The Value of Coral: A Work in Progress

Coral is just about the perfect color as far as I’m concerned.  It sits so nicely between pink and orange which is one of my favorite color combinations.  So when Pantone announced the color of the year for 2019, I was ecstatic!  So far this is my second project to incorporate Living Coral, and I have another in the works that has lots of coral pieces included in a wider color scheme.

I think a lot about value when I design a quilt, and success of this particular design depends on it.  A monotone interpretation of the color Coral helps create the illusion of dimension.  Living Coral has a value that sits near the middle of the value scale, so I selected two lighter fabrics and one darker fabric for the design.  Since coral doesn’t easily go to a really dark value without drastically muting the color, I selected a dark violet for the receding squares. The dark, cool color ended up setting off the coral nicely.

I have thoroughly enjoyed exploring a mostly monotone quilt with more traditional piecing techniques, and I can’t wait to finish it up!

Quilt (top) Stats

Title:  The Value of Coral

Size: 42″ x 56″

Techniques:  Machine Piecing

Fabric:  Solids

Thread: Pieced with 50wt Aurifil

This quilt top is my entry in the 2019 Pantone Quilt Challenge hosted by No Hats in the House and Bryan House Quilts.  I hope you will check out all of the exciting entries!

I am a resident of the United States

 

Anna Maria Horner & Aurifil Showcase Project

If you have followed me long, you may have noticed that I love a good challenge, so when Aurifil offered their Artisans an opportunity to make a project using Anna Maria Horner’s fabric and Aurifil thread, I was excited to sign up!  It is hard to commit to a particular project without knowing what exact materials you will be given, but based on Anna Maria Horner’s  overall design aesthetic, I thought that a pillow would be a fun project.

Three fat quarters and a spool of Aurifil were provided for the challenge.  I had requested 12wt thread because I intended to incorporate some large stitch hand quilting into the cushion.  I didn’t even think about the design of the pillow until the fabrics arrived because I knew I wanted the fabric to be the key inspiration for this project.  As soon as I saw the large floral inspired print, I was sure that it needed to be the focus of the design.

I had just enough large floral motifs to use one for the center of the pillow and a half motif for each corner.  To start, I marked where the center circle would eventually be cut out and placed the  corner motifs based on that mark.  I then used 80wt Aurifil to hand appliqué the motifs.  Once this was complete, I cut out the center circle and machine pieced the center circle into place using 50wt Aurifil.  To finish the construction of the top, I placed the central motif and used needle turn appliqué to secure it.

With the piecing and appliqué complete, it was time to begin the quilting process.  I selected a wool batting so the pillow top would have a bit of poof to it and really show off the hand stitching.  The quilting on this project really embraced decorative stitching, and I used it as an opportunity to try out several different techniques since the back of the quilting would be enclosed in the pillow.

I started by machine quilting around the circle and each floral motif.  I had 12wt thread on top and 50wt thread in the bobbin, and I loosened the tension slightly so I could have enough give to the stitching to wrap each stitch by hand with a strand of 50wt thread.  This resulted in a stitch that looks like a whipped backstitch, but it took a lot less time!

The rest of the pillow top is quilted using a total of seven colors of 12wt Aurifil that I selected to accent the colors in the fabric.  The bronze color was sent for this project, the light green came in this year’s Aurifil Artisan box, and the remaining colors had been used in previous projects.

I used a standard running stitch and several embroidery stitches to quilt the pillow including the closed fly stitch, French Knots, seed stitches, and variations of cross stitches.

The back of the quilted panel shows off how much stitching went into this project.

A yo-yo in the center of the floral motif completed the pillow top.  I thought that it would be fun to finish the center of the motif with the background print the motif was cut from!

To make the pillow cover easy to remove for cleaning, I inserted a lapped zipper into the backing fabric.

The final touch that I wanted to add was a piped edging covered with the remaining striped challenge fabric.  I love how the bias cut fabric looked with all of the angle changes within the fabric design.  This would make amazing quilt binding!

I selected a feather filled pillow form, and combined with the wool batting it creates a delightful feel for a throw pillow.

Curves Mini Quilt Challenge

At the beginning of last month Curated Quilts Magazine issued a mini quilt challenge with the theme of “curves” for an upcoming issue.  I have been sewing lots of curves and circles in the past few years, so this challenge is a really good fit.

