Back in the Saddle

January 29th, 2013


I got behind in posting because I was so busy that I wasn’t doing any sewing/quilting to blog about, but I’ve been sewing a lot the past week and a half.   I kept putting off blogging because it seemed like writing a post was this huge task that loomed in front of me.  Not sure why I thought it would take so much time/effort, but that’s why I’ve been suspiciously absent from my blog.  The good news is I’ve been working on lots of stuff so I have a lot of projects to post about!


The downside of teaching is that you have to always be making samples.  I feel like I’ve made 10 million bird block wall hangings but I’ve probably only made 6 or 7 so far.  I just finished quilting one today:


This one had 2 batting layers:  the bottom batting was Fairfield’s bamboo/cotton blend and the top was Quilters Dream polyester. People ask me why one might do this and for me, it’s all about creating more texture with your quilted lines.  The bamboo/cotton blend is wonderfully soft and has a lovely drape but the quilting comes out looking very flat.  I don’t want to waste my stash of battings like these, so to use them up, I place them on the bottom layer and by adding a thin polyester batt on top, I know I’ll get a beautiful texture.  These photos won’t show it, but this quilt came out with incredible 3-dimensional texture.


Like always, I first outlined all applique pieces in Monopoly Invisible Thread by Superior Threads.  I love this thread!  Next up, I wanted to fill some of the larger spaces with motifs that would help to visually “marry” these 2 lovebirds.  I cut a heart out of a  piece of scrap paper and placed it between the birds, repeatedly modifying the shape until the proportions gave me an outline that looked like it would work in this space:


I traced around the outer perimeter with a Sewline marker and then stitched the heart shape with dark blue thread.  I also added an inner outline, which I’m finding is really important.  If you quilt  a shape and really want it to be noticed, inline or outline it to create a channel:


I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with this heart, so I next moved to the area just below those lovebirds.  Again, this is a spot that you can quilt with the goal of again tying these 2 birds together in the viewer’s eye, so I started with a small motif centered just below them:


This really was a letdown, so I first went back in and hyperquilted the inside of this structure:


This looked better, but still wasn’t quite right, so I added  a larger expanse to that “perch” that supported the birds:


Now it was starting to look good to me, but of course, I had to get back in there and do some hyperquilting:


Oh yeah, baby!  Now that’s a perch!

Next, I returned to that heart area and added plumes to the outside and  some swirly stuff in the inside:


I quilted  feathers emanating from the tail feather area of the  appliqued birds and then quilted the background fabric in dark blue thread.  You can’t see any of the background quilting on any of these photos but it made all the applique shapes really protrude out.  (Sometimes using a double batting layer will give  a trapunto-like effect.)  It still wasn’t quite right, so I hyperquilted the plumes and re-stitched the heart lines in magenta thread so it would show up better.  I did a swirl design in the green corner blocks and now all that is left is adding the binding!


And on to the next project!

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Eureka-I Can Post Photos Again!

January 8th, 2013

I finally finished quilting this wall hanging that I started about 11 months ago:


This quilted wall hanging proved to be a real pain in the you-know-what to quilt but now that it’s behind me, I have only good feelings about it.  These are 22-inch blocks that are appliqued/embroidered in 9 hoopings.  I had completed 3 of the 4 of them by late February and I made a mistake on the alignment of a pair of feathers on the 3rd one and intended to re-do that block.  Those 3 quilt blocks were the only machine embroidered applique work that wasn’t stolen when my car was broken into last March.  Because of the theft,  I only had enough fabric left for 1 more block so I never got to re-do the misaligned block.  That “flaw” has bothered me for months and now that it’s quilted, I have to say that I can’t find the misalignment!  (I really don’t get that because it used to be glaringly obvious to me but now I genuinely can’t find it.)  I’m really glad I didn’t waste the time to redo that block! (I guess that shows you we can be our own worst critics!)

