Animal Parade… quilts for a baby

Before I get started, please let me apologize for a couple of the pictures being sideways.  I have fixed them in the editor, but they keep changing back when I update and re-post this.  My apologies!

Remember a couple of years ago when I was doing book reviews? Well, one of the books charmed me so much, I used a couple of patterns in it to make baby quilts for my new grandson. The book’s title is Animal Parade by Cheri Leffler.

My grandson’s mother, my daughter, has always loved owls so in the autumn I made an owls quilt for him. This is a picture of the original in the book.

And, here is the one I made.

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You can’t tell that the fabric is turquoise in the above picture, but it is. I loved the fabric Cheri used in the bellies of her owls, but I couldn’t find any of that kind of fabric at the stores I visited, so I had to substitute. And, how did I miss those eyes in her owl on the upper right of Cheri’s quilt? They look so cute. Mine just look surprised like the others in the diagonal row that goes down to the left of it. LOL

You know how I love to be artistic with my quilting, so here are some close-ups of the quilting I did.

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That’s supposed to be a tree trunk on the left with a baby owl peeking out about the midway point right next to the left side of the picture.

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In this one you can see the leaves that I added to the branches. Basically, the quilting included tree trunks, extra branches and lots and lots of leaves.
Right side of the quilt with another tree trunk…

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Middle with lots of leaves…

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I know that a lot of stitching makes a quilt stiff. Some quilters put so much quilting on their quilts that they are like boards and are very heavy; too heavy to sleep under. That is the kind of quilting that you see on a lot of show quilts. When I quilted this, I put too much quilting in it. Yes, I was trying to “paint” a more complete picture, but for baby quilts, you really only need enough quilting to hold it together. They need soft quilts, and soft quilts have very little quilting. Lesson learned… again… with this quilt. So, on to the next one…

Another quilt from Cheri’s book in a penguin quilt with red borders and sashing. I like the red, but, to be honest, the red scares me due to bleeding issues. My son-in-law likes penguins, so for winter I made a penguin quilt from light blues. I also used a flannel backing and used the green color in the backing and purple to round out the colors. And, this time there was a lot less quilting. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get it done in time for Christmas, and I didn’t. I normally do a little piecing at a time when I’m working on my own quilts. So, I was able to finish up the piecing a few days before Christmas and finish up the quilting several days afterwards.

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For this quilt, I just did an allover swirl to make it look like swirling wind.

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There were several places that was supposed to have embroidery, but I have to admit that I cheated.  I knew if I took the time to embroider everything on there that i wanted, the quilt probably wouldn’t get done for years.  So, I used a permanent fabric ink pen and drew in some of the embroidered areas, such as the black dots for the eyes below.

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I thought the dotted fabric reminded me of snowflakes.

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And, here is the flannel backing.

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I needed to get back to work on customer quilts, so I cheated once again by rolling the backing fabric around to the front to make the binding.  Can you see it?  No, I didn’t cut the flannel fabric first; I just rolled the extra backing flannel around to the front side and folded it over again and then machine sewed it down.  I’m a better thread artist than I am at making quilt tops.

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If you’d like to take a look at Cheri Leffler’s book, you can do so by going here: http://amzn.to/1nBiHdj

And, guess what? I saw that Cheri has a second Animal Parade book now, too. It looks like it’s got some adorable animals also. This one’s got hedge hogs, raccoons, dear, etc. You can find it here: http://amzn.to/1nBiWF4

Happy Anniversary Jaftex!

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Welcome to Jaftex Blog Hop, Day 12!  I am sure by now you have read about how Jaftex got started and evolved, so I won’t bore you with that.  I don’t know about you, but I am really enjoying seeing all these projects that everyone has made with their fabrics.  There are 3 different kinds of fabric bundles, yet the variety of projects made is astounding!

I am honored to be the guest blogger for today!  I was given Fusion Illusion by Blank Quilting.   You, too, can win this colorful bundle of 20 fat quarters later in this post. So, stick with me!

