From Kits to Custom – Trunk Show and Presentation

I never really thought about it.

Every month, our local guild “Johnson County Quilt Guild” which meets in Joshua, TX, would have a new speaker.  With each new presentation, I was impressed by the beautiful quilts sewn, interesting books written, or historic tales to tell.

Admit I must that aside for the sumptuous meal shared and rich conversation with my sisters and brothers in quilts, the speaker was my favorite part!

I never really thought about giving a presentation myself, but here I was, just last Monday giving one to our own guild.  While trained as a public speaker, I was a tad nervous for two reasons.

  1. I had little time to develop a presentation and prepare and….
  2. This was my home guild and I really wanted to do well!

Needless to say, things went swimmingly and I hope everyone had as much fun as I did.

I took great care to lay out each quilt in reverse-order so it would be easy for my helpers to lift up each quilt as I talked about how it fit in my “custom” scheme.

This Trunk Show is one part “Show and Tell” and another part information on how to break free from emulating someone else’s project to the letter.  My goal is to provide encouragement to create quilts that show off your own personality and skill set.  By building on the concept of inspiration and breaking down the elements that comprise our quilts, I present ways to customize an existing design or go full on One-of-a-Kind!

I also present many of the tools that I use to make the concept become the reality.  And YES we talk about math and how to avoid being overcome by the technical aspects of creating custom quilts.

Feel free to give me a holler if your own group or organization would like to invite me to speak at an upcoming meeting.

Row by Row Texas – Home Sweet Home – 2016


This is the 3rd year I have participated by collecting rows and the 2nd year that I have produced a quilt and presented it at a local quilt shop. The process is both exciting and fun! I highly recommend participating in the Row by Row Adventure.

My Row by Row 2016 was turned in at Country Stitches, Burleson, TX on July 5, 2016.

The Home Sweet Home theme is a concept close to my heart as it represents how comfortable it feels to be a resident of the great state of Texas.  I just could not envision living anywhere else!

As many of you know, I am just not a Kit sort of gal.  I like to do things my own way – challenge myself. Each year, I visit shop after shop and while there I pick out a few fat quarters that I feel will work well with the row they offer.  Each year, I try to make the quilt my own.

This year’s challenge centers on values but let me start at the beginning.  Just prior to the Row by Row event, my husband and I redecorated our living room.  Because of this, I thought it would be nice to make a quilt that would complement the rich, warm brown tones we used.  This gave me the inspiration to do a sepia sort of pallet – shades of brown offset by a large white on white fabric.

I actually found this background fabric at the annual spring sale at Golden D’or. I fell in love with the large random floral pattern.

The main challenge for this project is to create balance within a small range of colors.  There are many ways to test your choices when working in this manner.  Some people will back up from their design walls and squint their eyes until they are looking at a blur of tones – if there is enough of a difference in values, they know they are on the right track.  Other folks will take black and white images of their wall to be sure their choices do not run together.

I try them all, and then rely on my gut to sort it all out.  If I like the way it looks, I do not overthink.

The blocks I chose for this project are listed below – each of the shops was a joy to visit!

Sandy’s Quilt Shop – Joshua, TX

Country Stitches – Burleson, TX

Quilt Among Friends – Arlington, TX

Cabbage Rose Quilt Shop – Fort Worth, TX

Richland Sewing Center – Hurst, TX

Sew It up Bernina – Hurst, TX

Peggy’s Quilt Studio – Pantego, TX

Suddenly Sewing – Fort Worth, TX

Now compare these rows to the finished product and you can see where the challenge of values really kicks in. (and yes, I labeled this image and printed it out when I turned in my quilt so the process would go smoother – I’m glad I did)

The quilting was done with the intent of making key elements of the block stand out as well as providing a softening element for the overall quilt.  A row quilt can get so hectic if for no other reason than that the rows are designed by different people.

I think the most challenging job when doing Row by Row is to create and assemble the rows in such a way that they look like they belong on the quilt together.

This quilt will hang at Country Stitches – Burleson, TX for a while until either they need the room or the contest concludes.  In many ways, I can’t wait to get it back.  I really grew fond of many aspects of this quilt and I did make it to complement our home too!

Last, but not least, just like last year, I chose my 25 Fat quarters prize to specifically make a couple new projects.  Here are the fabrics I choose.  Sometime soon, I hope to present the quilts that result from this!

Are you a Row by Row quilter?

