Monday, May 29, 2017

Shot Cotton Star Quilt - planning the quilting

As a drafter, I prefer to use my computer to experiment with different quilting design layouts before I start stitching.  My motto has always been "If I can draw it, I can quilt it".

Once I came up with a design I was happy with for this Shot Cotton Star quilt, I then had to figure out the most efficient way to quilt it, with the fewest stops and starts possible.  That's what all the numbers and arrows are for - kind of a "road map" for quilting.  If I follow this diagram without taking any wrong turns, I should be able to quilt all of the main arcs around the stars (traveling through the stars) in one continuous path.  Of course, I'll have to break thread for each of the cross-hatched diamonds.
(I'm not sure about the piano key design around the outside edge yet - I'll figure that out after I get the inside quilted.)

First, I pinned all three layers of my quilt sandwich to my styrofoam basting wall, then I marked the quilt top with a white ceramic mechanical pencil and a mylar template that I made for drawing the curves. If I had the correct size curved ruler, I would skip the marking and use my ruler foot on George, but I don't... so marking is the next best option (assuming I can stay on the lines when I'm stitching... we'll see how that goes...)

Once all the marking was done, I basted the three layers together with safety pins, and now it's ready to quilt!  Check back next week and see how far I get with the quilting.

Monday, May 22, 2017


It's been a busy week!  I finished the 4" Christmas Star blocks (all 68 of them) in a few long sewing sessions.  Now all the blocks for this quilt are finished, and I hope to start assembling them into a quilt top soon.

 Aren't these little guys just the cutest?

I would have had the assemby started already, but I got side-tracked...  I'm trying to decide how I want to quilt this one...

,,, the wheels are turning and I can't wait to start quilting this one on George.
Check back next week to see what I come up with.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Christmas Star Quilt

Yes, I know it's only May.  I have a few Christmas quilts on my to-do list, so I'm getting an early start.
This quilt was published on-line as a quilt-along called Oh My Stars! by Thought & Found.  It's perfect for the fabrics I have to work with (from my daughter).

The quilt-along calls for many different types of star blocks, in three different sizes.  I'm sticking with the three different size blocks and the original layout, but decided to make them all Sawtooth Star blocks.  Keeps it simpler and works better with the amount of fabric I have on hand.

I finished the 12" stars and the 8" stars at a retreat this past winter and now I'm working on the 4" stars.

The flying geese units for these 4" star blocks finish at 1" x 2" and I have MANY of them to trim.  My little Quilt In A Day Flying Geese ruler works great for this, but tends to slip.  I saw this trick on Pinterest and it works great!  Just put a little Nexcare Flexible Clear First Aid tape on the back of the ruler.  No more slipping!!!  Yay!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

What's New? George?

It has been a LONG time since I've done a blog post and I've made some changes to my business plan.  As I approach my 60th Birthday (gasp!) I ask myself "how do I really want to spend my time?"  - and the answer is "CREATING".  My passion is the creative process, not worrying about how to entice buyers to buy my work.  It takes an enormous amount of time (for me at least) to photograph a quilt, edit the pics, write the descriptions, etc. etc. etc....  and quite frankly, I don't enjoy it.  I would rather spend my time creating.

I analyzed my customer base and found that the majority of my clients find me through word-of-mouth/personal referrals.  Yet I was spending so much time on my on-line listings.  Obviously, that's not the most efficient use of my time, so that's why you have heard and seen less of me on-line over the past year.

I am still actively quilting, and I will continue to do so.  However, there won't be as many new listings in my Etsy shop.  I will post quick pics (unedited) and updates here on my blog from time to time, so you can still follow along and see what's new in my Cotton Cellar.  Some of what you see might be for sale, some might be custom orders for clients, and some might simply be quilts I'm making just for the pure joy of making them, for me or my family.  If you see something you are interested in, or want something made, don't hesitate to contact me and ask.  I love hearing your comments and questions!

I've made some changes to my studio space lately too, as you might have guessed from the title of this post.  I finally gave in to my years of dreaming and bought an APQS George.  I have always wanted a longarm machine, but don't have the space for a frame.  I'm used to quilting on a domestic machine, so George is the perfect choice for me - the benefits of a longarm machine, in a smaller footprint.  We are getting along nicely and getting to know each other.  Of course, that meant a serious cleaning and reorganizing of my studio to make space for everything, but we all need to do that once in a while anyway.  George just gave me a good reason to "get it done" now.

