Monday, August 29, 2011

Christmas UFO - Monday Design Wall

Who would have thought that one little tree could take up three full bobbins of thread??  Well, I sure didn't!  When I got my order of thread from my sewing shop - 4 big cones of Bottom Line  - it gave me the bright idea to take back out my Christmas UFO and finish it in time for - wait for it - Christmas!  Doing so I diligently wound 3 bobbins of green Bottom Line.    I decided I was going to do the background evergreen in a thread applique rather than in cloth.  I knew it was going to take a lot of thread - but OMG didn't realize how much.  3/4rd's of the way through I had to wind 3 more.  Now I only used one of those - but still that's a lot of thread.

As you can see I'm almost done with the thread appliques.  If you'd like to know how I'm doing them - I blogged out the process in a tutorial.  I think I'll just add a few more pine leaves and then sandwich this up for quilting and thread work.  I'm not sure how I'm going to quilt it yet - gotta research and plan for that but I'm hoping I can finish it all in a week.  Then I'll just sew on the thread appliques on top of it!  Can't wait since this has been in my UFO pile for a year!

I did manage to finish up my memorial commission quilt.  I'll get a picture of it up as soon as I can figure out how to take a picture of a 10 ft long quilt!

See more design boards at Judy Patchworks!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Easy Quilt As You Go Tutorial - Design Board Monday

Two years ago, I was dozing sitting in a lecture by Katie Pasquini Masopust, when I heard something that caught my ears.  She was telling how she had put her amazing art quilt together by quilting it in sections on her regular machine and then she sewed the sections together.  She explained it quickly but it sound like all she did was sew them together and put a strip down the back to hide the seam.  Huh?!  That sounded wayyyyyyyy too easy.  So I just filed it until I could catch up with her later for further explaination.  Well. . . later turned out to be this summer at Quilting by the Lake and I asked her about it.  She said - yep - that's all you do.  She showed me her book where she explained it  - Fractured Landscaped Quilts (which of course I bought from her (grin)  Its really is a super book!).

Why all the interest you ask?  Well, I do have this monster commission memorial quilt that would like to be delievered to its new home.  All three sections managed to get quilted this week and by the weekend I was ready to sew them all together.  I thought I would blog out the method for you all, since it worked really well!

1. I cut 1.5" strips of the backing fabric.  I sewed them together so that they were long enough to stretch the entire length of the two columns  - 115" (yeah I know - ridiculious isn't it?)

2. Then, I cleared off my big sewing table and squared up my quilt using my 16" square.  I had quilted it to the edges just like each piece was its own individual quilt.  I like this method since I could use regular 44" width fabric for the backing without having to piece a back or buy special backing. (TIP: Buy large yardages of fabric when its super cheapie for backings just like this!  Got this RJR bolt for $2 a yard) 

3.  Then I took 2 columns, matched right sides together and pinned every 3" or so.  Make sure you're careful when pinning any points you need to match.

4.  I sewed them together on my machine (using the Accufeed 1/4" foot for all my Horizon owners!) with a smaller stitch length of 1.7 (which I normally use for piecing anyways).  I used the regular 1/4" seam allowance.

5.  I pressed the seams open and trimmed them to 1/8".  DO NOT sew the seam at 1/8" or you'll never get it to press open - don't ask me how I know this (grin)!

6.  Now this is where I differ from Katie's method.  I took my strip of backing folded it length wise wrong sides together and sewed.  I then took it to my ironing board and folded it over and ironed the seam under the new backing "tape".  Katie takes hers  - sews wrong sides together and pulls thru to the right side tube-style.  That just didn't seem fun to me since my tube was 115" long LOL!

7.  I then basted the long backing tape over the seam on back.  I did this old skol with a needle and thread on my big table - but I imagine you could use pins if you like.

8.  Then I used a blind applique stitch to stitch it down with matching thread.  This was a tedious, quiet process - I sat in my easy chair with my knees up and my big block 16" ruler on my lap under the quilt to use as a hard surface  - don't let your applique stitch go through to the front.  Let me just say about this part - Thank God for Netflix!
I picked this picture 'cause you can see how it went a little uneven
And Ta-daaaaaaa -  that's it - 8 hours later and all three columns were put together and you'd never know unless you look close that that backing tape is there.  It wasn't nearly as bulky as I thought .

As a side note:  I did design this quilt so that there were very few points to match once the three columns were put together.  Those that were there were easily matched because I pinned carefully  - the way that you would pin if it was just a normal quilt top.

Anyways - I will definitely be doing this method again.  I don't like to send out my work to a long arm machine quilter only because I like the quilt to have a "home hand made" look to it - plus I can do the design I had in mind for it.  This also keeps costs down for me and my clients.

All that's left is the binding - which I'm thinking of doing by machine - for the first time ever!  Funny how sewing down 390" of binding by hand doesn't sound fun (grin). . . .still I'll do a sample this week and we'll see if I like the look.

Hope this was clear - any questions please feel free to email me or comment!!

You can see more cool design boards at Judy's Patchworks!

