Friday, April 28, 2017

Baltimore Album Progress...

I made a big decision after releasing the finishing instructions for the Baltimore Album BOM... 

Stitching the gridded border back and forth on my sewing machine got my rotator cuff all aggravated again, and a survey of my friends concluded that the piece needed fancier border.

So I ripped off my borders and started over... digitizing them!

That was a couple of months ago, and while not quite finished, I've made a ton of progress and it looks amazing...

First, the digitizing was ALOT of work! I took my lily and acanthus theme from the inside sashings and expanded on it. The nice thing about working on the computer is that I can actually compose the entire border to the exact size, and even add photos of the existing piece, so you'd think there'd be no surprises when it came to stitching!
 Each piece is designed for the limits of a 7" x 12" hoop and then takes approximately three hours to stitch out... most of this is working to align the sections.

This is the back and you can see how pretty it looks. I have actually gotten to be even BETTER at hooping... problem is, the parts that are already stitched out shrink down, so each successive piece has to be resized to photographs of adjacent pieces. 

I know there are others who use significant machine embroidery in their quilts, but I honestly feel that what I am doing in hooping and entirely machine embroidering this quilt is totally maverick. At least I don't remember seeing any class offered for this! So the learning curve has been a bit steep. Matching points below!

With that said, there is some comforting similarity with the process of quilting. For instance, you can bury all of your thread tails just as you would on any other piece.

Or as I thought, any crazy, obsessive thing a longarmer can do on a show quilt, a machine embroiderer can do better! Beyond that, some strategically placed crystals will help where they have to.

On a side note-- these two items look very similar but actually have a VERY different effect when used on fabric... ask me how I know. One of them has been BANNED from my sewing room, BANNED from my house!!!

Other than that, the possibility of the EPIC FAIL we artists know and fear, at this point is pretty small-- all I would have to do is take off a border and replace it if things went badly. Not that I want to do that, but it's a comforting thought, every time I press the START button on the ol' Babylock!

The end is near, and I'm really pleased with how flat this thing has remained. The reality is that every stitching project will look better after it is washed and blocked. So I tested some extra stitch outs, and the good news is, in spite of all the different threads and colors I bleeding! My good friend Tere D'Amato offered to help me with some hand holding when that day comes. XOX

So without further ado...
Here's "A New England Album"!

The borders are so very large because my hoop needs all that to grip on to-- they will ultimately be trimmed to the scallop shape. Economy of materials was never a hallmark of my process!
I have the top border to go which will hopefully be done this weekend. Then binding... and then it's off to the Vermont Quilt Festival!

While everyone hopes for a ribbon, with all the amazing gorgeous quilts out there, it doesn't often happen... I am just over the moon, first of all, to be this close to finishing this, and second, I think I've created a totally new look of my own, in spite of the variety of quilts that are already out there. That may sound egotistical, but remember-- I may be the only one crazy enough to do this!

Thanks so much for reading, and I hope it encourages you to do whatever crazy thing you like to do-- nothing is better to me than when everyone is doing their thing. Go forth and sew!



  1. Can you tell me the program you use to match the points....thanks

    1. We use Bernina Designer Plus, it's high-end and I'm sure other less expensive programs would get the job done! The problem is, as we said in the blog, it's easy to match on the computer, not so easy to recreate in real life! Once stitched, the designs shrink up-- we were using the features on the sewing machine to reduce, rotate, etc, etc, and it was time consuming.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Dyane! What I didn't mention in the blog-- I could never have reached this point without my wonderful customers who unknowingly showed me the way, buoying me along with flattering comments, lol-- but that's a subject that would fill a novel-- XOX

  3. Wow! So much thought and creativity is going into this beautiful piece. Best of luck with the up coming quilt shows!

    1. Thank you, Mary Ellen-- just getting in to a show is an honor! Hope you and A New England Album cross paths someday. XOX

  4. I am so excited to see this border treatment and I hope you will release it for sale. I ordered the finishing kit for the album and I was honestly disappointed. After all that fantastic work with the acanthus border, it was a letdown to see just hatching. I hope your album wins recognition at the show, but I wanted you to know you have a very excited customer waiting to buy, credit card in hand. Cheryl W, douquilt...

    1. Thanks for your comment--we understand that a select number of customers are as "crazy" about machine embroidery as we are! That being said, we made the finishing instructions on this larger piece free and tried to stick with something an average customer would be able to follow through with-- it was honestly our original intent to do it as well. In terms of the difficulty in registering these pieces-- it would be page after page of instructions and a customer service nightmare-- keep in mind there were four different sizes of blocks offered as well, not to mention differences in sizes when individuals stitch them together. That being said, if we haven't scared you off yet, and you have a considerable degree of skill in hooping and registering designs, we'd be happy to offer them to you free, with some guidance in the details of how it's done-- just contact us and let us know June-ish-- the top borders are still not digitized! Thank you so much for you interest and your comment-- we really appreciate it. XOX Carol

    2. I will definitely contact you June-ish, thank you. You might want to consider this as an opportunity for your customers to strive for the next level. I agree it would be a nightmare for some, but some embroiderers don't know what they canNOT do, until someone tells them. lol With the technology in many of the TOL machines, cameras, lasers, etc., it may be simpler than you think. I think you are doing the "hard part" now, in the digitizing. Your instructions on how to join blocks and place the ancathas borders were thorough and they worked. You can offer this as an option for those wanting the next level.

  5. Carol, as stated on FB, I'm just crazy about your new border treatment. The finished quilt is going to be eye-bogglingly spectacular. I know this is OT, but did not know how else to contact you. Came across this a moment ago:
    and thought of you immediately. Wouldn't it make a great quilt? (And I notice there are other cities as part of the series too.) I'm well aware of copyright etc but just wanted to share this lovely little design that I thought would speak to your heart.

    1. Love it Pam-- if you're a cross stitch AND a San Francisco friend, take a look at this too....