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

Ahhhh… back to some normalcy, whatever that is…

And, for me, normalcy is me in my studio, working on quilts.

I had said in an earlier post where I was talking about using Zipper Leaders to hold quilts onto the frame that I would also post a picture at a later date of the clips I use – the Grip-Lite Clamps.  Well, here they are.  They are about the size of those potato bag clips, but a little bulkier.  I like them because they are easier for my old hands to open and close in order to clamp onto the fabric.

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On the back of the clamp gives you a website where you can buy them.  Of course, if you Google them, you will find other places that sell them, too.

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Onto the quilts I’ve been working on…  It was Christmas in August here.  It’s a good thing Joan gave this to me now, because quilters get VERY busy the 3 months before Christmas, and if you don’t get your Christmas present quilt top to us early on, you stand the chance that it may not be done in time for Christmas.  Joan wanted swirls quilted onto her quilt, and I was so happy and relieved to do that for her.  Have I told you that I LOVE swirls?  I have had so much fun quilting swirls into quilts.  Other than the surprises that my evil twin sneaks into quilts, swirls are probably my favorite thing to quilt.  This is her finished quilt and a picture of the swirls on the blocks.  She chose a variegated cream, which goes well with this quilt, and the swirls do not interfere with the pictures on the blocks.

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I also mixed some holly leaves and berries in the swirls but tried to keep them off the pictures themselves in order not to interfere or compete with them.

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We did a separate border with the same theme; swirls with holly and berries.  I played around on my drawing board for ideas for the border.

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And, this is what I did, swirls with holly in the center of the back and forth swirls, similar to my bottom drawing.

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And, finally, a couple of surprises to make this Joan’s personal heirloom quilt… mailbox stitched around the bird and 2013 stitched into the bottom right of a block.  She’s got one more surprise, but it’s a very small one.  I’ll let her wonder what it is and look for that one.  I had a LOT of fun with this quilt!

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This next quilt is Wilma’s.  I don’t know how she does it, but I swear, she’s been piecing at least one quilt a month.  She’s keeping me busy, and I am perfectly okay with that!  😉  Here’s a full shot of her quilt.

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She wanted maple leaves quilted into it to match the fabric, so she chose a pantograph that had the maple leaves for the body of her quilt and piano keys for the border.  The pantograph I used was Maple Breezes by MeadowLyon Designs.  You can find the pattern here.  Angela Meadows and Judy Lyon are a team of quilters in business together.  As far as I know, Angela does the quilting, and with Angela’s input, Judy designs the pantographs.  If you’ve used their pantographs or seen their pantographs, you know they have a wide variety of designs.  I don’t know where Judy comes up with all her designs!

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Now the problem with this (for my evil twin) was how on earth I would be able to add surprises to a pantograph…  I couldn’t add a surprise to the border, because it was all piano keys; straight lines.  The good thing about this particular pantograph is that there were some areas that had big swirls where I could put a surprise in its place.  If you’ve ever used a pantograph, you know you have to play around with the edges anyway and especially when you are almost done with the quilt and have only 1/2 of a row for a full row of pantograph.  So, you just draw lines with a dry erase marker on the plastic on top of the pantograph, so you can adapt it to fit the space you have available.  Okay, so if I can do that, I can add a surprise.  I just drew out a mouse on Vellum paper to be eating within all those leaves and taped it to the spot where I wanted it to go.  That red dot is the laser light pointing where to follow the lines.

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And, here is what the mouse looks like stitched out.

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I put another mouse in the other corner, so they could be friends out foraging for food before the winter sets in.  I think this one looks more like scribbles.  But, hey, what do you expect?  😉

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I loved how the colors of the variegated thread popped off Wilma’s quilt.  It was as if this thread was made for this quilt.  But then, I think Wilma’s got great color sense and her quilts “pop” anyway.    Don’t you?

Playing Catch Up

First off, let me show you the quilting that didn’t show up on Jackie’s Quilt post.

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Stitching this Pantograph was so easy peasy I felt guilty charging Jackie for the quilting.

After I finished her quilt, I caught up on this charity quilt that I haven’t been able to get to in a couple of months.  simply quilts 001 simply quilts 002At this point, I just wanted to finish it, so I opted for a quick edge 2 edge design and then failed at attempted to add a matching border.   It turned out okay.  Not happy with the border, but it’s done.  Our guild has a charity sewing day every February.  Kits are made up for us to piece together and then to quilt.  I was hoping for a bigger quilt, but this is what I was given, and it’s just as well since it’s taken me this long to finish it.

What I am currently working on is the following quilt.  My new favorite kind of fabric is solid colored fabric.  I love the colors in this quilt and how they pop against each other.

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Jackie says her daughter, Kat, can outquilt her any day.  I don’t know about that, but I do love this quilt Kat put together.  She just wanted circles quilted all over it to break up the squares, so here is what I’ve done so far.

