Taking your time

Connie Repro Quilt
Connie Repro Quilt

The secret to an amazing quilt? The inside. That's right --- the part that no one can see. Connie pressed each tiny block in this quilt, and paid a lot of attention to the squaring of each block, and the direction of her seams. When she joined each block together she made sure to alternate her seam allowances, and there are no lumpy areas in this quilt. Waiting until the end of piecing the quilt top) or even the piecing of just one row SEEMS like a time-saver, but in reality you save time by taking care of each tiny issue along the way. This reminds me of something a house painter explained to me years ago. "A wall can only look good painted if it's smooth before the paint is applied. If you paint over all of the lumps and bumps, trying to hide them, you'll still be able to see them in the end."

Adding a feathered over-all design to this quilt in a nice even density enables the eye to go to Connie's accurate piecing and enjoy her vast selection of fabrics. It also makes the back of the quilt as pretty as the front. This quilt measures 103 inches square, and will be used and washed frequently. An over-all design is perfectly suited for a high-use quilt.

Connie's quilt also reminds me of something that George Washington said because I firmly believe in this principal.... people won't remember how QUICKLY you did something, they will remember how WELL you did it. Relax and take a little extra time pressing along the way, and enjoy your piecing. Years later, you'll be happy you did!

All About.....the 1930's!

Susan's quilt design I love vintage quilts, and I love 1930's reproduction fabrics! This pretty quilt was done by Susan Mars, owner of All About Blanks, where you can see the most gorgeous linens and holiday items. Susan is so creative, and she created the layout for this quilt by combining the best ideas from different sources and sprinkling them with her imagination!

I asked Susan how she created this adorable quilt, and here is what she has to say...

"The idea for this quilt began as a Block of the month club from Grandma's Attic." Wanting to expand upon the idea, and do something fun with the setting, Susan went to Block Central and found an idea in the 2008 "Somewhere In Time" quilt. Says Susan, "...it worked out PERFECTLY for my 1930's block of the month.  I made it a little scrappy, using a variety of the 1930's repros for my sashing.  I adore the way it turned out.  I have always wanted to do a 1930's reproduction quilt ...".

Susan, I love your approach!

Holly Lane

Christmas is my favorite time of year, and this quilt tops my list of things that can make me start singing Christmas carols! While working on this beautiful quilt, I could imagine cookies baking, twinkling lights, and the sound of jingle bells.

Bev did a beautiful job piecing this quilt from The Quilt Company, and it was truly a joy for me to do the quilting on it! The quilt is called Holly Lane, and you can see it here. We decided to use Christmas bells, holly leaves, hearts, and stars in the separate borders to add even more fun to the quilt. Each of the four corners has a crisp snowflake. Bev still has a little more work to do. There are red buttons to be sewn on all the way around the outer border, tiny door knobs to add, slower buttons in the windows, and hand-stitched smoke from one of the chimneys. A dark green binding will finish the edges of this quilt. Each house features a layer of high-loft polyester batting to make it really stand out from the background.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Antique Lone Star

I can just imagine how this happened..... Linda's mother started piecing this Lone Star back in 1939. Sometimes, life gets in the way, and she set it aside for "someday".

Years go by, and Mom passed away. Linda and her sister were going through some of Mom's possessions, and they found this project --- that was back in the 1980's. Linda decided that she would be the one to finish this quilt... for Mom.

Years pass again, and the project was set aside... again. Just recently, Linda decided to finish this quilt for her daughter. When she looked at the quilt top, she noticed that the white fabrics were starting to disintegrate from age. She lovingly replaced all of the white fabric, and brought it over for me to quilt it for her.

I was honored (and thrilled!) to be able to finish this quilt! When the binding is put on, it will be displayed with antique photos of.... Mom. How fitting.

Double Wedding Ring

Double Wedding Ring Quilt
Double Wedding Ring Quilt

Have you ever started a project, and then .... just sort of... lost interest in it? That's what happened with this challenging Double Wedding Ring project. Maureen started it a few years ago, and then moved on to other projects before she had a chance to finish this. She intended to make the quilt bed-sized, and was using a set of acrylic templates to make the job easier. Even with the aid of the templates, Maureen packed up the project for a "rainy day", and never went back to it. She was chatting with her friend Pat recently, and Pat said that she had a wedding coming up, and would like to make a Double Wedding Ring as a gift for the couple. Knowing how challenging this would be, Pat decided a lap-sized quilt would be a nice alternative to a bed-sized version. Maureen and Pat worked together to finish this beautiful Double Wedding Ring quilt, and I'm sure the bride and groom will be very happy!

