Family Quilts

May has been a whirlwind of a month.  I’ve got lots to share with you today; lots of pictures and lots of thoughts.  Please forgive me up front if I bore you with my personal “adventures.”

First off, I’d like to share Judy’s quilt with you.  This was a quilt made for a family reunion (which was held Memorial Day weekend), for auctioning off to help raise money for family members in need.  I think Judy is a jewel for doing this and for being so charitable with helping others.  She doesn’t get any money for what she does or donates, but it’s for a good cause!  She said each year the bids for her quilts get bigger – I think they like having her quilts and a part of the family’s history.  Really cool!

I don’t have as many pictures as I’d thought, because some of them accidentally got deleted, but here’s a full shot of her quilt.

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And, here is a close up of the blocks.  Judy said the colored parts of the quilt blocks reminded her of hands and feet holding on to each other, much like a family does.  Cool, huh?  So, now do you see all the inter-connectedness of the blocks in the full shot above?

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I added my touch by quilting swirls and heart-shaped leaves as in a family tree and vine.   I also added a “title,” so to speak, to the quilt to make it more of an heirloom for future generations.

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And, I added some early generation names/couples with years.  I think if I were to do it over again, I’d put the couples in their own block with the following generations in blocks below them.  That way, the quilting density would be more even.

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The result?  This quilt sold for $1,400!!!  Wowzers!!!  Of course, it was Judy’s brother who bought it (what a loving brother!), so you can imagine why he bought it.  But still!  That’s a lot of moo-lah!

Another quilt I’ve been working on in May was Claudia’s quilt.  This quilt did a number on my head.  Not that it was Claudia’s fault by any stretch of the imagination.  She is a dear and was a dear for being so patient with me during and after my mini-melt-down with her quilt.  It took me a couple of weeks to finish it.  This quilt is a Christmas gift for her brother, who is a farmer.  I think Claudia is smart for working on her Christmas gifts all year long and not waiting until the last minute.  She’s bringing them to me as she finishes; smart move since I am now booked until September.  Each quilt I receive after today will get in the queue and before I know it, I will be booked through Christmas.  So, if you are thinking about quilts for Christmas, let your quilter know as soon as you can!  Some of us are booked a year out and some are booked only a few months out.

So, what happened with Claudia’s quilt?  Sigh… it was perfect, simply perfect.  I was crooning over how flat it laid, how square it was, and how the patches all met so perfectly together.  Since her brother is a farmer, we decided to put wheat on the quilt.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s made with homespun plaid, so wheat would be a great design for a guy and a farmer at that.  I started out quilting shocks of wheat in the corners and rows of wheat in the border and then added a row onto the quilt top (this was supposed to be semi-custom; an edge-to-edge allover design similar to a pantograph with a separate border).  I decided it needed something between the row of wheat and the border and so I added clouds.  Simple!

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And, that, my dears, was my UN-doing.  At that point I could see all sorts of things on this quilt top.  The patches reminded me (as they did Claudia also!) of looking down from an airplane at the fields of patchwork land.  And, I wasn’t sure the wheat was what she wanted after all.  Don’t get me wrong; I thought it worked well, but it seemed like it needed something, and if Claudia wasn’t happy with it, there’d be an awful lot of frogging (rip it!  rip it!) to do.

So, I called Claudia and sent her a couple of pictures to make sure she was happy with it.  We talked about it and Claudia said it was okay for me to add something if I wanted.  NOTE: CLAUDIA SAID IT WAS OKAY!!!  We started talking about farm items to add, and that’s where I fell into the abyss of artist wonderland.  I hung up the phone and went back to look at the quilt.  My mind went wild with ideas of drawing a barn, a windmill, and a whole entire farm!  Some cows, some sheep, rolled bales of hay, a barn cat…here some wheat, there some wheat, everywhere some wheat, wheat…

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But, wait! This is not MY quilt!  And, about the time I started drawing in the windmill, my husband comes down and asks… “What are you doing?”  Eyes big and glazed over with entranced excitement, I responded as any one would do and said, “Nothing!”  And, that is what brought me back down to earth and started my mental battle with my quilting of other people’s quilts.  When I quilt a customer quilt, it is my intent for my quilting to be in the background of the quilt, to be subtle so that the first thing you see is the quilt and then you can see the indentations of where the quilting is.  I want it to compliment the quilt top, but not overpower the quilt.  I don’t want my quilting to be at the forefront of the quilt.  And, that was what I was seeing with Claudia’s quilt.

