Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Few Client Quilts

So many things are happening in my world I don't even know where to start!  First, I have another article coming out very soon in Machine Quilting Unlimited.  This time I wrote about using pantographs, focusing quite a bit on ways for those of us hand guided quilters to use them more efficiently.  Some day I completely want a computer for my machine, possibly a second machine too - but for the time being I'm quilting those babies out as carefully and neatly as I possibly can by hand...with good results I might add that folks often cannot tell is hand guided!  That's definitely the goal for me.  :)

Here's one panto quilt I just finished up for my client Jane...the pattern is Scenic Bypass by Antler Quilt Designs.  It measures approxmiately 86" x 66" and we used Deja Vu by Patricia E. Ritter and myself for the quilting, Glide thread in Light Olive, and one layer of Hobbs 80/20 batting.

Originally Jane had requested a deep purple shade of thread.  I have a handful of purple thread on hand but none looked quite right so instead I suggested this pretty deep green to pull from the green in her fabrics, and also the green leaves on her backing fabric.  I think it turned out so great, now I cannot imagine if we had used another color!  I really like the blending look of the green in the lighter fabric, the only other shade I think would have looked equally as nice would have been a golden/honey color.

People often ask me what to use for their backings.  My suggestion is generally a medium tone (unless your front is all very dark fabrics) that will look good with whatever color thread is going to be predominant on the front.  I tend to use the same or similar shade thread in the top and bobbin, so you want something that will compliment the thread used to blend with the front.  Many times folks like to send an all white or all dark colored backing - this is fine so long as there isn't going to be a lot of backtracking and you don't mind high contrast thread against it.  No matter how impeccable my backtracking or how thin the thread, a couple of passes in white against navy blue is just not going to look as nice as a lighter blue.  While the quality of the quilting is extremely important, I have really learned that color choice and quality of fabric matter just as much for the best possible outcome.

In the case of Jane's beautiful quilt, I think the green really worked beautifully with both the front and back of the quilt - she chose well!  :)

Another recent finish that I have been itching to share is my client Michele's Gravity quilt!  Michele is the cousin of my neighbor and I'm super excited about the quilts she is going to have me work on as she is a big fan of solids.  To me that means I get to have some SERIOUS fun! 

I had been just WAITING for someone to send me one of these! I'm not sure if just quilting it has satisfied my urge to make one or not...there never seems enough time to make all that I want to make, and because I really get my kicks from making and entering show quilts I'm not sure how soon I'll actually get to it. This certainly was fun to play on though!

We used one layer of Quilter's Dream Cotton Select for this one as this is Michele's batting of choice.  We opted for Bottom Line thread in the top and bobbin in a light gray shade.  Her backing was a black and gray print so much of the detail shows best on the front.

I just cannot get enough of those colors!  There were a lot stretchy bias edge triangles to the outer edge of the quilt with this one but they did not give me much issue.  Luckily much of the quilting allowed for me to pull and extra fabric in and (hopefully) we tucked it hidden pretty well.  No pleats or tucks but some creative quilting happened here.  :)

The Gravity quilt pattern (by Jaybird Quilts) measured approxmiately 96" x 95". 

One more show and tell piece...this is Wanda's quilt.  The center pattern is called a Stargello and she created it using a Stargello ruler tool - the borders were added by guild members to create one beautiful and awesome quilt!

This one was somewhere around 85" x 85".  We used two layers of batting - I believe she sent Quilter's Dream cotton and I used a layer of Hobbs 80/20 overtop.  This one I approached a little differently.  I stitched in the ditch the entire quilt first.  Then I went back and filled in.  I have been hesitant to do that with quilts that do not have a significant amount of piecing in the past but I really think it made for a neater, crisper finish.

My favorite part is the quilting in this open space around the star...

I also really enjoyed quiltnig in the snowball border!  The sort of curly cue design was something different but really effective I think.

The back is where I think stitching in the ditch prior to adding filler quilting really made a difference.  If you look carefully the ditched lines show little to no backtracking - not because there wasn't any backtracking but because it was very little.  Long continuous lines were done all at once in one long smooth motion - where as often when you ditch as you go, things don't always line up and look neat.  The difference is small - but overall it really adds to the polished look of the quilting.

I think there are always things you look at after and say, "oh, I could have done that better or differently".  I'm pretty pleased with this one!

I have been so fortunate to work on some very lovely quilts lately!  I have started a new show quilt and I'll get to that in an upcoming post, along with some of my thoughts on MQX.  I did not place this year but I'm happy to say I DID receive a teacher's ribbon from Angela Huffman!  How exciting!

More to come...happy quilting!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Checking In - Sue's 30's Reproduction Quilt

I always tend to start blog posts like this - but so much has been going on around here!  I always have a quilt on the frame, usually some sitting in wait, and of course I have other projects in the works as well to keep me busy...but then we had Easter, spring break, and the entire house coming down with a stomach bug in the matter of two days!  UGH!  Hello laundry.  Not fun!  I do have another post full of pictures from the Lake Farm Park show but it is just a matter of finding time to sit and write a blog to go with it.  I like to give everyone credit for their quilts and it takes a hot minute to sort through photos and credits and all of that.  So for now I'll share some of the other things going on.

