Reconnecting With an Old Friend

July 26th, 2009

Sometimes, life gets in the way and a quilt in the works gets pushed aside for many months. There is something so soothing and exciting about reconnecting with that quilt on your machine bed, and breathing new life into it as you add some fun thread work:

I’m happy to say that Leaf Cycles VI is now quilted and bound, and all that remains to be done is a label:

Maybe it was all these great colors, but this quilt was really fun to make, right from the beginning. The applique on this quilt is all quite simple, and it’s all the thread work that adds the interest. Here is the oak leaf:

Do you see the irregular swirl that is stitched inside of it in this closeup shot?

That was actually free motion EMBROIDERED when the oak leaf was just a block (think how much easier that is as there is no batting or backing or bulk at that stage) and because it was appliqued with fusible web, no stabilizer was needed. I used Lava Thread by Superior Threads for that leaf. Do you see how all the leaves seem like they are protruding out a bit? That’s because they were embroidered instead of quilted and then once I had them in the final quilt sandwich, I just zipped around the edges with invisible thread. So fun, so easy! Here’s a closeup shot of the large dandelion leaf:

This leaf was also embroidered when it was just a quilt block. Here’s an old shot of this block before it was in an actual quilt top:

The design you see inside the outer zone is the angular swirl. The dark green was done using one of the YLI Variations line (I can’t remember the color name) and the lighter green zone was stitched with a YLI Variations thread color called “Grass.” Just like the oak leaf, all the different pieces of this leaf are outlined with invisible thread (I use Monopoly by Superior Threads) and that’s what makes
these leaves kind of protrude out.

Here’s a closeup of a large leaf of a weed from my yard:

The vein lines inside it were free motion embroidered (when this was just a block) using Sulky 12-weight Blendable thread. If I had waited and quilted those vein lines when this was in the final quilt sandwich, they would have receded into the quilt instead of “popped out” a bit the way they do. And here is a shot of the fern:

and you can see that the irregular swirl design was embroidered inside it when it was just a block. It always makes me feel kind of sad to finish a quilt, like our time together is over. I guess I should just let myself be excited about the next one. After all, “so much thread, so little time…” (You may quote me on that!)

So Simple…So Sweet!

July 10th, 2009

I made this quilt earlier this week and just quilted it today:

It was so much fun to put together and it took very little time to make. I started with a rectangle of background fabric and fused hand dyed silks to create the iris:

I placed a piece of wool batting behind the iris and a piece of a thin polyester behind the stem and leaves. I got the bulk of my decorative stitching done and then cut away all the excess batting:

Here, you can see it as I was adding more decorative thread work. I love how things just come to life on the machine bed as you’re adding all these thread details! Notice the yellowy-orange beard of the iris; I used Texture Magic to create that part and it is 3-D, so you just want to touch it:

(For work like this, I always use either solid color rayon thread or solid color trilobal polyester thread. You just can’t beat them for sheen!) Next, I cut the edges of the background fabric so the border edges were all gentle curves. This piece was then fused to a hand dyed blue/green cotton sateen fabric:

I used the EKG finishing design to decorate the edge of the curvy-rectangle where it met the new background fabric, then cut away the excess background fabric from behind. Once I threw it into a final quilt sandwich, the first thing I did was to zip around the edges of each piece of applique with Monopoly thread (invisible thread) by Superior Threads. This causes the trapuntoed parts to protrude out slightly, and creates a wonderful texture:

Sometimes the process of making a quilt is just so darned much fun, and this one was for me. It was a quickie, but totally fun!

And here’s a lead on a wonderful blog if you love colorful quilts and enjoy reading about all the processes a quilter goes through in making a quilt. Visit Luann’s blog and feast on the great photos and inspiration. She’s working on a deadline because she’s having a solo show later this year, so you can count on her to keep producing beautiful quilts in preparation for the show!

The Hyperquilted Swirl-Spine Feathered Wreath

July 2nd, 2009

Don’t you find yourself going through bursts of creativity where you’re almost afraid to go to sleep because you don’t want to turn off the flow? That’s what I’m going through now, and I’m ready to frigging BURST! I can’t show any of the really good stuff, but here’s a quick and fun feathered wreath with a decorative spine. I call it the hyperquilted swirl spine feathered wreath:

It looks hard, but the key is to break it into small steps. First, stitch 2 concentric circles for your spine borders, then add the decorative swirl spine inside:

Of course, you could do the entire design in one thread color, but I can’t do that; it’s part of my thread obsession! So, in the next step, I switched to a different high contrast decorative thread, (in this case, a Sulky solid rayon turquoise thread), and stitched out the plumes on the inside and outside of the wreath. Once those plumes were added, I threw in some thread highlights around the wreath itself. I began by stitching 3 “echo lines” of a purple rayon just outside the wreath edges; these create a nice “halo” of color, and then I stitched the “plumify it” design for my background fill design:

It would have been fine to stop at this point, but sometimes, I just need to add more thread! Actually, I felt like I needed to hyperquilt it in the gold rayon to “marry” the spine design with the plumes, so I hyperquilted it in the last step:

This one is pretty tame compared to what I’ve been working on this afternoon, but I just had to show one of these! I can’t wait to keep working on more!