Kissing Balls in Australian Quilters Companion & Thread Talk from My Sewing Machine #71

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Hello Friends, Happy Monday and Happy Week for you! I am still in my whirlwind of merry-go-round.  I shipped off a couple of quilt last week, and have a few more to ship out before Thanksgiving.  I cannot believe Thanksgiving is next week!!!  It seemed ages ago when I finalized our Thanksgiving plans.  Anyhow, I am happy to share with you about one of my Christmas quilt being finally official!!!  You might remember this…

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Well, Kissing Ball is currently being featured in the latest issue of Australian Quilters Companion magazine(#82).  It is a nod to my Aussie Quilting Friends, as well as “the” Aussie quilting friend of mine Lynette Anderson — who happens to be the designers of the fabrics I used for this quilt.  The fabrics are from Lynette’s Festive Fun fabrics for RJR Fabrics.

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You can’t really see it, but I quilted an allover holly sprig motifs on the quilt.  I am hoping you can see close up shot I took of a sprig here.

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I am sharing with you the schematic of the holly sprig motif for the Thread Talk portion of the post today.   Perhaps you could use the motif on a Christmas project.  You still have time, you know? :)

Step 1. First, I free-motion quilted the center berries.  It was perfectly fine for me overlap stitches because I use Aurifil’s 50wt thread, and the fine weight of the thread withstands stitching over stitches very well.

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Step 2.  Then I added the holly leaves.  I would do 2 or 3 leaves depending on the space I have.  Sometimes I added the veins in the leaf center, sometimes I didn’t.

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Step 3.  Swirls are the key to break out of a holly sprig to quilt subsequent holly sprigs.  I just picked a convenient spot to quilt a swirl, and then additional swirls until I end up with an area sufficient to quilt another holly sprig – starting with berries, and then holly leaves.

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Step 4.  And the process repeats.  Note where it was a bit tight for me to swing a swirl to get out of my holly sprig.  In situations as such, I would just echo the leaf a little and get out before I do a full swirl.  Real life quilting is full of off the cuff improvisations! :)

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I would keep repeating and repeating and repeating until my entire quilt was covered with the motif.

Thanks for stopping by!  I hope you have a lovely rest of your week!

p.s. Today is the last day for 20% discount on any of my online machine quilting classes.  Click here for the details.

My 2016 Line-up

Note:  You may click here for the exhaustive list of my published work.

Editorial Features:

American Patchwork & Quilting 2016 Calendar: In Your Corner

Australian Quilters Companion (Issue 79): Little House on the Hill

Australian Quilters Companion (Issue 80): My Heart At Home

Australian Quilters Companion (Issue 82): Kissing Balls

Fons and Porter Love of Quilting (March/April 2016): Constellation of Stars

Fons and Porter Love of Quilting (September/October 2016): Highland Stars

Fons and Porter Easy Quilts (Summer 2016): Estelle

Fons and Porter Easy Quilts (Fall 2016): Rainbow

Fons and Porter Scrap Quilts (Summer 2016): Pinwheel Parade

McCall’s Quick Quilts (December 2015/January 2016): Rows of Roses

McCall’s Quick Quilts (February/March 2016): Early Birds

McCall’s Quick Quilts (December 2016/January 2017): Domino

McCall’s Quilting (January/February 2016): Sherbet Stars

McCall’s Quilting (November/December 2016): Winter Wind

Quiltmaker (May/June 2016): Lavender Love

Quiltmaker (July/August 2016): Dawnstar

Quilters Newsletter (April/May 2016): Tartan Links

Quilts and More (Summer 2016): Tutu Cute

 

Free-to-use Designs:

January: Heads Up Crib Quilt & Playmat (Quilting Treasures)

January: Big Love using Go Big or Go Home (Windham Fabrics)

January: Star Dust using Brittany (Benartex)

January: Wish You Were Here (Hoffman Fabrics)

January: Farfalle using Whisper (Windham Fabrics)

January: Tulips Quilt using Flower Pedals (Windham Fabrics)

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Thread Talk From My Sewing Machine #70

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Happy Friday, Friends!  I feel like this week has gone by so quickly.  I promised you I would share with you a secret or two about my way of machine quilting earlier this week based on my recently completed Thread Journey quilt. Click here if you would like to see more pictures of the quilted finished product.

