Monday, June 30, 2014

Free Motion Monday Quilting Adventure: Grid-Based Designs Week 5

It's the last week of free motion quilting grid-based designs and I'm adding clamshells to my quilting sampler. Using a marked grid makes this design so much easier and uniform.

free motion quilting clamshells

Each clamshell is made by one curved line. The top part of the shape is made from the two clamshells above it. The line of stitching is a semi-circle going across two squares. essentially, four squares of the grid mark one entire clamshell shape. Here's a video:


The basic clamshell is able to be used in many different sizes depending on the type of project you are quilting on.


Clamshells can be easily dressed up with extra fills or lines. Have fun with variations! Wheee! If you are particularly talented, you can add in the variations as the clamshells are stitched, reducing back tracking. (I am not quite that talented.)


Curvy lines going into the clamshell from the side. I didn't care for this one too much.


Tear drops from the center top. These center top variations are easier to add as the clamshells are being stitched than some of the other variations.


Spiky fan things.


Clamshells with swag....


Above, I repeated the clam shell curve upside down before transitioning to a smaller clam shell. I went back and put a dot in the center of each square, essentially making a grid twice as small before I stitched this tiny size.


 Now here's some longer clamshells with tear drops in between each one. Let's just ignore the foul-up just to the right of center above, shall we?


Added additional tear drops and swaggy curves.


Clamshells are a wonderful, versatile design, but be careful when choosing their size. I had to go back in and do these variations, not just to show you but also because the plain clamshells weren't as dense as the rest of my quilting on my sampler.

I don't stitch clamshells often, so I consulted a great book by Renae Haddadin, Fill'er Up Quilting Designs, to get some ideas on the variations. Great book!



Participation in the link party portion of this blog series is way down. I bet a lot of folks are busy with summer time things, but still, if you have a blog and have done some of these grid-based designs or others, go ahead and link up to share your creativity.

Some quick rules:
  • Keep your post relevant to this quilt along please. Spammy posts will be deleted.
  • Make sure you link up to the individual post, not your home page as nobody wants to have to search around for the post if they're a little late to the party.
  • Reciprocate! Link back to this post somewhere in your post or use the clickable blog button in your sidebar. You've got to dance with the one who took you to the party, so make sure you link back.
  • Don't be a wall-flower. (Talking to myself here too. In person I am so stinking shy!) Visit the other links, be sociable, and leave comments.
  • Please make sure you leave me a way to contact you if you are a no-reply commenter, especially if you ask a question. 
Don't forget to bookmark this blog, follow, or sign it up in your favorite feed reader. Like the facebook page (I do post some short things on it pretty regularly), or even check out my Pinterest boards.  I'll be visiting you too!

Next week the design of the month is feathers!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Free Motion Quilting Design: McTavishing with a Twist

I've been doing more of my favorite free motion quilting design, McTavishing. Inspired by Karen McTavish's release of the 2nd edition of Mastering the Art of McTavishing, I've been trying my hand at a scroll-based form of McTavishing as shown on the second DVD included with the book.

free motion quilting Scroll McTavishing


I shot a video of my progress with this design, but I need to work on it. I found myself going so fast and in a rush. I would like to pick up speed as I quilt, but not get too sloppy while doing it.


I love how it starts with the basic scroll shape worked all over the area instead of using the regular McTavishing registration lines. This seems to help distribute the scroll shapes more evenly than working from one side of the area and filling each scroll as you go.


I want to be able to do my C's better. Karen is so good at this! I'd also like to include a few of the regular S shapes of the regular McTavishing. Practice, practice, practice!


Now the winner of my copy of Karen's Mastering the Art of McTavishing..... I had 120 comments on the giveaway post. I had my lovely Leah choose a number between 0 and 120 and the winner is Bonnie58! I've sent her an email notification already.

For those new readers, I did a whole series of posts on McTavishing as my first Free Motion Monday Quilting Adventures Series.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Quilty Sights Away from Home

There's no place like home, there's no place like home! It was so good to come home yesterday from a family reunion, even if the first 30 minutes after arrival had me answering "What's for dinner?", breaking up an argument, cleaning up a scooter accident, and performing first aid. The kids were great for the entire 6 hour drive with the aid of a very good audio book (The Search for Wondla)

Whenever we go to these reunions, we almost always take the same route through Virginia and West Virginia and so have a favorite visitor's center that we stop at to stretch our legs and such (exit 139 on I-64). It's become a family tradition.

