Thursday, July 14, 2016

New website and New blog

In an attempt to keep things as simple as possible, I've created a new website, blog and contact information.

Check out the new site.  Meadow Rose Quilts

New email address.

I'm in the process of painting and organizing the workshop and studio space.  I'll post about the process on my new blog on my website.  Join me.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Great things in small projects

I have a few customers who for a number of years, have allowed me to quilt for them.  One is Marge. Marge is an older lady who is working her way through her stash and finishing smaller projects.  So, every so often she calls and I drop by for a visit and pick up a collection of table runners, wall hangings and small quilts.  This last visit resulted in 4 lovely quilting projects.

I just LOVE this wall hanging.  Marge's plan was to finish it and hang it at the cabin....

I used a double batt of cotton/poly blend and a wool on top to give some dimension to the quilting.  I knew I wanted to quilt this heavily when I started. I also find that doubling the batts on a wallhanging help it to hang much better.  I started by stabilizing the quilt and stitching in the ditch in the background pieces.

I outlined each of the shapes with WonderFil DecoBob (an 80wt polyester thread) and some spaces were stitched 2-4 times and they don't show the heavy thread use.
I quilted the background sections with feathers (in the darker strips) and a fern in the lighter background strips.   A little bit of straight line stitching helped to show off the feathers.
Once all the back ground and outlining was stitched, I doubled up some threads to highlight the flowers and leaves.  I combined a dark purple with a variegated purple for some shading effects in the flowers.

 Gotta get a better camera for those close-up shots I want to take.
I always like to quilt a design that will work well with the fabric or piecing design of a quilt.  This little table runner called for simple quilting in the squares (free hand continuous curves) with something special for the centre. 
 I repeated the leaves and curls from the quilt centre in the border.

I quilted this basket quilt after watching a couple of lessons in Angela Walter's latest craftsy class, Borders and backgrounds.  It was a fun little project to try something new.  Love that Marge allows me to play on her quilts.

I stitched continuous curves in the baskets, but the bottom looked empty, so a curl was born!  It also allowed me to stitch this quilt pretty much without any thread cutting.  Very efficient way of quilting.
The border wavy lines were very quick and easy to stitch and I think they are perfect on the printed border fabric.

And last but not least, this table runner was quilted using a curved ruler for all the quilted lines,  
I worked my way back and forth across the quilt and as this table runner was very simply pieced, I felt it needed to be simply quilted.  I have since thought that this would have been a great quilt to try some really funky detailed fill designs.  Maybe on the next one.
So, I've delivered Marge's quilts and she will bind them up and put them to good use.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Quilts for Fort McMurray

On May 3, 2016, the news was full of the wild fire raging through and around Fort McMurray in Northern Alberta.  Mandatory evacuations and the loss of many homes have changed the fabric of this bustling city.

Many quilters in Alberta, Canada and the US have come together to stitch and donate many, many quilts to give comfort to those who have been affected by this event.

Gail at Erie Quilt Arts offered very early on to collect quilt donations and make sure they got to where they needed to go.  I dropped off 10 quilts this morning and learned that the quilts will first be going to Fort McMurray Fire Fighters and First Responders  and their families who lost their homes and worked tirelessly during this crisis and secondly to Fort McMurray United Way and Salvation Army to distribute to those who are in the greatest need.

I have been working my way through my fabric stash and had a bunch of tops ready for quilting. This was the perfect opportunity to try a new pantograph and a new quilting design.

I recently took a Craftsy class from Angela Walters on Borders and Backgrounds.  This was a fun quilt to try some of her techniques.

These few quilts are a way to de-stash my older fabrics.   I cut up all my fabrics on the cool side of the colour wheel.  This is a 3 x 4 block quilt.  I think the blocks were 16" square.

Here is the same quilt in my neutral fabrics.
A number of years ago I designed and offered a 6 month Stash Buster event.  Each month we were given a supply list of fabrics to bring from our stash and we cut and shared fabric strips, squares, etc for a greater variety in our scraps.  This Buzz Saw sample was my test to see if my Winter Ice pattern would work.  I finally got it quilted and bound and it is on its way to its new home.

