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Red Heart Quilt – client quilt

I recently had the privilege of quilting this gorgeous quilt for one of my clients.  The piecing is just gorgeous and the quilt was donated to a charity event/fundraiser.  I quilted the quilt with free motion hearts all over the top.  
Quilt Pieced by Debra B.

 This was such a joy to quilt–check out the close up of the free motion hearts 🙂

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Quilting for Market with Urban Artifacts Fabrics by Leslie Tucker Jenison

So I guess this is part 2 of my Quilt Market preparations posts…The quilting edition!  

I had the opportunity to quilt a couple of quilts for my friend Leslie’s quilt market booth.  I’m going to be brief here…
The first one was an awesome quilt designed by Liberty Worth.  It’s pretty modern and gave me tons of inspiration with the quilting.  Below are pictures:

Putting the binding on…
Quilt designed by Liberty Worth with Urban Artifacts by Leslie Tucker Jenison

Quilt designed by Liberty Worth with Urban Artifacts fabrics by Leslie Tucker Jenison

The next quilt was designed by Allison Chambers of the San Antonio Modern Quilt Guild and was inspired by mid-century modern style.  I love this quilt!  I was aiming to keep the quilting modern but understated and used a blending thread instead of a highly contrasting one.  I did some geometric ruler work with stitch in the ditch on this one.  

Quilt designed by Allison Chambers using Urban Artifacts Fabric by Leslie Tucker Jenison

Quilt designed by Allison Chambers using Urban Artifacts Fabric by Leslie Tucker Jenison
I got to quilt 2 other amazing quilts that were designed by Leslie, but those are patterns that are not yet released, so no pictures of those yet!  I am so blown away by the talent and creativity.  I really wish I could have attended Quilt Market this year, but like I said…life happens.  There’s always next year!

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A little more FMQ

I love the understated look of Superior Threads’ So fine thread for busier quilts.  There’s just enough substance there to make the quilting do its job, but not so much that the quilt is overwhelmed.  


This isn’t a super involved post–I just wanted to share a quilt that some of the ladies in the San Antonio Modern Quilt Guild put together for our past president who moved out of state.  This quilt was designed by Emily Robbins using some of the modern quilt block guides put out by Love Patchwork and Quilting this year.  Cotton + Steel prints were used in combination with various shades of grey.  It’s pretty difficult to see the quilting, but the real star is the quilt design and the fabrics.  

This was the finished quilt prior to the binding being put on.  Love the design, and I think Emily did a great job!

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Quilty friends are the best

I may not have come right out and said this yet, but as I type this, I am 37 weeks pregnant with our first child.  I’m kind of a private person when it comes to this kind of stuff and social media, so there haven’t been any baby bump pictures or ultrasound photographs or “facebook official” posts.   

However…I have to talk about my “tribe”.  The group of people I didn’t even know I needed until I found them.  I also have my church family to lean on and love (thank God for that!), but there is something to be said for your sewing friends that other groups don’t relate to.  

I’m a member of the San Antonio Modern Quilt Guild, and have been for a little over 2 years.  From the first meeting I attended, I looked around the room, and I could feel something different about the group.  It was mostly (I think ALL, then) women.  They were talking about things they made with their own hands, and they were supporting and encouraging each other.  There was laughter and gossip and friendship.  And they were all very different in their own way.  

Sewing can be a very isolating hobby if you don’t have a tribe.  And I didn’t know what I was missing out on until I went to that first meeting.  I immediately joined and can’t believe the friendships I’ve made in that short period of time.  There has been laughter, tears, good times, and bad.  And sometimes there wasn’t any sewing going on during this.  My point here is that sewing/quilting friends are the BEST.  They get it.  You can be talking about your dog dying one minute and the new quilting technique the next, and they don’t bat an eye.  

