Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Sneak Peek

Here's a sneak peek at the first border of this gorgeous Christmas in Baltimore quilt by a talented California hand-applique artist.

But first, let me explain, I have a Love/Hate relationship with monofilament (or, invisible) thread. When it works for me, it works beautifully. But, there have been times, when switching to it from my regular trilobal poly thread (love me some Glide thread!), I have been totally unable to balance the tension. To the point where, on several occasions, I have cursed out loud that “I will never use the darn stuff again!”

So, I told this quilt maker that I would use Glide, and match all the threads colors to the fabrics.

But...(I whined) invisible thread is really the best option for any piece that needs lots of stitch in the ditch and applique outlining.

Okay, so I put on my Big Girl Panties, loaded a practice fabric sandwich and started fiddling with the tension knob. Invisible threads (whether nylon or poly) have a certain amount of stretch, and are quite a bit finer than regular thread, and they like to run with the top tension a bit looser. Fine tuning your tension when switching thread types just needs to be done.

OMG, I got the tension absolutely perfect on the very first try! I know there is nothing wrong with the thread or my machine. Tension is absolutely the longarm quilters responsibility. But, I still don't know why it is working now as opposed to before.

Sometimes it feels like dumb luck!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Islands in the...Pebbles

So, you have a big area that you wish to fill with pebbles, but, (sigh) they take such a long time to do! A way to lighten the load, as it were, would be to incorporate something larger into the pebbling. So, I call this Islands in the Pebbles!

The outer border has spirals, curls, and feather fronds thrown in randomly. The pebbles fill the spaces in between. The area around the Christmas stockings just uses the curls...slightly larger pebbles with an extra curl inside.

And, can you see that cool design in the dark red border. I hope so. I found that on pinterest. (Which is a place where one can get lost for a long, long, time! LOL)

Happy Pebbling! (Something I never thought I would say when I first tried it. But, now, it's one of my fav fills. So, if you are struggling to quilt nice looking pebbles, just keep trying. They do get better!)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Feather Attitude

When I first started quilting I thought feathers had to be strictly designed. A spine that is drawn out using tools like cardboard cut in perfect undulating curves, plumes that were laid out in the right angle, and all the correct size...these were the perfection to attain.

All you have to do in take a design class with Sharon Schamber or read books by Judy Allen (“The Art of Feather Quilting”) or Lee Cleland (“Feathers that Fly”) to see that there are RULES to designing the perfect feather! 

                        (feathers from Judy Allen's book, pink thread on pink satin)

And, of course, this leads to stunning quilted feathers. But, there are other feathers, too!

Certainly there are sophisticated quilts that demand this sort of perfection. Ah, but there are others where you can be much freer in execution. Look at this Christmas Dresden Fan, for example. 

First of all, the feathers have no spine! And, there are curls thrown in. The original feather I copied started with the curl, feathered over it with three plumes, then switched to add three or four plumes off in the other direction. But of course, all such designs must fit into the space allowed. And this space has chunks taken out by the tips of the fan blades. So, I convinced myself to just go with the flow.

And, I love how it turned out.

Sometimes you have to let go and be free.

Break the Rules. Find Your Freedom. Live Your Life.

What if I fall? But, Darling, what if you fly?!!!