Colorful Gravity

Nicole also brought me this amazing Gravity quilt (pattern by Jaybird Quilts) to work on. Once again, I thought the pattern was much smaller before I saw the quilt in person. This one is even bigger than the Swoon I showed yesterday!
 I was so excited to work on this quilt - I'm a color freak and the more the merrier! However this quilt proved to be trickier than I anticipated to plan.

One - with all of those colors it was harder to choose the right thread(s). We ended up choosing a medium gray for the entire quilt because it's a neutral and would work with all of the colors, but it's not too light or too dark for any one area. Granted it'll stand out a bit more on this color or that one, but you generally look at the quilt as a whole, not piece by piece.

Two - the size and the angles made it challenging to work through the quilt and advance. These pieces are massive and the pieced diamonds were large enough that depending on the angle it was pieced into the quilt, it may not have all fit within the throat of the quilting machine at one time. So what does that mean? Some blocks I could quilt all at once, some I would have to plan the quilting so I could split the block and quilt half, then advance the quilt and finish the other half of the block.

I had a ton of doodles and notes to keep myself organized and on task for this project!
 I had to take notes because there are two of every block and I wanted to keep the quilting the same in both. The matching blocks are on opposite sides of this "star" so I may not be able to see the first block once I got around to quilting the second - hence why notes were important.
 For the designs, we kept it simple between straight lines in diamonds and triangles, curved lines in a variety of formations and I think that about covers it. It's amazing when you keep the basic parts as simple as possible but change the delivery how it can look so detailed and complex, but I promise you it's not.
 And then to keep the focus on the center (and how could you not with all of those colors?) we kept the quilting as simple as we could in the background with straight lines in alternating directions. By alternating the direction it gives depth and interest to an otherwise plain area, but doesn't take away from the rest of the quilt.
 I had to plan and draw out the line idea for the background ahead of time to make sure with all of the lines and angles it would work out right and luckily it did! Phew! Crisis averted!
I mean seriously... how perfect is this photo? My own thread color coordinated and a nice little backdrop to this colorful quilt... It was a match made in heaven. Which is ironic because we only used gray thread on this quilt, but I digress...

I had a blast working on this quilt and it was a great creative challenge for me. Quilts like this - quilts without squares and rectangles and more colors than a box of crayons - make my brain work so much more than some others and it keeps me on my toes. And that's a good thing!

Sometimes too much of the same old same old gets us quilters in a design rut too. We like a little variety and a change of pace. Sometimes it gives us heart palpitations before we can calm down and think rationally, but that's a whole other story... For a whole other day...

Thank you Nicole for bringing me fun quilts to play with! Both of these quilts were loads of fun and I was so happy to get to put my little spin on them.

Oh and you really can't see it, but I loved this quilt as much for the backing as I did the front. Nicole found this awesome wide back that was white type on black - and the words were all colors. Saffron, magenta, orchid, cinnamon, greige, sunflower, etc. It was the perfect backing for this quilt because even though it was black and white, it was color related! How cool is that?!

Anywho, Nicole, if you ever find yourself tired of this quilt and it just needs to find a new home... Call me. You know the number. Just saying.

The hardest part of this job is pouring your heart and soul into these projects and then sending them back to where they came from. It's the great part of my job too - I love being able to give my all with each quilt... But that's also the part that breaks my heart. I don't want to give them back! I want to hoard them all and have a different quilt to love each and every day. But I give them back. All of them. I promise. As much as I don't want to at times, seeing your faces light up when you come pick them up or getting phone calls and emails when your quilt arrives at your door makes my day. Sometimes my week or my month. That's why I continue to do what I do and I promise I will still be doing this after Little Miss arrives. It may be a bit harder at first to get back in the groove, but I have high hopes. Especially if/when we move and I can work in between naps and after bedtime. That's the plan at least... Wish me luck.

Speaking of which I have to get out to the machine and quilt a bit today. If I sit here in my pjs any longer it's not going to happen... Until next time!



