Living This Creative Life

I have two favorite quotes. The first one is by Emile Zola, "If you asked me what I came into this world to do, I would tell you that I came to live out loud". I don't know who the second one is by, but it goes like this, "If you're not living on the edge then you might as well jump". Both of these sentiments sum up my personal philosophy of this experience we call life on earth. Enjoy!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Block #87 in the Machine Quilting Challenge


Good Morning Again,

Since the last block was so similar to the previous block, I thought I'd throw in another one.

In the past two weeks, I've completed my first article for Quilting Arts and moved. My new space is twice as big as the previous one. It's funky and fabulous and I love it.

I hope to finally use my new machine this week and stitch out some more new designs. Hopefully this one will tide you over in the meantime.

The design features largish paisley shapes with swirls inside. Begin by stitching a paisley shape (teardrop) near the middle of the block. Mine are about two inches long and 1 1/2" at their widest. Once the paisley is complete, stitch a line up the middle that ends in a swirl then double back down and out of the paisley. Stitch another paisley as close as possible to the first one but positioned in a different direction then stitch a swirl in it's center. Continue making paisleys with swirls, changing up the position and size of each so that they all nestle into each other and leave little or no negative space.

Hope you enjoy doing this one. It's very pretty!

Till next time,
Heather

Block #86 in the Machine Quilting Challenge


Hi Gang,
I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. Mine was just right. Both daughters and one of their delightful friends. Great food and company and perfect gifts; art and music!

I've been meaning to get this design to you for a couple of weeks! Since I put up the last design that is very similar to it.
It is done the same way as the previous block but instead of stitching in continuous, wavy rows, it is stitched in arcs and straight rows.

Begin by stitching the up and down, in and out rectangular shapes in a small arc that begins along one edge of the block. Then continue making rows above and below the original arc. Next, stitch a second arc that curves in a different direction from the first one. Continue stitching rows above and below the new arc. Keep stitching rows of arcs then fill in any space between the rows of arcs with straight rows of the rectangles.

As I said, it's really similar to the last block only it has a different kind of rhythm and I think it is more interesting.

Till next time,
Heather

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Block #85 in the Machine Quilting Challenge


Good Evening,
Boy, it's been a busy couple of weeks - sorry to say that when the proverbial s**t hits the fan, this blog of mine is usually the first to suffer!
But, an end is in sight. I've been busy packing to move and am now done with it all except for what we need to use for the next few days. The movers arrive bright and early Wednesday morning and we move to a flat in an old mansion downtown that is about twice the size of where we are now and just 12 blocks from where my hubby works and 10 blocks from where my daughter lives! I'm so excited. A new studio space that is almost twice as big with three walls of wrap around windows and a west facing view!

I've finished my first article for Quilting Arts and am working hard on a my first design CD that I plan to have complete for Road to California next month. I managed to sneak in a few minutes of quilting before I packed up the last of my studio this morning, so here's a new design.

I call it Tracks, cause it looks like the tracks made by tires or hiking boots. It's really easy to do and makes a nice interesting filler or background.

Here's how you do it. It is a series of ups and downs and back and forths all about 3/8" to 1/2" in size. They are stitched in rows with one or two big waves in them and the rows are stitched right next to each other. Beginning on the left side edge, near the middle, stitch a 1/2" straight, horizontal line. Turn and stitch up 1/2" forming a 45 degree corner. Stitch over 1/2" forming a second corner then stitch back down forming yet another 45 degree corner. Continue stitching these open ended squares/rectangles forming a line that moves from the left side of the block to the right side of the block with at least one curvy undulation in it. Once you reach the opposite side, stitch another row either on top of or under the first row, keeping subsequent rows about 1/8" t0 1/4" apart and following the undulation or wave of the original row.

Hope you enjoy this stitch -out. I'll talk to you again on Thursday or Friday from the new house!

Till next time,
Heather

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Block #84 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning All,

Great news.......I've been asked (and I've accepted!) to write an article on machine quilting for each of the six issues of Quilting Arts Magazine for the year 2011! I will present it as a learning challenge just as I have done here on my blog. I'm so excited!

Here is another new motif, designed for wide, outer borders. It features multiple designs including, a five petal flower with a swirled center, stems, leaves and veins as well as tall grasses and background filigree. If any of these motif elements are new to you, doodle it out first. I used three different thread colors. To show you two different ideas, on the right hand side of the strip I quilted the flowers farther apart and on the left side, they are closer together and overlap some.

Load your machine with the thread you want to use for the flowers and beginning at one end of the rectangle, stitch across the bottom about 1 1/2" with a wavy line then stitch up to about the half way point to form a stem, again with a wavy line. Stitch a small swirl, about the size of a nickle then stitch back out again and form your first petal. Continue making petals until you have circled the center of the flower then stitch back down the stem. Stitch over along the bottom edge about 2" then stitch up to form the second stem, then second flower and so on. Continue stitching flowers until the border section is filled, trying to keep them all an equal distance apart.

Load up your machine with a thread color for the long grasses and leaves. Beginning at one end of the strip, start stitching the long grasses. Stitch a long wavy line up about 2" then stitch back down again forming a long, sharp point and keeping the distance along the base of the grass blade no wider than 1/4", stitch back up again, either longer or shorter than the first blade and form the second blade. Keep forming long blades of grass of various heights from as tall as the flowers to as shot as 1". When you reach a stem, travel up it and form a leaf on one side of it then a leaf on the other side of it and travel back down it again. Keep forming grasses and leaves until the border section is filled.

Load your machine with the thread color for the flower accents and filigree. Travel along the bottom of the strip with a wavy line until you reach the first stem. Travel up the stem to the leaves and stitch a long, wavy vein in each of the leaves. Stitch up to the flower and stitch a curvy vein in each of the petals. Stitch out of the petals and fill in the area above the flower with thin, curling, filigrees. Stitch back down and between two petals of the flower, back down the stem and over to the next flower and do it all again. Strive to fill any background space with a filigree so that all of the space in the rectangle is equally filled with stitching.

Hope you enjoy this new design,
Till next time,
Heather


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Block #83 in the Machine Quilting Challenge


Good Morning All,

Here is a new border design. It features a large,complex leaf with sprigs of small leaves in between. I stitched it in three different thread colors, dark green for the leaf and vine, blue green for the veins in the large leaves and light violet for the small sprigs of leaves. You might want to doodle this one out before you jump into the stitching.

Start with a piece of fabric that is 7 1/2" wide by 14 1/2" long (you will trim it to 7" x14" when the stitching is done). Begin on one end of the rectangle, with the bulk of the rectangle behind the machine. You will be pulling the fabric toward your lap as you stitch.

Start by making a short stem, about 1" long then veer over to the right and stitch a wavy line that angles up and stops about 1" from the edge (this is the center vein of the leaf) next, stitch an a wavy line down then out and away from the center vein then angle it back down toward the stem. Do the same on the opposite side of the vein to form the other side of the leaf. Remember to make all of these stitching lines wavy. Stitch back down the center vein to the stem then stitch up another 1" - 1 1/2" and form a leaf on the opposite side. Continue making large leaves, one on the left then one on the right etc. until the rectangle is full. My leaves are about 5" long and 3 1/2" wide and I was able to fit three full leaves on each side of the stem.

Change threads to a different color for the veins of the leaves. Begin at the same spot you did before and stitch up the vein with a wavy line that is slightly different from the first stem line. Stitch into the first leaf and echo up the center vein, keeping the stitch line about 1/8" away. Then stitch out to form the first angled vein then stitch back to the center again, again keeping the lines about 1/8" apart. Continue stitching angled, wavy lined veins on the first side of the leaf then once you reach the top, do the same on the opposite side of the leaf. Complete all of the leaves in this manner, traveling from leaf to leaf over the stem.

Change your thread color one more time for the small sprigs of leaves. Again, begin at the bottom of the rectangle and pull it towards you as you stitch. You will be filling in the negative space with these sprigs. Because I like to use contrasting shapes, I used small seed shaped leaves on the small springs. They are rounded and work well with the more pointy large leaves but you could shape yours however you like.

Stitch up the stem until you reach a large area of negative space then stitch out and away from the stem, forming a long stem. Stitch a small leaf at the end then double back adding leaves on the sides of the stem as you go. Mine are teardrop or seed shaped and vary in size from a pumpkin seed down to a sunflower seed. Keep traveling up the stem adding more sprigs as you go until you have filled in the negative space adequately ( no more the 1/2" - 1" of open space with no quilting).

Hope you enjoy this new design. I can't wait to use it in a quilt myself!

Till next time,
Heather

Thursday, November 25, 2010

More "Quilt & Color" designs

















Good Morning and Happy Thanksgiving to You All,

I'm not much of a holiday girl anymore. The kids are grown, I'm not close to me extended family but my good friends are so it's usually just my small family getting together.

This year it's just me and Tom, my oldest Jaz and a couple of stray friends that she's bringing with her (she mixes with a lot of very different types of people and her friends are always fun and interesting). I'm making a nice but simple dinner so that means I've got the whole morning to spend in my studio!

So, I thought I'd take some time to show the "quilt and color" technique step by step using the new triptych I'm working on. the photos above show the three major steps in the technique.

In the first photo, using a fine mechanical pencil, I have drawn the circles, the dividing line, the word and it's surrounding borders and the sections in the background around the circles. I then stitched them all using 40 wt. black thread.

In the second photo, I have added all of the fine detail stitching, making it up as I go. Turning circles into flowers, adding loads of texture and fun shapes still using the 40 wt. black cotton thread.

The last photo shows the final result, all colored in using Pro Markers, Fabrico markers and Tsukinenko Ink. After the ink has dried, (less than an hour) I go back in and thicken up any lines where any colors may have bled (this not only covers the bleeding, but adds interest too). To do this I use the same black thread and various widths of satin stitch.

This is so fun! I will soon be carrying the Fabrico markers and Tsukinenko inks on my web site for those of you who would like to try out the technique and can't find the products. I'm teaching it early next year at Great American Quilt Factory too and will be publishing a printable CD pattern on the technique filled with loads of designs.

Have a lovely day,

Till next time,
Heather

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Cover Quilt for my new Color Book - AT LAST!
















Good Morning All,

My apologies for being away for so long. Isn't it amazing how the days fly by? I've been so busy that Thanksgiving just snuck up on me. I'll have to do my shopping today after work!

Here, finally, is the quilt that I will use on the cover of my upcoming color book. I'm very pleased with the results. It was worth doing it over.I love the lines and shapes but especially the color.

It began with a piece of white cloth. I marked the long vertical lines as well as the circles but that's all.

Then I layered it with two layers of silk batting and a colorful backing fabric. I stitched around the marked circles and the long, wavy lines. Then I went back in to each circle adding all of the detail free style (no marking), just stitching whatever came to mind. All of this was done with a 40 wt. black cotton thread.

Then I stitched a different design, in a different color, in each of the background sections using a thinner, 50 weight thread.

Then I colored each of the circles using Promarkers and Fabrico Markers. I tried to make them as colorful as possible using a mixture of pure hues, slight tints and slight shades. Then I colored in the background areas. Each was done in a color slightly lighter than the thread used in that section. For this I used the Promarkers and Tsukinenko Inks.

One of the things that can happen with this technique is the ink or markers can bleed into an adjoining area. When this happens, I simply thicken up the stitch lines using various widths of satin stitch and viola, problem fixed!

I love, love, love doing this technique. My two favorite things; free style machine quilting and coloring - it's a little like being a kid again!

Have a glorious Thanksgiving!

Till next time,
Heather

Monday, November 15, 2010

Block #82 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Afternoon All,

Here is another new design. It's a lovely, delicate, feminine filler full of feathers and frills (try saying that five times fast!).

Anyway, it is made from several motifs that we have used before including feathers, well really, half feathers.

Beginning in the center of your square, stitch the spine of a small feather, about 2 1/2" long with a slight swirl at the end. Begin stitching small half heart shaped feathers along the outside edge of the swirl and back down to the base of the spine. Next, stitch away from the feather and make a long, thin swirl ended leaf or two. Stitch back down to the base of the feather then away to form another half feather. Keep stitching half feathers and long, thin, swirly leaves and add in some curly-q flourishes along the way. Fill in all of the space on the block, keep the feathers all about the same size and keeping the negative space even.

Hope you enjoy this new design,


Till next time,
Heather

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Block #81 In the Machine Quilting Challenge


Good Morning All,

There is a fine layer of snow on the ground here in my central Denver neighborhood and the promise of more to come today. It's a perfect time to get some work done in my studio.

Here is another new design. I call it Swirly Suns. It is unusual for me, in that, the designs are not linked and no stitching is done in the negative space. So, there is a lot of knotting off. When doing a design like this where each motif is separate, "traveling" is required. To travel, end a design by knotting off but don't clip the threads, rather, lift up the needle and presser foot and move the quilt to where you want to begin the next motif. Put down the foot and needle then stitch out the motif and knot off. Next, lift up the needle and presser foot and move the quilt to where you want to stitch the next motif and stitch, knot off and travel.

The sun is a relatively easy design. Mine are about the size of a silver dollar. Begin with a swirl, starting in the center and swirl out. Once the swirl is the size you want it (mine are about the size of a quarter), close the swirl and begin making the suns rays which are just small triangles stitched around the perimeter of the swirl. Strive to make each sun approximately the same size and leave about the same amount of negative space between them all. Remember to knot off at the beginning and end of each motif. Once all of the designs have been stitched, go in and clip all of the threads in between them.

Hope you enjoy this design,

Till next time,

Heather

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Great New Book


Good Evening Again,

This is especially for Debbie and the girls that were in my one day design class yesterday at Great American Quilt Factory. Of course it's for all the rest of you too!

This is a delightful, useful, informative new book. It's by Katherine Dunn and it's filled with ideas on how to add simple sketching and drawing to your mixed media/fiber art work. It's filled with beautiful paintings, great quotes and lots more - a must have for those of us who want to improve our drawing/painting skills.

Also of note, one of the co-authors of my book, Fabric Embellishing; the Basics and Beyond, Ruth Chandler, just returned from quilt market with great news. Our book is in the process of being translated into French for the European market - Woo Hoo!

Till next time,
Heather

The Machine Quilting Challenge Block #80


Good Evening All,

Hope everyone has had an enjoyable weekend. I always love "fall back" time. Getting that extra hour to sleep in then going to bed early.

Here is another new design. It's quite simple to do and is a great filler when done tiny like this and it can be wonderful in borders when done two to three times this size. Click on the picture to see it larger. I used a variegated violet thread, so the light areas are showing up better than the darker areas.

The design is simply three small tear drop shaped leaves at the end of a stem. Begin by stitching a line that is about 1" long and has a gentle curve in it. At the end of the line, stitch a small tear drop that is pointed where it meets the stem and rounded at the far end. Stitch a second tear drop to the right side of the first one and a third tear drop to the left side of the first one. Stitch partially down the stem then away to form another stem with another set of three tear drop shaped leaves at the end of it. Keep stitching more stems and sets of leaves, moving directions whenever possible. Strive to keep the negative space equal as well as the size of the leaves.

Hope you enjoy this one,

Heather

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Block #79 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Hello Again,

I know, twice in one day is not like me - but, it's make up time.

This design is similar to the previous one, but it's stitched somewhat differently. It is a wonderful fill design, whereas the previous one would be great for borders.

Here's how I work it;

Begin in one of the corners of the block and stitch a quarter circle that is about the size of a quarter. Once the arc is complete, stitch four or five wavy rays or petals emanating out of the arc. Next, stitch a large arc over the rays, turn at the end about 1/4" and stitch a second arc over the first one. Now, stitch over along the bottom of the block about 1" and stitch a second arc. Stitch rays emanating from it then stitch a double arc above them. Keep stitching this combined design, nestling the new motifs inside the divots between two previously sewn motifs. Try to turn the motifs in different directions when ever possible to make the design more interesting.

Hope you enjoy these two new designs,

Till next time,
Heather

Block #78 in the Machine Quilting Challenge


Good Evening

Thanks to Christa for keeping up with the comments - I'm glad to know that someone is excited about the new designs.

It's been a tough couple of weeks - a friend died two weeks ago after a short, rough battle with lung cancer; a big Hi to Elana who is off in a bright new existence - then, the 31 year old daughter of my very good friend, Wanda, had a massive stroke last week. She and her family are up for the biggest battle of their lives helping her recover - Kudos to Shelly for surviving and to her husband and family for battling with her!

So, forgive me if my mind and time has been elsewhere! But to make it up to you, today I'll give you two new designs. the first one is shown above. Doodle it out before you stitch it so that you can find your rhythm.

The design begins with a large clam shell. Then half suns are added in. To begin, Stitch three large clam shells along the bottom edge of the block. Make each about 2" tall and 3" wide. Stitch the next row of clam shells on top of and in between the first row. Start with a half shell then stitch two whole shells and finish with a half. Continue stitching rows of clam shells one on top of the other, each off set from the one below until the entire block is complete.

Go back to the first clam shell you stitched and stitch a small half circle in the middle of it along the base, about the size of half of a dime. Now, stitch four or five rays with wavy lines emanating from the half circle. Double back along the bottom edge until you are where you can add the same design to the next clam shell and stitch it out. Continue adding the sun rays in each of the clam shells, doubling over previously stitched lines to travel from clam shell to clam shell. Note; I added two or three small arcs instead of just one at the base of each of my suns.

Hope you like this one - it's really fun to do!

Heather

Sunday, October 24, 2010



Good Morning All,

So here I am, working on the quilt for the cover of my new book - again. Last week I showed you the preliminary drawing.
The photo on the top shows the quilt with the circles all quilted (click on it if you want to see it larger) and the photo below shows it with the circles colored in after the quilting.
The final step is to decide how to finish - sometimes figuring out how to finish is the most difficult decision! I think that what I'm going to do is quilt each background section very heavily with a different design and in a different color and try to repeat all of the colors that I used in the circles. Any way - here's hoping it looks good when I'm done.

I'll let you know,
Till next time,
Heather

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Block #77 in the Machine Quilting Challenge


Good Morning All,

Here is today's new design. It's very dense and stitched in a variegated thread and is hard to see in this size. Click on the block to see it larger then come back and read the instructions. I call this design Chrysanthemums.

Begin near the middle of the block and stitch a small circle about the size of a pea. Stitch six or seven round ended petals around the circle, then stitch a second row of petals around the outside and in between the first row of petals. Continue stitching additional rows of petals around the previous row until you have stitched a total of four rows of petals around the flower center. Knot off when the flower is complete, lift up the needle and travel to where you want to start the next flower. Knot off again and stitch out the second flower in the same manner as the first. Fill the entire block with flowers in this way, leaving about 1/2" - 3/4" between flowers.

Now, stitch the negative space between the flowers. Because the flowers are so curvy, I chose a straight lined design for the negative space. Simply stitch a straight line from one flower to the next then change angles and stitch another line, keep stitching from flower to flower, crossing over previously stitched lines and sewing at all different angles until the background is equally filled.

Hope you enjoy today's new design,

Till next time,

Heather

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Cover Quilt - Revisited

Good Morning All,

Since my last attempt at creating the quilt to put on the cover of my new book failed so miserably, I thought that this time around I would break one of my core beliefs and draw the damn thing out before I jumped into it. So, here is the quilt. I drew it 9" x 12" but I've sized it up by 3 and am stitching it out 27" x 36".
I drew the circles and vertical division lines on to white fabric then layered it with a solid raspberry backing fabric and two layers of silk/cotton blend batting. I will quilt all of the circles and the designs in them as well as the vertical lines in black. Then I will color in the designs in the circles and decide at that point whether to quilt the remaining areas in black then color in the backgrounds or in colors and leave the background white. I'll show you everything as I get it done.

Till next time,

Heather

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Block #76 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning All,

I'm am so jazzed with this wonderful weather change. I just love the beauty of Autumn! It's nice to pull out the sweaters or cuddle with a quilt and a book.

Here is today's new design. It is filled with rhythm and movement. It's wonderful in borders or areas with simple piecing.

Begin by stitching horizontal wavy lines across the block that are about 1 1/2" to 2" apart. Next, stitch vertical lines across the block that are about 1/2" apart. These lines are curvy too, however the curves switch orientation each time you cross the horizontal lines, meaning, the arc of the curve moves in in the first horizontal section then moves out in the second section then in again in the third section and so on. It is this consistent, repeated curve that gives the design all of its movement. Strive to keep the lines smooth and an equal distance apart.

Enjoy and have a wonderful Fall weekend,

Till next time,

Heather

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Block #75 in the Machine Quilting Challenge


Good Morning All,

Wow! The husband and I just returned from a 3 day mini vacation to Moab. I had never been there before and I'm just amazed with the majesty of it all. Wow! The land we live in is filled with so many wonders!

Here is today's new stitch out. I call it "Olives", because that's what it looks like. It is very similar to "Stones" in that the shapes are all the same and they have to touch each other to look tidy.

Begin by stitching an oval that is about the size of a large olive. Once the oval is complete, stitch a smaller circle in one end of the oval. Next, stitch another oval that is about the same size and making sure that it is touching the first oval. Stitch a small circle inside one end of the second oval. Continue making ovals that touch each other, each with a small circle stitched at one end and doubling over stitch lines as needed to get to where you want to stitch.

