Road to California 2014, part I

Plaid Geese Quilt

No matter how many times I go, I’m always excited to walk in the front door of the convention center, see these hanging quilts (this one is by Nancy Boyce Geese in the Fields) and know that the quilting game is ON, specifically that the Road to California show has opened for another year.

Road to California Logo

I’m trying something different this year.  I noticed that the Road to California has put up good, high-resolution photos of the quilts that far surpass any of my snapshot renditions (largely because they are able to go around earlier, with a tripod and a good flash camera), plus they have many of the quilts that I may pass by.  Click *here* to go to that listing and enjoy their show.  What I’ll do below, is list some of the ones that interested me, make some commentary here and there (good and bad) and sum up the social aspect of the show.

Schamber Grand Prize

This is the Big Kahuna of winners, and no surprise, it was won by Sharon Schamber.  Titled Once Upon a Time, she started making it in 2000, then put it aside for over 10 years.

Schamber Grand Prize2

I’m interested in her quilting, for that it how she gained her fame.

Schamber Grand Prize3

See

Cheryl See’s quilt, Tatted Hearts had 20 yards of her great-grandmother’s hand-tatted lace and a doily. Never could locate the doily, so I assume it was used in the construction of this whimsical quilt, but the yards of tatting are evident.

WilsonMagicCarpetRide

Magic Carpet Ride reflects the childhood of maker Janet Wilson, when she noted that she grew up with Turkish carpets all over their floors.  She set out to create a design that was a colorful quilted, version of these carpets.

WilsonMagicCarpetRide_3

This is a quilt that gets a thumbs up on the use of crystals (generally, I think it is WAY overdone in show quilts), as they were used to be a integral part of the design and only for accent.  But using French knots would have been okay with me too, in those spaces where she put some bling.

WilsonMagicCarpetRide_2

How do you like that fringe?  Wilson is a clever quilter, and skilled with her quilting (below is the back):

WilsonMagicCarpetRide_back

GunnZenGarden

Zen Garden was made and quilted by Margaret Solomon Gunn, and is based on the “Blooming Carpenter’s Star.”  She noted that all the fabrics she used were from her stash (certainly noteworthy!) and she used a longarm machine to complete the quilting.

GunnZenGarden_detail

On this next quilt, first I’m going to show you some of the details before showing you the full quilt:

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CrineWillow

And here it is: Willow, by Debra Crine.  She used hand-dyed fabrics over a silk background, and her technique was to fuse them, then appliqué them with a double blanket stitch.  She also quilted it.  This was not a large quilt, nor was the Magic Carpet Ride.  Crine doesn’t say whether it was a domestic sewing machine (DSM) that she used to quilt it, or a long arm.  Of course, my bias is to see people quilting on a domestic machine, as that’s what most of us have.

I love reading Linda’s blog, Flourishing Palms, as she is trying to adapt many of the longarm techniques to our DSM, applying some of their tricks and tips so that the resulting finish can have a similar technical excellence to them.  I began to look for quilts that indicated that they’d used a DSM, chuckling a bit at the phrase “hand-guided longarm quilting,” although I know that this label is appropriate.

LegerMarinerCircle

When I read in MaryPat Leger’s artist’s statement that her quilting was inspired by Leah Day’s free motion quilting class, I knew I was seeing a quilt that was done on a DSM.  Leger tried out many different patterns on her Mariner’s Circles, and although the next picture is blurry (they have strips of plastic stretched across the quilts so it does make it hard to get good photos), you can see how many different stitches she tried on her quilt.

LegerMarinerCircle_detail

CrineTasteofParadise

Debra Crine’s been busy.  This is another quilt of hers, titled A Taste of Paradise.  Taken from an illustration, she hand painted the fabric with acrylic paints and a used a variety of threads for the thread painting.  She also quilted it, but no word on whether it was a DSM or a longarm.

