Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Free Motion Defined

During the past week, I've continued free-motion quilting on my big Snowflake Medallion quilt. That's the pattern name, but don't you think I should name it for myself? Anyway, the more I've been focusing on sit-down quilting, the more I've come to realize there's not just one form of free motion quilting. I don't know if these are proper terms, but here are the types of sit-down quilting I'm doing:
  1. Free Form. That quilting is like all over quilting, and what I did here. It's when, after practicing a design on paper, or tracing it repeatedly with your finger, you know it in your head. Then, through that familiarization, your eyes and hands can communicate the design to the quilt. There's no marking the quilt. So far, for me, it's easier to quilt a single shape or motif than it is to "ad-lib." I'm not yet adept at "thinking on my feet" (or "thinking on my seat!") anticipating what lies ahead to fill in what needs filling in as I go. Ideally, I think this is the kind of quilting all of us would like to be able to do! In my opinion, it's probably more achievable on a longarm machine because stand-up quilters get a three-foot perspective. When you're sit-down quilting you have only a one-foot perspective. 
  2. Partial Marking. This is when I need just a little guidance. It might be a circle drawn with a wash-out marker, or a wavy feather vein cut from freezer paper and pressed in place as a guide. Partial marking gives me a starting place onto which I can add free form quilting.
  3. Motif  and Design Marking. As much effort as it takes to premark a quilt - whether drawing a design directly onto the quilt with a washout/ironout marker, or quilting through Golden Threads paper, this is the best way for me to ensure I have a complete and balanced design. Until I improve a whole lot more at thinking on my seat, I need to follow a detailed guide for most of my free motion quilting. 
In the next pictures you'll see how I used Golden Threads paper to get what I was hoping for.

Motif and Design Marked Quilting

To quilt one of the appliqued motif's in the quilt, I traced this shape from the "Snowflake Medallion" pattern onto parchment paper.

I cut out 6" squares of Golden Threads and stacked and pinned 12 of them together. With the parchment paper on top and no thread in the sewing machine, I quilted holes through all the layers. Eight flower/leaf motifs are on each side of the quilt, so this 12 layer hole-quilting needs to be repeated two more times.

Straight pins hold a single layer of Golden Threads, ready for quilting with thread.

Quilted through the paper.

Some paper removed.

You can see that the paper doesn't want to come out of the double veined stem. Tweezers come in handy here.

Quilted, and the paper removed.

Echo quilting around the flower/stem motifs was by eye. 

In the next area of the quilt, I wanted a motif that is 9" wide, spanning three narrow borders and flying geese blocks. I cut a piece of Golden Threads paper 9" wide and 27-1/2" long - half the length of the border. Using a fine point green Sharpie, I drew veins and feathers onto Golden Threads, checking and rechecking on the quilt that the design I created fit between the applique shapes, and confines of the borders. That eight petal flower is an applique motif I traced from the "Snowflake Medallion" pattern.

Since I needed a total of eight pieces (two pieces for each of the quilt's four sides), I cut seven more 9" X 27-1/2" pieces, stacked and pinned them together, and quilted - without thread - through all eight layers.

Perforated Golden Threads paper, ready to peel apart, pin to the quilt, and quilt.

Quilted, and the paper removed.

Even though it takes planning and drawing - the sort of prep work I don't like because it makes me in a hurry to "get to the good stuff" - in the end, it's worth the time. Don't you think it looks as good as longarm quilting? The best back-handed compliment I get is when I'm asked, "Do you quilt on a longarm?" Linda

Saturday, May 28, 2011

All in a Day's Fun

Since posting here that I'm the only person I know who hangs laundry outside to dry, two other local friends have let me know they too are laundry-hangers. That's good to know, but really. Only three of us?

I'd rather hang new fabric on the clothesline than clothes. Here are some of the Erin McMorris prints I purchased at a shop in Dunedin, Florida.
assorted Erin McMorris prints
While fabric was line-drying, I made this 8" X 8" quilt block for Amy in our One Block Over swap. Fun prints, and a quick and easy block to sew following this tutorial at Badskirt blog.
8" X 8" unfinished "One Block Over" block
These fabric stacks are 5" squares for Carla of Lollyquiltz who's coordinating an "I Spy" swap. My DIL helped me pick out the prints at the Florida quilt shop, thinking of the little boys who will get the quilts I'll make with them.
5" X 5" unfinished squares
It's been a while since I've made a pin cushion ring, but they're still one of my favorite things to make when I want to give a little unexpected thank-you gift. I make a habit of saving plastic bottle caps in assorted colors, and if I'm really on top of my game, I drill holes in a bunch of them at one time so they're ready to make.

As a little thank you to Lee at FreshlyPieced, for hosting the fun "Supernova Quilt-Along," I made her this pin cushion ring. See my tutorial for it here.

I like to wear my mine on the index finger of my left hand, but it would work on your thumb too.

This fabric was in my own Supernova quilt.

Maybe Lee will use the pin cushion and remember the big impact she made on me - my first modern quilt where I intentionally used a solid to make a quilt that wasn't "Amish!"Linda

Thursday, May 26, 2011

About Joplin

Whether you live in the US or on another continent, you have surely heard about the devastating tornados that have plagued the southern Midwest. Several of you have expressed your concern to me personally. Thankfully, most of Iowa - at least where I live - has avoided this horrible spring weather.

A member of our church is a news reporter for a local TV station. He was sent to Joplin, Missouri to report on conditions there. He also wrote a blog post for our church, and that's the link I'd invite you to read. Whether you are a person of faith or not, this story is fascinating. Praise God,

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Friday Night Sew In - Free Motion Quilting

EDITED to add: I learned from the host of the Friday Night Sew In (FNSI), that I'm one of two randomly-selected winners of the giveaway! I'll be receiving this book and fabric pack. 
Thank you Heidi and Barb!
A second FNSI winner is one of my blogospheric-buddies, Kerry, at A Little Stitching. Congratulations, Kerry!

