Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Loopy Loo

Thank you for sharing your fantastic ideas for possible next steps on my latest improv quilt!  I was drawn to so many of your suggestions for that left border such as using blue for sashing, adding a pop of orange or playing with the border width.  This is why there are so many quilts to be made!  And why all of you need to be making them!

Loopy Loo

Today I am quilting, so you'll have to wait until this one is finished to see what I did with the border design, which won't be much longer by the look of things!  I hope you won't be disappointed that I didn't end up going with any of your ideas because I tried something subtly different and fell in love.   Oops.

Loopy Loo

I've just sat down at the computer to give my arms a break from tracing loopy loos all across the quilt.  In the spirit of improv they don't all go in the same direction.  It's a playful, easy peasy quilting pattern, once you have a feel for free motion quilting.

continuous eight quilting

Today's simple loops remind me of the much more controlled continuous eight design.  It's a pattern I've quilted on so many quilts, starting in 2013.  In fact, both of my kids' bed quilts are quilted with continuous eights.  Unfortunately, that quilting hasn't held up too well. There are breaks in the quilting all over both quilts, even though the fabrics themselves look fine.  I don't know why the quilting would be fragile since the tension looked/looks perfect on both sides.  Any ideas?  Maybe it's just my kids being kids or maybe it's my thread?

Loopy Loo

Anyhoo, I am trying the loops again now that my machine's just been doctored.  I love the texture and personality they give to a quilt, especially one so "minimalist" as this.  Here on the back you can see the large patchwork of linen I've used for a backing.  I had a stack of Essex linens in grays and blues that I won't use for patchwork for practical durability reasons.  With prewashing, a tiny stitch length and extra-wide seam allowances, I'm convinced the linen will do well on the back in large cuts.  It certainly gives the quilt a nice weight too!

Well, back to it.

25 comments:

  1. Beautiful work! I love all the blues you've been working in lately.
    I have had quilting fall apart on me if I use cotton thread. If it is polyester it holds up to the million washings my kids' bed quilts receive, but I no longer use cotton thread. It just falls apart and is less forgiving to stretching.

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  2. What kind of thread did you use for the kids quilts?

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  3. I have been really saddened to find that most of my quilts that are quilted with aurifil have lots of broken thread spots - both straight line and fmq alike. For a long time, I thought it was my Juki, but I am beginning to suspect it is actually the thread. (which I suppose is better than a naughty machine, but still disheartening as I was so enamored with Aurifil that I even purchased the thread chart!) Looking forward to reading other's thoughts on the subject - perhaps it's something else entirely...

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  4. There is a poly coated cotton that is very durable. Can't remember what the brand is........Oh, Superior is one that has a spun poly, a multi-filament poly and that cotton core wrapped in poly. That latter is designed to stretch ever so slightly to give with the quilt. they are all very durable and work in most machines. My HQ Avante and Viking domestic takes just about anything I throw at them.

    there are other brands that i like as well, but I do like the poly coated cotton for quilts that will be heavily used and laundered.

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  5. I have found that the quilting thread is more likely to break when the quilting goes generally up and down the quilt, especially on a bed. They tend to try to fall off the foot of the bed so we are always pulling them up. The quilt stretches under it's own weight and it puts a lot of pressure on the quilting. I originally learned that you are supposed to use cotton thread with cotton fabric so that the thread breaks before the fabric, but... I also have several quilts that are in bad shape because the quilting hasn't held up. I think polyester may be a better choice.

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    1. There are a lot of votes here for polyester thread for durability. Makes sense, but I hadn't heard that before! Like you said, people tend to say cotton thread with cotton fabric.

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  6. Look forward to your finished improv project, it's looking good. I'm also going to have to try to see more of that quilt you showed with the continuous 8 quilting. It really caught my eye.

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  7. I love it Rachel. This is a lovely quilt finish!
    I love figure 8s and also loops. I have to admit, and I am sure there are plenty that disagree with me..... I really do not like the super tight quilting with the circles and close lines, and intricate flourishes. I have tried it with place mats and mug mats, and it just makes everything so stiff.
    Anywho, this looks great.

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    1. I'm with you on that Rosemary! I too dislike overly quilted quilts. Stiff, not practical and not very soft and snuggle worthy. I get it's kind of an art form but to me quilts should be used and enjoyed. Stiff and overquitled quilts just don't fit that bill for me.

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  8. I recently quilted 2 quilts with Superior thread and love how they turned out. Superior will be my go to from now on. Thanks everyone!

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  9. ¡It's looking good. It's lovely.

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  10. Can't wait to see the final project! I just love everything you make. You have a great eye for color and design.

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  11. I have the same issue with my first quilt! I was looking at it the other day, and I noticed that there are all these sections where they quilting has broken. I'm pretty frustrated, because I know I bought thread specifically for quilting from my local quilt shop and worked really hard to ensure the tension and everything was perfect. I've been thinking about polyester, too. I heard somewhere that it can cut through cotton fabrics over time, but I don't know if that's an old wives tale.

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    1. I've heard that too, Tessa, and I wouldn't be surprised if the poly thread would cut cotton over time. However, if the cotton thread is just going to break before the quilt itself is very worn, it would seem that is worse, right? I wonder if I want to try a different cotton thread (presumably more expensive) or just use poly.

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    2. I wonder about that, too. I think I used either Gutterman or Mettler, both of which I really love otherwise. It does make me nervous about piecing, too--Are my seams secretly snapping as well?

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  12. I was appalled a few years ago, when I got back into sewing through my new addiction to quilting, to learn that my lifetime favorite Coats & Clark's Dual Duty thread was now all polyester instead of cotton wrapped poly. I'd never liked 100% poly but bought some anyway, and ended up giving it away at group because my old machine didn't like it any more than I did! I now use Connecting Threads cotton, and have had no problems, but have no kids quilts in use, either. Perhaps a shorter stitch would be more durable? It's certainly harder to break when frogging! My Chinese-made, store-bought bedspread has rather long-stitch hand quilting, and has several breaks from kitty claws getting caught in the stitches. When I finally get a quilt made for myself it will have not tiny but fairly short stitches in the cotton-thread quilting.

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  13. I wonder if anyone has any luck with 100% silk thread? (Just for the quilting rather than the piecing)

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  14. You went all loopy on us ;)
    Simple and fun quilting is always a great choice.
    The linen will make it so snuggly.

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  15. I can answer this as the old-geezer quilter that I am. Everything I say here has been thoroughly family-tested over time.

    OK, so the problem with your thread breaking is twofold: one, you're using cotton thread and two, you're quilting very non-densely.

    Threads are made from various kinds of fibers, obvs, and we tend to think of cotton as 'good'. Cotton is brittle, though, as a fiber. (Think of knitting with cotton dishcloth yarn vs much more elastic, springy wool.) When stress happens, the cotton does not have 'give' and breaks. Poly thread, like Gutterman sew-all, is much more elastic--it can stretch, then spring back. (Poly's strength will overwhelm delicate fabrics like voile, however, and can tear them. It's all about balance.)

    Now then, I'm going to give a bit of a rant about the modern quilt movement's disdain over 'old fashioned' quilting, esp quilting in the ditch. Elizabeth Hartman threw shade on this practice, saying it would make quilts puffy. (No, that's a batting thing.) The reason old quilters use quilting in the ditch isn't so much for looks as for strength, over time, as you are sadly learning here.

    So, think of putting a blanket down on a windy day at the beach, OK? The bigger the blanket, the more you need to weigh it down all over so it doesn't shift and blow at the corners and become scoofty, right? Also, the windier the beach (ie. kids in this case) the more you need that. A kid's blanket or a baby blanket have much harder use than a wall hanging. You need more items to weigh down a super big blanket on a super windy beach, right?

    Quilting is doing the same thing as the weights. The larger the space between lines of quilting, the more stress (wind) is placed on the lines of quilting. With in the ditch, you tend to hold down the quilt sandwich with very regular and close spacing, and also at easy-to-scooftify places, like star points. It's a very stable way to quilt.

    The nice and pretty wide-spaced-loops look lovely, but they don't tend to cross over each other, right? You have a long (albeit narrow) line across the quilt where there is little/no quilting, and so when that does pull, it's pulling on the single loop quilting, which, done in thin cotton, is going to break.

    Now then for more thread info. There are also grades of cotton thread. The hands-down worst thread I've ever used was Connecting Threads cotton cones. Um, sorry, folks, but it breaks super easily compared to Aurifil 50, ime.

    So, if you use cotton, use Aurifil. Within Aurifil, you want the thicker threads if you're going to use it for sparse quilting, because the thicker is stronger. 40 is standard quilting weight, but I would use 28/30 for sparse loop designs, myself.

    Avoid rayon, for sure, as it is even more fragile tensile-wise, but you might like Superior Threads poly or Gutterman Sew-All.

    If you want the loop pattern to be stronger, do it one way across the quilt, like a line of handwriting, then turn the quilt 90 degrees, and quilt across it that way. It will make an almost plaid pattern, but by doing that, you will more than double the strength of the quilting, as you will have divided up all those unquilted bits so they don't have the ability to put so much stress on such small parts.

    So, the more use a quilt will get, use denser quilting, heavier cotton or poly thread.

    WHEW. OK!

    Questions?

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    1. Just want to say thank you. This is great advice. I have had problems with Aurifil too but after an internet investigation realized I wasn't quilting enough. You explain this even better. Going to save this answer so I can remind myself of this. Thanks Carol

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    2. Thank you so much for this detailed information! It does ring true. I have to admit that I prefer the look of sparser quilting, but I can appreciate that for a hard-used quilt (like my kids bed quilts) the denser quilting may just be plain necessary. A few questions. Have you ever tried Connecting Threads poly thread? I am considering it. Also, how does hand tying compare to dense quilting. If one didn't like the dense quilting look, would hand tied (tripple knotted) be strong enough though it is sparser, in your opinion? Or have you worked much with tying?

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  16. I just bought a Juki and the only thread it will sew with is poly. I tried all other thread first and it was only happy with the poly.

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  17. I just bought a Juki and the only thread it will sew with is poly. I tried all other thread first and it was only happy with the poly.

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  18. I just bought a Juki and the only thread it will sew with is poly. I tried all other thread first and it was only happy with the poly.

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