Quilter's Academy - Volume 2 - Sophomore Year

Vol 3 - Junior Year

Monday, December 27, 2010

Vol 2 - Project 5.5 - Cabin In The Cotton - Rita's Quilt

The quilting was finished in record time - ready to be gifted to my MIL for Christmas last Saturday.  My concerns with washing luckily came to nothing and I was pleased with the overall look of the finished quilt.

Finished and looking pretty!

I was a little heavy-handed with the markers - phew, they washed out completely!

No colour bleeding at all - red and white together is always worry!

After washing and shrinking - this texture from the quilting is just what I was after

The back (where you can actually see the quilting)!

Mother-In-Law Rita likes her new quilt
 - a fitting gift for a bed-ridden lady

The drag I was experiencing during the quilting gradually got less and less.  Maybe it was all the pins?  There were a lot of pins in this quilt, especially in that wide border, and as I removed them the quilt slid more easily under the needle.  Or maybe whatever caused the stickiness wore off as the quilting wore on.  It's still a mystery, but I have a clue.....................

Maybe it was Cat Drag!

Happy New Year from Floyd

Monday, December 20, 2010

Vol 2 - Projects 5 & 6 - Quilting

Hubby John selected his quilt from the book ages ago and has been asking why his chosen fabrics aren't 'quilt shaped' yet.  His quilt is the next project so I thought I should hustle and get onto it.  But first things first, I have 2 projects waiting to be quilted, so have to make a start on these first - patience John!

First up I needed to get the 4 patch lattice off the design wall (finally!) and into a sandwich.  As Harriet warns, those bias edged side triangles can easily stretch out of shape so it's best to prep for quilting asap after finishing the top.

It's been ditch-stitched and is now awaiting it's turn for quilting.  I always forget how long ditch stitching actually takes to do.  A few long straight seams should be done in a snap, but the reality is it took me roughly 8 hours over a couple of days to do it.  Lots of aching muscles too.  I don't really trust the pins to hold everything together nice and firmly, so there is lots of block flattening and gently pulling at the seams to ensure it's all flat and straight.  I also ditch stitch slowly, to avoid bumping out of the ditch (which still happens anyway, but not as much as if I sew fast).  My arm and (surprisingly) bum muscles are feeling the after effects today.

Ditch stitching done and dusted!

Unlike Julie's modern style quilt - the first one of this design I made - I wanted this quilt to have lots of texture and a design appropriate for a 1930's style quilt. 

I chose a simple feather wreath for the blocks and a feather/cable design for the border.  Time to prep for work!

First up - a tension check.  I'm using Sew Art International invisible nylon through the needle and Presencia 60/3 (white) in the bobbin.  A bit of tension fiddling was required.  I also changed the needle to a 70 Topstitch titanium - I just bought these and wanted to see how they went for quilting.

Next - warming up on a sample.  The needle seems to be fine.

Next - more warming up on a bigger sample. I put to use the cot sized quilt I made up from scraps. It certainly makes a difference from practicing on a small sample square!

Ready to quilt and as usual, I'm experiencing problems.  This time it's drag.  It really is quite bad, I can't get the quilt to slide around under the needle at all.  I checked and double-checked for hang-ups - nothing.  The block to be quilted is formed into a nice little puddle under the needle and the edges of the quilt aren't getting caught up anywhere.  I'd polished the cabinet surface with my usual product and the fabric should slip nicely.

The set up seems to be fine.  The thread tension is perfect.  The drag got so bad, the needle broke!  So much for titanium which is supposed to last 3 times as long as regular needles - lol.  Stitches are tiny in places and huge in others, as the quilt sticks and releases as I sew.  I can only conclude that it's the backing fabric.  This puzzles me as the backing is just white quilter's muslin - there is no print on it and I can't understand why it won't slide.  The samples I quilted earlier were on standard calico (muslin to you USA followers) with no drag problems at all.

I'm not going to let this bother me, I'll just get some experience working on less than ideal fabric.  The print is busy, the design is simple and the cotton fabrics and batting will shrink up quite a bit, so perfect quilting is not essential here (although it would be nice :)).  Be that as it may, I am still going to try and do the very best quilting work that I can manage - after all, I'm gifting this quilt and want it to be a nice as possible.

A simple feather wreath design works beautifully on this 1930's style quilt

Halfway though the quilting and I'm already loving the texture I'm getting.

 The back - plain old quilter's muslin which refuses to behave nicely!

Ok - halfway though with quilting the top.  I hope to finish it tomorrow and maybe even get the borders done.  If anyone has any suggestions about the drag - how to work with it or maybe a different cause to what I've concluded, I'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Vol 2 - Project 6 - Four Patch Lattice - Getting it together

Finished assembling this quilt top today -

Sorry about the crooked photography!

I almost achieved what I was looking for - a blended style quilt.  In the end I wasn't brave enough to have a totally blended look and compromised by using a contrasting sashing and not allowing the block pattern to get totally lost amongst the fabrics.  I really wanted to try red but didn't have enough fabric left.

This quilt is all about the fabrics.  I think I must have agonised over fabric selections more with this project than with any other.  The main fabric and the large leaf border fabric were chosen first - no competition there - but the co-ordinating colours and patterns caused no end of angst!

