Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Wholecloth, Batiks and Hexies

It's been a busy week since the last post. I've made some progress on a couple of projects, including starting a new one.

November's Learning Quilt-A-Long

My goal for November is to create a wholecloth quilt from each different batting being tested. In some of the projects, the FMQ follows the design on what will be the backing.

For this first piece, I began by quilting on the silk batting. Last month I had quilted on the cotton-wool batting first, so the silk batting felt very thin in comparison. This time, the silk batting was great.
FMQ the bird panel from the backing
For this wholecloth quilt, I used #100 Kimono silk thread from Superior Threads in both the top and the bobbin. It was perfect and quilted beautifully.

Below is the front of the wholecloth quilt. I changed the colour to off-white because I would like to try to either paint or dye the piece. This will be a learning project for this winter. I'm hoping to visit my girlfriend who is a painter. She has promised to help me since I'm pretty nervous about painting :-) I'm the kid who had a paint-by-number of the Last Supper and proceeded to paint the whole ceiling in one colour of brown!!! Needless to say, the painting (and the ceiling) were never finished.

The wholecloth quilt created from the FMQ panel
I added a border to the panel and then marked the wholecloth so that I can FMQ something interesting in the border.

Another Batik Lap Quilt

I've started another batik lap quilt using a couple of charm packs that I bought a while back. The colours are absolutely stunning. I'm having a great time working with these colours!

I have almost half of the quilt top pieced. It's now time to go into my stash for more fabric since I only bought 2 charm packs but I need slightly more than that to make a respectable sized quilt (roughly 50" x 47").

Batik lap top - almost half done
I love making these quick quilts. Minimum piecing with all kinds of potential for FMQ. I've been thinking of doing an all-over quilt pattern. I've actually never done this on a quilt. I think that it could be a good learning experience :-)

Hexie Project

I've spent a lot of evenings working on my hexies. It's a restful activity after a day of working and thinking. So far, I'm planning for a runner of two hexie flowers wide and possibly five flowers long. I'll see how far I get before I decide to call it done!
Hexie project coming along
I'm not sure that I like the white border. I could remove it (it's much easier to remove than to add!), but I'll wait to see how it goes. It might be cool to add a border outside of the white border, possibly in all of the colours that I've used in the hexies. The fun part of working with hexies is that it's easy to try out a design by just putting them into place, before attaching them.

To-Do Tuesday

For my To-Do list this week, I'm going to work on another wholecloth quilt and add a few more rows on my batik quilt!

What I learned
  • FMQ the panel by following its outline went really well. I find it much faster than trying to figure out what FMQ pattern to use next. Since I was only outlining everything, it only took a little over an hour. That's good because if it had taken a huge amount of time, I might not be willing to try to add paint or dye to it! I even have more of these panels if I end up wanting to start over.
  • I forget how much I love batiks until I'm doing another batik project. I really hope that I'll remember to use them more often. I get such joy out of working with awesome colours! 
  • After reading a book about Leaders and Enders, I'm really tempted to start one. I think I may have enough batik scraps to start. That would be very cool. I'll let you know when it happens.
  • I'm still having a great time working on the hexies project. It's great to see it grow. 
  • I've been sucked into looking at hexies and EPP on Pinterest. Oh the things I could make.... maybe.... if I had the patience!!!
  • Speaking of patience, I just came back from listening to Kathy K. Wylie who was our guild's guest speaker. Her latest quilt, "For Such a Time As This" won first prize in Houston this fall under Traditional Appliqué. It took her 3 years to make and over 200 hours to FMQ. That is the definition of patience. Wow. Check her quilt out in the Related Links below.
Related Links
Linking Parties: I will be linking this post to many great linking parties. Check out what others are up to! Monday Making, Main Crush Monday, Design Wall Monday, Linky Tuesday, To-Do Tuesday, Midweek Makers, Let's Bee Social, Needle & Thread Thursday, Free Motion Mavericks, Off the Wall Friday, Finished or Not Friday, Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?,

Sunday, November 05, 2017

More learning and updates

For the October Learning Quilt-A-Long, I made and quilted 4 improv pieced blocks using different batting.

I've had a chance to bind, wash, air dry and iron them - it's made quite a difference, but unfortunately, not easily seen on the images.

Here are the results:
Log Cabin block after washing

Log Cabin block

The Log Cabin block was made using Warm 100 Cotton with 100% cotton scrim

X block 
X Block after washing

The X block was made using Hobbs Tuscany Collection silk and fine polyester (90%-10%) with resin bonded.

Half-Square Triangle block
Half-Square Triangle block after washing

The Half-Square Triangle block was made using Hobbs Tuscany Collection cotton-wool (80%-20%) batting with resin bonded.

Square Pieced block after washing
Square Pieced block

The Square Pieced block was made using Tender Touch bamboo-cotton (50%-50%) with scrim.

I did steam iron the blocks since they were pretty scrunched up.

Update on the Splash of Color QAL

It's time to show some progress on the Splash of Color QAL. Here is the quilt block that I am making. It's called Shattered Angles.

I have no idea at this time if it's going to end up as a lap quilt or just a wall hanging or runner. We'll see how quickly I get tired of it!

For readers who don't know me, I have a problem working with black and white fabrics. Even with the addition of a little bit of colour, I find the lack of other colours quite depressing to work with.

Two Shattered Angles blocks
Slow Stitching with English Paper Pieced Hexies

I have finally reached the point where I'm tired of just making hexie flowers. So I put all of my hexies together to what I could make, either a wall hanging or a runner. I wanted to keep this project simple, without having to make a gazillion more hexies, so I just played around until I figured out a way to put the flowers together. This is what I've come up with.

Putting the hexie flowers together
So far, my plan is to put a white-on-white hexie row between each row of flowers. I am using coloured fabric with a white or off-white background between each flower (with a pop of colour in the middle hexie).
All the hexie flowers to date 

I haven't decided yet if it's going to be three hexie flowers wide or just two. I'm also not sure how long I will make it.

What I learned
  • After washing the blocks, I'm not sure that I can tell the difference between the batting, except for the silk. It's still the thinnest and lightest.
  • All of the batting has shrunk a little, so that all the blocks have a slightly puffy look. I can't even tell now if the wool-cotton batting has more loft after washing than the cotton and bamboo-cotton.
  • I would have to say that the results are pretty inconclusive so far.
  • I'm surprised that I made so many hexie flowers before getting bored! That's probably a record for me. Now I'm looking forward to putting them together into something....
  • I still want to appliqué some hexies to make a piece. I could certainly do that with any left-over flowers.
  • I cleaned my sewing machine this morning and may have messed something up. I decided to just turn it off and hope that it's just a temporary issue. I will deal with it another day. It it turns out to be serious, I may have to revise my learning goals - hand quilting anyone?
Related Links
Linking Parties: I am linking up to the Splash of Color QAL, as well as many other quilting parties. Check them out! Slow Sunday Stitching, Oh Scrap!, MOP Monday, Design Wall Monday, Main Crush Monday, Monday Making, Linky Tuesday, Midweek Makers, Let's Bee Social,

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Learning QAL - November Goal Setting Link-up

Welcome to the fourth month of the Learning QAL.

I hope you'll join me on my learning adventure - and make it yours!

The rules are easy - post what you would like to learn this month (it doesn't have to be complicated!) and link-up your post. At the end of the month we will have a Learning Sum Up and share our learning. You don't even have to finish the project as long as you post about what you learned. There is even a prize for a lucky person who has linked up to both the Goal Setting and Sum Up!

There must be something you have to make soon that involves learning something new! So please join in the fun.

In October, Mel of Mel's Quilting Blog wanted to try out Terial Magic and see if she should use it to make a T-shirt Quilt. She used the stabilizer on a t-shirt and made a pillow - and learned that yes, she liked the product and would use it for a whole quilt. I've never heard of Terial Magic until now. Sounds like a great alternative to ironing stabilizer. Thanks Mel for sharing your learning. You are the winner of a $20 certificate from Connecting Thread! Congrats!

