Here’s what happened to the foundation-pieced crane I showed off in the last post:
I rootled around in my stash and discovered some more postcard-themed fabric, which I used to set the crane on point, then gave it a border with some textured chocolate-coloured fabric to bring it up to a better size for a cushion.
For the actual quilting, I started by quilting in the ditch for all seams, then elected to try matchstick quilting for the first time, by following one edge of each polygon shape of the cream background fabric:
I love-love-love how it looks and feels (as a chemist, it reminds me of crystal grain boundaries!), and it gives the crane some definition and dimensionality that it was lacking before quilting. 🙂
I didn’t want to clutter the busy postcard fabric on the corners, so I ended up using some neutral grey thread to quilt around the postcard edges and stamps. I’m very pleased with this – it gives a nice feel and look without weighing down the design or competing with the matchsticks in the centre. Even if it did mean I had zillions of ends to bury on each corner!
And here it is all together:
Currently I’m auditioning fabric for the back of the cushion; I’m an idiot, so I don’t have quite enough of the blue and white postcard fabrics left to do an envelope back with them. Something fairly neutral is called for, I think! And I need to hunt down some nice buttons, too. 🙂
After the Something Blue of the previous post (yes, that’s totally its name now), here’s some of the other stuff I’ve been pottering at recently.
These are the numbered pockets for an advent calendar that I started ages ago; I finally got around to doing machine applique around each number to fix them in place. They were attached with bondaweb, but they’re so small and bondaweb doesn’t really do well on flannel, so the stitching was necessary. I used three different colours of metallic thread and I’m really pleased with how it’s highlighted the numbers and made them easier to read.
Next I’ll have to work on making the background for them.
This is some of the FMQ quilting on FrostByte, which has really stalled. I’d like to dig it out and do some more on it, though it’s not coming out at all as I thought/hoped it would. I need to learn more fillers!
Lastly, here are my Damask Suns all sashed and ready to be backed and quilted. I’m really pleased with the contrast between the red/orange/yellow blocks and the blue sashing! Next thing is to decide if it needs more of a border or not, and sort out backing.
My niece’s first birthday is at the start of September, so I decided to get a head start on her birthday present – a set of six building blocks made of fabric-covered foam, with letters and numbers appliqued on. I worked out that six blocks can hold the whole alphabet and numbers 1 to 10 exactly, which makes me a happy bunny!
These are my foam blocks. They’re 5″ cubes cut to order, and I was impressed by how neat they are and how quickly they arrived; I don’t have much experience with ordering pre-cut foam, but this seems to have worked out well.
This is for a friend’s little girl. The petal shapes are made by folding and stitching circles of fabric, which gives a really nice effect and is a fun thing to do while watching TV! I still have quite a few circles to fold, then I shall arrange them into “flowers” on the quilt top (which is just a jelly-roll race with green batiks) and machine applique them on. There may also be small yellow circles/hexagons for the flower centres, I haven’t decided yet.
At long last, I messed around in Inkscape and had an idea for a logo for myself! It’s not a million miles from the current name of this site, so it sort of fits, and my quilting activities recently have certainly felt rather itinerant.
This was also the first time I ordered anything from Spoonflower; in general I’m quite impressed, although the lightest grey I used is very faint indeed. I’ll probably use up these first and then darken up the next batch when I need to order more. There are two kinds of label – larger ones for proper quilts that I can write (or stitch) the name of the quilt and the recipient(s) on, and smaller ones designed to make loop labels for things like toys or bags. I think I could see myself ordering more from Spoonflower at some point, I just love the whole concept of it!
Follow these hot tips for an authentically frustrating and stressful experience!
First, make sure the client is a friend of a family member – this means that backing out or saying “no” is that bit harder. Oh, and they’re only paying for the materials, not your time.
Next, make sure the client has no idea what you do or how a quilt is constructed. Ideally, they should also have no idea about size, colour or design and no apparent interest in discussing any of these points.
Lastly, time the commission so that it coincides perfectly with a really stressful event in your own life, such as a house move that falls through *after* you moved out of your old place.
Congratulations! Now you’re all set for maximum hair-pulling and ARGH! moments! 😀
Grizzling aside, I think it actually came out ok:
These are also the only WIP shots I have of this quilt, since I only got re-united with my camera a few days ago. I usually like to have a good progression of WIP pictures, but it simply wasn’t possible this time. 🙁 The brief was for a “king-size” quilt for a wedding at the end of August. However, I couldn’t get any dimensions other than the standard measurements for a UK king-size mattress, which I based the size of the centre panel on. And I did manage to eventually get a colour brief of “maybe blue, definitely NOT brown” and some fabric picks to work with. I took it upon myself to throw in some cream-coloured fabric to warm things up a smidge. Given the circumstances, I shamelessly chose the simplest design I could think of – rail fence with some sashing. I think it actually took me longer to figure out how to sort out the sequence of 2″ squares around the centre than it did to piece the rails together.
