Some recent quilting photos

So at the moment I have this awful emphysema sounding cough. It makes my throat hurt and my chest sore and I sound like a troll. The good news is that otherwise I am fine. No fever, chills, headache, nausea, aches or anything. WHEW. If this is what I’m getting sick with for the season, I’ll take it!

It does make me feel tired quickly, but if I lay down, I very quickly feel rested and bored. I’ve been doing quite a bit of quilting still, and figured doing some writing would be a great way to ‘rest’ and still feel like I’m being productive.

I haven’t started this year’s project yet. The pattern is so beautiful but SOOOOOOO complicated! I have trouble enough with simple patterns! So I decided tonight that I would re-evaluate before cutting a thing and see if I can find another similar pattern that isn’t so convoluted.

Last year’s project is wrapping up well. I’m getting everything quilted in anticipation of my first presentation in February!

So what to post about? Well, who doesn’t like seeing pictures of quilting? 🙂 I like seeing pictures of quilting, so I’m going to share some of my recent work:

paisley swirl feather

paisley swirl feather

The quilt above is a charity quilt, and the top was beautiful, so I wanted to quilt it in a beautifully elegant manner.

backside of a quilt

backside of a quilt

This is the backside of another quilt, which is made from the K. Fassett fabrics in the pieced blocks here on the back. I did mostly swirls, but mirrored some of the squares and it shows up really cool on the back! Here is the front:

K Fassett front

K Fassett front

This was a cute little project I put in my Etsy store. It’s all over swirls with pearls in the center. The black fabric is the backside:

swirls front and back

swirls front and back

Here’s a better shot of the whole front:

swirl w pearl top

swirl w pearl top

And this one is the last quilt from last years project. I used variegated thread and did these little flowers and tiny loops, keeping the quilting a bit loose. I love how it turned out:

loops and flowers

loops and flowers

I wish my lighting was better on that photo, but you get the idea.

I’ve got a few all over and a big custom job coming up, as well as a whole lot of charity quilts and project quilts to get through, so I am sure I’ll have more photos in the near future.

In the meantime, happy quilting my friends. 🙂

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It’s been a while

I haven’t posted to this blog in a while, but I have been blessed this year with a request I spoke late last year, whether I really meant it or not. I prayed that my business would prosper, but that this year I might have time to be creative and do my OWN projects as well.

Actually, I did mean it, because I was SO busy last year I truly did not have time to do anything ANYTHING but quilt for others. Don’t get me wrong = I LOVE quilting work that others bring me! But sometimes, just sometimes, I want to be able to make something. Create something from scratch.

I believe I have been given that very opportunity. Funny enough, I finished up my holiday deadline projects right before we left for Christmas celebration with family in Memphis. I had time to put together a scrap quilt, and then had no business. To clarify, no business due. I did have a few quilts brought to me for the coming year, nothing in a hurry though.

So I quilted a charity quilt for the guild, and finished two O L D projects TO COMPLETION (yay me!), which is unheard of in this house. Then I started another project with scraps.

This week I decided to get all my quilting-for-other-people work done. I have one task I don’t want to do – I have to tell a client I can’t do her quilts. She asked me to follow a pantograph. I don’t do pantographs. I found her someone that could and she said she wanted me to try to freehand a design like it. I tried (on that charity quilt), and it was AWFUL. Which means I not only have a limitation, but I have to admit it to someone else. sigh.

Anyway, the next post you will see from me will be soon, and it will be regarding this last project using scraps. I found a block pattern in a magazine and sort of modified it to make a top, which I finished the center of today. I still need to decide what to do for the border.

But I’m thinking I can take the concept of this block and play with it with different color combinations, different shades and batiks vs. conventional prints. What I’d like to do is showcase this each month, to show how DIFFERENT the same exact pattern can become with very small changes.

