Donna’s French Sampler

Posted on January 23, 2018 by prairiemoonquilts in Longarm Quilting

Back on December 15th, I loaded a quilt on the frame that belongs to my friend and customer, Donna. It was supposed to be my second-to-last finish of 2017, but I took 5 days off at Christmas to work on house remodel projects and enjoy the holiday with My Cowboy, and 2 days after Christmas, I came down with pneumonia! So I didn’t get nearly as much quilting done as I had envisioned (which is basically always the case, anyway).

It has taken me all this year to get back on my feet, get back up to speed, and get this quilt finished! But finally, last Friday, the 19th, I got to take it off the frame! Woohoo!

It’s HUGE, so when I delivered it to Donna, she helped me get some pictures of it. Here’s the best one we could get of the entire quilt. It’s 90″ x 111″.

Donna made this quilt from my French Sampler BOM through Sew Sweet Quilt Shop a couple years ago. In the blocks, she used some of her own fabric that she’s had printed on Spoonflower, so it’s very unique!

Here are some of the blocks that I took pictures of while I was quilting it. Donna asked me to quilt the background similar to how I had quilted my own French Sampler quilt, which you can see HERE.

And here’s another shot of some of the background around the blocks:

But she also asked for a big swath of giant flowers up through the middle negative space. Scary for me! I thought about this for a long, long time. How was I going to do that, when I couldn’t see the entire quilt top all at once? How to get the flowers positioned right, and how to make the swath appear even?

I actually got my flower inspiration from watching henna tattoo videos — I’m mesmerized by their artistry! And then I started doodling flowers of my own to use in her quilt:

How do you like my doodles? Right in there with notes I took at guild meeting one month! Haha!

Then I drew out a map of the quilt’s layout, and planned out the location of the swath. I used it to refer to as I went.

I then fine-tuned the flowers I wanted to use and drew them out on freezer paper.

Then I transferred the basic outline of each flower to Golden Threads paper (only this paper is white — I don’t know where I got it — but I usually use Golden Threads paper for this. I refuse to mark with markers on a customer quilt, unless they specifically ask me to, or we agree ahead of time, and I test it first. But I mainly only ever use chalk, rulers, and this paper).

Using my map, I positioned the center flower in the very center of the quilt, then pinned the paper in place, then pinned all the flowers above it to the quilt top as I was loading it on the frame. (Not the bottom flowers, just the ones above center). Then I could make sure they were going to lay out correctly through the negative space. Then I rolled the quilt up, and started quilting from the top down. Here are some of the flowers I quilted . . .

This is the central flower, the largest one.

Here’s the steps I took to do each individual flower.

I pinned the paper in place:

Then I quilted just the basic outline of the flower through the paper:

Then I tore the paper off:

Then I began freehand filling in all the flower details:

And here’s a completed flower:

I used the center flower only once. I used each of the other four basic flower outlines twice but I quilted the fills differently, so that no two flower are alike.

I filled in around the flowers with various leaves and swirls, then on each side of the swath, I filled in with feathers, leaves, swirls, bubbles, flowers, and all sorts of things, all done freehand. It’s so difficult to take photos of a white quilt! Here’s a couple close-ups of the central swath:

And one more shot of the quilt, as much as I could get in the picture:

The entire time I worked on it, I was nervous that my vision for the quilt wouldn’t be what Donna had envisioned when she asked me to quilt it, but she said she loves it, and it’s going on her guest bed. Whew! But first, she has to get the binding on it — that’ll take a while!

If you’re interested in the blocks Donna used, they can be found in the French Sampler booklet, which you can get through my Etsy Shop, or from Sew Sweet Quilt Shop. Donna made an extra 8 blocks to make her quilt king-sized.

You can see more pictures of in-progress quilting on my Instagram feed @prairiemoonquilts. And if you have any questions about any of this, just ask in the comments!

Donna used a Fairfield 60/40 batting in it, with a solid white wide backing. Her background fabric for the front is Kona Snow. I used Superior OMNI thread in Natural White for all the quilting, which was done on my Nolting 24 Pro (not computerized).

And here’s the aftermath of my longarm room, after a month of neglect and working on only one quilt! I’m already working through this pile, and trying to reclaim my peaceful clean space!

I’ve linked up to Angie’s WIPs Be Gone linky party, and Muv’s Free Motion Mavericks, so go over there and check out what everyone else is doing! Angie has some pretty projects in the works, and you can see all sorts of FMQ ideas at Muv’s!

27 responses to “Donna’s French Sampler”

  1. denniele says:

    Beautiful, Shelly! Thanks for a little glimpse at the process. You are amazing!

  2. charlotte says:

    LOVE, LOVE, this quilt, the blocks and colors are wonderful, BUT the QUILTING is so outstanding !!! A great job!! Thanks for sharing Charlotte

  3. Angela J Short says:

    Really amazing quilting! Beautiful quilt also. Have a great day!!

  4. Shirley Guier says:

    Thanks for sharing your process. I’m always trying to learn more about the quilting and how you do it. Beauriful!

  5. Rose Marie says:

    Whew………..for just a moment I thought I had some influence on the doodles. I saw my name. But Whirlagig is already done…………and is wonderful. Oh and this quilt in the pics today is wonderful. I love the step by step pictures of your work. Great job.

  6. Donna says:

    I’m going to try to save this blog so I can print it and keep it with my quilt’s info. I know you put lots more planning, effort, and time into quilting my treasure than I did in constructing the quilt top. I’m so proud of the quilt. Your photos of the quilting are good, but they don’t begin to show the exquisite details. Thank you for designing the quilt blocks that were fun to make and for using your artistry for creating one-of-a-kind quilting. Sewing on the 300+ inches of binding will give me a chance to enjoy all of the minute details of the quilting in the days to come.

    • Ceil Podzimek says:

      Beautiful job on the piecing, as well as the quilting. What a gorgeous quilt! You will never tire of looking at it – there are so many details!

      • Donna says:

        Thank you. I might enter it in a contest or show in the future–if I trust it to be out of my sight!

        • Bev Jones says:

          Wow & double Wow! Every element of this quilt is just spectacular – the fabric you designed, the colors, and Shelly’s amazing artistry. You should totally enter it is a show! Congratulations to both of you!

  7. Melody A. says:

    It is so Gorgeous!~!! you are such an artist !

    I hope you are feeling better these days, rough start to the New Year! Take care and stay warm from Iowa

  8. Catholic Bibliophagist says:

    Thank you for showing your process. I really like your technique of transfering the flowers to the quilt with that special paper. I never would have thought of it.

  9. Maxine says:

    You are so dang awesome! Thank you so much for sharing.

  10. Thelma says:

    What a fascinating blog post, loved getting into how your head works. This is exactly why I’ll never be a longarm quilter. I can’t even write my name legibly, let alone pull a beautiful design out of scribbles. Amazing.

  11. Pam Martin says:

    You’re quilting is amazing!! WOW

  12. Wow, that is simply stunning!

  13. randy says:

    I look forward to your posts. I had justcome down from the sewing room. It is POURING out. Flood warnings for part of down town cause the ice isn’t out on the penobscot. I got a hot drink turned the lap top on and read and scrolled through the images. Thanks for showing us the process. That is amazing long arming my dear.

  14. Karen Edwards says:

    It’s no wonder you’re swamped with quilting jobs! You are very, very good!

  15. Cathy Wilson says:

    I’m just blown away by the beautiful quilting you produce. I hope she enters this into a show somewhere. Your quilting designs puts this quilt over the top. I so appreciate your steps of coming up with the design. Thank you so much for sharing your talent with the rest of us.

  16. Susie Q says:

    That is just amazing…..

  17. michele says:

    Amazing quilting! Thanks for sharing your process in designing and quilting the giant flowers.
    You are so talented!

  18. Wendy says:

    This quilt is just fantastic on its own, but you’ve given it a whole ‘nother level of amazing! Thanks for showing us your process. I never thought of using freezer paper first! So cool!

  19. This post was so fun to read and look at photos. You have such a creative process. The quilt and the quilt are just gorgeous. Glad to know you are feeling better – I know it took me a long time to get over my pneumonia too.

  20. Gorgeous, Shelly! And congrats on your first finish for the year. Do go by and link to Lizzie Lenard’s Free Motion Mavericks next Friday. Thanks for linky over at mine, too.

  21. Sandra says:

    Simply beautiful! You have certainly showcased your talent.

  22. KT says:

    Love your quilting on this–you are a true artist!!

  23. So sorry to hear you were ill after Christmas.

    The quilt is amazing, gorgeous design and colours, and the quilting is beautiful. You have done so well working on such a huge scale, especially when you have been ill.

    Thank you for linking up with Free Motion Mavericks!

    Love, Muv

  24. Sue says:

    Love you quilting design and how you executed it. What did you think of the batting (Fairfield 60/40 batting)?

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