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So, you know how sometimes chefs keep things simple by using simple ingredients in their cooking, but they learn to use those ingredients well?  My quilting philosophy is kind of like that too.  I generally do not use more than three quilting elements within a section when I quilt.  Hopefully you will see what I mean by the pictures I am showing you…

In the quilt center – feathers + pebbles for background (2 elements):

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… and very occasionally, a bean sprout or two (so 2 1/2 elements) – you can see the bean sprouts sticking out amongst the pebbles in the top portion of the picture below.

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Next, we have feathers + pebbles + sprouts in the Ohio Star inner border (3 elements):

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Gray Sashing: feathers + pebbles (2 elements):

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Outer border: feathers (with occasional variations of sprout or pebbled spines) + echoing (2 elements):

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I keep my motifs simple and few in dense quilting because:

#1.  It is easier for the viewers to concentrate on certain elements of the quilting, then a whole bunch of motifs.

#2.  It affords me the opportunity to keep quilting the same thing, and thus able to work in the practice I need to master different motifs.  I don’t ever do practice pieces – because I always practice better on the real deal.

#3.  When a large expanse of quilting area is limited to 2-3 motifs, that also allows me to slip in trying out new ideas without being too noticeable.  That way, I can decide whether I like those new motifs or not. :)  There are quite a few moments of trying out new things in Thread Journey that I can’t even tell existed because how the major motifs I have selected have dominated the quilting area.

So basically,  I have quilted the entire Thread Journey quilt with feathers, echoing and pebbles, and nothing else that’s fancy. :)  See what I mean? Keep it simple, and use the simple to your advantage!!

I hope my sharing has helped you… it’s not just using the simple motifs, but rather it is a matter of using the simple well.

Have a great weekend – till next time!

Thread Talk From My Sewing Machine #67

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Hello Friends, today’s post is a mixture of looking back and looking forward!  You will see what I mean.  I quilted with 100wt silk thread when I first started machine quilting on my domestic machine back in 2006.  Undoubtedly the effect of quilting with 100wt silk thread on fine fabrics is spectacular!

Very soon after that, I heard about the Aurifil Mako 50 cotton threads being used for machine quilting.  I would still quilt with the 100 wt silk threads if the opportunity arises, but I feel like Aurifil Mako 50 cotton threads allow me to quilt fancy as well as practical — I can still have amazing quitling results, and have the Aurifil Mako 50 cotton threads hold up the quilt sandwiches well enough for practical uses.   I personally wouldn’t use a quilt made with silk dupioni that is quilted with silk.  To me, a silk on silk quilt is something the beholder “admires with his eyes and not his hands” — something I tell Miss Baby whenever we are around breakables at the stores! :)  The following shows a few quilts (out of many) with which I have quilted Aurifil Mako 50 Cotton.

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I highly recommend Aurifil’s Mako 50 weight cotton for beginners and advanced machine quilters alike, and especially beginners because the fine weight is very forgiving.  It’s as if the threads “melt” into the fabrics!  So ALL these years I have only quilted with Mako 50 weight cotton threads, because they work beautifully!  I am also the type that always orders the SAME dish at the SAME restaurant almost every time (well, every single time) once I find a dish I like!  I get that from my Dad…. So, I have just been quilting with the 50 wt, and haven’t tried out the other weights.

This past week, I was asked to experiment quilting with Aurifil’s Mako 40 wt (slightly heavier than the 50wt), and then their Mako 28 wt (a little heavier than the 40 wt).  So, I broke out the Aurifil sample thread pack that many of you probably also have to get out the 40wt and 28wt spools.  Here is how my experiment turned out…. (green = 40wt, and silver gray = 28wt).

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I mainly wanted to see how tiny I can quilt with the 40wt and 28wt threads… You can see from the penny that is used as a reference, I can quilt pretty tiny with both the 40wt and 28wt threads.

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I think the tiny pebbles are a little “cleaner” quilted with the 40wt compared to the 28wt. However, considering how tiny my pebbles are compared to that penny, I think the effect is really not bad with the 28wt.

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Here is the back with the 50wt being used as bobbin thread.  Compared to the front picture, you can see that the effect of quilting with 50wt being finer and more subtle in the picture below.

