Two Threads for Machine Quilting

Quite a while ago one of my blogging friends (was it you, Clare?) commented that gold quilting thread blends well on most any quilt top, so I tried it. Here’s one quilted for me by Julia Madison. It has gold in it, of course, but I thought the gold thread worked out quite well. It shows up on the solid fabric but blends with the prints.

Same here:

I didn’t realize I used gold in my quilts so often!

On this more recent quilt, I asked Julia to use a thread recommended by another blogging friend, Elizabeth.  It is 40 weight polyester but looks metallic.  If you’ve ever tried quilting with metallic thread, you know what a find this is!  Julia said she had no trouble quilting with it.  Here’s what it looks like on the quilt:

Meanwhile, I made a Christmas table runner for a class I’m going to teach.  I quilted it myself using another recent find, InvisaFil thread. This thread is very thin, intended to show the quilting but not necessarily the stitches.  I did some stitch in the ditch with it and found it much better for that purpose than regular thread I have used in the past.  I also did some quilting that was meant to show, and that worked out equally well.

I will continue to use many other threads for quilting, but I’m pleased with these two new ones.  What thread do you quilt with?

Donation Quilt Catch-Up

I now belong to THREE groups that make donation quilts, and it may be a bit much.  I’ve decided to focus on the group I’ve been working with the longest, both because it was the original and because we donate the quilts locally.  (I fear there’s some truth to Garrison Keillor’s quip that most donation quilts sent to other countries go to hot climates where their best use is as compost.)

I see from my notes that I fell behind on donation quilts over a year ago due to being over-committed.  Duh.  Anyway, here are my recent attempts to catch up.

I found this panel in the SCRAP BIN at a shop where I teach, so I got it for $1 an ounce! The finished quilt is 34″ x 44″.

This top was started over a year ago when I wanted to experiment with half-rectangle triangles. The finished quilt is 40″ x 48″

This was made from slabs swapped in one of my groups. I spy some orphan blocks incorporated into slabs!

This one was done for leaders and enders, and is going to have to be entitled “Nobody’s Perfect”! Finished size is 34″ x 39″

I made this after starting the blocks as a class demonstration last time I taught “Twinkle”. Finished size is 40″ x 40″

I can just hear somebody saying, “Well!  That certainly is a variety!”  It would be more efficient to make the same pattern multiple times, but I just can’t do it.

What are your favorite donation quilt patterns?

 

Twinkles All Around

Twinkle is an attractive and easy quilt by Swirly Girls Design, and I taught it recently at Studio Stitch in Greensboro. We used the Tucker Trimmer for the half square triangles (HSTs) and everyone seemed to have a good time.

First, here’s my shop sample in a glamour shot:

Twinkle, a pattern by Swirly Girls Design, was made because I had some fabulous leftover fabric

Then, here are some of the wonderful blocks made by the people in class.  I’m sure I took more pictures, but apparently my camera quit part way through!

This one was two-color instead of scrappy and it worked quite well

BJ got several blocks made. Look closely and you can see the astronaut near the upper right corner

Arranging the stars on a design wall before sewing them together was very helpful–I don’t think anybody made a mistake!

And a few more for good measure!

Isn’t it fun to see everyone’s individual choices!

My next class at Studio Stitch is basic binding on March 14.

What Did I Learn in 2018?

My friend Melanie recently listed some (quilty) things she learned or re-learned in 2018, and it seemed like a good idea! So here goes…

And while I’m at it, I’ll re-introduce a few of the quilts I finished in 2018.

The center piece is a fabric”jewel” made in the same guild workshop as the block

1. Despite my history of using high-loft batting, I learned that it is much easier to neatly trim, square up, and bind a quilt made with LOW loft batting!

