Wednesday, 16 May 2018

1000 Pyramids Quilt Top Finished

I finally knuckled down to finish the 1000 Pyramids quilt top. Not sure what I was thinking when I started this...definitely were not thinking of all those points you had to match!

I did purchase an Accuquilt Equilateral Triangle Die last at the last quilt show or maybe even the one before that.
Don't know about you but I get a bit frustrated if I do not use what I purchase...over the years I have accumulated a lot of stuff, so I bought this with the 1000 Pyramids in mind. I thought ...great, I can get rid of all my scraps and I do love scrap quilts and their riot of colour.

So I started and pretty quickly realised that I had a lot (!) of points to match. I am not the greatest piecer and even with those little notches in the die I struggled somewhat as you are dealing with bias edges. So, I began to drag my feet and this project definitely was in danger of becoming yet another UFO. Also made it really big to cover the King Single bed in the spare room which meant that when I picked it up again the other day I had a good eight double rows to do. What happens to me with UFOs is that I forget how I exactly thought this through in terms of ironing the rows and as I had several starts and stops, I had the rows going in all sorts of directions! What a hassle!

I decided not to sweat the small imperfections at the points or the mismatched seams and started again to just get this done. It went pretty quickly, mind you, I was dreading to sew the rows together. As I expected the matching of the points got very tricky over the entire width of the rows as I had ironed seams sometimes left and sometimes idea what I was thinking. Anyway, I struggled along and about half way through I started using my glue stick for paper piecing to line up the points. What a great little trick!...I aligned my points, put a tiny dot of glue on the point in the 1/4in seam allowance and then pinned the rest. This worked fantastically...not perfect but a lot neater than some of my other rows. Given that I have handled the pieces for well over a year, some of the bias was definitely mis-shapen and getting the point stuck down with glue really helped with the alignment.

It is absolutely huge, coming in at about 66.5inx87in. Will nicely cover the bed but I am a bit worried re the quilting. Just sewing this together, I could feel the weight of all the material, so even without batting this is already heavy. Not sure how I am going to do this...pinning this will make this very heavy, I think. Also was looking at this today and thought that I have absolutely no idea on how to quilt this other than that it would have to be some sort of overall design. Was thinking of maybe doing Baptist fans with the rulers, however even with the Sweet 16 I would have over 2 m of pinned quilt in front of me starting at the bottom. Not sure this would work. Have my HQ group on the weekend and will have a bit of a talk about how people go about quilting this size. If all fails I can always do just wavy lines down the length.

Anyway, very pleased I finished this top!

Linking up to SEW FRESH Quilts for the Let's Bee Social Weekly Link Up


Thursday, 3 May 2018

I’m Back

So much so for all good intentions of posting more regularly...have let it slide again. Have a number of got a bit busy as usual and then we went on a holiday to New Zealand (which was great). Found a little fabric store in Auckland

Truth be known, I have struggled with motivation over the past month or so...

I was working away on my Wholecloth and actually got quite stressed with it as the deadline for our show here is the 1. June. Things just were not working properly and I reckon I made several ‘planning’ mistakes. On top of that I was getting tired with the amount of repetitive quilting. This is how far I got

I then had a bit of a moment where I thought ‘this is ridiculous...this is my hobby and should not become a stressor (got enough of that at work!). So I stopped...accepting that I will not enter a quilt in the show this year and the world will not come to an end! Went on my holiday, had a fantastic time and when I came back started on the Handiquilter challenge that my local group is currently working on. As I was running behind by a month I had to knuckle down, piece a quilt together and get back to ruler work. Almost caught up with the task for the second month now and must say that I am enjoying the ruler work immensely.

Also had another (refreshed) look at my Wholecloth...will continue with it, even though I now think that I should have thought that framework through a bit better, however it will still look great when it eventually gets finished. All good learning...will finish it in between other things as the repetition of that piece is seriously boring and the thing I struggle with most. Definitely finding out where my passion sits in terms of Wholecloth quilting.


Sunday, 25 March 2018

Wholecloth Quilting - Designing Your Own Motif

This is just an example of how you can quickly design a motif using the Ipad. I designed this motif using the Graphic App (formerly Idraw) which is an App you can purchase on the App Store for A$14.99.

