Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Honoring her father's 30 years of Naval service

Belle has not been quilting long. You wouldn't know that by looking at her piecing. Her work is precise, clean, trimmed and pressed. I love to quilt for her. I know that I can do stitch in the ditch without fighting with the seams.

Belle made this quilt for her 90-year old father to honor his 30+ years in the Navy. She used patriotic fabric with war posters and flags on it.

Belle was in the local quilt shop, The Crazy 9 Patch on Saturday and saw Martha's, the shop owner, quilt hanging behind the cash register. Martha's was my first Circle Lord quilt. I used concentric circles on it. She loved it. Well, so did Belle. She asked if I could get it done before Christmas and she wanted the concentric circles. Hey, I'm a Navy retiree too, so of course I told her I would fit it in.

I put big stars in the patriotic blocks and put the concentric circles in the alternate 4-patch combo block.
The front:

The back:

Corner detail:

And the other bottom corner:

Stitch in the Ditch (SID)

To SID or not to SID...that is the question.

Many longarm quilters consider stitch in the ditch to be custom work. It can be very time consuming and hard on your nerves.

Quilters who have never used a longarm don't generally think about how difficult stitch in the ditch (SID) can be. When you compare SID on a domestic sewing machine (DSM) against a longarm, some of the difficulty is not readily visible. I mean, really, you can't see it! First, on a DSM, your eyes are usually only about 12-15 inches from the needle. And you can easily get your eyes down closer to see details. On a longarm, that distance can jump to 24 inches. And without rolling the quilt, you usually cannot get much closer than 8 inches to the stitching unless you climb on the machine...which is not recommended. My first quilt teacher, Janet Haas, taught that all that mattered when you quilt on a DSM is the "4 inches around the needle". The longarm has 23 square feet available without advancing the quilt. Size does matter.

Then there is the speed of the needle. A DSM runs about 400 - 1000 stitches per minute while the longarm zooms along at 2400 to 3000 SPM top speed. That doesn't mean that longarmers (LA) always sew that fast. But I have to admit that I can sew a straighter line moving pretty fast rather than crawling along. I think this is true of most quilters, though. Try drawing a straight line with a pencil. If you just move the pencil without thinking about how fast you are going or how straight the line is, you can get a pretty straight line. But when you slow down, your hand jiggles a bit and you get bumps in your straight line. On the longarm, because it is faster than a DSM, if you jiggle, you can put quite a few stitches into the quilt before you stop. Which means you will lose more time to rip out bad stitching. I won't even go into the aches I get when I do a lot of SID. It requires control. My shoulders and elbows must be kept at a certain angle. SID is no place to loosen your shoulders and relax.

The foot can help or hinder you. On a DSM, the footprint of a walking foot can span an inch or more which can help stabilize the quilt and the stitch. The feed dogs are down but the foot is securely on the quilt. On a longarm, the foot is called a 'hopping foot'. That's because it 'hops'. With each stitch the foot raises and lowers with the needle. This helps with getting over bulky seams. But the light touch of a hopping foot means that it can be thrown off by seams which have not been pressed consistently. I can be cruising along in the ditch and hit an area when the piecer forgot to press this part of the seam and it's like hitting a bump in the road. Grrrr, I stitched a little bump into the quilt. Now I have to pause and rip out the oops-stitches and re-do the SID, sometimes one slow stitch at a time to make sure the needle goes where I want it to go. It can be grueling work.

So, for me, it is all about the piecing and the pressing. Even a well pieced quilt top that is not pressed well can be a bear to quilt. When I get a badly pressed quilt top, I make a mental note, NO SID for this one.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Couch Potatoes

Two speedbumps is what they look like.
The sleepy redhead is Mokey, an English Springer Spaniel.
Her sister, Razzle, is a rescue cat who puts up with the dog. I got this photo just a moment too late to catch the nose-to-nose dozing that was going on.

Friday, December 08, 2006

My First Baptist Fans

This quilt is so striking. The fabrics are blacks, reds, golds and a beautiful asian print for the backing. Martha, the owner of the local quilt shop, The Crazy 9 Patch, made it as a housewarming present for her friend Patty. Patty is a carpenter. She built all the displays and shelving units in the shop. Patty really enjoys life to the fullest. She and her husband just redecorated their media room in rich reds and golds. This quilt was made with that room in mind.

Friday, December 01, 2006

More Quilts from Grandma

Joanne has been busy making quilts for her grandchildren. These two make number 4 and number 5. The first one is all about action. It has San Diego Chargers fabric and big footbals on the front and Monster Truck fabric on the back.

And the other one is just as much fun. Monster trucks and flames on the front.

And the back for the flaming Monster Trucks is Spiderman

Some kids are going to be very happy and warm on Christmas Day and the cold days after.

