Wednesday, 16 May 2018

O Canada (How Do I Quilt Thee?)

This gorgeous quilt was designed to commemorate each of Canada's 10 provinces and 3 territories.

Client quilt

Its blocks are rich with detailed applique, and my job was to enhance each scene while stitching down said applique.

Without making a mess.

Easier said than done.

Many layers of applique done with batiks = holes that cannot be "erased" once they're poked.
Once a hole, always a hole. (And a longarm needle is the fencepost of needles, soooo . . . no pressure! ha!)

Despite the (self imposed) pressure, I loaded the quilt and dug in.

Basting stitches were placed so the holes wouldn't show after the stitches were removed.

After the quilt was basted I stitched the white border and then moved on to the sashing around each picture.
(At that point I worked from the bottom-up to avoid unnecessary rolling of the quilt, though I did roll and begin in the center of the quilt when it was time to tackle the pictures.)

Goose block before quilting

I wasn't concerned with outlining every single bit of applique if there was a way to secure it artistically. This quilt is destined to hang on the wall, not to be washed and handled as a bed quilt. Different purpose, different rules!

Goose block after quilting

With that in mind, I used many, MANY jump stitches so I wouldn't fill the ditches with thread. Jump stitches are FAR more efficient than constantly cutting thread - and saving time saved my client money (which I'm sure was appreciated!).

Jump stitches can leave the back a bit messy, but my main concern with a wall quilt is the front.

Skinny pieces of applique can only take so much torture before shredding into oblivion, so the only option was to leave well enough alone even when I thought a change might improve things.

For instance, in one heavily layered spot the thread looked a bit shreddy on the back. The stitches looked fine on the front, and were secure, so I knew it would be smarter to leave them than to try and re-do the area.

That took will power, I tell ya! Will. Power.

I enjoyed adding perspective lines and details to help ground the critters.

There are 29 different thread colours in this quilt.

Scratch that. There are THIRTY - I forgot to count the cone on the machine!


It's hard to pick a favourite block.

Maybe this one?

(Or the puffins? The farm? Oh! Maybe the bluejay? Oh my. How 'bout ALL OF THE BLOCKS!!!)
The outer border was the last thing to be quilted. Fancy stitching would have been lost on the print so I opted for simple wavy lines radiating out to the edges of the quilt instead.

This quilt was a ton o' work, but mostly it felt like play!

O Canada, you're the one for me! What an honour it was to help with this beautiful tribute to our fair land. 

Linking up with:
Linky Tuesday @ Freemotion by the River
Let's Bee Social @ Sew Fresh Quilts

Try, Learn & Grow!

Saturday, 12 May 2018

How to Piece Batting (so it lays flat)

Joining two pieces of batting to make useable yardage can be done quickly and easily. You will need a flat surface to work on, cutting tools, a roll of painter's tape, and a sewing machine with a zigzag or serpentine stitch.

First, lay the two pieces you wish to join right sides up on a flat surface overlapping the edges to be joined by two or three inches.

Ensure that the pieces to be joined are laying flat. 
Position a cutting mat under the "overlap" in preparation for the next step.

Next, place a quilting ruler so it is centered on the overlap. Use your rotary cutter and slice right up the middle.

Lift the sliver of batting to be discarded out of the way and use painter's tape to keep the newly cut edges butted together exactly as they were cut.

Ignore what is happening underneath at this point. Just cut and tape.

Place tape every four or five inches. The goal is to keep the batting pieces from shifting as they're sewn together.

Since my arms aren't ten feet long, I gently pull the entire thing toward me as I go. It is fine hanging off the table edge after it's taped. Be sure everything slides evenly so the pieces stay aligned and flat.

After cutting the entire length of the overlap and taping everything securely, carefully lift the batting and take it to the sewing machine. The sliver of batting left underneath can now be discarded.

Sew the pieces together using a serpentine stitch or a large, loose zigzag. Align the center of the foot with the cut edges held together by the tape.

Do not allow the edges to overlap. Also do not allow the edges to separate and leave a gap. Do not sew over the tape. (Sew up to it and remove.)
Ensure that both pieces feed evenly through the machine.
Handle gently to prevent stretching.

Result? An invisible join, save for the stitching! No bulk. No ripples. Just useable yardage!

Quilting for others means I get to enjoy a spectacular range of quilt-y delights. Here's a quick show of the latest batch of client quilts Fresh off the Frame

One Block Wonder (client quilt)

Client quilt

Client quilt

Client quilt

Humboldt Strong donation #1 (pieced by local ladies)

Humboldt Strong donation #2 (pieced by local ladies)

Client quilt

Client quilt

The next one came to me already stitched-in-the-ditch and bound.

Its maker hoped I could stitch a pretty pantograph over the whole thing. Since the layers were already stitched together I couldn't promise perfection, but I was game to load it up. 

I'm happy to report that my client was delighted with the result - and I'm sure her granddaughter will love this sweet treasure forever!

Client quilt, already "ditched" and bound when it arrived...challenge accepted!

And finally, a teaser!

Client quilt

This gorgeous quilt needs a post of its own, so it shall have one! (Just not tonight)

Our Guild Retreat also came and went since my last post.

I decided to work on the Gypsy Wife quilt that's been on my radar for a year. Yup. Made a total of 8 blocks, I think. Do you think maybe I socialized a bit too much? 

Small projects were part of the program. I came home with a new mug rug made from random bits supplied as a challenge-in-a-bag (I added the green - totally allowed!) . . . 

Mug Rug challenge

. . . and a collage to finish - some day.

I enjoyed the process of cutting, shaping, re-shaping, arranging and rearranging my flowers, but I think I need scissors with a soft gel handle for the next one. I actually wore a hole in my skin from all the cutting!

Collage challenge

All of these collages were made from exactly the same kits.

Collages with character!

Isn't it amazing how they are all so different!

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Studio Gone Wild!

. . . if you count one moose as going wild, that is!

The top was pieced with the batting attached as a stabilizer. The sashing is a thick minky that might otherwise have been hard to control. Its seams laid perfectly, thanks to this clever idea.

I basted the layers together down the entire quilt before adding anything fancy.

I then outlined the moose and worked UP the central panel, outlining the tracks as I went. My client mentioned that she envisioned that long panel as a pathway, so I quilted it accordingly.

I like working from the center, out, to prevent weird ripples and pleats on the quilt back. This is ESPECIALLY important when the back shows EVERYTHING!

Leaves and branches seemed like a good fit for a moose, so that's what I quilted!

After the blocks were filled, the sashing looked a bit wobbly, so I stitched beside it to crisp everything up. I had to work freehand because it was so thick a ruler would have been a hazard. I'm glad to have done it - the sashing settled back into place perfectly!

I left the extra backing intact around the perimeter of the quilt. My client plans to wrap it to the front as binding for a soft, cuddly finish.

The front of the quilt is appealing, but I can't get enough of looking at the BACK - I love all that texture!!!

I'm easily amoosed! (pfft - I'm such a goof!)

OH, and Foxy Feet were spotted beside another pretty client quilt.
How's THAT for WILD??? ha!

Linking up with:
Let's Bee Social @ Sew Fresh Quilts

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Challenges Met

Three secret sewing projects with March deadlines = a very quiet blog!

I'm happy to report that all three projects have been completed and entered in their respective challenges. Whew!

Here's something I can share - a client quilt, Fresh off the Frame!

This quilt was a challenge for its maker, with all sorts of bias edges and weird angles. She was a little stressed out by the end because the darn thing refused to lay flat.

When she asked if I could do the quilting I said, "YES! I'd be happy to help."

I promised that - though there may be a ripple here and there - the quilt would lay flat and look BEAUTIFUL when it was done!!!

I decided to spray-baste the quilt before loading it on the frame, using the construction seams (it was assembled in quarters) as my guide for squaring the quilt top. Once the horizontal and vertical lines were established, excess fabric was evenly distributed and controlled.

In addition to the spray-basting, straight pins helped prevent shifting as the quilt was loaded.
(Better safe than sorry, I say!)

Once it was on the frame, I worked from the center, out.

Wavy lines, swirls, and S-curves helped "eat up" fabric while complementing the modern aesthetic of the quilt.

As promised, the quilting did the trick. The quilt is officially flat, and looks amazing!!!

I sure love a happy ending!

Linking Up With:
Let's Bee Social @ Sew Fresh Quilts
Needle and Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation

Try, Learn, & Grow!