Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Advent Parade of the Christmas Quilts, 2023!

Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends and Happy Final Week of Advent to my Christian friends!  Have you finished your shopping yet?  I've shopped, wrapped, packed, and shipped all the gifts that need shipping, but still have some shopping left to do for my husband my sons.  I've finished the client quilts in my queue that had holiday deadlines so now I can officially switch gears into Santa Mode!  Meanwhile, in keeping with the holiday spirit, I thought everyone might like to see a few of the Christmas quilts I've worked on this year.

Anna's Frosted Pines Tree Skirt

Up first is a Christmas tree skirt that I quilted for my client Anna.  Anna used the Frosted Pines Tree Skirt pattern by Stacey Day for Windham Fabrics, available as a FREE PDF download here.  I just love her fabric choices!

Anna's 48" Frosted Pines Christmas Tree Skirt

Quilting something round on a long arm frame is a little trickier than doing a square or rectangular quilt.  This was one of the rare times that I "floated" the quilt top, since there is no straight edge along the bottom to pin to my leader canvas.  A lot more extra backing and batting are needed, the same amounts as if the quilt top had been a 48" square instead of a circle, and it took a little longer to trim each row of the quilting design at an angle each time I advanced the quilt on the frame to ensure that the quilting fully covered the circular quilt top without wasting too much time and thread quilting beyond the edges of the skirt and onto the batting.  I used the Angle Trim feature that had just been released with an update to my Bernina QMatic software a few weeks before this quilt went on my frame.

You can see the quilting better in the next photo.  The quilting design is called Snowflake 2013 E2E and I used Glide thread in color Linen with Quilters Dream 80/20 Select loft batting.

Snowflake 2013 E2E in Glide thread, color Linen

I had to do some additional basting with this tree skirt as well, along the skirt opening and the center hole, to prevent those edges from flipping and getting caught in the stitching.  With the wedge construction of this particular tree skirt, it already has a hole in the center and an opening slit when the top is finished, but with a whole cloth tree skirt or any pattern that has you cut a center out for the tree trunk at the very end, it would be better to wait until after quilting to cut the hole.

One more thing: See how Anna's tree skirt top doesn't lay perfectly flat in the Before Quilting photo below?  I have never seen a tree skirt top with this wedge construction ever lay perfectly flat, and I had the exact same issue (only much, much worse) with a wedge design crazy quilted Christmas tree skirt that I made from a magazine pattern years ago.  I only mention this to reassure anyone else out there that this is normal, it doesn't mean you messed up -- and most importantly, this minor amount of fullness is something that can be quilted into flat submission like I did for Anna's quilt.  I suggest using a short stitch length of no larger than 2.0 and a matching thread color because, in order to flatten out a quilt that has a little "piecing personality" like this, I'm going to pull it fairly taut when I baste it to the backing and batting and those piecing seams will be under tension during the quilting process.  With a longer stitch length and contrasting thread, even neutral thread like gray or beige between two white patches of fabric will be visible and can look dirty in the finished quilt.  Anna used white thread and a short stitch length to piece her tree skirt wedges together and it turned out absolutely beautifully.

Anna's Christmas Tree Skirt Prior to Quilting

Nanette's Very First Pieced Quilt, Finished 9 Years Later

This next quilt is an extra-special one.  Many of you also follow Nanette's quilting blog and are familiar with her penchant for choosing challenging quilting patterns and then knocking them out of the park with her absolutely exquisite craftsmanship.  Well, I believe this Cozy Christmas quilt might be her first-ever pieced quilt that she started in 2004.  My brain is fuzzy on the details because I quilted this one over a year ago, but I feel like I remember Nanette telling me that there was a lot of frustration, seam ripping and restitching involved in the making of this quilt, not that you'd ever know it from the immaculate finished quilt with every little point precisely intact!  The name of Nanette's quilting blog is "Do It Right Quilter" and I think that sums up her attitude perfectly.  The willingness to reach for a seam ripper and try again is often what separates the mediocre from the sublime.

Nanette's 70 x 84 Cozy Christmas Quilt with Winterfest E2E Quilting

We chose Winterfest E2E for the quilting design on Cozy Christmas and I used King Tut 40 weight cotton thread in color Flax for a traditional matte thread effect that would show up nicely against the cranberry border and the forest green sashing fabrics.  Nanette prefers my heavier weight Deluxe loft Quilters Dream Cotton batting, which is 50% thicker than the midloft Select loft Quilters Dream Cotton more commonly used by longarm quilters.  It gives a little more weight to the finished quilt, like a better quality cotton blanket would have, and creates wonderful dimension to the quilting stitches.

Winterfest E2E Stitched in King Tut Cotton Thread, Color Flax

I think the quilting stitches are just beautiful with this thread and batting combination, the way the thread sinks in and out of the needle holes through the thicker cotton batting so that the stitching appears to be a dotted line rather than a continuous line of thread from a distance, more like hand quilting stitches.  I love having the flexibility to run pretty much any thread in my Bernina Q24 and know that I can easily fine-tune my tension to get beautiful stitching.  Long arm machine preferences, like domestic machine preferences, are very personal, but I am so glad I switched to a Bernina because it's definitely the best choice for me.

Here's what Nanette's Cozy Christmas quilt top looked like soon after she finished it, nearly a decade before she sent it to me for quilting:

Nanette's Cozy Christmas Quilt Prior to Quilting

Baby It's Gnomes Outside for Claudia

This next quilt is one I finished just a few weeks ago for my client Claudia.  She used fabrics from Susan Winget's Baby It's Gnomes Outside collection for Wilmington Prints.  Not sure if she used a pattern or a kit for this adorable Christmas quilt, but at the time of this writing there is still plenty of this cute gnome fabric available from Etsy sellers here.

Claudia's 60 x 73 Baby It's Gnome Outside Quilt

I bought a new quilting design specifically for Claudia's quilt, Holiday Lights.  It tied in perfectly with the much smaller scale old fashioned Christmas lights on one of the fabric prints:

Holiday Lights E2E Stitched in Glide Thread, Color White

I used Glide thread in White for Claudia's quilt, and the batting was Quilters Dream Select loft.

Holiday Lights E2E on Claudia's Gnome Quilt

A couple notes about the quilting design: There are a lot of different directions we could have taken.  We could have used a "generic" non themed design like a classic meander or stipple, or a mushroom design, or snowflakes, and there are even gnome quilting designs available from several designers.  Claudia and I agreed that the Holiday Lights design had just enough personality to be interesting without being so detailed that it would compete with her fabric prints for attention.  One of the things I do differently than most other longarm quilters is that I never ask clients to pay extra when I purchase a new E2E design to stitch on their quilt top.  I am actively involved in helping my clients pick the best quilting design for every quilt top -- I don't just send them to a web site to pick a design on their own, and I would never agree to quilt a design on someone's quilt if I have reservations about how it will turn out, especially if I think there's a good chance that my client would be disappointed by how the design they chose actually looks when it's quilted on her quilt.  I want every client to be over-the-moon delighted when they pick up their quilts and excited to start on the next one!  When I purchase a digital quilting design, I'm purchasing a license for me to quilt that design as many times as I want, on as many different clients' quilts as I want, for years and years.  The client doesn't have any rights to reuse the design, so the client shouldn't have to pay for it.  At least that's my thinking!  Adding new designs to my library to stay current is a business expense that I budget for so that I can always recommend the very best design options to my clients without having to hit them with additional charges.

Here's what Claudia's Gnome quilt looked like before I quilted it:

Claudia's Gnome Quilt Prior to Quilting

An Elegant Christmas Panel Quilt

I'm not naming the maker of this beautiful Christmas panel quilt, at her request -- this quilt is a Christmas gift and we don't want to run any risk of ruining her surprise.  I don't have any information about which fabric line this was or whether it was a kit or a pattern, but I just love the way those borders frame the center panel:

59 x 76 Christmas Tree Panel Quilt

I quilted this one with Glide thread in color Flint, knowing that where the thread would stand out -- and where we really wanted to see the quilting design -- was on the black fabric surrounding the Christmas tree.  We chose Snow Crystals B2B for the quilting design and I sized the pattern so that the quilted snowflakes looked proportional to the snowflakes printed on the panel fabric.  In the photo below, you can see that the snowflakes printed on the fabric panel are very detailed and intricate, and we chose a snowflake quilting design that has a very similar style to what's printed on the fabric.  My goal is for every finished quilt to look like a complete, coherent design with all of the different elements -- the patchwork lines, the fabric prints, and the quilting design -- to fit together into a harmonious whole, as though the entire design was planned up front rather than the quilting design being thrown onto the quilt top as an afterthought.

