Sunday, November 25, 2018

Marking a quilt - Becky's quilt

I hope everyone had a safe, relaxing Thanksgiving break filled all the things that make you grateful.  I spent a little time in Indiana with daughter number one.  We chilled, did a puzzle, cooked, watched some football and just enjoyed the little time we had together, very grateful.   I normally like to share finishes for the week but well, Becky's quilt is gonna take a bit of time! It's a big one and takes up the entire frame.  So I thought I'd share what I have completed and show how I mark my quilt and things that work for me.  Will you just look at this beauty?

Becky and I had a few discussions, tweaked things along the way and she ended up with this design.  Lots and lots of work.  Really underestimated the amount of time, but it's going to look gorgeous when its' done! This monster of a quilt has two layers of batting, Hobbs heirloom  on the bottom and Hobbs wool on top.  Gives great definition don't you think?
two layers of batting, Hobbs heirloom  on the bottom and Hobbs wool on top.
Once we got the design down, then the thread choices were needed.  I picked a few that I liked, a pale blue for the white triangle and light colored blocks, then a medium and dark grey for the other blocks. Becky likes blue, so I found a couple of blues in my thread stash went with those. No worries if you don't like a thread color.  I have an amazing thread stash and I'm not afraid to use it!! When choosing a thread color, I always take just one strand of thread and lay it on the quilt, this will give a much better idea of how it will look with all the different shades. You can see that pale blue looks almost white, that dark blue doesn't look as dark as I thought it would on the darker blocks, but it's dark enough and works great.  All thread top and bottom, 50 Wt So Fine.
first pass at threads
final mid color, just love it
final dark color 
pale blue for the light blocks and white triangle.   All thread, top and bottom So Fine 50 wt. 
Then it's on to the quilting.  I rarely start with the border first.  The quilt usually has to warm up to me a bit before it lets me know what would be best on the border.  This quilt was no exception.  I think by the time I finished the first row before I had any ideas.  So lets start with the blocks and how I mark them.  The Hexies first.  I have circle rulers but they are full inches, 3 in or 4 in, neither of course was good enough for me.  I exercised some restraint and didn't go out and purchase a new set of circle templates that were half inch rather than full inch.  I searched and searched for the right size and lo and behold I found this sweet little bowl that looked just about right, and yes indeed, it's 3.5 inches, just what the quilting gods ordered!  Got out my template plastic and make my own circle for marking.  Just put a dot in the center and it's good to go.
Using template plastic, I traced the bowl, cut it out and marked the center

I find the center of the block, then trace the circle, then mark the grid.  I don't mark the feathers, I know I want them to go all the way from the center to the edge so no need to mark.   I free hand the circle (if that didn't go well you can bet I would have ordered a new set of 1/2 circle rulers :)  But since its the spine of the feather, if it's not completely round, it's ok.  If I would have an echo of the circle, you bet I would need a ruler. But not echo, no ruler required for me.  I also mark the squares in the grid that will be filled.  I would lose my mind if I didn't. I also don't have stitch regulation on for the fill, so those stitches can be really tiny and hard to take out.  I just put a little blue dot in or a slash in the squares to be filled.
you can barely see the dots for the squares that get filled. The lights on the longarm are plenty bright to see the dots
Starting the feathers, that first plume can be hard.  I generally start where there is the shortest distance from feather start to tip of feather.  In this case any where that isn't going into a hexie point.  I will stitch half a plume (actually a tad bit less that half) and aim 1.5- 2 hours past where I start.  So if my needle is on 3:00, I will aim the tip of the feather to be at 4.30- 5:00.  This gives a nice arc and a nice incline for the feather.  Once I have the one block complete, that's what I use as reference for the next.  I just look at where I am and where the plume ends up, making any tweaks I need.  Generally that works really well.  As you get close to the starting position, you just need to keep an eye out to judge the last 2-3 plumes.  Keeping the plumes a little thinner helps in the estimation and slant a bit. 

