Want To Learn Some Cool Quilting Stuff?

September 17th, 2014

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Woo-hoo!  Craftsy is having another one of their great sales and this is your chance to sign up for some interesting  classes to hone your quilting skills or learn about another hobby!  All Craftsy classes are up to 50% off from 9/18-9/22/14! Remember, if you’re tight on time, you can purchase a class now but not watch it until you have time. Each class is yours for life and you can watch it when your schedule permits!  Click here to see what great Craftsy deals are going on during this sale!

Lessons in Free Motion Quilting: Focal Hyperquilting

September 16th, 2014
 
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I said I would be blogging about some of the things that made the “My Thistle Garden” quilt special and one of those special touches was using focal hyperquilting to add a new level of interest to one of the border zones.  So, that begs the question, “what is focal hyperquilting?
 
Focal hyperquilting is a variant of hyperquilting where certain areas of a background fill design are hyperquilted, whereas other portions of that same background fill design are not.  It is a way of making a design  richer and more complex and best of all, it is completely unexpected.  When you can surprise the viewer like that, it is always a very good thing.  I say that because it will always make them take a second look, a closer look, because they think there might be more unexpected surprises.  Remember, when you’re creating your quilt, the goal is always to seduce the viewer or draw them in for a closer inspection of your work.  Let me show you what I mean.  What you see below is a shot of the background fill design in the water lily border section of “My Thistle Garden:”
 
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…and this shot will give you a little longer expanse of it between applique shapes:
 
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This background fill design is the rudimentary version of the “Plumify It” quilting design.  (That design, as well as several plume-based related designs, are all taught in our DVD called Fast and Free Volume 3 which you can find by clicking  here.)  That background fill design is beautiful, but I do it all the time, so it’s kind of boring in its present form.  By hyperquilting it in a very high contrast thread (in this case, “24 karat gold” rayon thread by Robison Anton), it’s possible to draw a little more attention to it and add a bit of a “celebratory” kind of look to it.  Here’s that same border after the focal hyperquilting has been added:
 
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When you hyperquilt this particular background fill design, you are starting a new thread line (and stopping that same thread line) each time that you work on a new plume unit.  This is the “dark side” of focal hyperquilting!  To say that this is very tedious work would be an understatement.  It creates a nightmare of thread tails that will need to be carried to the backside of the quilt, knotted, and then buried in the batting layer.  Here is a shot of just one small section of the “threadtail nightmare” that this kind of work creates:
 
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AAARRGGGHHHHH!!!!!!  This part of the technique is the real challenge of one’s patience, but you just have to write it off as the price of doing detailed work.  In the end, this border zone of the quilt was my favorite part because it just looked so cool:
 
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You would follow all the same rules of regular hyperquilting (i.e. avoid any hint of overcrowding and choose solid color threads with a nice sheen to them), but in this case, you are being selective about which parts of the background fill design you actually hyperquilt.  Could you hyperquilt the entire thing?  Yes, but I don’t think you’d want to.  It would be too showy, too “in-your-face” and it would compete with the intricate thread work in the machine embroidery applique.  For this particular background fill design, it would also create a messy look in the outlining around the plume units.  If you’re new to the concept of hyperquilting and want to learn more about it, I have a Craftsy class that teaches both hyperquilting and trapunto:
 
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…and you can find it at an incredible price by clicking here.

Have You Started Making Gifts for the Holidays Yet?

September 13th, 2014
 
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I know, I know, it’s only mid-September! I don’t really even want to start THINKING about the holidays yet, but they’ll be here before we know it.  If you’re like me, you’ll want to make some gifts yourself, and who can resist felted wool pin cushions like these:
 
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These are so easy and so fast to make and quilters and sewists love to receive them!  If you’ve never made these before, we made a short video tutorial that shows you how to do it from start to finish.  If you’re looking for some colorful wool roving to make them with, check out the wool roving in our online store by clicking right here.  And now for the tutorial, so you can see how easy it is for yourself:
 
 
 
 

My Thistle Garden Quilt – Finally Done!

September 10th, 2014
 
I have many friends who routinely leave projects to the last minute and seem to be very comfortable working in that way.  I have always been the type to finish early, just in case a dog might eat my homework or some other calamity might arise. I have done little other than work on this quilt for the last 10 days.  It was completed in the middle of the night last night and there was no time for blocking or even making  proper label, but I met the deadline and it was handed in earlier today.  I’m never working like this again!  Here are some photos:
 
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The quilt blocks/borders were all embroidered/appliqued on my Babylock Ellisimo embroidery machine.  It was an original design that went through many changes as I added new borders to the quilt and discarded other border designs that were lovely but simply did not work well aesthetically.  The final quilt top was quilted on my Pfaff sewing machine (about 1/3) and on my George sit-down machine (about 2/3).  I learned a TON of new things in the process of making this quilt and will be blogging about this stuff over the coming weeks.  I just LOOOOVVVEEE to free motion quilt!  Thank you, Mom, for sending me to learn how to sew when I was young!!  For any of you out there who have children or grandchildren, please teach them to sew and quilt.  Who would have ever guessed that learning some basic sewing skills many decades ago could bring me so much joy and satisfaction over the course of a lifetime?

Snippets of My Life Over the Last Several Days

September 6th, 2014

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I have been in a self-imposed exile for the last several days, trying to finish quilting this quilt.  For as much progress as I’ve made, there is SO much more left to do that I think there’s a good chance I cannot meet the deadline.  I’ve never left work until the last minute like this and this experience is a good lesson in why one shouldn’t let things go until the 11th hour!