They've got a little gift shop there and I found some quilty goodness there. First the traditional quilting books in the WV history section. The Standard Book of Quiltmaking and Collecting, Facts & Fabrications-Unraveling the History of Quilts & Slavery , and then an actual quilt kit!


Then there was this little feast for the eyes. John Denver's Take Me Home, Country Roads made into a children's picture book and illustrated in a quilt-like style!


I remember singing this song at the top of my lungs when I was young and dreamed of living in the country.


What a cute idea!


I actually find a lot of inspiration in the illustration of children's books. Below are two of my favorites.


The Quiltmaker's Journey (also the Quilt Maker's Gift which is MIA in my daughter's room) and The Mess.


Love these books--- The Mess is more beloved for it's message of a quilty mom and a creative daughter.


 On the way to the park to visit with my mom's side of the family, we passed several barns with painted quilts on them. I wasn't able to safely pull over to get pics though. There was a crazy quilt version that I almost turned around to get a picture.

free motion quilting

 Then there was a lovely photo quilt in the park's restaurant. Look at the loop-d-loops, some continuous curves and a great leaf design in the sashing!


Above, my little guy is standing in a huge natural rock bridge formation. And below are all three of my sweeties.


Tomorrow, I'll be back to my quilting and posting the winner of Karen McTavish's new book! All of these books are available through Amazon, though I didn't link to all of them.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Creative Inspiration

So I am still at my family reunion at a state park with incredible caves and other natural rock formations and the slowest restaurant service ever.

So I thought I'd share some artsy sites that speak to my creative quilty side.

Alex Konahin does some inky magic with detailed drawings first with insects and then other designs that make me think of wholecloth quilt designs.

I love the 'in progress' shots.

More of his work can be found here and there is more visual art to tickle the eyes and imagination on Behance.

Quilting is really a form of line art, some is detailed, like thread painting, some is more to impart texture.

I've shared one of my favorites here before, Johanna Basford, and she write a little on not computerizing her hand drawn artworks, which is a little bit if what I feel about my free motion quilting in a quilt world that is more and more accepting of computerized quilting and embroidery modules that can stitch with precise machine perfection.

Having once balked at the proliferation of machine quilting for several years before I took up my own free motion quilting, I do wonder if I am perfecting my skills for a technique that will also fade away eventually.

I know that for me, I love the freedom of FMQ and know that I won't have the same joy in programming a computer to stitch out even the most amazing designs.

And for more color:

I loved the watercolor effect and colors of these mushroom themed letters.

Eric Hines captures some beautiful colors in his photography.

I hope to share some quilty stuff with you on Friday!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Free Motion Monday: Grid-Based Designs Week 4

Another week has come and gone and I'm just not sure where the time goes! Not only are we nearly done with this month's free motion quilting adventure, but summer is flying by and I'm off with the kids to my mom's family reunion. This year we're off to Kentucky. Each year my mom's siblings and their kids, and now their kids, get together at a state park with a hotel and we spend a couple of days talking, hiking, and swimming.

It's a lot of fun for the most part, though travelling with three kids is a bit of a chore for me. Hubby can't go again this year, but last year the kids traveled really well, so I have high hopes for this year. It's an interesting time for me as my cousins are mostly in their early 20's while I'm in my early 40's and my aunts and uncle are hovering around the big 6-0. I feel a little like the odd man out. Not a quilter in the bunch either.

But we're here to talk quilting!


  I saw a neat grid-based design on Pinterest, I think, but can't quite remember who to attribute it to. Nor do I know what it's called. I think it might be something that Cindy Needham has done before. It looks like a garden lattice. I think it might be my new favorite of all free motion quilting grid-based designs.


I used a one inch grid for this design and stitched the lines of the grid as well as the continuous curve shapes. When I finished with that part, the centers really popped the most. Then I went in and filled in those centers with a square, spiral-type design. That flattened out the centers and caused the curved portions of the design to pop, resulting in a lattice effect. Above, you can see what it looks like with the centers filled and unfilled.