CrineTasteofParadise_2

CrawfordBrittany

Lenore Crawford came upon an art class of teenagers sketching in the streets while on a trip to northern France, then returned home to create her quilt Capturing Brittany from what she saw.  She used raw edge fused appliqué, and quilted it herself.  This was another quilt that we were prevented from seeing up close, due to the barriers.  I just wanted to stand there all day, enjoying her scene and her skills at bringing this to us.  Click on this quilt on the Road website to see it larger.

We interrupt this quilt show to bring you an advertisement for more sparkles.

Sparkles 1

Sparkles 2

This is the BACK of the quilt, a sign proudly proclaiming “over 22,000″ crystals.  Would it surprise you to know that this quilter had a booth, and was selling crystals? Certainly a masterpiece of quilting and technically perfect with applied crystals, it represents the high point (or low point, depending on your point of view) of the Crystal/Sparkle/Bling phenomena.  (I don’t know who the maker was because I was not impressed with the front, and I don’t like to give out the names of quilts I diss.)  We now return you to our regularly scheduled quilt show.

WilliamsPrettyPieces

Lorraine Williams, who made this quilt titled All The Pretty Pieces, notes that it comes from a pattern, but doesn’t mention which one.  (I’m guessing this one from Jen Kingwell Designs.)  But it was lovely and refreshing and I’ve already participated in helping to make a variation of this pattern for one of our Mid-Century Modern Bee quilters.  I like the look of this one, as if someone had been piecing blocks all along, and then it just came together naturally.

WilliamsPrettyPieces_2

Williams also quilted her blocks differently, letting each stand out.  I thought she used varying backgrounds quite successfully, and her color palate was harmonious and brought the quilt together.

Gallery of Flowers

One of the odd (and maddening) things about the way they hang their quilts at Road, is this unfortunate habit of grouping all like things together (p.s. have they ever heard of “habituation?”).  The downside is that a viewer’s eyes begin to glaze over. . .oh, another flower. . . oh, another animal. . . oh, another whatever. . . after seeing 10 of the same subject in a row.  The upside is that you can always find them again if you want to find them again “It’s in the flower section,” like we are at a garden show and all the lilies are grouped together or all the orchids.  It’s been this way for quite a few years, and nothing I ever say will change that–it’s just one of Road’s idiosyncrasies.  But since I’m trying to bring you the essence of Road, that’s just part of it.

TurnquistSunflowersWept

Sue Turnquist started her quilt Even the Sunflowers Wept shortly after her mother passed away in 2009, and she referred to it as her “mourning quilt.”  I’ve seen a few of these in quilt shows over the years, and I like the idea that a quilt was made to help process grief and in remembrance.  She writes “Even though the sunflowers weep, one cannot remain sad in their presence.”

GunnRainbowNouveau

Rainbow Nouveau is by Margaret Solomon Gunn, using batiks, hand-dyes, and gold acrylic paint for accents.  She quilted it herself: “quilting is hand-guided,” meaning longarm machine.  Her original and whimsical appliqué kept my eye moving over the quilt.  It was fun to look at.

GunnRaindowNouveau_2

Random Quilt

I apologize for not having the maker’s name, nor the title, but I found it on my camera.  Something about it caught my eye.  If anyone has any information about this, please let me know.  I really liked the use of those four small squares set on point to act as a type of sashing.

ElenbaasBeauchampHappyHauntings

Always fun to have a Halloween Quilt! Debra Elenbaas pieced the top and Diane Beauchamp quilted Happy Hauntings.  It’s taken from a pattern by Verna Mosquera of The Vintage Spool, and has lots of appliqué.

HappyHauntingsdetail

I thought the spiderwebs in the borders were classic!

LabodaStarsLightYourWay_front

Kay Laboda made and quilted Stars to Light Your Way, a black and white quilt where each block is different from the others.  She says she “loves paper piecing” and gave this to her son and new daughter-in-law.

