Short update: The Misery Quilt

Here’s a pic of some of the quilting in the border of the Misery Quilt:

Quilted Motif in Border

I’m pretty happy with the look, and a couple of really serendipitous things are happening. I’ve quilted all the large motifs around the outside border, and decided to experiment with a bit of echo quilting around this one to see how it would turn out. The first echo line was quited with a darker shade of thread than the design itself, and the second echo line was a shade darker than that.

When I got around to the third echo line, I got tired of not being able to see the quilting lines so well to follow them with the next echo line, so I turned the quilt over and quilted it from the back. When I checked the front again, the “puff” between the second and third echo lines was distinctly fatter than the the rest, so it created a bit of a textural ridged border around the whole motif!

I really have no idea why this happens, but on other parts of the quilt where I’ve quilted two lines of quilting from the top of the quilt that are really close together like this, the puff on the back is raised a bit like a little ridge. I suspect that it’s due to some flaw in the way I’ve basted the thing (not enough pins, not evenly basted or whatever), but as long as I can use this “flaw” to my advantage, who cares?

I plan to quilt more this weekend, because if I don’t that Christmas deadline is going to pass me by. There are shows I want to enter with this quilt next year, and one has an entry deadline of February or March, and if the quilting is done by Christmas I might just make that one. I say “might” because there’s a lot of other stuff I want to do to it after the machine quilting is done that will take some time, and February or March might be cutting it really close. And no, I’m not telling what all that other stuff is either, it’s my little secret for now. 😎 Stay tuned!

The Misery Quilt update

The misery rolls on with this quilt, as there are times it seems that it’ll never get done. Okay, I’ll admit that it hasn’t been the top priority lately (though I can’t really figure out what HAS been the top priority, just not the quilt in any case), but I really need to be getting on with it if it’s going to be done by Christmas (ha!). Oh, yeah, did I forget to mention that I finally had to set a (possibly fuzzy) deadline for completion? I don’t like to do that to myself because then I get stressed, but I had to aim for something, just to have a goal here.

Anyway, when I sit down to do this satin stitching around the medallions in the border, sometimes the planets will all be in perfect alignment and everything will go well, and it turns out looking like this (click for a bigger pic):

Satin stitching when it's good

And then there are the other (sometimes more frequent) times, when for some unknown reason, it turns out all crooked and wobbly looking:

Satin stitch when you get to rip it out

I think maybe the edge of the open toe appliqué foot is just hitting the edge of the lighter fabric at times, and at other times it sort of slips off the edge, and then I get wobbles. Since there are multiple layers of fabric and fusible web here, I guess I’m not surprised, but it is frustrating. When this happens we get to pull out the X-acto knife and rip this tiny satin stitching with the lovely silk thread out. A very sharp X-acto knife is the only way I’ve figured out to get the stitches out easily, and without tearing up the fabric or stretching it out and making a complete mess of it. There is that slight risk of cutting right through the fabric of course, which would necessitate a much different usage of the X-acto knife if there wasn’t any Prozac handy right then.

If I mess up these borders, I think the whole shebang may find a permanent home in the deepest part of the basement storage room with all the other skeletons. The leftover scraps will have to be hidden too, so that I can forget I ever had any thoughts of making this quilt. Is it any wonder that working on this thing feels like a chore? And then there’s the comic relief:

Shadow being helpful
I think Shadow thinks it’s time for bed, not quilting. He’s quite the little manager. If I’m not in bed early enough to suit (think “right after dinner”), he bugs me until I get there, sometimes for hours on end. Obviously he’s aptly named…pest that he is!

Quilting in my dreams

Really, that seems like the only place I’ve been quilting, for the last week or so, except for Saturday night! I’ve been working a lot on web pages for clients, with no time for fun. 😦 But, in the relatively small bit of quilting time that I did have on Saturday, I packed in some true constructive-ness and problem solving. Remember the UFO Birthday party that wasn’t a party because I needed help with the quilting designs? Well, after a couple of months to stew about it (well, three and a half months, actually), I finally decided that I would do the grid after all, but use silk thread for that and the stippling around the plates. The difference is amazing! Check this out:

Grid with cotton thread:

Dresden Plate grid with cotton

Grid with #100 silk thread:

Dresden Plate grid with silk thread

Click on the pics to see them bigger!

Now you see the dimension, but it doesn’t have that “thready” look to it since the silk just blends with the fabric so well and it’s much finer than the cotton. Soooo much better! It’s still going to take forever to quilt the grids and stippling, but at least it will look good. The only other problem (and it’s a bit of a biggee): I realized while I was looking it over deciding what to do that some of the burgundy dye has bled through to the back where I’ve misted the quilt with water after quilting to partially remove the blue marker. GRRRR! Yes, the fabric was prewashed (I always do), but it was a VIP fabric from, um, 12 years or so ago, and I’m told that VIP fabrics are the cheapo stuff. Ugh. Didn’t know that when I bought it of course. So here I’ve spent all this time hand appliquéing these Dresden Plate blocks and sewing and quilting, only to have the dyes run. Well, no more misting with water, I’ll just dunk it in the washer when finished with Synthrapol and hope for the best.

