Tag Archives: machine quilting

an experiment in abstract quilting

mountain quilt 1The Big Rock Candy Mountain quilt is finished- all quilted and bound! As with most projects, the first step is the hardest and that was definitely true in this case. Working without a pattern requires a huge mental effort and so I must admit I walked away from this project for months at a time because I was having a hard time seeing the big, final picture. But all the hard work in abstract quilting was so extremely rewarding, and now, I think I’m hooked.
mountain quilt backFabric with assorted keys on the back, a panel from Urban Outfitters I found a few years back.
big rock candy mt quiltThe quilting was done by Corn Wagon Quilt Company in Springville UT. They have done custom work (freehand by the human operator, not a computer programmed stitch) for me before so I trusted they would do a good job again. I was very undecided on how to quilt this project. I went back and forth on various ideas, asking everyone’s opinion and you can see what won out- based on majority rule. I had Van Gogh’s Starry, Starry Night pictured in my minds eye when I saw the background. I had pictured swirls bigger than these but I didn’t specify exact size and I think these smaller swirls suit just fine.
big rock candy mountain quiltThere are a few stars in the sky- I had pictured more but I think it works out just fine. Someday I’ll have my own long arm quilting machine and I’ll be free to quilt whatever I can dream up (after hours and months of lessons, practice and messing up I’m sure).
triangle pieced quiltI love the way the straight stitches on the mountain really make the points and geometry stand out. Very simple- in a good way.
backlight quiltBacklit and blowing in the wind, it took me about 5 minutes with the camera poised and ready to get this picture. The wind was making it flap and twist, but I had to get at least one good picture with the mountains in the background and the sunlight coming through the fabric.
keys on the backsideI learned from my mother-in-law to always title, sign and date a quilt. Here is one way- just a corner of muslin or plain white fabric in the back corner, hand stitched on, for the important details. This location works well because you can easily flip the bottom corner over for the details without taking the quilt down off the wall. (And I’d better not forget to sign it…)
hanging a quiltIf the quilt is meant to hang on the wall, include a sleeve at the top when stitching the binding on. About 2 or 3 inches wide across the top should suffice. This picture is actually a great bad example of what to use when hanging the quilt. I’ve got a very bendy piece of wood that is twisting and turning (as you can see) and not allowing the quilt to hang nicely flat against the wall. Chose a strong, flat and thin piece of wood for hanging and there will be minimal to no sag over the years.
quilting from the backA view of how the quilting stitching looks against the keys on the back.
folded quilt
mountain quilt with timpOne last look, with my neighboring mountains before this quilt goes off to it’s new home. it’s going to artist Colt Bowden and growing family. It’s going to be tough to say goodbye. (I might have to make another one for me).

For a look at this quilt in the piecing triangles process look here.

I think it’s a record

Having a deadline-this quilt’s departure to Costa Rica on April 1st- was definitely a good thing. I think this is the fastest quilt I’ve ever made (under 2 months start to finish) but hopefully not the last. It feels too good.
20130322-202123.jpgFinished size is 51″ by 64″, a good size for a wall hanging or throw. I believe the ‘random mix plan’ worked, there’s just enough consistent unconsistency in the fabric and colors that it works- smoothly flowing chaos.

20130322-202133.jpgWe picked a round swirly pattern for the quilting, to offset the completely straight hard lines that make up the whole pattern.

20130322-202209.jpgThe back and better view of the quilting job- thanks Cindy! As you can see, I need to fill in the label I sewed into the corner. I’ve got to make sure I’ve got the Spanish words correct before I start writing. (The quilt is for my daughter’s host family in Costa Rica, she’s there for a 6 month foreign exchange.) She’s been there about a month and a half and has been treated exquisitely every moment of it. We are forever indebted for their kindness, love and generosity- the very least I can do is make them a quilt!

20130322-202225.jpg This is what I’d like to do… curl up under the quilt with a cup of tea, snack and a good book (I’m going to re-read These Is My Words by Nancy Turner because I love it so much). Well, we’ll see how that goes…  I can dream can’t I?

20130322-202320.jpgMixing it up- a close up view of the fabrics. There are all varieties in the mix- the part of the ‘random mix plan’-  old and new, small patterns and big, dark and light, all in this together.

For the full tutorial on making these block using the foundation piecing method look here.

For the post on piecing the blocks look here.

For how to piece together the finished blocks in the quilt top (including a look at the blocks from the back) look here.

table running experiments

Well, this is what I have to show for myself today… what I thought would take about an hour to finish ended up taking me all day. No surprise really, isn’t that the way most things go (aside from naps on warm sunny beaches and weekends which always pass too quickly)?

I added a piece of thin batting under the pieced table runner face and a solid piece of fabric (orange with daisies) to the back then machine quilted it all together with a chevron pattern and some fluorescent orange thread (the only aspect of the project I was really happy about).

Very time consuming machine quilting for such a small table runner, lots of shoving folds of fabric out of the way, getting poked with straight pins and muttering bad words.

Black binding finishing it off, here’s what the flip side looks like.

I sound grumpy about this whole project but I think it turned out OK in the end- it lays flat, corners are square… that should be a sign of success right?
Well, here’s the real reason I’m grumpy:
I started out on this table runner, I thought swirls would look nice on the solid colors. I used a tan upholstery weight thread which basically gives you a thicker, more obvious stitch. I sewed straight seams ‘in the ditch’ in 3 or 4 places to hold all the layers together, which worked out just fine until I went to get fancy with the circles.

If you go slowly, the top (needle side) stitching will always look nice and the thicker thread will move nicely through the machine. But every now and again (and for no apparent reason) this mess (above) would happen on the bobbin side. Ugh! Not OK on this rad vintage fabric (I was loathe to even put scissors to) also meant to be used as a front side.

Then, I ran out of the tan upholstery thread, you can sew through an entire spool in 5 minutes or 10 feet, whichever comes first. I can’t decide if I should call it a FAIL and pick all the stitching out and start over or set it aside until I get more thread and finish the swirls then.
Time to walk away and think about it later. It’s the weekend- cut loose and have a fantastic Cinco de Mayo!