Monday, December 16, 2019

Long Arming Christmas Quilts

"It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas"

While most people spent the last months of 2019 thinking about how to decorate their homes for the holidays, my decorating thoughts have been all about how to finish my customers' holiday quilts! Stacks of quilts big and small passed through my studio these past 2 months. I felt like the Head Elf after so many marathon sessions, and all--but my own--were finished as promised. You know how the cobbler's children always go without shoes. Mine will get finished, but perhaps not in time for Christmas this year.

Would you like to see some of the Lovelies I've been working on?

Testing, testing, 1-2-3

With the addition of a new machine, a Handi Quilter Forte, and ProStitcher software this past spring, I've spent my time learning and stitching rather more than blogging. The software has not been intuitive for me so it's been a game of repetition, and learning in increments. Just when I think I've got the software side down, I have hiccups applying it all to my machine. I had a nasty burr on my hook which can happen on any sewing machine, and this caused shredding of thread for weeks before we nailed the cause. (I was in tears trying to figure it out. Thank you Bolts & Quarters Quilt Shop!) After I was back up and running, I seemed to have project after project that required different techniques, and none I felt truly confident with. These pictures represent a lot of growth outside my comfort zone. In retrospect, It's All Good!

So often in the past a quilter would say, "I trust whatever you want to do," and it would feel like the wind had blown through me. But now I think, "Wow! What juicy thing can I do with this quilt?" That means figuring out how to best enhance the customer's work. I ask myself how I can personalize it for the customer--especially if it's a known pattern or kit quilt. Sometimes I'll google to see what other quilters have done. If the stitch design I choose is new to me, I first stitch it out on another piece of fabric (see above) to get a better feel for how my machine will handle it. Sometimes that sample pushes me to change the thread weight up or down. All this before the quilt is even loaded.

Finally, I quilt.

Pine Trees & Snowman: ProStitcher Design Bank

Never have I been asked to quilt a panel, but several came in for Christmas. This customer wanted something more than an edge-to-edge, and still for it to be a functional quilt for children. I took the challenge to do some freehand outlining, , echoing, ghost quilting, and ruler work.

Holiday Glamour and Glitz

This table topper was especially fun to work on once I'd figured out my motifs. I used Auriful mono filament, So Fine, and Fantastico threads. A combination of ProStitcher and ruler work made this top sparkle.

Stipple and meander aren't forbidden words in my studio, but it doesn't take much work to make a quilt more exciting with a simple edge-to-edge design. This square in a square I Spy finished so sweetly with little bees and honey comb!

Still A-Buzz

The digital design world appears to cycle tempting sales through this time of year, and I was sucked in like many other long arm quilters. How cute is this "Under the Blossom" by My Creative Stitches?

The palest blue-green thread made the stitching perfect!

Once I knew I had everything working reliably at the long arm, I would sit nearby and work on other projects at my sewing machine. My ear was always tuned in to the sound of the long arm, and I could pop over and peek if something was amiss.

 I put together this layout while the quilt above was stitching. Another charity quilt ready for quilting.

Holiday Drama

Metallic fabrics have never been in my own wheelhouse, but I seem to get a lot of them from customers. Finding a good thread is a challenge. Add a Minky backing, and the design needs to be something the Minky can handle. Think larger scale, and be ready to spend time tweaking your tension on the Minky. 

This design is also part of the ProSticher library.

 I was very pleased how it still felt fluid with Hobb's 80/20 batting. This combination was far better than others I've tried with Minky.

And yet one more charity quilt was completed while the customer quilt above stitched out. I thought it was uncanny how the colors were so similar.

I do hope some of these quilts have inspired you to think about your own quilting designs or when talking to your long arm quilter. If you're interested in edge-to-edge, custom, or semi-custom work from my studio, find my contact information in the menu at the top.

Come on, Doxie girls.
Let's go sew.

Linking up with~
Monday Making
Pretty Piney
The Clever Chameleon


Barb N said...

You are definitely getting the hang of it - very pretty quilting! Definitely a strong learning curve on these computerized systems! Customers just think you load the quilt and go. What pattern is that pattern name/designer you used on that red fabric? Love it!

Julie said...

Barb, One Song Needle Arts is the designer/company, and it's called Feather Pinwheel. Love this design!

piecefulwendy said...

What beautiful work, Julie, and so much variety! Those blue panels positively glow! I hope you enjoy a wonderful Christmas with you and yours! Maybe your quilts will be done next year; you deserve it after all that beautiful work!

patty a. said...

You have been busy which is good! I can imagine that if I would decide to longarm quilts as a business I would worry if I would have any customers. It sounds like you are doing fine in that department! The different quilt designs you have used are lovely! Your attention to detail will make for return customers!

KaHolly said...

I just love your work! And more community quilts to add to the growing pile!

Anja @ Anja Quilts said...

It sounds like you are having a fun time. I love the tree and snowmen motifs. Merry Christmas.

Kate said...

You've definitely created some gems for your customers!

Dione Gardner-Stephen said...

Beautiful work, it looks like you have been very busy and made quite a number of people very happy! Love the designs you chose and following your reasons too.