Square Peg in a Round Hole

Reposted from my other site.

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.

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!“).

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.

To the Moon and Back

Reposted from my other site

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

It’s spring time at Wilma’s

Wilma has 2 quilts that I’ve done for her in the past few months – you will soon see why it’s spring time at Wilma’s.  She’s a quick quilt-maker.  This lady has a talent for putting together colors like nobody I’ve seen before.  The first quilt I’d like to share is what I called “Wilma’s Mums.”

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Can you see the mums in the quilt blocks?

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I tried to put leaves all over the black and green areas, but I hid mums in the quilt blocks behind the “fabric” mums.

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And, along the borders, I changed it up a bit by quilting spider mums.  I’m not sure I got the exact essence of the flowers because I was only going with my imagination and the pictures in the fabric.  Spider mums are one of my favorite flowers, so I knew the petals needed to be short in the middle and long on the outer edge.  But, I wasn’t sure how to stitch that out so it would look more 3-D.

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Another cool thing about the backing on this quilt is that the fabric is very soft.  And, if you look very closely, you can see green owls in the fabric… watching over the garden.  🙂

 

This next quilt of Wilma’s is the latest one I’ve quilted.

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As you can see from this next picture, what looks like applique blocks are actually fabric panels.  This is great for those of us who love the look of applique but don’t have the time to do it ourselves.  I think it looks real enough.  Don’t you?

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Wilma wanted the faux applique outlined and feathers everywhere else.  So, feathers, we did!

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I could have done any number of variations of feather styles on Wilma’s quilt, but I liked the way the feathers in the picture below cradled the bouquets of flowers.  I thought they complimented the pieced blocks nicely.

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And, here’s the back side.

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What do you think?  Does it have enough feathers?  I think the pictures of the back side makes it look bouffant or like divinity candy or something like it.  I don’t know how to describe it.  But, I love it!

 

Claudia’s BIG quilt aka the King and Queen Quilt

…But not known as Clifford, the Big Red Dog Quilt…  Actually it didn’t have a name so I called it Claudia’s King and Queen quilt for several reasons.  It’s for a King sized bed that her husband made; a king in the rest of our minds.  I mean, how many people can build and make a bed???  And, a king-sized bed at that!  So, her husband is the king and she is the queen who made the quilt for their bed.  Fitting, don’t you think?  😉

This first picture shows (well, sort of) how big the quilt really is.  It was hanging off my design wall.  You can’t see the full picture here.  Why, I don’t know.  But, the side borders go well beyond the sides of this picture.

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And, this one is a little closer, but not much.

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For Claudia’s quilt, I did pretty much the same kind of quilting I did with Judy’s family quilt.  It’s an inexpensive and fun design; a way to do some allover Edge-to-Edge quilting and still sprinkle some feathers in.

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I snuck a couple of butterflies in to her quilt. The long strips between the blocks on the front have butterflies in them, so I thought I’d add a “king” butterfly and a “queen” butterfly.  Can you guess which is which?  😉

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And, here are some shots of the front.  Really, quilting doesn’t show up as much as we think it will, and, for that, I am glad.  I really am okay with that, because I think the quilting should be complimentary and not overpowering.

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See the butterflies in the long strips between the blocks?

If you want to see this one in person, you’re going to have to become a friend of Claudia’s.  😉

 

Elaine’s quilt

I can’t think of what this quilt reminds me of, other than a vintage French type of quilt, probably because of the fabric.  Unfortunately, I could not get any good pictures of her quilt.  It’s a beautiful quilt, but the lighting wouldn’t cooperate or something.

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Elaine sent me this quilt with an idea of what she wanted quilted, which was custom quilting, but we decided on another design.  Elaine likes simple lines and designs, so we went with piano keys in the border, a design with marquise shapes in the triangle blocks around the border and an allover design in the blocks.

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You can barely see the quilting in any of these pictures.  The thread was a ivory/bone color to match the background fabric of the triangles, and it doesn’t seem to show up (to me) on the other fabrics.  In the following picture, I quilted an allover design that looks similar to a Fleur-de-lis.

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Can you see it at all?  We probably could have done an allover, edge-to-edge design on this quilt and saved Elaine some money.  I should have suggested it, but I didn’t think of it until just now, while looking at these pictures.  What do you think?

*note: I just finished up another quilt, but I need to check with the customer to see if it is okay to post it first.  She made it as a raffle quilt for a family reunion.  And, tomorrow I start on yet another quilt.  Hopefully I will get to those other 2 blog posts that I started awhile back.  We’ll see what this week brings.  Happy Spring!

 

Nancy’s quilt

This is a different style quilt than what Nancy usually does.  She wasn’t sure she liked it, but I am proud of her for stepping outside of her box.  She does that expand her horizons and to learn new things.  And, I think she did an excellent job of pulling all the colors together on this one.  Don’t you?

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It looks kind of like a disappearing 9-patch to me.  What do you think?

This quilt was an easy one to quilt an allover edge-to-edge design on it, which is also easy on the quilt maker’s budget.  The question was what to stitch into it.  Just about anything would go with this, but what would Nancy like?  She lets me choose, and I worry about what to pick for her, so I settled on flowers and leaves.  Everyone has had such a bad winter in the USA this year, except for us, but I still figured the promise of spring would be okay for this quilt.

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I snuck a butterfly into the quilt in the first picture, but I wish I had done a better job on it.  To me it looks like a bow.  Nancy is trying to use up her fabric (another reason for this quilt) as well as her batting, and I’d say she did a good job of it with this quilt.  Wouldn’t you?

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Cynthia’s QOV quilt

I have 2 other posts started, but I have not had time to work on them, and I really want to show you some of my customer’s quilts.  They are doing such a phenomenal job on their quilts.  So, let’s start with Cynthia’s quilt.   Here is the whole quilt.  Just half square triangles sewn together, but what a great pattern she made with them! IMG_2320

Cynthia wanted an allover design quilted into the body of the quilt with a separate border, which was perfect for this quilt, because the border is a fairly solid color and quilting wouldn’t show too much in the body of this quilt.  This is semi-custom quilting, and it is a great, reasonably priced option for many quilts.  Here are some close-ups of the allover, edge-to-edge quilting done in the body of the quilt. I quilted loops, swirls and stars into this section.

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Edge-to-edge designs make it easy for me to slip a surprise into the quilt, since about 98% of the quilting I do is freehand.  I quilted the recipients name into the middle of the quilt and I added Cynthia’s name in the lower right corner.

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As for the borders, Cynthia wanted feathers in them.  Feathers are done free-hand, so they take less time to quilt than anything with ruler work, such as piano keys… well, for me at least.

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I really like her quilt, and I hope the receiver likes it, too!