Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How the heck do I quilt this?

I have been quilting just under 3 years.  I have learned a lot in that time, but I still have  so far to go.  Piecing and appliqué skills are coming along nicely.  Figuring out the best backing is fine as is pin basting.  My quilting stitches are improving to the point I am not embarrassed anymore.  But when it comes to figuring out what motifs and fillers to use, I usually stall.  Sometimes for months.  It's rare that by the time I get the top finished, I know how I want to quilt it.  I am thinking of the quilting the entire time I am creating the top.  Often with dread.

I currently have a top that recently sort of happened and I have no clue how to quilt it.  My daughter brought me back some fabric from Rwanda.  It’s a gorgeous colorful swirly fabric with a 10 inch repeat that begged for me to make kaleidoscope style hexagons.  I have always wanted to try these.  The background is a gold that goes well with the fabric and brings it all together.  The rosettes themselves will be easy to quilt – the swirls themselves will establish where I stitch.  However, the gold area will be defined by the quilting.  I want something that continues the tribal flavor of the fabric, stands out but doesn’t compete.  ACK! 

Top made with fabric from Rwanda.  It's about 48"by 60"

Anyway, if anyone has some suggestions or can send me links to images of something to consider, I would be ever most grateful.  I’ll eventually figure something out, hopefully during this decade yet!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Nasty Surpise

Today I was working on a block for a bee I am in.  The theme is “your neighborhood”, and so it’s like making a mini art quilt depicting where you live (or perhaps where you want to live).  I decided on a mountain scene with a tent, campfire, etc.  It’s the neighborhood I prefer.  Everything was going perfectly (rare).  I decided to use a decorative stitch and a green-brown variegated thread by Isacord to create a ragged tree line between some of my green pieces.  Even though I am using French fuse as a backing, there were a few very minor puckers that would iron out.  I have done this enough times to know this works well.  However, as soon as I touch the iron to the seams, imagine my horror as the thread disintegrates before my eyes!  I restitched the area and used a pressing cloth – and that was okay.  I was mystified and very upset, as I have used variegated thread on a number of projects, including things that have gone out on bees.  I certainly don’t want my work disintegrating because I used the wrong materials!

My block so far.

So I dug out all the synthetic threads I love to use for embellishing, thread sketching and quilting.  I use mostly Isacord but also quite a bit of Sulky and Mettler, especially the variegated threads.  I laid out several of each brand, both solid and variegated and touched the iron to them.  Whoa, Nellie!
Results of ironing various threads.

1) The 100% polyester variegated threads by Mettler and Isacord disintegrated immediately.  Mettler more quickly and more completely than Isacord. (top 2 threads in picture are Isacord, third one down is Mettler.  )
2) The Sulky variegated threads are made of rayon – the iron did not affect them.  These are threads 4 and 5 from the top in the picture.
3) All the polyester solids were affected a little – but you had to really iron the heck out of them to see any effect.  Threads 6 and 7 are Mettler and Isacord solids, respectively.

My iron was set its usual temperature: cotton, with steam.

I wonder why this difference?  Anyway, quilter beware!