Wednesday, September 9, 2015

the one about quilting

Because, you know, I don't normally write about quilting...  Ok, I guess I do, but it seems like I'm thinking and writing about a whole lot else lately.  With how much I'm gone out of town for therapy and the new homeschool year, I'm really having to push to find time to sew.  I create "systems" or rhythms in my life to keep me organized and moving forward on the things that count.  Having Eleni has required a constant flux and tweaking of those systems, with times of overwhelm where everything functions but the living seems to get squeezed out.  Still I refuse to let sewing and my time here at Stitched in Color to fall through the cracks.  This feeds me. 

Today I'm talking about quilting.

quilting tips

This morning I added Essex linen/cotton blend in leather to either side of the 6" wide patchwork pieces I created for that set of placemats.  Together with this pretty Wanderer backing, it's all the ingredients I need for a successful finish.. if only I can get the quilting right.

Quilting still intimidates me.  Today I formulated a plan, threaded my sewing machine and paused, poised on the brink of stitching.  I wonder, just as you do, how that quilting plan will look once implemented.  Will it detract from and ruin my patchwork?  Will I end up picking out stitches, painstakingly erasing my mistakes? 

quilting tips

This is my first piece.  I worked organic straight line quilting over the solid Essex portions and some geometric straight lines on the patchwork.  I love how the thick Aurifil 12wt thread stands out over the Essex section.  It creates a fantastic dimension with these dense and free-form quilting lines.  I hope that the same thread doesn't stand out too much over the patchwork portion?  But over all, I'm pleased.  It worked!  Phew.  That would be a lot of thread to take out!

Want to do something similar?  Organic straight lines are a therapeutic way to quilt.  Mistakes aren't mistakes.  How nice!  Plus, you don't have to do any marking.  Here are some tips.

quilting tips

First I used curved basting pins to baste the placemat tops with one layer of batting and fabric backing.  Then I quilted straight-ish lines, about 2" apart.  As I quilted these lines, I ran the work through the machine traveling in opposite directions.  These lines are anchoring the work so that it doesn't keep dragging to one side from the force of dense quilting.  Most of the lines I tried to make straight (just eyeballing it), but a few I deliberately allowed to curve.

quilting tips

Once those anchoring lines are in, just go to town filling in lines in between.  You won't be sure how close together you want to make those lines until you try.  My advice is to begin filling them in a little sparser than you think and then go back to add more lines if you like.  That way you don't over commit yourself to uber-dense quilting from the get go.

For straight, geometric quilting (as I did over the patchwork) I use a hera marker to mark creases in the patchwork.  Then I follow the creases with thread as tidily as possible.  I wouldn't want to take the time to mark up a whole quilt with a hera marker, but the increased accuracy is definitely worth it on a small piece like this.

quilting tips

And speaking of small pieces... I really dig using up batting scraps on small projects.  Here I used some Heat Press tape to fuse two small pieces of batting together into a large enough rectangle for one placemat.  If you don't have fusing tape, try zigzaging batting together by simply butting up the straight edges of batting and stitching so that the zigzag stitches fall alternately on each batting piece.  Because you will quilt the work, you can be assured that the batting "crack" will be reinforced rather than drifting apart or bunching up.

And that's where I stop.  We're off today to a rather important neurology follow up.  Cringe.  But let's not part that way.  Let's part with this:

from Marmalade Fabrics!

A pretty stack of Cotton & Steel arrived yesterday from Marmalade Fabric's clearance sale.   Yum.


27 comments:

  1. Love the texture! If you squint, it almost looks like corduroy. I'm always hesitant to get adventurous with my quilting, just because of the time invested. But I'd love to do these tight lines on a smaller project -- maybe a table runner or something similar.

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  2. Your patchwork, as always, is beautiful but I love that 12wt thread you used for quilting. I've never tried heavy thread ... guess it will have to go on the list.

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  3. Love this and I'm with you on the batting. I'm the queen of zigzag batting together!

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  4. :) Therapy at it's best. Good luck at your appointment.

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  5. Very pretty project! I'm glad you found time to emerse yourself in this

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  6. Very pretty project! I'm glad you found time to emerse yourself in this

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  7. Neurology follow-up...does that mean your birthday has rolled around?