LabodaStarsLightYourWay_detail

KayQuilted Northern

Now I’ve seen everything.  Yep–the title of this is The Real Quilted Northern.  Maker and quilter Jerry Kay writes “The TV commercial showed little old ladies with knitting needles making quilted northern.  I wanted to show the ‘REAL’ thing!”

I’m going to close out this post (there’s more coming–stay tuned) showing one reason why there are fewer and fewer judged quilts at Road.  It is because these collections of quilts — sponsored (read:$$) by a shop owner or a store or a corporation — have become numerous.  I counted about five different ones, but here’s two.

Gallery Show Angels at Road

This one was huge (I’m only showing half of it) and had mounds of white fluffy batting to denote “clouds” as this show was about angels.  Some of the quilts were interesting, but many were not.  Wasted space.

Gallery Show at Road

Because I’m involved in an on-line art group, I took time to look at this gallery of “art quilts,” also 12″ square. I thought some were interesting, but many were not (sound familiar?).  Some wasted space.

I’m guessing that the economies of sponsorship outweigh the showing of quilt-show quilts, but am saddened by the shrinking number of quilts, and wish, somehow, we could have more individual quilts, fewer galleries of quilts.  The category of wearable art seems to have disappeared this year, and the doll exhibit was substantially reduced.  Here’s a couple:

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And one doll from my favorite doll maker: Elinor Peace Bailey.  She’s the best.

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This traditional Dresden Plate design is updated in a pink and green setting with central blocks to allow for fabulous quilting.  Quilting designs are “hand-guided.”  Margaret Solomon Gunn titled this Big Bertha, and it was a stand out quilt, as you can tell by that fancy ribbon hanging on the side.

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At the front of the hall, just behind the harpist selling his CDs, was this exhibit which was a communal effort of many quilters.

SacramentoRiver

And the Sacramento River ran through it all.

IrvineChinaGardens

China Gardens by Roblee Irvine

BurrisTableMountain_river

Table Mountain in the Bend Area, by Alice Burris, Violet Skeeters and Beula Alioto

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Sims Flat by Patty Schuler.  She says the three women about ready to head into the river “represent my sisters and me.”

WhiteSouthFork

Headwaters Along the South Fork of the Sacramento River, by Jacque White

Part II of Road to California 2014 will follow, which will include my favorite quilt and my nominees for the Most Ugly Quilt (I actually have several this year).  I just found out that the Quilt Inspiration blog has also liked some of the same ones I have.  Click *here* to see their first post, then follow the links to their second post.

In Bed With a Bad Cold

cold and quilt

In Bed with a Bad Cold
by Pam Rupert

Posted without permission. (Pam, if you wish, I’ll remove it, but thanks for your great rendition!)

UrgentCareTree

And this was the Christmas Tree down at Urgent Care this morning (my second trip–I’m going to lick this yet!)

ToteBagClass

But I need to digress backwards and show off the three totes made in my Tote Bag class by three wonderful students.  They worked hard and all finished up.

Quilting Santa_1

I had taken some time this week to work on the quilting on my Santa quilt, and as always, How to Quilt This can really take over my mindset and stop me in my tracks.

So Fine Thread

I have had troubles free-motion quilting (FMQ) in the past, and have worked to figure it out.  I now have three different FMQ feet (the last one was the one that worked best), and am still experimenting with threads.  This one, So Fine by Superior Threads, is a dream, as is using their topstitch size 12 needles.  I purchased, and read, both of Diane Gaudynski’s books on quilting, which nudged a bit further along on this path. Both were helpful, but I don’t really see myself heading in her direction of teensy-weensy quilting decorated by gorgeous swooping feathers and lots of echo quilting.

Wide Open Spaces

This week, Judi Madsen’s book arrived, and this is more what I hope to quilt like.  I’m already behind because she has a huge quilting machine, so our techniques of moving the cloth and figuring out the quilting stitches will be different, of necessity.  But I found it really helpful in so many ways.  She also has a video up on YouTube which is also instructive.  So I quilted until the Bad Cold determined that I would not be quilting.

