Saturday, 30 January 2016

Choosing Quilting Designs

"I don't know what to do, and I don't want to wreck it"
is a common refrain in the quilting world. Especially when a quilt top is perfect just the way it is...Who wants to mar perfection?

Personally, I enjoy the challenge of figuring out what to do! The quilt (almost) always offers a clue that points me in the right direction.

So...when this piece arrived, I was excited. The clue was obvious...let the research begin!


After looking at pictures of Haida art online, I was still at a loss. Haida art is typically very clean and graphic with no background texture. Uh oh. Texture was what I needed.

I kept digging, looking at all things Haida - totem poles, carvings, jewelry, textiles, murals, drawing tutorials, and I even read stories in search of symbolism that might spark an idea.

Observation and making connections = inspiration for something new

After steeping myself in images, my brain made some interesting leaps:
  • Murals are sometimes painted on rough wooden buildings, plus Totem poles are wooden - and wood has knots (aha! said my brain...I can quilt knots!)
  • Haida carvings show tool marks - mainly in a vertical direction (aha! said my I know what to do in the negative spaces of the figure)
  • A "scratchy" organic crosshatch often fills space in Haida jewelry (aha! I know how to handle the border!)


Inspired by Haida art, this quilting definitely supports the character of the piece while at the same time offering a new interpretation of the facts. I absolutely love how this turned out!

In the borders, I used a new-to-me, zig-zagging crosshatch method I found on Pinterest. I'm including this direct link to the tutorial so you won't have to click through "the matrix" if you want to check it out.

Organic Crosshatch = minimal marking

I chalked the initial path of zigs and zags so I'd have a path to follow, and the rest was done by eye. I wanted to mimic the organic, diagonal crosshatching I'd noticed on the Haida jewelry, and measuring would have defeated the purpose.

Organic crosshatch, complete!

OH, and I also turned the quilt to do the side borders - otherwise I'd have had to roll the quilt back and forth incessantly! Turning the quilt probably saved my sanity.

So, that's how I choose quilting designs. (Minus the part where I agonize over every detail. That does happen, but I recognize it as part of the process and don't let it bother me too much anymore.)
How do you decide what to quilt?

Linking up With:
Whoop Whoop Fridays, at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Free Motion Mavericks, at Lizzie Lenard Vintage Sewing
Show off Saturday, at Sew Can She
Fabric Frenzy Friday, at Fort Worth Fabric Studio

Try, Learn, & Grow!
P.S. Find me on Instagram under my blog name, FreshofftheFrame

Thursday, 28 January 2016

How to tell if a quilt top is square - without measuring!

If a quilt is meant to be "square" (opposing edges that match in length), I do my best to make it so.

Sometimes it is easy, sometimes I work a little harder.

There is always a LOT of measuring - as the quilt is loaded, as it's quilted, and as it's trimmed before it goes out the door.

But, before I break out the measuring tape, I like to see what I'm dealing with.
  • Are the top and bottom edges a consistent width? Are they the same as the width across the center of the quilt?
  • What about the side edges? Are they equal in length, and consistent with the center?

Here's how I tell with very little effort!

Lay the quilt top (flimsy) out on the floor (or across a rail of your frame) and fold the TOP and BOTTOM edges of the quilt in so they "meet" in the center (see photo, below). It is often possible to use the piecing to help you line things want to go straight across the quilt, not at an angle.
  • If the widths (L to R) are consistent throughout, you've hit the jackpot! The quilt will be a breeze to load!
  • If the widths are not consistent, you will know immediately which areas will need attention during loading and quilting.

Top and bottom edges of the quilt are folded in to "meet" in the center.
All widths are consistent - yay!

(Please note: I've illustrated with a trimmed quilt because there isn't room to get a proper shot of a top draped on my frame.)

To check for consistency of LENGTH throughout, simply fold in the SIDE edges instead of the top and bottom edges.

This quick test alerts me to issues that may come up during quilting, and allows me to start planning how load the top.

Once I know the "big picture", I can measure and work out the details.

Pretty client quilt, fresh off the frame!

Folding the quilt - leave space between the edges to accommodate the bulk.

Ready to go home!

Linking up with:
Linky Tuesday, at Freemotion by the River
Fabric Tuesday Friends, at Quilt Story
Let's Bee Social, at Sew Fresh Quilts

Try, Learn, & Grow!
P.S. I'm on Instagram under my blog name, FreshofftheFrame

Saturday, 16 January 2016

It's a beautiful thing!

Texture shot!

Texture love!

Finished quilt
The quilt is wider than the board so the edges look a bit wonky, but it is nice and square. I did a wee bit of spritzing and blocking overnight so it lays perfectly flat, too.

Client quilt, ready to go home

Before shot - I love seeing the difference quilting makes!


Even though it is quilted quite densely, the quilt feels soft and cozy. I happen to know it will be given to a fella who has been a "snow fairy" for my client, clearing her driveway all winter long. I think he will appreciate a warm quilt when he isn't outside shoveling!
I love helping people finish their special quilts. It's a beautiful thing!

Linking up with:
Show off Saturday, at Sew Can She

Try, Learn, & Grow!
P.S. I am on Instagram under my blog name, FreshofftheFrame

Wednesday, 13 January 2016


This project was started in Hilde Morin's "Cityscape" workshop (which I wrote about here), and then set aside - the sad fate of many workshop projects, in my experience!

Making a piecing plan.

This one, however, has been revived. Feeling inspired over the holidays, I reworked a few things and made a piecing plan for this bad boy.

Some disassembly required!

Taking things apart in order to move forward...

Some slicing and dicing, too.

It's all part of the plan!

The biggest challenge will be piecing the curved, pink building into the picture. It is semi-attached to the piecing on the left, and needs to be pieced "in front of" the tall buildings that will tuck in behind.

Things look a bit weird at the moment, but I have faith in the process, so will press on.

Fresh off the Frame - a new quilter's first quilt (which also happens to be my first client quilt of the year).

First client quilt of 2016

And, here's a glimpse of another client quilt (I've since loaded on my frame) . . . more buildings! How cool is that?
More buildings!
I've filled the sky with swirls to contrast the straight lines of the buildings. I'm almost finished, but it was too dark by then for pictures. Maybe tomorrow!

Quilting in progress.
My prayer flag is a bit frosty these days, but my wishes for a Happy New Year to you are warm!

Frosty prayer flag!

Linking up with:
Linky Tuesday, at Freemotion by the River
Fabric Tuesday, at Quilt Story
Let's Bee Social, at Sew Fresh Quilts

Try, Learn, & Grow!
P.S. I'm on Instagram under my blog name, FreshofftheFrame