Monday, May 18, 2015

May, Oh Happy May

Finally the weather is turning half-nice here.  After the winter we had, this is well needed.  Yesterday was spent sitting for about 5 hours at a baseball field in 80's temps (husband whining about how hot it is).  Good grief - it should be warmer.  I joke with the kids that if he ever kicked off, we'd be moving south within the month.  Little do they know that it's really not a joke though!

I spent last week quilting 4-1/2 days on my silk whole cloth.  I'll show pics sometime soon.  In the meantime, I am back on a couple more weeks of client quilts.  I have mostly stopped taking in new quilts for the summer.  I have a hope (yes, we can all dream!) that I will get through the 7 customs I have before the kids are home in 5 weeks.  No guarantees though!.

Here is a pretty twin quilt that went home last week.  It has 80/20 batting and YLI polished poly thread (I think!).
 Mostly, this was simple custom quilting.  I don't want to overthink quilts like this.  It is about quilting pretty (feathers, etc) where they will show, and keep it simple and pretty elsewhere.  Nice, well thought out designs are often a waste with heavily printed fabrics.  Ultimately, they are what you tend to see, so let them.
 I used some nice-sized fills in busier areas.  They still give decent texture without requiring marking.  This is a plus.
 The lighter fabrics get feathers because this is where they will show.
 Another looksee...
Every day is nuts with one of my boys having either baseball games or practices.  All of the usual end of year stuff is crazy enough, but we have one boy in 2 baseball leagues, and the other plays on the middle school (and soon Babe Ruth).  Sophie has a recital coming up for ballet, and they have a band concert.  It all makes my head spin this month!

So, with that, I will bid you adieu, and promise to come back soon with more pretty pictures.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Thread for sale and Hexies!

 Happy Mother's Day to all of you!  This was a good day for me to enjoy and get some things done.  The day is nearly done, and I am not finished with my list, but good progress was made, and it was relatively relaxing.  The important things like helping Sophie do the quilting on her quilt due to VQF in 4 weeks are done.  I need ideas on how an 8yr old can bind a quilt without tears (from her or me!).

I am also cleaning out getting ready for a big garage sale.  I have these to offer to whoever wants them.  They are Coats and Clark all cotton 35wt, machine quilting thread (sold by Joanns for $3.49 per spool).  I will sell the entire lot of threads here for $25 and I will eat the domestic shipping cost. That is $1.50 per full spool and $1 for the mostly full/partial spools. There are 11 full spools and 9 mostly full spools.  Please email or post if you want this.
 Here's a couple pics from our family's annual homage to the Portland tulip gardens.  It often coincides with Mother's Day, because that is when they tend to be blooming.  This is something we have done every year except for only a couple since my oldest was born.  Now, he's the most likely one to protest and not want to smile.  The way I see it, I will likely have 5-6 years of pictures where there are grumpy looks.
 Thankfully my daughter still enjoys the trip.
The Hexies...This is my current hand piecing project.  I have a massive bag of large-scale, mostly modern prints that I am cutting these from.  It started as a project borne solely from my stash fabrics, but then I went to Paducah and completely fell off the wagon.  

The quilt layout is up in the air still, but I think it will require 16-20 pieced units similar to these... 
These hexagon blocks are about 12"x12", and have 37 pieces.  They have 90 hand pieced seams, and take about 5 hours to stitch, and another hour or so to design and cut out.  If I am lucky.
The color palate is my favorite - aqua, bright greens, a little pink and yes, orange.  I seem to be hooked on the hexies and orange.  I plan to get the rest of the ones I have cut out stitched and then I will settle in on the setting for them.  Part of me wants to introduce the silk again as a background, but I have no idea of the color yet.

Heck, just designing each block is challenging.  I have a couple that I sort of hate.  They seemed like a good idea until I stitched them.  Here are two more that have been laying on the rug for 3 weeks waiting for that OK...
 I thought I wanted that soft pink outer row, but maybe the deep pink flames will be better?!
 Or this one...Pink lollipop trees...
 or not?...
 I think that this is the layout I will go with, but until it is stitched into a quilt top, it is anybody's guess.
This week has brought another wonderful thing...and this is along the topic of this post, Hexies (this was made from the elongated Patchwork of the Crosses hexagons).  My quilt Bouquet Royale (Hexie experiment #1) won Best of Show at HMQS...the Home Machine Quilting Show in Salt Lake City this week.  I was shocked and elated - this is a big show, over 300 entrants.
The show kind of gave it away the day before when they insisted that we figure out how to face-time me in during the awards ceremony.  They said that I was receiving a "nice award".  I figured it was either this or the Solitaire award.  Sure wish I was there in person to receive that jumbo-sized check!!
Have a fun week!

