June 16th, 2013
June 13th, 2013
This quilt has been waiting in the wings for months. As I made it, I intended to quilt it myself, and even designed the center block to have lots of “blank space” so I could showcase some interesting quilting there. The more I worked on it, though, the more I realized that I really did not want to quilt this myself. In the first 6-8 months that I was learning about machine embroidery applique, I had this rare but very frustrating experience with my bobbin where the project would suddenly get sucked down into my bobbin case. When this happened, the only way to remove the hooped project from the machine was to literally cut it out…meaning that the project was ruined. I took my machine to the dealer and they ran my machine for days and days and could never reproduce that problem. She finally told me they didn’t know why it happened but maybe I needed to use a heavier weight fusible interfacing for the backside of my fabric blocks. So, that’s what I did and over the next several months, I embroidered many, many, many applique blocks with this mid-weight fusible interfacing. As it turns out, the problem I was having had nothing to do with the interfacing; it was totally operator error (i.e. me) and it was because I was winding my bobbins incorrectly. It was great to have that issue solved, but now I have about a bazillion really pretty applique blocks that are heavier than they should be. It’s not that big of a deal until you sew them together, and then you have a quilt top that weighs A TON!! (I’m not kidding, this quilt is really heavy!) On top of that, it is stiffer than normal and all of this makes it not very fun to quilt if you do sitdown, push-through quilting, especially if you work on a home domestic sewing machine. So, I am very happily having it quilted by Jenny Pedigo of the SewKindofWonderful blog. Her work is exquisite and it’s a huge relief to me not to have to push and pull this monster across my machine bed! Here are some shots of blocks in this quilt:
These large blocks are 17 1/2 inches square. They are made up of 4 smaller versions of Flower A set on point. Here’s a closeup of the MEA on Flower A:
This next block has 2 different versions of Flower C on it:
This is version 1:
…and this is version 2:
(The differences between them are in the way the “internal” designs are embroidered.) The next block is made by combining a swag wreath and a feathered wreath:
…and this is the center block:
And last but not least, here is a portion of a border. (My camera can’t get a wide enough shot of the full border and still have the picture capture any detail):
If you follow my blog, you know that I love to free motion quilt, so you may be asking yourself why I would send off a quilt to be quilted by a long arm quilter. Here are 3 reasons why I shipped this quilt off:
1. I can’t bear the thought of shoving that heavy quilt across my machine bed. Truly, there would be no joy in it for me, so what’s the point?
2. I am literally buried under all kinds of work I need to complete. Some of it is quilting, some of it is my medical job, and some of it is boring computer work that just needs to get done. I already have 5-6 quilts in varying stages of being quilted and it would be a good year before I could touch this one. I say that because there are many quilts in my head that haven’t been started yet and I would begin quilting those before I’d get to this one, simply because of not wanting to do it!
3. I can learn a lot of stuff by having this quilted by a professional quilter. That may sound odd, but it’s very, very true! Each of us brings our own “style” and “eye” to quilting and it’s good to get a different perspective on design. I absolutely LOVE Jenny Pedigo’s work (scroll backwards on her blog and oogle over the eye candy that her quilting is), and you’ll see what I mean. She has an incredible talent for dividing up blank space and creating something novel to quilt in that blank space. I am really curious to see what she creates.
Does a part of me feel kind of badly that I’m not 100% responsible for finishing this quilt? YES, no question about it! BUT, I need to get this quilt done and off my list so I can move on to the next thing and the relief of having it completed far outweighs the negative feelings. I’ll never be able to enter it in a competition but that’s fine with me. I’ll be the proud owner of a beautiful quilt that I designed, embroidered, and pieced and that’s good enough for me for this quilt!
