Monday 23 July 2012

Quilting in Progress

I've made a start on the quilting of my modern log cabin. Following QuiltSue's suggestion that I 'pebbled' the block centres, I played on a practice piece and decided on a sort of curly filler. I then decided to use my lovely coloured threads on the hand-dyed fabric shapes. Hmm not sure! Anyway I ploughed on and did some echo quilting on the white background. That done I decided I definitely didn't like the outlining on the coloured section, so that had to go!

I wielded the seam ripper and used a sticky lint roller to remove the threads:
But, as some of you may know, when you unpick you can still see where the stitches were, so how do I get rid of the dotted line of holes?

Here's my tip of the week. Go to an art supplies store or large stationers and buy a refillable brush and fill with water. These are very clever as you can gently squeeze just a little water onto the brush to dampen it. Brush along the line and the holes start to disappear. I knew some of that arty stuff I bought for City and Guilds would come in handy sometime! 

Next gently press the fabric with a warm iron and if you can still see some holes, repeat the brushing and pressing:
Hey Presto! Just about all gone. Now back to the machine and I decided a bit of stitch in the ditch would finish the block nicely.
There, that's better! I want these bright coloured shapes to stand out and I prefer them now without the stitching breaking them up. In fact if I make similar blocks in future I might add some trapunto to raise them up more. Oh dear! I'm never completely satisfied and I'm always thinking my quilts could be better if..........Does anyone else have that problem?

 Ware you working on at the moment? If you would like to do a guest blog about your quilts please leave a comment and I'll send you an invite!


Saturday 14 July 2012

Quilting Decisions

Hi Hazel here! After all the excitement of my daughter's wedding I'm finally coming down to earth and today got back to sewing. I dug out a modern quilt blocks inspired by 'Quilting Modern' and stitched them together. Here is the quilt top layered and ready to quilt but where do I start? Here are a couple of close ups of the blocks:

I love stitching free motion quilting curvy designs but I think this one needs something more geometric so I think I may do some echo quilting and see where that takes me. In  'Quilting Modern' a similar quilt is quilted in an overall large zigzag which I think looks great. 

How would you quilt it? I'd love to hear your ideas!

Now what about thread? Do you have a favourite type of quilting thread? I have a pretty good stash of polyester and rayon machine embroidery threads which have a lovely sheen and come in an enormous array of colours including variegated shades and are reasonably priced:
I particularly like Madeira's Polyneon range. Remember to unwind some thread on your quilt top to judge the effect - these can look rather startling on the spool but are a bit more subtle in a single strand! The variegated spool at the bottom right is Superior 'Rainbows' which is very shiny and bright - another lovely thread. Some people are surprised that I use polyester thread  as I always use cotton for piecing but I don't have a problem with it for quilting if it gives the effect I'm looking for.

I think my all time favourite quilting thread is Superior's King Tut- a gorgeous silky smooth Egyptian cotton which sews beautifully on the machine. It comes in a range of 100+ colours, subtly shaded solid and wonderful variegated shades. This is more matt than the poly and rayon threads:

It's often difficult to judge the colour of threads in the shop as they have a plastic wrapping which reflects the light. Consider investing in a thread wrapped shade card for our favourite brands:

They make internet shopping so much easier too!

All the above threads are 40 weight. Remember that the smaller thread weight number the thicker the thread. 40 weight is a medium thickness, 30 weight is quite a lot thicker and 50 or 60 is a fine thread. I use a fine cotton for piecing e.g. 60 weight YLI soft touch or 50 weight Superior Masterpiece because these make a flatter seam for patchwork. I also use these threads in my bobbin when I use the quilting threads above through the needle. Why? Well when you do free motion quilting you will sometimes stitch a few stitches on the spot at certain points in a design and a thicker thread will make noticeable bobbles on the quilt back whereas a thin thread won't.  I generally try to match the colour of the bobbin thread to the top thread. Here's the hand dyed quilt backing:
I think any colour thread will blend with this! 

What type of needles do you use for quilting? I like to use a topstitch needle because it has a sharp point for penetrating the layers, a larger eye than a other needles and a groove down the shaft which lets the thread run smoothly. The large eye is also great if your machine doesn't have a needle threader! You can  get topstitch needles which are titanium coated and last five times as long as normal needles and I love these!

I buy most of my threads and needles from Barnyarns in Ripon. I can visit the shop near the canal, send hubby off to walk the dogs along the towpath so I can browse in peace, then meet him back at the lovely deli opposite Barnyarns for a cuppa and a bacon butty!! Barnyarns do have an extensive array of threads etc on their website too.

I'll be back soon with pictures of the quilting. In the meantime please share your quilting tips with us by leaving a comment below.

Happy Stitching!