Old Tobacco Road

I do love me a good scrap quilt.

And this one is a fine, fine example!

I recently quilted this quilt for my friend, Rose Marie. She made it from a Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt online project, Old Tobacco Road.

I think it’s one of those quilts that, years from now, new quilters are going to be saying “Would you look at all those neat old fabrics?” about . . .

I don’t quite recall exactly how Rose Marie said she wanted it quilted, because when she gave it to me, the quilt was screaming so loudly for what IT wanted that it drowned her out.

I did what the quilt said . . .

Here’s a couple close-ups of the front:

This one shows some of the border area:

And here’s the back:

A bit closer shot of the back, showing some of the border area:

Everyone who sees this quilt just loves it, and not because of the quilting. It’s just the most wonderful scrap quilt!

I’m just lucky that sometimes I get to go spend the day and root around in her stash, and she periodically brings me leftovers she doesn’t want any more!

If you’d like to make one of these for yourself, at the time of this writing, the instructions for it are still up on Bonnie Hunter’s Mystery Quilts page, so you can get right on that. I’d be happy to quilt it for you when you’re done!

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Published in: on July 25, 2012 at 5:35 pm  Comments (12)  

The Perkins Fans

I’ve known our local Postmaster since I was little. In fact, I can’t ever remember NOT knowing him. He’s just always been around. His name is Dennis.

He used to carry the mail on foot around town, and lived just around the corner from my grandmother’s house.

The years bring change, though, and now Dennis is the Postmaster and doesn’t have to make the foot route any more. He lives catty-corner from the church where my parents got married, in a wonderful old house that used to be owned by a man named Grit Stevens.

My brother used to deliver GRIT magazine on his bicycle when we were young, and Grit Stevens was one of his customers. I always thought it was funny that Grit bought GRIT!

Dennis knows that I quilt, and I’m sure he’s overheard many a conversation right there in the post office between me and people inquiring about what I do.

So one day, he asked me if I could help finish up some quilt tops that he and his wife are in possession of. They’re antiques . . . (the quilt tops, not Dennis and his wife!)

Well, of course I can — it’s what I do!

So he brought me the first one, and wow! — it’s gorgeous and very impressive!

It’s a Grandmother’s Fan.

Each fan block finishes at only 5 3/4″. There are 11 blades in each little fan. The assortment of fabrics is astonishing. I had so much fun just looking at the fabrics.

And according to Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, this particular setting for the fans is called “Rocky Road to Jerico”.

I opted for quilting it fairly heavily, to give it stability and make it lay really flat. Those are feathers, of a sort, in the background areas, and I did them all freehand.

Whoever pieced it did a wonderful job, and it’s all hand pieced. Amazing!

I had Dennis ask his wife what color backing she wanted on it, secretly hoping she’d choose pink. However, she chose the green, and once I was done, I realized it was a much better (perfect) choice.

I love the green backing. It’s a 1930’s reproduction solid, and it was spot-on for an exact color match with the green on the front.

I also used the same green solid for the binding.

Here’s the quilt all finished, and Dennis says Marcia is happy with it. It measures 68″ x 91″, so it’s a good twin size.

When I delivered it to him, he just took the sack and laid it down. I said: “Aren’t you gonna look at it and let me know what you think?”

He said: “Well, I don’t know what I’m supposed to think.”

I laughed and said: “Oh, so you’re just gonna take it home and let Marcia tell you what to think?”

He said: “Don’t you think that’s what I otta do?”

Such a wise man!

I just love turning a quilt top that was abandoned into a finished quilt that will be treasured. If they decide to give me another one to finish, I can hardly wait to see what it’s like!

Published in: on July 11, 2012 at 10:40 am  Comments (13)  

Day and Night

A couple weeks ago, I quilted a quilt for my friend, Rose Marie.

She calls this quilt “Day and Night”, and it’s a pattern from the book “Pink Lemonade & Other Delights: 10 Refreshing Quilt Projects” by Linda Johnson.

