On my longarm today….(a blast from the past)

I have a quilting bucket list and this log cabin quilt checked off one of the items on that bucket list.  Looking back helps gives me (re)inspiration for some of the quilts I’m making today.  In this log cabin, made entirely from scraps, I used a central red square, scrappy white/off white shirting, and darker scrappy logs.

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I loved quilting this on my longarm because I was able to use different quilting designs in each of the diagonal sections of the triangles.  I used a design by Kathy “Beany” Balmart at Quilty Pleasures from her Cascade bundle.

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I loved trying it out on my log cabin.  Designs like this would work really well on many pieced blocks which have strong diagonal lines across the quilt top.  Do you have one in your bucket list?

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On the longarm today…Swoon

I feel like I should be putting one hand on my forehead and one on my heart as I sink gracefully onto a fainting couch.  But, no, it isn’t that kind of a swoon, the quilt on my longarm today is made using the pattern, Swoon, by Camille Roskelley.  It is a wonderful pattern which is well written and easy to make.  There are many ways to quilt a Swoon quilt top and for, me, that is one of the challenges–because I want to try them all!!  For this quilt, I chose a block pattern from One Song Needle Arts which would lay nicely in the block, emphasizing the different segments of the block, and yet be a cohesive design.  I always try to add ways which cause a viewer to look at a quilt and find interest from across the room, from closer, and then from closer still.  One way to do that is to lay a quilting design on top of the quilt so that it doesn’t follow the piecing exactly, but it emphasizes it.

As I design a quilt layout, I look for designs which repeat motifs found in the fabric, in the piecing and/or in the applique.  For the Swoon quilt I noticed that several fabrics had circles, and that several had flowers.  I chose to combine several different flowers by Anita Shackelford for the sashing.

I was very pleased with the way that the quilting turned out.

Now is a great time to get started on Christmas gift piecing.  I can guarantee that any quilt sent to me for quilting in August will be quilted before Christmas (custom or edge to edge).

Have a great quilting adventure!!

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On the longarm today…A quilt finish…Allietare!

For the last many years Bonnie Hunter does a mystery quilt starting right after Thanksgiving and ending at Christmas. I’ve wanted to play along for several years, but this year I did it!  I kept up, mostly, until the last week when we welcomed out of town guests (my parents); my washing machine died; I discovered that my 1/4″ seam allowance wasn’t correct; and I needed fabric for the borders and backing.   Once the holidays were over, I took out the seams which were incorrect and found a black fabric with a hint of sparkle for the border.   Allietare!  means to rejoice and I’m thrilled to add this quilt to my collection.  Bonnie’s directions were very clear, even down to which direction to press seams, and I didn’t have any bulky seam intersections, which can be difficult for the longarm to go through.

Bonnie’s inspiration photos for the quilt and its color scheme which I mostly followed, were from her trip to Italy.  I also took a trip to Italy (as a student), so I chose my memories of the marble in churches and cathedrals as my inspiration for the fabric in the quilt. Many of the fabrics have a bit of metallic shine or luster like the beautiful mosaics I saw.  I was so impressed and surprised by the spectacular cathedral in Sienna, Italy, that I still remember it today, many years later.  The unique multicolored stonework, inside and out, was a great inspiration for this quilt–it kept me sewing through frustration (at myself) and it inspired me to be accurate and thoughtful in my design choices..  The fabric in the quilt is almost entirely from my stash, and with the exception of the black border.  (Un)fortunately, my stash still is too large–I will just have to make more quilts!!

Although I love to custom quilt my own quilts (and clients’ quilts too!).  I decided that I wanted to try to do an edge to edge design, but arrange the designs so that it would look like a whole-cloth design.  I really liked the Twisted Plumage design by Naomi Hynes.  The quilting lets the piecing take a starring role when viewing the quilt top, but the quilting certainly becomes the main event on the back of the quilt.

I finished the outside edge of the quilt with a wavy edge and bound it with a bias binding.

Enjoy your quilting adventures!!

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On the longarm today….An Antique Quilt top.

Each quiltmaker trusts me to enhance their quilt with quilting.  I feel both blessed to have that trust and a bit nervous as well.  I feel the nerves especially when receiving a vintage or antique top to complete.  I collaborate with my client to make several decisions about an antique/vintage top:

  • Is the fabric sturdy enough to stand up to the machine needle and thread?  Are the seams put together well? Are there areas on the quilt top which need to be mended?
  • Would the quilt top’s value as a historical artifact decrease if quilted?  If so, can I do something to stabilize it so that it’s structure will last?
  • Which quilting design would both respect the time period in which the top was completed and give a nod to today?  Many times economic factors prevent people having vintage/antique quilts from being custom quilted, is there a less expensive alternative which would still respect the original time period?

The quilt maker, who gave me this beautiful redwork quilt to finish, found these beautiful blocks among her grandmother’s things, including the block labeled 1932.  It is such a wonderful block to include in this quilt because it documents when the blocks were made along with the family history regarding the blocks and the maker.

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Redwork embroidery became popular just as the fad for crazy quilts was waning during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  Women entrepreneurs contributed to the spread of its popularity, both as pattern designers and pattern markers.  Mothers frequently purchased ‘penny’ squares, squares of cotton with a stamped design, to practice embroidery skills or to give to their children for practice.  As the 20th century progressed, designs were distributed in collections, such as States, Presidents, State Birds and Flowers, Fairy Tales, Colonial, and, of course, Sunbonnet Sue.  People collected the blocks and then placed them in quilts.  You can see more red work examples here.  There are also blue work quilts, embroidered with blue thread, over many of the same designs.

I chose to do a ‘Baptist’ (or ‘Lutheran’ or ‘Methodist’) fan pattern and quilted right on top of the embroidery.  Fortunately, I could quilt through the embroidery because it laid flat and tight to the background.    The fan pattern was frequently used was a very popular design during the 1930’s and throughout history.  It is one of the easiest patterns for a hand quilter to do because it requires little, to no, marking.  One simply uses the elbow as a pivot point on a compass to form the fan shape:Fan drawingTo hand quilt a fan start in the position indicated by the light pink forearm in the image above, continue moving the forearm, with the elbow fixed in place, until the forearm is in the position of the dark pink forearm.  Tie off the thread, move your elbow (stretching helps) and then place the elbow and arm to do the next line of stitching.  Machine quilting a fan is a little bit trickier because it involves either multiple tie-offs or tracing previously stitched lines.  On a domestic machine you can mark one of the fan lines and then use a walking foot to quilt it.  For subsequent lines in the fan use the walking foot guide to keep lines spaced correctly.  On my longarm the fan design requires a little extra set up and a quilt top which is square so that it begins and ends at the same points from side to side of the quilt.

Here is a last look at the darling bunny on the quilt.  I wonder if he will share those carrots?

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Have a quilty day!!

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On my longarm today…Scaling quilting designs

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I love quilting baby quilts and this sweet pattern with small Churn Dash blocks is no exception.  I wanted the quilting to reflect the vintage pattern and the retro feel of the fabric.  The blocks were 6 inches square, which is about half the size of a standard block (12″).  It would look funny if a quilting pattern designed for a 12″ block was used on a 6′ block.  In my software, Creative Studios 6, I was able to preview the quilting design.

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In the first example, the Butterfly and Flower design by Kim Diamond, is shown on the quilt top as if it were stitched out with the default size of 12″, notice how large the flowers of the quilting design are compared to the size of the block, and the individual pieces which make up the block.  In addition, the size of the flowers in the quilting design are approximately 10 times larger compared to the size of the flowers in the fabric.

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In the second example, the quilting is denser, but it is also more in scale with the block size and the scale of the prints.  I much prefer being able to preview how my quilting is going to look on my computer monitor and then hitting ‘undo’ than to quilt something out which I don’t like and taking my seam ripper out to undo it!

The finished quilt had a soft, ‘quilty’ look and feel–just perfect to wrap a baby!!

Have a quilty day!!

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On my Longarm today….Ditching

IMG_1885Ditching, or stitching in the ditch (SID), refers to quilting with stitches that are placed precisely in the seam.  SID comes from garment sewing where it is used in shoulder and collar seams to strengthen the seam and tame seam allowances.  It is a skill which I’ve practiced ever since I began quilting.  I started ‘ditching’ as a hand quilter, tried it a few times (not very successfully) on my domestic sewing machine, and I find it a necessary part of my repertoire as a longarm quilter.  The wonderful applique quilt on my longarm today has given me lots of practice with stitching in the ditch. The technique is an excellent way to stabilize the quilt, especially between borders or around applique.  It also shows off precise piecing and applique.IMG_1906

Good stitching in the ditch should disappear into the quilt.  In the photo above, at very high magnification, my stitches with a white thread disappear into the quilt.  The only thing that one can see is that the seam has definition and depth.

To SID choose a thread which is thin (I like 50 or 60 weight), with a color that blends well with the colors of the fabrics which are seamed together or a mono-filament thread.  Although many quilters love mono-filament for ditching, I prefer a matte thread in a blending color because I don’t like the shine of a polyester thread.  Although I have seen a shiny thread ditched in a star block which made the star appear to sparkle–gorgeous.

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Notice that the needle goes directly into the little ‘ditch’ next to the seam.  Perfect SID starts with piecing the quilt top.  It is necessary to make sure that you have a plan for pressing each seam and are consistent.  Do not have the seam allowance flip between seam intersections.  A top which is paper foundation pieced can be ditched because they are sewn and pressed consistently.

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To SID, I draw the seams on my computer with the quilting machine head, then I start the sewing machine.  This leaves my hands free to gently pull the seam  slightly apart as the machine quilts, making the ‘ditch’ larger and an easier target to hit.  If the seams don’t match perfectly at intersections, then my ditching will follow those unmatched ditches.  I find that concentrating solely on the needle gives me a version of ‘highway hypnosis’ so I usually focus my eyes on the ditch slightly before it goes under the needle.  I need to remind myself to take frequent breaks.  Eyes, neck, shoulders, back, and elbows get tired from this type of intense work.

 

 

SID quilting is necessarily slow work but it also has a meditative quality which I enjoy and it makes lovely quilts!!!

Please have a lovely and safe 4th of July, celebrate our country, enjoy your family and remember those who have fallen in service so that we may live free.

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On the Longarm today–a cup of Kaffe Fassett coffee

It is so much fun to quilt a quilt with beautiful color and fabric.  This lovely design is by Virginia Robertson Designs and it uses Kaffe Fassett fabrics with a purple Grunge background.  The challenge for me as a quilter was to make the applique stand out and to let the fabric be the star.

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I used double 80/20 Cotton/Polyester batting because I wanted the applique to pop out of the surface of the quilt.  I stitched in the ditch around the cups, handles and saucers.  I wish I had a magic wand which makes ‘ditching’ easier.  However, the real trick to getting the needle and stitches to go in the tight indentation between applique and background  is concentration and patience.  The next thing is to choose the right thread color.  Before starting to quilt I auditioned several thread colors:IMG_1867There are 4 different threads here–the first two are Superior So Fine, the next is Isacord and the last one is Aurifil.  I didn’t like the first and last because the purple was too red and they were really dark, I thought that they would fight with the maker’s fabric choices. The second one was too light and obvious on all the fabrics, although, if the quilt was going to be about the quilting it would have been a good choice.  The Isacord won–I had some trepidation about using it because I had never used on my longarm, but it worked beautifully and I had zero tension issues.

My next challenge was to find a quilting design which would make the background recede and would give it texture in a relevant way.  I found a coffee bean design by Mike Fountain at Intelligent Quilting.  I think it works really well as a background ‘meander’.

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I would love to have one of those cups filled with coffee every morning!!

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