A Quilted Table Runner for a Friend

June 9th, 2016
I am incredibly indebted to a friend named Larry who digitizes my designs.  I wanted to make him something that shows how talented he is as a digitizer, so I made a table runner from a couple of block designs he digitized for me awhile ago.  I figured both he and his wife weren’t into the loud, highly saturated colors I normally work in, so I went with a much more subdued color palate.  The project began with 2 of these floral swirl blocks:
(Each of these blocks is made as a 2-part slit design and you can find the design files by clicking here.   In this shot, you can see that I was nearing the end of the 2nd hooping of one block:
The center section is made from the Oval Tulip Wreath Block:
This block is much larger and is made from 4 hoopings.  You can find the design files for this block by clicking here.  This next shot is not a great one but it shows what it looked like once I had pieced it all together:
I sandwiched this baby up so I could start quilting and once I’d outlined all the applique shapes with invisible thread, I moved to that center section to try something I’d never done before.  My goal was to play off the oval shape and stitch an ovoid ring of double crescents around  the center flowers.  I began by drawing an oval with a temporary marker and then dividing it into 8 sections:
I used the 8 divisions as my starting and stopping points, then stitched a double crescent design on either side.  This was the first time I had used an oval as my “springboard” instead of a circle.  I should have thought of it beforehand, but the crescents are not all equal if they flow around an oval.  At first I was pretty bummed about it, and you can see how it looked early on below:
I then moved to the area just outside the oval tulip wreath and stitched a ring of single crescents surrounding it.  I wanted to stitch double crescents, but there just wasn’t enough room for that.  Here’s what the center block looked like at that point:
I was kind of bummed out at this point, so I moved away from the center block so I could rethink my next quilting moves there.  It always helps me to just walk away from a problem and then look at it again later with fresh eyes.  The side floral swirl blocks were easy.  I just stitched long featherettes to fill the “blank spaces:”
If you start at the center and go into it with the goal of just stretching/contracting plumes to fill the space in front of you, it’s not as hard as it looks.  When you’re stitching them, they look kind of odd as you’re only partway through, but it all comes together in the end:
 I moved to the outermost panels and quilted the “plumify it” background fill design there:
…and here’s how those last 2 sections looked once compleeted:
Since I’d finished everywhere else, I had to go back to that center block and see if I could turn it around.  I stitched small featherettes in the dead center.  Here’s a halfway-done shot of that area:
I finished the opposite featherette  and then filled in the empty areas with the inchworm design:
Here’s a closeup shot of the final center block.  Once it was completely finished, I was very happy with how it came out:
Do you see the featherettes in the 4 corners?  I waited until I had put the binding on to stitch those.  It seemed like the safest way to ensure that they’d completely fill that “empty space.”  And here are some final photos:
That great texture is from Hobbs Wool/Cotton Blend batting. I LOVE that batting!

Quilt Suspension Makes Free Motion Quilting Easier

June 6th, 2016


Ever since I posted about suspending my quilt a couple years ago, I’ve received lots of questions about it.  Ern and I have been playing around with different types of quilt suspension systems, trying to come up with a system that is lightweight, easily portable and one that does the job.  His latest system is my favorite by far and  we made a short video that explains how it works:


 I have been the beneficiary of Ernie’s problem solving/handyman skills for many years, and he is opening those same skills up to you as well!  Ern’s Quilting Suspension System is available now in our online store and you can find it by clicking here.  The backbone/clamp portion is available in either dark blue or purple, at least while supplies last.  Happy Quilting!



Preparing for Change

June 5th, 2016
The winds of change are coming our way so I figured I should warn you.  Our web site is going to be revised soon and the new web site will be very different.  Hopefully better, but very different.  I am hoping to still have a blog but this blog may be going the way of the dinosaurs.  I realize that blogs are out of date in the techno world but I still love to surf quilting blogs and hope to keep mine.  It may not be possible, though, so if there’s any info on this blog that really matters to you, I’d get it in the next several days because it may all disappear.  Sorry!

Ruler Workus Interruptus

May 29th, 2016
This quilted table runner was the first time I had to deal with creating a ruler work design that was repeatedly interrupted by applique shapes.  Normally, I design ruler work designs so they surround or envelope applique shapes and the two designs are complementary but separate.  When I made the center block of this table runner, it just seemed natural that the ruler work design should spring from the center and radiate outward.  To do that, I had to figure out how to stitch this design in the face of numerous interruptions.  I’m naming this technique “ruler workus interruptus” to make it sound Latin-y and fancy, like “coitus interruptus.”  This closeup of the center area  gives a better idea of what I mean:
As you can see, stitching a framework that created the illusion of straight lines that flowed through applique shapes was the goal.  As a sit-down quilter doing ruler work, it’s imperative to hold the ruler on the quilt in a consistent position or the stitched line will diverge from its intended placement.  How can you do that if you have to keep stopping and then re-starting a new line of stitching?
I could only think of one solution, and you can see it in these photos.  It’s kind of hard to see it here in this really early shot:
…but here you can really see it:
If you’re noticing all those strands of thread, that’s what I’m talking about.  The only way I know to keep those lines straight if you’re doing ruler work as a sit-down quilter is to take a series of short stitches before and after each applique interruption and then resume at the other side of the applique, holding the ruler against the quilt in a consistent position all the while.  It looks better after the threads have been trimmed away.  (I left some short ones at the base of the ferns for comparison’s sake):
And now for the fun part of filling in that framework and adding some new lines that emanate from the center diamond:
I threw in  a swirl background fill at each of the ends, just to have a different texture:
I used an arc ruler to create the arched swags on the ends, then filled those in with small featherettes:
And the finished runner:
What’s on your machine bed these days?

“Kissed By Butterflies” Quilt is Done!

May 25th, 2016
This quilt was luscious to quilt and I’m sad that I finished her up last week.  She really made me realize how much ruler work can add to a quilt.  All the ruler work was done using basic arc rulers (mainly our starter pack arc rulers, but any arc ruler can be used to create these types of quilting designs.)  99% of the quilting was done on my home sewing machine.  Here are some close-ups of parts of it:
Here’s a closeup of the center block:
I love how the framing around the wreath of butterflies came out:
The butterflies appear very 3-dimensional, almost as if they were trapuntoed.  They’re not; that’s machine embroidery applique and if you stitch just outside the edge of all the applique shapes with invisible thread, they kind of “pop out” like that. 
 The irony of this quilt is the only reason I made it was that I needed to test out a whole lot of MEA butterfly stitch-outs, so I made that large wreath.  Once I got started, it was hard to stop.  What began as a way to use up test stitch-outs has become one of my favorite quilt projects in a long time.  I’ve already started another one!