 This is one of two quilts that Sue sent me to work on for her - the more detailed quilted of the two.  I had a lot of fun with this and while we worked out some of the quilting plan beforehand she pretty much let me go to town.  :) 

Sue really likes feathers so I tried  to incorporate a lot of them!  I used my favorite custom thread Bottom Line by Superior Threads in the top and bobbin, and we again used two layers of Hobbs 80/20.

That polkadot flange was adorable but did NOT want to lay down.  I did try to help it along with ditching but it was a stinker.

I think my favorite part of the quilting is the curved cross hatching in between the log cabin blocks.  They turned out so pretty and I think they added a lot to the quilt.  I also love the pine trees and how cool it looks when the triangles made from flying geese are extended into each other.  I really gives added dimension I think to an already really cool quilt.

Another closeup of feathers...

I kept the majority of the detail in the white fabric.  As usual there is a patch I missed (so when someone spots it and emails me...) rest assured I fixed it!  LOL  Really, thank goodness for photographs to catch the errors! 

This quilt measured 97" x 105" and the backing was MASSIVE!  It took up almost my entire frame...and I can get 140" of quilt on my giant frame.  Above you can see a few little flower details I quilted in the baskets...I tried to keep with the cute theme of the quilt.  I really love how it turned out!

Next post I will share photographs of Wanda's Stargello - but you can get a sneak peak of it on the MQResource website as it was a featured quilt of the week on their forums last week.

Happy Spring and Happy Quilting!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Painted Daisies Essential Elementz Club Set

Look what's new?  I'm super excited that Painted Daisies by Patricia E. Ritter and I is the March club set for Urban Elementz Essential Elementz turned out SO cute!  I love these club sets because you get so many different options for them, and there is still time to sign up and receive this as your first set!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Exciting News and Lake Farm Park Quilts 2016 Post #1

My little business has grown exponentially this past year and boy oh boy is my schedule c-r-a-z-y right now!  Among other exciting news I have to share with you, I am currently arranging a number of speaking and teaching dates for 2016 and 2017.  I will share more on that here on my blog as contracts come in and official dates are booked.

Probably the most exciting news this past few weeks?  My first article for Machine Quilting Unlimited  has finally appeared!

I am so completely excited and even more thrilled that I am scheduled for two more articles and hopefully it is the beginning of more to come.  I have SO enjoyed writing about quilting and what an honor it is to have an article published in this magazine.  It really is the magazine for machine quilters.  I really really love what I am doing right now and the direction I am headed with quilts...and am feeling quite blessed!

In other news...

  ...Impermanence is going to MQX East!  This is very exciting for me because it is the very first full sized quilt of mine headed to an MQX show.  Well - full sized for me - which generally means large wall hanging!  I am thrilled and nervous and excited and all of the things that come along with being accepted into a juried show.  I entered in a different category than I have attempted in the past and I hope it was a good decision.  Today on my agenda outside of loading up the next client quilt I have in line will be to fix a few little things that the Road to California judges commented on.  Outside of that - it is just about ready to be boxed up once again and shipped off to another show.  Exciting!

   Now - I have been promising some photos from Quilts 2016 at Lake Farm Park in Kirtland, Ohio!  I may break this up into several posts as there were just so many beauties there and I took many photographs!

  This show is still going on for just a few more weeks and it is a must if you are in the north east Ohio area.  Certainly my favorite quilts donned loads of quilting.  It is definitely the trend in the quilt world and even in this regional show - quilts were stitched to the hilt!  Needless to say I drooled.  I have been saying for a decade now that every single year the quality of the entries get better and better, and this year was no exception.

 This quilt pieced by Harriet Treynor and quilted by Linda Sekerak was just an absolutely gorgeous quilt.  Wouldn't you love to have this displayed on your wall?  Just beautiful piecing, embroidery, and quilting.  These ladies really created something beautiful together. 

I really really loved the machine quilting on this simple quilt below pieced by Joyce Hillick Ely...and how funny when I noticed the quilter was also Linda Sekerak!  I think I like Linda's style! 

Look at that texture!  The border fabric is gorgeous too...and the judges were pleased as I spy a pretty ribbon hanging there. 

Now, I am not a hand quilter but look at this beauty pieced and hand quilted by Carol Morris...I couldn't help but take a photo.  It is absolutely lovely!

I took a hand quilting class from Carol years ago when I was still discovering my place in the quilting world and when I still had a quilt shop fairly local to me.  I still have the hand out she gave us!  She was a very kind and thoughtful teacher and I really enjoyed the time I had learning from her.  I always look for her quilts at the show and am amazed at the incredible patience she has.  Just gorgeous!

Now this quilt pieced and quilted by Joanne Fox - oh DROOL!  This was my absolute favorite quilt of the show.  Hands down!  The piecing is FABULOUS and the quilting...oh love!   

Gorgeous gorgeous feathering and cross hatching...and how creatively how she quilted the piecing.  Everything about it is just beautiful!