Nicole made this Swoon quilt (pattern by Thimbleblossoms) and I was surprised by the size of it when it arrived! For whatever reason, I thought it was much smaller - more like a lap size quilt. Well, it's not. It's big.
 Nicole asked that the quilting was kept simple on this one and she wanted something curvy but not a swirl because that's what she's normally drawn to. We had another idea at first (I honestly don't remember what it was) but then the more I stared at the quilt and thought about it a large clamshell seemed to be the perfect fit.
 The only deciding factor then was choosing what side would be the top of the quilt since the quilting is directional.
I think the quilting adds to the softness of this quilt but doesn't take away from the visual aspect at all. And who would want it to with big bright blocks like these? This is just a little reminder that sometimes simple is best. Somedays I think that's more of a reminder for myself than my clients :)


Judi's Reach for the Stars Quilt

Now this quilt has a funny story. Last summer I got an email from Judi wanting to send me this quilt but it's HUGE and the backing she chose was directional so we needed to formulate a plan to make it work and get it large enough to fit the quilt AND match the pattern as best as possible. Well, after a few emails and phone calls back and forth, we had success and this amazing quilt showed up at my doorstep.
 Judi made this version of Reach for the Stars and I can't even begin to describe to you how rich and vibrant this quilt was in person since it's basically a neutral quilt. It's creams, grays, tans and black, but it was sooo captivating.

I knew early on before I began that a few of the busier fabrics would be challenging to plan a design because they were so contrasting and so busy to the eye (like the grey borders - well, they read grey in pictures). For those areas we planned simpler quilting, because let's be honest, you're probably not going to be able to see the quilting 80% of the time anyway. That then allows for stand-out quilting to be in the lighter areas where you will see the quilting more.

We tried to keep the elements simple, straight lines, pebbles, swirls, and some fleur de lis by request of Judi. This quilt was inspired by a trip she took with her girls to Italy and we wanted to keep that same vibe in the quilting.
 Some of the blocks were quilted simply and let the fabrics do the talking, some had a bit more interest in plain areas where the quilting could be a bit "louder". All of the blocks were framed in one of three different fabrics, we chose three different fillers and kept the designs consistent throughout the quilt.
 Here you can see the crazy bold fabrics a bit better that I was talking about. Every part of this quilt has quilting in it, you just can't always see it all.
 And the fabric that started it all - the center of this block was the fabric that Judi picked first to use as color inspiration and it also happens to be the backing too. Whenever it came into play on the top of the quilt, I just followed the motif and let the fabric talk. There's no sense taking away from it at all.
 It took me awhile to figure out what to quilt in these complex side setting triangles, but I was so happy with the results, I'm grateful I waited to see how the rest of the quilt was coming along and see what areas or designs I could play with more to fit the space the best.
 The center of the quilt is this huge medallion type block and I tried to tie in a little of every quilting design in the spaces where I could.
 Here's some more close ups of the blocks - I'll take a narrative break and just let the quilt speak for itself.

 Now, the border. I came up with this crazy plan for these wild feathers to fill the borders and I'm so glad Judi agreed. They're complex and beautiful and fit the feel of the quilt wonderfully. If my memory serves me correctly, not all the borders were the same width so this type of feather allowed to fill wider and narrower spaces and still feel right.
 This quilt was massive and just barely fit on the machine with the way it needed to be loaded (the way you piece your backings determines how it gets loaded onto the machine, more on that in a later post).
 All in all, this was so much fun to work on and see it come to life as I worked. With so much contrast within the fabrics, we kept the thread colors as close to the fabrics as possible using grey and tan both top and back. Maybe there was a cream in there too, I don't remember - it's on my notes, but not important for the blog...

 I really really LOVE those feathers and need to find more excuses to quilt them!
 Here's the backing fabric once the quilt was done and all folded up to go back to Judi. Aside from a shadow here or there, the fabric is so busy you can't really see the quilting, can you?
Here's a close up. See the different threads. There's a tan and a grey, I promise. This is why you hear quilters say busy backs are best because they are! Especially when the top has so much going on and every color from black to white. It makes matching threads and getting the perfect tension/thread pairing so much easier to achieve.

Thank you Judi! This was one of my favorite quilts to work on last year - granted almost all of them are my favorites, but once again this was another quilt I wanted to hold hostage and never send back! It happens a lot...

If you have questions about my quilting services, you can read all the info you need by visiting the Machine Quilting Information page (at the top of the blog if you're on a desktop, follow the drop down menu at the top of the blog if you're on a mobile device) or by emailing me at rubybluequilts (at) gmail (dot) com. I'm still taking in quilts at this moment, but I may only have a spot or two left before I can't reach the machine anymore and quilting may have to wait until Little Miss arrives in March. I'll be posting updates in the mean time and feel free to contact me to schedule a spot (or spots) or send me your quilt now so I can get to it when I can. I'll be working on a first come/reserved basis, so please plan ahead if you have deadlines. I will try to be accommodating, but no guarantees as I settle into motherhood and hopefully a new house in the future!

Well, thank you all for the comments on the other quilts I've posted! It's been fun to reminisce and see these beauties once again. Have a great day and if you're snowed in - have fun quilting!


Blue Pine Tree Ridge Quilt

And as promised, here is the second version of the Pine Tree Ridge quilt Bobette made. It's very similar to the green one I shared yesterday, and similar to the one Linda Hrcka did originally (check it out here), but with a little twist here or there to keep them both unique.
 So as you can see it's mainly the same feel, just more blue. I'm going to take a back seat today and let this quilt do the talking.

 I LOVE this angel block. The feathers were a bit tricky to figure out at first, but I'm so happy with how they turned out. Oh, and if I remember correctly there were about 6 different thread colors used on this quilt to blend in with the fabrics here and there.

 One block I really followed the cues from the fabric was the red with stars. It was so much fun and I think it turned out great!

 Once again I left the wool alone in spots and quilted it "just enough" in other areas to tack it down for functionality and give it a little personality. I really like quilting wool applique quilts although the thickness and weave of the wool can be a bit tricky to work around if it's layered up.

 This border was my favorite and my worst nightmare at the same time. Here's why:
 This was a super teeny tiny stripe and this was my angle while quilting. The more I quilted these feathers and put some curved stitching over the fabric, it made this optical illusion that was really messing with my eyes.
Here you can see the stripe better. This is a straight on view and the lines still give it a goofy look, but it's so pretty, I just needed to take a few more visual breaks than normal and get it done as quickly as possible.

I LOVED working on these quilts! It was a major challenge that had me a bit terrified at first, but I felt I grew as a quilter so much with new designs and fillers and trusting my instincts. This goes back to the post I had earlier this week about trusting your quilter and allowing them to get more creative if they have guidelines and an imagination. Bobette knew I couldn't do it exactly like Linda did, but trusted my quilting to have the same effect, but be personalized to her quilts. It really was a win-win for us both!


It's a Green Christmas Quilt

It's beginning to look alot like Christmas! Really, here it is. It's still snowing and yes, I'm over it.

But in my quest to catch up on sharing quilting pictures, we're going to start with some Christmas quilts!

p.s. I'm going through and sharing a majority of quilts I've working on these past six months or so, if I quilted for you and you don't want pictures of your quilt shared, please email me at rubybluequilts (at) gmail (dot) com, but I'd love to share them if I can!

Alrighty, back to the good stuff. Get ready for picture overload!
 Bobette made two of these Pine Tree Ridge quilt patterns (you'll see this one today and another tomorrow) and she wanted it quilted like Linda Hrcka at The Quilted Pineapple did on this post... Needless to say I was a little more than nervous to fill those large shoes! But I couldn't be happier with the results and I didn't want to give the quilts back! That's always a good sign I feel like I did my job to the best of my ability!

 Some of the details we kept the same, but Linda followed some fabric patterns in areas with her quilting and without the same fabric I couldn't make it exact, so we matched the feel of her quilt and improvised here and there while keeping the same charm.

 This quilt was probably one of the densest quilting jobs I had completed up to this point. I worked on this quilt for a few days and it's basically a lap size... But I'm so happy with the results who cares how long it took?!

 I was able to quilt over some of the wool applique and left some as is - it depended on how thick the wool was and whether it needed a quilting foundation or not due to the size of the pieces. I tried my best and made it count where it was needed.
Isn't it just magical? I had so much fun with this and you'll see the blue version tomorrow. It was a toss up of which quilt was the favorite. One was supposed to be a present and one was supposed to be a gift. I'm not sure if she was able to part with one!

Stop back tomorrow for more pictures!


Another Snow Day

Today NE Ohio is just horrid outside. It really is. We had snow yesterday, some parts (like where the machine is) are expected to get another 15"+ today through tomorrow, but I have a feeling some of those areas are almost at the mark and we still have another 30 hours or so of snow coming this way.
(Outside my front door, not that bad here, but I'm super close to Lake Erie so I have a bit of protection here at home)

(The highway near hubby's work right now, that's one of the better looking roads expect it's supposed to be two lanes - but you can see tracks so that is a plus)

Hubby went off to work and I sat idly by the phone waiting for the text he got there safe. The roads are wet in some areas and a few miles down the road you can't tell a road exists there. Facebook has been full of accident reports and highways being shut down, so my preggo little self is staying in and doing paperwork today!

It's not the thing I really want to do, but it's time to bite the bullet and just get it over with at this point. One of those evil necessary things I guess.

While I sit here at the computer I'm going to attempt to get a few blog posts up and ready to go - cross your fingers! But before I get to that, there was a question on one of my latest posts about quilting that I need to address. Farm Quilter asked about how I charge my customers in the difference of using rulers for quilting and just regular free-motion quilting.

I'll try my best, but this isn't a one size fits all answer.

When I quilt free-motion, I start with my basic all over designs at my base price.

The nest step up in price results in semi-custom quilting. This is when there's an empty block that gets a special treatment or borders that are quilted differently than the center of the quilt. Also, this price level is for more dense or more intricate designs. The more thread I use, the more time it takes, etc.

After that is where I feel custom quilting starts and there's the range of price there depending on the complexity of the design, how many thread changes there are, how dense the quilting is, etc.

Most of my quilts used to fall in the basic category. Lately I've dealt in a wider range of price points because I've been receiving a wider range of quilts.

When I choose to use rulers in my work I can still fit in the base price depending on the quilt and the design. For instance, a simple wide cross-hatch using the quilt blocks as a guide can be done with the base price. It may be a bit slower for me to do, but it's about finding a path and getting the most out of the design with the least starts and stops possible. It fits into the work smarter, not harder mentality.

Sometimes even the simplest looking design may have more work "behind the scenes" and then I would be able to justify bumping the ruler work into the semi custom category.

Usually I tend to use rulers mostly in a mixture of free-motion and ruler work in my custom quilts. It's a matter of choosing your battles. There are certain designs I can do better and faster free-motion that look like ruler work. But each quilter is different. There are times, like with straight lines, that you have to use a ruler (or atleast I do). If it needs to be precise and straight, I can try and try, but it'll never look as good as using the ruler would.

Now, take a breather and put everything I just said into the back of your mind and remember this one thing if it's all you take from this post:

Like any new technique or design you quilt, you will be slow and awkward at first and YOU WILL GET BETTER AND FASTER with time and practice. Just because it's not something you're as fluent with or it's new to you as a quilter - don't punish your customers and charge them more than the work is worth. Look at the quilting as the big picture and choose your battles. You may lose money at first when trying a new technique or doing ruler work because you feel like a rookie. You lock your knees, forget to breathe, grip the ruler too tight, kill your shoulders in no time, your fingers cramp up - but that's all you. It's just the same as when you did your first few quilts, right?

And guess what, you got better, right? I know it may be difficult to find times to fit in a little ruler work here and there to get more practice, but try as much as you can. Where I am right now, depending on the quilt I can do and justify an all over ruler design at my base price. Sometimes I have to justify the semi-custom price, but if it takes me longer as a quilter - I use it as a learning experience. It's practice and that's as precious as it comes. Don't fret and squabble over the idea in your head, just do it and move forward. I may be a black sheep in the quilting community for this comment, but it's not all about how much you make at the end of the day. There are other quilts and other opportunities I'm much more fluent at quilting where I can make up the difference if I make pennies per hour working on one quilt. It's just one quilt.

Here's my one tip to making ruler work easier in a mind/body sort of way - the best thing you can do to prep for ruler work is just like every other quilting design. Come up with a plan (or a road map) of where you want to start and where you need to end up getting the most out of that path. I'm working on a quilt now that I figured out a way to quilt 4-5 rows at a time without stopping. It took me a lot of thinking and planning, but I thought originally I would only be able to do a row or two at a time. It's much more mental prep than anything else once you work with rulers, but IT IS SOOOO WORTH IT! Expand your horizons, think outside the box, color with a new crayon!

It took me years to attempt ruler work. And here's the honest truth - when I started I didn't own a single long arm ruler... I used an empty CD case as my ruler. I swear! I improvised and used what I had.

Now I have so many rulers and have more on my wishlist to try because I erased the stigma in my brain about how ruler work is hard and scary. Now I look forward to it and I encourage you to do the same.

Again, use challenging quilts that show up at your door (or quilts you created yourself) to push yourself creatively and try something new. One of my favorite quotes ever says - there's no room for growth within your comfort zone. Take that in for a second. Plaster it in front of your machine while you work if you need to. Be daring. Be bold. But at the end of the day use these challenges to be a better you and again - don't punish your customers with higher prices because of your insecurities. As they push you, you as a quilter get to grow and your entire customer base will benefit for it. That's why I like just a little but more than I cringe (it happens) when I get a challenging quilt at my doorstep. I take a moment to panic - it happens - and then I put on my big girl panties and get to work. I'm not going to let a little quilt get the best of me! And with this mentality my quilting ability has taken off in leaps and bounds I never thought possible.

Mind over matter. You can do it. I believe in you because I've been in those shoes too. 

And if you've been reading this and think it doesn't apply to you because you take your quilts to someone else to quilt - psyeah! It does! Think about this the next time you take a top to your quilter and trust her to "do whatever". This is why it's so important to express if you have expectations for your quilt and also let the quilter guide you in a design decision.

You have to trust your quilter to take care of your quilt and give you amazing results. 

Your quilter has to trust themselves to be the creative genius we all know they are. 

PLUS, your quilter has to trust you that you will love the end result. 

This is a tricky business to be in. Well, any creative business is tricky for that matter. It's passing along an idea and trusting in the ability of a person to do what only they can do for you. That's why you take quilts to someone else, right? Because you can't do it yourself? So trust in them and reap the benefits.

A quilter with guidelines and an imagination is so much more powerful than a quilter with strict instructions.

Allow your quilter to use you and your quilts to grow and you will get the best (or better than you imagined) results possible. It's a win-win!

However - last disclaimer and I'll be done for today - if you DO NOT trust your quilter, walk away and find a new one. There are other quilters out there and just because so-and-so lives around the corner or you know their family does not mean you HAVE to use them. If you don't feel comfortable leaving your quilt you've worked so hard on and you have to cross your fingers you might get something decent back in return - just don't. It's not worth it. There are good quilters, there are great quilters and there are just bad quilters. When you go over a plan for your quilt, check out their work, ask to see samples, get referrals from friends, and you should feel comfortable once your quilt is no longer in your possession. If you don't - ask to have it back. You didn't sign a contract, you can have your quilt back - it IS YOUR QUILT.

Alrighty, anything in my rambling above stand out to you? Surprise you? Have a question you'd like me to answer or clarify? Please, leave me a comment below and I will address it in the future. I'm really enjoying these more candid conversation posts!

I think it's time for a quick computer break and I will attempt to get more posts up soon. Cross you fingers this doesn't turn into a few day snow crisis here and I can get out and quilt in the near future!
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