Sunday, August 28, 2016

IQA Silent Auction Quilt Finished

Hi all -

I'm happy to say that I just finished my IQA silent auction quilt, and I'm pleased with how it turned out. In my previous post, I showed you how I quilted the seahorse image that I found in one of my copyright-free Dover books. When the seahorse was finished, it was time to work on the background quilting. I started by drawing a box around the image approximately where I would like to add borders:

This box showed me where to stop my background quilting. To help the seahorse stand out a little and to give me a line for travel stitching, I started with a narrow echo line all the way around the seahorse:

Then I drew a line representing the ground and quilted pebbles. Intermixed in the pebbles are larger pebbles with a little curl inside that I added because I like the look, but realized while I was quilting them that they looked like snails. Perfect!

Then I drew lines where I wanted to quilt seaweed and added that quilting:

Finally, I filled in behind with a water design:

With the background quilting complete, I could start adding the borders. I wanted to wait to add the borders because I didn't want the dense quilting in the middle to distort the borders and I wanted to make sure that I liked the amount of space I was leaving around the seahorse. I added the borders using the sew-and-flip method. I chose the fabrics and widths improvisationally. As each strip was added, I quilted it with a specialty stitch from my sewing machine. This quilting was done with the same thread that was used for the seahorse so that I could tie in different browns to the center color. Here's how the borders turned out:

As I was adding the borders, I looked back at the guidelines and realized that my piece had already reached the 25" limit so I couldn't add any more borders on the top or bottom. I think it would have looked a little bit better with slightly wider top/bottom borders, but I'm still happy with how it turned out. Here it is trimmed up with the binding added:

And here's the back:

I love it when you can see the quilted image on the back! And here are pictures of the corners so you can see the fabric and specialty stitches used:

I got the hanging sleeve and label finished tonight, so I can get this shipped off this week. I'm glad to have this done so I can get back to some of my other projects!

Hope all is going well for you!


Sunday, August 14, 2016

IQA Silent Auction Quilt Started

Hi all -

IQA, the people who put on the Houston show, have a silent auction at the show with quilts for sale to raise money for the organization. Each year they ask the ribbon winners from the previous show to make a little quilt for the auction. Since I won my ribbon last year, I was asked to contribute this year and I agreed. The only requirements for these quilts is that they must be no larger than 25"x25" and must include a hanging sleeve and a label. So, I could do anything that I wanted. Of course, I stressed over this for a while because a lot of the top names in the industry will have quilts in the auction so I have to make something nice enough to hang with the rest. After some thought, I decided that my forte is quilting so I needed to make something where the quilting shines; something like a wholecloth quilt. I like quilting that sketches out an image, but I can't draw, so I pulled out my copyright-free Dover books and looked for an image that I liked. This is the image that I ended up choosing:

The next decision is the color and type of fabric and the color and type of thread. My first thought was to make this look like a sketch by using black thread on a white cotton fabric. I let that float in my mind for a couple of days (yes, I do most of my design work in my head), but the image in my head looked to stark for me. So I decided to do more of a sepia tone image with reddish brown thread on a cream fabric. I decided to stick with cotton fabric to mimic paper and to use a flat cotton batting to keep with that theme. The first step was to transfer the image to the fabric. I started by pinning the image to the underside of the fabric so it wouldn't slip while tracing:

You can see the image just fine through the fabric without a lightbox, but using a lightbox makes it so much easier:

For the marking, I went to my blue wash-out markers. I've always had good luck with those and I have both thick and thin ones so they should work well. So I went to work, tracing away:

I would turn the lightbox off periodically to check my lines and to make sure I didn't miss anything:

After a couple of hours of work, I had the whole image traced:

And I could still see the lines well even after removing the paper image from the back:

When sandwiching the quilt, I made the back and batting extra large so I can easily add borders after the quilting, if desired. It's always good to have options!

For the thread, I decided to use my favorite 40 wt Glide. FilTec recently came out with a new 60 wt Glide and I picked up a bunch of cones to try. The colors are limited, but I had picked up a brown (color name Mahogany) that was very close to what I was envisioning for this quilt, so I pulled the 40 wt in the same color for the top thread and the 60 wt for the bobbin. This doesn't save money since the 60 wt is more expensive than the 40 wt, but it will make the back neater and will put more thread in the bobbin so I don't have to worry about that running out while quilting.

I got all of the lines quilted:

I'll go back over some of these lines to make them thicker and darker like the original picture, but I wanted to remove the blue first so I have a better idea of the final outcome:

I'm liking it so far. It has the sketchy look that I wanted, but isn't harsh. I'm waiting for it to dry before darkening those lines, but I think it's going to work well.

Once the seahorse itself is finished, I'll add some background quilting. All of the background quilting will be done in a 100 wt silk thread in a color matching the fabric. My current plans include a narrow echo line around the seahorse to help it pop. Then pebbles across the bottom with seaweed and coral extending upwards, if I can draw those in a way that I like. The a water fill behind everything. I'll draw a line indicating the edges so I'll know where to end the quilting. After the quilting is done, I can decide on the borders.

That's all I've got for now. I'll leave you with an image of Lance and the kitties relaxing on the couch:

Lance is so patient!


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Hospice Quilt Top Finished

Hi all -

I'm happy to announce that I've finished piecing the Hospice quilt top! I'm going to start with a picture of the top because I'm so excited about it:

I think it turned out really cool!

In my last post about this quilt, I'd finished the columns of stripes, so now I'll show you how I did the stars. I wanted to applique the stars on the blue rectangles before piecing the columns since that would be a lot easier than adding them later. But I had to be really careful about how I positioned the stars because it would be very obvious if they didn't line up pretty well. The eye would correct little wobbles, but nothing very big. So I started by drawing the finished parallelograms on graph paper:

I drew the left-facing and right-facing parallelograms on top of each other so I could find the overlapping area in the middle that would be the perfect spot for the star. I looked at simple star images online and found a shape that I liked. I printed it out in several sizes and laid them in the intersection until I found a size that looked good to me:

I slid the star behind the pattern and traced it in the precise location that I thought would look good:

The graph paper allowed me to position the start on an even 1/4" mark and made it easy to determine the location by counting the grid squares. One note of caution: if you use this method, don't forget to add the seam allowances to your measurement! For this block, I only needed to add the 1/4" inch on each side, extending the corner on each end, because of the way I constructed the quilt.

Now it was time to prepare the actual appliques. I used fusible applique and was worried about the blue background fabric shadowing through the white appliques. To counter this, I decided to add an extra layer to the applique shapes. I didn't want the stiffness of 2 layers of fusible so it dawned on me that I could use a layer of Shape-Flex under the applique fabric. Shape-Flex (Pellon SF101) is a fusible interfacing that feels like muslin with a fusible on one side. In the past I've used this as a stabilizer backing for hand embroidery that's been turned into a quilt and it worked really well for that. It was wonderful for this, too! To prepare for the applique, I cut a square of the applique fabric 1/2" bigger than the applique pattern on each side and a square of the Shape-Flex 1/4" bigger on each side:

I fused those together:

Then I traced the star on the back of some fusible web and fused that to the back of the Shape-Flex:

I cut out the star and positioned it on the blue rectangle:

The bottom ruler was used to measure up to the applique location. The top ruler was used to make sure that the top point of the star was centered. To double-check my measurements, I folded each of the corners of the rectangle over to make sure that my seams wouldn't intersect the star on any side (this is how I figured out that I had originally forgotten to add the seam allowances to my placement calculations). I then fused the star to the rectangle.

To attach the star, I decided to use the double blanket stitch. I could also have used a satin stitch, but I haven't done much satin stitch so I'm not sure I could have made that look good, especially on the points (something to work on in another project!). To make sure I wouldn't get any puckering, I decided to add a square of stabilizer underneath each star. For that, I used Floriani's Stitch N Wash, a fusible water-soluable tearaway stabilizer. The fusible allowed me to use a square of stabilizer cut the same size as I had cut the applique fabric so there was little waste, and the water-soluable property made me fine with leaving some of the stabilizer in the final quilt. I fused the stabilizer on the back of the rectangle, underneath the star:

sewed around the star:

and tore away some of the stabilizer:

I wanted to tear the stabilizer away from the outside of the star so it wouldn't get in my way when I was sewing the rectangles together. I didn't tear it away from behind the star because I wanted to keep my manipulations of the rectangles to a minimum so they wouldn't be distorted before sewing them together. I can decide before quilting if I want to remove that stabilizer.

To double-check the star placement, I finished 4 rectangles first and sewed them together:

I did a left-facing and a right-facing and sewed the columns. Then just laid them next to each other and stepped back to make sure that everything seemed to line up nicely in all directions. I liked what I saw so I finished up the blue rectangles and added them to the red/white columns, laying them on the floor to see how they looked:

Just in case, I also laid them out so it looked like they were pointing up rather than down:

I decide I liked the original layout best, so I sewed the columns together and completed the quilt top:

Now I have to sandwich and quilt it. The quilting shouldn't take too long because this is a fairly small top (36" x 48", the requested size). I also still need to write the pattern from the notes that I kept while making the quilt. I'm also thinking about making another, larger one of these next year and seeing if I can get it into a modern quilt show. I think the design is graphic enough to fit that category. I could make it large enough for a Quilt of Valor (about 60" x 80") and then donate it after any shows. We'll see what my commitments look like next year.....

Before getting back to this quilt, I did go ahead and finish the little quilt that I used for the adding borders demo:

Patsy Thompson had had a sale on her Sizzix and Accuquilt cutting dies, so I picked up a bunch for $10 a piece. I decided to play with some of these to make the quilt more interesting, added some stitches and finished it with a binding. It's a silly little quilt, but I like it and plan on adding it to the quilt gallery I have going in my little cubicle at work. I hate looking at the gray fabric walls!

Another project that I have to get started on is a donation quilt for the IQA silent auction in Houston. All ribbon winners are asked to donate quilts so I said that I would. I can do anything for this quilt; it doesn't have to relate to my winning quilt. The only requirements are that it be no larger than 25"x25" and has a hanging sleeve and label. This has me a bit stressed because there will be quilts from well-known quilters in the auction and I'm afraid that nobody will bid on mine. But this will be a good challenge for me and I can always pay my friend to bid on mine if nobody else does. They want these to arrive in Houston by Sept 22, so I need to get cracking! I'll keep you updated as I design and make this quilt.