Saturday, April 19, 2014

Are you afraid to start?

Sometimes it can be very intimidating to touch a lovingly created quilt top, a piece that has taken hours of hand crafting. Will your quilting make it better? Will it make the piece sing? What if you think you are not up to the challenge? What if your hands can't do what your mind sees?

Well, guess what? Even the most successful, award-winning quilters are scared at the start of a project. Karen McTavish, a pioneer in heirloom machine quilting, and the originator of the McTavishing fill design, says she is nervous and fearful every time she faces a new quilt top from a customer. She has a couple of suggestions. The first and most basic is “take a deep breath, relax and have fun.” I would also add, “have a plan, but be flexible.”

Quilting the hand-applique quilt is a special challenge, and should be handled much differently from quilting a patchwork piece. On the applique quilt the stitching should be subtler, playing a more supportive role, that of texture. On patchwork, quilting can be bold. But, hand-applique work is delicate, almost fragile in appearance. Especially when it is well done.

This piece is small, just a little over 2 foot square. The spaces between the flowers and leaves are especially tiny. So, I chose a form of McTavishing that Karen calls “clam shelling.” This begins with lazy “S” shapes, echoed over and over until the space is filled. When necessary, the lazy “S” shapes can slip in between the leaves and tendrils, giving the piece an evenly quilted texture.

A few other suggestions from Karen – Do the hardest thing, it always pays off in the end. Ouch, that one hurts! But, she is absolutely right. She also says what doesn't kill you makes you a better quilter.

So, be scared! We all are. But, we do this because we love this. So, relax, take a deep breath and have fun!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Ghost Images

This color block quilt makes use of a clever design element; an appliqued star vine in opposite corners. This, however, creates a large empty space in the alternate border corners.

I could feather the space, but I already envisioned a funky feather in each of the color block areas. So, how about copying the star vine into the space in thread? Like the ghost of a previous star vine?

I traced the original star vine on vellum, cut out the full piece, pinned it into place, and traced it on the space with a piece of chalk. Stitched in black thread, with a medium meander around it, and it just floats there, seen or not seen depending upon the lighting.

Here are a couple of views of the funky feathers, that radiate out from the middle of the piece. Another idea that worked. Yippee!

Real difficulties can be overcome; 
                it is only the imaginary ones that are unconquerable.”

                                   Theo. Vail