Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Behemoth

         As some of you may recall my Celtic Quilt Project from earlier this year. I'm happy to report that it is drawing to a close. My dear new friends Chris and Susan at "Over the Top Quilting Studio" helped me tremendously. Susan has kindly helped me by quilting the center of the quilt, the knot portion. I was struggling and sweating to quilt it on my little machine. Seriously. I was sweating! So that I can still feel like I was a part of quilting this, Susan left the boarders to me.

You can see the stitching best on the back.
When I get sick of the other side,
I may just flip it over  just because it is so beautiful! 
        When I walked in, Susan had it hanging up to show off the stitching. I wish now that I had snagged a photo of it like that. Isn't her stitching beautiful???? I admit I cried a little bit. This has lifted such a burden from my shoulders. The monster of a quilt won't have to take me another year to finish! 

When we folded it up. I couldn't stop touching it.
The texture of it felt so good! 
        Susan doesn't rent time on the machine, but she let me practice on some scrap fabric. It really made me appreciate the skill and planning it takes to do this. If any of you have ever considered hiring a long arm quilter to help you finish a project, I highly recommend you consult with Susan and Chris. They are angels in disguise with good prices too! ;) 

I loved how we discussed and worked out together
a design that would suite the style of the quilt without
distracting from the piecing design.

By Cassie Grace

Ps. Here is a link to their website again: http://overthetopquilting.com/

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Long Arm Quilting Ladies

This is Chris! 

At the recent Austin Quilt Fest, I met two gals by the name of Susan and Chris. They own Over the Top Quilting Studio here in Austin. I had the opportunity to go to their studio and interview them! WoW!! Just WOW! 

These dynamic sisters have been long arm quilting for about 11 years, so they really know their stuff. For those of you new to the idea of long arm quilting, it is a different kind of sewing machine that really facilitates free-motion quilting. You give your pieced top to these gals, and they finish it for ya. 

I have experienced first hand trying to quilt a queen size quilt on my little sewing machine and just sweating through it. What I like about Susan and Chris is the spirit of collaboration they have with me. They really want your vision to shine through. When I asked them what to look for in a long armist, they said that the client should feel safe and respected by the quilter. The client should ask to see a preview of the design and other examples of work. Susan and Chris also mentioned that the long armist should have a good variety of color in threads as well. 

I used to think that hiring a long arm quilter was kind of like cheating, but now I see how amazing it is! I could finish so many more quilt tops by working with them. I also learned that collaborating with long armist does not disqualify me from entering competitions! 

I can't say enough good things about these ladies. Seriously. I had such a good time interviewing them and watching them work. Susan and Chris have INCREDIBLE skill and creativity. I feel like we've been friends for ages after just two visits with them. I hope you'll look them up. 

This is Susan working on my celtic quilt!!!! She is totally my hero. 

By Cassie Grace

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Folding Fat Quarter Tutorial

As promised... though a little late, I have our Valli & Kim Fat Quarter Tutorial. I've seen lots of different ways to fold fat quarters, even triangles, but I like how V&K protects the raw edges. You can also use this folding method on 1/2 yards as well. The uniformity in shapes makes storing and viewing your fabric easier!

You may iron your fat quarter, but it isn't necessary. 

Fold in half with the selvage and raw edge together.

Then fold into thirds (the selvage is still at the top).


Then you fold into thirds again. 

There will be a little pocket is where  you stuff the selvage
edged third in. 

Tada! Crisp, clean, and ready to store or give away. 

I hope this is helpful to ya'll!

By Cassie Grace

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

How do you store your fabric?

The "stash." It seems to be the ultimate goal of every quilter to have sufficient fabric at home to whip up anything he or she might need. "Need a coordinating fabric? I've got three right here in my stash," you'd say. My sister has a pretty serious one going. I salivate every time I see it. She is benevolent enough to gift me a a fat quarter here or there to help me finish a project. My stash is still small enough to fit in a drawer. 

As you can see, I don't even fill my drawer! I've got other supplies in there too, for crocheting, embroidery and home decor. I thought about making it look tidy before I took the picture, but it didn't seem honest. This is how it really looks and it works for me for now. The baggies are for the bits of fabric too big to throw away but too small to see against the more prominent fabric. 

My friend Grayson has a ridiculously beautiful stash. Her darling husband built a set of shelves just for her fabric. She has the habit of buying at least 2 yards of everything she likes so she always has enough. The whole wall is is rainbow of color. I find myself imagining ways to break in at night and make off with most of it. I'd be the "quilting caper".... that's a cool evil villain name. I could work with that. ..... I'm getting off track. 

Anyway. How do you store your fabric so you can get to it easily? Do organize by color or by style? Do you separate your fat-quarters from your yardage of fabric? Do you use plastic bins? 

Please share your "Stash' wisdom!!

By Cassie Grace 

Ps. Later this week, I'll show you how we fold our fat quarters at Valli & Kim to make your organization easier and uniform! 

Friday, October 5, 2012

It's Lobster Season!

