Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Crossing the Border

I made it all the way around the outside of the border, but now I'm not sure what I want to do in the plain brown area.  It seems to call for a little area left unquilted, somewhere to rest the eyes.

But I don't like how the plain area seems to wrinkle and puff up so I will probably do the same kind of feathers on the inside of the spine.

I really found the echoing difficult to do on this outside border.  I'm using Coats 50 wt cotton on the top and bobbin.  I really liked using the silk on the blue portion of this piece.  It seems a little more forgiving.  I'll definitely use silk again.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Go Spineless?

I debated about including an echoed spine or just stitching a single line for the quilting in the border.  I decided this was all about practicing so I opted for the echo.  My first attempts felt so jerky, as if I hadn't practiced at all in the blue center portion.  This lack of control almost made me choose the single stitch, but I kept with it.  I did have to pull out a few stitches to fix some false starts, but after a while, things went a little smoother.

I used the Leaves Galore ruler and a chalk pencil to create the curved spine.

After drawing the spine, I drew a couple tendrils, then marked an outside border to stitch up to.  The backing fabric is not as large as the front, so I needed to be careful where to place this line.

I used the walking foot to create a border next to the center, then stitched and echoed the spine.  I've started the feathers, but decided it was a good time to stop for the night since I ran out of thread in the bobbin.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

ECHO, Echo, echo

I've added echo quilting to the feathered practice piece that I'm creating for the SewCalGal challenge.  I outlined a small area and then worked my way toward the center of the area, echoing in progressively smaller spirals.  Once in the center, I ended and cut the thread.  I chose a new area to outline, echoed to the center again, and slowly worked my way around the background.  I still find it really difficult to see the stitching and the channel of puff I'm creating with this foot.  I noticed that as I worked my way around, my channels of puff became wider.  Oh well, consistency will come with practice.

Now, on to the borders.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Online Quilt Expo

I just registered for the upcoming online Quilt Expo that will occur from March 07 to 10.  This event is hosted by Willow Bend Creations.  Several quilting experts will be offering tutorials and small online workshops.  It will even be possible to "chat" to the experts and ask questions about techniques.  These are all quilters who have been deemed the most inspiring instructors for 2011.  I came across this opportunity at Walks In The Woods blog by Frieda Anderson.  You can link to the Expo above or check out Frieda's blog on my side bar.  She will be one of the presenters.  I love her work.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Not Quite a Whole Cloth Quilt

I decided to add borders to this little feathered practice piece.  I had puposefully used a large piece of batting just in case I wanted to add to this quilting motif.  Maybe the free-motion quilting tutorial for March, hosted by SewCalGal, will have to do with border quilting.  I can always hope.

First I added the side pieces for the back and the front, right sides together, with the batting in between.  Then I opened out the borders and pressed them.  After sewing on the first section, I measured carefully to be sure the stitching line for the opposite border was exactly parallel.  I then needed to be sure the top and bottom borders were perpendicular to the side borders, so I drew a stitching line and a placement line with a chalk pencil.

I placed the pins horizontally first so that I could establish where to place the back bottom border.  I used the back of the pins as a placement guide. 

The picture above shows the back strip appearing at the edge.  This extra length really made it easier to be sure the back and front lined up.  I then repinned for sewing and double checked the back.  After sewing each seam, I folded back all sections and trimmed the seam to 1/4 inch, much like paper piecing.

I'm not sure how wide I want the borders to be yet, so I've gone a little over.  I'll probably trim a couple inches off after the entire piece has been quilted.  Nice to have too much than too little.

So that's the start of my first almost whole cloth quilt.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Reawakening my Mojo

About 2 years ago, I practiced drawing feathers until I was drawing them in my sleep.  I felt pretty comfortable with the shapes and was developing some speed and confidence...until I tried quilting the feathers on real projects.  Sample sandwiches went well, but actual quilts became so frustrating.  Often, when I came to seam intersections, my thread would shred.  Not all the time, just often enough to be unexpected and unpredictable.  I tried different thread, different thread companies, different needles, rethreading the machine and bobbin, but still encountered this problem.  I really lost my motivation.

I am so thankful that SewCalGal has initiated this challenge because I feel my passion for quilting returning.  I've read other posts from people who have encountered the same problem.  I think it is a matter of finding the smallest needle that makes the smallest holes, but will still accommodate the size of the thread.  My practice sandwiches for all future quilts need to include seams if I'm truly going to test thread, needle, and tension.

Throughout the month of February, I've been practicing feathers the Diane Gaudynski way.  I've really had to relearn what I had practiced so much just a couple years ago.  Here are some samples.

This last image is the one I chose to try with a fabric sandwich.  My first sandwich includes fabric with a bit of a pattern, which made seeing the thread difficult.  I used bottom line thread for the top and bobbin.

Some of the single feathers are too small.  They end up competing with the size of the echo background quilting.

I decided to use this sampler quilt as a practice sandwich and quilted feathers in some of the triangular spaces.  I used the same bottom line thread I had used in the small practice piece.  The thread shred a couple times at seams.  I changed my needle from a size 70 to an 80.  It seems to have helped so far.  I'm determined not to give up.

I decided to try quilting with silk thread.  This sample uses 100 weight silk on top and bottom line in the bobbin.  I really like the look of the silk thread.  It has a slight sheen.  I had some tension difficulties that still need to be worked out.  I need to really loosen the top tension.  This picture was taken before I added feathers to the other side of the spines at the top.

I had marked the spine with the white chalk pencil by Fons and Porter.  I had a lot of difficulty seeing through my plastic and metal darning foot.  I'd like to get another and attack the plastic with a drill.  I wish Janome would make an open-toed foot for this machine.

The bottom right plume should have been longer to look more appealing, so I think I'll add to it.  I can draw individual feathers that nestle nicely into a curve at the end of the spine, but I still need so much more practice with thread.  There are some pretty deformed shapes here and there.  Knowing what to improve is half the battle.

Here's a close up.

Thank you for such a fun month SewCal Gal and Diane Gaudynski and for reawakening my Mojo.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Quilt Guild Library Books

We are encouraged to sign out multiple books from the Quilt Guild library at each meeting.  The selection is quite amazing.  These are the ones I picked out to read until mid March.  There's a bit of a theme here.  A little threadwork and a little applique. 

I also picked up a new book from our local quilt shop, Snip and Stitch.  Our guild newsletter included a 30% off coupon.  The great thing about the store's advertisement in the newsletter is that you can print the coupon multiple times and use it throughout February 15th to March 15th.  The next William Morris book by Michele Hill should be arriving in their store soon.

The store displays a couple wall quilts from this book.  I particularly like the blue one featured on the cover.  The store sample of the bird pattern is so striking.  I look forward to trying it.

I'm almost ready to try quilting my sample for the February tutorial hosted by SewCalGal.  Below are my latest pen doodles.  I think I will pick one of these versions to do with thread.  Hope to have pictures this weekend.

I didn't include an echoed spine on this sample.  I wanted to try doodling quickly with smooth curving lines for the spine.  This is the sample I would like to try with thread, but when I quilt it, I will do an echoed spine. 

Bali Pop Giveaway at Katie's Quilting Corner

There is a great fabric giveaway at Katie's Quilting Corner.  Check out the beautiful shades in this Bali Pop.

This selection of 2.5 inch strips is called Key Lime.  How mouth-watering!!!

Click on the link above to enter her contest.  She offers a second and third opportunity to win if you blog about the contest and if you are a blog subscriber.  Good luck.