Monday, August 15, 2011

My Machine and I - Design Wall Monday

You know I never machine quilted an entire bedsize quilt before.  With my old Elna Quilter's Dream it just wasn't possible.   Now though, on my Janome Horizon and its nearly 12" sewing bed, I can.  On Saturday, I managed to pull back out my commissioned memorial quilt and start basting the second third of the quilt.  OMG, the thing is a monster!  Its about 95" by 115".  Because of this, I pieced it in three columns  and decided to layer it up that way too.  I'm all happy with myself though because in two days I got a whole column done.  It only took 2 hours to baste and 7 hours to quilt!  Now that I've gotten into the groove of how to move those big long columns through the machine its really quiet relaxing work.  Its amazing how much thread you go through though - I've already used the first 5oo yd spool and am into the 3000 yd cone I had to buy.  I'm using Janome's  Iris cotton quilting thread since it came with my machine and its really nice.  Considering that I'm using it in the bobbin and on top, the lint is really minimal.  I'm going to continue onto the third today and do the little FMQing the quilt will need at the end.  I did manage to find a nice quilt as you go method to sew the three columns together - but more on that when I get there!

I also managed to finish the Jinny Beyer Challenge this week.  It will get handed in to the quilt shop today so that they can display it at the Chautauqua Institute in September.    I always forget how much work is involved at the end.  Between the binding, sleeve and label it can take a bit.  Anyways - here are the particulars of the project:

  • Passageways, A Jinny Beyer Challenge
  • 23" by 28"
  • 50 hours to complete
  • used inktense pencils to make foreground fabric
  • raw edged applique and threadwork is feature
Thanks for all the encouragement with this project - it was a true help!!

See more Design Wall's at Judy's Patchworks!

Monday, August 8, 2011

More Thread Work - Design Wall Monday

With house guests coming, I spent most of last week giving this ole Victorian a good clean.  Love having friends for the weekend, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't ecstatic glad to sit down to 5 hours of thread work on the Jinny Beyer challenge on Sunday afternoon.  It always amazes me how much time the thread work  on a piece takes.  I think that maybe its because there is no specific way to do it - no technique out there that is the norm.  Thread work or thread painting is definitely in the hands of the quilter.   Because of that, I thought I would show you some of the ways I do it.
Usually when I have a project like this, I have a tendency to make little drawing in my sketchbook, testing out how lines will look on the motif of my quilt.  It seems to help and its a lot easier to erase pencils than to take out a lot of thread work.

Of course with this project, its all about the rocks.  But gosh. . . . how do you thread paint a rock??   The thing about adding free motion thread is to remember that you are applying  line and texture.  So you have to think that the direction of the line will lead the viewers' eye somewhere, along with adding texture to the piece.  I mean - geesh - if we didn't want to add texture to  our pieces, we would all be watercolorists (grin)!  When I worked on the rocks, then, I made each a little different - just like rocks.  I did anchor the edges down with a scribble stitch - rather than a satin. I don't like satin stitching unless I'm doing something that is VERY graphic.

With the rocks done, I was left with the cave and the foreground.  I wanted the inside of the cave to have more texture since it was appearing a bit flat to my eye - but also wanted for it to remain nice and dark.  The dark value helped it recede to the background.  I'm still not quite sure if putting all that movement in that section was the right thing to do - but its done now (grin).  That's the thing about thread work - in the final analysis you just have to step out and go with your gut.  Sometimes its just right - other times - not so much.

As you can see, I'm not quite done with it - almost though.  Had to stop when my eyes started blurring.  I should finish this up in the next day or two and get after some other projects.  Our local fair is in 5 weeks and it would be nice if I had something to show!

p.s. - Hint of the day - the way to build a nice thread collection is every time its on sale online or at Joann's buy just  a few spools.  Sooner or later, you have boxes and boxes and all the colors you need!

See more great design walls at Judy's Patchworks!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Done Dyeing! Design Wall Monday

This week I blogged out my odyssey into the world of hand dyeing including a tutorial (Part One and Part two) on how Jane Dunnewold taught us how to do it.  It was a lot less intimidating then I originally thought.  I thought you might be interested in some of the results.  

 After 7 straight days of hand dyeing fabric I learned some things:
  1. I need to make up recipes for chemical water and dye that suit 4 fat quarters so I'm not wasting either one
  2. Dyeing this way is a lot less messy and time consuming than I thought
  3. The muslin that my friend Julia had dyed and sent me dyed up just as well as the pfd fabric did
  4.  Cotton easily took 6 dye baths and still changed every time
  5. My recipe for rust needs less blue - it came out a really dark blue/brown
  6. Adobe is really a pretty golden brown with a hint of red undertones
  7. Twisted fabric makes a really cool pattern if you twist it super, super tight
  8. Fabric dyeing is super addictive!
A lot of people have asked what I'm going to do with the fabric (I've been posting the dye colors of the day on Facebook LOL!).  Most of it will go into my stash - but I found that Quilting Arts is doing a surface design challenge that I might participate in.  It seems fun since you can use any original surface design technique you want, yours gets swapped with someone else's so you can see what work they are doing AND you have a chance of getting one of yours published.  Not to mention the deadline isn't till November so there is plenty of time!  Sound fun???  Who else is in???

I guess I gotta get back to my sewing machine - she's lonely without me - enjoy more great design boards at Judy's Patchworks.