Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Colors of Velvet

Hi all -

I've finished my thread wreath color wheel. Except, of course, the final naming and putting on the label. My current thought is "Colors of Velvet", but I'll live with it for a little while before I make the final decision. Don't want to rush into anything as important as a name! ;)

If you remember, this wallhanging started as my July FMQ Challenge pillow, but turned into a wallhanging when I realized that I wasn't going to finish it in time anyway. The earlier work on this quilt is described here. At that point I had the colorful wreath quilted. After quilting the wreath, I added a gray echo line around the wreath to give it some unity and quilted the corner plumes in the same gray. I decided to leave the centers of the corner plumes unquilted so that they would puff out.

For the background quilting I used a dark purplish blue Kimono silk thread. I got the idea of using this color from one of my favorite quilting Web sites, Machine Quilter's Resource. The dark blue/purple is easier to see while you're doing the quilting and adds a very subtle sparkle to the background. I liked how that worked out. For the background in the center of the wreath, I just did echo lines. I'm not that pleased with them, but they aren't that noticeable so it doesn't really matter. For the rest of the background, I quilted parallel straight lines. I had to quilt the lines 1/8" apart to match the quilting density in the wreath and get the quilt to lie flat. Here's how it looked after completing the quilting:

Now to finish the edges. I need to try other edge techniques besides binding, so for this piece I decided to try a piped facing. And to make it even more interesting, I decided to use a solid gray fabric with stitched colored threads on it for the piping. For the piping, I would fabric strips cut on the bias. I didn't want to stitch a lot more fabric than I would use, so I cut a bias strip of fabric about 8.5" wide. I figured I could get 4 strips of 1.75" fabric out of that for the piping. When I'm cutting fabric on the bias, what I do is fold the yardage so that the cut edge is even with one of the selvedges:

The folded edge will be approximately along the 45 degree bias, and, really, with bias close is good enough. There's really not much difference in the stretch of a 45 degree edge and the stretch of a 50 degree edge. Then I very carefully press the folded edge, being very careful not to stretch anything:

It's the pressing that really makes this long edge usable. I don't know if you can tell in the pictures, but the edge before it's pressed is really puffy and hard to deal with. Once it dawned on me to press this edge (took me a long time to come up with that!), this method became easy and I don't avoid bias strips anymore. Now I can just fold the fabric to give me a manageable length and cut off the folded edge to get the first side of my bias strip:

I happen to have a longer ruler that I can use to cut this edge with the single fold. Before I got this ruler, I would use my 24" ruler and make a second fold so the fabric would fit under the ruler. This is a little fiddly to make sure the edge is completely straight, but really isn't too bad. And in most places where you use bias strips (binding, piping), it doesn't really matter if you get a little bit of a wiggle in your cut.

Now for all of the tedious stitching. I tried starching the fabric but couldn't get it stiff enough to stand up to the stitching, so I ended up using a stabilizer instead. I have a roll of Floriana tear-away/wash-away stabilizer that I thought would be perfect. That way, I don't really need to pull out the stabilizer after the stitching. I pinned the stabilizer on the bottom of the fabric and just started stitching:

And stitching, and stitching, and stitching.....

I must say, I've very good at threading my machine now! I had to change the top thread for each line of stitching because I knew that if I tried to do all of the red lines first I would never get things evenly spaced. At least I could use a gray thread in the bobbin so that didn't have to be changed.

Now it was time to make the piping. I decided to leave all of the stabilizer in because I didn't want to pull out the stitching while trying to tear out the stabilizer. I was worried that this would make the fabric too stiff to deal with, but it really worked out well. I used a thicker cording that I had since this piping was going around the outside edge of the quilt. I thought about using a single length of piping around the perimeter of the quilt, but I know that it's hard to get very square corners that way, so I decided to try something different and made individual lengths of piping for each side of the quilt. Here's the prepared piping (or at least 3 of them, the 4th was already on the quilt when I took the picture):

I sewed a piece along each edge, overlapping the piping at the corners. Then I pulled out the stitches down to where the two pipings met and lined them up in the corner like this (sorry I didn't get a picture before trimming):

I stitched across the pipings in the corners to hold them in place before trimming. Here's the whole quilt with the piping attached:

Then I just made a facing and put that on top. I stitched it on from the back, like Susan Cleveland teaches. Then turned the facing to the back, pressed everything in place and hand stitched it in place. Here is how it turned out:

And here's what the corner looks like:

Not the best look, but it's still okay. I might decide to put some sort of embellishment in the corners later on if the corners bother me.

Here's a picture of the back with the colorful hanging sleeve:

 And a close-up of some of the quilting:

I really love how this turned out. I love the colors in the wreath and the background straight-line quilting creates a really cool texture. At first my friend thought it was corduroy and then she said it reminded her of a velvet Elvis, so I wanted to include "velvet" in the quilt name. I also love the puffiness of the plumes in the corners.

That's all for now. I'll move on to another project and let you know how that goes.



  1. What a lot of work! "Colors of Velvet" is beautiful. I can just imagine what it was like changing thread for that binding. Nice work.

    1. Thanks! I actually started off by changing the bobbin, too, but that only lasted through the first round of colors. ;)

  2. It's fabulous Nancy, your work is so perfect. I love seeing it and I hope this piece wins you prizes. Thank you for explaining how it's done.

    1. Thanks! This one won't be in any shows since there are some small thread problems in the quilting and the markings didn't all come out, but I'll definitely enjoy it at work. But it could be the inspiration for another quilt that could go in the shows....

  3. Your project is truly beautiful and the name is perfect. It does look like velvet!