This design would look fabulous worked around a floral applique or in the background of a whole cloth quilt.


My big tip for keeping the curved part of the design fairly uniform and well-shaped? As soon as you curve out halfway, focus your eyes not on the stitching but on the next corner that you are stitching towards. Your hands will naturally come to that corner.

I shot a video of this design too! I had to learn how to splice two videos together since somebody asked me for a graham cracker in the midst of filming.There's always something new to learn! I have hopes that this learning will help keep my brain sharp though I have my doubts some days!



Thanks so much for reading and commenting! Please show us all any grid-based designs you've been working on by linking up below. Don't forget to leave a comment on my "Art of McTavishing" review post to be entered in the giveaway.

For the linky this week, link up a post of  grid-based designs you've done, if any. If you haven't done any, now's the time to draw some out, start a new practice piece or even try them out on a quilt!

Some quick rules:
  • Keep your post relevant to this quilt along please. Spammy posts will be deleted.
  • Make sure you link up to the individual post, not your home page as nobody wants to have to search around for the post if they're a little late to the party.
  • Reciprocate! Link back to this post somewhere in your post or use the clickable blog button in your sidebar. You've got to dance with the one who took you to the party, so make sure you link back.
  • Don't be a wall-flower. (Talking to myself here too. In person I am so stinking shy!) Visit the other links, be sociable, and leave comments.
  • Please make sure you leave me a way to contact you if you are a no-reply commenter, especially if you ask a question. 
Don't forget to bookmark this blog, follow, or sign it up in your favorite feed reader. Like the facebook page (I do post some short things on it pretty regularly), or even check out my Pinterest boards.  I'll be visiting you too!

I'm linking up with Connie's Linky Tuesday. Go take a look!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Mastering the Art of McTavishing, 2nd Edition

One of my favorite free motion quilting designs is McTavishing. Quilter extraordinaire, and design creator, Karen McTavish has updated and expanded her original book on her namesake design.

free motion quilting design McTavishing

When I was planning the first Free Motion Monday series which featured McTavishing, I learned from Karen that this book was nearing release but wouldn't be ready for my series.


She and her publishers were nice enough to send me a review copy when it became available and it's fabulous!


In addition to a lot  of material from the first edition and the original DVD, there's quite a lot of new information, including an all new DVD (featuring my unrequited love, George) and a new swirly version! Here's information from the publisher's website:

The author's namesake stitch makes a quilt look and feel as if it has motion and texture. The inspiration for this style of quilting comes from Art Nouveau artist, Alfonse Mucha. Author, Karen McTavish, adapted Mucha's curvy, stylized art form into a free-hand background filler quilting design. The effect was electric on the quilting community and in judged competition.
Mastering the Art of McTavishing instructs the quilter on adding this technique to any quilt or garment, from traditional wholecloth to contemporary art quilts, for use by hand, domestic machine, or longarm quilters.
Lessons from the author combined with interviews of accomplished hand and domestic machine quilters on the DVDs* give the reader an unparalleled view of the quilting process. Every aspect of how to use McTavishing is compiled in the book and in the accompanying DVDs*.
The book is softcover, full color, 128 pages, includes TWO DVDs, and retails for $27.95.

McTavishing- Free Motion Quilting design

After working on my McTavishing sampler above during the series, I can't wait to work on the swirly version! You can see the rest of my McTavishing series posts on my Free Motion Mondays- A Quilting Adventure page.

Mastering the Art of McTavishing, 2nd Edition is full of beautiful quilts by Karen and many of her students. There are plenty of pictures and instruction for her namesake design plus several other designs. It's a must have book if you don't have the first edition, and has enough new material to justifying adding the newest version to to your bookshelf next to the original too.

You can order it at On-Word Bound Books.

Leave a comment on this post and you will be entered for a drawing to win my copy. Name to be drawn Saturday, June 28th.

