Fading to Grey

Fading to Grey by Angie Henderson

Fading to Grey by Angie Henderson

Quilting is an art. There are many different art forms: painting, ceramics, drawings, sculptures, etc. I firmly believe that quilting is an art. If you don’t believe me go to Paducah, Kentucky and walk through the Quilt Museum. There have been many stunning creations since people began creating quilts. How they manipulate the fabric, the color schemes, the textures….alas I am rambling.

Fading to Grey, created by my friend Angie Henderson, could be considered abstract art in fabric medium. Just a little insight about my friend, she doesn’t use patterns. She looks at a lot of pictures, patterns, and quilts. Then creates her own version. Her work is amazing. Angie quilts most of her projects on her domestic sewing machine. But this one she sent to me because of the bias triangles. Her only instruction for the quilting, straight lines. No feathers, no swirls, no curvy lines, only straight lines.

Close up of Fading to Grey

Close up of Fading to Grey

With every project, there are obstacles to overcome. Straight lines are always a challenge, as my quilting machine is old enough to not have a ruler board. Meaning, as I move the machine, there is nothing below to help support my ruler. Pressing down firmly on the ruler to hold the machine in a steady and straight line. But not too firmly. Don’t want to pull fabric out of whack. Careful to turn off the machine before advancing the ruler to the next section. (I stitched through the nail bed of my pinky once because I didn’t take the time to turn off the machine. That’s a mistake you only make once!) Anyway, point being, straight lines are tedious and challenging.

But I could see what Angie meant. This quilt could only be quilted with straight lines. Forget the challenges, and just quilt it. The quilt demanded straight lines. So, boy oh boy, did I give it straight lines. The light grey areas were quilted in diagonal lines, slanting from right to left, spaced 1″ apart. All other areas were quilted in diagonal lines slanting from left to right, spaced 1/2″ apart.

Other unforeseen challenges occurred during the process. I knew this was the right idea. But as always, I second guessed myself. What if it wasn’t what Angie had in mind. Quilting for friends is incredibly intimidating. I want them to not just like it, but love it. With Angie, the added pressure of not just friendship, but I really admire her work, left me hesitant and unsure. I wanted to be able to look back at a small section and make sure I was on the right path. But this was different from quilting a block. There aren’t any blocks. I could roll it back to see a small section, but I had to wait until the entire quilt was finished to get the full effect. Just had to trust myself.

Close up of Fading to Grey while it is still in the quilting frame.

Close up of Fading to Grey while it is still in the quilting frame.

Another challenge, all of the starts and stops. My machine has an 18″ throat. This means I can quilt roughly 14″ of the quilt top at a time. Which suits my needs just fine, most of the time. (It is limiting for doing large blocks or large pantographs. I don’t do a lot of pantographs. The ones I do are 9″ to 11″ repeats.) Some of the diagonal lines I was quilting stretched across the entire quilt. All of the fabrics were cut on the bias, so the risk of stretching and distorting were pretty high. I decided that I had to stitch a line as far as I could, stop, go to the next line, and repeat. Thus, thousands of starts and stops on this quilt. I should have buried them all, but time was a factor. Ah, to do it again.

Fading to Grey back view

Fading to Grey back view

Another signature of my friend, Angie. She designs a unique back with the scraps from the front. Yep, two designs on each quilt. One front and one on the back. It is a cool detail. By using some of the same fabrics the color scheme reflects a relationship to the design on the front. Sisters, perhaps. They are similar to be recognized as family, yet each with their own features and personality.

Fading to Grey was a test for me to trust. I have been hearing to quilt tops “speak” to me for awhile now. But I don’t always listen. I know that sounds crazy. This one definitely wanted straight lines. Angie wanted it to have straight lines. I wanted to create the right straight lines. I had to trust my idea would take this fantastic quilt top and elevate it to the modern art quilt it wanted to be. There are few things I would change, but overall not bad. And not bad is always better than not good.

Just an Experiment

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This is a little project I did to teach myself trapunto. Just like every other quilter, I never seem to have time to work on my own projects. But I have learned that I need to do something to restore my creative juices. Thus, I can justify taking time to play and experiment.

Trapunto is created by an extra layer of batting to increase the loft of an area. In the hand quilting tradition, trapunto is added after an area is quilted. The quilter will stuff extra batting from the back through a tiny hole that will later be sewn closed. Machine quilters add sections of extra batting before the quilt is quilted or even layered. It takes a lot of preplanning, marking, and water soluble thread. Since this was strictly an experiment, I did just a rough plan and basic marking.

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After two days of playing around, I think my experiment is a success. While this project will never win in a quilt show, I did gain a very impressive new technique. Ever onward!

