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. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Ellen's Quilt in Progress

Just sharing a little progress on Ellen's quilt...

I am having quite a bit of fun with this on!  Ellen sent me a photo of a beautiful quilt she found on the internet heirloom quilted with Nemeshing filler.  We adapted it to her beautiful quilt and I'm so thrilled with how it is coming along!  This quilt is 84" x 85", we are using two layers of Hobbs 80/20 and Bottom Line in both the top and bobbin. 

Lots of other projects are happening but not a ton that I can share publicly just yet.  I am keeping busy though!  I did marathon this little baby quilt for Cindy this past weekend, it turned out so cute!  I wasn't able to get spectacular photos of it unfortunately as she needed it back in a hurry.

Nancy Donovan was kind enough to share some photos with me of my quilt hanging at Road to California also!  Do you see who I am hanging next to??  To the left of my quilt is 3rd place winner in my category Margaret Solomon Gunn's quilt entitled Ode to Spring.  To the right is Elizabeth's Butterflies by Corey Allendar who won an Honorable Mention.  Woot woot!  Congratulations to those talented ladies and yay for hanging next such beauties!

There is so much news to share I feel like this is becoming a real run on blog!  I am scheduled for two articles to appear in Machine Quilting Unlimited early this year so look for those!  I am over the moon thrilled about them as it is such an honor to have the opportunity to write for my all time favorite magazine.  I don't think it gets much better than that! 

I have a quilt hanging in a local show about an hour from me and the opening reception is in about two weeks.  I'm thrilled for that and hope to have good news to share!  This is my first time entering so it's kind of exciting to have a quilt at a local venue where I can actually see it hanging.  Woohoo!  Farmpark is always a really good show too so I will be sure to share lots of photos with you.  Until then!  Back to work for this girl!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Making of a Show Quilt

Road to California judging has ended and sadly there is no good news to report.  While I would be a big stinking liar if I said I wasn't at least a little disappointed, I truly honestly mean it when I say I am honored to know what amazing company my quilt will be hanging with!  Road to California is a pretty big and prestigious show - one of the largest I know of in terms of monetary prizes.  Of course, big awards usually mean - REALLY big famous amazing quilters.  The quilts you see in magazines and on quilt show brochures.  So I really feel amazing to have a quilt at the show among that great lot!  Maybe some of their good mojo will rub off onto my quilt...  :)

I do still plan to send this out to more shows.  How many and where will depend on how it does in the next few I have lined up.  Showing quilts is a bit of an expensive hobby!

I believe Road to California judges are chosen a bit differently than some of the other large shows and I'm still trying to decipher how they come to judging decisions.  I will say that to date on both of the entries I have sent in the things the judges weren't too keen on were things I suspected I might get dinged on.  I make every effort to listen with one ear open and try to look at a piece through their eyes.  Certainly at the end of the day I want to make something I am in love with, and I really love this piece, imperfections and all.  I am human and somebody has to lose, and to do so they have to find a way to eliminate someone based on something.  So to that extent, "negative" comments are not taken to heart but instead filed in the back of my mind as to what to pay closer attention to next time - in hopes that they have no more things to ding me on with the next quilt!  :)

If you have been following along I have been working on this quilt for more than a year and it has been on a journey in its own creation.  I pieced the center dahlia, I believe, shortly after I bought my long arm.  Gosh maybe it was before my long arm!  It was my first attempt with English paper piecing - and I have grown quite a bit in my piecing and applique skills since this tops creation.  Never the less I love the quilt and I'm glad I went ahead and completed it.

I made quite a few changes along the way as I am still discovering my voice as a quilter - what I like,what I don't like, what works, and what doesn't.  I had a number of revelations during the process.  I think I'm really on the right path to what kind of quilts I want to create.

I realized I love loud and bright colors - and traditional quilts.  I think in the beginning the quilt was a bit bi-polar.  You could almost see the artist in me saying, "who am I?  Am I modern?  Am I traditional?  Am I just a hot mess of fabric?"

Eventually it came together and I think the final result really embodies me, my style, and what I like to see and do as a quilt artist.  I feel like this quilt was my yellow brick road leading me along the path to really awesome fun creations.

I experimented TONS and tons and tons with quilting.  I drew out the quilting plan a bazillion times.  25?  50?  I have to go count to find the exact number but I have every trial quilting plan I made up on the computer and on parchment paper before quilting this.  I also hand made stencils for special areas of quilting that I kept in a file for future use/reference.

I know I was pregnant with my youngest, now 7 month old daughter Olivia when the actual quilting of this quilt occurred.  I had wanted to marathon quilt it during the last month of my pregnancy but alas - I was tired!!!  I did get to it early on after Olivia was born - I want to say by the time she was two weeks old.  Over the course of several weeks I completed it during her nap times.

More than anything I'm proud of the quilting on this quilt.  I am a better piecer than when I began, and definitely a better quilter.  I learned SO many things that I will take with me as I am working on my next show quilt.  I might love the back as much if not more than the front.

I used two layers of black Hobbs 80/20 for batting.  Threads used were Kimono Silk and Bottom Line by Superior Threads, and Invisifil for most of the black background quilting.  I had initially planned on quilting with black metallic thread but once I got going I just didn't like the way it looked.

Here are a few close ups of my final effort that resulted in the quilt entitled Impermanence.  This is my very first attempt at a real bonafied made for just for showing and sharing quilt.

I was very proud of the framework quilting around the dahlia and chose to paint it with metallic fabric paint to make it pop.  We have yet to see how this will play with judges in future shows and there was no comment of it shared with me from the Road to California judges.

What the judges liked were the quilting in which they said was "very well done", and they really liked the gradient colors.  They liked the curving scalloped outer edging and felt it added positively to the mood of the quilt.

I won't share what they dinged until this is done going to shows but I can share that I sort of expected it.  If they were going to get me on anything, I knew immediately what it would be.  Lessons for the next quilt.  :)

Another thing I need to consider next time is the category.  This was entered into Traditional Wall - I don't know where else I would have put it.  But then, a similar whole cloth style quilt I sent off to a regional show close to me was moved from the miniature category I entered it in to the special techniques category though it was very very small.  I do wonder if this would have fit better or would have even alified to be entered into another category.  It's tricky business as I don't want to take a chance of making a mistake resulting in disqualification but certainly I want the best opportunity for it to be judged.

I attempted for the first time a flanged binding...this was FUN and I love the way it turned out!  I will definitely use this technique again and I hope with even better execution on the next piece.  I love how this brings the colors out to the edge without interfering with the design of the quilt or the quilting plan.  What a lot of fussing this was I tell you - worth the work but it was WORK that's for sure.

The grayish blue painting on the outer edge of the quilt that looks almost like lace is where I wanted more of the quilting to stand out.  I think it added quite a bit to the quilt - without it the quilt would have been terribly bare because there is minimal piecing.  I think in the future this experience will really change my approach at designing the quilt top.  I learned that sometimes quilting is just not enough to fill up and add interest to negative space.  I will use this technique again I believe but now I know how I can refine it to make it even better.

Crystals were another addition that I think added quite a bit to the quilt but I know judges can have strong opinions about them.  Road judges made no mention of them but I think they did work well on this particular quilt.  I don't know, are crystals still showing up on show quilts or are they beginning to fade?  I hear mixed comments about them online and just don't have access to big national shows the way many folks do so I'm at a loss.  I like the way they looked - but also I'm still weaning myself from trying to incorporate every technique I have ever learned into one quilt.  RESTRAINT...this was a huge lesson in restraint for me!

All in all I think my first real grown up show quilt attempt was a success.  I'm so excited to share it at more shows and it has really motivated me to make progress on the next!  Surely I will share with you my thoughts and lessons along the way.  With luck, fingers crossed for me, this will head to MQX East next this spring.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Cindy's Border Creek Mystery Quilt - Finished!

My first customer quilt of the year is finished!  I feel like I am light years behind everyone though as I have noticed that some of my quilting pals have already pieced entire projects this year!  I tell you when a quilter wants something done...

Well I have accomplished quite a bit but less on my own projects than I have others.  Cindy sent me in December her Border Creek Mystery after seeing what I did for Jane.  What is funny is that this quilt really stumped me when I first saw it.  I thought I might faint when I learned I would need to quilt another one - and Cindy was very specific she wanted different quilting!  I think we did well here.  There are some elements that are similar to Jane's quilt but I still think we achieved a very different feeling.  I knew immediately I would want to do piano keys in the outer borders as sometimes these very large quilts get quite a bit of excess fabric in the borders and by the time we get to quilting them they need something to help them quilt out evenly and neatly.  Feathers also do a great job at this but since the borders were very narrow and we already had done partial feathers I opted to again go with this design.

The dimensions of this top were 95" x 94".  Cindy loves to send me very large quilt tops!  I used So Fine! by Superior Threads in the top and Bottom Line in the bobbin, and Hobbs 80/20 batting in one layer.

