On the Longarm–Tips for Making Flannel Quilts

The quilting group at my church received a donation of a gigantic box filled with plaid flannel triangles–all shapes, colors and designs.  We were overwhelmed.  However we started to sew the triangles into squares, trimmed them to several different uniform sizes and then sewed them together.  For some of us it was a challenge to work without a pattern, but I believe the quilts we produced will provide warmth to those who need it in during the winter months.

Here are some tips for dealing with flannel:

  1.  Clean out your machine regularly–flannel produces a lot of lint which can clog up the bobbin area.  Every time you change your bobbin, make sure to take a brush to clean out the bobbin case  according to your machine’s owner’s manual.
  2. If possible, pre-wash flannel.  Doing so will help make it less stretch-y, it will reduce lint, and there will be less fraying (because the fibers have shrunk).
  3. Flannel frays badly.  You might want to use a slightly larger seam allowance or finish the fabric edges with a stay stitch.  Before sending the quilt to your long arm quilter, stay stitch around the outer edge.
  4. Choose a design which is easy to sew–squares and rectangles are easiest.  Bias edges on pieces like the triangles are more challenging because they stretch.  Trimming to a uniform size after sewing ensures that blocks can be sewn together accurately.
  5. Blocks with lots of seam intersections should be avoided.  Flannel is thicker than quilting cotton, so it is more difficult to avoid bulky seam intersections.  Consider pressing seams open.  Quilting through bulky seam intersections threw the timing of my long arm off and resulted in several days of frustration as I readjusted it.  I am now well versed in the art of adjusting my needle bar height.
  6. Because flannel frays and stretches, allow extra border width so that the quilt can be trimmed square after quilting.

Although flannel can be challenging to work with, don’t despair.  Nothing feels better than a flannel quilt and a cup of hot chocolate on a day when the high temperature is -40°.  It’s hard to imagine in July, but we  know that ‘winter is coming.’

Have a quilty day!!

Art with Fabric Blog Hop–Landscape with Birds

I have always loved the artist, Paul Klee, so when Alida invited me to join the Art with Fabric Blog Hop, I jumped at the chance.  Alida asked us to choose ‘a’ work of art to inspire our textile creations.  I couldn’t choose just one!!

Instead, I chose two pieces by Paul Klee:

The first is titled, “Landscape with Yellow Birds,” and the second is “Fire in the Evening Sky.”(Museum of Modern Art, New York).  Of course, one can’t have two without three so I found a poem on Jill Berry Design‘s blog which really spoke to me about hope.

LANDSCAPE WITH YELLOW BIRDS
Shuntaro Tanikawa (1931-    )

there are birds
so there is sky
there is sky
so there are balloons
there are balloons
so children are running
children are running
so there is laughter
there is laughter
so there is sadness
so there is prayer
and ground for kneeling
there is ground
so water is flowing
and there’s today and tomorrow
there is a yellow bird
so with all colors forms and movements
there is the world

Paul Klee’s ‘Fire in the Evening Sky’  inspired me to construct my landscape with horizontal lines.  Our beautiful sunsets over the Mississippi river this summer gave me a color scheme.  My birds are drawn from the ‘Birds in Air” block:

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I inserted triangle birds into my landscape–red, for the cardinals which visit my yard, and a yellow bird to add color and hope.

 

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I chose a quilting design which also used horizontal lines and triangles.  In addition, I drew yellow and red birds with big stitch hand quilting.  Finally, I added some random big stitch quilting lines to add spark and interest.

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I used pearl cotton thread and a chenille needle to do my ‘big stitches’.  I also used a thimble–which, in my opinion, is necessary when doing any type of hand quilting.