I'll be searching this month for a few ideas as prizes for participating. They will be listed in the November Sum Up and the winner will choose the prize she wants! Each prize will be roughly a $20 value - so get that post written and join in!

Four improv quilt blocks made with different batting
October Learning Goal

My October learning goal was to try 4 types of batting to learn the difference in how they handled when quilted.

Since I didn't get a chance to bind and wash them by the Sum Up, there wasn't much to say except that the silk batting was very thin and the cotton-wool batting had more loft that the regular cotton and bamboo-cotton batting.

I also had a chance to try out some new improv blocks and practice my free motion quilting (FMQ). I would say that the experiment was a success, but wasn't finished.

In the next few days, I will write a post on the washed and finished blocks. Look out for it!

November Learning Goal

This month, I will continue the batting experiment.

As I did in October, here are the four different batting I will be using:

  • Tender Touch bamboo-cotton (50%-50%) with scrim
  • Warm 100 Cotton  with 100% cotton scrim
  • Hobbs Tuscany Collection cotton-wool (80%-20%) batting with resin bonded
  • Hobbs Tuscany Collection silk and fine polyester (90%-10%) with resin bonded

The time, I will be comparing the batting to see how they handle different threads as I do some free motion quilting (FMQ). I have a lovely collection of silk threads as well as cotton and metallic threads that I can't wait to use!

FMQ from the back
For the first three, I will be using a technique that I learned from Cindy Needham in her Craftsy course, Machine Quilting Wholecloth Quilts. It's called Large Print Wholecloth Quilt. Essentially it involves FMQ using the backing fabric as a template to create a wholecloth quilt in the front, on a solid fabric.
Here is the wholecloth quilt that I originally created, using this wild fabric as a template on the back.
For more details, see Free Motion Quilting Madness in the Related Links below.
Large Print Wholecloth Quilt
I'll be using these prints to create wholecloth quilts. The solid fabric behind the print will end up being the front of the quilt.

A whimsical birds and leaves fabric with a blue solid

A bird on a tree branch with a blue solid

A wild plant as the template on an off-white solid
For my last piece, I will be FMQ this fabric that I hand-dyed this summer (as my August Learning Goal).
FMQ on hand-dyed fabric
What I learned:
  • One month isn't very long for learning something new. I like that I can keep learning based on the initial idea of using different batting for various projects.
  • I suspect that I may be overly ambitious this month - on the other hand, when I get started, the FMQ goes fairly quickly. I guess we'll see 😊
  • No matter how much I actually get done, there is guaranteed to be learning involved!!!

Related Links:
Linking Parties: I will be linking this post to many great linking parties. Check them out and see what others are doing! Midweek Makers, Let's Bee Social, Linky Tuesday, Design Wall Monday, Main Crush Monday, Quilter's Monday, Needle & Thread Thursday, Finished or Not Friday, Can I get a Whoop Whoop?, MOP Monday, Monday Making,

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Learning QAL - October Sum Up

Welcome to Learning QAL's October Sum Up.
One of the views from Banff
Life is good here! I'm writing this post from the beautiful town of Banff, within the Banff National Park in Alberta.

As you can imagine, last weekend was a frenzy of activity at my sewing machine, getting my samples ready for this post and getting ready to leaving for Banff. 

Quilt blocks lounging in the grass in Banff!
Quilt Tops

First things first - to test the batting, I had to create some quilt tops. I wanted this to be as painless as possible - so I chose to make some scrappy improvisational pieces. These are, for me, the easiest things to piece since matching points and such is not my strength. 

I looked through "Quilt Improv" by Lucie Summers for some ideas on new improv blocks to make. 

It was really fun putting together a half-square triangle block. Since I had many half-square triangles left over from other projects, this was the perfect way to use them. I must admit that it's my favourite of the blocks. I also tried a variation of her X block.

