Monday, June 17, 2013

It's mine.

 A quilted block

Rainy days have given me time to work on my "December" machine quilting. So, what do I have to report?

1.  I love the herringbone stitch I used to hand baste this quilt.  See my blog post for details.  It's great not to have to deal with safety pins.  As I'm quilting, all I need to do is clip the basting stitches;  the rest of the basting stitch stays in place until I get there.

Clipping basting stitches

2.  I am quilting with 40 weight Rayon machine embroidery thread which is the same thread I use for all my machine appliqué and I'm using 60 weight Bottom Line thread in my bobbin, matching the color to my top thread.  No tension problems at all.

3.  I had no plans to do this, but I am adding detail stitching and some 'thread painting' to my appliqué motifs.  At the AQS Paducah, Kentucky show this spring, I saw many thread painted quilts which were just beautiful and I stuck this in my "have to try this" memory. Using embroidery thread for thread painting is perfect as it matches my appliqué stitches.

Detail stitching

4.  After detail stitching my appliqués in off white thread,  I'm outline quilting them in dark grey thread and this is going well.  I think after spending so much time drawing and stitching all these designs, I know them by heart and it's easy to go ahead with my quilting, even those teeny circles.

Outline stitching

5.  I really didn't plan this either, but I am creating an interesting stitching design on the back of my quilt.  You will see snowflakes on the front and the back!  My backing fabric is a gorgeous black mottled Stonhenge.

Back of quilt 

6.  And finally:  I don't plan to add a ton of quilting, like tiny filler stitching in the background which is already textured and dark.  The trend in machine quilting seems to be over-the-top, quilt-it-to-death.  

There is still plenty of quilting going on here, but this quilt is really about my appliqué and after all, this is my quilt and I'm going my own way here.  

It's much more fun that way.  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Save me my dragonflies!

Dragonfly Applique

What an explosion of mosquitos in the north woods!  They are in full attack mode, making any outdoor activity a challenge.

But, the dragonflies are here and this morning on my walk they flitted all about me devouring those pesky skeeters.  

The full pattern for this quilt is included in my upcoming book "Nature's Journey Appliqué".

"I Love the Nightlife"
Jane Zillmer
Machine quilting by Lisa Arndt

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Basting Away

 December 60" x 60"

This is my newest quilt "December" and the photo is the same as when I last blogged about it.  As you can see, there are no borders.

After many, many hours of consternation and trial and error, including some great ideas from my quilt group, I came up with a border appliqué design and thank goodness, the top is finally finished.  You can see a sneak preview below.  

Since this is not one of my larger quilts, I decided I'd tackle the machine quilting myself.  It has long been my goal to do all my own quilting, but I've never had the courage to tackle those 90" x 90" quilts.  

At this point otherwise, I'd be joyfully handing my quilt top off to my machine quilter.  Let her decide on the quilting design (though I usually had some ideas).  And no layering and basting required on my part!

In the past, I hand quilted most my quilts, so I've done my share of crawling on the floor and pin basting.  You know, it just never seemed right to be working on the floor like that.  Much less how not right the body felt afterward. 

I came upon Sharon Shamber's wonderful video about how to hand baste a quilt of any size while seated at a table.  I followed her instructions step by step and was able to accomplish this at my dining room table.  My herringbone basting stitch is a bit uneven, but  I was trying to avoid stitching on my appliqué motifs.   There are no puckers on the back and no pins to deal with.  I love the way I can smooth the quilt out, whereas with safety pins you can't do this.  It's also so much lighter and easier to handle without all those pins.  And it didn't take any longer to hand baste than it would to pin baste, believe it or not.  

Hand basting "December" in progress

Since starting this quilt,  I've been planning how to quilt it and what quilting designs to use.  With my large and very detailed central appliqués, there isn't space for much quilting but I will be outline stitching in and around all those snowflakes as my first step. 

Sue Nickels' new book: "Fabulous Feathers & Fillers" is wonderful and after reading it, I was able to draw my own feather design for the open spaces in my borders. 

I'm experimenting with different threads on sample sandwiches at this point, and then it's Happy Quilting Time!