Monday, May 27, 2013

Purple Posies in a Basket

I have been quilting this beauty off and on for 6 weeks.
Pieced by Janet, quilted by me
68" by 78"

It was pieced by a family friend, Janet, who learned quilting growing up on a dairy farm. She still lives, and works there. I wanted to quilt one of her tops as a way to honor her, her relationship with my husband's family and as a memorial to my late MIL.

The piecing is exquisite. See, Janet doesn't own a rotary cutter, she cuts each piece separately and pieces precisely. The flowers are not made of carefully pieced half-square-triangles, they are diamond shapes with exact y-seams. Perfect points. Hand-appliqued stems.

I took my time quilting, heck, this was intimidating!

I first did a tight stipple in the white backgrounds (with white thread), then left it as I built up my nerve to quilt feathers in the lavender sections. I had Isacord in a matching lavender for the solid blocks and stitched a plume in each. The border is stitched in a piano-key , it didn't need anything else.

I was happy with it, but a bit anxious to give it back. What if she didn't like it? Thats a lot of stitches to rip out.

She loved it. Her sister and brothers loved it. Her sister-in-law asked for it. (whew)
And we spent a wonderful afternoon and evening with them. And the cows.

This girl was so curious, she kept her eye on us the whole time!

Sunday, May 26, 2013


greetings from an over-scheduled, too-slack blogger!

So, on a Thursday evening, I taught the Triple-Zip Pouch at Papanana's in King, NC. I had asked Debbie's permission to offer her tutorial as a class, she graciously allowed me, (Thanks, Debbie!).

I had 4 amazing, awesome ladies in class: Lee, Sarah, Lyn and Sue. Melanie, Papanana's proprietress, joined us as well.

The 4 ladies choose fabrics and made 4 distinctive, and wonderful pouches!

We laughed, laughed, and LAUGHED! It was way too much fun!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Baby Quilt for Addie

Addie's quilt 45" by 53"

My cousin (first cousin, once-removed) Crystal is expecting her first baby. 
She had contacted me for a custom pink & brown baby quilt.
 I knew this could be a great gift, and got my mother involved so it could be from both of us.

I bought the fabric at the Quilt show in Statesville, in January. The pinks came in a custom bundle with a neat pattern attached (Crazy Eights by Bits 'n Pieces), perfectly sized for a baby quilt. I added additional fabrics and the brown paisley as a border. I like to make baby quilts large enough to be used where-ever they are needed.

I pieced it, and Mom quilted it. This sweet baby will be wrapped in our love!

We gifted it yesterday. The parents-to-be, Crystal & Carl, loved it. 
I can't wait to meet this sweet baby girl!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

my thread sampler

I made myself a reference sample of threads I use in quilting.

I drew a grid on a solid fat quarter, layered with batting and batting, and basted.

At the top of each rectangle, I wrote the thread type and weight, using a Pigma pen.
My threads used (Left to Right): YLI Soft Touch bobbin thread, YLI Silk, Aurifil Mako, PolyX, YLI Cotton Machine Quilting, King Tut, Signature, Sulky 12 wt.

Then. I FMQ-ed a wavy line, added loops, stippling, and finally an echo shape to see how the thread looked in a variety of stitch designs. I repeated for a total of 8 threads. I also used only neutral colors, gray where I had it, so I would not be influenced by color.

A fun exercise, and one I will use! If you make one, let me know! Thanks.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

where I espouse my views on thread

The are a wide variety of threads out on the market to choose from. They are an element of your quilt that can serve in either a supporting or starring role. Some quilters are purists and only use cotton thread for piecing and quilting, others throw caution to the wind and sew with whatever is on the machine (with great results!). Me? I have my favorites, my "go-to" threads, but I also like to experiment and discover. Please feel free to share your favorites!
Commercially-available threads, like commercially-available fabrics, go through many mechanical, chemical and heat processes in their manufacture. And just like fabrics, their fiber characteristics can change with changes in heat and humidity (they can stretch a bit, or grow a bit). In fact, some colors of thread can be problems while other color behave nicely, due to the chemical processing used in dying. Thread can also deteriorate with age, so test it by sewing or quilting a sample if you are unsure of how old it might be.

With threads, the larger the number used in reference to size, the smaller the thread. In matching threads to needles, it is good to see what the thread manufacturer recommends. I use 90/14 Topstitch needles for most quilting, except with silk.
My Thread Sampler
Yes, silk! 100 weight silk (I use YLI) is great for mini-micro quilting. Many quilters use this for hand-applique but this thread in all it's colors (and strength) makes great quilting thread too. Silk really sinks into your quilt-top, showing beautiful texture. The drawback is price. It is quite expensive, but well worth it for an heirloom project. With the 100 wt silk, a 60/8 needle is good. If you are using a fine thread, then you probably do not want a large needle hole.