Edited to add- This giveaway is now closed. We have a winner!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Quilted Wallet

I've been wanting to stitch up my own wallet for some time now. I was using a Dave Ramsey envelope system thing for my dollars, plus a zippy pouch for my change and plastic. (And if you're familiar with Dave Ramsey, don't tell him I still have plastic! None of it is actually credit cards these days anyway.) Things were a bit unorganized to say the least.


I knew I wanted two zippered compartments and pockets for the plastic and other cards). I had just a little fabric left over from making my current purse so I was able to coordinate my wallet. Happy day! I didn't use a pattern and sort of winged it. Love me or hate me, that's just how I am. The down side to being able to wing it and create my own patterns is a very bad case of impreciseness. That's why I don't do a lot of intricate piecing! My sewing life is also littered with things that didn't quite work out as I imagined them, at least not the first time....


But this wallet turned out nicely! There are a few tweaks I'll do next time and I did make my own pattern on paper as I went so I can make it again with those tweaks. The magnetic snap was a...well....snap to put in too. Best thing is it's the perfect size to grab out of my heavy purse if I'm just popping into a shop and carry it as a clutch. I might put a little handle on it as a wristlet.

I used a serger for several of the seams and even sewed the zippers in with it, but since I didn't have a zipper foot for the serger, it was a bit wonky. I think the next time, I'll just use oversized zippers and then trim them down when I stitch the side seams. I'll probably add another zippered pocket, since I do use a cash system for 2-3 expense categories.

I used Peltex under the outside fabric for a nice, stiff outside and did a bit of free motion quilting following the fabric's pattern too. I think it could use some stitching around the outside edges for a more finished look, but I'm glad I made it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Quilts: Washed and Blocked

I've had a couple of people ask about how I wash and/or block my quilts and first of all I'd say this is one area that I'm still learning.

I always, always, always wash all my fabric unless it's a charm pack or jelly roll. Yes, that means I do a lot of ironing and refolding and such, but it's worth it. Shrinking and running colors are the pits. Washing everything as it comes in the house (or comes out of my "needs to be washed" fabric drawer) is the only way I can keep track of what has been washed or not. Essentially, it's all washed. Always.


But using blue water erase markers really require a good dunking to get the marks out. (There are other methods, but this is what works for me.) I use other marking tools occasionally that I like to wash out too.

When it comes to customer quilts (ie: someone else's top that I am quilting as opposed to a commissioned quilt that I make from scratch) I don't even want to spritz with water!  So I use the purple air erase markers or chalk if I have to mark them. Mostly, I try to not mark them.

Customer quilt, wool applique----no water for this one! No way, no how!

Smaller quilts I will dunk in the tub with cold water and then roll it up in a few towels and press the water out and then dry flat. If it's a bigger quilt, same thing, but I'll let the water out of the tub while the quilt is still in the water and then press on it to get more water out before lifting the heavy, wet mass out, then roll it up in a towel to remove more water. This is how I do most quilts unless they are utility quilts. Those go in the washing machine on a gentle, cold, short cycle.

For the farm quilt, which was 72x72, I used the tub but kept it folded so when I pulled it out there wasn't a ton of weight pulling on just one or two areas as I pulled it out. But it was also designed as a bed quilt, so when I was worried that the white mechanical pencil I used wasn't washing out with just a soak, I tossed it into the washer. In case you were wondering, I was an anxious woman until it was all done.

Washing a quilt is when the fibers can be at their weakest, which is another reason to stay away from cheap, thin fabrics. Cheaper fabric tends to have a lower thread count and shorter fibers in the threads of the fabric. I'm all for frugality, but choose wisely. Don't pull a large wet quilt out by one or two spots along the edge, cradle the bulk of it until the majority of the water is out.


For drying, I use a blocking board made of foam insulation that I got at a hardware store. If I want to block the quilt to dry absolutely square and flat, I can tug and pull, measure and then pin into the foam. Blocking is a pain, but usually necessary for anything that you want to show or lay super flat on a wall. If a quilt isn't quilted all at the same density, it will draw up more in the denser areas. Blocking helps even it all out. For smaller art quilts that might need blocked, a good spritz with water will wet it enough to block.


