Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How Do You Eat an Elephant?

One bite at a time

Whenever I have a custom quilt I think of my friend, Shirley Stutz.  She has always done magnificent quilting, even before she acquired a longarm machine.  She did intricately detailed quilting with her domestic sewing machine (DSM). She has a longarm machine now and does fabulous work with that as well.  She has been a source of inspiration and encouragement to me for years.  She is an efficiency expert and thinks up new ways to do old things and goes around teaching others how to benefit from her brain storms.

I never liked paper piecing until I took a class from her.  She made it simple and effortless.  You didn’t even have to tear paper away after you learned how it is folded away from the next piece you were sewing to.  Even though she simplified the whole process, I still don’t care to make a quilt that way; but I’m not afraid to try it now.
Detail from my Elegant Lone Star (This is a Shirley Stutz pattern)
I had a challenge quilt to do one year and I planned my very first whole cloth quilt to try my challenge with.  I liked the resulting idea, but when it came to doing the background fill I felt like I had a monster job ahead of me.  (The quilt only measured 40” x 40”).  I asked Shirley how she approached her queen and king sized quilts when it came time to do the background fill and she looked me in the eye and asked “Do you know how to eat an elephant?” and of course I replied that I did not know and she said to me, very pointedly “One bite at a time.”
Dogwood Quilt challenge
It all makes sense when you approach ANY project with the concept of eating an elephant.  The job cannot be too big if you break it down into little pieces.
Detail from Pattie's rescue
Even the custom quilts that require lots of background fill and many days to finish don’t intimidate me anymore.  I don’t plan on ever eating an elephant, either alone or with friends, but if I ever have to, I am definitely inviting Shirley!
Detail from Karen's quilt

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

You Have to Begin Somewhere

The Chauffeur can sew!

I have two customers who always come to the studio together.  They drop off and pick up their quilts as a pair.  The daughter of one has driven them here since the beginning.  I can’t even tell you how long I have quilted for them.  The daughter is cheerful and works at McDonalds.  They come around her schedule.  She always has treats for the animals and she occasionally has an opinion about the pattern or the thread color her mother chooses for her various quilts.

Whole quilt
Last week they came to drop off the two quilts that are on my schedule for this week and the daughter is very excited because not only is this quilt her quilt, but she has pieced it as well.  All input for thread and pattern is hers alone.  
Center Block

One of the four legs of the pinwheel
Ann was worried I would reject her quilt because it was not perfect and she knew it and she would understand if I said I could not quilt it.  I laughed.  I can quilt just about anything, so there won’t be a problem there.  Happy with my answer, she chose her pattern and thread choices and turned to call Toby and Eubha to come get their treats.

Ann’s first quilt is quite nice and I’m sure she will be pleased with the results. I know I am.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Tooting my own horn

Quilting Winners

I went to the Cascade Quilt guild quilt show this weekend and was delighted to see so many of my customers quilts not only hanging, but possessing ribbons.  
Colorwash designed pieced and quilted by Janice Kiser - Blue Ribbon and Vendors Choice
I love winning a ribbon.  It means I did a fine job sewing my little pieces together, I made it pleasing enough to attract a judge’s good opinion and the quilting I put on it enhanced it to the point it was ribbon worthy.
Black Opal pieced and quilted by Janice Kiser - 2nd place
The only thing I love more than getting a ribbon for MY work is seeing my customers getting ribbons for their work.

I quilted 13 of the ribbon winners in this show of 110 quilts.  That’s pretty good odds in my opinion.  
Chain Gang by D. Shives - Blue Ribbon
Fair and Square by D. Shives - Blue Ribbon

Granny's Enchanted Garden by J. Stevens - Blue Ribbon
Granny's E G backside view
Quilter's Garden (I only quilted the outer border on this) by J. Vogel -  2nd place
Hopscotch by D. Shives  - Blue Ribbon

Lovers Knot by A. Burgess (no ribbon :-(

From my front porch by V. Smith (no ribbon :-(
Snowmen by R. Benge - Blue Ribbon

My Inspiration (Dear Jane) by R. Waybright  - 2nd place
Points and Crowns by K Hummel (part of silent auction)
Paper Lanterns  by K Hummel - 2nd place
Posies for my Red Hats by R. Benge - Blue Ribbon
And I am especially pleased that my friend who entered a quilt for the very first time got Best of Show.  She is not sure she wants to enter again, as she has achieved the highest honor first time out!
Friday's Child owned by P Melago, maker unknown - Blue Ribbon and BEST OF SHOW

Friday's Child owned by P Melago, maker unknown - Blue Ribbon and BEST OF SHOW

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sewing for Babies

Baby Quilts

Today the quilt I quilted was a baby quilt a friend made for a soon to arrive Grand Niece or Grand Nephew.
The style of this quilt runs along the lines of the charity quilts I make, with a simple addition of stripes on the side.  

This friend puts lime green in every quilt she makes. Sometimes it is a very small piece and other times it is the dominant feature.

I think this quilt works well for a baby, it is bright and interesting and best of all, it is DONE before baby arrives!
The focus fabric is very interesting and lends itself well to being able to pull so many colors from it to build an interesting array of blocks.

The back is fun and interesting as well.

What baby wouldn't be pleased with this!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Quilt Show Quilts

Quilting for a quilt show

Lately I have been quilting a quilt expressly for a quilt show.  All detail has been left to my fancy.  I like quilting when I have free rein, but sometimes the idea that it is going into a quilt show makes the job more intimidating.  

The fabrics are wild colors and make things pop.  They are also a mix of different types of fabric and that sometimes makes perfect stitches hard to achieve.  I will admit that perfect stitches elude the toughest critic so I try to do my best even under the pressure of knowing it will be judged and critiqued. 

The quilt top is free form art at a level I would never go for in building a quilt for myself.  It interests me how people process their ideas.  I saw this quilt when it was just four panels of fairies and an idea for borders.  The Grandmothers flower garden blocks were strewn about it on the floor so I got to see what was coming.  Laura and I went for a day trip one weekend when we had nothing else to do and stopped at a hotel where a group of my friends were at quilt retreat.   The maker started tossing the bits and parts on the floor and everyone gathered around and put in their 2¢ worth over what she should do next. At least the piecer gave me lots of time to think about what I might want to do with the quilting.

I did think about what to quilt on it up until I got it in my hands and then realized the batik fabric that was the background was so busy I would have a hard time finding thread that would look good on the busily patterned fabric.  Batik is stiff heavily dyed fabric that is very unforgiving.  My size 20 needle makes huge holes compared to a regular sewing machine and if any stitches have to be removed, the holes don’t ease back together like normal fabric does. Trying to not make mistakes is added pressure on top of knowing the quilt is going into a show.

I sat and thought about it for a few minutes and got out my handy pile of stencils. I fell back on using a beautiful feather that I could make curl up from the bottom of the quilt to the top, right up the middle.  I broke up the rest of the background space and did clam shells and swirls.  I chose a thread that was the same color as the fabric so you can’t see the stitching at all on the front.  I decided what I really wanted this quilt to do was surprise you when you looked at the back.  I think I pulled it off.  I hope the judges are equally pleased.