    In any case, many thanks for the glimpse of quilting, and you know we'll want to know how Eleni's appointment goes. We have our priorities straight around here. :)

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    1. Yep, birthday done and gone. It's not the year for birthdays or much of any normal celebrations. Glad to have that past me. Fortunately, the appointment had some silver linings.

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  8. Your quilting looks great and I think small projects are perfect right now. Using batting scraps is awesome too. Hope the follow up appointment went well. Best wishes.

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  9. Lovely. I have been fueling up on small sewing projects and this inspires me to add placemats to the mix. Praying that baby Eleni's appointment was what it needed to be.

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  10. I love reading your blog about anything you want to blog about. I do a lot of straight line quilting on my quilts so now will have to try your method. Thanks for the tip on how you did yours.

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  11. I am really afraid of quilting, too much? just a little more? not enough straight? I have some tops just waiting for the quilting. I need some hours for me, I mean for quilting ;)

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  12. I have one question about your geometric quilting. (By the way, the placemats are going to be beautiful!!!). When quilting in the geometric part, is there a lot of starting and stopping? and what do you do with those threads hanging when you do start and stop? (With my automatic thread cutter, there doesn't seem to be a lot of thread hanging to bury these things!) Praying the appointment went well.

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    1. Exactly my concern! I quilted in such a way that the lines are continuous from the raw edges all the way through. I pivot at the corners of certain blocks or elements to create the geometric pattern. I do hate stopping and starting inside the work when straight line quilting.

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  13. Big changes in life always turn the place upside down. After two years, I am finally learning to work "little by little" even though I am still longing for those days of sewing for hours. It is okay.
    You do fit it in.
    My dad is 91 and he is making a slide show on his old Mac computer for mom, all about their life together, born only miles apart in Rotterdam, and after WW2 meeting ..... He works a little on it every day, I am glad to see my dad actually working on something, so I try to be enthusiastic when I am over there. Slide shows are not my thing. My hubbs got my dad hooked on computers and all things gadgety years ago.

    Okay, I love the colors of these place mats. Love the calm and bright designs. It looks classsy.
    even appropriate for Stouffer's dinners, I'd say.
    I am not into the swirly intense quilting techniques. Great for wall hangings but for daily use, it is tough on fibers (my opinion--as if) I adore your straight line quilting,
    I use my old mechanical White machine with the walking foot, That machine is my favorite for hard work. I want a Juki like yours. Maybe one day.
    I know it is still tough fitting it all in, especially at present with the ever changing and growing Eleni. She is at the optimum time in her life to stimulate and generate this growth
    I hope today you have a wonderful time doing all the things. Sewing is so fun. It really does help kick the stress thing out the back door. This is a fantastic project.

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  14. Great advice not to over commit to too many lines! I have the same problem with "micro" stippling. By the time I get to the end my stipples are normal again! I hope today's appointment goes well!!!

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  15. So pretty! I know that worry about ruining your patchwork with your own quilting. It's a beautiful moment when your skill matches your vision. My mom proudly displays this...thing I quilted for my dad (who loved it and used it all the time). I am itching to remake it now with tight quilting lines like yours.

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  16. I really like the texture of matchstick quilting and amen for using up batting bits ; )

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  17. I'm going to have to get some of that tape.
    I love dense quilting on solids especially neutrals and gives me an idea for a wedding gift for my niece.
    :)

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  18. I too love the matchstick quilting but I have a few novice questions. Did you pre-wash your fabrics? Also have you ever washed anything with the matchstick quilting before? I am envisioning a off kilter outcome. As always I love your post and your very beautiful art that you create. Hugs to all in your family.

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    1. No, I don't prewash and I haven't washed small projects densely quilted like this. I can understand your concern that they may not stay entirely square. I wonder? One option would be to avoid machine drying, as that stage is most likely to cause shrinkage.

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  19. Hey Rachel! Just so you know, as much as I love your crafty goodness, I'm always checking in for Eleni updates. Keep them coming! Xxo

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  20. Thanks very much for the helpful quilting tips - I always fear spoiling my quilt tops with my much less than perfect quilting but I am getting into straight line quilting.

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  21. Like this straight forward quilting. And thanks for the Aurifil thick thread tip! I was thinking of buying thicker thread. Nice fabrics too. All the best at that appointment.
    Groetjes
    Annemieke

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  22. Quilting intimidates me also and I would like you to know that it's the quilting that you share on your quilts is what gives me the courage to do my own quilting. You have a way of simplifying things that works for me.

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