Friday, 14 July 2017

"Down and Dirty" Custom Quilting

My client requested quilting around - rather than over top of - the curved block centers. This idea spearheaded the entire quilting plan.

I'd originally decided to outline the centers with stitch, but hated the look of the first one. Instead I decided to use fillers to pop them up.

Much better!

Swirls and wavy lines in this block...

To keep the budget in check, there is no ditching in the quilt AT ALL.

Instead, the quilting fills the space right up to, or over, the seams so they are effectively secured. I call this approach to custom quilting, Down and Dirty! (aka - Fast and FUN!)

Alternating swirls and pebbles in the blocks added interest - swirly designs seemed to work with the space theme of the quilt!

Pebbles in the next...and so on!

Even though the quilting in each block varies, framing all of them with wishbones makes them feel like they belong together!

Swirls and wishbones from the blocks are repeated in the borders - larger in scale - but they further unify the parts of the quilt.

Repeating motifs in a different scale adds a sense of unity

Simple S-curves were used in the striped sashing...they are impossible to see from the front of the quilt - but they're there, I promise!

Quilt back


Ready to quilt



Try, Learn, & Grow!

Friday, 7 July 2017

Are We There Yet?

About the Move

We borrowed a trailer (Thank you, Dayna!!!) and moved our furniture in a day (Thank you Brandt and Chad!!!), but we're still working on moving everything else.

My days go something like this:
*sort - pack - load stuff - transport stuff - unload stuff - make/eat supper - unpack stuff - repeat*

This is the worst possible way to move. I'd rather sort and pack in advance, and move everything in one fell swoop - preferably with someone else doing the heavy lifting. However, our experience with moving companies last summer (when we helped our son move, twice) was not good, so here we are.

Guess what we moved first??? (was there any doubt? ha!)

Even though it sat idle for a month, it pleased me to have it set up and ready to go.

Fresh off the Frame

As anticipated, I DO love having the studio directly connected to the house! Even in the midst of our (never-ending) move, I'm able to step into the studio and quilt whenever I have a few spare minutes - oh, ya!!!

Client quilt

My client made this for her (soon-to-be-born) grandbaby, which prompted me to add heart details in the quilting.


Pink thread on the white fabric (and vice versa) helped them be more visible.

Super cute!

Are We There Yet?

I'd say we are about 65% moved. Still a few basement rooms to cull, and gardening supplies/outdoor furniture to round up. And a shed to clear. (We have a dumpster in the driveway for a reason. Ha!)

Our new place is about 95% completed. Our closet organizers are not in place yet, so we are temporarily living out of suitcases and boxes. There's a tiny bit of work to finish in the basement and on the exterior of the house, but things move forward every day.

So, we aren't "there" yet, but it won't be much longer until we are completely settled!

In the meantime, I think I'll load another quilt. :)

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Monday, 29 May 2017

To Deep Water and New Adventures!

Up until now, I've managed to quilt calmly instead of worrying about our impending move - but today I finished the last stitches before we go. And now . . .

. . . It's officially Time to Freak Out! (So much for being Zen! ha!)

The push is on to complete the exterior - we are still waiting for our stone to arrive, but there are other things to do.
It's down to the wire now.

My list for this week includes finding bathroom mirrors and hardware (like TP holders and towel rods), configuring storage in the closets, planning window coverings, and cleaning the dirt, dust and fingerprints from every surface in the new place.

Just need heat registers and some (blinds? drapes?)

OH, and gardening. There is a pressing need to tidy our current garden - the darn weeds wait for no one.

Add in a trip to Edmonton to help judge the Festival of Quilts and you can see I've jumped in the deep end again. (Glub, glub! Why must everything happen at once?)

Bonus room over the garage = future bunk room for visiting grandkids!

For my own sanity, I've decided there will be No Packing until after my Edmonton trip.
(Unless I pack my studio? Surely I could sneak that in! Ha!)


Fresh off the Frame
It's rather happy/sad that these are the last quilts I'll ever do in my current studio.

Modern Twist panto on a "jelly roll race"
I'm looking forward to my new space, but it will be hard to say goodbye to this one - I've loved it so.

(Here is a 2014 post introducing my space  - it has remained much the same, except that my missing Gnome reappeared about a year ago! A happy ending to the mystery of his disappearance!)

Tweet Tweet panto
My new studio will be easier for clients to access, and all of my sewing tools and equipment will be in the same place - what a treat that will be!

Birds repeat up and down the border - a pretty view!
Except, I will have a "cutting room" in the basement, with tables always ready for trimming quilts.
That will be handy, too!

Kandinsky panto on a baby quilt that looks like modern art!
I have no idea where I'll take quilt-y photos, but I'll figure something out.

A Little Bit This panto

And this is it. The last quilt from the Gnome House.

It will be an emotional goodbye when we lock up for the last time. Not only are we leaving the home in which we raised our children, we are leaving the trees we planted over the years.

Maybe it's crazy to miss trees, but they illustrate the story of our lives. Old friends planted at key times - like the blue spruce that is the same age as our granddaughter, and the crabapple that was the first living thing on a bare plot of land. I will miss our beautiful trees.

Our 20 year old crabapple tree bloomed like crazy this year! It was the first thing we planted on this property.
We built this place with love and sweat, and I'll probably shed a few tears when we go, but a new adventure awaits!

Exciting and new!

And, there will be plenty of love (and sweat equity!) in the new place, too.

And, eventually, plenty of trees.

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Monday, 15 May 2017

The Zen of Moving, and Other Stories

UFO Rescue Mission!
I had nothing - NOTHING - to take for my Guild's Sewing Saturday last weekend. (Really!)

Honestly, my choices were limited by self imposed restrictions.
  • Some projects are awkward to cart around (,
  • I refuse to drag too much *stuff* with me, and
  • I never take something that requires too much concentration, 'cause a girl's gotta be able to socialize!
Of course I decided to pack at midnight the night before, so I turned to my UFO pile in desperation.
Found a little gem I'd forgotten about!

"Sunshine and Vines" challenge UFO
It started life as a challenge project in 2013, but was abandoned - with only fleeting regret - when my husband booked an unexpected holiday to Mexico! (Our second, ever, holiday without our kids - See ya, deadline!)

I was so close to the finish line - the thing was already sandwiched and ready to quilt. Perfect for a Sewing Saturday project! All I needed to pack were my machine and some black thread!

I didn't quite finish on Saturday, but it's close. I'll keep you posted! :-)

Fresh off the Frame
I sooo love "frame shots" of quilts in progress. A person can really see the quilting when the light is right!
Petal Pushers panto in progress
It was a gloomy, rainy week, but this cheery client quilt certainly brightened things up!

Client quilt

My next client chose a warm, earthy palette - and it is gorgeous. The black lends a sophisticated touch, and effectively highlights the showy print featured in the quilt.

Client quilt

Piecing on the back also shows off that beautiful print.

Quilt back

A passing illness derailed my quilting plans for a few days, but I'm feeling better this week. Onward and upward!

House Update
Here's a peek into my studio through the door that separates it from the rest of the house. Oh, my gosh! I was so scared of the colour, but I *LOVE* it!!!

New studio colour!

It's all about paint, plumbing, and light fixtures at the moment. (We now have working sinks and toilets - so exciting!)

Front entry fixture, newly installed!

'Scuse the mess! Counters and flooring are still covered for protection, and there are details that still need finishing, but it's starting to come together!  (Yep, the fireplace wall is purple!!!)

Kitchen pendants, also newly installed!

Things are happening outside, too.

Hardie board going up!

I'm still not packing, but I'm not worried.
Things will unfold as they should, when they should.

In the meantime, I'll continue quilting until it's time to move. And then I will move. ;-)
(To everything - turn, turn, turn...)

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Quilting Feline Friends

Simple borders and a panel came together to make a truly striking quilt.

Client quilt

I forgot to take a proper "before" photo, so this will have to do - the borders were ditched, but the panel wasn't started.

"Before" quilting the panel

A moment of uncertainty struck as I pondered what to stitch, and what to leave. In the end I decided to outline everything. Including those teeny, tiny bees! (How could I not?)

Starting to outline the images

Accuracy was important on the cats' faces and on the insects, but on the flowers and leaves I deliberately "missed" a tiny bit to add a sketchy sense of movement.
To make the red frame puff out, I quilted a pretend frame around it. I like how the flower on the left overlaps the pretend frame, yet is separated by it.

This view shows the panel after quilting. I left the red frames unquilted so they would puff up and help highlight the cats.

Since a variety of designs were used in the panel, I felt free to have fun in the borders, too!

My client says it is Purr-fect! (Which made my day on so many levels!) :-D

Linking up With:
Let's Bee Social @ Sew Fresh Quilts
Needle and Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation

Try, Learn & Grow!
P.S. To see more of my photos, look me up on Instagram under my blog name, freshofftheframe

Sunday, 30 April 2017

How Do I Quilt This?

The eternal question . . .

In this case, my client requested that I secure the applique and give it some definition. She also mentioned that she loves feathers, which is very helpful information to have!

Client quilt (the "BEFORE" shot!)

I really liked the nature of the background piecing and wanted to highlight it without over-quilting. (Dense quilting here would equal dense quilting everywhere - not my intent with this one!)

It occurred to me that my StrataVarious Quilts book might offer quilting ideas, and it did! A directional, jagged zigzag would be perfect.

Applique stitched, background zigzagged
The blocks changed from light to dark as I worked my way down, so I changed thread three times to match the tone of the fabrics. To create smoother transitions, I pulled the darker thread up a notch into the lighter blocks on the right side of the flower stalk.

Once the center was done, there were still three large borders to fill.

The two inside borders needed something showy, whereas quilting in the outside border would virtually disappear.

Border one, feathers head to the left

Large, whimsical feathers begged to be stitched!
I thought they suited the scale and character of the applique, so - full speed ahead!

Somewhere along the way, I even decided to fill the second border with the same feathers!

Border two, feathers head to the right

Pointing the feathers in opposite directions added movement and interest, and kept them from running together into a visual blob.

Client quilt in progress

Inspiration struck for the final border about the time I finished the second round of feathers.

Leaves in the print made me think of the jagged stipple I'd recently done on one of my art pieces. I knew it would do the trick here, too! It relates back to the jagged stitching in the center of the quilt without drawing undue attention.

Jagged stipple filled the final border

Here is the Ta Dahhhh moment . . .
Fresh off the Frame!

94" x 100"
quilting by

Imagine how beautiful this will look on a bed. It will be quite Spectacular!

Quilting by

Linking up With:
Show off Saturday @ Sew Can She

Try, Learn, & Grow!
P.S. To see more of my pictures on Instagram, look for my blog name freshofftheframe

Friday, 28 April 2017

Sink or Swim!

Sometimes I think a task will be easy, but then I find myself in over my head, looking for a life jacket!

Such was the case with this digital design that I decided to do by hand.

Yeah. Glub, glub.

The designer had printed copies of the digital design for sale - so I naturally thought, "How hard could it be?"

I then promised to do it on a client's quilt.

When the panto arrived, I suddenly realized How Deep the water was.

Long, smooth, precise lines that spread apart and come together to produce an optical illusion are SCARY hard to do freehand. Ruh roh. Dog paddle! Dog paddle!

Client quilt - front view

As you can see, this story has a happy ending!

A couple of years ago I'd tried a Precise Pantograph System (PPS) at my APQS dealer's show booth -  and it worked great - but I thought, "when would I ever use it?"

Never say never, folks.

My lifejacket was in sight!!! All I had to do was order it.

The PPS is a handle system that attaches to the machine's base and allows the user's hands (and laser light) to be directly above the design. One's hands and forearms rest on the table, which improves accuracy.

Precise Pantograph System

My laser light's cord wasn't quite long enough to position it as intended, so I improvised with some painter's tape.

I numbered the lines, and then used a little piece of tape as a line marker so I wouldn't get lost as I worked through the design.

Corresponding numbers at the other end of the table helped keep me on track, too.

Because the table is quite low, I used my office chair as my "ride" along the table - my upper body needed to be smooth and steady while my lower body paddled like a duck! (quack, quack!)

I found it impossible to go in both directions, so had to break the thread and start over for every line.

There are 20 lines in 14 inches, so this added quite a bit of time to the process. BUT it worked!!!

Quilt back - Modern Waves panto

This pantograph is called MODERN WAVES.

Bwahahaha!!! I just realized how appropriate that is for a dog-paddling duck-quilter!
Sometimes I quack myself up! Ha!

After the intensity of the previous quilt, I was happy to see the next quilt in the queue! Ebb and Flow is one of my favourite pantographs to stitch, so it was like greeting an old friend. :-)

Client quilt, Ebb and Flow panto

The quilt looks great, front and back!

Quilt back

House Update
It's all about details at the moment.

Interior doors have been painted, and most of the handles installed. (I love them!)

Baseboards and casings have been sprayed. (They look fantastic!)

Countertops went in - and I saw them for approximately 30 seconds before they were covered to save them from damage between now and the finish line. (Kind of like the floors - now you see them, now you don't!) An excellent idea, but I would have liked an afternoon to swoon!

Laundry room in progress

Looked a bit like a medical procedure at times - in a Frankenstein sense, that is!

Securing a seam in the countertop

The painter is currently working his magic throughout, but I haven't taken pictures yet. I'm trying to stay away until the paint dries. I have a habit of Touching Things that isn't always helpful! (Just ask the drywall guy and the tile guy about That - eek!)

Linking up With
Whoop Whoop Friday @ Confessions of a Fabric Addict
TGIFF @ Busy Hands Quilts
Finish it up Friday @ Crazy Mom Quilts

Try, Learn, & Grow!
P.S. To see more of my photos, find me on Instagram under my blog name, freshofftheframe :-)