Friday, April 2, 2010


I'm a professional quilter! Kinda!

A friend of mine asked me if she could commission me to make a baby quilt for her friend. She would pay for the fabric and my time, and I would happily make a quilt.

About monkeys! This is the sweetest thing I've ever made. Take a look.

A rarity for me, I actually followed a pattern to make this. Kinda. The original pattern, found in this book, created by this designer, was too adorable to pass up. However, after consultation with my client (!!), it was decided that not all the squares needed to be monkeys. And, during the course of our ramblings at the fabric store, we decided it was best if all the sashing were the same fabric. So, tweaks were made.

Instead of nine monkeys on the quilt, there would be five squares of monkeys and four nine-patch squares. After a comment from my friend about wishing there were letters, in addition to the numbers from the pattern, quilted into the finished product, I decided the squares of the pieced blocks would make perfect places for the letters of the alphabet.

Also, I added a number and a banana applique in a fit of last-minute inspiration. (Read: Oh crap, I have to cover this up somehow without taking the whole quilt apart!) I think they bring an extra something to the quilt, don't you?

Finally, I'd like to leave you with this series, photographed when the monkeys were still under construction. This illustrates how the difference between us and ninjas truly isn't that great.



Thursday, March 4, 2010

Back...for now

**squeak squeak...

Get out the oil can, because my blogging mind is rusty. It's been so long, dear internet, with your cool anonymity and small sense of accomplishment. I've taken you for granted. Left you hanging, bereft of any stories I could give.

I blame facebook. And a promotion at work. And NaNoWriMo.

Life just gets in the way, sometimes. Sometimes i wonder, a lot lately, to tell the truth, if I don't try to spread myself too thing. Not that I have a lot of commitments to honor, but that I have a lot of passions in my life to pursue. I've begun to think that I'm spending a little bit of time here and there on a lot of them, but perhaps not mastering any. I feel guilty for taking time away from writing for quilting, but if I leave off quilting too much, I find my mind wandering back to it, unbidden. Too bad there are things like a job and a husband keeping me busy with the rest of my time, or I could devote myself to these other passions more completely.

Alas, I've grown quite accustomed to having an income. And I've grown pretty accustomed to have a husband in my life to distract me. I've tried meting out my time to all of these parts of my life in small portions, but I'm not a small portions kind of gal. I tend to take on most things in giant gulps, rather than small dainty sips. I delve in, immersing myself in something until I come up for a little bit of air. Maybe for now, instead of trying to aportion a part of my day or week to all of these things, I need to tackle them one at a time. So, for now, at least, I'm thinking of pursuing a NaNoWriMo mentality for all. This month, quilting. Next month, writing. Rinse repeat.

Before we delve into the caverns of what is being done now, I'd like to show off what I finished last year. Behold, the Lily Quilt. I shipped it off at the end of last year for a competition, one that I should be hearing back on any day now. The competition was based around a challenge fabric, and was meant to follow the them of memories. For me, the lily and its strong scent bring back memories of the first flowers my husband ever gave me when we were dating--stargazer lilies. These weren't your standard flowers. He had heard me talking about how much I loved them, and picked them out for just that purpose. When we were married, almost two years ago now, it had to be lilies that I carried in my bouquet.

The real challenge with this quilt wasn't putting into practice a newly acquired applique technique; it was using embroidery to the greatest effect in the center of the flowers and along the petals. In the process, I found the quilt top bunching underneath the weight of so many stitches, despite the stabilizer I used. The challenge came in quilting out the puckers and folds created in the process. In tend, I'm fairly pleased with the result!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


The background is finished on the Lily Quilt, as is the fusing of the stabilizer and machine applique. Now all that stands between me and quilting bliss is the embroidery of those details that will make these lilies look like, well, lilies.

Before I went at the quilt with thread and a dream, I decided to do a test run to make sure I know that I'm achieving the results I want with my embroidery technique, and also that the stabilizer I'm using will be stable enough to keep the fabric from puckering. Out came the ugly fabric I know will never be used for any other purpose. Out came the scrap batting and stabilizer.

So it began. I did find a certain amount of fabric puckering did occur under the weight of all those stitches. What to do? I couldn't put too much more stabilizer under there, or I would find it hard to quilt later on. Maybe, just maybe, it would sort itself out when I quilted around it. I gave it a try.

Presto! It DID work itself out in the quilting. I did find that there were directions that the stitches could go in to ease the puckers out. But I feel I can go into the embroidery of the real deal without too much fear.

Here I go!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Lilies, Revised

Last week, I put together the background and lilies for the big Lily Quilt. But, I wasn't happy with how the background was working with the lilies. So, off to the quilt shop (Darn!) I went to find some fabrics better suited for the background of the quilt. This past weekend I futzed around with the gorgeous batiks I found and the background to get a more pleasing look. I think I finally struck the balance I was looking for.

Originally, I was trying too hard to match the colors that I found in the background of the original photo. To fix the design of the quilt, I had to put away the photo and focus only on design, not making the quilt look like the photo. What? Me? Growing? Nah.

I also added an internal border to the quilt, which immediately added depth. By having the petals of the lilies overlap this border, it looks like they're popping right out of the quilt. Presto!

I've ironed on a stabilizer and done the machine stitching around the edges of the applique pieces. There are still miles to go before I sandwich this puppy together with some batting and call it a quilt. I need to do the embroidery around the edges of the petals, as well as where they intersect in the center to create some stamens and pollen.

But it's starting to take shape...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Lilies Tryout

Every art quilter I've talked to heavily emphasizes how instrumental a design wall is to their process. The idea is that you need to be able to see your design up on a wall, take a step back, and look at it from a distance to truly view it as a whole, as a piece.

Once again, my limited space handicaps my design capabilities. There is neither wall space nor floor space to install a design wall. Here is my evolutionary adaptation to this difficulty: As part of the design process, I will photograph progress and put it up on my computer. That way, I can let it sink in over time, and the problem areas should begin to stick out at me.

Here's my first picture of progress on the Lilies quilt. Keep in mind that I will add details to the lilies, including some embroidery to show the pollen tube and stamen, as well as to distinguish the petals from one another.

The real question is, what do you think of the background? Anything jumping out at you? Do these pieces work together, or do any of them need to be changed?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Last post, I wrote of a line drawing I had created to use as a pattern. I've posted the drawing here. So far, I have created the flower applique, and am in the process of figuring out the background.

The original photo I'm using for inspiration has some dirt and some leaves, so I'm thinking I'll use some browns and greens to piece together the background. In my mind they'll be curvy pieces, which means I'll be learning a new technique: piecing curvy lines! More on this later!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Quilter's ADHD

I will try to keep my self-chastising to a minimum.

It has been too long since I have written here. Bad Megan!


I’ve been suffering from a case of Quilter’s ADHD. I have grand designs and plans for half a dozen or more quilts. But, when it comes to carrying these out to completion, I find my mind wandering in its enthusiasm. All those little details that would enable me to carry out my design hound me with the possibilities. Self-doubt plagues me, and I hesitate.

For example. I picked up a quilt I began last year with the intent of entering it in the Quilters Treasure challenge. Last year, I changed course and submitted the Illuminated Grove quilt instead. This year, I picked it up with the intent of finishing it, now that I have some embroidery knowledge in hand. Still, I’m stuck on how best to represent the irises. I have some instruction on how to create them in the background and middle ground. But, there are some honkin irises that I want to put in the foreground and have yet to figure out the best way to do so.

In the meantime, I’ve been contemplating this year’s competition with Quilters Treasure, especially since I have the fabric for the challenge. I found a picture that inspired me greatly last week, and have since created a line drawing to make into a pattern. Last Friday, I found a blueprint shop nearby that was able to enlarge this drawing into a 30”X36” pattern. I feel like a whole new world has opened up for me, beyond the capabilities of the local Office Max.

Flying high off the ease with which I created this pattern, I cast aside last year’s quilt in favor of starting on this new quilt. Now, however, I have reached a snag with this quilt, and my mind is beginning to wander again.

Last week I found myself ordering a pattern for a whole other quilt online. Because I need to add more work to the queue! This isn’t just another project, either. Completing the project will involve learning a new quilting process all together.

I need a quilter’s intervention.

I need to focus on one project, weather the ups and downs, and finish it before moving on to the next. Otherwise, I will continue accumulating unfinished projects, which is something I have managed to avoid until now. So, for now, my goal is to finish the quilt for this year’s challenge competition. Then I can circle back and work on the one I began last year.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Future Quilts?

I've been carrying my digital camera with me on my walks to the train station in the morning, and just about everywhere else. When you keep your eyes open, inspiration is everywhere. Like these locus trees on my morning walk. They're beautiful in their wildness. They don't follow the rules. Their branches grow here, there, wherever they please.

I love the moss and tiny branches sprouting out of the larger tree. This green is wild, beautiful green next to the luscious brown of the trunk. I can see this making a beautiful quilt.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Purple Coneflower

I'm still catching up on unfinished quilts. This is one I picked up last weekend and finished during the week. The top was created during the International Quilt Festival in a class by Wendy Butler Burns on machine applique. I had already finished the top and fused it to Decor Bond, which is a stabilizer. The stabilizer is needed to keep the fabric from puckering up when you machine stitch over the seams. Last weekend, I did this machine stitching and discovered it's not as easy as I thought it would be to keep a steady line with a free-motion zig zag stitch. But, I soldiered on.

In retrospect, I think this quilt would have benefited from a border or two. However, I had a few roadblocks on that front. I didn't feel I had just the right fabric, for one. Mainly, though, adding a border would mean patching in more Decor Bond, and this was a process I had not done before. To put the binding on without a border, I didn't need to add any more of the stabilizer; so I took the easy way out. In the end, it's still pretty, and that's all I need.

There's something nice about knowing that the piece you're working on is not for anyone in particular, is not for a competition, and therefore will not be judged. This quilt was something that I could learn on, and something that I wanted to finish to please myself. I took this opportunity to experiment with some variegated silk threads I bought at the festival. They were even more luscious and beautiful than I thought they would be! Many of the threads turned out to be thicker than I anticipated, but the thicker thread creates a beauty of its own. I'm very happy with the way this quilt turned out!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Embroidered Landscape!

Now that I have the baby quilts behind me for now (Stop procreating, people!), it's time to turn my attention to finishing some quilts that have been waiting patiently in line.

I turned to this task last weekend and realized that I have no fewer than half a dozen quilts in some stage of construction. They all need some love, and I'm tending to them each in turn.

Last weekend I paid some attention to this piece that I started at the International Quilt festival in April of this year. It was pretty well done. I just needed to trim it square, put a backing on it, stitch around the edges, and frame it. Done, done, done, and done!

The trees, leaves, grass, and flowers were all created using either a zig zag or straight stitch. You lower the feed dogs on the machine, put the pedal to the metal, and GO! The process is so liberating; it feels like you can do no wrong. You're not coloring inside the lines, you're making the lines. It's beautiful and freeing. Now I'm looking at thread in a whole other light; not as an accent to the picture, but as a means to create the picture. I think a new addiction has been born!