Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Kimono Quilt

My first completed custom order for 2019 was a really unique project, both for the project itself and the unusual journey it had before I received it.

the finished product

My customer is retired military, and had been stationed in Okinawa. Japan, where she had bought a number of vintage kimonos.  Once she returned home (to my neighborhood!) she asked a woman who had done some upholstery work for her to make a quilt out of the kimonos. That project did not come out the way she wanted or expected, so she then contacted me to see if I could remake it into something else.  I'm sure the first quiltmaker had the best of intentions, but it was an odd piece of work:  a tied quilt pieced with dark colored upholstery fabric, with an actual acrylic blanket in between the layers.  Also included were a number of smaller projects-- a pillow, and some table runners-- that the customer hadn't asked for.

So the first step for me was a significant amount of demolition-- cutting all of the various projects apart, and then coming up with a way to get all of the various pieces onto one quilt.


note the seam matching

You'll notice from the top picture of the completed project that it's made of very large blocks, almost like panels.  That's because the previous quilter had done an extraordinary job of matching the pieces of the patterns to achieve the large blocks.


You'd never know that this block is actually 2 pieces of fabric!  This pattern matching is not something I'm able to do with any sort of competence, so I decided to take advantage of this and left the blocks as large as I could.


The peacock is also 2 matched pieces.

There's also A LOT of quilting.  I usually do an all-over pattern on clothing quilts (it works well with T-shirt quilts in particular) but this quilt really wanted to be quilted block by block, and every block is a little different.

echo quilting
outline quilting in the body, with a stipple background

I tried to let the pictures themselves tell me how to quilt each block.

Some technical details:

The fabric of the kimonos is, as far as I could tell, a very drapey polyester crepe.  It's not a fabric I've worked with before but once I stabilized it (I use Pellon 960F for all of my clothing quilts) it worked just fine for piecing and quilting.

Batting is Quilter's Dream Request, Queen size.  The finished quilt was about 85 x 100".  All of the quilting was done on my HQ Sweet 16.


On the back:  a super pretty leaf print (this one).  It's 108" wide so there's no pieceing necessary even for a big quilt like this one.  Having a one piece back saves a ton of time plus I think it bastes and quilts much easier.



I delivered the completed quilt a few days ago and the customer was absolutely ecstatic with how it turned out.  She was glad to finally get what she had originally wanted.  And this was a fun project for me, and certainly a unique one!

Please note that I am using this blog space for details about my custom orders only.  I'd be delighted if you'd join me on Facebook and Instagram for project updates, Etsy store additions, and other news.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Two for Tupelo

This summer will definitely go down in history as The Summer of T-Shirt Quilts.  It started in May with this one from a local customer.  It was an epic collection of famous artists collected at concerts over several decades.

Social media about that quilt soon generated my next 2 projects.  (Speaking of social media:  if you haven't yet joined me on Facebook  and Instagram please do!)  The chef at Tupelo Music Hall in Derry, N.H. contacted me about the venue's massive T shirt collection and asked if I would be able to produce 2 quilts for them:  a twin size one to be hung (or otherwise displayed at the venue) and a queen size quilt for the chef's home.
Well, sometimes the universe delivers exactly what you need at just the right moment.  As some of you already know, I always have a long, long summer off from orchestra work, so the timing to take on 2 major projects just as the orchestra season was ending could not have been better.


I made the twin size one first, using a horizontal layout.  Keeping in mind that the plan was to display it at the venue, it's bright but not too wild.  I also was careful to keep it gender neutral.

The center block is extra fancy since it's from the venue itself.


A swirly black and gray marble print and striped binding finished it off.  I did an all-over stipple design for the quilting, and added a hanging sleeve on the back.

Next was the queen size quilt for the chef's home.


For a quilt for someone's home I felt I could be a little more relaxed with the color choices, so this one is a little brighter and has some bolder prints.  And just for variation it's arranged in a vertical pattern.

Both of these quilts used a lot of fun music prints ( EQuilter.com has a great fat quarter collection here ).  The chef mentioned that her husband is a bass player so I thought that red and black print was particularly fitting.



It's one of the largest quilts I've ever made, measuring about 90 x 105, so there's generous drop on the sides and plenty of room for pillow tucks.



On the back is a bright print and black and white plaid binding.  Both of these quilts used extra-wide (108") backing fabrics (this one is from fabric.com) which I think is the only way to go for these large quilts-- the time savings is significant, plus the quilts baste easier and therefore quilt more smoothly. 


 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Rock and Roll All Night

As promised, I am using this space to share completed custom orders.
Most of my more regular musings can now be found on Facebook and Instagram-- please join me!

Anyway, I just completed a custom T-shirt quilt out of an amazing collection of shirts:


Many of these shirts date back 30 years or more.  The oldest one with a date on it is from 1984.


Most of them are from rock concerts by iconic artists, including:  Elton John (twice!), Rod Stewart, Tina Turner, Fleetwood Mac, Counting Crows, Taj Mahal, Marshall Tucker Band, George Jones, James Taylor, the Eagles, Robert Plant (also twice), Bruce Springsteen, and Tom Petty.  There are also a few non-musical shirts from art shows, car shows and other personal events.


The biggest challenge for this project ended up being preserving the integrity of the designs (some of which are really iconic) while fitting them into the confines of a queen size quilt.  I mean, what are you going to do:  cut Tina off at the hips to achieve a standard 15" block?  I DON'T THINK SO. 


