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Archive for the ‘free motion quilting’ Category

Back to quilts!

A while back, I started a red-white-and-blue quilt. In fact, I began working on two of them: one with a scrappy background, and one with blocks that all had the same pale blue on white background. All the blocks are big bow ties (simplified pattern, without Y seams) that lend a fun double arrow look.

Well, the baby who is the intended recipient has been born, and he’s a cutie! Little Augustine (“Augie”) will be able to cuddle up with these 1930s reproduction prints:

Sept 2014 Nikon 081

I put a cute “quilting words” fabric on the back because Augie’s mom also likes to sew:

Sept 2014 Nikon 066

Sept 2014 Nikon 072

Augie is just three weeks old, so I think this will be his view of the quilt for a while:

Sept 2014 Nikon 071

After piecing the quilt and layering with a 80/20 cotton/poly blend batting, I free-motioned large meandering patterns in pastel variegated thread. Free-wheeling quilting lines are good for a baby’s small hands to trace, and the primary colored arrows are stimulating for little eyes. I hope he likes it!

Here’s a photo showing my scrappier blocks, as yet to be turned into anything. I do like this block arrangement, too:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

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In a patriotic mood? Sorry to say I missed posting in July, due to my house move, but to make up for it I captured a photo of a lovely red, white and blue quilt by my friend Anne T. She completed a shop hop in June and quickly produced this beauty as a gift for a friend. It’s so lively to see all these contrasty pinwheel blocks. She did free motion stars all around the borders.

My own quilting projects got packed for my move and my poor sewing machines will need a tuneup after being tossed around by the brawny guys who moved our stuff. I will be setting up a new sewing/art corner in my office soon!

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OK, I admit that this quilt isn’t completely finished yet! But I was so thrilled with the way it’s going that I wanted to share it even without the binding. I pieced this top over the past few months, and it couldn’t have been more simple–it’s a bunch of snowballs using 5 different fabrics. I got the idea from Take Five, a fun book by Kathy Brown with some easy quilting ideas using just 5 fabrics.

The best part of this quilt is the border fabric(s). The inner border is a diagonal “peppermint” stripe. The outer border is the theme print from this line from Connecting Threads, Peppermint Forest… Supercute gingerbread houses with a hint of Hansel and Gretel.

The quilting by Julie Curry turned out gorgeous. We chose motifs from the fabric and repeated them in an all-over design. You can see it most clearly on the backing, where I married some cool wood-grain print fabric with a deep chocolate brown.

This quilt will work beautifully on my younger daughter’s new twin-size bed. Now if only I could get around to binding it…

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I am thrilled to report that my daughter LOVES her birthday quilt! It was the first gift she opened on her birthday (probably because of the oversized box!) and she immediately curled up on the couch with her warm, soft present. It’s now on her bed and looks darn cute. Hooray!

I’m also pleased to tell you that the quilting work done by Julie, the professional longarm quilter, is beautiful. Her daisies are poised inside the “windows” of this non-traditional attic windows quilt, and they also run up and down the borders. Around the rest of the quilt she filled in with playful loops. The rose-pink thread turned out well. There is a lot of contrast in these colors, so any thread choice would stand out in some spots, and fade away in others.

Here are a few closeups of some of the quilting:

It is amazing to see the perfect thread tension and even stitching that a pro can produce. As to the question of whether it appears “less handmade,” I would say that because all of the stitching is done using hand movements (not computerized sewing patterns) by Julie, each part of the stitching design is a little different, a little unique. So for me, it still has that “made by hand” quality of artistic choices and imperfections. (For example: most daisies have 6 petals, but some have 5 and some 7, some petals are bigger and some smaller, some slant to one side, etc.)

I simply wouldn’t have the patience or skill to hand-quilt a quilt this size (small twin or large lap size), and with a larger project, quilting the layers by machine on my own home sewing machine is just not that fun and not very easy to control. So for a special project that’s worth extra love, attention, and very even stitching, I think that having an experienced longarm quilter’s help can really come in handy.

