Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Feathered Star

I certainly wish to apologize for my lack of posts this winter.  It is certainly not because I have not had things to share.  I simply have been busy doing things!

My word for 2014 is Transition.  Instead of making New Year resolutions, many people choose a word that reflects what they wish to achieve for the upcoming year.  I choose transition, as I feel this will be a transition year.  I hope to retire from the nursing profession in January, 2015.  I plan on becoming more active in various quilting activities.  One of those activities is doing commission quilting.

I have been asked many times over the years about making a quilt for the asker.  And have been told many times I should sell my quilts.  I have always had the same response, no, I don't want to turn something fun into a job.  But I enjoy the process of making a quilt so much, I thought this would be a good way to pay me for the pleasure.  So when a friend from grade school and high school (I think we even went to Sunday School together!) asked me about making a quilt for him and his wife for their retirement cabin in upstate New York, I said yes.

The first thing I needed to decide was how much I was going to charge for the quilt.  I searched the internet, and found lots of discussion on pricing schemes.  The one that I settled on is based of square footage.  After obtaining the area of the quilt in square feet, take that number and multiply it by the dollar figure according to difficulty:
                                   $10 for a simple quilt pattern.  ie: baby or child's quilt
                                $15 for a more complex pattern
                               $25 for a very intricate pattern, ie: requiring applique, paper piecing, etc
The next step was to have them choose their pattern.  I told them I thought they had the hardest part, because there are so many beautiful quilts to choose from!  I gave them several sites to look at, and also suggested that they Google Quilt patterns.  This is what they chose:
They had already decided they wanted a blue and white quilt.  Experienced quilters will recognize this as the feathered star!  It is a drop dead beautiful pattern.  I have done several of these prior to this one.  But they had all been paper pieced and were miniatures.  Doing this is in a queen size format was going to be a new adventure.
Next step was to work up the pattern in EQ7.  I love being able to develop quilts, and make changes quickly with this software.  And I was able to share my designs with my friend.  I didn't want any surprises for them.
After I came up with the final design decision, it was time to go shopping for fabric! The staff at Sew Sassy in Urbana were very helpful.
Putting my nose to the proverbial grindstone, it took me a week to piece the entire quilt.
  There were some challenges along the way that I had to overcome. The first was how was I going to stitch those feathers onto the royal blue.  I figured that I was going to have to sew a partial seam on one side, a full seam on the other, then finish the partial seam.
That is probably as clear as mud.  But the bottom line, is that I got the job done.  And I now can say that I am an expert when it comes to Y-seams!  This is why most quilters do not do the feathered star, or paper piece them.  But when you are using it as the center medallion of a queen quilt, paper piecing is just not an option!
Kelvin gets in the act of inspecting my quilts!
I had to let the quilting wait, as I was going on a quilt cruise.  But it is usually good to let these things "marinate" for a while
The process of sandwiching a large quilt is a very daunting task.  Fortunately, a friend has a Gammill long-arm machine and lets me rent time and helps me with this process.  I use water soluble thread to baste the top, batting, and backing together.  We can get it done in about 2 hours, saves my knees and back, no pins to's a good thing!
Of course a feathered star has to have feathers!  I love 'em !  Unfortunately, I did not take a close up picture of the feathered wreaths that are in the white spaces around the center and in the border.  I used a stencil I made from Golden Threads Quilting Paper, then used blue chalk pounce pad to mark the quilt.  I found that the chalk was bouncing off the fabric during the quilting process, obliterating the design.  But if I sprayed the chalked design with water soluble hairspray, the design stayed in place long enough for me to quilt it.  I can't take credit for this idea, as it was on the pounce pad package.
As an extra, I made quilted pillow shams to complete the ensemble.  I had never made quilted shams, but they certainly do have a great look!  They took me a bit longer than I thought they would, but all good things are worth the extra effort!
Here's the finished product on our bed!  Hubby is very impressed, and thinks it is a winner!  I am happy with it, and hope my friend is also.  This is a win/win for me.  I got to work on a challenging quilt, and got paid for it!