As mentioned in a previous post (it's been a while) the fabrics come from Jason Yenter's Floragraphix collection by In The Beginning.  I have several pieces from Floragraphix I, II & III and they all work together beautifully, perfect for a blended quilt top.  Alas - too many choices.

The blocks sat on the design wall a long time, as I tried out different sashings.  I finally got the choices down to six (!)
Click on the pictures for a closer look

Once I made a final choice, it was time to select fabric for the cornerstones.  It's amazing how much difference a 1 inch square of fabric can do to the finished look.

While the fabric choices had me bogged down for almost a month - the assembly was quick.  It took only a couple of hours over 2 days to get it all together.  The only difference between this quilt and the previous couple was the addition of cornerstones, so I'm getting rather familiar with the assembly process now.

A closer look at the final selection

And after all the indecision and agonising - the finished top looks very much like the first mock up I drew - the only difference being the colour of the cornerstones.
What was that saying about the first thoughts/impressions usually being the correct one?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Non Harriet Projects (NHP)

Sorry everyone for it being so long between posts.  It's a busy time of year and as usual, I've been distracted by other things.  My New Years' Resolution (not that I often make these) is to minimise all NHP's and focus on the job at hand.  I'm only half-way through QA Vol 2, wayyyyy behind schedule.  On the positive side,  many of the distractions have been quilty ones, and I've had lots of practice in different techniques.

The Tangled Web Quilters is the group I attend each week.  For a bit of fun and practice in fusible applique, I made up some 'portraits' of the group members.  There are 10 regulars in the group, so by the time I finished the last piece, I was much better acquainted with this technique.

It's a good thing the ladies all have a good sense of humor!

The designs came from Amy Bradly's pattern book - Quilter's Yearbook.  Amy has drawn lots of shapes - hair, glasses, clothes, mouths etc. - which can be put together any way you like.  She also encourages adapting the basic designs and changing things around.  Not being able to draw, I stuck mainly to the shapes as they are printed in the pattern, but did fiddle around with hair styles a bit. 

I made the block quilt-as-you-go, using simple echo quilting - a technique I'd not played with much.  I found echo quilting a quick and easy way to go and the lines seem to add movement to the pictures.  My quilting on these is a bit crude, but the style suits the cartoon type design and I'm happy with the result.  Excellent practice for more refined echo quilting I'd like to do further down the track.

I surprised the group members (well the half of them who were able to make the meeting) with the blocks at the Tasmanian Quilter's Guild Christmas Lunch last Saturday - they had no idea what I'd been up to.  Our table caused quite a ruckus when the blocks were opened, lots of laughter and I'm so pleased no-one was offended by their portraits - our first Guild meeting as a group make quite an impression!

The group (well half of them) display their portraits at the Tasmanian Quilting Guild Show & Tell

The Guild President's Challenge for 2010 was 'Bring a Plate'.  Alison, a Tangled Web Quilter, took out first place with her confetti pieced cake.  Congrats Ali - a well deserved win!

It was Alison's first Tassie Guild meeting and she caused quite an impression with her work. 

You can see more of Alison's work, and close up pictures of her Bring A Plate piece on her blog - Tea Tree Quilter

So what do you do when someone asks you to quilt a charity quilt in a hurry because their regular quilter is unavailable?  PANIC!  As much as I wanted to, I couldn't say no as my friend was in a desperate position to get the quilt ready for presentation. 

I was really reluctant to do this - I have enough trouble quilting my own tops, and the thought of messing around with someone else's work is terrifying.  My only consolation was that the top was a small panel and not pieced work - a panel can be quickly replaced if anything went horribly wrong.  My friend , bless her, is fully aware of my beginner status and happy to accept whatever I could manage to achieve. 

Stitch-in-the-ditch would have been my first choice for the quilting, but I was out of luck as the top has no ditches to stitch in!  Free-form, which would have been the obvious choice, was not a consideration as I don't do free-form quilting.  There were no blocks to do free-motion designs on either, it was just a single panel piece.  Having however, just done a heap of echo quilting this would have to be the way to go.

Leaving the centre unquilted, resulted in loose fabric.  My suggestion here was that the flowers and hearts be trapunto stuffed, which would fill the unquilted shapes out nicely.  I left it to Marie to do this part herself.  The echo quilting is roughly 1/4 apart, which took quite a long time but I think has a nicer look to it than larger channels would on this small piece. 

I've started work on yet another grandson's quilt.  This is another Amy Bradly pattern - Snugly Bugly - using the by now familiar fusible applique technique.  The fused pieces are blanket stitched in thick 30w black thread, giving the designs a very 'cartoonish' look.  It's nice to work with very bright colours for a change.

Yes, they will eventually have eyes

Although this sort of work is not really my style - not that I've settled on a particular style yet but I know it's not going to be this - it's a fun piece to work on.  Easy and quick to do and a change from piecing. 

As you can probably guess, I've been quite drawn to applique recently.  There are other techniques I'd like to try and I'm interested in eventually doing more refined and detailed work but fusible/blanket stitch is a great place to start.

Hopefully, if I can manage to keep up my resolution, group days will be dedicated to NHP's such as those above, while at home I'll concentrate on getting on with the QA projects. I seem to have got the first burst of applique out of my system and am ready to get back to the Quilting Academy projects and some serious learning.