Monday, 24 October 2016

'Tis (almost) The Season

Okay, okay. Don't hate me for bringing it up!
I'm jumping the gun a bit, but it's for a good cause.

Every year I support our local Women's Shelter by contributing to their Festival of Trees fundraiser.

With a November deadline looming, I hit the quilt shop in search of inspiration for this year's project.
A fat quarter printed with encouraging phrases caught my eye, so I picked it up. Pretty soon it had friends, and I had an idea.

I thought about a "vintage stamp" pattern I've had for a few years, and chose fabrics I hoped would work. Turns out, they were just right! A few neutrals from my stash filled in the gaps.

Auditioning fabric on the background.

A little piecing, a bit of fabric paint, some Crafted Applique, and pretty soon I was ready to quilt.

The applique was stitched as part of the quilting.

My longarm frame was occupied, so I quilted on my domestic machine instead.

First, I ditched around the borders so the quilt would hold its shape. Then I stitched around the applique, added background and border quilting, and worked out how to stitch the "postmark" - probably my favourite part!

Have Faith! A message of hope.

As I'd hoped, the words "HAVE FAITH" in the inspiration fabric landed in an ideal spot (see above). They are inside the postmark, yet safe from being obliterated when the postmark is completed. (It's a key phrase, so things couldn't have worked out better.)

I think of this as "planned serendipity" - I have an idea about a perfect detail, and somehow it works out even better than anticipated.

(Another instance involves the batik under the skate blade (see below). I knew that fabric would add movement and interest, but when it offered the illusion of ice spray as well . . . I'll take it!)

Some ideas improve with a little luck.

If you look closely at the bottom, right-hand corner of the background (see below), you will notice the words hope, have faith, and believe in the quilting.

I like the repetition of words in different forms around the quilt. (There is a delicate script in the skate boot, too.)

Light from the window washes across the quilt - making the quilting more pronounced.

The postmark was stitched last. The pattern suggested hand embroidery for this step, but I chose to do it by machine.

Testing position of the postmark.

I traced the postmark onto tracing paper and then worked from the back of the quilt - after double checking the orientation of the text, of course! (Another layer of text! Love it!!!)

First line stitched through the tracing paper pattern.

After the first pass, I removed the tracing paper and did a second pass from the front of the quilt so I could keep the stitches tidy.

Stitched the lines one more time from the front.

This "stamp" fits the festival theme of HOPE by representing the custom of mailing Christmas cards, with their seasonal messages of hope and good tidings.

Side light makes quilting stand out.

Several pictures in this post, like the one above, were taken with natural light coming in from one side to make the quilting more conspicuous.

Below is the finished quilt with overhead lighting - probably closer to how the quilt will look when hung at the festival.

I'm happy to have this ready before the deadline! (Yippee!!!)

Project Information

Pattern: Vintage Skate, by Fig Tree & Co.

I enjoyed trying the Crafted Applique technique, and especially liked being able to cut out the applique shapes without having to trace the pattern pieces! I also liked the no-fray edges it produced, and how easy it was to stitch through multiple layers.

The fabric prep is a bit messy (not overly, but worth mentioning), which makes it less handy than other methods if you suddenly need to change your fabric choice, or need more than your prepared amount. (I'd made a poor fabric choice for some of my leaves, and found it easier to paint them than to prepare a different fabric.)

I'll happily use the technique again when I want applique with a super-clean edged look, and am glad to have added it to my quilting toolbox.

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Friday, 21 October 2016

*Insert Catchy Title Here*

Hand-Pieced Hexi Quilt!
I have watched this beauty grow for years, block by gorgeous block. The fabrics are so YUMMY, and every block was fussy cut and stitched with care.

Before quilting

My client (friend and guild-mate, Margaret) requested a spirographic, freehand flower on each hexi - a perfect choice! Combining flowers and continuous curves would secure the piecing without weakening hand-stitched seams the way ditching would.

An overview of the quilting before the final border was filled

Plus, I could continue the flower motif into the hexagon-shaped filler blocks for a cohesive look.

A tiny dot marked the center, and barely visible lines marked imaginary seams

The borders had been added by machine, so I ditched 'em and filled them up with feathers and "ladyfingers"
(aptly named by Margaret - as I stitched, I'd thought of them as U's, but I like ladyfingers better!).

Feathers and ladyfingers fill the borders

There were some triangular shaped filler blocks along each side of the quilt, as well. They could have been awkward, but turned into one of my favourite details once they were echoed along the seams (to avoid ditching over the hand stitching) and filled with feathers, too.