Rose Marie told me to do something custom to it, whatever I wanted. Always both fun and scary for me . . . I’m never sure if what I choose to do will be what the customer likes.

For this quilt, I decided to use 3 different thread colors: black on the black border, pink on the pink and black 9-patches, and yellow in the yellow blocks.

Here are some pictures of what I did to it . . .

The front:

I did a Pam Clarke-style flower in each 9-patch block. In the yellow blocks that had applique, I outlined the flower, then stippled what was left of the background.

In the plain yellow blocks, I did a frame with circles in the middle, and a flower inside the frame.

A close-up of a yellow block:

The back:

More of the back:

In the black border, I quilted one-sided feathers in the scallops around the edges, then used triple lines to fill in the background between the feathers and the blocks. I outlined the applique that was in the border.

You can’t really see that I used 3 different colors of thread . . . but I will say it was very brave (or maybe stupid) of me to quilt with black thread on a white backing, as it is very unforgiving. Every little backtrack seemed to stick out like a sore thumb!

Rose Marie and her husband, George, came to pick it up from me one afternoon. George is helping her hold it, and he looks as proud as if he’d made the quilt himself!

Published in: on June 6, 2012 at 6:48 pm  Comments (8)  

Becky’s Dresdens

I just finished quilting an antique Dresden Plates quilt top for a lady named Becky. Becky is Grandma Jane’s daughter.

Becky left the quilt top with her mother, and asked me to quilt it. She apologized for the condition of the top in advance, and said I could do whatever I wanted to it.

Secretly, I love it when someone tells me that, although sometimes I’m not sure exactly how much they’d like to spend, which puts me in a quandary!

Naturally, the more custom and heavier the quilting, the more it’s going to cost, but just how much money do you want to put into an antique quilt top that’s far from perfect to begin with?

I decided to treat it as if it were my own, which is pretty much what I try to do with every quilt I quilt anyway.

And here’s how it ended up:

I will tell you it was not easy, and it’s far from perfect in a lot of places.

Not one single one of the plates had a perfectly round center “hole”, nor were any of the holes the exact same size. Therefore, I couldn’t put any particular motif in the center, because it would have looked lopsided or been too big or too small on any given plate.

Most of the plates were stretched and/or bubbly because of the way they were appliqued down onto the background fabric. The background fabric appears to have been a sheet (or sheets), cut up to make the base blocks. But they were all the same color, at least.

Not every blade was the same shape, some of them were pleated and wrinkled, and some had the rounded tops pointed and not so smooth.

But I love it! It’s a very charming quilt, and the fabrics are amazing. There’s a little bit of everything. Some of the blades are linen, some polished cotton, some feedsacks, some blends. I really enjoyed looking over all the old fabrics.

So what I decided to do was to make each plate look like a great big flower. I first quilted about 1/4″  inside each blade, then did a smaller petal inside the bigger one, then did a squiggle up through the middle of each one. I outlined the entire outer edge of the plate, then outlined again 1/4″ outside that.

You can see on this particular plate where one of the blades is puckered. There was no way for me to get it to lie flat, so I (gasp!) quilted in a wrinkle, which it really pained me to do. Grandma Jane says: “Oh, honey, that just adds to its charm! No one wants a perfect quilt!”

In the center, to downplay the fact that they were off-kilter, I did a wavy-lined cross hatching to act as the center of the flower.

To make the quilt lay flat, I figured a dense background fill would take care of that problem, so I purchased this Clover pattern from Judi Madsen at Green Fairy Quilts to put in the open spaces between the blocks, then filled in around everything with tiny pebbling.

As I got going good, I was a bit concerned about how it would look on the back, because Becky had chosen a blue backing with a tiny white dot in it. At first, I didn’t like how it looked, but once I got done, I decided it wasn’t so bad.

The one thing I don’t like on the back, is how the backtracking around the center of each flower stands out so much. I think it only draws attention (on the back side) to how un-round each of them is. But overall, I think the back is quite pretty now that I’m done.

