Handmade Holiday Gifts

This month, I’ve decided to write some more tutorials to celebrate the season.   These will be gifts you can make yourself to give to friends, family, teachers, etc.  My first one is almost finished, all I have left is to photograph the individual steps for the visuals.  All of them will be geared for beginners.

How’s that for a teaser?  LOL  I’ve decided to make some of my gifts this year.  Not only is it economy friendly,  you are giving of yourself to others: your time, effort, etc.

Speaking of gifts, I did finish my first one yesterday.  It is a freeform crochet scarf for someone, and I love the colors in this one:


For new visitors to my blog, I already have a tutorial on how to make this present.  You can also click on the birdy link on the right side for a list of all my free tutorials.


Quilting Update:  I just ordered some black batting for a number of quilts I need to do.  Since I can’t start the Egyptian quilt until the batting arrives, I’m starting another kimono quilt that looks like this:


That’s all for now!  Hugs, Carla

Quilting Process

Piyali Sen Dasgupta asked me how long it takes to quilt one of the quilts that I do. To answer her question, I decided to write a post explaining the process.

Several things affect how much time a quilt takes to finish.  This includes the complexity of the quilting, the density, plus how large the piece is.  Certain tasks, like stitch-in the ditch and micro-fill work, can be rather time consuming.

Design: I start by taking a digital image and then sketching quilting design ideas on a digital image with Photoshop with my stylus pen.  Here is a “before” and “after” example:

The “before” picture (thanks to Kristin for her permission to use her photo for this example):


and the “after:”


This becomes my road map for how to quilt each area since I work on just a small “slice” at any time.  You can see a visual example of how I work on a small area at a time in the picture below.

Loading the Quilt and Prep work: It takes about an hour to then load the quilt parts onto my machine table.  Sometimes, I need to square off the backing fabric if this step is overlooked.   I also need to decide what threads to use top and bottom and wind my bobbins.

The quilt sandwich is made from 3 parts- the backing fabric, the batting layer, and the top.  You fasten the quilt backing to both the top and bottom rollers on the machine.  I attach the top layer to just the bottom roller only, in machine quilting terms, this is called a “partial float.”  Here is what a quilt looks like when attached  to my machine table:


The Quilting:  As a general rule, I quilt from top to bottom, and from left to right.  Some quilts I will do my ditch work first, but usually I do it all at the same time to avoid lots of rolling back and forth.  I always do my detail micro work last.  This step is the most time intensive.  Quilting can take just a few hours for a small quilt to 150 hours for a show quilt.

When the quilt is finished, you have to double check that you are indeed finished and haven’t left any section unquilted.  On a busy quilt, this is easy to do.   I clip any unwanted or stray threads, and tidy up the top.  Then I trim it with about an inch border around just because I think it looks nice and tidy.

If I make a mistake, then I immediately stop and remove the stitching.  This part I do not care for as it is tedious and time consuming.  To remove the stitches, I use a surgeon’s scalpel tool that looks like this:


Hope this was helpful to explain the process.   regards, Carla

Antique Kimono Quilt

This lovely silk quilt was carefully and painstakingly pieced by Barbara Kiehn for a friend.  It is made from heirloom, antique kimonos and both the images and the silk kimonos are from her friend’s relatives.


The key to quilting a quilt like this one is to not overpower the kimono’s or the silk transfer images with the quilting.  Instead, I intentionally chose the thread to blend with each area, and to provide texture.  The only areas where the quilting shows is the light areas around the images and the kimono.  My intention was to enchnace these areas since i consider these the main focal points of the fiber piece.



Hope you enjoyed this quilt as much as I did!  It is so striking in person, some times the camera doesn’t capture it.  Thanks, Barb!

The next quilt is pretty cool.  I’m picking up a new one by Barb, a very cool Egyptian quilt.  I’ll ask her if she minds me showing it off.

Other news:  Joe and I are babysitting Jack tonight, plus we said farewell to my Dad and Doris, who left this morning for LA.  It was fun having them here.

Hugs, Carla

Japanese Kimono Silk Quilt

I have just started the most beautiful small Japanese Kimono silk quilt that I have ever seen.  It is made from antique kimonos belonging to the recipient’s family.   Included are some wonderful photo transfers by the Pixeladies.   Barb brought it yesterday, and it is one of 3 show quilts that we are working on together.  Here it is on my longarm machine quilting table:


The next quilt after this is a stunning egyptian quilt- one with beautiful colors.  I can’t wait to quilt that one, too.

The third quilt was pieced by Barb for me.   I plan to quilt it with some innovative carla designs.  The working title is “Carla’s Garden,” but I need to come up with one that is better, one without my name in it.  LOL    Hmmm…  I’m sure a new name will happen as I work on it.

More quilty pics and news as I work on them.


Retail Therapy– Today I visited a discount tool place called Harbour Frieght to pick up more metal working tools.  I found some metal alphabet stamps,


disc cutters, a doming set,


hammers, etc.  of course, the one item they were out of was a polishing/tumbler machine.  While my first love is fiber art, which includes quilting, I find I am really enjoying working with metal.

What are YOU up to creative/art wise????

More WIP- Metal and Fiber

Since I somehow lost this bracelet:

braceletcopperbead I decided I need to make another.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to make one out of copper or brass, so I decided to do both.  First you saw out the bracelet shape using a jewelry saw.  Then, on the copper one, I decided to run it through the metal roller and create a pattern  in the metal surface.  Next, I took them both to the hydraulic press and made the shape.  File and smooth the edges, clean it, then place them into a patina solution that looks like this:

patination Recipe: 1 part vinegar:3 parts household ammonia mixed into oak sawdust.  In the photo above, I am changing the finish on a copper chain maille bracelet.

Here is what the copper (back) and brass (front) bracelets look like after the patination process:


Next step is to seal in the finish.  I just use some turtle car wax.  After that, I need to weave the beading part, and attach to the bracelet.  That’s it… I’m getting close!

I also wanted to show you my first bezel sterling silver stone setting with my very first rivet:


Faith was kind enough to give me a 1:1 rivet lesson.  I sure appreciate it!

Fiber Goodies

I picked up a cool fiber tool to showcase in a upcoming post.  If you own a yarn stash, you will LOVE it!  Keep watching!


Here is a sneak peek of Lori’s dragon quilt:


The quilting is subtle, as you can see, so that the focal point of this quilt will shine through- which is the dragon, drawn by a talented artist friend named Teri Farrell-Gittins.  Teri’s work is amazing, so you should pop on over for a look.  trust me on this.

Back to Lori’s quilt.  The other focal point is the bright use of colored fabric used in this quilt.  I wouldn’t want to muddy any of the colors, so I am taking the time to change colors in each section.

Featured Quilter

I am the featured quilter over on a wonderful machine quilting site called Machine Quilter’s Resource.  The site owner, Suzanne, asked her interview questions via email, and of course, I was happy to answer and send her pictures.  Only one problem….  seems that I was supposed to only send 5-7 photos and of course, I sent about 20+!!   LOL    Good thing that Suzanne is a good sport and ran them all!  Also a good thing that I can laugh at myself!

Trip: I’ve been making last minute preparations for my upcoming trip to Kauai!  Need to arrange the pet and house sitter, plus clean and pack.  All that is left to do is buy a hat to keep the sun off my face.  I can hardly wait… just a few more days left to go!

Organized Traveler: I always make out an itinerary for Joe and I.  In a nice, neat packet is our day-by-day itinerary, behind which is all our reservation documentation, including mapquest maps, flight and car rental info.  Does anyone else do this?    It must be hereditary because my older sister also does this, too.

Cowboy Quilt Again

I’ve lost count on how many 3-D pinwheel quilts I have quilted in my life.  This one is a duplicate of the baby quilt seen here.  This quilt will be quilted very simply and similar to the quilt finished last year, however, this one is for a brand new baby boy!

and the overall shot of the quilt on my longarm quilting table:

My friend wanted this quilt to be quilted exactly like the last one.  A quick shout out to Carol Kimball, the originator of the barbed wire quilting design seen in the thin brown fabric section.  (thanks, Carol!)

I’m almost finished with it.  All I need to do is finish the barbed wire section, then quilt in the baby’s name and birthdate.  By the way, I think the quilt design is found in one of Mary Ellen Hopkin’s books, but I’m not sure which one.

I love quilting for friends!  Next up is one for my dear friend, Lori.  Lori, I’ll load it, then I’ll start when I get back from my trip.

Metal Beads: I made these metal beads the other day in class with the etched quilting design copper from this play day at Faith’s.  I plan on finishing these with fiber embellishments:

That’s all from my studio!  Take care, Carla

Quilt Show pics

The following pictures were from the Gold Bug Quilt Show in Placerville, CA.  They hold a show every other year.  To see my post recently on the awards won by quilts I own or worked on, click here. Enjoy the show!!

Piecer/Quilter: Barbara Greenlee.  I really enjoyed the colors in her quilt and loved her quilting lines.  They were well executed.

1880’s quilt.  Loved the hand embroidery.  I tried to get a picture of it:

Anyone recognize the quilting style on this early 2006 quilt?

or this one:

Here’s a hint:

Quilt pieced by Teresa Blumbaugh.  She had a computerized quilter do the quilting, I’m not sure which one?

This pretty red quilt above was by Pam Gerkovich.

and a close up:

Quilt by my friend, Linda Van Dyke and quilted by Debbie Joyner.  You might remember I quilted a salmon/green combo quilt just like this one.  The one I did was for Linda’s daughter shown here:

Below is a quilt by kari McDonald.  I really like the colors in this one:

Applique quilt by Bobbie Jarrett

What I like about the quilt above was the folded fabric in the sun/stars which were 3-D.  Quilt created and quilted by Martha Showers.

These lovely church panels were made by Barbara Norman and usually on display at Westminister Presbyterian Church in San Jose, CA

The following 3 Asian quilts were from a group challenge:

Quilt by Suzie Quinnell

pieced and quilted by Riet van Klaveren

The last challenge quilt, above, is titled “Chop Chop,” but I can’t read who it is by.  Enjoy!

Quilt and applique design by Kathy Delaney.   Hand quilted and applique by Sandi Miller.  I thought she did a terrific job!  Say… anyone see what quilt is hanging behind this one???

Here’s the answer.

For some reason, I only took a small fraction of the quilts hanging in the show.   Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed the mini show from this guild.

Happy Quilting!  Carla

Bargello Heart Quilt

I finished the bargello heart quilt for a friend a few days ago.  I took some quick pictures before it went home.  It is hard to see the stitching due to the lighting, but here you go:

Next up is a 3-D pinwheel quilt.  I’ve lost count on how many of these I have quilted.  I want to make one for Jack.  Other quilt news, the Gold Bug Quilters Show is later this week.


I’ve been promising updated Jack pics, so here he is now at 8 months.  He crawls, stands up, and loves to explore.  In the first picture he is checking out his new car seat:

More Woody the Redneck contractor stories as he is coming back to actually work today!  I’ll be sure to keep track of all his “Woody-isms” and share with you.  By the way, I told Woody I write about him on my blog and he thinks it is funny.

Yesterday, I received unsolicited firearm lessons from Woody on how to “address” an intruder if one breaks into my house.  He even demonstrated where to position my body so I don’t miss.  Where else can you get construction work plus practical safety information?? LOL

Enjoy your day!  Carla

Quilting Plan

This gives you an idea of how I approach quilts with regards to my quilting plan.  In case anyone is curious, I sketch in Photoshop directly onto my tablet laptop using a stylist pen.

Step 1: Take a picture of the quilt and import into Photoshop for drawing.

Here is the quilt shown minus any quilting lines:

Step 2: Sketch or draw various quilting ideas right on your digital image of the quilt.  For Photoshop or PS Elements users, I create a new layer for each area of the quilt.  If you later want to alter it, you may now easily do so by working on a layer.

And here is my rough sketch of the quilting plan:

Note: this sketch is used for reference only.

Step 3: Quilt your plan!

I start quilting at the top and work my way down the quilt, advancing as I go.  When you load a quilt, you only see a small portion or slice of it at any time to work on, so you need to know what you quilt on border one, so you may replicate it down at the bottom of the quilt.

This quilt will have no markings,  it is faster for me to do freehand.  The only tool I will use is a heart shape pattern board for the center heart shape.

The borders on this quilt has some slight fullness issues, so I couldn’t quilt what I really wanted to in the borders.  I knew I wanted to quilt some texture in the body of the quilt, but I also wanted to bring some structure to the borders to change it up a bit.  I’ve decided to instead quilt the borders using my freehand border quilting- which I know can “quilt out” any extra fullness easily.

Bargello quilts, by their inherent design, have no well defined areas.  Instead there is a blending of fabric from space to space.  I am using Continuous curve quilting to break up the darker areas and define areas where I will change the quilting.  If the quilt had less fullness, then I might decide to quilt in faux borders or lines and visually break up the spaces with the quilting lines.

My goal with the quilting is to “enhance” the quilt, taking advantage of the focal point of the quilt- which to me is the heart shape and center of the bargello heart.  By the way, to all the non-machine quilters reading this, the light areas in this quilt is where the quilting lines will most show when I am finished.

I change thread when I quilt, I  will use one color for the borders and dark areas in this quilt, a medium tone thread for the medium value areas, and then a lighter thread for those light spots.  I do this because I am enhancing the quilt and not trying to change the color or hue on the quilt top.  By using similar thread value to the colors used in the quilt, this will allow the quilt top to shine.

My biggest advice to newer quilters is to find what works for you, then go with it!

Happy quilting from Carla

PS: Today I got about half way finished in my quilting.  Here is the center: