Friday, July 4, 2014

Quilty Tips from the Patriotic Wall Hanging

I've received quite a few comments from various venues about this quilt.  I'm grateful for them; thank you. It makes me feel good that my brain, my hands, and my treadle sewing machine created something that others like.

Many people were surprised that I did this on a treadle.  My treadle is a class 15 type sewing machine, so its bobbin holds a lot of thread, and it is a vertical bobbin, meaning the thread path has one less twist than horizontal bobbins.  But the main things are that the needle goes up and down and works with the bobbin to create a lock stitch. Aside from chain stitchers, that's what sewing machines do, whether they started stitching over 100 years ago or are brand new, made of plastic, and cost up to $10,000.  They just stitch.  We stitchers get to create the magic with our imaginations, skills, and patience; that's pretty wonderful. 

There are a few things about quilting and finishing this quilt that I was able to do fairly easily.  While some quiltmakers have already used these methods, others may wonder about them, so Ill share some things that made this creation easier.  

When it was time to quilt some stars into the upper portion, I needed a way to mark them so I could see where to quilt.  I began with a short strip of freezer paper that I folded into six layers.
On the top layer I drew one star that was slightly smaller than the stars I appliqued. Then to create multiple small stars, I unthreaded my machine, held the layers firmly, and stitched through all six layers.

I cut out the paper stars and positioned them on the blue background in what I felt was a pleasing arrangement.

The addition of these paper stars illustrates how more stars could have been appliqued on the blue section for an equally pleasing arrangement.

I needed to find this alternative way of marking the stars because none of my markers would show up on the blue.  Many years ago, I used to mark quilting lines with little slivers of unscented soap.  I couldn't find any of those old slivers; we've used liquid soap around here for at least 15 years!

To hold them in place, I pressed with a small iron.  (The little mini wand iron would have worked great, but I seldom use it and couldn't recall where it is right now.)  No steam, just heat.
 Then I was able to stitch carefully around each star as I came to it in the quilting process.  I found the quilted stars looked best if I stitched right next to the paper and then about 1/8 inch further out.

The next puzzle to be solved was about the central spine of the feather on the left side of the quilt.  For the one on the right, I had just looked at the quilt, judged how I wanted the feather to flow, and had free motion quilted it.  Ordinarily, I prefer that my quilting design maintains a certain spirit, but that when something is repeated in a different area, it needs to have some variation, just to hold the viewer's interest.  (Yes, there was once a time when I thought every repeated design had to be exactly the same--and I see that carried out on a lot of my quilts from 25+ years ago.)

So, to solve the problem of how to get a nearly identical spine onto the left side of the quilt, I had to be creative.  I flipped the quilt to the back and ironed on a larger piece of freezer paper, thinking that to create the pattern I'd again remove the thread from the needle of my machine and just stitch down the spine from the right side.

However, when I ironed on the freezer paper, I could see the earlier quilting design on the paper.  (That was kind of surprising since I'd purposely used a thin batting.)

 So I just traced the spine with my pencil.

Then I cut the freezer paper along the right side of the line, repressed the freezer paper on the front of the quilt, lining it up as carefully as possible to create a mirror image of the the line I had quilted already.  I drew along that curve with a water soluble marker (the blue kind some people are afraid to use).
 That produced a shape somewhat like the frame of a lyre.  I quilted that side much like the right side but with a few variations.

The other thing I had to be careful about with this quilt was the binding.  Since I'd made the binding from a fat quarter (I cut the strips 2.25 inches wide), I didn't have a lot of extra.  I always want to be sure I don't have a seam on a corner, but by the time I reached the third corner, the seam was falling where I needed to miter.  Therefore, I needed to take a small piece out of the binding to keep the seam on the third side above the corner.  You can see below where I marked a short distance above the previous seam.  I would have been wiser if I'd removed only an inch instead of two inches.  If you make this quilt, you'll want to be careful about that too unless you cut from a full width of fabric instead of from a fat quarter.

I sewed the raw edges of the binding to the front of the quilt, folded the folded edge to the back, and stitched in the ditch from the front side in order to catch the binding on the back edge.

Since the greatest percentage of the quilt was red, I used red to stitch the binding.  This photo and the next one shows that line of stitching is barely visible.

I did was go back and add more lines of stitching to the raw edge appliqued stars--just to give them a little more dimension.

This photo shows how I hid the date in the quilting.   If you look at the first red strip you can see the 2 followed by the 014.  Also, you can see that the entire lyre portion of the quilt began with a star from which the feathers sprout.  For that star I used a slightly larger card stock template than the one used for the appliqued stars.  I also stitched around it twice to help define it.

One of my readers commented that the quilting in the star section looks like some of the work done by Lori Kennedy.  She is correct.  Van Gogh and Lori Kennedy were my inspiration.

Now I'm really looking forward to seeing what other quiltmakers create with these simple ideas. Please share your creations with me.

Happy quiltmaking, and have a safe and wonderful Independence day, and a great weekend whether or not you get to celebrate.
P. S.:  It began raining about 6:00 p.m. this evening, so one of the things most people in these parts will be celebrating is the fact that we've had another inch of rain.  Hooray!  Our corner of the world will be greener this weekend.


Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

I'm still afraid of FM quilting, but, I know I'll try it again one of these days. The freezer paper method you used for the stars could also be used with hand quilting. Sometimes it's really hard to draw my patterns over and over on my quilts, especially since disappearing ink disappears long before I'm ready to hand quilt that area. Thanks for the idea.

Angie said...

Lovely quilting, Dora! You are an inspiration! I'm not exactly afraid of FM quilting, but I never seem to make time to practice. I know I need to just sit down and START!

BarbaraShowell said...

I love soap slivers for a marker, and they really do last a long long time. Maybe you could pick up a bar of some sweet smelling hard-milled soap for the goal of saving the sliver. Smells awfully good in the sewing area!

Glinda ♥ said...

This is such beautiful work, Dora, you're so talented and I loved reading through all your tips and hints. Cheers m!dear :)

O'Quilts said...

U r very very clever Dora...and all on a treadle. I am impressed for sure.

Lori Kennedy said...

Dora, I love, love, love this quilt and all your tips for marking! The back is as pretty as the front. I really like your feathers and it all works so well with your fabric! Inspirational! Lori Kennedy

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