6.26.2015

Machine Quilting: Purple Dresdens

Nancy also brought me this wonderful Dresden Plate quilt to work on. My instructions were to do whatever - I LOVE it when my instructions are to "do whatever". Especially when what I'm given to work on is a virtual quilter's playground!!!
 Isn't this quilt just gorgeous?! I knew I wanted to quilt a background filler behind the dresdens and then quilt a different design to highlight each plate. A quilt like this deserves a bit more effort than just a simple all over design...
 What I ended up choosing to do was fill the background with pebbles/bubbles. It was the best design to work in and around the points and fill the odd shaped areas. Then I just did a simple pointed loop in each fabric within the plates. Sometimes I would choose a swirl instead for the background, but for this quilt some of the areas were really small that needed to be filled and even with my best quilting, it may look awkward in spots. So bubbles for the win!

I did then switch to a darker thread (I was only using an off-white to this point) and filled the border with straight lines. There's a large floral design in the border fabric and I didn't want to take away from it at all, but I had to tack down the large border. These straight lines have been the answer lately for busy borders like this one.

I like the fact that even though I didn't quilt a single straight line within the center of the quilt, the lines don't feel like a new quilting element. It just finishes off the quilt top and takes a backseat to the rest of the quilt which is where your eyes want to wander anyway.
 The colors and fabrics in this quilt were so interesting and fun to work through.
 I LOVE how this quilt turned out and I may need to make myself a dresden in the future... It's on my quilting bucket list.
Here's how the back of the quilt turned out. You can still see each dresden and each loop without knowing what the front looks like. This quilt could even be used as both a wholecloth (if you display the back) or a regular quilt.

Thank you, Nancy!!! I love working with her scrappy quilts and drooling over her fabric choices! Scrappy quilts are so much fun to quilt and seem to go faster because with each time I advance the section I'm working on, I get to see new fabrics and it keeps the process exciting and new.

6.25.2015

Machine Quilting: Crane Panel

These metallic panels are becoming a weekly norm for me to quilt as of late. The metallics are very subtle on this panel, but the overall appearance is so striking, they were placed just so to highlight certain areas.
 For a good portion of this quilt, I kept the quilting simple and followed the fabric design. For example, in the panel I outlined the cranes and the moon, then followed the swirls at the bottom which only left the "sky" left to fill.
 I also followed the fabric as my guide in the striped border.
 You really can't see the quilting in the swirls, but it's there!
To finish off the rest of the quilt, I filled the borders with contrasting designs that are pair well with the feel of the quilt. The argyle-type quilting broke up the fans from the curvy swirls in the panel and the outer border was filled with pebbles.

Sometimes the best option is to keep it simple. This may look more planned than it really was, but this particular design was one of the most simple custom quilting jobs I could have done. Custom doesn't always have to be super complex and intricate, although I've been doing my fair share of that type of quilting lately too.

Thank you, Nancy! This was so much fun to work on!

6.24.2015

Machine Quilting: Scrappy 1930's Stars

Ruth brought this massive quilt to me to finish. It's so cheery and wonderful with the variety of fabrics and the pieced sawtooth border, I couldn't wait to get started.
 Ruth wanted an all over simple pattern with a touch of density to it. We chose these swirls to soften the appearance of the quilt and work within the style of the quilt top.
 Normally I tend to quilt the density of the pattern relative to the size of the quilt and it's components. This one however was quilted a bit denser on request. It doesn't look that dense in the picture above, but those stars are much smaller in real life than they appear here. I'd say most of these lines are about an average of 1/2" or so apart.
 This quilt was so large that it almost didn't fit on my machine! I only had a couple inches of space left on either side of the leader bars - my machine is 12' long! We almost had a hard time getting batting large enough for this quilt. Most manufacturers stop somewhere around 122"-130". This quilt was 99" x 128" in the end... That's big.
 I love the texture and had so much fun looking at all of the fabrics as I worked.

 I haven't played much with these fabric as of late, but I think I need to bust into my stash and make something. This quilt just gives off a light summery vibe.
And I'm happy to report that Ruth posted this picture of the quilt in it's home and it fits perfectly! All of that length was needed to hang just right and tuck under the pillows. It already has that crinkly-loved squish to it!

Thank you, Ruth! Your piecing was spectacular and I had so much fun working on this quilt for you!

6.22.2015

Mini wall

I finally hung the latest mini quilt I received in a swap! It took forever for me to clean a spot just big enough to get the step stool in my sewing room and hang the mini just right, but it looks wonderful! 
The latest mini quilt swap I participated in was the Rainbow Mini Swap and it was soooo much fun. I love color and anything that fades in rainbow order is my cup of tea. I knew this swap was going to be amazing and I had no clue which lovely masterpiece was mine until it showed up at my doorstep. 
This was the wonderful quilt I received. There were many other wonderful gifts in the package including chocolates, a small ruler, cards and a matching pin cushion filled with lavender!!! The pincushion smells divine and it made its way to my other sewing space with the long-arm. There were many other wonderful goodies too, all with little handwritten notes attached. It was the sweetest personal touch! 

These pictures do not do this quilt justice, the creativity and workmanship is amazing and I cannot believe this little quilt was made for me! I have to thank Julie at thecraftyquilter.com for being such a wonderful swap partner! She is so creative and makes the most wonderful things, check out her website! Seriously. Especially if you need a little Monday afternoon inspiration, just pop over and be amazed! 

I'll be back with more quilty goodness this week. Right now I'm off to quilt! 

6.19.2015

Machine Quilting: Geisha Girls

The other Oriental Panel quilt I did for Anne was just as gorgeous but a bit more simple.
 The main feature was this panel. To jazz it up just a bit Anne added these fans on each corner and kept the borders simple. The fabrics themselves have so much going on, that the quilt didn't need much more visual elements with quilting.
 As with the other panel quilt I did for Anne, I kept the quilting as simple as possible outlining certain areas more for function to tack them down, and the quilting you could see was kept minimal to not take away from the overall appearance of the quilt. There's just enough in spots to tack down the quilt for hanging, but not so much that you actually see it all.
 It may not look like there's much quilting in there, but the flowers and leaves and girls and the crane are all outlined. This was another day or two where when my Hubby asked, "So how was your day? Did you get a lot done?" I showed him pictures and he said he couldn't see where I quilted anything. In this instance, that was exactly what I was going for.
 These panels are baffling to me before I get started. I say that because it makes choosing threads a challenge. Usually these panels have every color from black to white and somewhere in between. Whatever thread you use in dark areas will not work in the light areas and it may not work in all of the colors. Add in a sprinkling of metallics in there and it just gets more difficult. For this quilt I opted for neutrals which blended well between the colors and played nice with the metallics. I think I only used a medium brown and a tan for the top of this quilt and the combination worked out well.
When I was planning out this quilt, the border was not playing nice. It had every color in the quilt but squished into this little strip. Then it had this teeny tiny strip of blue and green on either side and at first I was thinking about treating each element of the border separately... Then in a moment of thinking about something else, I got the idea to treat it all as one (it was really too narrow to treat everything individually) and by quilting these straight lines, the quilting read more as a texture than another design and didn't conflict with the busy floral stripe. I used the brown thread on this section and it worked well with it's medium tone since it's not too dark on the lights and not too light on the darks. It still let the fabric shine without taking away from the impact of the fabric.

As I said before, I love working on these quilts and they really challenge my creativity because it's not my normal style to work in. I really do my research beforehand and try to get "in the right mindset" before I begin so I don't include any designs that would conflict with the tone of the quilt. Plus as I mentioned with the color aspect of each panel, not only do these panels challenge my creativity, they also challenge my workmanship and it's a challenge I will gladly accept.

I love when my clients trust me enough to bring me quilts like this that may be a challenge in one aspect or another. It keeps me from feeling in a rut and it helps me to grow and develop as a quilter which in turn gives my clients better and better results. It's a win-win if you ask me!

Thanks, Anne! Another gorgeous quilt as always!

6.17.2015

Machine Quilting: Crazy Thistle Pods

I don't mean crazy as in this quilt is crazy. I mean the quilting in this quilt is crazy! Maryellen sent me this quilt after she worked on it for a long time. Knowing that she put blood, sweat, and tears into this quilt, she wanted the quilting to be in the same ballpark.
 I mean seriously, when you have this much work in all of those points and curves... you want the quilting to be awesome. And crazy. And that's what we did.

Maryellen and I went back and forth for a while trying to decide on a plan. There were definite elements she knew she wanted in the quilting and other areas we had to figure out as we went. All in all, it is stunning, but I'll let the pictures do the talking...
 I only used two different threads for the top - a light green and a variegated blue and green for the darker fabrics. The majority of the quilt was filled with a mixture of pebbles, swirls and a random feather or two.
 The outer border was split between these fun feathers in the lighter fabrics and simple shadow compasses (mimicking the pieced compasses) and wavy lines in the darker fabrics.
 The variegated thread worked so well in the darker fabrics. It had just enough pop and sparkle without being too bold.

