Friday, October 31, 2014

October's Hodgepodge

  October has been a big hodgepodge of things finished, started, and prepared.   The quilts are washed, stacked and ready for the trunk show next week.  Workshop materials are prepared for the Feathers Class.  Thanks for bearing with me as that consumed my focus.
   My re-cap of October projects....

  Finished:  Let's Book It project from May.  Thanks to Dana's suggestion, of Stormy Days, I went with no borders and let the blended trip blocks speak for themselves.   This is entered in the Blogger's Quilt Festival.

  This is the ongoing Let's Book It project.....time to pull it out again.  Find the details on Let's Book It at Vroomans Quilts.

  And a NewFO for this month........details at Cat Patches.  This was one of those quick projects that called to me, and became a finished NewFO.   Frosted Pumpkin wall hanging could be turned into a cute table runner too.  The original pattern is from Jill at Quilt Rat.  

  And there's a started/partial watercolor wall hanging on the design wall.....but more on that next month.  Next month will be on the Book It project and the watercolor, since we will be gone the last week.  I also have a Habitat for Humanity quilt to quilt....maybe.
   But the scariest news on this last day of October......Forget the frost.......snow flurries/dusting  are forecast for our area tonight!   That has never happened here.....not this early in the year....not here!   I need to hunt the socks and pull out a sweatshirt.  Wishing you sweet treats and happy stitching.  

Thursday, October 30, 2014

From the Archives: Free Motion Quilting the swirls

    I had to dig through the older--much older posts---to find this one to answer questions this week.   This is still my "go to design" for free motion quilting.   It takes practice to get a pleasing shape, but it is worth the effort.   So, from December 2011, here is FMQ Swirls.

  More comments and questions on the swirls.  From an email this week....... Nicki wrote.... "I just wanted to show you a pic of my first attempt at free motion swirls. WOW, it looked a lot better on paper than it does on the fabric... :)  I still have stippling in my head when I'm doing this so this is going to take practice, practice, practice. The back side had TONS of those little "eyelashes" all over it. I'm not sure what to do to correct those......."
   She prompted me to really give some details on this FMQ of swirls.  First, eye-lashing is usually from moving the fabric too fast.  The bobbin thread is pulled too tight and thus pulls the top thread to the back and  the curves have "eyelashes".   How to correct this:  Slow down.  Slow down your machine speed and slow down the movement of the hands and the fabric.  You don't have to creep or crawl along, but just going wide open, pedal to the metal is not working here.  An explanation from Leah Day at 365 Days of Quilting ---she controls her speed of the machine by using a light touch and "feathering" her pedal.  At some points she speeds up and at others she goes slower. 
   A slower and steady movement of the fabric equals better control.  Practice is the only way to achieve pain, no gain....practice.  I use music when I FMQ to keep a steady rhythm.
   Start on paper.  Try to copy this design to practice. This is a design from Wendy at Ivory Spring.....she's a amazing fmq expert!  Pay attention to your hand movements, and note where you naturally pause and when you move faster.  That's the hint for how to stitch the pattern.  Like driving----slow in the curves, and more speed on the straight way!
   I'm not the total guru, but I think I've figured this pattern out.   You will still find that my stitches are not always perfect, but I try to be consistent.  Sometimes I don't get a perfect curl, just keep going because it's a big quilt.  And the quilt police or detectives are shot  poked with a long needle   escorted out the door  on sight!

  Here's my Step by step guide:
  1. Begin with a curl that is at least a 3/4 circle  that almost closes.
  2.  Pause to create a good point before you circle back.
  3.  Gradually increase your width and spacing as you curl back around to create the first swirl.  Note that your return curve should bring you back in line or close to the tip or point of the curl---like the large swirl at the bottom of the page.   
  4.  Then create a curl in the opposite direction.
 The deeper  tighter center in the curls really look the best.

That will give you a  fleur-di-lis effect that is the basis of this open FMQ  design.  I enlarged my photo to really show this part of the pattern. (And you can see the curls are not perfect!)  The spacing on here looks huge, but really the area between stitching is 3/4" to an inch at the widest section of the swirl. 
    Add swirls--single and in pairs--in different directions.  Throw in an "s-curl"  for interest and to change direction.  I use  the curved line that looks like a scallop  to move to a new area.  I had worked myself into a corner and needed a way out----so a curved line moved me out into the open.   



Monday, October 27, 2014

Frosted Pumpkin

   A little thread painting on the pumpkin----aka "frosting" from a comment made by fellow blogger, The Rogue Quilter.    I liked that description, so I blatantly stole it.  I began this wall hanging a couple of weeks here for that post. ...and the link to the pattern at The Quilt Rat blog.