This design provides loads of texture and is a great fill. Consider stitching it in a slightly contrasting color (I used yellow orange thread on an orange fabric) to add some extra punch.

Hope you all have a great day,
Till next time,

Heather

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Machine Quilting Challenge - Block #74


Good Morning All,

Here is today's new design, click on it to see it larger. It is a very colorful, busy, decorative border design. The stitch out was done in three colors and three of what you might want to call "layers". The first layer was done in red and consisted of the basic flower shape and the loop d 'loops that links them together. The second layer was done in turquoise and consisted of additional loop d 'loops and stems of leaves in the negative space, tiny scallops inside the flower centers and wavy veins inside each of the petals. The final layer was done with yellow orange thread. I used it to add an asterisks shape in the center of each flower, jagged zig-zags around the outside of the flower centers, a jagged surround around each of the leaves and more loop d' loops in the negative space.

Begin with a 7" x 14" quilt sandwich. Starting at one end, stitch a curvy line of loop d' loops to where you want to make your first flower. Stitch a large circle, about the size of a quarter then surround it with five or six petals. Loop d' loop over to where you want to make your next flower and so on. You can fit four large flowers in the rectangle if you stagger them,one on the left then one on the right and so on.

Change thread colors and loop d' loop into the center of the first flower. Stitch tiny half circles around the inside perimeter of the flower center then add long wavy veins down the center of each petal, stitch out and away from the flower and stitch a sprig of leaves then loop d' loop to the next flower and stitch its center and veins. Continue loop d' looping from flower to flower, adding leaves, center flourishes and veins.

Change thread color again and loop d' loop into the center of the first flower. Stitch an asterisks design in the middle of the flower center then stitch just out of the center and surround it with a small jagged zig-zag. Loop d' loop out of the flower toward the first sprig of leaves and surround each leaf with small, pointy, bottom-less triangles. Loop d' loop toward the next flower and sprig of leaves and do the same.

Look over the strip and add more loop d' loops in any large open spaces.

I love, love, love stitching with multiple colors in large open spaces on my quilts - it adds so much interest. Be careful though - you don't ever want your quilting to overwhelm your piecing. The two should work in tandem with each other, each playing off of and complimenting the other.

Hope you all enjoy your weekend!

Till next time,
Heather

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Design #73 in the Machine Quilting Challenge


Good Morning All,

A shout out to our new viewer, Susie, welcome!

As most of you have probably figured out, I like texture. These two border designs are all about adding visual texture to otherwise plain areas on a quilt - they are great in borders as shown here.

Begin with a sandwich that is 7" x 14" and divide it down the middle to yield two sides that are 3 1/2" each. Use a Hera marker or the marker of your choice. Stitch on the middle line to divide the two halves.

The top design, looks like flight patterns of birds to me. It is very free form and easy to do. Begin by dividing your border into long curvy pathways that are about 1" wide. Simply stitch a long, curving line somewhere in the border then stitch another that is about 1" away and another. Then, change directions and make a set of three or four lines, then change directions again and make another set of 3-4 lines and so on until the entire border area has long, curvy lines that are about 1" apart.

Each set of curvy lines or channels has round bottomed "w"s stitched in them that follow the direction of the channels themselves. Try to keep the w's the same distance apart,mine are about 3/8". Use the channel stitch lines to travel from one place to another while stitching.

The bottom design is much more formal then the top design and it requires a bit of marking. Divide the border in half lengthwise and mark with a Hera marker then divide the length into four equal sections each 3 1/2" wide and mark. Stitch diagonal lines to divide the space into large triangles. To do this start at the bottom left hand corner and stitch up to the first dividing line then stitch down to the next dividing line then up to the next and so on. You can put on your walking foot for this, but it's a great opportunity to practice long, straight lines free motion. After the triangles are stitched, stitch down the middle line to subdivide them. Look at the photo again and notice that each triangle is filled with straight lines that are about 1/4" apart. These lines alternate, vertical and horizontal in every other triangle. I find it easiest to stitch these lines in rows. Use the original stitch lines to travel from triangle to triangle.

I hope you enjoy these new designs and that you all have a wonderful day - I'm off to sell sewing machines!

Heather

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Machine Quilting Challenge - design #72


Good Morning All,

I'm not sure what's up with the focus on this, but when you click on it to see it larger, it's nice and clear. Anyway, here are two fun border designs for you to try out. Use a 7" x 14" fabric sandwich and divide it down the middle using a Hera marker before you baste it. The top side features large swirls with straight, vertical lines in the negative space and the lower design begins with sections divided into large triangles followed by echoing arcs.

To begin the swirl design, using a Hera marker, divide the length of your strip into five equal sections, about 2 3/4" each. Beginning on one end, stitch a large swirl that is about two inches wide, keep it in the middle of the strip and inside one of the five sections. Stitch in, then back out again and swoop over to form the next swirl in the next section, striving to make it the same size as the first swirl. Stitch three more large swirls in the same manner until you reach the far side of the strip.

Once all of the swirls are complete, begin sewing the straight lines on the inside of the row of swirls, stitch from the edge of the swirl to the center line mark then back to the swirl then back to the center line mark. Try to keep your new stitch lines on top of the swirl stitch lines when switching directions. Keep your lines the same distance apart. Mine are 1/4" but 1/2" apart works too. Once this side is complete, stitch several times down the center line to divide the two halves of the strip. Do the same thing on the opposite side of the swirls, stitching vertical lines and keeping them the same distance apart.

To stitch out the other side, begin with the diagonal lines that form the triangles. Using a Hera marker divide the long strip into 8 equal segments, each 1 3/4" wide. Beginning at the bottom of the left hand corner, stitch up, diagonally to the first marked line then down diagonally to the second line then up again and so on until the large triangles have been stitched. Now, using your Hera marker, divide the width of the strip in half so that you have two long sections that are 1 3/4" wide.

Beginning on the side closest to the middle, stitch a large arc that touches the middle line and fits between three of the marked vertical lines (look at the picture). Stitch in echoing arcs until the arc is filled in. Stitch along the center division line to the next section and stitch another large arc and stitch in echoing arcs. Continue stitching echoing arcs until the first side is complete then do the same thing on the opposite side with arcs that are offset from the first side.

Hope you enjoy these two border designs,

Till next time,
Heather

Friday, October 1, 2010

Sometimes, we make duds......



Good Morning All,

A week or so ago I showed you the quilted piece above that I was working on for the cover of my up-coming book. I photographed it after the machine quilting was done (bottom photo) then I colored it in....and basically ruined it! Yes, even very experienced artists, who should know better, still make mistakes. But, we all learn more from our mistakes than from our successes.

I consider myself a colorist first and foremost. This quilt is not a good example of how to use color well. To begin with, the colors used to machine quilt it looked pretty good, lots of color blocking, with cools and warms spread about somewhat equally and lots of white remaining in the negative space which provided a place for the eye to rest.

It's the color blocking (bold color in one area, next to bold color in another) that got me in trouble. Though I repeated some of the colors, the color blocking broke up the unity in the piece. There is so much variety; each section has a different visual texture due to all of the different quilting designs. I should have realized that I needed to bring it all together with the color to provide unity.

So, I'm going to do it over again. I will quilt the whole thing in black so that I am free to add any color in any section as I go. The black will be a unifying element too. Then, when I color it, I will use 5-6 colors in each section instead of just two and I will repeat the colors more often too. This quilt will be going on the front of my color & design book - it can't just look good, it's got to look great - back to the beginning I go. I'll keep you posted on the new work and hopefully with this next attempt, I will be able to show what I know about both color and design in a way that will make everyone want to buy my book!

I'll give you a new border design to quilt tomorrow,

Till then,
Heather

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Block #71 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning Everyone,

It's back to work for me today after a lovely weekend. Tom and I drove through the mountains to Steamboat Springs then back on highway 14 along the Cache la Poudre river, through the most amazingly beautiful canyon. It was a lovely way to spend a Sunday! But now, I must go to work and sell sewing machines. But first, here is a new stitch out.

I really like the way this all over Asterisks looks. It is a great fill, wonderful to use as falling snow or pine needles. We've used this design before, but not as an all over. The sizes are from just larger than a quarter to the size of a nickle.

Beginning near the middle of the block, stitch a straight line that is about 1/2" long then double back over it to the beginning. Stitch out another 1/2" at an angle that is different from the first line, then double back over to the beginning spot. Keep stitching 1/2" lines out from the center at varying angles until you have completed a circle. Stitch the last line out and away from the asterisk, far enough to begin a new one. Stitch it out just like you did the first one. Continue making asterisks of varying sizes, keeping them close to each other and leaving little background space.

Hope you enjoy this new design,

Till next time,
Heather

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Block #70 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning All,

Sometimes - life is really good. It was my birthday this week and I got to spend a day off from work celebrating it with lots of my favorite people. Breakfast with my daughter Jaz, lunch and a spectacular hair color job with the delightful Miss Judy then dinner and fabulous gifts with Wanda and Chris - all the day before my birthday. I worked on my actual birthday (yesterday), but had an evening of tacos and margaritas with the hubby. Getting older - not old - isn't all that bad!

Here is another stitch out. It combines largish circles with asterisks in them with smaller circles. I call it Sand Dollars and Sea Foam (isn't that a silly name?) It's very fun to do and would look great in any plain areas of a quilt; large or small borders, setting triangles or blocks.

The sand dollars are made by stitching a circle, quarter sizeish, then when you complete the circle, stitch into the center, stopping at about the middle, then start stitching the asterisks shape by stitching out from the center then back in over the stitch line, then back out at a different angle then back in over that same stitch line etc. Once you have completed one sand dollar, stitch another large circle right next to it and complete another sand dollar. Keep making sand dollars, making sure they touch each other and varying the size a little bit. String them together in clusters across the surface of the block and stitch small circles in between as you go. Vary the size of the small circles from large peas to tiny beads. Try to keep very little negative space between all of the circles and sand dollars and make sure that all of the shapes are touching each other.

Hope you enjoy this design, now I'm off to teach the first installment of my new Design Essentials II class.

Till next time,
Heather

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Machine Quilting Challenge, Block #69

Good Morning All,

Here is another stitch out. It is a combined design that is great for borders or plain areas of a quilt. It is very easy to do and looks rather modern and funky.

I worked the stitch from one side to the other. Begin by stitching a long wavy line from the bottom to the top of your block. This line should be an average of 1 1/2" away from the side edge. Now, stitch a second line that is about 1/2" away from the first. Next, stitch small circles that butt up next to each other inside the channel that you just formed with the two lines.

Once the circles are complete, stitch two more wavy lines, one just outside of each of the two original lines. Make them about 1/8" away. Now, stitch the straight, horizontal lines just to the left of your circles/wavy lines. Begin in the bottom corner and stitch up to the wavy line, over about 1/4" on the wavy line then back to the edge. Stitch over on the edge about 1/4" then back up to the wavy line. Keep stitching lines back and forth keeping them straight as possible and an even space apart.

Once the first section of horizontal lines is complete, stitch another vertical, circle unit that is just like the first one. Stitch it about 1 1/2" away from the first circle unit. Remember to add the lines just outside and 1/8" away from the two lines that form the channel for the circles. Once the second row of circles/wavy lines is complete, stitch the straight, horizontal lines between the rows of circles.

Continue stitching rows of vertical, circle/wavy line units with straight, horizontal stripes in between until you have filled your whole block.

This block is perfect for practicing both circles and straight lines. Hope you enjoy it,

Till next time,

Heather

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Making the Quilt for the Cover of my New Book; Color & Design; The basics and beyond

Good Morning All

This is the quilt that I will be using on the cover of my new book - or at least the beginning of the quilt (click on it to see it larger). I started with a piece of white fabric, basted with batting and a very colorful backing fabric.

Next, I stitched out the large sections using a heavy black thread and my walking foot. Then I chose a selection of 9 threads in different colors that are all just slightly lighter than the pure hue, except for the yellow and orange which are pure hued. Then I just started stitching. I chose stitch outs that have closed designs so that I can color inside of them.

I will now use various markers to color the whole thing in. In addition to several brands of fabric markers, I will use my new favorite markers; Promarkers by Letraset. These come in tons of colors, are very "juicy" and have a fine brush tip as well as a bevel tip. They aren't marketed as fabric markers, but I tested them with water (without heat setting) and they are permanent. They do "move" a bit, about 1/16" so, I stay about that far away from any boundary lines when I use them.

I'll show you the finished quilt once I have colored it in and beaded it - next week probably.

Hope you're having a great weekend,

Till next time,
Heather

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Block #68 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Morning All,

Today's new stitch out is a half feather with stippling between. My feathers are about 4" long.
If it has been a while since you have stitched out a feather, you may want to doodle these for a while before taking your first stitches.

To make a half feather, begin near the center of your block and stitch a line that has a gentle curve in it, that is about 4" long and ends in a swirl. Stitch back out of the swirl and as soon as you have room to, begin stitching feather petals. These are shaped like half hearts. Stitch the petals all along the outer spine until you reach the tip. Now, stitch away from the feather to a space where you can stitch another one. Use stippling to travel with. Continue making half feathers, stippling from one to the next. Once you have stitched as many half feathers that you can , fill in the spaces in between with more stippling.

For greater contrast between the feather designs and the stippling, you could use one color of thread to stitch out each feather, knot off and travel to where you want the next feather. Then once all of the feathers are stitched, switch to a different color thread to stitch in the background.

