• Quilt It Yourself!

    There are two attitudes to machine quilting your own quilts – one is “Oh dear… now I have to quilt it”; the other is “Oh boy… now I get to quilt it”. Which camp are you in? Many quilters throw up their hands in despair and simply hand their quilt tops over to a long-arm quilter to do for them. I am not disparaging having a professional quilt your quilt there are plenty of skilled and talented long-arm quilters out there who can do beautiful quilting jobs but if you are a prolific top maker, the dollars start adding up.

    My own ‘Cheater’ Trapunto

    It can cost a pretty penny to have your quilt top quilted and a good long-arm quilter deserves every penny, the question becomes ‘what can your pocketbook bear’? A simple allover design or pantagraph is the best bargain for a utilitarian quilt but a gorgeous quilt deserves gorgeous quilting. This is usually referred to as a ‘custom’ quilting job in the industry and now the dollar signs start to add up. Among my long-arm friends and acquaintances, a custom quilting job for a bed sized quilt starts at about $400 and goes up from there. By the time you get to the quilting stage, you have probably already invested anywhere from $250 – $400 in the materials if you are buying good quality fabric and adding a long-arm quilter’s fees can escalate the out-of-pocket cost of making a large quilt to $650 – $1000 and up; this does not include the hours and hours you put into making the quilt top (and non-quilters wonder why getting a custom made quilt so expensive, can you imagine going to a lawyer and paying only for the printing fees and paper to get you case handled?).

    Quilting: thread color contrasting fabric

    My preference is to quilt my projects myself whenever possible and there are a few good reasons to do this. My main reason is that I believe the quilting plays a crucial role in the artistry of the whole quilt and this is something I want to control myself (yeah – I know – so I’m a control freak). When you hire a long-arm quilter you can discuss your ideas and preferences with them and a talented long-arm quilter will usually have very good judgment about which stitching designs will enhance a quilt but it comes down to relinquishing that final decision to someone else. I try to consider my quilting designs carefully before stitching; better to approach this with caution than have to rip out stitches after the fact; but even with years of experience, I’ve had times when a little ways into the quilting I realized my best idea simply isn’t working as well as I envisioned and I have to stop, rip it out and reconsider my choice. This is not a decision I want to surrender to someone else who may have a different vision than I do.

    Shell Form – fabric painted with Seta-Color paint then quilted in various colors of thread

    Now – I will admit, there is a size threshold to consider. I can quilt anything up to a throw-sized quilt with relative ease; on a twin sized or larger quilt I might have to compromise what I want as a design with what I realistically think I could do on a domestic machine given space and maneuverability limitations. For a queen or king sized quilt, I would definitely consider having it done by a long-arm quilter. But, I love the quilting process; seeing to colors and textures of thread and design unfold and develop as I stitch; the quilting is the icing on the cake.

    My Aztec Sun Calendar quilt (hand quilted)

    So – which camp do you want to be in? Afraid to quilt your own quilt, or excited at the opportunity to do so? If you are the former, I teach a comprehensive class on Machine Quilting at various locations in Portland; here are some dates for up coming classes: Jan. 25 & Feb. 1 at Sharon’s Attic in Aloha, Jan. 31 at Montavilla Sewing Center in Gresham, Feb 17 & 24 at Ace Sew & Vac in Tigard, Feb. 29 & March 7 (and again on July 11 & 18 ) at Cedar Ridge Quilts in Oregon City, April 6 & 13 at Ace Sew & Vac in Newberg. These are all my full 2-session classes (see the class project below)

    Machine Quilting 101 Stitching Sampler

    I also have some 1-session and focus classes coming up: my ‘Free Motion Magic’ class on Jan. 31 (and then again on April 25) at Montavilla Sewing Center in Gresham; and a couple of ‘master’ classes at the Lake Oswego Montavilla Sewing Center . The master classes focus on specific quilting situations; ‘Pushing Borders’ (on February 25) and ‘Machine Quilting Textures’ (on April 15). See the various class samples below.

    Between the various dates and venues, I hope you can find a class that will accommodate your schedule and location.

