Majesty – the silk quilt

I’m not good at naming quilts (we’ve been down this path before) but when I started this project and decided it was going to be something quite different than other things I’ve made I knew it needed a special name.  The fabric itself inspired me to come up with a name befitting the luxury that comes to mind when I think of silk, so this quilt was  called “Majesty” before the first stitch.  I was thinking of the things I’ve seen in movies about royalty; you know, those huge carved headboards and canopies with the fancy bedding? You admire it and then wonder who launders it!

I did a little planning ahead of time, only in the sense that I “planned” to do more of a traditional style whole cloth quilt (medallion in the centre, fancy borders, symmetry etc.) so it was more of an overall concept than a calculated design.  We know that for me, the plan evolves along the way!  Certainly that’s what happened here.

I started at the top centre, where I wanted to make a statement, and of course there were always going to be lots and lots of feathers, so that part flowed nicely.  I didn’t really have to do a lot of measuring until I happily finished one side and realized that I would then have to duplicate it to the best of my ability on the other! LOL  It was a challenge.  After laying down the foundation I went back in and added fillers, and then used this process throughout.

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For most of the quilt, I just picked one area at a time to focus on, keeping in mind that I was going for the illusion of a plan 🙂 I generally baste the whole quilt at the beginning so I can later roll it back and forth whenever I want to, and for this one that method proved very helpful, especially if I couldn’t quite remember something I had already stitched and wanted to repeat HAHA

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I built the structure I wanted in each area, stitched it out and filled it in, and eventually it all came together.  Not without a few mistakes and ripped stitches, mind you, but overall it was a very satisfying finish.

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And yes, I did have a little bit of that “do I keep this one or not?” going on in my head.  I designed this quilt for a couple of specific purposes, neither of which was to adorn something in my own house.  But again, as I worked on it and later held it in my lap while hand stitching the binding I wondered about whether or not I should keep it.  It is so soft and feels luxurious!

The truth is that this is probably the best work I’ve done in my quilting thus far.  I’m both very proud of it as an achievement of my goal, and humbled by it as a reminder that I’m blessed to have found this thing called machine quilting – or did it find me? – that brings me so much joy and gives me so many opportunities to grow and share.  This quilt represents some important things to me.

But aside from the philosophical aspects, it also made more clear to me the truth about what “makes my soul shine”: my process, what I do and why I do it, and the importance of knowing those things in my art and crafting life.

When I finished the binding, still feeling just a little bit of doubt as to whether or not I would part with it, I spread it out on my bed and stood back to look at it.  I was immediately detached from it.  I saw it for what it was and appreciated all of it, and at the same time I knew it was just fine to let it go because the process was over.

I know I mention it often, but I feel I cannot stress enough the value of knowing what your personal process is and allowing yourself to appreciate it!

If you would like a serious peek into some of the work I did on this one, check out the first video below.

If you would like a peek into what happens when things don’t go the way you hope they will, check out the second video below.

If you would like a peek into my real life goofy fun, check out the third video with my Happy Dance!

Wishing you all a great weekend!

 

 

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Marshmallow Candy Quilt

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The quilt I saw that inspired me to make this one was done in blues, greens, and lilac and I decided that while ordering my solids for one like that, I should go ahead and pick another color palette as well.  I was attracted to the idea of making strips from solids to give the quilt an interesting color dynamic while keeping it open for intricate quilting designs to show up more clearly, as solids are much better for this than busy prints.  I do enjoy making a quilt that is pretty much all one color, but a mix of solids has proven to be fun as well.  As it turns out, the blue one is still waiting to be quilted because I dove in and did this one first – it reminds me of marshmallow candy 🙂

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I used one thread color overall and I like the way it shows up clearly on some of the strips and blends with others so there is kind of a gradient thing going on that wasn’t necessarily planned but the effect satisfied me.  I’m often surprised by the overall effect of the quilting once I finish a project and spread it out to see what it all looks like! I think I probably defy a lot of basic guidelines for quilting that come from various sources, like planning ahead!  That’s okay because the basics are there to help us when we need them but sometimes we need to go wild.  Obviously, as you can tell from many of my quilts, I prefer to live on the wild side. (This only applies to quilting, however, as I’m generally a fairly cautious and structured person in my daily life!)

