Done, at Least for Now

September 25th, 2017
I had to turn in my quilt today, so all work on it has ceased, at least for now.  It’s 61 in x 61 in and I love the bold color combinations and also love the quilting.  There is one border section that actually isn’t quite finished yet, and I couldn’t begin work on it or it would really look odd.  I am hoping that I will find the time to go back in and finish what I want to do later.  Here are some closeup shots:
This next photo shows where I couldn’t finish.  I want to add a single row of pearls in the tapered arc-shaped channel that abuts the blue applique shapes in that red border zone.  I estimate that the quilting, plus all the thread burying, will take at least another 20 hours of work and I just ran out of time.
Quilting this one really drove home to me how important color is.  Having such a close view of that center section, which is a hand-dyed cotton sateen, was thrilling for all the hundreds of hours I worked on it.  I need to use my hand dyed fabrics more.
I’m excited to work on some other projects for awhile!

3 Weeks…

September 13th, 2017
…since my last blog post.  It’s never my intention to go so long between posts, yet it’s happened once again.  In truth, I have hardly been sewing for the last 3 weeks but in the last week, I have been quilting daily to try and get a jump on a quilt with a deadline.  Here’s a shot of the outermost border zone (the wider dark blue section):
I haven’t completed all the quilting on the “inside” parts of the quilt, but my focus is on the outermost border right now.  This is so I can get the binding on as I’m still working on other parts of the quilt.  This border design began with the ruler work framework below:
It’s not so easy to see, but the framework stitched in turquoise rayon thread was done with my PTD 12 arc ruler and the smaller “melon shapes” were done with the PTD 8 arc ruler.  There is some additional ruler work using a lavender thread on the outside of the large arc border design (toward top of photo), and those were done with the PTD 12 arc ruler as well.  You can see that the featherettes filling the large “superior” zones of the design has been completed.  In this next shot, I’ve added another type of featherette design to fill the large “middle” zone.  This was stitched using an aqua Floriani polyester thread:
The key to doing this kind of “fill-in” work is to go into it with the goal of filling the entire space with your featherette.  This makes you stretch or contract each individual plume so it looks like it was “born into” that space.  Next up, I stitched the same type of featherette inside the two “melon shaped zones” below.  I used the original Sulky Rayon turquoise thread for these spaces that I used for the original ruler work framework:
The final move was to fill the center bottom space with another featherette design, in this case, the Aztec featherette.  I did this with a gold Floriani polyester thread:
Depending on time, I may go back in with a different color thread and hyperquilt those bottom featherettes.  I only have 1 1/2 weeks until this quilt must be handed in, so whether or not I make it back into those sections in time remains to be seen!  Unfortunately, I have aspirations for additional quilting in many sections of this quilt, so it will likely boil down to which zones need it the most…

Fantasy Fern

August 15th, 2017
This is a small wall hanging that I made as a donation quilt for the Indianapolis Quilt Guild auction in October.  It started out as a machine embroidery applique design.  In the shot below, you can see the internal swirls being stitched inside the fronds:
Once it was in the final quilt sandwich, I outlined the fern using invisible thread, (Monopoly by Superior Threads.)  I then used 3 different solid colored threads to stitch the background designs.  These were rayons (Sulky) or trilobal polyester threads (Floriani and Superior Threads):
When I’m working on a hand-dyed background like this one with blended colors, I try to change my thread color as I work:
…and here it is bound.  I am officially hooked on that 2 color flanged binding now:
There is something so yummy about quilting hand dyed cotton sateen fabric…it still thrills me every time I do it!

Back to the Drawing Board

August 6th, 2017
I made this table runner last week.  It is actually made from a border design I made about a year ago and I’ve meant to adapt it into a table runner all these months but never got around to it.  It’s a machine embroidery applique design and it’s nice because it takes about 35 minutes to stitch each fern so you can get a fair amount of other sewing work done while it’s stitching out.  I’m not sure that the layout is quite right, though.   I normally verify that my applique shape placement is aesthetically pleasing by stitching  a mock-up of the placement outlines of applique shapes onto muslin, but I skipped that step.  This is another one of those “don’t do it” moments when you have to painfully re-learn that there’s a good reason for most of one’s “double-checking” routines!  I am in the process of making a revised version of this with a slight variation in the placement of the ferns.  I’ll post a side-by-side comparison in a couple weeks once it’s done.
This was very fun to quilt and that part was very quick.  I used my PTD12 arc ruler to do the ruler work framing.  The fill-in is featherettes and the goal is to completely “use up” the available space within the ruler work framework.  The photos below show my strategy for doing this.  In this next shot, you can see that I have horizontal/vertical lines denoting my center point and axes.  Here is the first “quadrant” of the featherette being stitched using those guidelines:
…and here the first “quadrant” of the featherette has been stitched and I’m moving on the the adjacent “quadrant” of the featherette:
Here’s an example of the center featherette once it’s been stitched:
The space between the ruler work design and the fern appliques is filled by stitching plumes that stretch from the ruler work to just next to the applique shapes.  Even though these plumes keep changing size/proportion, it works visually and you “believe” the end design:
I use that same “bump-back” method to fill the 1/2 inch channel by the edges of the table runner with a long, skinny featherette:
These featherettes are all made using the bump-back feather method.  If you’re interested in how to create featherettes, I wrote a nice blog post explaining it awhile back and you can find it by clicking here.  Alternately, you can learn about how to quilt featherettes in my Craftsy class.  We are now selling the DVD for my Craftsy class called “Ultimate Free Motion Feathers:”
…and you can find it in our online store by clicking here.  There’s a lot of feather info on this DVD that is not on any of my Free Motion Fun With Feathers DVD, so it’s worth it to check it out.

Complex Ruler Work Frame Designs and a Short Video

August 1st, 2017




Complex ruler work framing designs actually start out as very basic ruler work designs.  It’s really hard to take a good photo of red fabric and the center block in the above photo is in deeply saturated reds and oranges.  You can get a bit better sense of the framework design in this next close up shot:




Here is how the center block of the above quilt began:



This is all very basic arc ruler work, where a series of 2-tiered tapered swags were stitched using 2 arc rulers with different curves.  The framework becomes more complex by:

-filling in some of the “empty spaces” created in the ruler work framework; and

-adding level after level of new ruler work framework to what has already been stitched.

I make up these added levels as I go.  You can see that there’s a lot more available “real estate” to be filled in each of the 4 corners:




In the shot below, you can see that fill-in work has occurred and I’ve used a heart shape to create a “template” for some swirl hearts that will have plumes spring from them:




This next shot shows a little more progress in a corner:



…and here the background fill surrounding the corner frame designs has been added:







It has been glorious quilting this hand dyed cotton sateen, and it makes me feel like I need to get back to using more hand dyed fabrics.  In the meantime, Ern and I shot a teensy bit of quilting on this quilt as we made a short video about quilt suspension.  Here it is: