Friday, April 7, 2017

Puppy Love

Hi all -

As you've seen, I've been digging out old class projects and making progress on them. This time I actually have a finish! Okay, to be honest it's not quite a finish as I still need to add the hanging sleeve and label, but it's finished enough to share.

At the end of class, I had finished the face and had started on the bandana:

So the first order of business was to finish the thread sketching:

I used too much thread on the front right leg and the back leg looked a little funky, but you kind of have to just go with it when it comes to thread sketching! It also was a little distorted above the head, but I knew I could trim that straight and quilt it out.

So it was on to adding borders:

Nancy does her thread sketching using a stabilizer that is like a thin batting, so I had to decide whether to trim that around the dog or leave it in behind the background. I decided to leave it in behind the background to see if that made the picture pop forward from the background a bit:

I also decided to do cut-away trapunto behind the dog to make her puff up from the quilt. So I took two layers of some old polyester batting that I had sitting around and I sewed it behind the dog using water-soluable thread. Then I cut the batting away behind the dog:

Here it is with all of the excess batting cut away:

Now I was ready to sandwich it for quilting. I used a scrap of Warm & Natural cotton batting and behind that I put a layer of Spunbond. Spunbond is a "Polyester Nonwoven Craft Fabric" made by C&T Publishing. I had no idea what that meant when I bought it online very cheaply ($10 for a 10 yard bolt) at one of their sales, but it sounded like something that I might find useful so I bought it. I knew I wanted to put some beads or buttons or some other possibly heavy embellishment on the quilt when I was finished, so I thought the Spunbond would give the quilt more stability for holding any weight. (Spoiler alert -- it worked!). You can see the layers in this picture:

I basted the layers together with basting spray and then began the quilting.

Since trapunto, especially really thick trapunto like you get with two layers of polyester batting, can distort your quilt top, I was very careful to make the inner border straight while basting and I started my quilting with SID around both sides of the inner border so there would be no chance for distortion. That worked well! I used dark brown SoFine for this quilting.

Then I moved on to the dog herself. I used a dark monofilament thread from Superior and stitched around the outline of the dog and around some features inside the dog. I was worried that using smooth lines for this quilting in areas where the top layer of the dog was the edge of fur so was wispy would make the dog look hard, so I used a zigzag line along the fur edges and a curved line where the edge was parallel with the direction of the fur, (I hope that makes sense, but I can't think of any other way to describe it.) I think that was better than just following the outline, but it does make the boundaries between body parts (like the line between the dog's tummy and her back leg) a bit wide. If you have a better idea of how to do these edges, please leave a comment! Here's how it looked after quilting the dog:

Note that it still has the water-soluable thread in it at this point. That will be removed later and it's amazing how much better it looks then.

The next step was the background quilting. My first inclination was to quilt pebbles in the background since that's kind of my go-to background quilting, especially when the background is the ground. But I've been doing that a lot lately so I decided to dig back into my toolbelt and I pulled out paisley quilting, which I hadn't done for a while. I think it looks really nice next to the dog:

At this point, I was having trouble figuring out what to quilt in the border, when I happened to watch an episode of Quilting Arts where Leni Wiener showed a couple of ways that she finishes the edges of her art quilts. I knew I wanted to do something other than binding on this quilt, but didn't know what to do, so this came at the perfect time. And even more perfect, I wanted to try her "folded edge" finish and that has to be done before you quilt the outer edges of your quilt, so this was also the right time to do that edge finish. This is just like the classic finish where you fold the back over the front to make the edge, but this time you fold the front over the back. I would have made my border a little wider at the beginning if I had known I would be doing this edge finish, but it was wide enough to be okay. Here's how it looks with the edge finished:

My corners aren't perfect, but I still think it looks pretty good. It's pretty straight forward, but I'll write up a tutorial about this edge finish sometime soon.

Now I had to go back to deciding on my border quilting. I knew I wanted straight lines to contrast with all of the curves in the center of the quilt and with the curves in the motif on the border fabric, but I've been doing piano keys in borders a lot lately so I wanted to do something really different. I thought about it for a while and decided that it would look cool to fill the border with random straight lines. So I pulled out a magenta SoFine thread and started quilting straight lines. I soon realized that quilting this many straight lines was very boring and it was going to take forever to get the quilting density that I wanted. So I thought about what else I could do while finishing an even density of lines around the border. I've been wanting to try quilting U-turns for a long time now but never had the right project, so I decided that this was the right project. I quilted U-turns in every other polygon made by the straight line quilting and I tried to keep the U-turns going in all different directions. So I got a lot of texture from the U-turns, and more texture from having no quilting in the other areas:

I really like this! And it's easy to do!

Finally, I pulled out some buttons and beads and added them to the border:

I played with some asymmetric placements, but they really looked best to me across the top.

I really like how this turned out. I think my decision to add the Spunbond was a good one. It made a popping noise while I was stitching on it, but I didn't have any problems using it and the finished quilt is stiff enough that it can stand on end. I think this would be good stuff to use for making small quilts that can be displayed on one of those dish stands that are used to display souvenir dishes.

I'm planing on giving this quilt to my youngest niece next Christmas. She's still in college and really wants to have a dog, but it's not practical for her at this point. So this can be her little dog.

Thanks for looking!



  1. Wow. Your threadartistry is amazing. Your niece is going to love it!

    1. Thanks, JoJo! It was a lot of fun to do!

  2. Your thread painting turned out great! Love the bead accents and how you figured out how to quilt your border! Way to go!!!