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

Shipping Quilts to a Show

Shipping quilts is the most nerve-racking part of entering a quilt in a show.  Well, at least that’s the case for me.  It is also a lot of work, but ultimately it is worth it since it gives you an opportunity to share your work with lots of other very appreciative quilters.  Over the last few years, I have finally developed a process for packing and shipping quilts.  It will probably continue to evolve, but I thought I would share with you what I do to prepare a quilt to go off into the world.

Shipping Quilts

Today I sent three quilts off to an upcoming show.  Raise the Roof, Resonance, and Lateral Ascension will be included in the American Quilter’s Society Quilt Week in Grand Rapids this August.  The photos of the packing process in this post are actually from a previous show.  What can I say? I have been meaning to write this post for quite a while!

Raise the Roof

Raise the Roof

Resonance

Resonance

Lateral Ascension

Lateral Ascension

By the time shipping day rolls around, I have (almost!) always added the hanging sleeve and label to the quilt, so most of the packing process is making sure the quilt is ready to show at its best.  First I lint roll each quilt, starting with the back and moving to the front.  The only place in the house that is large enough to lay most quilts out flat is the eat-in kitchen.  The furniture gets moved to the family room and the floor is thoroughly vacuumed before quilts are laid out.  I use a commercial grade lint roller for the quilts.  It is more sticky than most lint rollers, but even more helpful is the heavy duty handle with metal construction in the areas that move.  I have had the occasional lint roller break before I switched to these commercial rollers, and that is not fun when you are in a hurry.  I am always in a hurry on shipping day!

Lint Rolling Overlay

While I am de-linting the quilt I try to examine each area of the quilt for threads that need to be clipped or anything else that needs attention on the quilt.  One time I found a couple rows of stitching that had come loose at some point during a previous show.  I was so glad that I found and fixed those before sending the quilt back out!

Lint Rolling Complementary Composition

Any time that I have used cotton batting and/or have a quilt with heavy matchstick quilting, I stuff each fold with tissue paper.  I am trying to cut back on the amount of tissue used when the quilt has wool batting and slightly looser quilting.  Quilts are folded top to bottom and then sideways.  I had once heard that folding quilts diagonally, but only did it once.  When that quilt received a prize, I had the chance to speak with one of the people running the show and was informed diagonal folding is probably the worst way to ship a quilt.  It isn’t easy to fold a quilt on the diagonal, so I was actually relieved to hear this.

Folded Quilt

Whenever possible, I try to fold the quilt so the label is on the outside.  If the quilt ever gets separated from its box, I want it to be easy to identify and get back to me.  Each show is different, but AQS does not require the label to be covered when it is sent out.  The quilt is then put in a transparent plastic bag.  I prefer the extra large ziplock bags since they have a strong seal to keep the quilt dry while in transit.

Boxed Quilt

The paperwork required for each show is different, but for this show you tape an envelope with the quilt’s show number printed on it to the bag.  This envelope holds the return shipping information.  I have recently started using pre-printed labels for shipping and return shipping.  This saves a lot of time dropping packages off, and it often ends up saving a little money on shipping.  Setting up a shipping account has been very worthwhile for me.  Where I live, FedEx seems to have the best rates and be the most reliable.  The Postal Service is more expensive once I account for insurance, and UPS does not have particularly good service in this area.  UPS routinely leave packages sitting out in the open, even if they are supposed to require a signature for delivery.  I don’t know if this is the case in other areas, but the fact that it happens here makes me worry it happens other places.

Quilts ready to ship

If you are shipping high value items with FedEx, they will probably check that your boxes are properly packed before shipping, so it is best to let them seal the boxes at the store.  If you are printing your own label, you can go ahead and seal them up.  For the show pictured above, I had four quilts heading out in one day.  I usually plan to spend an average of about one hour per quilt to prep paperwork and pack it to ship.  Fortunately, when I’m shipping to AQS, ground shipping only takes one day to arrive, so I only have one night to worry about my quilts in transit!  It has taken a couple of years, but I am finally getting used to this process.  The guy at FedEx even recognizes me now!

Now I get to worry until I receive the notification of the safe arrival of my quilts!

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

QuiltCon Judging Comments

One of the best parts of entering major quilt shows is receiving written comments on your quilts.  There are usually a mix of positive and negative remarks, and frequently quilts resonate differently with different people.  The comment sheets from QuiltCon are no exception, and I thought it may be interesting to share them here.  I can only imagine how challenging it is to judge a quilt show like this, and I really appreciate all of the work that goes into the process.

QuiltCon 2018 Collage

When your box of quilts is returned, they are wrapped in clear plastic bags to protect them during shipping, and a packing slip is toward the top of the package.  This year, only three of my four quilts were returned immediately, since Pivoted Plaid will be traveling.

QuiltCon 2018 Judging Sheets page 1

The cards which hang next to each quilt are also included in the package.

Complementary Composition

Complementary Composition full

 

Complementary Composition Description Card

QuiltCon 2018 Judging Sheets page 2

 

Pivoted Plaid

This one has a judges comment sheet, but the quilt and description card are traveling this year.

Pivoted Plaid

QuiltCon 2018 Judging Sheets page 3

 

Overlay

Overlay front view

Overlay Description Card

QuiltCon 2018 Judging Sheets page 5

Lateral Ascension

Lateral Ascension full

This quilt had an extra special bonus- a hand crafted ribbon!

Lateral Ascension Description Card

QuiltCon 2018 Judging Sheets page 4

QuiltCon Highlights

QuiltCon 2018 ended on Sunday, and I wish that I had been able to attend to see so many of my quilt-y friends.  I thoroughly enjoyed seeing all of the photos and videos which were posted during the week, and it was wonderful to be able to see most of the show virtually.  Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to post during the show!  If you haven’t seen many photos of the show, I suggest looking at the Instagram hashtags #quiltcon2018 and #quiltcon to see most of the quilts on display.  Since I wasn’t there, my personal highlights will be pretty short.

1. Even though I wasn’t there, four of my quilts were able to attend in my place!

QuiltCon 2018 Collage

2.  Lateral Ascension received a third place award in the minimalism category!  I have a tendency to struggle with minimalism, so this was a big accomplishment on a personal level.

Lateral Ascension full

3.  Pivoted Plaid is going to be included in the Best of QuiltCon 2018 Traveling Exhibit!  It is thrilling that this quilt will be shared around the country in the coming year!

Pivoted Plaid

So who’s ready for QuiltCon 2019?  Nashville is an easy drive from here, so I will definitely be there next year, along with a lot of my local Modern Quilt Guild!