Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Open House

It's time again for the annual open house here at my home.  You're all invited to come.  It's Thursday, December 15 from 10 - 2.  My address is 20578 SW Colville Ct, Tualatin.  My studio is open, lots of quilts are on display and lots of goodies to eat.  Come for lunch or just drop in for a quick visit.  Anyone bringing a quilt to the open house will receive a 20% discount off the quilting (but it won't be quilted until January or February).  I'm looking forward to seeing many of you.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Been too busy to blog

Life has been so busy lately.  The best thing that has kept me busy is my new grandson, Shaphan.  He is now almost 6 weeks old and absolutely adorable.  Such a good baby.  Because we live so close I've been around him a lot.  This grandma stuff is just the best role -- I love it!
I have also been busy quilting.  I'm in the thick of fall/Christmas quilting.  I've expanded my quilting hours so now I'm in the studio about 20 - 30 hours a week.  It's always busy in September, October and November.  I try to finish up by the first week of December so I can take about a month break.  It's good to have some time to work on my own stuff too during that break. 

My other preoccupation is my winter garden.  Rick, my wonderful husband, made me a raised bed and put it right in the center of the front yard.  Then he built a plastic greenhouse cover on a hinge so I can access it easily.  I have lettuce, spinach, chard, beets, radishes and carrots growing in it.  It's fun and I hope it works all winter long.  I'm posting a picture of it.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Wholecloth Quilting

It's done -- the wholecloth quilt.  It's a wedding gift for my daughter and her husband.  I hope they like it.  Here's my evaluation:  I like the basics of the design a lot.  The idea of random circles in the first border was fun and turned out well.  The center circle is interesting with all the filler ideas in each circle around the leaf vine.  It was hard to come up with 22 different ideas to fill those circles.  I love the fabric color.  It is a silver and has a shine to it that is really nice.  What I would do differently:  I think the quilt needed some other design introduced somewhere.  My daughter didn't want a quilt that was heavily quilted for their bed so that really limited me on what I wanted to do as filler in many areas.  I would have chosen to fill in the center circle around the vine and leaves with something very small.  The area in the center square would have been nicer with a small design too (in my estimation).  But all in all, I'm happy with the overall look.  It has made me think of some ideas for another wholecloth that might be show worthy.  I do love wholecloths even though they take a lot of time.  One of the pictures show my kitties who were constant companions in the quilting.  They chased every thread and binding piece; they continually walked on the quilt even while the machine was running, Tux took a liking to the pins on the magnetic pin cushion and Wolverine decided that he could carry my wrist pin cushion around the house (I found it under the dining room table one day).  Normally I don't let the cats near customer quilts and keep the door to my studio closed but since I know how much my daughter likes cats I thought they should help with this quilt!  :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wholecloth Quilting

This quilt has been kind of in my head for about a year.  I've had the grey sheets for many months.  I decided last week that the theme of this quilt would be circles.  It's for my daughter and her husband who were married last year (who says wedding gifts should be on time)! 
Just like my last wholecloth quilt, I don't really know where this one is going.  I know the theme is circles and I want it to look contemporary.  There is an X made in the center of the fabric so I know where the center is (though they rarely are perfectly centered).  You see, I'm just not the planning, tracing out kind of quilter.  I would rather challenge myself to be creative as the quilt progresses.  It is a huge challenge and it may be disappointing in the end but I also feel great excitement as I anticipate what might come next. 
So stay tuned and I'll post pictures as it unfolds.  I have two weeks to do this quilt before I must do the next customer quilt.  I'm excited!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Productive Day of Quilting

If I can get a lot of interrupted time (no phone calls, no kids to run here and there etc.) I can usually accomplish a lot of quilting.  Today was one of those days.  The phone didn't ring, my kids were all gone and I quilted from about 6 am until 3:00.  I finished the quilt you see right below this morning then did two small quilts.   These small ones are so cute.  I especially like the embroidered cat one.  It does reflect my life -- cook, shop, iron, quilt, sweep, etc.  The only thing that wasn't on the quilt was computing:)

Finally back to quilting

August is always one of the busiest months for me.  Everything is coming ripe in my garden and needs tending.  I work the Clackamas County Fair as a 4-H superintendent and that take about 10 days out of the month (many of them 12 hour days).  Our family also went camping and I spent 2 days with my oldest daughter.  So here it is the end of the month and I'm finally back to quilting. This quilt was started around the 1st of August.  I love the final look -- though I must say I was very tired of it after hours and hours of quilting.  One of the best parts of this quilt is the way the colors of each star block are placed in the quilt.  The fabrics are all batiks.  Beautiful!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Customer Quilt

I have done a bunch of easy all-over patterns on quilts lately.  They go fast.  Now I'm working on a quilt that will probably take quite a few days to complete.  Lots of quilting.  It is coming along beautifully though.  It was one of those quilts that I knew almost immediately what I was going to quilt on it.  Sometimes that can be such a dilemna but not with this one.  I'll post pictures when it's done.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mistakes happen

I have been longarm quilting for over 10 years now.  I would say in those 10 years there have been only few customer quilts where something bad happened.  A crease in the back, wrong color of thread in the bobbin (forgot to change it), thread that just wouldn't cooperate and left loops or just kept breaking, etc.  But last week was the first time that this ever happened.  I was moving the machine across the quilt when all of a sudden the needle went up/down.  It did it with such force that not only did a rip a hole in the quilt, but the whole machine came off the track!  I was shocked!  This was such a large quilt that there wasn't much space on each side so getting the machine back on track was really difficult.  Then I went to see what damage was caused in the quilt.  There was about a 1/4" hole ripped in the sashing border.  And of all places it was in the solid colored fabric.  If it had been in the printed fabric, after a repair job you probably never could have found it.  To repair it (while still on the machine), I fused some fusible interfacing to the back side of the tear.  Then I used seam sealant on the raw edges.  That should keep it from every fraying.  When I came to that part in the quilting, I put a leaf design around the hole.  It will have extra stability and hopefully never get any larger even when washed.  Finally, the customer got a discount on the quilting.  Here's a couple photos of the quilt and an upclose photo of the hole.  Hopefully nothing like this will ever happen to any of you longarm quilters.  It would be fun, though, to share horror stories -- let me know if you have one :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Recent Customer Quilts

Here's a couple recent customer quilts.  Simple designs but really nice on these quilts.  It's so wonderful to have a machine that is working top-notch again.  It does makes quilting a lot more fun. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Vacation, Quilting, and other things that are occupying my time

I finished my first quilt after a 3 week break.  It's good to have extended breaks in life.  I spent part of a week at my parent's home.  It was a really great time.  They are in their 80's and thinking of selling their home and moving to a senior living center.  We visited the place -- really nice.  They are excited about the prospect of living there.
I also spent part of a week with my sister visiting.  We had so much fun.  She is also a longarm quilter so there was lots of time discussing quilting, sewing together and visiting quilt shops.  We watched BBC movies, visited some cute shops, ate out, saw a friends beautiful yard and garden, went to a farmer's market and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.
The last week off was consumed with two new little family members.  We got 2 new kittens.  In the last two years we lost two cats and our dog so now our house is once again filled with 'pet activity'.  Even as I type this, one is regularly stalking and pouncing on my keyboard (makes for lots of spelling errors).  Here's a couple pictures of these cuties.  We names the orange and white one Wolverine and the black and white one Tux.
By the way, my longarm is back in service.  It runs beautifully.  Feels like it's brand new.  It has made quilting a joy again.  I am booked into October and that means I only have 2 months of spots to fill before the Christmas season (I take December off).  They usually go very quickly so if you want something quilted before Christmas you better let me know soon.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Couple Customer Quilts

Here's photos of the last two customer quilts I will do before my machine goes in for repair.  Hopefully it will only be gone a week.  I'm getting anxious to start on the wholecloth that has been taking shape only in my mind.  The one quilt was made of beautiful flannel and what a cute design -- pigs.  The other quilt was beautiful appliqued pineapples.  I loved the batiks and the color placement on the border and the pineapples.  Very talented quilters out there.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Patriotic Quilt

I have had the fabric to do a patriotic quilt for literally years.  I believe it is a flag quilt, but it's been so long since I've had the project out that I can't remember what the pattern looks like!  Every year before the 4th of July I usually quilt a couple patriotic quilts and it always makes me think of the quilt I'm going to make ... someday!  Maybe next year.  But this customer quilt was fun to do and turned out really well.  Happy Independence Day.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Machine Quilting with Minky Fabric Backs

Another quilt with a minky back.  They are a little more difficult to do.  A couple years ago I posted a blog with information on quilting when there is minky fabric involved.  I'll repost that info in this post.  I know many machine quilters out there are nervous about doing it, but if you do a few basic things it shouldn't be too difficult.  Probably the key thing is not to do too tightly of a spaced design.  I'll post another photo of a minky quilt from the past so you can see what I mean by loosely spaced designs.

Past post:  "Everybody loves Minky (also sometimes spelled Minkee) fabric. The feel is so soft and cuddly that you can't help but want to put it in a quilt. Most people I know who try to use Minky fabric do so for their quilt backing. It is luxiourous. Minky always seems perfect for the backing to a baby quilt. But what about quilting with it? It can be a nightmare for a machine quilter. Here's my experience with minky and some tips that hopefully will help you in using minky successfully.
I have treid to quilt a quilt with minky on the front (only in some areas) and also on the back of the quilt -- very difficult and I would not recommend using minky on the front. It shifts a lot and because it has quite a bit of stretch in one direction it's difficult to use in a quilt block. It's also very thick so any seams can get really bulky.
I have had customer quilts and a few of my own that have had minky for the backing. There's nothing quite like the feel of it, but it also can be a pain in the you know where to work with.
One time I put it on my longarm and had the stretch going horizontally (top to bottom). I pulled my tension tight and tighter and tighter. I used my clamps on the edges to pull it tight also. The result: when that quilt came off the machine it literally bounced back about 3 inches and the top became all puffy -- not a good result!
Another time I had minky on the back and was trying to do a more detailed pattern. It kept getting little tucks in the back.
I've tried using a basting spray -- that only messed with my tension and caused some skipped stitches.

I've found the most successful way to use minky on the back is to use a fairly loose pattern. You can cross over lines but if the quilting is spaced too tightly it will mess up the back. The clamps on the edges need to be putting just enough tension on the backing and batting to hold it in place but not to stretch it at all. Also, the stretch is best if it runs vertically not horizontally, this is because you can better control the stretch with the side clamps. If you are not working with more than 3 or 4" on the edges you will find that the minky wants to curl. So a wider backing is better and gives you more to clamp on to. The batting that works best is one that is fairly thin -- no fat batts.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Amazing Applique Quilt

Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt is done.  It is such an amazing quilt.  It took many hours to quilt it but it was worth all the effort.  One of the challenges was making the quilting behind the appliques look like the other blocks.  That required lots of stops and starts.  That wouldn't have been so bad, but my machine has a part going out on it making it not want to stop.  I figured I've spent several hours these last few days trying to adjust the machine.  Finally today I called the Gammill Dealer in the area to find out how much it would cost to replace some parts.  It wasn't as bad as I thought it might be so the end of June my machine will go in for an overhaul.  It's pretty amazing how well these machines run.  My longarm is almost 12 years old and I've replaced a few parts, done my own maintenance and it still runs really well.  So enjoy the views of this quilt -- it will rank up there as one of the most beautiful quilts I've done.  (By the way, everyone of these little pieces was handsewn!!)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bringing the garden into my studio

For those of you who live in the northwest, you are well aware that this has been one of the gloomiest, rainy winters/springs ever!  We occasionally get a peek at the sun, maybe a day, and then the rain is back.  My garden is struggling with all this cool, cloudy weather.  Today, though, the garden came inside.  I'm working on a customer quilt pattern called 'Grandmother's Garden'.  This is a beautiful quilt and I think one of the most difficult to make.  All the pieces are sewn by hand.  Then on top all the applique was added.  Absolutely exquisite.  This quilt requires lots of exquisite quilting so it may be several days before I complete it.  I'll post pictures when it's done.  By the way it's even more appropriate to work on a quilt with the word grandmother in it.  We just found out on Sunday that we have another grandbaby on the way.  Now besides my daughter having her first, my daughter-in-law is expecting their third.  We are so excited for them.  It's been almost 3 years since little Leah passed away (their 2nd child) and though no other baby can ever take her place, it will be wonderful to see another little one in their arms. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Recent Customer Quilt

I have several customers who do amazing applique work.  This quilt is from one of these customers.  I have another one of hers currently on my machine and I will post pictures when that one is done.  They are beautiful quilts and the applique work is done so well.  Working on their quilts gives me something to aspire to.  I don't know if I'll ever make quilts with this much applique on them -- but who knows -- maybe someday.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Two types of quilting

I wanted to post two pictures of very similar quilts.  The one is the raffle quilt for 4-H and the other is a customer quilt.  They are both the same fabric line and very similar in design.  The one with the small red sashing is the 4-H raffle quilt and took a lot of time to quilt.  The other quilt doesn't have the same blank space and the customer didn't want to spend a fortune on the quilting so I did an all-over pattern in the center.  Also on this quilt, instead of doing a double line half circle design in the plain border, I did a single line design.  So the cost was lower on this second quilt, yet I think it is still beautifully quilted.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Three Tablerunners

I did 3 table runners in the last two days.  They are fun to do because they go so fast (no rolling the quilt) and it's a chance to do some fun things.  These are my mom's table runners.  The one photo is the back side which could be used since it looks so great.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Raffle Quilt

It's done!  Took over a week, but the raffle quilt is done.  I'm so relieved -- I have other quilts to work on.  It turned out beautiful.  I hope it brings in a good amount of money for the 4-H program.  It will be at the Clackamas County Fair in August in the 4-H building.  I love the back of the quilt.  It almost looks like a wholecloth quilt.

Recent Customer Quilts

Here's a couple customer quilts just finished.  I love the chicken quilt, but probably most of you know why -- I have chickens and enjoy them immensely!  I have a couple chicken quilts already but I may have to make this one someday.