It's not just for bobbins anymore! I really like bobbin thread, it is generally 60 wt, meaning you get more on a bobbin! While there are many brands available, YLI Soft-Touch is what I can get locally. It is a long-staple cotton thread that is also good for piecing (use it in the top & bobbin) if you really want your seams super-flat.

Aurifil Mako is a popular 50/2 cotton thread. I also like Affinity/Exquisite 50/3 cotton, but I believe that has been discontinued. Too bad, as I like using it for piecing and quilting. I do piece with the Aurifil Mako, but I am not fond of it for quilting (unlike many on-line quilters!).

In my tool box, there are currently 6 different 40 wt threads. This is a good thread size (in both cotton and polyester) for quilting. The YLI 40/3 Machine Quilting thread is flawless. I have never had a problem with this thread, no breaks, shreds or knots! I love the Grey-011 and use it 80% of the time for quilting. Both the solid and the variegate colors are vivid, and there are a lot of them! King Tut 40/3 is another favorite of mine, but they are not as common near me, so I buy them when I see them. This thread is also flawless for me. These cotton threads lay on top of the quilt when I use them, but depending on the color, they can either blend in with the fabrics or stand out.
In polyesters I have both Isacord and PolyX 40 wt threads. I love the range of colors and the subtle sheen they provide. Yes, they are generally marketed for embroidery, but they are super strong and quilt beautifully for me. Signature TEX 40 cotton is also in rotation for quilting. I love the color "Pearl" it is a soft gray that blends well with a variety of fabrics. The polyester threads add a luster as these threads are shinier than cotton, but being filament fibers, they do not stand out on top of the fabric. Given this size, you can chose wild colors for quilting to cast the shade of your quilt if desired.

A big difference between the cotton and polyester threads in this size is the amount of thread build up if quilting dense designs or feathers.

And my new addition: 12 WT Sulky
This is a mercerized cotton thread. "Mercerized" means it has gone through a chemical and heat process to make it shinier than normal cotton. The size of this thread also makes the twist of the thread more visible and this yarn emphasizes quilting stitches.
I did not mention rayon threads, while they are beautiful, rayon is not as strong as either cotton or polyester, so I do not quilt with it. I did not mention the Sulky 30 wt Blendables either, I haven't had good luck with these gorgeous threads in the past as they seem to shred and break while I'm quilting. HOWEVER, I have been using Sewer's Aid* on the Sulky spools and have growing confidence in adding this thread to my palette. *Sewer's Aid is an all-purpose silcone-based lubricant that will not hurt your machine.

Next up: My Thread Sampler

Sunday, May 12, 2013

a little bit in process

So I am easing back into a bit of a schedule with sewing each evening. 
This week I have worked on the following:

Dutch Rose block from this tutorial.

Mending my son's blown-out belt loop with a bit of Aneela Hooey. 

Working on my 2014 Quilt for the Stokes County Humane Society. 
This is my 4th raffle quilt for this worthy organization!

Drawing feathers.

And quilting this, for an old family friend. I started the FMQ in March, and I am almost done. 
More pictures, and it's story to come.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

some catching up

This post is going to all over the place, and of course quilting (or lack of) will be mentioned!

I spent this past week in Guilford, Maine. The company I work for has a facility there, and I was up to participate in customer visits. Some highlights:

Local brews, (top, L to R) Sea Dog Wild Blueberry Ale, just a hint of blueberry taste, and quite refreshing! Geary's Pale Ale, love the lobster on the label, hearty taste. (bottom, L to R) Shipyard, quite nice with fried haddock and scallops, Goose Island Honker's Ale, another nice brew.

My first, and second, visits to Moosehead Lake. This place is magical, truly beautiful. The photos do not do it justice. Suffice it to say, I am planning a visit with my hubs for some quality time here!

Of course there is quilting in Maine! I finally got a chance to visit the Cotton Cupboard Quilt Shop in Bangor. It is close to the airport, but I have never been able to get by there when they were open, until this trip! What a beautiful shop! Lots of fabrics from Modern prints to batiks to Civil War to Maine inspired. Tons of patterns and an amazing selection of books. Oh, and the sweetest little Boston Terrier: Gracie!  The other shop pictured is Crazy Moose Fabrics in Greenville by Moosehead Lake. I couldn't get there while they were open, but am planning a visit when I can! And the Sunbonnet Sue? One of my quilting buddies that works for us, Carol, made her. We quilters are everywhere and seek each other out! Carol is a member of the Pine Tree Guild, Maine's statewide quilt guild, as well as another regional guild. There are many amazing quilters in the wilds of Maine.

So, home this week, should be able to sew, again, finally!
Obligatory lobster shot, we had our customer dinners (and all meals) catered by the fantastic Pat's Pizza in Dover-Foxcroft. They did our lobster boil dinners for both sessions of visits and did an amazing job in a gorgeous space!