Quilting Santa_2

So the quilt is loosely folded up on my sewing room floor, waiting until I get better, get the Christmas tree decorated, the Christmas caramels made, the stack of research papers graded, the final given, the final graded. . .  But you know, Santa doesn’t come until the 24th of December, does he?  I doubt mine will arrive much before that either.  And somewhere in there we need to do a little bit of shopping.  Yessiree, it’s a bad time of year to be in bed with a bad cold.

Quilting. . . and a Sticky Question

Facets Quilting_1

It begins here.  I printed off a picture of my quilt, then took a fine-point sharpie to “quilt” in the designs I thought I would do.

Facets Quilting_2

Then this happens.  Over and over, on each row.  For every hour quilting, I spent half an hour unpicking.  Wrong color thread.  Wrong pattern.  Wrong shape.  Wrong style.

Facets Quilting_4

Finally, things start working.

Facets Quilting_3

Facets Quilting_5

I admit it.  The last row got stippled, as I was pretty tired and my shoulders hurt from quilting.

Facets Quilted_1

I put it up on the pin wall, but something’s not working.

Three Tries for Facet

I pin up different centers–hard to see on this small picture, but I know it’s the center.  I call in my resident quilt expert.  “Looks nice,” he says, in the same tone of voice as when he answers the question “Does this make me look fat?”  I know now what is wrong, but I am loathe to admit it.  I turn out the light and go to bed.

Facets unpicking_1

In the morning, I pick up my seam ripper.  Unpicking dense quilting gives you a chance to think.  A lot.  Here comes the sticky question, but first the set-up.  I own a good-quality Viking/Husqvarna sewing machine, but it was purchased before we all started quilting so much on our quilts, even though it is called the Quilt Designer.  After three tries, I finally found the foot that works for me, the tension, the everything to allow me to quilt on my machine.  But my quilting doesn’t look like Judi Madsen’s on The Green Fairy, or on other blogs that I haunt.  And I know why: my domestic sewing machine, without a stitch regulator, cannot compare to what a long-arm can do.  Or even a baby long-arm.  It’s just me and the thread, me and the pedal, my hands moving supposedly in sync with the speed of the machine.

But it’s not enough anymore, is it?

Facets unpicking_2

What was wrong with the middle was my quilting.  The shape of the fern, the stitches that hover near even, but occasionally veer into very small or a bit-too-big, the whatever–it was just wrong.  Free-Motion Quilting — the REAL free-motion quilting, has its warts, showing the artisan behind the tool.  But that’s not what we are after anymore, is it?  We want perfection: no bobbles, no wobbles.

So after three hours of unpicking, I am back here.  And the reality of where our industry is heading today is that if I want a quilt that I feel I can enter in a show, or display wherever, I’ll have to step up on the quilting front, because no matter how you look at it, the ones with the bigger, more extensive machines with stitch regulators will always have it over me on my little domestic machine. Because of the limitations of my tools, I don’t know if I can make it right.

But I’ll try.

˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚

Note: You may occasionally see ads here placed by my blogging software.  They place ads so I can blog for free.  It’s an okay trade-off.

Hot Mitts, take two

Just a little something I put together. . .

Kim Hot Mitts

. . .for my daughter-in-law Kim, who, when I posted them on Instagram said she liked them and “hint, hint.”  I was happy she wanted some!  They were for her birthday.

HotMitts

I used Malka Dubrowsky’s fabric again, as it hides cake-mix-on-thumbs really well.

Quilting hot mitts back

I liked how the quilting looked from the back, on the heat-repellant fabric.  Click *here* for a pattern and how-to’s.

Sam Graduation

My husband and I drove in and attended my nephew’s graduation from University of Southern California, known for its well-endowed education in an academic sense.  In other words, lotsa money at this place.  Congratulations on finishing law school!