You may recall my sketches for halloween costumes a few weeks ago. Well!! Here is the final product!!! I am so excited! For $10 and a bit of time, I've been able to make both my and my husband's costume! I had the red fabric from Valli & Kim for a while, so all I needed was foam, buttons, some wonder-under and time. Having the skills to make this myself has been so satisfying and fun. Our costumes will be one of a kind. 

My lobster belt is currently attached
with a safety pin, I don't want to sew the
button, until I'm a little closer  to the day
because of my growing baby belly! 
The claws are attached to cuffs so I can still use my hands to eat and drink
 and open doors...
The head band is just covered in fabric and then the
 antennae are wire wrapped in fabric then wrapped
around the headband. 

I used a marker to draw on the foam and that knife cuts the foam with less mess and more accuracy than scissors.

I traced the foam and then added a half inch to each side of the paper. TADA! Insta-pattern for my lobster tail!

Some of the corners are a little funny, but I learned a lot about covering three-dimensional objects in fabric. :)

I made a paper template for the red fabric and cut those out as well as some batting to give the claws some substance. I ironed the wonder-under to the red fabric then ironed them together. They may not last constant use, but they'll do great for a party or two! 

This is my husband's costume. It's not quite done yet, but I did finish the fork and knife he'll be holding. They are bits of left over foam that I covered in fabric. The lobster you see is the beginnings of a painting on canvas that will turn into his "lobster bib." 

What was the best homemade costume you've ever worn or made?

By Cassie Grace

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Timeless Threads

There are a bunch of fun events happening soon, that ya'll need to know about!!!

First up, we have "Timeless Threads" which is themed "Then and Now." We are working with the Dr. Pound House Museum to show off some of the modern quilts. In fact, the ladies from the modern quilt guild will be showing their quilts at our store! Please come drop by and be inspired by these ladies amazing work!

On Sunday (the 14tth) we will have a Free-motion Quilting Class going on at the same time! It's a great way to get comfortable with the technique on a small project. Besides, you'll be surrounded by all of those amazing modern quilts to encourage you!

Last, but not least, we will have the author Alice Diane Durand signing her book Quilts, Tacos & Tattoos in the store! If you want to snag a copy before you come, you can find the book on Amazon.com.

All of these events would be perfect for a date or a night out on the town! I hope we see you there!

By Cassie Grace

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Family Quilt Fest

Mom spoiled all of us, buy fabric and tools 
Inspiring customers are so ... well inspiring! When I was working the cutting counter this summer, two sisters came in and told me all about their upcoming family reunion. All the ladies in the family get together for a quilt retreat. They have plays and projects and raffles. It all sounded like so much fun, I decided my family should do it too!
I told my mama all about it. She and I started planning and scheming right away. We were lucky enough to get all, but one sister to come (she is serving a religious mission in NJ). Since all the sister have such different styles, we decided to work on our own projects .

Chris- loves fractals, and math type quilts
Dee- loves bright, bright colors and happy-go-lucky patterns
Orendia- is more into formal designs and rich colors
Me- like fall colors and vintage styles with a twist
Sami- modern with pattern, pattern, pattern
Orendia loved chatting with the sisters (bonding)
 and leafing through mom's magazines

Using my mom's totally SWEET iron!
What I loved about this visit was collaborating with my sisters in a way I never had before, and getting to know them better (there is a big age gap with me and my older sisters). Mom was tickled pick to teach us her amazing skills with clothes, quilting and crocheting. She showed me how to crochet snowflakes!
Mom and Dee discussing the "flip-flop" quilt
What pleases me most is that my mom and sisters who live nearby are continuing to get together to work on projects even after its over. My mom can pass on her knowledge and my sisters get to build up their skills as well their relationships.
And mom's cooking was awesome too!

By Cassie Grace

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sew Therapy, for Real-sies

I was recently introduced to Debby, one of our die-hard, awesome customers. She has an interesting story. Debby wasn't always a quilter, but she used it to get through a rough time.

1. How did sewing help you work through your difficult time?

   My oldest daughter, Brittany, was killed in a roll over accident that we were in. (2000)  I got back into sewing, quilting...to discover something new...and also to finish my Sunbonnet Sue quilt.  HERS, actually. 
I find when I quilt that I catch myself smiling most often.  I usually have DELILA, the queen of romance radio program on also, when I quilt.  It comforts me...I feel creative....I like what I'm doing!  It's like gardening, only a different medium.  It's fun to see the growth in me as a quilter. It's amazing the hours that pass when i am with my machine.  Quilting, listening to love songs, drinking tea, thinking.......what could be sweeter???!!!!
I have made Brittany's bedroom my quilting room.  That too, is very comforting to me!  I feel often that she is right there with me!!!

2. How has sewing changed in its purpose for you over the years? (Is it still therapy, or is it a hobby now?)

   Quilting was always a hobby that i wanted to explore more.  It is therapy yes, but I think it started as a HOBBY first.....went into THERAPY from there....back to HOBBY.....THERAPY...... 
Sometimes I just go into that room and quilt JUST to get away from all the crud of the day.   I am thoroughly enjoying making something for EACH of my family members now....and I mean EACH of them.  (I wish my nieces would stop having babies tho....LOL)
What started as something new and fun, has NOW become an incredible quest to MAKE things for people.  I am enjoying giving a personal piece of myself to everyone I love.  Most aren't quilters and are in AWE with what I've done.  Once I start making things for my AVID quilting buds, I will be a bit more nervous about "giving of myself!".

