Thursday, May 29, 2014


This month is a very exciting time for me.  If you receive the American Quilter (or AQ as they now like to call themselves), then you will be receiving this very soon.  It has the winning quilts from both the Lancaster and Paducah shows.  I am completely tickled to have pictures of my quilts in any magazine, but top winners in AQ get a full page spread, as well as a write up.  And I have not one of these, but three - for three different quilts!
Here's my Best Bed quilt award from Lancaster, just opposite the BOS from both of the shows.  That quilt is amazing, so being next to it is just plain humbling.  Big Bertha is getting ready to make a trip to the Minnesota quilt show next week  I came very close to pulling her out, but after some discussions with coordinators, I have decided to pull the other quilt I entered (it really shouldn't have been entered; it was a mistake on my part because there wasn't an appropriate category), and leave Big Bertha in.  My other quilt is nice, but this is the more competitive one of the two if I am only allowed one entry.
I couldn't be more thrilled to have received longarm quilting awards for the other two quilts.  In fact, this makes three longarm quilting awards for 2014, for 3 different quilts.  As a quilter, this inspires me and fuels my creativity just to know that my nit-picky, tedious and anal ways are being recognized.  Zen Garden will still be my favorite quilt for a long time.  There is just something about the way the fabrics combined -- call it a happy/lucky surreptitious surprise.  Because AQS modified their entry restrictions this year, Zen Garden will be visiting a few of their other shows this summer and fall.
Kakeidoscopic Calamity took one of the big awards at Paducah, as you probably remember.  Not one of my favorite quilts, for certain, but a fun little thing to quilt (unlike the much too large and too tedious wholecloth I have worked on all week!).  This quilt will be attending the Shipshewana Quilt Festival in IN in late June, along with a couple of my other larger quilts.  Yes, it is a full-time job keeping track of where each quilt is, and when the next one needs to be mailed!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Silk Quilt Progress and Show Update

Before I show any of what I have been working on, let me remind you all that the license plate blog tour for the new American Made solids by Clothworks started last week.  I posted about this a couple weeks ago. My state license plate will be up next week, as will a great fabric bundle giveaway which each of us (that's right - 50 people!) will be able to give to one of our readers.  Be sure to check back on June 3rd to learn more.

So here I am...3-1/2 more weeks until I have 3 kids home for the summer.  My hours of quilting each day will promptly come to a halt.  I will get a little done in the wee-hours of the morning, and on some days when things are quiet, but mostly the quilting will need to be kept simpler and faster.  Last summer I didn't take very many custom quilts.  This approach seemed to work pretty well, if you don't consider the immense financial hit that results!  If you have edge-to-edge quilts you have been waiting to get quilted, this is the perfect time to get in touch with me.  I'd love to hear from you!  I will continue to take the customs, but depending on the size, they will be quilted in order of when they are received, starting about late August.

Last month, I started on a silk wholecloth for myself.  It is about 54" square.  I designed the basis of the quilt over many months, then transferred it to ivory silk Radiance in early April.  I am quilting in colored silk thread.  It is back on the frame for a few days, but I am quickly becoming bored, as it is tedious work, and absolutely everything shows on it!  What I really need is a good dose of piecing...sigh!
I know it will be pretty when it is finished.  It is just at that point mid-project where I see many issues, and I have some other areas that I just haven't the foggiest what to do with.  Another day of stitching, and I will probably have this out of my system, and I will move onto something else.
This quilt has some fills that I have eyed and dreamed about using, but hadn't done so to date.  I love the sashiko-style fillwork, but boy is it slow!  It's much prettier (above) when the blue marking pen is removed too.  The thing on the next picture is a bobbin (0.75" diameter), so you have some idea how tiny that section of pebbles and swirls is.

This is a very traditionally-styled whole-cloth design, with a classic 1/8th repeat, and lots of feathers.  I drafted a design that was a 45 degree wedge, and then copied it 7 more times.  OK, in actuality, it took way longer than that, because each wedge is comprised of many sections, but it is symmetric, whereas some wholecloth quilts are less so. ...Not sure why this picture won't center, but Blogger can be a bugger sometimes.

This will be one of next year's show quilts, hopefully.  I have only made one other wholecloth prior to this one, but never really finished that one.  It sits w/o its binding to this day.  I kind of got bored with that process.  My ADHD brain needs the complexity and variation that piecing and applique bring to the projects.

Quick show update...I had three quilts at HMQS early this month.  It is in Salt Lake City, and had an amazing amount of strong talent this year.  The Geisha's Garden took a 3rd, while Rainbow Nouveau which is soon to be retired got an honorable mention and <> Big Bertha brought home a nice big 1st place!  Bertha has more than earned her keep.  She's taken so many awards that I have been able to forget what a complete pain that 106 scalloped edge was to do!!  I also have 2 quilts that were at the NQA show last week in Columbus, OH.  This is a non-paying show, but because it is hosted by the NQA, I like to enter it.  It is a given that we will get good worthwhile feedback from the judges.  Plus, the ribbons are really cool, complete with bumblebee pin! Anyhow, Shenandoah Falling earned a 2nd and judge's choice while Zen Garden brought home a 1st.  Shenandoah may have raised eye-brows in the modern category at MQX, but it seems to be getting a very nice response elsewhere.  I have quilts to get sent out soon that will be at 3 shows in June.

Don't forget to tune back in later this week, or by June 3rd to learn about the giveaway of solids!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Redone Fairies Quilt

I acquired this quilt from my client Maureen recently.  She had another quilter quilt it for her.  As you can see it is already bound.  Yes, this most certainly poses some difficulties, but I will tell you how I dealt with it.  The first quilter did not quilt a single stitch on any of the appliques.  Only the outline was ditched.  They were floppy and unattractive.  This is a twin sized quilt, so as you can see, that large girl applique is not small.  It is absolutely beautiful applique, all turned edge.  It was sad to see how poorly it was quilted.
To make matters worse, this quilt had some of the most horrible technique I have ever seen on a quilt. Here's a snapshot of the backside... The tension is attrocious.  The quilter must not have so much as ever looked at the backside.  AND...she used this metallic thread in her bobbin, which is notoriously difficult to work with, with a white/ivory on the topside.   It just made me sick to think that someone put all this work into a top then a unskilled or beginner quilter made such a mess of it.
Maureen initially only asked me to do the quilting on the appliques.  They needed to be stable, plus, she wanted there to be enough decorative stitching to compliment the design.  After receiving the quilt and seeing the back, she allowed me to (gasp) pick out all of the echo quilting around the many appliques, and requilt it. I did all of the appliques first though, so that there was something to help hold the quilt together.  Over 8 hours of pickout was done, even with this terrible tension.  This echo quilting is nearly every 1/4"!  The sashings had their issues, but they had to stay in so that I wouldn't get any pleats and puckers.  Here's a quick look at one block, after the appliques were done, but before the background was redone.
The original background was OK, nothing too special in my sometimes over-opinionated view.  Had the tension been good, it would have been a mute point.  I'd have left it.  I chose to quilt the new backgrounds with a combination of feathers and other elements.  Now, it just sings.  It has movement.  The girl is completely dreamy.
 Some of the fairies got veins in their wings, while others got ones more like a butterfly has -- with more lines.  I tried to let the feathers give them life, to show their flight.
I didn't add an excess of quilting on most of the appliques, but I hope you can envision how loose and floppy they were without anything.
 Here's an example of a fairy with the other type wing detailing.
 The sashings and their issues are considerably less noticeable now that there is more to look at.  I have offered to redo them if the client wants to remove the stitching.  The tension on these isn't so bad, so they won't be a fast job to remove!  The sashings were done via computer, and the quilter just didn't know her system well enough to do then without unnatural breaks in the pattern.
I stitched this with a pale sea green So Fine thread.  It sounds odd, but the batik actually has this shade in it, and it works better than the ivory or white did.
 This is my favorite look.  The quilt is for her grand-daughter, who must love and dream of fairies just as this girl on the quilt is.  She's almost more of an angel than a fairy.
It's a sweet and playful quilt that I am glad I got the opportunity to help revive.  This task is not for the faint hearted, as it really requires knowing how your machine will tension threads.  Since it is already bound, there is not the usual place to confirm you have good tension.  The quilt unfortunately did not have wool batting, as it would have given these appliques so much more poof.  It is sweet and spirited now, and has so much more movement than before.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Mermaids for Addyson

This twin sized fun mermaid quilt was finished a couple weeks ago, and has already gone home to it's owner.  She is a prolific applique quilter, and I have done many of her quilts in the last couple years.  I have no idea, but I think that this is a commercial pattern.  Anybody know?
 It was made for a 3yr girl, the daughter of a friend.  Because of this, I was asked to stitch on the appliques themselves more than I normally might.
 The background is a fun, freehanded wavey fill, with some bubbles thrown in.  I stitched it in a pale aqua YLI polished poly thread.  This thread and Glide are similar, but I love the way this thread stitches better.
 The appliques are ditched in Madiera Monolon thread.  Since I needed to stitch on every applique, and I wanted to limit the stops and starts (kid's quilt, high use, abuse, many washings, etc!) I chose to do all quilting on the appliques in the monolon also.  Yes, you lose a little of the color contribution of the thread, but to have to knot and bury all the threads, not to mention the 8-10 different shades of thread needed, this was the best choice.  It shows the texture just fine.
 She will be finishing the quilt with a scalloped binding.  It was marked for me when it arrived.   My 7-yr old daughter was about ready to keep this for her bed when she saw it!

Sunday, May 18, 2014


Apologies for my long lapses between posts.  Despite being highly organized and pretty regimented about getting things done, I have just plain and simple, been busy.  I am at that one month countdown to having 3 kids out of school, and I am frantically scurrying around trying to get the last of the client quilts that are committed for May and June completed, and any others I can manage.  I have a way of constantly just having a little too much on my plate, which isn't helping either. Throw in a day off from school or an appointment, and that just translates to "what must I not do today?" guessed it, blog.

I have a coupe client quilts to post this week, but while they travel home to their owners, let me post some of my own doings.  You may or may not know that I have been writing for Machine Quilting Unlimited magazine.  I had my bio published last year (see right sidebar for a cover), and wrote an article for them about a client's challenging quilt that came out in November.  After those, they asked if I might write 6 articles for each edition of 2014, and I agreed.  I actually have a 7th because I have done two for the July issue.  Anyway, I had a 3-part series on curved edges that came out in the first half of this year.  It discusses how to do a serpentine, a scallop and a mixed/combination edge.  The magazine is all about finishing your quilt, with emphasis on machine quilting.  The front pages of these 3 articles are below, with many more pictures and tips included.  I have found the curved edges to be my addiction now - why do another straight one??!

 Lastly...I have a quilt officially published in a book.  This is the cover for Corey Yoder's current book.  Last year I quilted one of her tops.  She wanted it to have sashings similar to how these were done (this quilt is mine from a few years ago).  Because of the relative size of my blocks and sashings, the look of circles is different for the two quilts.
 I wasn't able to show pictures of her quilt after I did it, so I only have a couple, and not such good resolution either.  You get the idea though.  Her book is all about fusible applique using this oval/petal design.

I have great ideas for trying to keep my blogging more frequent, including some nice client quilts recently finished to showing some snippets of my quilts in the works.  I also have all kinds of show news that happens monthly, like winning 3 ribbons 2 weeks ago at the Salt Lake City HMQS -- a very tough machine quilting show this year.  Hopefully, time will keep me on track so I can get this info out there.  Go and enjoy the nice spring weather that has finally arrived to New England!

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Compass Quilt and New American Made Solids

Pardon me for piggybacking what should probably be 2 blog posts into just one.  I have tried every day this week to get a post done, but struggled with getting blogger to actually upload my photos.  Since it uploaded them today, I am "getting this done"!  I am too busy to hope I can come back tomorrow and do it a second time.

First off, here is a great 69" Mariner's Compass quilt.  It is a Neimeyer pattern done in very bold batiks.  The high contrast of the oranges and blue/greens works well to feature the shapes.
These type quilts always take me longer than I think they should.  There is a LOT of stop and restarts, as well as thread color changes.  Oh, and did I mention the 3-4 hours of SID.  Some quilters find it acceptable to neglect the SID, but not I.  Ditching shapes like these preserves the crispness of the points.  Not doing so is pure lazy.  And I just don't do lazy.  Some day I will realize the profit I have dwindled by not being lazy, but today, I am most concerned with the quality of the product I create.
I love the swirly feather outer border.  Though time-consuming to stitch, it is continuous (in 8 large sections), and pure lovely.  This is done with a YLI baby blue polished poly thread - just the right amount of sheen to show.  She has cotton batting, so the relief is somewhat limited compared to those quilts that use wool, but since this has a great deal of light background, the quilting still shows well.  Those cross-hatched sections were also time-consuming, but a contrast of texture is paramount to a good quilting design.  I just like them.
This is the space gets smaller, the detail of the quilting is simplified.  There are lots of flames, some swirls around the orange rings, etc.  I think it turned out very nicely, and the new owner will be pleased.

Part 2...
Are you aware that Clothworks has a new line of solid fabric?  These fabrics come in 50 colors and are made right here in the US of A!  

 I have a sample set of each of the colors, and they are pretty.
Clothworks is kicking off the release of this line of fabric with a blog tour.  One lucky blogger from each state has been selected, and I am lucky Miss Maine!  Have a look here...  You can visit each of the 50 blogs to see what the other quilters are doing.  We have been asked to make a block from these fabrics of our state license plate - with much liberties of creativity included of course.
The blocks should feature aspects of life in your state that people know and love, or that you cherish.  These blocks will be presented on the 50 blogs over a 3 week period starting very soon.  Mine is mostly done.  Since I didn't think it would be acceptable to just submit a white block and call it "stranded in another snowstorm of 2014", I went for another Maine favorite.  Guesses??...! I will show it soon, but not right now.  I happen to love how my block turned out; the colors are wonderful (even if my subject is of the cooked variety!).