What to do when your computer breaks down? Quilt!

My excuse for not posting regularly?  No computer.  I had no idea how dependant one  becomes on these darn things.  My whole morning routine had to change LOL  Anyway, long story short, after a month of having my Imac in two different shops they came to the conclusion that they really couldn’t figure out what the heck was wrong with it.  I had always heard that it was rare for a Mac to have problems but when they did it usually meant the computer was toast.  So – I sit hear typing away on my brand new replacement Imac free of charge thanks to Apple (well, more to the fact that I had purchased the Apple Care to go with it!)

Once I calmed myself from not having a computer I did manage to do more quilting than normal.  Lesson to be learned perhaps?

Kaleidoscope with Disney's "Cars" print

I’ve received a few Kaleidoscope quilts recently and this fun one was done with the Disney’s Cars print.  She supplied her own batting and it was a rather thick and heavy poly so I wanted to keep the quilting pretty light.  The Kaleidoscope blocks have a simple Terry Twist in the centre area only – takes up about half the block – and gave the sense of wheels (car theme fabric after all.)  I did the crossed flags in the large squares and single flags in the small on-point squares.  I simple open meander filled in the rest.

racing flags

floral kaleidoscope

This is another Kaleidoscope that I received.  A very pretty floral print. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of it spread out.  This was for a young lady and the customer wanted it to look a little more formal.  Once again I did a very simple quilting in the kaleidoscope block with Victorian (formal, bumb…) feathers in the open green area around.

simple petal quilting in the blocks

Stitch in the ditch around the yellow border and more feathers in the floral outer border.  These ‘petal shapes were quilted in the kaleidoscope blocks and the plain green blocks.

I think it is important when the block is such a feature in the quilt that my quilting needs to compliment the block; draw your eye to the block and not overwhelm the quilt.

victorian feathers

feather corner

Ramblin’ Rose Meets Jamestown quilt

I fell in love with this quilt when my customer first brought it to me.  I had seen it on-line some time ago but this was the first time up-close and personal and I was going to be able to quilt it to boot!

I believe this layout for the sampler blocks and log cabin blocks are available as a kit from Marti Michell.

I wanted to emphasize the ‘furrows’ of the beige log cabin blocks with a complement in the burgundy log cabin areas.

Ramblin' Rose Meets Jamestown

Here I’ve just started loading the quilt and I’m basting around the outside and pining throughout the middle.

'Dusty Miller' feather

I didn’t want just the usual feather meander.  I had played with a type of border fill in an on-line custom quilting class I took and I came up with something I called a Dusty Miller feather.  My customer said it looks like Oak leaves and that’s OK too 🙂  The picture on the right shows the quilting pattern a bit.  Each burgundy log cabin had a stylized Dusty Miller motif.

I carried the same motif into the different blocks for continuity and used a variation of continuous curves in the squares and triangles in the blocks

blocks

block2

The plaid border and the burgundy border were both stabilized by stitching in the ditch.  I wanted to do a piano key border and after coming to look at the partially done quilt my customer agreed that it would suit the quilt.  It is going to her son and his wife and even though the fabric was all floral it does not look like a feminine quilt.

back

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a good picture of the border before it was picked up but you can see it from the back as well as a good look at my ‘Dusty Miller’ feather.

I know these quilts take a lot of work – stabilizing each border and block, but I do enjoy working on them and the final results.

Quilting motifs

I received a top from a customer who told me she had never had a quilt done professionally before.  I was in the middle of an on-line custom quilting course and decided this would be a perfect top to work with.  Fairly simply assembly – floral blocks with borders of green and red.  The only stipulation she had was that she wanted flowers quilted in the 4 corners.

I decided to use the floral blocks as inspiration and made a hummingbird motif from a copy-right free site I found on-line.  I used my printer to shrink it to the size I needed for the blocks.  I ironed it onto freezer paper and then ironed on 2 more layers so the pattern would be quite stiff.

humming bird pattern

I would use these along with air/water soluble marking pens on the quilt top itself.

