Thursday, June 30, 2011

Being Chosen

My quilts choose people.  They do.

Sometimes I'll be making a quilt for a specific person, and it chooses somebody else.  It's good and bad when that happens.  Good for the person the quilt picks, not so good for my bank account...I have to make another quilt that hopefully picks the person I have in mind.  The really good part is that I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the recipient of my quilt will really like what I've made.

My quilts have a mind of their own, but they are always right.

A while back I posted pictures of a quilt I made for my step dad.  The pattern was so easy and fun, I knew I wanted to make it again. (FYI...If you click on the pictures, you'll get a closer view.)

I bought these fabrics because they made me feel good.  I love the green...and the words are positive and uplifting.

I decided to load this on the quilting machine sideways. That way I could center a row of the quilting design over each row of piecing.

I liked the way it looked, and I felt just a little bit smart. :)

This panto design is fun and daughter is here and she helped me pick it out.  She loves this quilt...

I love the beautiful yellow/green thread on the black.

The thread looked beautiful on the charcoal flannel backing.  I'd like to say I knew it would look good...but it was a happy surprise.

For a little while I thought this quilt was picking my daughter...I really did.  Then I pulled out another quilt top I had made; my daughter pointed out that this quilt needs to go in the same room as the other.

She's such a smart girl

So guess what?

This fun and funky quilt actually picked me.

I love it when that happens.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Snowflakes in June

I have a friend named Wendi.

I hope everybody has a friend like Wendi.  I think she was just as excited about my quilt machine as I was.  And every day (she's not just a friend, she's a coworker), she listens to my quilting play-by-play.  And she has never told me, not once, to change the subject.

She's an amazing friend.

I've been playing with Wendi's adorable winter-themed quilt.  It sports happy colors, so it doesn't feel too much like winter.

And that's a good thing on a rainy June weekend.

It needed a snowflake in every corner.... glad these snowflakes aren't real.

The blue border called for more snowflakes.  These babies take a while to stitch out.  Super fun, though.

I had a hard time deciding on thread color; I decided to go with cream since that was the only color in every fabric.

I wish I had had some fun red/blue/green variegated thread.

I. Want. More. Thread.

Soooo much fun playing with borders.

Much more fun than sewing straight lines free-hand.

Straight lines are my nemesis.  I'm getting better, but not good enough to post a picture.

No way.

I decided to switch to blue for the middle of the quilt.  It liked it okay...but I can sure hear some variegated thread calling my name.  Problem is, that stuff is really expensive.  It's almost twice as much as solid thread.

Too bad it's so pretty.

Quilting Wendi's quilt was a nice way to spend the rainy part of my weekend.  I hope the rest of the summer is sunny and warm and she's too busy playing outside to bind it. There will be plenty of time for that when the snowflakes are real.  And then she can wrap up in this cozy quilt...and dream of summer.

Here's to warm days and plenty of sun!!


Wednesday, June 22, 2011


My goal when I started this blog was to take you with me on my journey to becoming a longarm quilter. A GOOD longarm quilter.  In the spirit of staying true to that goal, I've got to be honest and tell you there have been times in the past couple of months when I've been really, really frustrated. 

Like, really.  There's so much to learn.

Sometimes being a perfectionist can be a huge curse.  It's like living in a pressure cooker.

I have a talented and gracious friend who has been instructing me along my longarm journey.  She gently pointed out what I already suspected; I've been pushing myself too hard and need to take some time to just get to know my machine and what it can do. I decided I'm not going to take any quilts for the next few week; instead I'll spend the time becoming more familiar with my longarm.

I'm releasing some pressure out of the pot.  Whew.  It feels better in here already. 

After more instruction from my patient (!) friend, I went home and spent some time with this little quilt...

It belongs to my quilt group partner; she said I could practice on it.  (She's my favorite quilt group partner. She's also the only quilt group partner I've ever had, but that doesn't really matter.)

I learned a lot last night.

I learned it's going to take some practice before I can freehand a straight line. 

I learned just because I'm a good stippler on my sewing machine doesn't mean I'm automatically a good stippler on the longarm.  It will take a lot of practice.

I learned custom quilting is a lot of work.

But here's the most important thing I learned....(drum roll, please...)....

Custom quilting is a lot of fun.

I also figured out what my longarm needs is a person behind the wheel who knows how to drive.

I've got a couple of fun projects to practice on...I'll share pictures as I go.

Thanks for sticking with me on the journey...

- Kathy

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Splashing About

This rainy day turned into a lovely evening.  The sun has been streaming through my back windows and open door, reflecting off the table of my quilt machine. :)  That's Mother Nature at her finest!

I had a baby quilt to do tonight.  I've been feeling a little-under-the-weather; a baby quilt with happy little rubber ducks was just what the doctor ordered.  Well, that and an antibiotic...

Mary Lou pieced this darling quilt.  She requested the quilting have something to do with water...that gave me an excuse to go pantagraph shopping.

My motto used to be, "The quilter who dies with the most fabric wins," but I'm changing it...

"The longarm quilter with the most pantagraph designs wins."

I think I'll instruct my children to simply write, "She Wins," as my epitaph.  That would explain the piles of fabric, patterns and thread I will be leaving behind for them to deal with.

I thought this bubble design was made for this quilt.

Mary Lou requested light blue thread, and it was perfect.

Doesn't this quilt just make you want to splash about? It does me.

(Thanks for letting me share your quilt, Mary Lou!)

There are so many adorable designs out there for children's quilts, I want them all.  But I can only justify purchasing them if I have a good reason.  So, will somebody PLEASE make a baby quilt that needs owls on it?  There's a a cute little owl design calling my name....!

Enjoy the sunshine!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Batting My Eyes

I've never paid too much attention to quilt batting.  After purchasing fabrics to piece my quilt top and estimating the cost of having it quilted, I typically figure I've invested enough and cheap out on batting and backing. 

"Cheap out" means I buy whatever batting is on sale or I can use a coupon to purchase. 

Last year I was hanging out with my son in his dorm room and I noticed his senior quilt.  Granted, it had been living in a dorm room for three years, but it was limp and flatter than a pancake.  Even though I had purchased nice flannel for the back, I could tell the batting hadn't held up well.  And I knew why.

You get what you pay for.

I had made seven senior quilts that year, so I know I put the cheapest batting possible in that quilt.  And I was sorry I had.

Since I began longarm quilting I have had to pay attention to batting; it's right under my nose.  It's been an interesting learning experience; I've realized that battings are not all created equal.  There are huge differences.  The nicer battings really make nicer quilts.

I understand the cost of our hobby...our obsession....I do.  And I'm not saying you should never purchase the less expensive batting again. If that is your only option, by all means, use it!! What I am saying is to consider your project, is it something you want to last a while?  Did you invest a lot of time and /or money on the top of your quilt?   If it doesn't hold up well, can you live with that?

I'm going to be asking myself those questions from now on....without even batting an eye.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Quilter's Kids

My 22 year old son lives in Oregon, and the other day he texted me about a bumper sticker he saw.  It said, "A fat quarter is not a body part."

By the way, he knows exactly what stippling is.  He buys me a new pair of stippling gloves every year for Christmas. 

My girlfriend's sweet daughter just returned from nine months in Norway, Austria and Hungary;  she popped in to see me yesterday.  She was telling me how glad she is to be home, and I asked her what the biggest difference was between Norway and Alaska.  She thought for a moment and said, "They don't have any quilts."

Quilter's kids.  They get it, don't they?

Thursday, June 9, 2011


I ran across some old pictures the other day and I starting thinking about the quilts I have made for my family.  I decided to do a little inventory:

Brother  - check
Nephew - check
Sister - check, check
Son - check, check, check,
Daughter-in-law - check, check, check
Son-in-law - check
Daughter - check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check.....etc. :)
Mom - check, check, check
Step Dad - ...................................???

No way.  I'd never made a quilt for my mom's husband, my kid's step dad.  It's inexcusable, that's what it is.  The shame, the guilt, the angst...

He has a birthday coming up, so I decided to redeem myself.  A lap size quilt is perfect and I chose a simple pattern, but it seems like it took forever to put the thing together.

I've been a little busy.

I used my masculine batik scraps, then found a nice white (ish) batik for the field.  I like it!

I got it loaded on The Beast (more about that name in a later post) during my lunch hour.

Then I tried to decide on thread color.  I was in a quandary.....


I finally settled on this brownish grey color.  I was thinking it wouldn't be too...hmmm....bold?  Yeah.  Bold.  Subtle seemed like a good idea.

Then I pondered quilting designs.  Tools?  That would be manly and fun.  Bears?  Moose?  Fish?

I dun know.

I went with fly fishing.  He loves to fish...and I thought the swirly-ness of the pattern would look nice on the rectangle-ness of the quilt.

I'm really, really happy with the result.  I can hear Grandpa now, he'll say, "He'ey!  This is the best darn quilt I have ever seen!"  He's a very positive and appreciative fellow.  I really do think he'll love it.

This pattern is from Quilt Sampler Magazine Spring/Summer 2011.  It's called Pave The Way.  I'm going to try it next in cream, green and black.

I'm thinking my sister might need another check after her name...!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

New Friend

A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of quilting for a woman I had never met.

I hope she's the first of many new friends.

Though she had done smaller projects, this was the first large quilt my new friend had pieced and I realized this was one of those milestone projects that mean so much to quilters.

Know what I'm talking about?  I bet you do.

She thoughtfully picked out thread to match the lovely pink, green and cream fabrics she had sewn together; she decided on a design...and then she left her quilt with me.

I felt the responsibility.  I did.

A few days later, she came over to pick up her quilt.  I carefully pulled it out of its plastic bag and unfolded it for her to see.  I hope I never, ever forget her reaction.

She exclaimed, "I knew my quilt was pretty, but I didn't know it was BEAUTIFUL!" 

Your quilts are all yours, made with love and sometimes with blood, sweat and maybe even a few tears.  They mean something to you.

My job is to simply enhance what you've already done. 

- Kathy

Monday, June 6, 2011

Subtle Changes

This used to be my living room....

Here's my living room now....

See any difference?

I bet if I hadn't said anything, you never would have noticed.  :)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

She Really Likes Quilts

I was twenty years old when I was introduced to quilting.

That was a long time ago.  Some days it feels longer ago than others.

The first quilter I knew did all of her piecing and quilting by hand.  Her quilts were beautiful, and I wanted to make one.  She taught me her methods and I got started.

I wonder what ever happened to that project?

Can you imagine piecing an Irish Chain by hand?  I never finished it.

Thankfully, quilting methods have changed greatly over the years.  We have so many wonderful choices in fabrics, patterns and tools; it makes patterns that used to seem impossible very, very possible.

And it's a ton of fun.

Becoming a long-arm quilter has been a dream of mine for some time.  As I delve into this new adventure, I'd like to invite you along with me.  My hope is to share tips, stories, encouragement, laughs and a picture or two on this blog.

Won't you join me?

Then we can all like quilts together. :)

- Kathy