Saturday, November 8, 2014

Retreat Inspires Dark Garden Quilt. . .

This past week I went on my annual quilting retreat with my very good friends (great quilters too:).  We had four glorious days of quilting, eating, chatting, and sleeping.  I admit that I am not generally the most productive quilter in the group.  I prefer to do more chatting than sewing.  This year, however, was different.  And this quilt is the result.

My excitement lies in the fact that I designed, created, and completed this quilt, something I haven't done in over a year.  As this quilt began as a kit I admit I did have a head start .  The background, flowers, and butterflies were from a published pattern Shimmering Garden in the magazine Quilt Trends, Spring 2014.
Previous to the retreat, the decision to add the the black print side border had been made.  Once the background and border were sewn together, I added the applique.  With the flowers and butterflies fused in place, the blue and green of the kit were thrown out.  The kit had a piece of charcoal batik for the binding.  It now became the grass.  With the applique fused to the background, I felt the background and border were missing some coherence.  I took them apart, added the pink flange between the border and background, and was happy with the results.  
The applique pieces were free-motion zigzagged with metallic thread.  
To make this a retreat memory quilt, the quilters signed their names to the butterfly trails with a Micron pen.  It was now time to put the quilt together.  I chose to do the "Escape Hatch" no binding technique I learned from Melody Johnson.   To quilt, I outlined some of the applique and then quilted the background using thread to match.  I was looking for the quilting to give texture, not color.  And I was done in less than two days.  It will look perfect in my home and be a reminder of the wonderful time I had and the best of friends I have.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Bringing Meadow Breeze Mystery back to life. . .

Waaay back in May, 2010 I began a Pat Sloan mystery, Meadow Breeze.  Although Pat Sloan machine stitched her mystery, I decided to make mine a hand project and to use felted wool and wool felt that I had on hand.  Hence its non-completion.  I am currently in a residence transition and don't have much time on my sewing machine.  Therefore, I thought this would be a great opportunity to bring out this UFO (one of many mind you).  Upon pulling it out, I realized that I had stopped progress on it because it needed some background sewn on which to put the applique so I've worked hard to complete the sewing in the limited time on my machine.
I added the border to the center panel of applique.  There will be more applique added to the entire border.
There are eight of these sections that each have applique and will be added to the center panel once the applique is complete.
This square is ready to be hand stitched and is one of the four outer cornerstones.  I'm not sure how quick I'll be on all of this but any progress is better than no progress :).

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Spiderweb Blocks as Background. . .

A few months ago in one of my quilt groups, I pieced a few spiderweb blocks.  I have always been enamored with these blocks and found a tutorial from Jaybird Quilts (I love her stuff!).  Once I made two of the blocks I thought to myself, "What are you going to do with these?"  The tutorial is for potholders but I wanted to do something more but I certainly wasn't making a WHOLE quilt.  So, being an art quilter, I thought, "Make a few more blocks and make a small wallhanging." 

And here is where it is to date.  But being the quilter that I am, I can't stop here.  Oh, noooo.  I am going to applique red to it.  They are going to be red words and it will become my statement quilt titled "Shades of Red."  Keep watching.  I'm really enjoying the word part.

Until next time,

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Quilting as Therapy. . .

2013 was a year of major life changes due to loves lost.  Quilting, it turns out, is a great therapeutic tool!  I have found that going to my fabric stash and creating a quilt, letting my emotions run with my imagination, has allowed my emotions to transform from debilitating to joy.
Here is a case in point:  During Christmas, I lost my dear companion, Meowi.  As he was only five years old and I have had other major losses this year, his loss has been almost unbearable.  I was, however, in the process of creating this quilt. 
Once he passed, something came to mind.  Seven years ago when my husband passed away, I created this quilt to lift my spirits. 
Notice anything similar - Laurel Burch fabric, predominant color orange.  Mind you, I didn't make the new quilt after Meowi passed, but had begun it prior to him being ill. 
The new quilt's title is "In Meowi's Memory."  I am going to quilt four different facial portraits from his photos in the blank light orange squares.  I received his inked paw print in a sympathy card from the animal hospital where he was put down and I will incorporate that into the quilted worded border and on the label.  As my mind creates all of these ideas, I realize that I am working through the loss by thinking of Meowi: how he participated in my life, what his personality characteristics were like, how his loss will affect our family.  And I cry at the loss, but I smile at the memories.  And this is therapy.

As the quilting happens, I will keep you updated.

Happy 2014.  I pray it will be a joyous one for all.

Until next time,

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Quilting the Quilt - Simply. . .

My posting has been sporadic, I know.  Being a quilt shop owner has become what I've always heard:  once you own a shop you no longer quilt.  It's proving to be true and I have not been getting any personal creative time.  I have, however, begun quilting for customers again.  So I thought I would share my longarm machine quilting endeavors.
This is Maureen's table topper.  The linear complexity of the quilt lends itself to stitch-in-the-ditch.  I did, however, want to create some movement. 
So I took a liberal view to following the line with this.
As a quilter, my style is to enhance the quilt top's pattern and fabric.  This simple quilting design adds to the quilt yet maintains the quilt's pieced style (and is easier than stitch-in-the-ditch:).  The next time you quilt, consider the quilt's piecing design.  What, if anything, do you want to call attention to.  Then select the simplest stitching design that will enhance it.  Quilting does not have to be complicated to produce good results.  

Enjoy, don't fret about, your next quilting project.  Start simply and with practice, practice, practice you WILL find the ideas and skill will come.

Until next time,

Friday, December 28, 2012

Sewing On Air Art Quilting Technique. . .

On Wednesday, we held our monthly art quilt workshop.  This month's technique was "Sewing On Air" by Nancy Green as featured in the October/November 2012 issue of "Quilting Arts Magazine."
Following along with the instructions, this is my quilt base.  I fused fabric to fabric using Mistyfuse, and layering front and back right sides together with fusible batting.  I then used the no binding technique I described here.  Once layered and with the fabric turned inside out, the piece was quilted.
The circles were left unquilted as my sewing on air will be done within one of the circles.
The center of the circle was cut out.
The circle is then heavily zigzag stitched.  Heavily means going around the circle four times with a free-motion zigzag stitch (my favorite :). 
The fun begins as the needle is placed to the back of the circle and straight-stitched across its diameter at a medium speed.  Once across, the fabric was turned 180 degrees and gone across again.  I did this three times, always with free-motion stitching.  The three lines of sewing were then zigzagged over with my machine set at 2.5 width.  And, whalaa, there is a strong cord-like thread line running through my circle.
This was an easy technique, much more so than I realized it would be.  If you would like to try this technique, let me give you a few hints that were learned in the workshop.  First, the magazine technique does not require a stabilizer for the stitching.  However, I used fusible web,  fusible batting, lots of quilting, and heavy stitching around the perimeter of the circle which all acted as a stabilizer for the stitching across the diameter of the hole.  I also noticed that the smaller size of my hole seemed to matter in being able to keep its shape compared to larger holes done by others.

If you do give this a try, please let me know of any tips or hints you find to be helpful.

Until next time,

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Cat Bites are Dangerous!

I know.  This is a quilt site.  Why am I talking about cat bites?  My experience of this weekend makes me want to share and warn others.  Here's my story.
This is my cat, Gracie, and this weekend she bit me.  Now I've had cats most of my life but have never been bitten (I mean hard) by one.  Gracie's form of communication is biting rather than scratching and I'm respectful of what she tells me.  But this time, as we were playing, she switched gears and attacked me ferociously.  Her teeth went deep into my hand.  I was taken by surprise and it hurt more than I can say.  I rinsed the punctures with cold water and put antibiotic gel on it and thought that was the end of it.  Boy, was I wrong.

By the next day, my hand was swelling, and red.  The pain increased as the day went on.  I decided to do some internet surfing on the subject and was surprised by what I found.  Did you know cat bites are infectious 80% of the time?  And that if the infection progresses, it damages the tissue around the bite and you may have to have surgery?  Needless to say I was shocked!!!  
This is a photo of my hand 24 hours AFTER I began taking antibiotics.  The swelling has gone down, the redness has decreased, and the pain is minimal.  I didn't take a photo at its worst but you can still see swelling.  That little red dot on the lower portion of my hand is the little puncture mark that started this mess.  I'm afraid to think of what may have happened if I hadn't done a little research and moved into action right away.  So take this post as informative and a warning.  If a cat bites you, don't take it lightly.  Find out the steps necessary to keep you healthy.

Until next time,