Stellar Constellation: Chapter 1

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In April, I was at the Hannibal Piecemakers Quilt Show in Hannibal, Missouri. The quilts were beautiful and the venders were even better. The quilts in one booth caught my attention. Each quilt was created with a mix of technique, rich colors, and exquisite quilting. The name of the booth, Seams Sew Sweet. The designer, Maralie Bouche, was very humble as I stammered my compliments. I left the booth thrilled, clutching my new quilt pattern.

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Then came the shopping. This is some of the fabric I have collected for this project. This is my first Civil War quilt, so I have had to buy quite a few fabrics to get the look I want. Every time I have been in a fabric store over the last couple of months I have picked up a little something for this project. Some of the fabrics will not be used and that’s okay. All the fabrics for the center applique and background have been selected.

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Thus, my Stellar Constellation has started. I have elected to do fusible applique for the center bouquet. Of course, I am second guessing this decision. Most of my experience with applique is doing it by hand. But there are a lot of little, strange shaped pieces. Did I mention they’re little? Maybe when I finish this one, I will make a second one using hand applique. First things first, there is a lot to be done on this one before I start planning on the second one.

Sew, I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Sampler Platter

Sampler Close up of block
Have you ever ordered the Sampler Platter from the appetizer menu at a restaurant? Of course, you have. It is an easy choice for you and your dining companion(s), a little something to satisfy everyone.

Recently, I was asked to quilt a sampler quilt. A sampler quilt is technically a collection of different blocks put together into one quilt top. The blocks may or may not be the same size or even the same fabrics.

This particular quilt top was bought by my mother online. It has the same fabric combinations used throughout the quilt top. Here’s a “Seams Twisted” for you, Mom didn’t like one of the fabrics used. She took apart the entire quilt. She took apart each block. She carefully took the offensive fabric out, used it as a pattern and then sewed it all back together with a fabric more to her taste. Let’s just say, my “Seams Twisted” is an honest inheritance! My mother has decided to donate the quilt as a raffle to benefit a young couple whose baby tragically passed away.

This is where I come into the quilt’s life and my point of sharing it with you. When quilting a sampler quilt, the quilting should be individual to each individual block. Meaning, if every block is different, then the quilting on each block should also be different. To simplify the design choices, keeping each block individual, but to keep it artistic, pleasing to the eye and balanced, I decided to make each fabric color a set design. Now as each fabric was used differently in each block, I was able to twist my designs to fit into each area accordingly. This is how it broke down: Turquoise = Feathers, Red = Leaves, Gold = Scrolls, Gray = Arcs, Cream = Straight Lines, and Black = Squiggle X’s.

SO like my favorite appetizer, the Sampler Platter, this sample quilt is also a sampler of my quilting.

Sampler Outside BorderSampler QuiltSampler Pic 3Sampler pic 4Sampler Pic 5Sampler Pic 6Sampler Sash Close up

Sparkle Aplenty Magnified

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This is a few pictures of the quilting I did on this year’s raffle quilt for my quilt guild.

Sparkle Aplenty Magnified

Quilting on black fabric with black thread has its challenges. Like getting the light at the right angle so you can see what you are stitching and yet not hitting your head on it at the same time.

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My tip for working on black fabric with black thread…use white chalk. Yip…ordinary chalk. I mark my spine and the direction I’m stitching so I don’t get confused or lost. The chalk lines are easily removed with a microfiber cloth or a damp wash cloth.

It’s An Original

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This quilt belongs to Todd Seward. Her instructions to me, “Just do, what you do, to my quilt”. Made me laugh. But the results were pretty good, if I say so myself.

The design is based on a drawing class I took with Karen McTavish at MQS a couple of years ago. Karen is inspirational.

Pretty Posies

Starla Carroll's quilt pieced by her mother

This quilt belongs to Starla Carroll.  It was pieced by her mother, Jackie Ringhausen.  It is a pinwheel block alternating with a stem and leaf block.  The whimsical colors and pattern inspired my quilting choices.

Border od Starla Carroll's quilt

The pieced border has funky feathers with piano keys on the outer edge.  Later I went back and filled the inner edge with pebbles, echoes, McTavishing, curved cross hatching, and micro stippling.  I decided since the border was pieced with 6 to 18 inch lengths of different bright fabrics, the quilting needed to create different fun textures along the way.

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Each Pinwheel flower was quilted with a hooked feather.  I decided to fill the “hook” part with curve. Makes it look more like a flower.

Detail of Starla Carroll's quilt

The background is quilted in winding leaves and vines.  Overall, I think the quilting enhanced the whimsical nature of the quilt.

Now, to quote one of my favorite shows, “On to the next…”