   I really did not do as much thread painting as I planned.  I got tired of battling the batik fabric versus the thread shredding.  I switched to a large needle just to finish up what I did do.  
   I wasn't quite sure how to finish this one off, and finally went with a simple inset frame.  Using the same fabric on the outer border gives the effect of a floating design.
    On to the quilting part....that was a lot more fun!  I went for a McTavishing style pattern around the appliques.  I am doing better at this style, but I still find I get in a rut and keep making the same curves.  I should have changed direction more often.....more practice needed.  The outer border got a quick flame style free motion quilting that mimics the inner style.
   My overall size ended up about 18" by 25".  The pieces are quite small....if I do another one, I will try to enlarge it a bit.
   Don't forget the Blogger's Quilt Festival  .  Nominate your favorite this week.  Voting begins at the end of the week!  Happy stitching. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Blogger's Quilt Festival Fall 2014

Fall 2014 BQF ButtonWelcome to the Blogger's Quilt Festival!

I always enjoy this on-line quilt show.  and give big thanks to Amy at Amy's Creative Side for hosting this.

   My entry has been sitting around unfinished for a couple of months, so the quilt festival was just the motivation I needed to get it completed.  At the end of August, this is where it was.....did I need more blocks, or borders, or not?   I was so undecided that it got pushed aside as other things in life intervened.

 About 2 weeks ago, I saw that the Blogger's Quilt Festival was quickly out it came again.   Decision made----I was keeping this one. A perfect small throw size, just for me.

   The pattern is Scrappy Trips from Bonnie Hunter's tutorial.  When 4 blocks are joined, a Trip Around the World style unit appears.  I used 2" strips to make these.
   There are  six floral fabrics in each block, blended by  the value of the fabric  in each block---either light to dark or dark to light.   I can say that each one is different.....repeated fabrics, yes.....but in different combinations.

   What could be better than viewing the last of the garden blooms sitting under a lapful  of favorite floral fabrics!
And a wonderful reminder of a perfect fall day.

   For the quilting,  I used an overall pattern of swirls and a few leaves thrown in.  I kept the quilting open and not too dense.  A softer effect to blend it all together.

     Finished off with a label.

Category is Small Quilt.
Tripping through the Flowers
is 56 " by 56 ".
Machine quilted by me on Tiara.

 Time to grab a cup of coffee, settle in under your favorite throw, and view some quilts in the festival.

 Here is the link to the main festival page.   Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the festival! 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A little dye info

Color Perfect - Amethyst Purple  Every year I say I am going to try some  fabric dying....snow dying, ice dying, etc.  And the snow comes and I don't have the supplies.  With the big jump/increases in the cost of backing fabric, I think it is time to give this thing a try.
   So, to my shopping list I am adding a bolt of extra wide white muslin, and RIT dye.   Dana at Stormy Days has been dying fabric (and hands) such lovely shades of colors for her backings for a while.  And over at the Quilt Rat, Jill just showed her experiment using RIT dyes.  And I love the crinkled effect she achieved.
    According to the RIT website, the liquid is more concentrated and pre-dissolved.  It can be used the same way as the powder.
Comments.....blogger is acting so strange.   Comments are not arriving in my inbox from many.   I have to remember to check each day to respond.   So if I don't reply, that is why.   If you have a question, please use email.  

Monday, October 20, 2014


   Remember the Quilt of Valor I quilted a couple of months ago?  Suzanne, one of our state coordinators,  posted the photos from this weekend.  Mr. Whitt was "covered" by his great-grandson.  Just wonderful!  Thanks, Suzanne for sharing this moment. 

Mr. Robert Whitt received his Quilt of Valor today. He served in WW II and earned a bronze star and purple heart. Attending his presentation is his Great Grandson Adam. He's a member of the Marine Corp band and his great-grandfather is extremely special to him. Greer, SC.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Some prepping

    I began prepping this week for the trunk show.......that means sorting through the quilts scattered around the house.  Some are in use, or on the walls and need to be washed.  Hanging replacements also required!   So I am in the process of that.  The rest are stacked/thrown in the guest room to be sorted properly.    Someone kick me the next time I agree to do this!

   To appease the creative urge, I began a small project for fall.  When that bug bites, you must do something to ease it.
   I found this wonderful little wall hanging at Jill's blog, The Quilt Rat, here for the pattern.
 She designed it for thread painting---which I love---but it could be adapted for traditional applique.  I am just beginning the thread painting and hope to spend a wonderful afternoon with thread!   That should help brighten my day.......have a great weekend.   Happy stitching.   