Hope you enjoy today's new design,

I'll see you next week,
Heather

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Machine Quilting Challenge - Block #67

Good Morning,
Here is today's new stitch out; Feathered Flowers with echo quilting.
If you think it looks difficult, then doodle it out first. You'll find out quickly that it is just a series of stitches that you probably all ready know.
Begin near the center of the block and make a swirl that is about 1" across. Swirl in then swirl back out again. Just as you finish the swirl stitch out a half heart that is snug against the outside of the swirl. This half heart is just like the motion used to make a feather. Stitch another half heart that snugs into the first one. Continue stitching half hearts all the way around the swirl completing your first flower and knotting off.
Travel to where you want your next feathered flower and stitch it out. Travel to where you want your third flower and stitch it out. Once the third flower is complete, begin echoing it and filling in the space between it and the other flowers then move to echoing the other two flowers. Keep the echoing stitch lines about 1/8" or 3/8" apart. Keep making small groups of flowers and echoing between them until the entire block is stitched out. Alternately, you could stitch out all of the flowers before you begin any of the echo stitching.
Hope you like this design. I think it's lovely and has loads of depth. It would be perfect for any large open spaces on a delicate quilt or in a border.
For those of you who have asked, I am now working at Rocky Mountain Sewing and Vacuum in Westminster. If you are considering a new machine, Bernina, Pfaff or Brother, come see me, we've got the best deals around (and, yes, I do get a commission and yes, you can take your machine usage classes at any of the Rocky Mountain shop locations).
Till the next time
Heather

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Block #66 in the Machine Quilting Challenge


Good Evening,
Here is today's new stitch out. I call it Veiny Leaves. I had hoped you would be able to see in the close up that I used a variegated thread, but it's an Oliver Twist and the color change is so subtle that it is hard to see it unless it's life size.
Any way, this is a wonderful design to use in wide borders. The leaves are about 3" long and 2 - 2 1/2 " wide. The veins in the leaves are stitched about every 1/4-1/8". The background behind the leaves is stitched with a loop d'loop.
Begin near the center of the block and stitch a line that is about 4" long with a a curve in it. This is the stem and center vein of the first leaf. At the end of the line, begin stitching the first side of the leaf, stitching out and away from the vein and down toward the stem. Make this a gentle, wavy line and curve it out up to 1 1/2" away from the center vein at it's widest point. Bring the side line back in to the center vein about 3/4" away from the end of the stem. Stitch back down the stem then over at an angle about 1/8" then angle back up the stem back to where the opposite side of the leaf needs to begin. Sew the other side of the leaf so that it matches up with the shape of the first side. Once you are back up at the tip of the leaf begin stitching the veins down one side the up the next, then down that side and up the other. Keep stitching veins, making a 'V' shape with the point of the 'V' on the center vein. Keep the veins approximately 3/8" apart.
Once you have completed the first leaf, loop d'loop over to where you can stitch a second leaf. Stitch it so that it moves in a different direction from the first. Once the second leaf is complete, fill in any space between it and the first with loop d'loops as you position yourself to make a third leaf. Keep making leaves and traveling around them with loop d'loops until you have filled the block.
I really like this stitch out, especially with a variegated or multi-colored thread. Hope you like it too,
Till next time,
Heather

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Block #65 in the Machine Quilting Challenge


Good Morning,

Boy, the best laid plans......Sorry for this break in momentum. I've been having machine problems.

But not to worry, I brought home a machine from work to play with ( I work at Rocky Mountain Sewing and Vacuum in Westminster), and not only did I get some blocks quilted, I also fell in LOVE. More on that below, now lets get to today's stitch out.

This is another design based on the gentle curve. Begin by dividing your square into four squares. Then divide each square in half, diagonally twice to yield four triangles per square. For best results, use a Hera marker for marking.

Beginning near the center of one of your squares, drop down the needle and stitch a small circle around the intersection of the diagonal lines. Make the circle about the size of a large pea. Once the circle is complete stitch over one direction or the other until your needle is lined up with one of the diagonal lines. Stitch a gentle curve on the outside of the line stopping about 1/4" from the end of the line then angle over to the line that divides the squares. Stitch 1/4" up that line then over 1/4" then begin your gentle curve back down the opposite side of the diagonal line. This maneuver creates a small square at the end of the petal. Once you hit the center circle, use it to stitch over to the next diagonal line and repeat the last several steps. Do this two more times until the first square is complete. Knot off and do the same steps to stitch out the remaining three squares. Once all four squares have been stitched then stitch a wavy line over the two lines marked to separate out the four squares.


Now, most of you who know me, know that I've been a die hard Bernina enthusiast for many years, but you also know that money and I aren't always close friends. So, this machine I brought home has a lot of the great features available on the more expensive Bernina's but for about $4000.00 less. Yes, I said $4000.00 less!

Anyway, the machine is a Brother Innov-is QC 1000 (who'd of thunk?). This model is a year or two old and the new model is basically the same but called the Laura Ashley 2000 edition ( it's got about 200 more built in stitches and some other cool add on's) So, anyway, this QC 1000 is an amazing machine. For anyone who all ready has free motion quilting skills the Bernina Stitch Regulator can be a bit of a bummer because you loose a lot of the control you're used to. This brother has two things that work together sort of like a stitch regulator, but one that you get to control. The machine has a sliding speed control (I call it a rabbit) with which you can set your speed - I like it at about 3/4 max. Then, if you don't plug in your foot control you can use the button for start and stop. Once you get your quilt in position and push the button, the machine sews at the speed you selected and you never have to worry about maintaining your speed while sewing - it's just one less thing to have to think about.

The stitch is wonderful with easy to perfect starts and stops. It is really easy to go from sewing mode to fee motion mode - just push a button. I didn't have to adjust my tension at all either. All this, and it comes with three different free motion feet, a walking foot, several other feet, a huge slide on table and more than 160 programed stitches - all for about $2,000.00 for the older model and $2,500.00 for the new one which has nearly 400 built in stitches.

I know I sound like a salesperson - but I'm just so impressed with this machine. I thought that I would have to save for the next year to be able to afford a new machine, but now I think I can get one this month! Woo hoo!

Another aside - I finished the first draft of my color and design book this weekend - it's off to the publisher along with the last of the quilts. Triple Woo Hoo!

See you soon,
Heather

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Block 64 in the Machine Quilting Challenge


Hi All,
Wow, what a couple of weeks it's been. I've gathered up and sent nearly 200 quilts to my publisher and all but finished my new book. I've got about 40 pages left then it's nothing but the editing! Yeah! And, I got a job! Yeah again!
I'm now working for Rocky Mountain Sewing in Westminster (yes,Westminster - for those of you who know where I live, yes it's a 30-40 minute commute). I'm working just 3-4 days each week so I'll have plenty of time to play! Yeah, Yeah again!
Enough news - on with the new stitch out. The next several blocks will all feature the "gentle curve". I tell my machine quilting students that it is the most valuable stitch design they will ever learn and I aint' kiddin around. Begin by dividing your block into quarters. Then divide each quarter block into quarters. Do all of this dividing with a Hera marker. Beginning in any one of the quarter blocks, set your needle down in the middle where the two lines intersect. Stitch a gentle curve that ends about 1/2-3/4" away from the edge then stitch a straight line out and away from the marked line about 1/2" then form a point as you stitch back down to the center line. Now, stitch back up and out the same length that you did on the other side and turn and stitch back in to the center line thus making the triangle or arrow head. Stitch another gentle curve till you reach the center of the block again. This is 1/4 of the design. Repeat all of the previous steps three more times along the remaining three marked lines. Knot off then move on to one of the other blocks.
Once all four sections are complete, stitch a wavy line along the two lines you drew first that mark out the four smaller blocks then stitch along the diagonal.
Hope you enjoy this new design - it's great for blocks pieced out of lots of squares or half square triangles.
See you later this week,
Heather

Monday, August 16, 2010

Block #63 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Afternoon,

Sorry this is late in the day, but I was lucky enough to have my old assistant, great friend Judy visiting for the day and helping me get all of the packaging ready for shipping close to 100 quilts to my publisher for my upcoming book - what a job! And there's still more to send!