The only thing that made it more perfect was the color palette.  I already had every color in the palette in solid fabrics and in multiple weights of Aurifil thread.

I have been sewing a lot of full circles lately using the Classic Curves Ruler by Sharon of Color Girl Quilts to do the cutting.  For this mini I used a similar technique to create partial circles.  I also incorporated 1/8″ pieced slivers into the design for added interest.  I like the way the piecing adds detail in the all solid fabric construction.

Each section is machine echo quilted with 28wt thread, except of the dark green that is quilted in 50wt thread. I left a few open areas to add hand quilted details.  The large stitch hand quilting is done with 12wt thread in straight stitches, plus stitches, and a row of french knots.

I love how the colorful thread and hand stitching transfers the pieced design to the back of the quilt.

The edges of the quilt are finished with facings so the curved design is not interrupted by a binding border.

Quilt Stats

Title:  Converging Curves

Size: 16″ x 16″

Techniques:  Machine Piecing

Quilting:  Echo quilting with a walking foot quilting on a Bernina 1008 and large stitch hand quilting

Fabric:  Cotton solids

Batting:  Hobbs Tuscany Wool

Thread: Quilted with Aurifil 12wt, 28wt, and 50wt in five colors matching each fabric

Binding:  Faced with the Kona solid to match the backing

Ebb and Flow

Each year The Modern Quilt Guild includes a style/technique challenge category in QuiltCon, and this year the challenge is a two color quilt.  I was excited to approach this project because I had been casually considering what it would take to make a dynamic quilt top that used the same amount of two fabrics.

For most quilts, I tend to create a set of parameters for the design.  I find that working with some constraints helps me to achieve a more cohesive result.  For this project the parameters are:

  • Two Colors
  • Use equal amounts of each of the colors
  • Use the colors in a way that does not equally distribute the colors in each section of the quilt
  • Make the graphic quality of the design the star (let the quilting take a back seat on this design)

I went through lots of designs before I finally landed on this one.  I liked how the visual weight of each color shifts from one end of the quilt to the other.  The strips are cut in incremental widths with the narrowest strip finishing at just 1/8″ wide.

Many of my show quilts evolve organically, and take a fairly long time to construct, so it was a lot of fun to be able to cut and sew a quilt top in a day!

Ebb and Flow was quilted on my domestic sewing machine, but I did the basting on the longarm using a water soluble thread.  I also tried using a large scale stippling technique for the basting.

The quilting is simple lines, spaced about 1/4″ apart.  I was able to get this quilted while I was a quilting retreat with a group of friends, which was a great way to break up the monotony that comes with stitching hundreds of straight lines.

Once the quilting was finished, I soaked the quilt to remove the basting stitches and blocked the quilt on a frame.  

By the time it dried, it was perfectly flat and ready to be trimmed and finished.  I decided that a facing would work better with this design than a binding because I wanted to to allow the lines of the piecing to extend all the way across the quilt without the frame that a binding creates.

Quilt Stats

Title:  Ebb and Flow

Size: 51″ x 64″

Techniques:  Machine Piecing

Quilting:  Linear machine quilting using a walking foot on a Bernina 1008 domestic

Fabric:  Kona Cotton in black and white with a Moda wide back print

Batting:  Hobbs Tuscany Wool

Thread: Quilted with Aurifil 50wt in white and black

Binding:  Faced with black Kona Cotton

Infused Plaid

If you follow me on Instagram, you will probably recognize “Infused Plaid” since it is one of my favorite quilts and has traveled quite a bit.  However, I recently realized that I had never blogged about this quilt.  Since this week is the Blogger’s Quilt Festival over at Amy’s Creative Side, I thought I would take the opportunity to have a more in-depth look at this quilt.

Much of quilting is done in a standard routine.  There may be slight variations depending on the specific project and the person making the project, but it usually looks something like this:

  1. Design/create a pattern, or set personal parameters if it will be an improv project
  2. Select fabrics
  3. Construct the quilt top
  4. Choose a quilting design
  5. Layer the quilt backing, batting, and top through basting or loading on a longarm
  6. Quilt the project
  7. Trim and finish the quilt edges.

For Infused Plaid, I decided to mix up the process by starting with designing the pattern of the quilting stitches first.  Then, based on where each color of quilting stitches intersected with the same color, I placed a rectangle or square of matching fabric that would be pieced into the quilt top.