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The thread is a light orange – I think this was a good choice on the customer’s part.  As for the circles… my circles aren’t perfect – they are done freehand.  I like the circles against the squares, another good choice on the customer’s part. I’m always impressed with my customers’ choices.  I learn a lot from their tastes and their styles.  I’ll post more pictures when I am done.

Marking a Quilt using Press ‘n Seal

Remember that link I told you about awhile back where the blogger uses Press ‘n Seal to mark her quilts?  Here is the link in case you need a refresher: http://quiltsbyrosemary.blogspot.com/2011/06/marking-quilting-pattern-using-pressn.html.  Well, I decided to try it on my latest quilt.

I’ve been working on one of my quilt guild’s raffle quilt, or as they like to call it, the “2013 Opportunity Quilt.”  I am letting the cat out of the bag here by posting pictures.  I am nearly done and want to have it finished by our next meeting on December 4th.  I just have a few more motifs to sew and a small border and then I can take it off the quilting frame, bind it, put a hanging sleeve and quilt label on it, and it’ll ready to be hung for “unveiling” at the December 4th meeting.  As you will see from the pictures, it’s an Asian themed quilt, with kimonos all over it.  I won’t put a picture on here yet of the whole thing, but will wait until after the official unveiling on the 4th for that.

I quilted interlocking circles along 3 borders.  It was a little tedious trying to do that around applique Kanji (above, shown before quilting the interlocking circles), but necessary to make it look okay.  Clam shells were quilted inside the kimono blocks and a different Japanese motif was quilted in the middle of each kimono.  I won’t tell you too much about the kimonos, because I want to save that for the final unveiling pictures.  But, I can post a picture of one of the kimonos.

I used the Press ‘n Seal that Rosemary suggested on the above block and the block pictured below.  Here are a couple of pictures of the process.

       

I had already copied all my patterns onto vellum paper and am planning on using those in the same way, but I wanted to give the Press ‘n Seal a try on a small area before I try it on a larger area.

If you know anything at all about Judy Lyon, you know she does amazing things with pantographs.  You can find her work here: http://www.meadowlyon.com/.  When I saw her pantograph “Geisha Garden,” I knew I had to have it, and I wanted to add it into this quilt.  But where?   I already had the whole thing planned out, so the only place it would fit would be on the bottom border of the quilt.  And, how on earth would I get it on there?   Unless you are Matt or Bradie Sparrow, who can quilt a pantograph from the front of their machine using a BobbinCam http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRDp2LZOPv8, then you need to come up with another way.   Normally a pantograph is quilted from the back of the machine, so I would have to be VERY precise with how I did this.  Plus, I had the quilt loaded to face the front of the machine, so that would mean taking the quilt off and reloading it the other direction.  That’s when I decided to just draw the design onto the quilt, but that, too, would be difficult.  I could use a roll of paper, but paper that is too big will get torn and mess up.  So, Press ‘n Seal was the way to go with this.  And, you know what?  It worked really well!

Drawing it onto the Press ‘n Seal… See why I HAD to put this design into the quilt?

 

Pressing it down along the bottom border – it worked REALLY well and stayed in place the whole time.

 

 

 

After I ripped the plastic off…

The only “con” for this, I think, was that it took a little longer for me to pull the plastic off than it did for me to run the stitches over the Press ‘n Seal.  Be careful of tiny little places where the plastic can get stuck.  Try to either sew those closed or make them bigger, more open spaces.

 

 

 

Charity Quilts

One of the things I am doing when I don’t have customer quilts to work on is quilting charity quilts.   This particular quilt was perfect for using a pantograph because it had no borders and no regimented block placement.  I don’t normally like using pantos (pantographs), because it’s not as easy for me to follow a line from a paper and then hope it turns out okay on the quilt itself as it is for me to be able to watch where my next quilting stitch will go (whether it is free hand or drawn on there with a disappearing marker).  At least if I’m watching where I will be going next, I can quickly fix a mistake.  Pantos aren’t as easy as they are cracked up to be, BUT they are great practice for mastering your machine and the pantograph itself.  You will be building muscle memory for when you want to do those swirls and curls and feathers, etc. either on your own or with another pantograph.

I enjoyed this particular design once I got started.

These 2 quilts were very similar, and I was given enough backing for both of them to load as one piece (well, it was pieced but was loaded as one piece), so I put the backing on the frame and then loaded my first quilt, quilted it, and then loaded the 2nd quilt and quilted it with the 1st one already done and rolled up on the frame ahead of it.

This one was harder for me to follow.  I don’t know if it was because the patterns are so “definite” so a mess-up would be more noticeable or what…  Perhaps it is because there is a lot of open space?  Or???

The other thing that was happening while I was quilting this particular pattern was my machine was getting hung up on something.  I never did find out what it was getting caught on.  I would stop each time and check all over, around, and under but with no luck of finding what it was… a loose thread, bumpy seam, cord, etc.  Thank goodness I wasn’t getting paid to do this!