I told you this is a good show!  I didn't even see the little flowers in the quilting behind the name card there until just now!  There was quite a crowd around this one and so I had a hard time getting good pictures, but I managed these few...what a stunner.

I will save the rest for the next post...along with a couple of recently finished customer quilts that I have yet to share.

Happy quilting...and happy spring...almost!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Ellen's Wyoming Valley Star Finished - and I Won A Blue Ribbon!

Woooooohooooo!  Some days when I have work up to my ears I kind of want to sing "...another one bites the dust..." when I get a major one of those jobs completed!  This is another of Ellen's gorgeous quilts.  It measures 85" x 85" and it is the pattern is called Wyoming Valley Star (but I'm not sure the pattern maker).  I absolutely love the colors she chose - everything!  I had created a few mock ups for her but she found something online she really liked and sent me that photo - it was a beautiful example of a quilt finished with Bethanne Nemesh's fill called Nemeshing.  I adored the design she sent along and we worked together to adapt it to Ellen's quilt - the result I think is totally gorgeous!

We opted to use double batting again - that has kind of been the trend lately with these very heavily fancy quilted projects I have been working on, and I think it's a very good choice!  I recently read on Facebook of a gal who complained she had completed an immense amount of quilting on a recent quilt of her own but it didn't show up in normal lighting.  Double batting!  :)  Really, it works wonders in negative space. 

I used the round end of a ditch ruler and Linda Hrcka's swag ruler to create the scallops.  I marked the borders first while on the frame, quilted, then echoed the scallops.  I love the vintage lace feel this design gives!  I chose to quilt the blocks themselves very simply.  With all that quilting in the white I just think they didn't need to compete with each other...and quilting doesn't tend to show as brilliantly in dark colors the way it does in lighter fabrics.  The best part about this design is when you flip the quilt over there is a chain affect going on!

(Someone will email me about that spot I missed up there - rest easy - I saw it in the photos and fixed it before sending the quilt home.)  Below is a photo of the unfinished quilt.  I think the quilting really added femininity to the quilt.  I had a lot of fun with this one and I think Ellen was pleased with the result!

I used Bottom Line in Cream for the quilting - this is becoming my go to thread for client quilts.  It gives great texture without building up and though it's comparable in price to my all time favorite Invisifil for fills, it's a lot less finicky or prone to breakage.  Superior reps have mentioned something in the future that is supposed to be comparable to Invisifil that isn't silk -  I really wish that would happen soon! 

In other news, Thursday was the opening reception at the quilt show!!!  Woohooo!!!  Many friends were represented with quilts, won ribbons, and guess what?  I won a blue ribbon!!!

This is my friend Joyce's quilt - she won blue in her category!  Congratulations Joyce!  I quilted this one for her last winter, it's gorgeous!  I believe it is a Kim Diehl pattern she made in civil war reproduction fabrics.  It is just absolutely gorgeous and got a lot of attention at the show and also here on my blog! my shock, aww, thrill, and ugly green quilt won a ribbon!!!  LOL!  I am OVER the moon!!!  Not just a ribbon, a blue ribbon!!!  Ribbons are not everything I know I know.  But listen, when you work REALLY REALLY hard, it feels amazing to get that tiny little bit of validation.  It felt really really good!  My home show, the one all my friends and family will go to, and my little quilt has a pretty blue ribbon by it.  By golly that is a great feeling and I'm so so thrilled and honored!

I am not ashamed I am probably going to wear it in my hair!  I did hear a bit of whispering and complaining through the crowd about the judging.  I suspect this is not uncommon and I doubt it was limited to this one show in particular.  I have been a fly on the wall to many conversations about quilt show judging.  I will say I really really respect judges in general.  It has to be an incredibly tough job.  Not only is it hard to critique work - it HAS to be hard to know that some folks will not be pleased with your decision.  I'd like to think that most folks are fair and honest - judges included.  For what it's worth this show does use NQA certified judges (where will folks get certified to judge now that NQA is gone I wonder?) and some of the quilts that have won here have gone on to win at big national shows around the country.  My personal feeling - and I have been a big time loser at a number of good shows - it's a gamble every time but SUPER fun when you win - and worse things have been said about me and my quilts than "that shouldn't have got a ribbon".  So don't let a loss stop you from entering, and don't let comments get under your skin.  I think shows are super important for the growth and support of an art form.  I would have NEVER gotten into quilting to the extent I have if not for this show in particular.  It was the first time I was exposed to the quilt world as it is today.

I also ran into Cindi whose quilt is below - she walked up to me and said "Valerie?  I read your blog!"  Well guess what, I was a little tongue tied for a minute thinking "people read my blog?"  LOL!  I was so so so excited to meet you Cindi and how funny is it that your quilt was one of my ABSOLUTE favorites at the show!!!  Apparently the judges favorite too - look at that blue ribbon!!!  Congratulations!!!  I think you need to let me shop your fabric stash as those colors are totally up my ally!

Next post I will share more photos from the quilt show.  I haven't decided if I'll take another visit up there or not - it was a little tough to get all the photos I wanted as there were just SO many folks there!  It was a big and fun event.  If you're in the NE Ohio area Lake Farm Parks Quilts 2016 is now open and totally worth a visit.