Yep. I'm going to call it "Lost My Marbles". I can't think of a better name for the effort that's going into this quilt.
I spent some time Tuesday starting the quilting and as you can see my thread choice was a very bad one. It matches beautifully! It will show great in the dark blocks but the light side of the quilt will look unquilted.
So back to my obscene thread collection to find something else. I have lots of choices! These are the first 3 that I pulled. I love these colors The 2 on the right are acrylic threads from the collection of threads that I bought from Lunn Fabrics years ago when they were closing out these threads. I used some of these threads in Parasol.
Do you see how the thread on this one is really loose? Have you ever had that happen?
This is how much thread I had to let fall off the cone before I could get it down to something relatively neat and controllable. I don't think it's a problem with the thread, I think it's because I had the cone upside down in the drawer. I haven't paid a lot of attention to how I stored these threads but now that I've gone through the drawer I see that almost half of them were upside down. I've fixed that now.
It's a really pretty pile of thread though!
But after all that I didn't choose any of these 3 threads. I decided on a bright orange that shows even better than in this photo. It's going to even stand out more in the darkest and lightest blocks.
But then I ran into another snag. My ruler foot wobbles left and right a little bit. It has to do with how tightly the foot can be screwed on and still hop up and down. Michele, from Virginia Longarm, is bringing me a new washer that Innova developed to fix this.
I thought you might want to know how I'm marking my circles.
Right after I made this quilt I saw Sue Heinz at Birds of a Feather and she had these tools. I knew they were exactly what I needed! I can easily divide circles into and multiple of thirds, fourths and fifths.
So once I get the new washer for the ruler foot I'll be ready to go. I'm going to document every circle that I stitch and will share the rulers that I use for each one as well. But I have to wait until next Saturday to get the washer. I'm going to try to use all of the time between now and then to get everything ready for my classes and booth at Birds of a Feather on February 8 - 11. During my break times I'll work on some postcards and maybe plan a new quilt.
Does anyone remember this quilt? Waayyy back in 2014 I hosted a Drunkard's Path quilt along on my old blog. That blog has since been deleted so I can't link back to it. I made at least 3 DP quilt tops that year and this was one of them and my absolute favorite.
You might remember this version that I made with the leftovers from the big quilt. I quilted it up for a veteran's quilt last summer. Now it's time to do the big one. I quilted the little one easy. Of course I can't do the big one easy!
Here's the underside. You can see that this quilt gradates diagonally light to dark just like the leftover version. But this one is pieced in circles. I knew from the moment that I conceived this quilt that I wanted to quilt Spirograph motifs in the circles. I want each one to be different.
Have I lost my marbles?
I don't think so, at least not yet. I'm very excited to get started.
Next I needed to pick the thread color. Because there's so much going on in the fabric I've decided to use the same color thread in every circle. First I thought about gold and picked the thread on the left. Then I was going through my shiny poly threads again and found the peach on the right and I like it much better. I'm a little concerned that it might now show up as well in the pale blocks but this is the best of all of my thread options and I'm not buying more thread!
I'll use something blending for the background I think but that's for much later. I'll do the SID around the edge of the circles when I do the background quilting. Hopefully that will work out OK.
Here's the backing. It's a spiral pattern that I dyed last year sometime. It took forever to bast the quilt because I wanted it centered on the backing.
My thought with this backing was to have the Spirograph motifs look like stars in a galaxy. Picking the bobbin thread for the background fills will be a challenge.
Maybe I really have lost my marbles and maybe that's what I'll name this quilt.
Be prepared, you will see a LOT of this one as I quilt it.
One more finish for 2017!
This quilt had no purpose other than to get me to quilt one of my own hand dyed mandala fabrics. Like a lot of people, I avoid using "special" fabrics and once I do I want the resulting project to be perfect. I knew that I needed to get over all of that so I picked a pink mandala because that's my least favorite color. That helped me not worry about perfection but wasn't much for motivation! I was an admirable procrastinator with this quilt.
But from a purely education point of view this was a really valuable quilt. I learned some things about design and committing myself to task.
