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!

Colorful Duo for Two

Back in 2013, I quilted this quilt for Jackie’s daughter; one her daughter, Kat, had pieced together for the new baby. Well, this is “part 2” of Kat’s quilts for her (now) 2 sons and grandsons of Jackie.  I’m really impressed that someone who, from what I understand, is a novice quilt maker.  She is able to put these quilts together like a pro!  They may be kits (I honestly don’t know), but the fact that she’s getting them put together so well tells me that she’s pretty darn good!  Both of Kat’s quilts are colorful.  The first one was a mix of oranges, greens, and blues.  This one has every color of the rainbow.  See how well she put together that star (with diamond shaped pieces) in the middle?  Sewing on the bias, like that, is not easy.

I love this quilt because of the colors, but also because of the solid colored fabrics.  I’m finding that I am drawn more and more to solid color fabrics.  I don’t know if it’s the simplicity of the fabric or that some fabrics can look so “busy” that the solids are relaxing to my eyes.  You can barely see the gray in the picture above, because the colors draw you in.  The colorful solids are made of plain ol’ cotton.  But, the gray fabric is an oxford shirt-type fabric.  I know there are other fabric companies making this style of fabric, but my brain is only telling me that the gray is a “Peppered Cotton”, designed by Pepper Cory for Studio E fabrics.   Gray is the color thread that Kat chose for the quilting – good choice, you can barely see it.  I think Jackie was concerned that the gray fabric might make it difficult to quilt, due to the stretch.  But, it quilted up nicely, just like the other cottons.

The quilting on this quilt is similar to Kat’s other son’s quilt, but this one has circles stitched in between the bigger swirls…and silly baby faces hidden in the stitching.

 

You might be able to see the gray fabric a little clearer with this next picture.

More of an overall effect…

What do you think?  What is your favorite kind(s) and color(s) of fabric?

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.

 

To the Moon and Back

This is another quilt I should have put up on my design wall before quilting it, because the colors and the pattern are striking.

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Kathy called this her Universe quilt.  It has the 4 quadrants in colors.  Do you see the circles of color in the blues down in the lower left?  Those look like planets, too, and all the mottled batiks in the borders look, to me, like an Aurora Borealis.  So, how would you quilt this?

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The colors are so magnificent, that it’s hard to see the quilting, but I decided to stitch a stun into the upper right hand (yellow) corner with the 9 planets circling around it.  The orbiting circles are anything but perfect.  I hand drew them on with chalk and then stitched following the chalk lines.

In the purple down in the lower right is where I put Earth and its circling moon.  Can you see it?  The moon’s orbit is elliptical, so maybe if you find that semi-sideways oval, you’ll see the big circle inside, which is Earth.  I also drew the Big and Little Dipper with the North Star to the lower left of Earth.  Of course, my ADD brain struggled with which way to put those stars (they’re not in correct proportion anyway)…as I am looking at them on the quilt?  Or as I would look at them if I were on Earth?  I also put shooting stars and meteors in the quilt, but you can’t see them here.  The backing on the quilt did a good job of hiding them, too, which I’m always glad for, because my pea brain talks smack to me about my quilting abilities.

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This particular quilt was a good example of some of the strategies I used for getting a quilt squared up as it rolls on the frame for the quilting machine.  And, since you can’t see the quilting too much, I thought I’d add some tips here.

First off, this quilt has lots of straight lines.  I use those lines to guide me to getting the quilt straight.  I’ll explain the tape measure in a bit, but for now, take a look at the lower edge of the picture.  That’s where the lower roller bar lies.  I use the lines in the quilt to help me gauge whether or not the quilt is straight going across.

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I’m sure I’ve showed you before the laser level I use to make sure the lines are straight as well.

