Tuesday, September 27, 2016

And How Are Those Padfolios Coming?

They are coming along quite nicely, thank you very much! All decorative stitching is complete, linings and pockets chosen (taking less time for the perfect match-ups than usual), linings fused in place (you get a peek of them in the above picture), and pockets glue-basted in place. 

Here is what the "lovely leaves" quilting design looks like now that it is stitched out. I'm thinking perhaps I should have switched the threads, using the lighter variegated King Tut thread on the darker lavender fabric and the darker variegated King Tut thread on the lighter lavender. This is the struggle I have with nearly every project, often erring too far on the side of safety as I try to get that perfect balance of showing up enough but not too much. Well, these will not be hanging on any wall and the thread shows up differently in different light so I think the thread choice will be ok.

And here are the lavenders after their satin stitching. The camera struggles to get these colors correct and without brightening them up too much but I think this is pretty close. I always think the edges should be satin stitched with a darker thread like a dark frame so it is a challenge for me to stay with that lighter thread for the one on the right. But I like it!

That finishing touch of the edge finish on these truly can transform them. I have totally fallen in  love with the ones made from the "failed" snow dyeing experiment now that the satin stitching is complete.

Here is how I quilted the denim blue one. You can see how much I was influenced by my recent use of swirls on the baby quilts. There was a bit of a ray going on in the texturing of the hand-dye so I just went with it to guide my wavy lines which then were filled in with loops and swirls. I used a Mettler Embroidery thread which variegation did not change as quickly as the King Tut's so there are much longer stretches of the white than I expected.

Because of that, I am still dithering over what color of thread to use for the satin stitching on it. When I did a test to see what it would look like in a satin stitch, I wasn't sure I would like that going around the edge and especially how it would look running up the sides of the pockets which are a very dark blue. You can see in the sample how much the shorter changes in the King Tut thread effect the look of the satin stitch. When there is a lot of value change in the variegation, it almost becomes a stripe effect. This difference in color run lengths between brands is a good thing to keep in mind as you shop for variegated threads and consider how you most likely will use them. At any rate, I'm auditioning some dark blue solid threads while I feel myself being won over by the Mettler in spite of those long stretches before a change. Once I make that decision, all that's left is the closures. End is in sight!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Molly's Undersea Playground

Molly's Undersea Playground - NZ Quilter pattern
I know at least a few of you were anxious to see that second baby quilt in its entirety and now I can share it. I didn't put a sleeve on it because I envisioned it over or under the baby I made it for, but to my surprise, her parents think they will hang it at the end of her crib so she can stare at it. Apparently it has captured her attention and I can surely understand that after living with it on my design wall for many weeks.

I stitched in the vertical ditches, then added wavy lines between the vertical sashings before taking off the walking foot and free motion quilting in the swirls and bubbles.

I chose this Aurifil variegated thread as it had all the colors that are in the quilt. It is a spool I inherited from my mother-in-law when she passed on her few quilting supplies to me. Frankly, I looked at it and couldn't imagine ever using it, knowing I would have never bought it had I seen it while shopping for threads. However, it has come in handy more than once, and I used it in both the top and bobbin as I stitched away on this quilt.

Remember me tracing out all the swirls and curves on quilting paper for Kavi's quilt? Although I was a little nervous as I started out to do the same swirls and some bubbles here, I immediately sensed that all that practice paid off. The swirls were pretty easy now.

And I even took a big breath and quilted Molly's name without marking too!

When I started cutting the narrow strips from the fun fish fabric, I was a little worried that the motifs in it would not be recognizable once pieced in with only one inch showing. I was quite delighted to see a crab or two peaking out around a colorful rectangle.

And many fish were easily recognizable too. I have to say, my color and fabric choices give off a totally different vibe from those in the Modern Tiles quilt pattern I used out of the New Zealand Quilter magazine. (You can just see the magazine opened to show the quilt in this picture.) Theirs was calm and soothing (which I planned to somewhat copy), mine turned into more of a riot. I surprise myself sometimes.

When it came time for the binding, I decided to try something different. With the Thinsulate batting, the edges didn't seem very firm and I worried about stretching and wobbling as I sewed. I remembered that Fons and Porter recommended sewing the binding on before cutting away the excess so that is what I did here. If your quilt is relatively square (or as in this one, the squareness isn't a big issue), this actually works quite well. You can then trim away that extra and leave a perfect quarter inch seam allowance to turn your binding over.

