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!

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Fast Work, "It Worked!", and More Work ahead


My notes for this quilt said, "Do whatever it needs" - loose custom.

Translation: make it look good, but don't spend too much time on it!

Client quilt

First, I ditched the idea of ditching, opting to do only one round inside the black border, and no more. (Just enough to stabilize the quilt, along with pin basting.)

I then chose fillers that were fast and hit close to the seams to help nail them down.

client quilt

A triangle filler I'd learned from Angela Walters worked perfectly in these giant geese!

The back looks really cool! It caught my eye as I folded the quilt after trimming.

Here is the top BEFORE quilting:

Client quilt, BEFORE

And here it is AFTER quilting:

(oops! fold marks will disappear once the quilt is washed!)

Client quilt, AFTER

And, done. :-)

It worked! 
My lino cut experiment (started in this post) has become a small art quilt!

When I carved my block, I imagined the horse overlooking a water scene. As it happens, I'd done some indigo dyeing last summer and had the perfect fabric for my idea.

Water challenge in progress

After printing and painting, the fabric looked promising.
The challenge became one of integrating the printed block into the rest of the scene.

First, I divided the space into pleasing proportions, with the lake becoming the intended focal point. Collaged squares and rectangles repeat the shapes of the quilt and print block, unifying the print with the rest of the piece. A little quilting helped to set the scene.

You Can Lead a Horse to Water, by Carole Gold
Here is the statement that goes with the piece:

You Can Lead a Horse to Water
The appearance of poisonous weeds in the foreground is a hint that more may be happening under the surface of the seemingly placid water. Or perhaps they are just weeds.

Warning - deep thoughts ahead!
As I worked, I was thinking of the toxicity of textile production on our water system - which is also why I incorporated "rescued" upholstry fabric as collaged elements to try and reduce wasting what was "costly" to produce. Blue is the most toxic dye colour to produce, yet to us it represents the sparkle of fresh water. These thoughts found their way into the piece and its statement, as did the idea that the situation is easy to ignore because textile manufacturing tends to happen on the other side of the world. Maybe the water is fine. (and as a quilter, ironically, I know I'm part of the problem...)

Also Fresh off the Frame

Client quilt - Whirlpool panto (reminds me of wind - perfect for pinwheels!)
I couldn't decide which picture to add of the next quilt - the floating illusion is so cool! - so I added two.

Client quilt - Ripples panto (something swirly!)

Client quilt - sorry for the fold lines! It's lovely and flat, and the floating illusion is super!

House Update
We are on the home stretch (ha! "home" stretch!) with the new place, and anticipate starting our move at the end of the month. ONE MONTH!!!

Okay, deep breath. deeep breath....

Client quilts (and related paperwork) will move directly into a designated studio closet where they will be safe while the rest of the household is moved. Their care will be my priority, as always.

I'm still happily accepting quilts from people, with the understanding that quilting will be put on pause for a couple of weeks at the beginning of May.

Nest, awaiting an occupant?

I'm probably going to regret ignoring the need to pack until the last minute, but that's my plan.

We will be moving everything ourselves, so it's going to drag on longer than it would if we hired someone  - BUT - it just seems too ridiculous to pay a couple of thousand dollars to move one block away!

We've done this before, and can do it again.

Try, Learn, & Grow!