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I used to use these white clips on the rear roller bar to help me with placement of blocks and borders as I quilted, but, unless you find a way to make them stay put, they roll and move.  By the way, if you look closely at the edges of the quilt top, you will see a line of basting on the batting.  There are 3 roller bars on my machine’s frame.  The backing fabric is attached to 2 rollers; one at the bottom and one above this black roller you see in the picture below.  That roller is used to keep the fabric in place at it rolls. So, first, I attach the backing fabric to the canvases that are attached to those 2 rollers.  Then, I lay the batting on top of the backing fabric.  I use my channel locks to stitch a straight line across the top of the batting – it helps to have a dark thread for this so you can see it better.  That is my guide for where to butt the quilt top fabric up against.  I then pin the quilt top fabric in place and then stitch it down about 1/4 inch along the edge.  I’d like to make it 1/8 inch, but I’m just not that good.

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As for the tape measure, I use that as a guide for where to stitch the sides in place.  When I get the top stitched down, I use my laser level to tell me where to butt the sides up to and then stitch the sides down to about 12 inches from the top.  Then I see where the sides hit the tape measure and write those numbers down.  I use those numbers for placement of the rest of the quilt along the sides.

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A machine quilter’s job involves a lot more than just quilting.  The above tips are just a sampling of the many things we do when we work on your quilt.

 


 

Snowflake Avalanche

Aren’t the colors in this winter quilt refreshing? Do you see the white pinwheels within the blocks?  Seeing them now, with the whole thing on a design wall, gives me new ideas on how to quilt this.  I could have incorporated the pinwheels as wind mills with blowing snow.

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Luann wanted snowflakes in the white squares that are on point.  Snowflakes are actually hexagon shaped, but it’s hard for me to get my brain stitching 6 sides within a 4-sided block.  So, I used the 8-sided snowflake design that was on the backing fabric, which is white on white, so it’s a little hard for you to see it in this picture.

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Below you can see the snowflakes in the white squares and holly vines in the rest of the blocks.  Along the border, Luann wanted Snowmen to go along with the snowmen on the green border.

You can see the snowmen better on the back of the quilt (bottom and side).

I drew snow people playing together, with blowing snow.  Along the sides, I tried to make it look like the snow people were sliding down the quilt.  It was a cheerful and fun quilt to play with.

Jeepers

Do you see the window panes in the blocks of Mary’s quilt?  The “window panes” are those little L shaped strips along the right and lower edges of the focus fabric in her blocks. Here’s a video with a variety of Attic Window pane quilts.

Attic Window blocks can be made several different ways. Some people use 2 different colors for the strips and connect them at the corner at a 45 degree angle, so that you have a shadow effect.  Some people make really wide window panes, so the rest of the block looks kind of sunken in, or they combine wide strips with skinnier strips.  And, some people simply sew 2 strips together to add interest to the quilt, which is what Mary did here.

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Here’s a link in case you can’t see the above picture:  https://www.flickr.com/gp/cowtownquilts/vJ7e58

This military style quilt was made for Mary’s grandson.  The focus fabric has tanks, jeeps, helicopters, and other military vehicles.  I love the colors and the fabrics she chose to go with the main fabric – they give it even more of a military color scheme, imho.  You can quilt military quilts a lot of ways but, honestly, when I quilted one for my husband, it looked great with an allover meander (the cheapest quilting you can get).  The quilting looked like camouflage on his quilt, so I suggested it to Mary.  I’d asked her what kind of quilting she wanted, and at first she thought maybe stars would be good.  And, they would!  For these colors, though, I thought an allover meander would work just as well, and it would save Mary a few nickels.

For whatever reason, I am having trouble uploading pictures to my website today, so I uploaded the pictures to flickr and will use that to share them here until I can figure out the problem.

This is what the top looks like with the allover meander: https://www.flickr.com/gp/cowtownquilts/9sN2nQ.

Mary said her grandson likes jeeps, so I quilted a jeep into 2 different blocks on his quilt.  You really can’t see them from the front side, as shown in the picture above.  But, you can see them on the backing fabric.

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What color of thread would YOU have chosen for this quilt, and why?  Looking at the top of the quilt, I instantly thought of a military green or tan.  But, the backing fabric is a dark red with black stars.  In the end, black was chosen.  It’s a generic color that actually faded well enough into the quilt top fabric and went very well with the backing fabric.

