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…

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:

Another Ruler Work Border Design

June 24th, 2017
I can’t stop playing with this stuff!  This design couples curves and straight line quilting in the same border swag design.  It starts out as a basic arched swag border design with a scant 1/4 inch channel.  I used my PTD 12 arc ruler for this.  The next step is to add the straight line channels and I used the PTD straight lie ruler for that.  There is a 1/4 inch channel, then a 1/2 inch channel, then another 1/4 inch channel.  In this next shot, you can see the framework in one arched swag and the beginning of the fill-in work on the other:
You can see that I swapped thread colors as I moved to a new zone.  That’s not necessary but I am a thread lover so it adds to the fun of stitching this stuff out.  In this next shot, you can see that more fill-in work is done:
…and then the final fill-in is added and I used my original thread color for the final section:
(Sorry about the colors changing.  The final shot is the “real color.”)

Lessons in Ruler Work for the Sit-Down Quilter: Experimenting with The Westalee Continuous Rope Border Templates

May 23rd, 2017




The photo above is my first experiment playing with the Westalee rope templates.  I have drooled over these Westalee continuous rope border templates for many months, but I was totally stumped by 2 issues:
1.  If I begin my rope at the miter line in a corner, how do I ensure that the design will arrive at “just the right place” (meaning the neighboring miter line)when I reach the opposite corner?
2.  Even if I get right to the miter line in the 2nd corner, how in the world do I turn that corner?
I wracked my brain, trying to figure these issues out for months, and I didn’t buy a set of templates because I just couldn’t “crack the code.”  Enter quiltshopgal, whose blog is an endless resource for information on all things quilt-related. (If you don’t read her blog, you can find it by clicking here.)  A couple months ago, she contacted me because she was writing a post about Westalee Rope Templates, and she wanted to add some info about designs I’ve made playing with their rope wreath, like the one shown below:
(The photo above is the wreath formed by using the Westalee Circles on Quilts Wreath #3 Template, which you can find in our store by clicking here.)  When I read her entire post, (which you can find by clicking here), she also wrote about the continuous rope border templates, and she had a diagram that showed the perfect way to handle the those 4 corners and the center “meetup.”  Here is the image from her blog post that blew open the world of continuous rope border designs for me:
rope template in corners
Talk about a eureka moment!  I’m going to outline the steps I took to handle the corners and “meet up” in the center.  For this experiment, I am using the Westalee 1.5B Continuous Rope Template.  (This template can be found in our online store by clicking here.) I created a “fake border” for my experiment that is 1 3/4 inches wide. (Note: This means I made my border 1/4 inch wider than the actual stitched design.  I did this on purpose because it gives me roughly 1/8th of an inch of wiggle room on each edge of the border zone.  This is my way of hedging since I know I’m human and likely to not stitch this out perfectly.  As it turned out, this paid off well for me.)
Step 1A:  Using a temporary marker, place a diagonal line in each corner at the miter   line, as well as a perpendicular line in the dead center of each of the 4 borders:
Step 1B:  Using the same temporary marker, make a line across the mid-point of the border’s width, as shown below:
The template in the photo is the one I’m using for this experiment.  If you look closely, you’ll see a dotted line etched into the template.  This dotted line is important, as you’ll be placing it directly over your midway line that moves all the way across your border.
Step 2:  Begin in the corner of your choice, and place the template so the needle will pierce the miter line AND the dotted line on the template will be directly over the temporary mid-line on your border.  The photo below shows my starting placement:
Step 3:  Following the inside edge of the template, stitch out a sequence of ropes.  When you reach the last rope you
can stitch before crossing the center line, stop stitching and end your thread line as below:
Now, before I go any further, I need to point something out.  It is a complete coincidence that the final rope cable terminates at the center point.  This was not planned and you should be prepared to have to deal with a way to connect the 2 center rope cables that don’t actually meet at the center.  You will just have to wait for another day when I encounter this for an example of how I will deal with this down the road!  For now, know that the first side is done and now we move to the opposite corner and begin just as we did before.  The only difference is that the cables are oriented in the opposite direction, so I had to flip the template over and use it in the opposite way.
Step 4:  From there, I went back to the corner and pierced my needle in the miter line, then aligned my fabric line with the dotted line on the template.  Here is how things ended up with merging rope cables at the corner and in the center:
Things weren’t quite as perfect at the center as I would like, but I disguised my error by throwing a small “fleur-de-lis” in between the center ropes:
I thought this came out great as my first experiment  with the Westalee rope templates, but I had to carry it one step further.  I swapped my thread to a Floriani gold polyester thread and hyperquilted the rope cables.  I think it gives them more of a twisting movement:
…and here’s a closeup of the center and corner meetups:
Totally fun!  Can’t wait to try this on a real quilt!  Thank you, quiltshopgal!