I don’t want to spoil all the fun with pictures and everything, but this first time around I took the block and used different colors than suggested and put in sashing and cornerstones. That’s one of my favorite ways to make quilts – it really separates the blocks and relieves the potential for muddled confusion of too much altogether by giving your eyes a break.

So, thanks for hanging with me. I’ll get busy with these pix and write up and plans so we’ve got some good info to circulate. 🙂

Happy quilting!

quilting pictures

I have been doing a LOT of work this year. I am incredibly blessed and very lucky to say that my business hasn’t slowed down a bit since Christmas. Couldn’t ask for a better scenario, as a small business owner/self employed artist.

So I thought I would share some photos of work I’ve recently completed. I always enjoy looking at pictures and works others have done, and sometimes find it inspirational. So I hope you enjoy these!

Customers quilt – paisleys all over

paisleys

Quilted for a charity group – the quilt was to be auctioned off to raise funds. This is the top:

top

and the back:

back

This top is one of two identical quilts, only this one was in brights:

whole front

Upon closer inspection, you can see I used a variegated thread in Easter Egg colors, to match the colors in the quilt.

up front

And the back looks pretty cool too!

back

Here’s the sister quilt, in browns and grays:

front

But I quilted it completely different from the other quilt, as you can see from the back:

back

Here is another quilt from the same client. She made two of these, but cut them differently so when the tops were finished, they were different.

top

There were these swirly things in some of the black fabric that looked like thumbprints, so I quilted thumbprints, as you can see on the back quite well:

thumbprints

I wanted to quilt the other top similarly, but couldn’t figure out what to do.

whole front 

 I looked on the internet a bit, doodled a bit, and finally came up with this:

top

This picture really shows it well – it’s called Escargot:

escargot

This quilt was made by her friend,

top 

and I thought she would like a more classic quilting pattern, like feathers. I quilted them within the diagonal lines of the quilt pattern.

feathers

This photo of the back shows the little border and some feathers well:

back

And finally, the Mariner’s Compass. This beautiful quilt was well put together, and she left the quilting entirely up to me.

whole top

She only asked that I fill in the outer purple areas with something that caught the eye, so I made curling purple feathers with variegated thread.

feathers

This photo also shows the feathers, but is also a great example of the outer and inner gold borders. I was SO pleased with how they turned out! It looks a bit metallic, but isn’t – it’s Glide thread.

inner border

This shows that inner border as well:

various

With the lighter spaces, I decided to do heavier quilting, to create that texture. But each round has a different all over design. You can see that above, one having flames and the other a very small meander. See below as well:

top center

Similarly, with the points, I kept the same idea and kept with swirly and rounded themes.

top

points

These quilts were ALL a lot of fun to do. And I greatly appreciate my customers allowing me the freedom to use my creativity with their quilts.

I won’t wait so long before sharing more photos! In the meantime, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little gallery, and perhaps it brought you some inspiration!

Happy quilting!

Lewisville Quilt Guild Raffle Quilt

I wasn’t sure what to title this post, because it’s really about a mix of things. But ultimately it is about THIS quilt, so I decided to keep it simple. But if this still looks like more than you want to read, well, just enjoy the pictures then! 🙂

I wasn’t sure at first that I would bid on quilting this for the guild. I enjoyed doing it last year, and really love to do work that benefits the guild, but to be honest, I really don’t like ’30’s fabric (or ’30’s reproduction)! And this quilt is primarily composed of it.

When I heard at a guild meeting for the second time that they were still looking for bids to quilt it, I went ahead and put one in. And was chosen. Shortly thereafter I received the quilt, but set it aside, as I was working on another quilt that a client wanted to put in the Dallas Quilt Celebration this March.

I decided a few weeks ago that I wanted to have the guild quilt finished by the February meeting (which was last night), so I pulled out the top and draped it over my longarm machine so I could view it from afar and get some ideas. I already knew I wanted to do some feathers in the border and in the white spaces, but I wasn’t sure how they would fit.

The next day I sat again, but with paper, and started drawing. I traced the space I had and drew out what I thought I wanted to do.

first pass, not so good

It looked awful. So I traced the space again and tried a simpler design.

better, but not there yet

Better. Drew it again – got it.

boom - that's it!!

I also figured out that with the large feather in the border that I wanted to do, I would have it oscillate and curl around, and I also didn’t want it to just be contained in the border. There were white blocks from the center that met up with the white border, so I decided to let those areas bleed into each other, rather than having the quilting design stay within the blocks.

So I strung up the back (once I do this, I don’t remove the quilt from my machine until it’s done, so this forces me to GET GOING). I tacked down the edges and decided to start on those edge feathers. I used my Glide thread in white, which really brightened up the white areas.

outer feather begun

After getting a good portion of the outer feather done, I decided I would quilt the center feathers, and just get all the white thread areas completed, and THEN go back through to do the color blocks. This was in part because I wasn’t set on what to do in those areas just yet.

feather partially complete

feather complete

Last year when I did a feather border on the guild quilt, I had just taught myself how to do veined feathers, which I thought were very pretty. The feathers in this year’s border were quite long, so I considered it again, but then thought, 1. I wanted to keep it simple and 2. (more importantly) I didn’t want to vein all the feathers on the inside blocks, so for consistency’s sake, I would keep it simple and classic, and not vein any of the feathers.

all inner feathers completed

Very happy with my feathered spaces filled in, I finished the border on the bottom and sides and then went back to my initial thought about drawing out some texture in the quilt. I ditched around the chevrons in the color blocks

stitch in the ditch around the white chevron

and did a stipple around the feathers and applique on the outside of the quilt. That really made the feathers and the vine pop out.

stippling

Next up – the colored blocks. My daughter helped me decide to use the lighter of two variegated threads, and I decided just to keep using the white bobbin thread, even though I knew the colors would show through a little on the backside of the quilt. I had drawn up a flower I thought I wanted to put in the star centers, and thought the little flowers in some of the fabric patterns were a good inspiration for the chain blocks. So I quilted little daisy-like flowers in the chain blocks next.

little daisies on a chain

While I quilted the daisies, There were these triangle blocks that I didn’t think I could tie in to the center block flowers. I drew (on paper) leaves that came out from the flower, but didn’t love the way it looked. So I used my magic purple marker (the ink disappears with time and light) and drew right on the blocks to see how a single sided little feather would look in those triangles. I really liked it, so I quilted those in as well.

single sided feathers in triangles

Finally, time for those center blocks. At this point, it was Sunday around noon, and I had a shift coming up at the quilt shop. I decided to quilt one flower like I had drawn,

my drawn flower

to see if I liked it. If not I would have the rest of the day to think on a new design and I could pull out the stitches (ugh) later.

I am glad I gave myself that option, but after looking at the back of the quilt, I was pleased with my flower, so I turned off my machine for the day.

completed flower block

Monday I didn’t have much left to complete – just the flowers, and I thought maybe some of the appliqued leaves, just to provide some more traction around the flowers that were appliqued. I had already filled in the flower centers with little circles to tack them down, but thought it needed a little more.

applique flowers with centers and a ring in the 3rd petal

Once I got to the leaves, I quilted a few and realized that I thought it would look MUCH better to do every leaf. So I did. And then I was done.

ahhhh. SOOOO happy with the result! These are pictures of the back – you can see the daisy chains, the center feathers, the border feather with stippling and the center block flowers.

backside of quilt

quilt back, a little closer in

backside of quilt, right side

feather border from backside

close in on back

And here are some photos of the front of the quilt:

large section of the quilt front

view of border and part of center

close up view of top

a corner with applique

feather closer in near corner

applique flowers in corner

Now the quilt is in someone else’s hands to be bound and then we’ll get to the tickets, showing at various venues and fundraising. If you have interest in purchasing tickets, please feel free to contact me or the Land O Lakes Quilt Guild for more information!

business planning

I find it sort of funny, when I deal with people in my business (I mean people in the quilting world, in general) only want to know about your quilting history. I am NEVER asked about my former career. I guess it’s funny to me because my “before” and “after” lives are SO dichotomous. Not sure about that word? Look it up :).