Here is today's new stitch-out. I call in Curly Cat Hair, and I should know - four cats and there is always cat hair on everything!

We have used this movement before, in the curvy E's and along with swirls too. Here, it stands alone which would make it seem simpler, but it can be a little difficult to fill all the space and get your curves to curve in different directions. You may want to doodle it out before you start stitching.

Begin in the center of the block and stitch a curvy, quarter moon shape that is about 3/4" long. Double back and echo the first curve with a second one that is about 1/8" away from the first one and a little longer. Make two to three more quarter moons that hug the first one. When you've stitched the last layer, make a new 1 1/2" long quarter moon next to the first one then stitch two more inside the first one (moving in the opposite direction as the first set you stitched). Now you've nested smaller moons inside a larger one and have echoed larger moons around a smaller one. Doing this in both manners will allow you more freedom to fill in all of the space equally. Keep stitching sets of quarter moons, trying to keep the same distance between layers and between sets, until you have filled in all of the space.

This is perfect for animal hair or fur of all types, but it's a wonderful filler design too!

Enjoy,

Till Wednesday,

Heather

Friday, August 13, 2010

Machine Quilting Challenge Block #62


Good Morning and Happy Friday to you all.
I wanted to invite all of you locals to check out the art opening tonight at the Ice Cube Gallery, 3320 Walnut St. in the RINO arts district. It is the opening night of Ray Tomasso's newest show. We used to carry his hand made papers at our store. He makes amazing cast paper hangings. They are filled with wonderful texture, earthy color and great line. He's very talented and a lovely person too. Come and treat yourself to some great art! Tonight (Friday the 13th) from 5:00 - 9:00. I'll be there at about 6:30.
On to today's new design. This one is really fun. I call it Star Flowers. It is a combination of several simple motifs. The center of each star is made like the meandering leaf filler from four entries ago. It is surrounded by five pointy petals which are triangular and each flower is linked to the others with loop d'loops. I suggest doodling it out before you start stitching.
Begin near the center of the block and stitch an almond shape that is open on one end. Make it about 3/4" long and 1/2" wide. When you get back to the open end, stitch a second, smaller almond in the center and close it off at the end. Stitch a triangle shaped petal that is open on the wide end that is next to the flowers almond shaped center. Continue stitching triangular petals until you have five moving around the almond center. Try to keep two petals on each side and one above the center tip of the almond center. Once the flower is complete, stitch several small loop d'loops out and away from the flower, stitch another flower in the same manner.
Keep stitching flowers linked by loop d'loops, trying to keep the negative space equally filled and the flowers the same size and the loop d'loops smaller than the inner almond. When stitching out the flowers, try to stitch them in every direction. This way the design will look neat, tidy and interesting.
I love this stitch out, it's sort of modern-retro. Hope you enjoy it too,
Till Monday,
Heather

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Block #61 in the Machine Quilting Challenge


Good Morning All,
Thank you to all of you, especially Elana, Chris W, and Christa, who have welcomed me back with such enthusiasm.
Here is today's new stitch-out. I call it Crazy Hearts. It's a great background fill especially for little girls quilts.
It looks pretty easy and it is once you get the rhythm down. You may want to doodle it out first so you get used to the density and placement.
To begin, stitch a small heart that is about 1/2 -3/4 of an inch in size. Echo stitch around the heart one time then make a second heart and echo stitch around it. Keep adding hearts and surrounding them with one or more echos. Try to keep it so that there is no negative space between the echoed hearts. You can vary the size of the hearts or keep them all about the same size like I did. You can also stitch the heart in a bigger size, but that will make it more difficult to butt them next to each other.
Hope you enjoy today's new design,
Till Friday,
Heather

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Machine Quilting Challenge, Block #60


Good Morning,
It's been a while, almost two months since my last entry, I've been going through a bunch of personal changes and needed to take some time off. But, I'm back now and I hope that some of you are still with me!
Here is today's new stitch-out. It combines swirled designs from several past stitch-outs; triangle, square and rectangular swirls. This one is very fun and quite contemporary looking. I find it a bit more difficult than stitching the designs in rows. You have to think a little bit more because you have to have an idea of what shape your going to stitch next and where you're going to stitch it.
Begin by stitching a shape that is about 1 1/2" across. I started with a square, then swirl into the shape and back out again. Stitch another shape, but make it different from the first. Swirl in then back out. Try to keep the stitch lines inside the swirls and between the shapes a consistent distance apart. Mine are about 1/4". Continue making shapes, any thing with straight sides will work, fitting them together like a puzzle.
Remember that it's easier to sew a straight, straight line if your moving quickly and that if you want tight turns and corners that you must stop your hands momentarily at each turns, while you keep the machine going.
Hope you enjoy this stitch-out, I'll do another on Wednesday.
Till then,
Heather

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Machine Quilting Challenge - Block #59



Good Morning,


Here is today's new stitch-out; Blowing leaves. It is a great design to use for a complete fill in background areas, sashing or borders. I think it looks best tight and small.


If you've never used this almond shape before make sure to doodle it out before you begin stitching.


The basic shape is an almond and each shape nestles into the shapes around it with very little negative space in between.


Begin near the middle of the block and stitch an almond shape that is about 1" long and 1/2" wide with a point at the end. To do this, stitch a curved line up then stitch back down with a curve in the opposite direct, leaving an opening at the base that is about 1/4"wide. Stitch back up and form a second, smaller almond shape inside the first one then stitch back out and stitch another almond shape that points in a different direction. Stitch a smaller almond shape inside the second almond then stitch out and form a third almond shape. Keep stitching double almonds nestling the new one in between previously stitched ones and trying to change directions as much as possible while maintaining a tight design with little negative space.
Hope you enjoy this new design,
Till tomorrow,
Heather

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Painted Quilt


Good Morning,
Today, instead of adding a new design, I'm showing you a painted quilt that I just finished. Click on the photo to see it larger.
This started out as a piece of white fabric. I marked four circles, one for the flower center, one to contain the flower, one to contain the outer circular border of tiny circles and the outermost circle. I then divided the background space around the circle as well as the horizontal and vertical lines forming the bottom portion of the quilt. Everything was marked with a fine, graphite pencil.
Next, using free style quilting, I quilted the flower center using small, touching circles and black thread. Then I stitched the petals each with two smaller petals inside, again with black thread.
I switched to hot pink thread and put on my walking foot and stitched the circle around the flower center and the circle around the flower. I went around these several times to build up the stitch line. Next I added the petal border then the circles border around the flower, again with black thread and free motion quilting.
I then stitched all of the background area around the flower/circle using a wavy crosshatch in half of the sections and a swirls and arc design in the other sections. I then stitched the horizontal lines using my walking foot and the hot pink thread. I built up these lines by stitching over them twice.
I finished the quilting by adding the small flowers in the wide border and vines in the narrow border with tiny circles in the two tiny borders. Then I added the same designs in the lower portion that I had stitched in the background around the large flower.
I colored the whole thing in with markers using just five colors; red violet, lime green, blue green, yellow orange and metallic gold.
It was great fun!
I'll be teaching this technique at Great American Quilt Factory, August 20 & 27.
Till tomorrow,
Heather

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Machine Quilting Challenge - Block #58


