News

HANGING QUILTS Posted on 7 Jan 12:50 , 0 comments

I don't know about you, but I do love the warm cozy feeling created in my home by hanging my quilts. In fact, I had a real laugh at myself one day last spring after taking a mixed-media art class. We were encouraged to hang our art  or maybe even create a gallery wall in our home with our art.
   
I said to myself, "What a good idea,"  and started to sort through my pieces of art to mount on canvas and prepare for hanging. As I looked around my walls, there was no space to hang my art. My walls are covered with quilts. Silly me LOL! My art is hanging. I just need to make room for more and include pieces of my mixed media art as well as my quilts.
   
Here is a video I stumbled upon recently with a good solution ... an alternative to the traditional full-width-tube or rod-pocket ... for creating a hanging sleeve. It's worth taking a look (or revisiting) and keeping in mind for the next quilt on your list.
   

WORTH A SECOND LOOK: BORDER THOUGHTS Posted on 18 Sep 02:00 , 0 comments

(a re-post from 2012)

0925: frame ... like ... borders on a quilt. Border decisions are always some of the hardest to make. Borders can serve a lot of different functions:

  • like ... framing the body or center patchwork area of the quilt
  • like ... making the quilt big enough to fit the bed where the quilt will be "living"
  • like ... adding details interest to the quilt (blocks spilling over into the border area)
  • like ... providing a way for using up all the left-over scraps from a quilt (a scrappy piano key border)
  • like ... marking one of the final steps in the quilt project journey; being the last step before sandwiching all the quilt layers together
  • like ... seeming to be one of the easiest construction steps and yet one of the most potentially frustrating (no wavey borders allowed)

Some of my most favorite border quilting designs are:

 
1082 LEAF CURL BORDER 1273 FEATHER BORDER 1235 CLAM 2 FEATHER KEY BORDER

Some things to think about when choosing quilting designs to add to your pattern library might be:

  1. Border patterns should be easy to set up and so balanced in design elements that there will be little distortion of the pattern when placed in the side borders as compared to the top/bottom borders.
  2. Universal in design so the pattern will work with several different patchwork styles.
  3. The design comes with an easily connected corner unit or wraps around the quilt with little disruption in the overall continuity of the design.
  4. Balance is the key to everything ... is the border pattern you're considering a good match in regard to the quilting density in the body of the quilt.
  5. an extra bonus could be ... the pattern is design in such a way as to provide the appearance of a good continuous line along the inside FRAMING border.

... may all your borders be square, be straight, and be flat ... 


BORDER THOUGHTS Posted on 25 Sep 00:00 , 0 comments

0925: frame ... like ... borders on a quilt. Border decisions are always some of the hardest to make. Borders can serve a lot of different functions:

  • like ... framing the body or center patchwork area of the quilt
  • like ... making the quilt big enough to fit the bed where the quilt will be "living"
  • like ... adding details interest to the quilt (blocks spilling over into the border area)
  • like ... providing a way for using up all the left-over scraps from a quilt (a scrappy piano key border)
  • like ... marking one of the final steps in the quilt project journey; being the last step before sandwiching all the quilt layers together
  • like ... seeming to be one of the easiest construction steps and yet one of the most potentially frustrating (no wavey borders allowed)

Some of my most favorite border quilting designs are:

 
1082 LEAF CURL BORDER 1273 FEATHER BORDER 1235 CLAM 2 FEATHER KEY BORDER

Some things to think about when choosing quilting designs to add to your pattern library might be:

  1. Border patterns should be easy to set up and so balanced in design elements that there will be little distortion of the pattern when placed in the side borders as compared to the top/bottom borders.
  2. Universal in design so the pattern will work with several different patchwork styles.
  3. The design comes with an easily connected corner unit or wraps around the quilt with little disruption in the overall continuity of the design.
  4. Balance is the key to everything ... is the border pattern you're considering a good match in regard to the quilting density in the body of the quilt.
  5. an extra bonus could be ... the pattern is design in such a way as to provide the appearance of a good continuous line along the inside FRAMING border.

... may all your borders be square, be straight, and be flat ... 


SCRAPPY: PLANNED OR RANDOM Posted on 10 Sep 02:00 , 0 comments

0910: black and white ... and a little bit of red ...

Structured piano lessons are starting for Colin andLuci this month; no more free exploring (random pounding - oh, did KK say that LOL) No more free explorationsounds a little harsh, doesn't it. We all need time to be adventerous stepping out on our own and exploring. Maybe the concept should be rephrased to directed, more purposeful and thoughtful exploring ??? This I know for sure: Everyone needs time to play.

