Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Quilting of Starbright Part 1

Today's post is about the quilting of Starbright,
it's thread choices and design decisions. The actual quilting will be a future post, as this one is so long!  So, let's get started.

The first quilting decision is choosing a thread color.  This quilt has a lot of colors in it, and I didn't want 6 color changes cause I don't want to work harder than I have to.  I'd rather quilt!   
My color choices were purple, dark blue, lite green, gold, and orange.  I like to take a bunch of thread off the spool and put it on the quilt to see how it might look.  Here's the tests:
Dark Blue

Lite Green
Purple and dark blue disappear on the background, and lite green disappears on the green and turquoise.  The gold works okay, but I found orange to work better because it's brighter and the color shows up on all of the fabric colors.  
Now that the thread color is decided, it's time for design!

Since the turquoise fabric ended bluntly instead of a point, I wanted to quilt it such that there was a point, to further define the star.  And for fun, I added 4 more points in the background fabric, so now my star has 12 arms.
I've come to discover that I don't have to stay within the confines of the patch when quilting, as is the case with this star.  Using a circle now brings all the arms together, and creates movement.  Adding the additional zig-zag makes the star spin.  The pebbles are okay, as they add interest and texture, but maybe something else would have worked better.  But I certainly would not put in more lines--there's enough of that already.

Now for the center.  I treated it separately, as if it were a star within a star.  Here's what I drew up originally
The very center is okay, but what was bothering me was the additional pebbles.  Now there were just too many of them.

So, back to drawing.  Here's a slight variation of the center.
It's okay, but by extending some lines to make four more points, I get this:
That's looking more impressive!  Now I play with fills:
Hmmm, the pebbles are a bit much.  How about a tiny stipple?
Better, but....
At the frame, it's decision time.  I have all the lines of that inner star stitched out, but as I look at it and it's relation to the surrounding quilting, I decide not to do any fill.  And here's why:  the stitching of the star had already compressed the area, and I would have to stitch a pretty dense fill to make it pop.  And those areas would be more heavily stitched than the rest of the quilt.  I am a firm believer in consistency of quilting.

Now, I could have filled in areas of the star, but the design was just not lending itself to that.  So, I'm letting the star stand on it's own.

And last but not least, the smaller pink/orange stars.  
The orange area is at the front, but I didn't want it to dominate the quilt.  So here, I went with gentle curving lines that give motion instead of a fill that competed for attention.  And the straight lines in the pink give the eye a place to rest.

I hope you have enjoyed the walk through of the quilting design for this quilt.  In Part 2, I show thread paths to eliminate starts and stops, and how I stitched the star.

Happy Quilting!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Starbright is Done!

Hooray!  Finally, the unveiling of Starbright!
Based on one block from April's Book of the Month,
40 Bright and Bold Paper Pieced Blocks , by Carol Doak. (affiliate link)
I have to admit that the evolution of this quilt was due to  Carol Doak's Mastering Foundation Paper-Piecing, and Kimmy Brunner's Machine Quilting with Templates.

Carol's class inspired me to do another paper pieced quilt, and Kimmy's class inspired the quilting!

Here are some closeups of the quilting:

The above picture shows the edge, which is stippling.  The reason I decided on that was because the background fabric was so dark and so busy, it's hard to see the quilting.  So, why spend a lot of time on it?

This picture shows the quilt center, with four quilted star points coming into it. 

And this one shows the star detail. I had the most fun with the stars!  The cut of the green fabric lends a spinning quality to this star, so I played off of that with the circle and zig-zags.  These were all done with a circle and a straight ruler.  The other blue point is filled in with pebbles but as I look at it now, maybe I should have swapped the pebbles with the straight lines?  But then again, so many lines in that star would have hurt my eyes!

And this is the back. 
Happy Quilting!

Friday, May 17, 2013

May Day Basket Finished!

For those of you new to my blog, each month I'm challenging myself to make something from one of the numerous books I own.  This month I'm celebrating May Day, and I give you my May Day Basket!

I recently purchased EQ Stitch, a digitizing add-on for EQ7, and digitized the flowers from an applique block. Added those flowers to a basket block in Nancy Mahoney's Basket Bonanza, then a few borders, and viola!  A basket of flowers wall hanging to celebrate spring in May!

This, of course, is before all the pretty quilting!

