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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Free Motion and Pencils

I've done some free motion this week. The larger inner strip on Coins is finished. I'm not too happy with the pattern I used on the lower section, but now that I've also quilted the bottom border, it actually doesn't look too bad or too out of place.
This border is one I've used before. Leah Day taught it last year (I think) as one of the designs she was using in sashing. I just love it and it tends to turn out pretty well no matter where I use it.

The other thing I've been doing is an additional, somewhat larger, colored pencil practice piece. I'm still working on the fabric I use to warm up and try things out on when I'm doing free motion quilting.

I drew the apple in pencil, and quilted on the line. I don't quilt on lines very well, so having some practice doing that is useful. I also wonder how a more sketchy look would work out. If I went around more than once.

I used the same dark beige thread I'm using on the Coin Quilt. I do wonder if I'd like a black or dark gray thread better, especially with a more sketchy look. It is time to go and see if I've got plain white fabric in the house and make up an actual project sandwich. And if not I need to go and buy some.

In the Craftsy class the teacher used some light colored blotchy fabrics that read like batiks, but probably aren't. I have some pink fabric already put out for what was supposed to be the class project, but since I seem to want to do flowers and fruit right now and not a portrait, I don't think it is the right fabric.

I think that what I'd like to do is a classic Baltimore Album pattern, in pencils instead of applique. Not sure how that will go. Not sure I own the right kind of book for that. I know I used to, but I've culled a lot of things out of the bookshelves to make room for other things. Lots of things to think about right now.

Take care all.

Monday, August 26, 2013

What I am up to, August 26, 2012

I generally manage two or three quilting sessions a week, rarely one a day. It isn't a lack of time. It is a lack of energy. I've been working on something to do when I don't quite have the energy to actually play on the sewing machine.

Months ago, possibly last year, I bought a Craftsy class called Thread Art. It basically was a class on how to use colored pencils in an art quilt along with free motion quilting to make pictorial quilts. I knew I didn't want to do the class project. And I didn't have the free motion quilting skills at the time to actually do the technique. These days I do.

I had bought the colored pencils back then, but just put them away. I took them out again last week and decided to try the technique out. There was also an article in the newest Quilting Arts Magazine, which was a similar, but not identical technique. I had bought the brand of pencils from the Craftsy class and the brand used in the magazine were different. Still, I decided to try both techniques.

The Craftsy class technique was to use the pencils dry on a surface where the free motion quilting had been done, and then paint on fabric medium to make the project permanent.

This photo shows my first two attempts to do that.
I used the practice piece I have for the Coins quilt I am currently quilting. This area has very light beige thread on white.

I liked the way this came out. I liked that I could blend in the colors, using the blending pencil, as much or as little as I wanted to. And that the more I colored the more intense the colors turned out to be. I used 2 or 3 shades of each color in this sample.

This second sample was different. This time I used the technique from the magazine. The fabric medium was painted on first, so I was working wet. The advantage was the almost instant intensity of the colors. The disadvantage was that blending the shades into one another wasn't as easy or as controllable. And I ended up with strokes I could see in the final product.

The final sample was in an area where I was using the darker beige thread I'm using on Coins. I went back to the Craftsy class technique, but in a larger area.

Again this is 2 or 3 pencils and several layers of pencil work, followed by the blending pencil and fabric medium. And I love how this looks.

I have an apple penciled out in a blank area of the practice piece. I'm going to quilt it and then color is. The area of the apple is a lot larger than anything I've done before. But I'll still just be practicing, although if this turns out, I might just cut it out of the practice piece and finish it so it can be hung. I've got ideas for several real projects. I'm going to work small for a bunch of reasons. I like the look of the smaller pieces and I know that having small projects means they get made and they get finished. With my current energy issues, that is important.

Meanwhile, most of the second inside strip on Coins has been quilted. Yes, there are those leaves again, without color this time.

Since coins is made from a tone on tone white, there will be no coloring going on in that quilt.I have not decided what I will do in the outer borders. The top and bottom borders are quite narrow. I think one of Leah Day's designs that I've used several times before would look good in both of them. The side borders are wider. Maybe feathers. We will see.

Take care all.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Quilting Coins

I've started quilting Coins, a quilt I made from Modern Quilting Magazine (2012 issue). The quilt in the magazine had straight line quilting that was quite effective, but I knew it would drive me crazy, so I wasn't going to do that. I like the looks of multiple designs mashed together. I tried that in one ring of the practice pieces I was doing and wanted to try it on a real project. When these photos were taken I'd finished one of the inner strips on the quilt.

