Thread Colors Make Magic

Sky colors.

Some of the sky colors after quilting.

I finally finished quilting “Waiting…2”, and I blocked it, though I still need to do a little thread clipping and binding.

During the quilting of the sky, which has been the most difficult part of this whole quilt, the thread colors became very important. The overall magic of the sky grew substantially different in coloring before and after the quilting, but to my chagrin I did not take a before picture.  I did not understand how much difference it would make other than just a good quilting.  I fell into a pattern of sculpting clouds and using thread colors to bring the sky to life.  I already had added some painted colors to the sky, which I used for my guide to thread colors as I worked.  The different thread colors really helped me realize the vision I had in my head for this sky, almost a thread painting.  In the end, I surprised myself when I realized I had used over 30 thread colors of thread, including metallic silver and monopoly, for this quilt!!!  I was as surprised that I had this many good threads in all these colors as that I had used that many on the quilting.  What a happy thing that I have collected these over the past four or five years and kept them carefully, replacing colors as I used them up and adding a color set here and there.

Most of the threads I used on the quilt are Superior Threads…Rainbow, King Tut,  and Magnifico solids, with Bottom Line for the bobbin.  I also have a couple of Isacord solids in there somewhere.  I used gray bobbin thread (except for the monopoly) which goes well with the back, and I made sure the tension was as right as I could get it and I can’t see any gray on the top or any colors on the back where they should not be.  This enabled me to easily change the color frequently.  I did have a couple of incidents where I needed to take out some stitching because I forgot to change settings for the different types of threads.  This is where a little notebook really comes in handy.  I make notes about each type of thread (not each color).

I took almost all day yesterday to get the quilt blocked and marked square (I haven’t yet cut it square, because I put the binding on using the marking before I do that).  I got it all squared up according to my laser square and various other square ruler aids.  Then I measured all the sides and it was 5/8″ longer on one side than the other and equally wide across top to bottom.  Arghh!!!  I ended up erasing all the marks and starting over (twice) until I got it right. It’s a mystery…LOL.  Judges really don’t like it if it isn’t square and neither do I.  I can only think that the considerable bit of trapunto I placed under the cliffs had an effect on the square “measurers”.  It seems the original marks were a little bit off on both the top line and the bottom line.  Anyway, it’s marked square now, lined up to the water horizon line, and I even took out a different color marker to make the final marks clear.  Hooray!  ready to bind.

Sew Happy Everyone!  Have a wonderful weekend and rest of the week. Try a little quilting with color varieties and see what you think.

Threads for Your Stash

threads 2

 

Many of my quilting and sewing friends have often expressed the wish that a local fabric store would carry the threads they like to use.  I was asked yesterday to provide a fabric store in the area that currently only carries Gutterman, Mettler, some YLI, and Isacord with my suggestions for threads I wished they would carry.  Now I realize my own needs in threads may differ from others, but I don’t use any of the ones they carry except for Isacord because of the way they perform with my machines.  So I have been doing a bit of a survey on Facebook and The Quilt Show and by direct contact to find out how my own choices in threads match theirs.

I have several theories of thread use that I have developed over my many years of sewing and quilting. There is much to know about threads and my thread stash is almost as large as my fabric stash these days. Here is what I provided them and what they are best for.  There is still time to make adjustments to this if you all have suggestions.
For piecing, some machine quilting, and several applique methods one needs a very thin strong thread that does not leave a lot of lint in your machine and the colors are sure not to run or fade.  These also work if you are a hand piecer, quilter, and appliquer.  For quilting thread choice depends on what you are trying to achieve.  For all of these, there are some great threads, and no way could any single store carry them all.  I put an asterisk in front of the ones I think are most important to add at first.
Aurifil:  *50 wt. cotton…neutrals and colors as much as  you can stock
                40 and 30 wt cottons for embroidery and decorative stitching  in colors.
Superior
    *60 wt. Bottom Line…polyester…for bobbins, piecing, quilting, heirloom sewing, machine applique  as many colors as you can stock.   
    *50 wt. MasterPiece…cotton…for piecing, quilting, heirloom sewing
    *50 wt. So Fine…polyester, in as many colors as you can stock..for piecing, quilting, and fashion sewing (most popular in my survey)
    40 wt. King Tut…cotton…colors for quilting and machine applique when you want it to show
    40 wt. Magnifico colors for shinier embroidery  and quilting when you want it to show
    40 wt. Rainbows for quilting, embroidery, and machine applique  I use these a lot
    100 wt. Kimono silk
    12 wt. Sew Sassy…for redwork, quilting when you really want it to show, and decorative stitching
    Razzle Dazzle..for couching and bobbin work..I use this a lot
    Metallics  just the basic golds, and silver
    *Monopoly extra fine polyester low lustre clear.  Try it you’ll like it.
Fil-Tec 40 wt. Glide…a large percentage of professional longarmers recommend this.  I have never used it.
Wonderfil also has a great reputation and is used by some leading quilters, but I have not had much experience with it except for their metallics, which work in my machines much like Superior’s.   They do have an 80 wt polyester that I have one spool of and it seems to do well for bobbins and in place of silk.
And my favorite hand quilter, a leading hand quilter in the country and a great quilt historian, highly recommends Presencia threads.  I use the thicker ones of this for bobbin work, couching, and hand embroidery and they are wonderful. 
I have had a terrible time using most monopoly threads, and generally don’t like the way they look because I can see the shine and it looks like plastic to me, but Superior has come out with one I really like…the only problem I have with it is seeing it well enough to thread the machine (you have to hand thread the needle).  That is Superior’s extra fine polyester clear.  It sews really well in my 830 too if I use a 75 needle and lower my top tension.  A lot of quilters like monopoly because they don’t have to worry about color choices.  I only use it when I need to hide my stitching as much as possible (stitch-in-the-ditch), for machine applique when I’m trying to look like hand applique and don’t have a matching color in 100 wt silk,  and when I have to cross a lot of colors and don’t want to compete with the design.  I use it in the bobbin also when I do this.
Metallics have always been problematic for me.  I have tried nearly every brand, and there are only two I have found work well for me…those are Superior Metallics and Wonderfil, which perform about the same.  I have also used Finca Metallics with success, and they are really beautiful.  The tension settings make a huge difference in how these work.  I found, contrary to everything any of the thread people say, that INCREASING the top tension is necessary to make it work well in my 830, and REDUCING the top tension in my 350 and 1230 and using polyester in the bobbin.  Cotton bobbins will not do with metallics hardly at all.  I do not use any other metallics, because they just are miserable in their performance in any of my machines.  Some recommend Yenmet, but I have not been happy with it, and I have some of it in my stash.  It seems to work ok in my old Bernina 1230 and my little B350, though, but my Bernina 830 doesn’t like it at all.
I do use Isacord a lot for my machine embroidery.
So there you have it.  I really appreciate the excellent responses I got on my questions.  Wouldn’t you love a fabric store that carries these threads?
Sew happy everyone.  Teach someone to sew, or learn a new technique yourself in 2016.

 

Differences in Threads Are Helpful for Fabric Art

In a recent conversation with my Daughter-in-law Beth while we were looking at one of my ongoing quilt projects and discussing how I might make something look right using different weights of threads, it occurred to me that the use of thread in fabric art requires a different set of considerations than for other types of sewing and even for other types of quilting.  That being the case, and the fact that I frequently use differences in the broad array of great threads now available to accomplish certain looks, I decided to share my viewpoint on this subject.

Recently, my thread stash has grown to be almost equal to my fabric stash.  In fact I am getting simpler with my fabric needs, and more complex with my threads as I grow as an art quilter.

Here are some basic things to know about threads (a lot of you may already know this, but bear with me):

  • The higher the number the thinner the thread.
  • Polyester thread may melt if overheated with your iron, but just require a little care to prevent that.  Polyester comes in many different lusters and qualities and some are more susceptible to melting than others.
  • Rayon thread is usually the shiniest, although there are some polyesters that are also prettily shiny.  Rayon has a higher tendency to fade or run and shrink when washed.  I actually had a quilt nearly ruined when a dark brown thread decided to run when I blocked my quilt.  High quality rayons, however, will usually not run.
  • You can use up to 12 weight in your machine if you use a large needle (I use a 100/16 top stitch/embroidery need for this).  Adjust your needle size to your thread size.
  • Thicker threads need to be used either for bobbin work or for couching, but are still great options for certain looks.  I used Ricky Tims Razzle Dazzle for bobbin work to do the horsehead outline in “Sky Horse” (see my last post).
  • The quality of monopoly threads vary widely.  My favorite is Superior’s new reduced sheen lightweight thread.  It sews beautifully (using a 60/8 or 70/10 needle) and virtually disappears on the fabric.
  • The standard weight for sewing clothing is 50 weight (using 80/14 needle) and most machines are calibrated for this weight thread.  This means you may have to adjust the tension for higher weight (thinner)  and heavier weight (thicker).  The thing to take away from this is that it is OK to adjust your machine tension for both the top and the bobbin.  You only need to figure out how to put it back to the default setting BEFORE you do any changes (like a tiny dot of red ink or reading the manual).
  • 90/16 embroidery/top stitch needle does great for 40 wt threads.

