Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Merry Christmas to One and All!

Full to the brim with Christmas cheer, this mystery quilt was designed by a small local quilt club ... 

At their first Christmas Mystery Quilt meeting, five women set guidelines: block dimensions, fabric color and a deadline to submit the blocks (as sewn into 5 identical rows) to the group organizer. They could select any block pattern as long as it was Christmas-themed. Before the reveal at the last meeting, the rows were distributed equally and sewn into five separate quilt tops by the organizer. 

Scroll down for a representation of the kinds of blocks they submitted, and the mystery reveal!

Some blocks came with tree lights and even some snow ...
Blocks with sage wisdom and gifts ready to go ...
Blocks with gay stockings danced with stars in the sky ... 
 Blocks sewn in whipped cream and red cherry pie ...
 Blocks sewn in the likeness we know as St. Nick ...
 ... with snowmen remarking "Let it snow, and be quick"!
 (We'll pause to look a moment before the reveal ...
At ornaments on the tree we like a great deal):

The reveal!

I hope their creativity inspires you to gather a few friends to make a mystery quilt next year!

My heart is full of gratitude for my many gifted clients who not only bring me incredible quilt tops, but real-life stories of caring, life and love. It's truly the Spirit of Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Color Theory Batik Sampler

My self-imposed lesson on color theory takes shape in this batik sampler!

What is color theory? Basically, it's guidance  on the visual effects of color combinations. Categories of colors are used based on the color wheel: primary color (red, yellow & blue), complementary color (green, orange & purple) and analogous colors (yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green & yellow-green). In creating this quilt with batiks, I used the color wheel to achieve harmony, or a pleasing arrangement. You be the judge as to whether I achieved 'dynamic equilibrium'!

I'm already well under way in organizing 52 blocks in various sizes (6.5", 8.5", 10.5" and 12.5") after spending weeks planning colors and sewing them together. Not to mention gathering the batiks in the first place (that's the easy part). Notice the dark blue coping strips that are used to marry all these blocks into one cohesive unit. This same dark blue batik is used in three different sizes (1.5", 2.5" and 6.5") for borders - not easily seen here since the outside borders aren't in this shot...

...but once the quilt top is entirely pieced and ready to be loaded, you can see them. In-between these inner and outer dark blue borders is a 4.5' bow-tie border that easily swallowed scraps from making the blocks. They were also time guzzlers to make. Spare time, anyone?!

With my quilt top finished, I leave it on my quilting table for a while. The main reason being I have no earthly clue as to what to quilt. After marinating a few days, it hits!!! Since it's a sampler, I'm going to quilt it 'sampler style': a different block treatment for each and every block. That's 52 blocks, remember, but I have dozens, if not hundreds of digitized patterns.

Here's a sampling of just a few:

Now, all these blocks have been digitized, but I couldn't envision the quilting pattern on the 6.5" border, shown above. So I disengaged the computer belts and quilted 'whale flukes', since this is pretty much a Hawaiian-flavored quilt, anyway.

 These shots aren't the best to reveal the quilting, but when you click on any of these pictures and zoom in, you'll see quilting texture much better.

The center of the quilt, featuring the only 12.5" block in the very middle.

The finished quilt - something you won't likely fall asleep underneath, so it brightens up my 11' wall in my home studio entry. The cool part of the quilting on this quilt is the variety of quilting designs. It almost serves as a handy index to many of the patterns I own! Just keep it hung up and clients choose the block pattern they want on their quilt, and it's a wrap! Seriously. It's happened a couple times.

The quilting pattern is an oldie but a goodie, and is called "Scrappy Sampler" from Quilt Country. I've had the pattern over 8 years and finally got around to getting 'er done. 

Who doesn't have batik scraps!? Set them to this great sampler and brighten your hallway, bed or a special someone's life by gifting it!

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Comfort and Simplicity of Homespuns

I love homespuns!

In my humble opinion, homespuns are the best fabric to use on anything that has a country or folk art flavor. Take a look at this sweet wall quilt. My client wanted very simple quilting done, so I began with an appliqué stitch around the motifs without fancy fill. The motifs were large enough within blocks to handle that. Here I'm digitizing a p2p (point to point) straight line stitch. It's so fun to watch the machine stitch! 
As one row is finished... click the coordinates once again for the next line to be quilted and it takes off...
...and finishes the set. Perfect.
The p2p lines are completed on this quilt! Now to quilt the acorn & leaf border. But before I reveal the results of that, you'll notice a small flag quilt next to the one I'm quilting. When there is ample backing, I load more than one quilt at a time. It saves time and money since, well, time IS money. And the result is a happy client :). 
The results of the flag quilt, front...
...and back. The client provided the label, hanging sleeve and binding for me to attach after quilting. Too sweet.
And the other quilt? The acorn & leaf border has been quilted, and the label and binding are finished. Too sweet times two. 

I shipped her finished project back to her in the same bag and box she used to get them to my studio, shown here with yet another of her projects I finished. Her method is an example of how quilts should be mailed: in plastic and with great care. She even sent them vacuum-packed! 

It was so much fun finishing these great quilts, mostly due to their country charm, but also because of how well they were sewn. The biggest reason? 

I love homespuns! 

Saturday, September 9, 2017


When traveling through the country, I'm always on the search for old barns.  They capture the essence of family life from decades gone by.

I searched for just the right barn for my post today as backdrop for two quilts; a star-spangled Americana and a sweet Farmgirl Vintage quilt.

Who can resist the country colors in this great Americana quilt?
Let's get some detail on the many blocks...

 On hand to 'help' is the barnyard cat. She wanted to help several times. No kitty!

 The quilting style I chose was full-blown Americana with stars, stripes, chevrons and a bit of country thrown in, of course. I mixed digital and hand-guided techniques.

My client said this was one of the first quilts she'd attempted to make ten years ago, because it taught her all kinds of techniques. I'd say so! And I'm also glad she finally got it quilted so she can enjoy it.

The Farmgirl Vintage quilt is right at home in these pictures. It's so bright, cheery and full of blocks depicting farm life. You can't help but smile looking at it. The same client pieced/appliquéd both of these charmers, and I'm glad she didn't wait 10 years to have this one quilted up!

It seems I've attracted quite a crowd with all the photography fuss. Their kind is represented, actually, on this quilt...

Isn't it great?!

Let's take a look at a few more...

I just canned some wild blackberry jelly last weekend!  It's so wonderful to have it lined all up, just like in this quilt block. The sweet flavors will extend summer through many a bleak, cold winter day.

An old red barn! How did this quilt know it would be photographed next to a real one?

My thanks to the family who allowed me access to their property. They train sheepdogs with these sheep and lambs. They chuckled when I asked if I could take pictures of quilts next to their barn because they'd never been asked that question before. 

We all have a soft heart when it comes to what these old barns represent: family life, working together to make it work, enjoying the fruits of hard labor, bountiful blessings, being grateful for the simple things. Here's to keeping it that way for decades to come, even if you don't have a barn.