 These stars are very similar to a New York Beauty block that you'll find in several of Judy Niemeyer's patterns (this is four of them put together). I quilted this ribbon candy design in a New York Beauty section of this quilt, and I knew it would look so neat as a continuous design in a circle. To contrast the curves in the center and the pebbles in the background, the spikes were kept simple with straight lines.
 The biggest trick with quilts like this that have several complex elements already - keep it all cohesive. You don't want any one area to stand out too much and it all has to work well together.
 I can't get enough of these feathers! I may have to do them again soon! You can probably see a shadow compass here a bit better.
 All in all, this quilt is large and crazy quilted. However, at the end of the day I'm so excited with the result and Maryellen is too. I think her exact word when she got the quilt back was YOWZA!
 I could stare at this quilt all day...
 I love how the texture turned out and everything is quilted just enough...
 I used two different threads on the back of the quilt, but both blend in well enough on this fun fabric.
 I love being able to see the designs and details on the back as well as the front.
Here you can see the thread detail a bit better. The fabric was a very blue-green and it altered the thread colors just enough that my first choices were too bright or dark or something. I ended up using Midnight Harbor and Olive Green and I'm so pleased with how they worked out. In this picture, the blue is on the left and the green is on the right. The straight lines are done, one of each color.

I chose to use the blue with the variegated thread since I was dealing with batiks top and bottom. It limits the range of thread colors I can use (if I'm not using the same thread top and bottom) since batiks are woven much denser and can cause some tension issues if you're not careful. The closer the thread colors are to eachother, the better the end results will be.

Phew, what a quilt! Wouldn't you agree? Thank you, Maryellen!!! I hope some binding fairies came to help and you can enjoy your masterpiece of a quilt.

If you're interested in learning more about my quilting services, please e-mail me at RubyBlueQuilts at gmail dot com, or you can see more information on the Machine Quilting Information page here on the blog.

6.16.2015

Machine Quilting: Oriental Panel

I apologize in advance. This isn't my style of fabric so I never know what to call it. Is it Oriental? Japanese? Asian? I blame it on politically correct policies, but alas, whatever you call it, this quilt is gorgeous!
 Anne made this beautiful quilt from a kit she picked up while out of town. She loved the design, but when she showed it to me so we could plan the quilting, she didn't care what I did - but those blank areas to the right needed "something".

Instantly I had an idea in mind... But I kept it a secret so I could surprise her.
 Can you see it? I had this idea to quilt in origami cranes in those "plain areas". There were cranes in the panel and in some of the other fabrics, and I thought the origami cranes would emphasize the theme of this quilt but add in a little something special.
 I do more research before I work on oriental quilts than any other. One reason being that it's not my normal style and I have to get familiar with it before I begin.

Another reason being this is a style. It's a very specific style and there's certain designs I can and should use, and there's designs I definitely shouldn't use. This definitely isn't the quilt for feathered wreaths and traditional quilting. I mixed up the boxes on the right side with straight lines and clamshells. Some of the boxes were quilted in the ditch to tack down the pieces without adding another element. The borders of these boxes were only an inch or so wide which was too small to add in something new.
 In the outer border, I just followed the design in the fabric and it made this wonderful pebbled appearance. I also quilted in some fans and used the flat swirls and some pebbles in the light areas to keep with the organic feel of this quilt.
 The panel itself was kept as simple as possible. I outlined the flowers, leaves and cranes (they're at the top in the light areas) and filled the base of the panel with these leaf stems, again playing off of the designs in the panel.
I showed a picture of my day's progress to my Hubby and brother one night and the both of them responded the same - I can't see the quilting. And that was the perfect response. I just wanted to outline and enhance the panel. It already had so much going on it didn't need anything else. My job then was to keep it simple and tack down the quilt to make it functional to hang. It actually can be more work to keep it simple like this, but it's worth the extra energy used. Wouldn't you agree?

Thanks, Anne! This was so much fun and I love how these quilts keep me challenged creatively. Actually the week I worked on this panel and another one I will show you later this week. I also worked on a Christmas quilt, a graduation quilt and a very simple baby quilt. I love that I never know what shows up at my door and I have to keep thinking in different ways. I feel it keeps my mind fresh and it helps to think about several different styles at the same time. Sometimes I come up with unique ideas by blending styles of quilting.


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