Saturday, June 23, 2012

Three down...

I am sitting here early morning waiting to go to learn to row- a new adventure for me.  I am constantly seeking some form of exercise I can be good at.  Kevin has his doubts this one will be it, but I'm going to give it a try.

I'd like to post my progress on my Snowflake quilt.  The first two squares were completed last week..  Both of them bearded, with the batting coming through the back.  It isn't visible to the naked eye, but I had Kevin take a very magnified picture of it.  You can definetly feel it. I blame the needle because the third one I did yesterday didn't have any problem at all.  These squares take 6-10 hours each to do!  The three of them took an entire 1,000 m spool of thread.

My first one: Scallops.  (My small quilt group asked me if this was a stitch on my machine! These ladies are amazing at quilting, so that was a huge compliment.
My second one: Swirls.  (I LOVE this one.  I played with different size swirls and this is really the first filler I've done in such a large space that doesn't have a preplanned placement -like how the scallops always go in the next spot- it was a challenge.)

See how the batting pokes through? It is more of an annoyance than a problem.

My third one: Basketweave.  (I set this up with a walking foot, to make the grid.  Then I freehanded the in between lines.  It was important to me that the numbers weren't all the same.  I wanted it to vary a bit.)

The quilt has 12 small squares like these and then a center square that is the size of 4 little squares.  I still haven't figured out how to do that, since my felt comes in paper size sheets- I wonder if I can just join the felt with invisible thread?  I might do a practice piece to try.  

You should be able to click on any of the pictures to see it larger.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Winter Wonderland progress report

I recently got it in my head that I really wanted to learn to do shadow trapunto.  There is a book I want to buy from a blogger I read, but Leah Day also offers a pattern for a "reverse" shadow trapunto technique.  Since I am pretty much a disciple of Leah Day's, I purchased her pattern.  Her blog has been so amazing in teaching me to quilt (and really, more teaching me to be fearless about quilting) that I feel like I should try to buy her things when I can, because she is a professional quilter, and she has to make a living somehow!  I really appreciate all that she offers for free.
This snowflake features pebbling.  This is the only one I did where the center and the outer parts have the same filler, but I really liked how the circles filled the space.  Maybe I should have done spirals on the outside, just to follow the trend of two fillers, but I really love how this one looks.
The shadow trapunto technique is actually REALLY simple.  Honestly- you pretty much just applique the shapes down, except you don't cut them out first, so it is like applique in the hoop, without the hoop.  I'm still not sure why it is necessary to use water soluble thread, as a matching thread would be hidden under the organza.
This snowflake has pebbling in the center, and loopy line in the rest of the spaces.
Anyhow- last week I got the snowflakes (except the center one, and the two I ran out of felt for) all sewn down and cut out  (I started with the paper traced method outlined before, but gave up - because I not only had to go over a different design to perforate each one, it just took forever.  Since these squares were thin, and not yet a quilt sandwich, I ended up tracing the designs with chalk on the square.  I should have done that the first time).  I also got the sandwiches layered, and began outlining the snowflakes- this was the tricky part.  I needed to be close enough to the felt to trap it, but far enough away not to sew over it, exactly by the edge.  I had varying degrees of success. 

Once that was done, I started the fillers.  I quilted a few minutes almost everyday this week (literally a few minutes- I am so tired after work...) and then I had a half day Friday and got them all done. The insides of all the snowflakes are finished.  Then, today, I started the hard part: quilting the gigantic space on the outsides.  I'll post that picture tomorrow, because I actually got one square done. 
This is the loopy line filler.
This post also goes along with the "loopy line" technique that is the current quilt-a-long topic on Leah's blog.  I have used loopy line before (on my math quilt), so I thought this would be a great time to challenge myself to use it on a micro-scale.  It went okay.  It is hard to keep the stitches consistent, but also small enough that the tops of the loops aren't too jagged.  I did like that the line part of the filler allowed me to back out of tight spots easily.  I will likely use this filler to do the outside of another snowflake, although maybe at a slightly looser scale.  It is the tightest of the inner fillers I did.
This is pebbling.
The other one I was especially proud of and had Kevin take pictures of was my pebbling.  I put this on my colorful quilt, and didn't really enjoy doing it.  I think using the Isacord (rather than the connecting threads cotton, which is thicker) made it more enjoyable.  It didn't take as long as I remembered (still time consuming) and I think my circles are more even.   Of course, in macro, they don't look too even at all

I can't wait to make more progress on this quilt!  I have to start school again next week, so that is a pretty huge bummer to my quilting time.  Just two classes left though, and I am a free woman!

A little bit of quilting...

Today I am spending quite a bit of time quilting scallops on my snowflake quilt.

But I thought I would share a square from one of my latest charity quilts, because I tried something new: a marked pattern. I learned a lot from this. The method of marking, that many call easy, is NOT easy- at least if you don't use the proper tools.
I traced the pattern from a book onto paper (regular paper, I didn't have tracing paper) and then used a non-threaded sewing needle in the machine to perforate the paper. Then, I sewed the design over it, and ripped out the paper. In some places, the paper ripped off easily, in others, it would get stuck under the thread and I'd spend a TON of time picking paper out. I won't be using this again. Maybe tracing paper makes it easier, but it is not my method of choice.