On the lighter blocks I like the fine tip blue marker.  I mark a few blocks, stitch and then remove the markings with Spritz of 1 cup water + 1 tsp baking soda.  This helps to neutralize the marker.  I  like getting it right away, it seems to come off a bit easier if it hasn't set there all night.    If there is any concern about fabric running I don't spritz near that area. Instead I will take a scrap piece of batting wrap it over my finger, I put a drop of water on it and rub lightly on the marker.  This works well but doesn't soak any fabric that may run.  On this quilt I was concerned about the dark blue.  She used a layer cake and thus wasn't pre-washed (hmmm well I don't pre-wash even if it's a big piece....I know I know, I 'm tempting fate) so I wanted to be extra careful around that dark blue.   And that just about wraps it up for the hexie blocks
If you look close you can see where I marked the center and a / in the  blocks that need fill, if I used a dot, it would just blend in!
Next up those triangles.  I mark the whole thing.  I stitch the first arc, with the ruler, quilted pineapple 12, then I  stitch the pearls.  I find figure 8 stitching for the pearls doesn't work as well for me.  So I just make circles, and always go back long the side that is stitched already.  I also found that the pearls were better if I didn't stitch the line above until after the pearls were stitched.  I stitch the pearls, then the line above them, then go to the interior triangles.   But I always mark all of the lines to be stitched on this one with the thin blue marker.  Even though I mark the lines, I still use the ruler to stitch all the lines with the exception of the grid on the inner triangle. Those are small enough I can follow the line without a problem

Now that only leaves the border. I wanted a garden feel, and I think it looks like flower buds and  the bead board, hoping it looks more like a picket fence around the garden :)  I always take a picture of how I mark and stitch the top border.  I know when I get down to the bottom I'm not going to remember, so the top and how those corners are done is very important for pictures..  On this quilt I use the same ruler on top as in the triangles.  However on the side I need a smaller ruler and the quilted pineapple number 8 works perfectly.  I marked the curve on top, but on the sides, I'm not marking it.   I will mark the corners but that's it.  I also mark the edge of the quilt every inch.  For this I use Judi Madisens' ruler.  One of the few that actually have numbered inches on them. Comes in pretty handy and was surprised how few of the others actually have numbers. 

The back of this quilt is a solid blue (just like the last border).  Usually I have the bobbin thread color different from the top and blending with the backing.  But this time, I thought it would be interesting to have the different color flowers showing on the back.  I think I really like it .

And there you have it.  Every gory detail on what I do for all this quilting.  Hope you enjoyed it and mostly I hope something in this post has helped you in some way.  Have a great week and don't forget to join the linky parties on the side bar.   Oh forgot to mention I also used chalk on the darker colors. I have a chalk pencil and the pounce pad.   I used Deloa Jones 1/2 grid, made marking really fast with pounce pad!  At the end of day I'm always surprised by how many things are laying on top of the quilt!  Rulers and markers are always moving around on that quilt top!

Oh hold on, one other thing.  I pulled my fabrics for Bonnie's Good Fortune Quilt (see the side bar button) .  Pretty excited to get this one started, love all those tiny pieces!!  Part 1 link up for Bonnie's Good Fortune Mystery is here

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Busy Bee has a Big Dream

Oh my, I was busy with this beautiful bee quilt created by Kim,   I'm so head over heels in love with this one, I have to make one of my own.  I know you may have seen this on Facebook and Instagram.  But on the blog is where I'll go into more detail on the quilting process, how the quilting design came together, the things I loved, the things I didn't and would like to do better next time.....So with that, lets get to it! But first my most favorite picture of  this beautiful kind Bee.  I hear Kim might be doing a workshop by use, I hope so I really want to learn this process!

I really wish I had taken a before and after picture.  When I tell my friends about the business I'm starting, they always say "oh so you're making quilts and selling them, I like quilts"  Then I explain to the business plan for actually making a quilt is almost non existent.  It's nearly impossible to pay for materials, pay for your time (at a reasonable above minimum wage for a skilled worker) and sell a quilt.  I try to explain more about the quilting process, the three layers  and how hard it is to actual "quilt" , putting all those layers together.  And that is the part that I do.  That I love, that I just can't wait to get out of bed in the morning to do.  By this time I'm all wound up about the different quilting style, free motion, ruler work, fills, and I'm glowing.    Sigh, but the interest on the other side just isn't there.  Good luck Sue, you sound very passionate!  Yep, that's ok, those are the friends that don't have a quilt from me..hehehehehe.  So I started a new quilt and this time I have a before picture, sent to me by the owner.  And I'll definitely get an after.  Back to this bee......

