Next Year’s Challenge

This year’s challenge is almost over, and I’m happy to say that I have December’s quilt planned, as well as a bonus quilt for January! Once I get through Christmas rush I will be able to get December’s top actually completed.

In fact, I need to get them finished AND quilted! I have several speaking engagements scheduled over the next year and a half for my new program = One Block, 12 Quilts. That will be the result of this experiment! I’m very excited for it!

Part of the program will be using different batting and quilting densities so the audience can see and feel the difference in drape, thickness, heaviness and look of quilts made with different types of batting. Should be fun, once I get it all worked out!

SO!!! While I was working at the quilt shop today, one of my friends asked me what I’m going to do for next year. ummmm…… I don’t know.

I hadn’t even THOUGHT about it yet, but that was such a great question! After what I’ve learned this year and have shared, I can’t just go into next year without another one!

I gave some thought to making a quilt in different colors every month, but I don’t think that is interesting enough. Maybe every month I make a scrap quilt. THAT is doable, could result in VERY different looks and styles EVERY month, and best of all, would help me use my scraps (which seem to be procreating every time I turn around).

Anything in particular you’d like to see?

 

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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!

 

What’s my quilt worth?

That is a loaded question, to be sure. As an appraiser, I hear this question quite often, even outside of doing appraisals. If you are a quilter, you may already know this. Maybe you are not, but someone just gave you a quilt; then PLEASE read below to get perspective on why not to let your dog chew a hole in it, or why it’s so important to NOT let your husband wipe his greasy hands on it after changing the oil in the car (I cringe every time I see an old quilt in the garage).

While there are many groups of very charitable and helpful people out there, I believe that quilters are truly one of the most generous groups of people I know. Most quilters are constantly making quilts, because that’s what they LOVE to do. Yes, some of us sell what we make or make them on commission, but I can tell you I have made and given away at least 5x as many quilts as I have kept for my family (honestly I don’t know what the number is – it could be higher, I never kept track. Because THAT’s not what mattered, I just enjoyed the process). To friends, family, for Christmas, new baby or just because. And everybody I know that quilts does THE SAME THING!

I will say this: most people I see, especially with quilts handed down from generations past, are emotionally attached to their quilts. I like some quilts more than others I have made, that’s just how it is. In the appraisal world, we call this “sentimental value”. And that type of value has zero effect on the price tag.

So, with that out of the way, to help answer the question of value, I’ll break our quilts up into two groups: old/antique and new.

OLD/ANTIQUE QUILTS

Technically an antique is 100 years old or more. So I say ‘old’ here because in the quilting world, quilts from the 1930’s or even up to the 1950’s are often appraised for their insurance value. That is how old quilts are appraised: insurance, or fair market value = how much would they get from the insurance company if they had the quilt appraised and then lost it to fire or whatever.

While I can’t tell you the value of any specific quilt at this time, I can tell you this:

  1. Condition is (almost) EVERYTHING. Just like location in real estate, if the condition of a quilt is poor, it is probably worthless (dollarwise).
  2. The more rare the pattern, the higher the value. In the early 1900’s, these quilt patterns were more popular, which is why you see more of them around, hence the lower value than other, less common patterns: grandmothers flower garden, Dresden plate, trip around the world, four patch and double wedding ring.
  3. The more intricate the fabric/workmanship, the higher the value. In the 1800’s red/green applique was popular. As an example, there are tulip bunch patterns, and as time progresses, the curves in the stems decrease, the stems thicken, the flowers look blockier and the greens change (that’s another topic). Earlier = better workmanship = higher value. Another example is the crazy quilt phase from c1890-1920. Earlier quilts were made from velvet, silks and fine fabrics with LOTS of embroidery and many token pieces. Later, particularly after 1900, this type of quilt was made more utilitarian, with canvas, denim, corduroy and less embellishments. Earlier = better (as long as the silks aren’t so shattered that the condition is bad).

Yes, historic information is great and unusual things like signatures from a church group on quilts CAN lend to value. But these bullets above are most important.

NEW QUILTS

Basically this includes anything current day. And while the values could vary greatly depending on where the fabric was bought, quality of work, tied or quilted, etc., I can give you some hints.

Most new quilts appraise at a much higher value than old quilts. Seems backwards, but for new quilts, the appraisal is done for replacement value. Yes, you would need to replace an antique quilt, but to do so, you would buy one in like and kind, which is why those quilts are appraised for fair market value. New quilts would have to be remade, from scratch.

I don’t think non-quilters have the slightest idea what goes into making a quilt. I say that not with a mean heart, but there are lots of things out there I know diddly-squat about, so when a non-quilter wants me to make them a king size quilt for $100, I have to assume they’re ignorant about my world. It’s not bad, it just is what it is.

