Thursday, August 11, 2016

Busy, Busy! Quilting for others is a fun challenge!

This summer I've been busy quilting for customers, facing new challenges that have made me grow as a sit-down quilter. My own projects have been put on the back burner for the most part, especially since summer enrollment in classes at the local quilt shop have been down with vacations and now back-to-school activities keeping quilters busy. The projects this summer have ranged from quilting "And On That Farm", a McKenna Ryan design made by a friend/student in one of my quilt classes, an applique quilt that was 30 years in the making, a wonderful patchwork quilt made with reproduction fabrics, and more. It's been an adventure to say the least!  Sassy, my Handiquilter Sweet Sixteen, has been very busy this summer. When I checked the system info last week, I found there are now over 11 million stitches on her since I bought her in 2012!!! My proficiency as a sit-down quilter has definitely blossomed in the last four years.

The summer started out with this beauty, an original design wall hanging entitled "Trio: Reaching for the Stars", made by an art quilter from Kansas City who will have a solo quilt show hanging in September. Doris cut the dresses for the three ladies from a vintage jacquard tablecloth, using the woven designs as the focal point that gave me the perfect lines to follow for the quilting. Adding feathered tendrils reaching up the quilt towards the stars made for a wonderful background fill. I haven't seen the completed piece yet, but know she was going to be adding fibers for hair and a head wrap on the ladies. Such amazing creativity that I was blessed to be a part of!

When The Trio was completed, Doris brought me a large scale log cabin wall hanging made with strips of ultra-suede sewn to a muslin base. She requested I do something different in each strip to add interesting textures. Rather than every strip, I chose to repeat the same design in the strips of the same color. It was a wonderful experience and gave me the opportunity to really stretch my "bag of tricks" as far as coming up with designs that played well together, yet weren't to similar to each other. I also got to play with some new rulers, especially this circle template that allowed me to make chains of nearly perfect circles in several rows across the quilt.

Last winter, Kelly Cline, the queen of quilting vintage, had a drawing to choose 20 lucky winners who would get to quilt a napkin or placemat from a collection of matching linens she had found while exploring antique shops on vacation. Being one of the lucky winners, I got to quilt this gorgeous piece of linen. I put it over an aqua blue dupioni silk background, layered it with Warm & White 100% cotton and Hobbs Wool batting, and started quilting. The linen piece is quilted with Invisifil 100wt which is so fine it disappears into the background. It was great fun and such an adventure, once again, figuring out what to do with that open space in the center. This piece is now part of a 20-piece permanent collection of Quilting Vintage linens that will soon be displayed at quilt shows across the country.

This quilt was hand appliqued by a friend from my former guild in Emporia, Kansas. She had planned to do some hand quilting on parts of it, but after shoulder surgery, was unable to get that accomplished. Instead, I'm quilting the entire quilt for her. This is one of the applique blocks that is getting echoed. The alternate blocks have feathered wreaths that will have cross-hatching behind them. Ann requested it be quilted with cotton thread which is what she would have used if she had hand quilted it. I was able to color-match a beautiful creamy Aurifil 50wt for all of the background quilting, as well as colors that blend well with the applique for those touches.

With the county fair fast approaching, one of my quilt class students asked if I would be willing to quilt her "And On That Farm" quilt made from McKenna Ryan design. I put the final stitches in just 3 days before quilts were due to be turned in! She went home and got busy adding the binding and embellishments, and had it ready to enter. I'm so happy for her because she won a blue ribbon and Reserve Champion in her category! Well done, JoAnn! I added loads of texture to the fusible applique, bringing it all to life, which is the fun part of being the quilter.

With summer slipping away, I received a call from a gal who had delivered her quilt top to me a couple of months prior. A deadline I didn't have down in my notes was apparently looming, so it was next to get pinned and started. This quilt was 30 years in the making, inspired by a photo in a 1983 magazine. Ruth and her sister-in-law designed their own applique, got started, got distracted by life and tucked it away in her closet for nearly 25 years. After another sister-in-law passed away, the two decided they had better pull it out and get it done while they were both still able. This "Tree of Life" was done with a combination of hand and machine applique techniques. It was an adventure quilting this beauty, figuring out what to do with that much negative space around the applique that is large enough to cover the top of a queen-size bed! With inspiration from quilter and national teacher Kris Vierra, I dove in and had a blast. Not pictured is the drop border on three sides made up of three borders that measured close to 18 inches that were quilted with feathers, wishbone, and piano keys.

One original design I made this summer as a shop sample for Quilting Bits & Pieces in Eudora, Kansas, is The Roosters, a Hexified Panel Quilt. I'll be teaching it this fall for them and made this sample experimenting with pillow-panels as an option for a smaller, wall-hanging size project.

Wrapping up the summer, I'm quilting this wonderfully rich reproduction fabric patchwork for a friend I see twice a year at retreats I attend in Oklahoma. The patchwork was a perfect place to use the gentle curve/orange peel. I chose to include the setting triangles with the sash to fill in with feathers. Layered with Hobbs wool batting, the texture and poof are wonderful! This quilt goes back to its maker next week when I head to Oklahoma for the summer retreat.

While I haven't had a lot of time for my own projects, I have had a blast challenging myself as I hone my free motion quilting skills with a variety of projects that each presented me with its own opportunity to learn. I find that the quilters who seek me out are those who want something different, free motion, and not pantos or edge-to-edge quilting. Having a HandiQuilter Sweet Sixteen sit-down machine, this suits me just fine and I plan to continue to rise to the challenges presented as I continue to build my quilting business.

This week my challenge is to pick out a few projects for ME to work on at two retreats coming up in the next couple of weeks! Having time to dedicate to my own creations will be great fun! For those who may not have connected with me on Facebook, I have a page for my quilting where I post much more often than I post here. There's only so many hours in the day and FB is so easy! Feel free to "like" me on FB at Elizabeth Granberg Custom Quilter or

More snippets from the sewing room soon,