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I know you’ve seen this fabric before on other blogs during this blog hop, but I used it on applique.  When I opened that box of fat quarter fabric bundles, I saw a rainbow of colors and thought I should make something to take advantage of that.  But… in the back of my mind I had a quilt design in mind that I’ve been meaning to draw up for nearly 2 years now.  This would be the perfect excuse to get those ideas down on fabric.

In 2013, my friend, Joan, and I went to the International Quilt Festival in Houston for the first time.  When you’re in Houston for Market or the Festival, you make friends with everyone.  We are all excited to be there and we have a lot in common.  Joan and I went down for breakfast at our hotel and saw ladies dressed up in Halloween attire – you could tell they were going to the quilt festival just from what they wore and how they looked.  Quilters will dress up together in the kookiest clothing!  We sat near this one couple of ladies who were cousins from a southern state.  They were dressed alike and looked like they were having a great time.  Each morning at the hotel bistro we would sit and chat with the other ladies going to Festival, but mostly we chatted with these 2 cousins.  I could kick myself for not remembering their names.  I guess I could call them Jill and Jane.

When you first get to Festival, you are full of energy but as each day passes, all the excitement and walking wear you down.  You shop. You eat.  You look at quilts. You eat.  You take classes.  You eat.  You rest.  And, you eat some more.  The extra weight of the goodies you buy and the pounds you put on from eating “help” you to move slower and slower.  So, by the last day, you have had your fill of fun and are dragging.

The last morning that Jill and Jane were there, it was a joy to see them, but they looked exhausted.  Their SUV was packed, and I mean packed, with the loot from only 2 days of shopping.  Jill said if there was an inch of space anywhere, she would find it so they could shop some more.  Jane said she had to stop or she wouldn’t have enough money to get back home.  It was a site to see!

After they headed for home, I laughed, thinking of a comic of them in my mind.  So, I sketched out a couple of pictures of them, thinking they would make a great quilt some day.  Quilters love to buy fabric and go to quilt shows and hang out with one another, so I figured quilters would also appreciate this “quilt story.”  The question was how to put them together into a story…  This is what I finally ended up with.  The name of this combo is…  “Went & Spent”.

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I put the bright colors in the “First Day” quilt and dark colors in the “Last Day” quilt.

Jill is on the left and Jane is on the right in both quilts.  There are lots of hidden symbols in these quilts.  For one thing, in the “before” quilt (“Went”), Jane is wearing “rose colored” glasses.  She also is carrying a green “cash” bag while Jill is carrying a “Shop ’til You Drop” bag.  And, they are standing on Cloud #9.

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In the “after” quilt (“Spent”), Jill and Jane both look haggard.  Jane’s glasses are now blue, to represent the blue feeling she has with leaving but also to hide those bags under her eyes.  😉  Both of them have frazzled hair.

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And, you can see that, although they’ve packed the SUV pretty well, they still have some room.

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So, here goes… for a chance to win the colorful bundle of 20 fat quarters above, please answer in the comments below  whether or not you have or have not been to International Quilt Festival at any time of the year.  If you have been, please tell me your favorite part.  If you haven’t been, please tell me if you’ve been to another quilt show and what you liked best about it.  On October 1st, I will pull a name/number out of a hat and will announce the winner of the Fusion Illusion fat quarter bundle shown above, so check back here then to see if it was you!  I will pay for shipping to U.S. residents.  If you are from another country and willing to pay the cost of shipping, then you are more than welcome to participate.

Also, please check out the “big” giveaways here: 85th Anniversary Giveaway 

Many thanks to Janome, Aurifil, and Schmetz for their contributions to the giveaway!

Don’t forget to stop over at Liz’ and Beth’s site at Lizzie B Cre8ive tomorrow for Day 13 of the blog hop.  I love their fun style and think you, too, will love whatever they make with their fabric bundle!

Good luck everyone!

