Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Too Much Fun!

So ....  I met Pam in the quilt shop and she asked me to quilt a couple of fat quarters and another half yard piece.  "Something swirly, please."

Half yard quilted
I love having such freedom!  After doodling on a test piece to make sure the machine tension was just right, I quilted these swirling flowers densely over this fabric.  The variegated thread was perfect.  It looked like it changed to every color in this piece.

Here's the back side.  It won't show on her finished project.
the flip side

There's also a blue FQ.  This brilliant blue is washed out in the photo's lighting, but it's really pretty.  I decided to quilt the 2 FQ's with a more open quilting design to provide a little contrast between these and the first piece.
Finally, here's the pink FQ.  The variegated threads show up well here.
Here are the backs for these smaller pieces.  My customer emphasized that she didn't mind if I used up a couple of bobbins since the backs won't show.

back side of the blue

back side of the pink
This was so much fun to do.  Easy.  Fast.  And what a sense of accomplishment.  I can't wait to see her finished gift made with these quilted fabrics.

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

His and Hers Quilts part two

Here's the "His" quilt ready to have the binding hand sewn.  The "Hers" is folded in the foreground.  This couple will enjoy watching a movie together or reading after dinner while snuggling under their quilts.

For a more masculine effect, my customer and I decided upon quilting free hand oak leaves.  Several of the batiks in this quilt have a botanical feel, so I thought this motif would be a terrific fit.

Those leaves are a bit camera shy, but they show up pretty well in the rich brown borders.  Although the top thread is variegated to add a little more interest, it's very subtle.

We're getting ready for a grandma arrival this afternoon.  Since all my customer quilts are back in their hands, I can switch gears and start focusing on our family traditions.  No gifts under the tree yet.  Oops.  I don't usually consider myself one of those last minute shoppers.  The house needs a little bit of tidying, but thankfully, I had time to do some of that yesterday.   Time to jot down some menus for the week too - a fusion of vegan and carnivore dishes.

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

His and Her Quilts

Batik quilt
Here's the first of two I'm quilting for a customer.  The fabrics she selected are really rich in color and I this the designs are great.  It's made using a sliced layer cake pattern.
The backing fabric provided the inspiration for the quilting.  I like the flowing ribbons and the flowers.  After sketching the design a few times, I loaded a King Tut variegated thread in the top and bobbin and began to play.

The back is pieced.  Here's an area of white on the back.  It shows the quilting well.
The second top is made using the same pattern and many of the same fabrics.  I'll quilt an oak leaf design on it.  First, I'll need to square the backing fabric.  And before that, it's almost time to go to my day job. 

I'm looking forward to finishing up a few more Christmas quilts for customers and then closing shop for the rest of the holiday season.  It's still a little scary for me to see a person's face when they receive their quilt back from me.  So far, so good.

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Jelly Roll Racin'

Jelly Roll Race.

 Have you heard about this?  It's a hoot.  Each quilter prepares for the race by sewing a full jelly roll (2.5 inch strips by the width of fabric) together end to end.  That's 40 strips of ~40 inch long pieces, or 1600 inches of fabric.  The long joined strip is folded in half right sides together.

 When the official shouts go, the participant starts sewing the folded unit.  That first seam is about 800 inches long, LOL!

When that's finished, the folded end is quickly snipped open and the unit is folded in half again (right sides together) to be sewn again.  Once 5 seams have been sewn, the top is ready.
My favorites are the 4 batik collections of fabrics above.  But they're all terrific.
 Some of those jellies were sewn end to end with a diagonal seam, while others used straight seams.  Either works well in these quilt tops.
I didn't win the grand prize.  Nor second.  Nor third.  Nor even forth place.  Actually, once the time passed an hour, I didn't keep up with my time nor how many others beat me.

 Everyone had a good time! 
 I think mine will become a Project Linus quilt.
It was fun to see them draped over chairs at our retreat.   If you ever have the opportunity to join a group on a quilting retreat, I recommend it.  Along with the friendships formed, there are experienced people who are glad to share their knowledge.

 This Mary Englebreit fabric collection started off at 1.5 inches.  It's a smaller quilt and so adorable.
 Sue planned the placement of those strips, although she denies it.  I like how they turned out.
Betty finished one, but didn't want to race.  I enjoyed getting to know her!  She's confident enough not to take herself too seriously.  :)

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Surprised by Love

At a quilting retreat this weekend, I was overwhelmed and completely surprised by an outpouring of love and good wishes.  Two of us had experienced tornado damage.  Karen's house was completely destroyed.  Ours, if you've followed the blog, was uninhabitable for 5 months while repairs were made.  Along with many of  Karen's belongings, her Christmas decor was scattered across the state.  She even described strings of lights which were found wrapped around trees.