Once this one came out of the dryer it was so soft and cushy and marshmallow candy-ish that I couldn’t stop cuddling it.  I even considered keeping it (how often have I said that about a finished quilt?!) but alas, I have to stock up my store as some weeks I sell more quilts than I make and the holidays are coming.

Besides, I did keep one that I just finished.  I had made a quilt last year from the Hello Darling fabric line, and it was so popular in my house that my daughter adopted it for herself.  (She will say that I gave it to her, which I probably did in some conversation I don’t remember …)  I really wanted another one for myself, so I tracked down on eBay the now hard to find layer cake that I wanted, managed to find some coordinating pieces for the border and binding, and then left it sitting on my shelf for a few months while I made other things.

I dug it all out recently and when I looked it over I felt a bit bored with the fabric and wasn’t sure I even wanted it anymore (that’s why I do NOT stash!)  so I decided to make it up and put it up for sale in my shop, since I’m stocking up.  However, when it was all done and laundered and crinkly soft and cuddly, I spread it out and decided that while I’m not overly crazy about some of the fabrics, I still like the overall combination, and having to track down the fabric in a couple of places wasn’t exactly cheap, so  I will keep it.  I didn’t do anything fancy with the stitching because the prints and piecing are busy so the quilting barely shows, but I wanted a nice dense pattern so it would crinkle up properly.

I guess once in a while it’s okay for me to have one for myself 🙂

 

 

 

Number 100

 

100bYAY! My most recent project is now finished and if only bright green fit into my home decor ….

Yet again, upon laying the whole thing out in front of me I was faced with a decision about whether or not to keep a finished quilt, but alas, it isn’t my color so as much as I love it, I know there will be more to come.  I think it’s hard to part with the ones like this that I’ve spent so much time with day after day, putting my creative energy into overdrive.  By the time they’re finished I’m kind of attached 🙂  But I’m also realistic and while some would say “you can never have too many quilts”, there is a limit to how many I can actually store!

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I thought I was pulling out all – well, maybe most of – the stops on this one as I happily stitched away with my favorite quilting thread, but even as I worked on the finishing touches, I had new ideas spinning around, so it’s a good thing I have another “almost whole cloth quilt” sandwiched and ready to go!

Seriously, this wild quilting on solid colored fabric is just about the most fun I can have without landing in jail.

This one is for sale in my Etsy Shop.

 

 

Sneak Peeks

I’m just finishing up quilt #100, so I thought I’d give you a sneak peek at it as well as a couple of other tops that are ready to quilt.

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Greens are so hard to photograph!  They either come out too yellow or too blue, but I kept trying until I got this one which is pretty darn close to real life color.  It’s a close-up just to give an idea of what I’m doing, but the full shots should come tomorrow if I get the binding all finished tonight 🙂

If you haven’t read my previous post about the special giveaway in celebration of my one hundredth quilt, be sure to check it out before Sept. 19th 🙂

Next, I’ll be working on two quilts made with fabrics from the Downton Abbey collection by Andover fabrics.  These might sell quickly as Christmas gifts for fans of the show!  One has light colors from the “Downstairs” collection, and the other has darker colors from the “Lady Rose” and “Lord & Lady” collections.

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Stay tuned!

FMQ The Learning Process

10522024_10154500912115663_6298436020875783683_nToday I was reading the blog post of another quilting lady and I felt that in describing and critiquing her own work she was being much too hard on herself.  So that inspired me to post a picture of one of my early quilting projects and talk a bit about how we judge ourselves and our work. She will probably see this post, but I’m not naming her, so she is the only one who will get the reference and I hope she won’t mind 🙂

(the pictured quilt went to a friend of mine who is also a quilter, so she isn’t going to mind either!)

Depending on how this shows up on your own computer, you might have to zoom in to see what I’m talking about, but if you look at the stitching you’ll see a double loop pattern, some unevenness in stitch length, some not-so-rounded loops (read as “pointed sections”) and there is a lot of empty space that doesn’t balance with the scale of my quilted areas.  I could also mention the terrible time I had on this one with tension and nesting of thread on the bottom while getting used to some of the features of a brand new sewing machine, but after a LOT of picking and a couple of trips back to the store for adjustments and advice, I got those parts fixed up 🙂  I was also still using a lighter weight thread so that my stitching wasn’t overly obvious, although I did take a bit of a leap in using white!

