Stars and Stripes Forever

Mary has always been an easy one to quilt for, and this quilt was no exception.  Isn’t this an awesome looking quilt?  This is for her grandson.  It may look like the stripes are just strips, but they are pieced.  The stars on the top (where I’m guessing it will rest on a pillow) are appliqued down.  She let her grandson place the stars where he wanted them.  Isn’t that cool?  I don’t know that I would have thought to do that.  But, it gets the receiver of the quilt gift involved and more excited about getting the quilt, I think.

I asked Mary what her grandson likes, trying to get a feel for what to quilt on this quilt and also some surprises I could sneak into it.  She said he’s in to everything, Boy Scouts, drama, karate, etc.  I could have done custom quilting on this quilt, but, really, why?  Looking back, though, I think I probably should have just quilted waves straight across this quilt.  My best ideas always seem to come AFTER I’m done with the quilt.  :\   You know what, though?  That probably wouldn’t have looked the best on the blue part, so having 2 separate designs would have made it custom and not an Edge-to-Edge.  Oh well!  So, this is what I did.  I used a red, white, and blue thread.

And, then I added to it…

Maybe you can see it better from the back…

Bet you didn’t expect the back to be green, did you?  It’s actually kind of cool (for me) to look at the quilting from the back side on this quilt.  What do you think?

True Nature

In the process of starting this blog post yesterday, my computer was running sooooo slowly that I decided to move some pictures off of it and onto another drive to free up some room on this computer.  Maybe then it would run faster. Well, it did run faster, but not by that much.  Turns out it was the modem and router making it run slow.  OR… I won’t go there.

Anyhow, when I came back to this post to add pictures, I started to download a picture for Joan’s quilt, only to realize that they were gone!  Kapoof!  Nowhere to be found.  So, my apologies.  I scrounged up what I’d sent to Joan in an email and one on my phone of a strategy I’d used, but that’s it for today.  I had so much I wanted to share with you.  🙁

First, let’s start with the quilt pattern, the fabric and where you can buy the kit, etc.: It is designed by McKenna Ryan and is called True Nature.  Here is where you can find True Nature by McKenna Ryan.  It shows the whole quilt put together and each of the individual blocks.  Unfortunately, the site will not let me copy and paste their pictures into this post as they are copyrighted.

This first picture shows the upper left block.  Joan used wool batting on this quilt, and you can really see the quilting with this batting.  Wool batting is used on many show quilts because, not only does it show off the quilting, but it also doesn’t hold wrinkles or folds like other battings do.  In fact, many quilters will use 2 layers of batting for show quilts; either a cotton or poly blend with wool on top.

Don’t get me wrong; I LOVE wool batting!  In fact, I used it along with a poly blend on a quilt that won first place in a national show.  It’s been a long time, though, since I’ve played with it, though, and I had to remember HOW to play with it.  You have to decide what you want to show off and accent and what you want to recede into the background.  The moose and the tree background block is a good example.  The tree background with the bluish color at the bottom is one piece of fabric designed by McKenna Ryan.  Other colors of blue were appliqued on top to accent the water and create the moose’ shadow.  When I first started outlining the trees, I didn’t want too much stitching.  I wanted the trees to have depth. But, by not stitching down a lot of the trees, the result was poofs in places where it looked “off” and lost the depth of the many trees. So, I added a lot more stitching around the trees.

Same thing with the water spray foam at the bottom of the waterfalls.  I purposely left the foam parts as one long piece.  I was afraid if I’d stitched it down where each applique piece ended, it would look like a cloud more than the foam of water spray.  Also, when stitching the bears, I thought about where the body parts would stick out and where they would be indented, and that is where I stitched.

Finally, this is the picture I’d had on my phone.  I learned a lesson from Joan’s giraffe quilt and bought 100 colored pencils.  Pencils, because you can erase the marks, and colored because from now on out, I will be trying to match the color of the pencil to the fabric behind where I will be stitching through the paper.  Sometimes I’ll draw a design out on paper and stitch through it instead of marking on a customer’s quilt.  When I stitch through paper, though, sometimes the pencil will leave a mark on the fabric where I stitched.  So, I’m trying something new.  Besides, who doesn’t NEED 100 colored pencils?

For the bottom border, I had traced some of the other fish and was auditioning where to place them and how many fish to add to the school of fish already appliqued onto the quilt.  I decided 2 more would be enough.  Otherwise, it would have looked like a giant fish was attacking the bear standing next to the tree on the side border.  It needed to kind of fall off and blend a little better.


My apologies for not having the pictures to share with you regarding Joan’s quilt.  There was so much that I learned and wanted to share with you.  I know those pictures will turn up somewhere on that other drive.  I just have to figure out where I put them.  Well, I HOPE they will be there and I will find them.  :\

Love from Above

When Joan gave this to me to quilt, my mind was all over the place with ideas, but I didn’t want to mess it up for what she would put on it later.  You see, the pattern calls for it to be quilted FIRST and then add the applique after the quilting is done.  You can find the pattern here.   And, here is what it should look like when it’s finished.

Love from Above Charley Harper Quilt Pattern

Etsy also has fabric with this giraffe pattern on it.  You can find that here.  I wonder if the fabric would be easier than the applique.  It’s probably not the same size, but it’s cute!

Joan gave me a couple pieces of white fabric and batting and told me to do whatever I wanted with that as a blank slate.  I would post a full-view picture of what I quilted, but you would see nothing but white.  So, I will go straight to the details.  This quilt, to me, looks like a mother giraffe loving her baby.  I decided to put a “father” giraffe behind them, eating from an acacia tree.

The father giraffe and the tree(s) pretty much takes up the whole quilt.  The quilt top was 40 inches wide by about twice that in length.  The giraffe itself was about 5 feet tall. So, how do you stitch a 5 foot giraffe into fabric without drawing it out on the fabric beforehand?  Remember, this is not my quilt, so I don’t want to mark on the fabric.  I drew it out on banner paper and stitched through that. The only problem you have with that is stitching pencil marks into the white fabric. I avoided that by stitching just outside the lines I drew, but there was too much detail in the face for me to avoid the pencil drawing.  I was mortified when I pulled the paper off and saw pencil marks on the face.  I used a rubber eraser over and over and over until the thread was starting to wear.  I’m hoping the giraffe applique will cover it.


Here are several angles of the quilting.  There was so much more quilting I could have done on this quilt, but I already felt like it had been quilted to death.  Stitching in between the spots on the giraffe would have made the spots “pop” more, but the quilting is NOT what the quilt is about.  I made the grass longer at the bottom of the quilt and shortened it as I went up, hoping to give it some depth.

I can’t wait to see the finished product after Joan adds the applique!  I hope it all fits together nicely.


Twin Cranes

Susan inherited a lot of unfinished quilt tops and a lot more fabric and other quilting supplies from her dad and step-mother when her dad passed away.  I suspect Susan is a “finisher” and just wants all the unfinished quilt tops to be finished, useful and used.  I used to be a finisher, too, and would like to get back to that.  But, lately, the ideas have been coming in so fast I can’t keep up with them.

So, here is a set of cranes that Susan inherited.  The applique is raw-edge applique, but not even sewn onto the background fabric.  I wonder how her dad or step-mother cut out the birds with such precision.

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This was a no-brainer for me.  I tend to draw with threads on quilts, so I basically just repeated what was already in the picture and added a few touches to make them stand out.

The birds got feathers and I added a marsh with cattails.  That big circle behind the bird’s head is supposed to be a sun or moon.



I like to take pictures with the sun coming in from the side, but I’m finding I have a problem with glare.  This next picture has that glare, but it shows the whole quilt with the quilting texture.


I didn’t get a similar shot of the other quilt.  My guess is the glare from this one scared me off.  So, here’s a shot of the marsh pond with all the tall grass around it.  I added birds flying off at the top of this one, and I didn’t get pictures of those either.  :\


These were a lot of fun to draw on and, hopefully, will look good on Susan’s walls.

Christmas in June

I know.  I know.  It should be “Christmas in July.”  But, June is when I quilted this quilt for Betty.  Isn’t it adorable?  You can find the pattern from Bunny Hill Designs’ website here.  I’ve looked at their Block of the Month (and this one is listed as a Block of the Month quilt) patterns, and I think they are very reasonably priced – you get a lot of bang for the buck, in my humble opinion.  You can find more of those Block of the Month patterns here.


Betty gave me a lot of leeway on quilting this quilt, which can be dangerous.  I can’t believe my customers have so much trust in my quilting that they allow me free range.  😉  The only request she had was that she wanted it to look like swirling snow around the snowmen in the teacups (in the middle of the quilt).  She also was planning on adding buttons to the snowmen and other embellishments, so, for the most part, I left the appliques alone.  There were a couple that were large, and I was worried that they would poof out too much, so I added some stitching to them; the truck and the reindeer and sleigh.  Basically, I just outlined the flower on the sleigh and added some swirls.  I could have added body details to the reindeer to make it more realistic, but this quilt called for more of a “cute” theme so I went with a saddle blanket of sorts.

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I usually try to get the borders quilted first (the opposite of what I do on a domestic machine) and then work on the middle.  But, on this quilt, I Stitched in the Ditch around the blocks and applique, then filled in the backgrounds of the blocks and then worked on the border.  I wasn’t sure exactly what to put in the border.  I had some ideas, but wasn’t sure how to go about it.

So, let’s start with the blocks.  Betty left the pictures that go with each block with me; the pictures were of an already quilted block.  For the most part, I followed what they had and mixed it up a little.

Falling snow


Swirling wind and snow around the houses and snowmen


In the pictures below, you will see that the designers of this pattern left some open sashings to play around with quilt designs.  I decided to add Christmas candy to the stitching.

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This one had falling snow in the original, but I added some stars to go with the one they are looking at.


This one was screaming “shooting stars” to me


And, here are the teacup snowmen with swirling wind and snow

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There were some little blocks in between the big blocks.  Some of them had snowmen peeking out, and some of them didn’t.  What else but snowflakes should go here?  After I finished the quilt and pulled it off the frame, I realized the snowflake on this snowman looks like a crown or something shooting out of its head.  <sigh>  I wish I had added the 5th prong of the snowflake down at the bottom.  Maybe then, the snowman wouldn’t look like that.


The borders are where I got a little crazy.  The top and bottom was easy enough. But, if Betty was going to hang this quilt, how should I quilt the sides?  Facing inward towards the middle of the quilt?  Or, facing outward?  I wanted to put some more snow scenery into the border.  How do you do that on the sides?  I don’t rotate quilts to do the side borders, so I would be looking at those side borders at an angle when quilting.  Finally, I decided that I’d put snowmen sledding and skiing and down a ski slope.

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And, here is the bottom and the top, in that order.

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Snowball fight!


This was too much fun!  Betty knows I like to draw (with thread) on quilts, and she let me!






Kansas City Star Quilt 2015

For those of you unfamiliar with Kansas City Star Quilt patterns, they started out as quilt block patterns published in Kansas City’s newspaper, the Kansas City Star.  From 1928 to the 1930s, they were a weekly hit.  After that time, they were published less frequently, with the final ones being published as a Block of the Month in 2015.  You can read more about it here.  With so many of us getting our news from TV and the Internet, the Star newspaper has been slowly losing its popularity and customers.  Many quilters were saddened when the newspaper no longer added quilt patterns to their Sunday House & Home section.  But, I am going to share with you a quilt made from the final Kansas City Star’s year of quilt patterns.

If you remember me posting before about Wilma, you will remember how she has a gift for putting colors together.  Wait til you see this quilt…


The colors just popped right off this quilt.  But, what color of thread would YOU choose for quilting it?  Wilma decided on a medium gray thread, and I think that was the best choice!  And, how would you quilt it?  She didn’t want feathers, so I took the flower and vine applique that goes around the center medallion and, drawing it on onion skin, made a design from that.  Then, I stitched right over the paper (onion skin).


Before I go on the rest of the quilting, I want to show you one of the strategies I use for getting the quilts squared.  First off, let me explain that I load the quilt backing first and make sure I have it rolled on there, smooth and with no creases.  Then, I lay the batting on top of the backing and use my Horizontal Channel locks (channel locks “lock” the carriage in place so it only moves side to side) to stitch a straight line across the top, attaching the batting to the backing.  After that, I run the quilt top along that stitched line, pin it in place and then baste it to the batting and backing. I like to baste about 1/4 inch from the edges of the quilt top to hold it in place.  The clamps on my quilting frame hold the backing and, with the basting along the edges, I am more confident the quilt will not stretch out of shape.  Note: I leave the clamps off the backing until after I’ve got the top stitched down.

This next picture shows a very long pink tape measure that I stretch across my quilt frame and attach to the sides of the quilt frame with Velcro.  As I roll the quilt forward with each pass of quilting, I make sure the quilt top is in the same place on that measuring tape all through the quilting process.  I don’t have Vertical Channel Locks, so I cannot use them to help me keep the sides straight – the measuring tape helps with that.  In this picture, I am at the bottom of the quilt.  I have, again, stitched a straight line across the bottom, using my Horizontal Channel Loks.   I am about ready to take off the measuring tape, so I put a pin at the corner to mark where that side should be.  And, then I pin it and stitch the final basting lines along the bottom and sides.


So, on to pictures of the quilting…

Corner, with the applique flowers stitched in place.  I used swirls for the black sashing.


Here’s another shot that also includes the swags quilted into the inner border.


The middle medallion… see where I got the idea for swags in the inner border?


One of the blocks, but it shows what I call “eyelet lace” quilting.  This would be a bed quilt, so I didn’t want to put too much quilting on it.  If I had mashed it down with tight background filler, it would have weighed a ton.  As it was, it was pretty heavy.


I added swirls and leaves to the vines… and bugs.

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There were cornerstones and half-square triangles that needed to be filled, so I used the flowers in the rest of the quilt to make quilting patterns, like I did when tracing the flower/vine.

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Here is the back of the quilt.  Wilma machine embroidered a special label for it.  That fabric running down the length of the backing is red.

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What “fitting” colors for the final year of Kansas City Star quilt patterns.  “Sorry to say good-bye” (grieving) black along with a lot of cheerful colors for the cheerful memories.  I really like this quilt and the quilt pattern!


Susan’s Terrific Trio

Life has had the nastiest habit of getting in my way this past year.  It seems like the older I get, the quicker time passes; it’s scary.  :\  I finished Susan’s first of these three quilts in May and am finally getting pictures of it to you today.

This first quilt was made as an end-of-the-year gift for the teacher of one of her sons.  You can’t see in this picture, but the black and white fabric is full of letters of the alphabet.  Those little white squares are quotes suitable for teachers.


Inside each of those colored arrows are words to describe the impact this very special teacher had on Susan’s son.

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This teacher is a Kansas City Royals fan, so one day she dressed up as a “Royal” Superhero.  Hence, the following block.


You know she must be a very special teacher to receive a gift with so much thought and care put into it.  I used to teach in the public schools, and, let me tell you, the end-of-the-year gifts we received were nothing compared to this.  Those of you who quilt know how much work was put into this quilt.  Are you jealous of this teacher?  Yeh, I am, too.

I am a little apprehensive to show you this next quilt of Susan’s.  For whatever reason, I have been second-guessing myself and my abilities the past few months.  I think I just need a break, which I plan on taking in July.  This is a small quilt, about 66 inch square, with a center medallion.  I guess I figured if I messed up anything around that medallion, it would be a total mess.  We decided to go with a matching color thread for the background of the medallion and simply outline the applique.  However, The big, honkin’ feathers that are quilted around that medallion are stitched with purple variegated thread.  That’s where my insecurities started creeping in.  Without further ado, here are the pictures.

Full shot


Center Medallion

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Big, honkin’ border with big, honkin’ feathers

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Narrow inside and outside borders quilted with leaves


More “fluff”

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It’s a very pretty quilt.  I hope I did it justice.

For this third quilt, the colors are bold, and the blocks are such that we figured an allover design would work best.


Susan wanted flowers that would be similar to the flowers in the fabric, so this is what I came up with.  See the flowers in the blue fabric?  I was trying to get it to look like that, but without layers, my quilting flopped.  So, I added layers of petals to the quilted flowers.

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Of course, the flowers needed some “friends” so I snuck a couple of surprises into the quilting.  You can see them better if you look at the backing fabric.IMG_3446 IMG_3448

What do you think?  Which one of the above quilts is your favorite?  And, why?