King Cabin Crane Quilt – 2016

This quilt started with an inspiration.  I had the opportunity to purchase fabric from an estate of a woman who was a prolific seamstress.  While I purchased many gorgeous fabrics, the one I used as inspiration for this quilt really stood out.

I checked online and found other similar fabrics by the same company Timeless Treasures, but not this exact one.

This King Size Quilt was designed in Electric Quilt 7.  I am sharing all the information I have on how I designed this quilt so that anyone can make it for FREE.

Ultimately this quilt measures 115″ x 115″ after I trimmed the blocks down a bit – how you piece could make your quilt’s size differ

This is actually quite a basic design which consists of a single block – the Log Cabin. I spent a long time moving the blocks around and turning them this way and that until I came up with the layout you see here.

What makes this quilt so effective is the placement of the blocks, they create a 3-D effect.

The image above is the actual print-out from Electric Quilt 7.  Please note that I chose similar fabrics from the stock list in EQ7 to represent the fabrics that I ultimately chose.  It is very important when doing this to choose fabrics with similar values so that the effect is the same.  It is OK to choose a different pallet (I choose browns, greens and blues).

Blocks:

Below is a representation of the block used. This was designed as a 12″ x 12″ finished block.

The image above included example fabrics and is not those used in the final quilt.

The cutting directions are (in inches):

(A) 2×11
(B) 2×9.5
(C) 2×12.5
(D) 2×8
(E) 2×6.5
(F) 2×5
(G) 2×3.5
(H) 3.5×3.5

There are a total of 64 blocks; the blocks are 8 rows of 8 blocks. Around these blocks are two borders.  The borders pictured are 3” and 5” wide respectively.

Borders:

I did not do mitered corners. I was a bit excited to get this done, so didn’t take the extra time to do the math. Instead, I figured out what fabric I had left in the two border colors and made them as large as I could.  I measured 3X across the quilt to get my border length to ensure they would not be wonky when quilting.

Quilting:

I looked at this quilt for some time to come up with a quilting plan that I liked.  Because it was not necessarily symmetrical, I knew that whatever I did would create more than one secondary pattern.  Ultimately, I decided on splitting the block into two designs.

  1. The tan side held two feathers
  2. The blue side was a variable line that started at the middle and ended at the point.

This created some interesting intersections that I love.

The borders were done in two designs:

  1. The brown border was a filigree type design
  2. The blue crane border was segmented into triangles with double feathers similar to the blocks.

The color thread chosen was #3056 (rusty) OMNI by Superior Threads.  This burnt brown color added visibility to my quilting on the top of the quilt.

Binding:

Because I really hate waste, after I had done all the piecing and quilting and it was time to bind I had to make a decision. I either had go buy more fabric or use what I had which was not enough for one color to bind.  Of course I refrained from purchasing more.  Instead, I cut the green and blue into 44” x 2.25” strips and alternated them.  As you can see by the final images, the quilt turned out very well and I didn’t have to incur any additional expense.

Additional Quilt (not on purpose):

Have you ever gotten so excited about a project that you made a crucial mistake?  I sure did.  Instead of waiting for ALL my blocks to be complete and then trimming to the smallest one, I started trimming right away – and trimmed too much. Because of this, I had 24 smaller blocks.  Never fear, I just set them aside and created a corresponding lap quilt.  This can be used on a sitting room chair or a number of other uses.

My plan is to quilt this one the same as the larger version. Because of a shortage of corresponding fabrics, I will most likely have smaller borders though!

Feel free to give me a holler if you have any questions regarding this or other projects: EMAIL

Looking back at 2015

While I am sure that many of us who create AND blog will be doing a post such as this – I am equally sure that these types of posts are so important.  Not only does this compile a years’ worth of memories, just writing a recap of the year helps me to put all I have done into focus.

With this being said, I find that by breaking down 2015 I am able to plan better for the coming year.

So, let’s dive into all this with lots of pictures! (a full gallery is at our main site GALLERY)

Hunter’s Star – 2015
Yellow and Grey Brick Road
Yellow and Grey Brick Road 2015

Above are a few personal and customer quilts that stand out this year.  This is only a handful of the quilts completed in 2015.

I also had the unique opportunity of assisting a customer with the restoration of their family’s heirloom quilts.  I was so honored to be a part of this process.

Quilt Restoration Project Part 1

Quilt Restoration Project Part 2

Another rewarding project was to donate a raffle quilt to our local Veteran’s group.

2015 Veteran’s Quilt Raffle

Not all my quilting was for others this year.  While I had gone to lots of shops the year before collecting patterns for the Row By Row Experience, this was the first year that I actually completed a quilt and presented it to a local shop.  I had so much fun!

The prizes I won (all fabric of course) spawned two more quilts.

Rainbow Time – Double Hourglass Quilt (this quilt was a gift to my daughter this Christmas)

Hippie Rainbow Flowers Quilt (this quilt was so much fun to design and make)

These projects are but highlights of a whirlwind year!  While my priority is always client projects, I also found time to do some custom sewing and crafting for family as well:

Cardboard Box Snowmen

MAN-equin (Renaissance Faire Ware and armor stand made by my husband)

The images below did not make it into an actual blog post, but were so much fun to create!

Lastly, I do want to thank all my friends – locally and across the country – for all their input on different projects.  The Facebook group Gotta Love Quilting! is a fabulous bunch of wonderful folk that provide advice, encouragement and sometimes lots of laughs! Also, because this is a closed group, I am able to share images of projects with their creators without the posts showing up on their feed.  When quilts are meant as gifts, this can be a perfect way to share without over-sharing.

I just can’t wait to see what 2016 holds!! – How was your 2015?

What to Get the Man Who Has Everything! (A Christmas Surprise)

Today’s post is about a Christmas Surprise. (originally published on December 21, 2015)

While not at all quilting related, you will find that the DIY value is without question – just in a different way.

So, before I get into the meat of this post, I do need to give a little background.

  1. My husband hates surprises – but I have always wanted to surprise him at Christmas
  2. We usually talk about our gifts to each other each year (not sure why, but probably to be sure we are getting something we like)
  3. Terry is my Knight in Shinny armor – literally – we do Renaissance Fairs and are a fixture at Scarborough Renaissance Festival outside of Waxahachie, TX.
The surcoat of a knight

So, with this little bit of information, I should also say that this all began with a crown and a Facebook post.

The Facebook post referred to the following website: www.mysteriouspackage.com.  You can also do a YouTube search to see how this concept actually works.  Ultimately, the company (Mysterious Package) will send a story in 3 packages for a fee.  There are a few pre-configured stories to choose from.

The problem is that none of the stories really fit my husband’s personality or interests.  I did; however, have a gorgeous titanium crown on the way from the Ukraine. So, I did my own story!

The trick to pulling this off is that:

Every convincing lie must have a vein of truth – the more truth the better!

First thing I did was research our family name, and here is where things started to get a bit eerie.  I found a German Imperial Knight from the 16th century that has a version of our surname.  His story was just too perfect not to use. I enlisted the assistance of my children – who are always up for a challenging mission, and the fun began.

Below you will see the actual letters and “artifacts” that I sent to my husband.  The ultimate artifact was a box with his crown inside.  I presented these all to Terry as if I was a long-lost relative who worked with a University as a scholar of History.  This scholar’s only goal was to be sure that his (and the Knight’s) family line was intact and would continue on.

The First Letter with its attachment

Letter 1

Imperial Knights

This first letter set the stage for what was to follow. There were no artifacts with this letter except for the “proof” of my business card.  The fun part about this is that I HAD given a card to a lady at Texas Renaissance Festival while shopping for soap and I had told Terry about it that day.

Our son brought this letter into the house one day and said that a “carrier” had hand delivered it.

The Second Letter with its artifacts

Letter 2

The Knight and Death

This letter included more in-depth information about the Knight in question – Gottfried “Gotz” von Berlichingen (1480-23July 1562). He was also known as Gotz of the Iron Hand.  It was left on the front doorstep and included a small, wooden puzzle box which held two keys.

The Third and Final Letter with its artifacts

Letter 3

This was really the finale to the entire ruse.  Not only did Terry receive the remaining and very interesting information about his long-lost relative, the artifact included was a box which was protected by a large padlock. And you guessed it – the key from the puzzle box fit the lock!  This lock and key set I also got while at the Texas Renaissance Festival.  Our great friends at Eternal Arms had just the artifact I was looking for.

Inside the box were three items – a letter marked READ ME FIRST, a green bag (with the crown inside) and a hand-written letter from me.  Of course after reading the letter and finding the bag, the jig was up.

Fortunately for me, Terry loved his surprise and may even use his new found heritage to develop a knightly character one day – I hope he does!

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