It's time to get back to some quilting.
I finished the ruler class sample and I promised myself that once it was done that I could finally work on one of my crystal mandalas. I've been waiting way to long to do this so I got started marking it this week.
This project started a couple of months ago by planning the quilting structure. This is how I plan all of my quilts. It's a little old school to not do this on the computer but I can't justify drawing software that I simply won't use that often. A package of page protectors is pretty cheap.
I started by printing a color image of the quilt and then I try to make myself come up with at least 3 designs. That makes sure that I get the most obvious one out of the way and, possibly, I come up with something a little more creative.
Once I come up with a basic framework that I like I print a quarter section of the quilt and work out a few details. I know that at this point I will change things as I mark and quilt the quilt but at least I have some sort of plan that might help prevent my usual quilting paralysis after the quilt is loaded.
Next it was time to mark the quilt and my favorite tool for this is Renee Haddadin's Amazing Rays. This one is the Mini-Ray and makes a circle up to 35.5" in diameter. There's also a larger one that does up to 79". I use this think for all sorts of projects including marking things on my mosaic wall.
You pin the center disc in the center of your quilt and the ruler fits on it and spins around. I taped it in place so that my degree markings stayed lined up properly.
Crayola Washable Markers are my favorite marking tool. The marking tip doesn't fit in the hole of the ruler so I just hold the marker next to the to the hole on the edge of the ruler. I like that I have a lot of colors so if, as in this case, I changed my mind about a mark I can switch to a darker color for the final mark.
Sometimes I get so many marks on it that I need to draw in some rough quilting guidelines so I don't forget. It looks kind of a mess but it will be OK. I think.
I need to get it loaded and start quilting to find out. I'm not going to stress about it. This one is for practice. If it turns out bad I'll cut it up into placemats or something. I just need to get started!
I've been working on a couple of sampler quilts for classes that I'm teaching at The Longarm Network. I have my very favorite books and tools out to use on these quilts so I thought I'd share them.
I didn't receive any of these products free nor was I asked to review them. These just happen to be some of the products that I'm loving right now and I thought I'd share.
The first sample quilt is this one for a free motion filler class schedule for July 29. I'll share the finished version of this quilt as soon as I get both quilts finished and bound.
I don't buy a lot of quilting books. I find that I'm disappointed with most of them. I've bought books that have a few pages of instruction on the technique and the rest of a collection of quilt patterns. When I buy a technique book, I want a whole book of technique or a book of ideas.
The book that I turn to most often for FMQ ideas is 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs from Leah Day. Her website also has tons of great designs but when I'm at the machine quilting I prefer to not have to go to the internet for anything and that's why I have the book nearby at all times.
As I was finishing up this sample quilt I saw that Margaret Gunn had published two books on fill designs and I quickly ordered both. I know Margaret's work so I knew that these would be comprehensive and I was not disappointed. One book is all free-motion fills and the other is grid-based fill designs. Her design aesthetic is different from Leah Day's so these 3 resource books really complement each other.
The next quilt is the Ruler Class quilt that I shared Thursday. From an investment perspective my ruler collection is only surpassed by my thread collection. I love rulers and have tons of them and, I admit, that I really only use about half of them. Early on in my longarm ownership I fell prey to a lot of fancy demos on using fancy rulers when I reality I mostly use straight rulers, lots of circle rulers, ovals and boomerang rulers for curved cross hatching and one wave ruler. But I mostly use circles and ovals.
You saw all of these Monday. I love Jamie Wallen's circles and ovals. I have all of the circles from 3 1/2" and up and all of the ovals. I use the ovals even more than I expected. They are incredibly versatile. But many of his rulers, including the smaller circles have handles on them and I discovered that I can't use them. I have some nerve issues in my left arm and hand and the handle really aggravates it.
For small circles I got this clever snap together tool from Deloa Jones, also the maker of my favorite Boomerangs. She calls them Puzzle Pearls and has them in multiple sizes. I like these because when I want to quilt a perfect little circle I don't have to worry about a flat edge where the hopping foot would go through an opening. But sometimes this big tool becomes awkward to use because it's so large
When I was at Birds of a Feather I found Lisa Calle's ProPebbles rulers.
Each set come with 2 sizes of circles. The closed circles are for drawing and the partial circles (an innie and an outie) are for quilting. These are smaller pieces so are a bit easier to maneuver on the quilt.
When I quilt a row of pebbles I like to do them half at a time in a line instead of quilting the whole circle and then having to quilt again over half the circle to move to the next position.
I mark a center line and use the hatch marks to keep the ruler centered on that marked line. This foes surprisingly fast.
I know that my posts here are as random as they can be. Monday was mosaic, Tuesday was birds, yesterday was glass and today is quilting and who knows what tomorrow might be. If it seems that I jump from project to project it's because that's exactly what I do. I like having multiple options because I can do whatever I'm on the mood to do or can work on something else while I'm stumped or stymied on another project. It means that each project seems to progress at a snail's pace but they (mostly) eventually get done.
I also think another reason that I flit between projects is from my old work routines. I spent most of my days for almost 30 years going from one meeting to another so 1 hour increments seem really natural for me and it seems to be how I approach things here too. After an hour or 2 on one thing I'm ready to move on to something else. I don't make enough progress on all of the projects in a day to bother to share anything on the blog but over 7 - 10 days I can generally come up with an update that's worthwhile.
I first shared this little quilt a couple of weeks ago. It's the last of the leftover blocks from the Rainbow quilt. This one is going to be a sample for my ruler class at The Longarm Network (schedule for June 17) and it should be done already.
The plan was to quilt a few motifs in this bright orange thread and then fill the background with various ruler fills. I got this first shape done and then I hit a wall. I knew the effect I wanted but I just wasn't getting there so I just left it for a week or so and one morning I woke up with the solution. Well, it's A solution. It might not be THE solution but it will work.
Is there ever really just 1 solution?
So I was able to move forward and add the other motifs. This a little Spirograph-type motif.
This one is an idea for a block treatment.
The solution I was looking for was a way to keep these 4 quilted motifs from just floating around in the middle of the quilt and the answer was to connect them. I've created a grid in the lime green thread that connects the motifs and the lines carry over to the edge of the border. Now I am more comfortable moving forward to finish this little sampler. Every stitch on it will be ruler work so it's not a speedy little quilt but it is fun.
I spent most of yesterday sewing with my quilt club, Country School Quilters. I'm working on putting all the leftover Rainbow Quilt blocks together into a twin size and baby quilt. Yes, I got a little carried away making those blocks!
My one goal for the evening was to get this quilt basted and ready to quilt.
That normally would be a quite simple task except that I picked this for the backing. It's a quilt back that I dyed (and then didn't use) for another project and it just happened to be big enough for this queen sized quilt. That was very convenient but it meant that I needed to center the quilt on the back.
If you want to know how I do this you can check out my Centering a Quilt Back Tutorial.
It's a lot of extra work and starts out with this kind of mess but it's all worth it in the end and after a couple of hours effort I had it done.
The quilting is going to be all ruler work and I might be able to start it tomorrow evening. I think I'm going to use this grayed purple thread. I want the quilting pattern to show but not be as stark as black thread would be. I'll quilt a little and see how I like it.
But first there's another sewing day at quilt club and I should be able to finish the other 2 Rainbow tops.
Almost 2 years ago I wrote an article on my old blog describing my experience shopping for a new longarm and showing why I selected Innova. But more than my opinion, the article has a list of things to test drive when you are shopping for a longarm.
I bought my Innova because of the stitch quality and control that I have to place every single stitch exactly where I want it. A Birds of a Feather this weekend I found out that people are still going to the old blog to read that article. So now I've moved it over and it's with the Longarm Tutorials. If you want to read it you can find it here.
Meanwhile back at home, I took yesterday seriously as a Sunday and basically only did laundry. I had my physical this morning and plan to work on my applique this afternoon.
The antibiotics are kicking in and I started feeling better yesterday and started wading through an endless list of chores that need to be done around here. But I had to have a little creative time so I decided to finally start planning to quilt one of my Crystal mandalas. Since I have nothing else to share today I thought I'd share how I plan quilting for any quilt.
I picked this one a few months ago and I picked it specifically because it doesn't have a defined star pattern. I don't particularly like it so that gives my the freedom to not agonize over it. I just need to get one done!
I work on quilting designs by printing the image on a piece of paper and I use page protector sleeves for my drawing surface. I only need one print out and I can draw on both sides of the plastic sleeve. Fine point Sharpie markers work best for me for drawing. I usually try to make myself draw at least 3 options just to give myself a challenge. This was my first try.
In the second iteration I decided to force in a star and see if I liked it. Then I put it aside for several weeks.
Yesterday I decided to pull it out again and without looking at the first 2 I drafted this. Then I realized how close it is to the first one and that was my sign to go with it!
My next step is to print off a larger image of one corner to start working on detail idea. I'm not one to spend a lot of time on every detail. I just want to get the bones in place and I'll decide on everything else once I get it loaded. I will use a Crayola washable marker to mark the bones on the fabric and then I'll be ready to quilt.