Potential costs that contribute to a quilt coming to life (we’re going to assume it’s a large lap size, 60″ x 60″, for illustrative purposes here):

  1. Pattern: depending on how difficult, there may be no pattern required, or pattern and paper pieces for very intricate work, leading up into the $100’s. We’ll say relatively simple: $10.
  2. Fabric: the quilt maker could choose from a variety of quality and types (traditional cotton or batik), and I’ve discovered that where you live makes a significant difference on cost by the yard as well. Looking at your quilt, if the fabric is tightly woven and soft, it’s likely a bit costlier. Let’s assume $10 per yard. For this size quilt with a simple pattern, I estimate 6 yards for the quilt top, 1 yard for border, 4 yards for the backing/binding = $110 (see my point on the king size quilt for $100?).
  3. Thread: don’t need a lot, but at least one spool = $10. I’d actually say $12 but some folks will use a cheaper variety (lintier, maybe not as strong) for $6 or $8.
  4. Batting: this is the stuffing/center/whatever you want to call it. You can buy 100% poly high loft for maybe $5-6/yard, or silk or wool or bamboo for more like $16-18/yard. Cotton and blends are somewhere inbetween. We’ll take poly/cotton blend here, 2 yards at $9 per yard = $18.
  5. Quilting: (this is what I LOVE to do! Although, I do really love to create quilt tops as well…) For an all over design, I charge $0.02 per square inch, so in this case it would be 3600*0.02 = $72. For a fancier or custom design, the price goes up.
  6. Labor: this one gets everyone, and I’ll tell you why. Despite the fact that many people do not know how to sew, they seem to think that people who do know how to sew should be paid a menial wage for it. It’s quite frustrating, really. Anyway, most quilt makers will charge $25/hour and up for their time. Some who specifically dedicate their skills to making quilts for low income families charge less. Some who do fine, intricate hand work charge more. So if you try to conceive how long it took the quilt maker to: choose the fabric, wash the fabric, iron the fabric, cut the fabric to pattern specifications, sew pieces together, iron, sew, iron, trim, sew, iron, trim (seriously, this goes on), piece the backing together, then after quilting, trim the quilt and square it up, cut and prepare the binding, attach the binding to both sides (some do the final side of the binding by hand), THAT’S A WHOLE LOTTA LABOR! For this size quilt, I never charge less than 6 hours JUST for the top assembly (and that’s for the simplest of t shirt quilts). So let’s just round up to 8 hours = $200.

That brings the cost for this hypothetical quilt to $420, not including any other fees or taxes from the quilter or anyone else involved, with some very simplistic assumptions made.

Let that sink in for a moment.

So now imagine you have a queen or a king sized quilt!

Wait, tho… you may be saying. Why can I get a big quilt at Walmart for $100 then? Number of factors: cheaper fabric, cheaper labor, smaller seam allowances (the part tucked inside that you don’t see – most quilters use 1/4″ so that the seams don’t rip open after just a few washes), and finally, mass production.

And for how much time it takes to repair quilts (much of it is hand work), you’re better off investing in a good one in the first place.

So if you have recently (or even not recently) received a quilt as a gift from someone, for a special occasion or just because, PLEASE  P L E A S E thank them for it, because it took them a lot of time and money and they made it because they just loved to make it. And then they thought you were special enough to give it to.

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!

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.

Man down!!! Man down!!!

Woman, in this case. Actually machine but she’s female so there.

I can attest for all of you that this is the saddest moment of my quilting career. My machine bearings need to be fixed. So I can’t quilt on her until she’s sent out and come back to me. 😦

Technically I can quilt because of a very good friend that has offered use of her machine for me to finish my clients quilts, but this feels like losing a friend. I know that ultimately she’ll be ok, even better than she was. But considering that she is vital to my business and my sanity, I think this is a moment to bow our heads.

So to keep myself entertained whilst she sits quietly aside, I have made the conscious decision to finish some UFO’s (un-finished objects). I finished my rag quilt (yes, the one I started 6 months ago).

I finished the 9 patch variation top I was working on at retreat last summer. I don’t like how the middle border looks, but I’m not so dissatisfied that I’ll take it out.

A few months ago I had some time and inclination, so I cut strips and squares and matched fabrics to patterns or photos I saw in magazines. I had just spent more than a few Franklins at the quilt shop, so I figured I’d better get to using all that beautiful, colorful eye candy. Then I got busy quilting and my piles have been awaiting me since. So I started working on those again yesterday as well. I really like how this one is turning out. The border will make it, with some really cool cornerstones.