May 29th, 2013
I haven’t posted on this blog in ages, so I thought I’d show a little of the quilting I’ve been doing. The quilt above is partially quilted. Once I’ve outlined all the applique shapes and stitched in the ditch w/invisible thread, my first goal in quilting is always to stitch all the “major” motifs that will kind of “ground” the theme of the quilt. Usually, these are motifs that work to re-affirm the message or theme of the applique shapes. The easiest one to start with here are the feathers. I wanted to play off the appliqued feathers to kind of “supplement” the tail feathers, so I placed a flexible curve ruler in the open space by the feathers and first got a curve I could mark for the spine guideline:
You can kind of see the curve marked here:
…and here’s a shot after feathers have been stitched:
I will probably go back in later and add hyperquilting inside those feathers, but when I’m working to get all the important motifs quilted, I am pretty focused on getting that part completed. One of the nice parts of hyperquilting is that you can do it any time once the “base motif” has been stitched. I next moved onto the headdresses on the birds. This is another example of trying to “play off” of an applique shape. First, I used a flexible curve ruler to mark a curve:
In this next shot, you can see the marked curve. This will be the basis for a swirly headdress that flows from the applique shape:
…and here’s the initial swirl headdress:
I liked it, but it just wasn’t enough. Sooooo, I went in and added some plumes coming off on one side. Notice that when you do something like this, you don’t want to destroy the delicacy of the swirl headdress, so you want to be careful about how you lay out your plumes. If you look closely at my needle, I didn’t carry those plumes all the way back to the swirl but instead left a short space between them:
…and here’s what the headdress looks like at this point:
By this time, I was getting kind of bored and I’d added enough “grounding elements” that I could start with some background filler quilting. I opted to go Variations Polyester Thread by YLI (sadly, they have discontinued this thread line, so if you see any spools of it out there, grab them up while you still can!). The color I used here is called “Grass,” my favorite color of this wonderful yet discontinued thread line:
(and you can see that I went back in and hyperquilted the feathers!)
On another note, we are in the final days of a sale on all PTD DVDs, books, and Appli-K-Kutz dies. All retail purchases of these items are 25% off through 9am this Friday, 5/31/13 if you enter May 2013 in the discount code box during checkout. The discount won’t show up until the final step of checkout, but this is a great savings, so don’t miss out on it!
I also want to give a shout out for the 2013 Free Motion Quilting Challenge hosted by SewCalGal. She has just announced the newest challenge which is to make a project using border designs; you can read about the details here. For any of you who didn’t play around with the border design challenge from last December, this is something that really is worth doing. I heard from many quilters who were shocked by how easy it was to create a really pretty small wholecloth quilt just playing around with borders. There are also many different prizes available, and more importantly, this is a great way to hone your free motion quilting skills. Many thanks to SewCalGal for coming up with even more ways to spread the joy of free motion quilting!
May 7th, 2013
Have you tried Magnifico Thread yet? This is a thread line by Superior Threads that debuted several months ago. I have been using it for machine quilting and also for machine embroidery applique and I LOVE this thread! I didn’t want to say anything on my blog until I’d spent a number of months with it and I can now say, without any reservation, that Magifico Thread is Magnificent Thread! It has a great sheen and it is strong, strong, STRONG! It even holds up on high speed embroidery machines, so you know this is good stuff! I used a lot of it on this machine embroidery applique panel that measures 41 inches x 24 inches and has over 250,000 stitches on it:
I still haven’t removed all my registration crosshairs, so it’s not quite ready to be used in a quilt yet, but here are some closeup shots:
This panel is a great example of how much thread work can add to a quilt! I’m hoping to finish the piecing of a wall hanging that uses this panel in the next couple of days and then I can quilt it…I can’t wait!!
On a more somber note, if you have had the wonderful luck to take a class with Libby Lehman or learned something by watching one of her videos or read her book, she is critically ill. She had surgery for a brain aneurysm and then had a stroke in the postop period. She is sedated (this helps give the brain a rest while it is healing) and is holding her own but remains very ill. Please find it in your hearts to send her a card or a quilted card or some show of support. Her husband has asked that letters can be sent to:
Houston, TX 77002
Thread lovers unite, and keep Libby and her family in your thoughts and prayers.
May 3rd, 2013