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Painted Denim Shirt

OK.... some times I get just a little bit carried away.  I just love to sit and look at all of the pretty quilt designs that I have on my computer.... but they seem so lonely in there.  They want to come out and play!  I decided to use some of them on the front of a denim shirt.  Then, I added fabric paint and crystals!  It was just way too much fun to do!

Painted Denim Shirt
Painted Denim Shirt

 I just LOVE the Swarovski crystals, and the best place to buy them is from Designs by Dawn. She has so many to choose from, and is wonderful to her customers!

I've included lots of close-up pictures for you. Enjoy!

Patriotic Eagle Quilt

I was thrilled when Barbara brought this quilt in to be finished!  I love anything patriotic, and this was a true original! It's based on a Lone Star quilt, with the different areas being changed to suit the design of the eagle in the center section.  Barbara took it a step further though, and added her own ideas for the borders.  Using her embroidery software, she added lettering in the large outer border, and also appliqued swags.

 

I love the circle of stars that she designed!

 

And the back is striking too, because we decided to use various colors to match the stitching on the front:

All of the pictures are below.  Make sure to "open" them by clicking on each one, and then clicking again, so that you can make them larger and see all of the detail.

Combining Computerized & Freehand

Once in a while, it's fun to combine the precision of computerized quilting with a little bit of freehand stitching. Both methods were used to complete a quilt featuring an embroidery collection called "Butterflies and Flowers 2" from Priscilla Madsen of Madsen Originals.

Make sure to see the close-up pictures of this beautiful embroidery!

The Quilts of Gee's Bend

Close-up of Ellen's quilt Ellen brought this quilt in to me the other day, and she had the perfect vision of how she wanted it quilted! Her perfect piecing made my job pure pleasure. We used the stand-alone feature of Creative Studio software to plan out her vision, and then executed her ideas to reflect her wonderful choices!

I did a little research on the women of Gees Bend and found their web site, The Quilts of Gee's Bend, Quilters Collective History, here.

According to the web site, "The women of the Gee's Bend Quilters Collective all live in the area of Rehoboth and Boykin, Alabama.Throughout much of the twentieth century, making quilts was considered a domestic responsibility for women in Gee's Bend. As young girls, many of the women trained or apprenticed in their craft with their mothers, female relatives, or friends; other quilters, however, have been virtually self-taught. Women with large families often made dozens upon dozens of quilts over the course of their lives."

You can meet these amazing women here.

I look forward to seeing more of these quilts! Be sure to look at the various pictures so you can appreciate Ellen's quilt!

Wildflower Quilt by Smith Street

Wildflower Quilt I was lucky to receive this quilt done by Lyn Christian of A Design by Lyn. The colors are amazing, and the flowers are gorgeous! She is truly and artist! If you have a chance to go to Lexington, Kentucky to take a class taught by Lyn, you will never forget it! I'm going to let her tell her story here about her thoughts and experiences making this quilt.

"This is Wildflowers by Smith Street ......

I will be teaching this class at my local shop "Q is for Quilting", here in Lexington, Kentucky. When I was asked to teach this class, I thought WOW...this should be fun!  I looked at the pattern and I immediately remembered being a child growing up in Wisconsin. The forest floor had wonderful spots of sunlight and there were bursts of colors from the amazing flowers and ferns.

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Excitedly, I researched the flower names and what the colors would be.  The trillium was the first one I researched.  I know wild trilliums to be WHITE with just a tiny touch of pink as they start to fade.  You can look into the Wisconsin woods on a spring day and think there is fresh snow on the ground because the trilliums truly carpet the forest floor.

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The colors on the quilt pattern were deep orangey reds and such.  I decided to use a bit of creative license -- I wanted my version of this quilt to have what I remembered for colors of these flowers as I walked with my mom and dad.  After all, there are no quilt police that will take my pattern away if I don't follow it word by word and color by color and fabric by fabric!  So off I went on a new adventure -- choosing fabrics!

16This pattern is a great one to let you bring lots of YOU into it.  I can visualize this quilt done in colors of the sky (with blues and pastels), to colors of the earth and forest (like I have done), to calico patchworks of the fields.  Let your imagination be your guide as you choose your fabrics.  In this quilt, many of the borders and sashes are different...as are the trees, and plants and foundations of the forest floor -- but I think it would be as beautiful done simply, with just a few choice fabrics that are well loved. It would feel like a planned garden, peaceful and serene.

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There is a method for doing applique included with the pattern. I use an alternate method for all of my applique designs, and I was certain that my method would work for these designs too. I wrote to the designer, and asked for permission to rework the designs so I could teach my method of applique to my students.The designer was great and gave me permission to do just that.  I changed the steps for marking and tack down, and this has really simplified the process for the applique.

