Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Memorial Quilt: Firefighters Family

I was given a large amount of material for these quilts. These quilts are made for two 5 year old twin boys whose father (a firefighter) passed away.

In the basket of materials I was given were t-shirts, mens white vests, bandanas, football jerseys, sports shorts - a whole lot of materials that you would perhaps never dream would go so well together into a quilt. I mixed all the different materials together in their color groups and they look amazing.

The family requested a large bold patriotic design and for the quilts to be similar.

(The quilt design is adapted from the Stars & Strips pattern found on McCalls Quilting.

The entire quilt from the front to the back to the binding is made from the clothing. The project did take me a longer longer than I had planned. But I think it was utterly worth it. The firefighter was an owner in a local bar - so the back of the quilts are styled in the way that you might find signs and registration plates tacked on a sports bar wall. Scattered - but with a purpose. A large proportion of the backs are made from his bandanas - cut into quarters and sewn on point.

Various badges and emblems from the t-shirts are also sewn to the front of the quilts. 


Also - my favorite part of the quilts is the denim horseshoes - taken from the pockets of his jeans.

The stars and stripes section of the quilt fit perfectly on a queen sized bed. 

The biggest shocker for me with the project is how I quilted the quilts. No fancy quilting. Just simple in the ditch.

And of course some matching pillows which have his football jersey number on the back.

And while I enjoyed taking these quilts for a photo shoot at my local fire station with some not too shabby firemen - I have to admit that I got rather teary when I was sewing on the labels for these quilts. A wonderful family man - a man who saved and protected - lost all too soon. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My First Portrait Quilt - in progress.

I have wanted to make a portrait quilt for a long time now - but how to go about it? I have books - but it has seemed totally intimating. But thanks to Luke for guiding me through the initial steps look what I have made - I'll show you how it all came together.

Here is the photo I wanted to use. 
I know it is blurry and it is an old photo - from June of 2012 but I love it. I love the look on Bunny #1's face & I love the movement in her hair.

Guess what Bunny #1's favorite color is .....

I love how the hair is starting to come together.

And here it is finished (above) but I just was not happy with the eyes. The left one pops but the right one seems lost.

So I went off the grid and started to experiment - adjusting the eyes ....

... and I finally finished on this version of things. I'm so pleased with it. You can see how big it is too - it is lying on a 24 x 36" cutting mat. A HUGE thank you to Luke for showing me how he constructs portraits - it was more than helpful to be walked through the process in person.

Now I just have to make the back for this quilt which I intend to make out of her old pajamas .... yes I've kept them all waiting to find the perfect project for them (I don't know how my husband puts up with me!!!)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Memory Quilt: Toddler Dresses

How lucky am I to be working with these pretty dresses!!

Such cute details on each one. 

Urm - someone stole my camera .... (Bunny #3)

How to include all these lovely details in the project!

I have already begun to start the process of deconstructing these dresses and my eldest said "Why are you cutting these up - they are too pretty to be cut up." And I have to sort of agree with her - yet I intend to do them justice!

The ticket is for cushion for the mom's bed & a quilt for the youngest girl of 4. I have many many ideas. Stay tuned to see what becomes of these.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Keep a Scrapbook: Ideas & Sketches for Free Motion Quilting

When I find a quilting pattern I like I scribble a version into my sketch book (emphasis on scribble - if anyone saw my sketchbook their opinion on my artistic talents would be very poor!) - beside my scribble I put the name of the designer, book and a page number if applicable. As well as my scribbles I also cut out designs I see done by other quilters and stick them in.

Personally I feel that your style of free motion quilting will be individual - regardless of the pattern you use - as we all have different hand writing - so we too will all have different quilting styles. I'm not too focused on being original - because as far as I can figure out every idea I have ever had has been done before!! But I am focused on being good at what I do - and sadly the only way to get better at anything is by practice. (Gosh how dull is that!)

If you are focused on getting better at free motion quilting using a sketch book is a really great way to help you practice patterns and record ideas. You can take it anywhere - stick anything in it - scrawl in a way that no one will understand (that's me!) - and it doesn't matter - because it is to record your inspiration and ideas. When you flick back through it you will be amazed at how many ideas are there - it is always the first thing I reach for when I am stuck as to how to start a quilt.

If I think about how much I have improved in confidence as well as technical and ability in 9 months since getting Freddie - it makes me feel mildly warm and fuzzy. Teri's words 'practice, practice and practice' are still ring in my ears - and it is true - it doesn't get easier overnight - but just keep going, keep practicing and the possibilities are endless. The only way to get better is by practice and drawing the designs over and over again - it will all help you when you eventually bring your material to your machine and quilt with confidence.  

 Notes for designs on Maria's Curve Quilt

As a quilter (can I say that now?) I feel like every pattern I look at makes me think 'ooh that would make a nice quilt' - keeping notes and drawing patterns help me remember all the inspiration and ideas that spring into my little head.

My sketchbook scribbles are much too messy to share - but check out LuAnn Kessi's website - she shares so many of her sketches with all of us - they are gorgeous. She also wrote an article in Machine Quilting all about keeping a Design Sketchbook.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Scrap Buster: Splatastic Scraps

One of the things I wanted Luke to help me with was how to make the materials I use (old clothes) become more interesting - for my designs and quilts to be more innovative - and perhaps on occassion less traditional. I started unloading my huge stash of clothes waiting to be recreated into something wonderful - when Luke asked if I kept scraps - me? keep scraps? - you could almost see him gag when I showed him how much of my scraps I kept! His theory was why use the good stuff when we could use the scraps.

I couldn't argue with him - so we set about sewing the white and blue scraps into 'splats' (my eloquent name for them).

Little blue pieces (above) all sewn together turn into a blue splat (below.)

From these splats we cut 2.5" strips and pieced traditional log-cabin blocks. I thought it was really interesting how when you start to make a structured block from this random splat it all comes together & the little scraps all sewn together look very purposeful - as if you have almost meant to put each scrap where it is. Up close it looks random - but step back and the pattern becomes very clear.

I particularly like all the whites together. I would be happy to make a whole quilt from white scraps like this.

During the process of making my splats I experimented with sewing the seams the wrong way and instead of sewing bits together - sewing little splat patches onto big splats just with a running stitch. I really like the effect it has of making the surface texture of the blue fabric more interesting.

My finished block which I will become the center of a pretty quilt in the near future.

Now I just need to find time to sew all of my scraps together in this way to make them all re-useable fabric pieces ....

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Luke Haynes

I haven't made much progress with any of my projects because I've been too busy hanging out with this guy (Luke Haynes) who has take a few days to come and give me some guidance. His quilts are VERY cool - you can see more of his work on his website www.lukehaynes.com

I first noticed Luke Haynes some years back. This is the first of his quilts I ever saw (below.) (I love this quilt!)

Luke doesn't usually travel with his quilts - but this time he was (lucky me) - so I got my own private quilt show - which was really cool - and I got to ask lots of boring questions like 'what stitch length do you use' - to which he rolled his eyes!

I love love love the detail on the jeans in this quilt. 

And Bunny #1 insisted on giving her own quilt show which Luke humored very well.

She was very descriptive about how she made each quilt.

And then Luke showed her his quilts and I was blown away by the questions she asked and how interested she was. It was so cute and Luke was a bit of a superstar for going with it it all so well!

I fear I'm not going to have time for anything at all (like I had lots of spare time before!) as this guy has provided me with so much 'homework' and ideas I am drowning! But how lucky am I to be hob-knobbing with the professionals!

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