Sew how do I use this information?

  • I have a small notebook where I keep notes on threads, usages, settings.  At some point I’m going to put this info together to share, although your machine may need different settings.
  • I frequently “draw” with my machine stitching as if my project were an ink drawing.  My best example of this is my quilt “Perspective in Threads” that is basically a whole cloth quilt with a border.  The main lines were 12 weight cotton, and the fills were varied as needed with the tiniest being the section under the stairs in 100 wt silk.  I used four different weights in this quilt (I don’t have a great picture of this quilt at the moment…it’s being rephotographed).
Perspective in Threads - This quilt was recently juried in to Houston's Tactile Archetecture special exhibit and will be in the Houston show and traveling for a year thereafter.

Perspective in Threads – This quilt was juried in to Houston’s Tactile Archetecture special exhibit 2014.

  • I use the various thread lusters to enhance the look I’m trying to achieve.  For instance, hair should have a slight luster and have a moderate variety of colors in the same family.  I find Superior’s Rainbow to work best in this situation.  See her hair below where I used two different variegated threads.

finished detail as shot 2

  • I found that Superior’s Glitter pretty much matches the qualities of Angelina Fibers.  So if you are trying to match that, it works well when you use a 90 top stitch/embroidery needle and loosen the top tension way down (see that little bit in the top of the wave in the picture above). I used both that and monopoly for that.
  • Glitter also shows well when you want to add bling. Longer stitches show both glitter and metallic threads blingier than shorter stitches.
  • Around those rocks in “Waiting…” and for much of the rock quilting (see the picture above), I used Superior’s Rainbow.  I also appliqued them with the double blanket stitch because I wanted the edges to stand out and look like separate rocks as much as possible.  I loved the look…not sure what anyone else thinks about it.  It’s what I’m planning to do with my current project, which is the second in this series and something of a remake of it with quite a few changes (she has her daughter with her, and there is a small lighthouse in the background scene, for instance).
  • However, I used 100 weight black thread with my deep space quilt Angelina Fiber applique.  I have found if you match the background with fine weight thread it makes a very nice look (see my last blogpost).
  • For my latest quilt “Kanazawa Memories”, in which I did a great deal of Sashiko stitching, I used King Tut by Superior.  That is a 40 weight cotton thread and does well when you are trying to create a hand or antique looking stitching by machine.
Kanazawa Memories, Completed August 2015

Kanazawa Memories, Completed August 2015

  • But the quilting for the moon was different.  For the flowers I used Superior monopoly for appliqueing, 100 wt. Kimono silk for quilting the actual flowers and for the fill on the moon, King Tut for the little critters around in the moon to give them a little more character and make them stand out just a little.
Kanazawa Memories detail shot

Kanazawa Memories detail shot

Sew back to my original comment…Beth and I were discussing how I could make a light house beam look right and we came out with using 12 wt toward the outside pointing down and using 100 weight toward the top outside pointing upward and something in between, like King Tut perhaps, toward the middle all in slightly different tones of yellow, if I can find all that and if it works (I’ll have to experiment with that first).  This should result in a more intense beam down toward the ocean and more disappearing beam toward the top toward the sky.  The lighthouse will be up on a hillside and fairly small and should not “take over” the scene.

See?

Sew happy everyone.  Please comment  with your thoughts or questions.  Cheers.

 

A Fun Quilty Week

This has been a quilt-filled week, starting last Sunday when Beth, my daughter-in-law, and I went to see the Sacred Threads quilt show together. We had a lot of fun. The quilts were interesting and, in many cases, moving. I took a lot of pictures, but I am only including the picture I took of Vikki Pignatelli, the founder of the show, standing in front of one of her quilts, because one of the white-gloved women told me I could only take photos for my personal use. Her story about why and how she started the show was fascinating. You can hear it on The Quilt Show Number 102 even if you are not yet a member. You can sign up for a free membership.

Vikki Pignatelli at Sacred Threads 2015.

