10.14.2014

And the Super Slacker Award for Blogging Goes To...

That would be me... Last week was just kinda rough starting out with an on again off again "quilter's elbow" and just life in general, let's just say it wasn't my week. 

I had all of the best intentions and yeah. Then I'm not sure what happened. However, I did lock myself at home one day with no plans but to sew. I did get some mini quilts done for swaps I've joined and just some fun sewing (so it's not like I'm sitting here doing nothing and eating bonbons all day) I thought about blogging, really I did, but I was in quilter hermit mode in my jammies and I got so much done, Moses couldn't part me from my sewing machine. And then I must've over done it because after a bit of hand quilting this morning and long arming, my elbow was screaming at me again... I don't like it!

Well, to prove I did get some stuff done, here's the one mini I made just because: 
It's currently basted and ready to quilt, once I finish a binding or five. No joke, really, that will be my weekend. I may need to get a few movies to watch, see anything good lately?

Well, that's it for today, I'll get back into this blogging groove soon, honestly I'm just enjoying the cool weather and being a hermit in my jammies from time to time. ��

10.07.2014

Tidbits

I have gotten so much done, but yet have so much to do before I can share it! How rude of myself! 

Well first things first, I quilted up a couple minis this weekend including this adorable number:
I quilted this while my hubby was in the shower, that's it. I finished it just as he was finished. Why didn't I play with my walking foot more in the past?! So, since that was so much fun I quilted this mini when we got done running errands:
I can't show the front yet, but I had so much fun and stayed up way too late binding them both. 

I will have tutorials for both plus quilts soon, but I think I've officially come down with quilters elbow, so I'm pacing myself with sewing and clicking the mouse and all things that affect it. Just too much sewing and binding lately I guess. But also I want to link to printable PDF files for each tutorial which is something new for me and I want to do it right, so give me some time to figure it out and get pictures whenever it decides to quit raining here and I'll be back in the swing of things!

Alrighty, gotta go quilt before my elbow screams at me, wish me luck!

10.03.2014

Late night sewing

So if you've been wandering around on Instagram, you've seen this project in progress... It's almost finished, but I couldn't wait until the binding was finished to show you!
This quilt has turned into so much more than I could have anticipated and I LOVE IT!!! 

So like the crazy person I am, I stayed up way too late, dug into my binding stash (yes I have a binding stash) and pulled out random little bits to make a coordinated scrappy binding to match the quilt top! It only needed a couple minor tweaks and it's perfect. 

There's only one transition I'm not too fond of, but I didn't have that much purple-ish bindings to choose from, so whatever. I still love it. 

If the weather turns ick like they're calling for it to do today, I may quit early and come home and stitch down binding Iike a boss. I'm pondering which threads to use or if I just need to switch colors every so often. 

In the meantime you can check out the other photos of this quilt's progress on Instagram, or wait patiently and I will post them here!

Have a great day and I will be back soon!

10.01.2014

Machine Quilting - Thistle Pods

Doris is at it again and made this wonderful Thistle Pods quilt designed by Judy Niemeyer.
 This quilt is simple yet complex - here's why: There are really only four elements - the two different blocks, the flying geese and the outer border. BUT, there is ample background space but not much area between the elements from all of the points... I honestly wasn't quite sure how to tackle this quilt at first, but after consulting with Doris, she said she liked the swirls I did on this quilt and maybe try those again.

This pattern is one of those that is somewhat deceiving to long arm quilters. When you see pictures it looks big, but when you see it in person, there's not as much room between those points as you hoped. It limited me on designs a bit, but I'm happy with the results and Doris is too and that's all that matters :)
 This is one of the blocks, I'm not really sure what to call it, maybe a sunburst...
 Here's the other block, a compass of sorts. That's it for the center, just these two blocks offset in rows.
 Then there are these awesome flying geese around the center. I quilted back and forth lines traveling from one goose to the next to separate the swirls on either side of this element. Remember that how the design looks on the back of the quilt can be as important as how it looks on the front!
 Finally, I quilted these tendrils into the outer border to soften the jagged-ness of all of the spikes. Oh, and this quilt does have a small extra border put on it that's not in the original pattern to make it just a tad bigger.
 Now this quilt ended up roughly around 103" square. Here's how it looks draped over the machine after quilting. It's big. I've had more and more customers coming to visit me and I realize that I probably haven't shared the best part of my "office" with you here. In the photo above, it just looks like a big room, right?
 Well, here's how it looks when you walk in from the house. I have these amazing vaulted ceilings that work so well to bounce indirect lighting onto the quilts as I'm working, or just to give some breathing room. It's one of those things that just makes me love my job and makes going to the "office" pretty easy to do.
 Alrighty, back to the quilt. so here's how one of the corners looks with all of the elements and quilting aspects represented.
 And because I couldn't stop taking pictures...
 Here's more to share :)
 And then there's the back of the quilt. I love how you can see all of the details!
Once again, this quilt was a pleasure to work with and I love working on Doris' quilts.

If you are interested in my long arm quilting services, please feel free to contact me at rubybluequilts (at) gmail (dot) com or check out the Machine Quilting Information page.

Also remember, Christmas is fast approaching so if you have quilts you would like to give as gifts, you can either reserve a spot or get them to me by November 7th (subject to change) for guaranteed Christmas delivery.

9.29.2014

More Turkey Sightings

The turkeys have been running around the back yard when I usually get to the quilting machine just about everyday. Well, as I was working along last week, I turned around and there they were! Like within 30 feet of the house!
 This is the view out of my room and just on top of that retaining wall are the turkeys against the tree line.
 Not all of the group ventured up this far, but it's closer than they usually get.

I thought seeing the turkeys each day was all cool and fun, until they got this close and drove the dogs INSANE!!! They wouldn't stop barking for hours it seemed, it got old pretty quick at that point.
 It is still cool to see these birds I guess. Like I said before, their numbers used to dwindle and they're starting to get stronger in their numbers and we see them much more often.
 These few wandered around and then slowly headed up the hill and disappeared into the woods.

 I have always admired these birds. Not because they are pretty, oh my, they are pretty ugly if you ask me! But, if you get to spend time watching them and their antics, they can be really smart. They have great hearing and I've seen where they're cleared an area of snow to sleep at night. That is if they don't sleep in the trees.

They sleep in the trees to protect themselves from predators, but if you've ever seen a turkey try to "fly" (and I use that word very loosely) it's a hysterical sight. They are very clumsy when it comes to air travel.
Well, I think that's the last of the turkey pictures I'll share. It's not everyday you can snap pictures of them like this, so I just wanted to share. I have some new quilts to share and hopefully the Plus Quilt Tutorial by the end of the week. Stay tuned!

9.27.2014

That Quilt

We all have that quilt. It may not be pretty, it's probably seen much better days, but you love it and you can't get enough of it. Well, this is the day I share with you the story of the quilt I talk about the most. I've mentioned it before, but I don't think I've actually shared pictures on here. Well, today is that day. To talk about that quilt... My hubby is going to kill me! :)
 Welcome to our bedroom! (This isn't that quilt) Under this comforter we have strictly for quilt protection and extra snuggle stuff if someone steals all of the covers (like the littlest dog we have). Our room is actually much darker than it looks here, we have dark furniture (complete coincidence) but we have dark red walls and black suede curtains with blackout shades behind them... Here's why:

When we bought this house and moved, Ben was working third shift. He would go to bed around noon so we had to make this room as dark as possible so he could sleep at the brightest part of the day. He's now on days, but we never repainted, yet. Too much furniture and moving stuff and painting over red... (what was I thinking?) But we love it.

Under that comforter or some icky comforter that comes out of a bed-in-a-bag thing would be this quilt:
 This is the quilt I made for my Hubby. Sorry for the bad picture, but I scanned this in off of a photo I found last week while reminiscing. Here was evidence of how beautiful this quilt once looked. The vibrant colors...And the white. Look at all of that white fabric! It was so pretty. Notice I said "was".

Well, if you don't know the story, here goes: I made this quilt for Ben. It was supposed to be a lap quilt, but when I laid it out, Ben looked at it and said, "That's it?" with this super exaggerated sigh. So I added a border, and another one.

This was one of the first quilts I made, I think the largest up to this point. It was also the second quilt I ever long arm quilted and it was the first I custom quilted. My feathers on this one are a far cry from what I can do today, but you have to start somewhere!

The picture above was when the quilt was hanging at the local juried quilt show. Ben went with me to pick it up as he thought it was quite insulting that I make him a quilt that he couldn't have or use for months since it was at the show... Oooopppps. So, Ben and I picked it up and he bear hugged it the entire way home.

Once we got home, he disappeared. Here, he went into the bedroom and promptly put this quilt on our bed. Our queen size bed. Remember it was supposed to be a lap quilt... Well, it only hangs over the sides by a few inches, but he then explained to me that I use blankets on the couch and I fight with the dogs over them, but he doesn't. Honestly in the almost 11 years we've been married I can think of maybe 4 times he's had a blanket on him and it's usually when he's really sick. That's it. So the only way he would get to use his quilt would be if it was on the bed. Okie dokie.

Meanwhile, while he and I were picking up said quilt, we lived next to my grandparents at the time and they fed both of our little dogs tons and TONS of treats. Probably more food than they get at dinner... Fast forward to 5:30 the next morning to where I'm woken up by a dog getting sick from all of those treats all over the quilt! PANIC MODE!!!

I tried to take the quilt off of Ben and the bed without him knowing, but I failed. Miserably. In my failed attempt, I heard "where are you going with my quilt?"... I replied that the dog got sick on it. Ben was like, you can have it!

Well, that was Dilemma #1. Dilemma #2 began in the wash. I prewashed (or thought I prewashed) the fabrics in my young little quilter mind... I know much better now... But alas, we washed the quilt and the dark red woven I used for the back bled. EVERYWHERE. I'll show you how bad in a minute. I really could have used a box of Color Catcher sheets back then!

So without further ado, here is the quilt in it's current state...
 It actually doesn't look that bad in this picture, minus that gaping hole in the middle. That would be Dilemma #3 courtesy of this little guy:
Duncan had this habit of not really chewing on blankets, but shoving them in his mouth and using them like a pacifier when he slept. When he was a puppy it wasn't bad. The older he got, it turned from a cute little habit into destructive psycho. So, the quilt has holes. LOTS of holes. But it still washes up, it's still warm, we just make the bed so the hole is towards the top so we don't get our feet caught in it. 
 Here's proof of the holes. All of those little arrows (and I'm sure there's many more). Duncan would burrow under the comforter and over the quilt and pacify on the quilt...
 Some holes aren't that bad, like this one where you can see the lovely pink batting that certainly didn't start out that color.
 And here's the larger hole and it goes right through to the sheet. That's a wide open hole there! Oh,and some of those fabrics used to be white. It's interesting to see the fabrics that were once white on white prints. Now they're more light pink on darker pink...
Oh, and more of that lovely pink batting. It's really pink, like REALLY pink.

So that's the quilt. That's the quilt I love and talk about more than any quilt I've made, even my book quilts. I don't know if it's sad or just humbling.

Now, I know I'm not the only person to experience a quilt in this manner. Please share with me your quilt horror stories. 1. That way I don't feel like the total dork in the quilting community. and 2. So that we can prove that these things happen and we've lived through them.

Hopefully your story is in the past enough that you can laugh at it now. Have a great weekend all! I'm going to hopefully go work on a new quilt that won't end up in the same state as the quilt I just shared!

9.24.2014

Machine Quilting: Bright Feathered Star

One of the things I love most about quilting Judy Niemeyer's patterns and the most challenging is the variety of coloring options. Judy's patterns have tons of pieces and they are very open to interpretation. Every single person can look at the same pattern and notice a different part and then make their color choices to enhance that area.
 Now, I've quilted other versions of this quilt (see them here and here), but they weren't nearly as bright as this quilt. That's the fun of it. There's so much personality in these quilts! Wendy chose light and dark versions of similar colors for the feathers and really made it pop with this dark navy almost indigo background. To reel it all in, the mixture of blue tones for the borders bridged the range of values found in the quilt.
 Wendy wanted to keep the quilting on the simple side (which I'm not going to lie, it's super hard to do with these quilts. It's so easy to go overboard with the quilting and make it super dense) and to achieve that, I kept the design elements to a minimum and kept the density a little more open than usual.
 I used a mixture of waves, feathers and plumes that are all similar enough that they work together. The goofy little triangle background area was the perfect area to combine the waves and feathers. I'll show you in a minute how I came up with this idea.
 Keeping along the same line and playing off of the design of the quilt, I used swirls and lines like what I used in the feathers themselves to fill the center.

 Now, these feathers in the corners turned out sooo good! I'm in love. They're there but subtle.
 When a quilt like this has such a contrast of fabrics it can be a challenge to pick the right thread. This quilt was a little more challenging due to the light backing. I normally don't like to use a contrasting thread on the back, but I had to use the same thread in the darker areas on the front of the quilt in the bobbin too. If I didn't, even with perfect tension, it could look off. Threads that are too dark can make perfect tension look out of whack, even when it's not. They overpower the knot between the layers sometimes.
 With approval from Wendy, she said this was going to be a wall hanging so it didn't matter what the back looked like and so I used the darker thread in the darker areas. You can see it in the feathers around the edges.
Now, to my trusty MagnaDoodle. When I'm plotting out a quilt like this with weird shapes and lots of details, I use this to jot them down and work out the layout. Sometimes it's just a little doodle that helps me get familiar with the pattern before I begin. Othertimes it's to see the mixture of designs laid out together. Here you can see the plan for the feathers, the border, the backgrounds and the one feather with a center.

Many of Judy's designs take me more than one day to quilt. Sometimes a design I quilt in the top takes me days to repeat in the bottom of the quilt. I try to take pictures as I'm going to see exactly what I did so I can repeat it, but this also is where the MagnaDoodle comes in handy. Many times these particular designs are rotated either 45° or 22.5° so I can actually rotate the MagnaDoodle to roughly match the angle I need to achieve. I've also used this with flame designs and other designs I'm used to drawing in one direction or when I could turn the paper. I can't turn the quilt.

I also know of people that use dry erase boards or large pieces of paper to do the same thing, but I kinda like my MagnaDoodle (no mess)!

Well, I wanted to thank Wendy for letting me play on her quilt. It was a joy and I love her colors. Thanks, Wendy!

You can also see more designs like the Feathered Star of Judy's that I have quilted on my Pinterest boards here. If you would like to have a quilt finished our would like a quote, visit the Machine Quilting Information page (found at the top) or e-mail me at rubybluequilts (at) gmail (dot) com.

Have a great day!
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