This is a picture I found in a Dover publication '200 Victorian Fretwork Designs' by A. Sanguineti (I love fretwork!)
I took a photo of that little image and imported it into the Graphic App...does not look like much, but wait...

I then traced the photo with the Apple can set it so that it automatically smoothes out the lines as you go, in addition to going back into it to smooth out some of the individual nodes. Not too difficult at all as most of the smoothing is already done by the 'smoothing function'. Did this a bit quickly as this was just to show you how this works, so there are a few wobblies here and there.

After some general tidy up, I had the image of the motif drawn as a continuous line design leaving it open at one end as I was going to connect it to another copy of it (copying the image and flipping it over horizontally). I think I may have grouped them together as one unit at this point (should have taken some notes!)

I have played around with something a bit similar in the past and knew that it needed to be less horizontal, so I turned the unit by 45 degrees, copied again and aligned it. This looked a bit more promising. Love the ability to just play around with the arrangements at this point.

I then grouped this into one unit, copying once again and flipping it over vertically to get the second half of my unit.
Actually quite like this arrangement. Put another layer on to put it into a square to get the visual on how this would look in a quilting block. Instantly thought that I could extend this motif further by putting something into the corners as well, but I will stop here. This whole process took me about half an hour in front of the TV.  Now I could spend more time on this to make it absolutely perfect for tracing which is entirely do-able on the Ipad, but I think if I was going to use that I probably would import this into the computer drawing program to iron out some of the wobblies (mind you, have not explored all the drawing functions of this App as yet, i.e would like the stroke of the pen tool to be pointed...possibly has this in-build somewhere).

Anyway, hope you enjoyed this little play session on the Ipad...I certainly did. There is a letter box around the corner from my house that has a really nice motif on there...I am planning to inconspicuously walk past and take a photo to draw that out...perfect quilting motif!


Friday, 23 March 2018

Wholecloth Quilting - Your Own Design

Designing your own wholecloth quilt is a lot of fun but also a lot of work. There are several good books that describe the process and/or give you some design ideas , like
- Make Your Own Quilting Designs & Patterns by Judy Woodworth (super excellent resource)
- Create Your Own Dream Feathers by Peggy Holt
- Custom Curves by Karen McTavish
- The Secrets of Elemental Quilting by Karen McTavish

First of all you do need a set of tools...rulers, templates, circles, French Curves, ovals and/or stencils. I should also mention Cindy Needham's Handbooks which I forgot to mention in the last post as the place to go to if you are looking for stencils and design ideas.

So, how do you start? You can use paper to draw 1/4 of your design, flip it over and mirror it. You could then make several copies of the motif and lay them out on the table to have a bit of a look what this will look like. This is a very laborious process that takes a long time! Alterntively you could use mirrors to audition your design (also see You Tube video with Sharon Schambler on how to do this)

I prefer using the computer to design, making use of drawing programs. I have tried Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and finally ended up buying the Serif Draw 8 program. These are drawing programs that are not geared towards quilting but together with the EQ8 program I usually can make something work for me. I am currently having my eye on the Pre-Design program which is a 'lesser' version of the Art and Stitch program that is especially designed for quilters and embroiderers.

Carla Barrett's blog is an excellent source if you want to further delve into the world of digital wholecloth designing. Carla uses a tablet and Photoshop Elements (I believe). She teaches her method and also offers eclasses. Her blog is full of great inspiration.

Also useful and becoming more and more manageable is the Ipad, particularly when coupled with the Apple Pencil. With the help of some good Apps like Graphic (formerly Idraw), Adobe Draw or Sketch, Adobe Capture and many other Apps to choose from, you can get a fairly decent design to look at.
BTW, also  useful to audition quilting designs! Having a bit of a look what my feather design will look like in the melon shape. This was done on the Graphic App
In terms of process then, you start to doodle...maybe you have seen something that sparked your imagination, you could trace a design or you could use stencils or part of stencils. This is where Cindy Needham's Ultimate Stencil Collection comes into play

When I first got the Ultimate Shape Stencil I was so inspired I designed a range of weird and wonderful designs (see post HERE). I did use one of those designs to develop last years' wholecloth.
With the help of the Ultimate Round Stencil I came up with this center motif
...drawn onto the trusted Ikea paper. I then took this design and imported it into the computer drawing program where I tidied it up and traced it off so that I had a neat and precise copy to play with. I took my design then into the Adobe App on the Ipad and tried different layouts and different arrangements to see what I liked. This is what I settled on

The actual wholecloth turned out a little bit different but this picture gave me a good starting point

Another example of a doodle I did, drawing a quarter of a design...very rudimentary and then duplicating it many times, arranging it into a square.  Here I did four quarters to make up one half of a design
Looks absolutely awful, however how good is this, I can wipe it and come up with a different arrangement. This was just to illustrate the process and to show you that it is possible to do some quite complex designs with the use of the computer or Ipad. If I liked this design, from here I would go and draw the design on paper properly, maybe then importing it into the computer to tidy it up before using it as a design to trace onto the quilt.

Next post I will show you how I traced a motif on the Ipad...need to split the post as this was just getting too lond

See ya'


Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Wholecloth Quilting - Development of Ideas Part 2

Following on from my last post, launching into part 2 of the development of ideas and how to go about designing your wholecloth. This is about medallion type wholecloth quilts that have a center motif usually surrounded by some background fillers and some borders.

My first introduction to this was through Patsy Thompson who was one of the experts on Quiltshopgal's FMQ challenge in 2012. While I did not directly participate in the challenge I was so inspired by her very simple, yet so effective method. She took a center motif and just went around adding border after border, increasing the width as she went along. I think I stitched this out in a couple of days
I was hooked. Next, I followed Patsy Thompson's style of creating wholecloth quilts which often start with a feather wreath in the center

All I did is add a background filler (in this case micro-stippling) and put some feather motifs in the corner. Very basic to start with, but I was impressed with these initial attempts.

As I went along and gained more experience with wholecloth quilting I started to get more elaborate and learned about some basic rules like:
- add several smaller borders around your center design and fill with simple designs like swirls, ribbons, loops or just lines; experiment with a straight square design or put the borders on the diagonal
- stick to a few selected shapes in your wholecloth
- work with repetition, i.e. have a motif that can also act as corner motif like in the following quilt
- think this through in terms of how much background you have to fill as this can take a long time to fill (i.e. see above...that micro-stipple was an absolute killer)
-  add interest by using grids and if you are really keen, learn how to fill those grids to really make your center design pop
- once the center design is done and you have decided on a background filler around it, add a few more borders, again keeping in mind to repeat already used shapes; you can see in the picture above that I put in a larger 'seed design' to enclose my center, thereby repeating the shape of the cnter motif. I then added some straight 1/4in lines to extend this out a bit and finished it off with a feather border.

This is one way to construct your wholecloth. While the result usually looks quite striking, the process is actually quite simple. In terms of designing this from scratch it depends on how much work you want to put into this and whether or not you enjoy designing. If you do not, you can make use of the many books that are on offer, all of which have a variety of motifs and designs, or find some spectacular motifs on the web for free. Or you can purchase stencils that are designed for wholecloth quilts. Here are some resources that I found useful:
- Quilting Wide Open Spaces by Judi Madsen
- Custom Curves by Karen McTavish
- Mix & Match Quilting Patterns by Helen Squire
- Inside the Lines by Pam Clarke
- The Secrets of Elemental Quilting by Karen McTavish

Some links
Quilting Creations  and
The Stencil Company for stencils and pre-printed wholecloth designs
Forest Quilting for free motifs
Cindy Needham's Craftsy Classes
Patsy Thompson's DVDs (particularly the Feathers DVD range)
Leah Day's Feather and Heart Mini Wholecloth (this is a workshop offered over on Leah Day's website; this was the first wholecloth I ever did and I remember the anxiety this produced just looking at it...however, as it is a mini project it was very achievable and turned out beautifully)
...and many, many more; hopefully this will spark your interest and you might give it a go.

Designing your own motif will take a little bit more time but is very rewarding.


Thursday, 15 March 2018

Wholecloth Quilting - Development of Ideas Part 1

This is probably the hardest part. How often have you looked at a wholecloth in a quilt show and wondered how people come up with those brilliant ideas. This took me a long time to work out. I started to research this a bit over time and also delved into how best to draft designs. Over time I realised that there are a number of different ways on how to approach a wholecloth quilt. While you need to have some sort of inspiration to start with I believe the more critical point is how you are going to approach it. This dawned on me when I was doing a very traditional wholecloth quilt with a center motif last year. Thinking about this I started to categorise wholecloth quilts into several categories, i.e.
  • An allover design consisting out of repeated motifs
  • Medallion type quilt with a prominent centre design and various variations of that, i.e consisting of numerous borders or Mandala type quilts 
  • Pictorial wholecloth quilts
  • Modern wholecloth Quilts, and also 
  • Rulerwork based wholecloth Quilts
Each of them will require a different approach to designing, different tools and obviously a different level of skills and I found it helpful to have that structure as a guide. So if I am inspired by a particular motif or design I will think about which category would be the best fit. Is it a smaller design which would lend itself to repeating it over the whole quilt or is it maybe a design that could be done with a ruler where I could then extend outwards. I am finding this a bit helpful as it will guide me to a particular way of designing it and gives me that overall structure to work from.

Looking then at the categories, my current project falls within the first category of an repeated all over motif. Must emphasise that this is not my original idea...I have seen this on Cindy Needham's

‘Wholecloth' Craftsy class a couple of years ago. I first used this in a pillow challenge that was run over at Quiltshopgal in 2015 (see my post HERE) For the challenge I took a seemingly very boring stencil, put it on point and repeated it. Looked absolutely fabulous!

I remember thinking then that this would make a lovely allover pattern for a wholecloth quilt.
You can apply this principle to all sorts of stencils and like I have done with my current project, mix and match different stencils together. The options are really limitless. Here are a few more ideas:

These two stencils are from Pam Clarke’s book 'Quilting Inside the Lines'. All I have done here is repeated the stencil in a straight way across the quilt. I particularly like the second one and you could imagine that you could now extend this out with a bit of a border maybe taking part of the motif and designing an accompanying border stencil or you could just simply stitch a very formal feather border around this. Or you could set this on point and have a bit of a look what that looks can really play with this and come up with quite exciting ideas. I did this on the Ipad with the Adobe Draw App. If you prefer to work with paper you could copy your motif several times and lay it out in front of you to have a bit of a look.

If you look back over my most recent posts you will get an idea of how I tackled getting my motif repeated over my piece of fabric. 


Wednesday, 14 March 2018


Short post, working out how to get my photo onto this post from my Ipad at a reduced size and obviously managed after some unbelievable mucking around.

Making slow but steady progress


Saturday, 10 March 2018

Wholecloth - Miscalculations and Other Disasters

Well, I would not have thought that I come across a major issue that quickly, but I did.

When putting down my framework I noticed that I did not have the planned 1/2in around the perimeter. Normally that would not matter as you have one solid piece of fabric, but for this one I added a border, so it did sort of matter.
When stitching out the framework, I thought that I had about 1/4in. The idea was to then stitch a 1/4in line around this...however, stitching this out I ended up a bit all over the place, sometimes hitting the 1/4 in mark and sometimes not. As you can see hopefully, I may have a bit more than 1/4in here to the border which is indicated with the red arrow. I think this occurred because the ruler work (you can see my 10in HQ ruler in the background) was much more difficult than I had anticipated and in the end I was just happy to get it down.

I then stood back and tried to figure out how to best overcome this issue. I had at least six arcs which were completely out. Decided to stitch a 1/4 in line around the perimeter to assess the issue. Did it at first in white thread which looked absolutely horrendous. Next issue presented itself...I have a light coloured backing! Thought that a black line would be nice, but then had to have the bobbin thread in beige to go with the rest of the back. Lots of tweaking, but I managed to pull this off in the end without pokies on the front or back. At least something was working.

That is just it with Wholecloth quilts. Things rarely go smoothly and you do come across a variety of issues as it is close to impossible to think everything through. The drawings always look great, are exact and cause no issues, but when you are dealing with fabric you could have some issues around shifting, compaction (which will affect your measurements) and all sorts of weird and wonderful things. You will have to decide what you can accept in terms of imperfection and what will continue to bother you.  Can you hide the imperfection or draw the eyes away from it? In my case I had to undo some of my arcs as they were just not meeting the 1/4in black line and this stood out like a sore thumb. Was very grumpy about this as doing the arcs was challenging. But, happy I did it in the end...looking good! So now I can pretend that I had wanted it this particular way in the first place😆

After I finished this I finally got around to insert the motif. Decided to trace and pounce it rather than stitching through the paper so that I would get the alignment right. Bit of a process...

Tracing and stitching through the paper to make the stencil...
Aligning and pouncing it with you can see this is fairly faint and I must admit that I have mentioned to my family that I have once again surpassed myself in terms of crazy design ideas. This is indeed quite challenging.

And finally

Yep, made another mistake amongst all of that...traced the wrong drawing initially...the space between the two parts of the motif was a tad too wide, so will have to undo the two that I did already. The motif above is the right alignment and looks great. The joys of Wholecloth quilting. Hopefully it will be plain sailing from here on.

Amongst all of this our computer broke really broke down, black screen, no play, so I had to figure out a different way to post. Lucky for me I had printed off what I needed for the center from the EQ8 program. By the time we get that fixed, I will hopefully be at the stage to do the borders.


Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Wholecloth Quilting - Laying Down The Groundwork

So you got your fabric and your design...what's next?

Actually a fairly simple but hugely important step. You will need to iron your fabric and mark in the crosshairs. I usually do that with the iron first
It is very important that this is correct as your whole design is based on those simple lines. See my marker...I have decided to use the trusted Sewline Chalk Pencil. If you are like me you probably have a variety of markers. It pays to test them out beforehand. I had another chalk pencil where you could wipe the line with water and it disappeared. Next day though the lines were back, even after a second rinse. So that was too dicey for me. Then I got another pen that has a liquid chalk tip...nice to use but am always a bit skeptical when you can remove the lines with heat...means that there is some chemical reaction that makes the lines disappear. So in the end I settled on the old Sewline pencil. Obviously if I was using light fabric, I would use the common blue water erasable marker...tried and tested to work well.

Once the lines are ironed in, I mark them in
And now for the fun part, marking in the framework. I used Cindy Needham's Ultimate Shape for this part of the marking process.
First hiccup...I had a half inch line next to the border. Somehow over the distance of marking with the stencil, inaccuracies must have crept in (or my measurement of the center might have been out) and I only got 1/4in clearance. This was not what I had in mind but decided that this was the new design choice and pressed on. I also marked the half line in the border as I know from experience that I am going to struggle later on with finding the half point...once it is all quilted I will also have some compaction, so I thought it is better to mark the border as well while I was at it. This took most of the afternoon. Then came the basting. I could have used spray basting, however last time I did this I had to wash the floor twice as I had ended up trampling the sticky stuff all over the place. In hindsight though, maybe that would have been the better choice. Definitely would have been quicker!
Anyway, I always pin baste the wholecloth first and then baste all over it with thread to avoid any shifting of the fabric.This takes forever!
My lines have softened but are still relatively easy to see. Once I work out how to approach this in terms of stitching path I will lightly strengthen the lines with the Chalk pencil as I go along, if that is what is needed.
Must admit that I am having second thoughts about this as I am going along. This looks so involved and I am wondering whether I can actually pull this off. I am planning to now stitch the framework using my straight and arc ruler. This sounded ok on a theoretical level but looking at all those lines now, I am beginning to wonder whether I have bitten off more than I can chew.

Will keep you posted 🙀.


Sunday, 25 February 2018

Wholecloth Quilting - Where To Start

Where do you start.

I wrote a post last year on what goes into the preparation for a Wholecloth. Currently thinking of doing a number of posts on the topic of wholecloth quilts to demystify the process.

First and foremost is planning. I spend an extraordinary amount of time on planning these projects given that I am going to spend the next few months on this one project. Once it’s basted and you are stitching there is very little you can do to alter your design or re-draw sections. Trust me, I becomes incredibly messy, is very unlikely to work and you will be in a world of pain.

Personally I like to see a picture of the Wholecloth before I start. This can be achieved by drawing it out on paper (or sections of it) or using the computer. I tend to use EQ8 or my Serif Drawing program. No consistency in which I use, whatever suits the design I will use. For the current Wholecloth I used the EQ8 program, as I am using one of their stencils. I printed the stencil out and then put it in the shape, photographed it and imported this back into the EQ8 program to make into a block. This is how I started off to just have a bit of a look at the overall picture. As I liked the design I then found the shape I was looking for in the block library and placed my stencil into it.  Then I just explored different settings and arrangements until I liked the look of it.

I did a lot of playing around with this...different sizes, different arrangements and different colour ways (EQ8 has a whole range of Aurifil thread colours in their thread library). Love the EQ8 program as it is fairly easy to move things around (although I am still getting used to the update) and get a good look at the end product. In addition I find it very useful in looking at dimensions, i.e. how big should my motif be in this arrangement. If you make it too big it is going to look too busy and crowded, if too small it is going to create a problem in terms of the surrounding open space.

Alternatively, if you had a motif that you liked and wanted to put it into a cathedral window shape, you could draw out your cathedral window and trace your motif into it or, even easier... can use Cindy Needham's Ultimate Shape stencils which makes that job superfast. All you do is mark your shape and off you go...

My first attempts at this from last year with the feathers oriented in different ways. I made some photocopies of this initially and cut out the squares to see what I liked better

After all of this I started to stitch out the motif and surrounding plumes to get a bit of a sense how this would work, i.e. will I work freehand, use rulers, trace the motif? Also trying different threads and  batting, getting a bit of a feeling for the design. Stitched this out about four times and noticed that I needed to do a little bit more work on aligning the motif. Went back to the EQ8 program and edited the motif, drawing in some diagonal lines for alignment in the center. Also adjusted the size of the motif just by a tad to allow for a bit more space around the curve.
As I am stitching this on very dark grey (charcoal) fabric, I am thinking that I will only use minimal marking as it is much harder to mark with the white sewline chalk pencils. Decided to use Cindy Needham’s Shape Stencil to get the framework down, then use rulers to stitch this out. The curve of my ruler does not magically correspond with the Ultimate Shape, however this does not matter as the Ultimate Shape will give me the points to align my ruler. The curvature of my ruler will be slightly bigger than the Ultimate Shape curvature (hence I had to do some adjusting of the size of the motif in EQ8). The motif will most likely be pounced using Golden Threads paper.
The feathers....unsure...don’t feel like marking them in, but will need to think about consistency. Probably will do some semi-marking, i.e. just lightly draw in the tops, so I can follow this and have the same number of plumes on each side.

Next step is to draw this out on my trusted IKEA paper (love that paper roll) using Cindy Needham’s stencil to align the motif, draw in the plumes...
You can see that my ruler is slightly more curved than the shape. This is only a rough I am not tracing off this, this is good enough to give me an idea of how this will work. Yesterday then I tried out a number of different markers, but decided in the end to stick with the one I know...the Sewline Chalk pencil. All I need to do now is to draw in the shape across the quilt top and I am ready to go. So I thought 😆 Discovered today that my fabric width is not wide enough, hence had to extend the center by adding on individual borders. Not what I had in mind, but so be it. Given that this piece will have a very distinct border, that all fits.

This will be a busy Wholecloth with lots of individual stops and starts, so a busy backing fabric is in order.

...and this is only the beginning! If you are thinking this is a bit obsessive, you are absolutely right. However, I have learnt my lesson of being unprepared in the midst of months and months of stitching when you arrive at the point of...hmmm, that does not work...not a good feeling, let me tell you. Thinking about writing a bit of a series on Wholecloth quilting. Let me know if you are interested and/or have particular questions about the topic. Not that I am an expert, but I obviously have done a lot of learning over the last few years and thought it might be helpful to share some of the resources or point people in the right direction.