The Mad Dash to the Holidays

Even my studio is overwhelmed.

Even my studio is overwhelmed.

The holidays are breathing down my neck, people. For the past couple of weeks the pressure has been mounting for me to get everything on my to-do list done by the times I need everything to be done. I finally sat down today with my calendar to plan everything out. The results are… stressful. Let’s put it that way. Doable, but it’s going to be a crunch. I need to:

  • Finish Meagan’s blue & white quilt which is currently on my frame (thankfully almost done!)
  • Finish piecing my giant Christmas star quilt, load it up and quilt it, then bind it. (This is not to mention coordinating pillows I have ready to finish as well)
  • I have 3 other tops that need to get loaded and quilted in time to bind by Christmas, because they’re gifts.
  • I have someone sending me a Christmas top
  • I have a Valentine’s Day pattern I need to demo so it can be released by the first of the year in advance of Valentine’s Day.

It’s a lot, but to throw another kink into the whole picture, I have family coming out to visit on back-to-back weekends, which I’m so, so excited about, but it knocks out about a week for me as far as quilting time goes. And on top of all of this is the daily grind with two little kids and normal life stuff. Whew. Time-management is going to be a resolution of mine. ;)

I do find that I work better with a deadline, though. If I have a timeframe to work in and I know I need to get something done, I find a way to make it happen. So I’m hoping that holds true again this year. Last year, I was finishing up a binding on Christmas morning! Looks like this year isn’t deviating too much from that norm.

Oh, and PS- remember last year’s Inspiration Palooza? We’re doing it again! I’ve been working on ideas for the giveaway, and I think I’ve settled on something so stay tuned for that!

Train quilt finish

I just finished another quilt for Jenn. This one is a train she made for her son:

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She gave me free reign to do what I wanted. When I saw the top, I knew I wanted to embellish the picture and make it look like a train.

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So, that’s what I did!

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I’m so happy with how it turned out. I think it’s fun and great for a little boy! I used 9 different shades of Isacord in the quilting, which I meticulously matched to the solids she used for the piecing. The end result is that I don’t think you really even notice that the thread color changes, which is exactly what I was hoping for.

Next up, I’m loading up this gorgeous quilt from Meagan today:

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I’m off to go start it!

An upcoming Valentine’s pattern and a quilty finish!

Whew! Things have been busy around here lately. Between all the changes we’ve had at home and a broken furnace (thankfully fixed!), my quilting progress has been sloooooow. Like, glacial. But, I had a finish over the weekend!

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This was a quilt Dawn made for her husband. She told me I could do what I wanted, but she of course wanted something manly. Manly and modern are two types of quilting that I don’t usually do, so this one was a challenge for me (in a good way!). I’m glad I got the opportunity to do this quilt, because it forced me to step out of my comfort zone and try new designs.

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The back ended up super cool, I think. It’s like a whole secondary design!

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Finally, if you follow along on IG you will have seen that I’m planning a Valentine’s quilt pattern! Here’s a (big) sneak peak:

I’ve gotten all the math figured out, so I’m hoping to be able to make it and test my pattern out in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned for that!

Bear Quilt (Blogger’s Quilt Festival)

Woohoo! It’s that time of year again! I haven’t had time this year to do a lot of my own quilting- after we moved I’ve done a lot of quilting for others! But, I did manage to make this baby quilt for a good friend’s newborn baby boy. She told me the theme of his nursery was bears, so I ran with it.

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The fabric is S’more Love by Eric and Julie Comstock for Moda, and some Mini Series Cream Bears yardage by Timeless Treasures. As always, I used Warm & Natural batting, Aurifil thread for piecing, and Isacord thread for the quilting.

The whole design of the quilt came together when I stumbled across a certain charm square:

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It says “Guess who loves you!”, and I wanted to make it the focal point of the quilt. I even free-motion quilted his name (“Elijah”) in that square:

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I stippled the quilt to give it good texture because I didn’t want the quilting to distract from the busy prints and the overall design of the top.

It’s at its new home now, where I hope it gets a lifetime of love.

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Click Quilt Quilting

After sending back the Vintage Holiday quilt to Cheryl (with tears and tantrums all the way to the post office :P), I started working on a quilt sent to me by Dawn. The pattern is Click, by Tracey at Traceyjay Quilts. I’ll grab some better pictures when it’s done (and it almost is!), but for now, this should give you an idea:

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I’m doing swirl hooks and big feathers. I love the texture it’s giving this quilt! Obviously, I am in the midst of a feather kick and I just can’t stop myself. I think these swirl hooks will be something I use a lot in the future. It’s such a fun design. Stay tuned!

Some thread thoughts

The past couple of weeks have been crazy busy around here with all of the usual beginning school year activities, so I’m still plugging away on Cheryl’s Vintage Holiday quilt. Actually, it’s just about done! I have one small section to quilt, and then I’ll get some pictures of the whole thing. For now, here’s some progress shots:

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I really love how this quilt has turned out, and can’t wait to finish it (hopefully tonight!).

