Tuesday, July 23, 2013

That "A" Word!!

Oh, the things we will do for a worthy cause!
This is the flimsy for my next AAQI quilt--and yes, it includes two techniques I normally go out of my way to avoid; hexies, and...APPLIQUE! (Did you just fall off your chair, Karen?)

I try to tie the quilt in somehow to the person to whom it is being dedicated, and this one needed flowers. I had wanted to get permission from a designer to use parts of one of her wool applique patterns (that kind of applique I enjoy), but with the registration deadline looming and a family camping trip taking several days between now and then, I realized I had to start something immediately. I caved in and bought the 1/2" hexie papers, made the flowers one evening and appliqued them down the next. And in case you are wondering, I did not learn to love either process!! : )

Now on to my quilting problems. If any of you have advice for me concerning these issues, I would appreciate it. Remember in my last post I shared my discouragement with the back of my red feathered piece, and in a previous post I had told you how my attempt at machine quilting Black & Blooms (bottom of linked post) had twisted threads in the black fabric and left white parts of the fibers exposed. Well, both things just keep happening, but randomly.

Yesterday I quilted  this. It doesn't show well in photos, but there is batting popping through in many places of the back. This was Warm and Natural batting. Some people have told me this is a problem with this batting, others have told me it has never given them such a problem. It was an 80/20 batting that gave me such grief on the red feather piece, so I thought I would try the Warm and Natural. I put in a new needle and used the Aurifil thread on this, because on those feather samples from my last post, I had no batting coming through on the back of the one using Aurifil.
I am through quilting on dark fabric with dark thread at night.
The backtracking on these feathers is atrocious! I could not
see what I was doing!
I also got some of that "white thread" issue in the dark navy border. This is not the batting coming though, it is fibers of the fabric twisting and exposing undyed areas. It isn't as bad as it was on the Black & Blooms, but it is there.

 I am quilting on an HQ Sweet 16 midarm, which I have had for about 1 1/2 years without noticing these issues. This summer they are plaguing me. Maybe it is the heat. Do you think? : )
If you have any suggestions I would be happy to hear them.
Janet O.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Check off another challenge...

...in this year's SewCalGal FMQ challenge. 
There was a lot of experimenting with different feather styles before completing my projects.

All of the finished pieces were created using the bump-bump feather method, which I find most comfortable. But I don't stitch my spine first. I prefer to draw it lightly, then start my feather lobes at the bottom, using the line I have drawn as a guide. I work my way up one side to the tip, and then I stitch back down on the spine to the bottom and start the other side. This method eliminates one layer of thread in the spine and I like it better with the threads I am using. I'd really like to get some 100 wt. thread to try, but I can't find it around here, and I really don't like to choose colors online.
This one has multiple background designs, the tips of the feathers are different shapes, and the spine of one feather has the pebbling. This was quilted with Aurifil thread.

I put the same tip on each feather in this one, and used one design over the entire background. I also did an echo around the feathers to give them a little more definition from the background. This was quilted with Mettler thread.

In looking at dozens of examples of feathers online, I decided I really like the look of feathers that fill the space completely. So I decided to give it a go, with the help of Sharon's and Debbie's notes, to which I referred in my previous post. I randomly put a curl in the tips of some lobes. This was quilted with Isacord thread. 
I purposely made this one within the size requirements for an AAQI quilt, because I thought if it turned out well I might use it as such. I was pleased with the front, but when I turned it over my heart sank. The back had so many places where the needle had pushed bits of batting through, and that only happened on this one. I worked with my needle to try and stuff those bits back in, but it doesn't look good to me, so I wouldn't feel comfortable donating this. The other two look fine on the back, but they aren't within the size requirements, and I'm not as happy with the feathers on those anyway.

I appreciate SewCalGal and Joanne making this challenge available. I do believe it has helped me a great deal in improving the quality of my feathers. I never did find my first feather sample, but I did come across some early attempts from the SewCalGal challenge in February 2012. Look at the one  peeking out on the right. I've come a long way, baby!

 One last thing. My small quilts corner has a new addition. I bought another AAQI quilt--this time by my friend, Annie Miksch (no blog). The little appliqued wreath in the upper left corner is my sweet new quilt (those are all AAQI purchases along the top row). Annie made the beautiful appliqued piece on the lower right side, as well, and surprised me with it months ago. I am thrilled to have another quilt made by her hands.
That's it for now. Not much sewing happening here this week, other than the feathers.
Until next time,
Janet O.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Year of the Feather

No, this is not some oriental New Year of some sort. That is what I dubbed this year back in January. I set out to conquer (well, maybe just get more comfortable with) feathers.
I know you can't see them at all, but I just quilted up this little flimsy and put feathers in the border.
To be honest, so far this year I have only become relatively comfortable with two types of feathers--the style I put on the black border above, which you can't see, and shaped feathers for setting triangles. Both of them are more visible in this little quilt that you may recall I made up back in February.
I have occasionally tried other types of feathers, like these little swirly ones...
...but the free form feathers have eluded me. This year SewCalGal is continuing to challenge us in FMQ, but instead of one challenge a month, there have been six challenges presented and we have until the end of Oct. to complete any three. The second challenge I have chosen is a tutorial on feathers by Joanne (Thread Head blog). We are to practice different feather types and find what works best for us. Then we make up a few quilt sandwiches "about the size of a piece of paper" and mark our feather spines and get quilting. We are to quilt background designs around the feathers and then bind the pieces.
I have filled a few sandwiches with practice feathers, but today I got down to the real thing. So far I have finished the quilting on this one piece...
I'm not too crazy about it, but it just needs the binding, and it will be good to have one under my belt.