USC reception

They had a little reception afterwards and it was like a garden wedding–and delicious.

St. Honore Bottega Louie

But we took off and met the rest of the family at Bottega Louie, where this cool-looking St. Honore caught my eye in the dessert case.  Instead of trying to figure out how to get it home in one piece, I bought macarons in five different colors, and shared them all weekend with my husband.

But I have bigger news about this family gathering in the next post.  (No, I am not pregnant.)  Stay tuned.

Spoolin’ Around

SpoolinAroundTop

This is my latest Schnibbles quilt: Spoolin’ Around.  Sherri, Sinta and I assume, Carrie, pick the Schnibbles pattern we are going to use, but then we all go to town putting it together in our own inimatable way.

GentleArtSchnibbles

I changed up the borders a little, because I wanted mine to all line up a little more, creating a different corner look. Read *here* about my fabrics, including using some sheets from the Porthault design vault.

Spoolin Around1

Spoolin’ Around, au natural

Spoolin Aroundback

I feel like I’m also creating a Tea Towel series, but really I’m not trying to.  It’s just that this towel from Padua, Italy was blue and white and the top just called out for this to be used here.  St. Anthony is a Big Deal in that town, as you can tell by his likeness, his basilica, his . . . We went to Padua to see the  Scrovegni Chapel.  Getting this tea towel was a side benefit.

Spoolin Aroundbackdetail

Spoolin Arounddetail

I quilted this during the last week of class, while listening to Barbara Demick’s novel, Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, and I quilted and quilted.  Not perfectly, but that’s also the beauty of making these small quilts–nothing’s so terribly precious about them.  They’re fun, not a chore.  And I aim to keep it that way, just enjoying the process.

Spoolin Arounddetail2

I struggled with the border choices: green soft plaid, or yellow spheres, or red/white dots?  Not sure I’m entirely happy about this, but I did want something that wasn’t so serious.

Spoolin Aroundsleeve

I split the sleeve on the back, because I didn’t want to cover up the words.

Spoolin Around Quilt Label

And I kept their label: Puro Cotone, because I liked it.  I used bits and pieces of the border that was cut off from the top of the towel around my label.  I have to say it’s a bit wild looking, but again–I was having fun, and that’s not a bad thing when you are  quilter.  And that’s my June 1st deadline Schnibble, finished a bit early!

This is #114 on my 200 Quilts list.

FSF–iPad Cover

Okay, this was me this week.  Lost in a fog.  I even forgot to post on WIP Wednesday, which is usually like a religion to me.  Suspected sinus infection.  Exhaustion.  Suffering from What-Day-Is-It-itis.  Verified Foggy Brain condition.  But today, the sun it out, the day is pleasant and I have a mani-pedi scheduled in an hour.  All’s good.

And I finished up my iPad cover.  Somehow.  A blue ikat with a little happy surprise inside.  Front.

Front, with flap open and shy little orange bird looking all coy.  Like an idiot,  I cut it too close (there were some alterations after I had it quilted–double rats!!) and the other birds are peering out from underneath the bias edge binding.  But I love them all anyway.  Velcro sticky dots, which ruined a needle (you’re warned).

And the treasures peeking out: the iPad and a stylus.  Okay, I’m enjoying my iPad, but I love my laptop.  I’m sure it’s like anything–takes a while to figure it out and get it under your techno skin.

Here’s how, in a few easy steps:

Whack off a piece of fabric (I pieced the back for a little “interest” as shown here) about 3″ larger on all sides than your iPad. The piece on the left is row-quilted in varying widths. The piece on the right is trimmed up.

I flipped over the trimmed up piece so you could see that I am lining this with some birdy fabric on the upper edge and using Minky down below.

I thought I should lay them out to show you what my final dimensions were before I sewed them together (yep, I’ve already started with the binding).

The back, which includes the extra for the flap is 13 1/2 ” tall and 8 3/4″ wide.  The stylus case is 6″ by 1 3/4″ and the front is 11″ tall by 8 3/4″ wide.  I think the “body” pieces could be cut to 8 1/2″ wide if you want a bit snugger fit.  The way it is now, there’s some skootch room (the one I made for my husband is skin tight, but he says it’s fine).

Make your binding by cutting a bias piece of fabric 1 1/2″ wide.  I seamed a bunch of strips together to make one long piece  (add up the dimensions if you must have an accurate length–I’m guessing mine was in the 45-50″ length).  Take it to your ironing board and press all seams OPEN, then press it in half along the length.  Now press both raw edges in to the ironed fold, making double-fold bias tape.  I offset the folded edges slightly, so that when I laid it against the raw edge of my quilted piece, the back would be slightly longer.

Bind the upper edge of your shorter body piece.  Bind around the stylus case.  I left those edges square.  That was a nutso thing to do, so on the back body piece, I wised up and placed  a spool of thread to mark a rounded edge.

Sew on the stylus case on the front, centering it.  Stitch around three side, leaving the side open.  I realized I would be slipping this case in and out of my school bag/church bag/whatever purse when I put it into use, so I tried to incorporate the stylus case where it would be out of the way, yet accessible.

Now line up your front, shorter piece on top of the longer, back body piece WRONG SIDES TOGETHER, leaving the extra on top (where my birds are) as the flap.  Stitch down one side, using a 1/4″ seam allowance, then across the bottom, then up the other side, stopping where the front body piece ends.

I know a lot of sewists (sewists?  can you get used to that word–I can’t! I still like “sewers”) make a “lined sack” sort of arrangement for their cases (yes, I Googled “iPad Cover Tutorial” and there are a lot), but I wanted a quilted body and a smooth interior which would be fuzz-less for the iPad.  [Once we had to make a little trip to Apple when the pocket fuzz from my husband's pockets clogged up the earbud port.  Apparently this happens a lot.]

Begin stitching on the binding about 2″ down from the fold of the flap.  Here I’m going around the flap outer corner, and that sweet yellow bird is keeping an eye on me.  The bias binding really goes smoothly around corners.

After sewing on the bias, turn it over and try not to curse when you notice all the places that didn’t get caught in your sewing.  Re-stitch those, which is another reason why I chose a colorful fabric for my bias binding.  It hides mistakes.

I had not planned to put on Velcro dots, preferring instead to simply fold it over, but row-quilted fabric apparently has a mind of its own, and it’s comparable to a two-year old’s who wants the Skittles from the back of the cupboard.

So on they went, obscuring two of my favorite birds (rats!).  I ended up putting a third dot in the middle, hand-stitching it to the stylus case, but machine stitching it to the flap.

So now I can be cool with my ikat fabric cover.  And not worry so much.  I may yet get a black foldable cover but I looked at the ones in my local store and wasn’t that thrilled with them.  This is fine for now.

And I’m out of the fog!  Happy Quilting this weekend.

Be My Valentine

Okay, I know I’m late.  Late for Valentine’s Day.  But better late than never, right? Another entry into Friday Finishing School.  In fact, today I have two!

I finished sewing down the binding on my LOVE mini quilt–here it is!  Okay, on to the red and white.

Be My Valentine, front.

I threw a color catcher into the washer to catch the red dye–obviously I needed two, judging by the fact that the little ladies now have a light pink background instead of a white background.  It’s interesting how some of the whites were tinted pink and others were not.  Go figure.

The back.

I wanted something fun for the label, so I cut out a piece of fabric from the front, and printed onto that. It really is squared up.  Ignore the photo.

Beauty shot of the quilting on the front.  I used a thicker thread–King Tut, because I wanted those circles to stand out.  I have to say I really like quilting with Superior Thread’s King Tut.  And I buy my thread from them, just like everyone else does.  No, they are not a sponsor.  Yes, we are having a giveaway but only because I like their product.  I also use the Guterman that I get on a 50% off coupon at  the big box fabric store, but I’ve only really been happy with that for piecing, not for quilting the top.  (And no, I don’t buy into that myth about polyester thread “cutting” the cloth.)  I have also used Sulky on occasion, but sometimes I don’t like the shiny look of the polyester, and head back to the cottons.  Some quilts call for one kind of thread, other quilts call for other threads.

And on the back I used Superior’s Bottom Line thread in white. How did I ever start using this?  It was when I was sewing my Empty Next, Full Life quilt (up there in the masthead, if you want to take a look), and I just couldn’t get the threads to balance properly with their locking of the stitch in between the front and the back.  I think I had purchased a spool of Bottom Line at the last quilt show I’d gone to and in desperation, wound it onto the bobbin to try.  It’s a lighter weight thread, and I think Heather (Mother Superior, as she is known on the website) told me that a lot of show quilters used it because they could more densely quilt their quilts.  That fact didn’t sway me at all (you know how much I hate densely quilted quilts), but the fact that I didn’t have loopy loops or pulled threads to the front did convince me it was something to have around.  I loosen the tension on the top a little, sometimes a lot.  Then I write that on a post-it note and keep it near the machine for when I have to come back to it.  Generally, with a thicker thread on top, I lower it by one full point–from a 4.0 to a 3.0.

So I tend to use it always in the bobbin.  I’ve always wanted to try it in hand piecing, as it is as fine as silk.  Some day.  There you go–two Friday Finishes!

Checkerboard Border

Been one of those weeks when I’ve felt more wobbly than usual for some reason, so everything’s been on Slo-Mo.  That’s slow-motion.  But today I woke up without a headache and headed to Free-Mo.  That’s Free-Motion Quilting.

I’m working on the table runner for the Red/White Challenge hosted by Temecula Quilt Company, and the deadline is September 15th.  All the blocks came in from local quilters and from around the world, so I put it together in a quilt sandwich and went to town.  It went quickly, and it was good to just dig into something to get it done.

I’ve had this idea to put a checkerboard border on it, as this will be used at Christmastime and during the patriotic holidays, and I wanted to jazz up that edge a little.

Okay, while I was trying to put away the box of French fabrics (it goes on the top shelf, and I’m a shortie), this quilt fell down.  It’s a seaside quilt that I stated long long ago.  And abandoned.  It is NOT on my list of lifetime quilts, as it’s sort of in this limbo of that place whether or not I want to finish it or not.  I mean, I LOVE the background fabric and the turtle (raw-edge applique) turned out well.  But I know to really make this quilt something else, it will require digging into that drawer marked “Coral Reef” and cutting and sewing and appliqueing a whole host of creatures.  I even have a child’s picture book in that drawer, purchased after I took the class, because oh my! the teacher’s quilts were so incredibly cool and I wanted to learn from her.

True Confession:  I also have a Ricky Tims quilt in about the same stages, but it’s a square-within-a-square quilt.  I went down the night before the class to hear him speak at our quilt guild and loved every minute of it.  So I showed up for class and . . . didn’t love every minute of it.  I felt he was distracted and just punching a time clock that day.  We all have days like that but it taught me one more truth about the quilt world: some of the famous personalities we see are fabulous in front of the camera and some are terrific teachers and sometimes you have both.  But not always.

One teacher I’d take again in a New York Minute would be Roberta Horton.  I’ve had several classes from her (is she even teaching anymore?) and I’ve gone away from every one of them amazed at her ability to gently, yet firmly, bring her students to the place of creativity.  I’ve finished very quilt I have started in her classes.  Two other honor roll teachers are Jane Sassaman and Katie Pasquini-Masopust.  I’ve finished all of their class samples, but by then I’d learned to make a small quilt–less than 15″ on the longest side–in order to learn the technique and to have a “finishable” piece of art.  I have also taken a class with Ruth McDowell, and she ranks right up there as well, although after a 4-day class, I don’t know how she kept us motivated and going.  We were all exhausted!  It took me more than a year to finish that quilt, as I wanted it to be nearly perfect.  I think you’ve seen it all before, but to contrast with the unfinished seaside quilt, I present Heart’s-ease.

