Thursday, December 18, 2014

More Quilting, Less Writing

It's so hard for me to believe how time just dashes by over my quilt frame and running around my busy life! I'm sure you have found it to be the same at your house, particularly as the holiday season launched into full swing.

October, November and December have been very busy as clients finished up presents. If you follow my Facebook page, Island Time Quilting, then you have watched lots of pretty pictures pop up as I quilted the most recent projects. Facebook is fantastic for fast updates, but you miss a lot of the "story" of each quilt. I'm going to highlight three of the most recent ones for you, and leave it to you to go see the others (and lots more pictures) at the page.

First, my good friend Chris had two beautiful Irish chain quilts that she had machine pieced but never quilted. A long-time hand piecer, the red and white quilt was her FIRST machine pieced top! It was a delight to quilt...very accurate piecing, really flat seams, and so traditional. I did a "modified" custom quilting job, which just means that I quilted each block separately, plus added a detailed border.

 First I quilted only the open white spaces, and we were initially planning a straight, ruler line in the chain to go very traditional in style, but then we saw how beautifully this block fit the pattern, and decided to quilt it in every block. So, I jumped back through the quilt with the nine-patch blocks on the second pass.

I quilted a straight leaf border to echo the leaf motif in the blocks on the long borders of this quilt. (I didn't really get a good picture of the border from the front of the quilt, I'm afraid.)

Chris liked this quilting pattern so much that we decided to do the same block on her Christmas version of this quilt, in red and green, but to dress up the border with feathers.

Both of these Irish chain quilts made me very jealous and I plan to make myself one very soon. Or two. Or ten. Just beautiful!!!

Next up, my Alpha Omicron Pi sister Alex is a modern quilter, and makes some beautiful quilts...and always picks the coolest quilting designs. This lovely quilt was made from quilting cottons plus cotton shirts that belonged to her grandfather, as a gift for her grandmother for Christmas. Alex found "Loop the Loop" on Urban Elementz, one of my favorite go-to places to buy digital designs for my computer. Loop the Loop worked GREAT on Alex's quilt, and I've used it to great effect on three other quilts since then! It's just a great pattern to stitch, and one I would have missed if Alex hadn't specifically requested it. I am always happy to download new designs at customer request, and find it helps expand my library of patterns without relying on "my taste" to pick them out. Here are a few pictures of Alex's quilt:

The back is a wonderful flannel that Alex said she purchased from Missouri Star Quilt Company. I have to say, I had flannel envy on this one...(sneaks off to buy even more fabric online...)

(Look how great Loop the Loop worked on another customer's quilt by checking out the album entitled CQ1433 Checkerboard Loop the Loop at my Facebook page!)

Finally, another "happy ending" on the frame recently is this lovely winter wonderland of a quilt that I called "Frosted Flakes," because I'm a dork and love to come up with silly names for quilts. Kelly is a repeat offender, er, client, who has made several beautiful quilts, but still considers herself a beginner. I loved her glittery winter fabrics in this one, and was so happy with the "Snow Winds" pantograph by Barbara Becker that I chose to quilt on it. It's a fantastic winter quilt!

There are several other recent finishes at the Facebook page, and a few other pictures of each of these quilts. Other activities from the last two and a half months include lots of Grams/Gingersnap time, eagerly awaiting the arrival of our new granddaughter (soon to be called "Gumdrop!"), a couple of visits to our daughter and son-in-law who have moved across the state, a roadtrip back home to Mississippi for Thanksgiving and to celebrate my parents' 50th anniversary, many dates with my best friend, lots of Sugar Creek Quilters Monday nights at my house, and most of all, books read and naps taken.

Now I'm settling in to plan my 2015 calendar, which already includes two quilting training events in February and June, and several custom quilting commissions that I've undertaken...not to mention my own ever-increasing list of personal quilting projects yet to piece. A big event in March 2015 is the Greenville Quilters Guild Quilt Show March 20-21, 2015, where the guild raffle quilt will be given away. I was delighted to get to quilt our quilt, "After the Storm," this year with a simple modern quilting design to complement the gorgeous fabrics and piecing! Tickets are on sale now, so contact me if you want some!

Happy Quilting!


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Week in Review

I've had a productive week. I apologize in advance for the length of this surprised me just how much I've done this week. No wonder I'm tired. I took a day to recover after finishing the Glacier Star I quilted last month. I heard from Leslie that it won a second place ribbon in the Pine Belt Quilters show in Hattiesburg, MS last weekend! I was very pleased. It was really my first show quilt, and since Leslie also won first place in that category, I knew I didn't disappoint her with a second place finish! The Glacier Star was entitled "Mad Dash" and we were in the Team Pieced Large category (where you will see Leslie's name in the first and second place position).