 

 

Personal Stretching

You may or may not think the title of this post has something to do with personal growth, and you’d be right.  It’s just a different kind of personal growth than what you may be expecting.  I’ve “kind of” taken a month off quilting for others so that I could finish one of my own quilts.  Well… that and deal with the holidays, which can easily eat up a month in itself.  What you may not know is that quilters who do the quilting for others struggle to find time for working on their own quilts.  We are always looking for a way to get our own stuff in, but we also have bills to pay, so we know that working on our own stuff would interfere with paying the bills.  So, guess what gets left out?

This latest quilt of mine is hand applique.  When we travel, I need something to do and to keep my hands busy so that I don’t go stir crazy.  I worked on the applique on this for a couple of years.  I mixed a couple of patterns, using Piece ‘o Cake Designs’ “My Whimsical Quilt Garden” (you can find this pattern here) and some patterns from Kay Mackenzie’s book Inspired by Tradition.  And, if you want to see more of these patterns, you can find her book here.  I like the simplicity of Kay’s patterns – her patterns make it easy to do needle-turn (hand) applique.

Anyhow, here is a sneak peak of the top.  I chose bright colors for a cheerful quilt.  A lot of the fabric is “In the Beginning” fabric; most of it is Jennifer Heynan’s designs.  She has a blog that I follow and is listed in the sidebar on the right.  Bright and cheerful… The name of it is “Dawn of a New Day” so named because it has dark borders with bright colors all over the quilt as well as white backgrounds for the blocks.  It makes me think of new beginnings (wonder if that’s because a lot of it is “In the Beginning” fabric) and a hopeful future.

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I am planning/hoping to put this in some quilt shows, so I quilted it to death (a personal stretch for me).  Here is a picture of the back.

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This took me FOR. EVER. to finish.  Well, I’m not exactly finished yet.  I still need to put on the binding.  I thought I was never going to get this done!  All I can say is that the cost of quilting this for someone else can easily cost over $500.  Divide that by a month, and that’s a salary of $125 week of back-wrenching work.  And, that’s not including overhead costs, taxes, and other IRS requirements taken from it.  Anyhow, I apologize if it seems like I am complaining.  I just couldn’t believe how long it was taking me to finish this quilt.  I’m glad it’s done.  I’m not completely satisfied with the results, but this is the best I can do with where I’m at as far as being a professional quilter.  At some point you’ve just gotta stop and say, “This will do.”

Speaking of back-wrenching work, 2014, for me, was a year full of back pain and migraines.  For awhile I was getting massages to help with the pain.  It did help, but only temporarily.  I got to the point where I just couldn’t afford it anymore and stopped.

I asked my doctor about it and she sent me to Physical Therapy.  I thought, “Sure!  Whatever!  It’s not going to do anything.” But, you know what?  I was wrong.  My doctor and my physical therapist pointed out that I am probably hunched over a machine all day.  How did they know?  This is not good for your back.   My physical therapist explained that our body is made to stand tall, with your head up and your chest expanded/not drawn in.  When you are hunched over all day, you stretch out those back muscles, but that leaves the muscles in your chest contracted.  Eventually, if you don’t do something to counter-act this posture, as you age, you will “sink in” to this hunched over posture.  I can see some of you who sew on your domestic sewing machine thinking about this right now.  Yesterday I spent the day sewing on my domestic machine, and my back is madder today than it’s been in a long time.  So, yes, all of you who work hunched over, the following stretches will help you.

I graduated from Physical Therapy, but I still need to do my stretches EVERY day.  When I don’t do them, I can feel it.  Is it going to take away my pain completely?  No.  But, it makes the pain more manageable, and I feel so much better now.  So, here is the top page (of 4) that my physical therapist gave me to do.  I am to do these stretches every day and the following 3 pages 2-3 times a week.  True confession… I am not good at that 2-3 per week thing.  I try to keep up with it, but…  However, I do these every day and when something else is hurting, I’ll do an exercise on the last 3 pages.  You might try some of these yourself and see if they work for you.  If not, you can also “Google” exercises for your neck, upper trunk, shoulders, spine and back.

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I do hope that if you are in pain when you work, that you will find a solution.  There’s no reason to continue with pain in your life.

 

 

Déjà vu

Currently I am in between customer quilts and have pictures of quilts that I cannot post due to the fact that they will be raffle quilts.  The customers prefer that they are not “revealed” until the official reveal, if you get my meaning.  Anyhow, I figured I’d show you something I’ve been trying to finish for myself.  This was part of a quilt guild challenge to make something from our charm square exchange.  This quilt has been on and off my quilting machine’s frame more times than I care to think about (in between customer quilts).  I’ve decided to name it “Jewels of the Valley.”  All I have left to do is finish the binding on it, and clean it up (trim threads, etc.).

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In other news, remember this quilt?  It was in another one of my blog posts a long time ago.  You can read that post here.

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You can also find it at the bottom right of this page, listed under NQA’s 2013 show winners.  It won 1st place in the Scrappy Quilt Division.  Right now it is in a traveling exhibit for International Quilt Association.  If you go to IQA’s Quilt Festival in Chicago, you will be able to see it in person in their Timeless Treasures exhibit.  It will be in the same exhibit at the Quilt Festival in Houston this fall as well.  So, please look for it at either place.  I don’t know if it will be at Market or not.  The show in Chicago will be towards the end of June.  If you can’t make it to either the Chicago or the Houston show, here are some close-up shots so you can get a better look at what I snuck into the quilting.

Fairy smelling the flower…

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Better?

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Elf sitting on a mushroom…

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And with light “exposing” it…

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Troll under a bridge

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Embellished with button berries and vines made from couched yarns

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Some shots of the borders and down below with “light on the subject”…

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And, finally the label…inside and the cover.  You lift up the cover to find the label of all the contributors to the fabric in this quilt.

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Tree of Life was from a HST (Half Square Triangle) fabric exchange done through The Quilt Show’s forum.  After watching Edyta Sitar on The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims, quilters from all over the world sent in HSTs to exchange with each other.  With the help of several others, more specifically from Clara Lawrence, Debbie Wolf collected and ran a “sort” for the more than 600 people who participated in the exchange and then mailed them back to everyone.  I couldn’t just “not” make a statement with my quilt of triangles from many lands.  So, figuring the quilt grew from a seed that had been planted with many hands of many friends, I decided it had to be a Tree of Life.  Then, I quilted in fairies, elves, gnomes, trolls, bees, and other creatures as helpers in creating this quilt.  There is a lot of symbolism all over in this quilt; I had a great time putting it together and watching it come to life.  What triangles I could not fit onto the front of the quilt went onto the back of the quilt to cover the label.  I just couldn’t leave anyone out.  As for the design, well… I took one of my old dishes and traced the design and then took it to Kinko’s and had them enlarge it for the 36″ center medallion.  Overall, it’s about 75″ square.  I do hope you get a chance to see it in person.  Who knows?  Maybe I have one of your triangles in this quilt.  You can ask the White Gloved person/helper at the show to let you peek at the label to see if your name is on there!

‘Tis the Season

It’s time.  Time for me to give myself the gift of finishing my own quilt.  When I started this quilt, I began picking up pink and black fabrics that would go with a Country French  (or French Country – however you prefer) decor.  As time went on, however, my ideas on how to put all these fabrics together began to fizzle out.  I ended up going for the quick finish, and that is how I ended up with this design.  I’m not sure I really like it, but I can live with it.  Here’s the end result.

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The problem is that I saw a pink and black quilt in a Keepsake Quilting catalog that I should have gotten when I saw it, because I haven’t found it since.  It had toile fabric in it and had the look I was after.  So, I ended up coming up with my own version, which is not what I really wanted.  Oh well.  It was fairly quick and easy to put together.  You could use Charm Squares for the blocks in this quilt.  Here is a close up of 4 of the blocks sewn together at their points.  You start with a square of fabric and sew  small squares (in this one the small squares are white) to opposite corners of the larger square.  Then, you put the blocks together to form X’s, with the small squares meeting at the outer edges.  It kind of looks like it should be the opposite, doesn’t it?  With the white being one block and the colored blocks being added in some magical way.

