“Naming” a Quilt

This quilt of Judy’s came to me already quilted in an allover meander.  Yes, you can take an already quilted quilt and quilt on it some more.  She wanted to add some names to make it personal for her son.  So, that’s what we did.

If you have an old or newer quilt that you’d like to add more quilting to, it can be done.  The quilting acts like basting so that you just pin the finished quilt onto the frame just like it is.

To the Moon and Back

This is another quilt I should have put up on my design wall before quilting it, because the colors and the pattern are striking.

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Kathy called this her Universe quilt.  It has the 4 quadrants in colors.  Do you see the circles of color in the blues down in the lower left?  Those look like planets, too, and all the mottled batiks in the borders look, to me, like an Aurora Borealis.  So, how would you quilt this?

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The colors are so magnificent, that it’s hard to see the quilting, but I decided to stitch a stun into the upper right hand (yellow) corner with the 9 planets circling around it.  The orbiting circles are anything but perfect.  I hand drew them on with chalk and then stitched following the chalk lines.

In the purple down in the lower right is where I put Earth and its circling moon.  Can you see it?  The moon’s orbit is elliptical, so maybe if you find that semi-sideways oval, you’ll see the big circle inside, which is Earth.  I also drew the Big and Little Dipper with the North Star to the lower left of Earth.  Of course, my ADD brain struggled with which way to put those stars (they’re not in correct proportion anyway)…as I am looking at them on the quilt?  Or as I would look at them if I were on Earth?  I also put shooting stars and meteors in the quilt, but you can’t see them here.  The backing on the quilt did a good job of hiding them, too, which I’m always glad for, because my pea brain talks smack to me about my quilting abilities.

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This particular quilt was a good example of some of the strategies I used for getting a quilt squared up as it rolls on the frame for the quilting machine.  And, since you can’t see the quilting too much, I thought I’d add some tips here.

First off, this quilt has lots of straight lines.  I use those lines to guide me to getting the quilt straight.  I’ll explain the tape measure in a bit, but for now, take a look at the lower edge of the picture.  That’s where the lower roller bar lies.  I use the lines in the quilt to help me gauge whether or not the quilt is straight going across.

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I’m sure I’ve showed you before the laser level I use to make sure the lines are straight as well.

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I used to use these white clips on the rear roller bar to help me with placement of blocks and borders as I quilted, but, unless you find a way to make them stay put, they roll and move.  By the way, if you look closely at the edges of the quilt top, you will see a line of basting on the batting.  There are 3 roller bars on my machine’s frame.  The backing fabric is attached to 2 rollers; one at the bottom and one above this black roller you see in the picture below.  That roller is used to keep the fabric in place at it rolls. So, first, I attach the backing fabric to the canvases that are attached to those 2 rollers.  Then, I lay the batting on top of the backing fabric.  I use my channel locks to stitch a straight line across the top of the batting – it helps to have a dark thread for this so you can see it better.  That is my guide for where to butt the quilt top fabric up against.  I then pin the quilt top fabric in place and then stitch it down about 1/4 inch along the edge.  I’d like to make it 1/8 inch, but I’m just not that good.

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As for the tape measure, I use that as a guide for where to stitch the sides in place.  When I get the top stitched down, I use my laser level to tell me where to butt the sides up to and then stitch the sides down to about 12 inches from the top.  Then I see where the sides hit the tape measure and write those numbers down.  I use those numbers for placement of the rest of the quilt along the sides.

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A machine quilter’s job involves a lot more than just quilting.  The above tips are just a sampling of the many things we do when we work on your quilt.

 


 

Square Peg in a Round Hole?

Susan inherited this quilt top from her dad and step-mom. You can obviously see that the design flows into kind of a “sweep”.  But, to me, it looked like it could have been a Native American design.  The design is merely different colored squares sewn together into an interesting design.

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Susan already had the PERFECT thread for this quilt.  The colors matched perfectly. When I got it home and threaded the machine and put the first stitch into the quilt, I realized it was thicker than any thread I’ve used.  And, I was worried.  It took some coaxing to get the thread to go through the quilt layers, but once I got it going it worked like a charm…and didn’t break, not once!

I’m glad Susan decided on a Native American quilting design.  And, you know what?  That thick thread REALLY showed off the design in the light-colored border.  And, the batik border fabric is a wonderful companion to the quilting design and Susan’s thread.   Edge-to-Edge quilting used the wavy lines and the stepping stones under the sun in the border design.

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I don’t remember ever getting the chance to quilt a Native American design into a quilt, so this was a lot of fun to do.  If you’re wondering where to find the border design, I took one of Meadowlyon Designs’ pantographs (named Modern Southwest) that you can find here.  Their pantograph is 10 1/2″ tall, but the border of Susan’s quilt was 7 inches, I think.  So, what I did was make a smaller copy of one repetition in the pantograph.  I then traced it onto Golden Threads Quilting Paper (you can buy it from their website and other stores) and pinned it to the quilt top.  I wanted a cornerstone, so I took the bird , enlarged it in different sizes to find the size that worked best and then traced it onto the quilting paper as well and then stitched through the quilting paper. In the past, I’ve used vellum, tracing paper, Press ‘n Seal, etc for marking quilts.  But, I had this on hand and it was just sitting on the shelf, so I thought I’d try it.  I actually really like it.  The paper is a soft yellow, which blends with lots of colors, believe it or not.  When you pull the paper off, it doesn’t leave as much paper behind, and the paper isn’t a bright white.  Judge for yourself if the end product (quilting shown in the pictures above) turned out okay.

