Friday, May 27, 2016

Quilting is the Best Medicine

Recently, I received some sad news.  While I was grieving, I decided to give myself a little time off.  I picked a pattern and decided that I wouldn't go back to work until my little quilting project was complete.

I decided to stitch up a little zippered bag by Lori Holt from A Bee in my Bonnet:

I hand appliqued this project using 100 weight InvisiFil thread.  It was so soothing!  I machine quilted it with Ocean Breeze thread from FabuLux.  That tropical pink/yellow/green thread was so bright and happy and brought me a bit of cheer.

Do you ever stitch your sorrows away?  What are your go-to projects?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Happy Graduation, Jacob!

I make a lot of quilts.  A Lot of quilts.  A LOT.  I give most of them away.  I decided to make a Nickel Quilts quilt for a young man named Jacob for his high school graduation.  I pulled out all of my cream and brown scrappy nickel squares and started piecing.  I was ready to add borders when I received the shocking news:  Jacob grew nearly a foot and my quilt wasn't tall enough for him!  I pieced a few more rows but got sidetracked and this quilt ended up on a shelf, unfinished.

I recently found this project, quickly finished it up, and delivered it to his mother with my apologies.  Apologies?  Yes, apologies.  You see, Jacob graduated from high school seven years ago.  Seven!

This finished quilt is now long enough to cover the tallest man I know in person:

I had fun quilting swirls all over this quilt and used Mudpies thread from FabuLux:

This thread is shades of brown and blended perfectly into this quilt!

So, congratulations Jacob... a few years late.  I hope you enjoy your quilt!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Welcome to the world, Emersyn!

My friend, mother of several daughters, was expecting another child.  I was absolutely positive that she would once again give birth to a daughter and made this quilt for her:

Well, she surprised me with a BOY and I made her a different quilt.  I held on to this sweet version of my Share and Share Alike pattern, waiting for a baby girl to arrive.  Well, one finally did!  I hope baby Emersyn loves it!

I quilted this quilt with Giggle, a pink/peach/yellow thread from FabuLux.  It looks solid when you look at the entire quilt, but up close you can see the color changes:

Officially, I love all of my FabuLux threads equally, but I have a bit of a quilt-crush on Giggle and can't wait to use it on more quilts!

Friday, May 06, 2016

Placemat of the Month Club -- April's offering

I had a few bits of fabric left from my St. Louis 16 Patch Quilt so I pieced up a pair of placemats for Mom.

I quilted them quickly with FabuLux Rocking Horse and am absolutely tickled with them:

I hope Mom enjoys the April selection from her Placemat of the Month club subscription!

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Pieces of Friendship Mini Quilt -- Quilting Tutorial

Are you stitching along with The Splendid Sampler?  I am, and I am having tons of fun and learning a lot!

One of The Splendid Sampler designers, Lindsay Mayland, created a bonus pattern using her Pieces of Friendship block

I made the Pieces of Friendship Mini Quilt as a pillow sham for my mother-in-law for Mother's Day because I take hints well.  Very well, in fact.

At Thanksgiving, when she was visiting, she saw some David Walker Sweetheart fabric left from my Share + Share Alike pattern sample and kept saying "I like this fabric.  I really, really like this fabric."  So, I took the hint and used that fabric to make her Mother's Day gift:

Do you like it?  Do you want to see a video about how I quilted it?

Good, because I filmed while Hazel, my sweet Sweet Sixteen, and I worked together to quilt this pillow.  This isn't meant to be an instructional video; it's purpose is to answer the "How did she do that?" questions.  I had a special guest star in the video and I hope you enjoy meeting him.  (If you watch on a mobile device, you won't see the explanation on the video.  Blame YouTube for not supporting annotations on mobile devices.  Sorry!)

I used another of my FabuLux thread colors:  Hush.  It is a pastel lavender/pink/peach thread.  There is no purple in this quilt, but the lavender plays beautifully with the brown fabrics and looks great on the pillow!