Because those took SO long to do (though admittedly, they look really pretty), every other block in the quilt I put a freehand spiral, an easy fall back.

Anyhow- I watched a video the other day that talked about a great marking method if you can't use a lightbox to trace, so I will try it next time. Basically, you trace your design with a sharpie on a piece of tool. And then use chalk or a marking pen over the tool to transfer the design onto the quilt. That sounds like a winner. I like these quilted motifs, and hope to use more of them.

I quilt at least a charity quilt each month, often up to 4. I just don't post about them much because I usually stipple. But they are also where I experiment One I did machine embroidery quilting to try it out- the quilt looked amazing, but the designs are too expensive, and the hooping takes forever, so I probably won't do that again.

Still, it is really nice the guild has an on-going supply of practice quilts for me!

I signed up for a free motion quilting class with Diane Gaudynski at the Des Moines AQS show- sadly, it isn't until October. I wish I could have taken a second class, but I also want to drive out a second day to see the show. I am doing "perfect FMQ", but she has a class specifically on feathers I wish I could take. She is offering five different intermediate level quilting classes- all except the one I'm taking on a very specific shape: bananas, circles, echo quilting, feathers, and then the more general class. Having never taken a class before I thought general was the way to go, even though I really need feather help! Her feathers are brilliant, but I'm probably going to just buy her book afterwards. (Actually the class I was most interested was about circles, but it was only a half day class, and taking a second half day class- probably another of hers, was too expensive...)

Now, however, I need to figure out a shopping strategy for the show. I know I am going to be exposed to SO much stuff I've never seen.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Not going so well...

So it turns out I am REALLY bad at buying supplies for quilting.  I bought white fabric for my Dresden plate quilt, and ran out.  I placed a order for more (haven't yet checked to see if I have enough.  Also- really really worried about color bleeding on this quilt.  I wish I had prewashed, or used a non-white background. Oops.)

When I placed the order, I got fabric to use for the Winter Wonderland Quilt (a Leah Day pattern).  I had already purchased the top fabric, so I got felt and organza.

Well would you believe it- I ran out of felt, organza, and the pink topping fabric!  I couldn't believe it.  I have enough batting and backing fabric though  :)

I'm really shocked I ran out of my pink topping fabric because I followed the yardage required- maybe too much shrank?  I was off by almost 16 inches though.  The felt was completely my mistake. I ordered 10 instead of 12. (I'm not sure what I will do about the center, because the felt I'm using comes in paper size sheets.  Maybe I will use batting for that one?  Or piece felt together?  I wonder if the organza would hide the stitching.)  The organza, I got extra wide so I ordered less than she called for (since the width was double) but I estimated wrong.  I can do math. I should have...  

This quilt is a technique called "reverse shadow trapunto", which sounds really intimidating, but really the step where you put the felt/batting on the fabric is just applique!  So I sewed snowflakes with water soluble thread and have them all cut out. I have them all layered with the organza in place, and am ready to quilt. 
Here is a really bad picture showing what one block looks like.  I have 10 of 12 small blocks done.  I'm saving the large middle block for the end.

UGH! This is the scary part.  As much as I think I'm pretty good at microstippling, I don't want a totally stippled quilt- so I need to get good at at least 13 different microfillers.  EEK!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A bundle of fabric.

I needed to place an order from for some Kona Cotton to do my Dresden Plate quilt.  Since I was shopping anyway, I threw in a 3-pound bundle.  I really like what I got!  With the florals I plan to do a charity quilt to give to guild.  The baby fabric might do the same, but I really like them, so maybe someone else will have a baby I need to make a gift for!

This is all REALLY nice fabric.  Like $10/$12 per yard at a quilt shop (cheaper on, and I'm sure it all came from the sale pile, but I still feel like I got a good deal.) Most of the fabrics coordinate with each other, coming from the same line.  The only weird thing, except the polka dot, every fabric has a 5" square taken out of the corner.  I guess they were cutting swatches.

From the top, brand and size of cut
Riley Blake - 37"
Robert Kaufman (Dr. Suess) - 17"
Riley Blake- 42"
Riley Blake- 35"
Riley Blake- 37"
FreeSpirit (Noah's Ark) - 35" (you can't see it but the argyle has flamingos on it. So random!)
Windham Fabrics (Daughter's of the American Revolution) - 44"
Windham Fabrics (Mr. K's Calico) - 39"
Windham Fabrics (Mr. K's Calico) - 43"

So pretty much everything is about a yard (one half-yard cut).  Nothing is scraps.  Good, useable fabric!

In other quilting news today I started the snowflake shadow trapunto quilt.  This quilt will be a huge test of my quilting skills- as it needs lots of small scale fillers, and my patience.  Today I only did a few squares of the applique (sewing the felt snowflake onto the backing fabric) and it took FOREVER.  I'm going to try a different method tomorrow.   I'm worried my organza is too shiny, so who knows what it will turn out looking like.