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 :-)

Friday, 21 April 2017


Things are happening, but still we wait.
Anticipation is hard to manage at times. We are almost ready to move, and yet not.

I've been trying to Remain Calm and manage the list of Things Needing Attention. It's not easy to remain calm when everything is both urgent and important!

I've also been waiting for a new computer (I'm using it!!!) because my old one croaked, a longarm tool to help with a challenging project (it's here and I've started the project!), and a thread order (also here, as of today!) 

In the meantime, I've been finishing what I can on my quilty list of Very Important Tasks.

Finish #1
Today this little quilt went to its forever home.
It is an original design that I'd made in response to a Quilting Arts challenge some time ago. Yesterday I made the black "under quilt" to frame the image and give it more presence.

Canada Geese by Carole Gold

A quilted grid behind the geese provides structure so the piece will hang nicely, and random lines radiate out around the image. I think they complement the focal quilt without overwhelming it.

The back

The focal quilt is stitched in place using invisible thread around its perimeter, just inside the zigzagged edge.

12" x 12"

Finish #2
My guild has been invited to show Canadian-themed work at our local museum for the month of July.

I immediately pulled out some fabrics I'd previously discharged and imagined several possibilities. The piece I chose to work with has a cluster of leaves that look as if they are falling.

Oh Canada, by Carole Gold

I extended that idea with the quilting, using a jagged stipple around the leaves - and diagonal lines in behind - to imply movement. The idea of trees played out in the quilting of the brown frame.

Quilting close-up

Not in typical Canadian colours, but in my mind the piece fits the theme perfectly - and the leaves used in the discharge process came from my daughter's tree right here in Peace River. Can't get more Canadian than that!

Finish #3
Love it when a client says, "Go nuts!". ("But not too frou frou because it's for a guy.")
Challenge accepted!

Client quilt

Large, white circles were a blank canvas. As always, I began by ditching and stabilizing the quilt
(I've started pin basting in combination with ditching instead of thread basting, and I love it. Just as effective, but so much faster!)

Basting and ditching

Simple, strong lines look quite handsome, I think.

I treated this like a giant nine-patch and alternated the quilting designs. The quilting in the center block is identical to the quilting in each corner, and the remaining four blocks also match each other.

Client quilt

I really love how the light plays off the line work - it's almost mesmerizing!

Ribbon candy in the sashing added the final touch.

Finish #4
Another client quilt - squeezed in while waiting for my new longarm tool, this was a super-fast finish.

Sweet details in the applique add interest

Freehand loops and flowers filled the background, ditching and some whimsical details secured the applique, and boom! Done.

I also attached the binding so my client could get to the hand stitchery without delay. (I aim to please!)

Binding attached, ready for client to hand stitch

Here is (kind of) a Before photo of the quilt:

Before quilting

And here is an After shot of the same section:

After quilting!
Love it!

Finish #5
Attached a Precise Pantograph system to my machine so I can tackle a difficult panto.

Whoo boy, it is a challenge to do long, smooth, precise lines while moving such a distance.

This is a digital design that has been printed by the designer and sold as a pantograph. I think she has a streak of evil in her! Just Kidding! (not kidding...) (Please note - this is a reference to the panto's wicked level of difficulty, and is not intended as a personal comment at all!)

Trouble is, I am not a computer. I *think* it will give a decent effect even though it will NOT be computer perfect, so I'm going for it - but I sincerely hope my client can forgive the odd bobble! I am only human, after all!

Some of the lines are a quarter inch apart - gulp.

On the up side, I will be able to sit in my wheely chair to do pantographs on small-ish quilts from now on! (not large ones, though. The apparatus would get in the way, so off it will come.) Anything that reduces sore feet is a plus in my book!

Back to waiting...
We are also waiting for spring, so I brought home some tulips to make the waiting easier. Just because. :-)

Linking up with:
Whoop Whoop Friday @ Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Free Motion Mavericks @ Lizzie Lenard Vintage Sewing
TGIFF @ Charly & Ben's Crafty Corner
Finish it up Friday @ Crazy Mom Quilts
Show off Saturday @ Sew Can She

Try, Learn, & Grow!