So you remember me mentioning that the backing I chose was just big enough? I had extra in one direction but exactly the length of the quilt in the other. Actually, a smidgen short but I decided I'd chance it. There was selvage along those edges and although I normally wouldn't leave a selvage in a seam, this time it would prevent raveling and failure of a seam made with one side too narrow. It was tricky getting the backing and top lined up when layering but I was only off in a few places like the one in the picture. Another reason to wait to trim off the extra batting and backing until the binding was sewn on.

And here's that wild backing I knew the mother of this child would love, a fabric from my late friend's stash. Judi Judi Judi, what WERE you thinking? And yet, it has the colors of the top of the quilt and is so fun to pair with it.

Like with Kavi's quilt, I did not want to make a separate label that would have to be handsewn on. So I hunted down a spot where I could ink my info directly on the backing with a Micron Pigma pen. Have fun, Molly, with your undersea playground!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Freezing Up

How can one go from confident one day to timid the next? This is what is happening as I look at the prepared padfolio covers and ponder what designs to stitch on them. These hand-dyes have few visual clues to follow. Even the colors are throwing me a bit. I decided the red ones could get the maple leaf treatment like this one, and dug out the freezer paper templates I'd used before. It felt like it needed more, so I pulled my file of pressed leaves and traced some slightly larger ones to fill in. As for the rest, I was drawing a blank as I so often do. I don't want to keep doing the same thing so I pulled my ridiculously fat file of quilting designs started back when I was hand quilting. It holds patterns pulled from magazines as well as pictures from catalogs that could be turned into quilting designs and a few templates I've made. Bear in mind, I also have quilting designs in my many books as well as books that only have quilting designs in them. Somewhere in all that reference material must be an idea I can use or adapt, something that will trigger my foggy brain.

And yes there was. This is called "lovely leaf" - you can see it in the top photo and came from Quilters Newsletter Magazine, April 2003 issue. As I studied it, I noted how it was set up for continuous stitching and couldn't imagine myself being able to do it justice without markings to follow. As you can see, I traced it onto freezer paper and cut it out and have ironed it to the back portion of the padfolio cover. Perfect fit, and I will be using a dark blue variegated thread to stitch it. If all goes to plan, it will also go on the front cover and half of it on the flap such that when the padfolio is closed, the flap will perfectly complete the design.

So I'm moving slowly along, two stitched, two ready to go under the needle, one still undecided although I have picked fabric for its lining and pockets and possibilities for the others. Feels like I'm wasting too much time second guessing and holding back. So much for being warmed up!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Padfolios Again

The studio is up and running again after my major cleaning last week, and as much as I can't believe it, I'm working on padfolios again. After years of only selling one here and there, I suddenly can't keep them in stock. I've been out since mid May and hadn't planned to make more until later in the year - baby quilts and other things to work on, you know. But then I got a call from someone who had received a padfolio as a gift and wanted to buy some to give away as well. She was willing to wait until I cleared the decks a bit, and I decided to treat this more like a commission. She told me what colors she might like, I dug through my stash and cut a bunch of covers for her to choose from and we narrowed it down from there. Her favorites are on the right, the others on the left. She will probably purchase three but I wanted her to have a few more than that to choose from.

As successful as these made from the hand-dyed fabrics have been, I really wanted a break from making them (I think I made 15 or 18 of them between December and May). And yet, when I started going through my fabrics for likely candidates, I got excited all over again, and even pulled a few that were not in her color range. My thinking was that I may as well cut extras right now as long as I intended to make more this fall anyway. I haven't picked out linings and pocket fabric yet, but instead have started with fusing my customer's five fabrics to peltex so I can start on the stitching. After all, I'm all warmed up from those baby quilts.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Laboring Away

This is Labor Day in the U.S. and I have been laboring all weekend. The carpets were long overdue for a cleaning and I haven't been up to the task until now. Some people spring clean. I fall clean! But before I upended the studio to expose as much rug for cleaning as possible, I finished up the other baby quilt. I know I said I wouldn't post pics until it made it to the recipients but I couldn't resist sharing a peek at the quilting. All that quilting of marked swirls on Molly's cousin's quilt paid off. I took off the training wheels and quilted in swirls and bubbles totally freehand and it was fun! Just proves that the experts are right about practise and muscle memory.

I even added her name here and there, again without marking. I think it was easier here than on Kavi's quilt because I'm quilting in a smaller space and not having to center exactly. Oh freedom! Will post more about this will full views soon.