    Detail of a block quilted in an Aztec theme

    And finally, I will be giving a program on the ‘Art & Craft of Quilting Your Quilt’ for the Metropolitan Patchwork Society in Beaverton on March 24 at 6:30 pm to be followed with a workshop – ‘Freestyle Quilted Medallions’ in which you will learn a variety of methods to create inspirational quilted medallion motifs (see examples below) on Saturday March 28. Contact the guild for more information.

  • Stitch Away the Gray Days

    OK, Christmas is past and in a few hours 2020 will be upon us and winter is just getting started up here in the Northwest. You may not want to be thinking of Christmas 2020 yet but what better time to begin some projects for next year’s yuletide? If you start now you will have a whole year to finish your projects. To that end, I am offering my Hand Embroidered Folk Art Ornament class at Sharon’s Attic in Aloha on Saturday January 11 from 10 am – 4 pm. This has been a popular class over the years and I keep adding critters to the menagerie. The best part of these hand embroidered whimsies is their portability; everything you need to make one will fit nicely in a Zip Lock bag and with a few stitches here and a few stitches there, you can finish one between other day to day tasks – on your lunch break, waiting for an appointment, watching a football game, bingeing Netflix…
    I have made quite a collection of these I could show you and you would say “Ah – but you are an experienced embroiderer…” so rather than show you my work, I would like to show you what has been done by my students. Keep in mind that many of these were made by stitchers who had little or no hand embroidery experience.
    Feeling inspired? Come join me at Sharon’s Attic in a couple of weeks and see what you can do.

  • Gallery Woes

    A warm hello to all my fans and followers, I hope everyone had a marvelous holiday and is ready to greet the New Year with enthusiasm. I have been incredibly busy every since late summer with a few important engagements – being a featured quilter at Northwest Quilting Expo where I displayed the largest showing of my work ranging from first quilts to my latest work; organizing the quilts to hang was a monumental task and I was also an instructor at this event. This was followed by a week of classes in Blackfoot Idaho, and then back to my regular schedule of local classes and working on a commission.

    I’ve also been working on a stack of UFOs, my New Year’s resolution for 2019 was to finish ten UFOs and I decided to qualify as a UFO, the project had to have been shelved more than a year ago, just finishing current WIPs (Works In Progress) would not count. As it turns out, I should have included them, to date I’ve finished five, only half my goal but I have finished many other more recently started projects. As for my second 2019 resolution – cleaning and reorganizing my sewing studio… HA! Ha, Ha, Ha… need I say more? Maybe I’ll get to that this coming year.

    On to the main subject of my post. I am having troubles with my website gallery. It was working fine about a month and a half ago, but after the most recent updates to WordPress, the gallery plugin and a few other operational plugins on my site, now all I can get on the lightbox slide show are tiny images. I was notified by a visitor to my site about a week and a half ago that the slideshow on the gallery albums was not working correctly. I tried a ‘fix’ posted by the plugin developer but it did not correct the problem so I am working with their tech support right now to find a cause and solution; they think it may be a conflict with another plugin but it may take some time to find and fix the problem. I ask you all to be patient while we sort this out, I hope to have it resolved soon and be back to work posting additional gallery pictures.

    And speaking of pictures, I am a true believer in photos. Images are the ‘eye candy’ that draw attention, text without images can be very bland so for your entertainment, I am posting the photos of the five UFOs I did manage to get done this year.

    This project was from my Journal Quilt classes, and started about 7 years ago, I returned to the project and finished quilting it this year.
    This project was started in 2011 as part of a pattern for Asian Fabric Magazine called Moon Cranes. It didn’t make the final cut, and I remade the version that got published only returning to finish this one with Sashiko this year.
    I started this project for an exhibit at the Japanese Garden about 10 years ago. I abandoned it after my I ran into problems with the initial technique for creating the ‘windows’ for the bamboo chimes
    This little fellow is Cattus Romanus from my Garden Patch Cat series; he represents a head of Romaine Lettuce. He got lost in a stack of other Orphan Cat Quilts in various stages of progress about 5 years ago
    A sample of my Serene Marsh pattern from my Bella Vista Landscape Vignettes. This one features hand embroidered details and got shelved about 3 years ago.