Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Pretty Pinwheel Quilt for a Windy Summer's Day

It's the middle of summer! A time I get to finish a few quilting projects. One of them is a fresh Vintage Pinwheel quilt top I found antiquing...

I'm not sure what the original quilter was thinking when she pieced her blocks. If you'll look closely, she got a few turned the wrong way. Don't you love those inconsistencies?! For one thing, it makes me feel better someone else has bobbles when quilting. And for another, it adds charm. I just think she turned her triangle template over to the wrong side one too many times when transferring the markings. Nowadays, we have more streamlined methods to make this process more accurate as well as efficient. Also, her borders are a bit wavy, and one block is quite a bit bigger than all the others which makes the quilt pull to one side, but such are the challenges in quilting any quilt, and things to look for if you're in the business.

I've added a Kona Cotton border to this antique top to match the original 'screaming yellow' fabric because l) I think it needed it and 2) I want to use it on a queen-sized bed. Most of the quilts from this (30s-40s) era were full-sized. It loads well, even though I had to take extra time to square up the side that was affected by the oversized block.

It's such a large quilt after sewing the borders on that I had to reposition my computer keyboard as far as I could to make room for quilting. Which reminds me to mention I disengaged the computer for the quilting on this quilt. Reason being is that occasionally I get the hankering to quilt entirely hand-guided.  Note that I've pre-marked the border spine before loading, which takes time, but after loading you're ready to rock and roll.

Here I'm demonstrating my choice in marking pens, the Dritz "Mark Be Gone" blue water-soluble maker. I also use air-solubles, but knew this project was going to take a while and did not want the markings to disappear before I could get the areas quilted. The caution is that with either marker, you're putting chemicals into the fabric, and they always need to be removed or you risk a chance of heat triggering the marks to reappear, and - horrors! - set permanently. 

Always remove chemicals after quilting by dunking the quilt in a clothes washer or putting it through a gentle cycle. I insert this caution on my quilt labels, to include "Always air dry your vintage or contemporary quilts - never use a clothes dryer". I'm asked sometimes if there is a certain 'order' to quilting; center and work out, border first, left to right? First and foremost is stabilizing the quilt by basting it entirely. Then working from the top of the quilt, quilt outside in, left to right. So, the border is first...

Some progress on the feathered border. For 'perfect' feathers, I quilt one side at a time.

I've quilted as much of the border within my throat depth as possible. Now I'm ready to quilt through the center of the quilt before I advance and continue. This picture seems rather dark but was taken with the intension of the shadows revealing the quilting, which is better than a total wash-out with the light bar on. That being said, sometimes I also quilt using real daylight so I can see the effects of the quilting. 

At this point, I stop and audition designs for the quilt center using plastic and a wet erase marker. (Caution: wet erase markers are NOT for use on fabric. I store them in a drawer away from all my fabric markers). Here I'm using a plain old fabric ruler because it's handy. I'm auditioning different types of feathers within the pinwheel triangles. Once I have picked one, I practice several times to get it down in the brain.
I also try out feather arrangements in the white strips of fabric in between the pinwheel blocks. These strips help 'float' the pinwheel blocks, with the exception of yellow squares within the strips. Odd pattern but...I like a challenge! After some trial and error, I figure it out and design the quilting 'pattern' with my wet-erase-on-ruler method. 

The design looks swell on fabric! Now to file my wet erase marker safely away in the drawer...

It's taken quite a few days to be able to take this photo of the last row of pinwheel blocks! It almost makes me sad, because truly, I love to quilt feathers. It's a good thing, huh?!

Once your markings are on the fabric it's best to remove them ASAP. You'll note the sun is beaming through my studio windows, and while it's great for a cheerful mood, prolonged heat will set markings, permanently (have I said that before?!). I never rinse out markings in an unfinished quilt.  So this one was trimmed, bound (by hand to the backing) and washed in the same week. 

I love every aspect of quilting! Just about every quilt receives a hanging sleeve because my quilts are vain and like to be viewed from the walls of my home from time to time. They're rotated for viewing, and when not being used, they rest for a season by being rolled and stored in the top shelf of my bedroom closets. They're never folded unless I take them to a trunk show.
This quilt had its binding machine-sewn onto the front, and hand-sewn to the backing.

