Monday, September 14, 2015


As the transition from Summer to Fall gets completely underway in our household I look forward to new adventures both with my kids growing up and new work ventures. With my kids back at school I have more time to be in the studio working on plans for teaching. Every time I start a class sample I find a few new classes lurking within the process. Staying focused is the big challenge for me but I really love the possibilities that exist within this exploration. I started working on a sample for my upcoming  QuiltCon class, Piece as you Quilt. In this class students will learn how to use their longarm for the very popular QAYG (Quilt as you go) method of piecing and quilting simultaneously. This is a great technique for creating quilted panels which can be used for a million different projects. I have made tote bags, throw pillows, placemats and pot holders...the list goes on and the possibilities are endless.

 Pictured below are a few boxy totes made from QAYG panels that were quilted on a domestic machine but I have found the Longarm to be a much quicker way to get these panels made.

The technique I use is log cabin based and has a very improvisational feel. Below is the first panel that I experimented with.

 I have been finding ways to incorporate gentle curves, as well as the "illusion" of curves with the quilting, this process is very relaxing. Be warned, if you experiment with this you may never want to do anything else on your longarm again.
After feeling like I was gaining proficiency I decided to try my hand at a larger project...dare I say a quilt....pieced entirely on the longarm. Definitely easier said than done and I'm pretty sure I learned more about what one should NOT do than what you should do. Regardless,  I have come to really love this process, and I hope I am able to organize it enough to comfortably teach it in the future. For me it has been very freeing and a complete escape from many of the quilting rules(both real and imagined) that I have tried to abide by over the last ten years. 
Technically, the quilt I have created is somewhat of a eloquently displayed on the solid white fabric I brilliantly chose for the back. There is a lot of raw edge piecing and very messy quilting throughout. I have to admit, if you are a perfectionist this may not be the technique for you, but if you are willing to take a leap of faith you may want to join me once I figure out how to teach this.
I began with a 45" square piece of white solid fabric for the back, yep, there it is big mistake number one. Note to self, if quilting may be questionable use a busy back, or at the least don't use SOLID WHITE.
  I floated a similar sized piece of batting and began in the middle. I started with only white fabric because in my mind I was going to create a piece as you quilt, whole cloth. 
 I'll probably revisit that idea later as the possibilities are intriguing but perhaps I'll call it something other than the term used to describe the complete opposite of what it is. 

So far so good, all piece as you go on the longarm. Unfortunately though, as the quilt grew, my throat space did not. While the horizontal seams were still manageable the long vertical ones were not. 
Uh Oh. This was not going as planned and although there may be tutorials out there that make this work I am not one to consult the internet for help. 
(unless, of course it involves diagnosing a fictitious and uncommon disease that either myself, one of my friends, pets, children, loved ones or all of the above must obviously have).

I took it off the frame and decided to hang it on the design wall to see if I could work myself out of this dead end. Hmmm. Look at all of those lovely half square triangles I had floating around on my design wall. 

Why can't I use those? 
 Yes, as it turns out I talk to myself, and through the years all of this talking to myself has led me to believe a lot of things about quilting that may or may not be true or even real. 
Like, raw edge is bad.
 Quilting lines can not cross. 
Points need to match. 
Seams need to match.
Straight lines should be straight. 
Iron to the left, iron to the right, iron seams open.
Don't iron.
Quarter inch seams are correct. 
Hammers should not be used in quilting. 
As you can see being in my head is exhausting and I am done with these rules.
 So, shut up Krista and do what you want and above all else stay OFF the Internet and so I did.

 Since I began working from the center out, it only made sense to continue in this direction and embrace the medallion style of quilting that it seemed to be gravitating toward.
Shut up the voices, reload onto the longarm and start breaking some rules.

That wasn't there before, but it is now and I worked the quilting in to match the quilting behind it, the back is a mess, but I don't really care.

Continuing in this haphazard manner I have almost completed a 45" square quilt. It is not pieced entirely on the longarm, as those half square triangles were pieced and then raw edge appliqu├ęd onto the quilt, but for all intensive purposes it is "mostly" pieced on the longarm. But really, who's keeping track?

Technically, it's a quilt judges nightmare and as you can see, quite messy up close but it has a very collage-like sensibility and regardless of what those voices said, I love it.

I took it off the frame once more to look at it from a distance and get a little bit more perspective on the design, this was my final layout, but who knows what it will end up like. I have it loaded on the longarm again and hope to have it completed in the next few weeks.

Happy to be back to blogging and finding my way in the quilting world. I am looking forward to teaching at QuiltCon in Pasadena, CA in February 2016 and at MQX in Manchester, NH in April 2016.
Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful week.

Monday, April 13, 2015


I consider myself to be a pretty tidy person, unless you're including the pile of clothes on the floor in front of my closet. Which doesn't really count, because I don't want to talk about that, much less blog about it. So, back to me being tidy, I realized it had probably been over ten years since I "really"cleaned out my studio.
What is a Chotski and why on earth do I have SO MANY of said items??
Defined in the Urban Dictionary as:
Generally useless crap of little or no value. UH OH.
So it began, a good two weeks of literally taking down everything off of my walls, out of my drawers, shelves and under surfaces. I have a full garage full of bags of priced garage sale Chotski and a bag full of E-bay Chotskies. 

Bag of Ebay Chotskies
I have a great studio space, it is 300 square feet and I have no reason to complain....BUT with a 
12' long-arm table I have to admit the space is tight and the way it was previously set up was very dysfunctional. The first thing I did once I got all of the useless crap off the walls was add two new design walls. There are many great design wall tutorials on the web, I used Katies tutorial found here.

Insulation board

Below you'll see the two spots ready for design walls

I also moved the collapsible cutting table from its previous location and replaced it with my sewing table seen below in its new location. The sewing table has a removeable back piece that I hope to be able to add if and when I am able to move my Gammill back a few feet and/or get a 
10' instead of 12' table.


This area still needs some work, that tiered shelf was a very stupid purchase on my part and a terrible waste of space. Shelves to match my thread storage are on someones honey do list. That will open up a lot more storage for....fabric, of which I obviously need more of.
The cutting table opens quite easily and I can store the cutting mats on the back of my long-arm when I need to close the table.

OK so there's still Chotskie sitting around but a lot less.

Still some creepy dolls. 

And as always, I am beach rich.

I love my new design walls the most, and this is a great cutting station, I had previously been using this table as an ironing table in the corner where my new cutting table has a gone.

From the view below you can see my thread wall and the top shelves where I store extra batting and rolled quilts. My WIP's are in the white cardboard Ikea storage bins and below is a hanging rod where I previously stored customer quilts. I hope to push the Gammill back into that space and open up the area for my domestic sewing machine a bit, we'll see. The fabric you see in this picture is my entire stash, for me less is more, I get overwhelmed by too much. Weird I know.

On my design wall is the Bride of Frankenquilt, meet Frank here and here. He needs a bride and I hope that what you see here will become just that.

Here are my thread shelves with a bit of room for more fabric.

Not bad for two weeks worth? I still haven't had the garage sale but everything is priced and I still haven't listed everything on Ebay, but soon. If you are interested in checking out my studio before the changes you can look at my Studio Spotlight post here. Honestly, it's not a whole lot different just a LOT LESS CHOTSKIE and new design walls.

Happy week everyone!!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Make it Take it Blog Tour (with giveaway!)

Happy Thursday! 
Welcome to my stop on the Make it Take it blog hop for  Krista Hennebury's fabulous retreat book.

I collaborated with Krista on a small table runner that could be made in a weekend, we decided to build the top from simple pieced designs that could be mimicked as ghost shapes in the quilting. Krista made the top and I did the quilting.  I quilted a ghost flock of geese and added some circles and straight lines to pull it all together and keep it flat. This was a really fun project, one that could easily be completed on a retreat.

I had the pleasure of working on two projects for this book, the other was the quilting on Krista's beautiful Orange Grove Quilt, which is a modern take on the classic Pine Tree block.
Here is a WIP shot of the quilting. With the blocks all being set on point I had a great expanse of space to add some fun quilting designs. Krista's only request was that I add a moon, which you can see getting fleshed out in the photos below.

I quilted this quilt with a lot of straight lines, I stayed consistent in the tree blocks with straight line fans. I varied the quilting design in all of the alternate white blocks by adding swirls and bubbles to break up the space and add interest.

Below are some detail shots of the alternate white blocks. 

