Quilting Design Secrets


When you go to a lecture and your speaker appears wearing a kid’s tiara, does it make you wonder if you’re in the right place?  


Really?  She’s serious?

I was invited to be the Emerald Valley Quilt Guild’s “Mystery Speaker” for June, and gave my presentation last week to the guild.  Kudos to the guild members for staying in their seats!  One of my great hopes is that the many quilts tops now stored in boxes and drawers will be quilted so they can be admired and used.  The topics covered included design choice and inspiration, working out a plan for your quilt, and investing time in trying new techniques.  Leave no quilt unquilted!

My quilting journey began in earnest eleven years ago, and nine years ago I began longarm quilting for clients.  Quilting for clients uses my time, and a lot of my own quilts are yet unquilted!  To do this presentation I needed to beg, borrow and nearly steal completed quilts from my clients, friends, and my parents.  No quilt was harmed during this presentation (whew!) and all were admired.  The quilts on the stands behind me are my own, and are actually NOT the best representations of my quilting.  Most of my best quilts belong to other people!


We did show this lovely quilt that I made and gave to my mom and dad.  For two or three years I was rather engaged in doing Trip Around the World quilts, hand piecing them.  This quilt started with four orphan TAW blocks that just needed a quilt to set them off.  As I built around the center I realized this quilt would look great in my parent’s home.  At that point it measured about 60×60.  I called my mom and was rather astonished to hear that the quilt would need to be 102×102 in order to work in their room!  The quilt was loaned back to me for this lecture on the condition that I apply a label documenting it…The quilting in this piece is a medium density, lots of ferns and feathers.  I wanted a very soft quilt for my parents.

This is a quilt I hand pieced, a Grandmother’s Flower Garden, using 30’s Reproduction fabrics.  I decided to make it a large hexagon instead of squaring it off.  I use it as a lap quilt on cold mornings and as a floor quilt for the gkids when they’re watching television.  This is the third GFG I have done.  Each one had a slightly different quilting treatment, but my favorite for this type of quilt is a simple continuous curve around every patch.  The magic in this quilt are the small patches, no need to over-quilt it.

“Love of Lavender,” pieced by Helen Andrews, of The Quilt Patch in Eugene.  This quilt is entered in the AQS Grand Rapids show this coming August.  It is a beautiful quilt with lots of quilting space.

Closeup of Love of Lavender

One more quilt from Helen Andrews that shows both of our work to great advantage is “Stars in the Garden.” The pic here is from my guestroom, where most quilts spend at least a few moments while I photograph them and admire them for a bit before I turn them over to their owners!

Stars in the Garden

Quilting Closeup

I enjoyed quilting this quilt immensely.  Since the background color and the sashing were very close in value, I just quilted over into the block backgrounds to create a flowing space around the flowers.

Border Treatment for Stars in the Garden

And finally I was every excited to share this densely quilted show winner.  I learned so much from making this little quilt, which is the point of the whole process!

Thanks so much to the Emerald Valley Quilt Guild for hosting my presentation. I hope they are inspired to transform their quilt tops into quilts!

Autumn Pathways Beginning

ImageThis is part of what I worked on today.  I’ve outlined all the major motifs in the piece, and now I’m adding the pebble fill.  I worked about five hours today and wanted to go longer, but I was gripping the handles of the longarm so vigorously, that my left hand began to ache.  I did take breaks and tried to relax my hands (especially the left hand), but finally just had to call it a day.  I know I have several more days just like this one to quilt all the background fill, so I need to be careful not to hurt myself.

This is a quilt that I’m intending to send to NorthWest Quilt Exposition and Machine Quilters’ Exposition this fall.

It’s Not Your Grandmother’s Quilting Frame

I just finished this wonderful quilt for Pat G.  She makes beautiful and interesting quilts, and adds extra touches to make my job easier.  For instance, she always marks the center of each side of her quilt and back with a few hand basting stitches in a contrasting thread!  And she stay-stitches the edges of the quilt top to help prevent stretching.

For this quilt she wanted some special attention to the circular shapes in the quilt but an allover design for the rest of the interior, to enhance the “background” those circles float on.  Then we added some very nice ferns around the border, as this quilt is destined to live with a man.

Closeup of the Quilting!

I used quite a few different quilting designs in the circles.  They were fun to do, and a challenge to think up the new ideas for each one.

And the back is good…

Quilt On!

I simply cannot contain my passion for quilting…it permeates every hour of every day and has for the past eleven years.  Quite some time ago I realized I wanted to post photos of the quilts I complete for my clients, as well as quilts I make for myself; that led to this venue.

I made a list of goals for my quilting journey at the end of 2011.  One of those goals was to enter shows this year, to stretch myself to create quilts for competition.  The competition criteria is quite a bit different from the quilts I usually work on or create for my family and friends: technically rigorous, carefully designed, and so heavily quilted I would consider them “for display only.”  They must also, however, have the spark of life that draws the viewer in, that makes you wonder, “How did she do that?”

Earlier this year as I began to work on my design, I realized I needed to create a smaller piece as part of the learning process.  That smaller piece is shown here.  I entered it into the Denver National Quilt Festival this past May and was awarded a Judge’s Choice Award.  I am thrilled!

Round & Round We Go, 30″x31″

This is the technique I am developing this year.  The quilt is a wholecloth quilt, first completely quilted, then painted.  I am using pastel chalk to apply the color. Some of the elements in this quilt are also in the quilt I am currently working on, “Autumn Pathways.”

I intend to post photos of my progress on that quilt, as well as the results of the quilting I do for my many talented clients.

The Quixotic Quilter