There's not a lot of additional fabric on the front of the quilt since I had a large number of t shirts to use but I did have a little room for a few fun guitar fabrics that I already had in my stash.


I love using extra wide 108" fabric for the back of a large quilt-- having a one-piece back just makes basting and quilting so much easier.  The cheerful magenta and white print is available here.  The binding is solid black fabric.


I did an all-over stipple quilting using a medium gray thread which blended nicely into both the white and black shirts (and everything in between!).  I used lightweight Quilter's Dream batting and, of course, my HQ Sweet 16 machine for the quilting.


I hope it looks as good in my customer's bedroom as it does in mine!


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Oh Baby

My latest custom quilt was an exercise in how to make a random pile of fabric go together.



The customer had photographed her newborn baby for the first year of her life using 12 different fabrics, one fabric each month.

Something like this (photo courtesy of Pinterest):

 monthly photo idea - different fabrics

Well, her daughter is now about 1 1/2 years old and she was wondering what to do with the 12 yards (!) of fabric left over from the photo sessions.  Luckily all of the fabrics were quilting cottons that she had bought at Joann's-- with one exception:  the lemon print with the blue background is flannel. (Still completely usable)


I love combining bright colors with charcoal gray so that was my suggestion to bring everything together.
The applique flowers weren't part of my original design idea but I think they add just the right touch.


This is a lap size quilt so there was LOTS of fabric left over, plenty to do a pieced back.


I love scrap quilts so this was a really fun project!

Now on to other business:

I've been noticing recently that Instagram Is The New Blog.  I've tried it and have to say I agree.  It's a much more practical medium for sharing tidbits of information, plus it's totally portable as it is a phone-only application.  So it goes anywhere and I can use it anytime.  So I think I will be migrating most of my online communication to Instagram and using this space to share custom orders and other special projects.  I  hope you'll join me!

https://www.instagram.com/thequiltingviolinist/

One last thing:  a little taste of my recent vacation.  I went BY MYSELF to Venice in June.  Because I wanted to.  It was great.

The Grand Canal

Rialto Bridge

Burano Island

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Neutral New Year

I started the new year off with some custom quilting.

My quilting friend Jean had made a quilt top and asked me to quilt it for her.


We grabbed a picture of it before basting.
It's a symphony of neutrals!


And it's BIG.  A king sized quilt measuring 92 x 104".
I understood why she wouldn't want to take on a quilt that size on her domestic machine.













Even on the Sweet 16 managing a quilt this size is really challenging.  I kept the quilting simple with long diagonal lines that show off the geometric pattern of the blocks.

Something that doesn't show up well in the pictures is the fact that many of these fabrics are metallic--Jean never met a gold fabric she didn't like!  So even though it's all neutrals, the quilt has a gorgeous subtle shimmer to it that's really spectacular.









This is the largest quilt I've finished on the Sweet 16-- it's just a few inches larger than my Scrappy Trip-Around that I made in 2013.

















Thursday, December 8, 2016

The 2 Grandmas

My latest custom order involves one granddaughter's baby clothes made into quilts for both of her grandmothers.

These custom clothing quilt projects always have a life of their own, and this one was no exception.

One thing that was apparent from the start of this project was that I wasn't given a lot of material to work with, especially since I needed to produce 2 quilts from one rather small collection of clothing. Coming up with a pattern was probably the biggest challenge of this project.



Pattern inspiration:  I had saved this panel quilt pattern from the August 2015 issue of McCall's Quilting, thinking it was a good all-around pattern to have on hand.












quilt #1
So using the pattern as a guide, I treated the pieced clothing portion of the quilts as a panel, which only had to measure about 23 x 43". The pinwheel blocks and the borders were all made out of regular quilting fabric.
The finished quilts are about 50 x 60".









quilt #2

I wasn't given instructions as to whether the quilts should be alike or not, but in the end having them alike was the most efficient way to complete this project.  Plus, I was happy with how the pattern worked!






On the back of each quilt is the front of a dress.















I attached the dresses with fusible web, like an applique.  












It also seemed a fine spot for my label!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A New T Shirt Quilt

My latest T shirt quilt came from the cousin of my friend/neighbor/orchestra coworker.  The cousin wanted a quilt made, and the job was passed to me.  Word of mouth really works to drum up business!

The customer had originally planned on making the quilt herself, but found herself a little lost on the process-- apparently she's a sewer but not an experienced quilter.

She had gotten as far as cutting and stabilizing the shirts, but was at a loss as how to proceed from there.







So it was a trade-off for me when I received the shirts:  I lost a little design control over the project since the shirts had already been cut BUT it saved a ton of time to have that already done for me.










This was a very well-loved, and rather well worn, collection of nature themed shirts.

I was a little concerned that the finished quilt might look a little shabby due to the age and wear of the shirts, but in the end I think it came out really well (and the customer emailed me after receiving it and she was absolutely thrilled with it).







The customer requested that I use earth toned batik fabrics which I think was a good idea.  One of our local quilt shops (Happy Apple Quilts) has an extensive selection of beautiful batiks, so it was a great excuse to visit them.












It's a twin size quilt, measuring about 64 x 90".












There are 16 blocks and they are 16" finished.  I used the batiks to fill in and get the blocks to the proper size.

I then added border strips at the top and bottom to achieve the right length.









There was even enough batik fabric left over for a pretty little table runner, now available in my Etsy store.  Click here for the listing.