At the end of my corporate reign, I was managing a 1.5 million square foot building. To put this in perspective, imagine your bedroom, which might be 15 foot square. 15×15 = 225 square feet. Or your house size = 3-4000 square feet? It was a REALLY big building; actually it was a warehouse, holding home improvement type goods imported from overseas.

If I remember correctly, my budget for the operation was about $43 million. Yes MILLIONS of DOLLARS. Sounds like I’m loony? I don’t remember all the specifics anymore, but I solidly remember that my transportation budget alone was $17 million. We shipped to over 300 stores in 11 states on at least a weekly basis. So to pay for the use of the trailers, the fuel, etc. that was my budget. Add in rent, labor, supplies, utilities and corporate BS and boom – BIG money!

I’m not bragging. I could probably figure out the words to describe how overjoyed I am to be out of that business, but I’m not going to bother. Suffice it to say, to me, now, that is just background.

It is good background tho. I helped a Canadian lady I met on Etsy to build a business plan so she could get a loan for her natural soap company. And now that I have my feet planted on the ground with my business, and have some history tracked down, I am ready to make myself a firm business plan.

I started by making some goals for this year. They were measurable, but not super specific. It is hard to be specific when your business is driven by clients you don’t even know you have yet, and others that call you when they have something for you. There is no guarantees of business, no steady income. But there are expenses driven by workload, and some not…

Not? How do you have to spend money without having a workload? It’s that pesky fabric hoarding addiction thing. My husband and I had a business dinner (beer, queso, the good kind of dinner) to discuss some plans and actions I could take to increase my net income. The first question out of his mouth: Can you decrease expenses? That is the easiest way to increase income without having to increase gross income. Well, if I stop buying fabric… Then he asks the dreaded… “Well how much fabric do you have in inventory?”

I’m not answering that.

Honestly I don’t know. I don’t think I want to know. I’m kind of scared to do that math. So I won’t. Ahhh, the perks of being the business manager.

What I did take from this conversation is that I have a problem, a wound, if you will. And the best course of action for my business is to stop the bleeding. I have plenty of fabric (no I don’t / YES YOU DO / no I don’t / YES YOU DO – this is going on in my head at the moment). I have plenty of fabric and unless I need to buy it to complete a customer’s project, I need to NOT buy it. This truly stopped me from buying this beautiful panel at the store yesterday. It was really hard – I looked at it, and fondled the soft cotton, and then remembered my promise to myself and put it down and walked away.

Step one, day 20 accomplished. Now to just make it through the next 345 days…

This is a pretty significant decision. But truly, I have decided to work on these projects and make quilts for charity – I have a set of 3 quilts on my table in progress and that didn’t even make a 1″ dent in my stack of fabric!

My current charity project

sigh. stack of fabric? it’s actually not a stack, per se. see below…

those bins are all full of fabric

I had to buy more bins because I had so much fabric

Those bins are all full of fabric.

Oh, and then there’s “the table”. It’s actually bags of fabric I brought to a retreat thinking I would get 100 projects done (well, those are the ones under the table), some fabric from mom, 2 repair jobs (yellow and cream pile to the left) and some fabric for those, and some other ‘stuff’, including more fabric (the yellow and blue with duckies is another charity project in the queue). Oh and that blue tub on the left? Full of quilt tops that need to be quilted, most of them with the backs already prepared. HELLO! I could get those done and up on Etsy or given to charity. oi woman! Oh and the basket? Full of beads. So glad I have time for playing with those…

the dreaded table

This is a good thing. I just have to keep repeating that to myself. I have enough. Ya, enough to make quilts for the next 10 years. So as a prudent business owner, I need to use my planning skills and business smarts to know that I am not allowed to buy fabric just because I want to.

