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!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

"Less is More"

When that phrase is noted in big letters on a work order, restraint is the name of the game!

Client quilt, Fresh off the Frame!
Here is the BEFORE shot:

Before quilting
My client requested that I only ditch where necessary, so I stuck with outlining the blocks to give the quilt some structure. Next I quilted a loose arc around each star point to secure the background.

Blocks are ditched, and background arcs are stitched

Top stitching the stars secured their seams so they won't shift and bunch when the quilt is washed.

Top stitching crisps up the stars

The block corners were a challenge, and I doodled many (many) possibilities. I knew my client liked the curves, and that I also needed to keep things loose.

At last, the idea of using a simple, wavy outline struck - that did the trick!

Wavy lines outline the block corners

For a satisfying finish, wavy X-es in the border repeat both the wavy quilting and the idea of sharp points from the body of the quilt.

Wavy X-es finish the edges

The back of the quilt is a dance-themed print . . . so appropriate, since this joyful quilt makes my eyes dance!!!

Fun backing fabric!

Guess What???
Today, I actually worked on something of my own!!! :-)

It doesn't look like much, yet, but the background is mostly together. It will be a Christmas-y wall quilt that replicates a vintage postage stamp. (I'll share pattern info later - it's not handy at the moment.)

New project under way

I feel a need for speed, but also want a high quality finish since this will be donated to raise funds for our local Women's Shelter. (Not that I'd settle for a poor quality finish . . . )

With that in mind, I'm going to try Lara Buccella's Crafted Applique technique for the first time. There will be some tiny pieces to stitch down, so I'm particularly interested in its "no-fray" aspect. I'll let you know how things go!

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Pair of Quilts, and a New Grandson!

Fresh off the Frame
The owner of this panel had three requests:
  • Add dimension to the figure
  • Keep background quilting loose (aka - not too dense)
  • Use invisible thread, if possible

Quilting in progress

Challenge accepted! Here are a few decisions I made about stitching the figure:
  • Stitching the ribs reinforced the umbrella's concave nature
  • Outlining the face, hand, and feet allowed them to puff out and have depth and roundness
  • Leaving some lines in the garments untouched allowed certain areas to come forward . . . and also prevented me from quilting too densely (always a temptation!)

Finished, but still on the frame (oops! skewed perspective AND crooked camera syndrome!)
Inspiration for the vertical background quilting came from the print - I stitched random loops about the same size as the random dots.

The horizontal quilting in the ground was inspired by the wavy horizon line in the print.

The text would have disappeared had it not been outlined, so I added three lines. Just to be sure. Ha!
(Actually, one or two would have left an awkward space on the right, so I kept going.)

Panel with optional, black frame intact.

I'm not sure if the black frame will be trimmed away or not, so I quilted it, too. No matter what, using a similar quilting density will offer a nice edge to bind.

I matched the tone of the bobbin thread to the colour of the fabric being quilted. Invisible thread is so fine that bobbin thread is bound to show, even with perfect tension. If the thread tones with the fabric, it isn't noticeable.

Another Beauty:
Same client, different quilt . . . if you look closely, you can see butterflies on this one!

Butterfly Charm pantograph

A few characters were added to the bottom corner of the sashing. I have NO idea what this says. Hopefully I haven't totally butchered the script with shoddy "brushwork". (It could have changed from something friendly to something rude or mean, for all I know . . . eep!)

Hope my "penmanship" passes muster!

A slight panto adjustment allowed me to avoid stitching over the script when finishing the quilt.

Client quilt, trimmed and ready to bind.

In Other News
Our new grandson arrived on Friday evening!

Special delivery!

I must tell you this.
I'm still incredulous . . .
My daughter opened a new business THE NEXT DAY!!!

Birth a baby in the evening, and then birth a business the next morning (and put in a ten hour day) . . . can you imagine?? The girl has super powers! (And a supportive family. AND a crazy determination gene.)

Me, plus three! Happy Granny. :-)

She and her husband built a family room in the back of the store. It has comfy furniture, a game system for the big kids, and a snug baby area for their newest addition.

I think I took longer to recover from all that activity than she did. Ha!

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Muzzy Me!

My frame ate my yardstick!


I often use it to support one set of straps for my side clamps.
Well, this is what happens when you forget to remove it before rolling the quilt!

The yardstick is steel, so you can imagine the force this took.
It was a good reminder to quilt only when rested and alert.

Fortunately, no quilts were harmed due to my muzzy brain!
I had spent a bleary weekend on the couch with a head cold . . . probably should have stayed there a little longer. ;)

Fresh off the Frame
Despite my lack of energy this week, I've managed to finish three client quilts (start a quilting project with my grandchildren, help my daughter with some painting, and tick a few "house building" tasks off my list . . . but I digress.)

I'm not exactly sure which way is "up" with this beautiful quilt.
I've chosen this orientation for the photo, but it could easily go the other way.
Client quilt

The back shows the texture beautifully.
"Popcorn" pantograph

Next up were two (almost) identical quilts, done with two different pantographs.

"Quilt One" features the "Halcyon" design . . .
First of two similar client quilts

"Halcyon" pantograph

. . . while "Quilt Two" features "Pieces of My Heart".
Second of two similar client quilts

"Pieces of My Heart" pantograph

Cool, huh?
Both designs work equally well.
It just goes to show - there is no "wrong" choice. If you like something, go for it!

House Update

I think half the house is rafters.
Looking at the plan, it never really occurred to me how high the roof would be. Nor how complicated.
I'm so glad these guys know what they're doing!

Now, If I only knew how to straighten my yardstick . . . ha!

