Hyperquilting ABC’s, Thread, and SALE!!!

January 31st, 2009

I’ve gotten some emails from people who are wondering what this “hyperquilting stuff” is and what’s so much fun about it, so I figured I’d do a post that is a primer on hyperquilting. Hyperquilting is a technique where a motif is free motion quilted in thread #1. After switching to a second thread color (and this would deliberately be a high contrast decorative thread), a secondary design is free motion quilted right on top of, or inside of, the first quilted motif. It sounds confusing, but it’s not! Here’s an example of the most conservative hyperquilting design I know of; I call this “Inlining:”

If we look at a close up shot, you can see that all I did was to initially stitch a feathered wreath (in this case, it was stitched with a size 12 pearl cotton hand dyed embroidery thread) and then I went back in with a gold rayon thread and stitched smaller plumes inside the original plumes. There are also some echo lines in another rayon thread just outside the wreath to ad a halo of color, but that’s not really part of inlining:

You can see that this technique really changes that feather…it makes it appear more complex, adds some more color, and just kind of subtly jazzes things up just a bit. In this next example, called the frond embellished feather, the same technique is used, but because the hyperquilting design is different, the effect is quite different:

…and here’s a close up shot that shows it is just 2 fronds that curve in a way that mirrors the shape of the plume:

This last one is my favorite; it’s the splay embellished feather. Notice that the feather’s spine has been highlighted by this embellishment. It’s almost as if we’ve electrified the spine:

…and here’s a close up to show that I stitched a series of 3 splay lines per plume, each echoing the curve of the plume:

All of the above hyperquilting was done with Robison Anton rayon thread and the color is called 24-karat gold. That is my favorite gold thread and I go through spools of it like water! Compare all of the above to the baseline quilted wreath below and you can really appreciate the effect that hyperquilting has:

It is killing me not to show any of them on my blog yet, but I’ve come up with all kinds of new hyperquilting designs for feathers that will debut on the next DVD in a few months. Trust me, if you’re into hyperquilting, these new designs will really rock your world!!

Now, hyperquilting is not limited to feathers, you can hyperquilt all kinds of motifs. Below is an example of a hyperquilted basic vine. In this case, it is actually free motion embroidered instead of quilted:

If you look at that vine closely, you can see that the original vine was stitched with empty leaves and it was on my second pass that I added the vein lines and the grapevine curly cues. If this stuff excites you, get int he habit of breaking designs down into component parts when you look at them. When you start thinking in this way, you’ll come up with all kinds of hyperquilting ideas!

I am excited to tell you that we are now carrying some lines of Superior Threads, and to celebrate, we are having a sale on the threads, the flexible curve rulers, and the bendable bright lights. The first thread pack is called Super Brights and this is my favorite thread to do inlining of vines and leaves. The colors are incredibly vibrant and will showcase your thread work. The second thread pack is called Rain Forest and the third is called Flower Garden. These last 2 packs are all luscious colors developed with Ricky Tims and you can use them in subtle ways or in eye catching ways…they have wonderful sheen that is ooh-la-la! Enjoy them all; sale prices are good through midnight next Saturday night, 2/7/09! (more…)

Making Time for a Quickie

January 19th, 2009

I have felt so pressed for time lately…we are getting ready to begin shooting the next DVD and I have about a million things that need to be completed in the next couple of days in order to make that happen. On top of that, I committed to making a donation valentine for the Cloth Fiber Workshop in Asheville, North Carolina, and it is due by THIS SATURDAY!!!! I am not someone to leave anything to the last minute, so on the rare occasions when something like this happens, I totally FREAK OUT! Today was the only time this week that I could put any time into this project, so I put my nose to the grindstone and got it done! “Share the Love” is 15 x 18 inches:

I still have to finish sewing on the binding by hand and it’s not a piece that I’m feeling particularly proud of, but I AM proud of the fact that I got this baby cranked out in one afternoon and it’s now something that I can officially cross off my to-do list! Cloth Fiber Workshop is holding a valentine auction to help raise some funds in this tough economic climate, so if you’re interested in helping to support fiber arts and you want to pick up some neat textile art, check out their auction later this month.