Please visit the other bloggers up today:

Bea @ beaquilter (http://www.beaquilter.com/)

Heather @ heatherquilts (http://www.heatherquilts.blogspot.com/)

Quilts with Rounded Corners

I sometimes see quilts with rounded corners come across my appraisal table.  The gently curved bound corner is as tricky to sew as a mitered corner.  I tried curved corners on my ‘We Support You’ quilt which you can read about here.IMG_1278020415_1

The curve is easy to accomplish with the aid of a binding cut on the bias.  The bias tape should lay flat with no puckers and the corner shouldn’t pull the corner of the quilt toward the front or back.  I also would recommend curving your corners if you want to use the binding attachment on your sewing machine.

According to Barbara Brackman there are not many quilts made prior to the 20th century with bias binding, yet there are many examples of curved corners.  I wondered if the number of curved corners in the 20th century increased as a result of the use of bias binding, so I went to the Quilt Index to find out.  The Quilt Index has a huge database of many quilts from all time periods.  We can thank the many volunteers who have collected pictures and information through state documentation projects, museums, and collections.  In addition the many organizations who have funded this massive project.  It is a wonderful resource for both information and inspiration; and a great place to browse through on a lazy summer afternoon!

19th century quilts from online auctions with rounded corners.

I started my quest by doing a search on ’rounded corners’.  The results came back with close to 900 quilts!  Since I wanted to compare the trends between 10 year periods of time, I removed those quilts with no dates, no images, and duplicates from the search results.  I also deleted from the search the quilts with shaped edges, i.e. scalloped, jagged, zig-zags, notched; and the quilts which were not shaped like a rectangle or square, i.e. octagons and circles.  Removing those quilts from my search results brought the number of quilts with rounded corners down to approximately 500.  I was very surprised by the small proportion of quilts in the index which have rounded corners. I guess I’m in the minority who think that rounded corners are easier to sew!!!  20160812

Next, I compared the percentage of quilts with rounded corners across the decades to the total number of quilts from those decades.  I expected the percentage of quilts with rounded corners to increase in the 20th century because using bias binding became more common.  I know that I’ve seen more quilts from the 1930’s with rounded corners, but I think that is because I’ve seen more quilts from that period of time.

Capture

In the chart above, notice how the number of quilts entered into the Quilt Index varies a great deal by decade.  You can see the peaks of the 1880/90, 1920/30, and the 1970/80 quilt revivals.  According to the chart above, the percentage of quilts with rounded corners entered into the Quilt Index has not changed over time.  We may think that rounded corners increase in the twentieth century simply because we see more quilts from that period of time.  I did find that there were more scalloped, zig zag, and jagged quilts from the 20th century.

20th century quilts from online auctions with rounded corners.

I’ve run across certain blogs that say that rounded corners in an antique quilt are an indication that the quilt is from the southern United States.  I did a ‘quick and dirty’ look through the Quilt Index and found that there did not appear to be a relationship between rounded corners and region where the quilt was made.  However, the search form does not allow a specific search for ‘location made’ and ’rounded corners’, so I searched through the entire index using ’rounded corners state’.  This method appeared to be working until I got to Michigan…a great number of quilts have ‘Michigan’ in their records because that is where the Quilt Index is housed–University of Michigan.  My curiosity was frustrated!  I would be interested to know if anyone has further insight and evidence into regional differences and rounded corners.

In the meantime, I’m thinking up future searches of the Quilt Index and many more hours looking at beautiful quilts.

Have fun on your quilting adventure!

Lovelli Signature

On the longarm today…Swoon

I feel like I should be putting one hand on my forehead and one on my heart as I sink gracefully onto a fainting couch.  But, no, it isn’t that kind of a swoon, the quilt on my longarm today is made using the pattern, Swoon, by Camille Roskelley.  It is a wonderful pattern which is well written and easy to make.  There are many ways to quilt a Swoon quilt top and for, me, that is one of the challenges–because I want to try them all!!  For this quilt, I chose a block pattern from One Song Needle Arts which would lay nicely in the block, emphasizing the different segments of the block, and yet be a cohesive design.  I always try to add ways which cause a viewer to look at a quilt and find interest from across the room, from closer, and then from closer still.  One way to do that is to lay a quilting design on top of the quilt so that it doesn’t follow the piecing exactly, but it emphasizes it.