I already had a log cabin block that I just added strips to, as well as a block that Lucie calls pieced squares. These are the improv blocks that I usually make.

X Block with
silk-poly batting
Here they are, sandwiched and pinned, before quilting.

Half-square Triangle block with
cotton-wool batting

Pieced Squares block with
bamboo-cotton batting

Log Cabin block with
cotton batting


Here are the four different batting I used.
  • Tender Touch bamboo-cotton (50%-50%) with scrim
  • Warm 100 Cotton  with 100% cotton scrim
  • Hobbs Tuscany Collection cotton-wool (80%-20%) batting with resin bonded
  • Hobbs Tuscany Collection silk and fine polyester (90%-10%) with resin bonded
Taking these different batting out of their bag, I was surprised by the stiffness and stickiness of both Hobbs products, although in the end, this didn't affect the quilting.

Something else that I noticed when I made my quilt sandwiches, is that the silk batting didn't stick to the fabric at all, even after being ironed. Again, I don't think that this affected the quilting, but it was unusual.

The bamboo batting was the softest and most supple while the all-cotton also felt great and was a little thicker than the bamboo-cotton.

Quilt blocks lounging in the gazebo
The Quilting Process

For consistency, I used the same backing fabric for all of the pieces, a Kona solid in pink. I put a new Superior Topstitch 90\14 needle into the machine. I also used Superior Threads, King Tut thread (40) for both the bobbin and the top. The bobbin was a grey thread while the top was a light variegated. I ended up running out of both of these on my last block! 

I started by quilting-in-the-ditch each block. The cotton and bamboo-cotton batting were great. The cotton-wool batting adds loft (puffiness) and did feel a little thicker. It was also great to quilt. I was surprised with the silk batting. It is the thinnest, was a little stiff and it almost felt as if there was no batting.

Free Motion Quilting (FMQ)

After doing some in-the-ditch quilting, I then went back to complete the FMQ of each block. I started with the cotton-wool batting. Wow! It was really great to quilt and I definitely saw the added loft while quilting. I did have to be more careful about puckers, just because of the added loft. 

FMQ on the cotton-wool batting (block size 16" x 16"½)
After quilting the cotton-wool batting, the silk batting felt really thin. I did have to adjust the tension on my machine since it was so different from the cotton-wool. It did quilt well.

FMQ on the silk batting  (block size 14" x 14"½)
I didn't really see or feel much difference when quilting the cotton and bamboo-cotton pieces. They were both great - but this is what I'm used to quilting. 

FMQ on the cotton batting  (block size 16" x 16")

FMQ on the bamboo-cotton batting  (block size 15" x 15"½)
I didn't get to finish the FMQ on the bamboo-cotton piece. I ran out of both bobbin and top threads. It is about 80% quilted.
Back of the X block
(silk batting)
Back of the Half-Square Triangle block
(cotton-wool batting)

Back of the Log Cabin block
(cotton batting)
Back of the Pieced Squares block
(bamboo-cotton batting)
The experiment is not over...

Overall, I was really impressed with the cotton-wool, bamboo-cotton and cotton batting. I was a little disappointed with the silk batting, just because it was a little stiffer and so thin. But the experiment is not over!

I still have to finish quilting the bamboo-cotton piece (after I buy more thread), and then bind each of them so they can be washed. That could make a difference in the end result.

I will also do some more experimenting with these batting - so if you're interested, follow my learning adventure next month. I'll be posting the details of Batting - Part 2 in my goal setting for the November Learning QAL on November 1st. I also hope that you'll be learning along with me!

Quilt block enjoying the view
What I learned
  • I was working hard to not be biased in regards to the silk batting because I was sooo looking forward to using it. It was difficult to not be disappointed.
  • In defense to the silk batting, it is known to be very lightweight but warm. I will reserve judgement (on all of them) once they have been washed.
  • In reality, the experiment can only be over once a whole quilt has been made and used to really get a feel for their properties as quilts. This experiment may last a long time :-)
  • I was impressed by the cotton-wool batting. Only 20% wool made a big difference in the loft. I'm also glad that there is only a little bit of wool since I do react to wool - even the softest makes me itchy. I had no problem working with this batting.
If you've had success, or not, with a particular batting, feel free to share with readers and me in the comments section!

