Looking back at 2017

2017 was a great year for Gotch Enterprises.  A ton of 2017 projects were designed and completed, many customer projects were quilted and quite a few custom garments were born as well.

Because a picture is truly worth a thousand words, below are images of some of my favorite projects from 2017.

Garments

The 2017 Projects in garment design really took on forward momentum.  I found that there is really nothing I cannot do, given enough time in my schedule.  Now, I just have to decide what percentage of my sewing time will be spent on what!

Presently, I am working on a coat for my favorite knight to match my gold gown.  I can’t wait!

In-House Quilt Projects

In 2017, I created projects from many different types of inspiration including BOM’s, block manipulation and even Pinterest!  Most times, my initial inspiration was one or more fabrics that were just screaming to become something beautiful.  Also, I try to do at least one donation quilt for our local groups.  Lastly, the cruise quilt was one created out of need – and I am so in love with it

Customer Projects

Sometimes I get just as excited about my customers projects as they do!  Each week, I get to oooo and ahhhh over the amazing quilts created by so many talented quilters.  They inspire me and challenge me to make what is already a fantastic quilt into a finished project that compliments all their skill and choices.

I am so thankful for this opportunity and look forward to what will come to my door in 2018!

What projects inspired you the most in 2017 – and what excites you for the new year?

Cruise Quilts 2018

This year, I have chosen a fun new long-term project: Cruise Quilts. I will be creating quilts based on inspiration photos taken on a recent cruise.  These quilts will be the cornerstone of a new Trunk Show which I hope to finish in 2018.   Presently, I have two trunk shows available: From Kits to Custom and 21st Century Quilting.

Our Cruise

It really wouldn’t be fair to just jump into the quilt elements without first sharing how much fun my daughter and I had on her very first cruise.  To say it was magical, would be an understatement.

We took off on December 2, 2017 from Galveston Texas on the Carnival Valor for a 5 day cruise.  Our stops:  Cozumel and Progreso.

Shopping, relaxing, or enjoying the ship’s amenities, this was a vacation that will provide wonderful memories for years to come.

Cozumel Excursion – Sharks and Rays!

Off the ship, we enjoyed shopping and a really exceptional excursion.  Yes, I swam with nurse sharks and rays.  Akin to cats, the rays swam among us and even rubbed against our legs to get our attention.  Such amazing and beautiful creatures was a fantastic experience.

You can bet there will be a quilt with a Ray and Shark on it before I am done!

Quilt Inspirations

The images that follow are a sample of the inspirations gathered for this project.

The first quilt I have started began with an education.  Look closely at the inspiration image – I did not.

If you pay attention, you will see that the colored “blocks” are not all the same size.  I was so excited about the fun quilting element and colors that I didn’t catch this the first time.  Instead, I designed this quilt with same-sized blocks and sashing.

After looking closer at the image, I saw that the blocks were all different sizes, this means that sashing will not work.  The new image is below.

Oh yea, the math was intense, but I am confident that the end result is going to be so much fun.

With the new year looming ahead, I am so excited about the list of projects I have to work on.

What projects will you be working on in 2018?

 

And don’t forget to check out other completed quilts at my Quilt Gallery.

 

Cardinal Christmas

Every year, I try my darndest to have a new Christmas Quilt for the holidays.  My journey this year began with an image that I stumbled across on Pinterest. This image was posted by:

 

 

quiltinspiration.blogspot.com with the caption: Quilt Inspiration: Free pattern day: Woodsy Winter quilt

 

*NOTE- the image is not a quilt, but a drawing

 

The Pattern:

Because I shy away from patterns as a rule, I didn’t click on the link. Instead, I saved the image and thought about how I would go about making something similar.  I truly hate rules, so wanted to find the best way to make my own version in an organic sort of manner.

One of the things that drew me to this image was the way it allowed for larger prints to be showcased instead of cut up into tiny elements that were then lost.

The Fabrics:

My next job was to find suitable fabrics.  I did have a cute grey with trees and cardinals already waiting for a perfect project.  Next I needed something with a dark presence.  A poinsettia print fit the bill.

Another print I found in my stash was a small red cross pattern in gold.  Because the poinsettia print also had gold mixed in, this was a perfect choice. The last print was for background and sashing which was also in my stash, a gorgeous white with gold snowflakes.

Can you see a pattern emerging?

The last fabrics I needed were some solids to break up all these beautiful prints.  I chose a green and a red – of course!

*NOTE: when I went to put it all together, the green I chose just looked dirty, so luckily the Rock House Retreat had a gorgeous sage green from Moda on hand to save the day.  You can read more about Rock House and the wonderful time I had at Retreat HERE!

The Process:

In looking at the inspiration image, it may at first seem that this quilt was a Jelly Roll candidate.  This was not the case as a Jelly Roll is 2.5″ wide.  In order to showcase the large print fabrics, I chose to utilize 6″ strips instead.

I began by cutting all the fabrics into 6″ strips.  Of these, I cut the large print fabrics into random sections that were quite long.  The red and green I cut into 1.5″ and 2.5″ sections.

At this point, I used the design board to begin laying this all out.

Rock House Retreat TX

It is at this stage that it is very important to try to go for a random look.  At times, I thought this looked like a DNA Fingerprint Report!

The trick was to create a random look that was pleasing to the eye.  At first, when I placed the pieces on the design board, they ran up and down in uneven lengths.  That was OK because once I had the look I wanted, I simply cut the ends so that everything was even.

Sashing and Borders:

As I mentioned above, the sashing and first border was created using the gold snowflake background fabric. It is so lovely and brought all the stacks of internal fabric together.  For the outer border, I used the red/gold cross.  The size of all these elements were 2.5″ (2″ finished).  This choice lends a bit of continuity to the design and allows your eye to appreciate the larger print fabrics.

Long Arm Quilting:

I chose to quilt an edge to edge design that had lots of space so that the focus remained on the beautiful fabrics.

You can about image my excitement when I found this pattern, it is called… wait for it… Christmas Cardinal!!  How could I not use this edge to edge pattern?  The pantograph comes from Urban Elementz if you want to get it yourself.

As an additional unifying element, I used gold thread front and back for the quilting. As you can see, it was a perfect choice.

 

The final element was the binding, which I completed with the same sage fabric that was in the quilt.

I began this journey with an inspiration image and some beautiful stash fabric, and what I ended up with is a Christmas Quilt I am proud to display over the holidays.

Cardinal Christmas

What holiday projects do you hope to finish before Christmas?

Many Ways to Applique

How I Applique

 

Applique can be beautiful and one of the most rewarding additions to the quilting process.  From art quilts to children’s wall hangings, the additional images found on applique quilts provide much depth and meaning to the work we do.

I love applique because even the most plain quilt can come alive because of it.

My First Applique Quilt – RATS!

The first time I made an applique quilt, it was not to add whimsy or depth – it was to cover a hole/mistake in the quilt. Applique can be the quilt worlds best eraser and it looks like you meant to do it!

While I do not have the quilt today or even a picture of it, I can describe my problem and how I solved it.

I use my quilts, a lot!  There was a cute purple quilt that I would throw on the bed at night for added warmth and comfort.  Unfortunately, it was also during this time that my Rat Terrier was doing a lot of chewing.  You guessed it – she gave me a couple choice holes!

In honor of her actions that caused this quilt to be more custom than intended, I did an applique Rat over the area.  It turned out so cute!

Rat AppliqueLittle Spaz

Yep, the little lady bug above is my sweet Spaz, the quilt eater!

I continued to use this quilt for warm and comfort and it continued to gain rats until I just plain wore it out.  I love my dog and thankfully she eventually outgrew this stage!

What is Applique?

noun: appliqué

ornamental needlework in which pieces of fabric are sewn or stuck onto a large piece of fabric to form pictures or patterns.

Out a Western Window 2015 Applique Quilt

Applique can be the icing on the cake for a quilter.  Adding cute, whimsical characters to a baby quilt or other elements to a more adult theme can really make a difference in the finished product.

Applique also allows the quilter to take a more basic design and bump it up several notches.

-OR- it can act as the ultimate eraser when a mistake is made that you don’t want others to see.

It’s OK!

These are tools of our trade and we should never be reluctant to use them to the fullest!

Applique detail

Above is an example of applique that was used to validate my design choices.  I wanted to use the horse fabric in such a way that it resembled looking out the window at a herd of horses.  While representational, when I added the flower pot with cactus and kitty sitting on the sill, the intent became clear.  Both of these elements also take the focus away from the blocks that I put together in the wrong order!

Using custom quilting that resembles wood grain helps to lend credence to the design.

Applique can be a great element to help decide on custom quilting.  This is very evident on my 2016 Row by Row Quilt.  Each Row offered an opportunity for custom quilting just by using the applique’d elements for a guide.

Row by Row 2016

Types of Applique

While there are many types of applique for quilting, the three below are the most popular.

The most common methods are:

Fusible (raw edge)

Raw Edge Applique

Using fusible material, you can iron your element right on to your quilt. Then use either straight stitching (as is show here) or a blanket stitch to sew your design down.  This, I feel, is the easiest and less time-consuming method.

The key to this method is using a fusible sheet to the wrong side of the design.  This serves to hold your fabric pieces in place so you can use your machine to sew them down.

I used this method for the flowers in my Hippie Rainbow Flowers Quilt.

Freezer Paper

Freezer Paper Applique

This technique utilizes freezer paper as a base for your pieces which is then removed after the element has been pressed.  I like the concept of being able to pre-draw an entire design.  After the design is drawn to scale on the paper, each element can be cut out and utilized.

Because the individual pieces turn out so crisp, they can be either hand sewn or machine sewn to the quilt top. You can also use glues and fusible sheets to adhere them to the quilt before you sew them down.

Gigi’s Thimble has a wonderful how-to article on freezer paper applique.  Check out her step by step guild for more information. She does a great job of relaying this technique through words and pictures.

Needle Turn

Needle Turn Applique

This image was borrowed from Kathy K. Wylie’s website, Canadian Quilting. Kathy is very accomplished at hand applique.

Needle Turn Applique is one skill that I would love to learn. So far have shied away from.  This is pretty curious, if you think about it because I love to relax at night and bind. Maybe I need to rethink this.

What is your favorite Applique Technique?

Re-Blog: BLENDER FABRICS

I just couldn’t help re-blogging this wonderful article by Angie, visit her blog for more interesting articles:

https://thebookandi.com

BLENDER FABRICS

What ARE Blender Fabrics?

That’s a question I was asked recently and I was caught off guard. I mean everyone knows what Blender Fabrics are, right? They’re…you know…the fabrics that blend…together…with each other…for the purpose of………….

Uh….

Can I be honest?

I have never been very good at choosing colors, prints and/or patterns for my quilts. In fact, when I first started out, my teen son was my secret weapon. He’s an artist at heart and has an eye for things like that. I discovered this by accident one day while fabric shopping, with him in tow. At first, he was so bored and so resentful I had dragged him into a fabric shop of all places, that he was moody, sarcastic and mean by turns. I was wondering how to separate his head from his body without getting arrested for murder when…

…I started choosing fabrics.canstockphoto23182044

As I began to stockpile several bolts of different colored prints in my basket, I just happened to glance up and catch the strangest look on his face as he was looking at my choices. It read, “I smell something dead.”

I asked, “What? What’s the matter?” He tried to play it off as “nothing” and re-affected the dazed and bored look. But, I knew better. When I picked up the next bolt of fabric, the “UGH” look was back. This time, he didn’t wait for me to respond. He asked, “Are you really going to put all those together? They’re awful!”

He began explaining to me that I had chosen way too many BIG/BOLD/BRASH prints and not enough blender fabrics. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think he really used the term “Blender Fabrics”, he was after all, a 15-year-old teen-aged boy who didn’t really know anything about quilting. I think what he actually said was, “…you know, the go-ey-together-colors. Like this…”. He reached for a blue batik. Even though he and I didn’t know it at the time, he was teaching me about Blender Fabrics.

Blender Fabrics are the glue that hold our designs together and bring about that artistic coalescence we all dream of when designing quilts.

canstockphoto584967

Take this quilt (above) for example. The Focus fabric is the tan floral in the center of the star block. The BLENDER FABRICS are all the other colors and small-ish prints surrounding it. The Maroon, the dark green, the light colored green; the white print and solid white. These are all the BLENDER FABRICS that frame and enhance the Focus Fabric.

They are essential and incredibly important.

Shopping For Fabric.

Walking into the fabric department of any store, or into your Local Quilt Shop can be intimidating. Especially when you’re like me, devoid of any artistic talent or skill whatsoever when it comes to choosing colors, styles and print.

One of the first things I learned to do, after that experience with my son, was to take him with me every time I went fabric shopping. His eye for color and print is amazing. However, that didn’t work for long. Once my secret weapon was discovered and his sister began teasing him for being a “sissy quilter”…I was on my own again.

BUT, he had taught me to find ONE focus fabric and choose my other fabric by how well they frame the Focus. But, I still had a lot to learn.

So, I asked around and learned that fabric manufacturers can also be a secret weaponselvage

Right here on the selvage of most fabrics, the manufacturers print dots of colors that indicate which colors are in the fabric in question, let’s say your Focus Fabric. These dots can then be used to search out blender fabrics of those same colors and in that same color family.

(FYI: The selvages are the bound edges that run along the fabric’s lengthwise grain. Not all manufacturers include these helpful dots. But, most do…)

Okay, so answer the question. What ARE Blender Fabrics!

Blender fabrics are produced in groups or families (often right alongside the Focus prints and patterns) that are tone-on-tone in color, that BLEND with other more artistic prints and patterns. Think: B3971_andover-1yd-dimples-1367620114456atiks; think small, very small prints that read solid (look to be solid from a distance), and or 019a91441ef2f2b025b3909eb2681b5e--pink-color-quilting-fabricsolid color fabrics with no print or pattern at all.

canstockphoto21336129

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, your pattern will lead you in the number of fabrics you’ll need to purchase.

Often patterns read:

You will need:

1 background fabric

1 focus fabric

1 solid dark fabric

1light fabric

1 medium tone small print fabric

These are your blender fabrics.

So, why bring them up, these glue sticks made of cloth called Blender Fabrics? Because, when I was asked about blender fabrics I realized, we don’t often pay a whole lot of attention to these unsung heroes of quilting. Without them, the Focus Fabric would just be a big floral print hanging out by itself on a dull and boring background. Not all that pretty and not all that interesting. Only with her friends, the Blender Fabrics, will she become the Focus she’s meant to be.

I guess my point is this: Pay as much attention to–and spend as much time choosing– your Blenders as you do your Focus and you’ll end up with a gorgeous quilt!

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