I didn't block the farm quilt, just laid it out flat and it remained square. Both my Poured Out and Poured Out 2 quilts had to be blocked since they had areas of very dense stitching around areas of trapunto. The bed quilts I have either get air dried in the dryer (kids' quilts), or hung over my cutting table so only a third or so hangs down on either side and then flipped a time or two as it dries. Line drying for utility quilts is a lovely idea, but....birds. It has happened several times, so I don't do it.

Poured Out quilt
Poured Out
Poured Out 2
So, I hope I answered thoroughly enough. This is what works for me, and I am still learning in this area. It's kind of like binding when you are first learning to quilt. It takes so long between quilts that you tend to forget what you did the last time! Which is a great argument for working on smaller projects.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Free Motion Monday Quilting Adventures: Grid-Based Designs 3

It's week 3 of the grid-based designs free motion Monday series! That means it's time to share more designs, another video, and to draw the names of the winners of the stencils from www.quiltingstencils.com!

If you haven't seen the previous weeks' posts, you can find all of them on the Free Motion Mondays Quilting Adventures tab above.

First a video on a form of tiny continuous curves with the square grid from last week:



Then I filled in some of the checkerboard squares from last week, using a different direction for my stitching to form a basket weave effect. It sure flattens out the background. Not sure I like it, at least not at this tiny scale and density. Maybe at a bigger scale or using a slightly more contrasting thread.

grid-based basket weave FMQ

Then it's time to move on to some new angles for the stenciled lines:


This is what happens when I attempt to use geometry with a brain befuddled by a summer cold. Try again:

Marking the 60 degree grid

 That's more like it! Then a triangle based grid. I thought it would look cool to fill in an occasional triangle.


Then I did a triangle based checkerboard. Pretty nifty except sometimes my eyes keep focusiong on 3 triangles at a time like the nuclear symbol.


Then a continuous curves design in the 60 degree triangle grid.


Here's all of my grid-based designs on this piece so far.


Now for our stencil winners:

Emily aka The Caffeinated Quilter
Linda E in AZ
Karen from http://www.nanagirlquilts.blogspot.com/

And don't forget to link up if you've got a blog and have some grid-based designs to share!

For the linky this week, link up a post of  grid-based designs you've done, if any. If you haven't done any, now's the time to draw some out, start a new practice piece or even try them out on a quilt!

Some quick rules:
  • Keep your post relevant to this quilt along please. Spammy posts will be deleted.
  • Make sure you link up to the individual post, not your home page as nobody wants to have to search around for the post if they're a little late to the party.
  • Reciprocate! Link back to this post somewhere in your post or use the clickable blog button in your sidebar. You've got to dance with the one who took you to the party, so make sure you link back.
  • Don't be a wall-flower. (Talking to myself here too. In person I am so stinking shy!) Visit the other links, be sociable, and leave comments.
  • Please make sure you leave me a way to contact you if you are a no-reply commenter, especially if you ask a question. 
Don't forget to bookmark this blog, follow, or sign it up in your favorite feed reader. Like the facebook page (I do post some short things on it pretty regularly), or even check out my Pinterest boards.  I'll be visiting you too!

Linking up with Connie's Linky Tuesday. Go check it out!

BTW- If you're of a praying persuasion, I could use some prayers. Most of my family including me has a summer cold. Nothing too serious, but I've got a lot of irons in the proverbial fire and I feel like I'm burning out plus some stressful personal stuff so it doesn't help that I physically feel yucky.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Circular Sewing Attachment

There are days when I feel like I'm running around in circles, but today I was stitching in circles!

circle maker

This is the Janome circular sewing attachment. It's kinda like a very fancy thumbtack, but much better. It causes the fabric to rotate in a circle as the machine stitches. The pin travels up and down a ruler-like arm to easily make a series of circles around the center of a circle. Snaps right into the bobbin cover area to secure the attachment.


I made this circle sampler of sorts on some natural linen with fusible fleece underneath. I think it's destined to be a wall hanging at Sew Simple. I can see using this attachment to make some nifty contemporary/modern home decor.

I've got a few other ideas to try with it too! Now if I can just keep from getting sucked too far into my newest book, Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon. So good. I've given myself permission to read for fun after way too much reading of non-fiction.