As I design a quilt layout, I look for designs which repeat motifs found in the fabric, in the piecing and/or in the applique.  For the Swoon quilt I noticed that several fabrics had circles, and that several had flowers.  I chose to combine several different flowers by Anita Shackelford for the sashing.

I was very pleased with the way that the quilting turned out.

Now is a great time to get started on Christmas gift piecing.  I can guarantee that any quilt sent to me for quilting in August will be quilted before Christmas (custom or edge to edge).

Have a great quilting adventure!!

lovelliquilts.wordpress.com

On the longarm today…A quilt finish…Allietare!

For the last many years Bonnie Hunter does a mystery quilt starting right after Thanksgiving and ending at Christmas. I’ve wanted to play along for several years, but this year I did it!  I kept up, mostly, until the last week when we welcomed out of town guests (my parents); my washing machine died; I discovered that my 1/4″ seam allowance wasn’t correct; and I needed fabric for the borders and backing.   Once the holidays were over, I took out the seams which were incorrect and found a black fabric with a hint of sparkle for the border.   Allietare!  means to rejoice and I’m thrilled to add this quilt to my collection.  Bonnie’s directions were very clear, even down to which direction to press seams, and I didn’t have any bulky seam intersections, which can be difficult for the longarm to go through.

Bonnie’s inspiration photos for the quilt and its color scheme which I mostly followed, were from her trip to Italy.  I also took a trip to Italy (as a student), so I chose my memories of the marble in churches and cathedrals as my inspiration for the fabric in the quilt. Many of the fabrics have a bit of metallic shine or luster like the beautiful mosaics I saw.  I was so impressed and surprised by the spectacular cathedral in Sienna, Italy, that I still remember it today, many years later.  The unique multicolored stonework, inside and out, was a great inspiration for this quilt–it kept me sewing through frustration (at myself) and it inspired me to be accurate and thoughtful in my design choices..  The fabric in the quilt is almost entirely from my stash, and with the exception of the black border.  (Un)fortunately, my stash still is too large–I will just have to make more quilts!!

Although I love to custom quilt my own quilts (and clients’ quilts too!).  I decided that I wanted to try to do an edge to edge design, but arrange the designs so that it would look like a whole-cloth design.  I really liked the Twisted Plumage design by Naomi Hynes.  The quilting lets the piecing take a starring role when viewing the quilt top, but the quilting certainly becomes the main event on the back of the quilt.

I finished the outside edge of the quilt with a wavy edge and bound it with a bias binding.

Enjoy your quilting adventures!!

Lovelli Signature

On my longarm today…Scaling quilting designs

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I love quilting baby quilts and this sweet pattern with small Churn Dash blocks is no exception.  I wanted the quilting to reflect the vintage pattern and the retro feel of the fabric.  The blocks were 6 inches square, which is about half the size of a standard block (12″).  It would look funny if a quilting pattern designed for a 12″ block was used on a 6′ block.  In my software, Creative Studios 6, I was able to preview the quilting design.

Capture 1

 

In the first example, the Butterfly and Flower design by Kim Diamond, is shown on the quilt top as if it were stitched out with the default size of 12″, notice how large the flowers of the quilting design are compared to the size of the block, and the individual pieces which make up the block.  In addition, the size of the flowers in the quilting design are approximately 10 times larger compared to the size of the flowers in the fabric.

Capture 2

In the second example, the quilting is denser, but it is also more in scale with the block size and the scale of the prints.  I much prefer being able to preview how my quilting is going to look on my computer monitor and then hitting ‘undo’ than to quilt something out which I don’t like and taking my seam ripper out to undo it!

The finished quilt had a soft, ‘quilty’ look and feel–just perfect to wrap a baby!!

Have a quilty day!!

Lovelli Signature