I’ve been busy!

I have begun this year’s project – I’ve cut the pieces for 4 quilts. That’s all the further I’ve really been able to get. But I’ve been busy on other things….

I was going to speak at the Ft. Worth Quilt Guild in June, but was asked if instead I could come in February, to which of course, I responded a resounding YES. This, despite not having the presentation written yet, nor any of the quilts quilted. uh oh?

Nope, not for this girl. The actual presentation isn’t all that complicated. I just needed to get my notes from my brain onto paper in an order that people will understand what I am trying to convey. Then I’ll need to practice and time myself. But for now, I wanted to make sure the quilts were quilted. Mostly for their preservation and partly for my sanity (no one wants to see the backside of my quilt tops, believe me).

So I’ve been quilting them. AND… I’ve been using different battings every time. I have 2 more to go.

I had to special order a few of the batting types, as I don’t normally carry some of the brands and densities of cotton I wanted to use, but I’m almost there.

I thought I would share some photos of what I’ve completed!

January:

January overview, quilted

January overview, quilted

I used a poly cotton blend in this one. LOVE how it turned out!

February contains Quilters Dream Supreme Cotton (their thickest density):

February quilted, overview

February quilted, overview

Here’s a close up of the all over curls:

February all over curls

February all over curls

March, containing Hobbs cotton batting:

march overview, quilted

march overview, quilted

and a close up, just a simple meander:

close up march

close up march

Aprils quilt had issues, meaning I didn’t differentiate enough with the color values, which is what caused this to look like crayon box vomit rather than a distinguished pattern. So I just quilted it in a pattern I seem to love doing now, and the back looks REALLY cool! This one contains Hobbs black poly batting:

april overview, quilted

april overview, quilted

Check out the back of it!!!

back of april, quilted

back of april, quilted

May is not yet quilted. I strung up the back today and it wasn’t large enough for the top, so I used that back for a charity quilt instead and need to put a new back together for May. It will contain Warm & Natural cotton batting.

June contains 100% poly, medium loft:

june overview quilted

june overview quilted

And up close:

June up close, quilted

June up close, quilted

July’s quilt is very similar to June, but because of the lack of alternating blocks I thought the arrows were not as visible. So I quilted it in a meander, much like June’s, but for July’s quilt, I avoided quilting over the arrows:

July quilted overview

July quilted overview

I used recycled polyester batting in July’s quilt. It’s extremely light (like poly) and flat (like cotton). Good for a summer quilt. Here’s the close up:

july quilted close up

july quilted close up

August’s quilt contains a high loft polyester, so I quilted this in a VERY loose meander.

august quilted overview

august quilted overview

Here’s the close up – this thing is soooo puffy:

august quilted close up

august quilted close up

September I used Quilters Dream black polyester. It really is the same feel as Hobbs black poly but much softer to the touch. Once inside the quilt, it feels exactly the same.

September quilted overview

September quilted overview

Here’s the close up:

September quilted close up

September quilted close up

I just loved October’s quilt. I wanted to keep it fun, like the focus fabric, so I quilted it in wavy lines horizontally and vertically, alternating in purple and orange thread! This quilt contains Quilters Dream Deluxe cotton batting, their second highest density cotton:

October quilted overview

October quilted overview

Here’s the back, where you can REALLY see the thread and quilting pattern used!

October quilted

October quilted

November is not yet complete. Tomorrow will be her day.

December about killed me today. I decided to use a wool cotton blend by Hobbs. It quilted beautifully, and feels thin like the cotton. I may use it in Novembers quilt as well, and not quilt it as densely to see how that turns out. Anyway, here is December:

December quilted overview

December quilted overview

December up close quilted

December up close quilted

I quilted the center pinwheels a bit differently to try to make them show up a bit better, which was the whole reason I laid this quilt out like I did in the first place.

This photo shows the sashing and border.

close up December quilted

close up December quilted

But check out the backside!!!!

December quilted backside

December quilted backside

You can see the flower block centers I outlined. This might be my favorite…

OR, January might be my favorite! This is quilt #13, BONUS :). For a presentation, these folks aren’t going to be able to see me hold up a photo in a magazine that helped inspire this project, so I made this quilt to help with my display. Here it is quilted:

January quilted overview

January quilted overview

This one has Hobbs Silk batting. It had a lot rougher feel than I anticipated, but drapes nicely. Here is the close up:

January quilted close up

January quilted close up

So, as you can see, I’ve been busy. Doing my most favorite thing on the planet!

Happy quilting my friends! Don’t forget to check out my website for more photos and inspiration! www.charmingprintsquilting.com. XO, maria

 

Advertisements

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. 🙂

swirl play

I haven’t spent time on my long arm machine in probably two weeks. So before I get back into the grind, I need to take time getting back into the groove. Charity quilts are a perfect way to get the kinks out and get myself warmed up.