Related Links
Linking Parties: I will be linking up to these great parties. Please check them out! Let's Bee SocialLinky TuesdayMidweek Makers, Design Wall Monday, Main Crush Monday, Quilter's Monday, Can I Get A Whoop Whoop?, Oh Scrap! Finished or Not Friday, MOP Monday, Free Motion Mavericks, Off the Wall Friday,

Great news! My half-square triangle block was featured on Free Motion Mavericks. Check it out!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Splash of Color QAL and a deadline

I've been resisting....but it didn't last. Myra of Busy Hands Quilts is hosting a Splash of Color QAL. The quilt has to be black and white with a splash of colour. As you can guess, I'm joining!

Why would I do that when I have tons of other stuff to do? Well, it turns out that I took a workshop last year with the Common Threads Quilt Guild called Shattered Angles. The technique was based on the book "Splash of Color - A Rainbow of Bright Black-and-White Quilts" by Jackie Kunkel. I just happened to choose Black and White with a jelly roll of solid colours for my quilt.

The quilt is only partially done - so this is the perfect opportunity to keep working on it. I'm not sure if I'll finally finish it during this QAL, but getting anything more done on it would be a bonus!

Here is the fabric that I'm using. If they look familiar, it's because I used some of these for Anna's Black & White wall hanging. Oops, I may have to pick up a few more fat quarters of black and white fabric!

Fabric selection for Shattered Angles
My To-Do List this week

Since I am going away for a week at the end of the month, I have to complete, or at least start my Learning Quilt-A-Long for October. Ideally, I would finish it by the weekend and then write my October Learning Sum Up Link-up post before I leave. Nothing like being ambitious at the beginning of the week :-)

You may recall that my learning challenge this month is to quilt with different batting to see what the difference is.

I now have 4 batting to try. I'll be adding the specifics of each batting on the October Learning Sum Up Link-up.
  • Hobbs Tuscany silk batting
  • Hobbs Tuscany cotton wool blend batting
  • Warm & Natural cotton batting
  • Bamboo batting
Silk batting
Cotton-wool batting

Batting is great, but I also need something to quilt! I've been working on some improvisational piecing with scraps. The goal is to make two blocks with each batting. So far, I'm thinking of one block of the improvisational piecing and the other using solid fabric so that I can to see how the quilting will show up as well as do a little bit of hand quilting, to compare each batting.

This will give me a chance to practice my free motion quilting (FMQ) as well as test out the batting. Hopefully I'll figure out what to do with the test pieces, since I like having something to show for the effort, even if they are rug mugs, placemats or mini wall hangings for the office.

What I learned
  • I can't resist a QAL if it means that I'll be able to work on an existing project. And to be honest, I love having a reason to write a blog post and link it!
  • The hardest part of the batting experiment is figuring out what to quilt. I do reserve the right to change my mind and quilt something totally different :-)
Related Links

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Labels, Image Transfers and Slow Stitching

Last week in my Art with Fabric Blog Hop - Fall 2017 post, I mentioned that I would write about the use of a photo transfer medium to put the image of the statuette on fabric. So here it is, with a few other things thrown in!

Image Transfers
Mod Podge
Photo Transfer Medium

I've wanted to place images on fabric for a long time but the one attempt by my son to do this didn't end well for either the image or the printer! I'm not bad with technology and will eventually have to buy a new printer - and then I'll do the research required to get the proper printer and transfer paper. However, I'm just not there yet.

So when I heard about a photo transfer medium, I got pretty excited! I did a little bit of research, mostly to see where I might buy this type of product in Canada. Turns out that Micheal's sells a product made by Mod Podge.

