custom quilting

Route 66 Quilt

route 66

 I had the pleasure of quilting one of the Route 66 quilts from Crabapple Quilt Studio recently. What an absolute thrill! The proper name of the pattern is Vintage Tin --- perfect!

According to their description of the pattern: "Vintage cars, trucks and cycles cruise down Route 66 on this 63 1/2" x 69 1/2" quilt. Simple, simple stitching and easy piecing make this quilt a snap. The perfect gift for the men in your life! There's even a quilt label included that "reads" like a speeding ticket! A giant step into the past...how much fun is this??"

And I have to add how much fun it was to quilt! There was lots of hand embroidery, and all of the designs just added to the "flavor" of the quilt. If you have been considering getting this one, I strongly encourage you to do so right away. You will love every minute of working on it!

Love Quilt

Just in time for Valentine's Day We've had so many requests for finished quilts! In response to those requests, we have decided to start featuring completed quilts, and making them available to you for purchase. Just in time for Valentine's Day, our Love Quilt is the first quilt in a new venture for Candy Apple Quilts! This quilt measures 60 inches by 53 inches -- just the right size for snuggling with your sweetheart. There are eight different shades of red and pink 100% cotton fabrics. The border features a double heart stitched in each section, with a scalloped outer edge. The binding is finished completely by hand, with the quality that you have come to expect from Candy Apple Quilts. Small hearts are stitched in the center area -- and the center square has a light feather design. Please click on each of the pictures below to enlarge them, and look at the fine details. This item has a 100% satisfaction guarantee! If you aren't happy for any reason, just return the quilt to Candy Apple Quilts in it's original condition, and you will receive a refund of your purchase price. Order yours today to receive it in time for Valentine's Day. Just 299.99 plus shipping. Only one available, so order quickly!

ITEM SOLD -- PLEASE WATCH FOR OTHER QUILTS AVAILABLE SOON!

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.

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.

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.

Calligraphy Art

This embroidery collection from Priscilla Madsen of Madsen Originals is one of my favorites. If you look closely, you can see beautiful birds in each of the embroideries. Priscilla wanted quilting that would emphasize the gorgeous fabric she used for this quilt. Here is a screen shot of the layout that we used:

Each embroidered block has a small stipple, combined with a little bit of stitching following the embroidery to hold the layers together. If you click on each of the pictures, you can see close-ups of the designs that are included in this collection called "Calligraphy Art". You can also see the back of the quilt, which shows the designs that were placed in the blocks that were not embroidered.

Working with Minkee

I have a love/hate relationship with Minkee — but mostly love! Leslie brought two quilts recently that both have Minkee involved. One of the quilts had a Minkee backing, and the other quilt featured Minkee on the front for applique fabrics. Minkee can be tricky to work with on a longarm machine. Keeping the stretch parallel to the rollers will help to keep the stretchiness of a wild Minkee backing  tamed. Also, keeping the side clamps very loose —- so loose that you will think that the quilt top looks rather baggy —- will also help you to avoid having the backing shrink up when you remove the quilt from the machine. The most important tip I like to pass along is: REMEMBER NOT TO ROLL THE QUILT TOO TIGHTLY.  If that’s the only tip you remember, you will avoid a lot of headaches.

Backings pieced from Minkee should be avoided if possible. Because of the thickness of the Minkee, the seam on the backing can show through to the front of the quilt. Also, it’s a bit difficult to piece Minkee without having it slide around, causing a backing that looks square on the table to look like this on the machine:

If this backing had been pieced out of any other fabric but Minkee, I would have removed it from the machine and done the piecing over. As it was, I held my breath and let the extra fabric be absorbed by the dense snowflakes that would be quilted on it.

If you have any frustrations during the process of working with Minkee, just slide your hand across the wonderful fabric and you will be guaranteed to smile!

If you would like to experiment with a little touch of Minkee, but don’t want to use it for the entire quilt, consider using it for your appliqué fabric. Leslie brought over a quilt that had adorable elephants appliquéd on it, and she used various pieces of Minkee as the appliqué fabric. She used flat Minkee, striped, nubby… a little bit over everything. The elephants look so cute with the little bows on their heads!

Border pucker panic? Use steam!

Border panic? Quilting condition? Surprise hiccup?  Just what can you say when you approach a section of a wonderfully pieced quilt that has a tricky situation that you didn't notice before mounting the quilt top on the machine? This quilt has lots of gorgeous fabrics in it, and the blocks and borders were nice and flat when I looked at the quilt laying flat on a table. After I had done a row or two, something on the left side caught my eye. What's that?!?!?!  Oh my gosh, where did that come from? It was a pucker that appeared overnight when I wasn't looking! Uh-oh

After rolling back and forth a couple of times, I noticed that there were a few of the sneaky little devils in this border. Funny thing, though.... every other border was perfect.

Border excess

I decided to stabilize the entire area, because it was too late to take the quilt off of the machine and remove the borders. This is how it looked with a little stitch in the ditch to hold all of the layers in place:

Border puckers

Time to heat up the steam iron. It never ceases to amaze me how much excess I can remove with just a gentle shot of steam. (Hint ..... this works particularly well when the fabrics have not been steamed during the assembly process. I have been asking all of my customers if they used steam during piecing whenever I see an issue with their quilts.)After just two shots of steam, the fabric was already starting to behave better.

After steaming

Since this border was on the side of the quilt, I decided to wait until the entire quilt was finished before I turned it to deal with this problem. Traveling through the rest of the quilt was easy, and I made sure that everything remained nice and square. After finishing, I turned the quilt and remounted it to work on this border. One more shot of steam now. I kept both hands near the needle as the design stitched, enabling any excess to be evenly distributed. The finished border was perfectly flat in the trouble area:

Finished border

You can see that the problem did not migrate further down the border:

Excess gone

I would recommend this method for borders -- or blocks -- that are giving you trouble with puffiness!

Austin block layout

This quilt was made with blocks chosen from Quilter's Cache. You can see the Austin block here, and the layout for the quilt here.

How should I quilt this?

Everyday, I hear this same question --- how should I quilt this?  Anyone in the business of doing long arm quilting knows that there are a hundred different ways to approach the same quilt top. OK, maybe not a hundred .... but you know what I mean. Customers who bring their quilt tops in for quilting service are often at a loss for what would look best on their quilt top. They have spent countless hours creating a family keepsake, and when it is finished they want to have a quilt that will be beautiful enough to pass down to future generations. Often, these folks have spent quite a bit of money (in addition to all of that time!) on fabrics, patterns, books, batting, tools --- maybe even classes to learn how to make this beautiful quilt. But when I ask them how they envision the final step -- the actual quilting -- some are at a loss with what approach to take.

There are a few things to consider in this decision making process. Most importantly --- how will this quilt be used when it is completed? Will it be hanging on a wall, resting on a table top, or used on a bed or as a lap quilt? If the finished quilt is going to be used on a bed and frequently laundered, then the best method of quilting is usually an overall design, known in quilt lingo as an "edge to edge" design. The more often a quilt is laundered, the more the layers shrink causing the tiny details in some quilt designs to become lost in the texture of the surface.

On the other hand, if a quilt will be used as a table topper, or on a wall, or in a quilt contest ... then custom quilting of small individual areas will really make the quilt top sparkle.

Will the quilt be going to a child or adult as a gift? Are there any fabrics in the quilt that could bleed if the quilt was laundered? If the quilt is a gift, think about the type of designs that would suit the recipient of the quilt  --- masculine, feminine, juvenile, etc. Will the dog be sleeping on it?

To show you an example of the same quilt done in two entirely different methods, I have taken pictures to demonstrate.

Barb's quilt with each block done individually

We knew that this quilt would be hung on a wall, and used for decorative purposes only. Therefor, it was an easy decision to stitch each block and sash separately, and use another design in the outer border.

This same quilt, used as a laptop quilt, is much better suited to having the "edge to edge" approach.

There is an even distribution to the quilting stitches. When this quilt is laundered repeatedly, it will remain looking nice for many years to come.

While cost and end use are considerations when making a quilting choice, the most important thing to remember is that you are the artist! After spending so many hours to achieve the finished quilt, you may have a vision of how you want to see the quilt finished. Always work together with a long arm quilter who can share your vision, or who can help you decide what that vision should be.