Blocks finished-on to the borders!

I’ve quilted the 26 blocks and now it’s on to the sashings and border. My goal is to have wandering/vining feathers throughout the sashings and connect them to each other where I can. But first, let me show you a few of my favorite blocks:


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The picture below appears to be redundant but notice, I’ve begun the sashing/negative space quilting below the block:


I’m a slow learner about certain things… I have been in awe over certain quilting pictures where the lighting is just low enough to really make the quilting pop. Had no idea how to achieve this effect until the other day I walked into the sewing room to discover I’d left the longarm on for about an hour with the overhead lights turned off. Wow! Just the effect I’d been trying to achieve! Who knew!

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The next picture demonstrates the transition from blocks to sashings to the border. Inside each swag I marked and quilted two separate feather sets.

Rhonda Dort 2017

I liked the look just “ok” and mulled over the situation for an hour or two.


Decided to quilt the 1/4″ parallel lines beneath the swag to see if that would solve my dilemma.  I liked the look of the lines but still was not happy with the feathers.





Giving it some time, I decided to go ahead and decide how to handle the 4 corner appliques.


And then in a flash it came to me! The feathers above the swags needed veining to give them depth and character:


The picture below shows what my “already quilted feathers” look like after I added the veining:


So, here’s a short tutorial on how I accomplished the border feathering: 1. Divide the space between the applique circles and mark.  2. Using an oval acrylic template, mark a gentle curve from the appliqued circle to the top most point of the area center line. 3. Begin quilting the feathers at an outer edge, quilting towards the center as shown below. I always quilt the feathers and then add the vein. If you want to do the veining as you work your way up the spine, of course do so!


After finishing the lower feathering, I’ve begun quilting one side of the upper feathers:


One side of the feathering completed and the other side needing the veining:



Ta-Da! Feathering complete!


When you’re intimidated by the quilting area remember: you want to “Divide and Conquer” the space! The big spaces become much smaller and much more manageable!

I’m mulling over the idea of quilting the top and bottom border parallel lines, taking the quilt off the machine, rotating 90 degrees and reloading. It is so much easier to stitch the lines vertically than horizontally. My biggest concern is getting the quilt loaded perfectly… More on my final decision in a later post…

About my quilting, I’ve had my Innova Longarm for 3 years and 2 months. Without fail, every single time I quilt something I learn something. Every single time! This quilt project is no exception: I’ve been teaching myself to not see the hopping foot but rather to stay focused in the needle meeting the fabric. In all honesty the most perfect hopping foot would be an invisable one! I’ve also been trying to learn to slow down a bit. Feathering is basically the same motion over and over and over again and I can tend to quilt very quickly when I know exactaly what I want to do. By slowing down I always increase accuracy and I have more time to “think ahead” about feather placement.  And finally, I’ve been concentrating on muscle memory to achieve accuracy in “bump back feathering” and veining.

*** House update: not too much to report. The flooring tile, all 9242 lbs. of it got manually moved today so we no longer have to park on the “wrong” side of the gate across the driveway. With homes in our immediate area in much worse shape than ours, we have elected to wait a few more weeks while our contractor addresses many emergency concerns of our friends and neighbors. This will allow me more time to search out the perfect Stacked Stone for the fireplace wall. If you’ve never looked for stone, wow, it’s amazing how much is available! Too many choices!

Happy Quilting! Let me know if you have any questions about anything in the 25 picture above.



Two More Vintage Linen Quilt Blocks

Progress! As of yesterday I have 2 more blocks to quilt and then it’s on to all the sashings and the borders. This blog post is full of pictures showing, as best I could, the process of quilting each block.

Here’s the crazy thing about the block below – I do not remember making it… Every other single block in this quilt I remember distinctly. Not this one! Anyway, I really like it and am happy about how it looks quilted.


I used an oval acrylic template to draw the curve above the embroidered floral swag. The top feathers were all supposed to stop at the edge of the top but in the picture below I can see one or two particular feathers got a bit ambitious… The bottom feathers used the flowers to determine their individual lengths. You may remember I draw on the feather vein rather than stitching it with the longarm.