So today I spent some time on charity quilts, small ones (which is how I could get so many finished). The next customer quilt I’m going to do (I’m 90% sure) will involve swirls, so I decided to practice them.

In the past, I have executed two different swirls – one with points in the center and the other without, which I call cinnamon bun. I saw another one on the internet recently that had a bit of a tiny circle in the center and thought I would try that one too. I call that one swirls with a pearl.

After quilting and trimming each one, I took a photo of the whole top, the top up close and the backside. So here are the trials:

Quilt 1 (swirls with pearls):

swirls with pearls 1

swirls with pearls 1

swirls with pearls up close

swirls with pearls up close 1

swirls with pearls backside

swirls with pearls backside 1

Quilt 2 (swirls with pointed centers):

swirls w points

swirls w points

swirls w points close up

swirls w points close up

swirls w points back

swirls w points back

Quilt 3 (cinnamon buns):

cinnamon buns

cinnamon buns

cinnamon buns close up

cinnamon buns close up

cinnamon buns back

cinnamon buns back

Now that I’ve warmed up, I quilted the swirls with pearls again. So here is quilt 4:

swirls w pearls 2

swirls w pearls 2

swirls w pearls 2 close up

swirls w pearls 2 close up

swirls w pearls 2 back

swirls w pearls 2 back

I did one more of the ‘pearls’ after that and for the most part I liked it. I feel like ALL of them still need some work. Good news is I have a tub full of charity quilts I can work out my kinks with!!!

But the point here is that swirls can mean different things, not just one look. Just like loops can be big or tiny or mixed with flowers or dense or loose or double!

Any quilting pattern can really be morphed just a little bit into something else.

Akin to swirls is thumbprints

thumbprints

or escargot

escargot

Just use your imagination, and who knows what you’ll come up with next! Happy quilting!!

that blank slate again…

I thought I was over it. I thought for sure I could get past it, because I HAVE gotten past it! Even recently! So why am I paralyzed again today???

OK so here’s how the week has been: Monday morning I showed up for jury duty selection, and was ever so fortunate to not have to serve at this point (it just isn’t a good time right now for civic duties). Considering I had NO IDEA how the day (or week or longer) might actually turn out, I didn’t make plans to get any work done. But I knew the next bit of work that NEEDED to be done was adjusting the timing on my longarm machine.

One of my mentors suggested doing it on a weekday morning, so if I had any troubles I could contact APQS service and they’d be there to help. So when I got home, I was fortunate enough to have the time left in the day to attempt it.

I’ve done it before, successfully, so I knew if I just followed the instructional video I would do just fine again. After a bit of frustration (from doing something wrong), and taking a break I finally got my timing successfully adjusted and machine completely cleaned.

To test the timing, I thought why not put up a small piece of plain cloth and make a mini out of it? I couldn’t find a cotton fabric I wanted, sooo, up went a piece of silk.

blank slate of silk

blank slate of silk

Blank slate. OK, break the ice – outline the perimeter. Done.

I saw I had an oblong space, so I decided to do a feather, with a heart at the top, since it was in burgundy silk, maybe that could go in my bedroom.

feather

feather

I knew I wanted to echo it, and then decided to do the curl/paisley/echo thing I’ve come to really like around that, as a filler. Boom. Done in 10 minutes.

red silk mini

red silk mini

Well that was easy.

For part 2 of the story, let’s back up a few days. I’m cleaning and organizing the house, basically, because I’m going to clean the carpets, so I need to move A LOT of stuff out of the way. In doing so, I found this cute little kit I bought in Colorado Springs, which, coincidentally was great for my jury duty experience (and doctors office visit today) because it’s small, handwork, easy to start and stop and tuck into my purse.

First off, I never buy kits. This is literally THE FIRST kit I have EVER bought in my entire life. Secondly, I don’t hand embroider. I am a quilter, and I make quilts. I’ve done a few stitches on some minis for friends, but not anything sufficient enough to call real hand embroidery. And third, I don’t follow directions. That’s not entirely intentional, I am just not good at following orders/directions/recipes, so I tend to sort of do my own thing.

So off to jury duty I go, and bring this little bird thing with me. The selection process did take a little time, so I made some progress, which I continued later in the day. Unbelievably I finished it last night, and added a few beads that look like feed at his feet (not shown in the pic).

first chicken

first chicken

Ultimately, he is part of a mini quilt, with blocks around this one, but I thought, what a fantastic way to stay busy while waiting ANYWHERE!!!!!

So I started another one, but with black background and pink thread (to the right below). I’m going to bend his knee so he looks like a flamingo because I think they are the funniest birds on the planet. So as I start this new one, I tell my daughter, I think I’ll trace some more of these so I can make a bunch of them. She says, “Why mom? Make your OWN drawing!” Well, duh.

stumped

stumped

And here we are.

