Custom Quilts · Long Arm Quilting

Exploding Star String Quilt

 

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For a new apartment and a new chapter in life – this string quilt is for my son and his girlfriend. I love the jewel tones and graphic exploding star block. As with most string quilts, I sewed various width strips together to form strip sets. Then cut the strip sets into triangles, and sewed two triangles together to make the half square triangle blocks. I had to handle the triangles gingerly – all those bias edges! I sprayed the blocks with heavy starch to help minimize the stretch – and since I washed the quilt after it was finished, there’s no need to worry the starch will attract unwanted critters to eat holes in all my hard work!

I also made some Montana-appropriate throw pillows – lots of deer and bear out there! And the bobcat is the mascot of their alma mater, Montana State University – so of course I had to make that one! The patterns for the deer and bear are by Elizabeth Hartman and the bobcat is by Sew Fresh Quilts. Both are great designers – straight forward construction and no paper piecing, I highly recommend their patterns.

For the quilting, I did all over feathered spirals in the white areas, and some leaf spirals in the colored areas. My son is an environmentalist, so I used “Dream Green” batting from Quilter’s Dream, which is batting made using 100% recycled plastic bottles – this queen size batting kept 20 plastic bottles from the land fill. I often use this batting – it quilts beautifully and washes quite well with very little shrinkage.

Here’s a few pictures of the back – I generally try to use the same color and type of thread in the top and the bobbin, which you can see here. This makes any minor tension issues much less noticeable on the front of the quilt.

Thanks to one of our furry friends for all the help piecing strip sets – what’s a quilt without a little cat or dog hair??

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Thanks for reading my blog, and Happy Quilting!

Ann

Baby Quilts · Custom Quilts

Heirloom Baby Quilt

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This little baby quilt has been one of the most fun projects I’ve ever been commissioned to make! The quilt is to be a baby shower gift from the baby’s maternal grandmother, who had saved several pillow cases of her own mother’s. All the white fabric in the quilt top came from cutting apart some white pillow cases she had saved and using that in the piecing. So the new baby girl with have a quilt with some heirloom fabric from her great-grandmother – I love that idea so much, I’m going to start saving for when I have grandchildren someday.

I quilted some continuous line pumpkin seeds in the center of the quilt, and 2″ piano keys in the border. It turned out very soft and cuddly – the pillow cases and the 100% cotton fabric washed beautifully and already feel velvety and smooth so will feel snuggly for the new baby.

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And the backing is two more floral cases the grandmother had that, sewn together, fit the back almost perfectly.

And to add to the fun, the grandmother had rescued an old threadbare quilt from an antique store, and wanted to make a pillow from it – so I cut out one block, with its sashing and used the pretty decorative hem from the white pillow cases for the back. The pillow is about 14″ and will be used in the nursery. So cute! I already keep my eyes peeled in antique stores for old quilts that need to be liberated – but I love this idea of finding a way to reuse them and give then new life! I’ve always been reluctant to cut into an old quilt – but why leave one all tattered in the closet, when I can cut out the good parts and revive them as a pillow or tote bag or stuffed animal or…IMG_5104

Lastly, a little monogram in one corner with the baby’s initials.

I hope the baby will cherish this little quilt as she grows up, and pass it along to her daughter or grand-daughter when the time comes.

Working on this project was quite inspiring – can’t wait to find some vintage or heirloom fabrics and quilts to make something else!

Custom Quilts · Long Arm Quilting

A Graduation Quilt

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I took these photos on a beautiful spring day in Georgia – and nothing is prettier than a Southern Spring. It’s the deep breath before the onslaught of summer, and down here that means 90+ degree days with 800% humidity… This blooming cherry tree was the perfect backdrop for this sweet quilt, so I snapped a few pictures before I sent the quilt off to the graduate.

I like modern twists traditional blocks, so I love the secondary pattern that forms in this pattern by Corey Yoder. The shoo fly blocks have one little addition on their corners, and when you alternate them with the star blocks those white squares form – easy piecing for a big effect.

I accented the white squares by quilting straight lines – I wanted to highlight the effect of the squares made by the piecing and block arrangement. Inside, on the shoo fly block itself I quilted a stylized rose.

And then inside the star blocks, there is also a white square, instead of a solid. Here I quilted a spiral feather design, and some continuous curved lines around the triangles. All the fabric, batting and thread is 100% cotton – I love the way all that cotton feels, and I do love the way it gives the typical quilt puckered look.

 

The center photo above is a view of the back – this 108″ wide backing fabric is cotton sateen and is the softest fabric ever. This would make a great backing for any throw quilt – very comfy and soft to snuggle under. But I did make it big enough to go on a bed, so my graduate friend will be able to use it either way – and grown up enough for a post college apartment as well.

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For the binding, I used the striped fabric from one of the blocks on the front – I like the effect stripes make when cut into binding.

And lastly, a Blue Beagle Quilts label – I have started sewing them into the corners so I can avoid any hand sewing. I hand stitch about as well as a four year old – and don’t enjoy it, so this is my fix for that. I have my dear friend, the mother of this graduate, to thank for my logo – she’s a wiz with graphics and came up with the silhouette of a beagle standing on grass. I had the logo she made digitized, and now I can use my embroidery machine to make the labels! What fun to give her daughter a quilt with her mom’s design on it!

Happy Quilting!

 

Long Arm Quilting

Graffiti Quilting and an Applique Feather

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I saw this pattern by Madisen Hastings, called Aviary, in the shop window of Main Street Quilting Company while visiting our son in Bozeman, MT – it stopped me in my tracks! I love this! The rainbow arrangement of the colors, and the long, narrow aspect of the design make this quilt eye-catching.

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I knew when I saw the pattern that we had the perfect spot – way, WAY up high in our cabin out in the country. We had to have help hanging this – it required a scaffold and nerves of steel! But now that it’s up, I couldn’t be happier.

 

I had some serious fun doing the graffiti quiltng around the feather itself – of course at the height it’s hanging, you can’t really appreciate the quilting, only the texture. But if you go upstairs you can see it well, so I’m happy with that. I used two layers of batting – one wool and one a cotton/poly blend to give the quilting as much loft as possible.

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My husband made the hanging rod and hooks for me in his blacksmith shop – such a nice job on the arrow heads!

Such a fun project – from the beautiful pattern to the time spent on my long arm quilting away – truly one of the most enjoyable quilts I’ve ever made 🙂

Custom Quilts · Long Arm Quilting

Red, White and Blue is not just for the 4th of July!

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I love this quilt! I want to make one for myself now too – this one was a custom commissioned work for a friend of mine, and I am so happy with how it turned out. Most custom quilts I do are baby quilts, so it was a treat to get to do a large one. She showed me a photo of a quilt she liked, and together, we were able to come up with a design to fit what she had in mind. The red, white and blue fabrics play well together, and will go with the decorations of the bedroom my friend has planned – she has a subway map of the London Underground and some vintage postcards from Paris – and of course those countries also have red, white and blue flags, so the color scheme will tie everything together.

I was lucky to get that picture of the full quilt – the day I was taking pictures was a sunny, but incredibly windy day – it was a struggle to get many shots of the quilt hanging vertically, so I gave up and took this video instead. You can see what I was up against as the quilt gets nearly horizontal…

I purposefully made it 100″ x 100″ – the biggest size my quilting machine frame can accommodate – that way even after washing and drying it will still easily cover a queen size bed. I also used a poly/cotton blend to help keep shrinkage to a minimum. I used an all over quilting design that added some nice texture, but won’t compete with the busy prints or block layout.

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Close up of Quilting
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Swirly Feather Designs
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Swirls with Feathers

 

I also made some pillow shams with some left over fabric – this photo is actually of the quilt on the guest bed at my house, just temporarily for a photo op. The cat is ours as well – I told my friend her quilt had passed inspection and was deemed worthy of a “cat nap” – luckily she has dogs, so understands! No doubt the dogs are happily snoozing on it at her house by now 🙂

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Long Arm Quilting

Lakota Sioux Star Quilt

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While growing up, my dad was a career Air Force Officer – so we lived all over the country and moved fairly often. My favorite place he was stationed was Ellsworth AFB, near Rapid City, South Dakota. I loved it there – I’ve even been back a few times and the wide open spaces of the plains and the beautiful Black Hills are just like I remembered – and it still makes me smile just to think about it. We lived in Rapid City back in the early 1980s, while I was in high school. During these four years, my mother, who is a nurse, worked at a Sioux hospital called Sioux San. My mother’s mother was a quilter, so she has always loved quilts. While working at Sioux San she had a co-worker who made and sold star quilt tops that my mom often admired – so before we moved away, my mom was able to get this one from her friend.

From what I’ve read, star quilts are important in the Sioux culture – they are often given as gifts to mark occasions such as memorial feasts, celebrations, naming ceremonies and marriages, or given to special friends. In 2016, there was a stunning statue erected in Chamberlain, South Dakota, to honor this Sioux tradition of quilts. The statue is called Dignity and overlooks the Missouri River. My last trip back to the area was before this statue was placed, so I have not personally seen it – but now this gives me another reason to go back to South Dakota! To read about this statue click this link, it will open a new window.

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My mom gave me the star quilt top many years ago, but after all this time it had many condition issues – the edges were on the bias and had stretched out, several areas had thread and seams that had either fallen apart, disintegrated or come undone… I finally braved doing the repair work myself, which included resewing several seams and recutting and resizing some of the white background fabric between the star points to make the edges roughly square again.

I needed to use a quilting design that would both stabilize the edges and accent the star itself – so I did some simple continuous line quiltng in the diamonds of the star and then a dense all over design in the white areas that, in my mind, roughly feels like wind. After quiltng, the finished size is about 70″ square. I used cotton batting and thread – and at this point have not washed it.

My husband, who is a blacksmith in his spare time, forged a hanging rod for me – and added a single deer antler prong on each end. He also made the hooks the rod is hanging from, which you can see in the second picture below.

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I feel honored to have a Sioux quilt in my home, and hope that my quilting would make the Sioux woman who made the top proud.

 

Long Arm Quilting

Long Arm Quilting Certification Complete!

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I could not be more excited to receive this diploma! This is the culmination of 5 months of hard work with lots and lots of time spent quilting. The certification program was an online course through American Professional Quilting Systems (APQS) that required our completed quilts to be mailed to the teachers for evaluation and feedback. One assignment was to make 2 quilts using different pantograms:

Another requirement was to complete 2 more quilts using different all over free motion designs:

All four of these are toddler sized, and have cotton batting. After evaluation, they were given to a charity that gives blankets to needy children, Project Linus, by the program coordinators.

And finally we had to stitch a small whole cloth quilt using feathers:

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We also were require to complete a business plan, make a promotional brochure about our long arm quilting services, and conduct an email consultation with a pretend customer. This was a wonderful experience and I am proud to say I passed and am now a certified long arm quilter!