Boy is this a happy sight. Zippers off means no more quilting! I'm going to attempt to get it blocked this afternoon, If not today, then tomorrow. As I was finishing up I kept finding more areas to fix or add something to.
The unquilted section of the pale stars was way too puffy so I added a couple of arcs bordering the smallest quilted arc. It helps. It's not perfect, but it helps. This would be a good time to answer your burning question: What's up with the squiggle quilting? I have no idea what got into me to do that dense quilting in the pale stars and the orange stars. In fact, it was after doing that I the quilt got taken off the machine and set aside for over a year. The problem is that once I started that I had to continue with it so I added that element in all of the star points. It wouldn't be my choice now but I have a saying that I teach beginner longarmers that applies here. That saying is "Crappy quilting, when consistent, looks good." It's meant to motivate quilters to try a new motif and do it all over a quilt. If you are bad at it just be consistent and it will look intentional and look good.
Well, that's what I did in the star points of this quilt. I just continued on with the crappy quilting. It's not that the execution was crappy. How can you screw up scribble after all? It's the idea that was highly questionable.
Then I needed to do something with the narrow sashing around the center on-point section. It was way too puffy and wrinkly because all the other quilting had drawn up the quilt so much. I decided on 1/4" lines from each edge.
That didn't do it either so I borrowed the hook from the inside of my pebbles and stitched a hook chain on the center of the sashing. Before I added anything else I quickly removed it from the machine, checked the back to make sure I didn't need to repair anything and removed the zippers.
It was time to move on!
Yesterday I started dyeing the fabrics for the piping and binding. Hopefully I'll have some finishing photos soon.
Next on FloMo will be some refreshingly easy veterans quilts. These are quilted 2 at a time and I hope to get the first pair loaded today or tomorrow morning.
I finished all of the pebbling this weekend. It took a lot of sessions but once I had a rhythm going it really didn't talk all that long.....not that I accomplished much else all weekend.I do love the effect and I'm really good at the swirly pebbles now.
So, now that the pebbles were done it was time to bring it upstairs to see what else it needs. I really hadn't intended to invest this much time into it but in for a penny, in for a pound.
You can see in the first photo that I need to add something else to the green spikes ad the pale border needs something too. It's too wrinkly now that the pebbles drew in the fabric so much.
I also needed to bring it up to see it this way to decide how I want to bind it. I"m considering a piped binding and originally thought orange but I'm now leaning to the pale mottled fabric. I need to decide by Wednesday morning because whatever I choose has to be dyed.
I also need to add a little to my pale stars. You can't see it very well on this photo but those 2 open half circle spaces are way too puffy.
I don't think I'll have any problem getting this done by the end of the month. I never intended to show this quilt when I started it but I may enter it now that I've put so much work into it.
Time to get off the computer and back to quilting!
Yesterday was "dyeing day" and it was a late one because I got a late start. I had to finish up some class submissions for Birds of Feather so I didn't get to dyeing until after lunch. I finally got the last fabrics in to batch about 7:30. I had a quick dinner (that Chris prepared, of course) and a shower and then headed to FloMo. We haven't quilted together in a couple of weeks.
This quilt has to be done by mid-August so, clearly, the logical thing to do is a 1/4" bead board border around the whole thing. I still have all of the green spikes to quilt and lots of free motion fill work.
I've added the wide arc as a border demarcation and will do the bead board all around. I've only finished 1 of eight sections so far. This is what I'll be doing for the rest of the day and, probably week. But since I turned off the TV, especially the news, I have so much more time!
The "news" is really counterproductive now. It's all designed to agitate us. There's absolutely nothing constructive coming out of it. Facebook is another place where I've really cut down. ALL of the political post are either biased, mean spirited or both. I unfollow everyone that posts anything political and, frankly, my days and metal being are happier and healthier. Here's an example from yesterday: The post was titled "I'm not voting xxxx because I'm smart." That's just downright obnoxious. It was intended to be funny but let's call it what it is: low brow bullying.
That's my mantra these days and it leave me more time and better energy to
Listen to Books
You'll not see a political comment of any kind on my blog or Facebook page. I promise.
Today is the day I'm traveling home from Martinsville so I thought I'd post on last week's progress on my quilt. I've finished off the center section. This took me a couple of evenings to mark and quilt. (I'm so glad I use zippers to load my quilts because I've taken this one off 3 times so far to mark sections.)
This is how I tied it into the previous quilting.
Clearly I'm not a total slave to my marking. I used the marks as a guideline but stitched where I thought it looked best.
I'm looking forward to getting back to this later this week.
I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.
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