Thursday 29 March 2012

Quilt Along #11

Well, of course I chose white fabric and then wondered afterwards what colour thread I was going to quilt this with. As I was running behind,  this was all a bit rushed and I only watched Leah's video and read all instructions once I had already started. Never mind...this is a practice piece, I had to remind myself.

I chose the solid off-white fabric as the marking was going to be easy. All I had to do was to put the design under the fabric and trace it with a blue water-soluble pen. That worked really well as the design was easy to see. I did use Polyester batting, as Leah suggested...this was a first for me. Being a self taught quilter who has mainly learnt from books and magazines, Polyester batting is rarely suggested so I have never used it. Initially I was going to use cotton but then  reminded myself that I am participating in the Quilt Along to learn new things and broaden my skills, hence gave it a go.

For the outline quilting I chose a light green Aurifil 50/2 thread with a 70/10 needle in the machine working at the slowest speed level. White thread would have looked better but I really wanted to see how I was going to go with the stitching. I did the centre hearts and lines, then watched the video and chuckled to myself as I had duly started in different spots, going the other way around, breaking thread a couple of times, but never mind, this did teach me to work out how to quilt the straight lines surrounding the hearts...took me ages to figure that out. I was surprised with the Polyester batting...quilted just like Wool batting but felt much softer. For some reason I was under the impression that Polyester would be much harder to quilt. Had no issues whatsoever with Polyester.

Middle section

Love the feathers

Outline quilting of the corner hearts

So far so good! Well,  the most weirdest thing husband had a nose bleed standing right next to my little wholecloth quilt (what are the chances!) and some blood splattered across the quilt. I then tried to dab the spots with some water and yes, ten guesses, wiped out a few of my lines, hence had to abandon trying to get the spots out. I then had to complete the rest of the quilting all in one go so that I could start working on the spots of blood which by then had dried up and were much harder to remove. Normally I would have left the markings in until I was finished and then spray the quilt to remove them. I cannot imagine what a disaster this would have been if it had been a major piece of work. Would you then maybe just wash part of it or wait until you are all finished (which could be weeks if not months) and then hope that you can remove any mishaps. Anyway, I used some vinegar and Preen stain remover and got most of it out.

End result looks great. Very pleased with it. This would make a lovely pillow.

The finished design

Closer look 

The quilting of the feathers was interesting. I have done some feathers before using the 'bounce back over the top method'  and that had worked for me. I think I chose that method before because it had the least amount of backtracking. So for this little quilt I used the other method Leah described,  travelling back over the side of the feather back to the spine having to do much more backtracking.

I worked really slow on the backtracking and found that the neatest result was obtained when I was able to stitch back into the holes of the stitch already there. Obviously that did not work all the time but on the whole gave a good result.

Here are some close-ups of the stitching (thanks to my husband's skill in photography)

Overall I am really happy with the stitching. Those little irregularities are hardly noticeable and I was actually amazed that this worked so well on my first attempt. In relation to how I actually stitched this, some more practice is needed. I think that I did not keep to one particular direction and did sew them going up, then down and sometimes even slightly sideways to get a better view (and this time I watched the video before I did it but obviously did not retain the information on which direction to go). In the end I tried to determine a way that was the most comfortable for me which I think was starting at the top and going down (so I could see where I was going). I did turn the piece around a number of times to get a better view - that's obviously not an option if you are going to work on a bigger piece.

Questions for Leah:

- do you always start with a spine ? I have wondered about this for a while because when you do the bounce back method the going over the spine line then could form the spine without having to backtrack.
- would you mix feather technique in a design or do you stay with one particular technique for the entire design?
- length of stitches...should one aim for a particular length or is it more important to be consistent? I am asking this as I think that my stitches are in general on the shorter side but consistent in appearance. When I try to make them a bit longer it all becomes a bit more inconsistent.

Until next time...wondering about the micro-stippling. There does not appear to be a lot of room in between the spaces. This will be interesting.


Tuesday 20 March 2012

Quilt Along with Leah Day

I'm back and I am running seriously behind...moving and settling into our new home took heaps longer than I had anticipated. We are now in, half way settled, Internet has been sorted out (needed to change my email address all over the place which took some time) and life is becoming a bit more normal again. I have not quilted at all in this time - my physio is very happy with my progress and I did not have the heart to tell her that this is probably because I have not been sitting hunched over the machine. I need to seriously consider getting a sewing table in the near future where I can lower my machine to be level with the table...our dining table is just too high and causes all sorts of shoulder issues.

I listened to Leah's instructions on marking quilts the other day and got started on this today. I am going to use white fabric so I am thinking that the lines can be seen through this and I will just trace them onto the fabric with a blue erasable pen. Hopefully this works as I do not have a Lightbox. If this fails the windows will probably do the job as well.

I will also finally baste my baby quilt and try to get the quilting done over the weekend...and then link up again next week, hopefully with some photos of my progress.

PS: the cat is doing very well and is now outside. While quite humourous, taking the cat for walks on a leash in the garden at least twice a day did pay off...when we finally let her go she felt quite comfortable with the area.


Friday 2 March 2012

Moving house

Well, we have managed to move the household. After 12 years in the same house this was fairly traumatic. I did not realise, or rather, did underestimate how much stuff we had to move. It seemed like an endless chore of packing and more packing. Then once this was done the unpacking has been  equally as overwhelming. However there is an end in sight - only have a few more boxes to unpack and then continue to clean up a bit more.

Our cat suffered during the move. She is a stray cat that adopted us about a year ago. Not exactly the trusting kind, however has made her home with us. She actually got quite distressed during the move and at some point I thought she was going to pass out. It was hot, confusing, lots of people and generally she appeared completely disorientated - I actually felt quite sorry for her.

Thought I share this photo of her speedy recovery that was taken the next day.

What is it with cats and quilts?  Obviously completely relaxed and oblivious to her surroundings.

Well, a few more days and I will be able to set my machine up again and re-join the Quilt Along. Can't wait!

Until then


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