5.22.2015

Machine Quilting: Cottage Stars

Has this ever happened to you other quilters out there - you look at and stare at a quilt all day long... You come up with a general plan of how you want to quilt it, but you take a picture of the top in case you have an idea later and want to look at the quilt again... Then while looking at the picture, you notice a completely different secondary design you didn't notice before and change your whole plan...

Well, that's what happened to me with this quilt:
 When Bobette brought this quilt in, we already knew that feathers had to be a part of the stars and the background needed to be soft to fit the cottage-y feeling that fabrics gave off. However, when I took my picture of the quilt top to think it over and let a plan develop (because let's be honest, this quilt is massive and I didn't want to pull it out and unfold it everytime I wanted to look at it), I noticed a secondary pattern that created diamonds between the stars and a phantom square block behind each shoo fly.
 When the blocks are this large, I thought about the plan ahead of time and tried to come up with something that would easily be broken up into smaller areas to fit within the usable width of the long arm or ways I could break the stars (because they were the biggest element) in half.

I came up with this framed dahlia design for the secondary diamond pattern. To carry the same idea through the quilt, I used the same motion to quilt the corners of the shoo fly blocks. To fill in the background of the shoo flies, I quilted in some loop-de-loos and some straight lines to work off of the corners of the phantom frames. (I hope this all makes sense, it's hard to label areas when it's all worked out in my brain. Sometimes I don't know if it translates so well. )
 We already had a plan to quilt feathers in every other spike of the stars. To keep the design interesting and not too monotonous, I alternated the design from star to star mixing straight lines with echoed diamonds. There were a variety of fabrics that were used and the mixture of quilting designs helped to balance the quilt with the quilting.
 Sometimes it's inevitable, with lots of seams coming together, there can be bulk. No biggie. I was planning to start the feathers at the center of the star and work outward, but I was able to start just off center in each spike and rotate the feathers. It's important to always keep a design like this going in the same direction each time or else it could look messy. A simple chalk mark for the feather vein did the trick to keep me on task.
 All in all, this was a gorgeous quilt and I was sad when it was over.
 It was so neat to have this unexpected design take the forefront of the plans and then I got to watch it some together piece by piece.
 It was very rewarding to see the quilt finished because of the size, I could only see most of a row at a time when it was on the machine. It was lovely to see the completed quilt and take in the full effect.
A design like this is so much fun for me to quilt because not only does it look awesome on the front, but the back can look amazing too. This quilt could be dual purpose as a whole cloth and a pieced quilt depending on which side you display.

I'm happy to report that Bobette loved this quilt and said she thinks it's her favorite I've done for her so far. (that always makes me happy to hear) Granted, she actually kept this quilt, so that could sway her decision, but I love how the quilting came out and I'd love to work on one again.

I believe this pattern is a tutorial by the Missouri Star Quilt Company called the Big Star. It's interesting because I saw another picture of someone's version of this quilt and I noticed a completely different design because of the way that one was colored. It was darker more fall-type colors and there was a whole new secondary pattern that jumped out at me.

It just goes to prove that a new view and a new idea can be a wonderful thing!

If you are interested in my quilting services, please be sure to check the Machine Quilting Information page or you can always e-mail me with questions at rubybluequilts (at) gmail (dot) com.

5.20.2015

Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks Volume 11

Sometimes there is so much behind the scenes work going on weeks if not months ahead of it's actual release, it can get confusing. 

Especially when Market is around the corner and your new book is about to be released. I completely forgot it was time for Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks, Volume 11. 

That was until this showed up on my doorstep:
It was a wonderful surprise! I even had this magazine in my hand for a few days before I realized my block was on the cover! (It's right next to Corey Yoder's name, to the right)
Here's a better look at my block, #1092! It's called Nesting and makes a really neat secondary pattern when you lay out the blocks. 

I hope you all have a chance to get this magazine and create a bunch of the blocks, they all finish at 12" so you can mix and match and create your own sampler or some minis. I know I have fun working on these blocks. 

This issue is on newsstands now, so check around and get a copy!

5.19.2015

Seems Like Scrappy Preview: Baskets

I'm home from Market and I have to tell you - have you heard about the #quiltmarkethangover? It's real. We got home late Sunday night and by the time we got in the door and collected our puppies and they settled down, it was super late (for me at least).

Then yesterday unpacking bags and doing laundry and getting into the swing of "normal life" again was just crazy. It doesn't help that Spring Market always falls in the middle of allergy season, but I did what I could yesterday and today I'm attempting to hit the ground running. After sleeping in a bit of course ;)
Today I want to introduce you to Baskets. I know it's not a super original name, but after coming up with the quilts and making them and quilting and binding and writing the patterns and doing the illustrations - my creativity was spent... But I think I spent my creativity on the right areas.

I actually have a second version of this quilt that I will be sharing later this week when I can get photos. Right now the yard is awful with high grass and we really need to get at that first. Poor Paco looks like he's out on a jungle safari each time he goes out. We cut it right before we let for Market, but it's been the perfect combination of warm and wet here and it grew like mad. So, look for the alternate version of this quilt later this week.

Baskets is made with a combination of fat eighths and fat quarters. It doesn't take much fabric at all and it's pretty fast to cut out and piece. You may already have the fabrics needed for this sitting and waiting for you to get started. Otherwise, this would be a great class and really fun to kit (for you quilt shops out there).

Even though this pattern looks quite traditional in this colorway, I originally thought about making an alternative in a super modern scheme with a mixture of low volume prints for the background and crazy bold fabrics for the baskets. Think about it with a Jen Kingwell inspiration if you would... My alternate version turned out fairly traditional as well. I stumbled upon the perfect fabrics I had stashed for another quilt that I forgot about and I wanted to try this pattern again, so I did.

This quilt was well received (as well as the alternate) at my Schoolhouse at Market and I can't wait to see your version of it too.

Baskets is a decent lap size quilt, or it could be a large wall hanging depending on your space, but it can always grow to the size you're looking for with borders too. Just keep that in mind. I think these quilts might be the perfect back-of-the-couch size for that little added quilty decoration without putting holes in your walls or climbing on ladders.

Once again, this quilt and several others are found in my new book, Seems Like Scrappy, that will be released in just a couple weeks - June 2nd! Look for this book shortly afterwards at your LQS or you can preorder your own signed copy from my online shop. Enjoy your preorder from my shop at a 25% discount, good until the books show up on my doorstep!

Look for more quilt previews from the book here each Monday and I will be doing a special post for the alternate Baskets quilt later this week. Also, check back here often over the next month or so, it's a super exciting time here at the studio and I have so much to tell you!!! Have a great day!

5.18.2015

After Market

Today I'm going to be skipping (more like postponing) the Seems Like Scrappy preview. Don't worry, I will post it tomorrow, but today I just don't have it in me to be witty and write a detailed post. 

I just got back late last night from an amazing time at Spring Market. I had so much fun meeting so many people and getting to share the quilts from Seems Like Scrappy. My schedule even had a Schoolhouse and several book signings that were so much fun! 

I will post more about market soon, but for now I have to show you this:
That would be my name badge for market I wore for three days before my Hubby pointed out my name was spelled wrong... Apparently I'm related to Chewy and never knew it! 

That's all I have to share for now, come back tomorrow and hopefully I will be back in the swing of things! 

5.12.2015

Market Schedule

Well, I'm checking my lists and packing my bags and hoping I have everything I need. Hope to see you all at Market so I wanted to post my schedule so you know where to find me :)

I have a Schoolhouse on Thursday showing off my quilts from my new book, Seems Like Scrappy in room #211D at 3:45 - 4:15. 

I also have a few booksignings going on. You can find me:

Friday at Martingale's booth #325 at 11:30

Saturday you can find me at:

Brewer #1919 at 11:00 and

E.E. Schenck #1023 at 3:00

Some booksignings may have reservations or advanced tickets to get a book, please check with each vendor to see if you need to make a reservation. 

See you soon!

5.11.2015

Seems Like Scrappy Preview: Crumpet

I'm not typically a girly girl. I do like flowers and doing my hair and gardening (and quilting of course), but I'm usually drawn to the more rustic or bold styles. Except this time.

Somewhere deep down inside of me is a girly girl and she likes to make an appearance at random times. One time being when I chose the paint color for my sewing room, and another notable time when I made this quilt:
Photo provided by Martingale. Photography by Brent Kane. All rights reserved. 

Meet Crumpet, one of the smaller projects from Seems Like Scrappy. I was inspired by the array of half square triangle quilts in modern layouts sprinkled throughout social media. I love the offset center and wanted to mix it up a bit more, just because. That's when I got the idea of using 60 degree triangles. With the array of rulers available on the market now and really awesome patterns to go with them, triangles aren't as scary to quilters like they once were.

But how was I going to get a scrappy look by using precuts? I could have cut strips from Fat Eighths or Fat Quarters, but then I had a "lightbulb" moment. Use honeycombs...

Honeycombs you say, but they're hexagons. Precisely! A hexagon is nothing more than six 60 degree triangles! Now, it does make the triangles much smaller once you cut everything down, but trust me - it just adds to the charm of this small quilt.

Crumpet was fun and interesting to make and I love how it turned out. It was really fun to quilt too and I used Quilter's Dream Puff batting to really pop the quilting and give it definition.

Seems Like Scrappy will be available very very soon. June 2nd is the official release date and I can't wait for you all to see it. Don't forget you can preorder a signed copy in my shop for 25% off the list price. This sale runs until I get the books on my doorstep, so act fast!

Otherwise, be sure to ask your LQS to order it and tell them to come visit me at Spring Market! I will be sharing all of the quilts I've made from the book plus the duplicates I've made.

Tomorrow I will be posting my schedule at Market and where you can come find me and my book! I can't wait to share it with everyone, it's so exciting!!!


5.09.2015

"The Talk" (Quilt Style)

Come on in and sit on down... We have to have a talk...

I want to discuss something with you today that has been troubling me.
 There is a problem in the quilting community - I see it all too often. Maybe I see it more because of the work I do, but I want to reach out and talk to you all about finding balance in the quilting process.

Think of this as an opportunity to learn and grow and not a public rant by a crazed quilter. Keep that in mind as you read. Please.
 Ideally, when you're working on a quilt, there should be a balance throughout the process. It's really easy to break this into two different categories.

The first being the supplies needed to create your quilt. This includes the pattern, the fabrics, any special notions or papers you may need... All of that stuff. The "weight" of these items (if you think about the graphic above as a scale) could also be reflective of the cost associated as well as the time and energy needed to complete the quilt top.

Typically the more intensive the pattern, the higher the pattern cost. Then you'll need more fabric and more time and more energy and and and... If you're following me on this you can see how it all adds up.

The second category would then be the finishing process of the quilt. This would be the items and/or services needed to take your quilt top to a completed quilt including batting, quilting and binding. As with before, the "weight" of these items and services are reflected in the costs, time and energy.
 Too often, this is the skewed scale I tend to see in the quilting process... I see quilters spend major money on a pattern or book and then spend a small fortune on the fabrics needed. Once in this mindset, they frantically rush home to start on their latest endeavor. It may take hours or days to cut all of those fabrics and then weeks or months to construct the quilt top. No cost or ounce of energy was wasted during this time (at least in the quilting process - laundry, cleaning and cooking I can't vouch for).

Then after such an investment in cost, time and energy... That's when it happens. This exquisite work gets turned over to get finished but instead of investing the same care and attention - all costs are cut to the extreme. And I mean EXTREME.

As a quilter sometimes I get told to use whatever batting, I don't care. Or the alternative is I'm given a large scrap of batting they pulled out of the corner of their closet they think might be big enough... Meanwhile it's covered in threads from 1,000 fabrics and there's a weird part cut out of the one side.

Then if that's not good enough, I get told to do just a simple design, just something quick and cheap. Whatever is cheapest...

Now, I've seen my fair share of quilt patterns. I've bought my fair share of fabrics (just ask my Hubby), but PLEASE don't think your quilter doesn't know what you've invested into you quilt project before it's been brought to them... We have a pretty good idea.
Now, on the flip side, us quilters also know when the scale goes the other way. A big offender of this scale would be cheater prints and panel quilts...

I'm not saying that you shouldn't take an easy option if it's available and makes life easier for you, but you should attempt to match the investment made into the quilt with how it's intended to be used later on. You can read more about my theory on the types of quilts and how I think about quilting them here. 

Basically, what I'm trying to say is this: Don't make part of your quilting process an afterthought and don't overspend in one part either. Try to find that balance.

I understand if you're on a budget... It's so easy to get caught up in the rush of a new idea and all new fabrics and blow through your budget before you know it's gone. I also understand if you've been working on a quilt for FOREVER and you're sick to death of looking at it. You just want it done and you can't bear to look at it for a moment more. Trust me I get it. I see this all the time. But that is no excuse to throw caution to the wind and do whatever because it's fast, cheap and easy...

Then again, on a rare occasion I see those baby quilts that I know are going to get spilled on, pooed on, dragged around on who knows what surface and because it's for someone special, ladies like to request super custom quilting. They usually understand the cost and they're willing to pay for it because it's for so-and-so. I like to remind these people of what future this quilt might have and honestly ask them - if it's going to be used and washed and stained and whatever - will it make you want to cry seeing that happen?

I know there are probably a few readers out there that may be thinking I'm only talking about this to get people to spend more on their quilting. I mean I am a long arm quilter and it's my job, but that's not it at all.

What I'd like to see and I think it's a long slow process that has been steadily rising up in corners of this community is this - I'D LIKE FOR QUILTERS TO VALUE THEIR WORTH. Follow through with what you've started and celebrate the effort you've put into making a quilt. Especially quilts you've made a large investment in at the beginning... Follow through, you're worth it!

There will always be those fun quilts that you make just because and you don't know why and you don't know how it'll be used. That's fine. Every choice you make is fine, I'm just trying to voice my little opinion over here.
If you look back at the balanced scale above, think about a simple math equation for your quilt projects.

Let's say we spent $100 on a quilt kit including the pattern, try to have your finishing costs in the same ball park.

Now, if you went all out on a very intricate paper-pieced pattern and got all the fabrics to make a king size quilt - you're looking at a cost of $500 easily for your supplies. For a quilt like this that will take you a long time to cut and piece, try to match the same investment into the finishing stages. Go for custom quilting, add in the special touches because it reflects the same momentum. Don't forfeit your investment and go for the $75 plain quilting here. It would be like buying a brand new Mercedes with all the bells and whistles and then taking it to your neighbor's kid for work because he's taken a couple classes on fixing cars...

Please think about this as you're working on quilts in the future. Yes, I know it can be expensive to continue on the same momentum if you work through your budget too early, but like any good hobby worth having, they're all expensive in their own right! Finish what you start and be true to your work. You're worth it!


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