The quilt measures 70″ x 85″, and has no outer border. I don’t know what Becky will choose to bind it with. It took me around 15 hours to quilt it.

And now that the ibuprofen has taken effect, I can stand back and say I’m glad I did it!

Published in: on May 16, 2012 at 9:58 pm  Comments (28)  

Noah’s Ark

A friend of mine from my knitting group, Darlene, is in the throes of moving. They recently sold their house and bought a different one. It’s only across town, but still . . . moving is a major event.

Last night, we were teasing her about moving closer to the nursing home.

In the midst of all that hubbub, she was trying to finish up a baby quilt for a new baby in their family in time for the party in early May.

She embroidered this Noah’s Ark panel, and it is adorable.

She had intended to hand quilt it, but with all that’s going on, she changed her mind and brought it to me at knitting meeting one evening and asked me if I would just machine quilt it for her.

I put some clouds in the sky,

and mimicked the swirls in the water around the boat.

I outlined all the animals, Noah, and the boat.

I went around the edge scallops on both sides, and then just did straight lines out toward the edges. Here’s the back:

I think it turned out really cute, and Darlene is so relieved to have it done. When I talked to her Wednesday, she was picking out paint colors for the new house . . . as of last night at knitting meeting, she still had not made any final decisions. It’s a good thing the painter doesn’t come for a few days yet!

But at least her quilt is finished . . .

Published in: on April 20, 2012 at 8:59 am  Comments (4)  

Fresh Cuts

I recently had the honor of quilting a most beautiful traditional quilt for a customer.

The pattern came from this American Patchwork & Quilting magazine (October 2010):

This pattern:

It’s called “Fresh Cuts”, designed by Marti Michel.

But this one had the flowers in 1930s reproductions, the vases in that lovely 1930s green solid, and Kona Snow for the background.

She left off the applique border and just did a plain border.

When it was handed over to me for quilting, she said she wanted “lots of feathers.”

That was a bit intimidating. I’ve done a few feathers before, but not what I’d consider “lots”, and none quite this fancy. But I was up for the challenge and figured it would be good practice. I squelched my nerves, drew the patterns I wanted, did a small practice piece, and loaded the quilt on Ivy’s frame.

And here’s what we ended up with:

She wanted the actual bouquets to be mostly quilted like the picture in the magazine (which was beautifully quilted by Elizabeth Anne Dawson), so that part was easy — they gave the diagrams. But she asked for the background to be filled in, so I added small meandering in that area. (After toying with many many ideas that didn’t work, since I was not actually outlining the entire bouquet.)

I also changed the way the vases were quilted from what the picture showed, since she wanted them to be different.

She definitely wanted feather wreaths in the plain alternate blocks, and she asked for a feathered border.

Here’s the back:

And a bigger view of the back:

I didn’t get any pictures of the quilt full out. I just kinda forgot that part . . . and don’t look too hard for all my mistakes. My machine is not computerized, and I’m definitely a human! I used Golden Threads paper for all the feathers, because I was too chicken to use a marker on all that Kona Snow background, even though I tested it, and it would have worked. In the end, just too scared . . .

She had me put the binding on when I was finished, and we used that same green that the vases are made from. Nice frame for the edge.

Thirty-one hours of work, and I’m pretty proud of it. I don’t think I’ll be afraid of feathers any more!

And . . . after having that magazine laying around the entire time I was working on this quilt . . . see that quilt on the cover? Yeah, I’m gonna have to make me one o’ those. Please send help!

Published in: on March 14, 2012 at 5:20 pm  Comments (14)  

The Shamrock Quilt

Fitting that I have a Shamrock quilt to show you, and it’s March, huh?

This is the second quilt started by my Aunt Dorothy that my cousin had me finish and quilt for her. I don’t have a picture of it full out, because My Cowboy was unavailable to help me with that part, so here’s half of it, and you can get the general idea. It’s an Irish Chain pattern with shamrocks appliqued in the open blocks.

Well, it turned out to be a challenge, as I figured it might when I first saw it.