Good Morning!
What interesting weather we have here in Colorado. It's been raining all morning and blissfully cool - real springtime. I love this kind of weather. It makes everything feel clean and new!
Today's new stitch-out is another border design. It uses designs and techniques from some of the blocks we've all ready done including, stones or small circles for berries, tendrils, and curly-q's. The two designs are very similar to each other. The design on the right features a series of thin, narrow swirls or curly-q's. These swirls vary in size from tiny to large. The design on the left features the same swirls, mostly in a medium size alternating with sprigs of berries and tendrils.
Here's how to go about stitching these designs. Begin with a 7 1/2" x 14 1/2" quilt sandwich. Divide it down the long middle using a Hera marker then stitch along the marked line. To do the design on the right, begin at the center bottom of the right hand side of the quilt sandwich. Stitch up a short stem toward the left and make a small narrow swirl that is about the size of a quarter. Stitch out of the swirl and back to the stem. Now stitch a stem toward the right and form a larger, skinny swirl that is about the size of a silver dollar. Stitch back out of the swirl and make a tiny swirl on your way back to the center stem. Continue making skinny swirls in various sizes, moving from side to side until you have stitched the length of the quilt sandwich.
For the design on the left side of the quilt sandwich, begin in the same manner with a medium sized swirl. On your way out of the swirl, make a tendril. Stitch a swirl that is about the same size on the opposite side of the stem and add a tendril or two. Next, stitch up to the opposite side and make a stem that is about 1 1/2" long. Stitch a small round berry at the end of the stem then berries along both sides of it. These tiny circles should be about the size of a pea. Continue alternating sides with medium sized, narrow swirls and tendrils adding a stem of berries every once in a while. Remember to alternate the sides that the berries are on.
Hope you enjoy these new stitch-outs,
Till Monday,
Heather

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Machine Quilting Challenge - Block # 57


Good Morning,

Here is today's new stitch-out. It looks a bit out of focus here in its smaller size. Click on the photo to see it larger and in focus.

Today's stitch-out is two similar but different border designs. Both use small leaves and one has flowers and the other has berries and flourishes.

Begin by cutting fabric that is 7 1/2" x 14 1/2" (trim down to 7" x14" after quilting) and batting that is the same size. Divide the fabric up the middle using a Hera marker.

Begin stitching at the bottom, center of one half of the rectangle, pulling the block toward you as you stitch.

For the flower design, begin by stitching up to one side and ending in a small leaf that is about 1/2" long by 1/4" wide. Add a short center vein to the leaf then back back down the vine about half way and stitch out another stem with a leaf. Make a third stem and leaf then double back into the vine. Stitch over in the opposite direction and form a small circle at the end of a stem. Surround the circle with 6, small, 3/4 circle petals. Keep alternating side to side with groups of leaves and flowers trying to fill all of the space equally.

For the berry design use the same method as above only instead of making flowers make groups of three berries that are just smaller than a dime in size. Make sure that they touch each other and try to get them as circular as possible. Use fewer stems and leaves but add little tendrils by stitching away from the vine or stem in a curly q fashion then doubling back to thicken the line. Again, try to keep the designs evenly spaced.

Hope you enjoy these border designs,
Till tomorrow,
Heather

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Machine Quilting Challenge - Block #56


Good Afternoon and Happy Monday,

I had a really nice weekend, hope you did too. Tom and I went on a day trip up through the mountains to Salida to celebrate our 3rd anniversary. It was hot, but lovely. It's so nice to get out of town - even if it's just for a day.

Here is today's new stitch-out. I really like the movement and energy of this design and it's pretty easy to do. It is grid based so you may want to draw at least horizontal lines. Feel free to draw vertical lines too to make squares. I drew horizontal lines that were 2" apart.

The design is similar to "Combs" or E's, which we did about 40 blocks ago. Only instead of straight lines and curves we have arcs and points. To make it more interesting I also changed the direction that the curves were facing too.

Begin at the bottom left hand corner and stitch up a gentle curve to the first marked line, form a point as you stitch back down with a second gentle curve that nestles about 1/4" away from the first. Continue making arcs until you have filled in about a 2" space. In the next two inch section make the same arcs but move them horizontally. In the next two inch sections make vertical arcs again, but curve them in the opposite direction as the arcs in the first section. Keep making two inch sections of curved arcs, alternating from vertical to horizontal and left facing, top facing, bottom facing and right facing curves. Do the same in the next rows, alternating directions as shown in my stitched block.

Hope you have fun with this one. Tomorrow it's on to more border designs,
Heather

Friday, June 4, 2010

Block #55 in the Machine Quilting Challenge

Good Afternoon,
I'm working at my studio today and have just finished getting it set up for today's 1st Friday art walk. It's so nice to be able to open to the public a couple of times each month - nice to get my work out there and have folks other than quilters see it!
A shout out to Christa Irell, thanks for all the positive comments that you send me. It's great knowing that you're out there appreciating my blog. Thank you!
Today's new stitch-out looks simple, but when stitched large like this it can be a little difficult. It will provide you with more great help on getting straight, straight lines.
It may be helpful to draw rows on your block using a hera marker so that you get even distribution. My rows are 2" wide. This stitch is much easier to make small, but you'll learn a lot more making 2" than you would making it 3/4". It's simply big, close together zig-zags that are positioned in groups of 3-4 and move in opposite directions. You have to pretend that you're working inside a square and keep the design inside those parameters.
Begin in the lower left hand corner and stitch up at an angle till you reach the row line then angle back down making the bottom width of the triangle about 1/2" wide. Next stitch back up again and make another triangle. Make 1 or 2 more depending on how much space you have left in your imagined square. Make sure that you finish stitching with the needle down along the bottom of the block. Stitch over about 2" at an upward angle and form the first horizontal triangle. Keep making horizontal triangles until you've reached the row line. Stitch the next section vertically then the next one horizontally and so on. Aim to keep each line as straight as possible and all of the tips of your triangles as pointy as can be.

This design has great energy and movement. It can add a lot of power to a drab composition.
Hope you enjoy it,
Till tomorrow,
Heather

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Block #54 in the Machine Quilting Challenge


Good Morning,
Here is today's new stitch-out. It's a big departure from the past five days of flowers!. I call it Making Tracks. Though it looks very simple, it's one of the harder designs to perfect. Remember to doodle it out before taking your first stitch.
Begin by dividing your quilting space into 10 equally spaced rows. Each row of stitching will occupy two of the marked rows. The design is basically a connected series of arrow heads that when joined together look like tire tracks.
Begin at the lower left corner and stitch at an angle up toward the right to the first marked line then stitch in the opposite angle over and up to the left to the second marked line, forming a side ways "V". Now that you are on the second line, stitch over about 1/2" on that line then form the next "V" keeping it about 1/2" away from the first. Keep stitching sideways "V"'s all the way across the block. Once you have reached the far end of the block, stitch up along the right hand edge until you are in position to stitch the first "V" in the second row. These are sewn in the opposite direction of the "V"'s in the first row. Keep stitching row after row of sideways "V"'s each row moving in the opposite direction from the row below it until you have completed the block.
This stitch-out is great practice for improving your straight lines and managing spacing between designs.
Hope you enjoy it,
Till tomorrow,
Heather