Sunday, 15 July 2018

KISS Quilting

It's easy to get carried away and forget that simple can be strong.

This t-shirt quilt featured a number of stretchy, shiny, slippery (aka, uncooperative) fabrics. Some of the logos were heavily embroidered and others were kind of rubbery.

Either way, the stitching needed to be dense enough to prevent the logos from rippling, yet simple enough to visually disappear.

Thankfully I remembered the KISS principle in time to use it! (Keep It Simple, Silly)

Client quilt

I decided to alternate vertical and horizontal wiggly lines over the logo blocks, and then repeat the wiggles in the border for a cohesive finish.

Alternating swirls and wishbones in the striped rows between the blocks added interest and quickly filled those spaces.

Sometimes simple is best, don't you think?

Client quilt

The next quilt was also quilted simply.

My client requested large swirls in the background and wishbones in the printed border, and nothing too "frou frou", please!

Client quilt - BEFORE quilting

Alrighty, then!

To enhance the radiating design, I used point-to-point wiggly lines in the giant diamonds that make up the star, wiggly outlines in the triangles, and loopy "L"s around the perimeter of the medallion.

A zigzag wiggle following the curve of the yellow-green fabric that encircles the star completed the picture.

Client quilt - AFTER quilting

The zigzag wiggle came about because of seams that needed repair. Repeating the same wiggle in a decorative capacity integrated the repairs into the design.

Client quilt

I often repeat elements (swirls, loops, wiggles) from the quilt's body in its borders. Not only does it fit the KISS principle, it adds a sense of unity to the project.

Client quilt

So striking!

Client quilt

There's nothing quite like a log cabin quilt that plays with light and dark - AND there are stars!
I love stars!

What a great example of the KISS principle! Repetition of one simple block, rotated and thoughtfully placed = a delightfully complex looking design!

Client quilt - BEFORE quilting

This quilt just says "comfort" to me.

About the time I wanted a picture, I realized the light was good in our basement guest room.
How pretty!

Client quilt - AFTER quilting (Hearts in Bloom panto)

My next client designed herself a Canada 150 quilt based on a photo of a Peace Country icon - the sheds by the highway that signal the final leg of our journey home. 

Baste-y, baste-y, little quilt.

Client quilt - BEFORE quilting

The reference photo had big, fluffy clouds high in the sky, so I went with similar clouds in the quilting.

I used a combination of small, geometric curves and loose, wavy verticals in the field to imply distance. The small curves also help the trees fit into the scene by directly relating to them (another geometric shape of a similar scale) and grounding them (by touching at their base).

The vertical, straight lines of quilting around the trees are repeated horizontally around the lettering, completing a visual "L" that frames the scene.

Client quilt - AFTER quilting

KISS quilting. My favourite kind!

Linking up with:
Whoop Whoop Friday @ Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Show off Saturday @ Sew Can She

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

New Life for an Old Coat

I'll do almost anything for family, so when my SIL requested a couple of teddy bears to pass along to her grandchildren in memory of her mother, it had to happen!

Vintage coat - the "before" shot

SIL also wondered if I could make a little something to preserve her mother's name embroidered in the lining . . . who would say no to that??? In fact, it sounded like fun!

Visions of upcycling upholstery and home d├ęcor samples I'd rescued danced in my brain!

The first step was to disassemble the coat. Out came the lining, pockets, shoulder pads, and so forth.

The bottom was double-lined. I think it was to ensure the coat would drape well and slip back into place as its (wearer? occupant?) moved around. Clever.

Seams were opened and the sleeves and collar removed.

Just enough for a couple of bears!

Once the fur was flat I could trace the pattern pieces onto the leather and cut them out.

Snippy, snip - use the tip to avoid cutting the fur

One bear - an "exploded" view.

Reminded me of hieroglyphics for some reason

Two "exploded" bears. They are similar, but not identical.

I lined the bears with muslin to keep the leather from being overly stressed when stitched. Wouldn't want to create perforated, tear-away seams!

I used locking doll joints in the neck, shoulders and hips so the bears can be moved and repositioned.

I also used safety noses and eyes that lock into place. A stitched nose is beautiful, but doesn't work very well on leather. That whole perforation, tear-away thing, ya know?

To preserve the fur, I did the bare (bear? haha) minimum of facial trimming. I also left some springy whiskers by their noses for character.

Fun whiskers

Oh, and the embroidered lining?

It became the genesis of a crazy patch cushion . . .

Collaged and fancy-stitched on this side

. . . with fur on the back.

Pieced the scraps for this side

Nice and plump!

Something from nothing!

The cushion is about 16 inches square. Here, you can see that the bears are sizable, too.

Paw pads = upcycled clothing

Bye, guys! Have a good trip home!

Test fit - they were plastic-wrapped and packed snugly for shipping

The box - and everything in it - made the trip in good shape, and my SIL is now sporting a big, happy smile!

Linking up with:

Monday Making @ Love Laugh Quilt

Try, Learn, & Grow!

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!