Wednesday, August 19, 2015

SLICE OF CHRISTMAS CLASS


A few of my long arm quilting customers asked me if I could teach them a new technique.  After a few scheduling conflicts, we finally got together and I taught Ashley, Mary and Mallory how to use a special ruler to make a circular Christmas tree skirt.

We all had such a great time at my home in New Lenox!  Tables were set up, along with sewing machines and a pressing station, and away we went.


The pattern the girls chose had the option of two different styles of skirt, and Mary chose one style and her two daughters-in-law chose the other.  Here are a few of the pictures I snapped as we cut fabric, sewed strip sets, sliced them up, put them back together again in a new way, and, of course, did some special pressing:









Here is Ashley, holding up one of the eighth-units of her tree skirt.  



There was not enough time in class to finish the projects, but the techniques were taught so that the girls could finish up on their own time, helping each other along as they went.

A few days after class, Ashley sent me this picture of her almost-completed tree skirt:


I say "almost-completed" because we are going to have another class in several weeks to teach how to bind the tree skirts to finish off the raw edges.  Before that class, each student will cut out a circular backing fabric, sandwich it together with the top and the batting, and do some simple straight-line quilting.  I'm sure we will have just as much fun at that class as we did at this one!

Thanks, Girls, for being such great students!  If there is anyone else out there who is interested in taking a class at your home or mine, click here to find out more.



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

LOOK WHAT I GOT FOR MY QUILTING CUSTOMERS!



You can always count on quality workmanship and a fast turnaround, but now there is another reason to bring your quilt tops to Rebecca's Quilting:  While supplies last, each quilt top you bring in will earn you your choice of one of these great, gently used quilting books!

There are 110 books in all, so let's see if I can give them all away in this coming year!  Thanks to all my customers for helping my business take off in the past several months.

Monday, September 22, 2014

"HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO MAKE THAT QUILT?"

It seems that every time I show a finished quilt to someone, they always ask the same question:  "How long did it take you to make that quilt?"  My answer is always the same:

"I have no idea.  Twenty hours?  Forty hours?  I don't know."

Well, I decided to find out how long it takes to make a quilt.  I was contacted through Facebook a couple of weeks ago by a girl (woman!) that I went to grade school with around mumble-mumble years ago.  She has a friend who is turning fifty soon and wanted me to design and make a lap size quilt (57" x 73") from start to finish for this friend.  After looking though lots of pics on Pinterest, she decided on the colors and design, and I made a mock up of it on my QuiltPro software.  Here is the concept:

 

And here it is completed:



But I'm getting ahead of myself!  I diligently timed every minute that I spent making this quilt, and here are my results, along with a few photos to keep it interesting:


To start with, I figured about one hour to design the quilt with my software.  I took a lot longer than that, but I was also just fooling around with colors and stuff, so I am only saying one hour.  When the fabric from Keepsake Quilting arrived, I dropped everything and started piecing half square triangle blocks.


This...


...turned into this:


And when all the blocks were done, I was left with this on the design wall:


Each different color took twenty minutes to finish.  And since there were twenty-four colors, this part of the process took eight hours.  Then I took them off the design wall to arrange them.


The little picture tacked to the design wall is a mock up that I used to arrange the blocks correctly.  This part of the process took ninety minutes, but would have taken a lot longer if my wonderful husband, Bill, had not been helping me!


In the photo above, the vertical seams have been sewn.  Each seam, including removing from the design wall, arranging, sewing, pressing and putting back on the design wall, took twenty minutes.  For eleven seams - three hours and forty-five minutes.


Sewing the horizontal seams took sixteen minutes for each seam, so that came to four hours of work.  Now it was time to audition border, binding and backing fabric, so I was off to Robert's Sewing Center.


Shopping for batting, backing, border and binding took two hours, including travel time.  Cutting the fabric for the eight border sections, pinning them to the quilt top, sewing them on and pressing them took three and a half hours.  Piecing the backing fabric took thirty minutes.  The quilt top was now ready to be loaded onto the frame of my long arm quilting machine.  Here are a few photos of the quilting process:







Laying out the top, back and batting on the floor to check for size and to place a few safety pins as registration points took fifteen minutes.  Loading the quilt components onto the frame and doing the actual quilting took five hours.  Trimming the quilt and squaring it up took another fifteen minutes.  Cutting, seaming and attaching the French fold binding took two hours.  Designing, making and attaching the label took another one hour.  And the quilt is finished!  Here are the final photos:






Packing the quilt for shipping and traveling to and from the post office to send it on its way took one hour.  So, how long did it take me to make that quilt?

Just under 34 hours!

Now we know!  And this was for a lap size quilt, so if you take 34 hours and divide it by the labor I am charging, I am making just under $6 an hour.   Some people may not understand why a hand made quilt is so expensive when they can go to Walmart and get a hand made quilt from China for $59.99.

Most people don't realize that the materials alone for a hand made quilt will cost somewhere between $100 and $200, and maybe even more, and that does not include the labor to make the quilt.  When I tell people that, they usually decide to go to Walmart!  I can't fault them for that, because I know that hand made quilts are expensive, and some people may not be able to afford one right now.  Maybe someday they will, and I will be happy to design and craft one for them!



 Here is a sneak peek of the mock up of my current work in progress.  I am making a 95" x 95" quilt for my own queen size bed.  The quilt in this post used 192 blocks and the quilt I am making for my bed uses 400 blocks, so you can see that it will probably take around one and a half times the labor hours, maybe around 45 or so.  I never thought I would make a quilt that uses that many blocks, but I'm doing it now!  Hopefully, there will be a blog post soon chronicling the making of it.

Thanks for visiting today!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

RAINBOW STARS AND CHEVRONS



FROM CONCEPT...





TO COMPLETION!

Twelve years ago, back in 2002, I went to a quilt show and bought some fabric.  Now, I've bought a lot of fabric, but I usually know what I'm going to make with it and when I'm going to make it.  This was the first time I just fell in love with some fabric and bought it on a whim.  I guess I've learned my lesson, because I've never done it again!  Anyway, here is what I bought way back around the turn of the century:




This picture shows four identical bundles of twelve Fossil Fern fabrics in rainbow colors, arranged so that you can see all the colors.  I only bought one bundle.







I found this Laurel Burch fabric, which is called, "Cats in Jungle".  I thought it would work well with the rainbow fabrics, and I was not sure how much to buy, so I bought four yards.

The other fabric I used was Kona White.  No picture of that fabric, because, well, it's plain white fabric.  I could have taken a photo of a piece of paper, and you would not know the difference!



I always planned to make a kid's quilt out of this collection, and, last week, I pulled the fabric out and started scouting Pinterest to get ideas.  I saw the quilt below, designed by Gerri Robinson, and liked the idea of having rows of different blocks that looked good together, rather than just one block throughout.



 I think this quilt is rectangular, but I wanted a square quilt.  I made a couple of other changes as well, like using different colors for the centers and points of the stars, and using more colors for the stars and chevrons.  Where Gerri chose not to have a border on her quilt, I used the Cats in Jungle fabric to make a 3.75" border.  I used the same fabric for the binding and the backing, Warm and White 100% cotton batting, and white King Tut 100% Egyptian cotton quilting thread.





Most of the time, I seem to gravitate to scrappy quilts, ones where I tend to make one block at a time.  This time, I was able to do a lot of chain piecing, because many of the blocks were identical.  That was fun for a change!  Of course, I worked way too long for two days in a row, and ended up with back spasms that were very painful, lasted all through the night, and kept me awake and very unhappy!  At the end of the second day, when the spasms were at their worst, I actually took a Vicadin.  I hate doing that, so you know I must really have been hurting.



With the piecing done, I started to choose a quilting design from the ones I already own, but the idea I had was for something swirly or loopy, and nothing I had quite fit the bill.  I went to Urban Elementz and popped for a new design called "Outside In".  It turned out perfect!  It was so fun to quilt, especially watching the pattern develop over all the brilliant colors.  Here are a few photos of the quilt on the frame of my Ansley 26 longarm quilting machine:




























Now that the binding is done, the quilt is ready to be posted to my Etsy shop.  You can find the listing by clicking here.  I had so much fun designing and creating this quilt.  I would love to keep it for myself, but the quilts around here are starting to pile up, as you can imagine.  The joy was in the journey for me, but this fantastic kid quilt's journey will not be over until it finds a loving home!  Thanks for visiting today, and I'll leave you with a few photos of the quilt.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

SCRAPPY APPLES

I just finished a project!  From start to finish, I guess it was a little less than a week in the making.  I'm calling it "Scrappy Apples" because it is made from my stash of scraps left over from other quilts, and the quilting design is apples and leaves.

This was a commissioned quilt requested by a customer for a dear friend.  The story is pretty cool:  The two friends have never met, but were pen pals during World War II.

The lady who commissioned the quilt told me that she and her friend have been writing back and forth for many years, and she wanted to do something special for her.  Her friend had been there for her through thick and thin, even though they had never met face to face.  She told me that she is not sure she will ever really "meet" her friend, but that her friend means more to her than some of the people she has "met".  The quilt is ready to deliver, and I can't wait to hear how it was received!




When I first started designing the quilt with my quilt software, I envisioned the blocks set side by side.  But after I made several of them, I reconsidered and changed the setting to "on point" with setting squares in between, as you can see in the next photo.



I always appreciate the opportunity to use the new design wall that Bill and I made a few months ago.  It is insulation board with cotton batting glued to it.  The blocks just stick to it naturally and you can rearrange to your heart's content.  Here is where I kept playing with the color placement until I was happy with it.



With the top completed, it was ready for the longarm quilting machine.  I was going to do an edge to edge quilting design, but with the large white setting squares, I could not resist the urge to treat each block separately and use a set that I purchased in 2012 that is all different shapes of apples and leaves.  This is Block One, in progress, which is a square design.





Block Two is a circular shape with just leaves, and I used it in the sixteen patch blocks.  I had so much fun with these blocks, because the swirlies placed themselves on four of the small colored blocks.  Happy happenstance!

The photo above shows how the quilt top, quilt back and quilt batting are loaded on the longarm machine.  I took this picture after I had only been quilting for about an hour.  I worked on this all day Sunday, while Bill was at work, and it took over eight hours to finish!




This motif is Triangle One, and is specially designed just for triangle patches in the quilt.
Triangle Two is a different design, leaves without an apple, that I used in the smaller four corner setting triangles.  I used a leaf pattern for the small border, and it is also just leaves with no apples.  This was not part of the apples set, but had similar shaped leaves and worked very nicely.

Because the borders can only be worked from side to side, doing a border like this necessitates taking the quilt off the frame, turning it, and reattaching it to do the last two borders.

Originally, I planned on using a printed backing for the quilt, but decided to use plain white.  First of all, I had a lot of this fabric on hand that I had purchased at Hancock's of Paducah a few years ago.  It is 100% cotton, of course, and it is a soft as butter!  So I knew that it would make a soft and comfortable backing.  Secondly, and maybe more importantly, I wanted a back that would show off the quilting.  Mission accomplished!  A printed backing would have looked pretty, but the quilting would not have shown up as much.






Here is the finished quilt, ready to be given to my customer's friend.  I really enjoyed working on it, and hope that I have the chance to make something like this again soon.

I really need to use up some more of my scraps!