Not sure what will be next after that… maybe the cats in boxes…

maybe the Halloween quilts (I cut fabric for probably 3 of these):

or the black and red skulls that seem to be so popular…

Maybe more flowers

or this cat fabric

maybe I’ll get to Amy’s cupcake applique pattern (probably not),

or the Tree pattern I got from my mom (with precut strips, you’d think I’d go for the easy first).

Then there is this thing… I really like it because of what it represents. It’s the earth – water and land in a squarish spiral. It includes oil swirling in the water, flames roaring through the forest, flowers and waves. Still needs to be finished.

I started to cut 1″ squares and strips for this Scraps of Life quilt, from work shirt material..

and these are 1.25″ strips of scraps I was going to just sew together in rainbow fashion to see what I ended up with.

These are spare squares for another random patchwork quilt:

oh and then the quilt I was going to make for Amy from this photo… haven’t gotten very far.

Ooooh forgot about these! Dots and hearts:

and these little turquoise blue birds!

I also picked out these fabrics because they looked so good together. Haven’t decided the patterns yet…

shucks, here’s the fairy frost I cut squares and strips for!

ooh, and the fabric and pattern I set aside to make this bag:

so I guess I should just stop panicking and get to work on these. I feel a little overwhelmed now with so many projects to choose from! I think I’ll start with finishing the diamond quilts borders. Happy quilting (or quilt making!) my friends!

the fun of baby quilts

Let me start by saying that my baby is 10, and my other baby is 14. I’m still working off the baby fat, but I’m ok with that. We all have our own timelines for these things. Regardless of the absolute concrete rock-solid plan to have no more diapers grace this loving household (unless Kaela is babysitting…), baby quilts are one of my FAVORITE projects to complete!

First of all, the fabrics are always adorable! Tougher to find boy-oriented cutesy tootsie fabrics, but oh well. 🙂

Secondly, THEY ARE SMALL. This means the amount of work to complete one is exponentially less than completing a large bed quilt. Trust me on this one.

Third, they usually come as a result of celebrating a special event = an addition to the clan.

Now there are drawbacks. Minky, ultra-soft, fleece, whatever soft cuddly fabric you choose, it is A ROYAL pain to work with. That stuff shifts, stretches, waffles… I swear I could do without the fallout from cutting minky for eternity. And trying to get it out of your cutting mat is like trying to get the spaghetti sauce stain out of a tupperware dish after it’s microwaved to the boiling point. I call it: permaminky.

Despite the nasty nuances that tag along with working these fabrics, they really are soft and cuddly. In fact, the quilt below was made with all fleecy softy fabric for a friend of mine that just graced the family with a boy:

I quilted it with a triangular meander, which is pretty boyish and went along with the angles in some of the fabric. I found this fabric as a sample pack from a vendor and matched the back, which all worked out to be in his room colors! No pattern used, which made it pretty exciting; I just figured I would use the panels as a start and make squares and rectangles to fit around them. I added borders to enlarge it a bit and voila!

Unfortunately not all quilts are destined to grace a new baby’s crib. The one below was made in memorial to the mother, for this Mother’s Day. It is a gift from her wonderful circle of family and friends, as are the materials included in the quilt. A special onesie is embroidered on the front with her name and birthdate and a label on the back in homage to her support group. It is sad to share, but it will always serve as a beautiful reminder to her of a member of her family awaiting her in heaven.

I felt very special to be included in this project. I quilted it with all over hearts, and I think it couldn’t have turned out better.

Felt like quite an honor. OK I have to move on to something a little lighter…

This one was more fun – I found out my cousin brought home a new girl so I matched fabrics to the ladybugs and copied a pattern from a magazine. I put it together at a retreat one weekend. The loopy quilting matches the round shape of the ladybugs and the white on white fabric. So cute:

I made this cutie just cuz… the center fabric was on clearance at the shop, so I used it as the main focus and matched all those border blocks to make a simple but sweet little quilt! I quilted it in rainbow fans because they are in the fabric and, it just looks cute.

These two I made at the same retreat mentioned above. I had left over Peter Rabbit fabric, so tried two different patterns to use it up. I like the 9 patch best, but they both went to good homes. The blue bordered quilt was quilted in feathers and curls, and the nine patch (yellow border) has hearts all over it (which is the pattern of the yellow fabric).

I have actually made MANY quilts like these, but the ones below are made from CHILDREN’S CLOTHING. They have more of a purpose, because the child has outgrown these clothes, sometimes 16 years ago (seriously). But I like to be involved in preserving someone’s memories in such a special fashion.



Each quilt has it’s own unique purpose, for a different person, for a special reason. Each quilt is one of a kind, beautiful in it’s own right, no matter to whom it belongs. 🙂

Happy quilting my friends!