So, the sources for this project:

Fabric HERE
Mini quilt pattern HERE
Pillow pattern HERE
Thread HERE
Handi Quilter Oval C template set HERE
Handi Grip HERE

Final note, the fabrics used were left over from this quilt:

Share + Share Alike, a pattern I designed using 16 fat eighths plus borders, binding, and backing.

Monday, May 02, 2016

I Am Loved

I got an amazing gift last week from a very special friend.  My friend made me a QUILT!

She designed it herself, so not only do I have a quilt but I have a one-of-a-kind quilt!

I am loved!

Expect to see a lot of photos of this quilt and me during the upcoming hammock season.

Friday, April 29, 2016

St. Louis 16 patch -- crowdsourced quilting

My St. Louis 16 Patch is finished and I am in LOVE!!!  I recently found this fabulous FREE pattern designed by the fabulous Steffani K. Burton and asked for help in deciding how to quilt and bind it.

Here is my finished quilt:

I quilted it using Rocking Horse FabuLux.

I designed this peach, mint, and baby blue thread with pastel baby quilts in mind, but was thrilled to see how awesome it looked on these bright Flora fabrics by Joel Dewberry.  When you look at the quilt closely, you can see the individual colors but from a distance it stitches as a neutral.

I chose a few dark colored Flora fat quarters and cut them up for the binding.  I am actually becoming adequate at machine binding and was able to bind it shortly after the quilting was completed.

So, what fabrics are you going to choose for your St. Louis 16 patch quilt?  And what thread color will you use for the machine quilting?  Since you all helped me with these questions, I'll be sure to help you as well!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

St. Louis 16 Patch -- undecided, again

Did you hear that sound?  That swooshing sound?  It was the sound of me discovering Pinterest and having hours of my life sucked away.  I resisted as long as I could but with Pinterest, resistence is futile.

One Pinterest rabbit trail led me to St. Louis 16 Patch, a FREE pattern!!!  I ran immediately to my fat quarter collection and pulled out a stack of Joel Dewberry's Flora fabrics.  I petted and pressed and arranged my fat quarters until I was happy with the pairings, then I pulled up the pattern and read it carefully before starting.  My brain exploded when I realized that the pattern was written by a friend of mine, the fabulous Steffani K. Burton!  How the heck did I miss this important detail?  It probably was because I was blinded by the elegant simplicity of the quilt and my desire to make one for myself RIGHT NOW!

I made the quilt top last week while recovering from some medical nonsense (quilting is the best medicine) and I enjoyed every second of it!

I love this!

But now I'm stumped again.  I selected a few threads for machine quilting and want your opinion:

Which one should I use?

I could use Olive Trees:

This is three shades of olive and would read as a solid in the quilting.

I could use Midas Touch:

While I don't have a favorite color of FabuLux, this spool of three shades of rich gold is the one I've used on more quilts than any other spool.  I love the way this blends into many different colors!

I could use Rocking Horse:

This variegated pastel surprised me as a choice.  The thread is peach, light blue, and mint and actually blended pretty well into the quilt when I puddled the thread onto the quilt top.

The last choice is the bold one, Blue Heaven:

This is three shades of bright blue.  I would definitely see the thread on this quilt and that could be a good thing!

I plan to use wool batting so the quilting will show and I plan to quilt it in a variety of free-motion quilting pattern like I did on this quilt:

This was quilted with Midas Touch, a pretty dark thread for this quilt, but the color of the quilting doesn't overwhelm the quilt.

I plan to bind my St. Louis 16 Patch in a variety of strips cut from more Flora fat quarters.  I could also pick a solid color to use for binding.  Is there a specific color that you think would work for binding?

Monday, April 18, 2016

Floating Squares -- Crowdsourced Quilting

I had trouble deciding which thread and binding to use on my Floating Squares quilt, so I enlisted the support of the quilting community.  I asked; you answered.  

I chose to use Hint of Lime FabuLux:

I liked that it was a shade duller than the quilt fabric.  I didn't want the thread to over-power the already powerfully bright quilting fabric.

