BEFORE YOU BUY! T SHIRT QUILT QUESTIONS TO ASK

Hello my friends, I know it’s been a while, but t’is truly the season. Meaning, this is THE season for quilters to be busy. June is second to the holiday season for reason of graduation gifts. But a far second, let me tell you.

I felt the need to take a moment to share a few thoughts, as I have recently found yet another “t shirt quilt maker” that offers a pretty sad result. This “company” brings customers in by way of a very low price. For those of you who want a t shirt (or memory, clothing, baby clothes, sports jersey, etc.) quilt made for you, here are some very important considerations I beg of you to ask prior to handing over your precious and irreplaceable items:

1. DO THEY USE A STABILIZER ON THE SHIRTS? Stabilizer is a light fabric that is ironed onto the backside of any jersey knit item to stop it from stretching. If you have shirts that are in good shape, or relatively new, this may seem like something that could be skipped. Not so, my friends.

When the shirts are sewn together, the stabilization prevents the shirts from stretching at the seam, so you don’t get your quilt back with all sorts of puckers at the seams. When the quilt is quilted, the stabilizer also adds an extra layer of strength and thickness to the top and ensures no puckers end up within the quilting.

2. WHAT KIND OF BATTING WILL BE USED? Batting is the center, and batting price and quality varies more than cotton fabric. If they tell you they use 100% polyester, your quilt will not be as warm, and may disintegrate after time and washing. 80/20 batting is a blend and works great for this application, and cotton will quilt nicely, and lay flat.

3. HOW MUCH QUILTING WILL BE DONE? The point of the quilting is to relieve tension on the seams and threads throughout the quilt. Less quilting = more stress on those seams, which means they will come apart sooner. Batting requires stitching or ties to hold it EVERY 4-6 square inches, (unless bamboo batting is used). So if your quilter says s/he will be quilting it every 12″, your batting will eventually tear and shift. Not good. Don’t pay someone to make your treasures into a quilt that will not last past a few washings.

4. WILL THERE BE ANY MATERIAL THE QUILTER PROVIDES? There are a few reasons to ask this question. One, if they are providing material for you, you will want to know the quality of the fabric (i.e. where did they buy it – a quilt shop or a cheaper craft store), the constitution (is it 100% cotton), and whether it has been prewashed. Secondly, you want to know that they are using good quality if that is what you are paying for. If the charge passed on to you per yard is <$10 you can bet it’s not fabric from a quilt shop, so you may have rougher texture, lower thread count, shredding seams or color bleed in the end.

5. HOW DO THEY FINISH THE QUILT EDGE? In my world, we call this the binding. There are several types, the above example is called double or French fold, applied binding. It is a good, sturdy, even and neat type of binding. Self-applied binding is when the back edge is folded over to the front, and if machine stitched, will provide a sturdy finish but softer edge. Envelope bind is when the edges are folded in and top stitched by machine. This is the toughest way to make a binding edge neat and even, so be sure to ask for photos of their work in advance.

I implore you to ask ask ASK for details from the maker PRIOR to relinquishing your shirts. It makes me very sad that there are great quilt makers out there potentially having their reputation tarnished by the few that are either ignorant or not focused on the quality and care of your special item.

These are truly one of a kind gifts and should be treated as such. I’ve made enough memory quilts to truly appreciate these irreplaceable gems and what they mean to the families that retain them.

In fact, your best bet is to ask to see photos of their previous work. That will give you a good visual as to what you should expect from them. Just FYI, all the pix posted here are from quilts I have made for my customers. 🙂 The three below were for siblings:

I can tell you that you will definitely get what you pay for. Experienced and knowledgeable quilt makers will charge you for the materials and labor, and that adds up to a lot more than a Walmart or Cracker Barrel quilt, so don’t expect to pay those prices. If you ask for a breakdown of costs, most quilters will provide one. Or ask why they charge more than another quilt maker, and they will be able to detail the various benefits you will get from the quality they can offer.

Buyer beware, and best of luck with your endeavor my friends!!