 

 

 

 

Square Peg in a Round Hole?

Susan inherited this quilt top from her dad and step-mom. You can obviously see that the design flows into kind of a “sweep”.  But, to me, it looked like it could have been a Native American design.  The design is merely different colored squares sewn together into an interesting design.

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Susan already had the PERFECT thread for this quilt.  The colors matched perfectly. When I got it home and threaded the machine and put the first stitch into the quilt, I realized it was thicker than any thread I’ve used.  And, I was worried.  It took some coaxing to get the thread to go through the quilt layers, but once I got it going it worked like a charm…and didn’t break, not once!

I’m glad Susan decided on a Native American quilting design.  And, you know what?  That thick thread REALLY showed off the design in the light-colored border.  And, the batik border fabric is a wonderful companion to the quilting design and Susan’s thread.   Edge-to-Edge quilting used the wavy lines and the stepping stones under the sun in the border design.

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I don’t remember ever getting the chance to quilt a Native American design into a quilt, so this was a lot of fun to do.  If you’re wondering where to find the border design, I took one of Meadowlyon Designs’ pantographs (named Modern Southwest) that you can find here.  Their pantograph is 10 1/2″ tall, but the border of Susan’s quilt was 7 inches, I think.  So, what I did was make a smaller copy of one repetition in the pantograph.  I then traced it onto Golden Threads Quilting Paper (you can buy it from their website and other stores) and pinned it to the quilt top.  I wanted a cornerstone, so I took the bird , enlarged it in different sizes to find the size that worked best and then traced it onto the quilting paper as well and then stitched through the quilting paper. In the past, I’ve used vellum, tracing paper, Press ‘n Seal, etc for marking quilts.  But, I had this on hand and it was just sitting on the shelf, so I thought I’d try it.  I actually really like it.  The paper is a soft yellow, which blends with lots of colors, believe it or not.  When you pull the paper off, it doesn’t leave as much paper behind, and the paper isn’t a bright white.  Judge for yourself if the end product (quilting shown in the pictures above) turned out okay.

I said earlier that Susan inherited this quilt top from her dad and step-mom.  Well, here’s something you don’t realize you need or would like to have until you get it.  They left their quilt tops in “kits” with batting, thread, and backing included on many of the quilts; ready to be quilted.  And, check out this batting!  I was floored.  How cool is that! The batting is marked so I know which way to load it (you need more from roller to roller than you do side to side, because the rollers will use more batting – you can read more about that in my blog post “Oops! Please Add More Batting!“).

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I have a tip for loading quilt backing.  I like to load backing fabric so the selvages attach to the rollers. The reason I like to do that is because the width (weft) of the fabric has a little more stretch than the length (warp) of the fabric.  When I load the backing fabric to the canvas of the rollers, the fabric will stretch some.  It stretches even more if I load the quilt with the width going side to side rather than roller to roller – that produces a “waistline”, as I call it, on the backing fabric.  See how the top of the fabric in this picture is stretched more?  That’s because it is attached to the roller canvas.  The rest is not attached to anything yet.  I lay batting on top of the backing fabric and then stitch a straight line across the top of the batting so that I can get the edge of the quilt top straight.  I then baste the top down.  After that, I will check to make sure the sides of the quilt top are straight and will stitch it down.  AFTER it’s stitched down, I attach stretchy clamps to the sides of the backing fabric to hold it taut – that’s what helps keep wrinkles out of the backing fabric, where you can’t see it as you roll the quilt.  So, what will happen is the backing fabric will have more of an “hourglass figure” if I load the backing with the width (weft) of the fabric going side to side than it will if I load the backing with the length (warp) of the fabric going side to side.  And, the selvages have the extra thickness in its weave, so that adds to the strength where it’s attached to the roller canvas.  The difference it makes for the quilt maker is that if there’s a seam down the back, it might not end up straight.

 

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One of the best parts of my job is the variety of quilt tops and quilting designs that I get to work with each day.  I learn something new with each one.  I had a lot of fun with this one.

12″ wide quilting paper
 

18″ wide quilting paper

24″ wide quilting paper