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.

Triple Dimensional Star

This Spring I designed a new quilt block.  In reality, I probably designed a couple dozen blocks, but this one actually got made up in fabric- not once, but twice!

Vote for your favorite block at the Paintbrush Studio Facebook page!

This is the small version of the block, and it finishes at 6″ square.  At QuiltCon, Paintbrush Studio handed out a curated charm pack of eight colors of their Painter’s Palette Solids, and asked the recipients to make a quilt block using those fabrics.  This star block works particularly well with a light and dark versions of the same colors, and I was excited that there were light and dark versions of both blue and orange in the charm pack.  I almost added another yellow to the pack to have the highlight/shadow effect in the central star (we were allowed to add in our own fabrics), but I ultimately thought the block was more dynamic with the green added to the mix.

Right now, all of the submitted blocks are up on the Paintbrush Studio Facebook page, and you can vote for your favorite block there!  All you need to do is comment on the photo of your favorite block.

I had a few scraps of the Paintbrush Studio fabrics, so I stitched up this little improv block.  It was after the deadline, so I didn’t submit it, but it is hanging out on the design wall waiting for me to turn it into something!

I made the larger, 12″ square, version of the Triple Dimensional Star for a guild color challenge.  Every year the Central Ohio Modern Quilt Guild does a challenge combining the Pantone color of the year with the Kona color of the year.  The 2019 colors are Living Coral and Splash.  What a happy combination! This year, everyone who participated in the challenge made a star block and we had a block raffle with the winner taking home all of the blocks.

Constructing all three of these blocks was a lot of fun.  Foundation paper piecing is one of my favorite methods to construct a block, and I find improv piecing a relaxing way to sew after all of the FPP precision!

 

Synthesized Slivers

A few weeks ago, I came across a call for entries for the Modern Mini Quilt Challenge hosted by Quilt Expo.  It has been awhile since I have done a mini quilt, and I was feeling the need for a relatively quick finish, so I jumped in.  One of my friends has been giving me a hard time about my extreme dislike of brown fabric, so I decided this would be a good challenge to incorporate my least favorite color.

Synthesized Slivers front

My initial fabric pull centered around a stack of quilter’s denim made by Art Gallery Fabrics.  I had received the fat quarter bundle during QuiltCon 2017, and I had been waiting for the perfect project to come up.  I love the utilitarian texture the fabric has and the value shifts between fabrics were seamless.  I did add a few other fabrics in to serve as accent pieces.  These included a bright green solid, metallic linen, and a silk/cotton blend.

Synthesized Slivers Fabric Pull

I started the quilt by constructing small blocks in a variety of sizes using background fabrics in a range of colors and values.  The slivers of accent fabrics finish at 1/8″ wide.  I used a ruler to cut the slits in straight lines, but only actually measured to square up each block after the slivers were added.

Synthesized Slivers process

At this point, my friend saw the progress and informed me that tan is most definitely NOT Brown, even though I still insist that it is ;).  In keeping with the challenge, I went out and purchased a small cut of chocolate brown Kona.  There wasn’t a speck of true brown in any of my stash!

Synthesized Slivers quilt top

After constructing a few more blocks, I started putting everything together.  I think this is the most challenging part of the process, but this top came together, and only required a couple partial seams.

Synthesized Slivers with Monty

Monty is my cat that demands likes to be held constantly.  I was taking photos right after he had woken up from his first afternoon nap, and he really wanted my attention!  If you manage to look past the cat, you can see the back of the quilt top.  I made sure to press all of the sliver seam allowances toward the background to make the slivers recede a bit.

Synthesized Slivers back of quilt top with monty

This is a small quilt so I quickly pin basted it and selected six colors of Aurifil to match the background fabrics.

Synthesized Slivers thread choices

I wanted to accentuate the angles that are incorporated into the design, so I used echo quilting to highlight the design of each block.

Synthesized Slivers quilting detail

The back is the same bright green accent color used on the front of the quilt.  I like how the different thread colors add value shifts to the back of the quilt.  I didn’t want to frame the quilt in with a binding, so the edges are finished with facings to match the backing fabric.

Synthesized Slivers back

I am so glad that I made this quilt, and even I think the brown actually works in it!

Synthesized Slivers angled quilting detail

 

Quilt Stats

Title:  Synthesized Slivers

Size: 22″ x 19″

Techniques:  Machine Piecing, Improvisational Piecing

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

Fabric:  Art Gallery Quilter’s Denim, Kona Cotton, Metallic Blend, Silk/Cotton Blend

Batting:  Hobbs Tuscany Wool

Thread: Quilted with 50wt cotton Aurifil in six colors

Binding:  Faced with Kona Cotton matching the quilt backing

Complementary Composition: A Michael Miller Challenge Quilt

Complementary Composition grew out of the 2017 Michael Miller/Modern Quilt Guild Challenge.  This is the third year I have participated in the challenge, and this is the first time that my challenge quilt has been selected for participation at QuiltCon.

Complementary Composition full

The fabric for the challenge is Our Yard, and it is super cute!  This actually proved to be a greater challenge to me, because I rarely make quilts that I can describe as cute or even pretty.  I love looking at quilts that are cute, pretty, darling, charming, etc., but I don’t tend to create work that I would use these terms to describe.  Now the question became- How do I incorporate these charming prints into my personal aesthetic?

Michael Miller Challenge Fabric 2017

When I am uncertain how to proceed with a design, I tend to turn to the elements and principles of design.  While the elements and principles of design never exist purely on their own, I find that sometimes narrowing my focus in the initial stages of a design helps to refine my overall vision for the project.  In this case, I initially focused on the element of color and the principle of scale.

There are so many bright colors in the challenge prints that it allows for interpretation in selecting a dominant color palette.  Blue and Orange has always been my favorite complementary color scheme (two colors opposite each other on the color wheel), and I thought that the vibrant combination would honor the energy evoked in the fabric prints.  To add visual dimension, I selected a lighter and darker version of solid color.  I was fortunate enough to make my initial fabric purchase for the quilt while in Paducah, KY at Hancock’s of Paducah.  They carry most of the Michael Miller solids, so I was able to make my color choices with the fabrics right in front of me.  When purchasing solids for a project, I try to photograph the ends of the bolts just in case I need to order more, which did happen during this project.

Michael Miller Solids

The official challenge only required that two of the prints in the line be incorporated into the finished quilt, but as a personal challenge, I wanted to use each one included in the bundle that was sent out.  In order to make this work with my aesthetic and the color scheme of the quilt, scale was going to be an extremely important aspect of the design.  The most graphic print in the bundle is the black, grey, and white print which is the most closely aligned to my aesthetic.  This would be the dominant print.  The black and white leaf print on the mustard and aqua backgrounds is closely associated with the striped print, and I liked that the spacing of the print give the eye a place to rest in the background and allows it to work with the solid fabrics surrounding it.  I knew that this print was a prime candidate for fussy cutting to highlight the leaf image.

Complementary Composition fussy cut detail

The busiest prints were going to be the most challenging to work in, so they were going to be used in the smallest pieces.  The 1/8″ slivers of these fabrics create energetic lines and break up large expanses of the solid fabrics.

Complementary Composition Piecing Detail

This quilt is constructed using a structured improv technique.  The pieces are measured and trimmed as they are sewn, but there is no predetermined design for the piece.  I started the process by constructing blocks loosely based on Log Cabin/Courthouse Steps style blocks.  Many of the blocks are built around a fussy cut square or a simply pieced block.  As the blocks were completed, I added them to the design wall.

Complementary Composition Design Wall

Once I decided the blocks were balancing within the design, I filled in the open areas with strips of fabric.

Complementary Composition Echo Quilting

For the quilting of the piece, I wanted to emphasize the linear qualities of the piecing by using a mix of vertical, horizontal, and diagonal straight line quilting as well as echo quilting.  The echo quilting highlights a visually contained shape while the vertical lines give a sense of strength that is balanced by the calming force of the horizontal lines.  Mixing in strong diagonal lines gives a greater energy and a sense of the unexpected to the overall design.

Complementary Composition Use of Challenge Fabric

The binding is a mix of solids with just a small section of striped fabric to draw the eye back toward the center of the quilt.

Quilt Stats:

Title:  Complementary Composition

Size: 63″ x 69″

Techniques:  Machine Piecing, Structured Improvisational Piecing, Fussy Cutting

Quilting:  Linear Quilting using an A-1 Longarm equipped with digital channel locks that can be set to any angle

Fabric:  Michael Miller Our Yard Prints and Cotton Couture Solids

Batting:  Hobbs 80/20

Thread:  Pieced using Gutermann Mara 100, Quilted with 50wt Aurifil

Binding:  Bias binding in a mix of solids and striped print cut at 2″ wide, machine stitched to the front, hand finished on the back

Why I Pre-wash My Quilting Fabric

I confess . . .  I’m a pre-washer.  I know that a lot of quilters prefer their fabric right off the bolt, but I feel a lot more confident about the appearance and longevity of my quilts when I know as much about my fabrics as possible before I start cutting them up.

The Big Three Reasons I Pre-Wash:

  1. The fabric will shrink before it goes into a quilt with other fabrics that may shrink at different rates
  2. If the dyes used on the fabric are going to run, I would much rather know before I put them next to other fabrics.  If a fabric bleeds a lot in the original wash, I will often wash it one or two more times.  Occasionally, there is a fabric that never stops bleeding, and I am very careful about where I will incorporate that fabric.  It may be perfectly fine in an all mid-tone quilt, but it would never be appropriate to use in a quilt with a light background.
  3. Pre-washing removes any residual chemicals or finishes that were added to the fabric during the manufacturing process.  I rarely wash my quilts immediately following the construction process, so I want it as clean as possible to start.  It also can’t hurt to make as little skin contact as possible with the residues.

One of the big downfalls that I hear about pre-washing is the tendency to have fabric ravel out.  To prevent this I stitch around the edges of the fabric prior to throwing it into the wash.  The easiest way to do this would be a serger or overlock machine, but since I don’t have one, I use my domestic machine.

You could use a zig-zag stitch to accomplish this, but my machine (as well as most other zig-zag machines) have a special stitch for this.  This stitch is called the Vari-overlock stitch in my machine manual, and it is recommended for stretch fabrics, but it works great for edging other fabrics as well.  The foot for this has a slender piece of metal that is zig-zagged over while it holds the edge of the fabric flat and prevents the fabric from rolling.

Fabric Edging Process

The stitch itself is a series of short straight stitches followed by zig-zag stitch.  You can make the stitch have tighter spacing by reducing stitch length.  I use approximately a two stitch length for edging fabric for washing.  When I use this technique for finishing edges on clothing, pillows, etc. I shorten the stitch length.

Fabric Edging Finished

How do you feel about pre-washing fabric?