Friday, June 4, 2021

Sweeter Than Honey

 Since practically the beginning of my quilting journey I've had the plan to eventually make a quilt for each of my 4 siblings.  As with so many people this past year, I've thought long and hard about what I want to accomplish in my future and decided that these quilts needed to happen now, not in who knows how many years from now.

This first sibling quilt was for my oldest sister Tina, who also happens to be a quilter.  Long ago I started a quilt that I originally thought would be for her, but later decided it really wasn't her style.  She really likes bright fabrics like me and she's also a big Kate Spain fan.  Last summer, while reading through blogs, I came across a post by and an idea was hatched.  She created her Pathway Out of Here quilt with jelly roll strips but I wondered how it would look with wider strips.  I had a dessert roll (which is 5 inch strips) of Kate Spain's Honey Honey in my stash that would be perfect for this experiment.  Here's the result!

Sweeter Than Honey

 The first task was to figure out the progression of the prints.  I ended up using 16 of the 20 prints from the dessert roll. Since I have a vast collection of Kate Spain fabrics, using up the leftovers in a future project won't be a problem at all.
Being an accountant in my other life, the quilt math wasn't difficult. I just used graph paper to map out the cut sizes for each of the rows.  The center White pieces were 21 1/2" unfinished. Once the individual  pieces were cut, it was a breeze to sew it all together.  It finished at 64' x 72"
As soon as some customer quilts were done (paid work always comes first, of course), this was loaded on the frame and I was ready to have some fun with some freehand custom quilting.
I actually finished this quilt in November but couldn't post about it because she reads my blog. She recently came to visit for the weekend to quilt 3 of her own tops on my longarm machine so I was finally able to give it to her.
These are all the beautiful Glide threads that were used on the top.
Each row was stitched with a different design.  I scoured through may books to get inspiration and then drew out various options on graph paper to see how they played together.  The top row was initially only 1 inch wide piano keys but as I worked my way down the quilt, I knew it wasn't enough so I went back and added the side to side in every other row.
I literally decided which stitching design was going where as I went along.  The only rule I put on myself was to alternate the curvy type designs with the straight line designs. This row received some  simple meandering.
My purple disappearing marker was my best friend for spacing out the stitch lines evenly.
On some rows, I'd stitch one pass, such as the first set of this triangle design, and then wondered what it would look like if I echoed it a few times on either side.  This was the result. 
I truly enjoyed the freedom of coming up with ideas for each space.
This is another row where I initially did the first pass and knew that it needed more.  I was happy with the it after a few more lines were added.
For this quilt, I wanted simpler stitch designs, not heavy quilting.  That's not her taste and with all the busyness in most of the prints, I knew that it would be a waste of time since it really wouldn't show.  This row's treatment was a square meander.
I was glad that I have a variety of rulers to use so that I could stitch designs like this.
Here's another example of my experimenting, starting with one stitching pass and then going back to add more until I felt it was done.
The one challenge I found is that some of the ideas that I had drawn out on the graph paper didn't work well in these wider strips.  They were better suited for narrower areas. 
 I modified some stitch motifs such as the wishbone because it just didn't look right going up and down in the bigger area.  I definitely liked this side to side version better.
I've found that I really like coming up with straight line stitching ideas.  I can see more of this in my future on other projects.   
On her quilt Megan did small circles in the White strips and I knew that I wanted a similar motif for this area but again, the result after the first pass just wasn't enough. I went back added the overlapping circles and then it felt right.
I was completely thrilled with how this turned out and I can't wait to work on my next custom quilting project.  To say that Tina will thrilled with her gift is a massive understatement.  She loves it!
Although this fabric line came out many years ago, I was lucky enough to find a shop online that had enough of one of the prints for the backing.  In the future, I'm going to buy backing yardage from the fabric line even if I don't have plans yet for it.  Piecing a backing if it needs to be bigger is a lot easier than trying to find just the right print from another fabric line.
Being able to finally give this quilt to Tina was a great feeling and I know that she'll cherish it forever.  Keeping the secret was tough as I also couldn't post about it on Instagram so she wouldn't see it.
The quilt for the next sister is on it's way to her in South Carolina so stay tuned.  I was going to give it to her at my niece's upcoming wedding but she isn't able to attend.  I wish I could have given it to her in person but I didn't want her to wait to have it.  Who knows when we'll be able to get together again.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Colleen's Hunter Star Quilt

 My customer Colleen called me to say that she had a big top to be quilted.  I couldn't wait to see what she created.  When she arrived with it, needless to say I was excited to get to stitch this one.  This is her Navy and White Hunter's Star Quilt.

This turned out so beautiful. Colleen is going to use this one on her own bed. I'm a tad bit jealous.
Here is the "before" photo.  It's a big quilt, measuring 98" x 98".  Luckily I have a 12 foot frame so I can fit big quilts like this easily.
Colleen's piecing is always spot on and nearly perfect.  Her creations are wonderful to work on.
She again chose a new-to-me panto called Lida and I was happy with the way it was looking after the first couple of rows.
Due to the difference in lighting in my studio, it's hard to see just how beautiful the stitching design looks across the whole quilt.  This is a much better photo.  Glide White was used for the top thread and Glide Medium Gray was used in the bobbin.
The backing fabric was the same print that she used for the border.  Colleen actually had to travel a bit far to secure enough fabric to piece the backing together.  I think it was well worth the effort.
It's hard to see the stitching on the back in the above photo as the thread color she chose didn't stand out too much, which is what she wanted, but you can see it better in this picture. Sometimes customers want the backing thread to be very visible and other times not so much.  In this instance, she wanted the print of the fabric to be the focus.
I tried to get a picture of it cascaded down the patio steps but I don't think it worked out to well.  It was just so big and didn't drape nicely.  I really need to find some new places locally to take nice stylized photos of the quilts.
When I called to tell her it was done, she rushed right over within the hour.  I guess she was excited to see it.  Again, Colleen was beyond thrilled with the result when she picked it up, as was I.  It truly is gorgeous and I know that she's super proud of her wonderful accomplishment.
Colleen's piecing group is starting back up this week so I'm betting more pretty tops are eventually going to head my way to quilt.  I look forward to seeing what's next.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Colleen's Green and Gray Star Quilt

 It's always fun to see what my customers bring to me to quilt for them.  Colleen's creations never disappoint.  This is her Gray and Green Star Quilt.  Isn't it beautiful?


I actually remembered this time to take a "before" picture. As I've mentioned before, her quilts are always a pleasure to work on because they are well constructed.

She picked a new-to-me panto called London Fog and once I started stitching it I definitely liked how it turning out. So Fine Silver was the thread of choice for the top.
This is the completed quilt fresh off the frame.
The panto design worked so well to provide great movement across the quilt without distracting from the piecing.
I think this new panto is going to become very popular with my customers.
I love, love, love the backing fabric she provided.  The print is so fun.  The only negative discovered after this was finished is that we both felt she should have picked a darker thread for the bobbin so the stitching would have shown a little more. This was So Fine Genoa Gray. Lesson learned.
Colleen was beyond thrilled with the final result.  This beauty is a gift for her daughter and I know that she'll love it.
Colleen also brought me the more gorgeous Navy and White Hunter's Star quilt to stitch next.  Wait until you see how it turned out. 

Monday, May 10, 2021

Charmaine's Tumbler Baby Quilts x 7

My customer Charmaine has been busy again, creating a mountain of baby quilt tops and of course I had the pleasure recently of quilting them for her.
They were all her usual I Spy Tumbler design and they include such a huge variety of prints.
Since the tops are so busy, we pick a panto design that's not too detailed.
For this stack of tops, we chose the Fascination panto. Quilters Dream 80/20 batting was used for all.
She always provides soft flannel backings that are so snugly.
The last quilt was actually for her grandson.  Evidently he complained to her that, while she's been making so many of these baby quilts, he didn't have one.  So of course she took care of that problem right away.
I stitched Shooting Stars on this one.
She provided a special backing which is really adorable.
These baby quilts stitch up so quickly and I'm glad I'm able to get them returned to her fast.
I'm sure Charmaine is working on the next stack of baby quilt tops and eventually I'll get the call to quilt those for her too.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Winter Frost Wall Hanging, Table Runner and Placemats

In December 2020 I participated as one of the Chefs for Moda's Countdown to Christmas Quilt Along.  This year's theme was Winter Frost and the fabrics chosen where a mix of prints and Moda Grunge in Ice Blue, Royal Blue, Aqua and White.
While designing blocks for these events, I've come to the decision that I don't want to end up with random blocks that get put away, never to be seen again.  I didn't have time to make the entire quilt so I chose to make a wall hanging with a limited number of blocks.
My contributions to the quilt along was this North Winds block which is a version of the Windblown Square block.
My other design is this Winter's Beauty block which is a version of the American Beauty block.
It was fun choosing which of the other block designs to use for the wall hanging and selecting just the right fabrics so that the resulting quilt has a wonderful cool and frosty vibe.  It's perfect displayed on my Vietnamese bamboo textile hanger above the desk which is along the wall between the eat-in area of the kitchen and the great room.  It finished at 36" square.
Originally I wasn't going to do any more than the wall hanging but I fell in love with the Mittens block so a pair was made and a cute table runner was the result.
I picked one of the other blocks to sandwich in the middle of the mittens blocks.  For the panto design, I used Bora Bora which certainly gives the feel of the winter winds blowing.
I just added a variety of rectangle strips to bring the runner to 18" x 42" which is a great size for our smaller kitchen table.  
I actually quilted all 3 pieces at the same time by loading the wall hanging to the left on the frame, the place mats in the middle, turned sideways, and the table rummer at the end.  This way, I was able to stitch a full length of the design and all 3 pieces were finished quickly.
During the quilt along, I made a few more blocks as possible additions to the wall hanging that I ended up turning into place mats, which I actually use as table toppers on the end tables in my great room instead of at the dining room table.
I don't know about your crew, but with my luck the minute these went on the table under plates of food would be the minute they ended up stained with pasta sauce.  Nope, not happening!  These aren't going anywhere near the dining table.
I added strips of White to show case the block and then added a print strip to either side to bring them up to 12" x 18".

Each one turned out unique but they also blend together nicely.

Everything was backed with this Blue and White print that I found locally.  It wasn't quite the shade I was looking for but it worked.
I'm really glad I found a way to actually use the blocks I created for the quilt along and now, as a bonus, I have 3 great new pieces to decorate my spaces with after Christmas.
It is odd to leave the holiday wall hanging up way past December and now I don't have to.  Next I guess I'll need to make a few more wall hangings for this spot so that I have quilts to display during other seasons throughout the year.