It's been long overdue for me to begin quilting this "Snowflake Medallion" quilt that has been pin basted since June 2010. I'm surprised my safety pins haven't begun to rust!

I've been away from home quite a bit in the past couple months, so it was nice to be in my sewing room on a Friday night to join Handmade by Heidi's Friday Night Sew In  (FNSI), last night. It was the perfect opportunity to get started free motion quilting. And boy, am I having fun!

I'm trying three new things with this 80" X 80" quilt.

One: I'm using wool batt. It was a little more expensive, but I was able to buy it by the yard and save a little money versus purchasing it in a package. Wow, is this ever nice stuff. I really like the puff it creates in all the unquilted areas.

Two: I'm quilting with Sulky thread. It's 100 percent rayon and I really like the rich shimmer it gives to the quilt surface. At first I threaded pale green Sulky on top and turquoise Aurifil 50-weight in the bobbin. Though I was able to adjust the tension so neither thread popped through, I didn't like the shadow of the turquoise bobbin thread that I could see in the needle hole. It's better to have the same pale green Sulky on top and in the bobbin, though my quilting stitches really show up on the back.

Starting to quilt never fails to intimidate me. Though I've never hang-glided, I think it must feel somewhat the same. Standing at the edge of a cliff... just looking out over that vast expanse of nothing, taking a big gulp and saying to oneself, "Run. Leap. Just do it!"

I spent some time pondering and studying motifs in this book.  

When I settled on wanting something like this, I began to pencil-draw the pattern in my sketchpad... again and again. I practiced it more times than I usually do.

It paid off. 

Three: I'm trying something suggested by Karen Kay Buckley in a workshop, three years ago. My first quilting is on a side. Karen's view is that your quilting improves as you quilt. Since people generally first focus on the center of a quilt, it's better to quilt your "worst" at the side. The more you quilt, the better your stitches look as you progress toward the center.

I really like this quilt pattern - purchased two years ago from Ballarat Patchwork in Victoria, Australia - and I am thoroughly enjoying quilting it! I can't believe I just said that!

One side of the quilt is finished: pinwheels, and a narrow border of large and small "beads."

From the back. 

I know I still have a lot more quilting time to put in, and I will have many more decisions to make choosing quilting motifs (More cliffs to hang-glide from!) but thanks to the nudge from Heidi's FNSI, it feels good to get started.  Linda

Friday, May 20, 2011

First Modern Quilt Guild Meeting

Thursday evening at the West Des Moines Public Library, 23 women attended a first get-togther to hear more about starting a Des Moines chapter of The Modern Quilt Guild.

It was wonderful.

We began by talking about what it means to be a modern quilter. We used this blog post from SewingSummit as a basis for mutual understanding about the quilters who join Des Moines' Modern Quilt Guild. Also, this blog post by the leader of the Sacramento Modern Quilt Guild provided a nice summary of modern quilting.

It was during show and tell that we really started to get to know one another. Here's just some of the eye candy.

hot pad
hexagon-shaped mug rug 
"LOVE" hot pad

Lots of ideas were tossed around and will be considered... for education, programs, a DMMQG blog or Flickr group, dues, swaps and challenges, and whether or not to have treats! Important decisions to make!

Volunteers stepped up and it looks like we've got the start of a steering committee. Until the committee decides otherwise, DMMQG meetings will be the third Thursday of each month. The next meeting is June 16. The specific location hasn't yet been determined.

For the time being, Doris (ThreadsofConversation) and I will continue to co-chair. If you'd like to join DMMQG, please let us know here.

Now go be modern! Linda

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Our May Trip

If the picture below looks somewhat familiar, like you think you've seen it on this blog before, you're almost right. Last week, once again, Dan and I were in Tampa, Florida, visiting our son, DIL, and grandson. We were there in February/March and returned to celebrate Austin's first birthday.

Except for one day, we walked to his daycare at noon to bring him home to spend the afternoon with us. Don't you love his safari hat? That Tampa sun can be brutal. And how cute are those chubby little legs?

Austin - clapping! - and his mom
 Because our kids live almost in downtown Tampa while walking we saw this...

... and this graphic spiral and reflecting pool outside the Bank of America building.

We also toured the Museum of Photographic Arts, having the unexpected treat of seeing a display of nearly 60 original Ansel Adams photos. Every one of them was developed by Mr. Adams himself! The curator told us each photo is valued at $40,000 to $60,000. Of course, no photography was permitted.

Continuing our walk, we went to The University of Tampa campus. The school is the site of the former Tampa Bay Hotel build by railway tycoon Henry B. Plant in 1891 at the cost of $2.5 million. If the hotel was still in operation, this skyline view is what a hotel visitor would see today.

The hotel architecture is of Moorish design.
Ah, you know you're in the south when you see Spanish moss.

As always, I appreciate the variety of beautiful palm trees.

This is the hotel entrance that now leads to the Henry B. Plant Museum, housing a collection of Victorian age furnishings that reflect the splendor of the hotel. 


The 511-room hotel must have been posh for it's day - the first hotel to have electricity, and railway cars delivered guests right to the doors.

Our two-day drive back to Iowa was uneventful. So uneventful that the best I could do at 7:15 a.m. on a Tuesday morning in Paducah, Kentucky, is take pictures of Hancock Fabrics. Poor me, huh?

Whew. Thankfully I made it to a quilt shop while in Florida. It wouldn't have been right not to at least do that! Linda


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