Jody's Enchilada Quilt

Now this is a hot one. Jody made this several months ago in a class at the Crazy 9 Patch. The pattern is called Licorice Twist from the book Patchwork Memories by Retta Warehime. It was a fun quilt. Of course, Jody's color choices do not look like any licorice candy that I have ever seen but it is all coordinated front and back.

Jody and her husband have 'adopted' a family in Tijuana through their church. She plans to give this quilt to that family. I'm sure that they will love it.

And how about this back. This fabric is so beautiful. It is great BIG Gerbera daisies in a bright shade of orange.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Southern California T-Shirt Quilt

T-Shirt quilts can be very scary. They always make me a bit nervous. Let me explain.

  • Although there is always fabric in them, the fabric is not the Star of the Show. The T-Shirts represent memories or special events for an important person in your life.
  • The shirts are frequently one of a kind since people do not normally buy or earn duplicate T-Shirts. You can't repair or replace a block.
  • Mistakes that require frogging from any T-Shirt fabric is a nightmare. Finding and pulling thread out of a woven fabric is the worst.
  • The T-shirts are bonded to a stabilizing material that keeps them from stretching but also makes them somewhat stiff. In the old days, you would hear stories about how that stabilizer gummed up needles. I don't think that happens much now but the stabilizer does slow down the normal glide of the needle.
  • And then there is the bulk of those intersections where T-Shirt, 2 or more fabrics, stabilizer, batting and backing come together to make a bump .

Knowing all this, I accepted the T-Shirt quilt job. The customer was referred to me by her best friend, a quilt shop teacher. No pressure there.

Then I got the quilt. The piecing was perfect and it was pressed so well that stitch in the ditch was a piece of cake. It was a pleasure to quilt. The T-Shirts are of hot rod events and some southern California local highlights, like the In-N-Out Hamburger Drive-In. The back was a very bright yellow flannel.

I used Superior's So Fine 402 Pearl thread on top and APQS yellow poly in the bobbin. I SID'd around all the T-Shirts and then hit the highlights or echoed inside the T-Shirts. I did not want to take anything away from the T-Shirts themselves so I stopped, took the photos of the quilt and packed it up to return to the customer.

Then I decided that the sashing looked a bit barren. So I added a palm tree and some suns. I mean, after all, this is southern California. I took it off the machine again and packed it into the quilt bag. But it still needed something so I put it back on the machine and added some surfing waves along the horizontal sashing. OK, that's it. Now, I have to wait for the customer's reaction to my work.
The front:

The back:

A close-up of one of the blocks.

Random Circles

Black, gray and lime green were the color choices for this quilt. I used the same in thread. The back is black with concentric circles. That was my inspiration for the quilting. I quilted random circles over the entire quilt. I used the Circle Lord but it was still a lot of stops and starts. The quilt was rectangles with a few pieces of embroidery.

Sally's Crazy 9 Patch

This stack and whack used the most beautiful fabric from Cornucopia Sampler by Moda. It has beautiful peach, corals, greens, very yummy.

I used So Fine by Superior thread called Peach Tart.
I used a new panto named Country Garden by Keryn Emmerson.

I did freemotion loops and flowers in the outer border and SID the 2 inner borders.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Asian Fabric from Norfolk, VA

Take a look at these 2 1-yd cuts from Norfolk, VA. If you want these
pieces for your Geisha fabric maybe we can work a deal with your butterfly fabric. Send me an email.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Oma and Poppy at the Pumpkin Patch

Halloween, my DH and I offered to take our two grandsons to the pumpkin patch. They have lots of activities to interest young boys, pony rides, pick-your-own pumpkin, hay bale maze, inflatables to jump around in and a petting zoo with baby farm animals.

So we gathered up the boys and off we went to the pumpkin patch in Lakeside. We had to park quite a ways off because there were some soccer games going on at the nearby recreation fields in Lakeside. My DH carried Gavin, the baby, he's 15 months old. I walked with the 3 1/2 year old, Hunter. He chattered all the way up the road, asking questions about this pumpkin patch place. This boy did not speak until he was 2 and a half years old. Now he jabbers all the time. And he speaks full grammatically correct sentences. I think he was just learning and then one day just decided that it was OK to talk now. Or he was waiting for his brother to show up and then he had to speak up to get attention.

The punkin patch was pretty crowded. This is southern California, there was no autumn nip in the air or leaves changing colors. It was 85 degrees. The boys did not know what to make of the place.

Oma: "Look at the ponies. Would you like a pony ride, Hunter ?"

Hunter: "The ponies smell bad, Oma."

Oma: "Let's go into the petting zoo and pet the lamb"

Hunter: "No, I don't like it in there"

Oma: "How about jumping around in the big red house? (inflatable)"

Hunter: No Oma, Gavin can't go in there. He's too little"

Hmmm, who is the child here and who is the Grandmother?