That's what you will notice with several of the quilts in these pictures. Taking time to  play with scrappiness. I like to choose a theme or color palette to work with when I do scrappy quilts. You would probably call mine more planned scrappy than true scrappy.

On occassion, I have pieced some quilts where I used the common trick of dropping all the patches in a paper back and pulling the next patch to be added to the block at random. I don't know about you, but I find it more difficult to go totally random with my scrappiness. Does that me I have control issues? LOL

I love the drama of black and white with a splash of red and have the quilts and fabric in my stash to satisfy that visual hunger. One of the most favorite quilts in booth displays at market was pieced with black and white with a splash of red ... especially appealing to the guys.

Some notes about the patterns featured here in the collage:

* a hand pieced red and white quilt top I found at a tag sale. I have always loved this pattern. It's a tricky one to keep all those bias edges square and straight. I will have to do some squaring and easing of fullness with this one before I can begin to think about how I would like to quilt it. I also need to decide if I want to try to find a coordinating fabric to finish out the borders or not. In the meantime, it's lovely to look at on the quilt rack just like it is.

* the quilt on the left is a pattern I developed for our anual December mystery quilt party using the stack and slash technique. The blocks and quilt were sized just to the right dimensions so the extra blocks could be used in the outer border.

* the quilt on the right is one made from a popular pattern/techniqe that we've seen lots of places in shops, classes and workshops, and across the internet ... STRIPS AND CURVES by Louisa Smith. I gathered my fabrics to fit my black and white color theme, added in the fussy-cut piano keyboard fabric here and there, and used a range of reds to round out the strip strata ... what a great way to play with color and practice piecing those curved edges.

And finally, the pattern for the quilt that was so popular in booth displays at market and quilt shows around the country ... MQS 126 QUEEN ANNES' LACE. This pattern was original included in the collection of designs in my book that is now out of print called Blocks That connect.

 

The book was written to be used as a manual for my beginning patchwork piecing classes and is chock-full of all kinds of tips and tricks to help you be a more successful quilter while having fun developing your skills and honing your craft.

I am in the process of re-releasing the patterns individually as e-patterns readily available for immediate download. You will find MQS 126E QUEEN ANNE'S LACE along with other e-patterns in the Mountaintop Quilting on-line store.

Queen Anne's Lace is designed to give a beginners quilt a more advanced look with the pieced border (which included secret fudge-factor tips making everything fit together perfectly.

Another feature is the optical illusion of the center appearing to be set on-point. But the best part: the patches used in the border are actually left-over scraps from piecing the blocks used in the center of the quilt.

Thanks for stopping by...  be brave and play scrappy today - well, at least, take time to play!

 

 

 


EDGE-TO-EDGE OR CUSTOM Posted on 8 Sep 02:00 , 0 comments

0908: at night ... nothing better than snuggles with puppies and quilts

The top is pieced and now it's time for making decisions as to how to quilt this project. Many longarm quilters will have several questions that might help in the decision-making process but, bottom line ... everything can be boiled down to two basic questions:

  • who is the quilt for
  • how will it be used

When thinking about who will be using the quilt personal taste and design style general influence pattern choice, but the biggest contributing factor in choosing a quilting pattern is the second ... how will it be used.

You can see how I've used quilts in one of my guest rooms which is decrated around a forest theme. I have quilts on the bed, on the walls and hanging on the quilt ladder. I also have a quilt hanging over the back of the futon that is exposed to light from the window. This poses another risk to shortening the expected life of a quilt and so I'm careful to keep the blinds closed on that particular window limiting potential light damage to my Diamonds on the Double quilt.

If we take time to look at ourselves honestly in the mirror (or at the quilt projects we've finished) we are

  1. very proud of our work
  2. recognize finishing usually took quite a long time
  3. aware of (but usually keeping the final figure quiet LOL) how much money has gone into the quilt to date

... but let's face it ... the cold honest hard truth is that most of us will probably only finish less than five heirloom quality quilts in our lifetime. We make quilts that are to be used, loved, washed several times in the washer, drug around behind toddlers and puppies, used to make the roof/walls of a fort, snuggled under during movie night with buttery popcorn or for picnics in the park on a sunny summer afternoon. Probably about the only stipulation or requirement we may have when giving a quilt to someone is that we don't want to see it later on the garage floor serving as padding for the "guy of the house" while he's changing the oil in his rig! :)

Quilts that take the kind of wear and tear I've listed above need to be filled with sturdy stitching that is continuous across the quilt top. Frequent stops and starts or thread knots are more likely to work themselves loose over time and become a potential weak spot in the overall quilting design. And that is why you will find most of us steering your decision-making process in the direction of choosing an overall or edge-to-edge design. These are the designs that provide more wear-ability to a quilt and thus allowing for a more extended or longer expected lifetime of the quilt.

These are three favorite edge-to-edge designs that provide texture avoiding the distraction of a repeating motif that can compete with the patchwork design and each design provides a nice alternative from the old tired much used "just stipple it" while keeping a traditional feel as the eye travels over the quilt.

The first picture on the left: 1283 CHERRIOS E2E: provide a more open quilt design which works well as you can see when used with a flannel quilt.

The second picture in the center: 1312 BAPTIST FAN E2E: this pattern gives the feel of baptist fan quilting without all the hours and hours of ruler work and time-consuming setup ... an affordable traditional fan look.

The third pattern on the right: 1557 BASKETWEAVE E2E: a brand new pattern following the lines of the traditionally hand-quilted design. You'll want to think it through as you set up after each roll keeping the stitching lines lined up but you'll find the end result is well worth the little bit of extra time.

Check through your pattern library. You'll not want to miss out adding these fresh alternatives for textural edge-to-edge quilting to you design library.


1557 BASKET WEAVE Posted on 29 Aug 00:00 , 0 comments

The request came in for an edge-to-edge pattern in the traditional motif:basketweave. Joey had searched high and low over the internet for such a pattern for a Statler computer to no avail. The question: was it even possible to create such a pattern? Joey wants to use the pattern as an edge-to-edge across a quilt top made using reproduction fabrics from the 1930's.  

Hmmm ... this challenge beckoned and niggled in my brain. It was like one of those puzzles you have to complete a line connecting as many dots as possible without ever lifting your pencil. At least I knew I could use lines that stitch over each other but also wanted use as few as possible.

And then there is the issue of creating a edge-to-edge pattern meaning start and stop points need to be on the same vertical and horizontal plane. Definitely a project to ponder, work on for a bit, walk away and ponder, and then come back. It was calling to me. It had to be possible. AND THEN IT ALL FELL INTO PLACE!

  1. 1557 BASKETWEAVE is designed with "ribbons" of 1".
  2. 1557 BASKETWEAVE will work as an edge-to-edge design or as a background fill.
  3. 1557 BASKETWEAVE can easily be resized smaller or larger with minimal distortion and still maintain the integrity of the pattern.

 CAUTIONS as you roll:

You will need to use your execution skills with thoughtful precision as you roll keeping your project lined up from pass to pass keeping the "ribbons" aligned with each pass. You will find you can minimize the "push/pull" effect with the stitch-over lines by running the machine at a slower speed. When I ran the pattern test my machine was set at 50%. Keep in mind that my 50% may be slower or faster than the settings on your machine, so make adjustments accordingly. 

       

As you can see from the photos, the pattern alignment was off with the first roll. I used the relocate function setting the pattern up with the row start and row end points. I check for placement using the machine head thinking I would be okay. I was able to correct the problem on the second roll by using the "ribbon" connection points as my two points rather than the start/end points. I also zoomed in for more precision nudging as needed across the row.

I think this pattern would make an excellent and different fill motif behind applique using the trim function with no worries regarding alignment on the roll with the smallest of blocks up to blocks the throat size of your machine.

 

 You might also like:

 trim function with 1283 Cherrios     1034 basic fills collection     background fill wedding quilt

 


CUSTOM QUILTING IN JULY Posted on 3 Jul 00:00 , 2 comments

A vintage cross-stitched quilt - top was done by mom and grandma years ago and is brought out to be finished for the daughter's wedding. What a family treasure!

 

 

 


 

The quilt fits a queen sized bed and I used bottom line thread to minimize the look of the stitches as I worked across the cross-stitching. I also basted the whole quilt before I started quilting to help stabilize the sandwich as this was much the same as working with a wholecloth quilt.

 

Inner border detail ... these little scallops were part of the printed design on the quilt top. I measured on for height and width and then used the repeat pattern function to space them evenly across the quilt.

And the tricky part ... how to get around the corner with those scallops ??? I like the way the pointy arrow leads the eye to the corners of the inner square.

The scallops help soften all the linear quilting.

... and more detail photos ...


CUSTOM FLYING GEESE: TO DO OR NOT TO DO Posted on 29 Apr 02:00 , 0 comments

  
As I was journaling this morning I thought I might check in with the daily prompt generator and see what might be the suggested line of thought for the day.
  
