Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Oak Leaves and Reel

Isn't this cool fabric?  Yup, it's fabric...printed to look like appliqué and half square triangles.  This is my current work in progress.  Formerly a resident in the UFO box, this project was purchased in December of 2007 with the thought that it would be a quick gift.  I do not measure time as some would measure

"Oak Leaves & Reel" by Terry Clothier Thompson is a "convenience" quilt produced by Moda.  When finished it will measure 86x86.   

First off let me say that "convenience" might be the wrong word for this project.  Yes, countless hours of hand work were avoided.  The center and outer border are giant faux appliqué.   With another twenty years I might be able to produce a replica of it, ....maybe.  However, the notion that this quilt is somehow easier is probably wrong.  There is a whole other set of skills required here.  Have you every fussy cut something?  You need an engineering degree and nerves of steel.

Over the weekend, in a turkey induced euphoria, Gilbert and I decided it would be a fun project to do for the dogs.  Yup, you read it right.  We thought we would whip it together in an afternoon, free motion quilt it on the Gammell the next day, and have it on the couch by Monday.  (Have I told you that we are not engineers?)

The dogs like the couch in the library.  It is their room, a.k.a. formal dinning room turned book depository.  We got a new couch and moved the old one in there thinking that it would be a nice place to curl up and read.  

Gilbert doesn't like the dogs on the couch.  He boobie traps the room, placing obstacles between the dogs and the precious leather cushions.  He says their claws will ruin it.  I do wonder how a 80 pound dog is going to ruin the hide of a bull, but I respect my fella so I'm not going to argue about it.  I leave the obstacles in place even though it makes the cozy reading room uninhabitable.
Enter me with a bright idea.....not so very as it turns out.  If we covered the couch the dogs wouldn't hurt the leather.  Look, we could make this convenient quilt just for them.  I could practice free motion quilting it.  The dogs won't care how it looks.

The center of the quit is a giant nine patch of faux appliqué. The were ten blocks in the pannel.  While my engineer was busy fussy cutting I played with some free motion quilting. 

Oak leaf before...

Oak leaf after...

I thought that twitch had gone away.  

There is no way I can do this with the grace and efficiency that Waldorff does.  Even if I frog it and start over the quilting won't follow the lines exactly and I know the dogs don't care.  I think in this case we need some more quiltng to destract the eyes, create some faux appliqué puffiness, and secure the quilt from dog claw damage.

This is where I left my sample.   In it's next life it is going to be a big pillow.

Note to self: Base you expectations on an achievable goal.  Accept the limitations of the tool you are using and use it to your advantage.  Human tool = imperfection in repeted patterns, tallent for adhoc fly by the seat of your pants measured chaos.  Computerized tool = stunning symetry. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Free Motion Quilting

You've got to be kidding me.

Have you seen what people can do with free motion quilting?
Back up, .... Free motion quilting is a method of machine quilting where the artist (a word which I would not apply to myself, but whole heartedly attribute to these people) releases the feed dogs and moves the quilt "sandwich" freely through their sewing machine.  They over ride the machines pull on the fabric, and it's means of creating a measured stitch, and manually direct the progression as layers are sewn together to make a quilt. Often the stitching creates delightful patterns.

It takes an enormous amount of patience and practice to get everything moving in sync.

These are just tiny samples that I snitched from Flickr.   They are practice blocks quilted by Katie of  Unconventional Katie as part of Free Motion Fridays at Fluffy Sheep Quilting.  They are now in week 8 of the project.

In January 2012 a new project is starting.   The Quilt as You Go Free Motion Quilting Quilt Along sponsored by my friend Laura at Quokka Quilts in Australia.  She has convinced me to join in her efforts to encourage FMQers.  Read  more about it on her blog, Quokka Quilts

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Pied Beauty
By Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844 - 1889)

Glory be to God for dappled things --
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced -- fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original. spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow, sweet, sour, a-dazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change;

Praise Him.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Quilt Photography

Today I worked on a quilt made by a mom for her daughter. It was filled with words of encouragement and images of things that were important to them.

As I worked I was thinking about a young friend of mine who recently had to say goodbye to her beloved grandmother. Her death was a shock that has left a gaping whole in her life.

And I began to wonder...if our lives aren't an awful lot like a quilt. Pieced and patched together.....and best viewed from an oblique angle.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ta-da! & My HST Love Affair Continues

I love it when I finally feel like I'm making progress. This weekend got two tops off of my gift making list...

This quilt, Chevron Star Rising, was made start to finish this weekend. I went to Happiness is Quilting on Saturday morning, after sleeping in. Sewed all of the blocks and half of the rows Saturday afternoon. Finished the rows, border, quilting and binding on Sunday.

I made it as a gift for my son's best friend. Today is his 16th birthday and I wanted to do something special for this boy who has been such a big part of our family for the past 14 years. The quilt has further cemented my love affair with big half square triangles.

I also got this top finished for our youth pastor's new baby boy. I adore the fabrics in this Michael Miller line....Retro. It is perfect for an energetic little boy and his rugby crazed Daddy.  I still have to quilt this one. I'm torn between lightning bolts and stars. What do you think?

I found this little guy on Urban Threads. I think he needs to go on the label.

And, before I sign off for the day, a shout out to another awesome sweet husband who cut and pressed fabric for me all weekend while watching football, and cooking. You are amazing Mr. Sharp.

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Where it all happens

I am fortunate to live in a castle.

We built it 13 years ago when we were expecting the birth of our third, and last son.

On the second floor there are four small bedrooms, one on each corner. They were all joined by a very large game room in the middle. As the boys grew the game room saw all sorts of activities. One of my favorites was to build a giant train track for Thomas and friends; although marshmallow wars was pretty sweet. At some point the space got too big for the boys. They didn't really use the space, the trash and dirty socks creeped into it. That is when I invaded.

Now my long arm lives in it, along with all of my crafty projects. There are about twelve feet of book shelves lined with labeled boxes and books.

My big board sits in front of a picture window that lets me look out on the neighborhood....or the dog. She likes to sit under the ironing board with her chin on the windowsill. It isn't often a problem, but occasionally she gets tangled up on the power cord. A few irons have been killed this way. (That's not is Sue. Once in a while I have people over to play with my toy. It is always nice to have company for the day.)

In the corner I have a repurposed TV cabinet - it holds my home office now - and an assortment of rulers. They are hung from old sewing machine needles. The needles work great as impromptu nails.

At the front of the room is my work table. It is an Ikea table that we have adhered a large cutting mat to. It is great to be able to plunk down anywhere and cut pieces for a quilt. I still haven't conquered the demon lap top and coffee cup. The heat warps the mat. In a sane household you would just prohibit the use of these heat producing items on the table....that is probably the same home where you take your shoes off at the door and line them up in neat rows. Lol. Here shoes come off...under tables and couches and chairs. Socks come off too. I think we have an infestation.

Back to the front of the room...another view out on the neighbors. There's my dawg, keeping me safe at the top of the stairs.

I hope you enjoyed the tour of my workroom. (I don't call it a studio 'cuz all sorts of things still happen here. The big tables are irresistible.)

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Oh happy day...

I love my mail man!

Two days in a row he left lovely lumpy little parcels. Eek! I love getting packages in the mail.

This is from One4Luck and is the mini I received for my second entry in Little Quilt - Sew, Vote, Swap Round 2.

It was created as a special placemat for Santa. Wouldn't it look lovely with a plate piled high with cookies on it? A beautiful presentation for the jolly old elf. I hope he is not on a diet.

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A Special Welcome & The Anatomy of a Long Arm


I'm glad you could stop by this morning. What a treat it is to have visitors from The Tulip Patch.

Today is the first in a series of Saturdays when Mary of The Tulip Patch is hosting "Shout Out Saturday". I am her first guest. How awesome is that?! Thank you Mary for having me. If you haven't been there already, take a moment to go visit her. You can learn a little about me....and get some tips on long arm quilters. As an addendum to that information I've created a little, minuscule, pictorial tutorial on what it is those mystical beings do to your quilts.

It all starts here. This is my long arm is a Gammell Optimum with a Statler Stitcher. I call it Waldorf. All long arm machines are basically long necked sewing machines. They work the same way a domestic machine does. What is different is the way the fabric gets moved through it.

When you free motion quilt on a domestic sewing machine (a skill I do not possess) you move the fabric. The machine sits just where it always does and you do the work normally done by the feed dogs. The quilt has to be basted before hand and rolled or folded so that it will fit through the neck of the machine so you can work on the middle of the quilt.

On a long arm the pieces of the quilt are secured on a big table and the machine is moved around.

Tables are usually between 10 and 14 feet long. Mine is 12. The length of the table limits the size of the quilt that can be quilted on it. The shortest side of a quilt has to be less than the length of the table in order to mount the top. This isn't usually a problem....a king sized quilt is approximately 108"x95". A twelve foot table is 144".

Every table has three winding rods. There is one to hold the quilt's top; one to hold the backing; and one to hold the completed quilt as it is taken up. The top and the backing are attached to fabric leaders that are attached to the rods.

At the front of every table is a bar. This is the front most edge. The top, back, and batting all pass over it before they are quilted. The "belly bar" serves as a fixed, and straight reference point for the long arm quilter. It also keeps everything nice and flat.

Quilts are also secured at the sides. Long, straps of velcro extend from the sides of the table to the backing material. These straps have big clips on the end of them. The clips are fastened to the backing and batting and keep it taught from side to side.

When a quilt is properly mounted on the table it isn't going to go anywhere. It is taut, but not so tight that you could bounce coins off of it. My cats think it makes a lovely hammock, and it probably does if you only weigh 7 pounds. I discourage their use of customer quilts in this manner.

Sometimes they sneak past me.

Thanks for stopping by....and have a great day.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


What a day, what a day...

Just pulled this out of my mail box. I think the neighbors may have heard me squeal. No police cruisers stopping by to check up on me......yet.

This was my first pick in round two of the Little Quilt - Sew, Vote, Swap swap on Flickr.

Made by the in infamous Carol, aka Mamacjt.

Welcome to my home beautiful little quilty!

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

This just in...

Last night the best ever trick-or-treater came to my door. He was dressed in a brown uniform and was driving a big brown truck. He delivered these goodies from the Fat Quarter Shop...

Count Down to Christmas by Sweetwater for Moda. Soon to be a Christmas quilt for yet another brother. I have three of them and want to be able to give the quilts at Thanksgiving. What fun is a Christmas quilt if you don't get to enjoy it during Advent?! I'll let you know how this goes. At this moment I have 1 finished, one in pieces, and this....and about a dozen quilts to quilt for customers. It could happen.

Retro Basics and SuperHeroes from Michael Miller Fabrics. These are going to be a super simple baby quilt for our youth pastors new little boy. The superheroes go in the middle, whole, with a piano key type border of the dots and plaids bound with that yummy green. The finished quilt will be something like 36x46. I'm not sure when the baby is due....but it is pretty soon.

My I have a lot to get done. Perhaps I should get off of my blog and get to work.

Wish I had more time before the next run of the Mom taxi.

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That's my boy!

I stole his new Facebook photo. Isn't he a handsome fella? Can't wait the three weeks 'til Thanksgiving. My arms are just aching to hug on him.

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