With the borders, the quilt has ended up being approximately 80″ x 90″, so it’s a bit on the small size for a “proper” king-sized quilt, but there should be at least a bit of spare quilt to hang over the edge of the bed. It’s also easily the largest thing I have quilted to date. Nearly all of the construction and quilting was done while camping out for three weeks with my aunt and uncle, so I’m feeling like it’s lucky there’s a quilt at all. Also, I now feel I very much owe my aunt and uncle a quilt too – this beast would never have reached the quilting stage if they hadn’t engineered a chance for me to borrow the floor of the local village hall to do the pin-basting on and let me take over half their dining table and living room with quilting stuffs.
The rail-fence centre is quilted in straight lines, with some wavy lines courtesy of the pre-programmed stitches of the Pfaff. Originally, it was all going to be only straight lines everywhere, but the cream border was crying out for something extra and luckily I’d bought some cream-coloured thread of exactly the right shade and weight, so I essayed a filler design of leaves to hold everything down and give it a necessary finished look.
It came out pretty well, I think, and I discovered an important truth about leaves – they can be almost any shape at all, but if they have a sort of point and a mid-vein then they’ll look like a leaf! I call this the “Quilter’s Fancy” Tree, aka the Lolwat? Vine.
It’s almost complete now – all that’s left is hand-finishing the binding, which I’m about half-way through already, and burying some thread ends from the quilting on the stripy outer edges. And I should probably sort out some manner of label to add to the back, once I discover the names of the happy couple…
I decided to experiment with the tension some more, dropping it from 4.6 to 4.2 and then to 3.8. Based on how the last few blocks look at that tension, I’d say 3.8 is a winner. There seemed to be no adverse effects on the back, either; I hate it when my thread grows tension legs!
You can see (just about) that I’ve started doing some quilting on the red bits of the window frame. It’s essentially a squared off, slanted zig-zag between the two seam lines. I’m doing these free-motion and finding that straight lines and FMQ is an uneasy combination! They’re quite wibbly.
I started off completely free-hand, no marking at all, which worked but was slow because I had to juggle FMQ and figuring out if I was going in approximately the right direction. Then I remembered (and found!) my new water-erase fabric pen and decided to do some guidelines because I’m better at following a line. And then discovered that, even with a pen, I can’t draw a straight line! Not sure if that makes me feel better or worse about the not-straight FMQ lines. It has made the FMQ go a bit quicker, though, and I’ve found an angle to work at that I can manage fairly well in all necessary directions; initially I was rotating the quilt around the needle at every corner and it was doing horrible things to both quilt and needle.
Despite the wobbles, I’m not going to start using a ruler or a walking foot for this – better if it’s ALL kind of wobbly and organic-looking rather than a mix of wobbly and machine-precise. I’m pretending it’s wood grain!
Mum can’t see why I would want to do this free-motion rather than with a walking foot. I tried and failed to explain the need for practice to achieve better control over the movement of the fabric and needle and thus better results in future. I admit, this doesn’t look as amazing as I’d like it to look, but I’m not going to get any better if I don’t do more of it.
At this point, almost all the red on one curtain is done, my plan is to finish that off and then do the same on the black frames. Then put the back and the hanging loops on, do some minimal in-the-ditch quilting around the frames to hold the whole lot together and it’ll be DONE! In time for Mother’s Day on Sunday! I can’t wait!
YESSSSSSSS! All those triangles, all together! So pleased with this one! 😀 For reference, here’s the original image I’ve been working on, created from Equal by Play Crafts (and thank you to Lori for pointing out that it was AWOL!):
In a spirit of doing ALL the experiments, I have bought some 100% wool wadding for this (I have not tried wool yet) and I ordered some Aurifil thread for the quilting (I have not tried Aurifil, either). And I couldn’t resist picking up some super-cute koi fish fabric for the back. They manage to combine all the colours in the fabrics of the top, and I like the idea that, if I go with my all-over frosty feathers quilting idea, they’ll look (hopefully!) like they’re swimming below a skim of ice. (I doubt I’m going to be that lucky, but I’m nothing if not ambitious!)
It will most likely be a wall hanging, or some other purpose that doesn’t demand a lot of washing and wear; the wool wadding seems to be a bit picky about cleaning methods and I’m not convinced all that glitter on the fabrics won’t all come off in the first wash. Certainly there seems to be quite a bit on my ironing board! Plus it’s kind of a funny size (~30 x 34″) to do anything with, especially as I have no intention of adding borders.
After trying this pattern, I came to the conclusion that, although my light and dark fabrics worked well, my medium fabrics were less effective because the print is just too large – in some places the medium triangles look reasonably obvious, in others they’re almost impossible to distinguish from the light triangles.
I don’t mind this overly much, I suspected that it would be the case and I still like the outcome because I like these fabrics. However, it does alter the look of the pattern a bit. Were I to do this again, I would lean towards choosing solid or reads-as-solid fabrics over larger prints. The use of two different prints for each shade was also a little confusing, though mostly because of the above-mentioned issue with the medium-coloured fabrics being too light in places. That’s not something I would necessarily avoid in future, but again it changes the very graphic look of the original design. I would also tend to avoid very directional prints, or the effort of getting everything pointed in the right direction could be maddening!
Fat quarters versus yardage?
I mostly used fat quarters for this; it did work out ok and my yardage estimates were pretty good. However, I would say that, because of the approximation used when calculating the number of triangles in a strip (counting two half-triangles at each end of a strip as one whole triangle), there would be less wastage and yardage estimates would be more accurate if WOF yardage were used rather than fat quarters because it reduces the number of strips required (1 WOF strip = 2 FQ strips). That means two fewer “wasted” half-triangles. Alternatively, calculations for the number of strips needed could be approached differently to give a more accurate result.
Using up “ends” from larger triangles to cut smaller triangles also helped reduce waste and proved to be essential for cutting enough of the light-coloured triangles. I almost ran into trouble when piecing the final strip when I realised that I was one medium-sized light triangle short and didn’t have a large enough piece of the light-coloured fabrics left to cut more. I told myself that, if necessary, I would replace it with a medium-coloured triangle, but in the event I found that I had an extra dark triangle the right size, so I substituted that instead. At least with a pattern like this, such antics go pretty much unnoticed! 😀 I also came up a bit short on small light and dark triangles, but had more enough scraps left to be able to cut extras with no trouble. So I can’t count, but it all worked out ok anyway! :p
So, feathers? Feathers. Despite the fact that I have never quilted a feather in my life and I still haven’t really mastered FMQ on the Pfaff. Yay. This may well be time to bust out the water-erase fabric pen I bought, if only I can remember where I put it!
My Aurifil thread arrived, along with some YLI Soft Touch and some Superior Bottom Line and a ridiculous variety of different types and sizes of needles:
Somewhere in here there must be a combination that will work for me! I’m pleased with the colour of Aurifil I chose – it’s called Silver and proved to be a really nice soft grey with a hint of blue, perfect for a frosty look. If Aurifil proves to work well for me, I may pick up their thread shade card – it’s horrible playing “guess the real colour” on a computer screen. :/ I picked grey for the other two as well so that they have the potential to blend with a decent range of colours, I hope. The site I bought these from, New Threads, has a really useful-looking page of advice on choosing the right needle to match the task and the thread, and I shall be using the suggestions in my experiments.
Additionally, I recently discovered that The Cotton Patch run a “Make Friends With Your Pfaff” course that focuses on patchwork and quilting, and the next one is at the end of March (which unfortunately coincides neatly with when we’re likely to move house, but oh well). It was £45 because I didn’t buy my machine from them, but I suspect it will be money well spent so I signed up for the last available place, and hopefully they can help me see where I’m going wrong with my machine and give me some tips on making the most of it. In the meantime, I’m going to Pfaff about with a few thread/needle combos and see how I get on. 😉
After finishing the two Bear Adventures tops, I found I had quite a lot of squares and strips left over. In the spirit of not wanting to waste anything from the charity’s supplies, I cut the strips into more squares, made a big pile of four-patches and then pieced them into four bigger squares in a fairly random way.The sashing and borders are from my own stash. It reminds me a lot of a window, and the green and yellow looks like dappled forest light. Although I like this a lot, it’s not really very kid-friendly (it looks like the world’s greenest wall hanging), so I rummaged in my scrap drawer for some colourful bits and threw some butterflies at it:Much better! 😀
The butterflies were added with fusible web, but could do with a bit of zigzag or blanket stitch around them to make sure they stay put and give them a nice bit of definition. Quilt Club is tomorrow and I’m really looking forward to handing my three Linus tops to Cath so she can add them to the cause. 🙂
So that’s a Thing right there. I hope I did it right. Work’s been quiet recently so I’ve been doing quite a lot of sewing instead. How did I do that with an apparently broken sewing machine? Well, turned out that the problem wasn’t the machine, it was my walking foot. As long as I don’t want to quilt anything, I can sew to my heart’s content. And speaking of hearts, I’ve finally made a major leap forward with a major project, the project that kind of kicked all this off: