Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Radiance and more Radiance

Happy August!

It's hard to believe that summer only has a few weeks left (especially considering it has just gotten warm here).  Kids go back to school in a little more than 3 weeks.  It's almost hard to keep a straight face knowing that.

Quilting has definitely taken a backseat to everything else.  But I am feeling anxious about diving into the custom quilting jobs that I have waiting for me.  September and October are going to be busy work months!  It's not that I have done nothing this summer.  I have quilted, a little.  I have done some client jobs and I just taught at Hershey. It just feels like I have spent way too much time treading water and overthinking what I want to do.

A few weeks ago, I was laying in bed and decided to sketch.  Now, this is not an uncommon occurrence.  I draw constantly.  In fact, the week before, I had resurrected part of a whole cloth pattern, played with part of the design for quite a while.  It was nice, but I soon discovered that when enlarged to the desired size of the pattern, the quilt would be about 30" larger than I was hoping for!  DOH!  One little scaling boo-boo lead to a ditched design, at least for now.  

Backtracking...The morning after I sketched in bed, I pulled that sketch, drew and manipulated it a bit.  I liked where it was going.  Long story short, two days later the design was fully enlarged for a 40" wholecloth and marked on the silk Radiance.  Now there's progress.
 I had been trying to find this particular shade of green to go with this quilt I was also working on.  I was having a hard time finding the right green silk.  I ordered 2 yards of two different greens, hoping one would match.  Nope.  It was apparently an older color.  It wouldn't work for that quilt, but it would be a great whole cloth.

I should also note, and this is no surprise because many of you know how much I love Kaufman Radiance, but this gorgeous fabric has been discontinued. I have used it for 2 previous whole cloth quilts and many others - this post from May shows two, but there are at least 3 others that have the fabric in them.  When I was in Hershey, I spoke to Gail Kessler (she has a shop in PA that I often order it from).  She confirmed it's a done deal.  When I got home from the trip, I went on a shopping spree to accumulate several large 3-4yd pieces as well as smaller pieces of many colors I don't have. I also got 4 yards of ivory to go with the colors below.  It's hard to buy fabric when you don't know what color you may want or how much you need!  I just know I don't want to not have any of this stuff!
 The day I got home from Hershey, I started quilting on the green whole cloth.  I get a couple hours every morning before the kids stir.  I am still not sure about what I am doing.  Remember, every quilt brings its share of "quilter's remorse" - in other words, I ask myself now "Why did you think that using 3 colors would look right?"  Hopefully when all is said and done, and all fills are added, I won't ask myself these questions.
It's my typical, very traditional and very structured designs.  I do love feathers and template work!

 Two days ago, I started some of the fills.  I am happy to report (despite an initial screaming fit over the silk thread), it is running pleasantly and without too much incident. That makes me excited to bring the orange-pink applique quilt (another show quilt in-progress) back to the frame for finishing.
 I have a few more days to quilt fills.  I won't finish this, but it will be in good shape to be done in time for the Paducah entry, assuming I do a binding that is not completely overthought!
...one last shot from my garden.  This is my absolute deepest cone flower.  I don't know how it got to be this color since I think they just self-seed each other, but it sure is pretty!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

In the Rearview Mirror

Yup, the Hershey Quilt Odyssey show is now a thing of past tense.  In a matter of 5 days, I have gone, taught, and come home.  Such is the busy and fun life of the traveling quilt show teacher.  Leading up to traveling when the prepping and planning and packing (ahem, below...this is half of it!) seem overwhelming, I swear by not taking another show, certainly not one I have to drive to.
But then the adrenaline kicks in, and the students' ah-ha moments occur and you realize that this is why you do what you do. In the heat of the moment, I love teaching, but by the same token, I can see how some teachers fall prey to burn out. 

Despite my apprehension of making this drive by myself, it was not all that bad (if you discount all of the truck drivers in NY and PA...seriously some are very rude).   I drove so that I could bring fourteen tons of crap (above) as well as a van-load of my four books. It was certainly a good decision, as I would not have wanted to ship 100 of these!

