Category Archives: custom quilting

Ready to Longarm!

longarm setup
Is that my longarm all setup & ready to go?

Wait!?!  Is that even a UFO loaded & almost ready to be quilted??It is! (& I’d show you a photo of that, but it apparently doesn’t want to be uploaded.)

After 2 months & a few days in the new place, the longarm is all setup & ready to get to work!  I’m first going to quilt a scrappy UFO from the beginning of 2013 as a test just to make sure everything is running smoothly & to warm up my free motion quilting skills.

It’s a dreary, cold, soon to be rainy day here in Northern Virginia, so it’s a perfect day to spend at the longarm quilting away!

See you in a bit when I post about the finished quilt!

Blogger’s Quilt Festival Fall 2013- Carpenter Star Quilt

It’s time for the Blogger’s Quilt Festival!!

For this one I’m submitting my Simplicity & Complexity in Quilting in the Two-Color Quilt Category.

This began from an idea I had when planning my Fall 2013 classes.  I wanted a wallhanging that could be seasonal, but not just “Christmasy” or something that would work year round in your house.  I didn’t want it large (no larger than 40″x40″) so just one piece would be needed for the backing.  I also wanted it to look striking while not using too many techniques.

Carpenter's Star

Carpenter’s Star

Inspired by the beautiful red & white quilts in this show, I found my color palette & after searching through some old quilting books, I chose the traditional Carpenter’s Star pattern.  To add dimension to what could be a “flat” quilt, I chose four different red fabrics that had the same hue (red), but with slightly different shades (degree of blackness) to give the quilt depth.  After it was pieced, I liked it, but I still didn’t love it.

Then I put it on the quilting frame.

Carpenter's Star

Carpenter’s Star

Sometimes it takes a while for the quilt to tell me what design it wants, but this quilt screamed feathers from the very beginning.

I chose a traditional, formal feather in a curvy spine to be quilted in the red to emphasis the depth of the colors.  The white took a bit longer to decide on a pattern, but I knew I didn’t want more feathers (I thought that would take away from the other feathers).  I kept coming back to the fact that every time I looked at this quilt I saw the star exploding & I wanted something that would emphasis the radiance of the star.  I opted for straight lines to balance the curves of the feathers & in the ended decided to go with a triple stitch to really give the quilt a striking look.

Feathered Star

Feathered Star

I truly could not be happier with this quilt.  It is everything I imagined it would be, yet didn’t think I could do.  Because friends, this was the first time I quilted the formal, longarm feather on a quilt.  After years of practice & never being quite happy with them, I think I’ve finally got it!

And guess who can’t stop using that feather design?

Linking up with the Blogger’s Quilt Festival on Amy’s Creative Side: (And go check out the rest of the quilts!  They’re amazing!)

Simplicity & Complexity in Quilting

For quite some time now I’ve wanted to design a star wall hanging to teach in my piecing classes.

I wanted it to be in red & white, so it could be for Christmas, yet year round at the same time.
I wanted it to have a classic & timeless look.
I wanted it to be simple, yet striking at the same time.
I wanted it to be a design a beginner could successfully piece, yet at the same time be satisfying for an experienced piecer.
I wanted to play with the quilting & really showcase how quilting can “make” a quilt.

I do have to admit though that when I finished piecing the top, I nearly choked at how plain it was & I was afraid I really made a mess of things.

I’d always wanted to play with Lisa Sipes’ triple stitch & decided that would be perfect in the white- just enough to create texture & add to the star effect.  It did take hours upon hours of work.  But I just listened to hours of the Bowery Boys & time passed without notice. (Well, without much notice!)

In the red spaces I wanted feathers.  Over the top beautiful, formal feathers that dripped in elegance.  So I practiced & practiced & practiced my heart out, until I held my breath & just went for it.

But when I took it off the frame, I nearly choked again- but this time it was in amazement as to how beautiful it turned out!

After I caught my breath I ran upstairs to show my husband- I was so happy with how it looked!

I wish I had grabbed a picture of the corners, I did a very fun swirl there!  But it’s now hanging up at A Quilting Place to advertise for the Fall classes, so I’ll grab a photo later.

In all, this came out better than I ever imagined!  Exactly what I wanted & more.

And in the end- isn’t this why we make things?  So we can bring a vision to life, only to have it exceed our expectations.  To remind ourselves to keep pushing & keep challenging ourselves to grow.  To remind ourselves how complexity & simplicity live together.

J’s Christmas Quilt

I was looking at my quilt photos & realized I didn’t blog about J’s Christmas quilt for 2012!
For the past 2 Christmas’, I’ve made J a special quilt with distinct custom quilting. For the 2012 quilt, he actually noticed the pattern in a magazine when we were at a quilt shop. I was busy picking out other fabrics & before I knew it, there was a pile of fabric bolts next to me & him smiling saying “I want a quilt with these fabrics!” He had found a modern pattern (that I basically completely changed) that he chose batiks for (big surprise about the batiks if you know J).

I was able to piece it at a quilt retreat with friends back in June of 2012 & then it sat on the shelf. Then about December 22 I realized I didn’t have a quilt for him, so I dug the top out & grabbed some Hawaiian fabric for the backing.