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Thankfully, the friend who got it isn’t the type to look for mistakes and although she is a very careful crafter herself, perfectionism doesn’t hold her back.

But it has often held me back in various areas of my life, and it did hinder me at the beginning of my quilting journey until I really got going with my free motion quilting.  I won’t say that I no longer cringe a bit when something doesn’t look EXACTLY the way I want it to – and obviously if I’ve made a distinct error that is going to bother me, especially on a custom quilting job, I do fix it – but it’s getting easier and easier to give myself a break and start to appreciate what I’ve been able to learn to do and how far I’ve come from those first quilts.

Take another look at the early quilt, and then look at the picture below:

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Are there mistakes?  You bet!  But the point is that when I first started I never thought  I would be doing something like this.  I show you this comparison not to brag, but to encourage anyone who is struggling with learning and feeling like they aren’t doing a good enough job.  Good enough for who?  The more you do it, the better you get, literally and with each and every quilt.  Any improvement is “good enough”!

And pretty soon things that look way beyond your scope come into focus and you start to see how all the little things you’ve learned go together and become one big whole cloth full of really cool stitching and you can stand back and breathe a sigh of satisfaction because you did what you set out to do.  And no it’s not perfect, it’s probably not even competition worthy (I have no desire to be a competitor!) but it’s yours and it’s unique, and that’s something big.

I’m not a quilting teacher; I’m no kind of expert.  I’m just a person who absolutely loves free motion quilting.  I’ve had experienced quilters encourage me and remind me not to be so hard on myself, so I’m sharing that with you.

I’ve learned from online classes and professional teachers who remind us that quilting isn’t about being perfect – perfect is impossible because we’re not machines.  It’s about having fun, learning, and doing our best.  Leah Day reminds us that we don’t learn to free motion quilt by picking out everything that isn’t exactly right.  Angela Walters says that when someone admires our work and compliments us, we should simply say “thank you” instead of launching into a list of reasons why it isn’t as good as they think it is (she suggests that it’s sort of insulting to respond otherwise because it’s like we’re telling the person they are wrong!) because they are looking at the overall effect and not seeing every little picky thing that we see ourselves.

I’ve also noticed that mistakes and glitches I see while quilting are things I’m often not able to find easily once the quilt is finished and I’m looking it over as a whole project.  It’s easy to see them when that one section is right in front of my face in a little area between my two hands because that is exactly what I’m focussing on as I work.  But we need to spread it all out and look at the whole picture (and yes, a finished quilt is a work of art!) and take a minute to appreciate what we have done just then, with what we know how to do 🙂

 

Whole cloth quilt … almost

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Well, here I am again posting pictures of a new quilt before the binding is even finished.  It seems I’m most inspired to write about a quilt when it’s hot off the press!  After I spread it all out and take a look (even I don’t know what it really looks like until that point!) I’m usually pretty excited about it, especially when I’m trying new things and they work! haha

This idea has been on my mind since I started “wild quilting”, working my way up gradually with a couple of smaller projects.  Forgot to count the hours on this one, but I know it’s up in the teens somewhere …

I’ve drooled over the whole cloth quilts I’ve seen, especially the white ones, but somehow making one of those isn’t yet on my must do list.  I think they’re so pretty with the medallions in the centre and all the symmetrical stitching surrounding those from one corner to the other, but I’m afraid I could get bored by the limitation of too many similar things needing to be done.  However, I might just go “wild” and make a snazzy white one with my own style!

For now, there will be a few different colors coming, each with a pop of print somewhere just to keep you guessing.  And I will call them “almost whole cloth quilts”.

Ok, I do actually call them whole cloth because, let’s face it, other than a few squares, blocks or stripes, there’s a lot of blank space.  Like, most of it.

I also have some printed fabrics that need to be pieced into quilt tops  but I have to intersperse those projects with the wild quilting ones because all work and no play makes Ann a dull girl …

**UPDATE: Here it is all bound and pre-washed, ready for its new home.

(This quilt has been sold)

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Sandwiches Anyone?