Here it is:

I listened to binding suggestions, too, and chose to frame my quilt in black binding.

I quilted a simple swirl pattern over the quilt, just to give it texture.  I love using tonal variegated threads; they quilt lik solids but if you look closely you can see a richness as the color deepens:

This quilt is going to a new(ish) baby in the family.  If he gets it before his first birthday, that's on time, right?

Monday, April 11, 2016

Floating Squares -- Indecision

Weekends.  Payday.  Christmas.  Birthdays.  The day Block Magazine arrives in the mail.  These are things I look forward to.

Block Magazine just arrived and I dove straight into my scrap bins to make the Floating Squares quilt.  All was going well until I got ready to quilt it.  What thread should I use?  I know that I will use one of my FabuLux threads by WonderFil, but which one?

These are my choices:

Cloudy Skies (black, white, gray) from the neutral collection, to bring out the black and white squares:

Hint of Lime (Lime, Lime-r, Lime-st) from the bright tonal variegated collection, a shade duller than the main fabric:

Neon Lime from the neon collection, a shade brighter than the main fabric:

Neon Lemon from the neon collection, a shade brighter than the accent fabric :

Mellow Yellows is from the bright tonal variegated collection, a shade duller than the accent fabric:

I also considered going wild and using one of two hot pink threads and hot pink binding, but I have decided against it.

Which would you choose?  And what color binding would you choose?  I can use black, lime, or bright yellow.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Quilting Is the Best Medicine -- Scissors

While dealing with life's challenges, quilting is always the best medicine.  Always!  But what if life's challenges include not being able to quilt due to physical problems?  Quilting is still the best medicine, but it is necessary to use the right tools and adapt the way I quilt as I deal with some specific physical challenges and middle age in general.

I'm always asked to share my tips about adaptive quilting and I decided to share them in a blog series called Quilt-ability:

Today's tips are about scissors.  IMy hands don't work they way I want them to, especially when the weather changes.   I have found a few scissors that make my life easier.

Top left:  Fiskar's Snips.  I buy myself a new pair of these snips about once a year.  Before I started longarm quiting, I never knew that I could dull scissors just by cutting threads.  Yes, I cut those threads thousands upon thousands of times, but it was still news to me.  These are my go-to snips for machine quilting.  I can pick them up and quickly snip without fussing about maneuvering my fingers into tiny finger holes.  A simple flick of the lock to open and a painless squeeze of the fingers to snip and I'm done!

Top right:  Karen Kay Buckley Perfect Scissors.  These scissors are light weight, beautifully sharp, and the finger holes are big enough that I can easily get my fingers in and control the cut no matter the weather.  I use these mostly for trimming my applique and they do the job so well!  Warning, these scissors are very, very sharp and I may or may not have stabbed myself in the palm of my hand last year.

Bottom:  Famore EZ Stitch Snips.  If you've ever been at a major quilt show and seen The Scissor Man with scissors hanging off his apron, that is Brint from Famore Cutlery and these are his scissors.  I use these beauties as stitch removers.  Once again, no tiny scissor finger holes to deal with and they do their job well.  The little hook can catch a stitch to snip the thread I want AND ONLY THE THREAD I WANT!

These are some of my favorite scissors to use on days when my fingers betray me.  Which scissors are your favorites? 

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Who Could Resist?

I saw Lori Holt's Bloom Sew Along and I swore I wouldn't make it.  I promised myself I would finish up some of my UFOs instead of starting any new projects.  I was firm in my resolve.  Then this happened:

My friend and I are on this Bloom journey together.  She is making her quilt from Lori Holt's Calico Days fabrics.  I am making mine from my stash because... boy do I have a fabric collection!  I am hand appliqueing mine and absolutely LOVING using InvisiFil threads for hand applique.  They are strong and thin and disappear making my applique look better than it deserves to.  They blend really well so I could probably get by with only 10 colors, but I kind of have them all.  It's how I roll.