I did not take hardly any pictures during the show or in my classroom.  My classes were all nearly full with 20 students, and that leaves little down-time for snapping pictures.  Here's a rare shot of the calm before the storm of my Grids class.
Typically, I bring chocolate goodies to my class, but because we are at Hershey, they do it for us.  My fantastic Innova techs Matt & Keith (seriously, you cannot say enough great about these two guys - just love being in a classroom with them) joked one afternoon when the hotel staff brought Hershey kisses for the basket that they'd rather Reeces.  I left a note in the basket that evening, and on Friday we got the PB cups.  This type of service is hard to beat!
I did 5 classes - Grid fills, Dense & Dainty freehand fills, Narrow Borders, Fearless Feathers and a Design class -- all of which were wonderfully received.  Here's a quickie pic from one of the borders class students...
I also had 2 quilts in the show, and they surpassed my expectations.  Bouquet Royale, which is for all intents and purposes retired, won yet another 1st place.  I say it is retired because this is it's 3rd year, and it's just attending a couple of last shows which it is eligible for.  I still love seeing it hanging. Still a sucker for orange...grins



Ode to Spring also did spectacularly - winning the Best Longarm Artistry award, which comes with a really generous monetary award.  I truly love this wholecloth, and had the best of hopes for it when it was finished a year and a half ago.  It traveled to 5 AQS shows, only placing at one of them.  This experience was deflating, making me question it's quality and design.  Since being at Paducah, though, it has been to two shows, ribboning at both of them, making me feel more confident about it. When it returns home this week it will be sent off to Houston for the real test.
 Here's a shot of a quilt from the show that I really love...will have to look up the maker's name.  I just adore the traditional design and the quilting both.
 Now that I am back home, I can reflect on the show, the teaching and general thoughts of traveling.  I missed getting our first real beach day here at home, which makes me sad.  Hopefully we will make up for that in a couple weeks when we take off for the Mediterranean.  Yup you read that right.  Heading off on a Mediterranean cruise soon :-)

I will leave you with a fleeting thought.  As a teacher, we collect class kit fees. Some of us are able to sell things like books and templates.  At the end of 4 days of teaching (even with the ability to take credit card sales), we have a healthy bag full of cash.  Am I the only teacher who truly hopes they don't get pulled over on the way home, and have to explain this to some officer??

"and your profession is what??..."

 
Have a great week (and a chuckle too!)!


Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Week for Edge-to-Edge

My daughter has been at camp this week and I have been blessed with four simple quilts that can be finished in a very respectable amount of time.  I will do no more 30+ hour customs until late August.  I feel too stressed to finish them and then too guilty for child abandonment while I quilt!

Not surprisingly, too, these are all from locals.  I only have a few locals that bring the higher end quilting projects.  Most are edge-to-edge, and perfectly suited to that also.  This one got a wavy-water type quilting in a yellow thread.  Some of the fabrics have beach scenes.

 This was made by the same client.  Love it when quilts are made with truly good quality fabrics.  Not everybody goes to this trouble and expense.  The pumpkins are cute.
We chose a more geometric pattern for the quilting so that it would show over the gridded/checked background fabric.  I also selected a deep orange thread, kind of like the darker shades in the prints so that it would show.  Hope she loves it as much as I do!
 This next client found me to help her with an urgently needed gift.  Somebody had been in the hospital recently, and a bunch of kids were called in to help with this.  Each block has messages written by the kids. Some are more or less legible, but it is still a fun idea. She needed budget and fast quilting, so it is loosely stippled. Nothing fancy, but well loved and will be ready to gift away soon.

The last E2E is a baby quilt for a little girl.  The fussy-cut squares have hedgehog scenes.  It did not read particularly girl-ish to me, so I gave it the flowers.

 Since the rest of my time has been spent puttering between this and that (mostly a whole lotta not much!), I'll leave you with some color from my garden.  Who will I see next week at Quilt Odyssey in Hershey??



Sunday, July 02, 2017

I've gone against my principles

For the past several years -- well, since my kids were not napping, and when I was a well enough known quilter to actually get custom quilts, I have chosen not to quilt the larger of them in the summer.  Occasionally, I hold onto one that I can get done during a week when I might get my kids to a camp or off to my mom's for several days.  That's not happening this summer, but somehow it seems I have quite a few custom quilts anyhow.  Most of these are on hold until September, but one somehow did not arrive before school got out.  Then my machine was AWOL for 2 weeks, putting other commitments behind schedule. I know, whoa is me.  The last thing I wanted to do when my kids got out of school was toss them to their electronics and own doings, but that is what had to happen. Yesterday, guilt took over and I took two of them to one of our favorite haunts by the shore, hiked on the rocks, got ice cream and then picked strawberries.  We all needed a break. 
But the good news is that the quilt I was working on is done...well just about.  I discovered one place I need to fix, but that can be done on my DSM.  It is hugely huge - larger than my hallway. This is Judy Nieymeyer's Vintage Rose pattern.
 It has SO much white batik.  It makes the quilting show beautifully, despite much of the thread being white too.
 This is a challenging pattern for longarmers with a frame under 34".  LOL - we all know that there is no frame this big!  The sections on the design are large and required a good bit of rolling back and forth to quilt.  If you try to budget and cost quilts, keep this in mind.
I snuck in a little soft aqua and soft lime green thread.  It does not show too much in the pictures, but more in real life.  The colored areas, though, all were accented with a variegated Fantastico thread.  It ties the rainbow look together.

 This particular Neimeyer design has a lot of floating geese that are NOT at all convenient to ditch.  It just about killed me to leave them unditched, but seriously, that would have taken forever.  I do have boundaries, and that was one of them!
 I tried to keep the quilting playful and with plenty of movement.

 And then I thought I was about finished.  But I discovered I made a HUGE error.  This is a totally rookie mistake.  I am such a stickler for making notes and taking photos as I quilt, especially the larger quilts.  They are my best resource for remembering what I DID, when that section is not visible.  I discovered that I added 1/2" frames on the bottom half of the quilt, but not on 3 of the 4 sections nearer to the top (like I marked below).  Tell me I wasn't madder than a hornet to be faced with picking out 3 large sections of feathers.  Really, I was.
Here's what I did.  I marked the top where it needed to be stitched and ripped out only the feathers that extended into this area.  The ends were knotted and buried.  It meant I only had to remove 1/3 to 1/2 of the quilting, not all of it. I then requilted the missing feathers. 
The finished feathers look just like they were supposed to. This lesson is included so that you realize that even quilters that custom quilt day after day make silly mistakes too!


Monday, June 26, 2017

Narrow Border - Big Design Release!

I am delighted to finally offer my newest book.  Despite the unusual level of crazy in my life the last couple of months, I am overjoyed to have it finished and finally at the printer .  Narrow Border - Big Design presents over 100 border ideas specifically targeted for those smaller borders under ~3-4" in width. The book features freehand as well as template-based designs, feathered patterns, and my Mix-n-Match shape gallery containing dozens of cookie-cutter quilting designs that can be interchanged to create a multitude of different designs. The color book has 84 pages, and will sell for $25.  Order books here.

This is a presale, and all orders containing this book will ship on about July 7th.

Buy More Savings...ALL multiple book orders that contain this book will receive an additional savings, processed individually at the time of shipping.  Two books = 3% savings, Three books = 5% savings, 4 books = 7%.  This sale is good until midnight EST July 5th.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

More Boats

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It would only be fitting since we are going on a cruise later this year that I quilt some boats.  This very large quilt was 10 days on the frame, and mostly done in a flurry of last minute quilting before all 3 of my kids finished school last Friday.  I spent some early mornings this week finishing it up as they were still asleep.
 Sue Garman's Ladies of the Sea is always an impressive quilt.  This is either my 5th or 6th to quilt in the last 2 years.  Every time I stare in amazement that anybody has the patience to quilt SO MUCH applique! And this one is another example of exceptional handiwork.
 The first thing I do on these is to ditch stitch the applique using a clear nylon thread.  It is time-consuming...14 or so hours to be exact, but it gives every detail a crispness that you cannot get otherwise.  The rest of the quilting is done in 40wt Glide thread, mostly in a tan color, but there is detail work in green and red too.
 I have tried to make each of these that I do a little different.  Several had a quilted ray pattern like is shown here.  I just wanted something other than that on this quilt.  It got a windy/watery quilting. The feathered diamonds create a beautiful secondary pattern.
 The 10" wide borders are immense and have so much applique.  It takes about an hour to ditch each one, and then nearly 2 hours to quilt the fill!
 The mariner's stars on the corners bring the texture of the crosshatching.
 Each time I quilt this I see things I didn't the time before.  Wish I had a rough number of hours that the maker spent on each block.  Some of the ships have a ton of embroidery and tiny beads in the rigging.

 A couple more pictures...
 There are loads of little circles...see?!?
 And the backside is just as beautiful.  For those wondering, my machine is home and stitches well (although this quilt does not have any fine threads).  I did test quilt it using silk on my personal quilt for a day or two before I loaded this beast!