Thursday 28 March 2024

Working With Invisafil

It's been a couple of weeks again since I posted last. We have been incredibly busy with our upcoming kitchen renovation. All of a sudden it was all go, go go...we have been running around literally the whole week looking at appliances, getting things organised and life in general.

My wholecloth quilt is coming along however came to a standstill last week. I finished all the feathering, framing and grid and was about to start backfilling, however I did not like my thread choice. I am quilting the main elements of the wholecloth with a 50/2 Aurifil cotton thread. This is the thread I use most of the time and up to now I have also used this for backfilling. However, ever since I have done Bethanne Nemesh' online classes I have developed a taste for 100wt Invisafil thread from Wonderfil Speciality Threads. As I did not have a matching colour I had to order another spool in which came last weekend. I started to backfill a little bit last weekend and yes, this was the right choice for filling in the background against the 50/2 thread. Looks absolutely fabulous...I bought a spool of Soft Gold Invisafil which is almost identical to the light gold Aurifil colour that I have used to stitch the main parts. This way, the background stitching is not overpowering the main elements but gently stays in the background.
Here I am filling in the space behind the first lot of feathers with tiny, tiny echoes. Looks very nice but is quite labour intensive. Unfortunately I have left some space in the outer border where the Amish feathers run along. Still a bit undecided on how I will fill this. Definitely will echo around twice but not sure whether I will carry that echo filling into the outer border. Had a look around on the net and was reminded that Diane Gaudinsky uses the echo filling quite extensively around her feather work. It does look good when finished but is very time consuming. We'll see what I feel like when I get to that point.

This is all I have done quilting wise this week and I am almost getting a bit stressed as there are other projects that want to be done.

In case people are wondering how I am stitching this on the Bernina Q20.
I am using the open toe foot with an 80/12 Jeans needle. This foot can be a bit tricky...I have had the foot catching on previous stitch lines in the past, however was relieved that it has not happened on this project. Behaving itself absolutely fine and visibility is great. I have been stitching in Manual mode most of the time except for the times when I have used the ruler foot #96 with a straight/circle ruler to do the framing and the circles. Find the manual mode a bit easier for detailed work as it gives me that rhythmic humming of the motor which almost puts you into some sort of Zen mode in terms of precision stitching. Regulated mode is somewhat faster and is harder to control when stitching tinier elements.

Well, so far so good...will be interesting to see how this progresses amongst the chaos of the household. Also want to put together a new pattern and have two more charity quilts to complete. The days are just not long enough...


Wednesday 13 March 2024

5 Essential Tips When Wholecloth Quilting

I previously wrote a series of posts about wholecloth quilting starting HERE.

This post is an extension to that. Not having done a wholecloth in some time, I took some photos as I went along and also started to think about all the things that can go wrong when attempting a wholecloth. What follows are 5 critical points where things can get a bit haywire and will affect the outcome of your project.

1. Mark the crosshairs!
This is a really important step as your entire wholecloth is based on those few lines. To do this press your fabric really well and then fold it in half. Press the center line...don't worry about whether this is ever going to come out. It will! Then fold your fabric on the vertical and repeat. Now take these lines and very carefully mark the center lines on your fabric with a fabric marker of your choice.

Take your time with this task. I also then mark in the 45 degree lines using a ruler.
Don't worry if your 45 degree lines do not exactly end up in the corners of your fabric. Unless you have been extremely precise in your cutting the lines are likely to be slightly off in the corner but correct in relation to the vertical and horizontal crosshair lines and that is what's important.

2. Marking
Test your chosen marker before you start. If you followed my blog you would be aware that I had a bit of a mishap at this stage. I made some mistakes in tracing my design and rinsed it off. To my horror, some of my lines turned brownish and did not come out. I believe that this had to do with my lightbox emitting heat at the edges which set the blue water erasable marker. I ended up buying another piece of fabric and starting again, this time tracing the design without a light box just to be sure.

3. Equipment
When designing your wholecloth think about the tools that you are going to use. I obviously forgot about this point for my recent wholecloth having designed center motif circles for which I actually did not have the right ruler. I could have solved this by stitching the circles freehand which I have done in the past however this is extremely challenging as it is super hard to keep it a 100% round and on a wholecloth this is going to be extremely visible. I ended up buying the Echo clips for my Bernina Q20. They just clip on and can be used to extend the size of your ruler. Similarly, I had not thought about my beautiful Amish feathers. To stitch out the spine in that nice rounded way, I also had to use a ruler, but this time use it in a somewhat sliding motion to make the curves as consistent as possible. Definitely had not thought about this before and it took me ages to do that. So planning how you going to tackle stitching out your wholecloth is a definite must. In addition, do a test run of your stitching to get more familiar with your design. Unfortunately with a wholecloth you usually start with the center motif which is also the main thing that your eye focusses on when first looking at it so you want to get that down as clean as possible.
3. Basting
Do not skip on this stage. A wholecloth project has to be basted fairly heavily, I would say every 3-4in in a grid as you are shifting fabric around as you stitch the various sections. You start by stitching out the general frame, starting in the center and moving outwards usually so you going going to have a lot of unquilted loft around which in my case puffed out enormously as I am using a wool batting. The basted grid contains the loft in its own little square and prevents it from shifting over to the next section.

4. Expect the Unexpected
In my experience there is always something that goes wrong and usually several unexpected issues pop up. I am used to that by now and do not get overly excited by it anymore. In my current wholecloth I had an interesting issue, almost hilarious after my mishap with the marking. For the first time ever my blue marks were fading. This has never happened before. This is what was left of my grid by the end of one week. Not sure why this happened and whether it has to do with the current heat wave we are in. It is often quite sticky inside the house as we are running an evaporative air conditioner for most of the time. Probably not ideal for a water erasable marker.
So this was not the idea but it meant that I had to stitch out my frame plus the feathers literally in that one week and in between reinforce my blue lines (where I needed them most) so that I would not loose them altogether. It was hard core but I managed to get it done. So much for that lovely idea to stitch this out in a relaxed and well thought out way! I was literally stitching every day for several hours.
5. Skill level
Consider your skill level and the purpose of the quilt. Are you just doing this for your own enjoyment or are you planning a show quilt. I am a relatively sloppy marker which is somewhat surprising as I am also a perfectionist, however as I know my weaknesses I do know that I have to pay attention to this as I stitch. I will usually correct my design as I stitch along. I stitch feather plumes usually very slowly looking ahead and around me to make sure they are angled in a way that makes sense.
I don't necessarily follow my lines at all times and have in this picture rounded some of the angles on the inside of the feather plumes a bit more. I was not too concerned about having to do this on most of the curves as I by now have a particular angle and size I stitch my feather plumes with so I was fairly confident to be able to do this in a consistent manner.
Another issue which I think people underestimate is the amount of starts and stops and the time it takes to stitch out an intricate design like this. With this Amish feather every curvature is stitched in sections. You could backtrack and absolutely do it all in one hit, but again, that would be very visible and if you are doing a show quilt and probably not recommended. This sort of stitching can become incredibly tedious and frustrating, so something to think about before you start. On top of that I do still bury my threads, so it was after each section, stop...bury the beginning and end, then start again, making sure every stop and start looked good on the front as well as the back. I do remember that people found this extremely annoying when I was teaching my Mini Wholecloth class and most people just backtracked to get things done. That is absolutely fine, however it will show on your project, so you will need to decide beforehand how you want your wholecloth to look and for how much intensity you are prepared.

I did manage to start my grid quilting so I can follow my lines with a ruler, but for now I am having a bit of a break.

For the To Do Tuesday list from last week...well, did not do anything else but stitch this wholecloth.

For the remainder of the week I am planning 
- to have a break
- wash some fabric for the Fox quilt, and 
- maybe do a Fox block, but that's a few other things on this week!

Linking up to To Do Tuesday #65 over at Quilt Schmilt.


Tuesday 5 March 2024

To Do Tuesday #64

My list from last week was smallish
- pinning, basting and making a start on the wholecloth; backing fabric is ready to go, just needs to be cut and then I will need to make a decision on thread.✅
- wash the background fabric for the Fox quilt❌
- maybe make a Fox block to get started on that project which will be ongoing until I have enough blocks for a quilt.

