more hand quilting


I have begun the hand quilting on this top


Pretty basic outline quilting with black 40 weight thread


The hand quilting is adding a lot of dimension.


On this quilt the hand quilting doesn’t show much on the back because of the busy pattern of the fabric.


I did some more on this one as well


I have a lot more done than I thought  so this might be finished soon.

The quilting on the back of this one does stand out.


here are a few more pictures (click pictures to enlarge)

Teddy was happy to be back to work posing.


Happy quilting


Quilting Rules?


One of the Facebook quilting groups has been having a discussion about quilting rules.   The question is are there really rules and where did they come from and do we need to follow them.

Here are a few rules you might have heard (these aren’t necessarily rules I follow but are rules I have read or heard)

  1. always sew a 1/4 inch seam, or on some lists always sew a scant 1/4 inch seam (but how much less than 1/4 inch is a scant 1/4 inch)
  2. always press toward the dark fabric
  3. never press open a seam
  4. never press with steam, or on some lists always press with steam
  5. always prewash the fabric, or on some lists never prewash because the fabric is easier to work with when it still has the sizing in it.
  6. always use 100% cotton thread
  7. always pin before sewing
  8. always check for accuracy and square up your blocks
  9. always use matching thread
  10. never wash a quilt by machine
  11. always use bias cut binding
  12. always hand quilt in a hoop or frame
  13. basting is the most important step in hand quilting and should be done with thread
  14. you must use very small needles for hand quilting

There are many many more that I am sure you have heard.

I have often said that there are no quilt police and no rules but I have changed my mind.    I do have rules that I apply to MY quilts.    I do always prewash, I do use 1/4 inch seams, I do use steam to press, I do wash finished quilts, I always hand quilt in a hoop or frame, I always pin baste very sparely. I use whatever size needle is best for the thread and stitch I want.   MY rules for MY quilts are what I find work best for me.

So where do all the rules come from?    If I were to teach someone how to quilt I would teach them how I do it.  My rules would be what I teach.  I would naturally teach the way I do.   My practices , at least initially, would become the rules for the new quilter.    They get passed on and that quilter may add a few new rules and take away a few but the rules come from the experiences of the quilters.  They aren’t meant to be restrictive, they are meant to help!   I have made a lot of mistakes but once made I learn not to do it again and I add to my personal list of rules.

Here is an example:    I made a whole cloth quilt and I really do love it.    When I made the top I didn’t have an extra wide piece of fabric so I had to piece it.    I ran the seam right down the center and every time I look at the quilt that seam is the first thing I see.   It really detracts from the beauty of the quilt.   I should have followed the rule of not piecing a whole cloth top down the center.   Here is the quilt


That seam down the center does show.  I should have either bought an extra wide piece of fabric or pieced it as the “rules” tell me.


That way the seam would not be down the center and would not bother me as much.   (also it turns out that quilt judges do not care for center seams) I put a lot of work into it and I love it, but It could have been better if I had followed the rules.   New rule for my list….always use an extra wide fabric for whole cloth quilts.

Another example is my snowflake quilt.   I didn’t plan to ever enter the quilt in a show, I just wanted to give it try to see how it would work.   I used fabric I had on hand and I used batting I had on hand.   Unfortunately I didn’t have a wide enough piece of batting so I joined two pieces together.   I zig zag stitched them together with an edge joining foot and it looked great.    but when I started the very dense quilting I saw my error.   The seam in the batting shows.   Here it is

reindeer pad

do you see that thin line going through the center reindeer’s heads?    So there is a new rule for me.  Don’t piece the batting if the quilting is going to be very dense or the quilt will be entered in a show.

Those 2 rules are not meant to be off-putting to people, or to make me feel like I know everything.   They are rules that I hope will help others avoid my mistakes.

Now what about breaking the rules?

I spent many years teaching floral design both to college students and to professionals for the floral association.   Like quilting floral design is an art, but it also has rules.    In floral design there are rules for balance, proportion, scale, color harmony, rhythm, suitability, unity etc.    The rules are the building blocks that make a pleasing composition.    I always teach the students the rules.   After the rules are established and understood you can begin to break them in an informed way.   You need to know the rules to break them.  (some day I will do some posts all about floral design rules)  There are also some rules that should not ever be broken.   If I do not follow the proper care and handling rules the flowers will die and the customer will not be happy.

Many of the quilting rules are there to make for a more sturdy quilt ( I want my quilts to be used so being sturdy is always a concern for me) The rules are really about construction more than design.

The rules of quilting that many feel are oppressive or limiting are there to help make your job easier and keep you from making mistakes. The rules are the result of the experiences of generations of quilters.

Do I follow all the rules?  NO   But I am often sorry I didn’t.   The rules I follow for my own work are those that I have learned through experience. I honestly do not think that they hinder my creativity.   The quilt that I have been posting about the last few days might look like it doesn’t  really follow what might be considered traditional rules, but it does.


I am following all my rules.    The top is one piece, the batting is not pieced,  I am quilting in a hoop, I pin basted it, I will wash it when it is finished, and I don’t feel at all restricted.

Happy quilting


Spring is here

Pasque Flower

I spent some time in the garden this morning doing a little weeding and pruning .   Here are some pictures. (click pictures to enlarge)

I got started hand quilting this quilt.


Not much done but a start


More on that next time.

Teddy says HI


Happy Quilting


Basting the next one


I got the next quilt pin basted today.

I used this fabric for the backing.


I had a few questions about a source for the fabric.  You can see all the information on the selvedge to do a search for the fabric.

I got mine at Marshall Dry Goods for $4.99/yd It looks like they are sold out of black, but have it in a few other colors here

A lot of books and “experts” tell you not to seam the backing in the center.  I always do.  It seems like extra work to cut one of the lengths in half and sew it on , one on each side like this.


I do a center seam and I don’t worry about the quilt police. I do press that seam open.
I tack the backing to the floor right side down.


Then lay out the batting and smooth it out.

This is the batting I used.


It is easy to work with the wrinkles come out easily


now I lay out the top and smooth out the wrinkles.


Teddy inspects the work.


I add the pins.   They might be hard to see in the picture because there are very few.   I don’t find the need for nearly as many as most sources suggest.


Ready to hand quilt.   I plan to use black 40 weight hand quilting thread.  I will do it without marking anything.   I will use the piecing as a guide.   More on that when I get started.

I did a bit more hand quilting work on the Mackintosh Rose.

DSCN6380 DSCN6379 DSCN6378

Happy quilting


Next project


A few weeks ago I finished this top


I ordered some backing fabric for it.


And today I bought the batting.


I have used it before and I really like it.   I will post pictures when I get started on it.

It has been cold the last few days but the weeping cherry tree is in full bloom.    When I got the camera and told Teddy to come outside for pictures he just stared at me.


I guess he wants to wait for it to warm up again.

Here are some garden pictures without Teddy (click pictures to enlarge)

I said I was done working on the Mackintosh Rose ….but I did a little more

DSCN6359 DSCN6358

Happy quilting


What is my style?


I was looking at several quilts today on Facebook (The AQS show in Paducah makes for lots of pictures) and it made me think about the styles of various quilters.   I sometimes think I can identify the maker of a quilt by looking for clues in their style.

When I managed a florist I could always tell which designer made an arrangement just by looking at the style. When I got to know a designer I could always pick out their work.   Are my quilts the same?   Is there a “style” that makes them identifiable?

When I started quilting I did a lot of hand quilting of vintage and antique quilt tops. (I still do).   Since I just did the quilting and the repair I am not sure that my own signature is apparent in them , in fact I try to make it look as if the maker of the top also did the quilting.  Here are a few examples of vintage and antique tops that I have hand quilted (click pictures to enlarge)

I made this one from with an old pattern and fabric that someone else pick out and then sold. I made up the border to make it different and It was the first quilt I ever had in an AQS show.


They are all pretty traditional.   But some are little more modern looking.

I also like to design my own quilts.    I made this Tree quilt early on in my quilting journey.


Modern and Traditional.

I have also made some whole cloth quilts

And dog quilts

Some others that are my own designs

The one I am working on now is sort of modern…based on traditional design….


So is there a style?   Once thing in common is that they are all hand quilted.   I am interested in all styles of quilts, and I don’t think I will ever want to limit myself to just one.

Happy Quilting


Progress on the rose quilt


I have been working on hand quilting the large rose on the upper right of the quilt.


I finished that one today.


Here is a picture of the back


Here is the assortment of threads I am using. (Presencia Perle cotton in size 8 and 12)


Teddy wanted to test it out.


He likes it so far.

I am going to take a break from this one and get back to some of the others for a few days. I have some adjustments to make in the black outlines but I need to think on it for a bit.    I will post more about this one as it progresses and more about the others, and the garden soon…

Happy Quilting