I spent a lot of time trying to find a floral motif to use in the corners (outlined in red in the picture).  The floral blocks were too ‘dainty’ to use as motifs and I sketched a number of different ideas until I came upon the realization that I could already quilt pansies and I knew my customer liked pansies as well.  I drew my own design for the corner motifs and then used the freezer paper to stiffen the pattern the same way as I did the humming birds.

pansy basket

I drew around the outside of the patterns and then just a few inner lines as a guideline while I was quilting.

This was the first time I had ever used my quilting as the focal point on the quilt.  A little scary but I thoroughly enjoyed doing this top.

humming bird

I just did a simple stippling around the motifs.  Here’s a close-up of one of the humming birds; they were done in all the white  setting triangles around the outside of the quilt.  I did continues curves in the red, green and white borders.  These were long strips of fabric but I divided and marked them as if they were made of smaller squares and quilted accordingly.

pansy basket

Here you can see one of the pansy baskets and the single pansy I put in the smaller corner setting triangles. The top had both white and off-white and  I matched the thread through-out the quilt – So Fine! Snow for the white setting triangles and So Fine! Putty around the floral blocks.

pansy basket close-up

My customer was going to use this as a tablecloth but once she saw it she decided to set aside an area in her home and used it as a wall-hanging complete with display table beneath and flowers.

I do enjoy all types of quilting but I must say that this really made me realize how much I love the creative aspect of custom work.  Good thing I do as another customer saw this quilt and dropped off her quilt of the same pattern!  Hmmm – this time I see butterflys…

Round Robin Quilt with a twist

Over a year ago I talked my quilting buddies into a special type of round robin that I had come across on-line.  I would love to give credit where credit is due but all I know it was from a group of women somewhere in BC and because the pictures are no longer on-line I can’t even source it out anymore.

Basically, it is done as a regular round robin but instead of simply adding borders to the project that you receive, you have to follow ‘instructions’ as to what is to be done for that round – things like ” make the project neither square nor rectangular” and “cut and insert fabric 3 times”.

Sounded like a lot of fun and a great way to maybe get out of the quilting box we had put ourselves into.  I bravely (and rather naively as it turned out) offered to make up the spreadsheet for the 9 of us to follow so we would always know what instructions we were to follow and who to send the project off to when we were done.  Sounds pretty basic right?  Wrong.

This ‘challenge’ was going to take over a year to complete.  We wanted to make sure we all had enough time to do the challenge.  We all agreed our starting blocks would be something simple (mine was just a fat quarter of fabric) and not a block that we had spent hours making!  After handing out my rather spiffy looking spreadsheets to everyone my friend said “I don’t think this will work out right”.  I managed to argue loud enough that I was sure it was OK and it was left at that point.  Well, of course a couple months into it we realized that it wasn’t right.  We needed another set of instructions added to the list.  A few months later the call went out that the spreadsheet still wasn’t right because all of a sudden everyone was getting back a project that they had already worked on.  No problem, we decided, we would just carry on.  Lo and behold awhile later it was discovered that the spreadsheet was really messed up because the owners of the project would be getting their own back before it was even finished.  That really had to get fixed so I spent a long afternoon re-working the entire thing and got it straightened out enough that we could complete it.  What a nightmare!! And, that is what I’ve called my finished project.

WHAT A NIGHTMARE

Here is my finished top.  You can see the different instructions – cut 3 times – add piping – make in neither square nor rectangular and so on.

The vibrating blue in the centre was the fat quarter that I started out with.

Not really my cup of tea!  I was bound and determined I was going to quilt it though, it means a lot to me that we all had a part in it.

I started out by printing out a couple of pictures of the quilt in greyscale and started to doodle.  It finally dawned on me that if it is called What a Nightmare why not turn it into a nightmare!

