Monday, January 26, 2015

Quilting Play

With new focus I spent my two quilting days off determined to make significant progress on the dahlia quilt and Vintage Charm.  Instead, I gave myself a stomach ache and a bit of a complex.  Welcome to my slightly bipolar relationship with my quilts!  GAH!  I don't know if it's pregnancy hormones but I was just so frustrated and upset this morning.  I am feeling quilters guilt - I have several intense projects that I've been working on that I have tied up a lot of time and money in and I want so much to finish them.  I won't say that they won't be completed - but I as much as I want to be into them - I'm not.  It's not a joyful experience...and have you ever noticed to create good quality work you have to really enjoy it?  At least that's the truth for me.

In any case I think I needed a break.  I needed to relax and just have fun.  My strength is quilting and playing  at the sewing machine is where I find real happiness.  So I pulled out some scrap fabrics and scrap batting and Glide thread...

...and finally had some fun!  This is some of the purple fabric I hand dyed two summers ago.  There are spots of blue interspersed with purple...the back seems to have more blue than purple so it's really fun to look at both sides of this little experiment.

The purple and gold piece was actually the second portion of play.  I began using scraps of green fabric from my dahlia quilt to see what it might look like if I attempt to create a lacy quilting pattern using black Glide thread.  I love the look - and I think I love the quilting more than the dahlia quilt top.  I am unsettled about that quilt top.  I don't know what I will end up doing with it - I'd really like to finish it, but time will tell.

After having such a frustrating morning where I really felt like I was forcing myself with a quilt - this was almost a relief.  To really enjoy myself and enjoy the outcome.  Tomorrow I have a house to clean (yick) and a client quilt to work on (yay!) so I will set these aside for a bit.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

My Quilt Hanging at R2C and Thoughts on Quilt Shows

   Thanks to Barb from The Quilt Show forums I can share a photo of my quilt Emerald Tapestry hanging at Road to California!  I was really over the moon to be accepted into this national juried show.  No ribbons to share, but lots of experience was gained.

   I have read and talked about showing quilts a lot over the last few years.  I find there are lots of opinions on the subject!  Sometimes folks say - "well winning ribbons isn't everything".  They are right, it's not.  But I tell you what.  I'm not ashamed to say that, yes, I would like to win.  A ribbon, some acknowledgement, something is always the goal.  I don't think that's wrong or greedy or selfish.  It's what makes me strive to do better.  I work better and harder with a goal in mind.  With a level that I want to achieve.  I don't HAVE to quilt this way - but it's the way that I find gratification in what I do.  So yes, every time I enter a show of course - I hope for a ribbon!  But I also am not going to cry because I didn't get one.  I was really reminded of this fact with this show in particular as one of my most admired quilters didn't get her quilt juried in.  I'm baffled at why - because if we're being honest her quilt was a hundred times better than mine.  For whatever reason her perseverance motivated and humbled me...and also really made me appreciate how lucky I was just to have my quilt included.

   The quilts in this show were amazing - and I think the judges comments were spot on.  I was given compliments on my quilting skill, use of beading, crystals, and surface design to enhance the quilting.  The biggest criticism?  That the design was unbalanced.  I completely agree.  This was honestly an unplanned spur of the moment quilt that I was so happy with the end result I decided to show.  But - I can see it - and to hold it next to some of the winning quilt you can see the difference immediately.  The winning quilts were impeccable - every detail was shown attention.  To date, I haven't necessarily been able to take something constructive away that could really help me from all of the comments I've received from shows, but the comments this time around really did help me.  If I'm serious about making a high quality quilt that can stand next to some of the most amazing quilts making their rounds in the big shows...then I am really going to apply what I have learned to the next quilt.

   What do I take away from all of this?  Striving to do well in shows has helped me to look at my quilts more objectively - void of emotion.  That's so much easier said than done.  When we finish a quilt that took a year to make we are in love with it.  It's a piece of your soul.  It's hard to look at it and break it down and see the flaws for what they are.  My struggle to date is that I'm still new and green.  So I learn tremendously with each quilt - and often times, by the time I reach the end of a quilt...I've grown so much that my skill has moved beyond what displayed in that quilt...and I see it only for its flaws!

   I'm also learning the value of - do it right or not at all.  The winning quilts are not ALL without flaws.  But there is a reason for the win.  Be it overall design...detail...workmanship...I am starting to see them a little differently and learning to break things down in the necessary ways to improve what I am doing.  It's not about comparing myself to others - it's more about, learning from others success and applying things to my own work to help me do my very best work on my OWN quilts.

   I have been so tired from pregnancy and maybe a little worn down from the quilts I have been working on.  It's been difficult for me to focus.  This whole experience helped me to focus a little more on my ultimate goals.  I have at any given time about a dozen quilts in various states of progress...right now I have two quilts that were intended for show in a bit of a stand still.  My goal for 2015 is to finish both Vintage Charm and my newest quilt that has been on hold since last spring and show them both.

   Here are a few photos of the quilt that has yet to be named - it's almost finished but I just was at a halt for the longest time.  All that is left to do is a little more bias tape and a few appliqué pieces to be added and it will be ready to quilt.   I think my word for 2015 will be

F-O-C-U-S!!!  :)

This quilt has lots of open space for quilting - and I'm learning from the big quilters that details count, so I'm paying attention to every nook and cranny of this one!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Joyce's Civil War Repro Quilt - Finished!

I am not going to lie.  I'm exhausted.  This quilt took about double the time I anticipated - but I did enjoy every moment and it was well worth the extra effort.  :)  Every knot was tied and buried...I took a lot of extra care.  This is fellow long arm quilter and friend Joyce's quilt and I learned today that not only does she intend to show it, but it will be an family heirloom.  What an honor to be part of such an important quilt!  I am thrilled, honored, flattered, just over the moon that I was asked to work on it.  I hope I did her beautiful piecework the justice it deserves.  :)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

More of Joyce's Quilt in Progress

Moving along on Joyce's quilt.  It's been such a hectic January.  Sick kids, sick Mom, snow days!  Hoping to be done with this one today - or early next week at the latest!  

I am anxious to get it in good lighting to show all the texture...and take a good photo of the back.  I have to go back and fill in the appliqué yet, and the sashing.  It's going to be a stunner!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

APQS Ultimate 1 For Sale

No - it's not my machine!  I adore my long arm!  My good friend Marci is selling her APQS Ultimate 1 (which if you hadn't guessed is the SAME machine I have!) and I am sharing for those quilting pals of mine who've been thinking about a machine.  I am just going to copy and paste her ad details below the photographs - leave a comment or email me if you want her contact info, I check my email several times a day and will pass on her contact info (or yours) right away.  :)

I will say that the machine has IntelliStitch which is a real bonus - all of my work is done on an un-regulated machine and I just dream of the things I could do if only I had that stitch regulation!  :)  She's also got a lot of goodies going with it...

"For Sale: APQS Ultimate I Longarm quilting machine with M and M wheels on a 14 foot frame. 1990, 26" throat, 4 rollers (currently configured with three on top and one used below for batting on a roll. This it's easily changed to your choice of configuration.) I do a partial float of my tops in this setup. Machine has been upgraded with the Intellistitch Stitch Regulation ($3200 cost) and gone through. Upgraded M and M wheels added with a couple extra ones on hand, also. It also has the laser light in the back, but the cord is long enough to also mount for front use. Runs and stitches wonderfully. Will include rulers, thread, pantographs, stencils, extra tools, needles, aluminum bobbins, some batting, Microdrive Handles, extra extender handle on the panto side for ease of handling machine, Horizontal Thread Holder, Hartley Extended base plate and rulers, Hartley Fence and complete 1/4" thick acrylic stencil set that goes with it ($500 value), panto side acrylic tabletop on steel frame, LED puck lighting under the neck. Selling as one complete starter setup. $7,200 PayPal. Serious inquiries only, PM for further info. (Can provide more pics, these are what I had on phone upon posting.) Located in NE Iowa."

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Exploration in - WOOL!

While I do always finish my client quilts - I cannot say the same for my own.  Despite that one will ever accuse me of not thinking up enough new ideas for projects!!!  :)  I really  need to take on something new like I need a hole in the head.  But when has that ever stopped me?

My new obsession...and one I think might stick around for a very long WOOL!  For those of you who have been playing with wool for many years this is going to be old hat to you.  I have avoided it for the longest time as it was just a bit out of my budget.  I am after all a stay at home mom before anything else, and I could not justify spending $25 a yard (or more) on wool fabric to "experiment" with.  Well, and also I find that wool takes a little bit of researching to become familiar with and how it behaves.  What I have discovered though is that wool is not as intimidating as I had originally thought - and that folks have been economically building and adding to their wool stashes for years in a way I hadn't thought of!

THRIFTING!  If you know me I'm kind of the yard sale/thrift shop queen.  I love a good bargain or rummage sale.  Who doesn't?  A quilting pal years ago suggested thrifting my wool from 100% wool garments - yet I was still intimidated by wool.  I really don't know what motivated me to go shopping but this past week I finally did pick up two wool jackets to play with for a whopping $4.