So I made a start (finally) on the wholecloth. I was thinking to do a post in the next few weeks on the trials and tribulations of wholecloth quilting...things never go as expected!

I started off by testing my new Echo feet attachments for the Bernina Q20. Ended up finally getting those as my wholecloth design incorporates circles for which I do not have the right size rulers (funny that with a draw full of rulers!).
Was a bit worried about these as I had read that they are fiddly to put on and also prone to breakage. Gave them a whirl though and was pleasantly surprised. They do clip on very easily and are also very easy to remove. Had no issues with them at all. Tried them out on a practice piece to get a feel for my design. This is what that looked like.
My practice piece turned out nice and I was ready to go
Pinned and then basted my wholecloth and as you can see I baste my piece very heavily, approximately every 3 - 4in, always in a grid as it distributes the puff evenly.
My batting is wool and it is much more puffy than I expected. In the past I have used two lots of batting, wool and cotton, but did not want to go there this time as this is quite a sizable project and quilting with two battings does make the quilt very hard and heavy.

I did have some issues with putting my frames in as the puffiness distorted my lines and I am a tad out of practice. Took me a moment to get a grip on that but eventually got there. After having done the square frames with a ruler I then looked at my feather sprays. Inititally I was going to stitch the spine out on the inner feathers but not the Amish feathers...for those I was going to stitch the spine as I go along. Too easy I thought!

Well, when I stitched out my first feather spine I could feel how the puffiness was working against me and I had a little bit of an issue keeping my lines straight. Then looking at my Amish feathers I thought that there is no way I am going to keep that nice and round just going along backtracking to create the spine. Additionally I did consider that Amish feathers depend on their nice roundness to look good and by then my perfectionism had truly started taking over.

The Amish feathers in this design are based on a 4in circle, however to fit them into the border the circle had to reach out to touch the next circle, so it was not just a matter of stitching a circle with a ruler. I had to stitch against my ruler moving it along ever so slightly to stay on track. Needless to say, this took ages to do. I used Amanda Murphy's 4in circle ruler for this which has a bit of a maybe not non-slip, but harder to slip backing which makes it easier to handle the ruler. I did not put on a more rough Handiquilter grip strip because I needed the ruler to be able to be gently moved as I went along. 
Also, as the feathers go in opposing directions I had to do each circle element individually, so start and stop, tie off and start again. I have by now finished this and for the most part slowly stitching against the circle ruler worked really well and I am happy with my spines, but promptly encountered a new issue, i.e. my blue markings are fading which is almost funny given that I had a problem with the marker leaving brown marks in the first lot of fabric. So I am forever reinforcing some of my lines, but have also been stitching every day to get the framing done. After that is done it does not matter so much whether the markings are in there or not. I have drawn the feathers so much that I will be able to follow my own stitch path without an issue, just have to make sure that I reinforce where my feathers end in relation to the border and frame. I think it is our weather over here. It has been hot and sticky and the air conditioner is running most of the time. Couple that with sweaty hands which is probably enough to make some of those marks fade.

Anyway, finished the frame and the spines by now and am onto the feathers. I am stitching this with a light yellow Aurifil 50/2 thread which just blends into the fabric. Now wish that I had chosen something a bit darker as it blends a bit too well and is at times a bit hard to see. But so be it, looks great on the patterned backing.

So for next week I am planning to 
- continue on the wholecloth by stitching out the feathers (and then probably have a bit of a break from it)
wash the background fabric for the Fox quilt
- maybe make a Fox block to get started on that project which will be ongoing until I have enough blocks for a quilt
- write some instructions for my Mini Wholecloth in order to put that in my Etsy shop.

Bit ambitious, but we'll see...

Linking up to To Do Tuesday #64 over at Quilt Schmilt.


Tuesday 27 February 2024

To Do Tuesday #63 - Slow Going!

It has been a couple of weeks again. My last list was very small:
- baste and quilt another little charity quilt
- start the marking of my wholecloth quilt.

Well, I have done two little charity quilts...
Just did an overall stipple on this and the next one as well as I am still struggling with my shoulder. My cortisone shot has only worked for about two months and then I injured the same shoulder again. As it is the right one this time there is not much I can do in terms of resting it so I just have to be super careful. Very much a hassle!
The next one is a little quilt with a flannel top.
Enjoyed quilting on the flannel...never done this before and was not sure what to expect. Really like the softness of the flannel. Had some slight tension issues in the border but apart from that, no problem. The only thing that I did find was that the stitching was harder to see as it just sunk in which was not helped by the light lavender thread that I was using.

So with that done, I tackled my wholecloth. Last time I attempted this I had some marks left on the fabric and also had some inconsistencies when tracing off my design. Went super slow in my preparation for this and took my time. Basically took most of today to trace the whole lot.
Probably a bit hard to see. The new fabric is 'Shadow Play' from Maywood Studios in a creamy colour. For some unknown reason this turned out quite big and was quite hard to align. Initially I just traced off a quarter of the design, however that did not work that well. Too much movement in the fabric while tracing. This time I traced the entire half off and then flipped and did the other half. That worked quite well, mind you I spent a long time making sure everything aligned. 
My tracing is a bit untidy in spots as I also corrected a few things here and there as I went along. As I had drawn this design out on the Ipad I was curious to see how that translated into actually drawing it out to scale. Must say that that went really well...the feathers were easy to draw with my particular angle and thickness and I did not have to spent a lot of time making it look pretty as I drew them exactly as I would stitch them. My husband remarked that he thought I was going to stitch this freehand! Yes, I could, but it would not turn out very consistent I would think and as this is a rather involved project. I did not want to risk it. You probably wonder why I drew the pebbles in...this is not so much to stitch them out exactly as they are drawn there, but rather a way to ensure that I end up with a pebble at the end of the row. If it was smaller you could eyeball this but not over the distance that I made that section and there is nothing worse than going along and realising in the last minute that you cannot fill out the corner properly.
Thought a lot about the stitching as I went along...did not leave myself enough space at the outer edge and added 1/4in in width and length and also had to correct a few feathers to ensure that there was a gap between the binding and feathers. Also thought about whether to stitch the spine out or stitch the spine as I go along. Both methods are quite fine and I think I will definitely stitch the spine as I go for the Amish feather. Not sure about the other one yet. One annoying thing though...I developed this wholecloth many years ago before I got used to using rulers in my quilting. Would have been easier to stitch if I had designed this around particular rulers to use. Was looking today at various rulers I could use...not sure yet...if I use one of the Pro Echo rulers for the centre frame it will be slightly different. I will wait and see how difficult that is going to be when I get there. For now I just want this stitched has been hanging around for such a long time that it is almost annoying. There are definitely a few things where I thought that I could have done that a bit better, but so be it...there is always next time.

My list for next week includes
- pinning, basting and making a start on the wholecloth; backing fabric is ready to go, just needs to be cut and then I will need to make a decision on thread.
- wash the background fabric for the Fox quilt
- maybe make a Fox block to get started on that project which will be ongoing until I have enough blocks for a quilt.

Linking up to To Do Tuesday #63 over at Quilt Schmilt


Sunday 18 February 2024

Query re Pattern

I have been working on cleaning up my Mini Wholecloth design over the last few days. I had it initially drawn in the Procreate program to an approximate measurement. With my new drawing program I tidied this up and made an exact copy of it. Turned out really well...locked all my layers this time and labelled everything as I went along which made the whole process much more enjoyable.

I am now wondering whether quilters might be interested in this pattern as I am thinking about putting it in my Etsy shop. The pattern would come in PDF format and needs to be tiled when printed out and then taped together. The Mini Wholecloth comes out at 18in but can be made smaller by squaring it off to a different size.
It is intended as a skill builder as you can leave it as it is, put grids in various spaces or FMQ a design of your choice around the design. I used it in a workshop I held last year and people chose various options on how to fill it depending on their skill level. 

Would be interested to hear what people think about this idea. Too difficult, too bland or not enough direction to complete this project if I just put the pattern up there?


Tuesday 13 February 2024

To do Tuesday#61

My list from last week was a bit ambitious:

- start marking my wholecloth quilt again; the new fabric is washed and ready to go so there really is not any excuse not to go ahead.
- work on writing the pattern for the little baby quilt above; in terms of time line, that should take no more than 2 weeks
- baste one more charity quilt
- look at that online workshop and see where I can build this in...

I did work consistently on writing up my new pattern and it went quite quickly however it does take me a few days to proof-read everything several times and to take good photos for my listing on Etsy.

Well, here it is...the Zig-Zag Baby Quilt...a striking little project.
I wrote the pattern for two sizes
- 30-1/2in x 36-1/2in and
- 36-1/2in x 42-1/2in

This pattern is partially foundation pieced, however it is not difficult to do if you have a basic knowledge of foundation piecing. I used the Freezer Paper Foundation Piecing method which was completely new to me. You can find detailed tutorials about this method at Bryan House Quilts. Great method, I cannot believe that I have not come across this earlier. The units came together in no time at all, the Freezer Paper method is just fantastic and so quick to do. I think I had more difficulties with squaring up my blocks which is not unusual for me. Then I remembered that I had the Bloc Loc Ruler set (you have to laugh - I cannot even remember the things that I have accumulated over the years). Equipped with that my blocks came out nice and straight. I quilted this little quilt with an overall edge-to-edge design called 'Ginger Snap' from Apricot Moon Designs available through Urban Elementz. Looks great and was fun to do.

Of my list, I did purchase another online class...the 'Sweet Tooth' class from Bethanne Nemesh at White Arbor Quilting. I love Bethanne's classes and this one was flagged with a discount in the newsletter that I subscribe to. It is a quick 3 hour class and while I probably can work out how to stitch hearts like that I do really enjoy Bethanne's teaching style and figured that there is always something new that I pick up when doing her classes. I will not quilt this straight away so for now it is sitting in my Teachable-Bethanne Nemesh set up, ready for when I have the time to quilt this little beauty.

Apart from this nothing else got done. We are currently exploring kitchen renovations which seems to be a whole world of its own with hundreds of choices one has to make. We are at the quotation stage and it should be interesting to see the differences in costs between companies.

For the remainder of the week I am planning to
- baste and quilt another little charity quilt
-start the marking of my wholecloth quilt.

Linking up to To Do Tuesday #60 over at Quilt Schmilt. 
By the way, still having problems with commenting on some sites and not on others. When I go around looking at individual blog posts and comment, some of my comments get through, but others are rejected. For the life of me, I cannot work out what the problem is...I suspect that it is not on my side but who knows. So, please be assured I am not ignoring your blog posts. Chances are that I have tried to comment but cannot for some reason.


Wednesday 7 February 2024

To Do Tuesday #60

Here I am again. Missed the last week and also saw that I again forgot to make a list of what goals I was thinking about. Yep, it's all in my head...and that is probably the reason why I get so confused at times.

I have not continued on my wholecloth following the disaster with the brown lines, however will put that on the list for the following week as I do need to get 'back on the horse' and start the marking otherwise that thing will never be done.

Finished my latest pattern

Its a cute little quilt that I quilted with an edge-to-edge design again as I just could not face doing all the ditch quilting this would have required. The design is called 'Ginger Snap' from Apricot Moon Designs available through Urban Elementz. The pattern would be suitable for intermediate quilters as it involves some Foundation Piecing. Maybe not the best pattern to put up there however once I had started it I felt compelled to finish it to see what that looked like. It is very bright and I am just in the process of putting the bright blue binding on...a perfect little boy quilt. Then I will have to knuckle down to write up the pattern.

In terms of my planning for the year, I am already behind. Will have to get going on the pile of charity quilts that I have sitting there and also have not done a block on my Fox quilt. And already I am being lured by a small online workshop...I think I have to stop looking at the internet, it is just too full of really great ideas.

So, for the coming week I will
- start marking my wholecloth quilt again; the new fabric is washed and ready to go so there really is not any excuse not to go ahead.
- work on writing the pattern for the little baby quilt above; in terms of time line, that should take no more than 2 weeks
- baste one more charity quilt
- look at that online workshop and see where I can build this in...

Linking up to To Do Tuesday #60 over at Quilt Schmilt


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