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

Columbus Cityscape Block of the Month: History Center

The Ohio History Connection is situated between the Ohio State Fairgrounds and a heavily trafficked section of interstate.  This positioning has made the building a significant landmark in the city of Columbus.

The main building appears to rise up from the surrounding landscape and forms a wonderfully symmetrical building with a strong visual perspective.

I have been having fun selecting a few specialty fabrics for some of the buildings, and the banner on the history center was a perfect opportunity for some fussy cutting.  The banner on the building has an image of a mastodon skeleton, but mastodon fabric is really hard to come by, so we took some artistic liberty and substituted some really cute dinosaur fabric instead.  At least they are both (unfortunately) extinct!

This pattern is available from Dabble and Stitch in Columbus, Ohio.  If you have already purchased the pattern, you can access the extra templates here.  You will need the password included in the pattern instructions to access this page.

I will be doing a demonstration of a portion of this block at Dabble and Stitch tomorrow, Sunday, September 2 at 1pm!

House Mini Challenge

At the beginning of August, Curated Quilts Magazine issued a mini quilt challenge with a specific color palette and the theme of “House.”  I’m am very drawn to architectural details, so I decided to create this mini that focuses in on the dormer of a house.

The biggest challenge for me was the provided color palette.  The image below is the palette provided by Curated Quilts.  I love that each color scheme they provide echos the overall theme of the challenge.  If you have followed me for long, you probably know that brown is not a color I tend to willingly incorporate.  However, to make this design work, I needed to use the entire color scheme. (The only reason I even had that brown dot print was because a friend dared me to buy it a few months ago!)

I decided to use three point perspective to draft the design for this quilt.  Most perspective drawings use one or two point perspective, which results in a realistic looking drawing.  I think three point perspective tends to give a more wonky, whimsical feel to the drawing, and I liked the way that aesthetic pairs with the given color palette.  I use AutoCad LT to draft the overall design.  You can see each of the points surrounding the finished drawing, and I left a few construction lines to help show how the design came together.

The quilt top was created using foundation paper piecing.  Once the overall design is complete, I break down the sections of the block that will be used to piece the block.  Since paper piecing requires the fabric to be pieced on the non-printed side of the template, all of the template pieces are mirrored so the finished block faces the correct direction.

The quilting on this mini was a first for me- I used Aurifil Monofilament to quilt the entire quilt.  I had never quilted with monofilament, and I had only done very limited sewing with it.  The Aurifil monofilament worked beautifully for this application.  It was amazing to be able to move across the quilt without having to change thread color!  It went through my domestic machine really well.  I reduced the top tension slightly and used a smaller micro-tex needle than I usually quilt with.

I tend to use lots of colors of thread in each piece, and I don’t think that will change much, but I do like how the monofilament thread allows the focus of the quilting to be on the texture rather than the color.  This is something that I will want to explore further.  The back of the quilt really shows off that texture!

Facings finish the edges so that the design of the quilt top isn’t interrupted by a binding border.

Quilt Stats

Title:  Upward Perspective

Size: 15-1/2″ x 15-1/2″

Techniques:  Foundation Paper Piecing

Quilting:  Machine echo quilting using a walking foot on a Bernina 1008 domestic

Fabric:  Assorted cotton prints and solids and Essex Linen in the palette provided by Curated Quilts

Batting:  Hobbs Tuscany Wool

Thread: Quilted with clear Aurifil Monofilament

Binding:  Faced with fabric matching the quilt backing

Columbus Cityscape Block of the Month: State Fair

The Ohio State Fair has been a tradition since 1850, and it continues to be a favorite summer destination for Ohio families to both learn and have fun.  County and State Fairs have always honored the makers in their communities, which makes the inclusion of the fair in this quilt particularly appropriate.  The fair runs for a week and a half from the end of July to through the beginning of August, so I knew that the fair block would be perfect for August.

State Fair Block for blog

The Ohio State Fair has taken place in the same location since 1886, and the buildings that comprise the fairgrounds have been constructed throughout the years since then.  The architecture has evolved to meet the needs of each department, so the overall look of the fairgrounds is quite eclectic.

I chose to focus on the Poultry and Rabbit Pavilion for two main reasons:

  1. The architecture of the building is one of the most distinctive on the fairgrounds, and
  2. I raised chickens in 4-H, so I always spend an inordinate amount of time visiting the poultry barns at every fair I attend.

I have noticed that I am drawn to buildings with green trim, so this was right up my alley!

Poultry Pavillion

The occupants of the pavilion are usually quite interested in their visitors.  This pullet (female chicken born in the same year) was particularly social.

Chicken 2

The feather patterns on these birds are stunning!

Chicken 3

Did you know that the color egg a chicken lays corresponds to the color of its earlobe, not the color of its feathers?  I didn’t know this until I raised egg layers for the first time, and got a gorgeous brown egg from my snowy white flock of chickens!

Chicken 1

I will refrain from showing you the dozens of other chicken photos I have taken this year, but I’m starting to think there may be a chicken quilt in my future!  The pattern for this block, and the rest of the quilt, are available exclusively from Dabble and Stitch in Columbus, Ohio.

If you have already purchased the pattern, you can access the extra templates here.  You will need the password included in the pattern instructions to access this page.

Quilt

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!