I feel like I got a little derailed there, so let me get back to my point.  Our MQG has a tradition that someone will head up making a baby quilt for expecting moms in the guild.  So several of the people in the guild got together and put this amazing quilt together.  I love everything about it, and it couldn’t be more perfect.  They had even finished piecing it back in August.  Which is the month our guild had booked Karlee Porter to come do a graffiti quilting workshop for us.  Somewhere in all of this, they were discussing the baby quilt in front of Karlee and discussing who would quilt it.  (I have to say here that Karlee is hands down the most authentic Sewlebrity I’ve even met.  She is real and such a great person to be around.  And AMAZINGLY talented.)

And Karlee volunteered to take it home and quilt it.  NUTS.  Not only did she take it home and quilt it, she couched my baby’s name in the center of the quilt with metallic yarn.  This post is more for me than anyone else.  I want to always remember how special I felt when i received this.  Emily presented it to me at our October guild meeting, and I had no idea that it was finished.  I wasn’t expecting it, and lately, I have been nothing but a bucket of raw emotions.  So they told me how they put it together, the amazingly special people that planned it, gave fabric for it, gave their time for it, and arranged for Karlee to help as well.  And I lost my shit.   (Pardon the french.  I don’t cuss on the blog, but there it is.)  I cried so hard that I nearly couldn’t recover to do the rest of the meeting (I’m currently interim President).  Ugly tears were seen by all, and I didn’t even care.  Because this group is my tribe.  And wouldn’t you know, I’m crying again while I’m typing this.  Seriously, I can’t wait for these pregnancy hormones to be gone!  

Anyway. I’m totally overwhelmed at the thought of being a new mom and have no clue what to do once Gemma gets here, but I know that she will be SO loved.  And already is if this group is any indication.  
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Is more sometimes less?

Let’s talk a little bit about quilt designs.  Of the quilting variety.  Not the piecing variety.  How many of us struggle with keeping our quilting plans fresh and unique?  If you’re anything like me, you might be constantly on Instagram or Pinterest searching through “free motion quilting” posts or “custom quilting” or “longarm quilting”, or any other search request you can think of.  And while I don’t ever want to copy someone else’s work, I’m always trying to find my own voice through things I like in other quilters’ work.  
I’m often blown away by tedious, tiny, overthought, quilted to death quilts.  I know I don’t charge nearly enough to compensate me for my time if I were to quilt every quilt that way.  To be honest, I wouldn’t even be able to pay the electric bill!  Don’t get me wrong, this is not a post to get on my soap box about charging what you’re worth.  I just want to discuss simplicity in quilt design.  I chose one of the quilts I quilted this year, that honestly, isn’t a show quilt–it isn’t a mind blowing quilt design, but it is thoughtful enough to look good (in my opinion).  
Isn’t the purpose of a good quilter to make the designer/piecer’s work shine?  To make the block or the quilt look it’s absolute best? 

I chose two motifs do be used on this quilt.  One was a continuous loop that was stitched throughout the green pieces on the quilt to give uniformity to the design.

The other motif was simple double wavy lines with curved lines connecting them on the larger pieced blocks.  While these two designs won’t be winning any ribbons at quilting shows, I’m sure, it does enough to simply enhance the quilt without drawing so much attention to the quilting that you can’t even see the actual quilt or blocks anymore.  I know this is nothing special, but I just want to point out that not every quilt has to be QTD.  (Quilted to death)

I recently saw a quilt on Instagram from a quilter I follow on a log cabin quilt.  The quilter is extremely talented and really takes quilting to a new level.  The log cabin quilt was QTD.  Quilted. To. Death.  It looks good.  But the actual quilt is lost in the quilting.  What purpose does this serve?  I almost feel like it is just to inflate the ego of the quilter, and maybe the piecer requested this…but I wouldn’t think so.  Shouldn’t the piecing and quilting work together to make the quilt balanced overall?  I would really like to post a picture of what I’m talking about, but I don’t want to demean anyone’s work.

Also, keep in mind that I’ve only been sewing and quilting since about 2011.  So really, in the grand scheme of things, what do I know? 🙂  Just something to chew on and think about when it comes to quilt design…does more sometimes equal less?

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Spooky Spiderweb Trick Or Treat bag tutorial

If you’d like to make the perfect project for your special little trick-or-treater, I teamed up with Janome to bring you the perfect tutorial for a reusable treat bag!  Visit Janome’s website for the full tutorial and a quick and easy sew!  

 This is a great project with a little pop of color on the reverse side of the drawstring bag–you can use a contrasting fabric to really make it pop (or even glow in the dark fabric!)


And learn to quilt some really fun spiderwebs!  Enjoy!

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Quilting a “Letters from home” quilt

A couple of months ago, I had the awesome opportunity to quilt one of my customer’s “Letters from Home” quilt (pattern by Heather Givens/Crimson Tate).  Now, I have to preface this post by saying that I’m barely wetting my toes in the waters of custom quilting.  But I am super-duper proud of the quilting on this quilt.  I’m going to take you through the process.

I like Glide’s thread for a little pop of sheen on a quilt.  Plus, it quilts like a DREAM.  I selected a few different thread colors for the quilting on this quilt.  Mainly, I changed thread colors to help them blend with the fabrics they were quilting on for a more subtle pop.  I used Quilter’s Dream batting for this quilt, as I do with most of my client quilts.

Glide Threads selected

 Some people might have you believe that once the quilt was loaded and the threads picked out that the quilting just magically happened with a wave of their wand.  Here’s my dirty little secret:  This quilt sat on my frame for a week.  An entire WEEK.  I had sketched out at least a dozen ideas for quilting, and each morning I would go out to my studio, ready to attack.  But then I would end up standing there, staring at the quilt top.  I changed my mind so many times, and then decided on the most difficult (or most time consuming) design I had drawn up.

Beginning to mark and quilt the borders

So I broke out my water soluble marking pen and trusty ruler and started marking some guidelines for the quilting.  I did some straight line quilting on the borders after marking them, and then marked the rest of the quilt as I went.  Each pass on the longarm took me about an hour to mark with the ruler and pen.

More markings, filled in with some quilting
The thing about the design being quilted, is that it isn’t complicated.  It’s just a bunch of straight lines and loops, but the way they are put together really leaves you with a huge impact.  
I have a black light on my longarm and seriously think it is SO cool.  This shows the texture a little better.

I really wanted to focus on the texture on this quilt, and so I chose to stitch in the ditch around the envelopes and the focal fabrics so they would pop out more.  My client selected Japanese import fabrics from Bunny Designs (out of Austin, TX), with a backing out of an adorable cupcake pattern (see the first photo in the post).  The attention to detail and her impeccable piecing made this quilt one of my all time favorites to quilt.  The quilt pattern by Crimson Tate is SO cute, and an ingenious way to showcase focal fabrics.

So, aside from me just talking about how much I loved this quilt, my other point is that sometimes it isn’t second nature to just come up with quilting designs out of thin air.  And it’s okay if the quilt has to sit on your frame for a week while you change your mind a hundred times about the quilting design (as long as your client has allowed you to do so!).  And while it is my favorite thing ever for a client to say–I want custom quilting, and the design is up to you–it can also be the most challenging (and rewarding) part of my job.  I think this is a great way to grow your skill set and think about how many different ways there are to quilt a quilt.  (Quilt construction and fabric selection by Debra Barnes)

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Graffiti Quilting workshop with Karlee Porter

This picture!!!  I had the awesome opportunity to take a 2 day workshop from THE Karlee Porter.  The workshop was in Castroville at the Quilt Shop, and I swear, it was one of the best classes I’ve ever taken.  Most of the time, when I take a workshop and the person putting it on says there will be about half a day of lecture, then we get to play… I’m usually a little dismayed.  But Karlee had an awesome program that I left with PAGES of notes and drawings for inspiration.  And it wasn’t like I was just writing stuff down to busy my hands.  I’ve referred to those notes and drawings at least a dozen times in the short weeks since I took that class.  

Karlee was so gracious in letting us ask unlimited questions, take pictures of all the samples she had, and she even did a trunk show at our SAMQG guild meeting.  This is one of her masterpieces–I  believe it’s called “Russian Mosque”, that literally takes your breath away.  

The principles Karlee taught can be applied to a domestic machine, sit down quilter, or longarm.  Since I started out quilting my quilts on a domestic, I liked that.  However, since I’ve been doing most of my quilting on a longarm in the last year, it took a minute for my brain to catch up that my hands were moving the fabric and not the machine 🙂

After Karlee taught us her important principles of successful graffiti quilting, she turned us loose and we were able to apply those principles to some small class samples.  This was the sample that I worked on, and although I’m not nuts about the thread colors I selected, I did like the high visibility of it.  

And of course, I had to include a picture of me and Karlee!  Not sure what I’m doing with my hand…is that a hook?  Anyway, I was seriously beyond excited that I had the opportunity to hear Karlee in Texas–and can’t wait to keep working on my graffiti quilting skills.  

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Finding time to give back #quiltsforpulse

 In the midst of tragedy, I am relieved that I belong to a group of people that goes out of their way to show love for others.  The group I’m talking about is the Modern Quilt Guild.  And even  more specifically, the San Antonio chapter of the Modern Quilt Guild.  The Orlando MQG organized collections to accept in progress quilts and completed quilts to show support and love for some of the people affected by the Pulse night club shooting.  I hate that I’m even writing a post about this, because it’s so disturbing the amount of violence we hear about on a daily basis on the news…but I want to focus on giving back and showing support for our fellow human beings.  



The SAMQG members are SO giving and generous with their fabric and time, that we’ve had a plethora of blocks constructed (most using the Heart pattern tutorial by Cluck Cluck Sew).  A few charity sew-ins, and we’ve finished (I think) 5 quilts!  



I had the great opportunity to quilt a few of these, and wanted to discuss charity work in this industry.  I’ve done a little bit of charity sewing in the past, but not really donated much of my time or resources prior to getting my longarm.  And once I started donating my quilting, I kind of just rushed through the process, doing a stipple or some quick meandering design to get that top off my frame as quickly as I could.  But one night, I started thinking about the recipients of these rushed through pieces I had worked on.  Was I proud of the work I was doing on them?  No.  Absolutely not.  I was just FINISHING THEM.  There was nothing special or generous about what I was doing to add to the quilt.  And maybe those recipients don’t even look at the quilting.  But it really got to me that I was doing about 2% of my best work on something that was supposed to be making someone happier.  I decided to start doing my best work on every quilt top.  Whether it was a paying customer or not.  If I’m going to commit to working on something, why would I give anything less than my best?  And besides, if you want to look at it from a really selfish angle, it’s great practice and helps develop your skills even further.  


I really love the graffiti quilting style, and chose to do that on this quilt.  These blocks were pieced together by so many different people, with such love and compassion in their hearts.  It really does give me a little bit of hope for humanity.

Anyway, my two cents for the day is to think about where your heart is when you decide to do charity work.  If it’s in your heart, put your best foot forward and really give all you have.  Otherwise, what are you wasting your time for?  

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Science Class DayDreams

I am always blown away by the awesomeness of the quilts my clients bring me.  This one was especially fun to quilt…

I have a friend that I had the honor of quilting a special quilt for.  The pattern was JayBird Quilts “Science Fair” pattern in some gorgeous Kate Spain fabrics.  I’m not sure that I’ve had more fun quilting something with such a fun concept.  My client had discussed her thoughts about having the colored/patterned hexagons be quilting with straight lines and lots of structure (kind of like science class).  And the remaining white would be quilted like a daydream, rising up from the structure of the science class.  Such an ingenious idea for a quilting layout! 


So the bottom of the quilt, close to the clustered patterned fabrics, was quilted in a lighter thread than the top, with slightly less dense quilting.  The more white fabric there was, the denser the quilting got–and thread colors changed to get gradually darker towards the top as well.  

And the back of the quilt had beakers pieced into it.  Come on.  It doesn’t get any better than that!