This is the quilt that the Misty Morning gradient was designed for. You can read all about it in my 2017 gallery.
Here's another of the back with the color better.
It's washed and dried now and all that's left is the Zentangle label.
As a general rule I don't make any of the veterans quilts that Country School donates, I just quilt them. But occasionally I have just the right amount of leftovers to put one together and that's the case with this one. Some of you may remember my Crossing The Drunkard's Path quilt-along that I hosted in 2015. I made a few DP quilts and one of them was in every shade of brown hand dyed that I had in my stash. You can see the original quilt top on the old blog. I had spent a lot of time making all of these DP blocks and I wasn't going to waste them. There weren't enough by themselves for a veteran's size quilt so I dyed a gradient for a border and even had a 4-patch for the top corner. I really love how this one turned out. I love the big one too and will quilt it soon.
My rule is that veterans quilts get simple quilting and that's what I wanted with this. But I also wanted something that would at least reference the curves in the block. Baptist Fans came immediately to mind but that is not a fast quilting motif. Then I remembered a filler design that I learned from Leah Day's book. She calls it Echo Shortcut. I use it a lot in tiny fill quilting but is there any reason it can't be done big?
Any fill pattern can be done big and I know I'll use this one again and again.
Here's a photo of it on the frame. The only thing the least bit fiddly about this is that I worked each row left to right. I quilted the whole thing in about an hour and a half.
The back of this one is a nice bit of serendipity. I custom dyed a back for a customer and, once done, realized that I had mixed one color wrong. I made another for her and got the nice one to keep for myself. It worked out perfect for this quilt.
Last week's post about showing how I staple my quilt back to zippers brought a lot of comments to see how I use the zippers and I'm here to please.
On the longarm, the backing is attached to rollers by canvas leaders. When I got my first longarm the only way that people did this was by pinning the backing directly to the leader and that's how I did it for years. Then some smart woman figured out that she could sew half a long zipper (like those used in sleeping bags) to the canvas and pin her backing to the other half and then easily zip the backing to the canvas.
In this photo I have a white zipper on the canvas and my backing is stapled to a black zipper.
When I pinned toe leaders I had 3 problems:
- I had to stand over the machine to do it and that causes some back strain
- I used corsage pins and I got stuck - a lot
- If I needed to remove the quilt to work on another I had to unpin and re-pin. Zipping on and off is so much easier!
The other side of the backing has one too!
I'm really just including this photo because I like to look at this backing fabric. It was a fabric I custom dyed for a customer and I made a mistake in one of the colors. I dyed her a new one and kept this one for myself. I love it.
I have several sets of zippers and I keep them paired properly because I've marked a center mark on each pair. When I staple the backing to the zipper I start in the center and work my way out. That way I know the quilt will stay square on the frame.
Stapling is not a very popular method of attaching backing to the zippers. Most people worry about getting a staple caught in the quilt. But do 2 things to help prevent that. I staple the back to the leaders in my sewing room on my cutting table. (This saves my back and is much easier than doing it at the machine). I remove the staples in the living room while watching TV so that keeps them away from either sewing space. I don't rip them out. I use a staple remover so I can keep up with each one.
The trick is finding the stapler. This one is a vintage Swingline that my Mom gave me and I bought a spare one in case this one dies. These are called "hand grip staplers" and you can find then where vintage things are sold, like Etsy and Ebay. I think Swingline actually still makes a "soft grip" curved stapler. You have to have the curved bottom so that it can accommodate the zipper teeth when you press the staple in. A regular flat bottom stapler will not work.
Staples are not required. At The Longarm Network, where I teach, they use giant safety pins. Some people still use corsage pins. Others stitch their backs to the zippers with a machine basting stitch or a chain stitch on the serger.
Different strokes for different folks.
The biggest advantage is that I can prep several quilt backs at a time and, if I wanted, I could baste them all and then quilt them in any order. I could even zip 2 back together if I wanted to baste 2 quilts at once and then remove both and load whichever one I wanted to quilt first.
The downside is that if I get stuck on a quilt it's rally easy to unzip it and let it sit unfinished for a year or more. That happened with my Non Unus Pluma quilt. It hung over the back of a chair using up a set of zippers for over a year before I got the nerve to finish quilting it.
There you have it. The mystery of the zippers is solved!
People looking for a third option should check out Red Snappers. A lot of people like them too.
Last month I showed you this mandala that I was marking to get it ready for quilting. As I was marking it I decided that I wanted to use some threads that I hadn't used on the longarm before and I felt like I needed to test them. I had a little fat quarter mandala that's been hanging around my sewing room for a while and decided that it could be my practice piece. It was in the same colors so I could test the threads.
Boy am I goad I did this! You can take all the classes in the world, like my awesome ruler class next weekend, but nothing beats loading a quilt and practicing. Over the past year I've pulled this out several times and started marking all over it in Crayola Washable Marker. I think I had 5 or 6 different ideas marked on it. It was kind of a mess but I left it and just started quilting and tried to ignore the marker.
I marked the petal shapes in one design, quilted in another and hated both. Then I ripped out the stitches.
Then I got smart and traced the shape on paper to work out a design that I liked.
To quilt the ring of red around the center I marked guidelines for every other stitched line.
But that wasn't enough so I went back and added even more lines. They aren't perfect but from viewing distance they look just fine.
This is after quilting and before washing. There's so much marker on it that when I soaked it the water turned dark purple....and it wasn't from the fabric bleeding!
This photo shows off the quilting best and helps show some of the things I learned:
- the acrylic thread runs beautifully on the Innova so I can use it on the next quilt confidently
- but my color choices need some reconsideration. Those Spirograph shapes are really cool and you can't see them! I should have quilted those areas in dark grey or black.
- I love the effect of the white stitched ring behind the petals. The back stitching shows but not as bad as I expected.
But, you know what I really, really love?
The back!! I hand stitched the binding just so I could display it from the front or back.
There's one more lesson back here too.
When I did this I used the same thread top and bottom throughout to see how it behaves. I think that I should not use the acrylic thread in the bobbin. I'll use one of my "normal" threads.
I also learned that I wan't the quilt to show well on the back so I'll use a solid for the back of the next quilt and I can't wait to get it loaded and started.
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.
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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