Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Designing a Show Quilt...My Process

I have started to quilt the 40" green silk quilt I showed in my last post.  My kids are away three days this week, and though I don't expect to finish the quilting, I do hope to get large areas finished, and the remainder of it stabilized enough to safely remove it from the frame before Monday.  Today I have quilted these 4 blue-green corners.  I thought it might be helpful to some to understand my process during the quilting.  Now, I have already designed what I plan to quilt.  This post is about how on earth I implement the quilting.  Some days, even I wonder how that will occur!

So, here is the finished corner...
Let's backtrack through each stage of this quilting, starting even before this point.  Below, you see the bare space, unquilted.  I have stabilized the blue-green interface with basting stitches so that it remains nice and straight.  What I don't want is a stitched line there, as that will cut straight through my motifs.  The swirly frame that is drawn on the silk in blue marker was created and marked prior to loading the quilt.  I used tracing paper, and sketched the design I wanted.  Tracing paper allows me to audition the design with the quilt showing through.  I then created a cardboard (using a manila folder) template of this shape, and sketched it onto all 4 corners.
This shape is the "bare bones" or frame of the design, so it is the first to be stitched.  For those curious, this quilt is hand-dyed silk Radiance, the thread is 100wt silk, and I have double-batted with Hobbs 80/20 and wool.  I do use my curved templates when necessary to stitch nice neat curves.  The longer curves can be harder to stitch purely free-hand.  Since my machine is NOT computerized, I use whatever tools I have at my disposal to create neat stitching.  Templates are like my second skin...I have close to 50 of them! 
 These 90 degree lines were marked next.  They are spaced 1/2" apart.
Next I stitch the feather sprays.  The smaller ones on the outside are pretty simple, and all I mark is an external boundary.  The larger ones at he center must be somewhat marked so that they end up symmetrical.  To begin, I stitch one of them.
What I need to do next is make a pattern from the feathers I just stitched.  I took a piece of Press-n-Seal, placed it over the feathers.  I then trace them with a sharpie pen, very carefully and gently.  To press too hard would be a frustrating disaster!
Next, press the piece of Press-n-Seal onto a piece of cardboard.  I cut mine from an empty Cheese-It box.  Nothing goes wasted in our house!  

Now, cut out the pattern.
I left the curves of the feathers as a reference.  If I can follow the feathers and match to the ones on the other side, then great.  If not, that is fine too.  This is free-hand quilting, and I don't expect my work to look like a machine did it.  I just expect clean quilting and creativity.
 Trace the boundary of the template, and quilt!
Looks pretty good to me, and if you can stare at it from 12" and think that, imagine what it will look like on a wall!  From here, creating a fun design is all about utilizing different, yet cohesive, design elements in your spaces.  I stitched these chevrons, alternatively filling each space.  This makes the other (or positive) pop out.  I also decided mid-quilting that I wanted those 1/4" circles on the apexes of the chevrons.  Some design elements do actually come after quilting has started.  I don't always plan every element apriori.  I know that I will use parallel like work on this quilt too, and this is an area that you can use several different styles simultaneously (ie., 1/8" spaced, 1/4" spaced, and any other variation) and still obtain design cohesion.  This time I chose a 1/4" spacing, with every other space filled with 1/16" lines.  The blue area has not been stitched because that will actually be quilted with a blue thread, maybe tomorrow (and I really don't know what is going there!!).  FYI...these corners are about 10" on the short side (blue), and it took me about 4 hours to quilt all 4 of them!  I am kind of neurotic about being neat, which is slow, and all stops and starts are knotted and buried.
 
 Hopefully you will enjoy seeing how this design unfolds.  I will try to post another sequence of "How the Heck did she Quilt that" in a few days.  Happy sewing~

16 comments:

Material Girl said...

Excellent - thanks for sharing!

Lorette Cole said...

Excellent work!! I love this tutorial! Thank you for sharing your process with us! It looks fantastic too.

Shruti said...

Awesome post!!! Thank you for putting your thoughts out there! It will be really helpful to people like me!
Cheers from India

Queenie Believe said...

Excellent post. Love hearing about an artist's approach to their work.
Have a great day.
Always, Queenie

Quiltdivajulie said...

Fascinating ...

Karen said...

So fascinating to see how this happens. Thanks for sharing, can't wait to see more.

Renee Fleuranges-Valdes said...

Thanks for posting Margaret, it is always interesting to see how folks work out there quilting process :-).

Debbie said...

Thank you for sharing these construction details!!!Can't wait to see the rest...you are the most inspirational quilting blogger to me!

Debbie said...

Thank you for sharing these construction details!!!Can't wait to see the rest...you are the most inspirational quilting blogger to me!

Leeanne said...

Stunning so far!

Sharon said...

Thank you for sharing your work process. I had never thought of using press and seal that way. What thread is your go to for Sid on a project like this?

Cheryl M. said...

Love your design and thanks for sharing the process. Cheryl M.

Mary said...

Thank you for sharing your talent.

Susan Arnold said...

Thank you for explaining your process from design to stitches. Many times I wonder "how did she do that?". Looking forward to another such post!

Rebecca Grace said...

Thanks for sharing your process. I felt so privileged to see a few of your gorgeous quilts in person at AQS Charlotte Quilt Week last month. :-) Your work is even more breathtaking IRL than it is in pictures!

stichnRN said...

love seeing how you work!!!! it amazes me. i can;t even draw the designs let alone quilt them on a machine!!