I cannot begin to explain the mental anguish I went through after I’d gotten this far on the quilt.  And, actually, at the point of my husband asking me what I was doing, I just had the windmill and the top of barn drawn/stitched on along with the rows of wheat that had been sown and rolled into hay bales.  I went back and forth, back and forth with what to do.  I was feeling so guilty for “taking over” Claudia’s quilt.  And, I was, at this point, stuck.  I couldn’t seem to get myself to work on it anymore, I felt so bad about it all.  I just wanted to cry, because I had just sabotaged my philosophy that the customer comes first; the reason why I don’t like to suggest quilting styles to my customers – I want it to be theirs, not mine.  All I can say is that Claudia has been such a dear throughout this whole thing.

Finally, I had to do something.  I needed to move forward so that I could get on to the next customer quilts.  I wrote down on a post-it note the things Claudia had suggested said I could add to the quilt and I put that on top of the quilt.  I would put those things on there and then just put rows of wheat.  This was not my quilt.  It was a difficult couple of weeks as my machine sat idle, but I finally pulled my head out of my butt and finished the quilt.  I was shaking in my boots as I finished it, nervous about whether or not Claudia would be okay with her quilt.  I decided to send pictures and an invoice to her of the final product when it was finished so she could be prepared when she picked up her quilt.

Here is what I added (per post-it note; my way of saying Claudia “approved” me doing this beforehand).  Well… the barn cat was my husband’s suggestion after he’d seen the anguish I was feeling from drawing all over somebody’s quilt.  Yes, the tractor has a flat tire; it’s a fact of life on the farm.  😉

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What the wheat shocks look like on the back of the quilt…

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And, here is the finished product, front and back.  Claudia has been so gracious about this quilt, raving about how beautiful the quilting is.   I could hug her for being so kind.  I’d like to think that when we step back from the quilt, we see the patchwork farm fields.  I sure hope her brother sees the patches through the fields (trees vs. forest analogy).

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And now for the moral of the story…

In 2011, when I was supposed to start my quilting business, I developed a retinal detachment in an area of my eye where I would not notice the symptoms.  By the time I started having symptoms several months later, a lot of damage had been done.  The surgeons repaired what they could.  I ended up having 8 eye surgeries (6 on my left eye and 2 on my right eye) between 2011 and 2013.  I spent a lot of time laying on my side on the couch in 2012 with waaaay too much time to think (several months of laying there doing nothing; no reading, no sewing, no getting up and walking around, etc).  And, I did a lot of “negotiating” with God.  I am legally blind in my left eye with my eyesight being 20/400 in that eye (20/40 in my right eye).  Sometimes they test me at 20/200 if I’m having a good day.  My depth perception is messed up, but I can pick up textures in a quilt top like never before, I think because of the lack of depth perception.

When I FINALLY was able to sew again and quilt again, I was surprised at the art I was able to create with my quilting.  I don’t know how I do it.  I just do it.  I think I must have an angel on my shoulder, because I can’t believe that it’s me stitching those stitches.  So, there’s a part of me that thinks I must have been given a gift and I should share it with others so that they, too, can smile.  This is what I struggled with when I was working on Claudia’s quilt just now.  How do I know where to “help” and not to help, “share” and not to share, “give” and not give?

It is my belief that we are put on this earth to help others.  We are here for one another, not just to make ourselves happy.  Sometimes bad things happen to us, but it’s okay.  Because through those bad things, lessons can be learned if we just allow ourselves to learn the lesson.  I think there was a lesson for me through this whole process.  It was a reminder to me that the quilts do not belong to me, they belong to my customers and they are the ones who need to be happy, not my egotistical artsy-fartsy mind (or… my evil twin) that may think I am creating heirlooms and giving a gift to others through my art.  Yes, I am a Thread Artist.  But, that does not mean I need to put “my stamp” on every quilt that passes my way.  I can enhance quilts without overpowering them.  I only hope I can remember that with the next quilt that passes my way.  <sigh, but laughing out loud>

By the way, I have a video on my YouTube channel if you’d like to see how I draw the tiny wheat kernels.  The link for it is here, but it’s not a good video at all.  I ran the camera myself, and the handles of my machine are in the way so you can’t see anything the first half of the video.  If you zoom past the first half, you might be able to see SOME of it – lesson learned for next time!