TODAY'S PROMPT: "Know your limitations and be content with them. Too much ambition results in promotion to a job you can't do." - David Brent
  
This is so appropriate to what happens to me when coming up with ideas about how to quilt a quilt. I can easily come with a multitude of design possibilities that look good on paper but when it comes to the actual execution of a given design plan, look out. Be sure to keep things in perspective before you start making suggestions to customers regarding possible custom quilting jobs. Have a good sense of the time that is going to be involved and what that means to your bottom line and their quilting budget. In another words, how much you charge for your services in quilting the quilt. Such was the topic of my conversation with Ruth yesterday.
     
Ruth has a quilt with flying geese units going all the way around the quilt. The size of the quilt is like a large double or queen bed sized quilt. The reason she called was to check in about how to do a p2p pattern so she could drop a motif in each one of the geese. Keep in mind, this means there are easily more than 200 geese units flying around the edges of this quilt. But not to worry, we have Creative Studio and that makes everything so much easier!
       
Everything we were talking about as possible quilting ideas for this goose border using p2p pattern was sounding do-able ... time consuming but do-able until I told her I would be clicking the boundaries of the geese and using the new stretch handles to tweak the motif placement. Many of our piecers are quite precise with their patchwork, but we're all human and we are working with fabric.
     
The only guarantees in the quilting process are: The fabric will move; our seams will be off kilter just a bit here and there; stretching will have happened as we pressed. There is nothing quite so humbling as when I quilt one of my own quilts. Yep, I'm human and even though I do my best, no matter how careful I am, and no matter how close I keep my seam ripper (and use frequently) my seams will on occasion wobble, my points might be cut off,  and my borders might even flap just a tad.
   
This final bit of tweaking on each motif raises our level of precision in the quilting up a notch and that is what I call "quilt-show-quality" quilting and I do adjust my fees accordingly. And then there is the sky units of each goose. The question of the day ... leave it empty or put something in? But now, when you think about the added hours in finishing up the borders of the quilt, the clock is ticking and the job price is going up faster, almost, than gas prices these days.   
   
The solution: Ruth and I both agreed (with no complaints from the customer) that doing a feather border pattern over the geese units would suit the overall quilting design just fine. The quilting could be finished in a timely manner and within budget. Having a clear sense of the possibilities is a must when choosing a design plan for a quilt, and coming up with a plan that matches ...
  • how the quilt will be used
  • who the quilt is for
  • what kind of budget are we working with
  • what is the time frame for a finish date to be met
  • and, most importantly, developing a plan that reflects your style and is compatible with your skill as a quilter
All of these points are critical to keep in mind when working out a design plan whether for yourself or when working with a customer. There is a fine line we walk between the advice from Goethe and Brent as to when and how brave to be ... how much courage and risk taking are you up to on any given day, or is a "play it safe" kind of day.
But once again, when all of these pieces of the patchwork puzzle are in place we have a win-win for everyone involved.
   
And with that said, I may be in and out a little during the next week ... Mike is flying in today for the first time since early January. It's been a long 4 months and I just might be a little distracted :)
... know your craft ... practice your craft ...
... and ... be innovative with your craft ...

QUILTING ZEN MOMENTS Posted on 30 Mar 18:35 , 1 comment

Are you pinner or a stapler or a tacker or a stitcher?

The question on the table this morning is ... the topic at hand is ... "how you attach your quilt back to the leaders." The innovation of quilters never ceases to amaze me. If there is a different way to accomplish said goal, if there is a better way to get the desired results some quilter some where out in the world will figure it out. And when he/she does there is much celebrations and rejoicing in the world as we all want to try the latests and greatest new method or process which will help us

  • work more efficiently
  • work more creatively
  • work with less pain
  • multitask with ease
  • reduce studio stress

A Pinner uses long strong quilting pins to attach the quilt back to the leaders. The most often heard complaints with this method includes:

  • pricked fingers
  • time consuming
  • stabbed bellies
  • ruined clothes
  • sore knees and tired feet

A Stapler uses an electric stapler t0 attach the quilt back to the leaders. Hazards with this method include:

  • litter of removed staples when detaching the quilt from the leaders
  • possible need for protective eye gear ... beware the errant flying staple
  • increased wear and tear on the leaders
  • budgetary increases with purchase of staples

but ... you can sit, you can delegate an intern to do the loading job if you have zippered leaders, and no more worry about pin pricks and ruined clothing.Janice Bahrt has added a wonderful tutorial on the Statler Sib yahoo group if you're interested in learning more about this method.

A Tacker uses a tacking machine and the plastic tacks you find on purchased clothing and goods. I must confess, I've not tried this method but it seems to me I would not be making my life easier or faster.

