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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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!!

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? 🙂

 

Did I just see a spider???

Anyone that knows me knows that I am COMPLETELY arachnophobic. Even the thought of a spider, or a photo of one makes my skin crawl. Now I’ll take a hop skip and a jump to another topic, but you’ll quickly see how they’re related…

As quilters, we become accustomed to a certain level of dust and debris. It is inevitable that dust accumulates more quickly in our work areas because of the constant cutting, sewing and shuffling of fabrics. Seriously, how many times have you been told you have thread sticking to your butt? (if not many, they’re just not telling you, but it’s been there…)

This requires near constant upkeep with the vacuum and dust cloth, both of which I deplore and avoid as much as possible. Hence the random strings, lint and tiny bits of fabric that end up on the floor. That appear to be spiders.

Case in point:

OMG is that a spider????

OMG is that a spider????

Nope, it’s a little blue something from cutting fabric. See, there’s a little yellow corner next to it.

ooooooohhhhhh, nope, just some shrapnel on the floor

ooooooohhhhhh, nope, just some shrapnel on the floor

Now, sometimes it looks like something else… just a generic little bug..

a little bug maybe?

a little bug maybe?

But again, just a shard of fabric.

Hey what’s this??

how did that worm get in here?

how did that worm get in here?

Nope, not a worm. a little strip of trimmed fabric. A.k.a. immeasurable joy and unending plaything for the cat.

WAIT WHAT WAS THAT?

WHAT WAS THAT??

WHAT WAS THAT??

As my head jerks back three times and my eyes start doing circles, thinking I saw bugs, by now I’m realizing I am just completely paranoid. It’s lint.

And this one…

I was convinced this was a praying mantis

I was convinced this was a praying mantis

Tell me I’m wrong. Does this NOT look like a praying mantis? I thought maybe one of the cats brought it in as a treasure for mommy. Nope, another example of my ability to make a mess and not know it (this wasn’t even near the cutting board).

So there you have it – my tale of woe. My sad obsession with little uninvited creatures within my safe zone. Hopefully on this one, I am alone.

Happy quilting my friends, may your fabric (and sewing rooms) be pest free!

 

 

Long Arm Quilting – A Professional Perspective

I LOVE my job. Really REALLY love it. That makes it pretty easy for me to wake up every morning keen on what project I get to delve into. That doesn’t mean that every day is a walk in the park. Being a long arm quilter requires a LOT of decision-making considering a wide variety of factors:

1. What does the customer want to spend? Often I will ask the client if they want an all over design or something more custom. Some say they want to keep it inexpensive, which means all over.

all over quilted swirls

all over quilted swirls

Some say they want it for a quilt show, which generally means more $.

very special quilting

very special quilting

I was working on a quilt today that I gave an estimate for at $0.035 per square inch. I charge at least 4 cents when straight lines are involved, so that was not going to happen in this quilt. I had to figure out other designs to work in the spaces instead.

it's coming along

it’s coming along

2. What design does the customer want? Some quilt makers have a vision of what they want the outcome to look like, others want the quilter to ‘do what they do best’ (my FAVORITE thing to hear!) One super important consideration is whether the client prefers a more modern look,

modern quilting

modern quilting

or classic/traditional. Some customers like feathers,

curly border feather

curly border feather

others want more graphic quilting for a modern outcome.

straight lines and echo bounce

straight lines and echo bounce

3. What does the fabric say? That is where I often look for inspiration. If there are swirls, curls, flowers or circles on the fabric, those patterns induce me to quilt something similar.

flowers inspired by fabric

flowers inspired by fabric

4. What does the pattern say? This is really important, even with all over designs.

circles translated to Baptist fans

circles translated to Baptist fans

When I receive Quilts Of Valor, they often have star patterns on them. With that type of pattern I quilt in a curvy pattern, so as not to accentuate the sharp angles already present in the pattern.

swirls on stars

swirls on stars

With a custom design, such as today’s project, there are sometimes various blocks that will each be quilted differently. Two things can be exemplified at this point: depth and movement.

A. Depth – by quilting at different densities (more quilting in one area than another, such as in the photos below), one can create depth in the quilt surface. It gives the flat surface more personality aside from the change in quilting pattern.

pinwheels with depth

pinwheels with depth

depth by quilting

depth by quilting

B. Movement – pinwheels come to mind here, because this block is one that emulates a moving object. So to quilt it in a fashion that simulates movement also adds visual appeal to the quilt. The pinwheels above showcase this as well as those below.

pinwheel movement

pinwheel movement

from below

from below

5. Overall cohesion is INCREDIBLY important to the quilt, and with custom quilts this is where planning comes into play. Using the quilt I was working on today again as the example, I have red triangles inside the quilt as well as along the border. I haven’t quilted either yet because I want them to tie in to one another and haven’t made the final decision as to the design. Also, with the pinwheels (the ‘background’ spokes), I wanted to quilt them more densely than the curls on the forefront spokes, and actually tested out a small meander.

meander vs. wavy lines

meander vs. wavy lines

But it seemed out of place so I removed those stitches and tried the wavy lines, which I felt added the movement in the photo above. I may end up using wavy lines in the red spaces as well.

There can be other factors, such as timeframe (less time = less quilting), anticipated drape (highly quilted quilts are much stiffer), and quilt use intention (I often tell customers they may not want custom quilting on a gift for a 4 year old, it will get washed 100 times and they won’t know the difference).

