Hawaiian Applique Work Inspired Artist's First Quilt

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Six days a week Grisabella the Glamour Cat watches as Debbie Stanton leads all 14-feet of Honey Bee through swirling, intricate designs.

Stanton has made her living for the past 3 ½ years machine quilting the tops other quilters bring to her.

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Debbie Stanton of Pine has a hand in helping quilters all around the Rim Country.

The Gammill Long Arm machine aka Honey Bee boasts front and rear handles.

"I always drive from the front. Its fun and I can see the freehand design I am working on," Stanton said.

If the design she is quilting is a fiery one, and the top full of bold colors, rock and roll might be cranked up high on Stanton's stereo.

A quilt with pastel colors and a traditional design dictates music with a softer feel.

"I must have music when I work," Stanton said.

The gentle lap of water against the hull of their sailboat was the sound Stanton as she stitched.

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Debbie makes her own prize-winning quilts, but using "Honey Bee," her Gammill Long Arm machine, she puts the works of other quilters together.

The tiny cabin was barely suited to Stanton hand stitching quarter-inch-wide pieces together to make miniature quilts.

"That's why I deserve this big room now," Stanton said, her smile merry in her sunlight filled 20 by 20 foot studio.

She encourages fellow quilters, telling them that they are artists. Accordingly they have "studios not, sewing rooms."

Stanton lovingly unrolls the first quilt she ever made in 1985.

She was living in Hawaii and was enamored of all the hand quilting and hand appliqué techniques she saw in local quilts.

The waterfall and lush greenery of a painting that hung on her wall inspired Stanton to translate it as a quilt.

"I didn't even know how to do binding on the edges," she said.

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Designs, colors and what a quilt will be used for guides artist in the quilting work Debbie Stanton uses on both her own quilts and those she quilts for clients.

When she decided to do free motion quilting with her hug machine she bought several bolts of plain muslin and "practiced, practiced, practiced."

The decorative stitches she adds to tops of her own and client quilts are almost all designs from her mind.

She takes into account whether the quilt is being used as a show piece, in which case she knows the judges look for intricate, heavy stitching. If someone is going to be snuggling under the quilt on a bed, the decorative element she adds as she guides Honey Bee can be simpler.

Taking into account the quilt's theme, possibly juvenile, whimsical, traditionally patterned or floral is part of knowing what design will be the most complementary.

She does make and use her own stencils but she never uses paper patterns or links the long arm machine to a computer.

A pen, paper and a flashlight sit in easy reach on Stanton's night stand so she can pen the designs she dreams.

"I get good ideas between 3 and 4 a.m.," she said.

Sometimes, a design requires she put on her slippers, head to the studio and sketch.

Thus, ‘evolution,' ‘lava flow,' ‘forest floor' and ‘fire' are among the patterns bursting out of her three-ring binder.

"I keep them, even if I don't use them right away, because I never know what they will be he perfect pattern for," she said.

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