This is a wall quilt and not particularly large. The white areas are a white on white fabric. I chose a darker beige thread so it would show on the white fabric.

Leah Day says that if you start using thread you can see your quilting will immediately improve, and I think I'm already seeing improvement.

I take a lot of classes from a lot of teachers, all online, and mostly on Craftsy or The Quilt Show. I've learned that no one teacher has the right combination of  techniques for me. I'm using designs and techniques from several different teachers.

This morning I started quilting the second inner strip. Not totally sure what I'm going to be doing with the outer borders. There are borders on the top and bottom too. I think feathers of some kind, but I have not quite figured out what.

This quilt was sandwiched using pins, and a variation of the method that involves controlling the layers with boards. I didn't have the boards, but I would like to get some. The system truly does work and you can do it sitting down. I think you could probably sandwich a baby quilt or a twin sized quilt using this system easily enough.

I find that when I start working on projects that ideas for additional projects come into my mind almost automatically. One thing I'd like to do this year is at least one Christmas project. Another is to learn a pencil coloring technique from the Craftsy class Thread Art that I originally took last year. I've been rewatching the classes and I think I'm ready to at least try out some coloring on my current FMQ practice piece.

Take care all.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Free Motion Again

I've been working on my Coins quilt the last few days. I got it sandwiched, and I've been ditching it using a walking foot. I've taken a bunch of classes on Craftsy on quilting by machine. Some of the teachers teach using a walking foot, some teach ditching as you go using free motion. This particular quilt has lots of long straight lines and doesn't have blocks. I think the walking foot was the way to go here.

I decided to use thread that would show. I was a little worried about the ditching, but in the photo you almost can't tell it is there. The background fabric is white on white. I'm using a color that is darker than the darkest shade in the fabric, and I think it works pretty well.

I started with a pattern I'm pretty comfortable with, a version of leaves. My intention is to have the patterns run into one another. I did that with one ring on a practice piece I was doing recently, and really liked the look. So the next pattern will be a smaller pattern to fill in around the leaves and then will give way to another larger fill pattern. Not sure what yet.

I've tried multiple ways to control the quilt as I am moving it around the machine. The latest one is this ring called a Halo. I find that I like it a lot. I tended to get my hands hung up under the machine when I used Ann Petersen's quilt movers. Those were pieces of shelf lining. Basically it worked pretty good, but I like the Halo better. I hated quilting gloves. They were always in the way when I needed to do something delicate.

Take care all.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Quilting Update

I finished both of the free motion practice projects I've been working on. They were supposed to be part of a tote bag using directions from one of Leah Day's Craftsy classes. They almost certainly will never be a finished project. I don't need a tote bag.

In the end I used lots of quilting motifs, not all of them hers. You can literally see the quilting improve as I worked from the center out. I worked on both of them at the same time.

The feathers on the lower photo were from Angela Walters' class on feathers. I had never done the type of feather she calls a "custom feather". I'm pretty sure it is the same as Leah Day's "bump, bump feather" but I didn't go and check so that might not be right.

Turns out that once I got the hang of the new type of feather that I liked it a lot. The shape I get with this method is a lot fatter, and it is easier to get the angle correct. I found turning the corner very easy using her method. I am curious what the feather would look like if I had more room.

I got my new design wall up this weekend. It took both my daughter and her husband to get it up. It truly was a two man job.

I got a deal on the Fons & Porter design wall from JoAnn's online. 50% off. I had never known how they expected you to hang it. Turns out it comes with 7 grommets. I used clear 3-M hooks to hang it. But getting them up straight and perpendicular was not easy.

The blocks stick very well with no pins. In fact since this is basically a vinyl tablecloth, you can't pin into it. The people who gave this bad reviews had a point, but it does do the job, and with the coupon, the price was right.

The blocks are from a Civil War Blocks Craftsy class. I actually had already made 5 blocks. I realized as soon as they were up that they didn't "go" together well enough for me. They are also not quite all the same size.

I am not a precision piecer! I have decided that if I decide to make more classic blocks, I'm going to paper piece and start over so the colors go together.

So I pulled out the coin quilt, got it sandwiched and now I'm auditioning thread. I think the one in the upper photo is the one I will be going for.

I sort of used Sharon Schambers' method of putting the sandwich together. I don't have the wooden bars she uses (yet!) but I made do with a quilting ruler and a cardboard tube. I pin basted instead of hand basting.

This is a narrow quilt, so what I used worked. and I did have to take some of the pins out and resmooth the other end, but it did work. If I used her bars it would have worked even better. So I am almost certainly going to get some.

Take care all.