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!


Nancy’s Swirling Stars

Days seem to pass so quickly anymore.  It seems like last year when I quilted this for Nancy, but it was just last month…. well, in March.

For this quilt, since it will be “loved” on a daily basis, Nancy chose an allover Edge to Edge quilting design.  She has a star in each corner, so stars were a part of the quilting design.


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Another special thing about this quilt is that it is made with Kansas Troubles fabrics, so I decided to hide an outline of a Kansas map in the bottom of the quilt right above where I quilted her “signature” for her artwork.





This is a great sampler quilt (different quilt patterns in each of the blocks).  If you’d like the pattern for this one, I’m sure Nancy could point you in the right direction!  😉

For now, here are a few examples…


If you have extra jelly rolls…

Or, if you’re into Modern Quilting, try this one.


Why Does My Longarmer Charge ‘So Much’? by Andi Crafts

I have been reworking my quilting prices lately, because it’s tax season. I need to make a profit so the IRS will not audit me and force me to become a hobby, where I cannot make a living. Turns out, I’m not making a living anyway. Lately, I’ve been figuring out how much I make hourly and it’s not much. I have been doing a lot of Heirloom Quilting for an average of $3.50 per hour. Granted, I am a slow quilter… well, I think I am a slow quilter. I’m pretty picky about what goes into a quilt and will pick out something that bothers me. I take it slow and careful a lot of times to get as close to the perfection as I can that I’d like to end up with. I really am trying to perfect my skills and also become faster in the process. My waiting list is too long for my liking. I really want to get those quilts back to the customers as quickly as I can. But, I do a lot of Custom and Heirloom quilting. Edge to Edge doesn’t take nearly as long. I think people don’t realize that I love doing that just as much as I love doing Custom and beyond.

I have also been seriously thinking of retiring the quilting business and have been applying for “regular” jobs, so that I can make at least minimum wage. Some of the “skill-less” jobs I’ve applied for pay almost $20 per hour. This blog post, written by my FaceBook friend, Andi Rudebusch, is a good explanation of why we charge more than our customers think they should pay.  Click on the link below to see what she has to say.

Why Does My Longarmer Charge So Much?

One of the responses to Andi’s post was telling how much she paid her hairdresser… but he’s “worth it.”  Think about it.  How much do we pay our hairdressers?  If I go to the cheapest place, I pay $15 for about 30 minutes of their time.  That’s the equivalent of $30 per hour.  Could I cut my hair myself?  Yes.  Do I want to?  No.

I really do love my job, and I hate to do this, but I will be raising my prices beginning June 15th.  Until then, if the quilting cost is less than minimum wage for however long it takes me to get a quilt quilted, I will be charging at least minimum wage (half of that goes to withholding taxes, electricity and other overhead costs).  If I don’t get a “real” job before then, I need to be able to pay my bills.  In September, I sent my quilting machine in for service and, between shipping and the cost for it to be serviced, etc., it cost nearly $2,000.  Yes, you read that right.  I don’t want any of you to go into shock when I quote you a price, so I am forewarning you now.  I love you all to death and hope you will stick with me, but I do understand if you need to move on.  Thank you for sticking with me this long.

Cindi’s Fassettnating Fish

So, here is Cindi’s fish quilt made with Kaffe Fassett fabric.  I finally got to work on this and finish it for her in early January.  She had taken a class with one of my other customers, Joan, on how to make a One Block Wonder (also known by some as a Stack & Whack quilt/block), and this is how it turned out.  Pretty cool, huh?


But, how on earth do you quilt a One Block Wonder quilt?  It’s busy enough on its own that Custom Quilting would just get lost in it.  Cindi chose to have an allover, ocean-type E2E design in the middle with a separate border (Semi-Custom).  The only specification she gave was that she wanted a mermaid in there somewhere and would like some sand dollars and also the fish outlined in the border.  Sand dollars would be perfect in the corner, so I put them there and also a couple inside the middle.


I didn’t know what to do with those fish other than to outline them, so I just went with what the fabric provided and outlined Kaffe’s designs.  I started out putting scales around those dots on the big fish, but they looked funny, so I decided to make bigger circles around those dots.  As for the E2E, it was mostly filler that looked like water,  but with added sea-life.

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I thought Cindi’s choice of fabric for this One Block Wonder was ingenious.  I loved the colors, and the designs in the fish were funky cool!  What do you think?


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?




Black Brick Road?

Nikki started this “Yellow” Brick Road quilt a long time ago.  Our quilting guild is having a UFO (Un-Finished Objects) contest, so she picked this quilt back up and finished it.  This quilt would go on bed of her son, Wyatt.


She requested flames to be quilted on this quilt.  No problem!  I know how to quilt flames!  Well… that’s what I thought.  Then I got scared and tensed up.  For whatever reason, I was worried that the flames would scare Wyatt (no, I don’t know why… maybe because Halloween is coming up and those black stitches looked like creepy trees to me???), so instead of making big flames all over the quilt, they turned out small.  Ugh!

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I tried to make up for it by writing Wyatt’s name in a block and adding a pet print.

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I even stuck a turtle in there.  Can you see its leg sticking out on the white fabric?


The problem is that no matter what I did, it would not make up for the back of the quilt.  Nikki had this beautiful fabric for the backing.  I checked at the beginning of my quilting… changed the needle, adjusted the tension and everything else I could think of.  It was all made with quality fabric and Hobbs 80/20 batting, and the batting was loaded face up like it’s supposed to be.  So, I changed needles a couple more times during the quilting and did all the adjusting again.  Same problem… little pokeys of batting coming through.  The only thing I could think of was that I probably should have used black batting on this quilt.  Other big-name quilters have said this will come out after washing.  I don’t know, because I don’t have the quilt and wasn’t going to wash it to find out.  I can only hope.

So, I’ll be brave and show you the back side of the quilt where the turtle lays.


See what I mean?  So, this is Wyatt’s quilt and it’s Nikki’s Yellow Brick Road quilt, but for me… I’m calling it the Black Brick Road quilt.

Mary’s Poppin’ Pinwheels

Mary was so concerned about the 3-D pinwheels on her quilt and whether or not I’d be able to quilt around them.  Well, if I were using a pantograph, I wouldn’t be able to quilt it, because the design wouldn’t work with the pinwheels.  But, since I was quilting a freehand Edge to Edge (E2E), I was able to work around them.


It was a large quilt.  Can you tell?  You can see a close-up of the pinwheels here.  I wonder how she put those pinwheels in there so they’d pop up like that!


The swirly quilting is supposed to emulate wind blowing.


So, of course I had to add a cloud with Mr. Wind blowing.  Okay… I know… Well, I TRIED to make it look like a cloud blowing some wind.


Well, it looks better on the back…


Okay… fail on Mr. Cloud, so I decided to add some kites.


And, you can see a couple more surprises better when you look at the back.

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I love doing Edge to Edge quilting.  It’s so much easier for me to sneak stuff in.  😉