Using Creative Studio, version 4, enabled me to size each design specifically for each tiny section of this quilt. The process was pure joy!

Ornamental Beauty Quilt

Lynnes quilt
Lynnes quilt

Lynne's embroidery is amazing! She chose the designs called Marcia's Ornamental Gardens by Pfaff#398, added a gorgeous batik, and completed a wonderful family heirloom which she has named "Ornamental Beauty"!

There are 19 designs for the 5x5 hoop, and the way Lynne combined all of them to create this beautiful quilt is simply breathtaking!

Click on any picture to be able to see all of the beautiful designs.

Pennsylvania Dutch Coasters

Imagine my surprise when I received these beautiful pictures in the mail! Carol used the Pennsylvania Dutch embroidery collection to make beautiful coasters for her friends. I really like the way these turned out, and I just love the hexagon shape that she used for them. Fantastic!

New Quilting Room!

The remodel has been a while in the making, but it's just about complete now. For all of you that have been here "before", you will really appreciate the changes to the space! I'll take you on a virtual tour, so you can come inside and enjoy the space with me! The first picture that was hung on the wall HAD to be my favorite. It was a gift from my hubby (who is also my biggest fan!).

Let's start at the beginning. This is the view from the stairway as you enter the studio:

Then, when you first go around the corner, you can see the fabric shelves:

......and this is a better view of the shelves. I always have yummy candles nearby!

I have a nice big table to lay out the quilts. Again, I have to thank my hubby for this one:

If you are wondering what that blurry orange light is coming from, that's actually a light box that is connected to the stereo. It flashes different colors depending on the notes in the song. (Big hugs to Dad for that one!).

The embroidery machine is right next to the desk over in this area:

On up the next wall is the table with the computer for customers to choose their designs for the Gammill Statler, and also another table that is folded down against the wall.

Continuing on down the wall, there is the batting rack in the corner:

This is the back wall, and the pictures that are above the carts I use for storage. My bobbin winder is right out there in the open in this picture, but it's easy to stow below.

If I stand behind the quilt machine, and look out into the room, this is part of my view:

I wanted to carve out a little corner for myself. This is where I can work with the Cricut machine and all of those toys:

The last wall brings us back to the staircase, and has a nice warm sunshine design on it. With the mellow color on the walls, it feels like a sunny day all the time!

Hooterville in a Hurry

There are many patterns to choose from these days that are geared toward busy schedules, and this cute quilt from Connecting Threads is one of the best. It features owls that are bright and happy, and the Hooterville kit has all the fabric you need to hand-applique each owl and tree. It's designed by Linda Hohag of Brandywine Designs.

Needing a gift quickly, my friend Linda decided to make the center border from the same fabric as the outer border. Hearts are quilted in the center border, and stars are quilted around the outer edge of the quilt.

To take it one step further, the owls and trees were digitized so each block could be machine embroidered. This gift was finished in a flash! Details were quilted on the owls and trees, and stippling fills all of the white areas. This quilt was fast and fun! Make sure to click each image twice, so you can see the largest version.

Variegated Elephants

Karen decided to make a quilt full of color for a special gift. I love the fabrics she chose for this one! There is every color of the rainbow here --- and that made it hard to choose a thread color. As a solution, we chose all of them!

Variegated threads can be so much fun on a white background. It blends well on all of the colored crayons in this quilt -- even the crayon tips that were almost solid colors.

The special part is the border of variegated elephants walking around the outer border, holding the tail in front of the next elephant.

Click on each picture to see more detail. You can click a second time to make the pictures larger.

SID

OK, who is SID? SID refers to a common expression in quilting -- Stitch In the Ditch. SID can make quilters tremble with fear, because it's a real challenge to stitch exactly in a ditch without wobbling. Many quilters will go to great lengths to avoid learning the process, and some quilters will turn down any job that involves SID.

If you are using a computerized system, you may have been taught to click in lots of places along your seam in an effort to have your stitching match the quilt's slight imperfections. This can consume a TON of time, and it just isn't necessary. Think about it logically --- a straight line consists of only two points, the beginning and the end. Clicking anywhere in between these two points implies that the line is not straight, and that you don't want it to be stitched straight.

