Thursday, June 30, 2016

Intro to Free-motion Quilting—Let's Do It!

Intro to Free-motion Quilting class
on your domestic machine.
Like Nike... Just do it! 

You can.

Free-motion quilting, that is.

There's a class.

I'll be there.

Teaching you how I do it.

Join me.

I'll bring Show and Tell.

Saturday, July 16
Pins and Needles Quilt Shop, Chattanooga, TN
Call today to reserve a spot: 423-668-8734.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Using 108" quilt backings to make a garment muslin

Muslin made with a white-on-white
108" wide quilt backing by Blank Quilting.
If you sew clothes or make wearable art pieces for yourself, chances are you make a toile or a muslin—a mock-up of the garment—from the pattern before cutting into your "good fabric." If you're going to spend the time and effort sewing a garment for yourself, you want it to fit your body properly, right?

I recently took the Sewing: the Art of Making workshop with Diane Hall, master seamstress and former pattern maker for Alabama Chanin. In the workshop, all the class participants made a sloper with their measurements and then made muslins of their projects to insure proper size and fit before committing to the fashion fabric.

Generally, inexpensive muslin or cotton calico is used for making a muslin (thus the name, "muslin"). However, have you thought about using a 108" wide quilt backing for this process?

I took a piece of 108" wide white-on-white quilt backing (about 1.5 yards) to the workshop. From this yardage, I made a sloper (top, skirt and a long sleeve), and muslins for a short sleeve blouse, pants and a long, paneled vest with princess seams. Working with a 108" width of fabric (vs. 44/45" width) was very efficient for laying out pattern pieces and there was very little waste. I got a lot of bang for my buck!
My muslin had white dragonflies on it.

Helpful tips for choosing fabric for a muslin:

  • Choose a light colored fabric. When you draw fitting marks, adjustment lines and notations on the fabric, the marks are easily seen.
  • The fabric for the muslin should be similar in weight to the fashion fabric. We used woven fabrics for the projects in the workshop, so a cotton 108" wide quilt backing worked well. You'd want to use a knit fabric for a muslin if your final garment was going to be in a knit fabric.
  • Make sure the muslin fabric is on grain when laying out the pattern pieces. Some quilt shops will tear wide quilt backing fabric to insure the cut piece is on grain. Because of the way this extra-wide 108" fabric is doubled and rolled and wrapped around a cardboard bolt core, the fabric can be slightly stretched on the bolt. (It's just the nature of the mechanical wrapping process.) 

So, the next time you get ready to make a garment from a new pattern, check your stash or visit your local quilt shop for a piece of wide quilt backing. It's a great option for making the all-important muslin. After all, you want your finished project to fit, right? 

For more info about making a muslin or a sloper, here are links to a few good resources.
From Tilly and the Buttons: How to make a muslin
From Threads magazine: The Merits of a Basic Fitting Pattern
From Burda Style: Toile Anyone?
From Craftsy: How to make a sloper

Sunday, June 26, 2016

ATCs: Three of a Kind

"3 of a Kind" by Marilyn League
What comes to mind when you hear the phrase "Three of a Kind"?

A hand of cards?
A winning spin on a slot machine?
Matches for three missing shirt buttons?
Perhaps the story of Goldilocks and her furry friends?

The theme for the June FiberAntics Artist Trading Card (ATC) swap was "Three of a Kind." Here are the cards that ATC artists created for this theme.

"Three Little Pigs" by Cathy Dillon
"Three of a Kind... whooooo said that?"
by Dawn Spagna
"Three of a Kind" by Karen Downer
"3 of a Kind" by Debbie Joyner
"3 of a Kind Lottery Ticket"
by Sharon Joyner Griffith 
"Three of a Kind" by Diane Pineschi
"Mark Making" by Veronica Hofman-Ortega 
"Three Naturals" by Bonnie Stevens
"3 of a Kind" by Marilyn League 
"3 of a Kind" by Marilyn League
"3 of a Kind" by Marilyn League

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Point Taken: Peppered Cottons and FMQ ruler work—
Part Three

After quilting my Point Taken quilt, I knew this quilt would benefit from blocking. See Part One for the fabric selection and Part Two for the quilting and ruler work on this quilt.
Point Taken: back view.
After submerging the quilt into room temperature water, it sat for several minutes to let the water absorb into the fabric and batting. The quilt was then removed, squeezed and rolled in a terry towel. The damp piece was laid out on a cushioned board, measured and maneuvered, and pinned in place until dry.
Wet blocking.
You just have to wait for it...
Point Taken: blocked and bound.
The blocking evened out the surface of the quilt and made the trimming easy.

The backing fabric is a quilting cotton, Primitive Basics by Blank Quilting (color: forest). This tonal blender shows off the FMQ and ruler work and the olive green color complements the colors of the patchwork of the quilt top. The binding is also a Peppered Cotton (color: begonia leaf).
Point Taken: back view.
Below are detail views of the completed quilt.
Point Taken: detail. The dimension of the prairie points can be seen here.
Point Taken: detail.
Point Taken: detail.
The finished quilt is 26" x 25.5". I would have liked a better [evenly lit] full view photo, but I was finishing the binding in a hotel room and not in my studio. I had to drop the quilt off at Mountain Creek Quilt Shop and thought Terri would prefer a quilted and bound quilt sample—rather than just a quilted one. So it goes...
Point Taken
Finished size: 26" x 25.5"
So that is the story of my latest completion. As I am often asked, the Quilt Stats are listed below. They tell the "other" side of the story. I hope Point Taken gets you inspired to get out your pretty threads, drop the feed dogs, and let the colors dance upon your patchwork. Let the music begin...
Point Taken
Finished size: 26" x 25.5"

Quilt stats
Finished size: 26" x 25.5"

WonderFil Spaghetti, 12 wt. cotton
WonderFil 50 wt. cotton Tutti variegated and Konfetti solids
Aurifil 50 wt. cotton (solid colors)

Bobbin thread: 60 wt. Bottom Line #613 sage

13.75 hours free-motion quilting
3 bobbins

Friday, June 10, 2016

Point Taken: Peppered Cottons and FMQ ruler work—
Part Two

This is Part Two of my rendition of the Point Taken quilt. See Part One for the fabric selection and quilt top assembly. With the quilt top complete, it was on to the decisions about quilting.
Point Taken quilt top.
This step began by cracking open the sketchbook and doing sketches. I opted to quilt down the prairie points making the blocks look more like a "square-in-a-square" block pattern. I needed a quilting design that would skim the edges of the points and also take advantage of the center space.
Ideas for quilting from the sketchbook.
Long-arm quilters generally don't embrace quilting quilts with dimensional items (prairie points, flat piping, etc.), but on my domestic sewing machine, I just opt for a closed toe free-motion foot and go for it. My Janome 6500 also has the capability of adjusting the height of the presser foot. I increased the clearance between the foot and the bed to accommodate quilting over the multiple fabric layers of the prairie points.
Sketching quilting options.
With a few remaining charm squares, I made and sandwiched a block to check/balance thread tension, practice the free-motion quilting designs and free-motion ruler work, and to insure my FMQ foot cleared the thickness of the prairie points and at the block intersections where many fabric layers converged.
Practice block for FMQ designs and rulerwork.
The FMQ on the prairie points was done first. Another WonderFil cotton thread, Tutti color #34 called Box Turtle, a 50 wt. variegated, was used for the free-motion. The colors of Box Turtle are lovely together—sunflower gold, a dark dusty raspberry, and a gunmetal gray that sometimes looks like a deep forest green. And they melded perfectly with the shot cottons. It was interesting to watch the colors from this variegated spool change and complement the fabric colors as each motif was quilted. In this quilt, the variegated thread definitely enhanced the quilting.
The Box Turtle colorway of WonderFil's 50wt. cotton thread really enhanced
the quilting on the shot cottons.
In preparation for the free-motion ruler quilting, I changed over from the regular free-motion foot to the ruler foot. Since creating my "Defining Contours" class, which includes an introduction to ruler work using a domestic machine, I look for quilts to practice and improve my skills using rulers and acrylic quilting templates (the curved ones are trickier!).
Free-motion quilting with a ruler and the ruler foot.
Please ignore the worn out quilting gloves. I use them a lot!
During my travels, I've picked up several acrylic rulers, with a nice collection from Steve over at Sew N Vac Superstore. This Point Taken quilt was a good, manageable size to work on ruler skills. (And, I absolutely adore quilting on Peppered Cottons because the quilting shows up so well!)
Curved ruler work using acrylic templates.
My goal was to superimpose a larger quilted motif over the quilt rather than do block by block quilting. I think this was achieved.
The on-point central quilting motif brings a cohesiveness to the composition.
The arc motifs on the center medallion were echoed in the corners.
Free-motion fillers and ruler work.
A change in size of several motifs added variety.
The quilted arches in the center motif are echoed in the corners.
 Free-form feathers in the border contrasted with the geometric shapes made with the ruler work.
Free-form feathers run around the border.
Before trimming and adding the binding, the quilted sandwich was blocked, which I will document in Part Three.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Point Taken: Peppered Cottons and FMQ ruler work—
Part One