There are more scratched out doodlings, I just didn’t put them in the photo.

I feel like I am a vast vessel of ideas, but that I can’t bring any of them to fruition. I HAVE ideas, and they WILL work with a line drawing situation like this, I just don’t know what to do!!! I think, oh flowers, BEEN DONE. Ohhh, a tree, LAME. A bird – HELLO  YOU JUST DID ONE!

What I really wish is that I could detail in a pencil line what it looks like to echo emotion and feelings and hope. But I can’t figure out how to illustrate that. I tried a heart with a crown of thorns and frankly it looked ridiculous.

Second best would be to draw out something simple, like a cat or an owl or a bird, and figure out how to take it to another level by changing everything surrounding it (like adding beads, changing up the thread color, leg or tail position, blocks surrounding the embroidery). Sound familiar? Sound somewhat like my monthly block project? I think it does.

But that still doesn’t help remove the feeling from me that all I can do is take something and tweak it. I want to make something unique, and I feel like instead I am taking something of someone else and just changing it, and that doesn’t feel as visionary to me (so maybe I should be confronting myself about not being a visionary here).

I guess that’s something everyone wants – to leave their unique mark. Something that sets them apart, something THEY are known and recognized for. Maybe I’m putting too much pressure on myself , after all, this is my FIRST hand embroidery project. Or maybe I should just stick to quilting.

Nah, it’s too fun to try new things. I just need to stop pressuring myself, and remember to have fun with this, and that’s what it will be. 🙂

 

Fear of the blank canvas

I will never forget that moment, frozen in time. It’s like a Polaroid photo in my mind, with sentiment and smell and emotion attached to it.

It was a warm, sunny summer morning, and I was sitting with my friend Chrissy on the concrete steps behind her house. We were shaded by the trees and back awning, sitting there in our shorts with art supplies strewn around us. I was six.

We were coloring some pages and decided to stop coloring pages with lines on them and instead draw what WE wanted. Excitedly opening the book of paper on my lap, I grabbed my instrument and froze. I didn’t know what to draw. My mind was blank.

I was sure at that moment that my entire system of creative juices had completely dried up for the rest of my life. Of course, as a six year old, that wasn’t entirely devastating, more of an inconvenience. So we ran off to play in the yard instead.

Many years later, I still experience that ‘fear’, but I know I’m not alone. I also know that when I let myself stress about it I actually CONSTRICT the process (my shrink told me so). So after relaxing a bit, I go to some great resources (books, internet sites) to get those juices flowing.

Recently I was making a farewell gift for someone, and knew I wanted to make something special, and have it be comprised of quilting rather than a quilt pattern, since that is really my forte. What did that give me? A blank slate.

the blank slate

the blank slate

It happens that the giftee was moving out of state. It also happens that at that time I was making a tshirt quilt for a client and had the shirts on my sewing table. I went over to them to arrange the shirts and de-stress my mind about the blank slate. And there it was: my inspiration!

my inspiration!

my inspiration!

I thought this would be a great going away gift – a flag of Texas made from thread! WHEW!!!

I used the tshirt panel to make measurements on my blank slate and quilted the outlines. Using painters tape, I made the outline for the star.

the outlines

the outlines

I stitched hearts in the white, lines in the red and meander around the star in the blue. I plan to make another one I liked it so much!

the Texas flag

the Texas flag

Often, the blank canvas freeze comes over me, but I’ve learned to adapt and overcome.

I knew I wanted to outline the churn dashes on this quilt, and try the curling feather in the border. But I had no idea what to do in the remaining space. So I laid on the floor under the quilt with my books and started looking through them for inspiration. They are little softcover books by Darlene Epp and contain mostly simple stitches, but are great for fueling creativity!

churn dash

churn dash

I drew some ideas out but wasn’t entirely pleased with any of them. Then I went to Flickr, which is my other go-to place for creativity. I knew I wanted to incorporate the feathers from the border into the blank spaces, but also knew with a confined space (around the straight lines) and those being ODD shaped spaces, I had to do something viney or with echoes. So I looked up feather quilting photos.

I found a few that urged me to draw some swirls and paisleys with echoes and single sided feathers around some. The feather tied into the border and the echoes would allow me to fill in any weird or small spaces. Ahhhhhhh, victory!

Voila!

feather swirl paisley echo

feather swirl paisley echo

SOOOOOOO pleased with how this turned out (as was my customer)!!! I have plans to use this stitch again soon!

The moral of the story is this: don’t let the emptiness of a blank slate overwhelm you. Don’t let your analysis of what to create paralyze you. Draw an idea out and if you like it, quilt it! If you don’t, modify it and draw something a little different. Walk away if you need to so it can marinate a little bit, and then try again. Keep trying until you like what you draw and then QUILT IT!

 

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!