 

Best Laid Plans… to be continued

The past 2 weeks have been crazy.  I even checked this past week to see if there was a full moon, but it’s not until Valentine’s Day.  Two weeks ago I was working on a client’s quilt and also working on a pattern to make a purse.  I was asked to teach how to make a quilted purse, so I came up with a pattern and then needed to make it up so I could tell how easy or difficult it would be for the students.

Then, one of my husband’s 2 favorite aunts died.  My husband was to be a Pall Bearer, so we needed to drive to Ft. Worth, Texas for the funeral… a 10 hour trip on a good day.  We hurriedly packed up and drove down to temperatures in the 70s.  I thought weather changes were pretty dramatic in Kansas City and Denver, but we found that it is so much more dramatic in northern Texas and Oklahoma.  We came back home Sunday.  We knew the drive home would be “iffy” when it came to the weather, but we figured we had it planned between snow and ice fronts.  Well, we were wrong – that was between 2 weather fronts in the Kansas City area.  Sunday morning before we headed back home, we checked the weather and the road conditions and chose the highway that looked like it was in better weather and traffic conditions.  What a long day that turned out to be!  There were cars, buses, and trucks off in the ditch and paralyzed on the highway pretty much the whole way through Oklahoma.   I guess they don’t “expect” snow and ice???  Because they sure weren’t prepared for it!

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Anyhow, to make a long story short, this was the beginning of the “wrench” put into my best laid plans of getting customer quilts done.  And, that’s the way it seems to go for me – my life is either feast or famine (crazy busy or nothing going on).  Aside from our Snowmagedden here in Kansas City this week, and my husband being home from work because of it until Thursday, the phone’s been ringing off the wall this week.  Everyone seems to have an issue that needs my help.

But, enough about that…  I was determined to put a big dent in this quilt yesterday – it’s been on my quilting frame for almost 2 weeks now.  I am almost done.  I just need to do some work on the borders and then go back and do a once over check.  I will take another picture of it full length after I finish it and will post it later.

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Oh… one more thing.  My friend, Trisch Price has a new book that just   came out through My Stars, the modern division of the Kansas City Star Quilts books.

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If you go to this site http://mystarsblog.com/2014/02/06/qa-and-book-giveaway-accentuate-the-negative/ you can see one of her quilts that I quilted for her.  It’s one of 18 quilts that are in her book.

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Also, they are having a give away.  If you leave a comment on their blog, you just might win her book!  So, please go check it out!

Busy Quilter I Bee

Remember I said I’d show you how I refinished the stairs?  Well, I am sending you to a bunch of different places today so that you can see what you like.  First off, go here to see the pictures of how I re-did my stairs to the basement, which is also my quilting studio.  One of these days I will finish the basement, but it will likely be a little bit at a time.  If you are on Facebook and interested, take a look around there.  I am spreading my wings a bit and becoming somewhat of a DIYer.

Last week I went to the International Quilt Festival in Houston.  If you haven’t heard of it, just know that it is probably the biggest quilt show on earth.  It was my first time to go to this show or to visit Houston, so it was a bit overwhelming.  You can find plenty of pictures on my Flickr page.

I especially got a big kick out of the Cow Quilt Exhibit, named Moo-ston.  There were lots of amusing quilts.  Make sure you check out the close-up pictures of the udders and other details!  Hopefully it will bring a smile to your face.

Month in Review

Whew!  It’s been a busy month… well, make that a couple of months.  My daughter came in from Denver right before Mother’s Day and brought snow with her.  We had planned on planting flowers, but we had to wait until the day before she left, when the snow was melting.  These are not the flowers we planted, but this is a reminder that we are now officially out of the winter season.  I planted these peonies 3 years ago, and this is the first year they’ve bloomed.  🙂

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While I was at the Machine Quilting Showcase in Wichita, I took a class with Kim Stotsenberg.  She does wonderful swirly-type quilting.  You can find out more about Kim on her blog, Sew-n-Sew Quilting.

