For me, the quilting on a quilt really adds something special, so it’s a huge disappointment to me when I feel like my quilting doesn’t lend the textural interest a quilt deserves. For the last 4-5 years, my favorite batting for quilted wall hangings has been Hobbs Tuscany Silk batting, but it has disappointed me enough times over the last 3 years that I no longer consider it a reliable batting for me. Every time I open a new package, it’s always a surprise what I’ll get. Sometimes it’s thick, sometimes it’s thin, sometimes there seem to be wide differences in the ratio of polyester to silk. Maybe it’s differences in whatever the stuff is that makes up the scrim…I don’t know what it is, but I do know that one package is never the same as the next! I raised my concerns to a rep in the Hobbs booth at Fall Quilt Market 2010 and he really did not take my concerns seriously. He just kept repeating that they had strict quality assurance controls in place to ensure that one batch of batting was the same as the next batch of batting, so what I was observing could not possibly be correct. I decided to keep giving their silk batting more chances, but I’ve finally thrown in the towel on it. I say this with a heavy heart, but I’ve stuck with this product longer than I should have. So, what’s a girl to do? Start experimenting, that’s what!
This wall hanging is my first experiment. I used 1 layer of Hobbs Tuscany silk (bottom layer) and then 1 layer of Thermore 100% polyester batting. I was surprised by how much loft that thin layer of Thermore batting added and I can really see a huge improvement in the definition of the quilting. There is no trapunto in this quilt, yet if you look at the tail feathers below…
…you can see that they appear to have a trapunto layer behind them. The birds do as well, as you can see here:
In real life, the stem at the base of the block really poofs out, but this photo doesn’t show it as much:
When I’m quilting an applique scene like this, the first thing I do is to outline all applique pieces with invisible thread (Monopoly by Superior Threads). Next up, I quilt any designs that I want to be dominant. If feathers or vines are part of my plan, they would always be done at this stage. Because they create lines that the viewer’s eye will follow, you want to give your feathers and vines “preferential treatment” as far as choosing how much valuable real estate (i.e. open quilting space) they will claim. Here’s an early shot where the feathers had just been stitched:
I stitched those feathers in a solid light green trilobal polyester thread (Ricky Tims Art Studio colors by Superior Threads) that was just a bit darker than the background fabric; this helps them show up but in a very subtle way. After that, I started doing some background fill quilting with a thread that matched the background fabric more closely, but then decided the feathers were too subtle. To draw a bit of attention to them, I went back in and hyperquilted them with 24 Karat Gold rayon thread by Robison Anton. You can see the difference here where one side is hyperquilted and the other is not:
Of course, the minute I finished hyperquilting that first feather, I regretted it! Being too lazy to rip it out, I went ahead and hyperquilted the opposite side. I’ve now had 3 days to live with it and I’m glad I did the hyperquilting! I didn’t want my four corner triangles to be stitched quite as densely, so I just went with a simple loop-d-loop stitched in Variations by YLI:
I’m very happy with the textures on this quilt, but the next one I try will be a new experiment in another brand of batting. And I almost forgot, we’re in the last 6 days of a sale on all Appli-K-Kutz fabric dies. All retail purchases of the Appli-K-Kutz dies are 20% off if you enter Bird in the discount code box, and the sale discount is good through 9 am eastern DST on 7/6/12.
Now it’s your turn to chime in with your 2 cents! What are your favorite battings (or layers of batting types) for wall hangings?
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