilting than I had planned to do, as it had a bit of an attitude as well. (I'm aware that I need to work on my photography skills!)

I did a king sized all-over pattern on another I don't have pictures of, and a large denim quilt that I also didn't get pictures of!  I was scared to death to put that sucker on my machine, but it all worked out well in the end.

Last Sunday I went into work with a pretty solid plan to bind my Savanna Bop quilt entirely by machine.  I changed my mind and decided that I wanted to make the best of my uninterrupted time at work, so I just applied it to the front by machine and bagged it up to bring it home for the rest.  Then I pulled out a project that I started a long time ago.

Sarah Vedeler's GO! Bloom.  Sarah sent me these designs before they were even available for purchase.  I had decided that rather than using cotton, I was going to make this quilt out of dupioni.  Entirely.  Background, applique, the works.

All was going well, but at the time I was preparing to leave for MQS!  Go figure it was this time last year...  Anyway, it was about 2am and I was working at the quilting machine with my embroidery machine going at the same time.  Never do that at 2am!  It turns out, I had accidentally hit one of the buttons on the face of my machine, which kept it from stopping for thread changes.  I'm sure you can imagine how that turned out.

Now since this was done on dupioni, which is delicate, I was hesitant to rip it out and re-do it.  My friend Melissa suggested I just cut the corners off (where the problem was) and make it into a small, circular table-topper.  Excellent!

So Sunday I loaded it on one of the quilting machines, and quilted it in my new Marathon metallic thread which gives it a pretty sparkle!

It will be hanging in Sarah's booth at Market, so if you're there, stop by and see her!

I've got one more to show you, but I'm only showing you a teensy weensy bit of it.  

That's it! I have one more on the frame that I'm still hoping to finish before I leave.  Fingers crossed!
Sorry for babbling.  I've been cleaning too much and sleeping too little.

I hope you'll hunt me down and say hi if you're at market.  I will be floating around a bit and you can find me in the Generation Q booth on Saturday!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Holy sheezy! And Ruffled Roses (lots of pictures)

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Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaang, y'all!  I am so in awe of all of the comments and emails related to yesterday's post.  And my attention was brought once again to the fact that my head is up my own skirt in my header photo.  :)

I finally got replies sent out to all of you that commented and emailed. At least all of you that I could. There were a couple of no-replies and one even bounced back.

Seriously, thank you all for sharing your stories, experiences, and thoughts on a topic that sits pretty deep with me.  I was laughing and crying with all of you.  So thank you!

But I thought I would lighten the mood a little today with a feakin' uh-may-zing quilt I recently finished for a client.  Sound like fun?  Let's do it.

Lynn friended me on Facebook quite a while ago.  I never really heard from her, until one day she sent me a message that she had been face-stalking my quilting photos and wanted to send me a top.  She said that it was bright colors, and that I could do anything I wanted to it.  Um, hello?  Speakin' my language!
She sent me the top and I did a little happy dance when I took it out of the box.  Probably the most perfectly pieced top I have ever quilted.  It is last year's block of the month for TheQuiltShow, called Ruffled Roses.  Now since I had a pretty big part in the samples for their block of the month for this year, I have seen several versions of the Ruffled Roses quilt.  But I did not recognize Lynn's quilt as Ruffled Roses.  It doesn't even look like the same quilt.  Her fabric selections are perfect and amazing and awesome and suh-weet!!!

See my slippers on the floor?  Have I mentioned I've only worn shoes once in nearly two months?  Anycrap!  See how awesome this quilt is?  See how much work she put into it?  She even pressed all of her seams open!  I was in heaven.  It's no coincidence that I had all the thread colors I would need to quilt it. 
I'm going to try to not talk too much about it.  I'm just going to let the pictures speak for themselves.  This sucker took me nearly two weeks to quilt.  I'm 100% not joking.  I could still do more to it, but I think it's pretty perfect just as it is.  If I ever get to quilt another of these, I already  know some other things I want to try!

All of the white thread stitching in the ditch was done, and I had moved onto curved cross-hatching with framing feathers in the inside of the outer border.

Then I did some feathers in the 1" square-on-point border, and feathers in the white triangle sections of the basket blocks.  I ended up stippling the rest of the background fabric sections of the baskets.  I try to stay away from stippling, but at this point I realized just how long this quilt was going to take, I had no idea how much money she wanted to spend on the quilting, and decided that it would be best to make some sacrifices here and there.

The I did feathers in the yellow and orange triangles around the basket blocks.  My absolute favorite part!

More feathers in the lattice...  Feathers, feathers, feathers!  In that white appliqued border, I really wanted to do what is becoming my trademark:  the triple stitch.  But do you know how long that would've taken?  Do you know what the chances were of me royally screwing it up, having to get it lined up just perfectly on both sides of the applique?  I wasn't going to risk it, so I decided to McLisa (McTavish) it instead.

