Merry Christmas, from Mom


Lori brought this quilt to me with the sad news that she and her mother had made matching quilts together, a Christmas Tree quilt, and that her mother had passed on a couple of years before. Lori decided to get her quilt quilted and finished once and for all.

Her sister had gotten her mom’s quilt like this when her mom passed, but Lori had pictures of it.  She wanted her quilt quilted just like her mom’s.  Well, you know if you have a different quilter, it’s not going to be exactly like another’s quilting,but I tried my best.  Her mom’s quilt had gifts quilted under the tree, and the rest of the quilt had swirls, snowflakes, and the hearts on the tree embellished with quilting.  All of this was done with gold metallic thread.

Some folks are afraid to sew or quilt with metallic thread, but, actually, it was fairly easy.  I used Superior’s Metallic Thread, which probably IS superior.  😉  One thing I did learn from using metallic thread is that after awhile it would get hot and melt, thus breaking the thread.  I had to stop about every 2 hours to allow the thread to cool back down.  Yes, I used a different thread in the bobbin, and yes, I know if you stop every 2 hours that it cuts into business time (time is money).  But, as you know from my previous post, this was actually a blessing for me, because it forced me to take a break (I tend to push myself too hard without taking breaks to rest, to eat, etc.).

My attempt to quilt snowflakes and wind blowing into Lori’s quilt was a lesson in itself.  Sometimes less is more.  I was trying to make the snowflakes “fancy” but I found out the simpler to quilt snowflakes looked better than the “fancy” ones.

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You can see in the following pictures more snowflakes, and you can also see where I tried to dress up the hearts, but didn’t do them justice.

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I also tried to make it look like the tree had garland and bows wrapped around it as well.


Asking me to quilt like someone else makes me nervous, I’ve learned, and I tend to do a worse job at the quilting.

To make this quilt special for Lori, I added name tags to the gifts to and from her mom, her sister, and Lori.

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Looking back on this quilt, I did a less than stellar job of quilting, but I think Lori did a super job of putting it together!


If you are in the Kansas City area next weekend and are interested in taking classes to learn Longarm strategies, learn how to maintain a featherweight sewing machine, or how to start a quilting business, check out the Longarm-a-Palooza at Quilted Memeories. I’ll be teaching the business class. Here’s a link for the classes: Longarm-a-Palooza


Flaming Guitars

My latest customer quilt is for Mary’s grandson.  Mary has done a wonderful job of combining colors to match her black fabric with musical notes.  I think she is using up her scraps; smart lady!  Anyhow, she paired the musical notes fabric with another black fabric that has guitars on it.  Here’s a shot of the whole quilt and a couple of close-ups.  Mary was very open to whatever I wanted to quilt on this, but this time we were looking at quilting something other than musical notes.  This is for her 10-year-old grandson.  What kind of stitching would you quilt on this?  The backing is a fire red, so I thought flames would work alright on this quilt.

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I snuck in a surprise down towards the bottom in the middle.  I put it in a place where it wouldn’t be obvious – you’d have to search to find it.  I wasn’t sure if her grandson would be frightened by it or think it was cool.  I’ll turn it over to the back so you can see what it is before I show you the front.  The orangey-red (flame red) is the actual color of the backing, but you can see the picture better in the second picture.

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I needed a template for adding this to the stitching, so I drew the flaming skull out onto vellum paper and then pinned it down before stitching it.  I avoid marking on my customers quilts unless I can find no alternative.  It’s just too risky.


As you can see (or maybe you can’t – that’s the idea), after pulling the paper off, you have to really look to find the skull.


If you are interested in seeing this process in action, I have a video of me doing this on my YouTube Channel.  You can find that video here.  I hope this helps you learn some strategies for marking (without marking ON) your quilt top for quilting.

Permission to Play

Recently I finished a quilt for Joan called “Dog Park.”  The pattern and kit is through McKenna Ryan.  If you don’t know who McKenna Ryan is, go here to look at her work.  The details in her patterns are phenomenal, and this quilt in particular gave me a new respect for Joan.  I knew she had to have put hours and hours of work into this quilt top with all the tiny pieces she had to applique… the patience of a saint!  Wait til you see the details!

Here is a picture of the quilt after I finished quilting it.  Joan said I could do whatever I wanted with her quilt.  She only wanted the names of her 2 dogs who have passed on in the quilt somewhere. 


I decided to quilt a Rainbow Bridge and put her dogs’ names there. 


Can you also see the little squirrel I stitched on the tree branch (peeking out from behind the leaves)?


Here’s a close-up of the squirrel.  See its tail between the leaves on the branch?


At the base of the tree are the 2 dogs – I decided to have one barking and the other howling.


Over on the merry-go-round is where I decided to put some dog bones.  You can barely see them in this photo.  One is under the big dog in front and another, partially-chewed, bone is under the tongue of the little dog. 


With this quilt, I had to figure out how to hold the quilt layers together with stitching in a creative way.  In this next picture, you can see how I tacked it down with “grass.”


For the skies, I mostly stitched in clouds, but this block needed something different.  So, I used a light gray thread to stitch in the shadows of the cascading branches and leaves.


The big dog in the main block created a special challenge, because, like quilts with people’s faces, I didn’t want to stitch on the dog’s face.  But, I needed to tack it down somehow, comparable to the amount I stitched elsewhere in the quilt.  Otherwise, it would poof up and look distorted.  I should have, and wish, I had asked Joan if she knew what kinds of dog this was.  I don’t know why I didn’t think to ask her.  I should have guess that it was a Great Dane, due to the shadowing on its lower legs.  It would have made a difference in how “smoothly” I stitched the fur onto this dog.  Mistakes and regrets are always an opportunity for learning, so I will try to do better next time at asking my customers more questions and not assuming too much on my own.  And, no, the dog’s head is not bashed in.  Joan, smartly, waited until after the quilting to add the embellishments.  She added a 3-D ear to this dog, which you will see in the photos following. 

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As for the border, I simply quilted dog paws around the edges.


Here is a shot of the dachshund in the lower border.  Notice how Joan added a “loose leash” on the dog?  Too cute!  I had to put some kind of mischief in there as a reason the dog had gotten loose, so I stitched a small circle as a ball for the dog to run after.


Here’s another shot of the center of the quilt after Joan added the 3-D embellishments.


And, a shot of the completed quilt…


Finally, I got a picture of a customer holding her finished quilt!  Meet Joan, the proud owner of this awesome quilt!


Four Books for your Perusing Pleasure

Once again, I have a few books to review for Martingale (8 to be exact), so I will post about a few of them tonight and then follow up later with the others.  First off, since my blog is mostly about machine quilting, I’d like to tell you a bit about “You Can Quilt It!  Stunning Free Motion Quilting Designs Made Easy by Deborah M. Poole.   She quilts for Kim Diehl.  I hate to admit this, but I kind of figure I know a lot about quilting already, so I wasn’t sure what I’d learn from this book… but I was very pleasantly surprised.

Martingale - You Can Quilt It! (Print version + eBook bundle)

Here’s a look at the table of contents so you can get an idea of what to find in this book.

Martingale - You Can Quilt It! (Print version + eBook bundle)

Not only does she tell you what you will need as far as essential tools, but she also tells her secrets for using those tools to achieve perfect looking quilting.   In the “Feathers” section of the book, she gives you many different kinds of feathers to quilt, more than I’ve seen in any other quilting book.  This book is not just for longarm quilters, but also for domestic machine quilters as well.  It will have a prominent place in my library.

Another quilting book that I think is worth your time if you are a quilter is 501 Quilting Motifs from the editors of Quiltmaker Magazine.

Martingale - 501 Quilting Motifs (Print version + eBook bundle)   Martingale - 501 Quilting Motifs (Print version + eBook bundle)

As you can see, the book has a variety of motifs from which to choose, and shows you different ways to adapt and use then and to transfer them onto your quilt top.  I love the different motifs for children’s quilts and some of the fun styles this book shares.

Martingale - 501 Quilting Motifs (Print version + eBook bundle) Martingale - 501 Quilting Motifs (Print version + eBook bundle)Martingale - 501 Quilting Motifs (Print version + eBook bundle)

To keep with the “stitching” theme of this post, let’s take a look at My Enchanted Garden: Applique Quilts in Cotton and Wool by Gretchen Gibbons.

Martingale - My Enchanted Garden (Print version + eBook bundle)

Don’t you just love the colors on the cover?  Wait ’til you see the inside!  There are lots of different projects in this book, each as colorful as the cover.  The author combines wool and cotton in her applique and shows you how to embellish with embroidery (directions for embroidery stitches are included), beads, etc.  Clear cut directions are given for the applique.  I think you will find lots of eye candy to drool over in this book.

Martingale - My Enchanted Garden (Print version + eBook bundle)

Here are a couple of the close ups of the blocks on the above quilt, with embroidery, beads, and buttons added.

Martingale - My Enchanted Garden (Print version + eBook bundle)    Martingale - My Enchanted Garden (Print version + eBook bundle)

Martingale - My Enchanted Garden (Print version + eBook bundle)

Martingale - My Enchanted Garden (Print version + eBook bundle)Martingale - My Enchanted Garden (Print version + eBook bundle)Martingale - My Enchanted Garden (Print version + eBook bundle)

Yummy, yummy!  Even if I never make any of these projects, I will enjoy looking at them forever!