After some reading I realized - what is so scary?  Two things that put me off - felting and dyeing.  Felting as it turns out - isn't so difficult!

I am sticking with 100% wool - and from what I understand it can be any kind of wool, not just sheep's wool.  My rule of thumb is as long as it adds up to 100% it can be any mix of lama wool, camel wool, cashmere, or sheep's wool - anything that will felt and does not contain acrylic, nylon, rayon, or other synthetic fibers as they don't dye the same way as wool and they don't felt like wool.

So I bought my two jackets and proceeded to "de-bone" them in a similar manner to what Bonnie Hunter does with shirts for quilts.  Being jackets, I discovered both had a lot of this really tightly fused interfacing inside about 50% of the jacket.  A quilting pal on Instagram suggested I go ahead and felt those sections and that it may tear away.  I suspect it just depends on the particular piece and how well it's fused - unfortunately even after felting I couldn't tear that interfacing off...but I did save the scraps for experimenting.  As it turns out, when hand stitched down you cannot see the facing, and it even acts as a bit of a stabilizer.  So I think I'm safe to use those pieces so long as they aren't for the bottom of a penny rug or something where that unsightly facing might be seen.

I asked my friends and debated on saving the linings...but ultimately I did.  I don't know if I'll always save them but these are great colors that I might use for doll clothes or the linings of purses/totes.  They are just acetate - not a very expensive material to begin with but as a quilter you won't find me seeking it out at the fabric I'll just keep it on hand.

This was the result (below) of my de-boning...there was quite a lot more fabric with interfacing...I filled up an entire grocery bag of that as a matter of fact.  It won't look nice and pretty on a shelf but I'll keep it around.

I also saved the buttons....

To felt I washed in hot water and dried twice.  Below was my end result - it looks pretty felted to me!  Though I might experiment with a third wash and see if I can't get it any tighter...but after trimming it appeared to no longer fray which is my goal!

I wanted to be sure it would not fray with sewing so I goofed around and stitched a hand blanket stitch and french knots leave a lot to be desired.  I'm still new!  But I rubbed my hands over this pretty aggressively to see how it might hold up and it looks pretty good!  I am so excited at all the possibilities!!!

Of course I immediately the next day went to another thrift store and came home with more wool garments to felt!  This time I bought another jacket because I really liked the weight of the felt that resulted with the first two jackets...and I also bought a cashmere sweater to experiment with.  I suspect I might not like it as from what I have read it results in a thicker felt...but we'll see.  I mainly intend to use the wool for penny rugs, maybe try some rug hooking, and quilts.  I have been reading about how to dye wool too as it dyes a little differently than cotton...and I'm SO EXCITED to try it!  I'm going to go thrifting again this weekend for wool to dye and play with that next!  :)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Disney Swap 2015

Yesterday I took a break from scheduled quilts to finish my Disney Quilts Swap quilt!  Despite not being perfect and having a few hiccups - I am still very pleased with how it turned out.

I wish I could say it was my very best quilting but I have learned something about myself - I work better with a plan.  I winged it with this one and if I were to do it over again I would defnitely do some things differently.  I do try to do my best with everything I make - and I tried to make this little quilt something pretty - so I really hope my swap partner likes it!

Of course I quilted a wrinkle in the back (you can bet I'll be putting the label there) and some gunk came flying off my quilting foot and I can't get the darn spot out so - I'm going to use a really professional method called "stick something over it".  LOL  I thought I had seen some really pretty 3d butterfly appliqués at one of the craft stores...I think with this being so frilly and girly it will look nice.

I have discovered I ADORE quilting satin!  It's a little finicky on the domestic - this is small so I quilted it on the Juki....even with basting the slippery satin wrinkled on me and I didn't even realize I had stitched in a nice deep wrinkle until I was finished.  The deadline is Wednesday so I just literally don't have TIME to rip a label it is!  :)

I used my Derwent Inktense pencils to color in Ariel - and I actually traced this image onto the white muslin (with a few's actually a Christmas coloring page and had holly with berries and other Christmas elements to it that I removed) and just colored in the areas with fabric medium and ink.  I did go back and add black to the eyes which I'm not sure if I'm happy about or not - but there's nothing I can do about it now.  I don't think it's terrible...but I might have been better off leaving them blank and open!!!  LOL

The richness and shininess of that satin quilted is unbelievable to me.  I am really anxious to try this on the long arm with an even more intricate design.  This is a scrap that was gifted to me with a big box of miscellaneous fabric a year or so it's really lovely heavy - probably expensive dressmaker's satin.  I have toyed with the idea of quilting up some dupioni silk...but holy cow is that stuff expensive.  Until I have a really great quilt in mind...satin might be a great affordable alternative for me.  Very very lovely!  It also comes in more colors!