Drafting of the Infused Plaid design

Following the design process, most of the construction of the quilt is done in a standard manner.  The quilt top construction is fairly straightforward and goes together quickly, but the design doesn’t come together until the colorful quilting stitches are added.

This quilt was basted on the longarm machine and then quilted with a walking foot on my domestic Bernina.  For this project, I basted with regular thread, but I since started basting with water soluble thread.  It is amazing to not have to pull out basting stitches!

When I do matchstick quilting, I quilt all one direction first, then quilt any stitching lines that go in the opposite direction.  The dominant, colorful quilting is done first by marking the lines using a 60″ ruler and a roll of masking tape.  In the negative space of the quilt, I place parallel lines of masking tape approximately four inches apart across the quilt to indicate where the first set of quilting stitches will go.  I stitch on either side of the masking tape and remove it as soon as I possibly can.  Next I place a line of stitching about halfway between the previous lines, then halfway between those lines.  The process continues until the lines are approximately 1/8″ apart.  Finally, I mark and stitch the colorful lines running in the opposite direction to complete the plaid design.

Infused Plaid is mostly about the use of quilting thread.  The brightly colored threads are stitched using 28wt thread on the top of the quilt and 50wt on the bottom.  The heavier thread creates a stronger design on the top of the quilt, while the thinner thread in the bobbin helps keep the quilt softer and allows more thread to be loaded onto the bobbin.  The rows of white matchstick stitching is done with 50wt thread on both the top and bottom of the quilt.

As I quilt, I try to make the lines as perfect as possible, but when minor (inevitable) variations occur, I never take them out to redo that portion of the line.  I prefer to leave these moments as a reminder that this is still a hand crafted item.  If the final quilt would become too perfect, it would look like it was constructed by an automated machine rather than a human being.  The “flaws” are what gives this type of quilt some character!

Dense quilting, particularly if it is done on a domestic machine, can result in a quilt that doesn’t want to lay flat.  To deal with this issue, I block my matchstick quilted quilts.  The planning for this process starts very early on when I make my quilt top, because I like to make my top at least a couple inches larger than I hope the quilt will finish.  Since I work with so much negative space, I can to this without worrying too much about how trimming the edges will effect the overall aesthetic.

As soon as a quilt like this is finished, I soak it to prepare for blocking (and remove water soluble basting thread if it was used).  Then I “stretch” the quilt on a simple wooden frame that I staple the edges of the quilt to.  The biggest concern at this point is to make sure the lines of colorful stitching remain as straight as possible.  While the quilt is wet, it is easy to inadvertently distort the lines of stitching.  The stapling process is done on the floor, but once it is complete, I can stand the frame up to allow for better air circulation.  Sometimes I even take the quilt outside for awhile to dry.  It usually only takes a couple hours to dry, but I try to leave the quilt on the frame overnight to make sure that it is completely dry.  I hadn’t taken any photos of Infused Plaid while it was on the frame, so the quilt you see on the frame below is Pivoted Plaid, a close cousin to Infused Plaid.  (What can I say?- I really like plaid!)

To continue the visual lines of the plaid design all the way to the edge of the quilt, I used facings to finish the edge of the quilt rather than a visible binding.

Infused Plaid has been shown in quite a few venues.  It started by being a project in Modern Patchwork magazine.  Then it went to QuiltCon in Savannah where it received a first place in the Negative Space category.  Next it went to the American Quilter’s Society Spring Paducah show where it won a first place in the Modern Quilt category.

It went to several more shows and was included in the book Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century.

Infused Plaid in Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century

Recently, Infused Plaid joined its new home as part of the permanent collection of the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky.  The museum collection focuses on quilts made since the 1980’s, and I am thrilled that this is the first modern quilt to join their amazing collection!

Infused Plaid at The National Quilt Museum

Quilt Stats

Title:  Infused Plaid

Size: 61″ x 61″

Techniques:  Traditional machine piecing

Quilting:  Matchstick quilting using a walking foot on a Bernina 1008 domestic

Fabric:  Kona Cottons

Batting:  Hobbs 80/20 Cotton Poly Blend

Thread: Quilted with 28wt and 50wt Aurifil

Binding:  Faced with fabric matching the quilt backing