I was able to take only one shot of the finished project today. It was windy - a perfect day for a pinwheel quilt - but once I got the quilt hoisted, it acted like a sail on a boat and everything was blown away, quilt hanging system and all! 

You know what I think? I think the pinwheels on this unfinished quilt had been dormant for so long, that once they got the wind in their sails, they couldn't help but take off!

I hope you get some wind in YOUR sails and finish at least one project this summer.  Call me if you need help completing it!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Trunk Show! Discounts!

Recently the Ladies of the Lake Quilt Guild (
asked me to present a Trunk Show of my quilts I've quilted during the 12 years I've been in business.  

I own dozens and dozens of quilts. How do I select the ones that best represent my passion? Since I only had a little over half an hour for my presentation, time became the controller. I whittled down to a couple dozen; the genres being vintage and contemporary. I organized the quilts, folding them into stacks by number for order of presentation. Whew! I didn't go over, thanks to my helper husband who was awesome. Before and after the Show I had a table set up for additional viewing and things for sale (above). I wish you could've been there! The next best thing is taking a look at my Galley Tab on this blog site.  You'll see a few of them there.

And now to the discount section of my blog post that only my loyal blog followers get to take advantage of:

During May 2017 schedule your consult 
and receive 15% off quilting services!*

*Edge-to-edge designs only.
Quilt(s) do(does) NOT need to be finished in May to qualify, just calling to book your in-studio consult DURING May. Consults are always free of charge.

Monday, February 20, 2017

My Interview with Alex Anderson of The Quilt Show

I was thrilled after Alex Anderson of The Quilt Show asked for an interview last fall on how I quilted their 2016 Block of the Month, Rajah Revisited.

Today, after making sure with Alex that I could post the video, I hope you can either click and view from my blog here, or if that fails, from their website at

My blog post at goes through the actual quilting involved after some history on the original making of this historical quilt. Click on the link or simply go to my Archive dated 11/23/15 and read it from there.

Alex is so personable, fun and such a great facilitator! She put me at ease quickly, and pretty soon we were 'talking quilts' and having a great time...

What else do quilters do, after all?


Saturday, February 18, 2017

A Memorial Quilt for Andrew

Some time before Thanksgiving I was contacted to make a memorial quilt from eight, well-worn pair of jeans from one young cowboy, known here as Andrew.

Making long strips out of Andrew's jeans

He was born in Oklahoma to a loving set of parents and a sister who was two months shy of being three years old. When Andrew was just a few months old, his family moved to Wyoming where he would spend the next seven years of his life. 

The jean strips have been sewn into a simple quilt top

From the time he was very young, he lived a life of adventure. He knew how to ride a dirt bike before he was five, and shortly after enrolling in grade school, he participated and excelled in baseball, wrestling and football.

Before quilting, I quickly check thread color with the
binding and backing fabrics, and balance the tension...

When Andrew was seven, his family moved to New Mexico, Colorado and eventually back to Oklahoma where he continued in sports and dirt bike-riding, and found new pursuits such as hunting and - more especially - riding bulls at the rodeo.

I like the red thread!

His greatest joy was riding in the Fire and Ice Series, and had dreams of one day going to the Professional Bull Riding circuit. Watching him ride was sometimes scary for those who knew and loved him, but it was quite impressive to witness his bravery each time he climbed on a bull. 

The quilting begins with the pattern
 Boots, Hats and Horseshoes.

He loved the thrill of trying to stay on the bucking bull and always got right back up after going down. He was proud to be a cowboy!

Detail of Boots, Hats and Horseshoes.

An imperfection in one pair of jeans I could not omit.
 I reinforced the hole with a jeans underlayment.

In spite of Andrew’s appetite for adventure, he was gentle at heart. He would play with cousins when they were babies, hold up a rattle for them with a gleam in his eye and a shy grin while they reached for it. 

Andrew was a good listener and befriended those who were teased at school. He picked people back up when they were down. He was a good friend to all, including his sister with whom he shared a special bond. 

The finished quilt, sewn from jeans, quilted and bound,
with one of Andrew's pockets doubling as label and storage.

The two-toned backing in (what else?) cowboy motifs.

On December 29, 2013, at the tender age of 13, Andrew passed away as a result of injuries sustained in an automobile accident. On the brink of becoming a man, it would seem that  Andrew had a lot of years yet ahead of him, but to those who knew him best, it seems that he lived more in his thirteen years than most people do in an average lifespan—a lot of living  was definitely crammed into his short journey through mortality.

The text for this post has been graciously submitted by Andrew's grandmother, who commissioned me to make Andrew's quilt just one week prior to Thanksgiving. She hoped I could complete it by Christmas to give to his mother. Just five days before Christmas, it was overnighted by his grandmother on the west coast to Oklahoma. Andrew's quilt arrived at his mother's workplace on Christmas Eve, and it was welcomed with tears. 
I think God intended her to have it. 
Every quilt has a story.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Cindy Needham, creator of wholecloth linen quilts

I lost my autographed copy of Wholecloth Linen Quilts in the forest fire
that took our acreage, home and my professional quilting studio in 2013.
I've been looking for a replacement of the book ever since, which has been
difficult since it is out of print. Recently, I found one, and Cindy signed
 my second copy today. Blessings restored.
I met up with Cindy Needham again today at a workshop my guild provided. I initially met her in 2009 at a guild in another state, where I bought her book Wholecloth Linen Quilts after her lecture, which she autographed.

She is an incredibly talented designer and teacher, highly respected and awarded in the quilting world. I've been a Needham groupie since I began my longarm quilting business.  Those of you who know of Cindy's techniques may think that's a bit odd: being a longarmer and pulling design implementation from one who uses a domestic machine to create a wholecloth, which Cindy does. But I've found her designs universally adaptable toward any quilting process, which I believe is the test for truly great design.  

One of Cindy's creations at class today.
Cindy's quilted linen.

Cindy has been a quilter for more than 45 years - with the first 25 devoted to her first love of hand quilting she began in the 8th grade - and the last to her passion for machine quilting, when she couldn't keep up with all her quilt tops. Her book, Wholecloth Linen Quilts, published in 2007 by AQS, contains her own wholecloth patterns and designs.

Another of Cindy's creations.

Cindy says, In the late 90's I became a bit bored quilting on "regular" pieced quilt tops and decided to try my hand at quilting a tattered linen that was on my night stand. I marked it with a beautiful design, put it in my machine, and created the world's very first linen wholecloth quilt. It was a moment that changed my life forever. Not only had I created something fabulous out of an ordinary linen but it justified my huge linen stash! Now I had to make more of them!  

Cindy's wholecloth linen.

Passing on her love of quilting through teaching is a dream come true. In what Cindy calls a "Leap of Faith", in 2005 she left her full time job in the medical field to start teaching nationally for Superior Threads. She has written articles for Quilters Newsletter Magazine, American Quilter, Machine Quilting Unlimited, The Quilter and Machine Quilting.  Cindy received the national Machine Quilting Teacher of the Year award at MQX in April, 2011.

Blog followers know I have a passion for antique quilts. After purchasing Cindy's book, I discovered I could actually quilt vintage linens! I still purchased vintage quilt tops, but now I could also search for linens, with Wholecloth Linen Quilts being one of my 'go-to's' for quilting inspiration. I've written several posts on wholecloth quilting from the longarm perspective. Look through my blog archive, specifically the August, 2015 blog post The Vintage Tablecloth seen as a Wholecloth, featuring my quilt, at left.

Another of my vintage longarm quilted linens, inspired by Cindy Needham.

To learn more about Cindy, watch videos, purchase products or view her gallery of stunning wholecloth linen quilts, go to And there's hope for the discontinued book I've featured today: Cindy now sells ebook downloadables, as well as updates :).

I was so happy to meet up with Cindy again! I just wish we could've had more time.  Perhaps another time!

Friday, December 23, 2016

From my Studio to Yours...Merry Christmas!

Thank you for a year that surpassed my imaginations.
It's been a lot of work to continue my quilting business in a new locale.
But you've all been so supportive:
quilt shops, guilds, both new clients as well as returning ones.
I look forward to seeing your new quilting creations in the New Year,
and helping you complete them.  I value your trust.

May God bless!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Second (and Final) Raffle Drawing for Free Longarm Quilting

Same rules apply (see previous post) 
except only the winning number (1896145) and following dates have changed:
I’m giving the winner (whose identity I know) until 10:00 a.m. PST on 10/31/16 (Halloween) 
to contact me via email or phone (see my "Contact Me" tab) 
when this raffle will be called to an end.  
Hopefully, it will produce a real winner this time!!