Wednesday, May 14, 2014

When new doors open...

You know when you have those times in your life when your just going about doing what you usually do and then a new opportunity to better your self or your craft just kind of drops right in your lap?!?!  Well, I've been very lucky in the last few years to have a few opportunities like those.  I'm super duper lucky, and very blessed!  That's for sure.  Recently I had one of those very opportunities given to me.  It all started with me just doing my thing, and quilting away. 
I had a client come and drop of a quilt her daughter had made her for her birthday, pictured below...cute right!!  She had been looking at some recent pictures or seen some quilts that I had quilted for her friends, and came requesting the swirly feather design I've done many a times.  But, she wanted me to add some flowers..."sure I thought, I've added other things before that should be no problem and would look great with these fabrics" from Bonnie and Camille, by Moda.  So, I hung her quilt up and didn't think much of it until I was ready to quilt it. 
 After getting it all pinned on, I started to quilt.  Just like with any all over pattern things can change up a little bit, especially when its all free hand.  So with the added flowers came the added stem, pointy leaves, mini feathers and long swirly stems.  After I quilted this flower I LOVED it!! (pictured below)  I took a picture and decided to post it on instagram, my favorite quilty place of inspiration.  I often refer back to other quilts I've quilted for ideas, and I follow some pretty amazing machine quilters of all kinds who inspire me each day.  Well...I quickly got a response from a quilter named Abby, asking if I wouldn't mind digitizing this flower for her and those quilters who don't free hand, into a pantograph.  I didn't know where to start, and neither did she.  Haha!  I did remember seeing a few pictures that the very talented Natalia Bonner had posted, of some designs that she had digitized.  So, I asked her if she could help point me in the right direction.  She offered to email me and was the perfect person to ask!  She shared with me a couple of different options, but ultimately said I would have the best experience working with the incredible Patricia Ritter at Urban Elementz.  I found an email from the website and the next thing I knew I was working with Patricia on our very first design, all inspired by this flower.  Which will be available in a club set in the coming months.  
This opportunity is all the more amazing because I have never used a pantograph, every design I do is free motion.  Meaning I completely control the designs the machine is doing.  There are times when I've used rulers for the straight lines, but everything else is completely free hand.  No computer added to my machine.  So, for those of you who have no clue what a pantograph is...and I myself have learned a lot from Patricia and Natalie in the past couple months, here is a brief explanation.  A pantograph is a design that has been digitized to be available in paper and digital form.  A paper pantograph can be used by laying it on the table that is underneath the longarm quilting machine, then the quilter will position the design where it is best centered in either the block, if its a block design, or center it for an edge to edge design.  Then after lowering the needle the quilter will start quilting using a laser light and trace the lines on the paper of the design.  This is rather amazing to me, because the quilter can't see/and or isn't paying attention to the quilt top, because they are quilting from the backside of the machine.  Awesome huh!  After finishing the block or edge to edge design (similar to an all over design), the quilter will make sure their machine needle is down and ready to start a new row and using one of the outside rows figures out the spacing.  They roll the quilt and then they are ready to start the next row.  They do this until a quilt is finished.  With the digital/computerized quilting they get to play with the size of the pattern to fit the quilt perfectly.  It is my understanding, and I could be completely wrong, they type in the measurements the size of the pattern they desire and push start.  The machine quilts away.  I've heard it can be super tricky to master the spacing between the rows, but quilters like Abby and Natalia have mastered it. 
That brings me to what I've had the opportunity to do over the past few months, with Patricia.  Patricia is a master at what she does!  She has made my designs beautiful, unique and more importantly function for those who use them in their quilting.  When I get those happy emails with a new design ready for naming...I'm thrilled.  Its such a blessing to work with a talented group of women who work so well together.  Natalie and her team are masters at naming, which can be the hardest part.  They are so patient with my suggestions and its been super fun to share ideas.  Along the way both Patricia and Natalie have been awesome to share the ins and outs of the panto design business.  I recently received a bunch of Patricia and my designs on paper, and even turned on the laser light (not the machine...just yet) and tried to trace one of the designs.  It was super FUN, and I'm so excited to give it a try on some fabric soon.
So, lets talk designs now, shall we!  
Each of the following designs are offered in a paper and digital pantograph.  
 This is called, "Blush"!  I've heard a few people say it looks like strawberries, sweet huh!  The curve and flow of each design amazes me.  Truly one of the many gifts that Patricia brings to each detail.
 This lovely flower is called, "Floret" and can be purchased as part of a 3 piece set or individually.  I've seen pictures of this design stitched out by a computerized machine from a quilty friend, Tiffany, and it is stunning!  Check my facebook page.
 This is the "Floret Motif Block", also apart of the set or sold individually.
 The "Floret Block", set or individually sold.
 Here is the edge to edge seen at a smaller scale.  Here is a link to the "Floret Set".
 This is one of our newest designs, "Marigold"! 
Those swirls and feathers fit perfectly together with the flower.
 This is one of my most favorites, name and all!  Meet, "Meadowlark"!
Super excited to see it stitched out and to give it a try myself.
 The name for this one fits it perfect, "Oleander".
 This happy flower is named, "Sweet Indigo" that name!
 To accompany it is a hexi, "Sweet Indigo" Block.
Not sold as part of a set.
 Next we have the lovely, "Venice"!  This is inspired by the all over
swirly feather design I freehand often.  This also comes in a 3 piece set or is sold individually.
 This Venice corner or border block is so pretty!  Sold in a set or individually.
 This "Venice" wreath block is also part of the set, or sold individually.
 A smaller scale view of the edge to edge Venice, find the set here.
 When I saw this the first time, I was beyond thrilled! 
This is a second "Venice" block, not available in the set.
 This is a lovely variation of the Venice design, and we are calling it "Venice Too". 
We traded the wavy leaf for more feathers. 
And, of my fav's, "Veranda"!
There are also links to each of these in the column on the right, under the google plus followers.  Click on the picture and you'll be directed to the Urban Elementz website.
DON'T miss it!  Right now Urban Elementz is having their bi-annual sale, 25% off everything!
I want to thank Abby for encouraging me to give this a go, and Natalia for answering my many questions.  A huge thanks to Patricia, Natalie, and their team.  They are truly the BEST!  To each of my clients who've supported and encouraged me over the years, thanks so so much.  To my wonderfully supportive and inspired mom who bought us longarm machine so we could just quilt our quilts, for teaching me how to stipple...where it all starts (am I right, haha!  Yes!),  and for encouraging me and being my biggest cheerleader.  There have been so many times when I thought there is no way I can do that, and you always have told me I could.  Lastly to my Heavenly Father who blessed me with this gift in the first place.
I am blessed.
~ leisha  

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