Next was the hay maze, the hay was scratchy. Then let's find a pumpkin for each boy. "You can pick your own pumpkin" I said trying to revive this outing. That was fun until he picked up the one he wanted and the stem was scratchy and icky. I carried the pumpkin the rest of the way.

So we were standing in line to pay for the pumpkins for the 2 boys. There were pumpkins, corn, winter vegetables, animals and hay everywhere. And what was he interested in? You can see it in his picture..... Can you guess??

He said "Oma, can I have some Cheetos?"

"Of course, my angel" I said.

The moral to the story. Go to the grocery store to pick out your pumpkins and deliver them to your grandsons.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Animals Galore

Isn't this a sweet quilt for a little girl. Grandma appliqued ducks, chickens, pigs, mules and cows complete with milk bag. I put some butterflies and flowers in the blank blocks. I think her grad-daughter will love this token of a grandmother's love.

Arizona Wildcats Football

A football flag for Arizona Wildcats. It was a challenge to quilt this poly-nylon flag. I outlined the wildcats face and the word "Wildcats". The customer put the San Diego Chargers fabric on the back.

Cars Quilt - My First Stipple

So I have been longarm quilting for about a year now and have never done a stipple. It isn't because I haven't tried. But everytime I tried, I would always cross a line. The puzzle piece ended up being a loop. The customer just wanted her grandson's quilt "nailed together" so I decided to give the giant stipple another go. And it came out surprisingly well. The biggest surprise was how fast I was able to finish the quilt using this all-over freemotion.

I normally SID the border. My philosophy has always been if the customer took the time to put a border on it, then it warrants some attention. But the customer just wanted it to hold together. So I decided to run over the border with the

stipple. I didn't want the border to stick up so I 'hit the mark' (Sue Patten 101) running over the edge of the border in a couple of places. I hope she likes it.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Invaders from Mars

Twins with bunk beds covered by Turning 20 Again quilts all done up in bright colors with space invaders. I used Jodi Beamish's Outerspace panto. It is covered in flying saucers, rockets and men in space suits.
Update (8 Dec)

This is the red twin.

Mema's Tablecloth

This a tableloth done using the Delicious panto by Lisa Thiessen in the body. It has apples and leaves. I put strawberries in the corners of the middle border. I did crosshatching in the corners. I used white Signature thread top and bobbin.

This is the back of the tablecloth.

Here is a close-up of the corner with the crosshatching

Raspberry Pinwheel

This a baby quilt, a very long baby quilt. The quilt was expertly pieced, pressed and trimmed. It was a pleasure to quilt. The back is a print of blueberries. The customer did not want a lot of quilting so I chose a panto by Sharon Spingler named Wandering Daisy. I used King Tut's thread Lapiz Lazuli.
The blue looks good with all those bluberries on the back of the quilt.

This is a close-up of the panto

Sunday, October 29, 2006


This one is for my daughter in law Traci. She loves all things Halloween.
I used all batiks, even the black is batiks. These are reversible jacks.

This is a work in progress.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Camp Reach for the Sky Quilts

I had a quilt seminar with a local quilter who told me about some of the philanthropy quilts she does. She suggested I check into doing some quilts for Rosie's Calico Cupboard's Camp Reach for The Sky. The Camp is for children 4 - 18 years of age who are battling cancer. Each kid gets a quilt.

So piecers donate their twin size quilts, Rosie donates the backing and batting and then longarm quilters donate their quilting. It is a collaborative effort aimed to bring warmth and comfort to kids who are in afight for their life. What could be better?

I signed up and picked up my first 6 quilt tops. This is a record of that effort.

Quilt #1

I used the Circle Lord with the square spiral template in the two outer rows all the way around. Then I carved out a space in the center to add the design with lots of curves, circles and some cross-hatching.

Quilt #2
I used the CL Baptist Fans and then giant stipple on this one. LOTS of intersections (bumps).

OK, this one is tropical...? It looks like a Hawaiian shirt factory blew up
and somebody gathered the scraps and made a quilt. I actually like some
of the Hawaiian prints. There are no solids except the border. Some of
the pieces are 1 or 2 inches.


My life has changed in the last couple of years - some bumps, I retired from quilting, and then I moved to Texas. I'm anxious to see what new adventures await me in the next phase of my life.

About Me

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Ramona, California, United States
I started quilting when a quilt shop opened in our little town in January 2004. I have been hooked ever since.

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Books I"ve read lately

  • The Help (Kindle)
  • The Appeal by John Grisham
  • Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  • Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (again) by Harper Lee
  • Bleachers by John Grisham

This is called Fruit Cocktail

This is called Fruit Cocktail
It is all batiks