Friday, October 10, 2014

A visit to the Woodworker's Toy Shop

   Every year the Greenville Woodworkers Guild makes toys, and more toys.  They make lots of wooden toys.....all year long.   About 4 years ago, the quilters of Get Your Mrs. Claus On came along side to "dress up" the beds and cradles that were being made.  Mrs. Claus keeps stitching and quilting, and the doll quilts keep arriving!    So before the deliveries start, I wanted to share  what goes on in the woodworking shop.


The toy makers have out grown their room at the guild two very busy elves were painting parts for wooden tractors outside.  Note the John Deere green!

  We found more elves sanding pieces by hand!  There will be no rough corners on these toys.

  More sanding by Elf Jim on yet another section.

  Every Tuesday morning is Toy Day....the elves arrive and get right to work.   And this year they have added a night shift crew!   These adorable carousels were made by the night crew.....with rabbits and dinosaurs, gators, and hippos, and trucks!  You can turn the red knob and the base spins around.

  I found boxes of wooden dump trucks......

A table full of small cradles.

   Stacks of chairs waiting for finishing,  line the front wall....and a couple more cradles.

And when we peeked into the Hand Tool Room.....we found more production going on by the lady Elves!

  Lana is the Head Quality Control Elf. She fills all the nail holes and does any touch up sanding on the doll beds and cradles.   She insists that it all be done right.

   And what is this?  The cradles will be very soft and comfy this year....because Miss Rosie Elf  is making mattresses ( and pillows) for them.   I love how this project just grows and grows.

  And then there was The Head Elfess......Louise Elf, the painter of beds and cradles......and probably anything else.  ( I would be covered in pink doing this!)     Her husband, John is the official Head Elf this year, and has done a great job keeping everything on track. His first deliveries are scheduled,  and soon the hundreds of  toys will be arriving at various organizations  for the children they help.
   To all the Mrs. Clauses .....thank you.  Thank you for your time, effort, and giving hearts.   You will never know how important and motivating your efforts are.   Once again, hugs and thanks.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Favorites from the Quilt Show--part 2

   Sometimes the simplest settings speak volumes.  That is the case with this quilt made by Pat Bush.  A wonderful mix of small 9 patch blocks only needs the border set off with beautiful applique to become a favorite.  The machine quilting in the border mimics the applique all the way around.  I loved it.....I think I need to be making 9 patch blocks in my spare time.

   This is the second wall hanging Donna Zellmer  has made with block of the month blocks she won last year.  I like the 4 patch on point in place of traditional sashing......wonder if she will make one for me?  Nah, guess not.  I will put it on my someday list!

   It is October and what is a fall show without autumn leaves.  Jaylyn made this quilt from blocks made by friends.  She put a little twist on the setting for each block and the leaves really do look like they are falling!  And as always.....her husband does the quilting!   And that border fabric was so perfect for this quilt.

   Every year I look to see what this quilter has made.  Edna is an applique  expert---yes, she is---and does wonderful hand quilting.  This year she worked with  friends on English paper piecing and they came up with the idea of hexagon flowers.  Believe me it is just beautiful.

     One more red and white......and hearts!  Fannie Wengerd  is a marvelous long arm quilter in our area.  Check out her feathers and tiny hearts in the border.....and all those tiny triangles for the inner border.   So pretty!

   Fannie is one of my favorite people.  She just lights up a room with her smile.   Could it be that she loves purple too?
   This is her quilt made in memory of her father.  Pappy raised blueberries on his farm.  What could be more natural than to use the barn patterns from Eleanor Burn's Barn Quilts.  She was telling me about the patterns....did you know that barn styles have names?  The Barn Quilt book is full of history on them.....I think I need to check it out.

   And that's the show for another year.  Thanks for stopping by, and hope you found some inspiration for a new project.  Now I am off to visit the elves at the Woodworker's Guild and see what is going on in the toy shop!
Happy stitching.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Quilt Show 2014

 Long weekend sitting at the Admission Table.....this was a last minute takeover position for me.  The good thing about it was getting to meet a lot of new people, and seeing almost everyone at least once, and seeing old friends too.  I managed a break to zip through the show and take a few photos of my favorites to share.

     This was Best of Show....a wonderful applique quilt composed of block of the month blocks.  And it was huge!  she did a great job fitting these blocks of various sizes together to make a cohesive quilt.

   A detail photo shows her setting detail.  Using that floral print was a great choice to bring it all together.   I love the rectangular blocks too....especially the bird on the branch. The flying geese are a perfect fill in.

   This was a blue and white quilt that was so pretty.  Her mother embroidered the center.  I liked the variety of blocks used in the border, too.


    This blue and white Star Flake was made by Ann Sevcik.....and is much prettier than my fuzzy photo!   I am so proud of her quilting on this.....she took my beginner's class last year.  Each piece of the star flake stands out because she did outline quilting and then a close stipple in the white areas.  Great job, Ann.

