Tuesday, August 4, 2020

LAL#1: The One With Quilter Cheryl Degan as Our Guest of Honor

Welcome to the very-first-ever Long Arm Learning Linky Party!  I'm so glad you're here, because I have a special treat for you.  Instead of just blathering on about my own quilting journey every week, I'm going to introduce my party guests to long arm quilters who are inspiring me.  Today, I'd like to introduce you all to my new friend Cheryl Degan of Austin Quilting.  After reading my interview with Cheryl, don't forget to link up YOUR machine quilting post with our linky party, at the very end of today's blog post.

"Night Sky," Pieced by Stacey Napier & Quilted by Cheryl Degan

Is that quilt not one of the most breathtaking things you've ever seen?!  Click on the picture to make it bigger, and zoom in on the matchstick quilting behind the circles and triangles, around those hexagons.  This quilt is called Night Sky and it was pieced by Stacey Napier and quilted by Cheryl Degan on her 22" Innova long arm machine.  I stumbled across this photo in one of the Facebook long arm quilters groups, reached out to Cheryl, and she graciously agreed to be interviewed for today's inaugural linky party post.  All of the quilts in today's post are the work of Cheryl Degan, and all of today's photos are used with her permission.  

Pattern: "Night Sky" by Jaybird Quilts (pattern for sale here)

Pieced by: Stacey Napier

Quilted by: Cheryl Degan, all hand-guided ruler work on her 22" Innova

Thread: White Superior Microquilter (background) & Superior Kimono Silk, Gold & Orange (stars); Microquilter in the bobbin throughout

The first things I wanted to know about this quilt were HOW did she get those circles so perfectly smooth and round, and HOW did she get such neat and tidy matchstick quilting "behind" the circles and triangles, without messing up the perfectly smooth circles when she traveled along the curved circle to get to the next straight line?  

Cheryl: Both of the threads I was using, Microquilter in the background and Kimono Silk in the stars, are really fine 100 weight threads, and that really helps because you don't get that thread buildup that makes it so obvious where you backtracked over previous lines of stitching.  I quilted the circles first, using one of my circle rulers from Teryl Loy, and then I went back and added the matchsticking afterwards.  I spaced my matchsticking by using my stitch regulator and counting the stitches between lines: 14 stitches per inch, and then counted three stitches as I travelled along the straight edge of the border before doing the next match stick line of quilting.  I  quilted all of those matchstitck lines twice, up to the circle as close as I could come without touching it, then right back down in the same needle holes so I was never traveling on the circles themselves.  

Rebecca Grace: That's genius!  It looks amazing, and I cannot wait to try this myself.  

"Happy Together," Pieced & Quilted by Cheryl Degan

This next photo shows Cheryl with her "Happy Together" quilt (pattern by Sew Kind of Wonderful, available for purchase here):

As adorable as this pattern is, Cheryl's quilting is what really brings it alive for me:

Bordering each appliqué child with channel-set pearls really sets them off from the whimsical background quilting, a balanced mixture of larger scale, realistic florals, midscale feather plumes, and a smattering of small groupings of swirls, all grounded in tiny pebbling that makes the background recede behind the appliqué figures.  I love that Cheryl resisted the temptation a lot of us would have to "fill in the missing details" on the appliqué figures, by the way, leaving them abstract as the pattern designer intended, and focusing on the background with her decorative quilting.

RG: So Cheryl, how long have you been quilting to develop the skills you have today, and how long did it take you to feel comfortable with long arm quilting?

CD: Well, I've been sewing for 33 years.  I got my first long arm machine a few years ago, but it didn't work out.  It was an older model HandiQuilter without a stitch regulator and I really struggled with it.  I never got comfortable with that machine, so I ended up giving it to my sister and spent about a year quilting on my domestic Bernina sewing machine instead, using the BSR  (Bernina Stitch Regulator) foot.  I love the BSR foot -- having a stitch regulator made all the difference for me!  I didn't get a long arm machine again until 13 months ago, when I brought home my Innova and set it up in my new 20' x 25' studio in our home.

"Double Wedding Ring" in Kaffe Fassett Prints, Pieced & Quilted by Cheryl Degan

(Cheryl machine quilted her gorgeous Double Wedding Ring quilt in Kaffe Fassett prints on her Bernina 740, shown in her home studio below):

(Cheryl also used her Bernina 740 domestic machine to quilt this original work, entitled "Wild Texas Flowers"):

"Wild Texas Flowers," Original Work by Cheryl Degan

: Wait, WHAT?!  You've only had that long arm machine for thirteen MONTHS?!!  So, how did you get so good, so fast?  Did the skills you developed on your sit-down Bernina transfer easily to the long arm?  

CD: Well, yes, I do think a lot of the skills transferred.  I did a lot of free motion quilting on my Bernina, and I draw quilting designs on paper every single day, even when I'm not quilting.  Drawing is really important, because if you can't draw a design you won't be able to quilt it at the machine.  I have taken some classes and have also learned a lot from Pinterest and Instagram, analyzing my favorite quilters' work to figure out what I liked about them -- what it was that made the quilting so effective.

RG: And who are those favorite quilters, Cheryl?  Whose work inspires YOU?

CD: That would be Jodi Robinson and Judi Madsen.  (Those links will take you to each of those quilter's blogs).

RG: Judi Madsen is one of my favorites, too!  I'm not familiar with Jodi Robinson's work yet, but now I'm definitely going to look her up.  So, what's your favorite quilting technique these days?

CD: Well, I love feathers and used to quilt a lot more feathers, but now that my style is getting more modern, I'm really getting into ruler work.

RG: And, now that you've been quilting on that Innova for thirteen months, how do you like it?  Would you recommend your machine to a friend?

CD: Oh, absolutely -- I LOVE my Innova!  It's such a wonderful company, too.  They're made here in Texas, over in Houston, and when I had a problem with my machine in the beginning, the owner himself helped me figure it out and get it resolved.  

(Just so you all know, the photos I'm sharing with you today are just a small sampling of Cheryl's work.  It was very, VERY difficult to choose which photos to include!).

RG: Cheryl, your work is amazing.  Have you entered any quilt shows?

"Ice Crystals," Pieced by Cheryl Degan & Quilted by Emily Bowers

CD: Yes, I regularly enter local and regional guild shows and sometimes win ribbons.  One of my original quilts made it into QuiltCon last year and I've also entered AQS in Paducah.  "Ice Crystals," the quilt I'm standing in front of in this photo, was string pieced by me at a retreat and machine quilted by Emily Bowers, who is a fellow member of the Austin Area Quilt Guild.  "Ice Crystals" was exhibited at the Houston International Quilt Festival in 2019 as part of their 45h Anniversary Sapphire Celebration.  Our guild's raffle quilt, which I helped to make and then was lucky enough to win,  won first place in the Group Quilts category at AQS Quilt Week - Paducah in 2017 (You can see that quilt in this video, where Cheryl talks about the quilt with Bonnie Browning of APQS).

RG: That is so cool!  So, do you quilt as a business, or just for yourself?

CD: Well, I am just now feeling like I've gotten good enough to quilt for other people!  I am starting to quilt professionally.  My new quilting business is called Austin Quilting, and I'm working on a web site that is currently under construction at www.AustinQuilting.com.  That link won't work for you just yet, but I'm planning to have the site live by November of this year.

RG: I think you're way more than ready, and anyone whose quilt top gets transformed under your needle is going to be thrilled with their quilt when they get it back!  I wish you all the best with your new business venture, Cheryl!    So, just one more question before we wrap this up.  What advice would you give to all the beginner Long Arm Learners out there who just got their machines?

CD: Join the Facebook group for whatever kind of machine you have.  I learned so much from the other Innova owners in the Innova group.  And practice on REAL quilt tops!  When it's a real quilt top instead of plain yardage or muslin, it makes you try harder -- and that makes you get better faster!

RG: Excellent advice, especially the part about quilting real quilt tops.  I definitely found that to be true with my Spirit Song quilt!  Cheryl, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me about your quilting and for helping me to kick off my very first Long Arm Learning linky party with a bang!  

Readers, you can discover more of Cheryl Degan's quilting by following her on Instagram @AustinQuilting.  

...And Now, Without Further Ado (I Swear!), Let the Long Arm Learning Linky Party Begin!

Now it’s your turn to share what you’ve been quilting with your machine.  Here are the guidelines for linking up: 

·                You may link up with either a blog post or an Instagram photo, as long as it’s about machine quilting.  It can be a finish, a work in progress, or something that you’re struggling with.  If you don’t have a post from this week, you may share any older machine quilting post that you haven’t shared with us before.

·                If you are linking to a post on your blog, please include a link to Cheeky Cognoscenti somewhere in your post, and/or grab the Long Arm Learning button for your sidebar.

·                If you are linking to an Instagram post, please use the hashtag #longarmlearning.

·                Although the linky party is primarily about long arm quilting, domestic machine quilters are also welcome to join the fun.  

·                Are you a professional quilter, teacher, author, or small business owner?  Please DO link to posts about your online classes, in-person workshops, books and other quilting-related products.  Thank you for sharing your expertise and for all you do to help others become better quilters!

·                This is a party, so please be social!  Aim to visit and comment on at least 2-3 other quilters’ posts, or as many as time permits.  The more posts you visit, the more you will learn and be inspired to go quilt something amazing this week.

·                Following my blog is not mandatory…. but I will love you EVEN MORE if you do.  

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


Karin said...

Thanks for introducing Cheryl and showcasing her beautiful work.

Karin said...

Thank you for introducing Cheryl and showcasing her beautiful work

Cheree @ The Morning Latte said...

Oh goodness! So much talent! I'm not there yet! All I would link up would be pics of my ability to follow pantographs! LOL. I do want to move to more creative quilting soon!

The Joyful Quilter said...

What a fresh take on the Link Party, Rebecca! Thanks for sharing your interview with Cheryl. Leave it to you to do a thorough investigation!! Looking forward to additional forays into the who and how of the quilting world.

Pam said...

WOW, Cheryl is almost as good as you at machine quilting! I don't have anything to post today as I am busy with other aspects of the craft right now. I will post when I start quilting on my Tiara. I am excited that you have started this linky.

Linda M @ Pieceful Kingdom said...

Such fabulous work! I am so impressed with the lovely quilting. Thanks Rebecca for the Linky Party.

TerryKnott.blogspot.com said...

Great post! I enjoyed reading Cheryl's responses!

Carole @ From My Carolina Home said...

A bit late in the day, but I just found your blog when a friend sent me a link. Thanks for the interview, and hosting this linkup. I've linked my last Dahlia panel post. New follower on Bloglovin.

Kris Jacobson said...

Thank you for this linky party. I cant believe Cheryl has only been longarm quilting for 13 months. I have been struggling to change from a sit down to a midarm and this post has inspired me to keep working on it.

Sue Daurio said...

Great interview,what an amazing body of work!!! Loved every picture. This is a wonderful linky party, thanks for hosting. I'll definitely be back!

Barbara said...

All I can say is WOW! I’ve never seen Cheryl’s work before so thanks for bringing her to my attention. Something to aspire to...

Zenia Rene said...

Great job on the interview! Cheryl's quilts are exquisite. I am amazed at the things quilters do on their domestic machines...on large quilts! I know the wedding ring quilt is going to be stunning. And the matchstick and circle quilting on Night Sky! I can't even fathom taking the time to count stitches. Maybe one of these days I will. I'd also like to do dabble in ruler quilting.

Nancy @ Grace and Peace Quilting said...

Cheryl's interview is amazing!!! Too much quilting fun going on here with your link up!!!

Susan said...

What fun to find this right at it's start. I don't have anything to post, because I let myself get bogged down in a problem, but next time! Thanks for the interview. She IS very inspiring, though that's not where I'm going, really.

Home Sewn By Us said...

Hi Rebecca! I finally made it over to read and will now go visit. I'm thrilled to see that Sue Daurio has commented. She is a quilter that I find inspiring and her work with mentors is also awesome. Congrats on getting #1 underway and launched. {{hugs}} ~smile~ Roseanne

Frédérique - Quilting Patchwork Appliqué said...

Thanks for this great post, it's a very interesting link party!

Andree G. Faubert said...

Hi Rebecca, I came by on Thursday but didn't see the link up...my bad. I'll be more observant next week! Take care.

dq said...

I didn't see the linky either. I will check back next time.
The featured quilt is amazing!