Monday, March 25, 2019

Sewing with metallic thread

I recently overheard a person asking a shop employee if she could use metallic thread in the top and bobbin of her machine.  I couldn't help myself and jumped in to answer the question.  I wasn't sure that the shop employee had enough experience to giver a reliable answer (plus I'm a little bossy).  All right, I can hear all my close friends laughing now.  I can actually be outspoken and blurt out things from time to time.  Like, "Are those basting stitches?", or "How satisfying".  Inside jokes with some of my quilting friends (now).

Well back to my story.  I've used a lot of metallic threads over the years to both embellish and quilt.  They are finicky threads, to say the least.  You want the threads to show and they aren't suitable for seams.  I've found a couple of things that help, and I passed along some of these to the person in the store.

First, buy a good quality metallic thread.  Some of them fray quite badly, others work just fine.  My suggested thread is from Superior Threads.  It comes in several colors and comes in several sizes, including cones.  If you want use other brands, run the thread through your fingers.  If it feels gritty, it will probably shred and break.  If it feels smooth, you're in luck.

Second, use a metallica needle.  The eye is large and the groove is elongated and allows the thread to slip through without fraying.

Third, DON'T put metallic thread in both the top and the bobbin.  The two threads will act like scissors and you'll be cussing out your thread and project.  I guarantee it!  Use a lightweight thread, preferably 50 wt. that closely matches the color of the metallic thread.   Light gray for silver, light yellow for gold, for example.

Fourth, lengthen your stitch.  You can go easily to 3.0 instead of 2.4 and this will show off the thread much better.

Fifth, loosen the top tension.  Less resistance in the sewing machine guides will mean less tendency towards shredded thread.

Finally, place the spool on either an off machine stand or on an attachment to the machine.  Both of these will let the thread relax before it goes through the machine guides.  If you have a persnickety thread, you may also want to pull out a foot or so every now and then to get rid of any micro-shredding or twisting that might be happening.

The Thread Director

Some people suggest squirting the thread spool with a silicone thread conditioner, called "Sewer's Aid".  I do sometimes to resort to this myself.  (Just make sure you don't reach for your fray check, which is an adhesive!  The bottles look very similar.)

I hope this helps you embellish and quilt with metallic thread.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Whisper Challenge - Part Nine

This blog is part of the series about the Whisper Challenge quilts.

I got this little 12" x 12" quilt from Sharry Olmstead.  It was the 9th one in the series for Karan Brooks.  Sharry did a beautiful hand painted still life and chose the perfect fabric for the border.  My immediate thought was to do something floral.  I also know that Karan likes burgundy.  I landed on a painted burgundy rose.

Here is the one that was passed along to me:

After I painted the rose, I highlighted it with thread.  It was fused to the background, stitched down and quilted.  Here it is:

I hope she likes it.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Whisper Challenge - part Eight

This blog is part of the series about the Whisper Challenge quilts.

I got this little 12" x 12" quilt from Val Pellens.  It was the 7th one in the series for Audrey Prothero.
This quilt is a beautifully painted and quilted peacock with a few beads attached.  I'm guessing that the theme could be all about feathers, since peacocks are known for the beautiful feathers.  Or it could be about eyes since they are prominent on this piece.  Or it could represent a bird theme.  Oh my gosh.  I know that Audrey likes turquoise, so perhaps it just about the color.  I know that she has a tremendous sense of humor and loves to laugh.  Her sunny disposition and giggle always make me feel good.  I had to put on my thinking cap for this one.

In the end, I decided that it HAD to be turquoise, and because I like (and collect) feathers, I decided to just give her a feathered hat.  And the humor.....well, see what you think.

Here is the one that was passed along to me:

And here is the one that I made:

I hope she likes it.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Whisper Challenge - Part Seven

This blog is part of the series about the Whisper Challenge quilts.

I got this little 12" x 12" quilt from Ada Levins.  It was the 6th one in the series for Sharry Olmstead.
This quilt was made from ombre fabric, which I love and it certainly is a depiction of the sun.  Ada did a lot of work to get all of the pieces appliqued down and still retain the ombre effect.  It reminded me of the Southwest because of the color scheme.   I don't think Sharry has an affinity to the Southwest, so I knew that I probably wouldn't try to pick up on that theme.