So, with the top feathers finished it’s on to marking the bottom mint green fabric. I’ve divided the green into 2 separate areas as part of my “divide and conquer” method of quilting. I used a curved longarm template to mark the gentle curves with my blue water soluble marking pen.  I use EZ International marking pens, mostly because I can purchase them in bulk which is great because I go through them quickly.



Above, the picture shows how I marked the feather veins with blue pen and below you can see the finished block. There was a time when I didn’t like to quilt big/long arching feathers but as I continue to practice and practice, I’m becoming quite happy with them.IMG_0986

The Flower Basket block is next. Isn’t this a sweet vintage doily! After stitching around all the hand embroidery I was left with the large open area at the top half of the doily.


Again, using an acrylic template I marked 6 arches above the yellow basket ribbon and topped it off with a hand drawn heart.


Each of the 6 arches serve as the center vein of a curved feather swag.


I had a bit of a hic-cup quilting the heart and the outside feathers but I can live with the outcome. Have you noticed that when the blue lines are gone, the mistakes decrease in number.  🙂

The arches have itty-bitty feathers and if you’ve not quilted itty-bitty feathers, they are actually much harder to do than the big ones.


The finished block! Seriously love this one!


Just as a reminder, I did a double batt on this project. Hobbs Heirloom white 80/20 with Hobbs Poly Down on top. It’s a super combination, not too bulky and it’s makes the quilting pop! What’s my thread that matches all the different colors of fabrics I’m quilting? Why WonderFil Deco Bob #104 of course! It’s my go to thread!


***House update: nothing to report other than the flooring tile has been gathered from several different cities, shipped to Houston and is scheduled to arrive at our home on Tuesday. Here are a few pictures of what some of the rooms on the 1st floor of our home look like today:

We’re still living in 2 rooms on our second floor. What’s in all the other 2nd floor rooms? Boxes and boxes and boxes of stuff we had to pack that was not ruined by the flood waters, clothing from the upper rods in all the downstairs closets, pictures from all the first floor walls, stacks of books and papers from the built-in cabinetry just to name a bit. My sewing room, aka Hub’s Home Office has had garment racks, clothes baskets, bits of furniture to say nothing of all the usual fabulous quilting stuff that actually belongs there! All this mess will come to an end and we will be thrilled with the renovations! Until such time, I’ll keep praying, keep trying hard to be optimistic and keep looking for that “silver lining” to all this craziness!

Happy Quilting and Blessings to all,



Let the feathering begin!

If you’ve been following this blog you’ll know I’m in the process of quilting my Vintage Linens quilt top:


Most of the feathering has been completed in the strips of reproduction fabrics so it’s time to start on the actual vintage linens.

I’ve drawn in the undulating feather vein with a water soluble blue marking pen. I use EZ International pens mostly because I can buy them in bulk. I also use a small plastic applicator filled with distilled vinegar to remove the blue lines. Why vinegar? If you’ve used blue pen much you will know that when using water on the pen marks it can sometimes cause the blue to “wick out” as it dries. I’m finding the distilled vinegar lessens the wicking. The vineger aroma hangs around for maybe a day and then it’s gone.

Below you’ll see the right side of the linen has been marked and quilted:


After the right side was quilted I marked once again the left side to be a mirror image of the right, best as I could. Don’t stress about perfection, it’s all about the finished quilting.

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Both right and left sides are finished:



If you look closely you can easily see the two sides do not match perfectly. When they are freeform feathers, it would be difficult for them to mirror image each other. You can make yourself crazy trying or you can be happy with however they turn out.


The center feather wreath below was created by first stitching around an acrylic circle template and then adding both the inside and outside feathers. For me, unless I mark, the inside feathers can be difficult to line up. Look below and you’ll see there’s a “funny looking” feather at about 2:00 on the wreath. I’m not bothered by this, it’s all about the “big picture”. If you are crazy about perfection, heavily mark or use a feather wreath template.

This block is very special to me because my maternal grandmother embroidered this dresser scarf. The other half is part of my mom’s Old Linens Quilt shown in my previous blog post, or maybe the one before that…


The block below is made up of two doilies. The smaller piece is laying atop the larger.

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Again, I marked blue registration lines to remind me where the center of my feathers should fall as well as a dot to show the center of the block.