Even the thread was a lesson. The only pink threads I had were some acrylic embroidery threads that I bought from Lunn Fabrics when they closed their hand dyed shop. They are beautiful threads but didn't run well on my APQS. I'm happy to discover that they run just fine on my Innova.
I started with the 4 center sections that are cross hatched and regretted it immediately. I knew that I had to repeat the crosshatching somewhere else. I eventually settled on the corners. For the rest of it I built the "frames" for each section and figured out what to do as I went along. I really was a good exercise and now I'm looking forward to doing another. But the next time I will do better planning.
I even took the bold step to use white for the back, which I love. I also love the blue binding.
This quilt isn't perfect and I don't have any immediate use for it but I'm glad I did it. It has issues and it really needs to be blocked again but it's done and it met my one goal: to get over my fear of quilting the mandala fabrics.
This quilt is the result of leftovers of a King Sized Fractured quilt and it's leftovers quilt, Fractured Fragments. I took those leftovers and made some crumb blocks. The original intention was to make a baby quilt but then I had a big piece of purple fabric and this large lap quilt was born. I'm going to donate this one to Hanover Safe Place. One of my quit club friends donates lots of things there and this seemed like a good size quilt for them.
There was a vast field of purple with this one and I couldn't see just doing my usual overall type of quilting. I felt it needed something else and came up with this diamond motif to quilt between the blocks.
I used a variegated King Tut thread mostly because I'm trying to use up app of the variegated KT threads on my charity quilts. But that turned out to be a great move because there are a couple of places where I wobbled off of the ruler but you can't tell with the variegated thread. Bonus!
In the block spaces I used Masterpiece which is thin and barely shows. I know that Masterpiece isn't exactly intended for the longarm but it was the best purple match.
I didn't have enough purple for the binding and I'm glad. I think the yellow was a much better choice even though it really wasn't a choice at all. I used one of the Country School Quilters labels and found this fun ladybug fabric in my stash for the back.
Washed, dried and ready for it's new home! With Hobbs 80/20 batting it's really snuggly.
This little project should be done by now but it also got waylaid by the cold.
All I have left to do is to quilt something in these wide spaces.
That something is going to be a wide version of this. It won't take long and hopefully I can finish this by the weekend. I jsut haven't been in the mood for quilting yet.
One the last of the quilting is done I'll be ready for washing, blocking and binding. I dyed 2 binding choices last week.
So this one is really close to being done.
I've been thinking a bit about what I can feasibly get done between now and the end of the year. I've started the Maine quilt but that's a project specifically to work on at the Country School Quilters monthly retreats. I want to start a new quilt, Antelope Canyon, but I have lots of postcards to make for Christmas and my to-be-quilted pile is, well, piling up.
I've decided that Antelope Canyon can wait until the Maine quilt is finished and it will be my next CSQ retreat project. My sewing room is going to be dedicated to making postcards and small gifts for the next few months and I'm going to try to spend most of my time quilting.
Back in June I quilted this mini-mandala (about 18" square) as a practice for a larger mandala.
That was over 4 months ago and I've done just about every other project that I can think of to put off loading this one. I finally reminded myself that I picked this particular mandala to quilt first because I don't particularly like it. It's pink after all and I really dislike pink. I gave myself permission to quilt it and then throw it away if I hate it.
That was all I needed to get started.
Over the past year or so I've worked up several ideas on paper and then started transferring guidelines to the fabric with Crayola washable markers. You can see that I like changing my mind a lot. This is exactly what's wrong with me as a quilter. I always think there's a better idea in some other corner of my brain. But I eventually shut my mind up and started quilting in the bone structure of the quilt.
Then I made, what I think is, my first mistake. I curved cross-hatched the 4 diamonds in the center. Why is it a mistake? Well, I didn't have another place on the quilt to do the same cross-hatching. I really feel like motifs need to be repeated. I also think it's too dense but I'm not picking it out!
I fixed that problem by creating cross-hatched corners. A mistake done twice doesn't look so much like a mistake. That's where I currently stand. I need to finish the cross-hatching and then I'll move to the white areas with some blue thread.
The back is solid white to show off the perfect tension that I get from my Innova!
The postcard shop is also busy so I have the first ones to share tomorrow.
I shared this with you yesterday. I still remember the first time this happened to me and the level of panic that ensued. Fortunately, at the time, I was a member of an online quilting board and someone walked me through the basic steps to fix a short backing....without having to remove the quilt from teh machine.
When it happened again earlier this week I decided to document the process and put together a tutorial so that anyone can find it whenever it's needed.
You can find the tutorial here.
I'm now done with veterans quilts for a while so I'm going to load a quilt of my own and work on some new postcards this weekend. What are your plans?
I'm going to finish up this series talking about the ultimate blankets: charity quilts. When I bought my first longarm it arrived the week before Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and Alabama. You may remember that there was a huge quilt drive for Katrina quilts. I think that actually got really out of hand but I saw a great opportunity to practice on my new longarm and jumped right in. I bought a couple of quilt tops off eBay and got a few from my guild members.
I'm happy to tell you that I don't have any photos of those quilts. The quilting was pretty awful but they got done and I got practice!
New longarm owners often seek out charity quilts for practice and that's a great thing but you have to be careful that your charity quilting doesn't start to overwhelm you.
Set some rules around your charity quilting.
I quilt a lot of charity quilts for my quilt club. We donate lap size quilts to the local VA hospital. We've been doing it for several years and finish about 60 quilts each year. I decided that quilting them would be my contribution to charity quilting in addition to making 2 QOV quilts each year. I quilt up to 40 of the veterans quilts each year and I'm able to do that because I set some rules. Before you accept your first charity quilt you need to set some rules too or else you will be set up for burn out.
Here are my rules for the quilters:
Here are my rules for myself:
I don't have any problems with people trying to guilt me into quilting. Several of our members make quilts for other organizations. I don't quilt those quilts. Occasionally we make a large raffle quilt and I don't quilt those either. I've set the veterans quilts as my contribution.
You cannot do everything. Maybe your contribution will be baby quilts for the local hospital or the one raffle quilt that your guild makes every year or pet pads for the local shelter. Find the cause that is meaningful for you and doable with your schedule and focus on that. Here's what you say to everyone else:
"I'm sorry, I have quilts to fill my charity quota for the year. Do you want me to put you on the list for next year? I can call you when I'm ready to take another if you still have it them."
"I'm sorry, I can't commit to that deadline. I do charity quilts when I have time between my customer/personal quilts. It could be as long as 6 months before I can get to it."
"No, I'm sorry, I don't custom quilt charity quilts. I select the design and thread. If you need a specific design you will likely have to pay someone to quilt it for you."
It's also perfectly OK for you to decline to do any charity quilting. Do not let anyone guilt you into doing any quilt that you don't want to do.
Be firm about your rules to maintain your sanity. Remember that you are doing someone a favor. No one has any right to use your time for free without your full willingness.
I hope you've enjoyed the series this week. As I said Monday, this is a series that I've been wanting to writes for a long time. It's all the information that I wish someone has told me when I bought my first longarm in 2005.
In a couple of weeks I'll move all of these posts over to the tutorial section of the web so that they will be easier to find. On Monday we will be back to regular programming!
One of the cool things about getting into longarm quilting is that you are open to a whole new world of classes and tools to buy. I've been to Machine Quilter's Expo, Machine Quilter's Showcase (now defunct) and Birds of a Feather. I've bought dozens of quilting DVD's and watched hours of YouTube videos. I love the shows because there are so many classes to take in one weekend and so many kindred spirits to meet. But if you sign up for 3 full days of classes you can get very overwhelmed.
Be wary when you hear "this is the ONLY way to do this".
Listen to what the teachers have to say but remember that what they are teaching is what they figured out worked for them. That might or might not work for you but you have just learned another option to try.
Pick one thing from each class you take to practice.
Classes are only good if you practice what you learn. To get the most out of classes pick one thing from each class that you want to practice. WRITE IT DOWN at the class on a "NEXT PRACTICE" list. Then go home and load up some blankets and try them out.
I can't tell you how many classes I've taken that I never practiced. That's nothing but wasted money. Now I often prefer to buy one video, watch it a couple of times and then practice right away. I still go to shows because I love to network with other longarm quilters and I do take a few classes to learn specific things. I have even taken classes specifically to get the opportunity to try different brands of quilt machines. When you go to shows and classes set some goals for yourself ahead of time so you pick smart classes and set aside some practice time right after the show.
Find your own groove. You can't be great at everything.
As you go to quilt shows and study quilts online start paying attention to collections of quilts by different quilters. This is a photo of a quilt by Margaret Soloman Gunn that I took at Mid-Atlantic Quilt Show in 2016. Margaret has a very distinctive style. Bethanne Nemesch has a very distinctive style. So does Marilyn Badger, Jamie Wallen and Judi Madsen. They all have individual and identifiable styles.
The problem is that we take classes from all of them and then expect that we should be able to quilt like all of them. That's impossible!
This came to a head for me over leaves. Jamie Wallen's leaves to be specific. I love Jamie. He's a great teacher and I have several of his DVD's. He appropriately calls his style of quilting "mystical" and that perfectly describes it. I have tried over and over and over to quilt his leaves and his style of quilting.
I can't do it. It's just now how I think. I'm a better quilter because of what I've learned from him but you can't really see his influence in my quilting. That's OK.
I can't do Jamie's leaf but I can do MY leaf. This is my leaf. All of my leaves look like this.
While I love the fantastical quilting of Jamie and Bethanne and the formal feathers of Margaret, my true love is ruler work and fills. That's the kind of quilting that is joyful for me so that's pretty much all I do on my "quilts". I still experiment on blankets and I'll occasionally add some feathers but I stay pretty well set in my groove.
Take classes from teachers with all kinds of expertise. You will pick up nuggets of helpful information from all of them. But if what they are doing seems torturous for you then that's not for you and you just learned something!.
It's also OK if your groove is wavy lines. You can quilt every quilt forever with wavy lines. I know a quilter who basically does that. Her quilts are about the color, value and pattern of her quilts. The quilting is utilitarian. She still has a longarm and it does for her exactly what she wants it to. Don't pressure yourself. It's a tool and you need to make it work for you.
So, you've been practicing your quilting and are getting more comfortable with your machine and starting to really like what you are quilting.
Then you go to a quilt show and see this.
These are photos of quilts that I took at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in 2016. I like to collect photos of details instead of whole quilts to store up quilting motif ideas. But the risk of doing this is that you start comparing your quilting to these and think you will never be this good.
Don't compare your quilting to others. Only compare your next quilt to the last one.
Back to the car analogy, NASCAR drivers didn't become NASCAR drivers in high school. The spend hours and hours working to build their racing skills. The same applies to the award-winning quilters. We tend to forget that they have hundreds of quilts under their belts that they had to quilt to be able to do the one that won Best of Show. That quilt that you are looking at didn't just take the hours they spent on it. It also took the two hundred quilts that came before it to be able to do it and a few of those were probably simple stippled quilts.
I have a quilt planned that I want to do some complex Spirograph motifs on. The thought of jumping in on that quilt overwhelmed me.
I decided to start easy with this Quilt of Valor. (I practice a lot on charity quilts.)
I started with some very simple motifs to get some experience with different ruler sizes and controlling my movement of the ruler.
Next I did this little quilt that has a little more complex motifs. Then I'm going to do a larger mandala and THEN I'll be ready for the "real" quilt.
If you are contemplating a quilt that you are procrastinating on that means that you aren't quite ready to do it. Write down the elements that you want to put in the quilt and identify the ones you aren't yet comfortable with and then pull out some of those blankets (or charity quilts) and start building the skills.
When you are at shows take all the photos you want for ideas but don't ever compare your work to theirs until you are at a point of preparing to enter shows yourself.
I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.
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