Friday, June 26, 2015

Midsummer Night's Dream

I can rest on this one . . . a great summer quilt

Simple Irish Chain
getting the layers loaded on the quilt frame

Lots of 2.5" scrappy strips (leftovers) to build this queen size quilt 90 x 102

One great thing about loading a quilt is--it forces me to stop and super-clean the studio floor so I don't draw up crazy lint and threads.

My Feather Bouquet edge to edge free style is relaxing to stitch

I used up the last bits of some of these scrap fabrics.  

Some of those fabrics I'll really miss--like the Robert Kaufman "hidden cove", a watery blue with fish swimming 'round.  Sliced up into little sections, only parts of fish show up here and there.

The nine patch finishes 6".   On a field of crisp white, I'm happy having so much negative space to quilt to show off the feathers, interrupted by 2" chips of color.

A full day's work to long arm quilt, and 2 weeks work to piece. 

When presenting a variety of color, I sure rely on basic color wheel to make quick decisions, but not too obvious, and expectations of a random look.

 No problems quilting this one--I used Glide thread, and 100% cotton batting.

Rolling it off the frame

Swirl sequence of the Feather Bouquet design

Light streaming from the south full glass doors.
Quilt looks great.

I took lots of pictures of the free style quilting.  It is fun.

I flipped up the bottom, so you can see the backing with panel insert.

View of the backing 

I finished the quilt just as we lost our precious little dog Rainie.  
I wish it were all a dream.  Jon and I miss her so much.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Falling Triangles Quilt and Goals for 2015

My goal for 2015 is to build 15 queens size quilts, using larger chunks of fabrics (leftovers) from other projects.

Falling Triangles Quilt is my 7th this year as we begin the month of June . . .

 I pieced the Falling Triangles while visiting my mother in May.  My Mom has a wall mounted quilt in her dining room.  I used Mom's wall mounted quilt as a design board--to pin and review finished blocks.

Assembly:  I selected and sewed 4 blocks together--as it was easier for me to keep each triangle rotating in the correct position.  

I took this photograph after completing the first row of long arm quilting, featuring my own free style edge to edge Feather Bouquet design.  

At the left of the photo is the take up roller bar--where you can see the backing fabric of gray and white chevron with turquoise center panel wrapping around the take up roller as I roll and advance the quilt to stitch the second row.

This photo shows all the layers loaded on the quilt frame.  After stitching the first row, I stopped, and pulled the quilt top to the side so you can see the polyester batting.  

To the right of this photos--I did a stitch test sample on the extended margin of the backing.  

The extra margin of backing fabric is great for testing thread tension, gives me a moment to see how the loft of the polyester batting will behave before starting the quilt, and most important the extra fabic margins (left and right) are need to attach side tension clamps.   

On the right--I am doing test stitches on a scrap piece of fabric. 

My Feather Bouquet free style design is stitched right to left.  Begins with a graceful S stem that finishes in a loose spiral, then back track to build feathers.   Two days work to long arm quilt, and a third day to add binding, turn binding, and hand stitch.  

I was inspired to make this quilt after reviewing Jenny Doan's Missouri Star tutorial on the Falling Triangles Quilt.  I hope you will give it a try also.  

Tip:  I use Heavy Duty Spray Starch to prepare fabric for cutting and during assembly--makes every cut, every bias seam behave perfectly and finish accurately.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

No Time for Naps--There Are Quilts to be Made!

I finished this Tangerine flavored queen size quilt.  It was sitting in the studio for a month.  I confess, I made the backing twice because the first backing offered little contrast.  The second backing was much better.  I photographed the quilt on the Stearns and Foster mattress in the north bedroom downstairs.  It is such a comfortable bed--and a great place to take a nap.

Here is a look at the quilting process in my studio.  I used a 8" high x 12" long repeating design I call Feather Bouquet stitched from right to left, repeating the design to finish the row.

There are lots of long arm quilters like me who "float" their quilts.  This means the backing is rolled snug between the take up roller and the belly bar, while the batting and top are draped and smoothed by hand.  Clamps at the right and left margins provide tension during quilting.

Close Up of  Feather Bouquet design.
After stitching "S" spine I back track with feathers on one side of the stem--then back track again adding feathers to the other side of the stem.

I created the Feather Bouquet design on a whiteboard with dry erase markers.  The size of the design sequence 8" high by 12" wide is based on the size of my whiteboard.  I spend hours developing a continuous line sequence, and more hours repeating the design until I develop the muscle memory for great spacing and fluid motion.

My expectations are stitching 3 queen size quilts using the same design sequence.  After that, I'm ready to go on to a new design.

  The hand stitched appliqued flowers and glass beads remind me of the orange and yellow Fritillaria Imperialis we grew at our former house and yard on Elm Valley Road.

Fritillaria, Imperialis blooms in April in our zone 4

I always insert a panel to add interest to the backing fabric.

Repeating fabric from the quilt top onto the backing not only looks good, it adds and overall 10" or more width, providing a minimum of 4" extra backing material at the left and right margins while long arm quilting on the frame.

The extra 4" of backing material at the left and right margins is where I use side tension clamps to keep the backing fabric snug, smooth.

Three quilts are finished now with the Feather Bouquet Design:  1) Scrappy Quilt with Turquoise and Orange Corner Stones, 2) Earth Tones-Framed Nine Patch,  3) Orange Fritillaria Quilt (above).


My next project is the Blues Yo Yo queen size quilt, and features my random long arm quilt designs based on Zentangle.  And, I am inspired by Karlee Porter's new book  "Graffiti Quilting, A Simple Guide to Complex Design."

Blues Yo Yo is another variation of scrappy quilts I love to make.  Identical blocks were built from eight different fabrics.

A simple technique:  Begin with 10.5 squares of  two companion fabrics, right sides together.  Sew 1/4" around the perimeter, press with heavy spray starch. Cut twice diagonally.  Press open half square triangles.  The finished block is framed in white cotton, and decorated with a variety of fabric scraps hand sewn into yo-yo(s) with buttons.

Heavy Spray Starch keeps fraying edges (strings) at bay.  The crisp fabric is easier to cut, sew, and best of all--the spray starch keeps biased cuts from warping out of shape.

On the frame, ready to begin the long arm quilting.

The long arm quilting fun begins!

These next photos are random doodles, using my best continuous line short designs learned from Zentangle examples in books, and valuable live demonstrations on YouTube.

Crossing over lines is inevitable, especially when I consider all the rules, and breaking of rules I make up as I go along.  This is "where" and "how" I learn to graffiti quilt--by just getting in there and doing it.

There are some rules I follow when planning quilts.  In this quilt I want the watery blues and greens to ride along with lots of light/white fabrics.  I did this on purpose so I could use white quilt thread and the result is the quilting design is readily seen in the dark and light fabrics.

Notice how the middle tone fabrics hide the quilt designs?  Yeah, and its tough seeing where the heck I'm stitching in those middle tones.

   Next year I know I'll groan a bit, looking back at my first attempts at random quilt doodle.  But, I'll be glad that I tried something new..  Right now my mission is to discover the good, bad, and ugly, and improve.  I'll be showcasing my favorite doodles on future quilts.  And, the doodles that weren't so great--I'll find a way to improve them.  For the moment I'm feeling excitement.

Hurray for corners on quilts!!!  I always start at the top right corner of the quilting frame doing edge to edge free style work.  Above you can see I started out with a bang.  Maybe too much bang, eh?  As I moved away from the corner I relaxed more--allowing a bit more spacing.  The good news, the corner of the quilt will be draped on a bed, near the floor.  Hurray for corners!!!

As I quilted away from the corner I introduced some McTavishing (curvy worm like echoed lines), and worked out some strategies for small designs to spin around the yo-yo.  I could have played it safe and not added the yo yo (s) until the quilting was done.  But for me, I needed to add those important elements to fulfill my vision of what the quilt would become.

When in doubt of my next move, I added my free style Feather Bouquet design with it's elegant "S" stem and feathers.

Also, I feathered off of the pebbles following the rim of McTavishing echoed lines.  Ooooo, I like.  I'll have to remember this combo.  Glad I took these detail photos for future reference.

Yep, those Feathers/Pebbles/McTavishing are cool.

No time to get frightened over a missed spot--I recovered quickly with a large meander to maintain airy spacing.

I see in these photos--there are orphan threads clinging here and there--where the heck did they come from?

Upper right hand side--a big pointy leaf with many echoes, and outlined with pebbles.  I pray, my pebbles one day will be great.  The skill takes time.  But I'm really pumped about learning how to do them.

Random doodles colliding, good spacing.  I'm happy with the first row of quilting.  Not a bad start.

I have a weird leftover fabric for the binding picked out.  I'll save it for a surprise when I post photos of the finished quilt on the bed.  And, I think you'll enjoy the pieced backing I made for this quilt--so different!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

A Quilting Storm

Spring Floral Quilt - Feb 2015
(featuring Anita's Arrowhead Block)
Queen Size: 90 x 104
Fabric: Magical Garden Collection by M'Liss 

Here's a photo review of my winter work--5 queen size bed quilts I created the last four months and the 6th one ready to long arm quilt.

Back View of Spring Floral Quilt with decorative panel

I love to make queen size bed quilts--90" x 104" finished is ideal.  
About 17 yards of fabric, two large spools of thread.  

The process of loading the backing first, then the 
Warm and Natural 100% cotton batting, and the quilt top. 

Preparation to Quilt
 It takes an hour to clean the studio floor, clean the machine, and clean the wheels and rails, install new needle, wind 10-12 bobbins, thread the machine, oil bobbin race, adjust tension.  

Squaring fabrics--quilt top, batting, and backing is another hour long job prior to loading.  

My free style edge to edge long arm quilting designs take me 2 half days to do a queen size quilt.  

This is my design called Feather Bouquet.  A couple of evenings before I do the free style quilting I practice the design on my white board for hours to develop confident and free flowing muscle memory.  From that point forward--free motion quilting is a piece of cake.  I just grab the machine handles and start drawing.  It is relaxing and I travel to a zone where every other concern fades.

Feather Bouquet (free motion quilting)

I always add a pieced panel to the backing fabric to add interest.

Anita Goodman Solomon's Arrow Head Block.

Then next quilt I made was a simple framed nine patch block in Earth tones of coal, sand, gray sky, and ivory.  

Earth Tones - Framed Nine Patch - Feb/Mar 2015

My edge to edge design, Feather Bouquet

Finishing long arm quilting--and rolling it off of the frame.
Next steps: trim batting, square quilt, prepare 400 inches of binding, sewing on binding, turn binding and hand stitch.

Weird backing fabric with the barcodes, etc.  But I love it.
I'll have to look up all the fabric names and share details later.

Detail of free style Feather Bouquet design

Scrappy Corner Stone Quilt - March 2015

I pieced the backing and it really adds a lot of interest to the quilt.  

Corner Stones of turquoise and orange and navy print sashing pull these rail fence blocks together.

Feather Bouquet (edge to edge design)

I played with a wonky star block, and liked it, so I made 8 blocks.  They sat in my UFO pile for a while waiting for a scrappy quilt project.  I used the 8 blocks randomly to break up the routine of this quilt.

You may have noticed, I take lots of photos of my quilts from every angle.  Sometimes I can't decide which photos I like best, so I used them all.

Finished long arm quilting, rolling it off the frame.

December was the Scrappy Quilt 2, and January was the Blue Jeans Quilt, and you can review those  on my older posts.

Here's a peek at the Orange Applique Quilt when I started it.  I confess, I've never done hand applique work before, but I find it fascinating.  I would say I'm doing a good job for my first try at hand applique.  Surprise--they'll be bead work on it too!  

I have to piece the backing with a panel of left over orange quilt blocks, then I can load it on the frame for long arm quilting.  I'll share photos when its done.