Tuesday 30 October 2018

Useful Auditioning Tool

I acquired the Westalee Design Kit at the last quilt show. Had not seen this on their website and spent some time at the stand listening to Leonie West explaining its use.

Basically it is an acrylic 12in block that is 3mm thick with 8 point crosshair reference lines on it. As with the quilters auditioning transparency rolls that you can get, you can draw on it with dry erasers. I only bought some good quality dry erasers the other day and set out to try the different colours on one of my practice quilts.
 Bit of a play in the block and then the sashing.
Played a bit more in the blocks...the lines are very handy to draw your design.
Then I produced an overall design
Found it hard to stop actually, as this was a bit of fun. I never used the transparency roll that some quilters use so I have got no comparison, but I must say I like the solid slab of acrylic as it holds the fabric down nicely and bonus, it gives me the crosshair reference lines to use for drawing.

With the kit come a number of drawn out graph papers, i.e. the one below with 24 points.
So you can position your acrylic block on this, align it with the lines and then use the graph to construct your design. Included in the kit are Westalee's little stitching line disks so that you can use them with your rulers to draw out the design. Have not tried this yet, but when I get a minute will play around with this a bit. This will be great to just draw out some ideas and try different shapes and arrangements and to see whether certain ideas will work or not. It is similar to Cindy Needham's transparency that comes included in her Ultimate Stencil set, except that Cindy's transparency has the lines printed on the transparency. 

What I found particularly useful was the square grid that came included
I tried  a grid design that I had seen Jamie Wallen demonstrate on the Quilt Show recently. In fact he demonstrated a lot of grid designs, I think the video was called 'Mystical Grids'. That was a fantastic video...I might have to watch it again actually, because the above design is the only one that I could remember how to draw.

Overall, a very useful design tool.


Monday 29 October 2018

Auditioning Overall Quilting Designs

Not sure about you but on some quilts I take a while to decide what to quilt on it. Very painful process, as I will change my mind lots of times, only to often settle on the first design that I tried out.

With unfamiliar designs I will first start drawing them for a while to get the flow of the design a bit. Once I think that I have got it, I will start stitching out the design. That sounds incredibly simple but there are so many thought processes involved in this. For example, I chose to combine swirls with some sort of paisley design and started stitching this out on a practice sandwich.
First thing to think about was whether I could leisurely stitch this row by row without making it obvious. If you look at the top of the picture you can see how I just went along and it became too much of a row. In an overall design that would not look good, so I needed to mix it up a bit and work out direction changes as I went along while still following my row principle. 
Next, I concentrated on the size and overall scale, deciding that I needed to stay roundabout at maximum 2in for the paisley in order not to become too wonky...had some really long ones in there in the middle which stood out when everything was a bit smaller. At that point I had to also think about the speed of the machine...the higher I go, the bigger the design. Needed to figure out a speed that allowed me to stitch comfortably without loosing control of the shape. Easier said than done!

Not that you will see it, but after all this I concentrated on the echoing...found that the way I was stitching the paisley made me go around three times which seemed somewhat awkward...also got very confused at times with direction, i.e. you end up on the side of the paisley that you started when I often wanted to go the other way. 
Went back to drawing after this and found that I needed to change direction in a different way which made the echoing flow much better.
I use oodles of material (in this case, black calico) and inexpensive batting to do my test runs. While this seems wasteful I find it necessary to really think through how I am going to advance over an entire quilt in a consistent manner.


Friday 26 October 2018

Handiquilter Ruler of the Month Club 3

After a month break our local Handiquilter group came together again and we were given the latest rulers of the ROM Club 3

Pillbox Ruler and Petal Pusher Ruler

The Pillbox ruler is quite large, 2 1/2 x 6 1/2in and I am a bit unsure what to do with it, so I tried different arcs that you could do in a sashing or border (first line)
I have an overall design in mind for this one where you go up and down the pillbox at different length, however have not tried this as yet, as I was keen to play with the petal pusher. Did a little sashing design with the Petal Pusher as you can see above and then moved on to the motifs

Here are the 2 motifs that the two shapes will give you, a rounded flower design and a leaf-type design. Very handy to put in a charm square set up as the design comes out to just over 4 in.
Then you can vary this a bit and put the two shapes together...also nice
You can play around heaps with this and also make your design larger by simply putting a circle in the middle
Lots and lots of different opportunities and designs you can come up with. Thoroughly enjoyed playing with these. Except for the last motif where I stuffed up a bit noticed again how exact these rulers are. My little flower designs came out very neat and clean, so maybe I am getting better at this. Mind you, stitching on the inside of the ruler is always a bit easier and they were really nice to hold.
 I stopped here for the minute as I was working on something completely different and had to stop playing.

If you are interested in what you could use these rulers for also visit the Handiquilter ROMC page where they have some videos demonstrating each ruler of the series.

Thursday 18 October 2018

Marking your quilt #1

So I have made good progress until it came to the marking of my quilt. I am trying my brand-new Border stencils from Cindy Needham and needed to mark on a darker background, i.e. purple. I thought that my trusted blue water soluble markers were probably not such a good choice so I was hunting around in my sewing box for a white marker. For smaller marks and lines here and there I use the Sewline Ceramic pencil which works really well, but I did not think that was overly suitable for marking with a stencil. I do need the border design to stay on until I am ready to stitch this out.