It’s pieced from double knit. Hand pieced from double knit.

Not only is it hand pieced from double knit, there’s also hand applique done with double knit, and she had begun making the borders out of some old drapes.

The drapery material was silky and crawly and raveled really badly. Very hard to work with. But I wanted to complete the quilt as it appeared she meant for it to be . . .

So the first thing I had to do was make the border pieces to fit from the drapes, then attach those pieces to the stretchy middle of the entire quilt. Quite a job, but I managed to get that done. There were also a few spots that needed to be repaired where seams weren’t caught or had come loose.

After that, all I had left to do was worry about how I was going to quilt it. It was very thick, especially at the intersections of all the seams, and there were lots of those.

I also didn’t want it to stretch while I was quilting it, but the worst issue ended up being that it tended to bunch up in the thick spots because the hopping foot of my machine couldn’t hop high enough to keep from “pushing” the fabric in front of it in places, even though I was trying to avoid those intersections at all costs.

The only saving thing about that was that it did it evenly over the entire quilt top, so the bunching is uniform, and it ended up not looking too bad. Sorta looks like a biscuit quilt!

Here’s the back. I outlined each appliqued shamrock, then echoed it big, then just did an all-over medium-sized meander in the rest of it. I started out trying to do something a bit more custom, but it just wasn’t working, so I ripped it out and went with the more simple choice.

The finished quilt is actually quite fluffy and very soft, so I think it’ll make a good cuddly quilt in spite of its odd construction. And I’m once again glad to have helped finish something that my aunt had started and just never got to complete.

But I also hope that I never again have to quilt a quilt made from double knit!

Published in: on March 3, 2012 at 7:21 am  Comments (8)  

Grandma Jane

There’s a lady named Jane that lives in the town next door.

Jane is a quilter. She’s been a quilter for years and years.

She makes lots of quilts.

She’s over 80 years old, and goes to the Y three times a week to exercise.

She has a quilt block painted on her garage door.

My daughters became acquainted with Jane back in the late 90s, and she told them they should call her Grandma Jane, which they still do to this very day.

Grandma Jane is a sweetheart.

She recently asked me to quilt a couple of quilts for her. One quilt was a star quilt that she had made, and the other was a quilt that a family member had purchased at an auction and wanted to have finished. They’re both star quilts.

Jane’s star quilt has framed blocks. The blocks are all made from cottons, and the border and sashing is flannel.

You can’t really see the quilting on the front of this quilt, but with the variety in colors, that’s kind of what Jane was going for. She also did not want it too heavily quilted, so I just outlined each star and frame, put a “flower” in the middle of each star, and did squiggly lines in the sashing.

But on the back . . . wow! She chose the most gorgeous purple flannel for the backing. It looked and felt like velvet. I fell in love with the backing of this quilt.

She wanted the quilting thread matched to the backing, so I used a Superior King Tut variegated called “Luxorious” to quilt it.

The other quilt is a 6-pointed star . . . an antique top that some unknown quilter hand pieced. It was purchased at an estate auction, and was in pretty good shape. Look at all these wild colors! There are all sorts of fabrics in this quilt: blends, seersucker, flour sacks, dotted swiss, upholstery and drapery fabrics, linen, even a piece of silk in one patch.

Jane didn’t want this quilt too heavily quilted, but it did need to be evenly quilted to make it lay flat, since the top itself was a bit wonky and uneven. I chose to put “leaves” in all the green triangles, outline each star, then alternate curves and swirls in the points of each star, coming from the centers. The quilt flattened out quite nicely.

Again, Jane wanted the thread matched to the backing, which on this particular backing, made it hard to see, which also means my mistakes don’t show up too much! I used Superior OMNI in “Forest” for this one.

Grandma Jane is very pleased with them both, and when I asked her if I could show pictures of them, she said: “Honey, you just go ahead and show them to whoever you want to. I’d be happy for you to do that.” I told you, she’s a sweetheart!