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This girl has been BUSY!

I truly love my job. Some of it is stressful, but I still love what I do every day. That being said, I had completely forgotten the great joy I feel from ‘kitting’ up these quilts! Finding a pattern, instinctively knowing what fabric was meant to be used for it, finding coordinating fabrics and the excitement of anticipation to put it all together – I can’t believe I forgot how fun that is!

I have been cutting ‘kits’ for days, literally. I cut one today, two yesterday and one the day prior. By cutting, I mean cutting out the pieces to be sewn. I do keep some intact for strip piecing, but many squares are cut to chain piece and other squares marked on the diagonal to become two sets of half square triangles sewn together.

I’ve also decided that I need to work on larger quilts, like some queen and king bed sized. For quite some time I was creating a lot of lap quilts. I still think this is a good gift practice – I don’t want someone feeling compelled to put their quilted gift on a bed. As embarrassing as this is to admit, I don’t even have designated quilts that stay on all the beds in my house.

That will soon be remedied. Well, relatively soon. Once completed, these tops will get stacked on the pile of other tops I’ve completed, awaiting their turn to get quilted. And maybe years later, bound. That’s my least favorite part…

Here’s where I decided to play with my non-scrap batiks:

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I got a few groupings of these put together with patterns.

Here are a few examples:

I bought this magazine for the cover photo alone. I happened to get this one all cut out yesterday.

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I have an admission to make here. I am terrible at following patterns. That’s why I’m not allowed to bake in my house. Cook? Absolutely, I’m good when I can wing it. Just not with specific and exact directions. So if I use a pattern, I have to write out what I need in a way that works for me. When I get to putting it together, it again will be by my own method.

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I took out the red fabric bin to choose my fabrics. I got some of those and some black and white and grays from the scrap boxes for a really good mix.

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In these cases, I had only a photo in a magazine to go by, so I used my trusty graph paper to formulate a pattern and calculate my required yardage.

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The one above I even colored in the strips to ensure I remembered to alternate fabrics within the two different blocks in the pattern. I’m so frustrated – I knew I should have kept this magazine out with the page tabbed. I shared this with a friend and she was having trouble grasping it so I told her I’d look for the original photo in my stack of magazines. I have looked for two days now, to no avail. Still can’t find the darn thing.

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This one needed no pattern. I have a variety of these adorable holiday prints, and will simply make them into 4-patch blocks with sashing (likely in white) with scrappy cornerstones. Haven’t cut this one up at all yet. I’ll maybe wait until July when I’m wishing for cold weather to come back around.

I am so excited for retreat! I have two small wall hanging sized quilts that only need borders. Then I’ve got probably 8-10 already cut projects just ready for me to sew! It will take me a while to finish them because not one of them includes large block pieces, but I look forward to it nonetheless.

Maybe at the March retreat I just signed up for I can include some big block quilt patterns for a few quick finishes. But between now and then I need to get back to my longarm as well, so I can get back on track with my workload. And I am excited for that too!

 

 

my 2017 projection

Well hello there! Yes, it has been a while… a LONG while. there’s a good reason though, and that reason is that 2016 was crazy busy. I had the busiest year by far out of my seven years of longarm quilting for the public! Like 140% of business compared to the prior year!

This has all been a good thing, because things happened: I paid off a student loan, I put money in savings and CD’s for my girls, and I sort of learned to say no. Most importantly, I had an intervention with some quilty friends at retreat. They sat me down (more than once) and explained how important I am. That I have value, and that I need to make time for ME.

So that’s the plan. This year is all about balance, and about keeping myself as a top priority on my to-do list.

Last year I had quite a few friends that made resolutions to finish UFO’s, to not buy new fabric, to not start new projects but finish their old. My resolution (if you want to call it that) this year will be to start new projects! Ha!

I would like to say one per week, but I think one per month is more realistic.

There is another fuel propelling me towards this goal: I went a little crazy on buying fabric over my holiday time off. I mean like, $6-700 crazy. It’s been a long time since I really went on a spree to buy anything just for me. Usually it’s something to finish customer quilts, bolts of black, or stabilizer. Not necessarily the fun stuff.