  • I would be able to "sit and tack."
  • I wouldn't be worrying about pin pricks and ruined clothing.
  • I would have to purchase the equiipment and keep a supply of the little plastic tack on hand.
  • I'm would have to work out an efficient system for detaching the backing from the leaders after the quilt was finished.

and ... again, I could delegate the task allowing me to be working on something more creative.

A Stitcher uses the longarm quilting machine head to attach the quilt back to the leaders. You can also delegate this task and use a domestic sewing machine if your longarm is being used on another quilt. I have done this method and it has it's pluses and minuses. It is really easy to get the zippered leaders on backwards; it does involve some tricky thinking and eye-hand coordination if you're using the machine head. Seriously, I think I just needed more practice. If I couldn't even pin again I would definitely be going this route. But there is something I learned over the last year as I go back and forth between pinning or stitching.

When I am stitching I'm worrying about am Ii getting it on right or am I going to have to redo the load; I'm fussing over getting the edges even while I'm moving the machine head; I'm worrying about stretching the edge of the quilt backing. In other words, I'm thinking and worrying about a million different things and just a little bit stressed.

When I'm pinning I am in what I call my QUILTING ZEN MODE. I use my pinning time to relax. As I'm handling the backing I'm thinking about the quilter that pieced the top. I'm using my pin time to quilt the quilt virtually in my head. I'm think about my design choices and am quilt design plan following each step and quilting group through from beginning to end looking for or rying to anticipate possible hiccups or problems I might encounter. I'm a very intuitive quilter and this pinning time gives me a chance to make sure everything "feels" right.

I love my pinning time for connections, for one last final check, and for slowing down. Too much of our world is in hurry-up mode ... and testing the fates here... I seem to have worked out a system over the years for I've not ruined a sweater or pricked a finger in a long time.

Take time to leave a comment today ... just a quick response to an informal poll ...

Which are you? .... pinner ... stapler ... tacker ... stitcher ...

... be bold ... be brave ...
... make and share the music of your soul ...

CREATIVE STUDIO: TRIM FUNCTION Posted on 16 Mar 00:00 , 0 comments

Yes, look very closely at the bottom of the photo and you will see it ... that's right, I did an inside trim. If you've been in any of my classes you'll hear me give my reasoning ... the biggest reason I can think of learning how to do free motion quilting ... no more 100's and 1000's of click points so you can do either an inside or outside trim around a piece of applique. And, since I started out with my first longarm machine in 1999, a Gammill Classic Plus and driving the machine myself, I can always drop a freemotion background around applique pieces much more quickly than using the trim feature. So, I have never really had much reason to play with this function in Creative Studio on my Statler Stitcher ... until I got to the finish of Juanita's quilt.

Now, I do have to admit, coming from my background in freemotion and how I was taught longarm quilting, I do prefer to sew off the edges so the tie-offs are hidden and secured under the binding. This means that in most cases I probably would have allowed this edge-to-edge pattern to go ahead and sew off the bottom of the quilt. But in this case, the batting scraps (which Juanita told me to keep) were just the right size for another small project I want to do so I didn't want to have to pick-out the quilting. My only option then is to use the INSIDE TRIM function. You can see the white box at the bottom of the quilt where any quilting that fell in that space was trimmed away. Tie offs occured in the binding area of the quilt all along that line giving a nice neat secure finish to the pattern. I have a batting scrap just the right size for my next project; and I have officially done my first INSIDE TRIM on a customer quilt - my first since I stitched out my test sample certifying me as an instructor for Creative Studio. Yeah!

Juanita's quilt was quilted with 1283 Cherrios Fill. What a great textural edge-to-edge pattern that stitces out so smooth and balanced. I don't know about you but I'm finding more and more how much I loke the look of a textural background edge-to-edge over a pieced quilt. The quilting design enhances the piecing without distracting the eye with a recognizable image ... a heart or a frog or a leaf that might be a part of the quilting design. And usually these textural patterns a a pretty quick stitch-out.

The piecing pattern is MQS 120 Bebe Bears. 

Juanita had this yummy rich flannel in her stash - blue florals with a soft mossy green background, the solid powder blue, and a cream small print background. We used Warm Bond for the batting. I like the drape of Warm's 80/20 blend for most of my quilts. I love the  crumpled antique look caused by shrinkage when my quilts that have this batting are washed. They come out of the dryer so soft and cozy. For thread, I used Siganture's 100% cotton on the top and in the bobbin ... a soft yellow to give a "cast of sunshine" across the top of the quilt.

... be bold ...

... be brave ...

... make and share the music of your soul ...

 You might also like:

mqs 120 bebe bears   1283 cherrios fill