Published in: on February 22, 2012 at 2:25 pm  Comments (7)  

The Red Boots

Every year, I get asked by the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mid-Missouri if I’ll make them a quilt to raffle off at their annual fundraiser.

They always have a theme, so I try to match my design to their theme. This year’s theme is “The Red Shoes”. It’s kind of two-fold on their part, as they’ve referenced Ronald’s big red “clown shoes”, and Dorothy’s magical red shoes from the “Wizard of Oz.”

In conjunction with that, it also carries the theme of “There’s no place like home,” because it’s the goal of the RMHC to get families reunited and sent home, which means a sick loved one is no longer in the hospital!

Here’s what I came up with this year . . . The Red Boots . . .

But I made them into a throw quilt . . .

I designed the appliqued center to fit into the middle of my Lil Cowpokes pattern. I used black and white Half Moon prints by Moda, and black and white solids for the backgrounds of the blocks.

And I used the entire quilt to practice my longarm quilting on!

So here are some close-ups . . .

This was the first time I ever tried pebbling a background . . .

My longarm is not computerized. I did all of this free-motion, and the only part I marked was the straight lines so I could get the placement “gaps” all the same.

I wanted to use a modern kind of design, yet still keep the western theme going on — it’s hard to combine those two things! So I put a star in the center of each block . . .

Here’s the back side . . .

I also took all these photos before I washed it, so it’s a lot flatter and less wrinkled now!

I didn’t want to quilt with the white thread on top of the boots, so I switched to brown on the top and white in the bobbin just to quilt the boots. To my amazement, it actually worked quite well!

The entire quilting process was quite an experiment for me. I learned a lot. Which is what I was wanting to happen . . .

I hope whoever ends up with the quilt loves it and gives it a good home.

Oh, and before I go . . . there’s one more thing.

I’ve made the applique pattern for “The Red Boots” available as a free PDF download, so if you’d like to have the pattern so you can make your own pair of boots, just click HERE.

If you want to make the entire quilt, the “Lil Cowpokes” pattern is available in my shop.

Published in: on February 13, 2012 at 5:40 pm  Comments (12)  

A Long(arm) Story

I don’t talk much about the longarm part of my little business on my blog.

I was asked why that is . . .

So it got me to thinking . . .

And since I’ve been forcing myself to spend time on the dreaded treadmill, I’ve had some spare minutes for thinking . . .

And I think it’s for two main reasons.

First, I don’t think I’m that good at it yet. I’ve only had my machine for not quite 3 years, and have only been taking in customer quilts for just over 2 years. I still learn something on every single quilt. Honestly, I hope that doesn’t stop. I want to get better. I want to get a LOT better. The only way to do that is to keep at it, and keep practicing.

Second, I’m never sure if I should show customer’s quilts, and sometimes when I do want to, I never remember to ask permission or take any pictures, so I just never do. I feel like if the customer wants it to be seen, it’s their business to show it. I also know that if I’d just ask, they’d pretty much ALL be very happy for me to showcase their quilts. I need to get better about taking the pictures and asking permission.

So . . . I’ve decided to start showing a bit more of the quilting I do on my longarm, and to also start asking permission of my customers to show you some of their quilts that I’ve quilted as well. My Cowboy maintains that “No one will ever know what you can do if you don’t show them.” I have to agree . . . no matter how reluctant I am to toot my own horn.

So I’ll be back later with a post on the quilt I’m working on today, and tell you all about it, complete with pictures.

Meanwhile, you can go check out a few of the longarm quilters that I hope to be like when I grow up . . .

Judi Madsen of Green Fairy Quilts

Angela Walters, Quilting is My Therapy

Lisa, That Crazy Quilty Girl

Bari of Crossroads Custom Quilts

Oh, and trust me, you won’t be seeing work of that caliber in my posts . . . at least not until I’ve gotten some more practice time under my belt. But I hope by putting myself out there, it will help me improve faster, just so I won’t be embarrassed to show you stuff!

Published in: on February 8, 2012 at 3:48 pm  Comments (15)