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Fanciful Flowers

Fresh off the Frame!
After ditching the vertical rows, stitching down the applique, and then quilting in some whimsical details, I used echo quilting to fill the remaining spaces in the body of this client quilt.

Here is what it looked like before quilting.

And, this is one of my favourite views - only the kitty faces left to stitch.

Almost done!

The quilting density was determined, in part, by the amount of stitching needed to secure the grass along two edges of the quilt. Consistency across the quilt helps things lay nicely.

Securing the applique was an important step.

A slightly denser, "fabric eating" filler controls the fabric immediately adjacent to the grass where things wanted to ripple.

Sweet kitty smiles!
The vertical sashing was kept simple to allow some breathing space in the design. I'd originally intended to fill it with cute, little insects, but the quilt called for something geometric instead.

Fanciful flowers
The cozy, flannel backing has cornered the market on cute bugs, anyway!
I hope this quilt will be loved - I'm still nervous with every, single reveal! (I get how emotionally invested people are in their projects, and never, ever want to disappoint, ya know?)

House Update
The guys are framing our bonus room down on the main floor, and tomorrow it will be hoisted into place above the garage.

Framing the bonus room

Okay, so we are not strictly sticking to the "everything on one level" plan. Just mostly, with the odd exception. Ha!

Since my studio eliminated two bedrooms on the main floor, this space will become a bunkhouse for our grandchildren -  and they can run up and down the stairs!

Linking Up With
Needle and Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation
Finish it up Friday @ Crazy Mom Quilts

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Friday, 9 September 2016

Forward Motion

On the Frame
Ditching - check. Applique stitched down - check. Whimsy added - check-ity, check, check!

Sweet, appliqued flowers are dressed up with stitchery.

Fanciful butterfly

Each flower is different, so the quilting is varied, as well. Motifs have been repeated here and there across the quilt to create cohesion, though - I like to repeat something at least three times to make it look like it belongs. Echo quilting will finish these sections, and then it will be time to decide the next step.

Crazy petals branch off the stems.

This quilt should have been finished by now, but every time I get on a roll, I'm interrupted. The interruptions throw off my groove, and it's hard to get my head back in the game, ya know?
Ah, well. Some weekend quilting will keep things moving forward. :-)

House Update
My main interruption is very exciting!
(See, it's not a bad interruption - on the contrary! It just takes time and energy away from quilting, is all.)

Decision eleventy-billion-and-one.

There are at least eleventy-billion (I'm sure that's a real number!) house building decisions to be made every day. Some are urgent. Some are for later so materials will arrive on time. Some ALL are expensive, and cannot be changed later if we're unhappy. Once an order is placed, that's it. So. This explains my distraction from quilting. Apparently my brain can only handle so much spatial visualization in a day!

We have walls!
The framers worked their buns off getting ready, so the exterior walls went up like magic this afternoon!
(My husband texted photos so I could see the process without being there - I was quilting!)

Oh, ya!!! Wall going up.

Forward motion is a beautiful thing - especially when it happens in giant leaps!

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Hiccup! (And the fix)


See the fern?
It has been waiting to become.

Like a dozen other fabrics I've painted, dyed, or printed.
But this one has a real chance!

Now it's waiting for a weekend when my frame is free (and so am I). Not this weekend - I've loaded a client's quilt, ready for Monday - but soon!

My own work in progress.

Ever have the kind of hiccup that gets in the way of progress?
Yep. Me too.

The first two rows of quilting on this beauty looked great, so I relaxed and quilted the next two rows.

Client quilt - bayside panto.

Not good.
When I went to advance the quilt, I noticed a couple of spots in the third row where the tension was off.
Exasperating, but fixable.

When I checked the fourth row, the tension was crap in more places than not.
WTF??? (Feel free to insert fudge if you like, but that was not my descriptive word of choice!)
It was time to rip instead of fix.

It takes ten times longer to rip than to stitch.


This exact scenario has happened once before, and now I think I've nailed down the culprit.
Black thread.
Tightening the tension (both top and bobbin) fixed the issue, then and now.

I've read that black thread can be thinner than other colours of the same kind and weight, thanks to the extra processing needed to make it so dark.

I can't explain why it works for the first little while (when I watch my tension like a hawk), and then decides to slip (as soon as I take my eyes off it), but that seems to be a pattern . . . if twice can be considered a pattern.
It's a mystery.

Thank goodness for flowers!

Zephyr lilies make me smile. :-)

And for meeting deadlines despite a little hiccup. *whew*

Client quilt - modern twist panto.

No deadline for this t-shirt quilt (below), but it feels great to be making progress in the studio again!

Client quilt - ripples panto.

House Update
Lots of rain.
The basement walls were poured one day when there was a break in the weather.
Puddles and beams.

Weeping tile and damp proofing are almost finished - it's slow work because of the rain.

Slumped dirt in the back corner of the hole where there should be a nice, crisp cliff. :-(

Wet dirt has slumped into the hole around the basement's exterior and has to be dug out by hand so things can proceed - makes me feel better about ripping stitches, I tell ya.

One pump has already burned out, and another one had to be brought in.
Maybe we should build an ark instead.

Oh! Today, floor beams appeared!
Our contractor is multitasking to keep from falling too far behind.

Guess what's in the forecast for tomorrow.
Notice it is not a question.

Time to change the subject.

Here's what's on the frame for Monday - cheerful!

Client quilt - ditching (and extra basting) in progress.

Have a wonderful weekend!!!

Try, Learn, & Grow!

P.S. If you'd like a quilt done in time for Christmas, please reserve your spot now. My calendar is starting to fill, and spots are limited!