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I’ve also been working on a quilt for a friend.  Trisch is an artist, as far as I am concerned.  She has a flair for color and design.  I’m truly surprised she is not a designer of some sort, but I imagine she doesn’t have the time for it right now.  Anyhow, Trisch allowed me to quilt this modern quilt of hers, and then she went and blogged about it.  You can find her at Hadley Street Quilts or you can find the blog about this quilt here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those of you who know me personally already know that I am working on yet another quilt for my quilt guild.  I must be crazy, huh?  This one is to benefit the Wounded Warriors Project.  Our guild is making quilts to represent 5 of our branches of service.  I am working with Susan on the one for the Marine Corps.  Susan wanted to paper piece 50 stars to put on the quilt to represent the 50 states.  When she first brought this up, I thought she must be crazy… but I don’t do paper-piecing, so there you go.  If you don’t know what paper piecing is or how to do it, check it out here.  Oh, yeah, it looks really cool… until you start trying to add the fabric and it’s too short.  Then you have to pick the paper off after you are done.  It gets to be a real pain in the @$$, if you ask me, which is why I don’t make it a practice to paper-piece.  Yes, I’ll do it when it’s called for in something major, but those times are few and far between.  Well, I told Susan that I don’t do paper-piecing, but she was not swayed.  I then asked if I could get her some help, and she only wanted a couple of helpers.  In my mind, I wondered how on earth she was going to get all those stars done on her own.

Anyhow, we forged forward with our design plans, trying to figure out how we could get 50 stars on the front of the quilt.  The quilt needed to show that it was representative of the Marine Corps, so I had already planned on putting a Marine Corps emblem in the middle as a focal point.  As it turned out, we only had room for 40 of the star blocks, so I put 10 on the back.  Here is what we have so far.

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And, the back looks like this but with 10 stars…

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Oh, and one more thing…  I went to my regular eye doctor to see if I could finally get a prescription for glasses.  They would not give me a prescription until I had the secondary cataracts removed by laser (Yag Laser Surgery).  This was my good eye, so I was really nervous about having it messed with.  This would also be the 8th eye surgery I’d had; 2 on my right eye and 6 on my left eye in the past 2+ years.  The good news is that I can now see to thread a needle.  To someone else, that is no big deal, but to me it is HUGE!  I am so happy!  I can only hope that nothing else happens to either of my eyes for awhile now.  I will be getting glasses in the next week or so – I’m hoping I can see to do a better job on my customer quilts!

Adding Flanges

I really like adding a chiseled edge to my quilts.  I’ve been adding piping to several of my quilts and I do like it.  However, I’ve been wanting to just put a bit of color and separation in there without the bulk of piping.  I am so glad that my friend, Tina, posted a tutorial about adding flanges.  As you look at her pictures, you can see how just that little bit of “separation” makes her blocks “pop.”  You can find her tutorial here: http://backporchquiltworks.blogspot.com/2012/08/adding-flange.html.    I am now going to have to try this!  I love the way it looks so much better than with piping!

 

Quilting on the Square

This has been a particularly rough week.  I’ve been working my tail off this week, doing volunteer stuff for 2 quilting guilds.  By Friday night, I was nearly in tears.  I was so dog gone tired and my body hurt all over.  So, in spite of how busy I know I am right now, I decided to take a break.

I used to live in a small town in Indiana.  I loved living in the small town, away from the hustle and bustle  and rat race of busy city life.  We moved to the Kansas City area 3 years ago to be near family, and we moved into a house that is far enough out from the city for me to be okay and close enough in to the city for my husband to be okay.   So… my way of taking a break yesterday was to get far enough away from the city to feel like I am in another world.

Have you ever been to Quilting on the Square in Holton, Kansas?  I have been meaning to get there, but never had.  Yesterday I got there.  Quilting on the Square is a quilt store that is located on the corner of Holton’s town square.  Holton is a charming little town that is like being in fairy tale world of days gone past.  It’s close enough to Topeka, but it is far enough out to have that small town feel.

Mark and Mary Pfeiler, Quilting on the Square’s owners, took me on a tour of their newly extended store.  They also showed off their new room for their longarm quilting machine and business – I was envious!  For whatever reason, I was transported into another world as I gazed open-mouth like a child in a candy store at their fabrics, etc.  They have it all arranged so colorfully well, that you feel like you are having an out of body experience  as you put bolt of bolt of fabric on the counter to be cut and taken home.  There were so many fabrics that I love.  I don’t know what happened, but I left there with more fabric than I think I’ve bought in the last year.  But, you know what?  As I drove home, I was at peace.  I was at peace with what I’d spent, and I was at peace with the shared experience with Mary, Mark, and their assistants.  If you haven’t been there, you need to go!!!  I warn you, though, to take your SUV, van or truck, your debit card and credit card and all the cash you can stash.  You’ll be glad you did.