Now, since I didn't do the triple stitch in the applique border, I decided to do the unexpected.  Those setting triangles around the center medallion?  I really thought about putting some curved frames around them and then triple stitching to the seams, filling the rest of the area with a feather motif.  But I decided not to.  That would be the thing a lot of people would probably do.  So I just triple stitched the whole thing and I love the look of it!

Then I pebbled the purple applique border, pebbled the orange applique corners (with some funky curved frames to the outside), did some funky figure 8-ish thingy in the purple solid border and some spirals in the two skinny teal borders.  All that was left was the multi-colored section of the outside border.  I thought on it the entire time I was quilting this beauty, trying to decide what to do with that part of the quilt.  Could not come up with any sort of motif work that would look good in any single thread, with that many colors.  So, I did something that I think turned out pretty cool.  It's sort of a faux triple stitch, in that I stitched down the ditch, and a line on each side of the ditch.  I have to say, having the ditch there to keep the lines even made it so much easier! And I love the lime green thread.

Last step complete!  Almost.  I still have to put it back on the frame one more time, so that I can stitch in the ditch in the little itty bitty rectangle border toward the center.  Since it's being done in purple I kind of forgot to do that step.  But here are a bunch of pictures of this quilt in all its gorgeousness, off the frame.  <3 !!

To say that I love it would be, um, quite the understatement!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The kind of quilter I will never be

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I was recently asked by a friend of mine how I can possibly love what I do so much, when it is so utterly exhausting at times.  Before I could even answer his question, he answered it himself by comparing it to being a parent, which is exactly the answer I would've given.

I've written about this topic in the past, but never on my own blog.  If you're going to continue reading here, I suggest you hop over to this and read it first so that you can sort of get a general idea of what this "business" of quilting means to me.
Done?  Good.  Let's move on.  Sort of.

It's no secret that I get a lot of really challenging tops to quilt.  I make jokes about it, I sometimes complain about it, I post pictures and have been dubbed the "miracle quilter" and the "magician" because of it.  Most that see the before pictures of some of the jobs I take in ask me why I never say no.  Most say they would refuse to quilt such things.  Most say that it can't possibly be done.

I know they have good intentions.  They really do.  But I will never be the kind of quilter that says no.

Some quilters piece tops for the art of it, and everything they do is as perfect as they can possibly make it.  Some do it as a form of therapy to distract them from pain - both physical and mental.  Some do it as an escape from every day responsibilities.  Some do it simply as a hobby, for something to do.  Regardless of why the tops are made, they all need quilted.

If longarmers only quilted perfect quilts tops, there simply would be no quilts.  My quilts aren't perfect either.  There's no such thing.  We can be as careful as we want but nothing is ever perfect.  My quilting is never perfect so I can't possibly expect perfection from my customers.

I enjoy quilting the ones that are rough around the edges.  I enjoy possessing the skill and ability to fix things.  I enjoy making the supposedly impossible, absolutely possible.  I like making a completely out-of-square top into a beautiful, square quilt.  I enjoy bringing smiles to my customers' faces and tears to their eyes.  I enjoy hugs.  I enjoy stories of how the quilts came to be, and where they will eventually go.

So while this is a business and I'm quilting to live (which people often forget), my customers are more like family.  I have quilted a top on short notice (two weeks) for a woman whose daughter in law was going to celebrate her last Christmas before cancer took her out of this world at the age of 44.  I have quilted a top on short notice (two hours) for a woman that wanted to re-gift a top given to her by her aunt, as an actual quilt for her 90th birthday party.  I have quilted a king size double wedding ring to be raffled off for Relay for Life, and waived my fee so all proceeds could go to a better cause.  I have quilted tops that were made for families by their friends when all worldly possessions had been lost in disasters.  I have quilted a top for a grieving mother who miscarried in her second trimester and wanted the baby quilt completed for comfort.  Alternatively, I have quilted a top for a new mom that was excited to finish her first project for her adorable baby girl. I have quilted tops made for teenage runaways living in safe-houses.  I have quilted for flood victims and graduates and people that are days away from taking their last breath.

Even writing that, and remembering all of these people that have asked me to have this small part in their lives brings tears to my eyes.

How could I possibly say no to those things?  Why would I want to say no because points are cut off and seams don't match and blocks are too full?