  I love quilts with a story.  Susan said there are happy and sad memories hidden in the baskets.  She began this as a busy project when her Dad got sick, and carried it on car trips and vacations.   We know she would not trade it for anything.

  And continuing in the Susan-vein......this is her Disco Snowflakes.  Big, bold, and all batiks.  The galaxy star block does look like it is dancing!

    Wow....I loved the impact of this quilt.   I love the barn raising setting used for this.  Then I got closer and almost fell was made by Jill Van Harlingen, an old friend I have lost contact with.

    I actually took my first machine quilting class from her many years ago.  I am so glad she has returned to our area and hope to see her soon.
Here is a detail photo of the block she referred to as Mary's Triangle Block.
I think I will be pinning this for future reference.

  One more today.  This was made by Sharon Larson for the guild's Not so Round Robin this year.  The applique is beautiful and the off set design is always a favorite with me.

I need to get caught up on a few things and I will finish up sharing photos tomorrow......happy stitching.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Worth repeating....archived post

From January 2010.....This post is worth repeating, and a little extra update. wide do I go?

This year I have had emails asking  how to determine the size or width of the border on a quilt.  I have researched it over the years and even have a couple of books on borders.  A lot of inspiration and how to info, but not a lot of help in planning the width or how to decide.   Finally I researched  the principals of design in art, since quilting is my visual art form.   There are 6 main topics here:  unity, variety, balance, contrast, proportion and pattern/rhythm.  From  these I figured out "my formula" that pleases my eye.

First:  I like to use a narrow sashing--usually 1 inch--to stop the  block pattern and for contrast.  Often in my quilts it is black or a strong accent color to bring out a color in the body of the quilt.   Also for unitythe narrowest border should be closest to the center of the quilt.  For my watercolor quilts because they are much smaller in size, I will usually use an inset  "piping style" piece that ends up 1/2 inch. 
The inset piping piece is cut 1 1/2 inches and folded in half wrong sides together.  It is sewn to the body of the quilt top with the raw edges matched and the folded edge toward the center.  The folded edge is notsewn down.  It gives the effect like a  mat on a framed picture.     This photo shows a cream inset piping and  a very narrow dark red sashing and then a dark border. The contrast stops the eye and the color of the piping puts the eye back in the center.   This was a round robin poster project from last year.  Four different quilters created  1/4 of the center, using a variety of techniques. 

Second:  The  width of the  border should be at least one-half to two-thirds the size of the quilt block used in the quilt.  This proportion keeps the eye on the center of the quilt which is the most important.   The overall finished width of the border should not be larger than one quilt block.
 In the scrappy mountains quilt top the finished  blocks are 8  inches by 9 1/2 inches.  So  to be pleasing to my eye, the overall border should be no more than 8 inches and the outer fabric no more than 5 inches.   I finished adding the borders today and very pleased with the result.  I used a black sashing--1 1/2 inches wides to stop the pattern, and a 5 inch outer border.  That makes a total border about 5 1/2 inches when finished.   I promise to quit blogging on about this quilt and get it quilted soon.

The photo on the left shows a scrap quilt I love, but the border is too narrow overall.  Its just not one of my most successful quilts.  The quilt uses 2 blocks, a snowball block and 9 patch variation.   Both were 6 inch blocks.  The first border (the zig-zag area) is 3 1/2 inches and I used a 3 inch final border of floral fabric.  My thinking was the border would be almost equal  to the block size, and I should not make the outer any larger.  Wrong!  When I look at it now, it seems unfinished, out of proportion, off-balance.  Because I did not stop the design with a sashing, the out border needed to be larger than the inner one. Just one more thing to keep in mind.
Third:  There are always exceptions to the above because each quilt tells its own story and has its own rhythm.    See the above photo and description to understand this.  If  I was adding applique (or a type of pieced border)  to the quilt, the outer border  should probably  be wider to keep the overall appearance in balance

So, my general rule/formula is a border about 2/3 the size of the block used, and be prepared to rip it out or add to it if needed!  When I find the absolute for border width, believe me, I will write the book.  Until then, happy stitching.

Update:  I have a board on Pinterest of Border ideas that may help with inspiration and a visual reference to all the above words!  Click here to see it. 

Exceptions that work......I only wanted to increase the length of this scrappy quilt.  I added pinwheel blocks made from leftovers to the top and bottom.   It adds visual interest without becoming too busy.


For Heads Up, I used the  border to extend the design.  I followed the shading or value of the edge blocks when I pieced strips of fabric for it.
This border is not obvious, but it does seem to make the design look finished.

Thanks for the questions and happy stitching.
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