Vikki Pignatelli at Sacred Threads 2015.

I have been waking up a little earlier than normal during the week just to squeeze in a little work in my studio before my grandson arrives for the afternoons. This has enabled me to get my Ikebana on a Sashiko background quilt top completed, except for the borders, which I plan on putting on later today. I got my order from Superior Threads just in time for the weekend. Here it is, on the quilt ready to stitch. I went through my stash and discovered one more piece of Peppered Cotton in a nice green, just right for the border and binding. I want to quilt some sort of leafy vine around the quilt in the border.

Blue thread

I hope to get the border marked, the stabilizer pealed off the back, the quilt sandwiched and start the quilting this coming week if things work out well. I have all the quilting worked out in my head, so we’ll see how it goes.

Then I’m looking forward to starting my next quilting adventure…a new version of my quilt “Waiting…”, as the second in that series. I have many changes I want to make to that quilt, which I am planning as a show quilt for next year’s shows. Speaking of shows, I have to send off my two Canterbury quilts this coming week…one to Houston and one to AQS Chattanooga.

Sew happy everyone! Have fun this week!

Canterbury Knight: How to Make a Horse’s Tail

Stitching the appliques

Stitching the appliques

After stitching down the appliques, I did some free motion embroidery to make the tail, but it looked like a ghost tail, both because it did not have enough contrast from the background fabric and because it did not have enough stitching.  If I did any more it would have pulled the fabric too much.

The ghost tail

The ghost tail

So I decided to layer a new tail over the existing one by stitching one on black bridal veiling.  I layered two layers of washaway clear stabilizer, on which I had drawn the outline of the tail I needed to make, and covered it with the veiling.  Then I put this in my springform embroidery hoop, set up my machine for free motion stitching,

the setup

the setup

stitching independent tail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and stitched a new tail using two different Superior Rainbow threads.

two rainbows

two rainbows

And then I trimmed the veiling applique, soaked off the stabilizer and appliqued the new tail over the old one, using a few more free motion lines similar to those on the tail.  I had to remove only a few stitches from the original ghost tail that did not add to the shape and were outside the appliqued veil tail.  Voila!  A new tail any appliqued horse could be proud of!  😀

Horse with newly groomed tail

Horse with newly groomed tail

In the process, my little faithful Nikon Coolpix 600 pocket camera that I have used for at least a decade now died.  The motor that runs the lens focus appears to be the culprit.  It would cost me almost as much to repair it as to replace it, if it even could be repaired.  I have carried that little light pocket camera almost everywhere I went since I retired.  I use it to keep records of my work, and to make the photographs for this blog. The picture above of the rainbow threads is the last picture it ever took. (Insert “Farewell to my little camera” aria here–those of you who are opera buffs will understand this reference).  So I have to use my lovely big Nikon D200 camera that is kind fo heavy, and definitely not a pocket camera, until I replace it.  Thank the Lord I have a camera though.

Additionally, I have joined the fun with Ricky Tim’s 52 week photography class.  It is decidedly going to be a challenge for me, and my goal is to come out at the end with some fun photographs, but mostly to really learn to use my camera for artistic purposes.

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to sew or quilt or take a picture.  God bless you all!

 

 

“Hand Sewing” by Machine

It is my belief that almost every look that hand sewing provides can be duplicated in a reasonable facsimile by machine. No, I haven’t lost my mind. At least, I don’t think I have. 🙂

I hope those of you who are hand quilters and embroiderers are not offended. I truly greatly admire the beauty of beautiful handwork. But I have some arthritis in my hands and in dealing with that I have developed a fascination for making my machine provide equally as beautiful stitching and in some cases take it far enough to make the viewer wonder if–or even be convinced that–they are viewing hand sewing.

I also love some of the looks that only a machine can make, but this is not what I’m talking about in this post.

I just think it is fun and challenging to see what I can do with the concept of “hand sewing” by machine. Recently I have been working on the design of a quilt that uses Sashiko for the background and in the foreground is an appliqued Japanese flower arrangement. After thinking about it for a while, I decided to do all the Sashiko by machine.

Now I have some in the hoop Sashiko designs that are lovely, and I will probably use some of these in this quilt. I have done some stitch-outs of these and they look best with 40 wt embroidery thread such as Superior’s Magnifico or Isacord embroidery threads.

