Merry Christmas to All

Mary inherited this Christmas panel fabric and decided to make herself a Christmas quilt.  See how she offset the blocks 2 strips along 2 sides of each panel?  That may be a trademark for Mary.  I personally think it’s a creative way to show off a focus fabric without the quilt looking too “blocky” if you know what I mean…in regimented rows.

You really can’t see the quilting, so Mary decided an allover edge-to-edge quilting design would work best for her quilt.  She went with holly scattered throughout.  The picture below on the left shows what the quilting looks like on top and the one on the right shows what it looks like from the back of the quilt.  Do you see anything unusual stitched in the picture on the right?  At the top of the quilt, I wrote “Merry Christmas to all”…


…and completed the saying on the bottom with “and to all a good night”.

Here’s a shot of the back, where you can see what I actually did with the quilting.

See how easy you can complete a holiday quilt?  Use those panels, quilt it with a simple allover design, and you’ll have a holiday quilt finished in no time!

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!






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!

Oh Little Star of Bethlehem

It’s that time of year again… only about a month to go before Christmas is here.  Joan made 2 of these beautiful Nativity quilts.  My husband loved them both so much, he wanted me to make one for above our mantel.  Well, they are pretty detailed with lots of work involved; but that is what Joan does so well.  Anyhow, I did order a kit for this from Seams Like Home.  If you click on their name, it will take you to their line of patterns.  There you will find the Nativity Quilt pattern and kit as well as a Christmas reindeer pattern and kit, which I bought before.  I don’t know when I’ll ever get around to making them, but they are on my quilting “bucket list.”

Since I quilted 2 of these quilts, I am going to showcase them both together to show the differences in the quilting.  With the first one, I feel like I was practicing, because there were things that bothered me about the first one that I wanted to change.  Well… with each and every quilt that I quilt, there is always something that bothers me about my quilting…. I doubt you can see much difference between the 2 quilts in these pictures, except for the star.  I changed how many times I stitched over the lines.

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One of the differences is in the borders.  I was stumped on what to put in the borders.  Feathers are a “go-to” for a lot of people, to include me, and I work hard to get out of my box.  So, for the first quilt, I stitched wide piano keys on the outer border and ribbon and bows on the inner border.  For the second one, I broke down and quilted (easy) feathers on the outer border and swirls on the inner border.  Which one do YOU prefer?

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Another thing that bothered me on the first quilt was the layout of the wood of the roof of “inn”.  After I had finished it, I realized that sheds, homes, etc. are built with boards going cross-wise along the joists instead of “in line” with them.  So, I corrected the roof on the second quilt.  When it’s hanging up, people probably won’t notice it, but I would.

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Also, for whatever reason, on the first quilt the grass bothered me, so I changed it on the second.  BUT… when I got the second one done, I like the grass on the first one better.  Go figure!  I “scribbled” out a path on the first one near the buildings, as you can see, which I didn’t do with the second.  And, though I wanted graceful rolling hills on the second, I tried to work with the fabric and follow lines along the fabric.

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The feathers were changed on the angels with more details on the second quilt.

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There’s a little bit of difference on the sheep, but not enough to be noticeable, I think.  I do like the sheep on the first quilt better.

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The buildings were pretty much the same.

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And, the people were the same for the most part, except I didn’t outline every detail on the second – I still think it looks better.

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A little better detail on the camel???…

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And, finally a shot of the whole quilt without borders…

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Which one do you think you like better?




A Woodland Christmas… by Joan

I figured I’d better get this on here while I’ve got the chance.  I’ve been busy lately working on things for my booth at the Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival, which starts next Friday, by the way.  And, I will continue being busy working on more stuff for the next week.  This was the last customer quilt I was able to work on before the quilt show.  Joan always lets me play and put whatever I want on her quilts.  It’s a very dangerous tactic, you know.

So, let’s show you a full shot of the quilt first before I get into the details of the quilting.


Now, how on earth would YOU quilt this?  My first concern was the border, because that’s where I start.  The cornerstones were easy – Joan had an applique star in the upper right hand corner, so I just copied that into the other corners.


As for the borders, I couldn’t come up with something creative enough (for me) that would go with this quilt, so I ended up doing something simple with holly leaves.  It would need to be able to work play well with the applique in the borders.  Just now, looking at these pictures, I wish I had added piano keys on the outside of the swags.

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Along the lower border were 2 bears, but they needed a mama bear so I added her in the back of them.


