An Experiment in Quilting on the DSM

I’ve quilted a number of quilts, large and small, on my home machine (Domestic Sewing Machine, DSM) with the variable results that might be expected ūüėČ I now do mostly small pieces and send the large ones to long arm quilters.
Then last fall I saw this quilt by my friend Diane Ramsay.

Detail of Dutch Holiday by Diana Ramsay

In addition to thinking it is a wonderful quilt, I particularly liked the grid pattern of the quilting. So when I needed to quilt fabric for a project recently, I gave it a try.

First I spray basted the fabric really well.¬† It’s small, only about 13 x 18 inches, so it was pretty easy to spray baste.¬† I then marked a line with 1″ painter’s tape and quilted along both edges of the tape. tape guide for machine quilting

The rest of my lines were spaced by simply moving the tape every time.  Again, the piece is small, so I only needed one length of tape for all the lengthwise lines.  The layers were basted tightly enough that there was minimal shifting, but I did alternate directions as I quilted the lines.

After doing all the lengthwise lines, I put several evenly-spaced lengths of tape crosswise and quilted on both sides of them, moved the tape and quilted some more, etc.  I was greatly relieved to see that there was no puckering where the lines of quilting crossed.

The quilting doesn’t show up much on that busy fabric, so here’s a picture of the finished back:

This was very successful, primarily because it was tightly basted, I think.  Has anybody else tried this?  Any advice?

 

A Little Quilt

Finished the smallest size (41″ x 35″) Lombard Street pattern and I’m about to send it to Studio Stitch, where I’ll be teaching the class. The triangles are all dots, though not polka dots!Lombard Street quilt pattern
I quilted this on my home machine, just following the zigzags in the background, and it worked just fine.Lombard Street quilt pattern
And the backing is a fun fabric I found on the sale rack at Studio Stitch last time I taught there! Win!triangle quilt

I’m teaching this as an introduction to modern paper piecing, of which it’s a great example. ¬†Paper piecing makes it easy to get all those nice sharp points, and the arrangement of blocks makes people wonder, “How did she DO that???” ¬†It’s always fun to keep people guessing ūüôā

Two Quilts, 3 Reviews, 4 “Learning Experiences”

“Wow!” my husband said, as he watched me taking quilting stitches out with my new skin4electric seam ripper. ¬†And his is an informed opinion, since he has seen PLENTY of seam ripping over the years between my adventures and those of his 3 sisters.

So here’s the story: ¬†I designed a quilt made of all equilateral triangles, in all solid colors, several years ago. ¬†It was one of those projects that looked better in my head than in reality, so I backed up and started again. ¬†(Learning experience #1: this design stinks.)

The Lombard Street pattern by Sassafras Lane caught my eye, so I ordered it, thinking I probably could re-cut my blocks to work. ¬†When the pattern arrived, it was just as beautiful as it looked online, and the block size was such that I could, indeed, salvage my fabric. But it is paper pieced–not my favorite technique. ¬†(Learning experience #2: check the construction method before ordering!)

In any case, I got the top made and was pleased with the result

modern quilt

The pattern is Lombard Street, by Sassafras Lane Designs.  The blocks are on my design wall.

Review #1:  the Lombard Street pattern had excellent instructions, and came out just as great in person as it looked on the pattern.

I layered the quilt with Quilter’s Dream bamboo batting. ¬†Review #2: ¬†The batting felt just wonderful, soft and with a good drape. ¬†But OH MY did it make a mess of the black fabric! ¬†I don’t know how, but it kept giving off lint that completely covered the quilt top. ¬†I LOVE Quilter’s Dream batting and use both the poly or the cotton request loft almost exclusively. But this bamboo! ¬†Yikes! ¬†My trusty lint roller fixed that. ¬†Several times. ¬†(Learning experience #3: I won’t use bamboo batting again.)

It’s a long story, but after several trials, I decided to use Metrosene poly quilting thread in dark grey, thinking it would blend in with all the fabrics. ¬†This strategy has worked well on several other quilts, but not so much this time. ¬†I didn’t like the way it looked–when I had the quilting 80% done!!! ¬†(Learning experience #4: stubbornness isn’t always a virtue. ¬†Sometimes sticking with the task is not the best option ūüėÄReview: Lombard Street pattern

Enter the electric seam ripper.  I went online and researched just HOW other people had gotten the quilt stitches out of quilts in similar situations.  I read about 3 different electric seam rippers and watched demos on You Tube.  I purchased one, put in a AA battery, and got to work.Review: electric seam ripper

By the way, removing the backing from a quilt this way, in order to remove the quilting stitches, is called “skinning the quilt” according to my online research.

Review #3:  The electric seam ripper worked amazingly well!!!  I had the entire top un-quilted by 1 p.m., and I did two loads of laundry, made breakfast and lunch, and put dinner in the crock pot besides!  I had to use a traditional seam ripper where I had made tiny stitches at the sharp corners, but otherwise it went very fast.  The only holes created were a tiny hole in the batting made with my traditional seam ripper, and a tiny hole in the backing made by the electric seam ripper when I tried to insist that it cut through those very close stitches (it just said no).electric seam ripper

The discussions online reported being able to lift the top quilting thread off in one long piece. ¬†As you see, that didn’t work for me–maybe when I’ve had more practice? ¬†(Oh please, no more practice!) ¬†Anyway, the trusty lint roller saved me again.

And this top is going to a long-arm quilter.  Done!

 

 

Review: Karen Combs Teaching Tumbling Blocks

Karen Combs‘ Tumbling Blocks class, which I took at AQS-Chattanooga in September, was one of the best quilt classes I’ve ever taken. Of course, “tumbling blocks” is a traditional design, but I always like a challenge.

Tumbling Blocks

Tumbling Blocks, made in class with Karen Combs

Karen is so well organized and clear that I had 4 blocks made by the end of class and had started on the background! Her method for the Y-seams was so well explained that there is no need to even consider the “cheater” tumbling blocks made with half square triangles.

One of the “secrets” to making this block easy is to buy ombre fabric that varies from dark to light in the same color, so you don’t have to hunt down 3 values of the same color individually! ¬†Of particular note, Karen showed us how to use a standard quilting ruler to cut the blocks–NO SPECIAL RULER REQUIRED! ¬†I think this is notable in a field where so many teachers are selling their own rulers, which are then needed for the way they teach a class.Karen Combs class review

Karen’s class sample is a table runner, which probably does show off the blocks a little better than placemats. But I have more table runners than I can use, so placemats it is.

The quilting is done to emphasize the 3-dimensional aspect of the blocks, so I imitated what Karen had done.  The background is quilted with random loops.Quilting Tumbling Blocks

I’m pleased with this project, and I certainly recommend you take Karen’s class if you have the chance!

Cherrywood Toss

This quilt was started about 2 years ago when I bought a scrap pack of Cherrywood hand dyed fabrics. The blocks are entirely from Cherrywood scrap packs plus that cute print with the words on it, which is a Robert Kaufman fabric.

improvisational quiltThe dark sashing is made from black plus little pieces of the darkest almost-black solids I could find. All are Cotton Couture from Michael Miller.

I quilted this on my home machine, using randomly-spaced, gently curving, lines from edge to edge. I used Superior Bottom Line in the bobbin, which I always do. Top thread is a medium grey light weight polyester, Mettler Metrosene.

This is going to the Smoky Mountain Quilters show in September. This year the show is scheduled in conjunction with Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Day, which I think is a great idea. Of course I’ll have pictures from that show when it happens.

Linking to Aunt Marti’s UFO Challenge. I did get one finished this month!

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2014 Projects, Part 2

To continue a review of projects from 2014, the point of this exercise is to get together a gallery page for each year I’ve done this blog.

I made “Drunk in the Garden” both to use this beautiful floral fabric that reminded me of Texas and to practice cutting and piecing gentle curves.

Drunk in the Garden, the original quilt

Drunk in the Garden, the original quilt

Despite the beautiful fabric, the overall design never looked right to me, primarily because the gold fabrics varied too much in value.  I eventually cut this quilt up and made some place mats, which were much more successful.  You can see them here, if you like.

I designed a quilt for the Michael Miller challenge and, though it sank without a trace in the challenge, I liked it.  The design was improvised based on the little scan codes made up of triangles at my local garden center:

Michael Miller challenge quilt

Packet of Posy Seeds

Also in 2014, I designed a quilt and pillow for Modern Quilts Unlimited magazine.  Here is the picture from the magazine:

quilt photo

Zippy Star Quilt and Pillow as shown in Modern Quilts Unlimited, Summer 2014

And here is the “practice” quilt I made first to work out the details:

modern quilt

Zippy Star I, which sold at the Asheville Quilt Show in September

As if one Michael Miller challenge weren’t enough, I made this quilt for another later in the year:MM-finish1

And finally, I finished this quilt, which I had been working on for years.  Literally.

Spring Sun, a design by me, using blocks paper pieced from a totally different Judy Niemeyer pattern!

Spring Sun, a design by me, using blocks paper pieced from a totally different Judy Niemeyer pattern

And that was it for 2014! ¬†One thing that is obvious from reviewing some of these pictures is that I have improved my photography since 2014. ¬†For which I’m thankful.

Coming up next: a report from the 2016 Vermont Quilt Festival!

 

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The Rest of the Story

Here are the other two quilts I made while doing the Gwen Marston class on iQuilt.

This first one is my version of one of her quilts, and again I made it 12″ x 12″. ¬†I faced it, which I don’t usually do, so that was a learning experience. ¬†I like the way it turned out.Gwen Marston iQuilt class

This second one was made of scraps from the other quilts in the series, which makes me happy.  Marston2

This started as a liberated Roman Stripe design, with a center of 4 larger blocks and a “border” of smaller blocks. ¬†The size of the blocks worked out fine, but the pieces got more and more “liberated” so that I’m not sure it looks much like a Roman Stripe any more. ¬†Which is fine, actually.

I quilted it using a pattern of wandering lines, all in one direction, and I like the result. After considering several threads, I used a thin medium grey polyester. ¬†I think it blended well so that the¬†quilting didn’t obscure the design. ¬†Here’s my “trial” of several threads.Marston1

How do you choose your quilting thread for a project?

More Inspiration

I bought two of Gwen Marston’s books some time ago…

and have been channeling her in my designs for over a year (you can click on the pictures below to see their captions):

Recently I saw that the (relatively) new iQuilt platform had two video classes taught by Gwen Marston. ¬†The class¬†I chose was quite short–a little over 2 hours–and I decided to watch the class over a weekend and make several little quilts using her techniques.

I’d already made a refrigerator quilt in Gwen’s style for an upcoming guild challenge,

art quilt, gwen marston

Refrigerator quilt inspired by Gwen Marston. Bev Manus came up with the idea for refrigerator quilts.

so I decided to make the new quilts 12″ x 12″ as well. ¬†This is a great size for trying new things because there isn’t too much commitment of time or materials.

The first quilt was composed of half square triangle blocks, so I was able to try out the (fairly expensive) Loc Bloc ruler I recently bought to make trimming these blocks to size easier.  The ruler worked great with just a little practice, and I got to practice my machine quilting on the finished quilt.

refrigerator quilt

Quilt Front

Gwen’s instruction was to pair the triangles up into squares just as you picked them up, with the caveat that the pairs should have contrast between the fabrics. ¬†Then the squares were to be sewn together into rows just as they were picked up. ¬†She did allow that it would be OK to lay the rows out and look at them before sewing them together, but advised against spending a lot of time fussing over the exact layout.

Refrigerator Quilt

Quilt Back

I was pleased with this result. ¬†The class doesn’t really cover anything that isn’t in her books, but I was happier watching a little and sewing a little than I am to just sit down and read a book. ¬†I made a couple of other quilts, too, and¬†I’ll show them next week.

 

Refrigerator Quilt

A very artistic quilter in one of my guilds is making a series of ‚Äúrefrigerator quilts‚ÄĚ as a challenge to herself. They are 12‚ÄĚ x 12‚ÄĚ and intended to be displayed on her refrigerator for one week, until she finishes the next one!
The guild took her idea as the challenge for May, so I’ve been making a little refrigerator quilt myself. I took my inspiration from Gwen Marston (again) and made a bunch of little freeform stars.

art quilt, gwen marston

Refrigerator quilt inspired by Gwen Marston. Bev Manus came up with the idea for refrigerator quilts.

The best part is that, because it is small, it was made almost entirely from scraps. I had enough scraps to make all the stars different yellows and all the backgrounds different blues.
The back is a piece of fabric I dyed in a class many years ago.

hand dyed fabric

Quilt back. This was dyed with Setacolor dyes

And I used it to practice my circular quilting.
Done!

Quilt Alliance Contest

Here’s my entry for the 2016 Quilt Alliance contest, “Playing Favorites “. The design is inspired by Gwen Marston’s work, and the piece is titled “Gwen Visits the Farm”. The black fabric has animal sounds printed on it: “peep” etc.

improvisational quilt

“Gwen Visits the Farm”

The “Playing Favorites” theme of the 2016 Quilt Alliance contest is intended to capture a picture of quilting in 2016 by asking contestants to make quilts using their favorite techniques. ¬†I love improvisational quilting, and Gwen Marston was doing it long before anyone thought of the “modern” quilt movement!

In addition to making the quilt in Gwen Marston’s improvisational style, I quilted it using decorative stitches. ¬†I’ve used several of the decorative stitches on my machine for quilting for a long time now. ¬†However, I recently took a Craftsy class in which Jackie Gehring suggested using even more of the decorative stitches. ¬†I think the stitching reflects the state of the art of quilting in 2016, as well.machine quilting

I’ve been thinking for YEARS of doing a series of quilts in the styles of my favorite quilt designers, so this is the first in that series. Please stay tuned!