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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

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!

TEXAS state fair

As with every year, the state fair did not disappoint. Actually I would be happy to attend any state’s county or state fair; I have never walked out of the gates of one feeling let down. I have some great childhood memories that fuel my interest in going every year, even though those memories are very non-specific. I remember going and having fun, leaving with feet hurting but eyes and tummy bursting from all the eye-candy and fried food beheld within.

So, I have ensured my family gets to relive the experience year after year. This year we had really nice weather and low expectations. Meaning, I didn’t have an agenda of what I wanted to see and do, or how long we should spend there. So the day went by smoothly. We actually took the DART train to get there and back, which was a nice experience. The train system is new and functions very smoothly. By the time we arrived the train was quite full, but we had seats going both directions, which was nice on the way home with those aching feet.

The train station was directly in front of the main gate of the fair. We bought our tickets and entered the fray. Before we made our way very far through the fair, we had to stop for grub. We all made some pretty healthy choices, despite the reputation that there is only a thousand fried foods to choose from. We had pickles (yes, on sticks), a corndog (a must), a bratwurst, tamales, greek salad, sauerkraut, ice cream and LOTS of water. 

We watched Dan the Pumpkin Carver doing his magic in the arboretum.

 That’s one of my favorite places within the fair. I just love the plants and trees and the lush greenery.

Next we made our way through the Midway, where Amy and I played some games. She won a small banana (she was going for the big jamaican banana), and then she rode as many coasters as I would let her. After Joey and I had enough standing around in what little shade we could find while she rode, we walked over to the buildings.

We were distracted on our way over to see the Arts and Crafts and the Food and Fiber Pavillion by the arena. We ended up inside to watch the Amazing Doberman Show. It was pretty good, and allowed us to rest our feet for a bit. Next we were off to the Food and Fiber Pavillion for some free samples!

We ate a bite of hot pickle, a dip of salsa, small cone of ice cream, chunk of ham (we didn’t all eat these things…) and part of a burger. Sipped tea and coffee and checked out the quilt that I quilted last year from the block contest for the fair. Still looked amazing :).

Next to the wine garden, which was right outside the building. We sampled quite a few varieties, my favorite of which was a local white. Llano Chenin = yum. Very fruity but not sweet or dry. Just the way I like it!

We heard something of a parade heading by, and Joe spotted the USMC band passing by, so we followed and watched them perform. AMAZING!

We headed over to see the Arts and Crafts to check out the winning exhibits in the many contests that the state fair hosts every year. I was certain to pay close attention to the winning canned foods so that when I remember to enter next year, I take an easy first place in all my categories! AND we saw an amazing LARGE sculpture from butter!

Lastly, we headed through the marketplaces, checking out all the items for sale at “special fair prices”. You could name anything and it was probably for sale there, which is part of the fun of the fair. As we were walking out we spotted Crystal Bowersox playing on stage.

We waved to Big Tex on the way out, decked out in his new Dickies outfit this year, as we headed back to the train and home. What a great day.

Funny thing is that we missed many shows, the petting zoo, the museum, the animals and the entire cultural building. SO MUCH TO SEE! That THAT is why I love the state fair. It’s always worth going, no matter what you really want to see while you are there.

Quilt Shop Review – Quilt Country

Whether you are a fanatic quilter, or a hobby sewer, you have likely visited many a store looking for something to catch your eye, or help you complete your task. There are a number of chain stores that carry common fabric of varying quality and tools for crafters and artists of all type.

Quilt shops offer a less cookie cutter environment. Rather than a corporate model and standard layout and staffing, the local quilt shop employs people that have an interest in quilting, whether it’s their hobby or employment. They offer assistance for anyone asking, they can help you pick out the right fabrics for your project or find a resource to help you finish it. They generally have higher quality fabric, so it costs a bit more, but it is well worth the experience. In most cases. One of these cases is described below.

Quilt Country

Quilt Country is located on the west side of the Fox Avenue exit from I35E. Open daily, this shop has a staff of “Supergirls” that truly are that. Helpful and friendly, they do their best to advise you through any questions. There are a multitude of books, patterns, embelishments, as well as thread, kits and a classroom. And then there’s the material.

It’s ridiculous. In a totally awesome way. Rows upon rows upon rows of fabric, they offer everything from asian insprired fabric, batiks, vintage style to wide backing, fleece and minky. They have jelly rolls and fat quarters. And all over the walls of the shop, they have inspiration. Quilt tops and finished quilts adorn the upper walls, providing beautiful examples of the quilt and quilting patterns. Those samples change with the seasons, ever teasing the shopper’s eye with enticing color and patterns.

I have been to many quilt shops in a variety of states, and this is top of my list. I have visited frequently and have NEVER had a less than pleasurable experience.

Check out their website for more information, as well as class schedules and store hours. www.quiltcountry.com. Happy shopping quilters!!