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

Back to the Bionic Bag

Most of my go-to sewing supplies and notions live in a Bionic Bag that I made several years ago.  It travels around the house from sewing machine to sofa or patio for hand stitching, and it goes with me to guild, sew-ins, and shops when I teach.  This bag is frequently admired, and following several recent requests, I will be teaching this pattern next January at Dabble and Stitch in Columbus, Ohio.

It was so much fun to choose new fabrics for the shop sample!  I love to mix and match fabrics from different designers and lines, and this project was no exception.  The main outer fabric is from Carrie Bloomston’s new Wonder line, and the other fabrics are a mix of designers including Alison Glass and Tula Pink.  I used a walking foot to do some linear quilting on the bag exterior.  I like the look and texture of the quilted bag, but you can also choose to use an iron on interfacing and skip the quilting step.

One of the things I love about the design of this bag is the way the front folds creates a tray when the bag is open.  In this section, I like to add magnetic snaps to hold the dumpling pouch and a small pin cushion.  I use the dumpling pouch for wonder clips, and the pin cushion is stuffed with scraps of wool batting and keeps pins and needles within easy reach.

Between the four zippered pockets and the pouches formed between them, you can fit almost every supply you need for a day or more of sewing.  Once you have made one of these bags, they go together very quickly and make great gifts for sewists and non-sewists  alike.  I have made several over the years, and you can check one out in this Bionic Bag post from a couple years ago.  The Bionic Gear Bag pattern is available for download on Craftsy.

If you would like to join me for the class, it will be held at Dabble and Stitch on Saturday, January 12, 2019 from 10am-4pm. During the day, you will construct most of your Bionic Bag, and you may or may not have time to to work on the optional dumpling pouch.  I hope to see you there!

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

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

Diamond Placemat

The charity that the Central Ohio Modern Quilt Guild is working with this year is Meals on Wheels.  We are making placemats that are distributed to recipients along with their meals to brighten things up.  Our Charity Chair has been issuing challenges this year to encourage participation and encourage members to use these projects to stretch their quilting skills.  This placemat is from one of these challenges.

Diamond Placemat

We were each given a line drawing of a traditional quilt block that we reinterpreted into a placemat.  I received a block called “Diamond Quilt Block.”

Diamond Block

My reinterpretation is fairly straightforward.  I stretched the traditionally square block into a rectangle, but then I had some fun with the quilting.  I matched the quilting thread to the pink, green, and white sections of the block, and extended the stitching out to the edges of the block.  Each stitching line pivots to create a triangular form.

Diamond Placemat detail

The pink and green stitching is done in 28wt thread and the white is 12wt, but the bobbins thread is always 50wt thread in the color matching the top thread.  This still allows the design to show up nicely, even on the tone on tone print that I used on the back of the placemat.

Diamond Placemat Quilting detail back

I have several bias bindings that I keep made up and ready to go for small projects, and I chose this one because it enhances the energy of the diagonal quilting lines.

Diamond Placemat back

The labels for our guild quilts are Spoonflower Prints with our guild name and Logo.  We each sign the label so the recipients know who made their placemat.

Placemat Label

 

I won’t be writing a full pattern for this project, but if you would like to make your own, you can download the templates below.  This file is templates only, and the template on the final page needs to be assembled prior to cutting your fabric.

Diamond Placemat Templates

Placemat Stats

Title:  Diamond Placemat

Size: 12″ x 18″

Techniques:  Machine Piecing

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

Fabric:  Kona Cotton Solids on the front, print backing and binding

Batting:  Warm and White

Thread: Quilted with 50wt, 28wt, and 12wt cotton Aurifil in pink, green, and white

Binding:  Striped bias binding, cut 2″ wide, machine stitched to the front and hand finished on the back