Gaudynski Workshop, Days Two and Three – Newsworthy Quilting

We worked on more freehand feathers in the morning on day two of the workshop, and I discovered that it wasn’t just me having trouble with the feathers on the inside curves looking deformed, it was a common problem. I can make great feathers on the outside curve of a spine, but the inside ones look like awkward thumbs or something! It’s just a practice thing, but Diane did say that the inside curve is a trouble spot for many, so I felt a bit better about it. Diane talked about adding tendrils and extra flourishes to feather designs, and briefly touched on a couple of other freehand, non-marked designs.

It was tempting to just follow her around…just to hear every word she said!

We also learned more background and filler patterns, like Dianeshiko (a sort of curved pattern built on a grid that looks like overlapping circles), Tsunami (wonderful filler with wavy lines, a brand new technique not in any of her books!), Bouncing Bananas, Headbands, Clamshells, Ripple Stipple (another new background filler), Spirals, Mosaic Meandering, etc., etc., etc.! I think there’s never a reason to use plain old boring stippling again! Throughout the workshop while we worked on designs, Diane would come around and talk with everyone personally, helping with machine issues, or giving advice or feedback. It was tempting to just follow her around to everyone else, just to hear every word she said!

Silk Dupioni

Some of the students were at Hancock’s Fabrics at 8:00 a.m. on day two of the workshop, begging their way in the door before they were open to shop. We were in class during opening hours, but Hancock’s was happy to let them in early evidently! Some of these ladies bought assortments of silk dupion fat quarters that were half price, so Dawn and I made the mad dash to Hancock’s ourselves on the lunch hour to get some. What a steal! Continue reading “Gaudynski Workshop, Days Two and Three – Newsworthy Quilting”

Quilting workshop success stories

Day one of the Gaudynski workshop started out quietly, since we mostly just talked our way through to lunch. Diane has so much quilting knowledge in her head, and she started the workshop with a bit of lecture, and introductions. Every time a student would introduce herself, Diane would talk about something the student said and more quilting knowledge gems would just spill out of her. By lunchtime, my notepad was filled and my own head was stuffed full of new tips to make machine quilting easier and better.

I don’t know what it was that Diane said or did exactly, but it all finally clicked into place.

After lunch, the serious quilting started. Now, I’ve bought and read and re-read her books, and I’ve had success with some of her techniques, but I’ve never been happy with echo quilting. Actually, to be honest, I’ve hated it the few times I’ve tried it, partly because I just couldn’t get it to look right. Wouldn’t you know that was the first thing she wanted us to do. But after the way she explained it and demonstrated echo quilting, and had the students practice it, I was able to finally get it right! I was so thrilled! She used it as a warm up to all the rest of her techniques, and it really did help to get that one basic thing right.

You know, I’ve always kind of wondered why quilters need classes so much. Really, I have, and I’ve sometimes felt somewhat superfluous in workshops as an instructor, when I’ve mostly learned from books and I felt like everybody else could do the same if they only tried. So now I finally get it. I’ve never taken a workshop like this Continue reading “Quilting workshop success stories”

Appliqué Experiments

A couple of years ago, sometime before I damaged the tendon sheaths in my hand and wrist, I started a quilt with a Feathered Star in the middle, and I planned to border it with a Jinny Beyer border print. I was kind of hoping to enter the quilt into a show that year. I was going to appliqué the border with Jinny’s Soft Edge method, so it would look like this:

Appliquéd border

Well, after the hand problems started, I had to put it aside, and I just can’t see that I’ll be able to do that much hand appliqué again, ever. I can do delicate work like needle-turn appliqué for about ten minutes before my hand starts hurting, so it’s probably not going to get done that way. I pulled this project out of the UFO stash the other day to see what could be done to salvage it. I started trying to see if I could do the appliqué by machine with a really narrow satin stitch.

First satin stitch attempt

A couple of problems here; first, the satin stitching is way too bulky and just looks out of place to me, and second, when I was stitching it on the machine, it was difficult to keep everything flat and nice while the machine moved along. The border print fabric layer kept getting pushed out of place ahead of the foot. Definitely not satisfactory results.

Now, I’ve never been a fan of fusible anything. It’s just not my thing, especially for quilts that are…well…really nice quilts, like I would send to a show. Continue reading “Appliqué Experiments”