I get a lot of questions about ditching - how and when I choose to do this - and the answer to that is that it varies.  Usually I try to do what I think will look best with the quilt.  Most custom quilting I do has some degree of ditching. 

On this quilt I chose to ditch the framework of the quilt - which to me is the outer borders, and the small thin blue borders on the outer portion of the quilt. The body of the quilt then feels like one continuous piece with delicate framing of feathers and scrolls surrounding it.

There is always some amount of personal taste that goes into quilting - be it that of the quilt owner or that of the quilter to which the quilt owner has entrusted.  Just as we all have different and unique handwriting - we all have a different styles of quilting.  Feathers are definitely part of my personal quilt hand writing for sure!

Choosing a backing fabric is something else to really think about, and I think a lot of folks forget this part.  I love to see the quilting on a beautiful neutral backing - but that is what I like.  I have encountered folks who do not like to see ANY of the quilting on the reverse and send along very busy backing fabric.  I think what Cindy sent along was absolutely perfect for this particular design plan and quilt.  What a lovely reverse she will have in natural light when laid across a bed.

Up next is another quilt for Ellen and what a stunning beauty it will be.  She has requested Nemeshing along with a custom plan we worked on together and I am looking forward to attempting this fun filler developed by Bethanne Nemesh.

After this string of really stunning traditional quilts I have in house, in wait are a string of modern quilts!  So it will be a colorful and interesting few months of work ahead! 

I hope your New Year is full of quilting already!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Death Star Mini in Progress

Six days and counting until Christmas!  Woohoo!  Many of my long arm quilting pals have already finished their final quilts for the year.  I have another Border Creek mystery identical to the one Jane sent me a few months ago loaded up and will be working on that over the next week or so, likely into the new year.

As for personal projects, I still have a half dozen or so in progress.  My red and tan quilt hasn't been touched as I have just been too busy with other projects.  I did start a death star mini in honor of the new Star Wars movie though!

I found the pattern and printed it from in case you'd like to make your own.  :)

I didn't follow her directions but instead opted to print out a main pattern, and a second on Stable Stuff stabilizer.  This stuff is pretty cool as it's actually made to stay in your quilt.  I cut each piece individually using my paper printed pattern as a guide for the colors (I wrote on each piece what I planned to use - dark, medium, or light fabric) and turned each piece using a glue stick.  I have already begun hand stitching the tiny pieces together in rows using black and white Invisifil.  I haven't chosen a background yet but I'm thinking solid black as I chose all calico prints for the blacks in the death star I think there will be enough contrast.

When I'm finished I will just wet the project and leave the stabilizer inside.  Water is supposed to dissolve whatever it is that makes this stabilizer stiff...and leaves a thin polyester fiber behind.  Kind of cool!  I will share a little more of how this process goes later on.  I have heard it is also wonderful used as a stabilizer for paper piecing!  I particularly like how it has the potential to leave fullness in applique that you might not get otherwise...or without adding some kind of trapunto.  Oh how we quilters love possibilities!

In other news that I am super excited to share...I finally got a Gravity Quilt to work on!  Woohoo!!!!  I'm so excited about this one.  It belongs to a semi-local gal who discovered me through my neighbor.  Well my oh my she's a modern quilter who has an affinity for Jaybird Quilts patterns so I'm pretty excited to see what more she has to send my way.  I get a lot of traditional quilts...which I absolutely love...but it's always fun to play around with something different too!

If I don't get a chance to before the holiday - have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  Lots of exciting things to share with you in the next year...and I cannot wait!

Until then...may the force be with you on your quilting journey!  :)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Long Arm Quilting Policy Amendments

The new year is fast approaching and after nearly three years in business I am finally making a few policy changes to keep quilting for you at an affordable rate and run my small business more effectively! 

Changes to note are:

Effective February 1st, 2016 New Thread Fees

- $5 flat thread fee for all edge to edge free hand or pantograph quilting will remain the same.
- $10 flat thread fee will be instated for all custom quilts with unlimited thread changes for in house thread.  This may include anything from Bottom Line, Glide, Omni, and some specialty threads already in house.
- Specialty thread fee will be quoted individually for quilts requiring special threads not normally carried in house.  These threads will include but are not limited to Invisifil, metallic, variegated threads, and silks.

Effective Immdiately
Quilting schedule will be limited to custom quilting only. 
Because the majority of the quilts on the current schedule are custom quilting orders I will continue to schedule quilts in this fashion.  For most customers in this regard nothing will change.  If you have an edge to edge quilt you may schedule to drop off or ship out immediately and it will be completed on a first come first serve basis as there is availability in my schedule.  Because time frames for custom quilting are estimated and not guaranteed (unless specified in your contract) I often have "dead time" in between quilts.  To avoid this I will accept edge to edge quilts to fill out the schedule and improve wait times.

If you prefer to send a batch of quilts all at once on a scheduled time frame you may still continue to do that.  This helps folks who like to quilt during the year and send a box to me at the end of the year.  I will not require a deposit to put you in an estimated time slot, and reschedules/cancellations will not be penalized, but I do please ask that you give advance notice if you will not be sending your quilts as scheduled.  The schedule currently provided will continue to be used as a tool to prevent a large back log of quilts in house and to help both client and quilter plan ahead.  If you are late to ship your scheduled quilt please note that another may be loaded in its place and your quilt will be worked on at the soonest availability upon its arrival.

Rush quilts will now be accepted based on availability in my schedule for a $50 fee.  Contact me directly for more details.

Thank you so much for your continued support and business!  Many of you have been with me since the beginning of this amazing quilting journey and I am thrilled and honored to still be your chosen machine quilter.

Happy Quilting!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Ellen's Woodland Quilt and Impermance is Going to Road to California!

Well I don't know about you but I am beyond ready for Thanksgiving!  Turkey and family and a break from social media for a day.  I have a tendency to get glued to my phone during the day laughing and connecting with folks.  Facebook seems to be the hub of the quilting universe so of course, being that quilts are kind of like, my life, I spend a lot of time there connecting with folks I might otherwise not ever have the opportunity in "real" life.  I don't know if there's something in the water or if it's because it's an election year in the US, but boy oh boy is social media lit up....and over just about everything.  :)  This quilting girl will be lurking at the quilt photos but I think I may need therapy to work me through any of the discussions happening there at them moment.  So you may find me a little more chatty here on the blog for the time being.

I just finished Ellen's Woodland quilt.  Didn't it turn out lovely?  I sure think so.  I really had fun quilting this.  Seems the latest quilts have been super densely quilted so it was fun to lighten it up a tad but still get such great design and texture.  This is the style of quilting that really brought me to quilts in the first this was just an absolute pleasure from start to finish.

We went with one layer of Hobbs 80/20 for this quilt.  In the top I used an Ivory shade of So Fine by Superior Threads and Omni in the bobbin.  There was no mystical magical reason for the thread combination other than they were shades I had that worked best with the quilt as a whole.  Turns out the So Fine really did a great job creating delicate texture in those printed fabrics. 

Photographs can be deceiving - on one forum where I shared photos of this quilt it appeared to some viewers that the shirting/ticking print stripe blocks were left unquilted.  They are in fact quilted - with very simple lines.  I think any design would have been difficult to show in those spaces, but the lines in particular like to stay hidden depending on the angle the camera points.  Look closely and you can see not a single block was left unstitched!  :)

We went with cross hatching here in the white negative space behind the applique.  I think it looks so nice. This quilt isn't frilly at all so though I love feathers I wanted to keep from getting too feminine in this area.  I'm really happy with the outcome and I think my client is too!  (Yes, if you close up you can also see that the markings are still there.  I pre-mark all gridlines before I load up the quilt top.)

Again, the applique's are large but I didn't want to stray from the simple feeling of the quilt.  I think we did alright!  :)

Of course I always love to show neutral backings.  I was a bit nervous every backtracked line would look awful with that thick Omni thread but surprising it looks really lovely!  Wheew!  That's a huge sigh of relief to me!  The backtracking is well hidden and the blending thread really makes this quilt look like it is double sided.

So much fun to work on.  Thank you Ellen!  I have a few projects in the works that cannot be shared - but soon!  Really looking forward to spilling the beans!

For now I'll leave you with my bit of exciting news for the quilt Impermanence is GOING TO ROAD TO CALIFORNIA!  I found out last week that it was accepted to this highly regarded juried national quilt show.  I'm thrilled.  Over the moon!  This will be the second quilt I've had juried into Road, but the first that was a real bonafied quilt made just to show.  I'm kind of starting with one of the biggest and most difficult for the first show, but it just worked out that way.  The biggest thrill is to "hang" with all my quilting rock star idols.  That is a really amazing feeling.  No photos of the front online for now as I'm saving the "reveal" for after show judging.  I wish so badly I could make it out there - but I have no doubt that one of these days I will.  If you're going to Road and see my quilt sure to say something!  I will be tickled to know you saw it!  :)