What’s black and white with a red behind?

My latest customer quilt of course!  This quilt is from the March/April issue of Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting and is called “Study in Black and White”.  It is a very striking quilt and she has done a good job of lining up all the stripes; they would definitely have shown if she had been the least bit off.

Study in Black and White

She originally wanted a black backing which was no problem because I carry black batting.  Never again will I make the mistake of using white batting with a dark backing!  She ended up with a deep red instead so I still used the black batting.  Luckily, the white fabric is a good quality tone-on-tone and the black backing didn’t affect it other than make the heavier white print stand out a bit more.

She brought the magazine with her and asked that I quilt it the same way it had been done in the magazine.  No problem I figured.  Lots of straight and curvy lines; should be fairly easy.  OK – so it wasn’t exactly difficult but extremely time consuming!  The quilt is 110″ x 106 so a fairly good size and was on my frame for almost 3 weeks.  True – I had company for a week during that time but I still worked on it an hour or so at a time while they were here.  What took so long?  Well, in the white areas they had quilted what I called a Greek Key design – it’s not what it is but it’s what I called it!  I originally tried to just measure and mark the design and quilt around it using a ruler.  That didn’t work so well as it was too easy for the design to go “off”.  I decided a template was once again in order so I printed off some graph paper and made a freezer paper template that I traced.  That didn’t work so well either.  I ended up spraying the back of the template with temp. adhesive and carefully quilting around it!

freezer paper template

freezer paper template 2

Every third or fourth strip I would have to stop and press the template again to stiffen it up and spray some more adhesive on the back.  It is a pretty sad looking template now that I’m done LOL

I did have some issues with the backing.  My customer wanted the bobbin thread to match and after a couple of days working with the tension I came to the decision that from now on the bobbin thread will match the top thread.  I have some “pokies” going on that no matter what I did to bring the tension in line the red bobbin thread showed in the white fabric.  So pokies it is.  From a distance  you don’t notice them but I know they are there and they bug me.


The backing is actually a much deeper red than this.  You can sort of make out the quilting that was done.  I used So Fine! in the bobbin.  Usually I use the BottomLine but I didn’t have the right red.  I had no trouble with the thread at all and will not hesitate to use it for the bobbin again.  Speaking of bobbins – it took over 5 bobbins – the large ‘M’ size.


The black centre square has a simple meander in it; the white box is simply outlined; the black outer square has a simple curved wavy line and the wide black border has an allover hooky type of doodle.

Greek 'key' type design

I used King Tut #978 Rosetta Stone for the large black areas.  I really wasn’t sure how it would look but it really soften the harshness of the black and white without taking away from the boldness.

I have never had so many starts and stops in my life!  I can usually backtrack to lock the stitches when I use So Fine (because it is so fine :)) but not when using the red bobbin thread AGGHH. I outlined all of the white and each white strip had at least 4 threads to knot and bury.

So – the final tally?  Over 300 thread tails knotted and buried

Did I ever explain why I named my bog Threadtails?  All through sewing classes in school – right through grade 12 tailoring – the main comment from my instructors was ‘You need to cut your thread tails!’  Life sure is funny sometimes.

Making your own Quilting Motifs

Custom motifs

I first did this quilt layout (pattern) for a customer awhile ago with custom motifs of hummingbirds (you can see it here). She showed a friend that had done the same quilt and so I received it as well.  I told them that I wouldn’t repeat the quilting as the hummingbirds were unique to the first quilt so we decided on butterflies instead.

Once again – Google is my friend – and I found some copyright free pics of butterflies and played with them until I found the basic shape I wanted and

making the butterfly template

then designed the wing to suit quilting.  After finalizing the outline on paper I dry-iron it to a sheet of freezer paper and then add three more sheets of freezer paper to the back so the butterfly still showed.  I find that this makes for a nice firm template that I can use to mark the quilt top.  Remember to use a dry iron to build up the freezer paper – if you use steam you will end up shrinking the paper and it will curl on you.  Once it has cooled I cut it out and can then use it to outline the shape on the top.  I usually use an air-erasable marker or chalk but remember to test these on the edge of the quilt first!

The four red border corner square were also to have something special in them.  I didn’t want to repeat the pansy basket I did on the other one so instead I put a feather basket in there as well as a feather border. Each basket was done free-hand, no chalking, except for the square bottom basket that I used a ruler for.


Because they are all freehand – each basket is slightly different.