Here are some pics of my new "roomie" and the first 2 quilts we've done together.  (To give her some much earned credit, the fabric selection and most of the piecing on the Hourglass Quilt was done by my daughter.  She started it several years ago and asked me to finish it for her.  She's a young working mom and elementary teacher who hopes to get back into quilting one of these days when her life calms down a little.)  Both quilts are custom orders for one of my long time customers.  This makes 14 quilts I've made for her over the years...  hopefully there will be many more.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Caribbean Blue Ombre Quilt - Update

Mother Nature was much more cooperative today and I was able to take some outdoor pictures of my latest quilt.  No edits on these, other than a little cropping.  The colors are pretty good for a change.  (Although the slight rippling along the top edge of the quilt bugs me - the quilt is flat - that's just where I pinned it to the styrofoam panel.)

Click here and here for all the details about this quilt.  Today's post is just pics.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Tasting Table Tuesday - A Finished Ombre Quilt

Last week I shared the beginnings of my Ombre Quilt.  I finished it yesterday, and attempted a photo-shoot today.

It was so cold and windy, I just knew I wouldn't have any luck with pictures outdoors, so I had to make do with the brightest spot I could find inside, and that still wasn't very bright.

It's hard to get the colors to look true, but this is the closest I could get.  It really is the most gorgeous shade of aqua/turquoise - honest!

That's why I'm naming this quilt Caribbean Blue.

(click here to see the aqua and all the other colors in the Ombre line on Moda's website.  They take much better pictures than I do!)

It still amazes me that this entire quilt top is made from one individual fabric!  The gradient effect is magical.

To begin the quilting process, I threaded my Juki with Smoke MonoPoly and stitched-in-the-ditch of each seam to help stabilize the quilt sandwich.  This really helped keep the layers from shifting, since all the quilting was in one direction.

Then I switched to Real Orange So Fine #50 thread, and stitched parallel lines 1/2" apart, diagonally across the quilt (with my walking foot), curving the lines as they crossed each sphere to further enhance the 3D effect.  It isn't the "spinning" effect I had hoped for, but I still love the dimension it gives.

Since I used Elmer's Washable School Glue to baste the circles in place, and a Water Soluble Blue Marker to mark the quilting lines, I had no choice but to soak the quilt when I finished the quilting.  I have washed my quilts after binding, but never before binding.  I blocked it onto a styrofoam board and left it on my screened porch to dry.

It turned out so square and flat, that I'm now sold on blocking!  Yes, it takes a little more time, and I doubt I'll do it to every quilt I make, but it's definitely worth doing for wall quilts that will hang for display.

I used Kona Caribbean for the binding, and added some Bright Orange Batik Piping as a "zinger".

The backing was a piece I picked up from my local quilt shop, called "Modern Roses" by Stephanie Ryan for Moda.  It's a perfect compliment to the front, don't you think?

Until next Tuesday...

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Tasting Table Tuesday - An Ombre Quilt

I started collecting Ombre fabrics quite a while ago.  Their subtle gradation of color is so appealing to me.  I have been hesitant to cut into any of them though, because I just couldn't decide what to do with them.

A few weeks ago, a friend showed me a picture of a quilt that just blew my mind.  It looked like it had three dimensional spheres on it.  I couldn't get that quilt out of my mind, so I ordered the pattern.  It's called Orbital View by Mary Lou Hallenbeck of H.D.Designs (here is a link to the shop I bought it from).

The pattern calls for 4 different colors of ombre fabrics.  I had this gorgeous piece of Aqua Ombre by V and Co. and opted to just use the one color.

I used the pattern to make my blocks, but altered the layout as well.  Here is my variation of the Orbital View Quilt, with the blocks all laid out on the floor, ready to assemble.

Every time I look at this, I'm amazed that the entire quilt contains just ONE fabric!  The color gradation does all the work.

I can't wait to get this all sewn together so I can start quilting it.  My plan is to quilt it so the spheres look like they're spinning.  Hope it works!