Have you given in to the Bloom Sew Along?  Which fabrics are you using?

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

The Splendid Sampler -- Flying High

I love needle-turn applique and Janet Clare's block for The Splendid Sampler gave me an excuse to practice this skill.  Here is my Flying High block:

Click HERE to see everyone else's Flying High block.

I said that I love needle-turn applique, and I do.  Needleturn applique is much easier with the right tools:

  • a bright light
  • a straw needle
  • ultra-thin thread
  • applique pins
  • a leather thimble
  • a removable quilt marker
  • a high-quality tooth pick (for rolling the edge of the fabric under)
Over the years, I've accumulated a collection of quality quiltng tools and I'm spoiled.  I don't think I could quilt without them!

I hope we have more applique blocks in the future!

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

The Splendid Sampler -- Echo Quilting Tutorial

So many quilters responded to my Why I Quilt post and told me why they quilt: they quilt because it is their relaxation, their escape, their art, their passion.  It is all of those things for me and more!

Many quilters told me that they want to learn more about machine quilting.  I adore machine quilting and am thrilled that it's time for the first Machine Quilting Tutorial for The Splendid Sampler!  I used our first block, Hearts Aflutter, to show how to echo inside and outside the heart.

Echo quilting is simply a series of parallel lines outlining a shape on a quilt.  It is a very effective technique that will work great on your Splendid Sampler quilt or on many of your other quilting projects.  See how great these lines look on my block made with Hometown Girl fabrics from Pat Sloan:

I had fun filming this tutorial on my Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen, but this quilting technique will work on any machine that allows you to free-motion quilt.  My machine has a 1/4" foot, but you can use whatever size foot your machine has to help keep your echoed lines consistent.

Pat Sloan's Hometown Girl AuriFil 50 weight thread was a dream to quilt with.  It was thin and smooth, tensioned beautifully, and looks great on my samples.

Thanks for watching.  Sign up for my newsletter HERE to make sure you don't miss any of my machine quilting tutorials.

For more information on machine quilting, check out my Craftsy Class "Free-Motion Quilting with Lines, Curves and Loops"

Monday, April 04, 2016

The Splendid Sampler -- Scrap Star

Never would I ever in a million years have picked this block to make on my own.  Never.  Ever.  Nope, not even once. 

This block has half-inch borders, one inch half-square triangles, and is just plain tiny.  However, now that I've finished Corey Yoder's block for The Splendid Sampler, I am so glad that I did!  Scrap Star is finished and I love it!  I love everyone else's blocks, too.  See them HERE.

Is there a type of quilting that you avoid?  For me, it's always been miniature piecing.  What type of quilting challenges you most?

Saturday, April 02, 2016

March's Bookshelf

I felt like I didn't read much in March since I was sick for most of the month, so I was surprised to see my list was even this long!

The Murderer's Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman
This book was far more about learning a woman's backstory than it was about finding the solution to her current predicament.  This was my first Jonathan Kellerman book but it likely won't be the last.

Drunken Fireworks by Stephen King
Stephen King wrote this specifically as an audiobook.  It was a first-person unreliable narrator's account of a firework escalation between neighbors in Maine.  It was very short and had several laugh-out-loud moments.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
This fun read was even funner because it was set in Melbourne and I had several "Hey, I've been exactly where they are talking about" moments.  I also appreciated Don and his quirks and loved how devoted he was to his friends.  I understood him and rooted for him the whole way!

Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
I have avoided reading this series for years and years, for no particular reason.  I had some technical problems this month and I could neither listen to a disc nor listen to Audible.  The horror!  The only audiobooks I could listen to in my studio were ones downloaded from my local library.  They have most of the Preston/Child books so I gave in.  The narrator was great and the book was great.  On to book two!

The Revenant by Michael Punke
I read this book just because I want to see the movie.  I'm not exactly sure why I want to see the movie since I usually root against Leonardo DiCaprio on screen (Iceberg - 1, Leonardo - 0), but I read the book anyway.  I enjoyed the book and enjoyed playing with my scrap bin while listening to it.  I was left disappointed in the ending, but enjoyed the journey.  Now, since I know the ending (Leonardo - 1, bear - 0), I have to work up the energy to watch the movie anyway.