I recently got an email from Stacey, who asked that I post more info about the threads that I use in different pieces, so here goes! Here’s a close up of one of the grapevine curly cues on this quilt:

Can you tell that they are shown here when this was just a quilt top? That’s because I embroidered them (free motion, of course!) so that they would kind of pop out once it was in the final quilt. Here’s a closeup after the quilting was done, for comparison. (note that the color here is washed out-I turned the flash off because I thought it showed texture better without it):

Don’t you want to touch that curly cue? I sure do! That was stitched in a wool/silk blend thread made by the Thread Gatherer. It’s HEAVY and BIG and very soft! I bought a skein of it at a counted cross stitch shop that was going out of business a few years back and haven’t seen it anywhere since. BUT, you can buy the same kind of thing if you buy from the Caron Collection:

I used a size 100 topstitch needle and had a medium weight green cotton thread in the bobbin. I placed a temporary iron-on stabilizer on the back and then stitched away. I don’t use a hoop when I do this type of free motion embroidery because it’s not densely stitched and the iron on stabilizer seems to stretch everything out just fine for me. Here’s a shot of the back when the first 2 were stitched:

Once all the grapevines were stitched, I tore away the stabilizer. I added trapunto only to the 3 large hearts and the 2 teardrops. Once the edges of those were stitched with the EKG finishing stitch, I cut away the excess batting. Here’s what the backside looked like just before I threw this baby into its final quilt sandwich:

I zipped around the outer perimeters of the applique shapes and the grapevine curly cues with invisible thread and then I switched to decorative threads for the rest of the quilting. I used YLI “Variegations” for the background quilting. This is their line of trilobal polyester variegated threads and I’ll tell you, they are a breeze to quilt with. I have gone through about 5 spools of the green variegated version called “grass!” Here’s a final close up of some of the quilting:

If you sew on a Pfaff…

January 13th, 2009

…then you have GOT to see THIS!! I was recently sent a Pfaff modified free motion ankle to try out. This ankle has been altered so that all excess metal has been removed, thereby drastically increasing the visual field when free motion quilting. This ankle is GREAT-it really makes your free motion quilting much easier! Watch the video below, then call Bill’s Sewing Machine Company at 828-397-6941
to order one for yourself! (Make sure that your computer sound is on and if you have trouble hearing this, make sure you did not inadvertently mute the sound on the screen panel).

The Mysteries of the EKG stitch are REVEALED!!!

January 5th, 2009

I frequently receive emails inquiring about the EKG stitching that I often use to finish off the edge of applique shapes, like the edging on the tulip above. I received this sweet email just the other day:

I received regularely your news letters.
Your work is beautyful and I learn many things from you, I am a beguiner in the
quilting thing.
Please, I want to now what is this beautyful stich you do around your flower or
leave, is it a free hand stich or a machine stich and if so which one
Thank you for your help

Your note is so touching to me that I thought I would do a post on this finishing design because although it looks like it would be tough to do, it is as easy as pie! On top of that, it is very fun!

First, know that this is a design you will create-it is not a programmed embroidery stitch on your sewing machine. I call it the EKG design because it makes me think of an EKG pattern, kind of like a run of V-fib. Here is how to do it:
1. set up your machine for free motion work
2. you begin your stitching at the inside edge of any applique shape. The design is created by gently moving the quilt slightly back and forth as you travel along that inside edge, all the while creating “V” shapes. Notice that the “V’s” vary in length and also in how wide they are:

3. As you travel along that outer applique edge, your goal is to keep the “V’s” perpendicular to the edge. If you need to pivot your piece as you work to keep yourself oriented, that’s ok! See how I was trying to stay perpendicular as I moved around the heart below:

4. The more “irregular” the lengths/widths of the “V’s,” the more interesting your work will be. Never let the length of a “V” exceed more than 1/2 the width of the applique piece you’re working in. Most of the time, you won’t come anywhere near that. When you are working inside a “skinny” applique shape (like a long stem), NEVER let a “V” from one side intersect a “V” from the other side as this will look messy.

You can use this finishing design on just about any shape. In general, I try to use a thread color that is related to the fabric color, but I try NOT to match it. In mean, gosh, I’m going to all this extra trouble to do this stitching, so I want to make sure people SEE it! Because of that, I usually pick a color that’s just a bit different. I wish I could say that I had invented this technique, but I did not. I learned it many years ago in a class by a wonderful quilter named Laura Heine. If you ever have the opportunity to take a class from her, do it!

One more thing about this…you can do this as a QUILTING technique, but I also it as an EMBROIDERY technique. In other words, I do all this stitching when the piece is just a quilt top…there is no bulk because there is no batting and because no portion of the stitch falls outside the fusible applique, I do not need to use a stabilizer. Once it’s in the final quilt sandwich, I stitch just outside the edge of the applique shapes with invisible thread and it creates a very cool texture. This technique realy is worth trying if you haven’t yet.

In a totally unrelated vein, I finally had the opportunity to read the winter issue of “Machine Quilting Unlimited. I scanned it when it first arrived but had set it aside until I had some real time to review it and all I can say is that this magazine is SMOKIN’! Every issue gets better and better and this issue

has an incredible article by Sarah Ann Smith on how to work with your sewing machine tension. This article is hands down the most concise, easy-to-understand, comprehensive review of machine tension I have ever read. If you are struggling with this, I really urge you to read this in-depth article. This subject tends to be kind of dry, but the way Sarah has presented the info, it’s an easy read! On top of that, the magazine has lots of beautiful pictures of gorgeous quilts, so if you’re interested in advancing your free motion work, subscribe to this wonderful publication here.

Fun New Year’s Quilting Project!

January 1st, 2009

I have had the most wonderful week here in NC working in my sewing room. I whipped up a quickie sewing tool tote or “bagget” yesterday that’s a good way to use up fabric scraps and batting scraps and you end up with something cute and useful:

That turquoise/green/gold fabric was dyed by my friend Nancy Bruce and I just love, Love, LOVE it!! (Thanks again, Nance!) These can be made very quickly and the size can be altered quite easily. Here’s how I made this one. Cut 2 pieces of your border fabric-I cut mine at 4 inches x 9 inches, cut 2 pieces of your “main” fabric (I cut mine at 7 x 9 in), and cut 2 pieces of your lining fabric (I cut mine at 11 in x 11 in). Stitch the 2 small border fabric pieces together and insert the zipper underneath that center seam:

(This first part took me the longest because I haven’t inserted a zipper in several years-guess I need to really work on my zipper skills!)

On the good side of the fabric, mark a line on each side 1/2 inch from the edge. Fold fabric at line and press so you have a nice finished edge. Get a batting scrap and place lining fabric (good side facing down) under batting. Lay one side of “main” fabric on top of batting/lining unit and align first side of border fabric so it “overlaps” main fabric by about 1/4 inch. I inserted a short piece of Wright’s Piping Cord as an accent in this step and then pinned them together as shown below:

(By the way, that trim is not necessary but if you want to do it and don’t have any piping cord lying around, cut a strip of an accent fabric at 1 inch wide. Fold this in half lengthwise and press so good sides face out. Lay this in place instead of piping so that 1/4 inch of it is exposed all along the seam line. This will get you the same type of accent effect!)

Once you have topstitched that seam/piping in place, go ahead and free motion quilt the main fabric and the border fabric on just that one side. All I did here is to outline the small “squares” in the border fabric w/invisible thread and this makes them pop out like little pillows-I love that texture! I quilted the rudimentary form of the plumify it design on the main fabric and I just LOVE THAT texture! Pretty much any quilting design would work here, so do whatever is fun for you. This is how it looks at this step:

Using your rotary cutter and plexiglas ruler, trim this so all excess batting is now cut away. Using scissors, cut away excess batting/lining from the top of the bag so it comes just to the zippered area. Next, repeat this process for the opposite side and then quilt that side. Once the quilting is finished, trim that side as well, and you will end up with this:

Fold across the top so good sides are together, then pin the 3 sides together, taking care to match border edges. Make sure you haven’t completely closed the zipper before you pin and then sew these seams, or it will make turning this inside out a bit of a challenge! (Can you guess how I know that?!!). Once the side seams are sewn, turn inside out and you’ll have your tool tote:

Hope you have fun with this project-it’s pretty quick and a great way to use up scraps and the size is easily modified. If you want a shoulder strap, just throw one in at that last step when you stitch the side seams…I can see myself making many variations of this!

Happy New Year to all and thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog and to encourage me in my sewing/quilting endeavors! I hope all of us have a great year filled with sewing fun!