Monday, November 23, 2015

Featuring: TQS 2016 Block of the Month!

Photo by Gregory Case Photography

When I was chosen as the quilter 
by TQS (The Quilt Show) for 
the historic Rajah Quilt remake 
that made its debut in their booth during the 2015 International Quilt Show in Houston this October,
I was flabbergasted.
But stoked.

It is pictured here just exactly as I remembered having quilted it a few months ago :).

Meet the designer, Lessa Siegele; teacher, judge and quilt maker.  

Lessa has been teaching quilting since the mid-'70s and has enjoyed every moment of meeting and sharing her knowledge with quilters around Australia and abroad. Her love is traditional quilts and promoting early Australian quilts. 

One of her favorites is the Rajah Quilt, in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra. It's a huge quilt, approximately 128" inches square, shown here.

Made in 1841, it was sewn by women convicts on board the ship Rajah, which left England in April 1841 and arrived at the penal colony of Van Diemen's Land (now known as Tasmania) that July. 

From TQS: "Lessa Siegele recreated it in quarter scale with fabrics from her stash – thinking that's what might have happened when the original quilt was being made - loosely following the colors of the original quilt, and tea-dying fabrics that didn't look old enough.” 

You can make this Rajah Quilt BOM (66” x 66”), made with Cotton + Steel fabrics, starting January 1, 2016.   Again, from TQS:  “In the meantime, to help you get ready, you can download the Introduction Packet, which includes everything you will need to begin working on the "Rajah Quilt Revisited" BOM quilt.  From fabric requirements and color selections to appliqué and embroidery tutorials, we have thought of everything to make this an enjoyable and rewarding journey for you to cherish."  Check out for the packet.

The quilting process?  Never thought you'd ask!  It began late this summer after receiving it from the piecer/appliquér...
 Before loading custom quilts, design choices dance in my head for a few days.  I decided this quilt needed freestyle quilting, and I came up with all the designs.  I guess you could say it's one-of-a-kind.
A feather design spoke to me, and I listened. The crosses were all immpecably stitched in reverse appliqué.  What a pleasure to stitch around.

 All other motifs, such as flowers, birds and leaves, were regular appliqué.

What an opportunity to do my third quilt for TQS!  After I completed the quilting, it was sent off for binding.  I was invited by the Editor-in-Chief, Lilo Bowman, to the taping of the finished quilt in their Denver, Colorado studio in September, as well as to Houston Market for a "Meet the Quilter" (that's me!) business card signing.  Unfortunately, the only thing I could afford were the business cards, which were handed out at the booth, shown here! A friend coincidentally made it to the taping in Denver, and emailed me with the news she had seen the quilt.  Ah, well.  The joy was in the quilting, after all, not the 'fame'.  And so it should be.

Here's hoping you have a blessed Thanksgiving holiday that finds you with an overflowing fabric stash waiting for you to create something that'

Monday, November 2, 2015

Just in Time for Thanksgiving

We quilters love color.
Who can resist fall hues all around us in oranges, rusts, yellows and reds? I have two patterns for you on the web, one free and one at a small cost - both bursting with color you provide from your stash.  
One is a 12" x 12" mini-quilt and the other is a pumpkin made from scrap flannels or homespuns.

The pattern for this pumpkin-laden fellow is on  Type in the search engine "November Turkey" and they'll send you a paper pattern via USPS at a small cost.  Don't worry -  we have a few days before Thanksgiving - and these whip up super quick. While on this site, take a look at their other patterns.  You can make a mini-quilt for every month of the year, towels for the kitchen and gifts, etc.  

Which leaves the site for the pumpkins.  I stitched these up in half a day with leftover flannels - no cost for materials AND no cost for the pattern.  Check it out at; then enter "Scrap Lab Table Runner and Pumpkins" in the search engine, then click on the pattern. You can download with just another click, then print.
I hope you enjoy these quick, adorable projects.
But get to sewing before there's frost on your pumpkins!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Northwest Quilting Expo 2015

My first visit to the NW Quilting Expo was experienced as a vendor.  What a great venue!  I spent three solid days meeting so many quilters. 'Kindred spirits', I call them; sisters in quilting who don't start yawning when you're still talking quilt jargon after 10 minutes. One such quilter came to my booth with a photo journal of her quilts that included a picture of fortunate recipients with each quilt, even quilt tops with the intention of going to someone when the project was lovingly completed. 
Getting to know people and why they do the things they do is the part of my quilting business I love most.  
I was so busy at my booth I only had 45 minutes to visit the actual show!  My booth neighbor from Patchwork Acres kindly watched my things so I could browse through some 600 quilts that competed for ribbons, including two of mine (pictured later in this post).  More about Patchwork Acres: if you want to come near the Oregon coast for a quilting/fiber art retreat look no further! Check it out at  
My last post went into great detail on how I quilted my raffle quilt, a vintage '30s tea cloth. It received so much attention, and many tickets were sold!  

As promised, I've included a photo shoot of the completed quilt...

Out in the sun at home.
The center medallion.
A shot of freehand feathers in a corner.
The medallion, zoomed in.
Blowing gently in the fall breeze.
The hanging sleeve, before I sewed it down!  (It's sewn on now :).  As I had mentioned in my last post, a damaged vintage summer coverlet was repurposed just for this quilt.  It provided a showy sleeve and 2 1/2" wide strips for binding.
I just love the embroidery on this piece.  Classic '30s.  It received the attention it deserved: a freehand appliqué quilting technique to include micro-stippling for dramatic contrast.

And my two entries?  If you've been to this show in the past, you know the entries are masterpieces.  Mine are not. Please keep that in mind as I show you mine!

The first is "Hibiscus on the Lanai".  Do you recognize it from earlier posts?!?!
The second is "Autumn Splendor".  Of course, this one is currently hanging in my home because it's, well, autumn.

For those of you who signed up at the show to receive these posts via your email, welcome!  If you are also a raffle ticket purchaser, thank you!  Hopefully you will be the recipient of this 0ne-of-a-kind quilt. 

Until then, I hope to talk to you later! 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Vintage Tablecloth seen as a Wholecloth

Textiles of all kinds are seen as quilting potential.  And, as my seasoned readers know, I'm taken by the thrift, cheer and symmetry of '30's linens that I see as UFOs.  Taking center stage today is a tea cloth, embroidered in flowers, leaves and baskets brimming with all the above.  

What a great summer project!

Any quilt top or linen receives scrutiny when laid on the quilting table like this.  The light bar reveals not only color but patterns in the piecing and open spaces where quilting can go.  The fabrics dictate what type of quilting or pattern is asking to be sewn.  Fabric speaks.  I listen.

What I'm going to demonstrate today is the quilting of this lovely project, step-by-step.

The tablecloth is loaded with backing and batting, just like a quilt top.  This one was a bit squirrelly because it was made with tablecloth fabric (go figure) with a more open weave.  The embroidery designs weren't placed before stitching with perfect symmetry.  Hence, there lies the challenge to square it up and quilt it to look like it was symmetrical.  And I love this kind of challenge.  
Before loading a wholecloth project, I fold it horizontally and vertically to find dead center and mark it with a water-soluble pen made for fabric.  This is my guide for all quilting.  But like mentioned before, the designs were off a bit, so I had to measure in-between them and find a doable center.  Below you can see my mark.  On your mark, get set, go...
 I've chosen my quilting patterns and am ready to quilt.  With most projects, I use a combination of freehand and digitized methods.  It gives more options.  Mostly it's more fun.  Below, I've chosen the medallion design on my computer screen.  Medallions generally are stitched at the center of wholecloth quilts.  I've chosen this basket of flowers pattern purposely, which mirrors the baskets embroidered on each corner of the tablecloth.
The machine is stitching exactly what is on the screen exactly where I told it to stitch.
 Now that the center has been stitched, I want a circle to define the medallion, as well as serve as a spine for feathers I'll fill in freehanded.  However, a circle, as simple as it appears, is a challenge to quilt in one line.  But remember: I love challenges!  The challenge is that this particular circle is too large to be stitched within my throat depth, or what my machine can reach without turning the quilt.  No problem: design a half circle, place it exactly where you want it, the machine quilts it, advance the quilt, invert the half circle, again place it exactly where you want it, and the machine finishes quilting the circle.  Now I'm ready for feather placement...
 ...I've placed blue dots with my water-soluble pen above and below the quilted spine to corral those feathers.
 Below: the finished feather medallion around my basket of flowers.  Couldn't I find a digitized feather wreath?  Sure.  There are tons out there to purchase.  Remember what I said about the aspect of fun?  I love quilting feathers by hand.  It makes me feel I've touched the piece with my personal stamp.
 With the feather medallion done, I'm ready to move on to corner detailing.  I haven't planned this yet.  So I sit back and doodle on paper a bit.  Ah hah!  True to my inner self, I always try to balance each quilted piece.  In this project, my inner self reminded me since feathers are in the center, they need to repeat somewhere else.  You can see my hand-drawn spine design below.
The freehand quilted result.

 I want radiating rays from the center outward, so I quilt these.  Pictured is how blacklighting the area serves best to see where I'm going.  With each ray I'm adding 'sunshine and shadow': a technique used to give a wholecloth design depth.  It's more than echoing.  Here I'm using micro-stippling.  When finished, it lets the light dance on designs, making them pop.  An ergonomic tip:  proper posture is a must with micro-stippling, and at the end of the day I use a heating pad on my shoulders and back.  Before and after micro-stippling I stretch these muscles.  If this isn't done, a project like this will not get finished.
 The top half is done!
 Now to roll to the bottom half.  My happy bubble just burst.
 Here you can see the process of stitching rays as drawn and micro-stippling as you go.
The quilting of my project is complete. Now to audition for a proper hanging sleeve and label for this vintage quilt.  For the hanging sleeve, I used a strip of fabric from an embroidered vintage summer coverlet.  I stripped the rest of the coverlet into binding strips to finish this project as well as others.

The reveal will come in a future post!  No suspense intended: I'm in the final stage of binding and adding the label and hanging sleeve.
Know for now that it will be raffled in my booth at the Northwest Quilting Expo next month!  My husband doesn't want me to let it go - it's become one of his favorites! But there are dozens of vintage tablecloths ready for design implementation, hanging in my studio.

Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Harness your creativity! (And not just for quilting)...

Do you have vacation souvenirs? If you're like me, you do. And they're in closets, just like your quilt tops, awaiting fame. This post is to encourage you to bring all your creative skills (yes, you have them) to light. Get your shells, your vintage thread spools, your driftwood, your thimbles, your spoons and anything else you collect and fashion them into a wreath.
When we lived in California I started a grassroots dried floral business from home. I would wrap the florals into picks and simply stick them into a wreath made of moss or hay. Today I'm going to show you how to make a wreath of shells.

Start with a hay wreath. Purchase excelsior or moss in either natural color or green. Other supplies are a glue gun and plenty of glue sticks, greening pins, scissors, and of course, shells. Optional are fish-netting, floral wire and a small wire cutter.

Cover the table with paper and begin your project.

First, glue a greening pin into the BACK of the wreath for hanging purposes (see below). Then, with a moderate amount of glue, start gluing the moss or excelsior to the front side. You can see in the picture, below, that I've already started the process.
 I've used a full bag of moss on my 12" wreath, below. Warning: it's a messy process!
 The picture is a bit fuzzy, but I wanted to show you the fishnet I'm applying next, as shown below.
 I begin wrapping the fishnet around the wreath, securing with greening pins as I go. Surprisingly, a little of netting goes a long way.
 Flipping over to the backside, I'm showing how I've made sure the back remains flat so it can hang against the wall when my project is finished. Use your greening pins to tuck the fishnet over the moss, keeping it at bay.
 Continue to secure the fishnet...
 ...until all moss is contained and the wreath is uniformly covered.
 If you haven't done so, clean your shells of salt and sand. Allow them to dry before attaching to your  wreath.
 Audition the larger pieces for use as focal 'weights'. They will balance your wreath no matter what varieties of shells you put in-between them. You can see I've used large sand dollars, a large piece of driftwood and a good-sized star fish as my 'weights', and I'm starting to fill in with smaller shells. All I am using is glue, even though I suggested wire.  If I had a very big, heavy shell, I probably would have wired it. Glue seemed to work fine here. Gravity over time may loosen some pieces, but get the glue gun out and make some minor repairs.
 Voila! Your wreath is done. The best part is your memories aren't just in your mind or in a box in your closet. They're out on a table or hung in a special place, giving cheer and cause to remember...often.
I hope you exercise the creative skills I know you quilters have, and make a wreath of your memories soon!