But I want to try some bobbin work using the heavier weight perle cottons that hand Sashiko stitchers would use in order to see if I can make it look even more like the hand work. I will let you know if this works and present some photographs of some of my experiments with this…perhaps in a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, I am also trying out some turned edge machine stitched appliques using 100 wt matching silks and monopoly and various stitches to see which looks the most like needle turned-edge applique by hand. Lots of other sewists have done work on this and some are really good at it. I just want to play around with it and see if I can get it really good.

My machine also has cross stitch on it and I haven’t played around with it very much yet, but I think I will try that also. In addition, I have learned to do some digitizing with my in-the-hoop embroidery using Bernina v6 software that looks very close to hand stitching. I just bought v7 upgrade as a Christmas present to myself and am waiting for it to come in.

I think this is really fun. I hope to share a lot of the results and ways to accomplish them with you in a couple of books I am already working on and plan to complete in 2015 and some bits here on my blog.

Sew happy everyone. Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas all!

Working With Hot Fix Fibers (Angelina Fibers)

Stellar Nursery, inspired by NASA photos of "Mountains of Creation".  My first deep space quilt.

Stellar Nursery, inspired by NASA photos of “Mountains of Creation”. My first deep space quilt.

I have made two deep space quilts that used large “appliques” of Angelina Fibers…or holographic fibers that make a “fabric” when ironed together and their sister fibers that do not iron together.  I used these fibers to try to represent the exquisite colorful gas clouds pictured in NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer telescope photographs.  I also have used this product to represent foamy tops of waves on a stormy sea on other quilts.  I believe they would also make wonderful steam clouds from a steam locomotive, wings of butterflies, dragon flies, fairies, or angels.

Working with the fibers is not really difficult, but I have discovered some things that make them work better for my purposes.  First of all, one cannot simply place a pile of fibers down and iron them flat if they are to look right. It’s more like painting with your fingers.

You need the following tools:

  • sheets of either a teflon pressing cloth or a saved sheet of backing paper from fusible webbing (note the hot fix fibers only stick to themselves and the bottom of your iron…you can work directly on your ironing board, though I cover mine with backing paper).
  • an iron
  • a pointy something, like a chop stick or a bamboo cooking skewer or a sewing awl to move the fibers around.
  • a hard pressing surface works better than a well-padded ironing board
Set up ready to start

Set up ready to start

Working with very thin layers, I laid the fibers on a backing paper and arranged them as much like I wanted them as possible with such a lively set of fibers, and carefully placed the teflon sheet over the top.

Really thin layer

Really thin layer

Blues change color the most

Blues change color

Sometimes, sliding the pointy thing under the pressing sheet, I made a few adjustments.  I then  ironed over the sheet, drawing the iron across slowly but steadily and without stopping.  That is all it needs to turn it into a “fabric”.

Carefully cover with pressing sheet

Carefully cover with pressing sheet

Here are some of the other things I learned about it:

  • If you iron the fibers too long….and that may be just a few more seconds…it will darken.  This can be useful if you are making a dark nebula, for instance, like the Horse Head.
  • They tend to change colors a bit.  Blue fibers are the hardest to keep their colors.
  • Not all Angelina Fibers are hot fix, but if you are going to cover the fibers with a nylon veiling and sew down, you can use them if they are the color you need by sandwiching them between a very thin layer of the hot fix crystal colors.
  • Work like you are finger painting…round shapes, good for cloud puffiness, are best done in circular motions with your fingers, and carefully laying the pressing sheet over them and pressing. ‘
  • You can kind of comb the fibers with your fingers and the pointy thing if you need them to stretch out sort of straight.
  • The only way to get a hard edge is to make a flat sheet of the fabric and then cut it.  If you want a soft edge (in appearance), don’t cut it, but pull it straight out flat with your fingers until it  tears  off in order to fit into your desired shape.
  • Once the fiber is made into a fabric, this fabric cannot be pulled into any additional shape…there is absolutely no stretch.
  • Sometimes it is possible to remove a layer if you haven’t over-melted your fibers together and don’t like what you have done.

 

layer ready for horsehead

layer ready for horsehead

If you are working out a pattern of some sort, you need to realize you will not be able to mark it except perhaps with a soft chalk marker that will just go away while you are working with it.  I worked on black fabric and printed out a smaller picture of what I was trying to accomplish in color.  Laying it next to my work, I referenced it.  I did mark approximate sections within the nebula on my black fabric using a chalk for sizing purposes.

The resulting artwork should not be washed after completion, so you have to be aware of that during the entire time.  It is possible to block your quilt by laying it on the floor and spritzing it with a fine mist of water, but do not wash it in your washer.  Also, once quilted, don’t pull your quilt too forcefully to try to block it.  So I use a quilt sandwich somewhat larger than I need and square it up by cutting rather than blocking.  The blocking is so it lays nice and flat.

I also printed the horsehead full sized and cut it out like a pattern.  This enabled me to cut out the horsehead part of the nebula by holding it together with the fiber applique before applying it.

Horsehead cut out after making as close as possible with fiber "painting"

Horsehead cut out after making as close as possible with fiber “painting”

The background needs to be completed before you start adding the Angelina Fibers.  In the case of the Sky Horse, I painted some of it first, sandwiched the quilt, spray basting it together, then laid the appliques on the background and covered them with black nylon veiling.  Black veiling virtually disappears in this case.  Then I placed my pressing sheet over that and did a light ironing to join all the appliques together.  Once I did that, I pinned it together with safety pins and did the quilting.

Horsehead layer in place

Horsehead layer in place

I used both black 100 wt silk thread and Superior’s Glitter.   This thread looks almost like the Angelina Fibers and works well for special places, such as the horse’s head.  I heavily quilted it.  Once it is quilted together with the nylon veiling it is much less fragile and I found it went through the shipping to and from and the showing at the Houston show with no apparent damage at all.  Before it is quilted, though, it is kind of easy to crease it.

You can't mark this, so lay a picture beside your work.

You can’t mark this, so lay a picture beside your work.

When used as just a small accent on a quilt, you don’t necessarily need a veiling, but you do need a heavy amount of quilting.  I found that Superior’s Glitter works very well for this also, since it looks like the fiber, but it sews easily.

Tatum_SkyHorse_Full 2014

Sew there you go….that’s how I work with  Angelina Fibers.  It’s harder to describe than it is to do, sew give it a try.  I’d love you to let me know how you find working with it yourself and if you have any tips to add.

Sew happy everyone!

 

Back from my trip inspired and awed.

The haul from Houston

The haul from Houston

 

My trip was all around inspiring from the first half, which was spent at the International Quilt Festival in Houston (see the winners) to the second half of my trip, which I spent in San Diego with my brother and his family.  He took me to the San Diego Zoo’s Safari park, the main zoo, and to see my nephew and family.  What a wonderful trip!

I did not do a huge amount of purchases, because I either didn’t know where to look, or couldn’t find some of the things on my list.  But you see the photo above…I found two fantastic hand dyes and a bunch of threads (mostly metallics), and some new gloves.  I was looking for several specific fabrics, especially hand dyes for some planned quilts. These seemed just perfect.  I had several professional quilters recommend Wonderfil metallics to me, so I bought some to try.  I’ll let you know how they work for me.  I plan on ordering some prepared for dye fabrics (PFD) and a few Radiance (silk and cotton blends).  I found some Radiance, but it was already precut and wasn’t any cheaper.

But the most fun I had was in seeing the quilts and meeting friends, some of whom have been my friends for years and I have never met them.  I am embarrassed to say that I let my camera battery run down at the show and I had left the other one back at the hotel on Thursday…the day I had set aside to view the show and take pics…so I don’t have good quilt pics for you.  I am sorry. They were unbelievably magnificent, and I don’t think the pictures would have done them justice anyway.

I am fully inspired, and just as soon as I recharge my batteries (get some rest) and do a little house cleaning, I will plunge into making some show quilts for 2015, and, insofar as possible, take you along for my quilt journeys.  I actually had several of you come up to me and tell me you read my blog.  What a delight that was!  Thank you!  Sew I am now excited and inspired!

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to sew or quilt…yourself, your BFF, your cat…. 🙂  If your cat does make a quilt, be sure to share.  LOL

Progress Report and Thoughts on Quilting Economics

Saturday Morning 12 July

Saturday Morning 12 July

Hi. It’s been a while since I wrote a post mainly because I didn’t have anything more interesting to say than “I’m still quilting.” 😀  Well, I finally finished the quilting and moved on to painting the border.