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My quilting friend Blue Painters Tape comes to the rescue again, holding back the lace trim to keep it out of the stitching area:

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Almost finished:

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And done! Well, almost done. I will probably eventually add quilting to each of the white 4 corner areas.

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So it’s 2 down and about 24 more to go and then there’s all the white negative space created as I set the blocks together. In other words, there’s lots more to be done! Sometimes a large space can be intimidating when deciding what to quilt.  I’m all about the concept of “divide and conquer” when it comes to quilting.

Hope you’ve enjoyed all the detailed pictures and of course, leave a comment if you have questions!

*** House update: I received an email from the floor tile company advising they have shipped our order! All 8000lbs!

Blessings for a wonderful day and of course “Happy Quilting”!


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Do you SID? How about SID-ESS?

Do you SID? Stitch In the Ditch? Does just the very thought give you hives? Learn from the master, and by master I’m talking about Cindy Needham. If you’ve ever taken a class from her (in person or on Craftsy) then you’ll remember her mantra: ESS…every stink’in seam! I have learned at least 10,000 things from Cindy but honestly, the ESS has changed the way I longarm. 

My rational for ESS: I spend hours upon hours developing and then creating my “one of a kind” quilts. So why hurry through the actual longarm quilting process? It makes perfect sense to be just as meticulous while quilting as it does while piecing. ESS takes a lot of time but then again so did the planning, the cutting, the stitching and the pressing. Enough about that.  Now on to my Vintage Linens quilt project.

Here’s the pic from my last blog post, the finished quilt top.


The backing fabric is 100% cotton bleached medium weight muslin. I over-size cut, serged, laundered and loaded onto the longarm. Did you notice I did not press? I learned a longarm secret a few months ago… Whip that backing fabric out of the clothes dryer and quickly load it onto the longarm. Once loaded, roll the fabric onto the bar furthest from the front of the machine. With a spray bottle in hand, lightly spray the width of the fabric lightly with water. Rolling as needed through the entire length of the fabric, lightly spraying with water at each advancement until all the fabric has been spritzed and rolled. No ironing needed! Love it!

Here’s me hard at work stitching in the ditch in every seam. Almost every seam. Stitching in the seams that count! It has made a world of differenct in my finished quilts. It keeps the blocks true, it cleans up the look of things and it makes such a huge differenct with not having to deal with shifting quilt tops. Besides ESS I machine base along each side. For the first time ever in the history (my history) of longarming I floated this quilt top. Why? I’m not terribly sure. I’ve heard a lot about floating quilt tops and decided to give it a try. Will I do it again? I’m not sure. I was VERY NERVOUS throughout the entire SID-ESS process. Did it turn out ok? Yes. Sometimes I find that I have the backing/batting/quilt top pulled too taut. Not this time!


I did something else different this time. In order to keep my floating quilt top true, I used my channel locks as I SID-ESS’ed on about 80% of the block outside edges. That way I knew the top was not getting skewed in any given direction. Once again, it proved to me the importance of Mary Poppins Piecing (you know, when Mary Poppins uses the tape measure to determine the heights of the children Jane and Michael? Well, remember the tape measure results when she measured herself: Practically Perfect In Every Way!”)


The above and below pictures show how crisp and clean the SID blocks look. It is worth your time! This vintage pieced basket block really stepped up to the plate with the stitch in the ditch.


This last picture shows the versatility of our trusty blue friend; Painter’s Tape! It is remarkably handy when you need 3 hands. Use it to hold things out of the way that you’d really rather not be caught up in what ever you’re stitching. Below the tape is wrangling the white round doily edges so they are not lasting friends with SID-ESS 🙂


Have I convinced you of the importance of SID-ESS? Thank you Cindy Needham! Try it the next time you load a project on the longarm, a mid-arm or even your domestic machine. You put a lot of time and effort into what you’re about the quilt, take your time with the quilting!

Now it’s time to contemplate how I’m going to do all the pretty and fancy quilting. The nice thing is that each block is stabilized and almost no matter how much I quilt it, it will not distort 🙂

***house update: The contractor is working daily to make the necessary repairs to our first floor. Hopefully most of the major things will be completed by Thanksgiving!

