Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Art Quilt Free-Motion Quilting

This is another UFO I began a few years ago.  It is a beautiful pattern by Toni Whitney, Poppies.  I am generally not one to use fabric kits but her fabric choices are perfect for the quilt is a gift for my sister's birthday.  Shhh...it's a surprise (unless she reads this post :)  You can find this pattern, and many other beautiful Toni Whitney pattern designs, here.

I had done the hard part of the pattern of cutting out the fusible web pattern pieces.  I fused the pieces to the background and here it is ready to quilt.  I LOVE to quilt more than I like to piece.  Having been an embroiderer, I know it has to do with working with colored threads and the flowing lines. I am sharing my art quilting technique here.

Free-motion quilting can be a bit intimidating to the new quilter.  I find that the most intimidating factor is concern that a piece will be flat and square when completed.  I have a few preparation steps that help to ensure a beautifully quilted piece.  When the preparation is well done, I am only left with concentrating on the fun of stitching.  Yay!!!

I begin by cutting my backing fabric and batting approximately 4 inches larger than the quilt top.  When centered and basted, that allows for 2 inches larger on all sides of the quilt top.  I spray baste.  I cannot say enough with how much easier this is than working with safety pins.  I have been using Sullivan's Quilt Basting Spray for years and find it to be the best.  I have tried several others but none that I have tried compare.  Spray basting is easy to do with small wall-sized quilts.  I do recommend having cardboard or a plastic tablecloth (what I use) under the quilt to catch the overspray as it is very sticky.  I also spray lightly as not much is needed (and I get less overspray).

Now the fun part of selecting threads.  When I began quilting (and for many years) I was a thread snob and only used cotton thread.  I got over that to vary the colors and sheen that I desired.  I tend to match thread to fabric fairly closely.  For this quilt, I selected the two green cotton threads for the stems, the purple  60 wt. polyester thread for the stitch-in-the-ditch quilting, and the shiny copper polyester for the poppies.  The copper thread is darker than I would normally select but I wanted some drama added to the flowers.

With thread in hand I could now begin quilting.  On smaller quilts, I baste the edges of my quilt as shown here.  This keeps the quilt from shifting and keeps it square.

I begin the quilting by doing stitch-in-the-ditch in the borders.  This anchors the quilt to again keep it from shifting.  The purple thread was used for both sides of the purple border as seen here.

The quilt is now well secured and the real fun can now begin.

Quilting order is determined by quilting pieces that are behind others first or back to front.  The stems in the back were quilted first and I progressed to the front stems.  All of my stitching is fairly close together.  Close stitches look more uniform to the eye, whether they actually are or not.

I also do my best to quilt all pieces that require the same thread color so that thread changing is limited.  With the stems done, I then quilted the poppies as they are in the forefront.

With the applique quilted, it was now time to decide on what design to quilt in the border.  The trick to having a quilt lie flat when quilted is to have the quilting balanced throughout the entire quilt.  This small border might have gotten away without some quilting, but I had concern that it would flair.  With chalk I drew some stems.  I didn't need much quilting and this is just enough.

The quilt is now quilted, trimmed, and ready for binding.  Have you heard of single-fold binding?  That is the binding style I will use for this quilt.  I will demonstrate that next.

As I close, I share this saying on this metal placard in my quilting room.  It makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

Love and blessings,

Monday, March 30, 2020

Virtual Show &Tell for Quilts

We quilters tend to be a group that shares - shares ideas, creativity, friendship, and open hearts. As we are in this time of social distancing, our ability to share physically is now nonexistent. We can, however, continue to share virtually.  Therefore, I am opening this site to Show and Tell.  Here is the first Show and Tell.


This is an English paper piecing quilt by Go Stars!  She comments:  I'm making a modern flower garden quilt.  Here is a picture of the rows I've finished.  I just need to add more grey and join them together.  My kitties had to check out my progress.

This is inspirational just in the knowledge that it is hand pieced.  I'm impressed.  I love the kitties, too!  If you would like to share your photos, please send them to my email.  I will post them using your first name, your state of residence and any comment.  If you would like feedback, please give me permission to insert your email address.  I will post as photos come in.  Like a quilt guild meeting, if I have something to post (the program) that will be at the top of the posting and Show and Tell will come next.  My experience is that we are a community of open hearts.  Let's share as the HUGE family we've always been to inspire all to smile and feel good during this time of isolation.

Love and blessings,

Friday, March 27, 2020

How old is our our stash?

I have to admit that I have been quilting for 20 years now and have a HUGE fabric stash with much of it older than five years old.  I don't know about you, but I have had a difficult time letting it go.  I tend to buy new fabric to make a new quilt rather than using what I have.  In my case, I generally remember where every piece of fabric was bought and that holds many memories.  So how long should we hold on to our fabric?  I am coming to the conclusion that seeing selvages with dates of 2002 and 2006 is a bit ridiculous.  It's time to begin using it up.  I put that idea into play when needing a backing for Stars All Around. 

Generally, laziness, or need for speed, keep me from piecing a back.  I would much rather purchase a wide backing fabric.  With this quilt back, I decided to get creative.  As I prefer for my backings to match in fabric style and colors, my first selection was the remaining fabric used on the quilt top.  Whew, one fabric no longer in my stash :)  Stripes I love to use for bindings but this stripe is from 2006 and the colors work.  Another fabric depleted from my stash.  With those two fabrics in hand, I determined the pattern, selected a few more fabrics from my stash, and a backing was created.

Now the quilt is nice to look at whether from the front or back sides.

Previously, I discussed that I now incorporate embroidery into my quilts.  That is has become my style.  Here are photos of the embroidery done on this quilt.  While it doesn't stand out, the needlework adds another dimension that flows with the piecing and allover quilting.

Do you have any interesting ways to use up stash?  If so, please share with comments below.

Love and blessings,

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Meadow Breeze Mystery no longer a mystery...

While we’re on the subject of UFOs, this mystery, Meadow Breeze, designed by Pat Sloan in 2010, was completed last year. I chose to make the quilt with a cotton background and wool appliqué. Here is the end result.

While working on this project, I began to appreciate the love I had early in life for the magic of thread.  That love of thread and color began in grade school as I discovered and began to embroider.  As a young adult, I turned to cross-stitching.  Once my quilting began around the age of 40, the laid the needlework aside for the sewing machine.  Picking the needle back up and putting it in my hand let me know how much this was a part of my creativity.

Another revelation I had was about slowing down to enjoy that which I loved.  As this quilt was a mystery divided into sections, I took each block separately, sat down with it, and allowed it to speak to me.  By keeping focused on only the one block and seeing that as the end all for the moment, I relaxed and had fun.

I challenged myself to use as many stitches as possible.  Various threads were used including wool, silk, and cotton.  I added buttons and beads.  Perhaps my most favorite stitch is this beaded coral stitch, seen here using white beads, as taught by Sue Spargo and described in her book "Creative Stitching, Volume 2."  The book can be found here.

One other lesson I learned was to get out of my box of right and wrong when it comes to quilting.  Because the stitching was done by hand, I felt it necessary to hand quilt it as well.  That was not happening and it was sitting staring me in the face going nowhere.  I finally decided that if I didn't machine quilt the piece it would never get done.  So I went for it.  And I love it!  I was so surprised.  And the quilting took me all of five hours instead to weeks or months.

I am now beginning to incorporate hand stitching into my quilts.  This is now "my style."  What is your "style"?  Please share in the comments below and feel free to share photos to my email for posting if desired.

Love and blessings,

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Spring Cleaning the Quilter’s Way

Happy Spring!  In the tradition of spring cleaning, I have pulled out a few unfinished projects from the dark depths of my stash.  I am sharing in the hopes of being an inspiration to the many other quilters out there with unfinished projects from long ago.

The quilt “Box of Chocolates” was pieced in 2005.  This old fashioned heart fabric was the inspiration for the bar quilt design.  I was reminded of receiving chocolate for Valentine’s Day.  The diamonds are the boxes, pieced with various fabrics to represent the many types of chocolate candy available in a box.  The brown fabric represents the chocolate.

Box of Chocolates 2005

The quilt is now quilted, bound and sent off to a very good friend who helped me in a time of great need.  It is never too late to complete a project or show gratitude.

The stars in this quilt were pieced in 2008 as a desire to use only non-floral fabrics.  I sewed them together and prepared the top for quilting.  As I did so, I felt inspired to embroider words on it so it became the “Stars All Around” quilt.

The quilt asked for more embroidery than I expected (and took longer, too).  It is now finally quilted and I am working on the binding. Whew!  Another quilt completed.

I challenge you during these challenging times to pull something out from the deep, dark depths of your uncompleted stash of quilts to bring to them fresh life (and light).  As you complete them, please share your accomplishments in the comments below or send me a photo via my email and I will share it so we may all continue to be inspired.  Alternatively, if you would like a tip or inspiration for completing your piece, send me a photo with permission to share with your email address and it will be posted. Two heads ( or 3 or 4...) can be better than one. Spring is three months long so I look forward to many “spring cleaning” projects,

Love and blessings to all,