I do love rainy days, Monday’s not so much. As a day its perfectly fine, I seem to like Thursday’s better. Thursdays are fascinating, vibrant, full of life, looking forward to the weekend, still full of work yet, almost to the weekend. I’m heading into the City later this afternoon to meet a couple of quilters and attend an awards ceremony. More about that soon.
Choosing thread for Midnight in the Bronx is so much fun and a bit of a process. On Twilight I used the three spools of thread my sisters gave me, yellow, red, and purple. Midnight is of similar design, yet different from the thread color/weight choices to the motifs. I’ll be posting more in Lucy’s Nickles in the next few days. This will include why I’m going for the colors shown, and how I got there. After I dropped this picture in here I realized there’s a part on Moon Over Manhattan that uses these colors.
Last week we focused on the “bones” also known as stitching in the ditch. When you’re working on a quilt it’s not a “have to do” rather, it’s a good thing to do. When working on something like @play the bones get stitched as these would be the ditch in a pieced quilt top. Finer thread makes this stitching almost disappear into the batting, which is the goal.
Our post ended with this delightful conundrum, makes you kind of tense doesn’t it. Changing thread weight and color means that the needle, and tension need some kind of adjustment. For the top Wonderfil FabuLux Hush a 40 wt. trilobal polyester (means shiny!) designed by Debby Brown, for the MicroQuilter by Superior, an 80 weight polyester. Finer threads in the bobbin take up less room in the stitch, allowing tighter, closer stitching without skewing the quilt.
Clearly the tension was off in the first few stitches. This is a simple adjustment of the tension.
– lift the presser foot lever
– increase the tension (move dial to a higher number)
– take a few stitches, stop and check
– if the tension is good, keep stitching
– if the tension isn’t good, tweak it
Using the Sewline Marking pencil I placed a dot, about an inch up from the arc, about in the middle. I stitched from the peak of the spikes to the dot, then from the dot to the next peak. Using the same thread, I arced back. Just a small curve from the top of the peak, to the same dot.
Next up the big expanse, other wise known as the corner. The options are limitless. A long time ago this would have completely freaked me out. Now either there’s something on my brain. Sometimes I wait. This is a time to doodle, write blog posts, articles, walk up and down the stairs for the heck of it. Then there’s the old phone a friend, and the send friend a picture of the quilt.
The thinking led me to straight lines. It’s a basic principle – opposites attract. Straight lines highlight, and help define curves; curves soften the feel of straight lines. General rule. Lots of straight lines can do something dynamic to a geometric, square, block style quilt. Straight lines chosen, because why not.
Purple and orange are my favorite colors so I chose the orange Magnifico, another 40 weight, trilobal polyester thread. Stitch, stitch, stitch. Using the edge of the #24 Free Motion Embroidery foot, which measures 1/4 inch from needle center to the outside edge of the foot.
I started in the ditch (seam allowance) Next week I’ll show you the finished straight line quilting, including a wee bit of unplanned stitching, and what happened in the corner.
Welcome to the Quilted Block of the Month. In each issue I’ll post the block, and supplies – batting, thread, needles. I’ll show how the block is drawn on the fabric, with any rulers.
I will be using these blocks as class samples so each one will get it’s own binding. This wil make a good quilt as you go project.
This months supplies:
SewLine Pencil – this is my first time using this pencil, and so far I’m quite pleased.
Collins Quilt and Sew Ruler
45 mm rotary cutter
6” x 24” Ruler
12 1/2” square of hand dyed fabric from my stash
12 1/2″ to 15” square of a light gray solid from my stash
12 1/2” to 15” square needle punched cotton batting – this is from my stash and I don’t know the brand
80 weight polyester thread for ditch work and bobbin (Superior MicroQuilter)
40 weight trilobal polyester (FabuLux by Wonderfil and Magnifico by Superior)
The first block: New York Beauty.
I chose this as one of my first competition quilts is When Alex & Jinny met in NY Beauty Happened, and I love New York Beauty Blocks, as it’s a great reminder of home in both the Chrysler Building and the Statue of Liberty.
Step one: cut a 12 1/2” square of cotton fabric. Using either the Quilt & Sew Ruler or the 6” x 24” ruler mark a line 1/4” in from each one of the edges. These lines serve the purpose of seam lines joining blocks together. I will use the ditch and the seam allowance to move to the next stitching place. Oh but I am getting ahead of myself here.
After the lines were drawn creating the seam allowance I chose to freehand the corner curves, then added dots about one inch apart along the length of the corner curve.
Halfway between the dots I lined up the ruler, straight up from the inside curve to the outside curve and placed a dot at the top.
Using the Quilt & Sew Ruler I joined the lines, to create the spikes. This is where the SewLine marking pencil came in handy, the lines are consistent, and there’s not stopping to sharpen pencils.
After twenty four years of quilting I think I have the marking pencil that works long term.
Now it’s time to stitch in the ditch. First line of stitching: along the inside curve.
Then along each one of the spikes. I stitch slowly, about 1/2 speed or less. This gives me great control as move over the surface of the quilt.
Once I finished stitching the upper curve, next was the entire seam allowance around the piece.
Right now it looks all fluffy in places and ways that are entirely frustrating and inappropriate. However, this is good practice for stitching in the ditch. This is an important component of stabilizing a pieced quilt top.
Here’s a sneak peek of next weeks blog post:
This is a tension issue that I’ll show you how we dealt with this.
I have a plan for the August Quilted Block of the Month, it’s a block that I’ve been wanting to make for a while.
For a long time Linda Poole posted a Color Fix at the end of each blog post. I’ve blogged about how much they’ve inspired me. I find stitching like this just fun. It’s a good way to figure out what a thread does, and approximate tension settings for said thread. Then there’s batting, I can explore how batting and thread work together and how the stitching is defined – does it sink in, or sit on the surface?
Stitch outs make a great reference library. So, starting mid-July I’m going to start a “Block of the Month” here on the blog. It’ll definitely be different. Stay tuned for details over the next couple of weeks.
I like coffee. A lot. I’m not a morning person, which will probably not come as a shock to my Sweetie, but may come as a bit of a shock to students or roommates. I can be irritatingly perky, sometimes even before coffee. Coffee helps me deal with things like this:
Yeah, sometimes this happens. And look! I left it there. I’ll deal with it a little bit later. As I stitched there was a little bit of a tug. There are several things that may have happened here:
I may have tugged too hard – this happens occasionally.
The needle may have had a burr – this happens, is unlikely here as the problems would have continued
There may be a burr in the stitch plate or bobbin case – again unlikely as the problems would have persisted
The thread may have had a weak spot or snag – this has happened
These kinds of things are why “a seam ripper is a quilters best friend”.
Now quilters, listen closely: this isn’t a competition level quilt, if it were a lot of things would be different on the quilt from the stitching to the thread choices. And the seam ripper and a sometimes wildly colorful vocabulary or tears would make a regular appearance. Originally this piece was going to be a study in a variety of metallic colors. Oh look! Shiny! As often happens I found a new thread, and by found I mean I bought some new thread, Superior’s MicroQuilter. Not only did I have to have it, it had to have me. Can you imagine all the tiny bubbles I’ll be able to make with this? Suwheet!
For now I’m finishing this quilt with great gusto, knowing that the character of this quilt is of the teaching/learning variety and simply makes me happy.
What I don’t have a picture of is the little zippered wallet I made to go with it. I like to have a little something to put in my pocket, and take with me when I go into the City.
I loved adding the cork for texture, and character. The cork takes stitching well and has many uses. It’s a bit spendy so adding detail, and creating a unique look works best for me. After getting home I changed the hardware on the adjustable strap.
Once I get through the first Lucy’s Nickles Project this will become either a class or a pattern.
I read “Compared to. . .” by Seth Godin and said, “there’s a quilt related blog if I’ve ever read one.” More than likely there were different words and it’s barely 6 AM here, and I’m just taking my very first sips of my morning Joe I seek your indulgence for a few moments.
Comparison is, as a human being, rather natural. A mom of a toddler aged boy shared the story of her boy and another same aged boy comparing anatomical differences at 3. Comparisons start early in life, and probably continue through until our days of dwelling in the local bone orchard. There are places where comparing is good, comparing thread is good. I like comparing thread. There are quilters who do not agree with my thread choices and that’s okay. I know why prefer the threads I prefer. Because I’ve compared them, on the machines I use and they work. And the threads I don’t prefer, some people do prefer them. Because they’ve compared them, on their machines and they work, for them.
Comparing thread, machines, needles, rulers, cutting mats, storage ideas is great. These are useful TOOLS. They are inanimate objects where some comparison is necessary. In the quilt world this comparison has something of a subjective air about it, and it’s important that it does, as what we are doing is highly personal. I like my current cutting mats and have been eyeing another brand but seriously do not want to invest money in a new cutting mat right now so there will be no cutting mat comparisons anytime soon. Though I want to compare them. And Rulers. I’ve been flirting with new rulers for a long time. Again, the investment for comparison is higher than I’d like at the moment, so no comparison there. I have compared seam rippers and know my preferred brands. Yes, brands.
In an effort to find a particular blog post I found “I figure I’m about 1/2 way there” and had an idea for a quilt at the same time. And in my mind flashed a quilt I’ve been working on and why it’s working. And “You are enough” is whispered in my ear.
The thing about comparing is learning to know what to compare and when to compare it. Remember too, that Masters were once Novices. A novice comparing themselves to a Master is a good thing only when they are looking for the places to improve their own skill, looking for the right questions to ask, seeking direction. A Master will not compare their work to a Novices, they will be reminded of the learning curve, how hard things were at one time, and how they learned along the way. The Master will offer insight and encourage.
There is a further level to this, if we want to acknowledge clear differences between our work and a Master’s work, that’s fine. This is an appreciation of hard work, and skill, that is not in any way to diminish our own work. Acknowledging someone’s hard work, and effort, that’s good. Saying our work is crap because it doesn’t meet the skill level we see, eh, not so much. Wanna compare time invested in developing said skill? Great! I’m all for it. Time invested is objective, not subjective.
The quilting I did 6 years ago is very different from the quilting I do now. I can compare my work and appreciate how different the quilting is now. I can see growth and changes. I can see the quilting taking a direction.
Where were you 5 years ago?
How has your quilting changed?
Is there anything that surprises you?
What’s the most significant change?
Write yourself a note to take stock of your work and see how it’s changed.
And give yourself the reminder that comparisons belong to the things we use, not our person.