Blessings to everyone and of course, Happy Quilting!



The Vintage Linens Quilt Top might get quilted!

I’m so happy to let you know I had time today to get the top and the backing fabric loaded on the longarm! The batting will be a challenge as the large rolls of Hobbs are stowed away in a guest room closet. A closet that is quite inaccessible because boxes and boxes and boxes of “1st Floor stuff” are piled in front of the door. “Where there’s a will there’s a way” said someone famous. Sometime tomorrow afternoon I plan to put on a hard hat and steel toed boots and retrieve that batting!

This quilt top has been long in the making. Years ago mom and I saw an inspiration piece hanging in a long closed quilt shop in Liberty, Mo. We both began furiously making our own quilt blocks. She finished hers a long time ago and oh how I love her quilt! I love the vintage linens, I love the piano key border and I love the quilting she did on this piece:


But I didn’t want to duplicate her work so I branched out. While our projects are remarkably similar, they are also unique stand alone pieces. Here’s my quilt top draped over the longarm:


For me this is a sizable piece, 85×92″, I usually work on much smaller projects.

The border is a custom swag. Sounds impressive doesn’t it… If you’ll scroll back a few blogs posts you’ll find a detailed tutorial on how to make a Custom Swag and you’ll know it is easy-peasy! Try it! Your quilting friends will be impressed. It’s up to you whether or not you tell them how straight forward it is…


Each of the vintage linens used in this project was cleaned, pressed and if necessary, trimmed to size. The beautiful piece below was once one end of a dresser scarf. If you look again at mom’s quilt you’ll see the other end of the scarf near the center of her finished project. This block shows how the decorative trim can be part of the quilt block. Only the top of this linen piece is incorporated into the quilt block seam.

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The block below shows how the entire linen is stitched to the surrounding fabric strips.

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And what’s not to love about having a “sewing helper” during block construction! If you don’t remember from previous posts, this is Winston, our beautiful and wonderful and very vocal House Panther. He is carefully eyeing those silver scissor snips, making sure they don’t wander off…


I created all the blocks in a “helter-skelter” method. “Oh, how hard could it be to get everything to fit together?” I said to myself as I started this project.  I will NEVER ever use this crazy “fly by the seat of my pants” construction method again.


Do I have some favorite blocks? Oh yes and here are a few:


Here is how I began to work with the blocks. Needless to say, things got moved around a lot!


Since I put the longarm in my sewing room I don’t have a good space for my portable design wall. In the picture below I have it propped up on the longarm table. It actually worked quilt well! You may also see that I’ve used 2 vintage quilt blocks with the embroidered pieces, the hexagon flower (think Grandmother’s Flower Garden) and the on-point green and yellow basket block. Looking over this quilt top I see dresser scarves, pillow cases, doilies, quilt blocks, antimacassars and dish towels. Some of my “negative” white spaces, once quilted, will feature vintage crocheted butterflies. At least that’s the plan right now.


Again, a few pictures of some of my favs:


How did I decide what fabric strips go where? All the fabric strips are cut 1 1/2″ by width of the fabric. It was just an audition process based on the colors of the vintage embroidery designs. I did use all reproductions by the way.


The top right block, a dresser scarf made by my maternal grandmother.


Once I was comfortable about the block placement I began measuring to determine the sizes of bleached muslin needed to “fill in the gaps”. Like I said earlier: NEVER AGAIN!


So it’s on to the quilting! I will double batt this project using both Hobbs Heirloom white 80/20 with their Poly Down on top. I will get the entire quilt stabilized by stitching in the ditch in every seam before I begin the exciting process of decorative hand guided free motion quilting longarm.

I plan to use white WonderFil Deco Bob (80 weight) in the needle and a white poly 60 weight in the bobbin. If you haven’t tried this fantastic thread, give it a try! I love it! If you’re planning to attend the IQFin a few weeks, look for their booth, #1634. I don’t know what they will have as a “special” but earlier this year in Chicago they had a “buy 6 for the price of 5” booth deal. Stock up!

I’ll keep you posted in my longarm progress! Until then, Happy Quilting and Blessings to You!


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