What I do know about Sharry is that she has been overly generous with stuff that I need to make my bird nests, and gives me yarn galore almost every time I see her.  I knew that I was going to have to make a nest for her out of some of her yarn.  I designed a little quilt with a huge sun, a bird, and of course, a nest!

Here is the one that was passed along to me:

And here is the one I made:

made by Joanne Adams Roth

I hope she likes it.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Sister's Paisley quilt - Final

I've written several blogs about the making of this paisley quilt for my sister, Colleen Adams Wilson.  It is a huge quilt (for me now), and I swear every time I make one that I will not make a big one again.  But... I did it anyway.  Because she's my sister and I had never made a quilt specifically for her.

It took almost a month of daily quilting to get it done and my shoulders and neck ached at the end of every day.  I didn't swear, well, OK, just a little, as the quilt moved a jag here and there when I didn't want it to.  Any my grand idea of quilting it with navy blue or dark blue thread didn't pan out at all.  I had to tear out some stitches and re-quilt some areas.  I know, I know, you're not supposed to point out the errors and frustrations on your quilts.    What I did like was thinking about my sister most of the time I was making her quilt.

I have a sit down Innova quilting machine, which is basically a huge sewing machine without the feed dogs.  In order to support the weight of the quilt, I put 3 tables around my quilting machine and sat kitty corner to the needle.  It worked great and I still love my long arm.   Here's a picture of the quilting in progress:

Most of the time, I plan to do continuous line quilting so that I don't have to stop, start and tie knots.  However, on this quilt, I did a lot of stopping and starting and tying knots because of the way that I designed the quilting motifs.  My trick to keep me from getting bored while I tied the knots was to sit in the room with either an audio book downloaded from the library, or to play podcasts, or to lose myself in a Pandora station that was soothing.  I loved hearing Tom Hanks read out loud his short stories, "Uncommon Type".  I also really liked the book, "Milkman", by Anna Burns.  The podcasts that I listened to were TED talks, This American Life, New York Times Book Review, Threads, and a few gardening ones. 

I washed the quilt when I was done.  This was to get rid of all of the markings, the water soluble foundation and glue used during construction.  I was just a bit nervous when I dunked the whole thing into the tub, and watched it to make sure I didn't get color running.  (Adding 2 color catchers gave me courage.)  Then it was laid flat on the carpet and blocked to finish the drying process.  It helped to turn up the heat in the house a couple of degrees.  Here's what the living and dining room looked like while it was drying. (The quilt is between 2 sheets).  I'm so glad we have a large multipurpose room so that the furniture can be moved around to suit its use.

And here is the finished quilt.

Colleen's Paisley quilt by Joanne Adams Roth 2019

close up of quilting

I hope my sister likes it!

Monday, February 25, 2019

Whisper Challege - Part Six

This blog is part of the series about the Whisper Challenge quilts.

I got this little 12" x 12" quilt from Audrey Prothero.  It was the 5th one in the series for Ada Levins.
This quilt was a departure from any of the others that I has seen and it it clearly had portraits of Frida Kahlo with a Mexican feel to the flowers.  There's not much color on it; mostly black and white.  I think that I will continue with the floral theme and perhaps use a little more of the black and white, but without the artist.

Here is the one that was passed along to me:

And here is the one that I made.  I used a tropical themed fabric with a layer of turquoise organza on the top.  Then I made a bunch of black and white flowers that I appliqued to the background.

I hope she likes it!

Monday, February 18, 2019

Whisper Challenge - Part Five

This blog is part of the series about the Whisper Challenge quilts.

I got this little 12" x 12" quilt from Val Pellens.  It was the 4th one in the series for Bev Woodard.
I laughed a little bit when I saw the butterflies, since I had just finished a butterfly quilt for Val.  This gave me a clue that there are probably two series focused on butterflies.  Or maybe not?   I decided to use some of my painted paper fabric for the background and add a butterfly on my little quilt.  Bev does a lot of painting and likes unusual materials, so it felt like this was just the right place to use my unusual paper fabric.

Here is the one that was passed along to me:

And here is the one that I made:

I hope Bev likes it!

Friday, February 15, 2019

Art quilt for an auction

I'm a Master Gardener in Clark County.  We are just over 250 members, and we're all pretty active in the community.  This fall, we are planning to have a garden party to raise money to support our program.  We're going to have live music and a charity auction.  I was asked to donate a quilt, and gladly accepted.  I showed the planner some pictures of recent quilts that I can give them right away.  Hmm, they weren't exactly what they were thinking.  So, I told them that I would paint a bee on a flower and donate that.  I have until September to make the quilt, which should be easy to do.

Here are some of the pictures that I took that I'm considering:

What do you think?  Any favorites in this bunch?  Let me know!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Whisper Challenge - Part Four

This blog is part of the series about the Whisper Challenge quilts.

I got this little 12" x 12" quilt from Lynn Czaban.  It was the 3rd one in the series for Val Pellens.
I was thrilled to see another portrait quilt from Lynn, and decided for sure that I would not be doing a portrait.  But I liked the butterfly in the quilting detail, and I know that Val likes orange.  So I decided to paint an orange butterfly for my little quilt.

Here is the one that was passed along to me:

And here is my quilt I made.  I hand painted the entire quilt, using fabric paint and prepared for dying material.

Made by Joanne Adams Roth 2018, 12" x 12"

I hope Val likes it!

P.S. After I finished the quilt, a realized that Lynn's quilt was a pun on "Monarch Butterfly".  Very clever.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Whisper Challenge - Part Three

This blog is part of the series about the Whisper Challenge quilts.

I got this little 12" x 12" quilt from Ada Levins.  It was the 2nd one in the series for Lynn Czaban.
I was surprised that I got a bird on a branch, and at first thought that it might be the series for Wilma Scott, who loves birds.  But it wasn't.  Ada did divulge that the quilt she got from Lynn was NOT a bird.  So hmmm.  What to do.

I know that Lynn likes to do portrait quilts, that she works with crows, has a dog, has done some international travel, and has a sense of humor.  But I was really stumped as to what her original intent was.  Could it have been a feather?  Something blue?  Something about happiness, as in the blue bird of happiness, or something having to do with paisley motifs?  Maybe a blue eye?

I decided to carry on with the paisley motif, the relative color of turquoise/teal, and the eye.  And here is the quilt that I made based on the one passed to me.  Do you see the owl in the center with the 2 eyes?

I hope she likes it!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Whisper Challenge - Part Two

This is the second posting in a series about the Whisper Challenge.

I was passed a 12" x 12" quilt from Wilma Scott.  She used some lampwork beads made by my friend, Bruce Ingalls, on her piece.   I think that some of the fabric might be painted.  And she did quite a bit of hand thread work.   I love the exuberance of her little quilt.

I immediately was drawn to the colors, the free form piecing and the beads.  And here is my finished 12" x 12" quilt to be the second in her series.  I had the same ombre blue fabric that she used for her binding, so I used it in this little quilt too.

close up of the lampwork beads

Friday, February 1, 2019

Whisper Challenge - part 1

I love a challenge.  Especially when it is a quilt challenge.  One that I participated in 2018 was called a "Whisper Challenge".  Do you remember the game you might have played when one person whispers something to the next person, and that person whispers what they think they heard to the next, and so on.  When the last person gets their whisper they say what they think out loud.  It is hilarious how turned around the original whisper becomes by the end of the line.

My small quilt group decided to do this whisper challenge, starting with a photo.  The starting person made a 12" x 12" quilt based on their photo.  Then they passed that quilt to the next person (but not the photo), who then made a 12" x 12" quilt based on the quilt they got.  This exchange happened throughout the group until everyone had a chance to make a 12" x 12" quilt based on what they got from the previous person.  The challenge ended in January 2019, and there was a big reveal and everyone got to see the pictures and all of the quilts that were made.

We had a huge potluck to celebrate and lots of laughing and oohing and aah-ing.  Here's a few pictures.  I have several posts to come about the quilts that I made.

Here's to all of the challenges you will undertake in your life.

Wilma's set

Bev's set

Karan's set

Val's set

Audrey's set

Sharry's set

Joanne's set

Lynn's set

Ada's set

Series made by Val

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Marking a quilt - My Sister's quilt - Part Five

I can't remember if I've ever marked an entire quilt before basting it together and in readiness for the quilting phase.  Usually, I have some kind of idea of what I want to do, then I wait until the quilt is sandwiched before I do some marking on it.  This was how I learned when I was hand quilting.  When I started machine quilting on my domestic machine, I sometimes drew a pattern on thin paper and quilted right through the paper.  This time, though, I decided that I would mark the entire top with water soluble blue pen before the quilt got basted together.  I knew intuitively that it would be easier to mark while it was still only a top, and that I could use my light box to trace the intricate designs.

I played around a little bit with different quilting ideas.  I liked the feathered wreath for the center blocks the best.  And I liked that each hexie wheel could be slightly different.

I drew the feathered wreath onto freezer paper and traced it onto the quilt top.

Then I got out my drafting tools and spent a week drawing in different designs.  This was really fun.  And even more fun while I was catching up on all my podcasts.  Too bad I didn't have an audio book!

I wonder how you mark your quilts?  Do you, or would you, spend a fair amount of time marking your quilt top ahead of time?

Happy quilting!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Sister's Quilt - Part Four

This is a continuation of the posts about the making of a quilt for my sister, Colleen Wilson.

I had to take all the pieces off my design wall for a while so that I could catch up with my other projects.  Wouldn't it be nice to have a huge studio, maybe even a barn like Nancy Crow?  Then you could leave up all kinds of quilts in progress.  Anyway, I digress.  I got overwhelmed when I had piles of unfinished projects in my studio.  There were piles on my sewing machine table, on my cutting table, near my quilting machine, and the design wall was covered.   I realized that most of the mess was because my design wall was totally covered with this huge quilt I'm making for my sister.

Eureka!  I was able to quilt the lap quilt, get the binding done on it; quilt the anniversary quilt and get the binding done; quilt another little piece and get the binding done; cut out a lightweight jacket, clear off all the paperwork that was piling up in my to-do pile; and DUST OFF all the surfaces.  Whew.  So back to my sister's quilt, now that my studio and mind were cleared.

I've finished appliqueing and embroidering all of the paisley pieces - 49 in all.  I embroidered her name on one of them (I wonder if she will see it?).

With a hexagon quilt, it is always a little interesting how each quilter decides to finish off the edges.  Meaning, leave it as a hexagon shape, or fill in with fabric to get it squared up, or cut off the pieces to square it up.  I decided to fill in the spaces with off white fabric, then add a colorful border.

I found an interesting paisley fabric that was mostly blue, and one that was mostly off white.  So I used the mostly blue one to add borders and the mostly off white one for the backing.

Here is the completed quilt top.  It's off to my long arm machine quilter for basting.  Then it will come back to me for the quilting on my sit down long arm.  (It's so big, I couldn't get back far enough from my design wall to get a square shot).

I hope she likes it!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Border corners - mitering them

I don't miter the corners on my quilt borders very much anymore.  I have found that most quilt judges just don't pay that much attention to them - except that they like the corner to be SQUARE and the binding to be full.  And since the miters can lead to problems, it's been easier not to miter the corners.

Recently, I decided to miter the corners on a quilt border.  The motif in the material would look better than if it got chopped off at the edge.  I could have done a better job of matching up the pattern at the corners since I had lots of extra material to play with.   But I shouldn't be pointing out what I don't like, so pretend that you didn't just read this!

Here is one method that I think is tried and true.  It involves Elmer's school glue.  I think that I learned it first from Sharon Schamber.

When you sew the borders onto the quilt top, start and stop 1/4" from the edge, and do a couple of back-stitches.  Press the seam towards the border.  Lay the two borders on top of each other, and using a large ruler, square up how the two borders lay on top of each other.

Trace the edges of the ruler with a chalk pencil.  I used a white chalk on this dark fabric.  I moved the ruler so that you could see this thin chalk line below.

Then place the ruler on the diagonal, going from inside corner to outside corner, and trace that line with the chalk pencil.  Again, I moved the ruler so that you could see the line.

Fold the top fabric back on this penciled line and press it.  It helps to line up the border edges sticking out on the bottom.  The bottom right crease should fall exactly on the penciled line.

Using a very fine tip, place a light line of glue just underneath the fold line.  Press.  I purchased the fine tip from Sharon Schamber, but I don't know when you'll be reading this blog, so I can't say for sure she still sells them.  You may be able to get them from someone else.

After this cools and is clearly glued in place, open up the fabric so that you can see the crease line.  Trace the line with another pencil line if you can't clearly see the crease mark.  The glue will hold the pieces together in just the right spot.

Pin in place, so that the layers don't shift.

Sew right on the line, back-stitching at the start and at the end.

Trim the seam to 1/4" and press.

I hope you try to miter the corners of your borders this way too.  The glue really does help you get a nice result.