Thursday, May 26, 2016

On My Way to Baltimore

On My Way to Baltimore has hit the streets!

What had been a long time dream has now become reality - I'm an author of a book! What a journey this has been and quite frankly, I still can't believe it and I'm thrilled at the response so far. I have written many articles for magazines over the years and before that a lot of words for brochures and ads and newsletters but writing a quilt book is different. 

For starters you have to make sure you keep track of every aspect of the design. When I started on this journey I was not thinking that my original designs would become a book so my notes and measurements were sketchy and not always complete. After about the third quilt I thought "hey, this may become a book or a pattern series so I had better take better notes."  On several of the early quilts I had to re-make certain aspects to double check my notes as to the size due to the fact that in a couple of cases the quilt was already quilted.  



My design process for the book quilts is the same method that I have always used since I made my first quilt over 40 years ago.  Paper and pencil.  I hand drew all the applique pieces for the book and used EQ7 for much of the layout just to make sure the math was correct.


I find it ironic that my very first quilt was applique.  Here it is. The letters were cats I drew and then use the satin stitch on my machine to applique them to the background fabric.  I didn't know how to quilt so I tied it using embroidery floss. I was 13. I made two more of this same quilt for other family members and this is the only one that survived. I still have the original hand drawn patterns of these cats.  Little did I know the love affair that was unfolding would last this long. I'm still a quilter 42 years after making my first quilt and I still love applique.

The quilts in the book are not "typical" Baltimore album quilts.  They are a lot simpler and the blocks are a lot larger but the style of the elements is to some degree evocative of the late 1800's and since I don't have time to make a Baltimore Album quilt this is a  nice option.  Which is why we are on our way to Baltimore and not likely to get there.

Tulip Splendor on my design wall.

The cover quilt!  Ah yes, the cover quilt Tulip Splendor. To be honest I was less than thrilled that one of my least favorite quilts in the book was chosen by my publisher/editor as the cover. It was not one I would have chosen and yet now I see why they picked it.  It's colorful and fun and flirty and just catches the eye with the rainbow of colors against the white background. After living with it for several months now I have to say I love it. It's still not my favorite quilt in the book but as I cover I think it was a great choice and I do love how the quilting came out on this one.
Tulip Splendor center block

What is unique about the book is that in all but two quilts there are two colorways of the quilt.  The featured one and then an alternate.  I thought it would be helpful for people buying the book to see the quilts in different colors.  Of course to be honest I didn't take into account the fact that it would be twice as much work but luckily I had a couple of willing friends who made a few of the alternates.  I have had so much positive feedback about this aspect of the book that I'm glad I went that route. I've seen it done in magazines but never in a book.


My favorite quilt in the book is "Midnight In Baltimore" and I have to say I just love every aspect of this quilt.  The colors, the blocks and the quilting.  I think this is some of my best work from a design standpoint and looking at it just makes me smile. The feathers in the border are my original design and are available as a pattern from  Legacy Quilting. Currently this quilt does not have an alternate but I do have plans to make one in red and white - stay tuned.

All the applique work in the book was done by machine with the exception of the ric rack on this quilt.  I love the speed and the look of machine applique. I've tried all the methods and I always come back to fusible (using Wonder Under) and the button hole stitch on my machine using matching thread.


Two of the quilts I had made for the book did not make the cut. I figured one would not due to page count limitations so I was not surprised.  With all the applique patterns and the pages they took up one more had to go.  They may find themselves into another book, a pattern or a magazine.


This is Carnivale.  

  This is the quilt that AQS (my publisher) is displaying at all their shows in the author showcase, it will be well traveled by the time it comes back to me a year from now. This is a fun and funky quilt and I love the mix of applique with string piecing. This one currently does not have an alternate but I'm working on one done all in blue - might be interesting.


For many of the quilts in the book I decided to go "old school" and use muslin for the backing.  On this quilt "Maryland Rose" you can really see the quilting.  When I first started quilting we always used muslin for the back and would not dream of using a pretty quilt fabric for the back of the quilt.  I like the look and find I'm doing this more and more. Here is a view of the same quilt still in the machine quilt quilting underway.

Quilting Maryland Rose

The quilting on the quilts in the book is
not what I would call show quilting, but rather just regular everyday custom quilting.  In this still in the machine view of Chatham County you can see the relaxed crosshatching and a nifty cable I did in the very busy border.  On two of the applique quilts in the book I did an all over edge to edge design and while you might not think doing that on an applique quilt, it worked really well.

On this alternate version of Seville I think the all over quilting was just the ticket for this quilt and the paisley design blended well with the paisley border fabric.

In the original version of Seville I did custom quilting and I love how the feathers look on the different shades of green fabric. I have a thing for purple and green together and want to use these two colors in another quilt soon. The quilting designs used in this quilt are my own and available from Legacy Quilting.

Of course the quilts are the star of any how to quilt book but there is a lot of time and effort put forth by many people to make certain that the math is correct and that the cutting instructions are accurate and I so appreciate all the hard work of the talented staff at AQS. I'm thrilled at how the book "looks" and I am thankful to have worked with such talent especially the photographer - capturing the detail on the quilting on some of the quilts is no easy task and yet you can see it clearly in the photos throughout the book.   


Throughout the book I found ready and willing helpers. My sweet boy Zach (who has since crossed over the rainbow bridge) helping me with applique and Winnie with book edits. 

After all the focus, planning, quilt making and quilting time that went into this book I find that I'm a tad at loose ends.  What to work on?  Or better yet what to work on just for fun and without a deadline?  I'm enjoying these post release days and doing some creating just for the fun of it.  If you joined me on this journey I would love to; a) hear what you thought of the book and; b) see any photos of quilts you were inspired to make.  


 Enjoy your journey On You Way to Baltimore. Hopefully I will meet up with you on the road.