Saturday, March 7, 2015

Inspired by Libby, Part 2

Hi all -

I've finished the next step in my Inspired by Libby challenge quilt. The first step was to prepare the background. Now I'm on to my first Libby technique -- threadplay ribbons. I used the ribbon technique to create some seaweed in my underwater scene.

The first step was to draw a seaweed frond (is that the right word?). Libby uses freezer paper for this, but I decided to use water-soluable stabilizer instead. When I've used freezer paper for drawing quilting motifs and then sewing through the paper, I've had trouble pulling out the bits of paper from under the stitching and I didn't want to deal with that. I used a Crayola washable marker for the drawing to make sure that I wouldn't get any ink on the quilt top:

Then I positioned the frond on the quilt top and pinned it in place:

I collected all of my variegated and metallic green thread to give me a palette:

Here's the thread I chose to start with:

This is a variegated thread from Isacord that I've had for a while. I love the bright mix of blues and purples in with the greens. But something was niggling in the back of my mind that this wasn't a good choice. I hemmed and hawed a bit, then decided to go for it. I stitched along the outline using this thread and cut away the excess stabilizer. I left the stabilizer on the inside of the frond to add more stabilization:

You probably can't see it well in the picture, but I didn't like the high contrast between the different thread colors for this application. And I think I remember Libby saying something about this in her DVD. So I chose a different thread for filling in the frond. This thread is Affinity by FilTec. The color variations are much more subtle, so probably more appropriate for this application:

I put the top in an embroidery hoop to help stabilize things for the heavy thread work:

This hoop is one that I received as part of my class supplies when I took a thread painting class several years ago. It's thinner than the embroidery hoops that you see in the stores, so it's easier to get it under the darning foot.

Now I just had to fill the frond with thread. I used a circular motion, like Libby does for her ribbons, and filled in all of the areas of the frond. Then I used this Madeira Jewel thread to highlight the rounded edges of the frond:

I had a lot of thread breakage doing the highlights, but there wasn't a lot of stitching that I had to do, so I just powered through it. Here's the result. You can't see the highlighting very well in the picture, but it's there:

I did have a problem with puckering on this frond, though:

I don't know if you can see it in the picture but there's a lot of take-up especially in the middle of the frond. I think it'll quilt out, but I don't want to add more with the second frond. So, for the second frond, I used the heavy-weight water-soluable stabilizer and I didn't cut away the outside of the stabilizer before stitching the inside of the frond. To add more color, I used this Variations thread by YLI:

I also decided to switch from using a circular motion to fill the frond to using a back-and-forth motion following the frond shape. I used the same Madiera Jewel metallic for the highlighting. I trimmed away the stabilizer after stitching:

This one still puckered a bit, but not as much as the first one and I like it much better. Here are the two fronds. They look pretty lonely on the quilt so far!

When doing this work, I didn't like the hoop I was using. It didn't hold the fabric as tightly as I would have liked and the screw doesn't have a slot for a screwdriver so I couldn't tighten it beyond what I could do with my fingers. But I didn't know where to get the narrower hoops. I looked around on Amazon, but either they didn't specify the width of the hoop or the it would be wider than the one that I had. Then it dawned on me that Nancy Prince would probably have narrower hoops so I hopped onto her Web site and ordered a couple. They have arrived, but I haven't tried them yet. I think they'll work better because they look like they are made with a higher quality wood, the edges of the wood are beveled nicely and the screw has a slot for a screwdriver. I'll try this hoop when I get to adding the third frond, which will go in front of a fish somewhere to try to add depth to the scene. There is another hoop out there that Barbara Shapel uses that has a dip on one side for scooting under the darning foot, but I haven't figured out where to get these so haven't been able to order one.

I guess that's it for the progress so far. I hope to add my first fish this weekend. I'm procrastinating because I'm worried about making the shape simple enough for Libby's applique technique, but keeping enough detail so you can tell it's a fish. I'm also worried about satin stitching around the edges since I've had problems getting nice looking satin stitch in the past, but I don't think any other edge treatment will look nice for this scene. But I'll try to push through and I'm sure in the end everything will be alright.