 While the quilting may be a bit more than one person would complete on a retreat the pine tree blocks would be a fun retreat block exchange. There are some amazing projects in this book, including Krista's fabulous thread catcher.  She gifted me one years ago (at the first retreat of hers that I attended) and I use that thing every. single. day. 
See below, thread catcher happily perched next to machine and notice the double scissor keeper hanging on my wall, also in the book, designed by the very talented Amy Friend. This book is a treasure trove of beautiful and useful projects and I am so happy to be among the contributors, most of whom I am lucky enough to call friends.

If you haven't ordered a copy yet I highly recommend you do
OR you can comment here to win an e-copy of the book, I will choose a winner on Sunday!

Winner has been chosen! Thank you for all of the comments!!!

Don't forget to stop by all of the other amazing contributors blogs to get a sneak peak of their projects from the book and have a great end of the week! It's almost Friday!!!

Blog Tour Schedule 

Friday, April 3 Blog hop kick-off: Krista at Poppyprintcreates
Monday, April 6: Berene at Happy Sew Lucky and Amy at During Quiet Time
Tuesday, April 7: Leanne at She Can Quilt and Felicity at Felicity Quilts
Wednesday, April 8: Martingale Inc. at Stitch this! (check out their Rainbow Round the Cabin staff party!)
Thursday, April 9: Krista at Spotted Stones and Krista at Krista Withers Quilting
Friday, April 10: Lynne at Lilys Quilts and Cindy at Live a Colorful Life
Saturday, April 11: Ayumi at Pink Penguin and Krista at Poppyprint
Sunday, April 12: Kristie at OCD: Obsessive Crafting Disorder and Christina at Sometimes Crafter

Monday, April 6, 2015

The lure of the Medallion

There is something about the Medallion quilt that is irresistible. I am so very close to finishing my Marcelle Medallion from Alexia's book Liberty Love.  If you are on Instagram the hashtag #marcellemedallion brings up a zillion different amazing versions of this quilt. To make it mine I reversed some of the traditional values, as you can see in the geese. The geese are the light value and the background is dark, I am continuing with this theme in the last plus border. It needs to be finished and I am SO close.  I also found the perfect backing fabric by Alexander Henry at Island Quilter, so at this point I really have no excuse for not finishing. 

I used some of my favorite fabrics in this quilt and sadly the last of my plum mendocino mermaids.
I must say the quilting part of this project makes me shudder a little bit. I think I will keep it very simple with parallel lines spaced about a half inch apart. 
I had the pleasure of quilting Cindy Wien's Marcelle medallion quilt, she has a wonderful blog post here with full shot pictures and all the details about her fabrics, etc. She used primarily solids and as you'll see her quilt is stunning. You may have already seen this quilt floating around the internet and Pinterest, Cindy has a wonderful aesthetic and is not afraid of bold color or pattern.

 This quilt struck me as very playful and I tried to capture that feeling with the quilting. Her workmanship is superb and this quilt managed to stay very square which is no small feat considering she used mostly Oakshot and Kaffe wovens. If my memory serves me that is shot cotton on the back too...yikes!!! How I managed to keep good tension on this quilt is a mystery.

I had a few inquiries about the 1" grid that I quilted on my X-Plus quilt that I blogged about last week. I DID have to turn the quilt. Meaning; I loaded the quilt onto my long-arm, quilted 1" horizontal lines all the way down, then unloaded the quilt, reloaded the opposite direction and completed the crosshatch. 

I use a very handy little tool you can find online from Linda's Electric Quilters, called a crosshatch circle, you can find it here

The circle is used by placing the template around the hopping foot.
Just as your hopping foot can be used as a guide for 1/4" these circle templates offer that same guide in increments of 1/4" and go up to 1-1/2".

 As you can see in this next picture I line up the outside of the guide to the last line stitched and my next line of stitching is exactly an inch from the previous line. (I lined it up with the vertical lines so it would be easier to see, I quilted all of the lines horizontally though) 
I'm basically using it as a ruler, once it is lined up with the previous line of stitching I turn on my channel lock and start stitching. 
Cool huh? 
I use it as a guide but you can also use it with a ruler. If you follow the link above there is a video on how to use this tool. 

I hope that helps you if you are considering a crosshatch quilting project, turning is not my favorite thing to do but I have found it to be the only way to do an allover grid on a long arm. It is a simple quilting treatment that really compliments most quilt tops and the quilt stays very soft.

Have a wonderful week, I will be finishing cleaning and getting ready for a big garage sale this weekend! Hopefully next week I will have some good shots of my finished and clean studio!!