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If you look closely, I quilted it with Fleur de Lis.  I used MeadowLyon’s Fleur de Lis pantograph, which you can find here.  I didn’t have her border pattern, so I made up my own to go with her design, but also to match where I would put the curves on the border.  Here are a couple of pictures of the back so MAYBE you can see it better.  The backing fabric is silky smooth cotton sateen.  I used light pink Glide thread to give it a bit of a sheen.

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I have many more quilts of my own in my design journal and in my head, too many to ever be able to finish before I die.  This quilt may not be exactly what I wanted, but you know the saying…  He or She who dies with the most quilts, wins!  😉  So, one more quilt for the record!

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately.  I just finished a customer quilt yesterday, but I’m not sure yet if I can share it since it is a Christmas gift.  But, back to the thinking…  The past couple of months have been slow, business-wise.  I’m still kind of new to this quilting business, but I thought this was supposed to be the busiest time of the year.  I’m not sure if it’s because my mother-in-law passed away and people haven’t wanted to bother me or what.  In any case, my mind will not sit idle, and neither will my hands.  So… guess what I’ve been up to?  Here’s a hint.  I spent a better part of the day out in the garage, where it was very cold…

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And, this is what I was working on…

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It may be time for me to expand my business in a new direction.  That is all I am going to share for now.  Pictures will follow when I am done with this next project.  Wish me luck!

 

 

How NOT to machine sew a binding onto a quilt

A couple of days ago, I finally finished quilting my UFO Letter Challenge Quilt (Letter Challenge) and still was not happy with it.   I think I just wanted to get it done, so I tried a couple of shortcuts.   Here is the link to Part 1 of my experiment (How NOT to machine sew your binding onto your quilt, pt. 1) and here is the link to Part 2, the results (How NOT to machine sew your binding onto your quilt, pt. 2).  My apologies for parts of the quilt that I was talking about being cut off.  Once again, I set the camera to “roll” and then got in front of the camera, so I could not see that I needed to zoom out.

As you can see I was not happy with the results.  In fact, I had to lay it down and walk away from it for a couple of days before coming back to it.  I did not like the quilting, but I was not about to frog it (rip it, rip it, rip it out), so I just added more quilting outline stitches around the applique.  I can live with it now, I think.

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Remember, as you are learning how to quilt to not be afraid to try new things.  You learn by trial and error; what you like and what you don’t like, what works for you and what doesn’t.  Even after you think you’ve got it mastered, you will still be learning new things.  And, what works for one person may not work for another.  So, don’t be afraid to take a risk and just try it.

How to attach bias ends of binding

Since my old camera has gone to the camera cemetery, I bought myself a new camera.  Yes, I had it on my Christmas wish list.  In fact, I had the same camera in 3 different colors on my wish list (at highest priority), hoping someone would get me ANY of them.  But, no.  I don’t know if the THREE cameras threw them or what.  It was a decent price!  Really!

Anyhow, to make a long story short,  I used my new camera to video tape myself sewing on the binding of one of my UFOs (UnFinished Objects) today.   You might remember this little quilt (Letter Challenge).  One of my quilt guilds was having a quilt challenge, and I wasn’t happy with the colors.  Well, I didn’t get it done in time for “the reveal” of all the challenge quilts (I was too sick of it by then and still didn’t like the way it turned out), but I did finally finish it.  I did a crappy job of quilting it, but at this point, it’s done.  So, why not show you how I add my binding?  I tried a new procedure, which I will share with you soon.  For now, though, let me show you this video on YouTube.  When I downloaded my videos, they saved into QuickTime, which I don’t normally use.  So, I sent this one to YouTube so we could all see it.  I warn you, though, I tried to zoom the camera in so you could see what I was doing.  Unfortunately, there are a couple of spots where the camera is too close, because I’m moving things around, and you can’t see what I’m doing… you can only hear me.  I had no help with the video taping, so I couldn’t see that it needed to be zoomed back out.  Anyhow, I hope you learn something from this video, even if it’s just to zoom out a bit when you are taping.  Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPwrQKo1cHU&feature=youtu.be to watch it.