Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Tale of Two Quilts

I've had the pleasure of quilting some Judy Niemeyer quilts this year.  I showed an Feathered Star a couple months ago - a nice sized wall-hanging.  I have also quilted two of the Amazon star patterns too.  These are 104" square BEHEMOTH quilts.  They are paper-pieced.  The ladies that did the two in this post took workshops at the Threads Galore Quilt Shop in Rangely, ME.  I see the owner Carol each year at quilt shows, and she no longer quilt for clients, so these were referred my way.  

These two quilts are very different.  They are both made mostly from batik, but the color schemes are different.  The client's end-use and budgets were vastly different as well, so you can see how a quilt with much more quilting looks.  The actual color placement certainly affects the overall look of the quilt.

This first Amazon Star was made for the client's bed.  It's not a show quilt, and if I remember right, it is her first paper-piecing project.  She told me it was hard to select fabrics, and she'd intended it to be more blue.  In the end, it has a lot of purple, so I downplayed the purple by using blue thread.  The white triangles on this pattern are very large - somewhere around 16-18" long.  They require a good bit of quilting, and convey a lot of the design detailing because they are light in color (ie., the quilting really shows here!).  This quilt has one layer of Hobbs 80/20 batting.  It has two Glide threads - dark blue and ivory.
I subdivided the triangles to have a scallop with feathers, an area with a large-ish fill (like a large version of McTavishing...McTavishing would be too dense on this particular quilt, given the client's budget and the fact she only wants it for a bed).  There are 136 (I think) spikes around the outermost border.  On this quilt, I chose a wavy, ripple-like type quilting for the white and a straightline echo for the colored spike.  This is easily stitched in a continuous manner.
To repeat the border stitching, the ripples were placed around the center star also.  Though the quilting on this quilt will appear simpler than the next version, it has a considerable amount of ditch stitching to make all the points crisp, everywhere!  It is simpler in it's design and in the density of the quilting.  This quilt represents about 25 hours of quilting.  I should note right off that this client brought a nice cotton (non-batik) backing, and it worked perfectly with the part-batik top.
The next Amazon star was quilted for show.  It is denser in it's stitching, and more complicated in design.  It is double-batted, Hobbs 80/20 with wool on top.  Threads are Glide (gold and ivory) and Superior Omni (magenta).  It has an antique feeling to me, given the colors.  The center star has a nice shadow-effect that comes from her chosing 2 colors for the main star points.  Up close, there really is a massive amount of printing in the background fabrics, but from a distance they settle nicely.  This star has a good bit of intermediate designs quilted on the star, intended to appear as texture.  There is a curved star that is visible at the inner region.  It is lovely to place designs on the quilting that do not coincide with the piecing.  It adds a nice dimension to the quilt.  I think many quilters fear doing this, but it's really not hard...just requires a little pre-planning to know where that motif will place.  Once a quilt of this size is on the frame, it is hard to see where to mark.
 This star I quilted shows in this picture.  On this quilt, I did additional echo quilting (ie. double and triple lines to exaggerate/outline certain motifs).  Additionally, fills are denser, thereby showing off the linework.
There are still areas with an overall filler used, like these large triangles, but the fillers are more complicated than the first quilt I showed.  The curved cross-hatching on diagonal took a while, but looks great.  I love feathers, too, because they are rather quick to quilt, but they look wonderful.  Even with the feathering in the large triangles, I double-line outlined the points to make them show off.

I think the outer border is my favorite though.  These free-hand waving feathers look incredible.  They quilt fast, but each one is a start and stop.  The purple points have additional straight lines to tighten the quilting and exaggerate the point.  I spent about 8 hours on the tan background of this border and 3 hours alone on the purple points!
 Lastly, here is a look at the center.  The colors really sing here.  It is quite simple...all ditched, outlined and filled densely with a McTavish/pebble fill that I like to use.    One feature of these Neimeyer quilts that I have encountered after doing 4 of them this year is that this center star loves to dimple at the middle.  I suspect it stems from all the seam allowances, and the fact that it is tough to get this to lay very flat.  It's kind of annoying though.  This quilt topped in at a whopping ~50 hours.

These designs are mentally challenging to quilt.  The quilt is huge, and requires a LOT of thread changes.  Pieces are so large that it is difficult to get much of the design on the 24" bed of my machine.  Also, I  can't just ditch the entire quilt, and then go back and stitch out the patterns because of the size of the sections.  I quilt this as I go along, changing thread a TON of times.  That is true for both versions of the quilt.

Hope you enjoy seeing these.  Now that this one is done, my Summer will officially start.  I have a smocked dress to work on, and many smaller/simpler quilts.  With my kids home, a quilt like this would have taken me 2 months!


Sharon said...

I too quilted this same star for a client to enter in a show. I struggled at first with coming up with a design scheme that would look like it was crossing through areas. It all had to be worked out ahead of time since it is such a large quilt. I also liked how the quilt turned out, but was happy to get it off the machine. She won first place in her division so I am glad for her and now she has referred a friend with the same top for me to do. Got to love a challenge. :-)

Vicki W said...

Both are spectacular! Enjoy your summer vacation.

regan said...

These are both stunning quilts! And I know paper-piecing is a great advantage for precision....but both of these ladies did an excellent job, and I'll bet that helped make your job a little easier! The quilting is gorgeous! I love that arched ring in the second quilt! Adds so much! And I was wondering how you manage to quilt these monsters.....thanks for explaining that towards the end. I can't imagine making thread changes like that.....are you changing bobbin threads on each, as well? Oy!

I'm so inspired by your work,'s always stunning! Thanks for sharing these!

Busy Quilting said...

Enjoy summer with your family and your own projects. Both of these look great and your explanations of the design process and time taken will continue to educate your customers.

Amy @ Amy's FMQ Adventures said...

I have been reading your blog for quite some time, along with 'seeing' you at MQR and your quilting blows me away. While your kids are older, we have the same spread of ages. Mine are 3, 6, and 8.

Your blog gives me hope that I might be able to do significant, gorgeous quilting someday! Especially when you write, "With my kids home, a quilt like this would have taken me 2 months!"

You do absolutely fabulous work! And I loved reading your article in MQU!