When I got home and had the opportunity to fondle my purchases, I decided to see if I had some things in my stash to match or coordinate with my new things. I was appalled. Absolutely embarrassed by the amount of fabric I have hoarded, yet at the same time, I can’t stop. I cannot stop buying beautiful fabrics within which I see great potential for beauty when combined in the right group with other fabrics and a great pattern.

The interesting thing is that I noticed that my fabric tastes have changed. I purged a lot of fabrics over the past few years that were cottagey, boho chic, sort of floral in favor of marbles, solids and blenders, with colors being the opportune eye catcher of the quilt. Interesting to note, at least for me. I have also picked up quite a few black and white prints.

What to do? USE IT. I need to make things. Well, not just things, but QUILTS. So today I started.

Actually it was yesterday. I set out some focus fabrics on my table and some fabric groups. But today I cut fabric from three sets into ‘kits’ that will work with the patterns I chose for them. I’m having surgery next week, and I figure I may not be able to cut or quilt or do heavy lifting, but I could certainly sit at the machine and piece.

So I guess what I have to say about all of this is:

  • if you love fabric, buy it. eventually you will use it or give it to someone that will.
  • use it, and use it now. don’t save the stuff you love for another day. a friend of mine said she knew a lady that did just that, and suddenly went blind, so could no longer play with her favorite fabrics she has saved.
  • start new projects. if you have UFO’s you can’t get back to, give them to someone at your guild, or in a friendship group. It may just become a cherished, and finished project.

I’m a scrapper, so I use a lot of them in quilts and just love the way scrappy quilts look. If you aren’t a scrap saver, give them to someone who is. They will find a good use for the fabric! If you do applique or postcards, the smallest piece of fabric is often still usable.

So, like I said, for me this year is about balance. Balance, meaning I will find time for the gym, to cook some dinners, and most importantly, to make some quilts that I want to make. That does mean that my business goals are less aggressive, financial goals less skyward, but in exchange my happiness level should be stable, achievable, and daily. AND less stress to boot!

Essentially, this is a re-evaluation of my measure of success. This past year was about driving my income over and above the year before. OK, check that off, done. This year, that’s less important than finding peace with a balanced lifestyle, and a holiday season that isn’t overwhelmingly busy to the point of no time for family.

I’m quite excited for this new year. I hope you are too! Happy quilting my friends!

Custom Quilting Pix

It’s been a while… and I have certainly been busy (my excuse for not writing…). So if I’m going to keep you at bay for this long, I suppose I should share with you what I have been up to!

Here are some photos:

I worked on a large, very special Christmas quilt…

quilted grout

quilted grout

stocking

stocking

ornaments

ornaments

sampler

sampler

angel

angel

I also spent some time on this one:

custom baskets

custom baskets

A LOT of time, actually…

I did another custom quilt with feathers as well:

feather circles

feather circles

Made this for a friend:

sandy's quilt

sandy’s quilt

and this one for a retirement:

signature quilt

signature quilt

And quilted this hand dyed panel:

freehand sunflowers

freehand sunflowers

There were numerous other quilts in there, just none of which I took decent photographs.

My current project includes freehand braided rope and my next quilt will also have a bit of custom fun, so stay tuned!

Happy quilting my friends!

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEFORE YOU BUY! T SHIRT QUILT QUESTIONS TO ASK

Hello my friends, I know it’s been a while, but t’is truly the season. Meaning, this is THE season for quilters to be busy. June is second to the holiday season for reason of graduation gifts. But a far second, let me tell you.

I felt the need to take a moment to share a few thoughts, as I have recently found yet another “t shirt quilt maker” that offers a pretty sad result. This “company” brings customers in by way of a very low price. For those of you who want a t shirt (or memory, clothing, baby clothes, sports jersey, etc.) quilt made for you, here are some very important considerations I beg of you to ask prior to handing over your precious and irreplaceable items:

1. DO THEY USE A STABILIZER ON THE SHIRTS? Stabilizer is a light fabric that is ironed onto the backside of any jersey knit item to stop it from stretching. If you have shirts that are in good shape, or relatively new, this may seem like something that could be skipped. Not so, my friends.

When the shirts are sewn together, the stabilization prevents the shirts from stretching at the seam, so you don’t get your quilt back with all sorts of puckers at the seams. When the quilt is quilted, the stabilizer also adds an extra layer of strength and thickness to the top.

2. WHAT KIND OF BATTING WILL BE USED? Batting is the center, and batting price and quality varies more than cotton fabric. If they tell you they use 100% polyester, your quilt will not be as warm, but with all the t shirts you may be warm enough without a good quality batting. 80/20 batting is a blend, and cotton will quilt nicely, and lay flatter. Polyester batting also will not give the traditional look a quilt gets after washing, which happens with cotton batt as it shrinks in a little. If there is no batting, the end product is not actually a quilt and will not have a finished result (sort of like taking two pieces of paper and stapling the edges together and that’s it – the whole inside is left disconnected).

3. HOW MUCH QUILTING WILL BE DONE? Batting requires stitching or ties to hold it EVERY 4-6 square inches. So if your quilter says s/he will be quilting it every 12″, your batting will eventually tear and shift. Not good. Don’t pay someone to make your treasures into a quilt that will not last past a few washings.

4. WILL THERE BE ANY MATERIAL THE QUILTER PROVIDES? There are a few reasons to ask this question. One, if they are providing material for you, you will want to know the quality of the fabric (i.e. where did they buy it – a quilt shop or a craft store), the construction (is it 100% cotton), and whether it has been prewashed. Prewashing prevents additional shrinkage and especially with lower quality fabrics, the colors can bleed, which can essentially ruin your quilt. Secondly, you want to know that they are using good quality if that is what you are paying for. If the charge passed on to you per yard is <$10 you can bet it’s not fabric from a quilt shop, so you may have rougher texture, lower thread count, shredding seams or color bleed in the end.

5. HOW ARE THEY FINISHING YOUR QUILT? Finishing, meaning the binding (see photo below). This is a great example of an applied, double fold binding attached by machine to front and back, with mitered corners. If they are folding the back over to the front the finish may not be as clean, and same for knife edge finish.

I implore you to ask ask ASK for details from the maker PRIOR to relinquishing your shirts. It makes me very sad that there are great quilt makers out there potentially having their reputation tarnished by the few that are either ignorant or not focused on the quality and care of your special item.

These are truly one of a kind gifts and should be treated as such. I’ve made enough memory quilts to truly appreciate these irreplaceable gems and what they mean to the families that retain them.

In fact, your best bet is to ask to see photos of their previous work. That will give you a good visual as to what you should expect from them. Just FYI, all the pix posted here are from quilts I have made for my customers. 🙂 The three below were for siblings:

Buyer beware, and best of luck with your endeavor my friends!!

Latest quilting work

It has been an incredibly busy spring, business-wise and personally. Kids finishing up school, dentist, oral surgeon, orthodontist, emergency surgery… and that’s just kids. Then there was the two emergency speaker engagements and the one planned that I performed, a quick last minute trip with hubby, my own minor surgery and a weekend jaunt to see the folks.

I think I can take a breath now.

Somehow I actually accomplished a LOT of quilting work, despite everything else going on. Or maybe because of it – I find quilting so cathartic that it relieves loads of stress for me.

It was quite a variety of work, too. I quilted, bound and appraised a group of antique quilts for a client, made a few t shirt quilts, and quilted whole-cloth hand dyed panels, as well as a few all-over quilts, a custom wedding gift and a few wool applique pieces.