Since I wanted to create a secondary pattern with the quilting, I pulled out my circle templates & quilted radiating circles in a random pattern. It was so much fun to just plop a template on the quilt & have at it!

And best of all- he loved the quilt & the circle design!

A T-Shirt Quilt for a Friend


A few years ago, when we moved to Nebraska, a close friend asked me to make her a t-shirt quilt. I picked up the t-shirts on one of my trips to Texas & knew from the shear amount of t-shirts that I would do some improv piecing to make this a one-of-a-kind quilt. Needless to say, I didn’t expect it to take as long as it did!I started the cutting & piecing & the size of the quilt quickly grew & grew & grew! Very soon I ran out of interfacing (I honestly don’t remember how many yards I ended up purchasing, but it was a lot!) & then I ran out of space to layout the quilt. So I actually took graph paper & cut out little pieces of paper in proportion to the the t-shirts & organized them on a poster board. It was awkward & probably not the most efficient way, but it worked with what I needed.

I then had the top pieced (after quite a while) & realized I wouldn’t have enough fabric for the backing so I purchased a wide-back online. After it arrived, I liked it, but I wasn’t sure it would work, but J thought the fabric was perfect, so then I had to figure a batting. The top was very heavy due to all the t-shirts & interfacing, & given that my friend now lives in Southern California, I knew a cotton batting wouldn’t be best, but I also didn’t want low quality polyester. After talking with some local longarmers, I decided on a nice poly batting from Pellon.

So then I needed to decide on the quilting- I went with a large overall stipple. Typically I don’t stipple, but it’s works great in this quilt as it keeps it together nicely without taking away from the t-shirt designs.

After getting the binding on, I mailed it to my friend & it was so hard to wait the 4 days for her to receive the package! When she got it, she immediately let me know she loved it & I couldn’t have been happier for her!

Honestly,that’s my favorite part of making quilts for people- getting to see their face or hear their excitement when they see their quilt finished or quilted!

Linking up with Fresh Sewing Day

A Failed Project, Part 2

Remember the Failed Project?

Well I searched around & found a matching green, changed the borders & came up with this:

Much, much happier to this project now!

The quilting went very quickly- I knew from the instant I saw the pattern I wanted straight lines in the borders.  I didn’t use a ruler or mark anything- just free handed it & “winged” it.  I did a meander of leaves in the center.  Not the best looking leaves, but it’s just for me & it is just a table topper after all.  As I tell my students, that wonky leaf is where the salt & pepper shakers go!

Free Motion Flowers & an Old UFO Done!

This is an old UFO!  I pieced this top back in High School when I was making tons of charity quilts.

I thought most of them were finished & given away years ago, but while unpacking more boxes from Texas I found this quilt top.

I decided to use this as a practice piece for a freehand flower meander.  It’s largely over quilted, but it was fun & I became comfortable with the design and I completed a UFO!  Wohoo!

Quilts From the Bluffs

I recently got in touch with Jeanine who leads Quilts From the Bluffs, a quilting ministry out of Council Bluffs.She was in need of a longarmer for their many quilts tops pieced by their prolific piecers & with the new machine I needed practice tops.She eagerly gave me 10 tops to work on at our first meeting & this is one of them:

I quilted a wave through every string (no matter how wide or narrow) with King Tut thread.  Incidently, this was also the first quilt I completed on the new longarm back in August- it was so much fun playing with the new machine!

A Finish!

So here’s a quilt I pieced & quilted in the same year!  For myself!  I know- who would have thought?You might remember my talking about piecing the quilt.It came together very easily & since I actually bought the backing & binding at the same time (another marvelous idea!)- I had it prepped & ready to go on my “to be quilted” shelf in no time.

Then last Friday came around & I decided to give myself a challenge.  To see how fast I could quilt this 70×70 quilt in my free motion custom style- without getting hung up on perfection & overthinking the quilting & all those things that keep me from quilting my own quilts.

So I loaded it onto the frame without a quilting design in mind & pow!  It came to me!  Wavy lines!  The red plus signs would go in one direction & the blue in the opposite- I could then travel from plus sign to plus sign to keep thread breakage at a minimum & still do all the red’s in a red thread & blue in blue thread- perfect!

So I “winged” it!  & timed myself & finished the whole quilt in 2.25 hours!


Put the binding on at a retreat that evening & hand stitched it down a week later.   Voila!  A finished quilt!  & for myself!  That I didn’t overthink & stress & just had fun with!

I may be my new favorite quilt…..

(Sorry for the washed out photos- it’s actually a very bright quilt.)

Purple Hopscotch

A few years ago I pieced this Hopscotch quilt top using purple batiks:

I finally got around to quilting it recently.
When I quilt personal quilts, everything I do is an experiment in which I try out new designs or work to improve other patterns- but I usually always custom quilt them.

On this quilt I decided to try out a “coffee bean” meander in the outer border & a double loop in the inner border. For the center I opted for an overall swirl pattern.

I’m very pleased with out it came out!