Saturday, March 26, 2016

Customer Quilts - Around the Twist

I love getting customer quilts!   I especially like getting quilts from my favourite Mummy!  No matter what I do, she always thinks my quilting is spectacular and I couldn't have done a better job.  I find this very good for my ego!  She also lets me do whatever I want to do on her quilts.

(edited April 11, 2016) Here are the finished quilts!  With binding.

I've included a few pictures of the very first of these 3 quilts I quilted for her.  I quilted this one on my Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen.  I did it at one sitting and am very pleased with how it turned out.

 The rings were stitched in the ditch with a circular feather in each centre block.  
I quilted in the background around the rings with simple feathers.

The 2nd and 3rd quilts arrived in the mail recently.  I booked time on my machine (I don't quilt unless I book the time on my calendar!) and loaded the first one.  There is a slight problem when you put blocks on point and use a bias edge on the setting triangles.  I'll post something soon about putting blocks on point and not have bias edges on the outside.
The borders were sewn on well and the first quilt was fairly smooth and flat.  I chose to quilt each of the brown and the blue rings with a different feather fill.  
 I quilted simple curls in the inner border and a filled feather in the border.  

I stitched a ribbon meander in the background. 

The 3rd quilt in this series was a bit of a challenge.  The quilt looked square and when I loaded it the borders were nice and even.  The problem became obvious at the bottom left corner of the body of the quilt.  Mum had managed to sew on the two borders to keep the quilt nice and even, but the blocks were quite full at the bottom left corner.  Instead of doing something in each block, I chose to quilt an all over design.  I ended up with lots and lots of pins in the quilt to hold the blocks fairly flat and keep the inner quilt from getting all "wonky".

I started by quilting the inner border to keep the quilt square.  Simple "bumps" along the length.  

I then moved into the centre of the quilt and quilted bump flowers all over.

I finished in the border with a new (to me) bump feather.  

Monday, March 21, 2016

FINISH #6 - Ugly Feathers

I'm calling this my Ugly Feathers quilt.   It's ugly and it's got feathers!


I purchased two lengths of "modern" fabric a few years ago to put into my daughter's quilt.  It was a Many Trips Around the World, and the fabrics just didn't work for the quilt top.  I used them in the backing.

The leftovers of these two fabrics have been in my stash yelling at me to use them. They were into 2 1/2" strips and sewn together Jelly Roll Style.  They were not enough to make a decent size quilt.  I added some strips of a neutral green and finally got the thing layered.

I quilted a variety of feathers in each of the green strips and a repeat of 6 different designs in 2" strips.

I don't have the time or the inclination or the thumb strength to hand stitch the binding to the back of the quilt.  I machine stitch the binding to the back of the quilt.  I bring it to the front and machine stitch it in place.  All done very quickly.

Thanks to my model, Charles for the picture.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Finish 2016 - #3, #4 and #5

It's called use it up and get it done!

I am teaching a Panto Basics class this week at the WonderFil Threaducation Centre and I needed to round up some quilts to be quilted by the class participants.  In this class we load up a quilt and have the students quilt a "real" quilt using a selection of Paper Pantograph patterns. 

In my attempt to FINISH in 2016, I wanted to use up some of my scraps.  I am moving towards batiks and hand dyed fabrics rather than prints.  So, the prints are getting used, one way or another.

I started by sorting out my printed scraps.  Some were narrow strips and some were 1/2 meter or more.  I got out 4 bins and threw everything that had a blue, blue/purple or black into one tub. Everything red-pink and a bit of orange went into the 2nd tub.  Everything yellow-brown went into the 3rd tub and all the greens into tub #4.

I started with the green tub.  

I grabbed a couple of strips of fabric and started sewing them together. The great thing here is that seam allowance doesn't really matter as long as it is consistent.

I kept sewing strips together and when I got to the end of one piece, would just cut off the remainder.

 Chain sewing works well.

Here is where I got excited about the process, I just kept sewing and forgot to take pictures!  I added fabric until the piece measured more than my desired block this case I wanted 12 1/2" blocks.

If you are interested in this technique, it goes by a couple of names.  Check out the links for more information.  Mile a Minute and Crumb Piecing

Anything that I cut off the block, was the start of another block.  You'll notice that some of the blocks are very simple strips and others include more involved piecing.  

Once the blocks were all sewn, I laid them out on the floor and rearranged them until nothing really jumped out at me!  I then used a 1/4" seam allowance and sewed them together.  This quilt is 48" x 60" which is a nice size for a cuddle quilt.

I always cut my binding as soon as the quilt top is done.  I have many horror stories of no binding fabric for finished quilts.  So, now I cut my binding strips as soon as the top is done and sew them together and pin them to the quilt top.  They don't get lost that way!

Next up was the backing.  As I was using up my scraps, I pulled the biggest piece of green fabric from the bin.  Not much in that department, so I grabbed the brown from the yellow-brown bin.  I sewed the brown and the green strips together with seams down both sides and split the brown in half.  The backing wasn't big, I had to scrounge more.  

My daughter gave me the green dotted fabric last night when I told her my problem.  So now the backing is way too big, but I'll have plenty to add to my scrap bin when I trim everything up.

The red quilt is much the same thing....way too much backing now, but once it's trimmed I have more to add to my scrap bin!  This quilt measures 45 x 50".  I simply cut 5 1/2" strips.  Sewed them all together (most were not width of fabric cuts) and then cut into 45" lengths.  I arranged them (sort of) into a pleasing arrangement and sewed the strips together.  Super easy.

The Bright Striped quilt measures 48" x 48".  I've had this striped fabric hanging around for a long time.  I cut it into squares and sewed them back together for a simple yet striking quilt.  I had sewn this top a while ago and I think I planned to add a border.  But since I needed something for Thursday, the top is done!  Backing and binding are ready to go.

I plan to add a few photos of the finished quilts later (check back next week or after Easter).

Monday, March 14, 2016

Longarm Quilting Retreat at Central Sewing in Edmonton

Woot! Woot!  I am so excited to be invited to Edmonton's Central Sewing (see page 13 in the newsletter) to teach at a Longarm Quilting Retreat.  Read below.  I sound so wonderful!!!!  

Longarm Quilting Retreat with Allison Spence
Spend 2 days learning, designing and creating! The days will include time to explore with paper and pen as well as plenty of stitching time on a Handi Quilter Avante. Allison will give lots of hints and tips to improve your quilting, no matter your skill level. You will go home tired, and excited to get quilting!

Friday April 22, 9am-4pm
  • Go beyond Meander and Loops Learn 5 of the basic shapes of free motion quilting and how to use them in your quilts. Practice stitching the basic shapes and the wide variety of designs that can be created by combining them. Learn how to recognize the basic shapes in any quilt motif and how to recreate them. This will be a full, fun-filled day with lots of time to practice quilting on the machines.

Saturday April 23, 9am-4pm
  • Feather Fun  Learn 3 methods of stitching feathers and have lots of time to practice stitching these fabulous designs. Discover how to create some lovely block, border and background designs and how to create your own style of quilted feathers.

This will be my first foray into teaching outside of Calgary in a long time.  I am looking forward to sharing with a larger group of quilters.

If you have never taken a class with me, here are some things you should know.
  1. I have only one rule in my classes:  ASK QUESTIONS!  I tell students to stop me and ask questions. If I plan to answer in a few minutes, I'll ask them to hold on for a few. Also, I know what I want to say, but sometimes those thoughts don't make it clearly out of my mouth, so I need to be reminded to speak clearly and slowly.
  2. I like my students to have lots of practice.  I do demonstrate techniques on a white board and/or a machine.  I believe that students learn best when they hear the information, when they see the information AND when they practice the information.  So we spend a lot of time with students in front of sewing machines stitching, stitching and stitching.
  3. I generally start with the basics, I want to see what students can already do.  Then we'll move onto more challenging content.  I believe that my job is to teach each student individually and improve his/her skills.  So, some students may be given a bit more information than others.  I want each of my students going home with that "I CAN DO IT" confidence.
  4. I like smaller classes.  I would rather teach two classes of 6-8 than one massive class of 12-16. It doesn't mean that I can't do larger classes, I just prefer the smaller groups with more hands on and individual attention.

Want in on this great weekend at Central Sewing in Edmonton?   Contact them right away as space is limited. South 780-469-1147

Want to plan your own quilting retreat with me?  Contact me directly.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Finding my voice

I've been thinking a lot lately about who I am as a quilter.    I take classes.  I watch videos.  I buy books and magazines and try to practice everything I've learned.  I have been feeling that I'm in danger of loosing who I am as a quilter as I attempt to do what everyone else is doing.

I want to find my own voice.  I want to develop my own style of quilting.  I'm not patient enough to do a lot of ruler work or micro stitching. 

I like quilts that look like there has been a lot of time spent on them but are really quite simple.  When I design quilts it's a result of class ideas that I've taught.  I want to teach sewers and quilters techniques that take their work to new levels.

I like things to look difficult but are easy to accomplish

So, I am going to spend some time looking back at photos of quilts I have done and quilts I have liked at some point in the hope that I will be able to find my quilting voice.

Sunny Lanes Quilt - all over swirls in 4 x 4 blocks, Heavy Metal Swirls in Red and Blue HST
and Ribbon Swirls in Border.

Arabesque, Open Feathers swirls in the light blocks and swirls in the dark blocks add texture to the quilt.

Simple Strips - curls, flowers and leaves. 
Leaves and simple Curled Flowers define the light blocks and the darker sections.  
The border of this quilt was a combination of the Curled Flowers and Leaves used in the blocks.
All over swirls is a simple way to quilt and add texture.
Alternating Feathers, Figure 8 Loops and Straight lines emphasized the woven effect of the quilt.

Heavy Metal Quilting and all over background fill (in the white around the blue star)

I love feathers.  I want to work more on my feathers and fine tune my technique.

More background fill
Feathered blocks

So, there's some samplings of my style of quilting.  I need to pull out some more quilt tops and get to work.....FINDING MY VOICE.