So this was a ton of fun.  Something different but still it has my style and taste in it!  I will take a snippet of the full package to share before I send it off.  My swap partner also likes Alice in Wonderland and Lilo and Stitch.  I bought a cute pin of Stitch when we were in Disney World back in September and also brought home some other goodies for her...while out and about today I might see if I can't find something of Alice to stick in with her little package.  :)

Happy Quilting!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Snippet of Joyce's Quilt in Progress

I feel like things are moving slowly this January - but in a good way.  After an absolutely crazy and hectic November and December, I am really enjoying the slow down.  I think part of it is pregnancy - I just move slower right now!  :)

Joyce's quilt is - magnificent - all on it's own!  I'm beyond honored to have been asked to quilt it for her - and to know there are many very good and talented long armers in our area, Joyce was asked to be put on my waiting list and has had this quilt ready for months for me to work on.  I'm feeling very special and doing my best to take my time, do it right - and do it justice.

I have grand plans for this beauty!  She asked for double batt and I think that was really a great choice for quilting definition.  I've layered Hobbs Tuscany Wool over Hobbs 80/20 and that always seems to give a gorgeous lofty look.  Wool also has this fantastic filling quality where it really fills out the quilting designs.  It is just lovely to work with.

I am using my new rulers that my Husband bought me for Christmas from Linda Hrcka of The Quilted Pineapple fame.  I'm thrilled with her new long arm templates - she is a fantastic quilter whose work I have admired for years.  When I first started quilting I would go to her web site and drool over her quilts - and try to emulate her gorgeous quilting.  If you haven't visited her blog before - prepare to be glued to your screen for a good portion of the day!  :)

I'm taking my time but moving along.  I am almost 5 months along now if you can believe it!  I am feeling good but definitely have begun to waddle.  LOL  Everything takes a little longer and I'm nesting terribly.  Looking forward to baby's arrival in a few short months!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

First Project of 2015!

Happy New Year!  Our little family rang in 2015 the best way it could - all cuddled in bed watching the ball drop.  :)  The littlest, as expected, didn't make it until midnight...but she held on strong conking out about 9:30-10pm.  The older two for the fist time stayed Daddy laid next to us sawing zzz's!

I did manage to sneak in some sewing time for me.  It's been slow going over the holidays with machine break downs, Christmas/New Year celebrations, and the awesome influenza that has hit everyone in the house in a matter of two weeks.  It really had us down and out too - I don't think I was able to do much more than a few small chores for 3 or 4 days when it hit me.  Finally we are starting to feel better and things are falling back into some semblance of a regular quiet life.  I love Christmastime - but I also love normalcy and ROUTINE!  :)

Here was my big project of 2014/2015!  You know that I am in love with my Accuquilt Go! because I detest cutting fabric for quilts.  D-E-T-E-S-T.  This is probably the biggest thing that prevents me from finishing quilts...I love to dream up fantastic quilts to make...but cutting and piecing them often becomes a tedious endless chore.  I like to QUILT the quilt.  :)  Anyhow - I'm going off a bit here...

My rainbow palette finally came out to play as I cut a few hundred hexagons in to various sizes.  The larger hexies I have plans for but the smaller are just extra I figured I'd cut and start adding to precut hexie piles.  Who isn't totally inspired but a stack of pretty precuts?  I am!

The smallest and medium hexies were set aside and the largest were cut from corner to corner to create six 60 degree triangles for arrangement play.  I have been piecing quilts for ten years and I cannot believe I haven't attempted a quilt like this yet!

I also discovered if I do not make one of the corner to corner cuts I could get two 60 degree triangles PLUS two diamonds!  Woohoo for lazy quilters!

I had fun arranging and playing with colors and values.  This is some arrangement play from cutting up only 18 of the 100 or so big hexie's I cut.  I wanted to get an idea for how big of a quilt I would end up with...I am going to lose a lot in seam allowances, but still, this covered a lot more space than I thought it might!  I'm going to make some room on the design wall for this today and see what happens.

My biggest goal for 2015?  Well I'm pretty confident that I am who I am and probably won't make any huge personality changes over the next year.  I'm a bit all over the place - I change my mind at the drop of a hat...I generally have more ideas and plans than I will ever accomplish in one life time...and I usually take off more than I can chew!  But that is me - chatty, wordy, scattered - but I'd like to think I'm also pretty fun and a decent human being for the most part!  So in 2015 I plan to continue on being ME!  ...and taking a little more time to smell the roses and enjoy the sewing that I love so much!