Shot cotton charm squares... prairie points... ruler work... and free-motion quilting with variegated cotton threads...
Point Taken: detail.
... my version of "Point Taken" is finished. 

This Point Taken pattern is by Deb's Boutiques and More, one of the independent pattern companies I represent. This quilt was finished at the end of May, and is on loan to a quilt shop. I haven't had the opportunity to post about this quilt until now. So, here is Part 1 of a photo documentation of the process of making this quilt.
Point Taken, 26" x 25.5"
The Point Taken quilt includes 3-D prairie points. Prairie points are not only fun to make (you're missing out if you've not done prairie points at one time or another), but for me, they offered opportunities for threadwork and color play—in addition to the intended dimensional aspect to the quilt top. Originally, this pattern was intended as a baby quilt so baby could play with the dimensional fabric triangles. Remember that a pattern is a jumping off point for you, the quiltmaker, to take it in another direction if you choose. I did.

Two packages of Peppered Cottons [by Pepper Cory] charm squares were used. The outside border on my quilt are 2.5" x 5" rectangles (a 5" charm square cut in half). The original pattern uses a different border treatment.
Peppered Cottons charm pack
The process of auditioning, choosing and harmonizing the colors of the prairie points with the color of the background squares was inspiring. Pepper Cory, the fabric designer of Peppered Cottons, has chosen a wonderful color palette for this blender collection, so you can't go wrong. However, this is an wonderful exercise for studying how colors "react" with one another depending on the combination—warm vs. cool, analogous, complementary, tints vs. tones, light vs. dark. The possibilities (and the fun) are endless! The combination of the different colored warp and weft threads—inherent in a shot cotton fabric—also adds richness and resonance to the composition.
Spaghetti 12 wt. cotton thread by WonderFil.
For the decorative stitching on the prairie points, I used a "showy" 12 wt. cotton by WonderFil Threads, called Spaghetti, and lengthened the stitch length to 2.6mm. Most of the thread/fabric color combinations were contrasting as you can see in the photo below.
Point Taken quilt top
Be sure to use a larger needle to accommodate this thicker thread—a minimum of a 90/14 or possibly a 100/16 size. Try a topstitch or universal needle. The Peppered Cottons are not densely woven, so you just need the larger eye for the thread size. I recommend doing a thread stitch-out.

Now that the top was together, it was on to the decisions about quilting. Stay tuned for Part 2 of the process in my next blog post.
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