Regardless of the time it takes to come up with the perfect quilting pattern, it is highly rewarding to reach that light-bulb moment and then find that your conception has become a beautiful reality. Happy quilting my friends!

How to Recover from a Longarm Quilting ‘Mistake’

I have some great mentors in the quilting world. I also take on the opportunity to learn from as many other quilters and quilts that I see at shows, shops and wherever else they pop up.

One mentor told me that as soon as I decided I didn’t like the pattern I was quilting to STOP IMMEDIATELY, because otherwise I would have to do the entire quilt with that pattern, no matter how painful or tedious the experience.

Another mentor told me, if you make a mistake three times while quilting (meaning variation from the pattern you wished to quilt) then it was not a mistake, it was now part of the pattern.

Both of those bits of advice are quite sound, and I’ve learned my lessons, sometimes the hard way. But I am happy to tell you that if you think you want to do a certain stitch in an area and DO change your mind, all hope is not lost.

In this particular quilt, I was throwing random feathers into the background, to break up the background quilting and add interest, like in this block below (and around it).

random feathers

random feathers

I had decided to put some within this block. After quilting two feathers in there, I didn’t like the scale, nor that they didn’t look similar enough to belong where I put them. They either needed to be ‘same’y or totally intentionally random, and they were neither. I realized they needed to be removed and the space refilled with the background cover.

So began Operation Unsew:

starting to pull threads

starting to pull threads

This can be tricky, ESPECIALLY if the thread very closely matches the background fabric. If your tension is off, sometimes you can clip a thread (usually underneath the quilt) and remove a long string all at once. But when your tension is good, you have to move very carefully and slowly.

mostly done

mostly done

Bit by bit I clipped a thread and used my sharp, small, curved embroidery scissors to pick the thread out from the lock it had with the bobbin thread. When I can, I clip the bobbin thread and the top thread pulls out a bit easier for a short distance. Those start/stop points are the worst!

thread out, shadow remains

thread out, shadow remains

Finally having all the thread out, we have what remains above. Perhaps a mere shadow of what once was, I needed it to be a disappearing act from what it once was!

Tada!!!

clean slate!

clean slate!

The trick? I use a spray bottle with ONLY water in it, give it a light spray, wipe my clean hand gently over the fabric and then give it 5 minutes to dry out. I’ve done this more than once and not had problems with color bleed, but I cannot guarantee to you that it will not occur. So be VERY careful if you need to use this method on fabrics you worry will bleed.

In the end, I was able to requilt the area and I can’t even tell where the previous stitches were. 🙂

corrected block

corrected block

There was only the evidence below…

mess on the floor afterwards

mess on the floor afterwards

I would not recommend this as an option if your needle wasn’t sharp or if your backing is batik. You COULD use it, but often a dull needle will poke holes through the fabric on back and you may be able to hide the evidence of the crime above, but the tale will be told below! With batiks, the weave of the fabric is so tight, this often happens even with a sharp needle. Check your backing carefully to see if this IS an option, if you find yourself in a position such as mine.

I hope this has helped out any of my quilty friends with ‘mistakes’ that occur. Happy quilting – may your errors be small!

the copyrighting conversation

I’ll be honest, I am by no means an expert about this, nor will I try to be. I do have resources that you can refer to that I believe have good, solid, factual information.

There has been much buzz about copyrights lately in the quilting world, and by lately I mean in the last 5 years. So much that many of my friends (and me) are concerned about what can or cannot be put in a quilt show! What can or cannot be sold in our online shops!

Say it how you believe, whether it was the universe colliding or God speaking to me, it started a few days ago and culminated this morning. I found out that only ONE quilt that I have quilted was entered in the Dallas Quilt Celebration this year. Saddened by this fact, I felt prompted to act. I’m not going to wait until next year, but I am starting now to formulate plans to get a quilt (or quilts) into next years show, as well as other local shows throughout the rest of this year.

This topic of copyrighting crossed my brain, although I usually make quilts from those general patterns or blocks that don’t have specific patterns or copyright concerns because they are so old, they’re considered public domain.

But still, just having seen SO many photos from QuiltCon in Austin, I wanted to push myself outside my box of normal. I came up with a thought that I’d like to somehow translate into a pattern of sorts, and that is what I will use. That is what I will create.

THAT part is still in my head. This part is not:

my colors

my colors

It began as an idea to make a striking quilt. Then I saw the blue fabric with the swirly pattern. THAT became my inspiration, so I found these other fabrics that I think I want to go with it. I definitely like the gold and teal and how they offset each other.

This morning I was privy to some FB posts that included these articles on copyrighting, so I thought I should share. They are a bit lengthy, one has typos (grrr) and one is a bit more opinionated but I believe BOTH to be valuable. To read, click here and here.

From previous discussions with my quilty friends about this topic, we pretty much agreed that we disagree (except that it is clearly wrong to make copies of a pattern you did not design and sell them for personal profit), but for SURE it is appropriate when selling an item to ensure the designer of the pattern is given credit. As the first article states, it’s good for the designer and the audience, in case someone out there wants to find the original pattern.

At any rate, I hope you find this interesting if not helpful. I’ll be sure to share more information as this quilt project comes along! Happy quilting!