Naked in Death by J. D. Robb
I have a lot of catch-up quilting to do and I can quilt while half-listening to books like these.  Spoiler alert:  Eve Dallas caught the bad guy.

The Martian by Andy Weir
This book is worth reading again and again and it just makes me happy.  I'm trying hard not to just start reading it again RIGHT NOW!  I think I'll settle for watching the movie... again.

Do you have any recent reads that belong on my April bookshelf?  I'm always looking for a good book.

Friday, April 01, 2016

The Splendid Sampler -- Checkerboard

Pat Sloan's block for The Splendid Sampler was fun and easy and is helping me get caught up on my blocks quickly.  Thanks, Pat!  Here's my Checkerboard

I'm making a point to make some of my blocks without any background so I'll have a selection of light and dark blocks by the time I finish all 100.  This block worked great without any white background fabric.  Amy Rosenthal's Meadowbloom fabric is so bright and cheery!

See how everyone else's blocks turned out HERE.

I'm still behind on my blocks for The Splendid Sampler, so I'll rush right off and resume quilting!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Splendid Sampler -- Crocheted Thoughts

After a long, hard battle I finally finished Alyssa Thomas' Crocheted Thoughts block for The Splendid Sampler.

If you are asking "Why was this block a battle?" I have answers for you.  After I started stitching this block, my body fell apart.  
  • After 25+ years with lined bifocals, I am adjusting to progressive lenses in my eyeglasses.  My neck is getting sore from bobbing my head around trying to look through the right part of the lens.  If you've ever fought this battle, you feel my pain.  I had a lot of trouble threading the needle and it's difficult to embroider without a threaded needle.
  • The drastic weather changes in the last weeks have caused my arthritis to act up.  My hands have not been working well enough to hold a needle.
  • I apparently can't encounter a cold or virus that I don't adopt and take home with me.  I got hit with a double-whammy of illness last week.  I am now strong enough to sit up in a chair and am enjoying not coughing or sneezing for nearly 10 minutes at a time.
Finishing this block was a huge victory for me.  I'm celebrating spring and dead germs and new eyeglasses and working fingers.  I'm also celebrating a really cute block!  Thanks Alyssa!

If you want to see how amazing everyone's Crocheted Thoughts blocks look, click HERE and scroll down to see all the wonderful blocks!

Did you read my "Why I Quilt?" introduction to The Splendid Sampler machine quilting tutorials?  

I'm hurrying off now to catch up on the rest of my blocks.  Are you current on The Splendid Sampler?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Cutie Collection -- Block of the Month

I'm all caught up on this block of the month quilt, Inez's Walk Around the Block, from Quilt Basket.  It is fun using such a limited palette (gray, black, and white) but letting the texture do the work.  These Moda Modern Ink fabrics are so lovely to work with!

I feel wonderful being caught up on this project.  I think I'll celebrate by starting a new quilt!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Placemats of the Month club -- March edition

For Christmas, I promised Mom that I would send her a new set of placemats each month for 2016.

Here are March's placemats:

These little bits were left over from my Going My Way? quilt.  I was tickled to use one of my new FabuLux threads "Parade" (red, white, and blue) for the quilting.  It looked great on these nautical placemats:

I chose a really simple quilting pattern for these placemats since they are meant to be used and slopped and stained.  Tons of pretty quilting is unnecessary for these simple utilitarian placemats.

Happy March, Mom!