I originally wanted to use the photo transfer medium to make a label for my art quilt, Reason & Passion, created for the Art with Fabric Blog Hop - Spring 2017. The idea was to place the image of the original quilt by Joyce Wieland on the label as a tribute to her and her work.

Photo Transfer Medium applied to two images
For this particular image, since it had writing on it, I had to "flip" the image before printing it. Turns out that you can do this in Paint (click the Rotate button and choose flip).

Final two images of the original
Reason Over Passion Quilt by Joyce Wieland
Once I had figured out how to use the photo transfer medium (see "What I learned" below), I was ready to try the product on the image of my Gaïa statuette. I chose to use the black and white image since the original statuette is made of a grayish clay. 

Gently rubbing off the dried photo transfer medium
Final photo transfer image of Gaïa on Kona fabric
It came out great, except for a white spot (see "What I learned"). I would probably have redone the image except that I was able to use a pencil to cover and shade the finished image. If you can draw, I think that it would be easy to draw over and/ or add colour to the image using colouring pencils.

Gaïa image on the finished piece
Attaching the image was simple. I very carefully cut around the fabric, placed her on the quilt and using the silver silk thread that I was using to quilt the piece, sewed around the image. I then FMQ around a few features to better attach it and to give it depth.

The finished image on the fabric is a little rubbery, sort of like the way t-shirts were years ago. Depending on the look you want and the use of the piece (you wouldn't want to use this for items that you would wash a lot), the Mod Podge photo transfer medium works fine.

Quilt Labels

If I have time, I like to be inventive with my quilt labels. At the very least, I try to use fabric from the quilt. For Anna's Black & White wall hanging, I actually cut away a piece just for the label, while I was doing the improvisational piecing. I'm really happy that I was able to find it when it came time to sew on the label! (I think that I've learned a valuable lesson from the still missing Growing Up QAL blocks!)
Improvisational piecing

Label made from the
improvisational piecing of the quilt

For the Neutral lap quilt, I wanted to make a smaller version of the original block used in the quilt.

Label based on block
Original block

Growing Up QAL

I have finished block 10 of the Growing Up QAL. I enjoyed making this one, probably because it used one of my favourite techniques, foundation paper piecing. I just love the accuracy of the technique. With minimal effort, I can make pretty accurate blocks - gotta love it!
Block 10 of the Growing Up QAL

Slow Stitching 

With company around and just being tired after finishing the Art with Fabric QAL, I've been spending my evenings embroidering or doing English Paper Piecing (EPP). I do this while being read to since I've downloaded a whole bunch of audio books from our local library.

I started another embroidery piece with the same type of pattern as my previous (unfinished) piece. I've brought it to work a few times to stitch a little during lunch time. This one is also mostly practicing the stem stitch.
Embroidering FMQ motifs
Here is my EPP to date - seven large flowers completed, with 3 or 4 in the works.

Seven large hexie flowers so far
What I learned
  • When you buy photo transfer medium, check out the product's instructions for how to use it! Each product is different. It took me many tries to get it right, and it was only after checking out the instructions for using the brand I had bought that I got it right!
  • It's important to very gently rub off the dried photo transfer medium. The "Reason Over Passion" image on the left is a little less crisp because I rubbed a little to hard. It's best to remove the medium in several stages than to get it all off at once.
  • Turns out it's VERY IMPORTANT to keep your fingers off of the photo transfer medium once it's on the image. The white spot that you seen on the Gaïa statuette (where her heart would be!) is from my finger when I was placing her onto the fabric! I added extra medium but it didn't really help.
  • My stem stitch is getting better, but still needs work in tight curves. That's mostly my lack of patience since you need to use very small stitches in tight curves 

Related Links
Linking Parties: I will be linking to a number of great linking parties. Check out what others are doing! Growing up QAL - linky month 10, Slow Sunday Stitching, Oh Scrap!, Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? Finished or Not Friday, MOP Monday, Monday Making, Main Crush Monday, Design Wall Monday, Off the Wall Fridays