One of pansy’s other names is Heart’s-ease, as it was thought to be involved with the affairs of the heart.  It actually refers to the “viola tricolor” which is an ancestor of our modern-day pansy.  Now you know more than you ever needed to know about these sunny little flowers that bloom around here in Spring.  And which, because of Ruth McDowell and this quilt,  I have blooming on the guest-bedroom wall all the time.

Squiggles, AKA, Stipples

It all started with this video, which I saw on Boing Boing:

It reminded me of quilting.  Of our famous all-over squiggle quilting, AKA, “The Stipple.”  But the gal in the video goes on to create some really interesting things.

When I walked through the Springville Art Museum’s Quilt Show, I, too, focused on the quilting, and on the different iterations of it, although not to the Hilbert Curve level.  And since I’m always collecting interesting photos of quilting patterns, I thought you might be doing the same.  Enjoy the show.

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Family Tree

I really shouldn’t let this quilt show its face in the quilt world.  Really, it has that many problems.  But sometimes these quilts are fun to look and to remind myself of how far I’ve come as a quilter.

So the idea was, since we were headed to a family reunion, to make a banner for my husband and I, like I’d made for my mother.  Hers was more successful, and it’s all on account of the quilting.  I hadn’t yet taken a fusible class, so I was working with my old stand-by which unfortunately leaves the fabric like a slab of wallboard.

I cut out the tree, and then traced everyone’s hand for the leaves.  I slabbed on them on to a tone-on-tone background fabric (which, thankfully we don’t have around much as the fabric can change colors turning more yellow–I think the newer ones are better).

I then wrote our name using a Pigma pen, copying the style of my sister-in-law’s handwriting.

Then, for some strange reason, I decided to put it under my machine and quilt it.  Maybe I did that because this idea of quilting the quilt yourself was an idea that was percolating around; back in the Olden Days (when we wore skins and cooked over an open fire and used cardboard templates and cut everything out by scissors) there was no machine quilting on your own machine.  Either you hand-quilted it or you tied your quilt.  That was it.  Then the longarms started showing up, and then the idea came that you of course could do your own quilting.  This quilt is a testament as to why sometimes you shouldn’t.  Or you should take a class and get better.  (Which I’ve tried to do.)

Okay, here comes the prelude to the scary part.  Can you believe I switched out the color in the bobbin?  I did it again this year.  I’d better write this one down on the Things Not To Do list, and tack it up by my machine.

ACK!!! ACK!!! ACK!!!
Don’t you just love all the loose bobbin stitches, the globs of thread that burped out on the back, the horrendously balanced thread tension?  I give myself a little break because I WAS sewing through bunches of wallboard-glued-on-fused fabrics and that’s just about impossible.

But I have to say I learned a lot, and still am continuing to learn about the Big Three Elements of Free-Motion Quilting.  They are:

  • Speed of the machine (how heavy your foot is in on the pedal)
  • Speed of your hands moving the quilt around
  • Tension/Thread/Needle Size.

I now sew with a size 14 Topstitching needle most of the time when I’m machine quilting.  Sometimes I bump up to a 16.  I ALWAYS test drive the thread tension — it can change with the thread you use –  on a small quilt sandwich that I keep by the machine.  And I really hope I never use a different color of thread in the bobbin again. (Cue: sound of head banging.)

Here’s a photo of my parents’ grandchildren all lined up by age.  Not all of them are shown here, but overall there are 27 of them.  And now we’re working on the next generation with nearly 20 great-grandchildren (an adoption or two are in process).  We’ve been at our bi-annual Reunion this past week, where I got to see all those new cute little great-grands, and they got to meet their auntie–me!