"She seeks wool & flax, And works willingly with her hands" ~ Proverbs 31:13

May 26, 2015

Shades of Alabaster {An All White Dear Jane Quilt}

Shades of Alabaster

Quite some time ago, October 2013 to be exact, I started a Dear Jane quilt.
My adventure into Jane started with signing up for a technique class taught by Aunt 'Reen of Aunt 'Reen's Place who was teaching a 13 month class at my local quilt shop, Kelly Ann's Quilting.
I chose to do that quilt in modern bright fabrics.

A few months into the class, Aunt 'Reen encouraged us to come up with unique ways to use the Jane blocks either in a quilt or another unique item. I really wanted to make a unique Jane quilt, preferably something that hadn't been done before, but was having trouble coming up with something new or different.  There have been so many Dear Jane quilts made over the years, I began to question if it was even possible to come up with something unique. I contemplated my options, but it seemed that everything that could possibly be done with Jane had already been done. 

Then on a drive home back to Virginia from a visit to my parents farm in Missouri, I was reading random blog posts while my hubby drove. I came across Molli Sparkles blog post entitled, "No Value Does Not Equal Free".  When I saw the all white Trip Around the World that Molli had created, I knew exactly what I wanted needed to do for my unique Jane Quilt. I had never seen Jane done in white and was sure if I added some white-on-whites and off whites to the mix it would be something I would enjoy working on and it might even turn out okay.

I pulled all the whites from my stash, got as many whites as I could from local quilt shops and finished off the mixture with some online purchases.


Once I had all the white, white-on-white and off white fabrics I needed, I chose 64 of the 169 center Jane blocks. In choosing which blocks to include I wanted to be sure that most of the techniques we had learned and used in class were included in the quilt.

There are Traditional Pieced, Foundation Paper Pieced, English Paper Pieced, Reverse Applique, Piecelique and Hand Applique among the blocks I chose to use.
Shades of Alabaster - Quilting Finished, Ready for Binding
As I started working on the blocks this white Jane began to consume me. I put aside the modern, bright Jane I had been working on and it still lays in the state I last left it with blocks joined into rows waiting for the rows to be sewn together to finish the center and a whole bunch of triangle blocks left to make. I will soon return to finish it.

Modern Bright Jane - Started Oct. 2013
The Jane blocks so much fun to make they are absolutely addicting.
For the background fabric of every block I choose to use Arctic White Essential Designer Solid by Free Spirit Fabrics.  Choosing to use a solid white as the background fabric combined with a white-on-white or off white fabric for the focus fabric in each block made working in all white much easier than I had anticipated.

Four of the 64 blocks

Once the top was completely sashed I put it up on the design wall and it took my breath away.
It reminded me of a vintage wedding gown. I was in love and could hardly wait to start free motion quilting.

Top complete on the design wall

When it came time to sandwich and begin quilting, I was really nervous about using my usual sandwiching anchors of safety pins to hold the layers together. I had found that the quilt top fabric tended to get caught in the hinge of the safety pin and then it would either rip the fabric or leave a gray smudge that I had trouble removing.  It was at this point I ordered some Pinmoors and flat head straight pins. I had seen Leah Day use and recommend them and thought this might be the solution to my safety pin issues.  Be still my heart! I could hardly believe how easy they were to use and there no troubles with snags or smudges.

Sandwiching with Pinmoors
I could hardly wait to get the sandwich together so I could get started with the Free Motion Quilting (FMQ), my favorite part of the whole process.  I used a floating darning foot on my Husqvarna 875Q with 100wt. Superior Silk Thread on top and 50wt. Aurifil thread in the bobbin. The silk thread gave me the ability to quilt some very delicate and intricate designs into the small 4-1/2" squares that I wouldn't have been able to do with my normal 50 wt. thread choice.

The first step in my FMQing process was to FMQ all the stitch-in-the-ditch work along the sashing and border. Once all the ditch work was done it was on to the individual blocks. I stitched in the ditch all of the seams in each block before stitching the designs within the block. 
Some of my favorite blocks







 Finally it was time to stitch the one-inch outer border. My original thought was to stitch feathers in the outer border, but with it being only one inch wide there just wasn't enough room to do what I had in mind. It seemed that curly cucumber vines might be just the thing for such a tiny space.


Because there was already so much going on within the quilt I chose to use the solid Arctic white fabric as the binding, machine stitched on the front and hand stitched to the back.

 The saddest part of the photo shoot is that photos don't even come close to doing justice to the sheer beauty of this quilt.

Indoors I just don't have the lighting to make her show off properly.



Outdoors the bright sun washed it out and took away from the overall design.


 Throughout the entire process of piecing and quilting I played with ideas for a name for this white wonder. I had so many possibilities to chose from, it wasn't an easy decision. 

Alabaster stones range in color from snow white to light brown, exactly the range of color I had used in this quilt. Often Alabaster is also used as a reference to purity, which takes me back to the feel of a vintage wedding dress. Combined, these facts brought me to the perfect name for my white Jane...."Shades of Alabaster".


The astounding part is the honor of having my quilt chosen to be a part of the exhibit, "A Virginia Tribute to Jane Stickle," at the Virginia Quilt Museum, Curator Doreen Johnson.
The exhibit runs from May 5- July 4.

With my quilt, "Shades of Alabaster", on exhibit at the VA Quilt Museum
The crazy part, even after all the hours of work required to finish such a small piece I'm now collecting whites to make the full Jane Quilt in all white. My goal is to have 225 different white fabrics and to finish by December 2017. 


Quilt Details & Stats:

Quilt Name: Shades of Alabaster
Finished size: 41" x 41" (Before quilting the top measured 43" x 43")
Quilt Pattern: 64 of 169 Blocks from Jane Stickles original quilt aka Dear Jane
Fabric: 46 white, white-on-white and off-white quilter's quality fabrics
Batting: Heirloom Perimum 80% Cotton 20% Poly
Piecing Thread: 50wt. Aurifil White #2024
Quilting Thread:  Top Thread - 100wt. Superior Silk Thread
Bobbin Thread - 50wt. Aurifil White #2024
Quilting: Free Motion Quilted using my Husqvarna 875Q Domestic Sewing Machine

 Hours to complete: 400+

Thank you for stopping by and letting me share my quilting adventures with you!
God Bless & Happy Quilting,
Marcia

March 10, 2015

Custom Free Motion Quilting {Aunt 'Reen's Mediterranean Tile Quilt}

I recently had the honor of being asked to custom quilt an original quilt design by Aunt 'Reen.
Of course when I say recently I mean several months ago.....last year in fact.
I'm still playing catch up with sharing all the projects I've been working over the last year.


And now with no further ado I present Aunt 'Reen's Mediterranean Tile Quilt.



It laid out so nice flat and square. I love it when quilts come out square.
For this quilt I used 1-1/2" curved safety pins to hold all the layers in place while I quilted.

Ready to pin the layers

The "grout" lines aka sashing between each of the blocks gave me the perfect place to start quilting and stabilizing the entire quilt. I started by Stitching-In-The-Ditch (SID) up and down the longest strips of sashing. I started with the center most strip by stitching down one side of it and back up the other side. From there I moved over to the center strip of the left half and did the same stitch down one side of the strip and up the other side and quilted all the long strips in this manner. By doing this it stretches the quilt in both directions and keeps the quilt from being pulled in only one direction which would cause it to become wonky.

After all the long sashing strips were SID I moved on to quilting the shorter sashing strips stitching in the same manner as the longer strips, with the one exception of the added travel stitch at one end of each short strip. This took a little longer due to all the stops and starts required.

"Grout" lines stitched
Once all of the grout lines were stitched down I continued my SID work in the 16-patch blocks.
While it's not required to do SID in those pieced blocks it does give the block a more finished look it adds to showing off even emphasizing the piecing work. The added benefit to me as a quilter is that later the SID work will keep the fabric from migrating or moving while I work and it make the quilting designs I add to the block even more precise.

Compare the two 16-patch blocks in the picture below. You can easily spot the difference between the block that has been SID and the one that hasn't been stitched yet. The block on the right hasn't been SID yet and it looks nice but not nearly as nice as the block on the left which has the SID work done.

Compare the 16-patch blocks: Left block SID work finished, Right block no SID work yet.


When I had all of the SID work was finished along all the seams I started working block by block with SID work along the edge of each applique piece and then adding the additional quilting designs.

Applique blocks quilted viewed from the back of the quilt
When quilting the applique blocks the only lines I marked were the straight lines forming the pearl frame. Everything else was stitched free-form.

Front of quilt showing quilting on in the applique blocks

With all of the applique blocks quilted I moved on to quilting the 16-patch blocks.
For these blocks I again used a blue water soluble fine-point marking pen to draw in all the straight lines for the inner frame and corners. All of the pearls, loops and flower petals were stitched free-form.


Quilted 16-patch block


I never get tired of how the quilting shows itself off on the back of a quilt!

The goal I was given was to do some amazing custom quilting that will enhance the quilt, but not take attention away from the quilt itself. We didn't want the quilting to overwhelm the applique designs, but instead to play well with the quilt and keep the quilt the star of the show.

Quilt Details and Stats:

Finished size: Approx. 74" x 74"
Quilt Pattern: Mediterranean Tile by Doreen Johnson
Batting: Quilter's Dream Blend 70/30 Cotton/Poly
Thread: Aurifil Sand #2326
Quilting: Machine Free Motion Quilted on my domestic Husqvarna Sapphire 875Q

Be sure to stop by and visit Aunt 'Reen's Place. She does beautiful, amazing work and is such an inspiration!


Thanks for stopping by and letting me share my quilting adventures with you!
God Bless & Happy Quilting,
Marcia
 

February 28, 2015

Paperwork & Taxes {UGH!}

I'm  knee deep in paperwork....

I REALLY dislike paperwork!


BUT...
 It's tax time and this must be tackled.

To tell you the truth I'd rather be sewing, quilting, designing a quilt
or even doing just about anything else. 


I'm pretty sure I've looked at some of the tax questions with this same expression.

If your knee deep in taxes and paperwork as well
take some time to be creative. 

Take time for a stitching break. 

God Bless & Happy Quilting,
Marcia

November 6, 2014

Looking to the Future of Little Pink Rose

UPDATE:
Since I shared this decision several months ago, we've been working diligently to find a way to keep the shop open and pursue designing and teaching. I'm thrilled to say that with some creative ideas from my sweet hubby, we have found a way to keep the shop open and continue serving our beloved customers. I'm looking forward to serving you for many years to come! 

God Bless,
Marcia 

______________________________________________________


In September 2011 I re-opened my custom sewing studio, formerly known as Stitches Unlimited by Marcia Ann, under the new name Little Pink Rose Quilting and Sewing as well as adding an online fabric shop to the mix. 

The last 3 years have been an absolute blast meeting new people and sending out packages full of happiness and joy! If you're like me a package of fabric arriving in the mail makes it a good day!


 Several months ago I was asked to teach some Free Motion Quilting classes at Kelly Ann's Quilting in Warrenton, VA. I was quite honored to be asked and trusted to teach the classes! Being able to teach what I love so much energized me and filled me with the desire to teach more as well as stretch my wings and try some new things. So I'm now working on developing intermediate and advanced Free Motion Quilting classes that I'll be able to offer to those who want to go beyond the basics. 

This new found desire to teach and even design some patterns and quilting designs has left me with a bit of a dilemma. Not enough time to do everything I need and want to do.
Basically too many irons in the fire. Too many balls in the air. Too much on my plate.

I found myself struggling to keep up with everything.
The website would need attention, but there were deadlines for projects and classes.
When I did work on the website the projects and deadlines still demanded my attention. Even this blog which I love, suffered from neglect. I was becoming overwhelmed and found myself stuck. Nothing would change unless I made a decision and let a few balls drop. But what needed to be let go?

I spent several months contemplating my options. Asking what I need to be doing and ultimately what is it the Lord is calling me to do with my life and my business.

My hearts desire has always been to create.  More than almost anything else I love creating quilts and stitching beautiful Free Motion Quilting designs on those quilts and being able to share that love of quilting with others through teaching.

With those things in mind I've come to the conclusion that while having the shop has been a blast and a great learning experience it is time to close the fabric shop {with a liquidation sale} and pour my focus and time into creating and teaching.

Little Pink Rose Quilting and Sewing will continue to exist, I will be teaching, designing, quilting and sewing and sharing it all on this blog much more often than I have been in recent months. Next up I'll be sharing a couple of big projects I've been working on over the last few months.

I'm excited about the new possibilities as I follow where the Lord is leading me!

Be sure to stop by the Fabric Shop at www.littlepinkrose.com and checkout our liquidation sale.

www.littlepinkrose.com

Thanks for stopping by and letting me share my new quilting adventures & decisions with you!
God Bless You & Happy Quilting,
Marcia

October 20, 2014

Poppy Love {A Finish}

I was just looking through my pictures from the last year and discovered a quilt that I never shared with you all. I created this quilt based on a quilt challenge issued last year by the Swirly Girls to use their collection Poppy Love to create a quilt.  This is what I came up with...




This quilt was such a fun quilt to make.
The block is what's known as a string block, made with differing widths of fabric sewn to a foundation piece.  Either a piece of paper or fabric in the desired size can be used for the foundation where are the strips are sewn together. I chose to use a 10" square of muslin for my foundation.

I wish so much I had thought to take pictures of my steps, but I will try to give you a short description of the steps. I'm sure you can find more detailed instructions with photos online.

Before sewing an strips down I drew a line diagonally from corner to corner to mark the center. Then I lined up the edge of the first strip with this line and used washable fabric glue to hold this piece in place. This first strip is placed with right side up.

The next strip was then placed face down (right sides together), lining up the edges that will be sewn together. Sew through all 3 layers - the foundation and 2 strips - using a 1/4" seam. Flip the 2nd strip over so that both strips are now side by side with right sides up. Press. 

Continue adding strips until your foundation piece is completely covered. 
Once complete trim strip tails and square to your desired size.


My original design for this quilt included an aqua and gray border completely surrounding the heart.
But due to time/deadline constraints and my own boredom with continually sewing the same straight lines I stopped with an off-centered heart. 

I actually ended up liking it off centered more than I thought I would. 



When I first started quilting I always choose a colorful backing fabric. I made this choice for two reasons 1) I loved the splash and surprise of color on the back. 2) the designs and color of the backing served to hide my very imperfect free motion quilting. 


As I worked on the Free Motion Quilting I began to realize that all the strips were hiding the quilting I was doing. I didn't mind this too much and continued to quilt, using it as an excuse to practice and play with my quilting. In the heart I did a variety of quilting designs; feathers, swirls, pebbles, paisleys and more. Now that I've begun teaching free motion quilting it would be great if the quilt could be flipped over to see the quilting better. Now I'm using solids or blenders on my quilt backs so that the quilting I enjoy doing so much can be seen and enjoyed. 



Quilt Details and Stats:

Finished Size: 46-1/2" x 37-1/2"
Quilt Pattern: Heart String Quilt Designed and Pieced by Marcia King (yeah that's me).
Batting: 100% Cotton
Thread: Aurifil Dove 2600 - 50 Wt.
Quilting: Machine Free Motion Quilted on my domestic Husqvarna Sapphire 875Q
Awards: 1st place in the Quilt Division of the Swirly Girls Poppy Love Challenge 


Thanks for stopping by and letting me share my quilting adventures with you!
God Bless & Happy Quilting,
Marcia

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