A while ago I bought a White Marking Pen from a local quilt shop. The owner was swearing by it, i.e. best thing ever etc. It makes a very fine line that appears after a little while and you can then iron it out
I had not really tried this out in any great detail and thought I give that a go. The lines that this makes are very fine and very white, easy to see and apart from the wait for the lines to appear, this seemed to work well.

Until I made mistakes in the placement of my stencil. I am truly the world's worst marker...very impatient and usually only really start thinking it through once it occurs to me 'oh, this is not going to work!' I was trying to shrink the stencil by just winging it...yep, that did not work! I then went to the ironing board to make those lines disappear and yep, you guessed it, they did not come out.
Bit hard to see, but I think you get the picture. I was really annoyed with this, but probably most annoyed with my own stupidity...it's a chemical, that disappears with warmth, so it's reasonable to assume that the substance is still in the fabric rather than magically disappeared. I was going to throw the pens in the bin. Instead I re-did all of my border, unpicking everything and attaching a new border.
Since then I have stitched over this as a bit of a doodle and to work out which ruler I will use to stitch this out. I discovered that when you stitch on that purple line, you will not see it obviously and if I had marked this correctly, I could have gotten away with this. Knowing myself, this is never going to happen that I mark something absolutely correctly on the first go, so I will not use this pen for the marking of this border (as I have to do a bit of shrinking to fit it in the space). When calmer though, I thought that these pens do have a place in marking, for example when you transfer a motif. It is probably unlikely that you would get the placement wrong and then it would be just a matter of staying on the lines and to remember to put the registration lines on with some chalk or similar, so they come off easily.
Went on the internet and found some other pens which are chalk based and water soluble and found Roxanne's Quilter's Choice Marking Pencil through Quilter's Review so I ordered some of them to try out. Also ordered the Bohin Marking pen as I have heard good things about that one. We shall see...will do a bit of a post on all the different marking pens that I have in my collection. Truly infuriating, definitely need to find something that works for darker fabric once for all.


Monday 8 October 2018

Dancing Squares and Progress on Challenge Quilt

I have been steadily working away...almost finished my Ruler Practice quilt and also started another quilt. As this is to be a gift, I will not be posting about this one for a while, but wanted to show you the border.

Following Ricky Tim's excellent lecture at the recent Australian Machine Quilting Festival, I decided to use the idea of dancing squares in the border. We had been given a syllabus of the lecture and there were some basic instructions in there for constructing this. Nothing earth shattering compared to some of the other techniques we were told about but such a nice simple idea to highlight a border.

This was easy to construct and came together very quickly...no measuring or trying to be consistent, just putting it together to get the effect of dancing squares. The squares don't even have to be exact...mind you, I did mine at 3in square as uneven squares was too much of a challenge for me.

I did the dancing squares all around the centre of the quilt and the only issue I had was to judge in a roundabout way where the corner squares would sit which was complicated by the fact that I only had limited amounts of green fabric. I have made it all around the centre with about 6in left of the green fabric. This I will need to make a tiny alteration for one of the corners so it looks somewhat consistent, i.e. the squares in the corners in approximately the same spot on all four corners.

This was very interesting to do in terms of letting go of the restrictions around consistency and how things should be done and definitely not something that comes naturally to me, but I really enjoyed this.

The quilt will be super cute and I will be able to show you some time in December. Almost done, just need to put it all together and find a backing.

Also finished my Challenge quilt which I will put up when it is bound and all pretty.
I decided to try the Piano Key border again after having a few hassles with accuracy in the last quilt. Used the Handiquilter Line Grid Ruler for this and this time I started on one end (started in the middle last time...not sure why and that clearly did not work well). As you can see I took the Handigrip off on the bottom for this exercise as it was most irritating when sticking to the wadding. Did just re-attach the grip pieces after I was finished with the border. I love the Line Grid ruler...very nice to hold and easy to handle. As always I had some trust issues in terms of the ruler giving me a definite 1/2in each time, so I had put little marks along the border. Well, after a few lines my marks were no longer correct and I prepared myself for not ending up in the right spot at the corner. So, I literally had to continue blind, trusting that the ruler would get me there with 1/2in to spare before I reached the corner square (the border was 43 1/2in). Well, to my surprise and utter disbelief I made it more or less exactly to the corner in all four corners.
How good does this look? Could not believe it and was very impressed with it. Could not mark this out that evenly, even if I tried. Such a time saver doing this with the ruler. If you are wondering what rulers to get, this type of ruler is definitely worth it!

Monday 1 October 2018

Challenge Quilt

My week of leave was spent progressing the challenge quilt from my local HQ group. This was epic...
Arrived at those sections that were meant to have pebbles in there. So, I pebbled for almost an entire week as there were 8 sections of it. Absolute torture and my shoulder did not like it at all. Had to put in frequent breaks so as to not damage my shoulder any further (apparently I have got a frozen shoulder with a good dose of bursitis on top of it and now I am patiently waiting for it to thaw out 😅). I then decided that the sashing was puffing out too much and so I put a diamond design in there with the HQ Skinny ruler. Once that was done I felt that it needed some dressing up and so I put the ribbon candy design in there...and so it goes on! I now am stitching the sashing down with some narrow lines around the diamonds and that is doing the trick of making it nice and flat.
I am absolutely quilting the 'snot' out of this quilt. So far I have gone through at least 5 -6 bobbins of thread. Good learning as usual as I noticed that a slightly different coloured bobbin thread (both Aurifil 50/2) required an adjustment of the bobbin tension. I am definitely learning more and more about the tension on the HQ Sweet 16.


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