Sunday, 17 June 2018

Quilting Matters

There are many considerations when choosing what to stitch on a quilt - not the least of which is budget.

A pantograph is an economical choice, but people often wonder if it would do their quilt justice. Would it really look good stitched over applique?

It certainly can!

Client Quilt - a feathery panto suits the heritage feel of this hand-appliqued beauty

What about over hand piecing?

Yes again!

Client Quilt - entirely pieced by hand. Feathers were top choice again, for good reason.
Client Quilt - quilting enhances without overwhelming. The quilt remains the "star". (ha - stars, really!)

It's important to match the character of the panto to the character of the quilt. The scale of the quilting motif should also suit the size of the piecing. Generally, smaller piecing would benefit from denser quilting, and vice versa.

Much as I love custom quilting, many quilts shine just as brightly with an overall design.

Client Quilt - swirly texture complements geometric piecing.

The purpose of a quilt (is it for the bed or wall? for show or daily use? to celebrate a special occasion? is it a comfort quilt?), its intended recipient (adult? kid? loved one? charity? raffle?) - and even who is paying the bill - also play into the quilting decision.

Remember that a carefully chosen pantograph can be a very successful option, from both a design and a budgetary point of view.

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Friday, 15 June 2018

Good News!

I've been working toward this since January 2015, so this is VERY good news - I passed my exam and am officially a CQA/ACC Certified Quilt Judge!

Click on this post from January 2015 to see the first (of many) required art and design exercise(s).

The design exercises were evaluated by the Judge Certification Program (JCP) instructors to determine a candidate's readiness for the program. (Maybe they're also a test of dedication? It took me six months to complete this portion of the program!)

In addition to the exercises, there were required readings and the expectation of ongoing self-directed learning.
(Not a problem!)

Testing a theory is one way to learn

In June 2015, I was accepted into an intensive four-day workshop on judging and writing critiques. After much learning, testing, observation, and evaluation, I officially became a CQA Apprentice Judge - whew!

2015 head shot for publication

I then had three years in which to gain judging experience and write critiques for hundreds of quilts. With each experience I could feel myself growing into the role.

Not gonna lie. A couple of times I wanted to ditch the whole thing.
But then encouraging words would find my ear and I'd press on.
(Thank you, Mom. Thank you, Elinor. Thank you, Anna, Kathy, Judy, and Joyce. And, THANK YOU to the show organizers who gave me positive feedback and did the extra paperwork required for my apprenticeship!)

Last, but not least, came the final certification exam: a mock judging at Quilt Canada's National Juried Show. I expected to be nervous, but nerves were mild and short lived. My focus was on the task of judging, not on my evaluators. After the first two quilts, it felt like "just" another show! (I know, right??? GROWTH, I tell ya.)

More Good News!
Laina's Youth Challenge entry won first place in her age group in the judged competition!

The challenge theme was, "Going on a Journey", and the challenge fabric was the one Laina used in her pathway.

Riley's quilt also hung in the show, which was an exciting first for him!

His title was actually, "Journey to the Center of the Earth: The Gem Cavern". Not sure what happened online (space restriction?), but the sign with his quilt was accurate.

A few quilts in the youngest age category (5 - 10, maybe?) What a creative bunch!

May your day be a "good news" kind of day, too!

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

O Canada (How Do I Quilt Thee?)

This gorgeous quilt was designed to commemorate each of Canada's 10 provinces and 3 territories.

Client quilt

Its blocks are rich with detailed applique, and my job was to enhance each scene while stitching down said applique.

Without making a mess.

Easier said than done.

Many layers of applique done with batiks = holes that cannot be "erased" once they're poked.
Once a hole, always a hole. (And a longarm needle is the fencepost of needles, soooo . . . no pressure! ha!)

Despite the (self imposed) pressure, I loaded the quilt and dug in.

Basting stitches were placed so the holes wouldn't show after the stitches were removed.

After the quilt was basted I stitched the white border and then moved on to the sashing around each picture.
(At that point I worked from the bottom-up to avoid unnecessary rolling of the quilt, though I did roll and begin in the center of the quilt when it was time to tackle the pictures.)

Goose block before quilting

I wasn't concerned with outlining every single bit of applique if there was a way to secure it artistically. This quilt is destined to hang on the wall, not to be washed and handled as a bed quilt. Different purpose, different rules!

Goose block after quilting

With that in mind, I used many, MANY jump stitches so I wouldn't fill the ditches with thread. Jump stitches are FAR more efficient than constantly cutting thread - and saving time saved my client money (which I'm sure was appreciated!).

Jump stitches can leave the back a bit messy, but my main concern with a wall quilt is the front.

Skinny pieces of applique can only take so much torture before shredding into oblivion, so the only option was to leave well enough alone even when I thought a change might improve things.

For instance, in one heavily layered spot the thread looked a bit shreddy on the back. The stitches looked fine on the front, and were secure, so I knew it would be smarter to leave them than to try and re-do the area.

That took will power, I tell ya! Will. Power.

I enjoyed adding perspective lines and details to help ground the critters.

There are 29 different thread colours in this quilt.

Scratch that. There are THIRTY - I forgot to count the cone on the machine!


It's hard to pick a favourite block.

Maybe this one?

(Or the puffins? The farm? Oh! Maybe the bluejay? Oh my. How 'bout ALL OF THE BLOCKS!!!)
The outer border was the last thing to be quilted. Fancy stitching would have been lost on the print so I opted for simple wavy lines radiating out to the edges of the quilt instead.

This quilt was a ton o' work, but mostly it felt like play!

O Canada, you're the one for me! What an honour it was to help with this beautiful tribute to our fair land. 

Linking up with:
Linky Tuesday @ Freemotion by the River
Let's Bee Social @ Sew Fresh Quilts

Try, Learn & Grow!

Saturday, 12 May 2018

How to Piece Batting (so it lays flat)

Joining two pieces of batting to make useable yardage can be done quickly and easily. You will need a flat surface to work on, cutting tools, a roll of painter's tape, and a sewing machine with a zigzag or serpentine stitch.

First, lay the two pieces you wish to join right sides up on a flat surface overlapping the edges to be joined by two or three inches.

Ensure that the pieces to be joined are laying flat. 
Position a cutting mat under the "overlap" in preparation for the next step.

Next, place a quilting ruler so it is centered on the overlap. Use your rotary cutter and slice right up the middle.

Lift the sliver of batting to be discarded out of the way and use painter's tape to keep the newly cut edges butted together exactly as they were cut.

Ignore what is happening underneath at this point. Just cut and tape.

Place tape every four or five inches. The goal is to keep the batting pieces from shifting as they're sewn together.

Since my arms aren't ten feet long, I gently pull the entire thing toward me as I go. It is fine hanging off the table edge after it's taped. Be sure everything slides evenly so the pieces stay aligned and flat.

After cutting the entire length of the overlap and taping everything securely, carefully lift the batting and take it to the sewing machine. The sliver of batting left underneath can now be discarded.

Sew the pieces together using a serpentine stitch or a large, loose zigzag. Align the center of the foot with the cut edges held together by the tape.

Do not allow the edges to overlap. Also do not allow the edges to separate and leave a gap. Do not sew over the tape. (Sew up to it and remove.)
Ensure that both pieces feed evenly through the machine.
Handle gently to prevent stretching.

Result? An invisible join, save for the stitching! No bulk. No ripples. Just useable yardage!

Quilting for others means I get to enjoy a spectacular range of quilt-y delights. Here's a quick show of the latest batch of client quilts Fresh off the Frame

One Block Wonder (client quilt)

Client quilt

Client quilt

Client quilt

Humboldt Strong donation #1 (pieced by local ladies)

Humboldt Strong donation #2 (pieced by local ladies)

Client quilt

Client quilt

The next one came to me already stitched-in-the-ditch and bound.

Its maker hoped I could stitch a pretty pantograph over the whole thing. Since the layers were already stitched together I couldn't promise perfection, but I was game to load it up. 

I'm happy to report that my client was delighted with the result - and I'm sure her granddaughter will love this sweet treasure forever!

Client quilt, already "ditched" and bound when it arrived...challenge accepted!

And finally, a teaser!

Client quilt

This gorgeous quilt needs a post of its own, so it shall have one! (Just not tonight)

Our Guild Retreat also came and went since my last post.

I decided to work on the Gypsy Wife quilt that's been on my radar for a year. Yup. Made a total of 8 blocks, I think. Do you think maybe I socialized a bit too much? 

Small projects were part of the program. I came home with a new mug rug made from random bits supplied as a challenge-in-a-bag (I added the green - totally allowed!) . . . 

Mug Rug challenge

. . . and a collage to finish - some day.

I enjoyed the process of cutting, shaping, re-shaping, arranging and rearranging my flowers, but I think I need scissors with a soft gel handle for the next one. I actually wore a hole in my skin from all the cutting!

Collage challenge

All of these collages were made from exactly the same kits.

Collages with character!

Isn't it amazing how they are all so different!

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Studio Gone Wild!

. . . if you count one moose as going wild, that is!

The top was pieced with the batting attached as a stabilizer. The sashing is a thick minky that might otherwise have been hard to control. Its seams laid perfectly, thanks to this clever idea.

I basted the layers together down the entire quilt before adding anything fancy.

I then outlined the moose and worked UP the central panel, outlining the tracks as I went. My client mentioned that she envisioned that long panel as a pathway, so I quilted it accordingly.

I like working from the center, out, to prevent weird ripples and pleats on the quilt back. This is ESPECIALLY important when the back shows EVERYTHING!

Leaves and branches seemed like a good fit for a moose, so that's what I quilted!

After the blocks were filled, the sashing looked a bit wobbly, so I stitched beside it to crisp everything up. I had to work freehand because it was so thick a ruler would have been a hazard. I'm glad to have done it - the sashing settled back into place perfectly!

I left the extra backing intact around the perimeter of the quilt. My client plans to wrap it to the front as binding for a soft, cuddly finish.

The front of the quilt is appealing, but I can't get enough of looking at the BACK - I love all that texture!!!

I'm easily amoosed! (pfft - I'm such a goof!)

OH, and Foxy Feet were spotted beside another pretty client quilt.
How's THAT for WILD??? ha!

Linking up with:
Let's Bee Social @ Sew Fresh Quilts

Try, Learn, & Grow!