Log Jam

January 24, 2014

Burrrrrr...it is cold outside around here!  Kids are home from school today due to the arctic conditions.  Yes, it is getting to the point where I am so over winter.  It is a good time to be inside quilting or snuggled under a nice warm quilt.  I think I have the perfect quilt to show that fits the bill.  Another quilt from the book Flannel Gatherings, Log Jam.

It is big and soft and just screams "comfort!" :-)
 The quilting is a completely freehand mixture of designs with a gorgeous feather in the border.  I truly believe not all quilts need to have heavy, fancy schmancy quilting.  Yes, I said it!  The quilting is random doodles, feathers, swirls, paisleys...feathered paisleys that fill the space.  The batting is Dream Orient from Quilters Dream Batting.  All threads are So Fine from Superior Threads.
 As I was quilting out the design.  Completely random.  Just having fun filling the space. :-)  Creating cool texture was my goal.
I love how the feather border turned out.  I changed it up slightly and kind of "pooled" the feathers in the corners.
I used chalk to draw out the feather spine before I loaded the top.
A few of the back.  I love it when all you see is the texture created from the quilting.
Again this quilt pattern is in the book Flannel Gatherings.  The book and the quilt kit are available here.
And if you look in the book, you will see "you know who" and my tips on quilting with flannel and wool applique. :-)
Speaking of flannel quilts, if you are headed to the Road To California Quilt Show, you may see this...
Yes, that is Portland Rose with a 2nd Place ribbon on it!!!  It is the first time I have ever submitted a quilt myself.  When I received the email the other night, Lisa and I were thrilled...like we had won best of show! lol  We didn't have any expectations going into it, so this was awesome!  Trust me, when I was quilting PR, I just wanted to meet the book deadline and finish.  I thought I would never get all the mirco quilting finished!!!  I talked about quilting Portland Rose here.  I wasn't even thinking about a quilt show, which makes this even sweeter.
I was fortunate to have Lisa and some Instagram friends send me photos.  I got a kick out of the Homer, MI being on there!!  I love my small town. :-)

Wishing everyone a warm weekend!

Lucky #13

January 22, 2014

Jersey Girl is the January Schnibble of the month.  You can find it here.  Have any of you started it yet??  Well, if you have not...DO!!!  It is an awesome little quilt.  Not bragging, but my version is done.  lol  Oh yes, you read that correctly!  Almost, just need to apply the binding.  I will give you a peek, but I will reveal all the details before the parade on Sherri and Sinta's blogs.
My post title is Lucky #13 because my girls are officially teenagers!  Happy Birthday to my sweet babies!  Of course, they are sweet young ladies, but to us they will always be our babies.  It has been 13 wonderful years since the moment they came into our lives.  Each and every day has been a blessing.
Seems like yesterday... their first time playing in the leaves.
Our annual Christmas photos.  My favorite night of the year!  Over the years, the girls as well as the animals have learned to pose and sit still.  Oh gosh, there have been some funny photos that never make the Christmas Card!  I laugh as I write this.  Tears shed...Sarge getting up just as the photo is being taken.  Good times.  Good memories!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  Love you to the moon and back.

Quilt Designs, "Does it Fit?"

January 14, 2014

I believe everyone has their own method to their Madness.  Whether it is folding laundry, cleaning or even quilting.  This is what I do. It may not be the correct way and definitely not the only way, but this is a little insight into my Madness. :-)

When it comes to coming up with quilt designs, I stick to one guiding principle..."does it fit?"  I say it in my head and I say it out loud.  My goal is always to create quilt designs that do not compete with the quilt top, piecing or applique.  Like the quilt was born that way...a partnership...marriage of sorts.  The quilting and top are intertwined in a way that you cannot tell where one ends and one begins.  Of course I want my quilting to show, but I never want the quilting to be all you see.    My hope is to create designs that elevate a quilt, not conquer it.

My best ideas for designs usually come once the quilt is loaded. Sometimes the quilting just screams at me, other times the top makes me guess a little.  In those instances, I like to lay the quilt out and stare at it.  I like to squint and/or let my eyes fall out of focus as I stare at it.  This can help you see secondary shapes or designs appear.  It also helps you see what really stands out. When I started quilting, Jamie Wallen taught me to squint at tops to pick out the best thread color, but I found it works great for designing too! In the case of Settler's Puzzle, the white areas pop out at you, but I almost could see circular and curving shapes too.  Not all those 90 degree, boxy shapes when you first glance at it.
The top is a repeating design, traditional and the red is a reproduction.  Those all factor into designing as well.  I have worked with enough dark reproductions to know that small, heavy designs are not going to show...like background fillers.  Unless there is a quilted motif...like feathers with fill around the feathers.  Sooooo, I thought I would create a design that would play up those curving shapes and a design that repeats.
My favorite way to audition designs is to draw them right on the top with plain old white chalk.  I can easily wipe it away.  Repeating that curved crosshatch design around the quilt creates a look of scallops.
In order to make the design continuous, the corners also have a curved crosshatch design.  Feathers complement the design and create a bridge from one area to the next.
Feather spines with a soft curve mimic the circular shape, framing those white chains and pinwheels that were popping off the top when you were staring at it. :-)  Remember?  So repeating the curved lines/shapes and feathers, just like the piecing design repeats.  Quilting and piecing playing off one another so that "it fits."