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Making small changes can really have a big impact in your quilts! This alternate applique method has brought those blooms right off the fabric!  I also took away some of the secondary fabrics on the centers and chose embroidery threads that would add dimension.  My next step is to add some very tiny crystals in matching colors --  I want it to seem as if drops of dew have formed in a few places to catch a fracture of light and draw the eye to the quilt.  I added dimension to some of the flowers using specialty fabrics like ultra suede  and dimensional fabrics for stamens and such to bring it off the flat background.

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This was a fun project to do, and it really gave me the opportunity to think outside the box. This pattern is available directly from Smith Street Designs, and includes directions for multiple sizes. And if you are near the Lexington, Kentucky area stop into the shop and take a class -- I guarantee you will have fun!"

Ribbons and Bows

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Sue Jackson of Sue's Sew EZ Designs created a pattern "Ribbons and Bows" that is just perfect for the cause. It can be used as a remembrance -- or -- made in different colors for a totally different look! Ribbons and Bows

Marie made this adorable quilt for Taylor with so much love. She started with the Ribbons and Bows pattern, and took it a step further by changing the color scheme to beautiful shades of blue and teal. This quilt will be hanging in Taylor's bedroom, and it's a perfect gift for a wonderful young lady! I asked Marie to tell me a little bit about Taylor, and she said "Taylor will be turning 11 on her birthday in early January. She is in 6th grade and her cheerleading squad is going to regional competition. She is a very classy young lady and I think this quilt just suits her." I agree! The pretty fabrics that Marie used to make this quilt are very classy, and embroidering her name on it is just the perfect finishing touch!

Most of the patterns used in this quilt are from One Song Needle Arts, including the background section around the bow. I added two layers of polyester batting behind the bow, stitching along the edges, and then trimmed away the excess.

Polyester batting

This was done on my regular sewing machine, but I could have just as easily done it on the longarm machine. When this stage is complete, the results can be a bit puffy, as shown in the picture below:

Puffy bow

The quilting that happens afterward tames everything down in the surrounding area.

Finished trapunto

After all of the extra batting was trimmed, I mounted the quilt in the usual manner. All of the borders have special treatments to them, including modifying designs to fit in between the "ribbon" sections. Marie wanted to tell Taylor how much she loves her, so we chose to quilt "I love you" all the way around one of the borders.

ILY border

I think Taylor will be very happy to receive this quilt!

Click twice on any of the pictures to enlarge them.

Summer Sunflowers to Last All Year

Summer is truly gone. When sunflowers are in bloom, we know the end is near. Now that all signs of the sunflowers have disappeared, we know it's time to settle in and watch the falling leaves change to falling snow flakes. My friend June has created a way to enjoy her favorite sunflowers all year. She stitched this wall-hanging in bright and bold colors that are guaranteed to keep the winter blues at bay. Sunflower

Just take a peek at her creative corners! These notched corners will be fun to bind, and will lend an intrigueing shape to this kitchen wall-hanging project.

Corner

Surrounding the central area, you will find lots of bright colors that are taken from the quilt background. Each tiny area was quilted separately. The finished project will be warming hearts all year long.

Click on each picture for larger versions.

Not Really Knots

Here's another favorite quilt from Kim Montagnese of Colorz My World called Not Really Knots. Kim uses a new applique process that she created to make two different blocks that repeat throughout the quilt --- giving the feel of Celtic Knots without the complicated methods of creating them. The process is sheer genius! You can reach Kim for patterns and classes at: Montagnese@oh.rr.com

I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I enjoyed working on this quilt!

Cheaper isn't always.... well.... cheaper!

In today's economy, everyone is concerned about getting the most for their money. I'd like to show you how to do a little comparison shopping when you are ready to have your quilt top turned into a family treasure. Most people in the quilting industry price their service per square inch. It's quick, logical, and fair. An overall pattern will be less expensive per square inch than a custom or heirloom quilting service.

I decided to do some research on quilting prices, because the rates at Candy Apple Quilts have not gone up in a few years now, and I have seen quite a lot of variance across the pricing board. In an effort to glean the most accurate info, I interviewed 17 quilters nationwide, and 3 more who are in my general vicinity, for a total of 20 comparison companies. I intentionally chose quilters with rates starting at 1.5 cents per square inch to see if they were indeed cheaper in the long run. I compiled all of the information into a spreadsheet, and renamed the least expensive quilter "Company X" for our purposes here.

Look at the chart below, and it will be easy for you to follow along with the logic. 

Price comparison
Price comparison

When pricing your quilting service, you need to ask questions about extra charges. Each of the 20 companies that I interviewed had extra charges for various services, including the edge treatments, the threads chosen, and set-up and turning fees. As you can see from the chart above, I have listed a few of these fees so you could get an idea of how much they typically run. While looking at the rows titled "Set-up fee" and "Edge-trimming fee", notice that these charges are not in the Candy Apple Quilts pricing structure. In my way of thinking, asking for a set-up fee is comparable to a mechanic charging you to pull your car into the garage so he can work on it! You will never see a set-up fee here. As for the treatment of the edges of your quilt.... that's another area where I firmly stand my ground.

When you receive your quilted project, you want to be able to get your binding on RIGHT NOW --- right? The last thing you need to deal with is sloppy basting stitches, or even worse -- an overall pattern that runs off the edges of your quilt and into the "batting no-man's-land". It can ruin the quilting design along the edges of your quilt, and it can also make it harder for you to attach your own binding. All of the edges done by Candy Apple Quilts are machine-sewn with a regular stitch length (not basted) just inside of the binding line, making it easy for you to have a guide-line to follow when attaching binding. All excess batting is trimmed away cleanly and evenly. You know how hard it can be to do that trimming if you don't have a quilt-sized table to work on! Your quilts are returned to you "ready to go" --- you just sit down and bind. Or, we can do that too!

Back to the chart above.... lots of folks work through their local quilt shop, and some quilt shops take a portion of the final price, or a "cut" of twenty to thirty percent that gets added on top. Ouch! You will never find that at Candy Apple Quilts, either! The example uses a hypothetical quilt that is 45 inches square, and shows the pricing for an overall design at 2 cents for Candy Apple Quilts versus 1.5 cents for Company X. You can easily see by the total at the bottom of each column that cheaper is not always.... well ..... cheaper!

Click here for a complete pricing schedule, including sample pictures of each quilting type!

Spring Fresh!

Karen has really captured the freshness of the season with this quilt! I'm always awed by her fabric choices, and her piecing... but this is my favorite one so far.Spring Fresh Quilt I just love everything about this quilt --- the hydrangeas are gorgeous! Karen and I both think of fresh linens and sunny spring days when we look at these fabrics, and I think she chose the perfect feathered design for the quilting!

Placemats to embroider!

embroidered1
embroidered1

There have been lots of requests for these placemats, and we have various colors to choose from! Just think of what you can do with these! You can use them unadorned, and embroider them when you have some free time. You can make a set for yourself, and your best friend at the same time. You can turn them into book covers, cake or bread baskets, tote bags or make-up bags --- the possibilities are endless! 

This has been one of our top sellers in embroidery blanks! Check back often for new colors, or feel free to contact us with a specific request. You can also send in your own fabric --- this makes it easy for you to coordinate with your existing items! With custom orders, we will need a 2-3 week lead time to create your special items.

What you will receive with your order: Four placemats measuring 18 x 13 inches that are all in one large panel. You will have extra fabric surrounding the placemats that you can use to test your embroidery stitches, or painting techniques, or coloring ideas. You will be supplying your own binding fabric so that you can coordinate colors with your embroidery stitches or make a set of matching napkins. If you want the exact matching fabric for the placemats, please make sure to order it as a separate item.

Due to high demand, placemats are temporarily out of stock --- please check back soon.

The design that is embroidered on the peach placemat above is from A Design by Lyn and is called One by One. Thank you, Lyn!

tea-time
tea-time

This placemat features an adorable butterfly from Designs Sew Fine and is part of the Butterflies II collection.  A contrasting fabric was added to the edge of the placemat, and finished just like a small quilt. This is a great idea! You can make napkins to coordinate with your binding! Download a PDF with instructions now, and you can see how easy it is to create your own custom look!



Quilted Mantel Scarf

christmas-mantel-scarf
christmas-mantel-scarf

Here's a project I've been wanting to do for quite some time .... a Christmas mantel scarf.

Using a design called Heirloom Lace from One Song Needle Arts, I quilted six repeats of the design across a fabric panel that was 84 inches wide. The total height of the design is just a little bit over 18 inches. When the designs were complete, I put another layer across the top of the "quilt sandwich" while it was still on the machine.  Straight lines were sewn down the sides and across the bottom --- leaving the top edge open for turning. I trimmed all of the excess fabric, clipped the points, and turned the facing inside out. Minimal pressing was required to smooth out the points, and the top edge was serged closed.

I have had many requests for this item to be included in our section for embroidery blanks! Coming soon -- a bright winter white, and an antique shade of off-white.

See below for more pictures. 

How a stitch is formed

I received this little video today from a very kind gentleman, and I just had to share it with you! Neither of us can find the originator of it, but it's not from lack of trying.... This displays how a stitch is formed. You can see how the rotary hook spins around, capturing the thread from the needle, and actually forming the stitch. If your top tension is too tight, the rotary hook cannot form the stitch, and you will have skipped stitches throughout your quilt top.

The formation of stitches

A visit to the 1930's

There is just something heart-warming about working with the 30's reproduction fabrics. It can take me back in time to a simpler way of life, and I just love the colors!

This quilt features one of my favorite colors. They called it "cheddar", and that name fits perfectly!

This quilt had a lot of hand work done on it --- all of the tiny fan blades were applied on a white foundation with tiny little hand stitches. You can just barely see them in the close-up:

We added tiny hearts to the narrow green border, and hearts with streamers in the outer green squares. Just the right touch for a feminine feel! Next time you feel like taking a trip down memory lane (even if you weren't around in the 1930's!), consider making one of the various patterns for all of the luscious reproduction fabrics that are currently available!