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Splendid Sampler -- Iowa

It is my goal to have a meal and sleep overnight in all 50 of these United States.  I have achieved that with 40 states so far, but I am not sure if I should consider Iowa or not.  The first time I was in Iowa, it was in the back of a taxi as it drove me from Omaha, Nebraska to Kansas City, Missouri.  It's a really, really long story.  That $450 cab ride went through four states, but I didn't have a meal or a hotel room in any of them so I didn't count it.  The second time I was in Iowa, I technically fulfilled both requirements, but I was in the state less than 18 hours.  I arrived, can't remember if I had dinner, slept, had a death in the family, and ate a breakfast sandwich at the airport as I flew out mid-morning.  I think I would like to visit Iowa again, just to make sure I can officially count it as having eaten and slept there.

The current block for The Splendid Sampler is named Iowa.  Sherri McConnell designed this scrappy snowball block and I really enjoyed making it!  April Rosenthal's Meadowbloom fabrics make this block sing!

If you want to see how everyone else's Iowa block turned out, click HERE and scroll down.

I am so excited that the machine quilting tutorials for The Splendid Sampler are rolling out soon.  Are you ready?  How would you quilt this block?

While you are waiting for the tutorials, I encourage you to check out my Handi Quilter DVDs all about sit-down longarm quilting.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Cutie Collection BOM -- catching up

Every day of February was spent either out of town or jetlagged/sick.  I did shockingly little quilting and am terribly behind on my block-of-the-month obligations.  Like Inez's Walk Around the Block from the Quilt Basket.

I am using Moda Modern BG Ink fabric with a golden yellow accent fabric (Go, Steelers!)

Are you making this Cutie block of the month?  Are you making others?  Brag if you are current on your obligations!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Why I Quilt

I am in love with quilting, specifically the process of holding the three layers of a quilt together.  Piecing is pleasant, but my passion is found in the stitches that hold a quilt together.  When my babies were young, I started hand quilting.  I fell in love with the subtle textures achieved one single stitch at a time.  As those babies grew into teenagers, I worked as a longarm quilter.  While quilting 5,000 quilts for customers, I learned about battings and threads and textures and quilting plans.  Now that I am an empty-nester (and a grandma!), I machine quilt on a sit-down longarm machine and pursue it as an art form.  Over the last decade, I have traveled the world teaching thousands of quilters to machine quilt their own quilts.  No matter the country or language spoken, quilters are the same wherever I go. 

When someone gets married, we make a quilt.  When someone is sick, we make a quilt.  When natural disasters strike, we make quilts.  When a baby is expected, we make a quilt.  We dig through our scraps and stashes.  We excitedly buy pre-cut selections of fabrics from our favorite designers.  We run to the local quilt shop and fondle the bolts, carefully choosing each piece for a quilt.  The moments we steal away to work on our quilts are precious moments and are made even sweeter if we are blessed enough to be quilting with friends. 

Once the quilt top is complete, quilts can be tied or hand quilted or machine quilted.  The quilting can be a necessary evil or the most exciting part of the quilt (I’m raising my hand, here!).  The quilting can be simple and utilitarian, intricate and beautiful, or even done by someone else but if the quilt isn’t quilted… it isn’t a quilt!  That unquilted quilt won’t snuggle a baby, grace a home, comfort the sick, or remind a college student that someone at home is thinking of them.  Those unquilted tops, piled in the closet, are unrealized dreams and promises unkept.  The quilting, often thought of as a chore, is important because it stitches that quilt together and holds the love inside the quilt.

As you are piecing your quilts, I encourage you to think of what type of quilting will suit that quilt best.  Does the quilt simply need to be held together?  Does the quilt have areas that would benefit from some decorative quilting?  Are you able or willing to quilt the quilt yourself?  Do you partner with a longarm quilter to finish your quilts?  Plan for your quilting while you are piecing your quilts so that you will be prepared to finish them.

I will be providing machine quilting tutorials for TheSplendid Sampler throughout the year.  I won’t be quilting my finished top in these tutorials because I’m making my quilt along with you!  What I will show, though, are techniques suggested by some of the blocks.  It is my hope that these tutorials will give you ideas for how you might want to quilt your Splendid Sampler quilt when it is finished, but also ideas for finishing some of your other quilts.

So, why do you quilt?  Is it your passion?  Is it a chore?