Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Dot Almighty

I've been meaning to post some progress shots of the first two quilts on my bucket list for 2018 since the end of January-- but instead of blogging about them, I've actually been working on them which is a good thing! So today I'm sneak peeking "Dot Almighty," and later this week I will show you my flower basket piece.

I spend a lot of my sewing time deciding on names for my quilts, and when you see where they take you, the name can frequently change! So "Dot Zero" has been rechristened "Dot Almighty" when I realized what a coffee worship piece this was turning into.

"Dot Almighty" is going to be shown at MQX East--along with "A New England Album," so don't miss the show! I have been putting an hour or two in at night to get Dot Almighty quilted, but I better step up the effort-- time is getting short.

The first thing I did was add just the batting, and I stitched in the ditch around all of my snowballs. There is that funny saying we have that mistakes will "quilt out," but I was so proud of my piecing in the dots that I definitely wanted to "quilt them in." I have not been an avid stitch-in-the-ditcher, but now that I see how it preserved my piecing, I'm hooked. When you consider this piece is going to be hooped and then heavily embroidered, the piecing really needs the extra help. At the same time, I don't want the ditching on the back so I added the backing after that was done.

The first hooping was the coffee cup shadow-- this started as a mug rug and I thought the shadow very cleverly showed the side view of the mug. It hooped and stitched beautifully, and the shadow met the side of the cup perfectly. Forgive me a moment of pride, but you won't see any more perfect 1/8" matchstick quilting than machine embroidery! The mug rug was 1/16."

I made a decision early on that the quilting would be the kookiest, craziest that I have ever done. So it wouldn't be distracting on the front, I used light thread colors... so most of these photos are on the back. I think it's cool that from across the room it will look to be one thing, but the closer you get, you can find more and more. So if I see a bunch of noses pinned up against it at the show, I will consider it a success!

First, I started with the coffee plants, and then showed them releasing oxygen into the atmosphere. You go up to the clouds, and, of course, the sun is rising above them...

With every sunrise, it's time for coffee and for roosters to crow... and if you have a rooster, of course, there is a farm, and then a quilt hanging on a line. 

In the sky, there a various polka dot shape objects (they are perfectly centered on the polka dots on the front) a balloon, baseball, bee-- alliteration not intended.

With a rooster, there are feathers, and this one also makes the steam rising above the coffee. That was planned, but there have been a few happy accidents along the way-- it does look like the oxygen bubbles are spilling out of the shadow!

I discovered a new quilting pattern along the way... I'm calling it "Bacon." Because everything is better with bacon, isn't that right!

If you are interested in the process, I actually put the quilt on a copier, print out a portion of it, and then sketch the illustrations. Then, the drawing is scanned and digitized in my embroidery software, hooped, stitched, finished, and then scanned for the next section. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. RepeatAnd repeat.

So that is my stream of consciousness approach for this quilt. I'm about 2/3rds of the way around, and am moving next from the sun into the moon and stars, satellites, and there is going to be an alien spaceship-- they come not to conquer us, but just to stopover for a cuppa joe. Welcome to my world!

I realized when I got the MQX letter in, I better step-up the hour at night schedule, and start putting in whole days. So if anyone out there thinks that machine embroidery is easy, just pushing a button, I wish they could see me dealing with massive threads to be hidden, hooping a large, unwilling object, difficult alignments, etc. etc. My moment of pride is long gone, and now, I just feel like I want to take a match to this thing!!

I'm sure all creative types can relate.

So that's "Dot Almighty." I realize it's not the convention to detail your show quilt before the show, but why be conventional? I seriously doubt anyone will copy my approach heehee... Nonetheless-- that's the last peek-- next you have to come to MQX East! Touching is not allowed, but I haven't heard anything against pinning your nose up to it... enjoy!


Saturday, February 3, 2018


To start off another amazing year, 
I am so honored to be featured in Quiltfolk’s latest magazine, #5, 
on Eastern Massachusetts!

I first discovered Quiltfolk on the shelves at Barnes & Noble. I have a subscription to just about every quilting magazine out there— I mean, when you take a break from sewing, you just want to read about it, right? So just to make sure I have them all, I scour the racks at B&N from time to time— and I was not disappointed... I saw the Quiltfolk masthead rising above the others.

The first thing I noticed besides that it looks more like a book, was that the cover has a really weird texture, kind of like velvet. While discovering this, I realized one of the bookstore employees was watching me “feeling” the cover, which is creepy. Since I was hooked already, I just made for the checkouts with a red face.  I’d enjoy my velvet cover in the privacy of my own home.

If you are looking for the latest jelly roll pattern or another tutorial on free motion quilting, Quiltfolk is not for you. Its a very high minded publication with lots of writing, beautiful pictures, and it is more about people, places, and ideas. For each issue, they pick a region, and delve into the history, people, shops, and every other part of that place’s quilting community. It is armchair travel, art appreciation, and insight into the artist’s process all wrapped up in one. 

A couple of weeks later, I got a call from the president of our local quilt guild. Quiltfolk was coming to Cape Cod for the next issue. Did you ever notice in life, how once your attention is drawn to something, you start seeing it everywhere? It was quite the coincidence, but artists tend to live in really nice places, and Cape Cod is just beautiful— we have a large per capita of amazing fiber artists, so really it wasn’t that unusual that Quiltfolk would be interested in the area.

I was invited with about eight others from my guild to meet and talk with them. One of our guild members opened up her eye-popping 1700's historic house, which was treat enough, but then sitting and sharing our stories and looking over all of our best quilts was heaven.  

Having produced newsletters back in the day, I am pretty familiar with the slicing and dicing that must occur when you have hundreds of photographs, and lots of interviews, but only a few pages to pack it into. So I didn’t think about it too much, until about a month later, when I got an e-mail from Quiltfolk saying they would like to talk to me further. So I knew something was up... my quilts and story hadn’t hit the cutting room floor!

When my copy came in the mail just after Christmas, I flipped through like a kid... almost at the back, there I was on a two-page spread. My family was all home because of the New Year’s holiday, and my daughter grabbed the magazine out of my hands and started reading my story out loud. Tears streamed down my cheeks like the sap that I am... 

I know I’m making a bigger deal of this than it is, but as quilters, we never expect to be up on a stage or on the nightly news. What we do is vastly in the privacy of our homes, and when we do show our quilts, we’re not up there standing with them. And when you think of the the work that goes into a single quilt that’s one thing, but the sacrifice that everyone has made while you are sewing is another...

My dad died when I was sixteen, and though my mom was sure I would starve with my art degree, took a job housecleaning so I could go to the most expensive art school in NY. 

 We all recognize how a pastime like quilting can rob from our families... once, when I had determined to take the time to make cookies with my pre-teen daughter, she very innocently asked if I knew how to use the oven. 

(Yes, I did, for the record.)

So here I am, feeling grateful for everyone who helped me on the way. In the past year, I definitely had my 15 minutes of fame and now a couple of pages too! It’s beyond what I ever though, and I am wondering what next? My best work may be behind me, or still ahead, but I’m happy to still be working away in my sewing room either way.

Quiltfolk. Go out and buy a copy. Yes, it’s a bit expensive, but there’s no advertising, and just think of how much you would pay for a quilting book. If you’re lucky, they will have an issue near your home. And I have to say, owning a book crammed with the faces of friends and familiar quilt stores and places... It’s a rare treat.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Our Word of the Year... MAGNIFICO!

    2017 was a fantastic year for us, and we're determined to make 2018 even better. One of the issues we've been having as we pursue more detailed, artistic work, is the lack of specific thread colors in our charts. Our drawers are full of every brand on the market, and we're sure yours are, too-- so time and again, customers wrote to say that they struggled with color selection. 

So we are trading this in:

  For this!

Yes, we are excited to announce that our thread charts will now feature Superior Threads Magnifico line. 

Why Superior? 

We had a few DUH moments last year that pointed us in the right direction. First and foremost, the color is just intense. This happened in the spring when photographing Easter Sunrise... 

Just look at the yellow in those daffodils. So we checked back to see what brand it was... yup, Magnifico!

But it's not just about brightness, it's also just having the colors that speak to us-- the perfect olive green, the coral with just a touch of pink... there's 200 colors in all. We realized we were reaching for Magnifico spools again and again. 

Although most of us aren't interested in technical jargon, before making this decision, we had to check out a bit of science-- 
Magnifico is polyester-- and that means stronger and more colorfast than rayon. We blogged last summer about soaking "A New England Album" to get her show ready... would all those brands of thread run and shrink?

But then it occurred to us-- DUH-- after 18 months of hard work, why did we have to rely on just crossing our fingers?

What does this mean for you?

LIKE picking your own colors? Go for it! Our new thread charts feature a bigger color box to help you-- and the names that Superior has given their thread colors are so much more fun than the ones we were using!

LOVE it, but not ready to throw out all of your thread? 
Who would be-- just add some Magnifico to your collection whenever you can-- Superior will have a Magnifico thread chart available soon-- you can use it to match up our color chart with what you already own.

It's going to be a Magnifico Year!

This is our first finish of 2018 and we're as happy as that red...

Happy Stitching!


Sunday, December 31, 2017

Quilty Resolutions

    It’s always so hard to believe another year is gone! This past year, I only had one big finish— “A New England Album,” but I kept my resolution of not adding any more UFOs to my list! So now that I have actually figured out how to finish a quilt (instead of thinking about it, you actually WORK on it) I’m feeling bullish about more finished pieces this year. I pulled out a few UFOs from earlier years to make my Quilty Resolutions.

So let’s open the box!

    This is for a challenge in April, and is first on my list to be finished in 2018. I’m off to a great start— I promised myself that it would be pieced by the end of the year and it is. I also promised myself it would be beautifully pieced— and it is!

    See the dotted fabric in the inner three borders? It's the same fabric, just different colors and I actually pieced it so the dots align on all three. Who does that?! Haha. Then, check out the 1/8” inch appliquéd strip on the saucer. One thing I have really made progress on this year is my turned edge appliqué. Practice, practice, practice! I am going to add the phases of the moon...

   They are the size of a nickel!

  I have some really fun quilting patterns sketched including coffee bean plants, and anything and everything that is shaped like a circle— gears, the sun and moon, yin and yang and more. Sort of like a graffiti quilt. Going to start quilting as soon as I can get my hands on batting January 2nd. Hope to finish by the end of February.

     This, of course, is our San Francisco Stitch Co. Block of the Month for 2017, and my best hope for a show quilt next year, which now needs a ton of finishing work. Contrary to the photoshopped version on the website, this is where the real thing stands. I need to finish the setting triangles, stitch it together, and I have beautiful quilted flower borders in mind. The blocks are obviously formal bouquets, but the outside border is going to be a scene of wildflowers from up close, then faraway flower fields, right up to the sky, all around the edges. And I am piecing white on white pinwheels to embroider on. Over the top enough for you? 

     Unlike last year, when I didn’t know how well the Baltimore borders would come out, I’m going to write instructions for these as I go along— so you’ll be able to stitch them as well. But be patient with me! It’s going to take time. This one I’d love to have ready to show first at my home quilt guild show, Bayberry Quilters of Cape Cod, in August.

   I will definitely get those two quilts done this year— so then it will be time to dig into my UFO box and finish up some others. Let’s go! Here’s my wish list of four more finished in 2018.

   After the bouquets, I am going to want something small, fast, and fun to work on, but I will still be loving flowers, so here’s a UFO from 2016. I took a class with Laura, (google her) and it was advertised as not requiring a sewing machine. ???  Well, we didn’t, and I never had so much fun in my life. It was all free cut, fusible applique. 
     To add to the fun, my friend Tere took a dying class at MQX earlier that year— we never laughed so hard as when we were on our hands and knees, rinsing the fabric in our hotel room tub.  As my reward, Tere gave me my choice of her custom fabric— and that is the fabulous, crazy background you see. 

   Later that year, when I tried to hand embroider the flowers, that was when my rotator cuff totally separated--not because of the piece, but just general wear and tear— that was NOT FUN at all, and I put it away: there it is with the needle still in it. But I would totally enjoy making a flying geese border and just throwing some colorful free motion quilting on that piece. It just looks so happy to me. Should be an easy finish!

    This is an older piece, when years ago I had digitized a Dungeness Crab in honor of my time in San Francisco. I wanted to make a larger piece with that embroidery, which I was, and still am, so very proud of. I also wanted to make a compass star. I stopped, for whatever reason, with two borders to go, and I now can’t find the fabric I was using. I still love the piece, and can just envision waves and shell quilting across the sand. Deserves to be finished!

     I really love zentangle drawing style, and obviously you do too, because my fruit sets always sold well (and yes, I will do more at some point this year) SO I started just making a fun, random quilt with all cherry themed ideas to match the embroidered block in the upper right. I made the bowl of cherries block, a block with ric rac that’s supposed to be the top of a pie, and the most fun of all was collecting cherry themed fabric, buttons, notions. This one has a sketch tucked in with it. And I’d love to finish it this year.

Those three pieces are all small, and very do-able... but now we’ve reached the bottom of the box and there’s something that needs a lot of work!

    Here’s my most GUILTY PLEASURE that I love to work on. Yes, I am a hopeless Lori Holt fan, and even though my conscience tells me I should be working on original art, this comes out from time to time.
   The history is, that I bought the Farm Girl Vintage book when it came out 3 or 4 years ago, and I greatly enjoyed teaching my daughter how to piece the blocks. One summer especially, we made most of these, right before she left for college. Now, I got her to the point where she was a great piecer, but as it turns out, quilting isn’t really her thing, and it took me time to “get over it,” and I put it away. So I am totally over it, but I’m on my own now— I would still LOVE to finish this for her, as a memento of a special time we spent together. It’s called OUR HOUSE because many of the blocks had special meanings for us, like the baking set and the camera. I can just see it all completely machine embroidered with tons of cute details. 

 And just because that’s not enough work, I discovered the Chuck Nohara quilt— (google it after you google Laura Waslowski) and decided I want to finish it with tiny Xs and Os in the border, like hugs and kisses. So I'd need about 500,000 border pieces. And maybe I need more like 100 blocks for the best look! So this still has a lot of work to go, but I’d love to just advance it this year.

   What are your quilty resolutions? Pull out one today, and take a picture of it! You might just surprise yourself a year from now, if you actually work on it, instead of just thinking about it— and trust me, 2018 is gonna fly!

Happy New Year!


Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas!

It’s been quite a year for us all at San Francisco Stitch Co! 
Thank you for your business 
and giving us the chance to do what we enjoy--
We hope that 2017 has been just as memorable for you,
 and we look forward to stitching with you again next year!
Carol, Meg, John, Caroline, Steve, and all!