A Girl Can Change Her Mind and Treats in the Mail!

January 28th, 2008

I got the most wonderful box in the mail this weekend! I love to surf the artful quilters’ webring , and I discovered a wonderful blog by Robin Ferrier a year or so ago. She makes beautiful art quilts and is also very generous with information, so her blog has been both educational and full of eye candy! A few months ago, I asked if she would do 2 commission quilts for me, and they arrived this weekend. Here’s a picture that does not come close to doing them justice:


I knew they would look great, but I must tell you that in person, the colors are so much richer than in any pictures! On top of that, her workmanship is wonderful-check out this detail shot of the quilting:


For me, this type of linear quilting is very hard as it makes me tense up, so I have nothing but respect for people who do it well, and Robin sure does! Visit her blog at www.quiltantics.blogspot.com . (Trust me, it will be well worth your time to follow this blog long-term because she is going places!):

In other news, I finished piecing that large blue/green quilt but I changed my mind about my scrap border and ended up using it as my outermost border. Here’s a partial shot of it on my design wall, but it’s so big it won’t fit!


Normally, when I’m making up a quilt with blocks that are set on point, I go through the whole a2 + b2=c2 thing to figure out what size to make my setting triangles and corner triangles… I say thanks in my head to my high school geometry teacher but wish there were an easier way! Well, found out that there really IS an easier way! Check out this website if you ever want quick formulas for figuring all this out:

I used her formulas on this quilt and they worked out great!!

Yesterday, while I was sewing in my studio, Ern was working in his workshop and look at this beautiful pagoda box that he made:


If you look closely at the edge, you’ll see that he actually matched the wood grain as he turned the corner…man, this guy is GOOD! The lid of this box is cool-it’s not flat and I’m not sure how he made all these surfaces so irregular and smooth, but it’s beautiful:


And here’s one last shot of the inside, which is made of the same wood on the lid:


Another Quilt is Ta-Done!

January 18th, 2008

I finally finished “Heralders of Spring, 52 inches High x 42 inches Wide:”


This was a very fun quilt to quilt, mainly because it’s just so darn thrilling to be looking at such lush colors while you work! I haven’t used a stipple stitch as a background fill in a LONG time, and I’d forgotten how easy it is to just kind of “space out” as you stitch away! Here’s a close up of a couple of the pansies, which are trapuntoed, so they kind of stick out a bit:


All the decorative stitching was done when it was just a quilt top, and then I stitched around all the pieces of appliqué with invisible thread once it was in a quilt sandwich. This makes the trapunto really prominent, but it also makes some of the non-trapuntoed appliqués a bit more prominent, like these leaves:


The short leaf stems are hand embroidered using a chain stitch, and then I quilt just outside the stems with invisible thread to make them have a nice texture. Fun! I like to put butterflies in a quilt partly because I just like how they look, but also because it provides an excuse to stitch some feathers as a flight path:


Here’s a shot of the base of the leaves-I think this area is a bit ho-hum:


I like this corner with the fern-variant of the artsy-fartsy leaves. I originally stitched these out using free motion machine embroidery using a permanent polyester interfacing as a stabilizer, and then stitched just outside all those bars with invisible thread once it was in a quilt sandwich. The picture doesn’t show it well, but it makes them prominent and they have a cool texture that you just want to touch:


I started out the same way with the artsy fartsy leaves in the opposite corner, but I wanted to experiment and see what kind of texture I got if I just stitched along the outer perimeter of the leaves. See how it makes the whole thing kind of balloon out? Yuck!


I like to have a variety of textures in a quilt, but I couldn’t bear to leave that in there, so I ended up stitching around all the individual bars again. Here’s a shot at the sewing machine of 1 out of 3 leaves done and it really shows the difference:


Much better! So here they are all done:


And here’s a shot of the hyperquilted heart leaf vines at the bottom. I love how they came out, but this is a perfect example of why you should never do this kind of hyperquilting on a busy fabric-there’s so much going on that all your work is lost in the frenzy!


I think I’m saying au revoir to the pansy for awhile…I love them and they sure are fun to make, but other flowers are beckoning me…


2nd Volume of Free Motion Fun With Vines and Leaves is Now Available!