On the Fractions quilt I made, I grabbed a cone of Mettler thread at my local quilt shop and used that. I have to say, I honestly am not a fan. At all. I battled with that thread through the whole quilt and I just didn’t even like the look of it in stitches. So when I did Jenn’s quilt, I decided to go back to my trusty Isacord thread. I love to quilt with Isacord on my domestic, but hadn’t yet tried it on the longarm. It just so happened that I had a spool in a color I thought would blend perfectly with her top, so I gave it a try, and wow. WOW. I love the way Isacord quilts, I had absolutely not a single issue with tension, and such beautiful stitches (front and back!). So, I stuck with Isacord on Cheryl’s quilt and am so glad that I did. I do want to get around to trying So Fine by Superior Threads, but I am even more of an Isacord girl than I was before. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

The Last Few Weeks in Pictures

Whew! There has been a lot of quilting happening at Chez Champ lately. The Fractions/Big Girl Bed quilt is at its new home, hurray! Since that big finish, I’ve been fortunate enough to receive a couple of quilt tops in the mail that needed quilting. Getting to load up a quilt onto the frame that I didn’t have to piece and cut in line to my favorite part of the whole process makes me more happy than I can say. Without further ado, here’s Jenn’s quilt:

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She told me to do whatever I wanted, so I had fun giving the top a lot of texture. I love the fabrics she used, and the bright colors. I wanted the quilting to enhance the fun of the top, without distracting from the prints or colors, and in the end I think I achieved that.

Next, Cheryl sent me a Vintage Holiday quilt which she pieced with Vintage Modern by Bonnie & Camille. I swooned when I pulled it out of the box! That’s the project I’m working on right now, but this is what we have so far:

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She also told me to do whatever I wanted (don’t mind if I do!). This quilt is putting me such in the mood for Christmas, which is my favorite holiday. It will be hard to see it go. For now, I’m just quilting away blissfully and listening to Christmas carols while I do.

Stitch Regulator Thoughts

When I first posted about buying my Gammill, I mentioned that there was no stitch regulator on the machine. I knew that it was not a necessity on a longarm, but it really seemed like it would have been a great feature to have, especially for a newbie just starting out. I had a lovely comment from Kristi on that post, and she said:

Congratulations! I bought my Gammill in 1999 because we were buying a new home, too. You’ll never regret it. I learned without a stitch regulator and never missed it. You’ll do fine without it.

I’m only working on the second quilt I’ve ever done on that machine (not counting practice sandwiches of course), so I am not pretending to be a longarm expert, but just wanted to talk a little bit about my experience (such as it is) without a stitch regulator so far. I mention Kristi’s comment because I come back to it a lot in my mind. Without a stitch regulator, I’ve really had to focus on moving my machine consistently and smoothly. This hasn’t been nearly as hard as I thought it was going to be, though. And since longarms don’t have a pedal for you to control your speed with, they have a speed control dial. Before I started the quilt I’m currently working on, I loaded a practice sandwich onto the frame and figured out how fast I wanted to move the machine around to execute the quilting design I had chosen. Then, I fiddled with the speed control until I found a needle speed that matched the speed of my movement to produce stitches the size I wanted them to be. And then I got to quilting and didn’t really think about it again.

I realized yesterday though that in the back of my head a thought was living that went something like this: You really need a stitch regulator. You won’t be able to upgrade your machine for some time, so maybe you should start saving for a stitch regulator to retrofit the one you have now. You’ll just have to make do, but you really need a stitch regulator. I didn’t even realize I was thinking this for awhile, but when I realized that thought was there, I had to give myself a reality check.

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I do not need a stitch regulator. You don’t need a stitch regulator. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure they are wonderful to have and I’m not saying I will never have one. Maybe I will someday. But looking at those close-ups of the quilting shows me that the consistency of my stitch length is just fine. But even though I was looking at my stitches with my own eyes as I was quilting, still this anxiety of not having a stitch regulator was building in my mind to the point that it was starting to rob my joy in owning my Gammill. Here I have this beautiful machine, and I was finding a reason to not be content with it- and a silly reason, to boot. After all, having a stitch regulator will not make anyone a master quilter overnight.

In fact, if I could have any features magically appear on my machine right now, I’d wish for channel lock and a needle up/down button. Those also aren’t necessities, but they would be very handy! Much handier than a stitch regulator.

I wanted to post this for a couple of reasons. One, because I like to chronicle where I’m at with my quilting and be as real as possible about it. When I look back on my old posts, it’s nice to see the evolution happening. Two, to (hopefully) be encouraging. You don’t need a stitch regulator to make good stitches. You don’t need one on your longarm, and you don’t need one on your domestic if that’s where you free motion quilt. Don’t let silly things steal your joy. Quilting should be fun before it’s anything else.