Thursday, October 30, 2014

From the Archives: Free Motion Quilting the swirls

    I had to dig through the older--much older posts---to find this one to answer questions this week.   This is still my "go to design" for free motion quilting.   It takes practice to get a pleasing shape, but it is worth the effort.   So, from December 2011, here is FMQ Swirls.

  More comments and questions on the swirls.  From an email this week....... Nicki wrote.... "I just wanted to show you a pic of my first attempt at free motion swirls. WOW, it looked a lot better on paper than it does on the fabric... :)  I still have stippling in my head when I'm doing this so this is going to take practice, practice, practice. The back side had TONS of those little "eyelashes" all over it. I'm not sure what to do to correct those......."
   She prompted me to really give some details on this FMQ of swirls.  First, eye-lashing is usually from moving the fabric too fast.  The bobbin thread is pulled too tight and thus pulls the top thread to the back and  the curves have "eyelashes".   How to correct this:  Slow down.  Slow down your machine speed and slow down the movement of the hands and the fabric.  You don't have to creep or crawl along, but just going wide open, pedal to the metal is not working here.  An explanation from Leah Day at 365 Days of Quilting ---she controls her speed of the machine by using a light touch and "feathering" her pedal.  At some points she speeds up and at others she goes slower. 
   A slower and steady movement of the fabric equals better control.  Practice is the only way to achieve pain, no gain....practice.  I use music when I FMQ to keep a steady rhythm.
   Start on paper.  Try to copy this design to practice. This is a design from Wendy at Ivory Spring.....she's a amazing fmq expert!  Pay attention to your hand movements, and note where you naturally pause and when you move faster.  That's the hint for how to stitch the pattern.  Like driving----slow in the curves, and more speed on the straight way!
   I'm not the total guru, but I think I've figured this pattern out.   You will still find that my stitches are not always perfect, but I try to be consistent.  Sometimes I don't get a perfect curl, just keep going because it's a big quilt.  And the quilt police or detectives are shot  poked with a long needle   escorted out the door  on sight!

  Here's my Step by step guide:
  1. Begin with a curl that is at least a 3/4 circle  that almost closes.
  2.  Pause to create a good point before you circle back.
  3.  Gradually increase your width and spacing as you curl back around to create the first swirl.  Note that your return curve should bring you back in line or close to the tip or point of the curl---like the large swirl at the bottom of the page.   
  4.  Then create a curl in the opposite direction.
 The deeper  tighter center in the curls really look the best.

That will give you a  fleur-di-lis effect that is the basis of this open FMQ  design.  I enlarged my photo to really show this part of the pattern. (And you can see the curls are not perfect!)  The spacing on here looks huge, but really the area between stitching is 3/4" to an inch at the widest section of the swirl. 
    Add swirls--single and in pairs--in different directions.  Throw in an "s-curl"  for interest and to change direction.  I use  the curved line that looks like a scallop  to move to a new area.  I had worked myself into a corner and needed a way out----so a curved line moved me out into the open.   



Monday, October 27, 2014

Frosted Pumpkin

   A little thread painting on the pumpkin----aka "frosting" from a comment made by fellow blogger, The Rogue Quilter.    I liked that description, so I blatantly stole it.  I began this wall hanging a couple of weeks here for that post. ...and the link to the pattern at The Quilt Rat blog.

   I really did not do as much thread painting as I planned.  I got tired of battling the batik fabric versus the thread shredding.  I switched to a large needle just to finish up what I did do.  
   I wasn't quite sure how to finish this one off, and finally went with a simple inset frame.  Using the same fabric on the outer border gives the effect of a floating design.
    On to the quilting part....that was a lot more fun!  I went for a McTavishing style pattern around the appliques.  I am doing better at this style, but I still find I get in a rut and keep making the same curves.  I should have changed direction more often.....more practice needed.  The outer border got a quick flame style free motion quilting that mimics the inner style.
   My overall size ended up about 18" by 25".  The pieces are quite small....if I do another one, I will try to enlarge it a bit.
   Don't forget the Blogger's Quilt Festival  .  Nominate your favorite this week.  Voting begins at the end of the week!  Happy stitching. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Blogger's Quilt Festival Fall 2014

Fall 2014 BQF ButtonWelcome to the Blogger's Quilt Festival!

I always enjoy this on-line quilt show.  and give big thanks to Amy at Amy's Creative Side for hosting this.

   My entry has been sitting around unfinished for a couple of months, so the quilt festival was just the motivation I needed to get it completed.  At the end of August, this is where it was.....did I need more blocks, or borders, or not?   I was so undecided that it got pushed aside as other things in life intervened.

 About 2 weeks ago, I saw that the Blogger's Quilt Festival was quickly out it came again.   Decision made----I was keeping this one. A perfect small throw size, just for me.