So Quiltaholic, aka Thearica,  from the HGTV Message Board forum for Quilting and Needlework rallied the others together and filled two huge, whopping baskets with amazing ornaments for Karen and me.  These baskets were filled to the handles and wrapped in pretty plastic to keep them safe.  The overflow were in an accompanying box.  Some ladies crocheted their ornaments, some beaded, some made quilted ones and yo-yo ornaments... You get the idea.  What an amazing and generous collection of gifts!  We both spread out all the ornaments at the retreat to let everyone see the variety.  It took 2 tables each to show them off.

It was such fun discovering each one unique and made with love.  I took several snapshots of the spread and I hope you'll enjoy seeing them too.
peeking into the box of goodies - from Kmouse
These will bring joyful tears each year when I hang them on my tree in my studio.  I'll keep them separate to remember this expression of love from my online friends.

Merry Christmas!
- SeeingStars

Thursday, November 17, 2011

On the Frame

Winter quilt ... 94 inches square
I'm really excited about this quilt.  A new quilter brought it to me after taking a beginner class.  She did such a terrific job making the blocks and keeping everything square.  As we talked about her quilt, the quilting threads (King Tut caravan), the batting, etc  ... she mentioned that she loved the studio because she enjoys watching birds.  She was standing in my favorite spot, where one can see the two feeders which are close to the house - one through a kitchen window and one near the corner of the studio.  Both feeders were active with chickadees and tufted titmice.

It seemed that birds would be perfect for her quilt.  I sketched out a few ideas and sent them to her via email and we both loved the same design.
Bird motif is still visible with the chalk pounce

The bird was drawn on freezer paper and the center was cut out.  Then the freezer paper was lightly ironed to the fabric to make it stick.  Chalk was pounced so I could trace the edges of the bird.  Another light touch of the iron and the chalk is gone. 

Loose scrolls around the frames of the stars

I'm learning a lot from this quilt.  To start, I used a ruler to stitch-in-the-ditch around each star.  That will make each star puff and define it better, even though the stitches aren't real visible.  I like the effect and think this customer will also.  It also helped me to keep the quilting detail more loose, but still keep the quilting within the 3.5 inches required for Hobbs 80/20 heirloom batting.

However, I didn't realize when I started just how time consuming it would be for me to SID around the 16 stars and the inner/outer borders.  Yikes!  I'll either have to get much faster or not do this on customer quilts.  A day and a half later, I was able to roll the quilt back to the starting section and start working on the blocks and scrolls.  Now I can see why allover designs are so popular!

No complaints though.  As I stated, I'm learning as I start this business.  It's really a fun journey and as long as the customer is pleased with her quilt, I'll be thrilled.

Today, I'm loading up my bags and taking a little road trip, heading south to Magnolia Park retreat.  It will be my first quilting retreat.  About 25 quilters will meet, talk, eat lots of goodies and work on whatever projects we hope to get competed.  Most of these ladies are cyber friends whom I haven't met face to face yet.  I'm excited to get to know them better and to put a face with a name.

However, one of these ladies, Thearica, quilted a top I made for a wounded soldier.  It was an incredible quilt, not because of the piecing, but because of her amazing quilting.  She put the words to the Lee Greenwood song, I'm proud to be an American ... in the borders.  Each LeMoyne star was quilted with a spiraling firework popping.  The overall effect was incredible.  As I presented the quilt to a young soldier, he had tears in his eyes, overwhelmed by the gift.  He couldn't wait to show his bride because he knew she'd love it too.  Thearica and her husband dropped off the quilt on a trip to see family.  She's about 10 hours away by car.  You can find her blog and the wounded soldier quilt at Pigtales and Quilts

Well, I'm off to finish packing and put more air in the tires.

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Life is Good!

I'd love to help those guys design their t-shirts.  I think it's so much fun flipping through all the shirts in a store and finding which Life Is Good one I like the best.

Today, I don't have a photo to go with my post.  If I did, I think it would be a new LIG design sporting a quilted bird with a whimsical tail feather.  Hmmm.  I doubt they would sell many of those!

Since the quilt shop classroom was booked, I invited 2 ladies to the studio for a machine quilting follow-on class.  We tried a lot of new designs to stretch their skills and inspire them.  "S" really likes to doodle and she's been making more art quilts lately.  I think she'll add more quilting designs into her artwork.  Her machine tried very hard to misbehave and discourage her, but once we calmed it down, we admired some beautiful stitches.  "A" impressed me with how quickly she began quilting feathers!  She also practiced making a wreath of holly leaves in preparation for quilting a beautiful top.

We all had fun chatting as we worked.  The birds, squirrels, a bunny and a cat put on quite a show for us in the backyard.  "A" told me several times that it's a wonder I can get anything done with so much activity going on outdoors.  I did have to confess that I found my husband's bird book and now have it in the studio.  When I see a new visitor on the feeder, I like to try to identify it.  It's a welcome distraction!