I must explain that I am terrified of spiders.  Totally.  So – if this top was going to be my nightmare then I guess I had to include a few.  The fat quarter in the centre really does lend itself to a spider web after all.

What a wicked web we weave

I used Superior Metallics in Silver for the web and King Tut Ebony for the spiders and bugs.  It was all done free hand and I went around the bugs and spiders 2 or 3 times each to give them definition and twice on the web.

AGGHHHH!

What else should be in the quilt but my version of Munch’s “Scream”  I used King Tut Limestone for the outline and So Fine! Rose Petal for the background fill around him…her…it.  I really wanted the piece to be kind of wonky and weird so all I did was sketch a rough outline of what I wanted and just played with the machine.

I even put Kilroy ( for those that remember him) in the upper right corner.

Kilroy was here

Fingers are hanging down all around the outside pink border, Red Metallics bats in the Flying Geese blocks and slithery snakes in the Drunkards path.

Slithery

All in all I had a lot of fun.  Except maybe for the spiders.

behind the scenes

It was a great chance to practice my background fills too!

Thank you to all my 4Qx2+1 quilting buddies – the spiders will only be coming out at Halloween!

What a difference the (quilting) thread makes!

When I first started out quilting I never gave much thought to the thread I was using other than the colour of course.  I was introduced to Superior Threads King Tut by a fellow quilter that had a long arm machine and I fell in love with all the colours available, never mind the quality of the thread itself!

I soon fell in love with the product only to discover how difficult it was to find here in Canada.  For that reason I started Bailey’s Quilting Headquarters and learning about what so many of us take for granted – thread.

Here’s a poll for you – stop and think about the thread you have in your sewing room and how old your oldest spool of thread is.  Don’t include any vintage thread you have kept “just because”, just the thread that you use or plan to use.

It will be interesting to see the results 🙂

So, what difference can old thread make?  If you’re using up Gramma’s old thread to piece your quilts together with you could end up with seams that are very weak and can break and pull apart long before the quilt has a chance to be loved to death first.  That would be the worst that could happen; the most frustrating thing would be constant breakage and fraying while sewing and that makes for no fun at all.

What thread should you use for piecing?  Does it really matter, no-one can see it?  Actually, it matters a great deal and in this case – size does matter.  Do you find that you have difficulties getting that perfect scant 1/4″ seam?  If you are positive that you’re machine is set correctly and you’re using the right foot then perhaps it is the thread that is causing the issue.  You have to remember that the thread itself will take up room in the seam and the thicker the thread the more room it takes up and can make your supposed scant 1/4″ seam larger than you think.  If you are using regular sewing thread than try MasterPiece thread.

MasterPiece thread by Superior Threads

It is 100% ELS cotton, very fine and has very little lint to gather in your machine.  I carry six common colours from white through beige, grey and black.

When it comes to the actual quilting of your project then once again the size of the thread should be taken into account.  If you are doing and all-over quilting pattern and would like the thread to compliment the fabric then King Tut is a good choice.  This is a 40wt 100% ELS cotton perfect for the sit-down machine quilter, hand quilter and is praised by long-arm quilters for its strength, lack of lint and amazing colour pallet.

king tut 981 cobra

King Tut by Superior Threads (#981 Cobra)

There is a lot of controversy about using polyester threads when quilting.  I will be the first to tell you that I do not recommend polyester threads for piecing the top together but for the actual quilting process I heartily recommend it!

The problem with using polyester thread for piecing is probably not what you think it is.  I’m sure you’ve heard how the polyester thread can tear the cotton fabric and while that may have been true many, many years ago I would like to think that our manufacturing of cotton into fabrics has advanced somewhat 😉  In fact – I have tested 100% cotton thread that is stronger (took much more force to break) than a quality polyester thread.  The truth is that we use a very high heat when pressing our piecing and that doesn’t work well with polyester threads.  If you were to use a polyester setting when pressing your blocks you would have no problem at all.

