Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Blogger's Quilt Festival: Fall 2016 Edition

Can't believe's that time of year again. Amy's Creative Side is again hosting the Bloggers Quilt Festival. I missed the Spring edition for some reason so was not going to miss this event. The Bloggers Quilt Festival is always great fun and looking through the entries is very inspiring. So much talent out there, it's actually quite amazing.

I am entering a favourite of mine, loosely called the Baby Quilt, into the Mini Quilt Category

Absolutely loved the fabric and just had to do the Tumbling Block design for this. You can read a bit about the Y-Seams construction HERE, and HERE . Not the easiest to construct but so worth it in the end.

Details of the quilt:

Size: 41in x 53in
Fabric: Main fabric is an Ann Kelle design (Urban Zoologie) for Robert Kaufmann fabrics
Threads used: Gutermann for construction and straight line quilting; Clear Monofilament thread for SID; Aurifil 50/2 for other FMQ designs
Finish: straight line quilting across the cubes with loop design in the feature fabric; continuous heart design in the inner border and more loops in the outer border.
Binding: Left over strips of fabric used which gives the whole quilt a bit of a lift

Head over to Amy's Creative Side to have a bit of a look. There are 11 categories, so plenty to look at.  The linky is open for another 3 days after which voting will start.


Friday, 16 September 2016

WIP coming along

Have been stitching away on my WIP: No Name As Yet - The fabric came from a stack of Robert Kaufmann fabrics by designer Leesa Chandler in the Passage to India range. I designed this quilt a while ago and finally got around to continuing on this.
Currently stitching-in-the-ditch around all of the blocks and also around those little strips of dark colour. This is taking me for ages...not my favourite task, I must say, so I am spreading it out a bit which makes the whole process just that little bit more painful. It is actually holding me up!

I am using Invisafil from Wonderfil thread. This is a 2 ply 100wt soft polyester thread I discovered last year when participating in the FMQ Challenge run by Quiltshopgal. I was using it then to FMQ a feather design on some Dupioni Silk. That worked really well and I did try it a bit later for stitching- in-the-ditch as an alternative to the clear Monofilament thread that I often use for multi-coloured projects.

I had some tan coloured Invisafil and thought that was the perfect choice for this project as my seams alternate between dark and light, so needed a colour that blends into both.
I have never liked the clear Monofilament thread that much...I do not like its shine and also find that the machine does not like it all that much major problem but a few hiccups every now and then with the thread becoming entangled when coming off the spool, tie offs not working properly and the hassle of actually finding the thread to bury all those threads into the fabric. In addition, I do not like the feel of the thread once quilted. However it does the job and I have been using it for some years by now.
When I tried Invisafil first I used a Bottomline thread in the bobbin, but at a recent quilt show I asked someone at the Wonderfil thread stall re this and they advised that you also put the Invisafil in the bobbin for quilting-in-the-ditch, so I did. Had no issues with this and given that the thread is so fine, one bobbin lasted me for over half the quilt.
I used Needle size 60/8 with a tension of 4.0 (tension of stitch no 52 used for quilting)

I like the feel of this...the quilt feels much softer, the stitches are hardly visible, except where I stuffed up and overall, I had hassle free stitching. Also, as I am somewhat impatient I have been using the tie off stitch both at the beginning and end of the seams which is working very well. This has sped up the process immensely given that I am going around all those little dark strips. Only got a few more of those squares left and then I can switch over to FMQ which will be a welcomed relief.

If you have not tried this thread, maybe give it go. I think this is a really good alternative for the clear Monofilament thread and the thread is so fine, you really can hardly see it which makes for a very nice finish.


Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Designing away

Still learning the updates on my drawing program (Draw Plus 8) but have made some steady progress on designing the next little Wholecloth. While inspired by the workshop with Claudia Pfeil that I went to recently, I  changed things around a  bit to make this a little bit more interesting for me. The idea for me is not to draw out the whole Wholecloth in all its detail (although you probably could if you are really keen), rather to just get a bit of an idea of proportions, where to put borders, how much empty space will I have etc. and what one could do with this.

This is how I started out. Circle in the middle, like in the class and then mirroring shapes, filling etc.
Needless to say, this took me ages...but I am learning, so it's all good. Particularly impressed that I was able to construct my own Pebbles vector fill (and put it in the library to be re-used!). So this is the middle and then I started really playing around moving from the center out.
Loved this idea using the arc shape (the fill area will be reduced as I might put more shapes around the circle), so went with it and developed what I call a very loose little 'concept drawing' (Haha...) from this.

Does not really show you that much, but has got all the bits I need. I mucked around with scaling which did work fine, except that my other measurements left a bit to be desired. Was obviously not that accurate at times (and forgot to put things on layers which made things shift here and there etc.). But that does not really matter. I was working from a 30in size and was able to get approximates of the other sizes which gives me a good idea of how big I should make the main elements. The feathers on top  may or may not eventuate...was just practising getting some feathers on the screen with the Replicate tool (very neat feature). This drawing is for a little Wholecloth that I would like to stitch on silk...I am aiming for about 30 in and will follow some of the ideas that we discussed in Claudia Pfeil's class. So obviously all those empty areas will be filled with something. This was really useful and hopefully I get a bit better with the whole scaling function (or maybe the computer could stop being so dammed accurate).
Then I finally tackled a motif that I had drawn some 4 years ago...the drawing was ok, but to really use it, I would have had to re-do it and then muck around with lots of photocopies so it was left.
So here is my new improved version

This took a little while...the tracing of the original image was much easier with the new B-Spline tool and I spent additional time on smoothing out some curves that were wonky on my actual drawing. Definitely getting the hang of this. This was  quite easy and I now have my motif on the computer ready to be grouped, flipped, mirrored, scaled, rotated and the like...this is good fun. Also re-drew my little image from the other day using the programs spiral tool.

As you can see this is working very well for well worth the money I spend on upgrading my program.

Am I actually doing any quilting?  Yes, I am in the process of finishing off my yet to be named Robert Kaufmann squares quilt. Doing some very boring quilting in the ditch at the moment...Using Invisafil! More about that another day...


Thursday, 1 September 2016

Great class with Bethanne Nemesh

I did a lovely class with Bethanne Nemesh at the Australian Machine Quilting Festival called 'Feather Faster'.
This was 'only' a drawing class demonstrating the no backtracking, no marking, fast way of creating beautiful feathers for your quilt.
Some of my drawings
I stitched this out when I came home in the evening which was really fun to do.

Particularly liked the lacy feather above...this was almost like stitching against your grain, after having learned to backtrack neatly and obsessively on your stitched line, you just stitch over your previous stitching...felt really weird, but to my surprise I really liked that look.

Bethanne spent a bit of time talking about the various ways of drawing/stitching feathers and I did pick up a few tips on how to prevent certain pitfalls like the feathers almost falling over or coming too close to the spine...very helpful. She is a really great teacher and spent a bit of time paying attention to individual quilters in the class who had particular questions or just struggled with the drawings and there was a lot of information packed into this 2 hr class. Highly recommended!
We also got a pattern for a little wall hanging that will showcase the different feathers...I think I will do this next to have a sample of all the different ideas to put up on the wall in my sewing room.

As for my other quilts, particularly with the approaching FAL2016...I think for this quarter I have failed miserably...only finished one project!


Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Intense Learning Time

The Australian Machine Quilting Festival 2016 is over. I have been on leave for the last few days and I have not done one scrap of quilting. In fact, my sewing room is such a mess that I would need to clean up before doing anything. And I am exhausted...I went for 3 days straight...on the bus, to town every day with lots of walking in between.
I am still on my design kick and am going through a very steep learning curve.
I took a class with Claudia Pfeil at the Quilt Festival which was about designing Wholecloth quilts. While this was a great class, it did not give me what I needed...we basically designed a Wholecloth around different size borders, similarly to an exercise I once had done with instructions from Patsy Thompson. Don't get me wrong, Claudia Pfeill's Wholecloth quilts were lovely and I don't want to knock the class. It was fun and it certainly is one way to go about designing a Wholecloth.

Not sure what I was looking for...I looked around the show and came across a really fantastic book by Judy Woodworth (as well as another book from Karen many books do I need?). The title looked promising

This book is very good and includes the 'how to', what tools to use, a little bit about feathers, designing a pattern, designing a Wholecloth quilt, some of Judy's designs and much more... it even has a section on thread painting. She certainly packed a lot of information into this one book! While I had come across many of the ideas in the book, it did make me stop and analyse where my 'block' is. I have got a lot of great tools (i.e Cindy Needham's stencils, rulers, gadgets...), I can draw somewhat and I can come up with little ideas...the issue centers around visualising the bigger picture and seeing it come together as a unified whole where you can see how things fit together and have a look at the general design, proportions and placement.

Now you can go and draw these things by hand, then make multiple copies like I have done the other day for an allover Wholecloth, however for a detailed design that becomes incredibly laborious. I did experience this in the last few months with my Mandala design...I spent weeks on getting my drawing right to the point of stitching with lots of time spent on redrawing sections I did not like...the stitching was really the easy part!

I have got EQ7 and that does help a bit, however EQ7 is not a drawing program. While it is do-able (i.e you can import an image), I was starting to realise that I need to make my life a bit easier. I have got an old version of the drawing program 'Serif Draw Plus' and finally went ahead and updated this to the newer version yesterday. Oh, the bliss...should have looked at this earlier as they have made several excellent you can trace shapes with a B-spline curve which in my simple terms fixes the curve as you go along. Tracing on the computer has been incredibly difficult for me in the past, but with this new tool this is a breeze...a little bit like magic
So I drew a little design of just one small curl for testing and here is how that evolved into something quite usable
Scanned the drawn image of one curl (no doubt influenced by Karen MacTavish' book) into the drawing program, traced it with the B-Spline tool which was super easy, little bit of a tidy up here and there, re-sized it and made multiple copies on the page I was working on, grouping two together as a motif and then arranging them in this frame. Grouped together like this, I now have the freedom to enlarge or reduce, change the thickness of the lines, add or remove sections etc. Imagine this filled in with some featherwork...this could look quite good! I might even attempt to draw some feathers in the program...need to experiment more with this.Also played with the Autotrace function which the old program also featured, however I had only used this sporadically.

 Look at this traced image

Wrapping Paper - copyright 2013 of the Wrapping Paper Company (

Taken from some wrapping paper that had these pretty images of roses all over. I could have traced this, however that would have taken some time. In addition, it probably would have had some issues as I am not sure whether each shape would have to be closed or not. Still learning about this. I probably would have gotten there in the end, however here is where Autotrace came in handy. Had to do some tweaking but this came out unbelievably pretty and clear, considering it was set on a brownish background...autotraced the shape, got rid of the background with the cut out feature and now had an image that could be re-sized, coloured etc. Very impressed with that little test. So if I am really lazy, I could draw my feathers and have the program autotrace them. This is very neat.

Next thing I will do is to scan Cindy Needham's Master Copy of her Ultimate Stencils into the drawing program to use as a background to draw on. This way, I can 'play' with concepts for block designs on the program before drawing out the detailed design (idea came from Quiltshopgal who spoke about importing this to EQ7 the other day). This will save some should see all my drawings all over the place!

I am actually quite excited about this. So from last week's allover Wholecloth I now have at least three additional quilts in my head. The rate I am going I am not going to have time to do any quilting!
Experimenting, learning the improved program, trying out different ideas and designing workable patterns takes time.


Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Doodle Follow up

I made multiple copies of the designs that I doodled the other day using Cindy Needham's Ultimate Shape and laid them out to see what this would look like for an allover Wholecloth
No 1
Motif a bit too big in there but nice overall design with the symmetrical feathers.
On point
No 2...turned out a bit wild
Bit on the busy side

On Point
Now you could play around with toning this down a notch by maybe only using every alternative block and putting something a bit calmer in its place.

No 3
A favourite

Here again on point
I then took one of the copies and imported this into my EQ7 program as an image. Bit of advertisement for EQ7 here...I struggle to visualize whole quilts and bought the program some years ago to assist with that. It's got a lot of neat features, but the best is still that you can see a quilt in its entirety before you make it. Now I could have traced the block, but that would have taken too long...all I wanted was an overall visual of what this could look like. The actual block for the Wholecloth will be drafted by hand, all I need to do is trace the motif that I took from the EQ7 add on 'Quilting Designs No 8'. Got a bit excited about this as this motif comes with a matching border design. Little bit of mucking around as I had to flip the alternate block and also get the approximate border size happening
Bit hard to see as the image had the motif in a somewhat subdued colour (it printed out fine), but you get the general idea. Here is a photograph of the border design
I so can see this Wholecloth, down to the actual colour...maybe a bit frilly for some but I really like this. The only thing I might have to work on is to make this a bit more stitching it is now, the border consists of individual motifs...not sure about that. Also just noticed that I probably should match the size of the centre motif and the border design, so a little bit more fine tuning needs to happen here around sizes and fitting it neatly into the border which will be easy with EQ7 as I can make it any size I want (alternatively might have to look at reducing the centre motif).

But wow, see what one little stencil idea (and motif) can add up to...and this was just one ad hoc idea late at night of how to use the Cindy Needham's Ultimate Shape. I have barely scratched the surface!


Sunday, 21 August 2016

The Ultimate FMQ Challenge 2016 - Linky Party2 - Doodle/Sketching

I have had the most relaxing Friday night in a long time. The new Ultimate Shape Stencils from Cindy Needham arrived at my doorstep and before I knew it, I was doodling away. Just could not stop...
Ultimate Shape Stencil in 4 different sizes
Started first just randomly filling up the spaces of the stencil
Then I remembered that I needed a 4" motif for one of my quilts...something frilly and a bit feathery as I will do a feather border on that quilt.
This is what I came up with
Like it! This was so easy to draw up with the lines running through the stencil. Looking at this I am thinking that I probably seen this somewhere. Such a cute motif.

Then I thought 'why not put a motif into the stencil' being the slightly lazy quilter that I am
The motif is one that I particularly like from an EQ7 add-on program 'Quilting Designs'  No 8...I think it is called Curled Plumes which lends itself to blocks that are set on point.
Here it is a bit reduced with feathers running up and down. The idea is to put this on point and make into an allover Wholecloth. I will make some copies of this and try that out. I think this would look great!

While I was doodling and listening to one of my favourite Craftsy classes, I then got out the Ultimate Square Stencil and combined it with the Ultimate Shape, using only elements from the Ultimate Shape, i.e the little triangular section of the stencil the other way around and also the curves. This is what I came up with.

You see my blue lines which I would omit if I drew this up as a final design. I don't have a transparency that I use with the stencils. For me, marking the lines that I need in blue works best. Then I start drawing over those in pencil first and when I think I got something, I go over it again with the fine permanent black ink pen. This way, the main design stands out and any background quilting, like the lines surrounding the design will be a little bit in the background, similar to what the quilted design would like like. I was absolutely amazed with this...looks very interesting and again, I would not mind doing multiple copies to see what this looks like as an allover Wholecloth design.

This was a lot of fun and I had to force myself to stop...the ideas just kept coming. Those stencils are truly the best. It literally enables you to draw up any design your heart desires...highly recommended.

Linking up to Quiltshopgal's Ultimate FMQ Cahllenge 2016 - Linky Party 2 to show off my designs and to demonstrate how easy designing interesting elements for your quilts can be.