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So I’ve received a few custom quilting jobs here, and that means it might be a while before I post a completed quilt, but just to keep you posted and involved, I thought we might play a little game.

TWO OF THESE THINGS ARE NOT LIKE THE OTHERS … Do you remember that song from Sesame Street? Well, they sang “one of these things is not like the others …” but what the heck, it still works.

Based on what you’ve already read or heard about where my time is most happily spent (and where it isn’t), take a look at these six quilt sandwiches I’ve made over the past couple of days in preparation for a good couple of weeks or more of quilting.

 

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#1 Red Flowers

 

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#2 Dogs & Cats

 

 

 

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#3 Music Montage

 

 

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#4 Owls

 

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#5 Charm Squares

 

 

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#6 Black & White

 

Can you tell which two are mine?  Be careful, you might get tricked … If you want to take a guess, leave a comment below and the first person to get it right will get a prize.  Not sure what it will be yet, but I’m sure you’ll like it 🙂  Make sure you include a way for me to contact you!

(The two ladies who already know the answer will have to sit this one out – YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!)

 

Hush Little Baby Quilt

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…oops I did it again… (but unlike Britney Spears, I did it on purpose!)

I wild quilted a baby quilt and to make it even more challenging I added some scrappy flower appliques first (will be re-thinking this one …)

It started out as a test for these cute flower cut-outs my mom had. She has a whole whack of them; the stuff came on a bolt and someone – probably my aunt – thought mom needed a couple of yards in each of two color schemes. They already had the bonding agent on the back and it seemed like a good idea for layering parts and getting a nice bright colorful random flower look.  AND I wanted a wide open background to quilt.  Wildly.  So I cut out a few and sewed them on.

Not sure what was on the back, but it gummed up my sewing needle like crazy and my thread broke a few times (read as “abundant profanity ensued”) but once I started I had to keep going or waste the nice pink background so I persisted and finally got them sewn on in a somewhat acceptable manner.  Before I began quilting I laundered the whole top because I wanted to make darn sure that whatever the adhesive was washed out and everything got nice and soft for whichever cute little bundle of joy gets this quilt, instead of remaining stiff.  And it worked, so I was happy and went about quilting.

I wanted to quilt some words in the centre of the large partial flower at the bottom on this one (totally stole that idea from another quilter so I’m just being honest here) and it’s funny to see that my quilted writing actually resembles my handwriting.  I wonder if it’s like that for others too?

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Anyway, I think the whole thing looks pretty cute.  Well actually, when I stitched those tiny flowers inside the bigger flower petals at the top right I thought they were “stinkin’ cute”!  Once again, I’m posting pictures before the super cute checkered binding is sewn to the back because I have difficulty waiting.

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Are you a wild quilter?  Check out Christina Cameli’s class on Craftsy.com if you are interested because she makes it look so easy you’ll want to dig right in.  It’s soooo much fun, it should almost be illegal….

(This quilt has been sold.)

 

The Graffiti Quilt

 

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Well, it’s done.  I hinted about it in my last post and now it’s all finished.  I think I used five M-size bobbins on this one!  I even started getting concerned about the cone on top as I realized how much thread this was using up, even though it was pretty huge.

My initial plan was to do all the stitching with the variegated thread and then go back in with black to outline and add accents.  But honestly, once I finished with the coloured design, I didn’t feel inclined to add the black after all.  It’s harder to tell in the photos, but close up there is a lot of color and I would have really had to make the black lines thick to make them stand apart, and I chose to leave it as it is, rather than risk starting something I might not like in the end.

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I wish I could have made this without any borders, but I couldn’t find good quality white fabric wide enough, so I had to compromise on my original idea and add the black to the edges.  I guess if I wasn’t telling you all my inside thoughts, you wouldn’t know the difference …

 

I HAD to make this because it was on my mind so long and I wanted to give it a try.  But now it’s done and out of my system.  I have to say that I prefer doing the more classic and elegant tone on tone styles myself, like the one in my previous post, but this was definitely worth the effort and I learned more skills and techniques as I moved around on it, so nothing has been wasted, including the 15+ hours of quilting time 🙂

(This quilt has been sold.)