Saturday, 3 December 2016

The Bloomin Inn

Longarming + Sue Patten + Dusty Farrell =  one heckofa busy retreat at the Bloomin Inn!

The Bloomin Inn

Bradie and Matt of the Sparrow Quilt Company put together longarm classes in a retreat setting - IN ALBERTA - and I couldn't resist signing on!

Dusty's Class
The classrooms were rarely empty - I must have taken this at noon when everyone bolted for the dining room!
Anyway, this was Dusty's space for the duration.


We were divided into two groups - my group worked with Dusty first. We did four sessions over the course of two days before switching and doing the same with Sue.

I can't remember Dusty's session names, but they were things like "Bread N Butter Quilting", "Good Feathers Gone Bad", "Filigree Feathers" and the like. This is a little taste of my work on Day One.

Day one at the frame

Feathers got fancier as the day went on.

Trying new shapes

And then we got into ruler work and templates - and that was pretty fun, too!

Using Dusty's tools

Here's Dusty showing his process at the white board. He would also draw on fabric for people to trace, which explains the marker tucked over his ear.

It was also a great mental exercise to watch him quilt. I liked to see how he would handle awkward areas with grace, and how he filled up the space.

Dusty Farrell

Show and Tell!
We enjoyed a trunk show one evening. The quilts were passed around, and we were welcome to take photos. There's nothing better than a close look at the quilting!

Cute, right??? I believe this is Sue's work.
Sue and Dusty presented the trunk show together, but I'm pretty sure I can tell their work apart.

And, I believe this is Dusty's super cool work.
Sue is holding one of her whole cloth quilts, below. (Who needs to piece when you can quilt like that?)

Sue Patten

Another of Sue's whole cloth quilts, below. Even though Sue hates this quilt (there's a back story), it's an award winner for good reason. The stitching is beautiful.

Sue's thread work

Below is a close up of some of Dusty's thread work.
He made a quilt for the Sparrows depicting an angel and a devil (both sparrows, of course!). Bradie says that CLEARLY this guy represents Matt, which means she must be the angel. I will (wisely) leave it to them to sort that out on their own! Ha!

Dusty's thread work

Sue's turn!
Four sessions on various topics whizzed by with Sue, too. We used stencils in inventive ways and learned to stretch, tweak, flip, combine, and change designs to fit every space on a quilt.

Sue at the white board

Sue's designs were less familiar, so they took extra thought on my part. And scribbling. Lots of scribbling!
(Brain training!)

Once I had a shape figured out, tracing it over and over helped train my brain!

Once I started getting the hang of things, the shapes were really fun to stitch! (Remember, we were learning on the fly - tidiness was the last thing on my mind!)

Feather variations

We also learned how Sue uses rulers in her work, and played with even more variations (size, shapes, fillers, spines, and so on).

Dressing up geometric "bones"

While I can't show you everything we learned in our classes, I can show you how we all felt by the end of day four.
Not kidding!

Catchin' some zzzz's

The Inn
The following photos hint at the artful displays of collectibles at the retreat center. Every nook and cranny was bursting with bits of history.

In the dining room:

 On the way in the door of "the barn" where the classrooms and some of the bedrooms are housed:

One corner in Sue's classroom (the view in every direction had more, More, MORE!)

Out on the deck:

I don't even remember where this was taken!

Entry to the house:

It's fascinating - but I sure am glad I don't have to dust!!!

Home, Sweet Home
Now I'm home and excited to make good use of the things I've learned!

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Special Exhibit

We (the Valley Peacemakers Quilt Guild) have filled the DMI Gallery @ the library with quilts for the month of November!

A few of the quilts in our Boreal Forest exhibit

This year we are featuring a special exhibit of "Boreal Forest" themed quilts made especially for the children's area of the library. All thirteen will move to their new home at the end of the month.

Cheeky is hanging with his new crew (the Boreal Forest gang), so it's time for me to let him go.
Bye, Cheeky! I know you will be in good hands.

Cheeky, on display

My Festival of Trees donation is also hanging in the show - until it is time to hand it over to Festival organizers next week.

It's been placed where it won't leave an obvious "hole" in the show when it comes down. We generally want things to stay for the whole show, but my guild-mates made an exception in this case. (It wouldn't be so great to have a disappearing show if everything were temporary, would it!) I'm very glad to have been allowed to hang it.

Festival donation on temporary display

This is just a peek - the gallery is FULL of quilty goodness!
Admission is free, and the show is open during regular library hours for the whole month of November!

Fresh off the Frame

Flowers in the quilting complement the graphic nature of the quilt, below. Slate grey thread subtly ties the look together.

Petal Pushers Panto

Mickey seemed to call for something fun - like bubbles! White thread pops on the black areas, yet allows Mickey to remain the star of the show.

Bubbles Panto

Mickey has minky on the back - thus the "fluff" on the front! No point in cleaning it off until the quilt is bound, even for a photo. (Ask me how I know. Ha!)

Minky + Mickey = cozy fun!

In case you are wondering . . . 

This discussion comes up regularly when clients visit my studio for the first time. It is only natural to assume that a machine as advanced as my APQS is automated.

In fact, a computerized component is available, but in my case:
  • My quilting is all hand guided
  • My machine is a tool that doesn't work without me.
  • Though I strive for consistency, there will always be slight variations in my (hand guided) work. 

I don't mind.
In fact, I love the look of my "perfectly imperfect" quilting!

So now you know!

(There is nothing wrong with computerized stitching, you understand . . . it's just not my preferred way of working at the moment. If you are a computerized quilting master, please know that I respect the skill-set needed for that whole ball of wax, too!)

House Update

It still takes a fair bit of imagination to see the finish line, but I thought I'd share a couple of pictures of my future studio space anyway!

First, the door that will greet clients is facing the driveway (currently a mud bog) to make it easy for people to find me.

Future client door

A private door at the back of the studio will make it easy for me to get outside with supplies for painting, printing, and dyeing.

Future studio space, under construction

In addition to the longarm, there will be a zone for my personal sewing, and storage cabinets for the "messy stuff" mentioned above. There's also a walk-in closet at the back of the room - a great place to organize client quilts.

I'm looking forward to the efficiency of merging my sewing room and longarm studio. Much as I love my current set up, it will save many steps to have everything under the same roof!

Try, Learn, & Grow!

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!