I often say that my mother is the queen of scrap quilts.  She made this disappearing 9 patch years ago and I finally pulled it out and got it quilted and bound.

Here is another of the Scrap quilts using my green fabrics.  These were strips and "mile a minute" blocks.  The blocks are 12".
During this past year at Heritage Park Quilt Guild we were encouraged to participate in the block of the month.  I grabbed some fabric for the background from my stash and tried to use up what I had.  I liked the blocks, but when it came time to put them together I was stumped.  I chose these two blue/greys that went well.  I like the quilting and decided to gift it to someone who would enjoy the comfort more. 

Another scrap quilt in Reds.  This time I cut 5" strips of fabric and sewed similar to a jelly roll race.  I cut my strips into 50" lengths and sewed together.  I first did this as a kids quilt class and it was easy enough for the kids to finish.
Here's what to do with fabric you've had in your stash forever!  I loved this stripe when I bought it but could never decide on a project. In this case I cut it into squares and rotated alternate squares for this lovely effect.

Last but not least, this quilt was a block swap from quilting retreat a very long time ago.  I had the top done that weekend of the retreat and eventually loaded it and quilted it on the longarm.  I set the timer and this quilt took less than 1 hour to load, quilt and unload!  It's a simple double loop and leaf free-hand design.

Now that these quilts are done and delivered, I am working on a few other scrap/charity quilts.  I hope to have a number ready to go when the next need arises.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Estes Park Whole Cloth Quilt

I am very lucky to be a part of a local quilt group for Longarm Quilters.  We meet on a monthly basis and encourage each other in various ways.  Each year we participate as a group at the Heritage Park Festival of Quilts by displaying our work in a group format.

For 2016, it was decided that we would give members opportunity to participate in 2 groups.  Some of us did Log Cabin Quilts and some of us did Wholecloth quilts.  Right away I knew that I was going to participate in the Wholecloth Group.  I took a class from Barbara Chaney waaaay back in 2003 at the first ever Harriet Hargrave's Machine Quilting Celebration.  My first day of classes was with Barbara and English wholecloth quilts.  This is what I drafted in class.  It's been rolled up in the bin ever since.  So, I pulled it out and re-worked it for our size requirement (40" max per side).

I chose a lovely neutral grey solid fabric and marked out all the outlines with a white marking pencil.  
 I loaded the quilt and started quilting.  My daughter chose this bright neon lime Fabulux thread from WonderFil.  I wasn't sure, but she assured me it would look good.
I thoroughly enjoyed the quilting process on my Handi Quilter Avante.  And I agree with my daughter, the lime looks good against the grey.
You can see below that I got through a good chunk of the quilting.  But as I rolled the quilt, I noticed that the tension was not as perfect as I expected.  Also, there was a rotten "knocking" sound which meant to me that the needle tension was too tight.

I played with the tension, but couldn't get it to be just right.
I ended taking my machine off the frame and taking it with me when I went to Edmonton in April to teach at Central Sewing Machines.  The guys cleaned and oiled.  The only thing the technician said was that I was using the "wrong" bobbins.  These were new to me, and I have not used them since and have gotten good tension.
 So, I decided to start over.  When I went back to the store to get more grey, they didn't have it, so I chose this lovely teal instead.  The pictures show blue, but it's a lovely teal.
I marked and loaded the quilt.
 This time I chose WonderFil's DecoBob thread.  It's an 80wt polyester rather than the 40wt Fabulux.
I started by quilting in each section and then went back the quilted the background fill.  Because I had a cotton and a wool batt (to get as much loft as I could) I was afraid of the fabric shifting at the edges. I quilted lines spaced 1-1 1/2" apart to stabilize, then went back and filled in with dense piano keys.
 I spent a lot of time with my nose very close to the quilt.  I outlined as much as I could.
I then filled in with very dense "squiggles".
 Once the marking lines were removed the quilt looks great!

 It was hanging behind the RCMP building at Heritage Park,

I had my husband hold it up to the light so we could get a better picture.
 I printed the label on fabric with all the details.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Classes: Free Motion Quilting - BASICS and NEXT STEPS

I'm going to be doing more teaching at different locations in and around the local area in the coming year.  In the process of up-dating the Classes page on the blog, I've decided to to write a detailed blog post about some of the classes that I teach.  This blog post will give more information about the classes so that those wanting to book me, can find as much information as needed right at hand.

I'm starting with two of my favourite classes: Free Motion Quilting - BASICS and NEXT STEPS classes. 

I started teaching Free Motion Quilting classes WAY back in the mid 1990's.  I took an all-day class from a local store and fell in love!   The only downside was that we used 12" blocks to practice our FMQ.  I found the pieces too small to hang on to and when I taught my first class I decided on FQ (Fat Quarter) sandwiches.  In the 3 hour classes students were often going through 3 and 4 sandwiches.  We are now up to 1/2 meter and 1 meter sandwiches for a 3 hour class and that seems to work fine.  The reason for the larger size quilt is because of the amount of space for the quilter's hands.  When there is a very small quilt (12") there is very little room for the hands to hold the quilt.  A FQ sandwich will give more quilting space, but the larger 1/2 meter sandwich gives lots of quilting space while still giving the quilter room to hold the quilt.

The content that I used to teach in 3 hours, I now teach in 15-20 hours of classes!  That means more concentrated time on each aspect and more in-class practice!  I am a hands-on teacher and like to spend time with each student giving them individual tips and tricks.

Many of my classes are planned for a 3 hour teaching time.  I often am asked for whole day classes and will tweak the class content (add more) for these classes.  Sometimes we will combine the BASICS and the NEXT STEPS classes into a whole day class, but I prefer to give students some time to practice between the two.  The whole idea of practice is not to make it PERFECT but to make it PERMANENT.  The more you practice, the less thinking is involved and muscle memory takes over.

Free Motion Quilting - BASICS.  Learn the basics of 5 shapes that make up all FMQ designs and the foundation for all future FMQ. Learn how to set up your machine, the basic mechanics of FMQ, and how to stitch the 5 basic shapes.  This class is ideal for those who have never tried FMQ before, but is also a valuable refresher for those have some experience.

  • I always start my classes by talking about the machine set up. Sometimes we need to begin by cleaning out the machine.  Mostly I discuss the importance of machine cleaning.  We also talk about the needles (I go into more detail later in the class) and the sewing machine accessories recommended for FMQ.
  • We cover a demonstration and explanation of layering a quilt for FMQ on a domestic machine.
  • We get right to it and start stitching.  This first quilting time is focusing on thread choices and machine tension as well as hand positioning and tips on how to move the fabric.
  • Many years ago I read a book Pathways to Better Quiltng by Sally Terry.  I found the 5 shapes for machine quilt patterns an eye opening concept.  I have based my BASICS class on these shapes and once students see that almost all quilting designs are made from these shapes they "get it" and can FMQ.
  • The BASICS class focuses on these shapes.  I give students detailed notes and lots of time to practice drawing as well as stitching these shapes.
  • I bring along a (large) selection of quilted samples to show students.  I don't just show my latest (most perfect) projects, but the early ones too to show that everyone can FMQ!

Free Motion Quilting  - NEXT STEPS.   Students will gain confidence in their Free Motion Quilting by taking what they learned in the Basics class and learning how to put the basic shapes together to create a variety of quilting motifs. Students will get lots of practice stitch and trying a variety of different motifs.

In the NEXT STEPS class we continue what we learned in the BASICS class.  Although I recommend students to have taken the BASICS class first, anyone with any FMQ experience can join.  I'll just be expecting that students know how to set up their machine, and have some knowledge and experience of FMQ skills.
  • We spend a lot of time learning how to combine the 5 basic shapes to create a variety of different quilting motifs.  How to draw and stitch a basic flower or leaf. How to recognize what shapes are used in a variety of quilting motifs.
  • We also focus on scale and how to stitch shapes in a variety of sizes to coordinate with the size of the quilt.
  • Students will get a lot of time to practice drawing as well as stitching these new motifs.
  • Students are encouraged to bring in a quilt so as a group we can discuss ideas on quilting.