So here’s the second installment of the Kaleidoscope Quilted Block of the Month. I’m posting on Friday because I have a commitment tomorrow.
Let’s start with how much fun I had stitching this one out. I figured there’d be feathers, and bubbles, and swirls, something simple. Well. I did start out with feathers.
First step: stitching in the ditch, I used a pink Floriani Micro Thread (60 weight) embroidery thread with a size 70/10 Chrome needle. Why the pink? To show the seam lines in a pieced block. If this were going to be more than a sample for showing what the thread can do then a thread similar in color to the background would work.
This quilt is something of a two-fer: the back is this orange batik, I used the same bobbin thread throughout – the same pink to stitch in the bones of the block. I used cotton batting on this side of the quilt (orange), and wool batting on the oatmeal (cream) side of the quilt. This gives a sense of how the thread will look with different batting. I do prefer two batting on stuff that I’ll be taking to show.
Once the stitching in the ditch was complete I sat back to think about the motifs. Feathers around the center, waxing and waning with the shape of a diamond would create visual movement around the block that shows itself in the block.
Starting with a pearl at one end, I stitched along the top of the feather to give this finer thread a bit of weight and presence, and to help create the spine. As the feathers grew in length I’d switch to the opposite side, to continue filling the space.
To get to the next diamond shape I stitched through where the (seam) lines meet up. Anytime you’re working on a pieced quilt using the ditch to move from here to there is a great option rather than having a lot of stops and starts.
Tip: when starting or ending a new thread color, take the time to bury the threads at that moment to lessen the risk of stitching over them, or creating birds nests.
Next up: the center “star”, creating texture with the stitching that is simple, yet will create something that is visually dynamic.
I’m starting today’s blog post with a link to Lisa Sipes GoFundMe. Lisa shared on facebook that in early June she lost the lower part of her left leg. She shared this on a post started by Tracy Mooney. As quilters we rally for people we know and love; and for people we’ve never met. I have long admired Lisa’s quilting skills, and the hilarious blog search terms we were sharing with each other on facebook for a while. Lisa is a beautiful soul, with a kind, generous heart. This is my way of helping her right now as this is what I can do.
Now onto sandwiching the quilt:
Doreen of Treadlemusic asked a really good question, on the sandwiching step for the New York Beauty Block. I mention in the supplies list a 12 1/2” square of needle punched cotton batting. In this case it’s a square that I saved from a project ages, and ages ago. While I don’t remember exactly what batting this is, more than likely it’s Quilters Dream Request loft, as this is my go-to for cotton these days.
Cotton is grabby, it likes to cling to other cotton. So, for pieces up to 24 inches (or so) there’s not a whole lot of work involved.
Lay the backing down wrong side up:
The fabric is still a bit damp so it looks fall stretched out of shape werid.
Lay the batting down:
So, you see how I have this folded in half? If I were using spray baste I’d spray the folded over side, and gently move it over. Taking care to not stretch the batting or the fabric.
Because I’m working with fat quarters I lay it down, then check to make sure everything is smooth. If it’s not I press it down with the palm of my hand.
Lay the top right side up:
Next lay the quilt top on. Again use the palm of the hand to gently press the layers together.
If this were a larger quilt the process would be very different. Either I would take the quilt to Debby’s house and baste using her long arm, or I would spray baste using the largest carpeted area in the house. The backing gets pinned to the carpet, tight but not drum tight, so as not to over stretch the backing. If the backing is over stretched a weird waviness occurs, and it doesn’t come out. The batting goes on next. Often the batting is removed from the packaging, and opened fully to relax over a couple of days. With cotton giving it a bit of a spritz and putting it in the dryer for a few minutes will relax it. Then the quilt top goes on.
Then the basting process looks about like this vid from Cindy Walters and Jennifer O’Brien:
The only difference is that I have the three layers together and work on one side of the quilt completely, then move to the other side. Pressing, not mashing down, with the hands is important here. Cindy gives a great tip about taking the time, and opportunity to straighten the borders. rulers come in really handy here.
Saturday will be Part 2 of our Quilted Block of the Month.
Outside my front window the Mockingbird is chasing the Blue Jay away from the berries on the Dogwood. The Mockingbird’s nest is towards the top of the tree so apparently the tree belongs to it. (I don’t know the difference between the males and females.) Spring happens in just about fourteen days, to say I’m eager, though this winter is amazingly mild, is something of an understatement. I’ve been enjoying the days filled with more light, the sunsets through the studio window inspiring. One of our hyacinths has bloomed, so we’ll see what happens with the rest.
Back to our regularly scheduled post:
Keep stitching until it makes sense, pull out the seam ripper if you’re not happy, play until your heart is content.
I made this stitch sample a few years ago and gave it away. I think I’m going to make another one using this as inspiration.
This piece is one way of practicing, and keeping a library of stitching motifs.
A piece like this helps explore stitching motifs until you’re really good at it.
A piece like this can grace your studio walls giving you inspiration.
Perhaps done quarterly, a piece like this can show your progress as a free motion machine quilter.
Stitching different motifs across the surface of the quilt is something that speaks to my quilterly soul. As the words flit from my brain to my fingers I can see three quilts in my head that I want to work on, okay 5…okay it’s an unending roll of visuals. By keeping the quilts smaller I can make more of these.
This might sound a little overly dramatic and it’s intended to be because drama can be so very much fun. I shopped on Small Business Saturday #smallbusinesssaturday for the fun of it. I don’t need fabric, but I love it so what the heck.
Shop 2: Colchester Mill Fabrics – Colchester, CT for my local peeps this is a small version of Hartsdale Fabrics with some fashion fabric, home dec fabric, yarn, quilt fabric. Friendly staff, and sewing machine repair. They do have crafty stuff including chalkboard paper. I need this! (Melissa when you read this I have an idea to bounce off you for the magazine) Wandering around a shop to listen to what speaks to my soul is fascinating. While I didn’t get any Christmas fabric the rounder of red and silver/gray caught my attention. There is something nostalgic about the color scheme, like a childhood memory of the silver tinsel tree in the corner of the living room decorated with chains of red and green construction paper, and cranberry and popcorn.The fabric was tempting however, when I revisited the rounder, not so much.
The solids and batiks are situated near each other. I seriously contemplated a few American Made Brand – but couldn’t remember what I had at home so left those. The batiks though, that’s a different story entirely. So I’m getting fabric cut and one of the ladies asks what I’m going to do with the fabric. . .shoulders shrug, hands lift up and the question is asked, “I have to do something with it?” Which had the desired effect of a laugh. I offered the gal who asked, and her friend a quarter yard of the fabric if they purchased something. You can take the woman out of the quilt shop staff, but she’ll always enable customers, quilters any chance she gets because it’s fun.
I did answer the question a little more directly, I might hang the batik on the right above on the wall because I love it so much. It’s inspiring, it simply makes me happy. Right now I have some fabric samples by Valori Wells on my wall, three different colorways. By hanging it I get to enjoy it and figure out what, if anything I might do with it down the road. This suggestion gave the gal behind the counter some ideas for the white, bare walls of her sons apartment. Just a little something to add some fun and color.
The light batiks from Hoffman simply spoke to this quilters heart. With my back to basics trend in piecing right now my gut tells me these may be involved in a couple of quilt remakes. I’ve been wanting to remake a favorite quilt for our bed and I’m not one to make the quilt exactly like the first time around. Even doing step outs is kind of challenging for me.
I visited this place years ago and they’ve painted and refreshed the place. The walls are white giving the fabric pride of place, there are good samples around. Staff, warm, friendly and helpful. Lots of quilt samples around and some fun stuff overall. Some coming in on their day off to shop for their own quilts.
Meeting facebook friends is always fun! Christie is sweet, enthusiastic and her shop is simply adorable! As of last week she is now a BERNINA dealer. Christie really loves her local fabric designers: Jennifer Paganelli, Kate Spain, and Denyse Schmidt showing their current fabric lines with great enthusiasm. Both Kate and Denyse teach in the shop. There are also classes for kids.
I picked up some Kona solids and these beautiful fabrics from Jennifer and Denyse.
Christie had a small tote with a few things inside for her first 20 customers. I was one of the 20 so check this out! There’s a mug inside as well.
Here’s a better shot of all of the fabrics from Christie’s shop. I love the fabrics, her enthusiasm. Christie carries the hardware for bags and totes. I was able to pick up some d-rings to make either a couple of totes or key rings. Not sure which yet, but oh the possibilities.
So as I build my stash and share it with you. The possibilities are endless. That’s the fun part of building a stash – the possibilities. Oh I long to say something beautiful and encouraging about growing as quilters. But I think I’ll say simply, whatever you do…have fun. Quilting doesn’t need to produce a lot of angst. But it does. As I’m beginning to quilt again and I mean really quilt I feel the anxiety of what putting these quilts out into the world will be met with. The work is interesting to me again and I long for it to be interesting on a grander scale. I will have one piece ready for next week that I’ll probably be binding it on the plane to Chicago, as I do, because the last minute is always the perfect deadline.
First up: it’s Thankful Thursday! Time to thank a quilter who’s made a difference in your life. Today’s gratitude goes to: Melissa Thompson Maher, C0-Founder, and Editor-in-Chief of Generation Q Magazine. Melissa has a long history in the publishing world, she sees trends happening, has the skill of making a writer sound more like the writer, is a fab mentor, and has one of the kindest hearts I’ve ever met. I am privileged to work with her.
I’m heading to Houston for Quilt Market this morning and will have breakfast with Melissa tomorrow morning. While I enjoy seeing everything at Market, I’m giddy that Iget that time alone with her. Tomorrow afternoon Generation Q Magazine has a Schoolhouse Presentation with Sizzix at 3:10.
If you’ve ever taken a class, or purchased a sewing machine from me, it’s entirely possible we’ve had “the talk”:
You are a smart, intelligent woman, and you’ve got this.
I’m specifically referring to skills and techniques in quilt making or teaching people to use their sewing machines however, this applies to life in general. I tend to take the approach that if I can do whatever this technique is, that anyone can do it. So often the talk is accompanied by an experiential story such as how I learned how to be careful using my rotary cutter, and rulers. Let’s just say that no stitches were involved, and I’m still quilting, and I’m very careful when I cut.
Sometimes I tell the story of making “When Alex and Jinny met in NY, Beauty Happened” and I kept cutting the wrong piece of fabric. I can see myself sitting at the sewing machine, the smaller mat, a ruler, and a rotary cutter next to me. I can feel the frustration as I cut that wrong piece yet again. I remember walking out of my sewing room vowing to sell every piece of fabric that I owned at a serious discount. That was over ten years ago. And now I’ll teach paper piecing.
Quilt making, teaching quilt making, sewing, garment construction and teaching garment making are skill sets that are acquired over time. Each skill improves over time. We all start out trying to cut correctly, and piece correctly, and then quilt correctly. A funny thing happens when we begin to see “mistakes” as an opportunity to cultivate a desired skill set. When we stop, take a look at what’s happening, perhaps ask someone, or several someones some questions, think through the answers and get stitching.
Now you’ll probably note that when I answer questions I can be a bit, mmmm indirect. If a question is about technique, I’m more likely to be direct, and give clear information. When a question is about the artistry I’m more likely to start asking you questions, to get information from you to help you see, that like Dorothy, you have the answer but just need some help getting there.
And there are moments when I give myself the talk, when doubt creeps in. When I’m trying to finish a quilt and I just see every.single.mistake. that is being stitched into that quilt. Or when I’m teaching and a student is struggling and I’m having a hard time figuring out what to say or do to help them understand whatever I’m trying to teach.
On this Thankful Thursday, as I depart for Quilt Market I thank you for being part of my quilty world. You’re helping form me into the quilter I long to be. If you’re so inclined, thank a quilter for helping form you in the quilter you long to be.
Several months ago Donna from Follow That Thread sent me a spool of Aurifil Lino (linen). Donna has a bit of a sense of humor and drew a smilie face on the wooden spool. That wooden spool will be a keepsake forever. All it needs is a little red pompon and voila! a clown like me.
I asked Donna what size needle, I’ve learned one very important thing – a size 100/16 needle is essential for machine work as the thread is slightly slubby, only slightly and not in an unattractive way. I love how this stitches up. I could have played with the Lino for hours and hours and hours. And hours. I My next bit of play was to draw something of a Zentangle type quilted block with “Aurifil Lino” stitched in. I will need more of this thread.
I used Superior Magnifico in the bobbin and would do so again not to waste this precious thread.
A couple of weeks ago Katia asked on the “Quilting, bubbling, quilting” post where we find the stitch count on our BERNINA 7 Series Machines. Below are a series of photos below showing step by step how to get to this screen. This is a good thing to know particularly if BERNINA has come out with software and/or firmware updates for the 7 Series machines. I have a habit of touching the screen with my finger and that’s good. Using the stylus is so much more effective.
After weeks of very long days and not meeting an obligation I have a down day. We’ve been members of the Botanical Garden for years, joining when our youngest nephew was coming to visit for a few days…unfortunately the weather when he and his parents were here was rather yucky and we never got to take him. The nephew and my sweetie spent hours watching the trains on the internet. It was rather sweet to watch.
We missed last year with my sweeties surgery and finally got to go today. The time of day really changes the overall look of the gardens and the Train Show. This year they have added a special exhibit about the artist and the creative process. Each one of these buildings are made from leaves and twigs and acorns. It’s such a neat thing to see all of these landmarks, some of which are gone, preserved for all to see in tactile form. A trip to the Garden is one of those amazing, re-energizing respites in City Living. We are so blessed to have this treasure and others around the City. Since Autumn is my favorite season the colors right now are just inspiring. I’m also loving all of the details we get to see close up.
The rose making one last valiant attempt in blooming, nodding her full heavy head to the weight of winter clearly around the corner.
And yes, you did read that I missed my deadline on finishing the quilt. I am gutted on somany levels. The quilt is making the trip anyway and I’ll get to finish it later. I can tell you this: I have stitched bubbles for about 70 hours (probably longer) and have about 10+ hours to go. It’s well worth it. Every.Single.Stitch. Because I’m a curious sort I started counting stitches (well, actually checking the stitch count on the machine) to see how many stitches are in each section and oddly enough in a 1 x 8″ section plus a wee bit more there are over 6,000 stitches. The more I stitch the more I love this quilt and the more I admire Jeanie, her piecing skills are off the hook!
My next piece I’m working on I’ll share a bit more of and hopefully will get started this weekend. It will be on chocolate Radiance with shades of red and pink.
PS I’m working on several teaching dates for 2014 and 2015 as soon as everything is in place I’ll let ya’ll know!