My second one, below, doesn't have any background yet, but it is an improvement on the feather, I think.  Deep curves are still a challenge.
I'm toying with the idea of only using one or two designs on the background of this one.

I think I'll try one more sandwich after this and get a little more adventurous with the feather style.

I need to give a shout out to two very kind bloggers who quilt beautiful feathers and have gone out of their way to share information on their methods with me. Thank you Sharon (Grass Roots Quilting blog) and Debbie (Stitchin' Therapy blog) for your efforts in sharing your design sheets. I have referred to both many times, studying them, tracing them, and practicing the styles. It has helped immensely.

Just for fun, I tried to find the sandwich that had my first feather attempt from almost 2 years ago. It is nowhere to be found. I must have chucked that one. I do remember, though, that it didn't even remotely resemble a feather.

One other small thing I did this weekend was finish up two pincushions that have been partially made for months now. One is from the Schnibble Tuffet pattern, from Miss Rosie's Quilt Co., and the other was just a way of using up 6 leftover HST from another project. How do you use 6 HSTs? Answer--make 3 faux flying geese and put them into a pincushion. I made both of these into the "box" style cushion as demonstrated in my Tuffet tutorial on the tab above.
That churn dash is only 1 1/2" finished. I'm thinking it would make a great little ornament. : )
That is all for now.
Until next time,
Janet O.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Lots of Little Finishes

This has finally been bordered and bound, according to popular vote. I'm calling it "Piney Stars". The stars are the handiwork of Karen Beigh (Log Cabin Quilter blog), and I did the other stuff.

 I used stencils for the quilting. Though I love doing FM overall designs, for more traditional looking quilts I lean toward stencils.

I surprised myself by getting this little thing completed and hung the morning of the Fourth--just in the nick of time! This has been dubbed "A Fleeced Fourth." I'm glad Lisa included striped fabric in her Old Glory Gatherings because I love making striped bias binding.
 Stripes aren't bad on the back, either. Like Lisa's quilt at her trunk show, I used the Valdani floss to "big stitch" around the wool appliques. On the other four blocks I used a Terry Twist (Sally Terry) stencil.

I have finished up another AAQI (Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative) quilt, but I won't be registering it until I get at least one more finished. Have to have them registered by August 1, 2013. There are still hundreds of little quilts available for sale, with more being added regularly. Some of them are even priced under $20. Check it out here to support a great cause. This all ends December 30, 2013.

The quilting process began with stitch-in-the-ditch with my walking foot along the color changes. I like quilting "furrow" type layouts with a diagonal pattern, but my stencil choices this size were limited. I used my favorite "rope" stencil in a large size on the furrows and used a smaller stencil of the same pattern in the border. Those corners are the "fast finish triangles" for hanging, recommended for AAQI quilts, in case you are wondering.

Okay, Kathie, you nudged me and I did it. I made a 2" log cabin ornament (not a great photo of it). After making that little thing, going back to the 3" log cabins in the AAQI quilt was a breeze! I left the opening a little tight and it stressed the seams when I turned it inside out, so this will stay with me, but I think I see a few more of them in my future, with some possible modifications.

We are cooling off today in our high mountain desert valley--instead of hitting 99-100 degrees, we are only supposed to reach 90 today. It will feel chilly (not really).
Janet O.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Hey, everybody, I really finished it!!

 That's what I felt like shouting when I took the last stitch on the binding of Black & Blooms (aka Little Buds from Primitive Gatherings). I still can't believe it is completed. When I took the wool applique class from Lisa Bongean last January, during one of our breaks she pulled out a bunch of quilts to show us. As she held up Little Buds we were all in awe of this tiny wool appliqued piece. I was fascinated by it and felt compelled to order the kit, all the while chiding myself, "Who are you kidding? You won't ever actually make that!"
I love to be wrong in such cases--and it really wasn't as hard to make as I had imagined. Just be prepared to paper piece those HSTs in the border--they are 1/2" finished!

So while we are talking small, these little log cabin blocks will finish at 3" (yes, they are paper pieced). They are going into my next AAQI quilt, if I can get it finished before the registration deadline. I'm tempted to just sew these four blocks together and put a couple of borders on it, but my original plan was for more blocks with a different setting. I just don't know if I have time to make that happen, with other deadlines I have looming. I wonder what it is like to quilt without deadlines?

Thanks to all who cast their vote in my border dilemma. It was a tricky election. At first the candidates seemed pretty evenly matched, but in the end, the red border won by a landslide. I won't be keeping this and I thought a majority vote had a better chance of getting a result the recipient would like, than just going by my opinion.

Finally, my last patriotic project for the time being (Old Glory Gatherings--Sheep Quilt), is all blanket stitched. I'm hoping to get it basted and start on the quilting tomorrow. I doubt it will be displayable by the 4th, but maybe it will see some moments in the spotlight before the fall decor goes up.

I hope everyone in the U.S. has a safe and happy Independence Day, and everyone else--have a good day. : )
Janet O.