I know what you are thinking..... "But my customer hasn't sewn a straight seam!" Or, maybe you are just thinking that SID takes too much time because you have been making too many clicks to accomplish your straight lines. Or "My customer hasn't ironed her quilt correctly!".

Ironing is a topic better saved for another day, but if the quilt top you are getting ready to work on has tragically wobbly seams due to an ironing technique, I'd like to suggest that you spend a few minutes correcting the problems before you mount the quilt on your machine.

In the following example, Linda has sewn perfect seams, and her ironing technique is fantastic, so no issues there.

Linda wanted a slight custom treatment of this quilt, with just a bit of SID. She wanted to highlight the gold areas, and have the striped sections recede just a bit. In order to accomplish this, we decided to do SID only around the gold sections, and have the "logs" all blend together as one area.

If you look verrryyyy closely, you can see that there was just one seam that wasn't ironed perfectly.(And I really had to look hard to find this one! LOL)  I could have clicked about 6 times in order to make the stitching follow the slight wobble, but then that "unstraight" line would be obvious on the back of the quilt which was done in a solid color with contrasting thread.

As you can see from the picture, a better approach to take is to click at the beginning and the end only. If you slow down the speed of the machine just a bit, the fabric can be manipulated with your hands as the machine moves, resulting in a nearly perfect straight line.  Straight lines always look better on the back of the quilt.

The larger flower motifs follow the gold sections, and the smaller designs are in the striped section. The denser quilting makes the stripes recede, which is what Linda wanted for this quilt.

Many people wander whether they should do all of the SID first, and then go back and fill in the areas inside. I don't have a particular preference -- it all depends upon the quilt. If there is a lot of horizontal SID, I like to do that first to stabilize the entire piece. I may do SID near the upper border(s), and then more near the belly bar, knowing that the entire area is now stable and I can "wander around" in an efficient manner. If the SID is mostly vertical, I don't worry as much as long as I keep an eye on keeping the quilt square as I work. If there is diagonal SID, as there was in this quilt, I do prefer to do that first so that everything is held in place before the designs are entered.

On your next small project, try incorporating SID. Even if you don't use it between every block, SID can be very effective making certain areas recede and allowing other areas to move forward. You will be happier with the backs of your quilts, too. Keep in mind that a straight line only has one point at the beginning, and one at the end, and your project should move along quickly. Mastering SID is something that takes practice, but you will be very happy when you have mastered the technique.

Surface Textures

Anita Shackelford has been an admired and respected quilt artist for quite some time. In 1997, she released her book "Surface Textures". This book is as valuable today as it was more than 10 years ago.

The book begins with "the history of raised work", with photos dating back to the 1700's and 1800's. Continuing on, Anita guides you through the process for making corded channels, padded work, stuffed work, feathers, and textured applique. Toward the end of the book, you will become acquainted with stippling patterns such as grids, echos, serpentine, rosettes, teardrops, and more. Finally, there is a chapter on suggested projects including clothing, home decor, and crafts.

Truly, a wonderful book for your library.

Quiltscapes

I've just finished reading "Quiltscapes" by Rebecca Barker. I have to say, it was one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had in a long time. These quilts (there are 24 of them featured in this book) all convey feelings of warmth and history.

The author grew up on a dairy farm in Oxford, Ohio. Living in Ohio now, all of these scenes touch my heart. Rebecca has been painting ever since she was a child, and took up quilting in the 1980's. In 1994, she decided to bring quilts into her landscape paintings. Her first painting depicted a quilt hung from a clothesline in the foreground, and a farm landscape in the background. I'm sure many of you are familiar with this painting.

In her book "Quiltscapes", Rebecca includes full-sized patterns for all of the quilts that are shown in her paintings. This book is a valuable resource for patterns, and belongs on a coffee table -- not hidden away on a shelf. You will turn to it again and again, for inspiration --- and for peaceful feelings of home.

Here is a partial quote from the actual product description at Amazon: "Each evokes impressions of the pleasant and positive places that form the patchwork of our lives. Included are the patterns for piecing or appliqueing the blocks depicted in the paintings. Quilt makers can choose from 24 well loved blocks, such as Whig Rose, Palm Leaf, Rose of Sharon, Wild Rose Wreath, Orange Basket, and Church Windows. "

This book is a must read, and makes a wonderful gift!

Whole-cloth?

Is it a whole-cloth quilt? Or, just a solid backing on a colorful quilt? In this case, it's both!  I always like the back of the quilts to be as pretty as the front, and this quilt really lends itself to that idea.

