I have been using a ruler to quilt the borders on a cute baby quilt and have learned a few things as I quilted along.
I first used the straight edge to quilt lines inside the inner border…...a nice ease-into using a ruler.
Then I started using a curved edge to quilt the pieced borders……
….and that is where I started having issues.
Firstly, I found that the foot was getting stuck as I crossed seams and, because I was having to force it along, I was making long (toe snag) stitches. I kept raising the presser foot height but it wasn’t getting any better.
Then, I had a good look at my ruler foot and realized that there is a spring and screw that, amazingly, raise and lower the foot!!!!
Then a few hours later, I started having trouble with the thread breaking. I completely unthreaded my machine, cleaned out the lint, including a small piece that was stuck in the bobbin case and started over but it still wouldn’t work for long.
As a last resort, I decided to change the needle and it fixed the problem. I seldom think about the needle being the issue but obviously it had a burr on the eye that was causing the thread to shred.
Here is the finished border…..
I was able to quilt it without having to make any marks and it adds so much more than my normal 3 squiggly lines down the middle.
This was a simple pattern, using the easiest of the rulers, but I am pleased just to have made a start!!
Over the past week I have been working on a design for my “Henna Whole Cloth” quilt. I spent several evenings making Google searches for Henna Tattoo designs and came up with TONS of great designs. It was especially hard to whittle them down to the ones that would work on my quilt!!!
I cropped the images that I liked, used Power Point to print them in the size that I wanted and started working on my full size pattern. I started with the original design that I tested and then started building out from there. This is the final design……
I say that this is the final design…..there will be some echo quilting around the circle designs and also in the blank corner areas.
So, today my plan was to begin tracing this intricate design onto the fabric. In the past I have used a small (12 inch square) lightbox and was really not looking forward to trying to do something this large on it.
But…..quilting friends to the rescue….. My friend, Sheila, had a large, flat light box that she allowed me to borrow for this task…..
….and boy did it make a huge difference!!!
There are two great features on this piece of equipment….first of all it is flat so that my pattern and fabric were able to lay flat and not slide around. Secondly it has a dimmer so that the light doesn’t have to be so bright. When it was on bright it looked like this…..
…..and I couldn’t see where I had drawn already!! The dimmer function allowed me to see the lines and also see the blue oft the markers…..
So, after about 5 hours and 4 blue pens later, the main part was traced…..
My next step will be to make sure that the corners are going to be square and then I will add the four peacocks in the corners.
Now I just have to figure out how I am going to baste it!!!!!
As I have been working on various Quilts of Valor, I have been thinking about new projects to start and I had two in mind…….
The first is an inspiration that I had when we were in Chengdu, China back in 2016. There was an office building next door to our hotel and at night there were long strings of colored lights shining brightly on the building. These is a very bad quality photo that I took to remind me of my inspiration…..
The colors would change from blue to red to yellow and sometimes the light lines would split up……
Again a horrible photo but it was best that I could get from inside my hotel!!
So, I have been thinking about how to make a quilt that has these same slivers in it. Here is where I am so far…..
…but this ain’t cutting it. I am not sure if the slivers that I am using aren’t bright enough or what, but I am not happy with it.
I have been wondering if it would be more interesting if I completely pieced the black/grey backgrounds first (maybe in a brick style) and then made the slivers go from top to bottom. The biggest problem with this will be that every time I add a sliver, it makes the edges wonky.
And, looking at this photo, I think that the slivers may need to be a bit wider and maybe I only want to use the lighter orange ones???? I have been trying to use some silks that I bought in India in 2015 but they may not be the right colors…..
SO…..since I am sort of stuck on this one, I turned to my other inspiration.
On the same 2016 trip, we spent some time in Trivandrum, India, and one of the things that I wanted to do was to get a Henna tattoo.
As I watched the young woman applying the Henna designs to my skin I couldn’t help thinking that the technique was similar to free motion quilting…..of course I viewed this exercise thru my “quilt-colored glasses”!!
So, I have been combing the internet looking for henna tattoo patterns with the thought of making a “white on white” quilt using those designs. I didn’t really want it to be white but was thinking about more of a tan-on-tan.
Yesterday I bought some appropriate fabric and decided to make a sample to see how it looks, and I am SOOOO happy with it……
I was thinking about doing some Trapunto work on it but decided instead to try using two battings. I placed an 80/20 batting on the bottom and a fluffy batting on the top. Unfortunately, I don’t have the bag that the“fluffy” one came in so I have NO idea of exactly what type of batting it is, but it works and I have enough for the big project so…..who cares!!
Now I need to spend a lot of time designing what this 40 inch square is going to look like. I am pretty sure that this sample design will be the center of the medallion and I am planning to put peacocks in each of the corners, but who know what else will be added to it!!
I also have to figure out a way to get the design onto the fabric. I have a light box but it is too small to do a big piece. I will have to put on my thinking cap!!!
So, no finishes, but a couple of FUN starts…… more to come!!
Today, I drove to Atlanta with my friend Linda to help her pick out a new sewing machine. She had used my Juki and really liked it so off we went to buy one for her. While she was trying out the new machine, I did some looking around (which is always a bad idea)!!
I was excited to find a set of nested circle machine quilting rulers…..
As soon as I got home I had to try them out!!! Each ruler is 1/4 inch wide and they were fairly easy to use. Here are my first attempts…..
Yes, there are a few wobbles and one where I simply quit and started over, but for the most part I am happy with them. The individual rulers are a bit slippery so I may need to find some VERY small pieces of grippy stuff (the technical name) to hold them in place better.
The guidelines were drawn in place using a tool that I bought at Houston…..
While I was there, I also invested in a sampler pack of rulers put out by Westalee…..
It came with 6 different rulers that can be used to made an infinite number of different designs…
Since I was already in “play mode” I pulled out the petal ruler and gave it a try as well…..
Before I could try any others, I ran out of bobbin thread (sigh) and, besides, it was time to fix dinner order pizza, so I reluctantly put my play things away!!
But, the good news is that tomorrow I am free until the all-important football game at 4:00 (University of Georgia vs Auburn University) ….GO DAWGS, so the plan is to spend most of that time in the studio!!!
Hope your weekend includes some creative time as well……
This past week I have tried to find time to work on quilting the Queen size Pineapple.
I enjoyed quilting the long, straight lines leading from the edge into the red highlight area….
…and as much as I tried, they ended up being basically symmetrical around the quilt. It just looked better that way!!!
I wanted to highlight the red area and Michael suggested circles, so circles it was…..
You cant see a LOT of the quilting, but may be able to see the blue lines where I marked the concentric circles…..
The final step was to decide on a design for the borders. Once I decided WHAT to do, I decided that this was a good time to try using a ruler.
When I bought the machine, I purchased a Ruler Foot as well…..
A ruler foot is different because it has a deep circle around the needle which bumps up against the ruler. The needle is a perfect 1/4 inch inside the circle.
When I first got the machine and had played with it, I had trouble with skipped stitches and was NOT happy with the results. After a bit of Googling, I discovered that the problem was that the foot was not sitting close enough to the fabric. AND, after examining the foot, I discovered that there is a screw (just above the spring) that pushes the foot down. After making this minor adjustment, I was ready to go…..
Since I wanted the grid to be 1 inch, I am placing the 3/4 inch line on the previous line. When the 1/4 inch on the foot is added, I have a wonderful1 inch grid. Although I marked the grid on the first set of lines, future marking has only included extending the corner lines into the border and adding the perpendicular line that marks where the line makes a 90 degree turn.
I have finished 1/2 of the border and, unfortunately, ran out of thread, but a trip to the store on Tuesday will fix that!!!
…it was time to attack the huge job of cleaning my studio. I tend to not worry about what it looks like while I’m working, knowing that I will clean it up after each finish.
As I sorted through the fabrics I counted 132 different fabrics that I had pulled in making this quilt….
The big trick now is to get them all back into the boxes. Some of these fabrics have been out of their storage containers for over a year and other things have taken their place so it was a bit of a struggle to get everything in. But after 20 minutes or so of pushing and pulling I was able to get all of the boxes closed (well, sort of) and on the shelf.
I set up my quilting area, starting with my the table leaf and then adding another small table to the side just to give this big quilt enough support……
I spent a few minutes cleaning my machine and oiling it…..
It has been a long time since I have had a machine that needs oil so I am having to get used to remembering to do it. One of the reviews that I read said that it was a thirsty machine, and I think that’s a good description of it. While I was oiling the bobbin case area I noticed a thread that had gotten tangled in there, so I spent about 30 minutes trying to remove that thread. It was finally accomplish with the use of a pair of needle nose pliers from the garage.
As I was cleaning, I also noticed this hook on my machine…..
For the last 5 months I have been carefully threading the thread THRU the hole without realizing that there was this guide that meant the thread can be slid into the hole rather than threading…..OY VEY!!!! This makes threading SO much faster!!!
The next project is the queen size pineapple quilt that I pieced a couple years ago and I’ve been waiting to quilt. I had some time to work on it in December and played with various quilting ideas. The one that I liked best was quilting long lines leading into the red highlighted area. I first marked a series of lines and quilted those so the quilt was well held together. Then I started adding additional lines leading from the outside borders in as well. I marked the entire quilt and started the quilting process but felt like things were being too even and maybe I wanted a little more non-symmetry with it.
So I sprayed it down with water and removed all of the blue lines that I had already put on. I then started re-drawing the lines but again they still seem to be very symmetrical. So I have now decided to draw some of the lines, quilt a little, draw some more lines, and quilt some more, and just see how it turns out.
My gut feeling is that I will end up with symmetry!!!
Since the quilt contains every color in the rainbow spectrum, I am quilting it using variegated Maxi-Llock thread in each of the colorways…..
After I got the Flower Pot quilt basted (using fusible batting), it was time to first, clean up the studio……
….and then get set up to quilt a queen size quilt.
Ever since I bought the inset table for my machine, I had been thinking about the best way to set up my “quilting station”.
First step was to fold down the cutting table and move the storage drawers out. Then I moved in two small folding tables to form one large table…..
The only problem with this was that the machine table was about 1.25 inches shorter than the other two tables, so I trudged down to the garage and started looking for pieces of wood that I could use to bolster my table height, and voila……
I found a piece that worked perfectly except that it was WAY too big for the table. Out came the ruler and pencil, cutting marks were drawn and then back down to the garage to use the Jigsaw to cut the piece to the proper size. I think that I will eventually cover it with the rubber backings that you can buy for rugs.
I also thought about the fact that I didn’t want the quilt to fall off of the front edge of the tables, so I moved my cutting table to block it off……
As I picked up the quilt to lay it out and start quilting, I realized that it was really heavy and that my tables weren’t in the correct position. To fix this, I moved the table to my left down so that there was a place to support the side of the quilt.
Once I started quilting, I realized that it was still falling below the table so another trip to the garage brought two TV tables that fit perfectly beside my chair, thus giving full support on each side.
To finish the support, I grabbed a cushion from one of the other rooms and put it in my lap to allow the quilt to NEVER drop below the edge of the table.
The only downside to my arrangement is that it gets fairly warm sitting under the quilt and pillow….but fortunately there is a ceiling fan so that solved the final problem!!
By the way, the funky cover on the back of my chair is to keep me from bumping the wall and putting black marks on it. I will eventually make a nice one, but this piece of flannel left over from the design wall is serving the immediate purpose
Today, I decided that I had caught up enough from our trip and that I could play some in my studio.
Just before I left for Italy, I had purchased the book “Inspired to Quilt” by Melanie Testa ….. I loved her ideas about using paints and different layers to create the quilt top and then I REALLY loved the way that she quilted her pieces!!! One of the tutorials was about using freezer paper as a mask when painting with thickened dye. Well, I didn’t have any dye to thicken, so I decided to use the Water Soluble Oil Pastels that I had learned to use in a Margaret Hunt workshop back in May (here is the post about that workshop).
The brand that she suggested were Portfolio Brand I began the process by picking out a floral design that I liked and then I transferred it to freezer paper and then carefully cut out the design.
I ironed it onto a piece of PFD (prepared for dyeing) fabric and then ironed a larger piece of freezer paper onto the back of the PFD. The purpose of this was to stabilize the fabric better and to also remove the worry that the colors might soak thru the fabric…..
I then picked my palette of colors and scribbled swatches of each color on the shiny side of another piece of freezer paper….
I dipped a brush in water and used it to liquefy the colors and then apply them to the fabric……
When the piece was completely colored, I took the pastels and used them directly on the fabric to add some extra highlights…..
In each case, I would draw a few lines and then use the brush to “scrub” the color into the fabric.
I removed the freezer paper resist…..
….let it dry, added a border fabric and then sandwiched it in preparation for quilting. Then the really fun part started…. I first quilted around the design and then started using various threads to add more interest to the piece.
I finished the edge by simply folding the border over to the back and stitching it in place.
Here is the one of the finished pieces……
and here is the second…..
They were SO much fun to make and I am looking forward to playing with this technique lots more!!!!
Click on the photo for a larger picture that shows the quilting better.
I am so excited to report that the blue lines all came out and that the quilt is now finished!!!!
After the first soaking in water, the lines were still showing in the outer border. This was because I didn’t just follow the lines when quilting that part, but did a “Greek Key” design using the lines as a placement guide, so many of the actual lines were not quilted on.
SO, I used an ENTIRE bottle of “Shout” and heavily sprayed the outside border and let it sit for about 2 hours. I then filled the bath up with water again, adding Oxi-Clean and clothes soap. The quilt soaked in this solution for about 18 hours.
Then yesterday, I put the quilt in the washer and rinsed it a few times and then dried it in a HOT dryer.
I am so pleased with how it turned out and also with the quilting. I will NEVER be afraid to quilt a big quilt on my sewing machine again!!!
Thanks for reading and for the well wishes that the lines would disappear.