This quilt measures 18 1/2"x 19", and has two layers of batting.  One is poly, the other (I think) a poly/cotton blend,  using up some batting scraps by zigzag-ing the edges together.  Wall hangings are a perfect use for those scraps!  Even though I like how the two layers allowed the flowers to puff up, not sure that I'll use that combo again.  Some areas the fabric and batting got pushed around, creating a few tucks and unwanted poofy areas.  Or maybe the hopping foot was too close but that's a whole other issue!

Here's some close ups of the quilting:
And this one, showing the pretty flowers:

Happy Quilting!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Setting in Triangles

Several people have asked how I set in the triangles on my hand applique quilt project 

from Block #30, Full Bloom from Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks

I thought this would be a great opportunity for the share and learn.

The block is about half done, as I need to add the pieces I made in my chain hand applique post. But the quilt has 12 other similar blocks that required construction, and those come first, before I forget how they were done!  Now, the original design has the big center leaves appliqued on, but I decided to piece them in, and made them triangles too.  So, here's a tutorial on setting in those triangles.

Two of my favorite quilting tools are freezer paper and glue, which are both used in this project.  The freezer paper holds all the stretchy edges nicely, eliminating pleats and puckers, and providing a straight edge to stitch against.  And a glue pen, such as Sewline or Fons&Porter, 
provides a nice thin line of glue right where I want it.  Sometimes I do use school glue sticks, but it's harder to get a fine line.  And I don't worry about the glue as I wash my quilts after they are done.

The first step to the set in triangles, is to trace or print the templates onto the dull side of freezer paper.
Iron the large piece to the wrong side of the block, aligning any placement markings.  Trim out the triangle, leaving a 1/4" seam allowance (SA), and make a clip to the center point.  Press the SA to the dull side of the freezer paper.
Iron the triangle piece to the right side of the set in fabric, leaving a 1/4" SA on at least the short legs.  Apply glue to this seam allowance.
Before the glue dries, apply the block piece, right side up, aligning the point and edges of the freezer paper with the folded SA on the block piece.  Press to dry the glue.
Now to the sewing machine!  Flip the piece over, and pull the seam allowance away from the freezer paper.  Line up the needle to the edge of the freezer paper, and stitch to the center point with the needle down for turning.

Leave the needle down, raise the presser foot, and lift up the freezer paper piece to rotate it from front to back.  Originally, a fold of this fabric was created at the front of the project, and now it needs to be created in the back in order to continue stitching.  See the following pictures:
 Lift up the freezer paper piece.
 Rotate just the freezer paper piece.
Form the fold at the back.
Now rotate the whole piece to continue stitching.

Remove the freezer paper, and press one side of the set in triangle with the seam towards the triangleAt the point, create a fold of the SA so that the point will lie flat.
Press the point and the other side, and the set in triangle is done!
I make my blocks a bit over-sized then trim to size, that's why the triangle sticks above the block.  For me, it eliminates the problem of too small a block, and makes everything a bit tidier. 

I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and will give set in triangles a try!

Happy Quilting!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Making my heart spin!

Here's the last of the heart applique quilts, and it's so sweet it makes my heart spin!  Plus, there's a spinning effect going on in the piecing--so Spinning Hearts is it's name!

Since this was a super simple quilt to put together. And the beauty of this quilt is that it doesn't have to be hearts--any applique or theme fabric could go in those squares.  Someday, when I get time, I'd like to make another with a theme fabric.  Someday!

Anyway, here are some close up shots of the beautiful feathers: 

This is the top right
This is top left
 A closeup of a feather swirling into a triangle
A look at the center feather, which has four stems
    And another look at an edge and corner

And now for a bit on the quilting.
I used my trusty clear vinyl when designing the quilting, and wanted the feathers to be symmetrical around the heart blocks in the corners.  I also wanted the feathers on the sides (edge to edge) to be the same on all four edges.  So, after I designed the stems on the vinyl, I placed tracing paper over it and traced it in pencil.  Then to the sewing machine!  With a large needle and no thread, I stitched on that stem line to make myself a stencil.  It's hard to see in the picture, but I'm sure you understand!
I marked the stem line on the quilt with blue chalk before loading it on the frame, so that way I didn't have to worry about the sides getting misaligned.  And yes, I did quilt the sides as sides and did not turn the quilt!

And for a bit of credit.  I would like to thank Dawn Cavanaugh and Angela Walters for their excellent instruction on feathers.  Both teach at quilt shows, and of course, Angela has a class on feathers on Blueprint.com which is awesome!  So, if feathers are still a challenge for you, I highly recommend learning from these two quilters!

Happy Quilting!