I will never turn away an eager customer because their quilt is not flat.  I will never tell someone that I will not quilt their deceased loved one's top because there are seams coming apart.  I will never tell a youth quilter that her crooked seams and puffy sashings would be too much work to take on for her budget.  I will never tell a mother that I won't quilt her daughter's graduation gift because her borders are too long.  I will never, EVER speak the words, "I won't quilt that".  I will never only quilt for certain people.  I will never make someone feel bad because they are not perfect, or their quilt isn't perfect, or their pressing wasn't perfect, or their seams aren't perfect.  I will never tell someone that they're not good enough.  Everyone is welcome here.  Everyone. 

I like to promote positive experiences in everything that I do.  Not just quilting, though quilting is basically all that I do.  I love what I do.  And all that matters to me is that my customers love what they do, too. That they have a warm, mushy feeling in the pits of their stomachs when they walk out the door with their quilt to put on their bed, or give to their aunt, or whatever the quilt's fate may be.  If you're quilting for the love of it, then you're doing it right.  Whether the top is "right" or not.  Don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise (unless you're in a class because then it's their job!).  =]

We're all in this together. Let's have some fun, shall we?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I KILL YOU!!!!!!!! With cuteness.

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You know how we sewists can sometimes get grumpy when we haven't gotten a chance to sit down at our machines for a bit?  Yeah.  That would be me.  I haven't sewn in a looooooong time, y'all.  Long time.  With the exception of the cute bag I made out of Thomas's Flock line of fabric.  But that was still quite some time ago.

You've never seen it, right?  Yeah, that's because I'm a loser and forget to blog about it.  But it's awesome.  The interior has huge pockets because it started out as a messenger style laptop bag, but I just kept making it smaller and smaller.  It'll be nice to carry at market.  I've already managed to get off topic.

So I was grumpy because I hadn't sewn in a while.  Like, I-want-to-rip-someone's-face-off grumpy.  Adding to the grump was the fact that I have so much to do before Market that I literally screamed once.  Only the once.  I swear.

With everything there is to do, I was convinced I couldn't possibly make time for sewing.  So what did I do?  I scheduled one of my sew-ins.  That way other people would be coming, I would be playing hostess, and I would have to sew.  Good plan right?  Yes.

So the fabric line that I was working with this time is Thomas's Savanna Bop.  Are you familiar with Savanna Bop?  You should be.  It's freakin' CUH-YUTE!  It's so easy to play with this fabric because you just want to squeeze it. 

I had already digitized some designs from Thomas's fabric for embroidery (he was awesome enough to provide me with some jpgs to digitize off of) and done a couple of stitch outs, and I wanted to make them into pillows.  That was my first order of business for Friday.
The first one I did some piecing around the embroidery, and the second I added raw edge ruffles around the embroidery.  Then I threw them both on Gammill #2. (I've learned my lesson about using yellow thread for outlines, you really can see it in person, I promise)

I haven't actually gotten them made into pillows yet, but sewing them together is the easy part. Of course then I also have to make the pillow forms to put in them (it's not cheap, it's resourceful!).

Once I got those done I decided to embroider a bunch more of those animals.  I took the wings off of and re-digitized the giraffe, I took one of the elephants from the elephant pillow, and one of four rhinos that I had digitized for another design and made them all the same size.  I stitched out three of each animal, and each one with a different color combo coordinating with the fabric.
I decided that I like the way that first pillow came out so much that I'd use that as the block design for a quilt.
I wish I didn't have such an obsession with adding that 3-d frame thing to nearly everything that I do because they're so time consuming.  But I suppose it's a good obsession to have because the frame really does add quite a bit to the look of the block.  By midnight Saturday night, all of the blocks were embroidered, framed, pieced together and made into a quilt top.
Sunday morning I started right away with some question marks I had digitized and embroidered for the back.  I got the back pieced and loaded up on Gammill #2 by around noon or one and started quilting away.
Can I just say it?  I FREAKIN' LOVE THIS QUILT!!!!!
So here you go.  What do you think?  I might have to hang it on my wall once it comes back from where it's going to.  Don't mind the crooked photo or the ugly backdrop.  That would be my blocking boards for blocking quilts!

And now here's the back.  Before I show you, I have to say you're probably going to wonder why I didn't bother making the question mark blocks the right size so that they would be centered with the blocks on the top.  But I wanted it that way.  That's why they're questions marks.  I didn't want to spend too much time thinking about the back.  I needed to get it pieced and quilted by the end of Sunday otherwise it never would've gotten done.  So I thought the question marks with the funky placement was perfect!
Oh!  And also don't mind that other quilt under the Savanna Bop quilt.  That's one that had to come off one of the frames so I could work on another.  You'll see more of that later.  For now just pretend it's not there.  :)

So that's how I spent my weekend.  Making probably the cutest quilt I've ever made.  Ever.  Thomas says it's "punk adorable".  I like that description.
What say you?  Did I make good use of my sewing time?
Now back to finishing quilts in a mad dash before leaving for Market!
Who else will I see there?