Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Surprising Design

 A neighbor, Judy, trusted me to quilt a pretty top she'd made. I love the  warm creams and beiges and soft whites she used. The use of similar values is called "low-volume", with no single fabric drawing attention to itself over the others.

I hung her patchwork on the curtain rod we've installed in our quilt room to observe it for a while. Judy didn't direct me to quilt it in a particular manner, so after looking it over, I scribbled some design ideas onto scratch paper.

When I loaded the top onto the machine and began quilting last week, I questioned whether I'd matched the style of quilting to the style of the top. Too contemporary? Too "scribbly"? I kept going, hoping it would  meet Judy's expectations.

Is it just me, or do other longarmers find "magic" happens when you finish a quilt and unpin it from the frame? While the layers are pulled tight, you see it flat, in two dimensions. Suddenly, when the tension is off and the fabric is allowed to relax, the work is so much more beautiful. In three dimensions, it blooms with texture.
It comes alive!

Judy B's half-square triangle quilt

It more than met Judy's expectations! And when we threw it out across her bed, I discovered a secondary design which seems should have been obvious to me before I ever began to quilt. Can you see the 'circles' formed by the arcs around the bubbles?

I will look for opportunity to quilt this design again.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Enthusiasm and Encouragement

It's so encouraging to return a finished quilt to a client and see their eyes light up! We've heard such enthusiastic responses to the work we've done.

Yesterday an employee at a local quilt shop saw a small quilt I'm finishing up and told me how nice the quilting was. 

"You do that with a computer program, right?"

Wow. No. We work freehand. But that was really complimentary. If someone took time to look it over, they'd see that there are no exact lookalikes. No swirl or swoop or loop looks perfectly identical to another. 

In our first weeks of longarm quilting, I spent a good deal more time on the machine than did Tom. He continued to finish the carpentry on our quilting room and worked at another obligation which required a good deal of his efforts. But once he began to quilt, he didn't waste time. He jumped in and learned the ropes.

We've done several practice or client quilts as a team (only with specific permission from said clients did we both put our work into the same quilt. as styles are bound to vary between two people). And I've done a number of quilts by myself. Yesterday I finished piecing a small quilt that Tom will quilt on his own. He planned the semi-custom quilting, chose the thread color and made good progress on it before I dragged him off to Eugene Modern Quilt Guild last night.

(Speaking of quilt guild, I suspected he was going to "break the glass ceiling" at that guild, as I've never seen or heard of a male participating with this group; but we were told he wasn't the first. Another man used to attend before I became involved at EMQ.)

 Here is the quilt Tom started quilting yesterday. His design, his choice of thread. It's coming along nicely.

This may give a little idea of the difference those quilting stitches can make in the finished product. I finished this one a few days ago.The patchwork is nice, colorful, fun. But add some decorative stitches and you have another element of interest, not to mention the practicality of attaching the "sandwich" of quilt top, batting (warmth and loft) and back.

Do you have a quilt top needing finishing? We'd like to be your quilters.