Finally, let’s take a look at 25 Patchwork Quilt Blocks, Volume 2 by Katy Jones.

Martingale - 25 Patchwork Quilt Blocks Volume 2 (Print version + eBook bundle)

This is a great book for beginning or intermediate quilt makers or those who want to expand their horizons a bit.  Katy takes traditional and contemporary quilt blocks and throws a couple of news ones in there and combines them with fun and funky fabrics for a fresh look.

Martingale - 25 Patchwork Quilt Blocks Volume 2 (Print version + eBook bundle)  Martingale - 25 Patchwork Quilt Blocks Volume 2 (Print version + eBook bundle)  Martingale - 25 Patchwork Quilt Blocks Volume 2 (Print version + eBook bundle)  Martingale - 25 Patchwork Quilt Blocks Volume 2 (Print version + eBook bundle)

Techniques and strategies for making each of the blocks are given in easy-to-understand format.

I hope somewhere in these 4 books, you found one you’d like to look into further.  You can order these books from the Martingale website  or from  Many thanks to Martingale Publishers and  their photographer, Brent Kane, for providing these books for me to review and the many pictures for you to enjoy!


The devil got the best of me…

The quilt I have been working on is Joan’s applique quilt for Easter.  She was/is so worried about her needle-turn applique abilities, but I think she did great!  Besides, with applique, I think it all blends in when you look at the big picture.  Honestly, my applique ability looks a lot like hers.  Plus, I have a LONG way to go to perfect my stitch in the ditch quilting.  Anyhow, here is a full shot of her quilt.  Isn’t it cute?

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Joan made the mistake of telling me to do whatever I wanted with the quilting.  BIG mistake on her part!  People know I put surprises in my quilting, but I can have a twisted sense of humor, and it will show up in my quilting.   I was so happy to get to draw on an applique quilt, that as I was quilting merrily along, my sense of humor got the best of me  my evil twin took over and quilted stuff all over that quilt!

If you look at the whole quilt, it could be a big parade, so that’s how this first row ended up, with the bunny in front leading the way with a flag.

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On the top right is the biggest block.  I tried to figure out a way to emphasize the applique, but I don’t think echo stitching around it was the way to do that.  This is all done freehand (not computer guided), so duplicating the appliqued tulips onto the left side of the bunny is less than perfect, but okay.

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You know how people tend to correct others’ speech, grammar, etc.?  The next row down has a bunny on the left saying “Happy Easter” and the bunny on the right with a thought bubble saying “Hoppy” as in Hoppy Easter.   Notice the egg “turds” trailing behind the chicken?  This is where things started getting… well… evil.  This is the “Haters row.”

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I mimicked the upper right-hand corner stitching in the lower left-hand corner.

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Playing nice, I noticed that this row was full of love.  The bunnies gazing lovingly into each others eyes begged to have hearts floating up between them.  This is the first block in the “Love is in the Air” row.

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The bunnies playing on the Teeter Totter have hearts floating up as if playing along with them.

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And, the tulips are hugging.  So, of course there had to be hugging hearts as the final block in the “Love is in the Air” row.

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This next row, the bottom row, is called the “Hostage” row.  Looking over the quilt, you notice how the bunnies are riding chickens and stealing collecting their eggs.  So, in the first cart of eggs, there is a chick(en) being held hostage.  Next to and at the rear of each cart is a bunny walking guard.

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You might be able to see it better here.  I just need to remember to clean off the loose threads BEFORE taking pictures next time.

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Finally, behind those 2 carts is a chaperone car zooming to stay right behind the hostage.

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And, the border, as seen in the last post…

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As a side note (*tip!), whenever I think I am done quilting, I take the quilt off the frame and lay it out on a table I have next to my machine.  I let it “rest” there overnight so the fibers can relax from being stretched on the frame.  This gives me a chance to rest and come back and look at it fresh the next morning.  That way I can see if there are places I missed or things I want to add.  In this case, I had a “road” stitched horizontally across the middle of the quilt.  I didn’t like the way it looked, so I went back and made cobble stones on that path way.  I was able to easily put it back on the quilting frame, because of the zipper leaders.  They allow me to put the quilt back on the frame exactly like it was before.

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I really had a lot of fun quilting drawing with thread on this quilt.  I hope you enjoyed looking at it as much as I did!

Tip from Trisch

Back in June I posted about a quilt I had quilted for a friend… Trisch.  Well, on her blog, she offers some quick tips on Tuesdays.  I would like to share one with you today that I think is well worth the visit to her page.  If you’ve ever had trouble getting perfect circles for needle-turn applique and other hand-work, you’ve gotta check out how she does her circles on this Quick tip Tuesday page of hers.  You won’t regret it!

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