Thursday 16 February 2012

Quilt Along with Leah Day #6

Quilt Along #6 was about stippling in the sashings and the borders. As my little sample had the same size border as the sashing I stippled all over it in a half inch stipple as this allowed me to follow Leah's recommended directions for the stipple in the sashings. This worked very well and was done in one single go, working down the sashing, filling in the left and right sashings, then down again. I then turned the quilt and continued along the border, filling in the spaces around the stars as I went around.  One thread for all of that...brilliant.

Here is a close up shot of the stitching. 

I am really enjoying this as I am learning something new each time. My stippling was good, although a bit neck has been out for most of the week so I was concentrating on keeping my neck straight (physio has not been very happy with me) while at the same time concentrating on the stitching. Every now and then I am just making wavy lines. 

What I did notice though and I had not realised this before was that my stitching was ten times better on the black fabric. On my quilts I have  usually been using colours that blend in and are hardly noticeable in order to hide those imperfections. On this little practice piece I used highly visible thread, i.e grey on black fabric, to do the overall stipple. While I was going over the light blue sashing I noticed that every time I hit the black fabric the consistency of the stitching would instantly straighten up. Back to the light blue and the stitches again would be sometimes short, sometimes too long etc. When reflecting on some of the quilts I made I had to laugh because I have often wondered why I have some really decent stitching on some and not on others. Thinking back I had the same experience with variegated thread on one soon I hit the light section of the thread on a darker background I have got the most beautiful stitches. This really makes sense to me now... the high contrast of the stitching probably acts as a regulator for your speed and movement as you do notice the stitching in the corner of your eye.

I shall try this out when I am quilting my baby quilt and use thread that is a bit more visible...either that or I might have to look at putting in better lighting around my sewing area.

Also solved my issue around the bamboo batting. I used a size 70/10 needle which I usually use for Cotton batting (why have I not done this before!) and the stitches turned out much better without fiddling too much with the tension dial. I have a Pfaff machine (Expression series) and the machine just seems to like it better for thinner type of batting.

Well, I will miss the next Quilt Along as we are moving house on the 23rd of this month and we will be offline for at least a week or two. I have decided that this is the ideal time to give my machine for a well deserved service...that way I don't have to worry about the machine during the move. By the time the machine will be ready, we will hopefully have the house halfway set up; the family, cat and dog will have settled in and life can return back to normal. 

Until next time

Sunday 12 February 2012

Baby Quilt Top completed

Completed my baby quilt top. Had to improvise a bit as I did not have enough of the yellow fabric. The quilt is small, measuring 30 x 36 inches. I played with the idea of adding a border but I think I will leave it as the only fabric available would be the tan floral print and somehow that does not work for me. Also undecided about the binding - will use either the tan floral print or use a binding made out of the leftover bitses.

Kool Kats  30 x 36 in
Initially I was going to have this all basted before the big house move, but given that the moving date has been brought forward to the 23rd of this month I will now have to stop to pack up the household. Oh, joy! It will be easier to just fold it and put it in my fabric box and I also don't fancy leaving it pin basted for too long.

Overall, enjoyable little quilt, easy to do, comes together quickly and the best part is yet to come. I am planning on doing an overall FMQ design on it - while the quilt would look good stippled, I am planning to do a different design just to move out of my comfort zone a bit. Maybe something like this?

Design from 'Machine Quilting Solutions' by Christine Maraccini
Need to practise this one a bit more but I think this would look good on it and still give the quilt a soft fluffy feel.


Thursday 9 February 2012

Quilt Along #5

Well, the week has certainly flown...after the last Quilt Along, I decided that I needed more practice with stitching on a line as I got fairly excited about the possibility of stitching-in-the-ditch freehand. I therefore created this little mini quilt to continue from last week and to also complete the stippling in the block for this week. I definitely got a workout in piecing as I did this in chain-piecing manner while I stitched my baby quilt together.

One of Leah's pre-printed quilts would have been great! However, I thought it would also be  useful to further practise on a real quilt with bulky seams, points that sometimes are not crisp but are cut off, and seam intersections that do not necessarily match. Normally I would use clear Monofilament thread given that I have to travel over dark and light fabric, however on this I just used the standard Gutermann thread in a purple colour. This was a good little exercise as I wondered afterwards why I persist with the clear Monofilament thread, as the purple thread in-the-ditch was hardly noticeable. 

Also have a question for Leah which I forgot to ask last time: Do you usually anchor your quilts (when they are larger) with a basic grid before freemotion quilting?

Doing this little mini quilt almost got me side-tracked again. I absolutely love solids and thought this would make a nice little quilt in different bright fabrics. Nearly got going on another quilt...

My quilting in-the-ditch is getting better and the remaining problem seems to be stitching from right to left. Without fail I trailed off over the seam when travelling in that direction.  This is an example of stitching left to right which was much easier.

Getting better!

My stippling in the block was done as Leah suggested - from one side to the other (left to right). I managed this without any major problems as there was a defined area of free space to be quilted and visibility was good. The batting I used was bamboo.  I wonder whether other people have tension difficulties with bamboo batting. I use it sometimes when I do large quilts because it is more light-weight, but find that freemotion quilting with it is more difficult. I seem to have to constantly fiddle with the tension.

The stippling around the motif was a bit more challenging but I managed to wiggle my way around in an orderly manner. I do have a bit of  open space on the left side but overall I think it looks reasonably even. The best thing about this was the ability to stitch-in-the ditch around the star and then to continue with the same thread and stipple the block. Only one thread to sew in (apart from the motif) - this really appeals to me as I loathe the task of sewing in hundreds of threads. The other thing I noticed was that after having stippled in the block, the imperfections of the stitching-in-the-ditch were hardly noticeable.

The eye seems to focus on the stippling rather than the edges.
The speed is what really amazes me...I could get so much more done if I became more proficient at this.

Will continue with my little quilt throughout the week...

Quilt 'til You Wilt...


Thursday 2 February 2012

Quilt Along #4

This week's focus was on stitching on a line. I was dreading this a bit thinking that this would surely not work for me. I must say though, I had a lot of fun with this. It was a lazy Saturday...very hot over here, so there was not much else to do but to stay inside the air conditioned house. Sat down at the sewing machine and just went for it. Here are my lines:

Bit hard to see on the front, so here is the back
I was amazed with the result. The stitching was not too bad at all. The only problem I had was that as soon as I stopped, I sort of continued with a bit of a jerk in the line before I could straighten myself out again.The other issue was the change of direction - in anticipation of the change I would generally start making tiny stitches when approaching the change or produce a knot as I missed the point of turning and obviously stitched on the spot. This got a bit better once I tried a few more lines.

The next thing I tried was the motif. I got a quilt pounce for Christmas so this was the perfect opportunity to try this out. Worked like a dream and I got a bit carried away with this and kept going on this tiny sample. I used 50/3 Gutermann thread with a 80/12 needle. If I was doing this on a quilt I would probably use Aurifil 50/2 so that the build up of stitches would be less noticable.

Great fun. I find that I often do really well on my samples but when it comes to a real quilt I get some sort of stage fright - I could really relate to Leah's post about 'fear' the other day. This year I promised myself that I would not give in to this and move out of my comfort zone. With this in mind I recently finished a quilt with a basic feather wreath in the alternate block. Nearly jumped off again with thinking that it wouldn't work, would take too much time, let's just quilt in the ditch and so on... I persisted and as I had to do 15 motifs I had no choice but to become comfortable with it.

One of the many samples before I went onto the quilt with it. Not perfect, but good enough.

 Back to the Quilt Along. Next I tried following a pattern and stitiching-in-the-ditch

This worked fine except I think I need heaps more practice on the quilting-in-the ditch. Had the same issue as above - as soon as I stopped, I did some jerky type stitches before I got going again in a straight line. I also could not stay in the ditch at all times. What a timesaver though! Would be good to be able to do this and not constantly have to get up to change the quilt around. 


Wednesday 1 February 2012

Progress of baby quilt

Making some progress on my baby quilt.

Enigma Square block
The pattern is based on the Enigma Square block (Nancy Cabot, 1937) and makes quite an interesting pattern when put together. Unfortunately I will not have enough of the yellow print for all of the blocks so I will mix some tan fabric in place of the yellow. Also the green will not stretch the distance so I will vary it with a similar green floral fabric. The whole thing will have a bit of a scrappy look. Just when I had promised myself to only buy small pieces of fabric - I only had about 30 cm of the yellow. I am definitely back to buying a meter at a time. Went to three different shops on the weekend to find that yellow fabric,  but, of course, no luck. This should come together quickly and I will use it to practice my FMQ.

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