Mini-Quilt for Jill made from an orphan block

2. Deb Tucker’s “Tucker Trimmer” is the bomb for making half square triangles!  A friend introduced me to this tool.  I have used at least 3 other methods for trimming HSTs, and this is by far the best.  Much better than the (considerably more expensive) Bloc Loc tool, more accurate than my slotted square-up ruler, faster and easier than just using a regular ruler.

art quilt

Small quilt for a challenge with my local MQG

3. After many years of quilting, I have LOTS of small pieces of fabric but not many big pieces. I went to pull blue fabric for a quilt from my blue drawer.  I thought I had plenty since the drawer is full, but most pieces were less than half a yard!  So…

donation quilt

Donation quilt: The concentric squares are pieced; the other pieces are a print from Michael Miller

4. When I buy fabric for stash now, I often buy 3 yards at a time because that’s likely what will be needed for a single fabric in a planned quilt.

Gypsy Wife quilt

Finished Gypsy Wife; it was made from a couple of FQ bundles but the background required yardage

5. I want to do everything, but I’m going to have to choose and prioritize or nothing gets done.  Maybe a little of everything???

slabs, scrap blocks, scrap quilt

Donation quilt from single-color scrap blocks

6. Some projects just need to go in the fizzle drawer!

One for the fizzle drawer, but I have taken it apart and will re-purpose the fabrics in 2019

And a few opinions I haven’t changed my mind about:

  1. Almost all quilts need some purple in them somewhere!

    Block made in a workshop with Rosalie Dace

  2. Superior So Fine is a great thread for piecing, resulting in very little lint in my machine.

    I will be teaching this triangle quilt in March at Studio Stitch in Greensboro

  3. Almost any day is a good day if I learn something new

As always, these opinions are my own and I have received no compensation for sharing my favorite tools.  Your opinions and results may vary 😉

 

Give It What It Needs

One of my objections to some of the quilting establishment is that every single thing about a quilt is supposed to be “perfect”—meaning made to the specifications of the current quilt maven, whoever (s)he may be.  I once signed up for a series of classes that lead through many quilting techniques to the ULTIMATE QUILTING ACHIEVEMENT: a quilt with many tiny pieces cut on the bias, all points perfectly matched!

I did make some quilts I liked in those classes! Design by Cindy Williams

Part way through the class I realized that, for me, learning to make everything more precise was not an enjoyable activity.  I quilt for my own satisfaction, and my version of fun involves developing designs rather than copying somebody else’s design as precisely as possible.  In fact, even when I buy a pattern, I rarely follow it exactly.  My “variations” on these patterns are a (friendly) joke among my quilting buddies: “Mary can’t just make the pattern, she has to change something.”

modern quilt design

I substituted one large block for 4 of the small ones.  

My goal is to give each task the time and energy it deserves, no more and no less.  For example, I think doing a quilt binding the traditional way, by hand, is a waste of time and energy in many cases.  A machine-applied binding is more durable, faster, and at least as attractive.  I even read one modern quilter’s opinion that a machine binding “adds an extra line of quilting on the back!”  So much for the quilt maven’s worry that the machine stitching from the front shows on the back!  I do occasionally apply a binding by hand, but there has to be a reason for it.

Lombard Street quilt pattern

I applied this binding by hand in the traditional way because I didn’t want machine stitching on the front to “fight” with the striped border

So what’s your opinion?  Which quilting techniques/designs/details are worth the trouble and which should be modified?  Leave me a comment!

Great Aunt Bess’s “Fizzle Drawer” and A Busy Week

I have a number of pieces of antique furniture, as much out of obligation as desire. These belonged to my grandparents, great-grandparents, and in one case to my great-great-grandmother. One of them contains Great Aunt Bess’s “Fizzle Drawer”.

Granny once commented on it, saying that whenever her sister, Bess, had a sewing project that “fizzled”, the project went into that drawer. I’m not sure what happened after that. This would have been in the early part of the 20th Century, but I don’t even know whether the “fizzle” items were clothing or something else.  By the time I inherited the furniture they were long gone!

I think some of my UFOs probably should go in the “fizzle drawer”, but I don’t know when to quit, so I keep working on them.  This next one was a class I did not especially enjoy, but I’ve converted it to 4 large blocks to be combined into a donation quilt.

This next one is not a fizzle, it’s a set of place mats I made for a quick holiday class to teach this fall.  I developed this pattern YEARS ago for McCall’s Quick Quilts and have made many versions of it since.  Place mats are a nice hostess gift to have on hand.

We went to the “apple barn” this weekend and got some apples–must be fall!  Here is the view from the apple barn, looking across some trees heavy with red apples to the mountains beyond.  It doesn’t get any better than that!

How was your week?

A Few Pictures…

…from a recent very productive quilt retreat!

This string quilt by Rena was a very successful design, I thought:string quilt

Here’s the back of the string quilt, and she also made this cute Halloween quilt top:

Mary made a string quilt, too, this one all in purple:string quilt

And Jerri finished a large Bonnie Hunter quilt with a zillion pieces:Bonnie Hunter quilt

I worked on half rectangle triangles, which turned out to be a lot more work than half square triangles:Half rectangle triangles

And a good time was had by all!

What have you been up to?

Blue Ridge

My modern guild is having a challenge to produce quilts for display when the traditional guild has its next show in the fall.  The guidelines are: no more than 36″ on any side, and using some Riley Blake solids whose colors were extracted from a landscape photo chosen by the guild.  The quilts aren’t due for several months yet, but I had a brainstorm and produced mine already.  Here we go:

art quilt

The quilt is faced rather than bound

And here is a detail.  In case you haven’t caught on, this is the one that was stained by basting spray.  However, that came out just fine with dry cleaning.art quilt

Name: Blue Ridge

March 2018

Finished size: 30″ x 17″

Fabrics: Riley Blake solids

Quilted by: me

Fun with Rickrack

Or ricrac, or rick rack, whatever. I found a lot of spellings when I was trying to decide!

This fun way to piece curves was part of a class I taught this past weekend, and it was so cute in the blocks the students made that I just had to do a tutorial.

We were piecing quarter circles as part of my quilt YOW, which you’ve already seen:

So here is a partially assembled block with one curved seam left to go:curved piecing tutorial

Select rickrack and lay it along the edge of the convex piece.  Probably would work with the concave piece, too, but I haven’t tried that:rickrack curved piecingSew the rickrack down with the usual 1/4 inch seam

Now turn the raw edge and attached rickrack to the back along the 1/4 inch seam and press.  Here’s the front:tutorial use rickrack in quilts

And here’s the back:curved piecing tutorial

Lay the convex piece on top of the concave piece and line up the edges.

Flip over and try to line up the raw edges all along the seam on the back.applique curved blocks

Applique the convex piece to the concave piece by stitching in the ditch.  I used silver metallic thread just for fun, but matching thread works well, of course.  And here’s the finished block.applicurve

Sort of modern-retro.  Go try it!

A Few Favorites

I’ve been thinking about what inspires my quilt designs, and the first thing that came to mind was the beautiful or fun or amazing quilts I see at shows, guild meetings, retreats, wherever.  Here are a few of my favorite quilts for inspiration.

I love the variety of bright colors and the tiny pieces in this one:

Retreat-17

Quilt made by Jerri from TINY pieces of Liberty of London fabric

And this is a favorite because of the bright colors and eccentric design:

Cinco de Mayo, made by Renny Jaeger; pattern by Karen K Stone

This unusual design appeals to me:

Rena was given a circle cutter at the last retreat, and she went wild!

Pamela Wiley’s excellent workmanship and eye-popping designs make her quilts among my favorites:

art quilt, Pamela Wiley quilt

Outside In by Pamela Wiley

I like the use of color in this next one, as well as the movement generated by the curved piecing and curved quilting:

AQS Paducah

In the Marsh #2, by Carol Bryer Fallert-Gentry

And this one reminds me of Maine, where we lived for a while:

art quilt

Coves and Islands by Carol Anne Grotian

What inspires your designs?