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

May

May is here and finally is is nice to be outside.  Our weather has gone from 40's to 70's in a matter of 2 weeks.  It's pretty nice out there.

But, I am stuck inside for a few more weeks, at least most of the working part of my day. I have client quilts to quilt off before school lets out 7 weeks from now.  Here is one of Erin's.  I get her's by the box-full.  This was actually one of the last ones, but then she needed to send me a piece of backing and decided to send 7 more in the same box!  LOL - gotta love clients that quilt that prolifically.

This is a very simple 48" panel wall-hanging that she wanted to have a custom touch to.  I quilted it with a pale gray YLI polished poly thread.  It looks kind of like a silver metallic.
 (next pic is sideways...) I added simple flowers onto each corner to bring out that shape of the flowers in the panels.  Each border and sashing is quilted, and the panels have a free-hand fill.
 Printed panels are always a little challenging as to how to quilt them, but this seems nice and effective.
This is another of last week's quilts.  These are 2-7/8" squares, so that is a hella-lot of sashing.  I spent SO many hours ditching the sashing - something like 6.  I know it sounds insane, but there are reasons why it is so slow.  Information for piecers - If you want to make a top that can be more expeditiously quilted, please be careful to have rows of sashings be as straight as possible.  Also, and probably more important, be sure that seams all press neatly in one consistent direction.  When ditch goes from one side to the other, the quilting must be slowed to keep as close to the ditch as possible. All said and done, this looks good, even if it was slow stitching.   
One challenge with quilts with small squares is what do you quilt in them?...There are 180-200 of these squares.  They really don't need excessive quilting, and in light of the cost, I didn't want to have 200 stop and starts either.  I opted to go with the orange peel design.  It is simple, clean, and fast.  Who am I kidding?...this was not fast!  I was just seeing if you were really reading this!  Orange peels are a nice pattern for a repetitive design.
 One more look-see...
 One day before I took off for Paducah, I quilted up this silk sampler. It is a sample piece in silk (please pardon my less than great piecing, as my silks are not interfaced and were very shifty).  I have stitched a bunch of fillers that will be the topic of an upcoming article.
Next time, I will show some of my finished hexagon blocks.  I have nearly 8 done now!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Last Month's Quilts

This is certainly not all of the client quilts I have done in the last month and a half, but a sampling of those that I actually photographed.  I was busy and away for 2 weeks, so who knows...maybe there weren't many more!

This was sent to me from a lady in NY.  The piecing is pretty and fall-like.  She chose this leafy allover panto, and it is stitched in a rust colored Glide thread.
 She wanted an economical quilting that showed movement of the falling leaves.
This is from my great Iowa client Erin.  I have quilted many for her, and just did another one today, in fact.  She wanted a quilting slightly more than an edge-to-edge.  It has this pretty flower fabric reminiscent of a vintage sheet.
The triangles are free-handed with continuous curves.  The floral triangles got a version of organic feathers (feathers, leaves and swirls), and I stitched the tan background with a ribbony filler.  The thread is a soft pink Glide, so it shows nearly everywhere in varying degrees.
 Lastly, Jean, one of my many California clients, sent me this.  I did her autumn quilt in February, so it is only fitting to do Christmas in April, right?!  It doesn't scream Christmas, but is clearly for the winter holiday season.  One thing that most of my California clients have in common is they do beautiful applique.  This is no exception.
 I used a soft ivory and baby blue So Fine thread on this.  A few areas were SID with a monofilament too.  Backgrounds were whimsical and flowy.  There are a few places I quilted holly and berries, but I wanted the references to the holidays to be as subtle in the quilting as they are in the applique.


 The winter scene above is my favorite - love this cardinals.
It is now home to Jean, along with the other quilt I did for her.  She's happily binding both.

I have been hand piecing away on the hexagons, and hope to show some of that progress next post. It's at that "very interesting" phase of a new project when it is difficult to tell where it is going!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Paducah

The AQS Paducah show is still going on, but I am now home.  It was a whirlwind week of traveling to and from Kentucky.  I am happy to have a down day to sort through dirty laundry and new fabrics. Yes, I fell off the wagon big-time in my quest to make a new quilt without buying anything new.

I want to thank each and every one of you that took the time this week to leave me a message on the last post.  They really helped.  I left on the trip this Monday in a lackadaisical funk, not really wanting to go, but the messages, as well as the things many people said during the trip boosted my spirits.  I had nearly half a dozen people recognize me from my blog Tuesday morning as I was shopping at Hancocks of Paducah.  Yup...8:15am, minding my own business in a fabric store!  Every one of them gave me reassuring comments.   You all are so very kind and for that I am grateful.  The day of wandering around anonymous is gone. Many, many strangers recognize me.  I'm still getting used to that feeling.

This was a time of fun discovery for me.  A month or so ago, AQS contacted me asking for permission to use an image of my Shenandoah Falling quilt in some of their Paducah advertising.  I said yes.  A few weeks ago, I saw one of the ads in the magazine.  It was intriguing because it was a photo of a quilt  sort of accordion folded (not the typical flat quilt photographs).  Whatever...it was their image to use as they wanted.  Then...at the show I discovered it was on a flier for a summer show.  And, it was on the cover for the Awards program.  And the actual show book.  So I'm thinking that this is pretty cool to this point, but then I discover the next 2 places it was used...
It's the backdrop for this huge over-street banner in downtown Paducah, as well as this billboard sign! Yes, how many quilters can say that their quilt was on a road billboard?!? WOW

I arrived (gain with my daughter Sophie) om Monday.  The awards was Tuesday night.   It's more nerve-wracking not knowing ahead of time that you are getting anything, especially when there are more big-name entrants than I have ever seen.   All their other shows, they call the winners to notify them.  This show was stacked this year.   I got to talk with judge Scott Murkin before the awards about what it was like to see all of these great quilts, in one room, and to touch (yes, touch!) them.  I can only imagine the experience.  Not once did he let on that my quilt was getting an award.  Then again, he's not supposed to !  I was overjoyed  when they got to 1st place on the wall/longarm quilted and this was mine!  The quilt is hanging in a great spot, and looks lovely.  So proud.
Let me tell you - Paducah may have had a ton of big name quilter's quilts here, but plenty of people I have never heard of won ribbons.  Sadly, on the flip side, many of the well-known greats did not ribbon at all either though.  Where else can the BOS at both Houston and Road to California, two of the great shows in the US, go without a ribbon?!?  Very interesting.

Though I took several photos, I will only show a few here.  This quilt won the Best Home Machine Quilting award for larger quilts.  I have never heard of the maker, but it's fetching, and different.   
 The detail stitching on the feathers is beautiful.  I think this was the year of the feathers for me.
The BOS was the applique quilt by Karen Kay Buckley, quilted by Renae Haddadin.  This pair won this top award 2 yrs ago also.  I have showed this quilt here last year.  No big surprise that it took top honor.  The quilting just rocks.
 Miniatures are not in my future.  I think that these are 1/8" HSTs on this!
 This is David Taylor's winning quilt.  More feathers... It is Home machine quilting category for the wall quilts.
 His feathers details...
 Another first place from the wall quilts...and another bird. Crane or Heron, I presume.
The feathers, though different, were equally as intriguing.  I wonder how the ravely fabric wears with time.
One last day of school vacation, plenty of wash to do, a few errands, and finally the sun is shining outside.  Hopefully you are still in Paducah enjoying the quilts!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Social Graces which Social Media Lacks

Where to begin.  Good question.  This past week seems like such a confusing mess still.  Apparently I offended a few people with my MQX post to the point of no return.  After several days of ignoring it, I took the post down Friday.  It goes against my grain to do this, but I have no earthly desire to make people I consider friends so obviously irate.  It's still "around" out there in the cache.  On a larger note why do some people allow themselves to get so involved into other people's business?   I want to scream to just go live your own life and stop slamming mine on social media to make yourself feel better.

To answer your question (and that is the rhetorical "you" that instigated this mess)...Why do people enter 3 quilts in quilt shows?  Does this really need answering?  Why do some people go to work and teach? Or be a nurse or a secretary? or go wherever you go during the day?  Good grief it ought to be an obvious answer, but somehow I am forever dragged into the muddy pit over the choice of doing so.  Plain and simple, it is a job.  Yup, a J-O-B, job.  Yes, I make quilts because I love the process of doing so.  But at the end of the day, I have 3 kids that need to eat, need clothes, need a house paid for each month.  I don't have a company-paid 401K anymore; I have to save for retirement.  See where this is going - It's a job.    Some people enter one or two, or yes, even three quilts at shows because they love to show their devotion to their craft.  And yes, I do it for that reason too.  But at the end of the day, any quilting time I spend not quilting for clients, I choose to spend working on other income-producing quilting endeavors.  

When this question was posed, I suspect it was just to be snotty, or as a disconnected segue for the main gripe.  My post apparently offended someone beyond the point of no return.   Let me get this off my chest now.  If you come to my blog and do not like or agree with my remarks, you do have a choice.  Nobody is forced at knife-point to read this blog, or to agree with everything said.   If you feel I have offended you, please do the grown up thing and just email me politely.  I am not difficult - I will very likely alter what is offending you.  My goal is to educate not alienate, honestly.  Rest assured, that being offensive is the farthest thing from my mind.   Going  to social media, however,  and slam-basting me there for something I wrote here is immature.  What is wrong with people that they cannot just speak to one another like civil adults anymore?  Facebook has become people's "bash your reputation with a stick" media.  Shame on you.  I am sorry if my words of 5 days ago offended someone, but seriously, it was not written as  a personal attack on anybody, not was it conceived as some way to make myself seem better, as you noted.

I did give a commentary on the last post of some of the quilts.  Never once did I EVER say that one of them was not worthy of what they earned, or that one was ugly, or whatever you think you may have read.  I know the makers and certainly respect them for their style, their skills and their quilts.   I respect how the three judges of the show chose to place the quilts, right down to their choices of selecting other quilts above my own.  I know this process well enough by now, and if there is ever a judge (or judges) that I trust, it is the ones MQX uses.  If you dislike that I disagree with the category in which the BOS was entered - so what.  Let's face it, that quilt is not a Daily Bed quilt.  It is higher end -- more detailed, more intricate, just plain more.  And it's creative and interesting and unique, as I said, and was slammed for.   I made remarks about the difficulty of quilting on heavily printed fabrics, how they are lovely in a quilt design, but challenging to quilt on.  The quilt shown has fantastic quilting, and I just longed to see it more.  Another quilt was stitched all in metallic thread -- it seemed like an unlikely choice to me, but (as is the case at most shows) the education was to show that it can be used effectively, even on a traditional quilt.  This is not derogatory, as I suspect it is being perceived.  Brown and other dark colors are very hard to quilt on and just as hard to have your quilting show.   When you quilt as beautifully as Jan, you want the quilting to show.  She has mastered use of metallic thread.  In my naive bliss, I rarely use metallic.

The beef was over the few comments made about the peacock whole cloth quilt.  It's a friend of the person who made this who went off the deep end with me.   Hell, it's made by a person I would have called a friend until this fiasco blew to Pluto and back.  Like the other quilts I showed, this one is amazingly beautiful too, AS I ALSO STATED.  Did I note that I hated that scalloped, beady one-of-a-kind edging?  NO.  Did I comment that the quilting was messy? NO.   No derogatory comments were intentionally made.  What the frig is so offensive here?  I made a note of the busily printed backing, which a white-glover showed to others as I happened to be passing by.  Something in me was just dying to see detailed stitching as she pulled back a corner.   I was surprised by the print. Just surprised.  Though my large quilt has a print, this is not my norm.   I simply commented about this one.  A comment.  Not a poke.  A comment.  For what it is worth, I enjoy and respect this particular quilter and her beautiful art quilts. She has a lovely, and creative viewpoint.