   The pattern is Scrappy Trips from Bonnie Hunter's tutorial.  When 4 blocks are joined, a Trip Around the World style unit appears.  I used 2" strips to make these.
   There are  six floral fabrics in each block, blended by  the value of the fabric  in each block---either light to dark or dark to light.   I can say that each one is different.....repeated fabrics, yes.....but in different combinations.

   What could be better than viewing the last of the garden blooms sitting under a lapful  of favorite floral fabrics!
And a wonderful reminder of a perfect fall day.

   For the quilting,  I used an overall pattern of swirls and a few leaves thrown in.  I kept the quilting open and not too dense.  A softer effect to blend it all together.

     Finished off with a label.

Category is Small Quilt.
Tripping through the Flowers
is 56 " by 56 ".
Machine quilted by me on Tiara.

 Time to grab a cup of coffee, settle in under your favorite throw, and view some quilts in the festival.

 Here is the link to the main festival page.   Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the festival! 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A little dye info

Color Perfect - Amethyst Purple  Every year I say I am going to try some  fabric dying....snow dying, ice dying, etc.  And the snow comes and I don't have the supplies.  With the big jump/increases in the cost of backing fabric, I think it is time to give this thing a try.
   So, to my shopping list I am adding a bolt of extra wide white muslin, and RIT dye.   Dana at Stormy Days has been dying fabric (and hands) such lovely shades of colors for her backings for a while.  And over at the Quilt Rat, Jill just showed her experiment using RIT dyes.  And I love the crinkled effect she achieved.
    According to the RIT website, the liquid is more concentrated and pre-dissolved.  It can be used the same way as the powder.
Comments.....blogger is acting so strange.   Comments are not arriving in my inbox from many.   I have to remember to check each day to respond.   So if I don't reply, that is why.   If you have a question, please use email.  

Monday, October 20, 2014


   Remember the Quilt of Valor I quilted a couple of months ago?  Suzanne, one of our state coordinators,  posted the photos from this weekend.  Mr. Whitt was "covered" by his great-grandson.  Just wonderful!  Thanks, Suzanne for sharing this moment. 

Mr. Robert Whitt received his Quilt of Valor today. He served in WW II and earned a bronze star and purple heart. Attending his presentation is his Great Grandson Adam. He's a member of the Marine Corp band and his great-grandfather is extremely special to him. Greer, SC.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Some prepping

    I began prepping this week for the trunk show.......that means sorting through the quilts scattered around the house.  Some are in use, or on the walls and need to be washed.  Hanging replacements also required!   So I am in the process of that.  The rest are stacked/thrown in the guest room to be sorted properly.    Someone kick me the next time I agree to do this!

   To appease the creative urge, I began a small project for fall.  When that bug bites, you must do something to ease it.
   I found this wonderful little wall hanging at Jill's blog, The Quilt Rat, here for the pattern.
 She designed it for thread painting---which I love---but it could be adapted for traditional applique.  I am just beginning the thread painting and hope to spend a wonderful afternoon with thread!   That should help brighten my day.......have a great weekend.   Happy stitching.   

Friday, October 10, 2014

A visit to the Woodworker's Toy Shop

   Every year the Greenville Woodworkers Guild makes toys, and more toys.  They make lots of wooden toys.....all year long.   About 4 years ago, the quilters of Get Your Mrs. Claus On came along side to "dress up" the beds and cradles that were being made.  Mrs. Claus keeps stitching and quilting, and the doll quilts keep arriving!    So before the deliveries start, I wanted to share  what goes on in the woodworking shop.


The toy makers have out grown their room at the guild two very busy elves were painting parts for wooden tractors outside.  Note the John Deere green!

  We found more elves sanding pieces by hand!  There will be no rough corners on these toys.

  More sanding by Elf Jim on yet another section.

  Every Tuesday morning is Toy Day....the elves arrive and get right to work.   And this year they have added a night shift crew!   These adorable carousels were made by the night crew.....with rabbits and dinosaurs, gators, and hippos, and trucks!  You can turn the red knob and the base spins around.

  I found boxes of wooden dump trucks......

A table full of small cradles.

   Stacks of chairs waiting for finishing,  line the front wall....and a couple more cradles.

And when we peeked into the Hand Tool Room.....we found more production going on by the lady Elves!

  Lana is the Head Quality Control Elf. She fills all the nail holes and does any touch up sanding on the doll beds and cradles.   She insists that it all be done right.

   And what is this?  The cradles will be very soft and comfy this year....because Miss Rosie Elf  is making mattresses ( and pillows) for them.   I love how this project just grows and grows.

  And then there was The Head Elfess......Louise Elf, the painter of beds and cradles......and probably anything else.  ( I would be covered in pink doing this!)     Her husband, John is the official Head Elf this year, and has done a great job keeping everything on track. His first deliveries are scheduled,  and soon the hundreds of  toys will be arriving at various organizations  for the children they help.
   To all the Mrs. Clauses .....thank you.  Thank you for your time, effort, and giving hearts.   You will never know how important and motivating your efforts are.   Once again, hugs and thanks.
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