Feathers fill the triangles along the edges, too.

Couldn't resist this shot as the quilt came off the frame. So pretty!


My quilting is all hand guided, and --- since I am not a machine --- my freehand quilting is never perfect.

I generally embrace the handmade, "organic" look of my work . . . but sure needed a few deep breaths when starting this quilt. (Hand pieced? Four years to make, you say? No sweat. Ha!)

Thank goodness for a happy result!

There was no time for a daylight picture of the finish here, but Margaret has one on her blog. Click here to pop over for a look - and enjoy her latest knitting and piecing adventures, while you're at it!

Doggone Cute!
These two adorable lap quilts went on the frame together. They shared a backing and batting, and before long I was thinking of them as "the twins" - doggone cute twins, at that!
Two similar quilts share the frame

Their muzzles, noses, and doggie bones were layered wool - quite thick in places.

To keep them from being "ploughed" into lumpy messes by the hopping foot, I had two choices. I could either raise the height of the foot (which might cause problems elsewhere on the quilt), or baste the muzzle area. I chose to baste.

Basted muzzle

Imagine how these little guys will look with button eyes and tiny dog tags!

Dogs on dogs - look closely!

If you look closely you will notice dogs in the quilting, too. (My son would call them meta dogs!)

Cozy and sweet!

My Little Project
Just a little peek to prove things are moving along!

This post is already crazy-long so I'm calling it a night.
Perhaps more frequent posts would equal shorter ones --- but then I'd have to think up even more catchy titles. Soooooo......nope. Not happening. ha!

(Title suggestions happily accepted! What would you call a post such as this?)

Linking up With:
Finish it up Friday @ Crazy Mom Quilts (quilts fresh off the frame are my finishes!)

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

"Less is More"

When that phrase is noted in big letters on a work order, restraint is the name of the game!

Client quilt, Fresh off the Frame!
Here is the BEFORE shot:

Before quilting
My client requested that I only ditch where necessary, so I stuck with outlining the blocks to give the quilt some structure. Next I quilted a loose arc around each star point to secure the background.

Blocks are ditched, and background arcs are stitched

Top stitching the stars secured their seams so they won't shift and bunch when the quilt is washed.

Top stitching crisps up the stars

The block corners were a challenge, and I doodled many (many) possibilities. I knew my client liked the curves, and that I also needed to keep things loose.

At last, the idea of using a simple, wavy outline struck - that did the trick!

Wavy lines outline the block corners

For a satisfying finish, wavy X-es in the border repeat both the wavy quilting and the idea of sharp points from the body of the quilt.

Wavy X-es finish the edges

The back of the quilt is a dance-themed print . . . so appropriate, since this joyful quilt makes my eyes dance!!!

Fun backing fabric!

Guess What???
Today, I actually worked on something of my own!!! :-)

It doesn't look like much, yet, but the background is mostly together. It will be a Christmas-y wall quilt that replicates a vintage postage stamp. (I'll share pattern info later - it's not handy at the moment.)

New project under way

I feel a need for speed, but also want a high quality finish since this will be donated to raise funds for our local Women's Shelter. (Not that I'd settle for a poor quality finish . . . )

With that in mind, I'm going to try Lara Buccella's Crafted Applique technique for the first time. There will be some tiny pieces to stitch down, so I'm particularly interested in its "no-fray" aspect. I'll let you know how things go!

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Pair of Quilts, and a New Grandson!

Fresh off the Frame
The owner of this panel had three requests:
  • Add dimension to the figure
  • Keep background quilting loose (aka - not too dense)
  • Use invisible thread, if possible

Quilting in progress

Challenge accepted! Here are a few decisions I made about stitching the figure:
  • Stitching the ribs reinforced the umbrella's concave nature
  • Outlining the face, hand, and feet allowed them to puff out and have depth and roundness
  • Leaving some lines in the garments untouched allowed certain areas to come forward . . . and also prevented me from quilting too densely (always a temptation!)

Finished, but still on the frame (oops! skewed perspective AND crooked camera syndrome!)
Inspiration for the vertical background quilting came from the print - I stitched random loops about the same size as the random dots.

The horizontal quilting in the ground was inspired by the wavy horizon line in the print.

The text would have disappeared had it not been outlined, so I added three lines. Just to be sure. Ha!
(Actually, one or two would have left an awkward space on the right, so I kept going.)

Panel with optional, black frame intact.

I'm not sure if the black frame will be trimmed away or not, so I quilted it, too. No matter what, using a similar quilting density will offer a nice edge to bind.

I matched the tone of the bobbin thread to the colour of the fabric being quilted. Invisible thread is so fine that bobbin thread is bound to show, even with perfect tension. If the thread tones with the fabric, it isn't noticeable.

Another Beauty:
Same client, different quilt . . . if you look closely, you can see butterflies on this one!

Butterfly Charm pantograph

A few characters were added to the bottom corner of the sashing. I have NO idea what this says. Hopefully I haven't totally butchered the script with shoddy "brushwork". (It could have changed from something friendly to something rude or mean, for all I know . . . eep!)

Hope my "penmanship" passes muster!

A slight panto adjustment allowed me to avoid stitching over the script when finishing the quilt.

Client quilt, trimmed and ready to bind.

In Other News
Our new grandson arrived on Friday evening!

Special delivery!

I must tell you this.
I'm still incredulous . . .
My daughter opened a new business THE NEXT DAY!!!

Birth a baby in the evening, and then birth a business the next morning (and put in a ten hour day) . . . can you imagine?? The girl has super powers! (And a supportive family. AND a crazy determination gene.)

Me, plus three! Happy Granny. :-)

She and her husband built a family room in the back of the store. It has comfy furniture, a game system for the big kids, and a snug baby area for their newest addition.

I think I took longer to recover from all that activity than she did. Ha!

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Muzzy Me!

My frame ate my yardstick!


I often use it to support one set of straps for my side clamps.
Well, this is what happens when you forget to remove it before rolling the quilt!

The yardstick is steel, so you can imagine the force this took.
It was a good reminder to quilt only when rested and alert.

Fortunately, no quilts were harmed due to my muzzy brain!
I had spent a bleary weekend on the couch with a head cold . . . probably should have stayed there a little longer. ;)

Fresh off the Frame
Despite my lack of energy this week, I've managed to finish three client quilts (start a quilting project with my grandchildren, help my daughter with some painting, and tick a few "house building" tasks off my list . . . but I digress.)

I'm not exactly sure which way is "up" with this beautiful quilt.
I've chosen this orientation for the photo, but it could easily go the other way.
Client quilt

The back shows the texture beautifully.
"Popcorn" pantograph

Next up were two (almost) identical quilts, done with two different pantographs.

"Quilt One" features the "Halcyon" design . . .
First of two similar client quilts

"Halcyon" pantograph

. . . while "Quilt Two" features "Pieces of My Heart".
Second of two similar client quilts

"Pieces of My Heart" pantograph

Cool, huh?
Both designs work equally well.
It just goes to show - there is no "wrong" choice. If you like something, go for it!

House Update

I think half the house is rafters.
Looking at the plan, it never really occurred to me how high the roof would be. Nor how complicated.
I'm so glad these guys know what they're doing!

Now, If I only knew how to straighten my yardstick . . . ha!

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Fanciful Flowers

Fresh off the Frame!
After ditching the vertical rows, stitching down the applique, and then quilting in some whimsical details, I used echo quilting to fill the remaining spaces in the body of this client quilt.

Here is what it looked like before quilting.

And, this is one of my favourite views - only the kitty faces left to stitch.

Almost done!

The quilting density was determined, in part, by the amount of stitching needed to secure the grass along two edges of the quilt. Consistency across the quilt helps things lay nicely.

Securing the applique was an important step.

A slightly denser, "fabric eating" filler controls the fabric immediately adjacent to the grass where things wanted to ripple.

Sweet kitty smiles!
The vertical sashing was kept simple to allow some breathing space in the design. I'd originally intended to fill it with cute, little insects, but the quilt called for something geometric instead.

Fanciful flowers
The cozy, flannel backing has cornered the market on cute bugs, anyway!
I hope this quilt will be loved - I'm still nervous with every, single reveal! (I get how emotionally invested people are in their projects, and never, ever want to disappoint, ya know?)

House Update
The guys are framing our bonus room down on the main floor, and tomorrow it will be hoisted into place above the garage.

Framing the bonus room

Okay, so we are not strictly sticking to the "everything on one level" plan. Just mostly, with the odd exception. Ha!

Since my studio eliminated two bedrooms on the main floor, this space will become a bunkhouse for our grandchildren -  and they can run up and down the stairs!

Linking Up With
Needle and Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation
Finish it up Friday @ Crazy Mom Quilts

Try, Learn, & Grow!