Now I thought that painting the border would not take me more than a day or two, but I have been painting about three full days so far and as you can see, I have less than half of it done.  I’m using a combination of  Lumiere and Setacolor paints.  I found if I accidentally paint a little outside the stitching, it can easily be removed if I act quickly with a dampened paper towel.  Then I finish off the leaves and flowers with a coat of SoSoft glitter finish.  I actually like the Setacolor glitter finish also, but the glitter pieces are much larger in it and I thought the subtlety of the SoSoft works better for this quilt.  SoSoft takes a couple of days to stop being sticky, but it dries to a level where it doesn’t disturb it if you touch it in about 10 minutes.  Setacolor dries faster and better than any of the paints.  After the paint dries for a couple of days, I will turn the quilt upside down into a soft towel to prevent the trapunto effect from being squashed and heat set them by ironing from the back of the quilt.  I’ve already tried this with my sample pieces and know it works well. 

I estimate that I will finish the painting in about three more days of work.   I am using multiple paint colors on each leaf, flower, and swirl and this takes time. Then I will bind it and I have a lot of beading I want to add to the quilt…beads in the middle of the flowers, around the center of the faux sashing between the red center block and the border, and I ‘m debating whether to scatter some beads on the border.  The original design from the illuminated manuscript has some scattered spots of paint that could easily be beads on the quilt.  Here it is.  See the spots?

My design...border taken directly from digital picture of an illuminated manuscript.

My design…border taken directly from digital picture of an illuminated manuscript.

 

Sew that’s why I haven’t been around to post anything much lately.  But I have been taking periodic breaks and watching entries in Facebook, The Quilt Show, and so forth.  I have noticed that there is a bit of disturbance in the quilting world regarding what threads and fabrics to buy, what fabrics “require” what threads, and where “responsible shoppers” buy them.  Sigh.  I may lose some of my followers here, but this is what I think about all of this.  Buy the best grade of fabrics and threads you can, because you are spending so much of your time and effort making these wonderful quilts and garments, but sometimes you can find real bargains of fine quality threads and fabrics.  So buy them where you can get the best for the best price.  If you buy them from JoAnns, or the big box store, you can take comfort in the fact that you are helping supply badly-needed jobs for your neighbors.  If you buy them at your local quilt store, you can take comfort in the fact that you are helping to keep them in business.  If you buy them from the Internet for a particularly good price and convenience without spending gas to go get them, you can rejoice in having saved enough over time to make one more quilt—perhaps even a charity quilt.  Don’t feel guilty for where you shop or what you buy, but DO pay attention to the quality.

Sometimes it is just as cheap or cheaper to buy a high quality thread in a cone on sale than it is to buy a low quality thread in smaller quantities at a discount store.  The lower quality thread also can damage your machine, so that has to enter into your thinking about the economics behind your purchases.  Also, it is not necessary to use cotton threads on cotton fabrics.  The quality of the higher end threads, especially, are so high now that no longer applies.

Sew those of you out there who have developed into–for good reason–thread snobs or fabric snobs, please be gentle with those who shop where you think they should not and buy the threads you think they should not, and vice-a-versa.  Love thy fellow quilter or sewist as thyself.

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to sew…your son, your granddaughter, your nephew, your niece, your fiance, your neighbor down the street, your cat, your dog. 😀

Progress and Plans

I’ve made a lot of progress on my little silk folk art Chaucer quilt, temporarily titled “Whan That Aprille”.  I have completed the central section, embroidered the text box, and assembled the top with the black border, which I also marked.  I am waiting on my order of additional black Radiance for the back and while I wait, I have been experimenting with threads and settings for the quilting.

I decided I really like the look of the antique gold metallic from Superior Threads.  Now I have discovered that my old Bernina 1230 “Betsy” has no problem with Superior metallics at all, and neither does my little B350 “E-Claire”, but my big old honking “Gibbs”, my Bernina 830 LE has some trouble with it.  It’s all related to the tensions of both the bobbin and the top.  It’s one of the best features of Gibbs, but also one of the most complex that it allows tremendous adjustment for both the bobbin and the top.  I really want to use the big machine to do my quilting so I can use the stitch regulator and the large table arrangement that makes quilting so easy.  I must have spent three full quilting days trying to figure out how to get the setup right and the gold thread to quilt without showing up as “tension problems” on the back that judges simply cannot abide.  But I finally got it, I think.  Here is the setup I have for the black borders that I plan to quilt in antique gold thread:

Silk-Cotton black Radiance for both the top and the back
90/14 Superior titanic top stitch needle
Superior 100 weight silk thread in the bobbin
Top tension 2.0
Bobbin thread for embroidery, but tension is loosened two clicks to the left (there is a special tool for this)
Bottom layer of batting is a thin polyester from Quilter’s Dream
Top layer of batting is Hobb’s wool.

Now yesterday I had no problem with this.  Both the top and the bottom looked absolutely even.  Today I had a few spin out loops on the back, but I think it is because I got overly confident and started sewing too fast.  So I slid the speed control to the left and slowed way down with no more problems.  My other two machines will not sew that fast.  It just needs time to make it right.  I have successfully quilted one of my five little practice mug rugs.  I plan on finishing up four of them and sharing them with some of my friends that I owe mug rugs to.  I will use them as practice painting samplers also, since I am planning on painting the border designs.

Sew what else have I been doing while waiting for the backing fabric?  I have been rejiggering my quilting plans for the rest of this year and beginning of next year.  I put them on my website (did you know I also have a website)?  I have also started updating my quilt show list I keep there, but I figure that will take me a few more weeks to complete.  I’ll let you know.  Anyway, here is my “current projects” list (actually it’s my current plans list, but I like the feel of “projects” as opposed to “plans”…seems more like I’m making lots of progress. 😉

 

  1. Whan That Aprille:  A folk art applique, embroidery and beading experiment.  I combined this with the illuminated manuscript project.  This is a silk and silk/cotton/Radiance quilt.  The main center section is complete, the black border is pieced on and marked, the text box is successfully embroidered and pieced in.  I am ready to make the sandwich and begin the quilting, but I decided I needed considerable experimenting, testing, and practice before I do this, and have put together five small mug-rug sized practice pieces for this purpose.  I estimate completion of this quilt by 1 August.
  2. **NEW** First Flight:  New blue print based whole cloth quilt based on Wright Brothers’ Line Drawings and an applique/embroidery rendition of a plane in the center.  Mostly designed, although not patterned out yet.
  3. Volcanic Fire with Flying Things:  Erupting volcano with dark mountain, smoky orange sky and fiery volcanic lava…in the near orange sky there will be a fight between phoenix and dragon in hopefully magnificent colors.  This was inspired in part by my recent storm-at-sea quilt “Waiting…” in which I placed a rocky lower border.  I enjoyed making that border and it made me think of volcanic rocks.  It was also inspired by my work on “Sky Horse” and I decided the phoenix or dragon should have a large component of Angelina Fibers and crystals as part of the applique.
  4. Peppered Ikebana:  This will draw from old Japanese Sashiko for the background, and will have a Japanese flower arrangement in the foreground.  I am planning on making this largely with Pepper Cory’s shot peppered cotton fabrics, both free motion machine quilting and Sashiko large stitch quilting, and a combination of applique and machine embroidery for the flower arrangement.  Remember, I have my fourth year flower arranging certificate in the Sogetsu School of Ikebana that I got in Japan and I want to use that in a series of flower-arrangements on quilts.
  5. Flower appliques and embroidery:  I am using Beth Tatum’s beautiful flower pictures to design both in-the-hoop appliques and embroideries and out of the hoop free motion embroideries as a joint quilt with her (my DIL).  Working on applique designs.
  6. Jazz On a Crystal Night:  A stylized nighttime city scene with musicians silhouetted in tall building windows and doors.  The music stream will be floating out of the windows and doors to the sky where it “explodes” into “fireworks”.  This quilt will have a lot of crystals. Set in the 1920s.
  7. Light in an Ancient Forest: Very dark forest with great old character and large wonderful trees.  Coming through the trees is a beam of sunlight that lands on the floor of the forest highlighting [something] in  full of color.  The something may be an ancient ruin of church with the light coming through the stained glass or a small patch of colorful flowers.  There may be a woodland creature or two peaking out from behind some of the trees.  🙂
  8. Perspective in Silk:  Second in series of perspectives in thread drawings…I will do this one on silk with colorful threadwork.  This may become the start of a series on American monuments or something else.
  9. Zephana’s (my mother) Gifts:  Using my mother’s unfinished hand-crocheted lace I found in her workbasket after her passing for embellishment and a key design component, this quilt is in her memory.  I will use a background of linen  and silk fabric.
  10. Dragon Dress for Competition: Black quilted silk sheath dress with flared skirt, will have appliqued trapunto dragon wrapped around the dress.  This is for competition and will include machine embroidery, hand embroidery, Angelina Fibers, crystals, beads and sequins.  I just have to figure out how to make the dragon wrap so it looks right.

Sew Happy everyone, and what are you working on or planning now?