At any rate, I love sharing the photos and as much as I enjoy looking at other quilters’ work, I figure someone out there will enjoy these too!

a beautiful piece of history

a beautiful piece of history

I kept the antique quilts simple; they were going to be auctioned to family at an upcoming reunion. This is one of my favorite old blocks. It’s called Strawberry and it’s not all that common. In this case it was beautifully pieced and scrappy but within a specific color framework.

the classic grandmothers flower garden

the classic grandmothers flower garden

This one (above) has a high visual appeal as well. Quite striking.

field of flowers

field of flowers

I did this one for a friend. It’s hard to see the overall quilting in ANY of the photos, and a photo of the whole is too far away to get a good idea of the quilting in detail.

hand dyed floral

hand dyed floral

Debra Linker did a beautiful job hand dyeing this panel, and I had fun quilting it.

I also quilted a few for a client for her husbands office décor…

waves

waves

and this one…

squares

squares

and this one…

a shell

a shell

Creating this was almost as artistic for me:

tshirt quilt

tshirt quilt

and this one…

BIG tshirt quilt

BIG tshirt quilt

And then a little less custom quilting work…

wool applique quilt

wool applique quilt

And a little more. I hope the bride is happy with this gift from her friend – she should well be – it is so beautiful!

wedding quilt

wedding quilt

Speaking of diagonal lines, here is what I’m currently working on:

diagonal lines

diagonal lines

I can’t even begin to explain how tedious these are, and how pickled I am that they look so straight and evenly spaced! Mind you this is freehand, with my only tools being a tape measure, chalk and my ruler!

my simple tools

my simple tools

 

There were a few others in there. I didn’t snap any pix of the 4 Quilt Of Valor quilts I finished, but after this custom is finished I think I’ll need to do some all over charity quilts to clear my system.

I hope my photos have inspired you, or urged you to create something on your own. Happy quilting my friends. Stay busy!

blooming 9 patch

blooming 9 patch

 

Thread Art

Long arm quilting can come with it’s challenges. One of the greatest can be taking a plain piece of fabric and transforming it into this:

TX flag whole cloth mini

TX flag whole cloth mini

That was actually inspired by this:

my inspiration

my inspiration

The whole cloth was a mini quilt I gave to someone leaving the state.

I do love to take pieces of silk and turn them into small art quilts. I have only had the opportunity to make four so far, but for some reason I failed to photograph one of them…

red silk mini whole cloth quilt

red silk mini whole cloth quilt

custom quilting by maria hall

blue silk whole cloth mini quilt

quilting by maria the quilter

feather whole cloth mini quilt

These are great projects to give as gifts or submit for charity auctions.

Lately I have also been playing with mini whole cloth quilts made from patterned traditional cotton.

In this case, I quilted three different pieces in different manners, but each inspired by the fabric itself.

maria the quilter custom quilting

mini art quilt by maria hall

The one above reminds me of pebbles on a beach and the waves rolling around. On a different piece I went completely linear, versus the curves and softness of the one above.

maria the quilter

custom quilting by maria hall

This one just tickles me, but perhaps it’s my odd sense of humor.

quilting by maria hall

the Baptist fan blew my 9 patch away

Here is the back view:

maria the quilter

backside of custom quilt

This piece began with me deciding to thread paint a 9 patch alternating block but as I went along, my blocks were not exactly staying the same size. So I started letting them fade off, meaning, not completing the 9 parts of the block – in some spots there are 5 or 6 or 3 of the 9 expected pieces. So the 9 patch blocks sort of trail off.

Then, using different thread (admittedly not different enough), I quilted this in an all over Baptist fan pattern. Get it? the Baptist fan blew my 9 patch away?!?!? Well, you don’t have to like it, cuz I do. 🙂

In the case below I used thread that was too divergent, with black thread as the background stipple stitch on the black fabric. The result is not bad in person but in photos it looks like amoebas floating amongst squares in a sea of black. See below:

thread art by maria the quilter

thread art by maria hall

Sometimes you just have to play. It doesn’t always turn out magnificent, but I figure if I learn along the way, then I have accomplished something, and as a quilter I have made progress towards being better at my craft.

So quilt on my friends, just don’t forget to have fun. If you aren’t enjoying it, what’s the point? 🙂