Saturday, March 20, 2010

Quilting Memories

Probably the most special quilts are those that have some special meaning or purpose behind making them. I have a wonderful memory quilt that my sister made for our 25th wedding anniversary. It has a photo of my husband and I and several other memory items. I have made several photo quilts. When my 2nd daughter graduated from highschool, I made a photo quilt of her high school years. It turned out so cute. Then there was a photo quilt of grandchildren that I made my husband's mother when she was recovering from hip surgery. The photo quilt I made of my granddaughter, Leah Grace will always be a favorite. But my all-time best quilt that is packed with memories and hours and hours of work is Leah's Spring quilt.

Today is Leah's first birthday. Last year at this time, we were in amazement that she had survived the birth and actually seemed to be doing pretty well. She surprised all predictions of a very short life that was only supposed to be hours long at most, by living 99 days. Her life was precious and those who cared for her were filled with joy at seeing her conquer odds and pass milestones that seemed improbable. I will forever associate the first day of spring, March 20, with Leah. Today was extra special, it was a beautiful day outside. Everything seems to be in bloom. Best of all it was a day to remember the precious gift of life that was Leah's life.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Slice of Pie Anyone?

I just finished another customer quilt. Really cute. Every block is a different kind of slice of pie. It's very colorful but yet quite well coordinated. Some of the slices have bead work on them. That's always a challenge to quilt around but it worked out fine. I just had to do one anchor line of stitching through each slice of pie so that it didn't pop out of the quilt. Fun quilt, now I'm hungry for pie!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Need any quilting done?

I'm not sure of all the reasons why quilting has been so slow. I don't have direct connections with any quilt shops like I had in previous years. I took somewhat of a break last year from quilting during Leah's brief life and cut back right after her death. The economy is probably a cause too. Anyway, right now I have only two quilts in my studio and only about 3 or 4 that I know of coming in either April or May. That's not much work -- so I'm looking for work. If you have a quilt that needs quilting, I would love to do it. If you have a quilt that you want in a show, I would love to quilt it to death! I enjoy quilting for shows and pouring a lot of time and effort into a quilt. So contact me!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A really cute quilt

This is the most recent customer quilt. Really cute. I love the black, red and off white fabrics and the polka dots. It was fun to quilt.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Barely Time for Quilting

I must keep up my quilting -- our house payment depends on it! But right now I have been totally distracted by gardening! I love to garden and that passion has spilled over into creating a community garden on our church property. First it just started out as an idea, next thing you know, I'm in charge of a team of 12, and spending a ton of time working on plans for the garden. It's fun, but really cutting into my quilting time. The amount of time it has taken to get things up and running has been just hours and hours. Today I went to look at another church's community garden. It was beautiful. The thought of helping someone else garden and have a place to garden brings a great deal of joy. I'll just have to stay up later and get up earlier to get my quilting time in!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Machine Quilting with Minky Fabric

Everybody loves Minky (also sometimes spelled Minkee) fabric. The feel is so soft and cuddly that you can't help but want to put it in a quilt. Most people I know who try to use Minky fabric do so for their quilt backing. It is luxiourous. Minky always seems perfect for the backing to a baby quilt. But what about quilting with it? It can be a nightmare for a machine quilter. Here's my experience with minky and some tips that hopefully will help you in using minky successfully.

I have treid to quilt a quilt with minky on the front (only in some areas) and also on the back of the quilt -- very difficult and I would not recommend using minky on the front. It shifts a lot and because it has quite a bit of stretch in one direction it's difficult to use in a quilt block. It's also very thick so any seams can get really bulky.

I have had customer quilts and a few of my own that have had minky for the backing. There's nothing quite like the feel of it, but it also can be a pain in the you know where to work with.

One time I put it on my longarm and had the stretch going horizontally (top to bottom). I pulled my tension tight and tighter and tighter. I used my clamps on the edges to pull it tight also. The result: when that quilt came off the machine it literally bounced back about 3 inches and the top became all puffy -- not a good result!

Another time I had minky on the back and was trying to do a more detailed pattern. It kept getting little tucks in the back.

I've tried using a basting spray -- that only messed with my tension and caused some skipped stitches.

I've found the most successful way to use minky on the back is to use a fairly loose pattern. You can cross over lines but if the quilting is spaced too tightly it will mess up the back. The clamps on the edges need to be putting just enough tension on the backing and batting to hold it in place but not to stretch it at all. Also, the stretch is best if it runs vertically not horizontally, this is because you can better control the stretch with the side clamps. If you are not working with more than 3 or 4" on the edges you will find that the minky wants to curl. So a wider backing is better and gives you more to clamp on to. The batting that works best is one that is fairly thin -- no fat batts.

This quilt pictured has a flannel top, minky back and Hobbs 80/20 batting. I didn't have more than about 2 inches on the edges. It wanted to curl especially at the bottom so I had to carefully stitch down the edges as I quilted and rolled the quilt up on the take up roller. My pattern was just double circles of different sizes. When I took it off, it has a little puffiness on the top but overall it turned out really well.