So Fine! thread is the perfect choice when you want a finer look to the quilting.  This  50wt polyester thread will sink down into the fabric and is ideal for tone-on-tone quilting where the quilting

So Fine! #419 Pineapple

So Fine! by Superior Threads, #419 Pineapple

makes the pattern such as with wholecloth quilts.  Again, this thread is for all quilters whether they machine or hand quilt.  Machine quilters will love the fact that there will be next to no link at all in their machines.

I have a printable PDF with more information about these threads that you can access here.

I have changed my shipping charges and now for every order over $55 Canadian shipping is FREE!

Happy quilting in 2010 🙂

Trapunto pansies

I short time ago I joined a sub-group of my Quilting Guild called Fibre Speak.  These are fibre artist expanding their knowledge, learning, sharing and just having fun.  I’m pretty much a traditional quilter and don’t go outside my comfort zone all that often or very far when I do!  I figured it would do me good to try new things.

The first meeting I attended was a hands-on class of applying acrylic paint to a quilted piece of fabric by dry-rolling it on.  The group had watched an instructional video from two English ladies that showed how to make wall-hangings and pillows this way.  I really didn’t understand so I chickened out and didn’t bring anything and just decided to watch.  It was a real eye opener!

They had all made a small, 15- 18″ square quilted project either on dark cotton or Dupioni Silk.  An area was quilted in either a fruit or flower and the rest was background filled.  This feature quilting was then blocked off with freezer paper or protected in some way so the acrylic paint would not be applied there.  It was amazing to see the transformation of the quilting when the paint was applied.  They used a dense foam roller with a minimal amount of white acrylic paint worked well into the roller and when it was almost ‘dry’ they lightly rolled it across the fabric.  The quilting jumped out at you!

I couldn’t stay for the entire meeting and had to leave.  The group brought their work to the Guild meeting that evening and I couldn’t believe the finished works of art they had created!  After the paint was rolled on they removed the protective freezer paper and using more paint they coloured the feature quilting they had done.  

I thought about this for a looonng time and decided that I could step away from by box long enough to try this.  What a blast!  Mind you – it would have been more fun to do it with the group but still fun to try by myself.  It’s almost like I can’t stretch my creativity because I don’t even know I’m in a box.  Once someone says “hey – let’s try this” my mind starts to work overtime!   “OK – but what if we did this…or this…or this!”

I went through my stash and all I had was a piece of dark burgundy cotton.  I wanted to try some Trapunto as well because I noticed that the pieces that had a higher loft batting worked better.  Of course – the feature quilting I wanted to do was of pansies so I hunted on-line until I found a picture that would work well for Trapunto and stenciled it onto the fabric.  I used poly-batting for the Trapunto and bamboo batting behind it.  My traditional roots still poked through because I squared off the section behind the pansies and did a 60′ cross-hatch grid behind them and some mini fantasy feathers around that.  I used freezer paper to protect the Trapunto’d pansies and, after taking a deep breath, I dry-rolled the white acrylic paint onto the feathers.  Wow!  They looked like tooled leather!  I used water soluble pencil crayons to colour the pansies.  What fun!  I only wish now that I had taken pictures along the way but I had so much fun I’m going to make more and I’ll take step-by-step pictures then.

So – here it is – my Trapunto Pansies on Burgundy!  

Trapunto Pansies on Burgundy

Trapunto Pansies on Burgundy

New colours in quilting thread.

I’ve just been given a sneak peak at over 20 new King Tut colours that Superior Threads are coming out with very soon.  Did I say ‘sneak peak’?  Actually – just the names that have been chosen and that is enough to peak my interest!  Morning Sky, 324723104_06ca24c16d Obsidian obsidian and Angel Teal  angels_1  just to name a few.  Here is the list of the upcoming threads.  Be sure to fill out the form and I will email you when you are able to view and order these new colours that are sure to inspire your creativity and increase your fabric stash 🙂