Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Summer Vacation - A Wing and a Prayer

Greetings from Upstate NY where I've spent the most fabulous summer creating, quilting, teaching, playing and retiring!!   

Yep -- I did it -- I've retired from my full-time job and I'm now working 1/2 time (20 hours a week) to phase out and transition my work to a someone new!!  It's all very exciting and what I've dreamed of doing for the last few years.   Yippee....  Keep your fingers crossed that it allows me to spend more time quilting and blogging.  

Now let's talk summer  --- it's been a wild one and I haven't shared any blog posts with you.

Shame on me!    

I have been busy posting quick images and updates on Facebook and Instagram though -- so if you're on either one of those platforms be sure to follow me there. 

One of the things that I've been anxious to share with you this summer,  is a sweet little flimsy that I had the opportunity to quilt for a friend.   
The quilt is aptly named "A Wing and A Prayer" and was designed and created by my friend Jan Manley (SewandSowFarm Blog & Featherweight Quilt Company).

Jan created the quilt as part of the 2016 Hoffman Challenge using the beautiful Crystalia fabric by Hoffman -- Read more about the challenge by clicking here.

I was honored when Jan asked me to quilt it for her and I wanted to share some before and after images and some quilting details with you today.

Ya'll know that I do all my quilting on my home machine.   
It's sew much fun!!
I chose to use 100% Wool Batting by Quilters Dream.
This batting really does quilt like a dream -- and the loft is so yummy.

Here are a few images of the quilt before FMQing on my home machine.
Isn't it just beautiful ?  Jan created 5 Patchwork of the Crosses (POTC) units with English Paper Piecing (EPP) and beautifully fussy cut fabrics --- she did an absolutely amazing job of it.  
It was so very beautiful I was nervous to quilt it. 
the Challenge deadline was looming so I moved forward.
In addition to using the 50Wt Hoffman Challenge Collection by Aurifil,
I selected more Aurifil weights and colors
from my AuriStash ;)
In an attempt to compete in the "Best Use of Aurifil Thread" category I used 50Wt, 40Wt, 28Wt and 12Wt Threads and had a blast!
  Although "A Wing and a Prayer" didn't receive a ribbon, Jan and I were pretty pumped that it was accepted into the Challenge and will travel in Hoffman Challenge 2016 Trunk Show.  
I hope you get a chance to see it in person.

As with all domestic machine quilting I started in the middle of the quilt to FMQ around the beautifully fussy-cut and english paper pieced center...    
I chose to use an Aurifil 40Wt thread to give the center a bit of jazz.
This is what the first round of quilting with the Aurifil 40Wt thread looked like:
And here's a closer look at the quilting.
I call these feathers "fast feathers". 
They are inspired by Bethanne Nemesh...
A variation of  "Nemeshing"
Doesn't that Aurifil 40Wt and Dream Wool combo work perfectly here?
I love it!!
Ok - Now I moved onto the background fabric for the center POTC mediallion.
I thought a little top stitching with Aurifil 12Wt would look fabulous
I really do love the way the Aurifil 12Wt thread stitches with my walking foot.
Stay tuned for yet another blog post about the logistics of that... 
Working my way outward from the center I decided to echo stitch the beautiful Crystalia print -- but first I used an Aurifil 28wt thread to outline many of the butterflies.
Then I reached for the Aurifil 50Wt thread to get some echo quilting done.
Looking pretty good so far...
You'll notice in the center mediallion that I've yet to finish quilting. 
I decide to go back later with the Aurifil 40Wt and add some more fast feathers in the white space. You'll be able to see it a bit later.

Next up though, {I still question if I should have done this, but} I decided to do a teeny-tiny blanket stitch around all the POTC blocks.  Jan did a fantastic job of appliqueing them but I was afraid all my quilting was going to turn them up -- so I experimented with this setting on my machine and went for it...   
Here is one completed -- if you look close you can see the minuscule blanket stitch that goes around the POTC.
I did this with a walking foot and Aurifil 50Wt thread.
OK - up next let's get some quilting in that beautiful Hoffman Watercolor Batik -- this one was called "Shrimp".  It was fun to stitch.  I went back to the Aurifil 40Wt thread and the fast feathers.
Above... How about Jan's beautifully fussy cut butterflies!
OK -- Here's a close up of the fast feathers...
How about that thread and batting combination !!
Now the quilting is complete on
A Wing and A Prayer
Here's a close up of the center...
And here's a full view of the quilt before I sent it back to Jan.
I must say -- I was pretty excited about working on this with Jan.  She is an amazing designer and a wonderful person.  Again, although we didn't win any ribbons we're both pretty psyched at "A Wing and a Prayer" was accepted into the Challenge and will travel for the next year  in the Hoffman Challenge Trunk Show.   

My congratulations goes out to all the entries and ribbon winners -- beautiful work all.
You can see the Winners Online here.
You can read Jan's A Wing and a Prayer Blog Post here.
If you get a chance to see the quilt in person, I would love it if you could tag Jan or I in any post you make on any social platform.   Thanks so much.
Gotta run but stay tuned later this week
for another exciting blog post
and a fun tutorial on the Moda Bake Shop!
Woot - woot!

Keep on Quilting


  1. Congrats on your semi retirement. And as beautiful as this quilt is I must add your quilting really brings it to life.

  2. Delightful post! Sure enjoyed all the pics and're a born teacher. But what I appreciated most was the inspiration I felt as I scrolled down and continued reading. I'm still plugging away at learning to FMQ on my domestic machine and sure wish I could take a class with you! Beautiful quilt, especially now that you've added your magical touches! XO

  3. Thanks so much for the step-by-step......always so interesting to see how others "attack" a project!! A beautiful finish to be the texture with all that fussy-cut piecing....

  4. The quilt top and the quilting are both gorgeous. That's what I call excellent team work!
    I pinned several pictures. 😀

  5. Colorful fun fabrics...I agree..I think your quilting makes this ever so special your work Karen! Congrats on your semi-retirement...and I'm excited as this means more blogging and quilting posts from are simply the best!!

  6. I love those blocks that Jan makes! And love your quilting - it sure looks like a winner to me!

    And congrats on your upcoming retirement. I just pulled the plug at the end of May, and haven't looked back one iota! So much more to do in life than push paperwork :)

  7. This is just lovely! I really enjoyed reading about your quilting process. I'm just learning FMQ as well and these kinds of posts are fascinating to me! What kind of machine do you use to FMQ?

  8. There you are! Missed you! I am not on FB or Instagram, so it has been a while. Lovely quilting!! Congratulations on being accepted in the show.

  9. Congratulations on your retirement! I always love your blog posts and learning how you think through a piece you are quilting. I love your fast feathers. Usually I do feathers on straight borders. I would love to see how you go about making your fast feathers in unique spaces. Would you consider doing a YouTube tutorial on them? Great job on the quilting!

  10. The quilt is gorgeous - I really like how you combined all the different weight threads and techniques! And Woohoo - exciting about your retirement from full time work - here's betting you won't be any less busy!

  11. A gorgeous quilt made even more so with your quilting. Congrats to you both.

  12. You both did such a beautiful job on this quilt!! I've never used the heavier weight Aurifil threads. Might have to give them a try. Please do the walking foot tutorial.