Not So Scary Quilting

You’ve been working on putting that quilt top together for MONTHS.

There was the first, “Oh! I love that tutorial/pattern!” Then came the stash-dash, or the local fabric store run for just the right combination of fabric. And then the moment of truth when you began laying out the fabric, loading a fresh blade in the rotary cutter and the oh-so-careful cutting (and sometimes re-cutting) of the pieces. Hours of sewing later (a process which of course takes so much longer than that 15 minute You-Tube Tutorial did showing how easy it is) and FINALLY you’re done. Now what?  Send off your masterpiece to strangers somewhere and hope it comes back in a reasonable amount of time, quilted the way you wanted?


That’s where the ladies of Bella Dolce try to take a little of the fear out of sending your masterpiece away. When you give us your quilt top we take time to make sure you are involved in every step of the process. All the way from measuring to delivery, you are kept in the loop!

Top with no pattern yet

Top with no pattern yet

The first step on our end is to acquaint ourselves with what you’re looking for. That can be as little as, “I have a quilt and it’s this size, now help.” Or as much as, “I’ve looked at your patterns, I know what I want and it must be quilted in cotton thread, color: magenta.” We are happy to meet you wherever you are in your quilting process and discuss whatever designs you would like to. There are three of us with vastly different tastes and opinions so we can always find exactly what you’re looking for.  Occasionally we can even suggest something a little bit out of your comfort zone that you end up loving.

Once we have your quilt top and backing in hand we take careful stock of all of the information you have given us so far and get to work. Before we even think about putting your quilt on the frame we take measurements, suggest pattern options and thread colors and email those with an estimate to you for more conversation and confirmation. This is fun for you, the customer, because you get to see a digital rendering of several different patterns superimposed over a picture of your quilt! We take into account the type of pattern and price range you have asked for and send you a few choices. We like to toss in something unexpected or that we loved on your top just to give you a different choice.

Paisley Feather Superimposed

Paisley Feather Superimposed

Clamshell Superimposed

Clamshell Superimposed









Thread options

Thread options

Then we give you a few colors to choose from. With thread laid out on your top you can actually see the color with your fabrics. This way it doesn’t feel like a guessing game when it comes to color.  We might throw a wild color in now and then just to see if the bold will entice you. All this comes in an email and nothing happens to your top until you have confirmed what you like! If you need some more options we’re always happy to try again!

Once we know what you’re after, it goes on the frame and we get quilting. We try very hard to keep our turnaround times quick so that you can get your beauty bound and to its new home!

Giant quilt on the frame!

Giant quilt on the frame!

When the quilt is finished we send you an invoice and wrap it up like a present so when it shows up at your door it feels like a special surprise. Even though you’ve been involved every step of the way the finished product is always more beautiful and special than you imagined it would be.

Voila! In just a few weeks (yes, WEEKS not months) Bella Dolce has your beautiful creation back in your hands ready to bind and finish.

Not so scary after all.


Mari and Mardeen with finished quilt

***Thanks to Dale Musselwhite of Colorado Springs, CO for letting us share pictures of her beautiful General’s Daughter quilt.

The Saga of the Double Wedding Ring Quilt

If you follow Bella Dolce Textiles on instagram you no doubt saw some of the posts about the Sapphire Double Wedding Ring Quilt that we made for a dear friend. Our friend Karla’s parents enjoyed their 65th wedding anniversary this summer and while thinking about options for a great gift she was focusing on the traditional anniversary gift, Sapphire. Now, traditional gifts can be really great options for presents because it gives you something to home in on; but when you’re talking about a gift for a couple, precious stones are not an easy thing to work out for a gift. So Karla thought of us.

If you are new to piecing you might not really understand what asking a friend, with only 6 weeks of advance notice, to make a double wedding ring quilt would do to that friend’s anxiety level. But with the knowledge that there was more than one of us to work on it, and that we loved this friend very, very much, we embarked on one of the most entertaining, difficult, frustrating, and fun piecing projects we have ever accomplished.

Mardeen and I with the partial pieced Quilt

None of us had ever pieced a double wedding ring quilt or quilted one for that matter. So we
were understandably concerned that we just didn’t have enough time. We do have other obligations, and it just seemed like there wasn’t enough hours in the day to get the piecing done in time to quilt the thing and then bind it on a traditional scalloped edge. So we went to the the source; Youtube. If ever in doubt about how to do Paper pieced ringssomething you either go to pinterest or youtube, right? Well armed with a rather boring but very informative video we started cutting; strip after strip of 15 different colors of blue chosen carefully to create an undulating sapphire saturation. And then some more cutting, this time of the paper piecing templates. (It sounds like I’m complaining about the cutting, but I will never make a double wedding ring quilt without paper piecing it. What a fantastic way to manage all those strange angles.)
To the sewing! If you’ve never paper pieced and are a little bit worried about it, don’t be. It’s actually really easy as long as you pay attention and are careful. It gives you the sewing  and trimming lines which takes the guess work out of cutting. So those pieces, all 2 million of them finished (I think it was actually 1200), we pressed forward and started sewing them to the melons. These are the little football shaped pieces that make up the overlapping portions of the rings. Sewing on curves can also be a scary proposition. When I piece straight lines I don’t like to pin, which is a terrible idea for curves. The edges of 4 pieced circlesPinning never works that well, because you can’t get enough pins in it to truly keep the shape. So, back to the video, and voilá! Fabric glue is a beautiful thing. With a pen that is basically a skinny elmers glue stick, washable for fabric, all you have to do is run a line along the edge of one piece and stick the other one to it. No fuss, no muss, just a great curve to sew on. We continued this practice while putting the rest of the quilt together and it worked like a charm. It took a long time, but it would have taken much longer if we had used a different method. I also would not have retained my sanity.

So, the piecing was done and then it was onto the really scary part: The Quilting. And let me Quilt on the Frametell you, we were nervous. We had just spent a lot of time and a great deal of effort to create what was turning into a beautiful blanket. The last thing we wanted to do was spend late nights picking out quilting that ended up somewhere it shouldn’t due to a lack of experience in wedding ring quilting. So after a beautiful basting job by our resident baster, Mari, we started the painstaking process of quilting a specific pattern in each section of the double wedding ring. It went off without a hitch! We were extremely careful and took our time, but the quilting turned out just as beautifully as the piecing. With the addition of a perfect sapphire polka dot binding, it was finished and in the mail on its way to the big anniversary party!

Finished Double Wedding Ring QuiltBack of Quilt






Karla loved the quilt and was excited to give it to her parents. It got used that very night when when the outdoor party got chilly. There is no better home for a quilt than where it gets used! We couldn’t have been happier with the outcome and can’t wait to do our next double wedding ring! (This blog post is coming a month and a half after we finished. I promise you that isn’t how we felt the moment we put it in the box to get shipped…)

65th Anniversary under the Quilt

If you’re ever nervous to get started on a particularly daunting project, just think of the ladies at Bella Dolce Textiles and take heart. You never know what kind of wonderful experience can come from taking a chance on an adventure.

To Baste or Not To Baste?

The process of quilting is not quick or simple, even if you’re using a computerized system. There are thousands of tricks to learn so that you can really put your machine through its paces. But the basics always apply. Every quilter has their own rules, but here at Bella Dolce one of the steps we find extremely important is basting!

Some quilters will tell you they don’t baste, they like to float their tops, and boy, in our workshop I know we would love to feel that confidant! One of the things that is so important in quilting is making sure that your top is square. That’s where basting becomes our best friend. Not only will it help keep your quilt top from shifting while the machine head goes flying back and forth across the frame, but it helps to square up all those little imperfections that come from piecing. I know all of your quilts are perfect, but sometimes mine need a little help. 😉

Our top notch quilter, Mari, has gotten really good at basting. She claims that this is like being really good at clipping your toenails, but I beg to differ. Mardeen and I just finished a double wedding ring quilt top with scalloped edges. As soon as Mari offered to baste it we jumped at the chance. We knew she’d make it as square as possible and that it would be way easier and faster to get it quilted. She took her time and the basting was invaluable! So, thanks Mari!

I always want to get right to the quilting, but the more work I do, the more I realize that basting, while not super interesting, makes quilting go a lot more smoothly.

Busy Bees!

Now that we’re up and running, our workshop is full of activity! From making bags and children’s clothes to piecing and of course longarm quilting we have become busy little bees! This week we have three quilts off of the machine and here are some pictures that show some great quilting complementing fantastic piecing! Great job ladies!

Before quilting, these tops already look beautiful!

In process, we send options for thread colors to the creators and then get those tops on the frame!

And finally, finished and ready to go home and get bound! Dragonflies are a popular choice this summer so far and the little ladies who get to wrap up in these gorgeous quilts are going to love them!

Thanks so much to Selah Chipman from Colorado Springs and Cheri Frank from Littleton for their business and letting us share their beautiful quilts with you!

The Workshop

Our workshop is generally filled with music and laughter and a lot of progress. It isn’t always the most productive day when we are working on our own projects however. My biggest distraction is probably my dog and our mascot, Dolce. She is a lovely lady to have around to keep us company, but she does like to play tug-of-war and go on walks. Sometimes I have to be strong in order to keep my priorities straight… She’s laying on my quilt and pouting in that picture. Don’t worry, we don’t let her get hair on customer quilts. When she isn’t trying to bully me into taking her outside into the snow she is generally laying underfoot or under the quilting machine. She does make the workshop extra cheery and if you’re ever having a bad day she’ll brighten it in a hurry.

Happy Quilting!  ~Megan