Best Quilt Shop Stop on way to Chicago

On the way to Chicago we hit 4 shops and on the way home another 2. The best of the lot was a fairly new shop just south of the city called Quilters Trunk

The staff was so nice. We were greeted with an offer to browse around and have a cuppa Joe while there, note they even had a bowl of Hershey’s Kisses.  They know exactly what quilters want!  The staff there is great!

They have a bright cheery shop full of new fabrics and sewing machines, Bernina and Baby Lock. I took home a lot of fabric and a handful of photos to share with you. It’s easy to locate and has their own parking! Bonus!  I loved their class space in the back of the shop. They are located just off the Loop, west of North 57. It was easy to get to & I’ll definitely go back!


(IQF) International Quilt Festival Chicago

This week I went to the International Quilt Festival in Chicago. This is my first time attending. The huge Convention center room was split half show quilts and half quilt vendors.  The show was different than others I’ve been to as they had a lot of exhibition quilts. One in particular I found my self photoing only to discover when I got home that they are already online. Here is a link to some of the quilts at the show for the exhibit Stitched Together:   The quilt that has really stuck in my mind is by Darcy Berg called Billy.  This was just an exceptional portrait quilt.

The first quilt that I saw when entering the show was Ann and Steve Loveless’ Northwoods Awakening Is is a beautiful quilt that won $200,000 Art Prize in 2015. What an amazing piece.

Now that the show is over there are photos of the winners here:

On the vendor side we sprinted first to Wendy Richardson’s booth. Her business is hand dyed fabrics and pieces, Quilt Tapestry Studio. I was taken with a quilt she had hanging in her booth. It was embellished with hand dyed doilies. She allowed me to take a few photos for inspiration. Of course I purchased fabrics & some doily’s from her. 

Another artist we targeted was Weeks Ringle & Bill Kerr, Modern Quilt Studio   There will be workshops with our guild in the fall and we wanted to purchase fabric for the quilt Transparency.  

I also bought another kit while there & had a book signed. This is my “My Guy” quilt kit.

Here are some other goodies I picked up. It was a great time and I have all I need now for the year.  The new rotary cutter has soft grips and is weighted so it doesn’t need so much pressure to cut.  This was sold by Linda Z’s The gauze fabric is for clothing. I cannot recall the name of the shop I purchased from. I picked up some wide backing and layer cake from Sew Batik who have some of the prettiest batik and rayon fabrics It was a good haul.




Riptide Quilt

This is the 3rd Riptide quilt Maryann has made. She has a great eye for blending batik fabrics and colors. The quilting design is called Monsoon. The thread is a dark gold and the batting is Quilters Dream Blend.  The last photo is a really cool strip of fabric that runs down the back of the quilt.

How to recognize good quilting from bad

I’m working on Maryann’s pretty Riptide quilt today so I’ll share a photo then show you a couple close ups of the quilting. Its a tad hard to see in the close ups.

 What her quilt looks like in process.

When I first began learning to longarm quilt I had to learn a lot and practice for at least 6 months before doing any quilting work for others. At that time I did freehand quilting and often followed pantograph designs using a laser light. Even after getting computer robots for my machines it took some time to learn how to use them.

When a customer picks up a quilt I lay their quilt out on my table so they can get a good look at the quilt before I package it up for them. It’s usually a surprising moment when they pick up a quilt because the quilt has been out of their hands for a week or two and the quilting can really change the look of the quilt.  I’m fairly sure that in that moment they are looking at the quilting design, texture and the color thread that they chose and how it looks on the top.

What I’d like them to look for when they pick up a quilt from me or any other quilter is the quality of the quilting. Here are a few things to look for:

How does the stitching look? Are the stitches small (not giant basting stitches) around 10 per inch.

good tension

Does the stitching look the same on the front and the back of the quilt? That means the tension is well balanced. This is what will hold your quilt together so you want to pay for good tension.  Bad tension is where the thread isn’t really pulled into the quilt and can be easily removed. If its not good your quilter should be remove and fix it or if you prefer leaving it should offer a reduced price.

The quilting design should look smooth. Whether its a robotic design or freehand quilting, the curves should be smooth and the points should be pointed. If it looks wobbly or shakey its not a great quilting job.

And finally, the rows of a pantograph should be spaced in a way that it doesn’t look like extra large gaps between the rows. The rows should be spaced so it looks like a continuous design. It should also not be so close that the stitching overlaps.

Basically you are paying for quality quilting. Unless someone is doing you some favor or charging way below the average, if its not good quality, then you need to speak up and ask about it. Give your quilter a chance to make it right. They may have missed seeing a spot.

Most of us are working hard to build a good reputation and want you to be thrilled with the end result. In the end you want to get what you are paying for. The best way to do that is to know the difference.



Log Cabin Quilt

This is Martha’s mothers log cabin quilt. The quilting design is called Dragonflies by Designs by Vickie. The thread is silver blue & the batting is Hobbs Poly-down.  You can see the poly-down gives the quilt a puffier look. Her backing fabric is a coordinating batik print.


A new quilting tip

I’m working on a quilt today that has no border. This is seen more often now and whether you have a borderless quilt or a border with many pieces its important to keep the pieces from pulling apart at the edges. Often times you’ll hear the comment, “make sure to stay stitch pieced borders and edges”. This means sewing with a basting stitch around the edge of the quilt. That’s what many of us have done to keep the seams from opening up along the edge of the quilt top. The only problem with that is if your fabric stretches.  Then stay stitching can cause excess fullness this is no good at all.

One of my clients, Connie, came up with a way to keep the seams from pulling apart and not having to stay stitch and risk the fabric waving afterwards. She simply cut small strips of a fusible light weight stabilizer and ironed it along the back edge of the quilt top.  I just loaded and quilted her quilt with great success. Here are some photos so you can see what is looks like.

  This is the edge showing when basted on the piecework doesn’t separate.  What a great idea!!