That was the biggest realization. Next I’m going to tackle a specific budget. I.e. at the end of each month, I will put the sales tax $ into another account. I will also figure out what % I think I should pay myself and what % to put into my expense account, for purchase of REQUIRED supplies.

I think this is a pretty strong start. Now – on to some quilting!

charity work thursday

i decided that the best way to attack my very important decision to do charity work weekly, was to actually assign a day to do it. i wasn’t sure this week if that would be thursday or friday, but thought the best plan would be thursday in case friday got crazy busy. i was thinking going forward that planning on thursday’s would be my best bet.

last week when i looked at some of my favorite fabric, i decided on the size of the main panel, and cut three, as well as figuring the inner and middle border sizes i wanted to have for the quilts.

today i scouted out the bricks for the middle border, some from my scrap pile and some from my fabric bins, as well as choosing and cutting my inner border. so i cut my border bricks into strips and am now ready to assemble them into the border bricks.

this is what the quilts will look like when finished (for the most part. they will be larger than this, square rather than rectangular).

noahs ark ez breezy

this one above i had quilted with baptist fans, so it looks like rainbows, which i think really is appropriate either way.

i feel so blessed to have the ability to make quilts like this, to do charity work like this. and THAT is why i feel it is SO important to give back to my community.

i didn’t get a charity quilt completed today, but that’s not what i promised myself i would do, so i’m not upset. i’m actually working on 3 at once, so i know it will take some time to get them all done. i did submit significant throught and time to these quilts, so i know i’ve made progress.

and that’s what counts.

week 1 goal met – charity work done!

I love to do charity work, especially when it involves quilting. I get such a warm and fuzzy feeling inside when I do something that I know will help someone in need. I know a LOT of other quilters that are very generous with their charity work as well, so I feel right at home in this profession.

One of my favorite ‘charity’ groups to donate my time to is Quilts Of Valor Foundation (http://www.qovf.org/). As a veteran, I understand how lucky I am to not have trod the sand, slept in desert heat, fired my rifle at anyone or come home missing body parts. So if I can do one thing that I love to do, AND help out someone that gave their time and well-being to protect ME and my fellow citizens, well then, I want to do that!

The process is pretty cool actually. Someone, or a group of people (I’ve had quilts come from a quilting bee) make a quilt top and use the website to have it directed to a longarm quilter, like me. They send the quilt back and top to me, and I add the batting and quilt it, in whatever style and color I want to use.

Many of the quilts are patriotically themed. Lots of red, white and blue quilts, quilts with stars, or military panels. Sometimes the quilts are just completely different, which is nice too. 

The quilt I finished today was one of those – it does have a pattern of opposing light and dark stars, but the darker fabrics are scrappy and very small, which makes for a beautiful, classic look.

QOV scrappy stars

With this pattern, I wanted to use my variegated blue/white thread and quilt swirls over the stars. Doing a rounded quilting pattern on a quilt top pattern that has more angles can create a unique visual effect. Well, I like it anyway. Hopefully the recipient will also.

swirls on stars

From there usually one of two things happens.

Sometimes I trim and bind the quilt, then wash it per the instructions of QOVF and send it on to wherever they tell me to. One I’ve sent off to Germany, one to Los Angeles and I think one to MD.

Most of the time the quilt maker wants me to send it back to them and they take care of that aspect and have it shipped to the final destination. Along with the quilt I send pictures of my studio and a short letter telling them about me and my family and the process that creates their quilt.

The quilts all go to veterans of war. They all go to someone deserving.

The trouble is that there is ALWAYS a greater need than there is supply. I have received quilts from both coasts because there is a shortage of longarm quilters that participate.

quilt on the longarm

Usually I am sent about one per month. Per my 2013 goals, I have completed my charity for the first week! And it felt really good. 🙂