If I need to find inspiration for a quilt like this, I look to antique quilts for ideas.  Pinterest, books or eBay can be a great source for inspiration.  Often this will get my creative cap working.

Another way I like to audition designs, but I do not do it as often is to take a photo of the top,  make a photocopy and draw designs on the photocopy. I did this for a quilt like Portland Rose seen here.
Portland Rose is a huge quilt with ample open space for quilting.  In this case, it really helped with the design by drawing them out a little.  As you can see, it is a bunch of scribbles mostly, but it gave me a general layout.  When I do this, I like to fold the paper in fourths, so I section it up.  It becomes a lot less intimidating to design a section, then a giant quilt all at once. :-)

I hope you find my tips aka ramblings helpful. :-)

Settler's Puzzle

January 6, 2014

Is everyone staying warm during the "polar vortex?"  Ugh.  Sounds like an action movie, I care not to be experiencing.

I love show and tell.  I always find it so inspiring.  I hope to be better this year on showing and telling. :-)  Next up...Settler's Puzzle, an original design I quilted for Pam Buda of Heartspun quilts.  Pam will have all the details on the pattern here.  I took a ton of photos for your viewing pleasure, but you may see some duplicates on Pam's blog. :-)
Threads are So Fine by Superior.  Two layers of Dream Orient batting from Quilter's Dream Batting.  I wanted to give the quilting definition.  Many times on the darker, reproduction style fabric, the quilting tends to get lost.  Double batting helps to avoid that.  Dream Orient has a lightweight feel and wonderful drape.
The pattern is a gorgeous design!! A cool take on a Irish Chain style quilt.  Feathers and curved crosshatching make for a wonderful combination.  I wanted to create the illusion of curves repeating surrounding the white squares and pinwheels.  I LOVE how it turned out.
All the quilting is freehand.  I used a my curved rulers from Jamie Wallen available here.
The corner design frames the quilt so well!
Close ups.
Some as I was quilting photos on the frame.  It still amazes me the transformation quilts make from unquilted to quilted. :-)
The back may tie the front as my favorite.  You can really see the secondary circular design created from the back!!
I will do a follow up post to this one discussing how I came up with design and some marking tips for quilts. :-)

On a sad note, please keep my dearest friend Lisa in your thoughts and prayers.

Rocky Mountain Puzzle Quilted

January 1, 2014

Happy New Year to everyone!!!  It is hard to believe.  I feel as though 2013 sped by at warp speed.  I thought I would start the year off on the right blogging foot with a new post.  I am hoping to be a much better blogger this year.  I seemed to be content with creepy lurking last year.  

One of my big goals for 2013 was to make a conscience effort to work on my own projects.  Whether it was quilting, piecing, hand wool work or gifts for others, I was determined to make sure that happened.  Well, I did it!!  I completed (meaning ready to use)...26 projects!!!  Only 2 are wool mats, the rest are quilts...big and small. :-)  Yes, even I could not believe it.  That is huge for me!!  I am quite positive I have not completed 26 projects in one year...EVER!!  I even...finally have a quilt on my bed!!!  Yes, the stars must have all been align for that one.  So stay tuned. :-)

I quilted, bound and washed Rocky Mountain Puzzle available here, which was the 2012 Summer Block of the Week from Primitive Gatherings.  Confession time...I have never completed a block of the month type quilt EVER.  Oh, I have signed up for a few of them over the years, but I always lose interest after a few months.  So this was a huge milestone for me.  I showed the completed top here and changes I made from the original pattern.  And now!!
 I braved the ridiculous cold to take some photos in my yard.  I am always admiring these outdoor photos on other blogs.  I am thinking I will wait until the temperatures are habitable for living creatures for outdoor photos next time. :-)
Some before binding and washing photos.  Louie seems to love this quilt as well. :-)
The quilting is an allover freehand feather.  Different than one I have done before.  My quilt was a practice piece, as it was the first time I quilted this design out.  This feather is more casual I guess for lack of a better term.  I would consider the other style more of an heirloom feather.  This design quilts out much faster than the other.  Perfect for an allover on a quilt.  I used Dream Wool Batting.  You can really see the texture!!  Actually there are probably 12 pieces of batting in there!!  I used odds and ends I had in the cupboard.
 You can see how a wash and dry makes the quilt all crinkly and wonderful.  Yes, I dried my quilt.  Dried it until it was crispy.  No major shrinkage.  I like to torture my quilts a little. :-) No issues with the pieced batting either.  This way I can give honest answers if a client asks about washing and drying quilts or wool batting.  And this quilt has already received plenty of love by the time I took these photos.
 So I got a little carried away taking pics outside.  All sorts of settings around the yard.  I figured I was already freezing, I should make the most of it. :-)
And a few of the back.
The backing fabric is a reproduction from my stash.  I love it!  The print reminds me of little olives. :-)  I lovingly renamed my quilt "Southfork."  Another guilty confession, since I seem to be in my own little confessional today...I LOVE the TV show "Dallas."  Oh yes I do!!!  J.R. Ewing is my all time favorite TV villain.  Do I own a "Who Shot J.R.?" t-shirt??  You bet!! LOL!  So you know I own the show on DVD too, right? :-)
Thank you for all the kind words and emails regarding my foot.  I am still on the mend.  Unfortunately.  I always think I am going to outsmart what the doctor tells me regarding recovery time.  I am back to work quilting, I just need to limit my time on my foot.  Hopefully, another 4 weeks and I should be good as new.  :-)