Joan asked how I got the bear to look just like the others.  Well, I cheated, and here is a tutorial showing you how I did it.  But… it shows what I did with the trees at the top of the quilt instead of the bear; I did the same technique.  I found myself going back and forth on this quilt, adding a bit here and a bit there.  It seemed to me that I was doing a lot of the same things, so in that big open space in the tree farm, I decided to add more trees.  I have a roll of vellum or onion skin (I can’t remember which I’d bought) for tracing designs. So, to add more trees, I simply traced the applique trees already there and added more trees around them.  This would be my quilting design.  If you look closely at the corners of the paper, you will see where I have straight pins holding the paper in place.  I just stick them straight down without trying to weave them into the fabric.  When I do that, it just turns out worse.

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After I had the trees drawn out, I then hold my left hand on the paper and move the machine around with my right hand (if you are left handed, hold the paper with your right hand and move the machine with your left hand).  If you don’t already know this, a longarm quilting machine floats or hovers above the fabric and has no feed dogs (those gritty teeth things on the bottom/bobbin plate of a domestic sewing machine) to keep it steady and in place.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  Unless someone shows you what I just did, you will never know if “I meant to do that” or not.

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And, here is the result after I tore the paper off.

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I tried to give each of the houses a different roof top, but some of them are repeated. If you go back and take a second look at the border pictures, you can see more houses in those shots.

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Most of the houses in this quilt reminded me of the Victorian houses in the Colorado mountains.  This trio, however, could have been cabins, if I had thought about it long enough.  But, they turned out okay as Victorian houses as well.


The final picture is of the star on top of the “town tree” shining down for its audience to “ooh” and “ahh”.


All in all, this was a fun quilt to “quilt.”  I hope you enjoyed the show and learned something, too!  Merry Christmas in June!

A Day Late and a Dollar Short… aka Merry Christmas!

Please forgive me.  The Christmas season is always crazy busy for me, and this December we had the added bonus of our daughter graduating from college as a doctor of Chinese Medicine.  Currently I am quilting one of my own quilts (on my holiday vacation) and I will fill you in on more details of my personal life then.  For now, let me share Diane’s holiday quilt that I quilted for her in December.

It is a BIG quilt, so this picture doesn’t give a good shot of the full length.


Here’s a few more shots of close-ups.  Diane did a great job of piecing, embroidering and applique on the entire quilt. I enjoyed quilting it, and it sure helped me get in the mood for Christmas this year – just what I needed to get me out of the doldrums.

For the most part, I quilted holly and swirls throughout the quilt, but I added “branches” to the trees, which you cannot see in any of these pictures.  Diane chose a variegated red and green thread for the borders and trees and a cream color for the background.

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What do you think?  Would this put you in the mood for Christmas?

Are you ready for Christmas?

Now is the time to get those Christmas quilt tops to your quilter.  Soon enough all quilters for hire will have a waiting list and you will risk not getting your quilt back on time if you don’t get it to them soon.  I know it’s early to be thinking about Christmas, but if you have a special person in mind that you would love to gift a quilt to, now is the time to get that quilt done and get it to your quilter.  You might even check to make sure he or she will be able to get to yours in time for Christmas.  So, are you ready?

I have had a lot of fun the last couple of weeks working on Elaine’s quilts.  Working on these quilts has helped to get me into gear for Christmas and thinking about gifts, etc.  Wait ’til you see these quilts!  My jaw literally dropped when I opened the package sent via USPS.  I have always loved embroidery.  It brings back such comforting memories of my mom.  So, that was a double blessing with these quilts.

We will start with her “Merry Little Christmas” quilt.  Here’s a shot of it in its entirety, and then I’ll add close-ups of different areas.

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Center medallion – isn’t it cute?

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top center

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bottom center – she had gifts with tags on them to a couple of people, so I quilted a gift with a tag “from” her

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And a few more “I Spy” quilted surprises.  I usually hang customer quilts on my design wall, but it was so dark down there today, I decided to bring them upstairs and hang them in front of the mantle.  There is a window on either side, so the quilting really catches the shadows across the quilts.  My quilting doesn’t usually show up this well.  🙂  I may have to use this strategy again.

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Elaine’s other quilt is appropriately named “Over the River and Through the Woods.”  Here’s a shot of the entire quilt.  Not only does Elaine do wonderful embroidery work, she also does a great job of piecing her quilts.  I am so glad I ?specialize? in quilting, because my piecing leaves a lot to be desired.  :

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Row by row, so you can see the pictures embroidered by Elaine.

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And, some close-ups of the top row…

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Middle area(s)…

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And bottom row…

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Those 2 lines sloping down to the barn in the picture on the left are supposed to be sled tracks.  Can you see the stick skier coming down the hill in the picture on the right?  I had too much fun drooling doodling on these quilts!  And, Elaine was a sweetheart for letting me!