This is the first time I’ve ever put this type of feather onto a quilt.  They are ‘formal feathers’ or ‘victorian feathers’ or ‘over-the-top’ feathers; they are called many different things.   I’ve played with them and have recently taken an on-line class for them.  I do like the look of this feather but you really have to PPP alot! including time spent drawing them over and over and over.



Here are some shots of the butterflies.  You will see that once I actually started quilting them I didn’t follow the pattern I had drawn on the paper.  I found that it was too busy and would not give a nice puffy contrast so I simply put 3 feathers inside the wings.

butterfly motif

The butterflies go around the outside of the quilt – all of them facing away from the centre  as if they are flying out from the quilt.  I really thought about turning the bottom two butterflies because there is a definite top to this quilt but it just didn’t look right.  You can see the corner butterfly in the ‘feather’ picture above – that is simply half of my template with an extra wing added in the background.

I did the formal feather border but of course it doesn’t show up that well so I’ve included a picture of the back of the quilt.  Frustrating that it is the back of the quilt where some of our hard work shows up the best LOL

formal feather border - back of quilt

All of the thread used was Superior’s So Fine! Remember – all thread orders over $55 have NO shipping charges!

Sailboat Quilt – planning custom quilt design

I’ve managed to scan a few pictures of the sailboat quilt and doodle some design ideas on it.  If you are ever pondering over what design to do this is  a good method.  Simply take a picture of the whole quilt, specific block areas if you want to do some custom work and then print them out in black and white.  You can make more than one copy or just put them into plastic sleeve protectors and use a dry erase (or wet erase) marker on them and doodle away to your hearts content!  It is a good way to get an overall feel for the quilt and what your ideas will look like.  Here’s a picture of the sail boat quilt again,



I spent a couple of days just doodling sea themed pictures.  You don’t have to be an artists – this is simply to get your quilting design ideas down on paper and sort through them.  Unless you are an artist you will still be using templates and rulers and other paraphernalia when it comes time to quilt the quilt.

This is a good first step especially if you are planning on custom quilting.  I went through three or four different layout ideas before zeroing in on my final choice.  Even if you are just doing an all-over e2e it is a great way to get an idea of what it will look like before you put thread to quilt!  Keep in mind that you will still have to audition the design full size as this is in miniature.


Bailey's BoatYard design 1

Bailey's BoatYard design 1






Here’s the first sketch that I did on the whole quilt – this was after I doodled shapes on paper.  A simple water meander around some seaweed on the left, Seahorses on the right, swirls around the boats with what are supposed to be seagulls flying around.  A treasure chest neslted into the rocky sea bottom.

I’m trying stretch my comfort zone which is the reason my side borders don’t match (little miss symmetry here 😉 ) and I need more practice on the longarm making pebbles. While I like the overall look of this I wasn’t happy with the blocks around the sailboats.  Too busy for me and I don’t think one would even see the seagulls amongst the swirls.


Bailey's Boatyard design 2

Bailey's Boatyard design 2

Here’s my second sketch – I like this one better because the centre of the quilt is not so heavy.  A simple seaweed design up the left side and over the top, Seahorses down the right side and bottom still with the treasure chest.  The swirls in the dark patches respresent coiled rope and the background fill around the boats is a simple water meander.  I’m drawn to this more simply because the quilting is not so heavy.  That is another area that I have to work on because I tend to do fairly light quilting and then once I get it off the frame I realize that I could have done more.  This still wasn’t quite right.  I like the ocean theme around the borders but truth is I don’t think we have Seahorses in my particular stretch of the ocean and I want this quilt to represent my little corner of the world – the West Coast of BC – so back to the drawing board.

Bailey's Boatyard design 3

Bailey's Boatyard design 3

I’m going to keep the centre of the quilt with the water meander around the boats and ‘rope coils’ in the dark patches.  Now I’m showing West Coast BC – a seagull perched on a piling, the mountains, settting sun, cedar trees and a rocky shore line.

I think this quilt has good balance (very important to us Libras 🙂 ) and I may change the single cedar tree on the right to a grouping of three to look more like a forest and, yes, so that I’m not so symmetrical!

OK – the next step is for me to sample these ideas onto the quilt top.  I’ll post my progress and how-to’s as I go.

More about the Fine Line ruler

I have had such a good response to these rulers that I have decided to carry them at my on-line shop, Baileys Quilting.  All orders come through me but the rulers will be shipped from the factory.  Because they will custom make the finger posts on this ruler they are made to order so please allow a few extra days for delivery.  

I must admit that the quilt in the pictures for the ruler looks lovely but it is not mine 😦  Those are the promo pictures for the ruler.

With any luck I will be able to spend a bit of time at the sewing machine today!