Friday, October 31, 2008

In the making









Tomorrow is November First. It is raining and the leaves are falling fast. I'm posting pictures of the latest quilts I'm working on. These will be in my booth at the Oregon Garden Quilt Show in January unless they sell before then. I hope you will come by to see them and let's get acquainted. My passion is quilting and I would love to share that passion with you. My booth is mainly a way for you to get to know me and for me to meet new people. I will have a few gadgets and tools--the nuts and bolts of quilting--to show and demonstrate. As time gets closer I will post samples and quilts that will be for sale.

This first picture is a scrappy quilt, 92x104, pieced by Patty Russell, my cousin. I used a design called baptist fans. The batting is Warm and White 100% cotton, and all the fabrics are cotton. There are over 300 different fabrics in this quilt! The backing is pieced Galaxy, 100% cotton, Dot to Dot.

The next picture is a wall hanging in progress called Super Quilter, a pattern by Amy Bradley. It was pieced and appliqued by Patty, and the quilting is all hand guided by myself. The batting is black poly by Quilter's Dream. It measures 22x42, and the backing is Galaxy dot to dot. I'm using YLI silver metallic thread for the loops and stars, and Signature black cotton for the rest.

The next picture is a whimsical quilt of black, hot pink, and lime green "Kitty Corner" design, pieced by my daughter Anna Dehut, and quilted with the black poly batting by Quilter's Dream. The design is called Romantic Roses by Kim Diamond and is totally computer quilted. It measures 58x72.

Have you visited your local quilt shop lately? Check out the Square in a Square ruler and system for making blocks where you never have to sew on a bias again! It's quite remarkable. Also, have you seen the X-Blocks patterns and rulers? Check back in a month and I'll have some samples up here.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tale of a Dog





In 2005, I entered the Innovations fabric challenge. Innovations is a machine quilting conference held in Tacoma, Washington every fall. It is organized by Longarm University, Cindy Roth. The fabric that year was specially hand dyed by Kimberly Darwin of Batting a Thousand Quilting Company. I had no idea what the fabric looked like until I opened the package that arrived in the mail. It was a very muddy hand dye, and immediately reminded me of grass stains and mud on colorful children's clothes after romping with the dog in the yard and orchard. The creative juices began to flow and after a couple months of staring at that fabric, this is the design I came up with. A poem and a song came to mind, thinking of my mother who used to play "How Much Is That Doggy in the Window" on the piano, and the Gingham Cat and Calico Dog. I chose the Snail's Trail block set in an Attic Window block to produce a three dimensional picture. The challenge fabric was cut into strips and subcut into sections for sashing according to color. I chose different batiks to match the assorted dyed sections of these pieces and arranged them together. As you can see, the snail's trails became the hind quarters of dogs, twisting around with a shadow play in black. I used practically all of the dyed fabric in sashing and border. For the quilting, I drew and digitized what looks like a room, complete with window, wallpaper, rug, and the doggy in the corner. I drew paw prints to track in the sashing, and border, and inserted some dog bones here and there. The sleeping puppy is lying in the corners and center top and bottom. I handguided meandering lines in a colorful variegated thread around the paw prints, the wallpaper in the blocks, and the stippling around the dog bones.

For more information go to their website mqinnovations.com where you can read about this fabric challenge and the entire quilt show at Innovations. Most of the quilts entered in the show are quilted on longarm or shortarm quilting machines and are quilted by professional quilters. Four years ago, most "regular" quilt judges had little knowledge about how a longarm works and what its capabilities are. As professional quilters we know the capabilities and limits of quilting machines and what better judge for a show like this than our peers. That's why I felt so honored to receive second place in this contest. I was just a newbie professional and most of those attending thought my quilt was deserving of a ribbon.

I also entered this quilt in the Sandy Historical Society Quilt Show in July, 2006, which won a blue ribbon in the large wall pieced category.

It has many memories embedded in it, and hangs in my studio for sentimental reasons.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

General Instructions for Longarm Quilting

TOP - Measure your quilt top along top, middle, and bottom. These three measurements should be the same. If there is more than one inch difference, for best results, remove the borders, cut them the same length as the middle measurement. Re-attach by dividing in quarters, pin, and sew.

BACKING - Cut, seam, and square so that the backing is 8 inches wider and longer than the top. It is best to remove the selvage edges on internal seams.

BATTING - should also be 8 inches wider and longer than the top.

PRESS your top and back, clip and pick clean of stray threads, pet hair, and lint, fold separately. With light colored fabrics it’s a good idea to clip any inside threads that may show through the quilt top or backing. Hint: take Elmer's washable school glue stick and tack those wild threads to the seam allowance. Allow the glue to dry. The tamed threads stay in place while it is being quilted, and the glue washes out with the first washing. Here is a picture of colored threads showing through a white border.

Your First Visit to a Longarm Quilter

You have finally finished that quilt you started twenty years ago. You decide that it is too big to quilt on your domestic sewing machine (DSM). You found my information at the local quilt shop (LQS) and are wondering what to do next? Before you make that first call, let me suggest the following procedure:

Look at your quilt top. How big is it? Lay it flat on the floor, or hang it on a wall. Measure it in the middle, width and length. Look at the colors and ask what is the predominate color? What color thread would you choose for the quilting? What are you going to use for a backing? Is your backing 8 inches bigger than the top, length and width? Is it a busy fabric, muslin, or contrasting color? Do you want the top color thread to show on the back? Do you prefer cotton or polyester thread, variegated or decorative thread? What kind of batting will you want? Cotton, wool, polyester, a blend, bamboo, silk? [Make sure your batting is 8 inches bigger length and width than the top.] Think of how you want it quilted in relation to how the quilt will be used. Is it a utility quilt where it will be used daily and washed often? Is it a show quilt? Is it a special gift? Is it for an adult, old, young, child, infant? Do you want a simple meander just to get it done and use it. Or do you want heirloom quilting like our grandmothers did a century ago? Do you have a theme you want to emphasize with custom computer patterns? Do you want that little bit wonky look of hand guided free motion quilting, or that perfect straight lines cookie cutter designs made in the factory quilting? Is the backing for your quilt square? or do you want to pay to have it pieced and squared? Are the seams in the top pressed, and is it picked, clipped, and free of stray threads and lint? Will you bring your own batting, or purchase from NABQC? Do you want the binding applied at the time of quilting? Do you want your quilt trimmed after quilting, after applying the binding? If open seams, tears, flaws, missed intersections, or other problems are encountered, do you want to pay me to fix them, or do you prefer to fix it yourself? Just how much money do you want to spend?

As you can see, there is a lot of information that is needed in the process of completing your labor of love. Taking the time to prepare your project before contacting the quilter will save us both time and money in the long run. Don't hesitate to call if you need help with anything.


This was my booth January 2008, at The Oregon Garden Stitches in Bloom Quilt Show. My daughter Becky, my cousin Patty, and my husband Fred sit in the middle of a grand collection of quilts, some samples of our work. My daughter Becky has her own line of quilt patterns, hanging in the back and to the right. My quilts are on the table and hanging to the left. I'll be posting more pictures with close-ups later. The Oregon Garden is having its second annual quilt show in January 2009 and we plan to be there again. I hope you will come by and meet us. I will have quilts for sale, some with patterns, as well as pillows, wall hangings, and other items.

While I am not a "brick and mortar" store, and I do not sell yardage, eventually I will offer specials on gadgets and kits so check back often. I encourage you to support your local quilt shop and keep them in business. We don't want to lose our precious LQS. From time to time, I will post information about shops that I have visited and classes that I have taken giving details and contact information. I love to do shop hops and I always take pictures along the way. It's fun to see what's out there and to find those hidden treasures in far away places.
I am Bonnie Russell, owner and quilter, and my business is making beautiful quilts and making quilts beautiful. NABQC came about as a partnership between the love of sewing and hazelnut farming. That's how the name was chosen. My husband, Fred, is the nut farmer, and I do the sewing using many bolts of fabulous fabric. My studio is located in Dundee, Oregon, the beautiful Willamette Valley, in the center of a hazelnut orchard. Experience came with 42 years of dress making, 40 years of marriage to my wonderful, loving, supportive husband (34 years of nut farming), 25 years of raising three daughters, and now we have seven grandchildren to mentor in Future Quilters of America!

With a Statler Stitcher and Gammill Optimum Plus longarm quilting machine, a 14 foot table, and the drawing program AutoSketch, no project is too big or too small. Anything from hand guided meandering to custom digitized designs can be applied to a project to complete that labor of love.


This blog is to temporarily serve as a source of information until a website is produced. It contains pricing, products, helpful hints, pictures, inspirations, and who knows what else will show up. Thank you for reading and I hope you will find it helpful.

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