I want to go read a blog and not just see pictures.  I want it to give information and opinions about choices that were made.  It should be educational.  So many quilters out there have absolutely no idea about thread and batting and backing.  I get many comments from readers about the educational content of this blog; I don't intend to go back to anything else.   To interpret the last post as "Bitter quilter has nothing better to do that slam-baste the competition" is ludicrous.

I know I have come under scrutiny of being overly opinionated now and then.  I caught hell from several people after Houston.  I'd like to say I am sorry for sharing too much of what I was carrying around.  I had a personal moment at that show, and I let it show too vividly.

I am fine with quilters not agreeing with everything that another might have to say.  The time has come, though, for people to get out from behind this semi-anonymous social-media persona they have and deal with things first hand.  The cowardly bashing of something you may have misinterpreted has to end.  If something seems offensive, just say so, directly TO ME.  If you wouldn't say what you post on facebook to you neighbor, face-to-face, why would you say it there? We are all guilty of having days when the shit's just hit the fan and we snap and write something that we shouldn't, but this is too far.  If you think something is inappropriate, ask me about it, and  Grow Up.

Rant over.


Monday, April 06, 2015

Bouquet Royale goes to Show...Here's a look at the Making of it

Some of these pictures may well be repeats of another post.  My 3rd 2015 show quilt, which I named Bouquet Royale (after many agonizing weeks of wanting to name it something else which was a name by another quilter), is currently at MQX.  It is undergoing that scrutinizingly nerve-wracking judging process today which all too often leaves me here at home useless and unproductive.  Then again, the fact that I am leaving for MQX tomorrow does that too!  Anyhow, since I will know in a couple days how this quilt faired, and because the judges are essentially done with it, I am posting some "making" pictures about it.

In October 2013, about a week before I took off for Houston, I pulled these fabrics out of my stash. Clearly, I supplemented this stack with several others, but all prints are large-scale florals -- some Kaffe, some Philip Negley, Westminster, etc.  They are happy prints that I really love, and just didn't know what to do with.  A few weeks before starting this I had either quilted or was prepping to quilt a client's POTC (patchwork of the crosses).  I don't know what in me snapped to make me think I wanted to make one, but I did. 
 I drafted the elongated hexagon pattern to yield a 1" - 1-1/2" hexagon (it finishes to a 8-1/4" square), and decided to make these interesting, they'd be fussy cut.
Fussy-cutting makes for a ton of waste (below!), but it makes the design.  In some cases, I found that 1/2 yard of these large scale prints didn't even yield 8 identical pieces!  If you look closely, there may be times that one of the 8 are not quite identical.  Life goes on!
Here's some of the blocks...I had the Foxgloves in 3 colorways.  This chartreuse became a key color as the quilt evolved.
 The other color I love, is the orange/coral...or perhaps it is the combination of it and the purple that is so appealing.
 I didn't start this with a plan of any sort.  No design, nothing!.  I cut out blocks to hand stitch 25 of these.  Yea, I forgot to mention that these are all hand stitched - and not in the conventional EPP way (like what I showed a week or so ago).
 This next shot was about January 2014.
I can remember playing with the layouts during the February Olympics last year.  That is all 25 blocks finished, but they are not set in the silk yet.  Every one of these had silk triangles hand stitched to make them square.  That was fun (choke, choke!).
 Here are the center 9 -- yes the layout shown above was changed to place the orange/coral blocks near the center.  You know me, I can't choose a nice, easy 5x5 layout!  It would be too simple boring.
 Square corners?...nah.  Let's hand stitch some silk scallops.  LOL.  Actually this is reverse appliqued, so the green (which is a tighter weave like a batik) was what I appliqued.  Easier than it may look.
This green fabric, to this day is kind of my "doubt" of this quilt.  It coordinates very well with many of the greens in the blocks, but it still gives me consternation, and wonder if it really belongs.  It was hard to quilt because nothing shows easily on it.  I decided that was OK, because the quilting would show most visibly on the silk.  I'd need places to hide crap!