One of our Greenville Quilters Guild members had given me this large (84x106") yellow, gray, and black quilt to quilt as I desired at our last month's meeting, so I popped it in the frame. I had a brand new design from Hermione Agee at Lorien Quilting called "Rustling Leaves" and thought it had a modern feel that would suit this quilt. I chose a charcoal gray thread for both the top and the bobbin. The quilter had provided a bright yellow backing fabric, but it was much too small (about 20" smaller in both directions!) for the quilt, so after a quick phone call, I dashed out to Hancock's Fabrics and found a lovely wide black cotton sateen to use on the back of this quilt. I really loved the back of the quilt as much as the front when I finished!

"Rustling Leaves" by Hermione Agee, Lorien Quilting, available at Intelligent Quilting

I quilted it in a fairly small scale for such a large quilt, but the texture was amazing.

Then I decided I had time to quilt one for myself. I am very pleased how this Warm Wishes pattern turned out, particularly since it's mostly from "scraps." You know, I need a better word for the fabric that is leftover from one project, but seems to match another fabric in your stash so well that you just go ahead and make a second project. Those aren't "scraps," are they? Overrun? Extras? Quilting Starter? It is kind of like baking sourdough bread. The leftovers from one project do often morph into a large doughy project of their own!!!

In this case, I bought the red and green, as well as the middle print, for another project (which is pieced but not quilted), when I remembered this piece of poinsettia batik in my stash and thought it might be a close fit. Voila! Unfortunately, the backing fabric I'd set aside for the pieced-but-not-quilted-project fit this one better than its original intent, so now I am shopping for backing again. Oh, well.

I went to the GQG lock-in day of sewing on Friday, and managed to get this one bound and finished. Only a label to go to gift this one for its lucky Christmas intended!

It's quilted in "Punk Feathers" (also by Hermione Agee of Lorien Quilting) with Maroon Glide on top and Christmaspine Glide on bottom. When will I learn to use a nice contrasting thread so the quilting will pop? It blends so well you can barely see the texture.

A friend from Community Bible Study brought me this wedding gift to quilt. It's a sweet small quilt (46" square) and we decided on Fantasy Feathers with Dark Brown on top, and Graphite on the bottom to give them a reversible quilt. Now there's that pop!

She nicely sent me a picture when it was bound.

Another finish for this week was this adorable "Perfect 10" inspired quilt for a baby boy, whose grandmother is a dear friend of mine. She commissioned me a few weeks ago to make this first, precious grandchild a quilt to match his nursery in the palette of "Chocolate Mint." I scaled down the Perfect 10 pattern to make the squares 3" or 6" as needed, and the quilt finished 44x52", just right for a baby.

A lot of the fabrics I chose had circles in the themes of the prints, and yet this pattern is very square and rectangular. So, I chose to quilt it with my favorite Pant-Circles motif, and scaled it way down to baby size as well. I used a thick, fluffy 80/20 batting fabric, and just loved the texture that emerged. The backing is a great flannel I found when I was on a Fabric Acquisition Road Trip with Dennis last summer in South Carolina. I was so happy to put it to the perfect use.

I pieced this one myself, so the borders were square and flat, but even so, I needed extra fabric in the backing for the motif-overrun at the end of the quilt top. If you are preparing your quilt backing for the longarm quilter, don't be stingy with backing fabric! You'll get any fabric unneeded returned in the end. As for me, I just have lots of nice flannel scraps.

I named this piece "Three" for the sweet baby who is the Third in his family with his name.

After I got "Three" in the mail (and UPS knows me by name!), I got to spend an evening with my little Gingersnap. We ate dinner, watched Sleeping Beauty, read The Grouchy Ladybug and other stories, and had a grand time!

On a side longarm machine raced away, sewing at a rapid clip, and shattered its titanium needle, just as I was finishing "Three." It necessitated taking the bobbin case assembly out, and retiming the machine. I am so fortunate that not only do I have a very mechanically capable husband, but I also have a fantastic group of professional longarm quilters who are so generous with their expertise and answer my questions almost instantly in our Facebook support group. I learned a lot about how my machine works, and even managed to learn some adjustments I can make to help it sew even better for me. I tested it out after repairs were accomplished by stitching a little name I love.

Finally, I am SO excited to have registered for "Birds of a Feather 2015," a longarm conference in Virginia Beach, VA, in February, 2015! I have in my five year plan to improve my education in my industry, and I'm going to take a couple of classes that should help me achieve my goals for next year.

Thanks for reading! Happy stitching!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

September Star

In late August, I loaded my frame with a beautiful Judy Niemeyer Glacier Star quilt, pieced by Leslie Kiger of St. Simons Island, Georgia. You may remember my trip to Louisiana in March, and my visit to the Gulf States Quilt Association show in Slidell while we were traveling for Dennis's consulting work. Well, Leslie had a magnificent quilt in that show, and I blogged about the show here (you can see Leslie's navy quilt, from Laundry Basket Quilts "Eldon" pattern in two of my pictures), as well as featuring it prominently on my Facebook page. To be polite, I sent Leslie a note via Facebook Messenger just to let her know how much I'd enjoyed her quilt, and to ensure she knew I'd posted a couple of pictures of her quilt hanging in the show. I would hate for someone to pin a picture of one of my quilts, without crediting me, and I hoped she would realize I wasn't trying to take credit for her work.

To my surprise and delight, Leslie contacted me soon afterwards to ask me if I'd be willing to quilt a Glacier Star for her. Honestly, I was afraid I'd bitten off more than I could chew when I told her that I would. I'm a longtime quilter, but have only done this longarm business for a little more than a year, so most of my work is computerized edge to edge. But it seemed like a great opportunity, so I said yes. Leslie worked out a time on my calendar that coincided with her schedule, and she shipped it to me to finish for an entry in the Hattiesburg, Mississippi quilt show October 3-5, 2014.For more information, go to the Pine Belt Quilters website.

I spent a couple of days basting the quilt along all the curvy edges, and getting it square in my frame. It finishes 90" x 90" in the queen-size version of the Glacier Star, so I wanted to make sure nothing was going to shift around. I quilt on a fairly small machine (only 18" throat) for a longarmer, so I knew I was going to have to turn the quilt numerous times, plus there would be a LOT of rolling.

I stared at that quilt in my frame for three or four days. I was PETRIFIED to get started. Finally, I just buckled down and quilted the center star. Success!

Then, I stared at it for a couple more days. Finally, in desperation, I posted a question to the Professional Long Arm Quilters group I participate in on Facebook, and learned that there were several designers who had digitized patterns that fit the sections of the Glacier Star. I decided to invest in the digitized design by Laurie Thomas at It's A Quilt Thing. It was a great decision. Laurie was a load of help. My machine's software isn't as flexible as some machines, so she quickly helped me with a couple of questions on the fly, and gave me great support.

Once I started going with Laurie's designs, the thread really flowed. It was just a matter of taking it one step at a time. Here are feathers in the center diamonds:

The middle after the feathers began taking shape:

I liked the curly sections around the points.

I absolutely loved the modern look to these traditional feathers.

I was about halfway finished here, with 80% to go (sorry, old joke)...this quilt took me many hours every day.

I loved the feathers on the curved flying geese. Leslie's piecing was so accurate!

I agonized about this purple thread on the yellow section of the quilt. Leslie had requested that I not "quilt it to death" and that the thread match as much as possible. So, since this large area was treated as one feather in Laurie's design, should I use purple on yellow, or yellow on purple? In the end, I went with the purple...and decided it was a good choice.

On the very last border, I had some placement issues. It wasn't the design's fault, and my machine was stitching well. It was just me, and the way I have to measure around those curves and get things placed "just so." Anyway, I wouldn't want anyone to think that this stuff just happens magically by a computer. I had to sew, swear, rip, sew again, swear louder, rip again, then sew ONE MORE TIME...but it finally came together. FYI, those pin holes from the needle go away pretty well with sizing and steam, and a clean toothbrush rubbed across the area. I think batiks are the worst about showing needle holes after ripping, due to their tight weave.

Also, as much as I *love* and adore Glide thread by Fil-Tec, it is a struggle to rip it when the tension is just right, especially after it's locked into batik cotton fabric. Slow and tedious unsewing!

I had to turn the quilt in my frame on point to reach the long borders on the inside star, and then square again for the long borders on the queen-edge...and then back on point to get these half circle geese units. I think I counted that I loaded this quilt in my frame 12 or 14 times.

But, I finished it on September 24, 2014, about a month after I began!

The backing fabric was initially a surprise to me. Leslie had such a vibrant quilt top, I was amazed she'd chosen a dull brown and grey backing fabric. But I was able to use gray or linen bobbin thread through most of the quilt with great success, and so the back ended up just lovely with texture.

Here's a corner. I loved that color combo of Tidewater, Iris and Bone Glide thread. I also used Cornflower and Bright Gold Glide in the appropriate yellow spots. I even used just a touch of Sprout on those star tips. So many thread changes, so many times in and out of the much to learn.

I'm looking forward to seeing pictures of this quilt hanging in the Pine Belt Quilters show next week. I have never had a show quilt before! I've always been so self-critical. Honestly, I was my own worst enemy on this quilt, too. I saw every flaw, and agonized over it. But when it was finished, I was pleased with the quilt's overall effect. Fortunately, Leslie was pleased as well.

The nicest part of the entire process was realizing that since Glacier Star is a paper-pieced pattern, and I have already invested in the digital pattern for quilting, I can make one of these "for my very own"! I think I'll put that on my schedule for next year. It's a gorgeous quilt, and it was a great learning experience for me.

Happy Quilting!