Finishing a Long Quilt Project

September 14th, 2018

I think I started making the blocks for the center of this quilt 2 years ago.  I remember wondering how long this quilt might take as my father in law had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer about 4 months earlier, and we were spending a fair amount of time traveling to visit family.  At the time, I had no idea that other family members would also need help and that would be the real cause of stretching this project out for such an extended period of time.  The anniversary of my FIL’s death will be 2 years this December, and so much has happened since then.  One thing I like about making quilts is there is always a “background story” for every quilt, the background story being all the memories of the things that were going on in one’s life as stitches were being laid down.  This quilt’s story covers a very unique time in my life of elderly parents/in-laws declining and needing help.  In many ways, working on this quilt and others during this time has been my therapy.  Choosing colors for fabrics and threads, dreaming up different ways to bring shapes and colors together, is warm respite for a worried mind/heart.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, thank goodness I learned how to quilt so young!  Enough on background, let’s talk about the quilt!

 

 

The applique is all machine embroidery applique that was done using an embroidery machine.  The shapes were all cut using my Sizzix cutter.  This quilt is largely quilted by creating ruler work frameworks in between applique shapes and then filling those in w/free motion quilting.  All of the ruler work on this quilt was done using my PTD ruler starter pack.  The center 9 blocks have a framework made with dark purple Glide polyester thread and the background was quilted with a black rayon thread by Sulky.  I used black for the background because I thought the purple might be too busy for the background fill, but it all seems so subtle to me now that I wonder if I should have used purple for both. 

 

 

For some reason, the center of this quilt was particularly difficult to move across my machine bed.  I still don’t know why that was, but it gave me a bad attitude about quilting this quilt pretty quickly after I’d started it.  I set it aside for 2 months just because the thought of quilting is was so unpleasant!  I finally decided that if I wanted to have a quilt to enter in our fall quilt show, I’d better get moving.   I’m glad I did because once the center was quilted, the rest of the quilting was very fun and went by very quickly.

 

 

The triangles that line the outer border of that second zone (the zone above w/the swirly flowers) were supposed to be stitched in that same purple thread.  I didn’t realize that I’d forgotten until one entire side was complete and there was no way I was going to rip it out!  That part of the quilting design falls flat to me.  I find myself wondering it it would have been an interesting frame had it been stitched in the intended purple, but I’ll never know now.

 

 

The outermost applique border is my favorite part of the quilting.  The quilting in that section went lickety-split.  It’s hard to see here, but the ruler work in that zone was correctly done in purple thread.  A few more photos:

 

 

and

and

Binding, a hanging sleeve, and label are in my near future…

 

 

Quickie Quilted Wall Hanging

July 19th, 2018

This is my donation quilt for the Silent Auction held this September at the Asheville Quilt Show.  One thing that’s been nice is I have so many blocks that are preliminary stitch outs of machine embroidery applique designs that it’s always pretty easy to come up with a basis for a  donation quilt.  I made this one by coupling design files from other block designs.

Quilting it was a total blast.  Once I’d outlined the applique shapes with invisible thread, I started with very basic straight line ruler work to create a frame:

I never fill 1/4 inch wide channels, so those are added only to add intricacy to the design.  I filled the 1/2 inch wide channels with the “fingertips” design, then added a 1/4 inch channel to each lateral side as I created triangles for 2 featherettes.  All of those design elements were added in this next shot:

I then filled in the inside space with a loose variation of the “igloos” free motion quilting design.  Note that I change my thread color as the background color changes:

At this point, I started feeling that frame was too understated, so I drew a temporary soap line to create a boundary for feather tips, then added plumes to the outside edge of the frame:

If that part about the soap line didn’t make sense, look closely at the shot above.  There was a temporary soap line that ran the length of the outer border of those plume tips.   I use that soap line to tell me how “wide” to stretch each individual plume.  This is how you achieve a sense of symmetry when you are working freehand.

I then added the background fill design.  Just like I did with the interior, I changed my thread color a few times as the background fabric color changed:

I love the luscious texture of the background fill design.  If you are wanting to try stitching this out yourself, here is a video we made last year that shows how to do it:

And here are some other shots:

-Fabric:  Hand-dyed cotton sateen for background; 100% cotton batiks for applique shapes

-Batting:  Hobbs Tuscany Wool/Cotton Blend

-Threads:  Variety of Filament Polyester Threads and Rayon Threads

Want it?  This could be your wall hanging!  Be sure to visit the Asheville Quilt Show September 28-30, 2018!

Finished a Wall Hanging!

July 6th, 2018

This was my preliminary stitch-out for the 24-inch Fantasy Flower Block, another machine embroidery applique design.  I ended up changing a number of things but I’d invested so much time into this block (and  also liked it), so I figured I should go ahead and quilt it.  I began with a basic ruler work framework.  What you see below eventually had another 1/4 inch parallel channel added to both the large and small squares:

As basic as it appears above, that straight line ruler work framework really “makes” this wall hanging design special.  I am still amazed by how much ruler work can elevate a design!  Anyway, here are some additional shots.  This first one is a close up of the both frameworks once they’ve been filled in:

…and the center-most framework:

I don’t know how well these photos show it, but there’s a nice 3-D texture to the piece:

And here’s one last one:

Fantasy Flower Quilt Block

May 6th, 2018

I’ve been experimenting with a new large quilt block design and I’m calling it the Fantasy Flower Block.  This is another machine embroidery applique block, (meaning that it is appliqued and embroidered using an embroidery machine),  and after multiple revisions, I’ve settled on the final block above.  This a large block, (24 inches square), and it’s created in 4 hoopings.  Each block takes nearly 3 full days of dedicated work to complete.  All of the applique shapes were cut on my Sizzix Big Shot machine except for the stems, which were traced and cut by hand.  I like some of the details so I tried to take some close ups to show them.  Here is a close up of one of the flowers:

 

The center-most part of the flower (i.e. the thistle part of the flower), has a dual edge border treatment that I’ve never tried before.  I was trying to add a sense of “prickliness” or a “menacing nature” to that thistle, so we added those spikey edges.  I like the contrast of having an adjacent satin stitch right up against that prickly edge. I also really like the stems.  Here is a shot of 4 stems converging in the center area:

 

 

(Sorry, you need to ignore that center crosshair!  I guess I forgot to remove it before taking the photo!)  Each block holds 2 pairs of identical stems.  Here’s a shot of one color option on this block:

 

…and here’s a shot of another stem in a different colorway:

Here is a close up of a portion of a stem so you can see the details better:

I’ve used this same dual edge finishing design many times now, but it never ceases to amaze me!  I love the complexity of this design so I’m sure you’ll see me use it again. Here’s a shot of one of the fleur-de-lis shapes; their embroidered details are pretty “vanilla,” but I needed some “quiet places” on the block:

…and here’s a shot of the whole block using a little bit of a different background fabric:

 

I’ve finished the 4 blocks that will make the center portion of the quilt.  The center will measure 47 1/2 inches square.  I’m hoping to begin working on a border design in the next few days…can’t wait!

 

A Little Spring Color

April 13th, 2018

 

A million apologies for the silence on this blog.  My 2+ months of craziness has morphed into 4+ months of craziness and my life is no longer my own.  I’ve somehow managed to complete a few small projects during this time and will try to post about them over the next week or two.  First up is another table runner made from the Swirly Floral Quartet Pattern that you can find by clicking here.  Here is a shot of the block being stitched as a 2-part split design, just after the first half has been appliqued/embroidered:

 

…and here it is as that second side is being appliqued/embroidered:

 

…and here is that block once removed from the hoop:

 

Four squares were pinned to each corner, then attached by stitching along the diagonal to create a half square triangle in each corner:

 

…and here is the table runner once all 3 blocks have been pieced together: