Thursday, May 31, 2012


I have a quilting friend whom I have never met, Sue B.  We were introduced through the Quilts of Valor program.  I happened to quilt some of her patriotic quilts that were ultimately donated to wounded soldiers.  She chose me to quilt some of her own works of art, too.  Eventually, she told her friends about me, and I am happy to say that several have taken the chance and sent me their work as well.

The latest "friend" quilt is this repro beauty that measures only 30" x 30", but was every bit as labor intensive as if it were queen or king size.  Each block is only about 3.5" square, but I had to cram a 24 feather wreath into the ones with the appliqued circle and star in them and outline the circle as well as digitize a five petaled star in the middle, which made it look sort of like a starfish.  There were 30 of these star blocks and 30 plain.

In the center of the quilt was this amazing star made out of teensy tiny appliqued circles, each measuring only 3/4 of an inch in diameter.  The friend wanted stippling all around this star.  I also did stitch-in-the-ditch along the inner border of this block. 

This picture shows a 20 feather wreath that I put into the plain blocks and added the loopy star in the middle.

The outer border consists of a row of flying geese, which are quilted with stitch-in-the-ditch.

Lastly, the friend wanted to have the individual 3/4" appliqued circles outlined, but I ran into a problem with the outermost ones, which touched.  I found that there was not enough room to outline these circles without having the thread show on top of the adjoining circle, so I only outlined the inner 16 circles, which, as you can see, had adequate space between them to keep the quilting clean.

This was a most difficult quilt to do.  There were 60 3.5" blocks and one central block with innermost and outermost borders.  I had to make every single circle for the inner star individually, since there was no reference point for their centers, and even a millimeter of difference would look sloppy if the threads crossed the fabric.

So I spent as much time on this little quilt as I would have on a much larger one -- and with much smaller tolerances -- and I learned a lesson:  you can't base your fee for quilting something merely on the size of the article.  You have to take into consideration the number of patterns you use and whether or not you had to digitize them yourself, special custom techniques, maneuverability, density, and labor intensity of the designs as well as structure of the quilt (how well it's put together - this one was very well done), number of colors of thread, any ruler work, etc.

A pantograph on this quilt would have been a travesty but would have taken one hour and it would have been off the frame.  I spent 16 hours on this ultra custom quilt -- so you can see how all these things factored into the job.  But oh!  What a great quilt!  This lady did such a great job with the tiniest applique stitches you can imagine!  She created a work of art, and it deserved every bit as much attention to the quilting.

I was honored to have been chosen to do this for her.  Some of her friends are making the same quilt, and Sue B. is passing my name along to them as well.  To be forewarned is to be forearmed!  I have saved all my patterns but will alter one:  the 24 feather wreath is way too small for this size quilt, so I will, with the customer's consent, make the number of blades just a bit smaller, which will allow the feathers to be fuller looking.  You can see the difference in these feathers in the second picture.

Today I'm in my studio working on my embroidery software homework -- woo hoo! 

And I have to bind a baby quilt I made for a shower this Sunday.

Forward, ho!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


DH and I are experimenting in the kitchen.  There is this WONDERFUL website called Closet Cooking that somehow I happened upon, and the recipes are super delicious and fun to try!  DH has been hanging out at the old homestead this week, checking off Honey-Do lists and reworking one of his go carts, and grilling to beat the band, so this dish was right up his alley.

Also coming up this week is souvlaki chicken, sausage meatballs in pineapple sauce and pork burritos. 

Yesterday we made one of our rare trips to Raleigh.  DH, Harbor Freight flyer in hand, meandered through that store happily while I read one of the  8 books I had just purchased at Barnes & Noble.  Then we were off to the Cheesecake Factory for a real treat (especially when it's made by someone else!).

Nonetheless, since there is a veritable dearth of commendable restaurants near our tiny backwoods village, we are becoming quite reasonable cooks, and this is a new addition to our culinary repertoire.  Check out that website.  You're sure to find something that appeals to you!