The quilting on this is not anything to write home about.  I was afraid to do any “loud quilting” on it because the applique design struck me as fairly traditional, but the wreaths were just so darn boring without some kind of “dress-up.”  Here’s a shot of the center wreath before any hyperquilting was added:



These fabric color/thread combos are not photographing well for me, but it really does look better with the hyperquilting added:



Here’s a shot of some of the background quilting.  These aren’t feathers, just plumes stitched randomly to fill space:



When I went to add the binding, I just didn’t have any binding fabrics on hand that did anything for the quilt.  I also really like the red in the quilt and wanted to bring in one last pop of red.  So, I decided to opt for adding a narrow “channel” of red just inside my binding.  This technique is easy and besides adding a little “bling” to your binding, it’s a great thing to do on kids’ quilts because it creates another texture that will occupy them for hours as they run their fingers inside the channel.  To make this, you’ll start by cutting (4) 1-inch strips that are the length (or just a bit longer) as all 4 sides of your quilt.  Next, you’ll press them in half so you have these long skinny channels like in the photo below:



You’ll pin these edge strips (with folded side facing center of quilt) along 2 parallel sides of your quilt, then stitch them into place using  a seam allowance that’s less than your binding seam allowance.   (For example, I use a 3/8 in seam allowance to sew my binding on, so anything less than that is what I use to add these folded red strips.) Once done, trim them so they are the same length as the quilt and then repeat this process for the remaining 2 sides.  You then pin your binding to the front side of your quilt as you normally would as shown below (the red strips are underneath the binding here so you can’t see them):



You sew on the binding by machine, then hand stitch it to the backside just as you normally would.  Here is what that looks like once done:


But most of all, I’m glad to have a completed project before the end of the first week of the new year!




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Staying in Touch

January 7th, 2013

Wouldn’t ya just know that once I got some quilting done and have photos to share that this updated version of wordpress still won’t allow me to upload photos into my blog posts?!  Well, I can’t share any of what I’ve been up to since I can’t upload photos, but I can tell you about some blogs that I’ve started following in the last few months that I am personally finding to be very inspiring.  The top of my list is Jenny Pedigo’s blog called Sew Kind of Wonderful.  This blog is wonderful in some many ways.  Her machine quilting is so fresh and so interesting to me that I’ve gone back to her blog a thousand times to scroll backward and drool over her quilts.  She’s developed the Quick Curve Ruler and about 10 million patterns to make with that ruler and these are really interesting quilt top designs, and she and her sister Helen (more to come about Helen) have started a quilt along where they give you free block designs (that use this ruler) and those blocks are really interesting as well!  On top of all that,  she’s got a few kids and is going to have another baby in about a month and she’s still got the energy to do all this stuff!  Really, this blog is definitely a must read and take the time to scroll backwards…way backwards!  (She also has another blog called Jenny’s Doodling Needle that is focused solely on machine quilting, but an awful lot of her best machine quilting works aren’t on that blog, so check out both of them!)

Jenny’s sister Helen has a wonderful blog called Helen is also quilting up a storm using the Quick Curve Ruler and she’s also creating quilt blocks for the quilt along. Again, if you’re into machine quilting, scroll backwards and drool over all the lovely quilting Helen has done and check out the fabulous creations using curved piecing. I’ve had the ruler for a month but haven’t had time to make anything yet, but these 2 women have me sold on their designs!

Another great blog for machine quilting is the Quilting is my Bliss blog of Teresa Silva. Eye candy for quilters is all I can say!

Two more blogs that I love that you probably already follow but feel I must mention are Judy Madsen’s Green Fairy Quilts (check out Judy’s 1/4/13 post for sure!) and Quilting is my Therapy Blog by Angela Walters. There is so much machine quilting inspiration out there that it’s a wonder we can drag ourselves away from our computers and actually QUILT! Here’s hoping that I can figure out how to reconfigure this version of wordpress so that I can post some quilty photos on my blog again sometime soon!

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Absent Blogger

January 4th, 2013

I’ve gotten some quilting done but I updated the version of my wordpress blog and now I’m not able to upload any new images into my blog. AAARRRGGGHH!! There really isn’t much point to a quilting blog post if there are no pictures, so bear with me as I try to figure out how to solve this…

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