Tag Archives: Challenge and opportunity

The Muslin Mock-Up

I’ve been working on lots of parts of my quilty life the last couple of weeks. The biggest project has been toward completing my Fire & Ice medallion quilt in red and white. In my last post I described my intended process for quilting it. That process included designing the stitching, , transferring the design to Golden Threads paper, and quilting a muslin mock-up. It’s DONE! I think the design is very pretty and I hope it translates well to the pieced top.

I was inspired by traditional Welsh quilting designs, as well as Gaelic/Celtic motifs. These photos give a sense of the design. Lighting is everything, isn’t it? :/

And these should give some idea of the process. Jim was a big help in thinking through drawing and transferring the design. First we spread the quilt top on the table and covered it with plexiglass. Jim put a clamp on either end so the plexi wouldn’t slide while we worked with it. We experimented with different markers and methods of drawing arcs. You can see the outer border in these two pix.

Once I was happy with the designs for the borders (outside border above, corner blocks, and the hourglass border,) we removed the quilt top and placed a piece of batting under the plexiglass. The batting was simply to put a light background under the plexi so the blue lines would show. Then I traced the designs onto the Golden Threads paper.

I cut more pieces of paper to stack with the traced ones, and I stapled each stack together. The staples keep the pieces of paper from shifting.

Each stapled stack of paper had the pencil tracing on top. I used a basting stitch and no thread in the longarm to punch the design through the whole stack. I made enough to do both the practice quilt and the real thing. One thing I found was that pinning the papers to the quilt made the paper warp and pucker. After a couple of times like that, I simply stabbed long pins through, clear up to their heads. There were enough of them to keep the paper from moving much, and the paper stayed flatter to the fabric.

The next two pictures show the muslin on the frame, after quilting the first border and also after removing the paper. In truth, it took as long to remove the paper as to quilt it. The paper tears away pretty easily, but of course you have to be careful not to stress the stitches too much. Also it comes off in big pieces and tiny shreds. I brought a vacuum cleaner in with hose attachment, and cleaned up the little bits with that. (I also vacuumed everything in the room once I was done, as I’m sure lots got away.)

You can see by the picture above that the quilted lines are not smooth and crisp as they are in the blue marker drawing. I chose to do the spirals as roses, so that was intentional. As for the rest, the longarm is large and heavy and hard to maneuver smoothly. I am not experienced with rulers, so wasn’t able to perfect them that way. While I wasn’t thrilled with the look at first, I quickly decided to embrace the wobbliness. As long as it covers the quilt evenly, it doesn’t look like a mistake. 🙂

Next to do on this project is to load the real deal, change the needle, change the thread to white, and get started quilting. The actual quilting time is not huge, so I hope to have it quilted by the end of the week.

 

The Perfect Set-Up

Remember the fun we have as the year turns, defining our resolutions or choosing a word of the year? For the last few years I’ve tried the “word” game. When it’s working well, I have my word in mind often, and consider how to move my life more in line with the word’s intended values.

This year, I’ll admit, I haven’t thought much about my word. Actually, it’s two three words, “challenge and opportunity.” My intention is to see barriers or obstacles — and problems! — as chances for creativity and growth, and to face opportunities bravely, even when they are hard. But while I haven’t thought much about it, I’ve been living it. My quilty world has been rife with opportunities for growth, for re-engagement with my guild, for creativity in my quilting, and for cultivating speaking and teaching gigs.

One personal challenge I set was to create a special red and white quilt for my guild’s upcoming quilt show. I’ve shown you the unquilted top already.

Creating the top presented challenges of its own, including interpreting the original quilt in a way that would honor it, learning to paper piece those triangle borders, and appliquéing various parts of the motif.

Originally I planned to have it quilted professionally. For various reasons, including encouragement from my brother, I decided to do it myself. As you can see, it is a challenge and an opportunity! 

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been working on a plan, including both design and implementation. For the stitching design, I’m inspired by Welsh hand-quilting motifs. My draft includes double arches and spirals, among other traditional elements.

Implementation is multi-steps. To start, I’m drafting the design with markers on plexiglass sheets, overlaid on the quilt top. I’ll transfer the design to a product called “Golden Threads” paper, a specialty tissue paper intended for quilting right through, and tearing away. If this works, it will allow me to avoid marking on the quilt top itself. I’d rather not, as I don’t want marking to stain the white fabric.

I’ll test the Golden Threads paper with a first go, which will also allow me to practice the shapes. I have a muslin whole-cloth top the same size as the red and white top. It won’t have the same effect without the piecing, but I’ll be able to tell whether the whole plan will work or not.

The muslin backing is loaded on the longarm frame, and I have batting the right size, as well as the top. Within a few days I’ll start quilting it. I’ll do the borders at each end (top and bottom,) and stabilize it through the middle with basting. Then I’ll take the whole thing off the frame and turn it 90°, reload it, quilt the other borders, and quilt the middle. IF it all works okay (learning as I go, I’m sure,) I’ll use the same process on the real deal.

Wow. This is the perfect set-up for challenge and opportunity. Wish me luck.

Delectable Mountains, Old School

If you love medallion quilts and you love triangles, you just about have to love Delectable Mountains medallion quilts.

screen-shot-2017-01-29-at-3-55-30-pmA couple of weeks ago I was paging through medallion quilts at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum. You can search the collections using a number of different variables, including keywords, primary pattern, quiltmaker, origin, and more. At the time I used the keyword “medallion” and found 181 examples. Within that set there are a number of glorious DM medallions.

You can also use “Delectable Mountains” or “Delectable Mountains variation” to look specifically at these. Some are medallions and some are block or row quilts. I’d love to show you images here. However the legal permissions information is confusing and I choose not to risk it. You can find them this way:

I was inspired by the simplicity and high contrast of the design, and decided to make it as a red and white quilt for my guild’s June show.

There are two basic ways to create a Delectable Mountains block. One is the way I made my DM quilt last year. It uses large half-square triangles that are sliced into segments. Once the segments are rearranged, they created a jagged block.

Zigzag

Still Climbing Mountains. 57″ x 64″. August 2016. Made from stash. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

I thought I would use this block style to create a medallion. I thought it would be “fast” and “easy,” as the block quilt above was. However, the block is not square (in mine it finishes at 8″ x 9.5″.) The non-square block creates some math issues for the outer borders, making it neither fast nor easy.

Yesterday while I cleaned extensively in my studio, I rethought my plan. The other option for a DM block is very old-school, with multiple small half-square triangles to make the points. Here is one link that shows how. (I haven’t reviewed it for accuracy or readability.) And here is a picture to give you an idea of the method:

I also checked a few of my books, to see if any had a good pattern I could pull from. One does, but it’s a badly written book with a badly written pattern. In the end I decided to do what I usually do: make it up as I go along.

Because it’s an uncertain process, I chose to make it first in pinks and browns, rather than red and white. If it all goes well, I might make it again. 🙂

This project falls squarely in the set I’d call a challenge and an opportunity. Realizing that my first plan wasn’t workable as considered created a barrier. Choosing to go old-school with construction provides the opportunity.

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Before realizing I want a bigger block…

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A center block using a few old favorites, and new brown fabric. The block is an odd size, finishing at about 11.5″.

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Now you can see some mountains. The next border will have more of them.

So far this actually has been easy. The center block is a variable star. It is set on point with brown. Then the brown is bordered by a row of brown half-square triangles, creating the mountains. Finally, the whole center (everything made so far) was put on point again. See my post about putting blocks on point.

Next comes a border of brown mountains with double pink background. This is the one with a little trouble on the math side. But I’m confident I’ll find a way to make it work.