Friday, September 26, 2014

Red, White & Quilted - new AQS Book

When asked to quilt two red and white quilts for an upcoming AQS book, I was honored. When given the selection of quilt tops to choose from, I realized they were quite traditional in design but the author and editors were requesting modern quilting. Specifically, they had seen my "Spinner" quilt and liked that quilting, mentioning there were 'no feathers' felt I needed to try and honor that idea of no feathers and the style in which my "Spinner" was quilted.

The two quilts that I got to work with were a traditional 'Birds in the Air' block design and one with a 'Double Nine Patch' block with some big blocks of white. Having more negative space to work with opened up some interesting possibilities on the 'Double Nine Patch'.

I received the book in the mail this week and to my great delight...Double Nine Patch is featured on the inside cover both front and back!

Just to be listed with these other famous names in quilting makes me giddy. Pam Clark, Margaret Solomon Gunn, Judi Madsen, Sue Nickels, Sue Patten, Sally Terry, and Judy Woodworth. I've taken classes from four of these ladies and have admired their work these past five years of my professional quilting journey.

Here is a bit more about my approach to the quilting on the two quilts.

'Birds in the Air'

Quilting on a two color quilt, the challenge is what color thread do you use.....using white thread on red will stand out and using red thread on white will really stand out. I chose to use So Fine! 50 wt. and put the stitches per inch up to 12 --the highest of the standard settings on my Gammill.

As I looked at the overall quilt, the small half square triangles (HSTs) kept appearing on the diagonal grid like you're looking through bathroom glass. So, I chose to put echoed lines. The lines that followed the piecing lines went smoothly using a ruler to help the diagonal. The entire quilt was stabilized stitching along those piecing lines.

And the quilt continues to live on...when a call came from the International Quilt Festival for red and white quilts to be part of their 40th celebration (Ruby is the color for 40 apparently) Linda, author of the book, submitted this particular quilt along with 5 others from the book and they were all accepted. So, it will be part of the
Ruby Jubilee: A 40-Year Celebration Exhibit
at Houston Quilt Festival 2014! Whoo Hooo!!

It will also travel as part of special exhibits that AQS will feature in their shows in 2015. So, I hope you'll attend at least one and give it a look!

I usually start on a custom quilt with my vinyl sheet and some drawing on top of the quilt to get an idea for the scale and how an area might look with a motif and fill.

 The basic structure of the quilting goes down first and I try to do as much continuously across the quilt as possible.

Below are a series of photos taken during the quilting process.


Only fills added to the edge of the center.

The initial lines stitched didn't seem enough, so I added more to fill some areas and let others pop.
 At the border I decided to just extend the basic grid and straight line work that was done in the center, but not do any further fill work. This was a much labored decision. Not adding the fills in the border seemed to be effective by letting the center be in focus and the outer part not so much with just the grid structure being quilted.


I chose to put off center, four blocks stitched in RED. It didn't create as strong of an effect as I thought it might, but it is there none the less. The red blocks made me very nervous because the red is such a high contrast on the white fabric. The white thread goes easier on the red, but is still a bit unnerving when stitching it.


'Double Nine Patch'

I started with drawing a grid pattern, on point, in line with the nine patch on point squares. Then started stitching the cathedral window or orange peel shape using the grid pattern drawn or the actual nine patch piecing as registration marks.

 Here are images along the way. Pay particular attention to how adding density to specific quilted areas changes what your eye sees. Your eye sees what is NOT quilted.

There is opportunity to do the quilting around the 9patch as you hit each pieced square.

Here is how I pass from left to right.

and then come back from the right to the left.
Detail of what happens at the 9 patch pieced block.
Then I came back through the orange peels to do the flower fill that mimics the grid of the 9patch blocks but through the center of the white block left in the middle of the red grid area.
I decided this was not enough at this point, especially when I realized who the other quilters were that had been asked to do quilts for this book. So, the other 'empties' got two different treatments, either a swirl or a dense fill of pebbles. This provided both a different relief and an alternate design. The pebble fills were around the junctions of 9patch blocks and the swirls were the others.
At the time I was able to do some continuously because they were touching so could just move to the next one, but I had to hop into new spots several times. I wondered if I had it to do again would I change anything? Likely just know my fill strategy and after the main orange peels were completed. Go back and do continuous fills with each one marked with a different pin or something so that I could remember what design I was doing in each.

 And that's how I did it! Thanks for reading.
I've ordered quite a few copies of the book for my shop, so if you're interested in buying one, stop by or leave a comment that you'd like one shipped to you and I will paypal you an invoice, be sure to indicate if you'd like it autographed or not. MSRP of the book is $22.95. All orders taken by Oct. 3 will receive free shipping and tax.






  1. How lovely that your quilting is there with "big name" quilters. You do wonderful work, and I'm glad you are being recognized.

  2. WOW, you stitches are gorgeous. Thank you, so much for sharing your creative process. Congrats on your publicized work, well deserved.

  3. Congrats!!! I love the orange peel quilting. And the way the swirls go in and out of the fill is brilliant.

  4. Marlene, I messaged you about wanting an autographed copy of the AQS book. Can you email, text, or inbox me the Paypal invoice? Congratulations on your new projects!

  5. I would like to order a copy of the AQS book. My email is Please email the Paypal invoice.
    Your quilting is beautiful!!

  6. Sorry, I forgot....please autograph it.
    Thanks, Coleen

  7. I am sew impressed! Do you draw the design completely on the quilt before quilting? This is a lot of work and no wonder I send mine out to be quilted!

    1. I only drew the grid on the Double Nine Patch, then I tested with the vinyl and dry erase marker to get an idea if it would work. I kept adding. For the Birds in the Air I don't recall doing any marking except the vinyl and marker testing. The patchwork gave me sufficient registration marks to do what I designed to do.

  8. Your quilting is phenomenal!!!

  9. Love them both, I wish I could send you a picture of one of my red and white quilts as I am totally stumped on how it should be quilted. I took it to 3 different long arm quilters and they were stumped as well. All I know is I want red thread in the red and white in the white, but no clue on design. I love red and white quilts and I am on my way to having a collection. It will never be in the same category as the infinite variety of red and white quilts, but more than two is the start of a collection right?

    1. You're welcome to send a photo for an analysis marlene at kissedquilts dot com. Print a photo of it and start doodling, so what you like!

    2. I tried to send an email, not sure it worked. I typed in and it told me invalid email. so I just hit reply to the message I received. Not sure that will do the trick either.

    3. nothing came through, since you're a no-reply blogger, I don't know yours, but if you leave me your email here I can email you and then we'll know it is correct. be sure to have the marlene@ at the beginning, otherwise the domain is correct.

  10. Wow! That is breath taking. I hope I can quilt that way some day. Just started a little over a year ago. WOW, WOW that is gorgeous.

  11. Wow! That is breath taking. I hope I can quilt that way some day. Just started a little over a year ago. WOW, WOW that is gorgeous.

  12. This is so gorgeous. Takes my breath away. What do you use to mark the quilt?

    1. On the Double Nine Patch I used a FriXion pen. Unfortunately after shipping the quilt for binding and photography it 'froze' and all the marks reappeared. Lesson learned! Fortunately with some steaming they got them to disappear sufficiently to enable photographs for the book.