This layout shot is from late May 2014.  The center section is a unit, and there are 4 corner units, but no borders or applique yet.
 But I did have a plan!...I had sketched these "ribbons" and envisioned them being expertly appliqued in shades of hand-dyed green silk.  Slap me, I must be dreaming...Appliqueing the silk Radiance is not impossible, but it takes forever.   I had the right colors of silk - they had been bought as 2 gradient packs from Houston in 2013.  Problem was that I used much of them in a previous small silk quilt (go back a couple months to see The Jester's Folly).  I contacted Color By Hand in Newport, KY - for once I had kept a shop's contact info!  They are wonderful if you ever want custom dyed fabric, especially silk or sateen.  It took about a month, but I was fine because I knew these were the colors I needed.
I spent all summer hand appliqueing the green ribbons to the top - 56 ribbon pieces.  Silk does not let you hurry.   Not perfect, but done.
And if that was not enough, I decided it needed to pull the deeper coral color out to the border, so I added the very narrow shoe-string bows at each corner. Those were fun...tee hee.  Much to my surprise it was still pretty flat and square.  Can't say that happens on every one of my quilts, especially those mostly made by hand.  And this one was -- The 9 center blocks were sewed together by machine, as were the corner blocks, but everything else was done by hand.  At one point I added up the hours for just the top and it was over 400 hours, which is not really surprising.
So...we all know that nobody shows just a top at a quilt show.  This bad-boy needed to be quilted.  It is quilted with a cotton/poly batt and wool.  It also is stitched with 40wt Glide and silk threads.  Silk is for the areas I just want the texture, and Glide is for when I want to see that color a little.
********************edited to add******************
Note that this quilt was a guinea pig of sorts, in that I decided to try a Pellon wool batting.  I had read Kim Brunner used this and raved about it.  Normally I use either Hobbs or Quilter's Dream wools. Listen carefully - avoid that Pellon crap at all cost.  It bearded fiercely.  I thought I was going to cry.  It showed as it bearded through the dark green fabric.  I needed half a lint roller to get it ready to send and I still don't know how much more has migrated through since.  I still need to contact Pellon because this is flat out unacceptable.  It is a soft. pliable batting, with nice density, but bearding is a definite show stopper for me.************************************

Without further adieu, here is Bouquet Royale - all bound and ready to go.
Closeups...the silk fabric doesn't ever let down when showing of great texture.  This is the center. Because the central part of the quilt is really a 9-patch of blocks, I needed to do something to set the real "center" off.  I used the 4 green setting squares sort of, but also, the quilting around the center block differs from others.  All stitching here with the exception of the linear linework on the champagne silk is done in the Glide - Prickly Pear was the color, which is a chartreuse shade.
All 25 of the blocks were quilted similarly.  I designed this quilting to draw away from the fact these are hexagon blocks, and attempt to make them look more floral.  There is a flower at the centers, with leaves coming off next.  The cross-hatching is textural, but represents the spider web of the garden. The quilting design of these is complex and I believe it gives them a pretty finish.
 
A finished corner...
At times, it felt like a game of "how much thread can I stitch".  This is an 80" quilt, and it has been a couple years since I have wrestled something so large.  They definitely take a long time!  The intersections of the blocks (above) got tiny silk circles hand stitched after the quilting was started. These are not a coverup, but an after-thought.  This section after I quilted it just reminded me of those old-fashioned silk pillows with tufted buttons.  I may change out the purple circles to champagne silk too (just didn't get around to it!).  I don't know what else to say about the quilting...It is all original designs, hand guided, and by all means I will absolutely NEVER do that parallel lne crap ever EVER again.  Or if I do, it will be on some funky angle, and not in a space with non-parallel pieces, where the quilting must appear parallel!
Here's a shot of the crazy border.  It's 11" at its widest point.  Next time I will not choose such a well matched green.  It was hard to see what I was doing.  Except for the stitching of the flowers (which do have silk centers), it is silk.
 Last pic...piped and scalloped binding.  I shouldn't even admit how long this took, but I will anyway...To make the piping, prepare the edge and attach the piping and binding...12 hours.  To hand stitch the binding down to the back...another 25 or so.  Insane.  And then it required another blocking to get it to lay properly.  Hopefully, but hopefully, I will see it hanging nice and flat on Wednesday. Fingers crossed.
I have no idea how this will do, nor do I know what other good quilts are in this same category.  I am just anxious to get some trustworthy feedback on the quilt.  I know it is unique and different, and hope it will be received with the same joy with which it was made.  Come to MQX and see this, as well as my other two that are at the show.