Thursday, May 24, 2012


When a friend asks a favor of you, saying yes is automatic.  When she selects you for a special favor, the doing of it becomes an honor.  BFF Mary asked me to quilt this quilt that had been made by Starlyn, one of her buddies and co-workers at the now defunct quilt shop where Mary worked part time.  It was to be a surprise for Starlyn, and I was overwhelmed by Mary's confidence in me, particularly since Mary is an excellent quilter herself!  So as soon as it arrived in the mail, I began working on it, having already decided on the patterns while I awaited its arrival.

In the setting blocks you can see a wreath that has the same star in it as the main pattern.

The star itself is done in continuous curve arcs.

 And for the setting triangles, I halved the original full circle wreath, tweaked the feathers a little and voila!  You can also see the loops in the green border.  The outer border is a damask design that is barely visible because the fabric is busy.

All the ladies who used to work at the quilt shop (except the owner -- very bad form for her to skip this get together!) met Tuesday for lunch, and Mary gave Starlyn the quilt then.  Word has it that it was well received, making me very happy!

Sunday, May 20, 2012


They say that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, and DH lived up to this during our courtin' and a-sparkin' days.  Years have flown by, and his palate is educated and his culinary arts are up to the challenge.  Here's what he decided to cook up for breakfast today.  It's a 2 egg omelet with pastrami, provolone, ham, turkey, onions, green peppers and grated Colby cooked inside.  It's garnished with avocado, goat cheese, and tomatoes, sprinkled with coarsely ground pepper.  And I ate every single bite!

I need a nap now.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Elegant Garden 1

As if I need another project begun, I am starting on Edyta Sitar's Elegant Garden quilt.  It consists of 24 embroidery machine appliqued blocks and is being taught by our local embroidery and software guru, Sherry N.  This is block #1.  Every month we get six patterns, so I have 5 more to do before June 7.  I'm gonna have to scramble!

However, today is a lurkim day.  I must finish my practice quilt on which I have learned the new techniques put out by the amazing IntelliQuilter team in their newest update.  IQ puts these updates out free!  So my system is always becoming more and more sophisticated.  This helps me do better and better custom quilting.

The practice quilt will be donated to the Durham VA Hospital for one of its much appreciated and respected servicemen/women.

Monday, May 7, 2012


Do you remember a few weeks ago when I posted this darling Market Bag that I made in Kate's class?  Well, I had intended to add some accessories to complete the set, and now I have.

These items are quilt in the hoop designs which you can find on Five Star Fonts.  They are a checkbook cover and a key ring that has a pocket on the back that snaps shut.  You can carry calling cards, credit cards, or a little mad money in it.

One FUO done. 

Oh, you don't know what that means?  Well, we are used to saying UFO for Unfinished Objects that we have lying around the house.  Although these two items weren't unfinished per se, the ensemble was.  But I switched the letters to stand for Follow Up On....  You see, assigning a category to a project, like Unfinished Object, implies that it will stay that way.  I mean, it has to if it wants to stay in your UFO box with all its friends, right?  It's a whole other ball of wax to be a Finished Object.  You don't get to hang out with all the other deadbeats, and you are usually displayed alone on a bed or a shoulder or a wall.  It gets loneseome out there all by yourself, so why would you want to change from being a UFO to anything else? You wouldn't, all because of your poor self image from being forgotten and left behind.

But suppose the fabric has a little more self respect than that.  Consider how it feels being a UFO -- here you've fondled and cut or torn and penciled and sewn on it -- all with the promise in the heat of the moment of good things to come.  But did you even call afterwards?  No!  You dumped it!  Pushed into a box in the closet or tossed into the back of one of your shelves.  You forever altered its pristine yardage, had your way with it and now it means nothing to you.  If this were a guy doing this to YOU, you'd think he was a cad.  And you'd have to make amends in a big way.

How?  Well, enter psychology.  If the project is now classified as FUO, it understands from the gitgo that its unfinished state is intended to be only temporary.  Following up on something implies an ongoing process -- that it will be brought back out into the sunlight and onto your eager sewing machine's table and stitched and tweaked and displayed proudly.  Kinda like when you won the spelling bee at school, and your mother took you all around the neighborhood to show her friends.  You did good.  You basked in the praise.  You felt loved.

So lets give all our UFO's a new life.  Let's live the promise we made to those fabrics and threads when we started out each new project.  Let's rename them FUO's and show them the love.  And most of all, let's let them out of the closet and FINISH them!