I'd love to have visitors every day!  It was so enjoyable to see them excited about their quilting skills.  It was just the push I needed too.  I'll be at my first quilting retreat from Thursday thru Sunday.  Even though I'm horrible at packing - waaaaay to last minute to be thorough, I've already started.  This is a huge change from my habit of forgetting my toothbrush and bathing suit to go to the beach.  Eyeroll.  Once should be enough to learn an important lesson.  However, the enthusiasm from the class just spilled over into my preparations to be out of town.  Suitcase of clothes is mostly packed and the projects, notions and machine are at least gathered into one spot.

My husband and kids are probably going to have a movie weekend in my absence.   : )

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bound with Love

Well, they will be soon.  These little ones are so fast to make!  Imagine 4 quilts in a week!  I'll get the binding stitched up by hand and send these on to the workworking elves so they can pair up a quilt with a cradle or bed.

One of my favorite passages is from Colossians 3, which encourages us to treat others with love because we are loved.  It goes like this :

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

I think about love binding all these virtues as I hand sew my binding on my quilts.  The binding covers those rough edges and loose threads.  It unifies the quilt top, batting, backing and quilting threads to make a quilt complete.  I need to remember how much I've been pardoned when I feel impatient with others so we can continue to enjoy the unity we've been given through Jesus.  It's harder to do this with our own family, isn't it?

Doll Quilts
The Peter Rabbit stripes were pieced from leftover border fabric.  I didn't do anything fancy since the fabric is so neat by itself.  I thought the daylight would be good lighting, but everything is sort of greenish.  There really are pinks in these fabrics too.

No blocks, just showing off this cool fabric
 These leftover blocks are also from that same Peter Rabbit quilt.  This was a grandbaby gift for our neighbors across the street from us.  I'm glad the camera angle and (lack of) lighting allows you to see the quilting stitches.  I like this texture.
Rail fences leftover from a Warm Wishes quilt

I had a weird piece of batting - 100% cotton and I'm guessing I had pre-washed it years ago.  It felt a little different, but still good quality.  No gaps or clumps.  I decided to try doubling up the batting to quilt this one.  I like the overall texture very much, but sometimes the hopping foot didn't want to go to those seam intersections since the quilt sandwich was thicker than usual.  Maybe the continuous curves wasn't a good selection for the quilting choice here.

These again are extra blocks from a baby quilt I made for a missionary family in Kazakhstan which our church was supporting.  This family is now back in the states and I keep up with them by visiting with them Facebook.

Finally, this little quilt came from a jelly roll of batiks I purchased a couple of years ago.  Since no one told me that you're allowed to use jelly rolls (usually a set of 40 strips, each 2.5 inches wide by the width of the fabric) without prewashing them, I made a huge mess of all those strips.  The strings all tangled together when I tried to retrieve them from the washing machine and again from the dryer.  I got disgusted and shoved them in the back of a plastic bin drawer.  With a little steam and patience, these came together to make a cute string quilt - no foundation.  I loved playing with the variegated threads and making up a different design for each strip.  This one is my favorite, even though it doesn't show off any piecing. 

You have my permission to NEVER pre-wash a jelly roll!

I doodled some designs today for another customer quilt and sent them to her via email.  It will be fun to get her ideas and get started on this one.  She's eager to have it finished quickly so she can start using it soon - before Christmas.

I wanted to stop by the Veteran's memorial park this afternoon after dropping off our teens for a retreat.  But ... the news crew was there filming.  I didn't want to go there for a cameo in the local news, nor to be interviewed about my opinions of the new park.  So, I'll stroll by there later this weekend when it's not in the limelight.  Until then, I am thankful for those who were willing to sacrifice their own freedom to ensure we can all enjoy ours. 

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Santa's Village has expanded

Since Debbie has posted about some enthusiastic woodworkers who are making doll beds and doll cradles to help Santa this year, I realized that these guys have opened a southern workshop so they don't need to bundle up and travel to the North Pole.  Debbie's purpose in telling her quilting friends about this effort was to request a little help in supplying a doll quilt for each bed and cradle.  

Her blog entry can be found at Stitchin' Therapy.

I think it's terrific that she's received so many offers for doll quilts!  If you'd like to help, she'll appreciate a few more, just leave a comment on her blog.

Peter Rabbit doll quilt tops
I had some leftover Peter Rabbit fabrics and rail fence blocks, so I made 2 small quilt tops with these.  Then, I connected the backing to a few other pieces so I could quilt up 4 at a time.  This sewing together several backs for several quilt tops is a first for me, but I think it should work well.

Batik strip quilt top and a 9 Patch/Friendship Star made from orphan blocks
Here are 2 more tops, floating on the frame.  I'll play with some quilting on them and send them from my southern workshop to Debbie's.

My studio is messy today and I just love it!  I'll clean it up later, but for now, the scrap bins are out and fabric is piled up everywhere.  I'm enjoying sewing, watching the birds devour the birdseed and listening to an audiobook.
Yes, there's another load of laundry to attend and I need to put in my 15 minutes to work/unpack in the attic, but that can happen just a little later today.

Enjoy your day!

- SeeingStars