Thursday, September 27, 2012

Angel quilt

Ah, finally decided on the fabric for my angel quilt. I think it matches better than the other choices. Started quilting today. I was really on a roll too, until the silver thread ran out. That color is not really a staple for me. I think I have had this particular one since I started quilting and never really used it. It looks really great with the dark blue backing fabric. I was hoping to not have to go out again this week. I guess a trip to Joann's never goes amiss:) Darn:)

Well, my daughter wants me to make her a cape for Halloween, so the trip won't be in vain. She wants to be a super Pikachu, whatever that is. I think that means I get to make a cape and knitted hat (complete with Pikachu ears) and buy a yellow shirt. Can this all be done by the end of October? Wish me luck!

Monday, September 24, 2012

UFO help: suggestions welcome

I pulled this UFO out of the cabinet and am trying to figure out what kind of border I want. I made this ages ago and never got around to finishing it. It will make a beautiful wall-hanging if I can figure out how to dress it. Well, tis the season. I've been looking through my stash. These are a couple of color schemes I came up with, but nothing is jumping out at me. Any thoughts or suggestions would be wonderful. Darker border? Lighter? Silver? I can't think.....

Angels around angels? With a white or cream 1/2 inch border?

This mattress ticking looks a little interesting. More country maybe.

Plain white?

I kind of like this batik (like a snowy day), but I'm not sure it fits in with the countryish fabrics on the angels. The plan in the end is to quilt some sort of silvery light 'from heaven' around the angels. Swirls maybe.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


With the leftovers of my favorite blue animal fabric, I decided to try a chevron quilt. Nice and modern looking I think. I'm not a huge fan of triangles though. I seem to be fine until I get the iron out, and then, suddenly, my triangles have morphed into something that is not quite a perfect square. So when I saw this tutorial for chevrons sans triangles, I thought it sounded great. It worked brilliantly! Here is the tutorial:

And this is how mine turned out:

I decided to try something a bit more elaborate on the white strips.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Some quilting close ups

Here are some close ups of my quilting:

This is my iceberg landscape. I had my first try at feathering on the border of this one.

I got all the dark blue fabrics in this quilt from my friend Carrie's stash. And I had seen this leaf pattern on another quilt and always wanted to try it.

My first referral

Sewingly Yours just gave me my first referral, yay! A lady with an authentic tapestry from India came to me wanting a hanging sleeve sewn onto the back. The tapestry was very large and fairly heavy.

It was a beautiful piece with a large elephant on the front. A friend of mine suggested using the ladder stitch to sew the sleeve on. I tried it for the first time and it was almost invisible. Way better than a slip stitch.

It was very challenging sewing the sleeve on because of both the thinness the backing fabric and the filmy, see-through nature of the fabric on the front. You can see the beautiful embroidery and fabrics in the following photos.

On a side note, quilting rulers apparently have more than one use. My son showed me that they make really great bridges for matchbox cars:)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Look what I can do with my new machine!

I have been working hard trying to get enough quilts made for my table at the Fall Bazaar at Concord United Methodist on October 6. I fell in love with this fabric from Joann's. Why didn't they have this 4 years ago when my son was born? Bummer. I bought two yards of it and decided to go simple for the first quilt, show off the fabric and all that.

I quilted this baby on 3 different machines. I seem to collect sewing machines, as my husband would tell you with a groan. What, another one?! I picked up a nice metal heavy duty Singer from Goodwill that was really smooth. Hm, maybe good for quilting? Nope. This monster sews great in one direction, but when you try to quilt, it grabs on for dear life and fights you all the way. Ok, sewing machine #1 abandoned, back to the good old steady Viking. In the midst of this process, I made the mistake of stopping at Sewingly Yours, and fell in love with the Babylock. Two days later, and with much deliberation (ha ha! who needs convincing), I had myself yet another sewing machine. And so I finished this quilt using the Babylock. The difference was amazing. I thought I was doing well with free motion quilting on the Viking. The Babylock made everything so much simpler and enjoyable.

Baby quilt #2: completely done on the Jane. Feeling totally free and emboldened by the ease of quilting with my new machine, I tried designs I had never attempted before.

The butterflies are ironed on with fusible web and sewn over with pink thread.

I had a lot of fun with these borders, especially the tiny one with little circles on it. In the past, I would have just stitched in the ditch around this 1/2 inch strip, but no longer. I found the swirls on Pinterest, along with the feathers. Still not sure about feathers. Anyone else have a hard time stitching perfectly back along the edge of the feather? I have seen some that are not connected to each other. Seems like a brilliant idea. By the way, none of these borders were marked beforehand, just free handed as I went along.
Last, but not least, the sun! I had to break out the water soluble marker for this one. I turned a kitchen bowl upside down and traced a circle. Then I eye-balled the center and marked the tiny circle. From there, it was simple enough to draw a couple of 1/2 inch lines coming from the circle and connect them to make small petals. Then I free-handed the slightly larger petals. That is the extent of my marking on the center. For the outer swirls, I drew a larger circle so I could keep the swirls all the same distance from the center. I marked one swirl for a base and just started quilting the rest. This is my first go at pebbling and I'm ready for more!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My studio

My quilting guild, the Forsyth Piecers and Quilters Guild, once had a program about organizing your sewing room. I sighed and dreamed of one of my own. However, as my kids are all still young and there is no danger of them vacating their rooms in my favor for at least another 10 years, I have had to carve out a space for myself in the kitchen-dining room. Here is my corner:
I have my sewing machine up against the window so I can watch my son when he plays outside. My rotary cutting mat tucks nicely between the bookcase and armoire when not in use. I have a wooden 'trash' can that holds all my tiny scraps. Any fabric that is too small to make into something useful gets chopped up into confetti to use as stuffing for dog beds for the local animal shelter. And of course, my comfy blue and white sewing chair, that I bought for a bargain price and reupholstered myself. My neighbor says it looks like a throne, but oh well. Who wants to sit in an uncomfortable kitchen chair all day? Not me.

I bought this tv armoire back in the days of big huge fat televisions. When our old 100lb tv smoked its way into a smelly death and we upgraded to a flat screen, my poor armoire was too narrow to accommodate it. But I love the tin work on the front, so I picked up some shelving at Home Depot and stained it to match and now I have a fabric cabinet extraordinaire. Now that I have moved it into the kitchen, there is enough to light to actually see my fabric. We didn't have an overhead light in the living room. Makes it very difficult to find the fabric you want without dragging a whole pile out. You can see extra strips for landscape quilts hanging on the rod on the left door.

My iron stays on top of this cabinet, out of reaching of prying young hands, and close enough to the microwave socket to plug in easily. The ironing board should fold up nicely next to the bookcase, but it ends up staying up most the time since I use it so often.

And last, but not least, the new baby, my lovely Babylock Jane. I even managed to find a beautiful antique Victorian cabinet to sit it on, complete with handy drawer. All my bobbins, and scissors and odds and ends go in the drawers to the right. The dog likes to hide under there for some peace and quiet. All I have to do when I want to work on a large quilt is just put the whole cabinet against the table and I have a larger space to work with. All tucked in nice and neat:)

Landscape quilts

I have long wanted to make a landscape quilt, but have always been a little scared to try. After all, they look so beautiful and complicated, right? Well, I discovered a wonderful book called Accidental Landscapes by Karen Eckmeier that has turned everything around. Using Eckmeier's surprisingly easy technique, it is possible to turn out a beautiful rolling landscape in maybe an hour, well, sans borders.

All you have to do is cut 3-4 inch strips however long your landscape is going to be. Break out the Olfa and cut a nice gentle curve, like a sleepy wave, turn it under and press the traditional 1/4 inch and layer them all until you have your sky/waves/sand (if you are creating a beach scene) and topstitch with a matching thread. Throw some borders on and, voila, landscape compete!

The trick to this technique is finding the right sky fabric to match the colors in the scene. You'd be surprised how many different varieties there are.

For the fence, I simply cut some small uneven strips of brown and topstitched them on, adding some lines for the wire. No turning under necessary since these quilts will hang on the wall like art and not be mauled in the washing machine. It is a lot easier to add the strips when you are quilting, rather than tacking them on before the layers are put together. That way, the quilting on the sand remains unbroken and you don't have to work around the fence posts. Just slap them on at the end and quilt straight over them. I didn't even use fusible web. They shouldn't be perfectly straight anyway, so if they move a little when you are topstitching them on, it adds to the effect. I also sewing some beads on to give it a more embellished look. I did put these on before quilting. Maybe a bit of stabilizer underneath would help.

I was inspired by a photo of Wales for this quilt. I lived there for 4 years and I miss seeing the sheep dotting the hillside. The scene wouldn't be complete without a Welsh farmhouse and a couple of sheep dogs keeping an eye on things.

This lake scene has the lake spilling out past the borders. Really, the possibilities are endless with this technique.
I attempted this Tuscan landscape using a similar quilt from the book as a model.

My stepdad is into desert scenes, so here was my first attempt. I think I might make the mountains a little more craggy on my next try. The cacti were a lot of fun.

Another go at a photograph from Wales. It didn't quite turn out like the photo, but I managed to get the path looking like it was receding into the distance.

This quilt was inspired by a photo I saw on Pinterest. I had picked up this mountain fabric ages ago, thinking I could do something with it. Since then, it has been resting quietly in my stash, waiting for rediscovery. When I saw the photograph, I knew the fabric was perfect for this project. It gives the mountain shading that would have been extremely difficult to reproduce without a lot of fancy applique or fabric paint.

Another quilt inspired by an image, this time one of those motivational posters. Something having to do with there being more to a situation than what meets the eye. You only see the tip of the iceberg, but there is much more depth underneath.

Take two: desert scene. I was trying to figure out what do with this quail fabric. I cut one out and it seems to belong here. Maybe he needs a friend though.

This time, I tried a lake scene. I had bought some rock fabric online, way too much of it and have been trying to sneak it into quilts ever since. What do you do with 3 yards of rocks? Seriously, what was I thinking? I wanted to try out a stormier sky and the dark fabrics help with that effect. The rocks fit perfectly into this scene, yay!

Craft Fair

Just so you all know, Concord United Methodist Church in Lewisville, NC is hosting a Fall Bazaar on October 6th from 8am-2pm. There are loads of different vendors and great food. Should be the perfect time to start on your Christmas shopping. Of course, I will have a table as well. Come out and see my quilts and adorable knitted hats. I'll also be giving live demonstrations of free motion quilting on my home sewing machine. Hope to see you there!

Monday, September 17, 2012

A gallery of my early quilts

My next quilt had a fall theme. I was hoping to make it extra warm, so I made the mistake of putting in two layers of wool batting. Double the batting, double the warmth, right? Wrong! It just made it nice and bulky, and because I quilted in the ditch, leaving big empty spaces, it ended up looking a little rumpled after washing.

This quilt was my first foray into design. I broke out of the old unused graph paper of my youth and started coloring in squares. I believe the birds were pieced using Margaret Rolfe's designs. At this point, I was still struggling with binding and they tended to be a little wider and not as sharp in the corners.

One of my favorites, this quilt is based on a vintage quilt I saw hanging in a friend's house. Her grandmother had made it. I took a photograph and put my own dog's profile in, surrounded by his favorite things: balls and squirrels. I hand quilted it and it hangs in my son's bedroom today.

A friend of mine accompanied me to the Forsyth Piecers and Quilters Guild in 2007and fell in love with this pattern by Annette Ornelas. We made a deal: she bought the pattern and I made the quilt. I picked up these lovely batiks at Sewingly Yours and started working with these beautiful fabrics for the first time.

I made this quilt for my babysitter for Christmas in 2007 and it was probably the most challenging piecing I had done up to this point.

My neighbor commissioned this bed quilt and I started getting braver with my free motion quilting.

I was inspired by a Pottery Barn catalogue for this blue and white scrap quilt. The catalogue's cover had a similar design, but in mainly fall colors. By now, I had a 'stash' in the making, I was determined to make something with all the blue fabrics I had sitting around. I started cutting 2 inch squares until I had a pile big enough to start sewing together. Again, the graph paper came out and I had it all layed out on paper. Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting Jan/Feb 2007 issue had a really interesting article about creating your own quilting designs by folding a piece of paper and cutting pieces out. When you open it up, everything is symmetrical. The problem came when it was time to mark. I couldn't figure out how to mark over both dark and light fabrics. I solved the problem by tracing the design onto tissue paper and quilting straight over it. I would not recommend this. One, it takes FOREVER! Each design was individual and only covered one group of blues. There was a lot of stopping and starting and tying off of thread and ripping out of tissue paper.

Around this time, I thought it would be a fun idea to hand quilt a quilt, one for my own bed, since most of my quilts had been given away as gifts. Patchwork by Diana Lodge had this beautiful strip quilt with an elaborate quilting design, which, of course, was not shown as a pattern. I drew the floral vine design freehand, cut out a template on plastic and traced it onto the white fabric. It took me a year to complete.

McCall's Quilting magazine featured this design in the summer of 2009. I spent months searching out the best fabrics for walls and roofs. The entire village was appliqued and the window sills and outlines done in fusible web. I used by cross stitch background to French knot a garden of roses and I was able to free motion quilt the entire quilt without marking a single line!

Here's where I take another year out to hand quilt yet another queen size quilt, this time for a good friend in Austria. I designed it myself and decided to give hand basting a go. Big mistake! I also learned a valuable lesson about the disadvantages of water soluble markers. They don't like humidity, and they aren't too happy about basements either. Roughly translated, after an extended stay in the basement den, where I was doing the bulk of my quilting, all of my lines disappeared. I had quilted the center design and had done maybe a foot of the long lines and the layers were shifting everywhere because of the hand basting. I had to take all the basting stitches out, stretch out the entire quilt on my mother's kitchen floor and pin from scratch. Fortunately, a few blue marks managed to stay on here and there to give me a base from which to remark the entire quilt. Not an enjoyable experience, but an educational one.

Probably my mom's favorite, this scrap quilt is constructed from 1 inch squares. I learned the arrogance of not pinning. When you have that many squares, they like to stretch. When I put the 1/2 inch borders on the sides, I didn't pin one side, thinking I was good enough to just wing it. It wasn't until I finished the quilt that I realized that one side about 3/4 inches shorter than the other. However, I did have an amazing time quilting it. I free motion quilted loads of tiny leaves all over the tree. The gold color shows up really well in the grass.

One Block Wonder was the inspiration for this quilt. I found some amazing fabric online and managed to get all the patterns to align when I cut them out. The piecing was easy. It was figuring out where to put each block that was the challenge. Lacking a design board, I laid a king size sheet on the floor and moved the blocks around until I was satisfied with the result.