Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Dancing Quills practice piece

This is another quilt of my own. I love the fast pace of quilting for clients, but I'm excited that I get to KEEP this one! I purchased the quilt top pattern as a kit from Craftsy.com in August 2014. I didn't get around to piecing it until almost a year later. By then, I had placed my order for an APQS longarm quilting machine and anxiously awaited it's arrival. The whole time I was piecing this quilt top, I was imagining how I would quilt it. Very pleased with how it turned out!

Here's how I started. I printed the straight-on view of the pattern and sketched out what I envisioned.

Here was a preliminary idea that got ruled out.

I started by stitching-in-the-ditch (SITD) throughout the whole quilt from top to bottom, to outline various areas and tack down (aka: baste) the quilt sandwich. I used two layers of batting - bottom layer: Quilter's Dream Select, top layer: Quilter's Dream Poly-Down - so I was worried about all those layers sliding around. It was super puffy! I didn't happen to snap a shot after all the SITD. 

Here's a photo after the NEXT step, which was to add what I'm calling "tire treads", working my way back through the quilt from bottom to top. They were long lines that ran adjacent to the four large diamond-shapes in the piecing pattern. It was a "wishbone" motif with accompanying echo lines. 

The next step was to come back through and fill in the background space with concentric swirls and pebbles. I used the grey triangles in the piecing as inspiration and left mirrored triangles unquilted. They are puffed-up and really give great texture!

At this point, I started out a new day of quilting by de-linting and oiling my machine, as usual. Except this time I forgot to run several thread-less stitches through scrap fabric before getting back into my quilt. Machine oil on white fabric - crap!

Several quilting facebook-friends recommended cornstarch to absorb the oil. I sprinkled/dabbed it on and let it set while I quilted the rest of that throat-space. I should have let it sit on there longer, but I wanted to roll up the quilt to keep quilted, so I used a clean brush to removed the cornstarch. Better, but not gone. Darn.

Other quilters recommended blue Dawn dish soap. I dabbed it on with a Q-tip, then removed the soap with water on a Q-tip. This is what it looked like after drying. Pretty good. I don't think the average onlooker will notice. I consider it one of life's lessons to SLOW DOWN and think about what you're doing!

Made it all the way back to the top of the quilt, finished with tire treads and background filler.

Next I started doing a lot of ruler work in the large diamond shapes (in the piecing). Parallel lines are something I've come to really like. For a long time, I felt guilty using straight lines. Like I wasn't being creative enough or working hard enough or something. But it's such a clean look, and juxtaposed against more swirly-whirly motifs, parallel lines can really be striking. Plus, I'm galvanized by a lesson learned from one of my quilting role models (Kathleen Riggins - www.kathleenquilts.com): Straight lines are a legitimate choice. 

Within those parallel lines, I used varying sizes and distributions of ribbon candy, pebbles, serpentine (aka: back-and-forth) and McTavishing (looks like ocean waves).

Quilters always love the back side.

Here's my one (most-glaring) mistake. I accidentally filled in a triangle that was supposed to be open. I call it my "Amish mistake". I've heard that Amish hand-quilters (admired the world-over) purposely stitch a mistake into each of their quilts, to acknowledge that only God has the ability to make perfect things. I didn't actually make this mistake on purpose, but I'm not telling anyone that! Shhhh!

And here you can see my Amish nod on the front... Someone asked if I thought about ripping it out. And the answer was NO WAY - even if it had been a client quilt. There is a big community these days, known as the modern quilt movement, and this is just the kind of asymmetry funky-ness that they'd like. I think it's quirky and endearing, and I actually kinda love it.

Pardon the over-share of copious photos. Good thing Blogger doesn't charge by the image.

And... hold your breath... after binding, it lays perfectly flat! Yayyyyy!

Follow-up: A couple of people have asked - this quilt took me 25 hours for the quilting alone. I timed it.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Ruler Work practice piece

This is an oldy-but-goody. I purchased the interior of this quilt as a pre-printed panel from Spoonflower.com, ages ago. The fabric is only 42" wide, and I wanted it to be a bit wider, so I pieced on some borders to create a nice lap-sized practice piece.

I actually started this quilt before I got my longarm machine. I spray basted the quilt sandwich layers and tacked down the fabric with long basting stitches in the ditch of the borders, on my domestic sewing machine at the time. Then I put it away to handle more pressing matters and am just now getting it back out of the closet.

I love pre-printed quilt fabrics. Spoonflower.com has a bunch of what they call "cheater" quilts - fabrics that are printed to look like quilts. I love it - it saves me the time of having to piece together all those scraps of separate fabrics, and I can get right down to the part I really love - the QUILTING!

I did "stitch in the (imaginary) ditch" around all the squares in the center, to make it look even more like it was actually pieced together. Plus those "ditches" gave me places to hide my stitching when traveling from one place to another. I enjoyed playing with straight and circle rulers on this one.

All quilting is free-motion, hand-guided on an APQS longarm quilting machine.

Interesting to note - the gold fabric where you see a "rope" quilting motif - that fabric went through the 2013 flood that destroyed the lower level of our home, including my entire quilting studio. Unlike many others in neighboring towns, we in Black Diamond, AB, were able to get back into our wrecked homes within a couple of days to salvage what we could. I enlisted friends who weren't flooded to help us launder any clothing, bedding, towels, and FABRIC that looked like it might be worth saving. Some of the lighter fabrics were just too soiled and stained (from marinating in mud and sewage) and had to be thrown away. But my friends Lise and Tanya were able to work miracles with most of what we had. This gold fabric was one that got saved. You can see some fading and creasing in the fabric, but that doesn't bother me. I actually kinda love how it reminds me that we survived and are moving forward stronger than ever.