Detail of Snow Crystals B2B in Glide Thread, Color Flint

I used my Quilters Dream 80/20 Select loft batting for this quilt.  Here's what the quilt top looked like before I quilted it:

Christmas Panel Quilt Prior to Quilting

THANK YOU SO MUCH, to the clients whose quilts I've featured in today's post, and to all of the other quilters who have entrusted their quilts to me for longarm quilting in 2023!  I appreciate all of you!

Naples, Florida Fishing Pier, photo credit Mediterra Naples

Breaking News for 2024: We're Moving to Florida!  ðŸ˜¬

My husband's company is moving him into a new role that requires us to make a long-distance move to Florida in a very short time frame.  We will most likely be settling in the Naples area near my father-in-law and sister-in-law.  This is happening in January, so on top of all of the usual holiday happenings we have also been meeting with realtors, signed a listing agreement with one of them, and are now in the throes of ruthlessly purging our home of unwanted personal property (a.k.a. junk!) that we have accumulated over the last 17 years.  There is so much work to do...  I had to step down from my role as President of the Charlotte Quilters' Guild without being able to give any notice, which I hated doing, but former President Deborah Whaley has swooped in like the superhero she is to save the day.  The Charlotte Quilters' Guild is in very good hands, and I am so grateful for the grace and support I have received from Board members who were thrown into turmoil by my resignation right smack in the middle of the holidays!

What does this mean for my quilting business?  Well, it means I need to take a couple months off at the very minimum!  I will let all of my existing quilting clients know once I'm settled and can accept client quilts again, most likely some time in March of 2024.  My clients who have been shipping quilts to me from all across the country can just ship them to Florida instead of to North Carolina.  My local clients in North Carolina can ship their quilts to me in Florida, but if they prefer to work with someone local I'd be glad to recommend another longarm quilter based in Charlotte, NC.

Not gonna lie -- the thought of disassembling my longarm machine and packing up all of my sewing machines and fabric in boxes where I can't get to them for who knows how long is freaking me out.  We will likely be in a temporary housing situation in between moving out of this house and settling into a permanent home in Florida, so I'm trying to think about which projects I might like to have accessible in that interim period that I could work on with my travel machine and a limited number of supplies.  Thank goodness I already know that there is an awesome quilt shop and Bernina dealer in Naples, Flash Sew & Quilt, in case I need something that got packed in a box that went into storage!  If any of you have moved recently and have any tips or suggestions for me, I would love to hear them.  Feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment!  Thank you all and Happy Holidays!

I'm linking up today's post with my favorite linky parties:


Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts  


To-Do Tuesday at Quilt Schmilt  


Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication

Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter


Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation  


Peacock Party at Wendy’s Quilts and More

Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict

Finished or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts

Off the Wall Friday at Nina Marie Sayre

Beauty Pageant at From Bolt to Beauty

 TGIFF Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, rotates, schedule found here: TGIF Friday


Frédérique at Quilting Patchwork Appliqué

Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework


Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

I sure hope you like Florida - it will certainly be hotter than NC. I would hate the thought of moving and finding a new place. Seeing as you liked your guild I hope you will find a new one to join and will enjoy making new friends. Don't expect to see you on line much then for the next couple weeks (or month) so have a very Merry Christmas in between packing and saying good byes

Yvonne from Quilting Jetgirl said...

Moving takes a lot of energy; I'll be thinking of you! I have moved many times over the years and for me, making sure to do something each day makes a big difference. I hope the process goes as smoothly as possible and that you find a place to settle and call home that you really love.

Jennifer Fulton Inquiring Quilter said...

A move can be so stressful, adding to that the suddenness and the holidays, and you're probably over stressed! However, you are an incredibly organized quilter and I have no doubt you'll be able to organize things to do until you can set up again. Sending you nothing but good thoughts, love and hope for a bright future in Florida! Have a lovely Christmas! Thanks for sharing on my weekly show and tell, Wednesday Wait Loss. https://www.inquiringquilter.com/questions/2023/12/20/wednesday-wait-loss-359

TerryKnott.blogspot.com said...

Your client quilts are beautiful1 I wish you well with the move. May every detail go smoothly! My friend who moved from Oregon to Kansas before Thanksgiving had the salesman (owner) of the business who sold her the two longarms, pack them for moving. He also recommended and did introductions to a reputable dealer in her area to help her with unpacking. You can do it. . .you are well organized and thoughtful.

janita said...

Rebecca, i am so sorry that you are leaving Charlotte. I will miss meeting with you in person when I need my quilting done. Moving is hard but I am ure you will persevere. Look forward to hearing from uounwhen you are settlec, maybe I will hveva quilt for you to work on by then. Best to you! Janita

neverenoughfabric said...