3. Would you recommend sewing as a way to work through things to others?

   I HAVE recommended it to others.  I've even taken others to beginning quilt classes, which is something KIM did for me!  I want them to see how rewarding it is to actually come home with something useful that WE have created.  Such an incredible feeling.  I often am astounded with the beauty of the matching of materials.....hard to believe that I have made some of the things that i have.  With Kim's help and many others too, I am learning how to match prints, colors...do individual touches to my quilts.  It's an ongoing LOVE affair with a new quilt each time!!!  
I wish I had truly learned how to quilt when I lived in NM, as it was colder there.  But, i guess it really doesn't matter....
I enjoy doing it...and I now feel:: SOOOO MANY QUILTS....SOOOO LITTLE TIME!  I need to bust my butt and start pumping them out faster, as i am doing MORE collecting of ideas, patterns, and  materials!

When I go in their shop....the colors, the quilts hanging up....their smiles, suggestions, time spent with me........it's MY HAPPY PLACE!!! 
Quilting is a passion in me that is growing daily.  I use to dream of designs in my gardens....now I dream of designs to make with quilt fabrics!!!
Expensive hobby.....but seeing a counselor is more expensive!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Austin Quilt Fest

I had the great pleasure of attending the Capital of Texas Quilt Fest. I'm so glad I did! My new friend Christina came with me, which made it so much more fun. She's new to quilting and I think I may have another convert! Haha!

There were so many quilts to see. I was impressed with the range of styles. There were very modern designs, traditional and several art quilts. I like the one above because I think the artist might be as crazy as me! Each square was a little different!! 

I think this style is called french broadcloth quilting. Its all about the stitching. No distracting fabrics. Because I've been obsessing about how to quilt my big celtic knot. I'm feeling more inspired. 

This one cracked me up!!! I grew up with the Harry Potter series, so this was especially fun. It was done by Jennifer Ofenstein. I especially liked the monster book. 

This modern piece was done by Heather Grant. I love her color choice and circle motifs. 

Last but not least, "Salute to Pasta" by Victoria West. Isn't this clever???? The whole design is created by the quilting. It's like the french method, but with a more modern motif. I would hang this in my dining room rather than hide it in my bedroom. My brain is just percolating with ideas!!!!!

There were vendors there too! I hadn't known about some the shops in the surrounding areas, and I met a long arm quilter. There were demonstrations too. It was such fun to be in a place where everyone was passionate about quilts. Sigh... such fun. 

By Cassie Grace

Ps. If you want to see the winners, you can go to the website: http://www.aaqg.org

Friday, September 14, 2012


Now that I have a serious deadline, aka baby coming, I'm finding I have a great drive to finish things. I've talked to other quilters and creative types and I've found a common theme. We are all great at starting new projects, but struggle to finish them. Some people thrive in quilting clubs because they must have a block done at every meeting. Some people find that competitions get them in high gear.

To get myself organized, (and less distracted by pinterest.com ideas) I've put together a calendar for the end of this year. I found it when I googled: calendar August to December and picked one I liked. I'm doing great at meeting my sewing deadlines....not so great on my art ones, but this is progress people! I can work on any one of the projects as long as it's moving me toward one of the deadlines.

How do you get yourself to finish a project?

By Cassie Grace

Ps. Do you love my foam monster? He is a lightbulb. Haha.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Valli's First Quilt!!!!

Opening a store filled with quilting fabrics was a dream but not because I was in love with quilting.  I love the fabrics and am always telling the customers, "Kim is the quilter, I am the Interior Designer!" I find good uses for the beautiful fabrics, other than quilts.....is that wrong?  I spent many weeks each Summer growing up, with my Grandma Ruby.  She was a quilter, a beautiful quilter!  I remember her porch was lined with rows of cabinets draped with fabric fronts. The shelves behind were filled with folded quilts, all handmade, all wonderful!  I think I fell in love with the random, mismatched look of scrappy a long time ago.  She also taught me how to sew on her pedal Singer sewing machine.  "Thank you Grandma!"  

That was then and this is now....I'm still all about the fabric.  The quilting industry has so many fabulous designers creating so many beautiful prints, I think that's why I prefer scrappy...because I don't have to choose just a few, I can use them all!  The more mismatched the better! So, after almost two years it's time to quilt. My first quilt has to fit my criteria of easy, easy, easy and places for lots of fabrics. I saw this quilt in one of our books and loved it!  It's basically a "flip and sew" (and iron) Cut your favorite fabrics in assorted widths, randomly place, sew, flip, iron and start over! It's fun and fast. Now I can say I have made a quilt. My quilts will probably always be simple, I'll leave the detailed, more exact quilts to Kim and Robbie!

By Valli Daniel