Alright back to this quilt. That Bee did not have a single stitch in it.  It's a collage bee and it has all sorts of layers and little good things sprinkled all over it.    I knew this was going to be a hanging so no qualms at all with throwing down some thread.   On this quilt I didn't want a sheen on the thread, I wanted it to be like it was just a part of the flowers, so I used So Fine 50 Wt thread. Two layers of batting were used    ;  one 80/20 Hobbs heirloom and one Hobbs wool.  Originally I wanted to use a layer of Poly Down and Wool.  The dense quilting on the poly would make it stiffer for a wall hanging.  But with that stiffness you also get creases.  I have a panel with poly down and wool, I folded it to take to a guild meeting and the folds were still there a couple days later.  Thus the switch to 80/20.  And this is a panel which makes flatness less of a concern.  That gets the biggest questions out of the way - thread for the back ground and batting.  All that's left is the design.

Since this is a collage quilt I really wanted to have the flower petals enhance that collage look.  I also want the bee to look like it is popping off the quilt.  Originally I wanted to try Trapunto, but I've never done it and while I'm definitely willing to learn new things,  on a paying customers quilt just didn't feel like the correct learning environment :)  I knew I didn't want to have much quilting on the bee, only what it takes to make it pop.  I quilted in the ditch around the bee and then just barely inside the bee, about 1/8 in.  There is no stitching at all on this bee.  Just layers and layers of fused fabric.  as I did want to make sure it was quilted on and wasn't going to fall off.  I found other areas that I thought were interesting, like  the wings.  I quilted the segments of the wings to give them dimension and the words to draw your eye to look a little closer.  I can't tell you how nice it is to quilt something that tells you you're "Exceptional".  It really was uplifting in ways that surprised me!  I was very careful to only quilt the bare minimum on the bee to give dimension. The end result was great, it did look like trapunto!  I think the thickness of the fused layers, the wool and cotton batting and then the dense quilting around the bee, really accomplished the look I was after.   It was hard to get photos, but that little thing looks like it's just hovering right over it.  I used YLI invisible thread which worked great.  I had a bit of gunk on the needle which I used an alcohol swab to clean during the quilting and then changed the needle as soon as I was done with the bee.  Once done with the bee, it was a back ground fill party!!!

I've seen so many dream panels, wonderful ways of quilting.  Two stood out to me Margaret Solomon Gunn at Mainly Quilts of Love and Julia Quiltoff who you can find on Facebook.  Both of these artist have some mad crazy skills that I dream of aspiring to one day.  I love how they did both of there's with a different fill in each petal.  I wanted something very similar. I wanted dense fills in the center and then looser as you travel out from the center.  So the center being very compact, like it's just waiting to burst open into an amazing flower and the outside a bit softer and soothing like those first petals of a flower with all their beauty.  I got out my Fill book from Margaret  Solomon Gunn and got busy, I have my 3/4 in grids from Deloa Jones, I have my handy marking pencil, a couple of rulers to help guide and quilting is what I did.

I used 4 different shades of thread, machine run time for this quilt is 5.03 hours.  I had a couple of hours staring and thinking, marking, ripping a few stitches out.  But all in all an 8 hour job.  Total number of stitches - 90,940,000 - WOW almost 91 million stitches!!!  Now that's a whole lot o' stitching fun!

A little more about the tools of the trade.  I floated this quit , which I don't normally do on the A1.   The reason I floated this was the fusible was very stiff and I was worried how it would roll on the bar.  It was small enough quilt, I just floated it, all was good.  When I float a quilt, that's when the painters tape come in handy.  you need leave only your dominant eye open (hold a pencil up, and open one of your eyes at a time, with the dominant eye the pencil won't move)  tape the bar where the edges and any key seams you want to keep in line through out the quilt.  This keeps everything nice and straight.  My roll of painters tape is running out.  Love the green, the blue tends to come off a bit too easy for me.  Rulers you can't beat the set of curves from Quilted Pineapple.  That set is almost exclusively used by me for the bigger curves.  I used 8 on this on I think.  Deborah Pooles Rule it has become my favorite straight edge.  It has 1/8 in lines on it and it's just the right size for my hand.  I can control it better than most.   Of course the Kelly Bean from Kelly Cline is great for going around the applique.  Blue marking pencil.  I actually prefer these to the purple air erase.  They seem to come off easier.  The purple air when they are new take for ever even with a spritz of water.  And the good ol punce pad for the grid, make marking those grids so easy!!
Hopefully you've enjoyed some of the details about this quilt. If there are other areas you would me to focus on just let me know.  I love to share my process of long arm quilting with anyone that is willing to listen (or read!)  If you just want to look at the pictures (I get lazy all the time, just want to see some eye candy) I'll have that too!  Hope everyone has a great week and don't forget to check out the linky parties on the side bar, that's where most of my inspiration comes from!!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Fresh off the Frame - Sandra's Quilt