January 13th, 2008

Big News! We are proud to announce that “Free Motion Fun…With Vines and Leaves! Volume 2” is now available for purchase! What better way is there to start the new year than with a new machine quilting DVD packed full of fun and fresh ideas?! Hot on the heels of “Free Motion Fun…With Vines and Leaves! Volume 1,” this DVD picks up where volume 1 left off and rockets you into new stratospheres, covering new vine and leaf quilting motifs, new hyperquilting designs, techniques for using free motion machine embroidery to embellish your leaves and vines, and gobs of insider tips to make your quilting life easier and more fun! With a total run time of 2 hours and 3 minutes, this DVD is jam-packed and covers the following:

-Learn the mechanics of stitching the Scroll Vine…this versatile vine has a semi-formal tone that works great in more traditional style quilts, but it also has a whimsical quality that allows it to work in more light-hearted quilts as well!


Once you’ve got this design down, make sure you stitch it out in scrolls of different thicknesses, because it looks very different when stitched with skinny scrolls as compared to plumper scrolls!

-Meet the Celestial Vine…this fanciful vine is the stuff of fairy tales, and its gentle, meandering curves will melt its way into your heart and onto your quilts! Here’s a sample:


-Get ready for the Heart Leaf Vine! This unadorned vine is a cross breed between a vine and a feather, and its voluptuous curves will add high romance to any quilt! Here she is:


Once you have this design down, try stitching it out with a soft curve instead of the sharp point at the heart’s center, and your vine will take on a very different look!

-Learn how to Hyperquilt the Heart Leaf Vine! You’ll see how hyperquilting this vine will further define it as a vine, and transform it into a stunning vine that trails and meanders across your quilt! Check out how beautiful this vine becomes once it’s been hyperquilted:


-Hold onto your socks as we learn to stitch multiple variations of Artsy Fartsy Leaves! These fun leaves will add a new level of interest to your quilts, and once you’ve mastered the technique to stitch them, you’ll find you can stitch gazillions of other shapes using this same technique! Here are a few samples of them:




-Meet the Undulating Leaf Chain Vine! This gracious vine is a hyperquilted vine that is stately and formal and will be a smashing addition to your traditional style quilts! Here’s a sample:


-Savor the fun and exhilaration of embellishing your vine and leaf designs with free motion machine embroidery! In the next 3 chapters, you will learn how to add fine details like intricate veining of leaves to fused appliqué shapes; non-fused appliqué shapes, and even directly to your quilt top! Mastering techniques that add these kinds of intricate details will add that “wow” factor to your quilts and move you into the blue ribbon category!

-In our final chapter, we’ll cover all kinds of topics to help you make fusible appliqué faster and easier, and we’ll learn 2 new methods to finish the edges of your quilt without adding a binding!

Whether you make traditional style quilts, contemporary quilts, or art quilts, there is something for EVERY QUILTER in this jam-packed DVD! Click on the Free Downloads section to peruse the designs covered in this new DVD, and then click on the Instructional DVD section to watch a preview video clip. It may be winter outside, but you’ll be sure to have some fun creating beautiful vines and leaves in the dead of winter!

Quilt Building and Mouse Pad Makeover!

January 9th, 2008

One thing that really intrigues me is seeing how other people work. I’m so used to how I do things that I assume most people work the same way, but then I’m always surprised to see other people work differently. For example, Ricky Tims came out with a DVD a couple years ago, (I LOVED it!), and he had a segment showing how he quilts feathers. It had never dawned on me that he had been drawing out those feathers by hand before he quilted them. It was completely the opposite of how I work, yet it was fascinating to learn a different way of doing it. When I build a quilt, I don’t know in advance what I’m going to do. I have a few fabrics I’d like to use, a “general color scheme,” and a vague idea of how parts of it will be, but the rest just happens as I go along. We were in Asheville last week and I had some precious time in my sewing room to work. I started with 9 of these blocks that I’d gotten:


I messed around with some blocks to use in alternate positions and then I needed to decide if I wanted my starter blocks set on square:


…or if I wanted the starter blocks on point (sorry for the blurry picture):


(Notice that when I talk about on point or on square, I’m referring to my starter blocks, NOT the total square). Well, I thought the on point starter blocks won hands down, so then I added some additional blue/gree fabric to make it into a rectangle, so it could work better as a bed quilt or a lap quilt:


(I should say that I’ve fallen in love with that blue/green fabric, so there will be a LOT of it in this quilt!). Next, I want to begin a border, so I put up some yellowy-green narrow fabric to get an idea of how it will work:


I like the way that one works! Yippee, a winner! Next, I piece together some scraps of blues/greens/yellows. I keep 3 1/2 inch wide scraps of varying lengths like this in ziploc bags so they’re ready to go:


I throw them up against the narrow yellow and…


…I dunno about this one. At this point, I had to pack everything up and drive back to OH, so I’m mulling that row over! But, stay tuned and I’ll post as this quilt continues to grow very spontaneously!

In other news, do you have mouse pads that have seen better days? I sure do, but I don’t want to throw them out. I recently discovered that you can recycle them by giving them a mousepad makeover! Here’s one I did in bright colors to take to work:


Here’s how easy it is to do. Start with an old, dirty mousepad. This one came from my mother in law, and I didn’t realize until I started working with it just what rough shape it was in! (Jane, if you’re reading this, you’ve already gotten your money’s worth out of this mousepad! It literally was crumbling on me as I worked!). Here’s the decrepit pad we’re starting with:


The fabric top of the pad was coming off and there were old pieces of hard glue coming out of the sides, so I had no choice but to rip off the fabric top. (I’ve never had to do that before and if you don’t have to, DON’T do it!):


Trace around the pad onto the paper side of Wonder Under and then cut out a piece of wonder under with 1/4-1/2 in border outside your pencil line. Fuse this to the wrong side of your piece of fabric as below:

Now, fuse this to the top of your mousepad. Since there is overhanging Wonder Under, make sure you do this on either parchment paper or a teflon applique sheet so you don’t get your ironing board all sticky! Next, move to your self-healing mat and trim the excess with your rotary cuter:


And here’s the new pad in fabric I know my mother in law will love:


…and here’s a hand dyed mousepad for Ernie:


New Machine Quilting Magazine and Ta-Done!

January 2nd, 2008


A new machine quilting magazine called “Machine Quilting Unlimited” has just debuted and I wanted to blog about it because I think this looks pretty good. It is geared toward the home machine quilter and has articles for quilters using the traditional sit-down push-through quilting technique and also for quilters using a small frame system. It’s aiming to reach quilters using a home domestic sewing machine or one of the many midarm machines on the market. This applies to the vast majority of quilters out there, so you should give this magazine a look-see. The premiere issue just arrived last week, and I was happy with it. It’s in full color, on heavy paper, and my camera didn’t do the greatest job capturing color, but here’s an example of the photography of a beautifully colorful quilt by Kit Robinson on page 48:


I have an article in there about stitching feathers and all kinds of feather embellishments:


…and there are all kinds of other interesting articles in there! It’s available by subscription only and if you’re interested, here’s the address:

In other news, I had many requests to teach a class using the pansy wall hanging from the YouTube tutorial, but I needed to revise my pattern to make the fusing part easier. This is part of the challenge of a class-you are so limited by time that you really have to come up with something a person can make quickly that will teach them the desired skills, but it’s also got to be interesting enough that people will want to make it! I just made a new class sample from a revised pattern and here is a closeup:


On this one, I did a bit of additional thread painting around the purple area and I’m hoping these photos will show you the progression. Here’s the TOP only with the first pass of purple thread coming out of the pansy center:


I then went back with a 2nd thread, this time a purpley/burgandy color, and then I went back in with a 3rd color that was magenta. This makes it a bit more interesting to have these colors blending:


While it was still just a quilt top, I did all my threadwork on the leaves:


This is what the back of the top looks like when you’ve gotten to this point:


Next, you put it into the final quilt sandwich and beginning in the very center, outline all of your thread work with invisible thread, and this will begin to show the wonderful dimensions that the trapunto creates. Here it is sitting under the machine after the outlining step. Remember, it will “puff out” even more once the area AROUND the pansy has been quilted:


And here’s the finished wall hanging once the background is quilted:


And here’s a close up of the background quilting:


Every time I make something with trapunto, I feel so impressed by how much interest it adds to a quilt…if you haven’t tried this yet, give it a shot because it’s really fun!