I said earlier that Susan inherited this quilt top from her dad and step-mom.  Well, here’s something you don’t realize you need or would like to have until you get it.  They left their quilt tops in “kits” with batting, thread, and backing included on many of the quilts; ready to be quilted.  And, check out this batting!  I was floored.  How cool is that! The batting is marked so I know which way to load it (you need more from roller to roller than you do side to side, because the rollers will use more batting – you can read more about that in my blog post “Oops! Please Add More Batting!“).

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I have a tip for loading quilt backing.  I like to load backing fabric so the selvages attach to the rollers. The reason I like to do that is because the width (weft) of the fabric has a little more stretch than the length (warp) of the fabric.  When I load the backing fabric to the canvas of the rollers, the fabric will stretch some.  It stretches even more if I load the quilt with the width going side to side rather than roller to roller – that produces a “waistline”, as I call it, on the backing fabric.  See how the top of the fabric in this picture is stretched more?  That’s because it is attached to the roller canvas.  The rest is not attached to anything yet.  I lay batting on top of the backing fabric and then stitch a straight line across the top of the batting so that I can get the edge of the quilt top straight.  I then baste the top down.  After that, I will check to make sure the sides of the quilt top are straight and will stitch it down.  AFTER it’s stitched down, I attach stretchy clamps to the sides of the backing fabric to hold it taut – that’s what helps keep wrinkles out of the backing fabric, where you can’t see it as you roll the quilt.  So, what will happen is the backing fabric will have more of an “hourglass figure” if I load the backing with the width (weft) of the fabric going side to side than it will if I load the backing with the length (warp) of the fabric going side to side.  And, the selvages have the extra thickness in its weave, so that adds to the strength where it’s attached to the roller canvas.  The difference it makes for the quilt maker is that if there’s a seam down the back, it might not end up straight.

 

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One of the best parts of my job is the variety of quilt tops and quilting designs that I get to work with each day.  I learn something new with each one.  I had a lot of fun with this one.

12″ wide quilting paper
 

18″ wide quilting paper

24″ wide quilting paper

Forgotten Pieces

Never let yourself get so busy that you slip and forget to post pictures of your customers’ quilts.  The title is because not only did I forget to post about this, but the Bethlehem Star table topper was supposed to be a center piece of a larger quilt.  But, Charlotte didn’t get around to finishing that quilt and, over time, forgot she had this star.  Realizing she probably wasn’t going to get around to putting the star into a bigger quilt, she decided it would make a great table topper.  And, she’s right!

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Charlotte likes traditional quilting, so I put feathers in the triangles and along the border and back and forth orange peel quilting inside the star.  This should go well with a snow theme, just in time for winter decor.

Christmas also brings charitable giving in many of us.  Charlotte made this quilt for an adopted boy.

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To make him feel like a star, that’s what we stitched into the quilt.  And, since he’s at the age where he’s learning the alphabet and how to read, letters were stitched into the border.

My apologies for forgetting to post these earlier, Charlotte!  I need to learn not to let the holidays “interfere” with what I need to do.  😉

Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival

Are you going to be in the Kansas City area the weekend of Father’s Day?  If so, I would love to meet you!  I will be vending at the Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival that weekend in booth 436.  I’m not selling much, just quilting and sewing gift items and some hard to find notions.  But, please stop by and say “hi!”  In the meantime, check out this video clip for KCRQF: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmEcoNmk-nY

Quilts from Days Gone By

What do you do when you know someone hasn’t finished a project that needs finishing, and this person hasn’t finished it because he or she is not able?  Do you help?  If it’s something you specialize in, do you offer to finish it?  As it turns out, I’m guilty on all charges.  Not only did I offer to help, but I offered to finish these quilts.

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It started out to be one quilt.  My husband’s Aunt Joyce has this quilt that she had started in the late 1980s, possibly in the early 1990s.  She was planning on giving it to her son when she finished, but she never finished it.  And… it was hand quilted… well, what she got done, which was most of it, was hand quilted.  All she had left to do was 2 borders and the cornerstones.

I’m not a hand quilter, and I haven’t been a hand quilter since I started my first full-sized quilt.  It’s just too hard on my hand and wrist and it takes waaaaay too long – I don’t have the patience for it.  But, Aunt Joyce is like a second mother to me, and I just can’t leave it unfinished for her son.  She’s in her mid 80s.  So, I offered to finish it for her.

When I was looking for the matching fabric for the borders that she had stashed away, I found a quilt top that looked very much like the hand-quilted one.  I figured I could finish that, even though it needs to be quilted entirely, by machine pretty quickly… probably sooner than the hand-quilted one.  I think I’m going to quilt feathers into the borders – there are plenty of wide open spaces.

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I didn’t know which side is the top, so I put the blocks that I thought might have the most stretch at the top, specifically the block with the hexagons.  That way I can try to tame it before it gets “stretched in” to the bottom.

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I hope I can do this quilt justice.  The blocks were hand pieced.  This is one of those dilemmas where you don’t want to sabotage a hand-pieced quilt with machine quilting, so what do you do?  I don’t have time to hand quilt it, so it’s going to have to be machine quilted.  I will, of course, continue to hand-quilt the one that was started that way.  I think it would bastardize it at this point to machine quilt it since most of it is hand quilted.

What are your thoughts on machine quilting a hand-pieced quilt top?  Tough Decision, huh?