I've quilted a number of quilts for Sandra and loved every one.  She likes loose quilting on her quilts, she wants them nice and soft!  If you've seen my quilting, you now I like a lot of thread!!  But I exercised considerable restraint on this quilt (the struggle's real).  LOL quilting half as much took me twice as long!!

I wish I could applique like this.  I so love applique but I have the patience of a three year old and my hand work looks like a three year old did it!!!

I didn't stitch on any of the applique unless it was an area bigger than my fist (Margaret Solomon Gunn tip).  Then it was just a very simple line or to (like the tulips to accentuate the leaves or n the large center, a simple echo on the inside got it to be an acceptable  amount.  I really really wanted to put viens in all the leaves, but I was strong!  Thanks for letting me quilt for you Sandra!

No idea what the pattern is :(  usually she leaves the pattern with and this one is a beauty!  Her kids got the kit for her.  Great kids eh?

Details on the quilt - Hobbs 80/20 batting, So Fine thread, 2 colors on top, Bottom Line in the bobbin.  Rulers used:  Deborah Poole's Rule it (love the 1/8 in markings and it's small enough to guide with my ring finger, nudging the ruler), Kelly Cline's Kelly Bean for around the applique.  I certainly can't quilt curves without using one of Linda's curves from Quilted Pineapple.  I used the 10 curve and the long straight ruler, went from corner to corner. Quilters Rule curvy thing, perfect for continuous curve.  And of course a purple air erase marker, can't do ruler work without that.  Now how long did it take for this quilt. My machine run time was less than 7 hours.  I would add roughly two additional hours for marking and staring.  About 10 hours total to complete this.  Man I went very very slowly not sure why I come to an almost screeching halt when there's little quilting but it's just not second nature to me. I'm learning, I'm learning I can do different things.  See I don't quilt everything within an inch of it's life!!

Can't wait to show you the next quilt on the frame, this one's got a little surprise on it and there's definitely going to be more thread!!

Hope everyone has a great week. Check out the link parties on the side bar, so much inspiration out there. 

Sunday, November 4, 2018

A Change is Gonna Come!!

That's right!!  Those of you that have followed this blog know that my passion is the long arm quilting.  My soul just blossoms when I'm quilting.  I have wanted to start a long arm business for many years now.   I've dabbled a bit and I've done a few customer quilts over the years.  But it's always been this thing I did on the side.  I now  want to change that.  I want to step out of the crazy world product development and technology and jump head first into the artistry of long arm quilting!  I want to do edge to edge (I have 2 computerized long arms - if it's digitized, I can quilt it), custom (what I LOVE the most -  feathers and ruler work), teaching and machine rental.  I want to do it ALL!!!  I have a Big dream!!

I'm down to reduce hours at work, hoping after the first of the year to reduce even more and by next birthday to have hours down to zero.  It's a big goal, I have to work really hard to make that happen, but a girl just has to give it a try and follow her dreams!!

With that, I'll share my Big Dream Panel - appropriate right?  I just needed to get my frustrations that have building up the past few months out is the form of some incredible feathers.  And feather this baby I did!!  I have a number of different feathers in this one, from formal traditional feathers, a vine-y feather with curls, a lacy curl feather and a few others.  This sweet thing has two layers of batting, one Hobbs Poly Down on the bottom and Hobbs Wool on Top.  I want to hang this and that's why I chose the poly, I also want some incredible definition in the quilting which is why I choose the wool.  The Poly gets a bit stiff with the dense quilting and the wool gives wonderful puff.  

My dream is to quilt all day!!  With the grand opening there is 25% for the rest of this year, yep that's right, the rest of this year.  So stop by and lets talk about how I can help to make your long arm quilting ideas come to life.  Make sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram, these are usually the first place with quick and easy updates with details followed here. 

Hope you have a great week!  Check out the linky parties on the side bar, lots of great inspiration out there.