On to the Next Experiment…

September 22nd, 2012

I’m playing around with some new flower designs…

…and before you know it, they’ve multiplied like rabbits:

…and turned themselves into bigger blocks:

…look out…

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Antique Aprons for Quilting

September 20th, 2012

Does anyone out there think they might enjoy using vintage aprons for a quilting project? If so, please drop me a line with your contact info. I was just contacted by someone who unearthed several while cleaning out an attic, and she’s looking for some quilters who might have a use for them!

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Christmas is Coming!

September 16th, 2012

This wallhanging/table topper was really fun to make!  I think I’m getting hooked on these smaller projects because it is so gratifying to complete a project so quickly.   The circle of applique shapes was cut from the Appl-K-Kutz 4-inch swag die, the swirls were cut using the Bird, Simple or Fancy die, and the outer feathers are from the Small Feather die.  All the pieces were cut on my Sizzix Big Shot machine.   It’s always fun to come up with ideas of what I can quilt in all the “blank areas” that surround applique shapes so here’s how I attacked it…

Once I’d outlined all my applique shapes with invisible thread, I  used portions of this stencil to create a design in the dead center of the block:

(The “basedesign” was stitched in a solid colored thread, just a tad darker than the background fabric, and the hyperquilting was done with my old favorite, 24 karat gold rayon thread by Robison Anton.  I then began “filling” the surrounding blank areas with the rudimentary version of the “plumify it” background fill design.  I know, I know; I use that filler a lot, but I love stitching it and it works so well in many of my quilts.  Here you can begin to get a sense of it in the inner-sanctum-sanctorum of the quilt:

…and here’s a shot of it as stitching was completed inside the circular swag area:

…but this tangential shot gives you a better sense of the quilting:

So far, all of the background quilting has been done using a very subtly variegated rayon thread whose colors match the background fabric (i.e. off white with pale rose, pale green and a little pale yellow.)  Once I moved to the zone outside the circle, I wanted to accentuate the 4 corners of the block, so I decided to do some more stencil work.  This time, I used a portion of this stencil by Barbara Chainey:

It’s really easy to isolate a design on a stencil (in this case, from a border design) and then line it up so it up so that it fits nicely into your work.  Once traced into each of the 4 corners, I stitched these 4 designs in the solid thread that I had used earlier in the very center of the quilt.  Then I switched back to my subtly vaiegated thread and began filling in “empty areas” like below:

…and then I just kept filling in until all of the center block was filled with quilting:

All that was left was to quilt the 4 burgandy corners:

…and the whole thing was done:

If I can find the time, I think I’d like to make a large quilt composed of these over-sized blocks.  I think if they were alternated (i.e. a block with red corners next to a block with green corners next to a block with red corners, etc), it might look very striking and the feathers would form a nice “circle” where 4 blocks came together.  Now, if I can only find the time to do this…

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Overdue Photos

September 13th, 2012

The above photo is the only “whole quilt” shot I have of “Year of the Never-Ending Spring.” This was taken after I’d just finished piecing it. As I quilted it (which was very fun), I took photos of portions of it on about 6 different days in varying lighting and I never really felt good about any of the shots. It was made with 1 layer of Quilter’s Dream wool batting, and this batting was great for creating a wonderful texture to the quilt. My problem was that I couldn’t seem to capture both the texture and the wonderful colors in the quilt all in the same shot. So, I had to settle for what follows. First up is a shot of one of the bird blocks:

There are 4 different bird blocks, and each provided different areas of “blank space” that could be filled with different quilting. On this other bird block, I quilted swirly things coming off the headdresses:

…but I really had fun quilting swirls that sprang from their swirly appliqued tails:

On this next bird block, there wasn’t really enough space to do much in the swirl zone toward the base, so I took the opportunity to stitch feathers coming off the headdresses and the appliqued tail feathers:

…and in this 4th type of bird block, I added some swirl work coming off the headdresses. I always feel like I need to guard against adding so much quilted embellishment that I risk making the “scene” look crowded:

Angie asked if I quilted around each applique piece with invisible thread. As a general rule, the first thing I do is to outline each applique piece with invisible thread because I can’t really quilt any designs in the surrounding areas until I have “stabilized” my applique scene in place with quilting. I then quilt any dominant shapes, like feathers, vines and swirls. The last thing I do is the background quilting. On this quilt, I left some of the internal bird wings without outline quilting in order to make the entire bird shapes more protuberant.

For the wreaths, I used a different color thread to stitch the small wreaths inside each of the large appliqued feathered wreaths, coordinating the thread color with the fabric color of the applique pieces:

In this tangential shot of the green wreath, you can kind of get a sense of the wonderful 3-dimensional texture of the quilt. This is really a function of the interplay between machine embroidered applique and the batting. In this case, the batting is very effective at showing quilted textures:

I find it really challenging to take photos that really capture the wonderful textures quilting can create, so bear with me here! These applique shapes (especially the heart) really appear trapuntoed because they protrude out so much, but they are not:

A part of me wanted to quilt (with invisible thread) inside the large heart to define separate areas of the internal designs, but I didn’t because I really like how the hearts protrude out and I’d minimize that by quilting inside them. This next shot shows the quilting inside the side setting triangles:

And in this last shot, the colors are way off, but you can see the texture of the background quilting:

The next post will be about a completely new project!

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