Sending you prayers, good thoughts and lots of patience! Moving, in my opinion, is one of the most stressful changes in life. It is overwhelming in the best of situations but when it has to be done so suddenly and around the holidays, makes it an exponential explosion!!!!! Enjoy Florida and I will watch for your "return" online after you get settled.

Sandy said...

As always, the quilts you've shared here are gorgeous, made even more so by your quilting! As for your move, I'm hoping that everything will go very smoothly; knowing how organized you are makes me suspect that -- stress levels aside -- it will. Good luck finding the perfect new home and a wonderful new guild! :)

Ellen said...

My husband and I downsized after 48 years in the same house. It took me 6 months of stressful sorting and purging of treasures that none of my family was interested in. I just had to not think about what was not making the move and what was. Just take a deep breath and picture the end result. Merry Christmas.

The Joyful Quilter said...

Good luck with the move, Rebecca! We moved two years ago, but I have no words of wisdom for you. Why not? Because I'm the one who still has 6 unpacked boxes of quilting stuff in my studio after all that time and my longarm was out of commission for about 9 months!

Jenny K. Lyon said...

Oh wow, big move! We've had 4 quick corporate moves and I know how hard it is. My heart goes out to you. I know you will love your new home. Hugs.

Nanette Chopin Cook said...

Oh Rebecca! A Move is 10 steps above my thumb surgery. Sometimes life just makes us slow down on one love in our life and then have a change to deal with. I was told a 4 month recovery, but Ifound out I can do some sewing, but no hand work. Out of the hard cast on2 Jan…12 more days…. I can now do most things for myself. Clay has been a great caretaker.

Thank you for the lovely words on my Xmas quilt that I made in 2004.

So when you are back to work in April I will have been working on new quilts - finally. I will look for updates on your move and the new address.

Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year. It is now very quiet here now. Ending the year with no problems. Hugs

Anne-Marie said...

Since you're in a time-crunch, my best advice is to hire packers. It always takes way longer than you think to pack everything up on your own. We've moved 12 times and the times we self-packed, I was still packing things while the movers were loading our stuff into the moving trucks. On the plus side, moving really helps you see what is necessary and not and you can purge things that you no longer need.

Bring your most important items with you in your vehicles--papers, photos, heirlooms, etc., and, of course, your sewing machines. Allow plenty of time to get your change of address/mail forwarding into place. It takes a few weeks to process. Good luck!

Nancy @ Grace and Peace Quilting said...

Beautiful quilting, Rebecca!!! Love your panto choices! Best wishes for your move!!! We have moved many times ourselves and know what it's like. But then you will settle in and love it. Merry Christmas!!!

MissPat said...

First off, your clients' quilts are all beautiful and I'm sure they appreciate the thoughtfulness and care you take with their quilts. But, wow, moving with virtually no warning has got to be super stressful. No words of wisdom here as I've lived in the same house for almost 40 years and all but one move was less than 50 miles. You can do it. Good luck and Merry Christmas.

Frédérique - Quilting Patchwork Appliqué said...

Wonderful quits ans your quilting is gorgeous as always! I wish you all the best for the moving. We moved last year, and I packed all my sewing room into boxes. It was quick and easy to unpack, as the boxes were well labeled (I'm very organized ;D). Good luck, enjoy the holidays before the big move.

Mary said...

I love all these quilts but especially the panel quilt. You are SO knowledge about all aspects of the quilting process. I had to look up the actual color of Glide Flint thread and it looks like a taupe brown, but it sure doesn't look taupe in your photos! Good luck with the move. I like using batting scraps to to keep fragile valuables safe. Merry Christmas my friend!

dq said...

You sound crazy busy. I hope you enjoyed your Christmas.

The large star quilt is lovely!

Marie said...

They say that good things happen fast, so if that is true, then it sounds like your move is off to a great start. No doubt the next couple of months will be busy, busy, busy, but I hope that all runs smoothly and that you are soon settled in your new home. Happy New Year!

dq said...

Good luck with your move and your new life in Florida. I hope it will be a grand adventure once you are moved and settled in. I hope your quilting business will continue to flourish as well. I will be watching for you to come back to us online in a few months.

Gretchen Weaver said...

I must have missed this post at Christmas time and didn't realize you were moving until I read the comment from you about one of my quilts the end of January. You're younger than me so I hope you don't feel as overwhelmed with your move as I did with our move. Blessings to you and your husband, may all go well with your move!