Machine Quilting: Rhonda's Stars

There are a few quilts (or a few dozen) that I have on my quilting bucket list. With a little miss that's deathly afraid of the sound of my domestic sewing machine, not a lot of sewing is going to happen here in the near future, nor do I have the time, energy, or fabric to create everything I want. So when someone brings me a quilt on my bucket list, I get super giddy and live vicariously through that quilt for the short time I have it in my possession. I mean, I treat all of your quilts as if they were my own, but I few I'm a little more excited to play with than others.
 I LOVE this wonky star quilt and it was made in just the fabrics I would probably choose to make it in too! I love the mixture of textures, the strips and plaids and prints... And Rhonda brought it right to my door to quilt.
 I outlined each of the stars and filled the background with these fun swirls. With all of the star points and geometrics, the background needed to be a little softer to make the stars pop even more.
 Within the stars, just a simple outline did the trick. The difference between the openness of the quilting in the stars contrasting with the denser background just makes those stars pop! I would have loved to see this quilt finished and washed... I can imagine the amazing crinkliness!!!
 Just beautiful. But I quilted, and then it went on it's merry way and another quilt got shifted on my bucket list. I'm hoping Maura gets over her fear of my sewing machine quick because winter is about to hit here and I would love to hibernate inside and sew sew sew!
And like this quilt couldn't get any better, the view of the back about took my breath away! It's so pretty! Again, I would have LOVED to see this quilt after it was washed. It could only get more amazing I'm sure!

Thanks, Rhonda. I didn't want to give it back!!!


Machine Quilting: Embroidered Deer

Mary made this little wall hanging for her new grandson before his arrival and brought it to me to finish it up.
 Mary did an amazing job with the embroidery and wanted some finishing touches, but didn't want to embroider everything in and make the quilt too overwhelming visually.
 Trying to keep it simple yet functional, I quilted in these fun curls around the center design. It's a great design that works well in and out of little areas you may find in applique or embroidered works.
 Mary was originally thinking about embroidering in some leaves around the text in the quilt, but we chatted about it and I could quilt the leaves for her which serves as both functionality to stitch the quilt together, but also give her the design she wanted in a more subtle appearance. The same curls from the center were then quilted in the corners and outer edges of the quilt.
And this deer was too amazing. I love the colors and the details. Mary did an amazing job and I was happy to finish this quilt for her!


Machine Quilting: Rustic Buzzsaw

Betty brought me this quilt to finish for her and I couldn't wait to get started. Problem was, I didn't know what I wanted to quilt on it!
 I was trying to come up with a plan to accent the harsh angles and utilize the opposite colors in the blocks, but everything I tried just looked too too. Everything was too much or too bold or too something. So finally I took a step back and looked at it again and the answer was so simple - don't play up the angles, downplay it. Don't make opposing blocks, make them compatible with an allover design that softens the appearance of the quilt but still gives it a rustic appearance.
A nice medium brown thread and these amazing swirls were the answer and I couldn't be happier with the results.

Some days my mind is my own worst enemy and I try to overthink some quilting plans when the answer was so simple all along!

Thanks, Betty! As usual I always enjoy working on your quilts!


Holy Crud

I'm here! Really I am!

Holy cow, I don't know where the last month went! It's like I blinked and wham - it's almost Thanksgiving.

Things have been good here, just extremely busy (which is a good thing) and I honestly just didn't have the time or energy to post on the blog and come up with something witty when I could barely keep my eyes open myself.

I'm still quilting like crazy and working on new things all the time, just not sewing... Maura is scared to death of my sewing machine. And the vacuum. Long arm machine - fine. Hair dryer - fine. Bobbin winder - fine. I sew just a few inches and she's bawling hysterically and screaming. Best Ben and I can think is there's some tone it emits that bothers her ears? Either that or she's not so subtly telling me that I need to clean my machine...

I will be posting more quilt pictures as I can (cross your fingers for good naps and restful nights with a still teething baby with no teeth to show for the troubles), oh and I have some fun opportunities for you too!

Chat soon! -Rebecca


Machine Quilting: Tropical Flowers

Mary made this quilt and brought it to me to finish for her granddaughter.
 Mary wanted flowers and something flowy quilted on this one and I was happy to do the job.
 I love quilting these flowers! With just a few simple adjustments I can either make them look like pansies or tropical flowers or shamrocks... The possibilities are endless!
 And swirls are just a favorite... I could probably make an excuse to quilt swirls on almost every quilt that shows up at my door.
I love how this quilt turned out. The flowers and the swirls and the colors - it's like a match made in heaven!


Confessions: The Ugly Duckling Stage

Hello! Welcome back for another Confessions post. Again, if you're new to my little blog, this is a weekly series where I try to share some of the behind the scenes happenings in the life of a machine quilter and attempt to clear up the confusion that exists in the quilting world. There are too many instances quilters find themselves in and even with all the books and blogs and tutorials available, a lot gets skipped over because everyone ASSUMES everyone else knows how to do everything. I'm trying to whittle my way through all of these topics and use this as an outlet to help-me-help-you. I hope that makes sense.

Today I would like to discuss the ugly duckling stage. It doesn't happen to every quilt, but most quilts... And sometimes it can happen multiple times to the same quilt.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That statement has never been more true than in quilting. Everyone has their own style and likes and dislikes and they can change often. Quilters can experience the ugly duckling stage in different ways. Today I'm going to talk a bit about what happens on the long arm side of things.

I have been quilting a ton of custom quilts lately and I love it. It keeps me on my toes and challenged creatively and I'm always coming up with new ideas. Every once in a while a quilt will stump me for a bit, but then once I figure out the way to get my plan to work it's like magic.

With custom quilts I rarely give away my entire plan to my client beforehand or during because:
1. I may not have the entire plan yet
2. I don't like to show my secrets (sometimes I have a trick or two up my sleeve I like to hold back)
3. The plan may change and alter slightly once I actually start on the quilt (the doodles and the real life quilt can look completely different sometimes)
4. The Ugly Duckling Stage

As of late with all of these custom quilts coming, I have had a lot more requests to see pictures of the quilt "in progress" and that always makes me nervous. I know my plan. I have the vision. That's why you send me the quilts.

You don't know the plan. You don't have the vision. That's my job. And when you see the quilt "in progress" it could be in the ugly duckling stage. It's kind of like when you fix up your house and you get new furniture, but then the new furniture looks so good it makes the walls look bad and dingy and now you want to touch up the walls and paint... Same principle. With only parts of the quilt finished, it can make the unquilted areas look ick.

Usually when I do send clients pictures of their quilt "in progress" it's because it's coming along even better than I anticipated and I'm so giddy I can hardly stand it so I have to share the excitement. But the quilt isn't finished yet so some areas may be bare or still in progress too. Sometimes when this happens I have a lapse in judgment and I send off a picture so giddy to get a response. And then it happens...

I get the "I like _____ but I'm not loving ____" or "that part will get quilted and look better, right?" and nothing gets mentioned about the reason I sent the picture in the first place and my heart sinks. Truly it does. With a job like this you pour your heart and soul into these quilts - you have to have a passion for this because it shows - and sometimes getting that response knocks the wind out of my sails and then I get anxious and nervous that they don't like it and I start to second guess myself when I was so passionate about the plan I had a few minutes ago and excited for how it was turning out...

And then I don't want to work on the quilt anymore because what if they don't like it and blah blah blah. Gosh darn that ugly duckling! Seriously, there are some quilts that behind the scenes I will consult with some of my long arming friends on ideas and plans and there will be this whole nervous breakdown over the smallest detail and my clients have absolutely no idea. It's nothing against their work or their quilts, it's all part of the artistic process.

So that's when I take a break, walk away for a bit, maybe play with Maura or go grab myself an adult beverage and come back to it refreshed and relaxed. Usually that is enough to brush aside any residual anxiety and get back to work.

And you know what happens? The quilt turns out amazing, sometimes even better than I could have imagined and life goes on. Sometimes even the part that people complained about initially then becomes their favorite.

This is where the ugly duckling stage can happen in quilts too. Maybe sometimes it's a bundle of fabric that has that one piece in it you can't stand but if you take it away, the rest goes blah. Maybe it's that block you had trouble piecing and you're sick of looking at it. Maybe it's just that quilt that you don't like but you started it and you're bound and determined to finish it even if it'll kill you. Don't write off the whole project and toss it aside never to see the light of day again. Maybe, just take a small break, come back to it after a bit and try again.

If you still don't like whatever was bugging you after that break, rip it out, start over, throw it in the trash. But give it a second chance! Try to push through and get to the finish line before you officially don't like it anymore. I LOVE when clients bring me quilts that they finished and they don't like it anymore - that's my chance to help them fall in love with it all over again and realize why they started it in the first place!

Ugly ducklings don't stay ugly forever!!!


Machine Quilting: Crane Kimono

Sharon sent me this quilt which was really interesting to me. It was a panel that I quilted before, but in a completely new way that I never would have thought of!
 It's a little hard to see here because of the angle (again still getting used to taking photos in the new quilting space - the old room was square and the new one is thin and long) but the crane panel is in the middle of a pieced kimono with some more borders added around it.
 Sharon wanted the sky to be as "lifelike" as possible with clouds. There was a little back and forth trying to figure out what kind of clouds she was looking for because my first instinct was to do stylized clouds that are common in Oriental quilts. I can only quilt with the thread like a line drawing so I had to think a bit on this one how to get the look she was going for within my abilities.
 Aside from the clouds, the rest of the panel was filled with quilting to follow along the design, you actually can't see most of it and that was the plan. The other areas were filled with a variety of fillers, some based on the fabrics and some not so much.
 The moon was fun to do, I added in some straight lines and bubbles to mimic craters and shadows. It's a little artsy, but it fit within the rest of the quilt.
The other fillers were fun and defined the areas as needed, but all worked well together too. That's sometimes the hardest part of designing custom quilting - trying to make everything work on it's own yet together and not have any one part look like an afterthought.

Thanks, Sharon, for sending me this quilt to work on! It's still hard to imagine that the same panel can have completely different looking results once it's all finished!
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