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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! 

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T-shirt quilts

Have you ever picked up someone’s journal or diary and caught a glimpse of who that person is and what drives them?  Even if it belonged to a total stranger?  That’s how I often feel when I get a t-shirt quilt commission.  Sometimes It’s t-shirts, sometimes ties, sometimes clothing from a deceased loved one, but what my clients may not realize is that by the time I am done with the finished item/quilt, I feel like I personally know the person the items belonged to. 


I recently completed a t-shirt quilt for a graduating senior who was an avid football player.  And let me tell you…Momma did an awesome job of saving shirts from elementary school on up!  This was probably the largest t-shirt quilt I’ve done, being nearly king-sized when completed. 

Seriously…this sucker was a monster.

This is going to sound totally lame, but I feel like I know this kid and went through each achievement with him!  While cutting out the shirt blocks, sometimes your mind just wanders.  A lot of things about this quilt reminded me of when I was in high school.  Thinking about football games and pep rallies and all the fun and carefree days. 

It is such a joyful process to make something that parents are putting so much thought into to gift their child.  Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?  I am so happy that I’ve found my thing–and that it can bring other people a little joy and happiness.  
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Insert Harry Potter theme song here…


So…It pretty much seems like everyone I know is either pregnant or just had a baby here lately.  I am in that season of my life where the wedding invitations have stopped and the baby shower invitations are lining my mailbox!  That being said, I get a LOT of joy making things for people’s new babes.  While I work on it, I wonder if they’ll be curled up on the couch with it, playing outside and dragging it through the mud, becoming a couch fort in the living room…I love it!

 This was the appliqued fabric before I started quilting it.  


I had a close friend from college ask me to make a Harry Potter themed baby quilt for her brother’s first child.  She pretty much gave me free reign to come up with whatever (which is AWESOME!!!), so I thought I would applique the deathly hallows symbol, followed by “lways” so that it kind of looked like “always”-just google it, I’m sure there are examples!  I made a fun template out of poster board and traced it onto the fabric I wanted, used some Wonder Under and fused that bad boy to my background fabric to get ready to applique! 
I was really excited about the quilting process and wanted my free motion quilting to LOOK like MAGIC would look.  
Just pulled from the longarm frame!

I’m not really sure what that means, but I tried my best to quilt what I thought magic looked like in thread form.  And I loved the outcome. 

I used the Harry Potter-y chevron fabric that I think was really meant to be college colors for the backing and really love how it turned out.  I’m not usually a huge applique person, but I definitely will be trying it with more projects in the future!  And I really hope and pray that this kiddo is a Harry Potter fan!

Roughly crib sized finished baby quilt!
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Texas Road Trip QAL-Customer quilt

So, today I’m going to share a customer’s quilt that I recently worked on.  It was put together beautifully and I loved that I had the chance to work on this…

I had the awesome opportunity to quilt a very talented quilter’s Texas Road Trip QAL quilt.  The design for the quilting was fairly straight forward and not that complicated, but the impact was really breath taking.  Straight lines and curved lines work separately to really make the quilt pop.  

These are some of the great swirls that this quilter chose for her design.  So gorgeous and free flowing.  I really loved quilting this because there were lots of people in our guild completing this quilt along at the same time, and I enjoyed seeing how differently they were quilted.  In the picture above, you can see a little snippet of a post it that I pinned to the next section as a reminder to stop quilting swirly loops and switch to straight lines 🙂

Another great detail that this quilter chose was to put a heart over the center of San Antonio–in hot pink thread.  It really was so much fun to quilt, and the swirly loops are really relaxing to kind of get lost in.  

And here’s a picture of the finished quilt:  
I absolutely LOVE the scrappy reds in the Texas shape and the scrappy low volume background.  Normally, I’m not a red person…but this quilt…WOW!  I just had to share one of my favorite quilts that I’ve longarmed for someone else.  I hope you get to enjoy some time sewing, or doing whatever makes you happy this week!  Until next time….
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My Finished Glam Clam Quilt

I am going to talk to you today about Latifah Saafir’s “Glam Clam” quilt pattern and my journey completing the quilt.  

I’m a member of the San Antonio Modern Quilt Guild, and we were fortunate enough to have Latifah Saafir do a trunk show AND teach 2 awesome workshops!  I was super excited…the clam shell style quilt has been on my quilting bucket list since I first started sewing, so this was a great excuse to get it done.  I immediately signed up for the workshop and picked my fabrics out after I got the pattern and templates.  I painstakingly cut out all of the pieces, labeled them, and organized them all into little ziplocs, until I would  attend the workshop.  I had the finished quilt in mind for a very special friend and was excited to gift her a really cool quilt.

About a week from the workshop date, my grandmother’s health was failing.  She passed away, and the funeral was scheduled for the same time as the workshop.  I missed the workshop and didn’t touch the pieces I’d cut for a few weeks after.  Once I started the quilt, I thought about my grandmother often.  I’m not crazy about piecing curves, but I must say that it was kind of a healing feeling to sit and sew without really thinking about anything.  It gave me a chance to think about relationships and friendships and how much people can impact your life.  

Quilting the finished top was even more fun that putting it together.  After doing a little bit of research, I found that many of the clam shell quilts are quilted with just an all over design, without much attention paid to the individual blocks.  I definitely didn’t want to just do edge-to-edge quilting.  

Latifah’s pattern is seriously so simple to follow, and her templates are to die for.  They are very mindful of how curved seams should be constructed, and here’s something even more awesome–NO PINS NEEDED!!!  I won’t lie…I didn’t believe that at first, but after sewing a couple together, I tried it without pins, and–life changing.

Here is a little more of the quilting–not really anything too difficult, but I felt it gave a better effect than an all over quilting design.  

Above is the top with no quilting or binding–I absolutely love how this quilt came together.  
And then this was the finished quilt after binding.  I shipped this beauty off to my friend in California and hope she uses it until the thing falls apart!  I must say, Latifah did an amazing job on the pattern and tutorial and I can’t wait to make my next Glam Clam quilt.