Here’s the other thing: having Julie quilt this allowed me to finish the project on schedule. My advice is to budget for this kind of help if you think you’ll need it to finish a project; how many unquilted tops do many quilters have lying around?

On the other hand, if you have time, patience, and tools to do it yourself, you will save money, and the project will remain uniquely and entirely yours. There is satisfaction in having stitched every stitch yourself, even if you struggle with it at times.

Here’s another thought: get a semi-industrial straight-stitch machine like this Juki and THEN finish your quilts at top speed! If I ever have time to get deeper into the quilting side of things, I’m putting that at the top of my list…

 

 

 

 

 

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Do you like to doodle? I do! I was one of those classroom doodlers who made little designs all over my notebooks. I was especially given to galloping unicorns and mysterious faces. And now that I have young kids, they’re keen on my little drawings, which are especially entertaining on long plane rides.

Nowadays, I’m getting even more doodling practice with my efforts in free-motion quilting. In case you haven’t seen someone “free motion,” it is moving the quilt around to stitch free-hand designs through the layers, without the use of the “feed dogs” to move the quilt forward. I decided that quilting a ton of free-wheeling strawberries might be fun for my strawberry quilt. I used my current favorite quilting thread, King Tut by Superior Threads. Love it! It’s nice and thick but still smooth, and the colors are really fun. Most are variegated – this one, yellow, green, and red, the colors of my strawberry fabric. I was a little timid about using a contrasting thread color (I was worried any mistakes would look too prominent, but now, the designs sort of fade away!). As a result, the stitching blends in and is hard to see, but if you really look you can make out the strawberries – I hope.

Give this a try sometime if you like doodling or sketching. More complicated and artist efforts are known as thread sketching, and that is an art form in itself, but even a playful, free design – not requiring any marking on the quilt first – can liven things up. And it went quicker than expected. Now all I have to do is bind and label this quilt, and it will be done.

Here’s a preview of one of my next scrappy projects. Cheery bright 1930s fabrics!

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Those of you who’ve followed the long process of creating my orange peel quilt (starting with hand-appliqué here and progressing to putting it together here and completing the top here) might get a thrill from seeing it finally finished and up on my living room wall! We hung it up over a small bookcase (you can see the tops of picture frames that sit on the bookcase in the photo). The nice thing about its placement is that it’s the spot that you face when you first walk into our home.

There used to be a large mirror hanging there, which essentially fell off the wall, and I think I’d rather see a quilt than an image of my harried face every time I enter my house, anyway!

I used some dark brown fabric with subtle dots for the binding. The color blends nicely. And the quilting was simple: ditch-quilting around orange peel squares, and in the border seams; and I used a round plate to draw some half-circles – mirror images of the peels – in the outer border, and free-motion quilted those with burgundy thread.

When you’re standing closer to the wall, here’s how it looks.

It’s not hanging completely flat, but so be it. It’s up there, and I like looking at it!

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Here’s a peek at how my new baby-gift quilt has turned out. I’m calling it “On the Minty Shore.” Read here to find out why!

(As is my wont, I hung it up on the side door near my desk and quilting space.) Here’s another view:

I wanted to get creative with the quilting for J’s baby – to stimulate his newborn eyes and fingers with some fun shapes. I set up my sewing machine to do free-motion quilting by really loosening the bobbin tension this time, which seemed to help (you have to turn the screw on the bobbin case to do this – remember, lefty loosey! Not sure how this works on machines with “auto-tension,” however). In the center, I quilted (freehand) loops.

Colette and I got really into the ocean mood, so we decided to honor the seashore with big quilted waves all around the borders.

Not all the waves came out perfectly smooth, but that’s life. The imperfections show that the pattern was created by human hands moving the quilt back and forth – not a computerized process. I moved the quilt as evenly as I could through Colette’s relatively small neck space, wearing those funny white quilting gloves that my daughters always want to try on (something about Cinderella). I did mark it in advance with some General’s Pastel Chalk (white), which I’m assured comes right off. I live in fear that I could mark a fabric permanently by mistake.

I hope that J’s soon-to-be-born new baby will enjoy my efforts.. and here’s wishing her a safe delivery of a happy, healthy little boy!

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