On a “Finishing Roll”

Flower BlockAfter finishing the Dresden Plate Drama quilt (by the way, it’s been claimed by Guitar Girl for her bed, and christened “Rosette;” I was somewhat surprised that she liked it that much!), I still didn’t have my rayon thread in hand for The Misery Quilt (Grrrr!), so I pulled out another large work in progress and just kept going. I realized that this other quilt may be even older (!) than the Dresden Plate quilt. 😦 Ouch. Anyway, there was surprisingly little to be done, relatively speaking. Two or three easy days of quilting and then binding saw it done!

Did you know that metallic thread can tarnish?? Yup, it can…

I started making this one for my bed way back when. It began as a pattern from a book, and I modified the flower block and changed the border. I hand dyed the fabrics for the Log Cabin blocks with my friend Carla. I quilted most of it with silver metallic thread, and what I learned from that was “never again.” Did you know that metallic thread can tarnish?? Yup, it can, and even though Sulky America swears that’s not true, I have the proof sitting right here on this quilt. Aside from the tarnishing issue, machine quilting is difficult enough at times without throwing sensitive, difficult to manage, breakage-prone thread into the bargain. I finished up the outer border in cotton, thank you very much, since the floral fabric had silver overprinting on it anyway so why torture myself? At this point, done is more important than perfect!

Garden Quilt Center

There was a contest sponsored by Better Homes and Gardens at some point, and I thought I would finish this up and enter it, and even though I didn’t get it done in time (obviously), in my head it’s always been called “Homes and Gardens.” Now I have to come up with another name! Read More

The quiet, the memories and the quilting

I was a bachelorette this weekend, as ITMan took the girls to Girl Scout Camp (is he a great dad, or what? Good thing he likes that kind of stuff, because nobody will ever get me to do that camping thing ever again. “Roughing it” in my book is a hotel without room service and a spa!). I decided that I wouldn’t go check the mail on Friday to see if my thread was there, since I began to see light at the end of the 11-year-long tunnel that was the Dresden Plate Drama quilt. I started this quilt in 1996 (I might have said ’95 here before, but I really think ’96 now), so it’s long past time to see it finished!

This quilt carries many memories with it; not surprising considering it’s older than my youngest daughter. I spent a lot of time sifting through them as I finished it up. The pattern is from the May, 1994 issue of McCall’s Quilting, the first quilting magazine issue I ever bought, even before I was “a quilter.” I can’t lay my hands on it right at the moment, but I do still have that magazine. I know I have it somewhere, because there’s another quilt in it that I’ve always wanted to make, and besides that you all know I’m a confirmed packrat. The fabric is my absolute favorite fabric of all time, a Christmas print from VIP Fabrics. I had to have my mom search out more of it for me and ship it over, and I ended up with a total of 18 yards of the stuff, 13-14 of which went into this quilt in one place or another. (I still have the rest, wonder where it’ll end up?) This was the first block I made (you can see all these pics bigger if you click, but beware, they’re big files!):

Dresden Drama Block

This wonderful kaleidoscopic effect is just so stunning in this fabric. Every single plate in this quilt is slightly different. I cut a total of 364 (or was it 384?) petals the old fashioned way, by hand with a template. I took my first appliqué stitches on these plates, sad as they were! Too big, too far apart, using the wrong weight and color of thread, Read More

Another one bites the dust!

No, I haven’t started listening to old rock from Queen, I’ve just finished another UFO! Woohoo! I had a bad design moment with some fusible web a week or so ago while I was working on the Feathered Lone Star with the bird embroidery, and now I have to start the embroidery part all over again. URGH! But that’s another rant for later. I decided to put it all back in it’s little box for a bit, and finish up the Irish Chain quilt that I’ve been working on. It was getting close to done, so I decided I could use the “boost” that comes from finishing a project right about now. So here it is:

Irish Chain

A detail view of the main motif:

Irish Chain detail

And my favorite part of the quilting, the heart chain border:

Irish Chain border

That little border was super easy, and it looks so elegant. It fit nearly perfectly too, since the repeat lined up with the squares in the chain, with only a little fudging to fit at the corners. I still have to clip thread tails off of the back, and it needs a label. I have to think of a name for it before I can label it though, and nothing is coming to mind immediately here.

I did think in the beginning that I would stipple around the motifs in the large open spaces, but my friend Brenda said “don’t do it,” and I really didn’t need to do it, especially since this is just going to lay around the house and keep someone warm. This quilt was originally a class sample from years ago, so it’s good to have it finished finally. This quilt really became the “get used to free motion quilting on the Bernina 440” quilt. The Bernina and I are fast friends now, but I still pulled out the Pfaff to put the binding on. I just wasn’t willing to try to put binding on in my usual way without my dual feed on the Pfaff. And why should I? That is why I’m keeping both machines, after all…:)

Edit: Oops! Forgot to share the stats on this quilt: cotton fabrics, Hobbs PolyDown batting (using it up so I can switch to wool!), quilted with two colors of #100 silk thread on top, Aurifil 50/2 cotton Mako in the bobbin.

Quilt Retreat: Quilt, Eat, Sleep, Repeat!

High on the (very) short list of things to love about living here: spending the weekend quilting (and eating and sleeping) in an 850-year-old monastery. The Kloster Schoental, to be exact. The condensed version: good food, good company, good quilting, happy weekend.

The uncut version: Kloster Schoental is about one hour from my house, the last 20 minutes or so through little towns and scenic curvy roads. The Black Forest Quilt Guild has held it’s spring Quilt Retreat there every year for the last three, I think, and it’s just wonderful. The monastery has been modernized of course, but not to the point of losing it’s essence. We had a giant well lit room for quilting, and single or double rooms for sleeping. They feed us five times a day (yes, FIVE!): breakfast, coffee and tea break with pretzels and savory pastries, lunch, coffee or tea break with sweet cakes, and dinner, and drinks are available anytime. There’s plenty of room for everyone to spread out everywhere, for relaxing, quilting, talking, quilt basting, Irish dancing (really!), whatever. Read More

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.

Making friends with the Bernina 440

One day, I’m in love with it, and a few days later, we’re still making friends! Well, I am still in love with my new Bernina, but I’m also still trying to be friends with it for machine quilting. The embroidery part is absolutely awesome, and I like it much better than the Pfaff, so that’s not the issue. Free motion machine quilting is the issue, and it’s a biggie, since that’s what I do most, and the major reason I wanted the machine. I had such a great time with it in Paducah, so I wasn’t thinking that the adjustment from the Pfaff would be all that difficult. In my mind, there was no adjustment period, I think. In reality, it’s a huge change, and I’m still getting used to it.

Part of the problem is that in Paducah, I was doing a completely different type of quilting than I usually do (which is why I took the class in the first place!). So now, when I’m home and working on quilting in my (mostly) normal style, it’s proving more challenging than I thought it would be to produce the same quality work on the Bernina as I can on the Pfaff. I say “mostly” normal style, because I did decide to quilt the Irish Chain quilt with silk thread in the needle and Aurifil 50/2 in the bobbin, so I’m making smaller stitches than I usually do, and that’s undoubtedly contributing to the problem a bit. When I’m making smaller stitches, it’s not the rhythmic sound of one stitch at a time from the machine that I’m listening to and trying to coordinate with, but the pitch of the motor at a certain speed. Totally different ballgame here. Maybe I’m trying to get used to too many things at once.

I’m beginning to feel like a beginning machine quilter again! Aaack! Read More