Linda made four quilts using a pattern from Pat Sloan's web site. Each one of them is different, and each has a different backing fabric.  These quilts are real stash-busters! Linda's piecing is fantastic, and I really enjoy using a contrasting thread on the back of these quilts, because it enables the quilt to be just as dramatic from the back as it is from the front.  This black fabric features gold Sew Fine thread from Superior. It's color number 421, and it's one of my favorites on just about any fabric!

Using a zero margin for a seam allowance keeps everything as close to the edge as possible, without the need for stitching in the ditch except for all of the contrast areas. I had to keep a careful eye on this, to make sure the design didn't "leak" into the wrong areas, but I think the outcome is well worth the time spent.

Enjoy the pictures of the front of the quilt below!

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!

Recipes?

The Oreo Cheesecake recipe from The Cheesecake Factory is worth having this book -- even if you never made anything else!  I'll be cooking my way through this wonderful edition in between quilts, and I hope you want to join me!  Ron Douglas reveals copycat versions of carefully guarded secret restaurant recipes and shows family chefs how to prepare them at home, saving time and money. With these easy and mouth-watering recipes, families can enjoy a night out in their very own kitchens.

 


Even though I would rather be quilting than cooking, we all have to stop and eat once in a while, right? Just to give you an idea of what's included in this book (and no drooling on your keyboard!), here's a table of contents:

Applebee's: -baby back ribs -bacon green onion mashed potatoes -chicken quesdilla grande -crispy orange chicken skillet -fiesta lime chicken -garlic mashed potatoes -low fat grilled tilapia w/ mango salsa -santa fe chicken -spinach pizza -tomato basil soup -walnut blondie w/ maple butter sauce

Arby's: -apple turnovers -barbecue sauce

Arthur Treacher's: -fried fish

Bahama Breeze: -jamaican jerk grilled chicken wings

Baskin-Robbins: -cheesecake ice cream

Benihana: -hibachi steak -japanese fried rice

Bennigan's: -broccoli bites -honey mustard dressing -hot dressing dressing -linguine diablo -onion soup

Boston Market: -creamed spinach -cucumber salad -dill potato wedges -macaroni & cheese -meatloaf -spicy rice -squash casserole -stuffing

Brooklyn Cafe: -sun dried tomato seared scallops

Bullfish Grill: -shrimp & cheese grits

California Pizza Kitchen: -bbq chicken pizza -chicken tequila fertuccine

Carrabba's Italian Grill: -italian butter -meatballs

The Cheesecake Factory: -avocado egg rolls -banana cream cheesecake -cajun jambalaya pasta -chicken fettuccine -crab cakes -oreo cheesecake -pumpkin cheesecake

Chi-Chi's: -baked chicken chimichangas -pork tenderlion w/ bourbon sauce -salsa verde chicken kabobs -steak & mushroom quesdillas

Chili's: -baby back ribs -beef fajitas -chicken enchilada soup -chocolate chip paradise pie -margarita grilled chicken -salsa -southwestern chicken chili -sounthwestern vegetable soup

Church's: -fried chicken

Cracker Barrel: -baby limas -banana pudding -cherry chocolate cobbler -fried apples

Dairy Queen: -heath blizzard -ice cream -onion rings

Denny's: -country fried steak -country gravy

Dollywood: -dipped chocolate chip cookies

El Pollo Loco: -beans -pollo asada

Hard Rock Cafe: -baked potato soup -bbq beans -bbq ribs -homemade chicken noodle soup -pulled pork -shrimp fajitas

Hardee's: -cinnamon "flake" biscuits

Hooter's: -buffalo shrimp -buffalo wings

Houston's: -buttermilk garlic dressing -spinach & artichoke dip

IHOP: -banana nut pancakes -colorado omelet -cream of wheat pancakes -pancakes -swedish pancakes

Joe's Crab Shack: -crab cakes -etouffee -rice pilaf -seafood stuffed mushrooms -seafood stuffing -stuffed shrimp en brochette

Johnny Carino's: -5 cheese chicken fettuccine

Junior's: -famous no. 1 cheesecake

KFC: -buttermilk biscuits -honey barbecue wings -original recipe fried chicken

Luby's Cafeteria: -spaghetti salad

Macaroni Grill: -chocolate cake w/ fudge sauce -focaccia -insalata florentine -pasta gamberetti e pinoli -reese's peanut butter cake -sesame shrimp -shrimp portofino

Olive Garden: -angel hair & 3 onion soup -beef fillets in balsamice sauce -bread sticks -brushetta al pomodoro -chicken crostina -chicken san marco -chocolate lasagna -fettuccune alfredo -fettuccine assorito -5 cheese lasagna -fried mozzarella -lemon cream cake -oven roasted potatoes -pasta e fagioli -pizza bianco -pork filettino -salad dressing -sangria -tiramisu -tuscan tea -zuppa toscana

Outback Steakhouse: -cyclone pasta -honey wheat bushman bread -key lime pie -marinated steak -walkabout soup

Panda Express: -orange flavored chicken

Panera Bread: -asian sesame chicked salad -broccoli cheese soup

Pat's King Of Steaks: -philly cheesesteak

Perkins Restaurant & Bakery: -pancakes

P.F.Changs: -chicken lettuce wrap -chicken w/ black bean sauce

Pizza Hut: -cavatini

Planet Hollywood: -cap n' crunch chicken

Popeye's: -cajun rice -dirty rice

Rainforest Cafe: -blue mountain grilled chicken sandwich -crab cakes -safari sauce

Red Lobster: -batter fried shrimp -casear dressing -cajun shrimp linguine -cheddar biscuits -clam chowder -deep fried catfish -dungeness crab bisque -fried chicken tenders -grouper siciliano -hush puppies -lobster fondue -shrimp diablo -south beach seafood paella -trout veracruz

Roadhouse Grill: -roast beef & mashed potatoes

Ruby Tuesday: -chicken quesdillas -shrimp pasta parmesan -sonoran chicken pasta -super salad bar pasta

Ruth Chris's Steak House: -barbecued shrimp

Shoney's: -marinated mushrooms -pot roast -tomato florentine soup

The Soup Nazi: -crab bisque -cream of sweet potato soup -indian mulligatawny soup -mexican chicken chili'

Starbucks: -chocolate fudge squares w/ mocha glaze -ginger bread n loaf

Subway: -sweet onion sauce

Taco Bell: -beef chalupa supreme -burrito supreme -enchirito -mexican pizza

T.G.I. Friday's: -baked potato skins -broccoli cheese soup -honey mustard dressing -jack daniels dipping sauce -orange cream -shrimp mainara -sizzling chicken & cheese

Union Pacific: -apple pancakes -grilled white pekin duck breast

Stash Envy?

Stash Envy! Author Lisa Boyer is an expert quilter and here teaches the quirky, funny side of quilting in a book packed with quilting humor. From sharing ugly fat quarters at a fabric exchange to crocheting doilies as a motivator for returning to quilting, STASH ENVY AND OTHER QUILTING CONFESSIONS AND ADVENTURES will be the perfect gift for any avid quilter who 'already has everything'.

I just LOVED this book! Make sure you get one for yourself, and a few copies as gifts for your friends!

Adding Motion To Embroidery

Boys at Play Quilt
Boys at Play Quilt

Some of my favorite quilts incorporate both piecing and embroidery or applique. Having that "little bit of extra" in certain blocks can create a real challenge --- and I LOVE a challenge!

This quilt features very detailed embroidery designs. Each stitch is perfect! I'm not a fan of quilting over top of embroidery, if it's possible to avoid it. I would rather do something special in the background, especially when the design that's quilted serves the purpose of adding to the embroidery, and not detracting from it. The design that I used is from Stitch Happy, and is called Vortex. I think it really gives a feeling of motion to these little boys (as if little boys don't already create enough motion! LOL!).

This embroidery is from a collection named "Boys at Play", and is available from Priscilla Madsen of Madsen Originals.

Echo Quilting

The "Song of the Heart" collection of designs from Madsen Originals really captured my imagination! These designs are exquisite, and I would never think of quilting over top of them!

I wanted to have the white background area stay nice and flat, so I couldn't just leave it empty. I decided to record my stitches as I quilted right next to each design. Then, I echoed my stitches 13 times for each block, at one third of an inch apart. This filled the entire background of the block. I used the Trim function to remove the excess stitches that I didn't want, which left me with just enough stitches to have everything lay nice and flat. I added a little bit of stippling freehand inside of the hearts.

Priscilla wanted all four borders around the outside to appear as if it were one border, and to be lightly quilted so it would not detarct from the embroidery designs -- good choice!