Welcome to my blog. I was inspired by the book, "Blogging for Bliss" by Tara Frey.

Welcome to my blog. I was inspired by the book, "Blogging for Bliss" by Tara Frey. My goal is to share a little about my life, and a lot about my longarm quilting business, Lone Tree Designs.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Quilt Backings-a Bit of Helpful Info

     I am actually a bit embarrassed about how long it has been since I posted in my blog!  Life just got busy, and time got away from me.  I hope to do better in the new year!
     Today, I want to talk a little bit about quilt backings.  Do you ever give a lot of thought to what goes on the back of your quilt?  I remember back in the early 90's when I began my quilting journey, we always backed our quilts with inexpensive muslin.  All of my early quilts have muslin backings.  In the mid-90's, I made a quilt that I backed with pieced yardage that matched the front of my quilt, and, boy, did I think I had done something extra special for that quilt!
  Nowadays, quilters almost always back their quilts with patterned fabrics.  We have available to us a fairly good selection of 108" or 118" wide backings, which save us from having to piece the backs for our quilts.  Sadly, those wide backings tend to be neutral, and usually have very little print, or small prints.  A pieced back, using fabrics from the front of the quilt tends to be more interesting, and also, hides the starts and stops of machine quilting.  As a longarm quilter, I love busy backs!  The photos above are from a quilt that was backed by a batik 108" wideback fabric.  Batik wide backings do tend to be more fun colors and prints, but are more expensive.  Because the thread count of batiks tend to be higher, the stitches of the quilting can tend to want to sit on top rather than sinking into the fabric causing more tension-related issues.  For that reason, some longarm quilters don't care for them.
  My biggest problem, as a longarm quilter, with pieced backs is trying to deal with backs that are not completely square.  When I load a backing into the steel frame for my longarm, it absolutely MUST be flat and square.  Any ruffles, waves, or puckers in the backing WILL NOT "quilt out" and will, in fact, cause pleats and puckers in the backing to be quilted right in to the back of the quilt.  Once the back is loaded, covered with a batting, and a quilt top, the quilter has no way of seeing or knowing what is going on with the backing, unless they climb under the machine to look.  Once it is loaded, there is no changing the outcome.  Because I know this is the case, I always do everything in my power to make sure the backing is flat and square before I load it.  Sometimes, that means re-trimming and squaring the back.  In that process, a few inches may be lost.  For that reason, longarm quilters always ask that you make your backing 5-6" larger all the way around the quilt.  We need that extra for possible squaring up, and to make sure that we have enough extra to load into the frame, and to clamp our clamps on the sides to keep even tension on the backing, so as to avoid puckers and pleats in the backing as the quilt is advanced and quilted.  For the best possible outcome, the piecer needs to make sure that as much care is taken in piecing a nice flat, and square, backing as was used in piecing a beautiful flat, and square, quilt top.  In many cases, it does tend to be safer to purchase and have the quilter use a wideback that is all in one piece and eliminates the possibility of puckers in the back of the quilt.
  Hopefully, this information has been helpful in explaining the importance of presenting your longarm quilter with the perfect backing for your quilts!  Happy New Year to you all!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

"Anything Worth Doing... Borders"

Becky's Judy Niemeyer Double Wedding Ring

Dorothy's 30/s Stars

  When I was a kid, I heard this phrase,  "Anything worth doing, is worth doing well!"  That idea was so ingrained in me that I have a lot of trouble with perfectionism.  Not all bad, but there is one area where I tend to fall short of meeting that standard...Borders!
  My attention span tends to be pretty short.  When I start a new project, I almost always dream of great things when it comes to planning my borders.  I think about chasing geese, applique, fancy block designs...oh, yes, I have beautiful plans.  Guess what happens?  By the time I get to the end of making my quilt, I want to be DONE!  All my grandiose schemes usually are for naught, and I end up either slapping on the traditional "stop" border plus one or two wider borders, depending on how big I want my quilt, or (GASP) lately, I have been throwing my binding on and calling it a day.  My quilts are definitely lackluster in the border department.
  I have been inspired of late by some of my customer quilts.  My cousin Becky brought me the beautiful double wedding ring, and I had so much fun quilting it for her!  Imagine that quilt without the applique border...it would have been pretty, but that border sent it right over the top in to "drop dead" gorgeousness!  It took her a long time to applique the border, but it was so worth it!  Don't you agree?  Another customer brought me this fun little string quilt made out of 30's prints.  I love the setting, but, again, the border is what truly "makes" the quilt.  If Dot had just done the Sandi method and slapped on a couple of borders, her quilt wouldn't be the stunner that it is.
  Here's a thought...maybe for my next quilt, I should make the borders first!  I will let you know how it goes!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Great Quilting Race

Judy Niemeyer's Golden Harvest
Judy Niemeyer's One 

S,O.B.--Slap on borders.  This quilt is a piece of yardage that I loved and didn't want to cut up with a stop border and an outer border added.  Easy and pretty!
     When did quilting become such a "race to the finish"?  Quilting has a long and colorful history.  For most of that history, it was an art form that was rather slow and laborious.  Cutting pieces with scissors and templates, hand piecing, hand quilting...these are not quick methods!  Technology has afforded us the ability to create a quilt in a fraction of the time it took our fore-mothers (and perhaps forefathers).    That isn't a bad thing, right? 
  I have been thinking quite a bit lately about the trend toward what I like to call, "Wham, Bam, Thank you Ma'am Quilting."  Why are we in such a hurry?  What is the goal of my quilting?  Am I just in a hurry to get something done so that I can stack it in the closet along with dozens of other, easy quilts?  Where is the satisfaction in creating something special?  I would argue that in our race to the finish line, we have lost some of the joy in the process of creating.
  Now, I am not talking about the baby quilts, shower gifts, quick Christmas gifts for family, etc.  I get that most of those need to be inexpensive, simple, and quick to produce.  There is a time and place for those types of quilts.  I am talking about our projects in general.  Are they all simple and quick patterns?  Is our main focus to get them done quickly so that we can start a new project?  Once the top is finished, how are they going to be quilted.  Are you hand-quilting, machine quilting with a simple all over design, asking someone else to quilt your quilt "as cheaply as possible", or paying a longarmer like me to really make your quilt special with custom quilting?  
  So, that brings me to this question:  Where is your joy in quilting?  Is your joy in getting done quickly, or in the process?   Is your joy in piling up more and more easy quilts that, frankly, a novice quilter could produce?  Is your joy in choosing the fabrics, making your points match up, building a difficult pattern, block by block?
  More and more, I am realizing that the quilts I truly admire, the ones that I see at shows and think, "Wow, I could maybe do that if I had a couple of years to spend on it."---those are the quilts that I want to start making.  I don't want more and more easy quilts.  I want some quilts that really say, "Wow!"  I like to believe that my quilting elevates simple quilts to something above "mediocre" but the bottom line is that they are still simple patterns.  I need to challenge myself to try new things, work on projects that I know are going to take awhile to complete, take classes with teachers who can elevate my skill level, and enjoy the process of creating something truly special.  To that end, I took a Judy Niemeyer paper piecing class this spring.  It is a technique that I understood at a very fundamental level, but had never really done.  My quilt is not finished.  That's okay.  Someday, when it is...it is going to be a "Wow"!