2.28.2015

Machine Quilting: Metro Rings

There is so much inspiration for quilting designs out and about on the Internet. There was one particular pattern set that I kept seeing online, but was anxious to get my hands on... Granted, I could have made one for myself, but it wasn't fitting into the sewing schedule and luckily Jeanne saved the day.
 This is the Metro Rings pattern by the wonderful girls at Sew Kind of Wonderful. They have designed a whole line of patterns that feature their Quick Curve Ruler AND they just came out with a QCR Sidekick for long-arm quilting. I really wanted to get the rulers, but I didn't have an excuse to purchase them until Jeanne brought me this quilt.

I'm super glad I did buy the rulers, Jeanne wanted the quilting just like it was on the cover of the pattern. I honestly don't know how I would've accomplished that otherwise.
 This quilt has a TON of quilting in it. Each of the straight lines are 1/2" apart and the pebbles fill in the gaps in the "melons". It took me awhile to figure out a path on how to complete this design with as little starts and stops as possible, but it was a slow process. Honestly, the picture above was all I got done the first day...
 Once I got the hang of the design and got used to the rulers, I gained a bit of speed, but with a quilt like this, accuracy is key and you'll get done when you get done. It took much longer than I anticipated, but I'm so happy with the results, it made it all worth it.
 Here are the rulers I used to quilt. Each ruler matches the curve of the design and has 1/4" markings on both the curved and straight edges. I used the larger ruler for most of the straight lines because I could grip it easier, but either ruler works.
 After cranking up the radio and quilting along, the quilt was done!
 The texture created is just amazing. It's always more pressure to a quilter to recreate a design as someone has done before (especially when it's their own design and you want your work to live up to the high standard they've set) but this quilt was a challenge I was happy to accept. Jeanne asked that I use a loftier batting to emphasize the quilting and the Dream Puff worked so well in this quilt.
 A wool batting would get you similar results, but the Dream Puff is washable, it doesn't shrink, and it's just a better alternative if you're planning on using a quilt that may require washing and drying.

I know I've said several times before that with a custom quilting job as intense as this, I'm super excited to see the back of the quilt. Honestly, there was so much going on with the top and I had been staring at this quilt for days I didn't think the back would be as spectacular as the front... I was wrong! It's usually very hard to photograph the texture created with straight lines going in several directions because inevitably one direction is lost without shadows from the lighting. For whatever reason, the lighting this morning when I took these pictures was just diffused enough that you can see most of the lines and really see the pattern well.

I want to thank Jeanne for bringing me this stunner of a quilt and trusting me to "make it look like the pattern cover". Like I said before, that is a tall order, and is sometimes impossible for me when the original was done with a digitized quilting pattern. I'm glad to report Jeanne loved the quilting and I can officially mark this quilt off of my "long-arm quilting bucket list".

Yes, I have a bucket list for long-arming as well as piecing. No, I don't think I'm the only one.

Thank you, Jeanne, for bringing me this quilt to play with!

If you're interested in my quilting services, you can view more information on the "Machine Quilting Information" page or you can e-mail me at RubyBlueQuilts (at) gmail (dot) com too. Currently, my turn around is around a month, but please understand that custom quilting may require more time.

2.27.2015

Heartfelt Thank You

I just wanted to pop in really quickly and send a thank you out from Ben and I and this little girl:
It has officially been two weeks that we've had Rosie and I cannot express in words how much your encouragement and kind words have meant!

Rosie has come such a long way in such a short amount of time. She went from a timid restless pup that destroyed her crate in the first few days to a calm, playful daddy's girl. She loves Ben and REALLY wants to play with Paco. It's been great for Paco too, he's got an extra pep in his step and even though he really can't play with Rosie, he's more active and spry.

We've worked with some of her "baggage" and trying to take it one day at a time. After she completely destroyed her liner in her wire crate, see below:

We got another plastic crate with a smaller grid on the door and only holes in the top half so she can't get herself hurt in any of the openings. We moved the new crate directly across from Paco's so when we leave, they can see eachother with a direct line of sight. I thought about putting a blanket or something over the top, but I was so worried that she would pull it into the crate and shred it or worse, so until we get more confident, she's not getting any foreign objects that could be potential choking hazards just yet.

One trick we've done is left a radio playing when we leave and that seems to help so much! Especially with those ginormous ears of hers, she hears everything including all of the cars and kids and whatever else goes on in our neighborhood (it's small, everything is so close). With the radio drowning out the ambient noise, she's still reluctant to get crated, but then she calms down and actually sleeps! She went from being a caged maniac to just a dog that doesn't want you to leave, but she knows we are coming back and that is soooo helpful.

I'm not going to lie, after Rosie demolished that crate, I was scared to death to leave her and was more concerned that she would harm herself in a fit of fright. With that said, after some minor adjustments and taking every single kind word to heart that was shared, I wouldn't trade her for the world! She is the sweetest, kindest, most gentle loving dog and I'm proud to call her mine!

The next step for us from here is to continue socializing her with various people coming to the house. Then once the weather breaks we need to take her to get a harness for outdoor walks (I think she was an "exercise dog" before. When I get in my workout gear and get my shoes on she gets really excited, but then when I hop on the elliptical she's not too thrilled. She's getting much better about her fear of the big bad elliptical though, but I'm anxious to get outside with her.) And see where we go from there!

Thank you all again. We cannot thank you enough! -Ben, Rebecca, Paco & Rosie

2.25.2015

Pillow Collective!

I was so excited to be asked by Amy Ellis to join a group of super talented ladies to celebrate her latest book, Think Big, for her Pillow Collective!

I was LONG overdue for a new pillow to add to our mix and the timing was perfect.
I chose to make the Equalizer block for my pillow. All of the blocks in the book are 18" square, which is a perfect size for a throw pillow. It's so perfect I just might make another...
Photo provided by Martingale, Photography by Brent Kane

 Mod Pod was a close runner up and I just might raid my stash again to create this gem. The instructions for each project are super clear and Amy included the best charts and diagrams to keep you organized whether you're making just one block (like me) or a whole quilt. She even included some pretty amazing instructions on how to make pillows with different closures.

I made my pillow with an envelope closure, but bound the pillow like a quilt for a couple reasons. One reason being that I use these pillows and I wanted it to stand up to the abuse it will receive. The other reason was so that I could practice stitching the binding by machine. All in all it was a great experience.

For my next pillow I plan on trying Amy's instructions for a zipper closure... I have a confession to make... I am a zipper virgin. And the blasted thing is I have one I bought just in case... And I can't find it anywhere! It's too frigid to run to the store just for a zipper, so the envelope option worked just fine this time. Next time, I'll expand my horizons a bit :)
 I am really happy with how this pillow turned out and I'm excited to make another. I had fun raiding my stash to find pieces that fit the feel of my living room. Then I got to play with the quilting and mixed a few of my favorite techniques together. Probably the thing that should excite you and I the most are the amazing prizes you can win during this Pillow Collective. Oh, I forgot to mention the prizes???

Visit each of the bloggers this week and pin your your favorites to Pinterest. Add the hashtags #PillowCollective and #ThinkBigBook to your pin description to be entered to win. There's no limit to the amount of entries you can have, so get busy. Amy has the following prizes for you to win:
 A wide variety of fabric bundles or...
This Quilt!!! That's pretty amazing if I do say so myself!

Also, if you're inspired to make your own quilt or pillow from Think Big, but you need a copy of the book, Amy has signed copies for 30% off with the discount code: ILovePillows in her shop! Hurry on over, the discount is only good through March 1st!

Winners will be announced on Amy's blog March 2nd. Happy pinning!

2.24.2015

Congrats, Judi!!!

Let me set the scene for you...

You make this amazing quilt and you love it. You enter that amazing quilt into your first quilt show and you come home with the big prize winning Best of Show...

Sounds like a dream, right?
Well, I think we all need to pinch Judi to wake her up from this dream, because that's exactly what happened!

She sent me this picture yesterday with the ribbon for the Glacier Star I quilted for her last summer. Her quilt was amazing and I had so much fun playing with it, I'm so honored she shared this special award with me!!!

To see more of Judi's gorgeous quilt, you can see the original post about her Glacier Star quilt here.

Thank you, Judi!!! Congrats don't seem like enough, it's with beautiful pieces like yours that let my creativity blossom!!! Congrats!!!

2.23.2015

Seems Like Scrappy Preview: Frolic

It seemed only fitting to start the preview process for Seems Like Scrappy with the gorgeous quilt on the cover!

Note: Seems Like Scrappy is due to be released in May. It is not available yet. Also, due to the strikes in the West Coast Ports, the release may be delayed a bit, but with the strikes coming to a quick solution, it may not be as delayed if at all (or so I hope)... We will all wait and see. I will keep you posted as the information gets to me, check back here every Monday for a new preview and an update. 
Picture provided by Martingale, Photography by Brent Kane

I have this bucket list of quilts I'd like to make. When I set out to design new quilts for this book, I had to include a log cabin of sorts, but I had to switch up the pieces to keep it from being too "normal". Each block features a wonky nine patch and strips of varying widths to keep things interesting.

Frolic uses fat quarters and it is fast and simple to cut and piece. It probably took longer for me to pick out fabrics than it did to actually make this quilt. And half of the fabrics came from a bundle, so it's really fast to make!

The fabrics I chose began with a bundle of Amy Butler prints and then I mixed the backgrounds with subtle fabrics that would read light, but work well with the bold prints. The majority of the background pieces are white-ish, but if you look closely there are pale yellows and pinks and blues. The range in lights that play off of the bolder prints gives this quilt the scrappy look without looking too traditional and cookie cutter.

It's so easy to choose all white background (or one background). I wanted to challenge myself and others to go with that fabric you normally wouldn't choose and see what magic may happen. It's easier to play off of a large contrast between fabrics like the lights and the bolder prints seen here. When some fabrics are soooo bold and so commanding to the eye, it's much easier to throw in a fabric that whispers to the effect of the commanding fabric. You want to touch on the same color or print in a fabric with much less impact visually. Also, this helps to tie in the collection of fabrics within the quilt as a whole so it all has a cohesive vibe.

I originally wasn't planning on making a sequel of this quilt, but reminiscing now and looking at the options, I'm thinking I may try to make another "guy" version of this quilt... Can't you see it? Switch out the lights for greys and blacks and change the bold prints to wovens and deep saturated colors for that cabin-cozy feel! Gosh darn it, I'm going to have to make another one!

Granted it feels like winter isn't going to end any time soon here. Literally as I type this the temperature outside is -9 degrees... Fahrenheit... Any activity that keeps me warm and inside at the moment is a good activity! So I make quilts!

Well, I hope you all like Frolic as much as I do! Check back here next Monday for the next preview of Seems Like Scrappy. This book has 14 quilts and I have already made duplicates of some quilts so I have a ton of fun to share with you in the next couple months leading up to the release of this new book!

2.19.2015

May, June or ???

I have some news to share. It's not grand news, it could be nothing, but I wanted to let you all know what's going on.
By now you may have heard about the strikes going on at the west coast ports in the US... Well, I figured they would effect fabric deliveries, food, retail items, basically anything that comes on a slow boat. Well, I just got word yesterday that these strikes could alter the release date of my book :( (Insert dramatic music here)

As of right now, the date may have to change to June, but it's a day to day thing at the moment waiting to see how the situation at the ports plays out. As I know more, you'll know more. Lets just hope for a speedy solution to this issue and move on.

Also, I thought it would be fun to start sharing some of the projects from Seems Like Scrappy so come back and visit me each Monday for the next few months to see each quilt from the book. I've already been working on some alternate colorways of some quilts too, so if I have one to share, I'll include it in each post.

I'm still super excited for this book to be released (whenever that may be) and I hope you are too! So the bad news is the book release may be delayed. But the good news is you'll begin to see previews starting Monday! I wonder which quilt I will share first???

2.17.2015

My Valentine...

This year Ben and I decided to not be eachother's valentine... Instead we chose to share our love with this sweet girl:
 Meet Rosie! We honestly didn't plan to adopt her around Valentine's Day, but it just worked out that way. She's a terrier mix (we're thinking mostly Airedale Terrier), she's 6 1/2 years old and she's fitting in great!
 Paco is responding well to having a new dog in the house and most of the time these two could care less where or what the other dog is up to.
So far this is what we've learned in the few short days we've had her:

* She is very kind and respectful. She hasn't tried to get into anything (thus far)

* She is extremely alert with those massive ears of hers. She checks the perimeter often and is getting used to the new sights and sounds of our home/neighborhood.

* She has had obedience training in the past. She can sit, lay down and stay really well. Come is the command she chooses to ignore from time to time.

* She loves her bed and sleeps really well at night.

* Sadly she has had a traumatic past... we are finding out much more than the "happy home life" we were led to believe she had prior to being at the shelter. We are dealing with it slowly and building trust. So far she loves Ben, but not when he's standing or if it's dark in a room. She also has moments where she won't come near you with anything in your hand. Yesterday I had her full food bowl in my hand. She knew it was me, knew it was her food but the combination of the two struck something that made her afraid... It made me sad...

* Each day has been a new adventure and she's opening up more and more showing us her playful personality and what toys she likes.

* However, as she eases overall, the traumatic events get fewer but more extreme... She shredded a couple blankets when we were gone, so at the vet yesterday they suggested no blanket in her crate. She was in a wire crate for a few hours by herself and she completely destroyed the plastic liner! We switched some small details around and got a plastic crate to try for when we are both gone and moved it closer to Paco's crate to see if that helps...

All in all, she's a great dog with a troubled past and we just need to build her confidence and trust. It will happen with time and I know we can't break down all of her barriers in the first four days. So, wish us luck, I will keep you posted as we move forward and welcome Rosie into the family!
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