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Here in this picture, you can see how the 28wt silver gray stitches show up more prominently than the 40 wt green stitches.

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SO…. what have I concluded?

  1.  28wt definitely showcases the quilting more prominently.  But as a personal choice, I probably wouldn’t use it for areas where I will have to stitch over previously stitched stitches too many times where the thread buildup will be noticeable.  With the 50wt, oftentimes, I would quilt the same path at least 5-6 times before I would start to see a thread buildup.
  2. I love that the 40wt shows the quilting a little better, and it will probably be my choice to quilt wholecloth quilts, especially when I want a strong contrast.
  3. I will, of course, keep loving to quilt with 50wt, and am now thinking about expanding the uses of the 50 wt (beyond the appliacations for which I already use) for tone-on-tone micro-fillers in a wholecloth settings, and for accents here and there.
  4. You already know I am not a fabric hoarder!  BUT I have to confess I am somewhat a thread hoarder.  I love threads more than I do fabrics.  AND…. discovering the 40wt and 28wt is not helping me with the thread hoarding issue.  HELP!
  5. Now, if you are a beginner — I encourage you to still quilt with the 50wt, until you are more comfortable in moving your quilt sandwich before you try the 40 wt and 28wt.  I think when you are still familiarizing yourself with domestic machine quilting, you will be happier with the very forgiving effects of quilting with the 50 wt.

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So you see, looking back, I loved quilting with Aurifil Mako 50wt threads. And looking forward, I will still love quilting with the 50 wt, but I will now add 40wt and 28wt in my quilting tool box!  I call that my “machine quilting growth spurt!”. :)

Thank you for stopping by, Dear Friends.  Happy Monday and Happy Week to you!

Thread Talk from my Sewing Machine #66

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Glamming up with… a string of pearls!  I love quilting string of pearls whenever I need to glam up a look.  Here is my latest completed project…

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Here are pictures of glamming up with strings of pearls from my past projects.

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Give it a try — you might really like the effect.  I have written about quilting circles in the past here.

So, curious mind wants to know if you are a pearl necklace person.  I am generally not the necklace type, but I am definitely the earrings type.  So I am definitely into pearl earrings!

Thank you for stopping by.  I hope you all have a Happy Monday, and a Happy Week!

Thread Talk from my Sewing Machine #65

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Hello Friends, I am happy to share with you a “faux” long-arm free motion quilting motif that I have quilted on my latest completed quilt.  I am going to show you how “quilting off the seat of one’s pants” works out in real life using a piece of paper.  The goal is to fill the paper with the motif — exactly like how we would quilt an allover quilting motif on a quilt.  So, first let’s look at the progression of filling up a space with quilting motifs, starting from #1.  The different colors denote different repeats of the motif.

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So, here you see I “quilted” #1-9 with not much of any abnormality.  I do want you to note how I always have my “starting” swirl of each repeat going a different direction — as much as I can — that gives the overall effect a sense of movement!  I also want you to notice that the leaves aren’t in any particular shape as long as they taper inward, as well as the filler swirls I use to fill up some open space that is too small to fit another repeat of the motif.

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I sort of quilted myself in a corner at #9, and have no convenient to get out to fill the remaining open area.  No big deal, cut the thread, and find a convenient spot to start again.  Thus #10 and so on, until an entire area is filled up.

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Here is what is on paper transferred to a real quilt looks like on the back of my latest completed quilt…

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Curious what the quilt looks like on the front?  I am afraid you have to wait.  All I can tell you is that my husband loves the quilt.  He has great taste, because he…. married me!  HAHA.  Please note I am totally cracking a lame joke at that one!  Alrightie, I shall catch up with you later!

p.s.  You may click here for my other Thread Talk posts.

Thread Talk from My Sewing Machine #64

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Happy Monday, Friends!  I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  I had to pack in quite a bit of work to make something happen, but that’s okay.   I am just now catching up with your comments/emails!

Often times what I plan in my mind for quilting scheme on my quilts don’t come to pass.  On this most recently finished quilt, I had planned for formal feather plumes — but one just can’t quite force formal on adorable polka dots.

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In the end, I turned to my informal pseudo feathers and “plume-ified” them.  Basically, I quilted my plumes as I would in my regular feather plumes, except forming my feather lobes differently.  It took a little bit to get used to. Just make sure you follow the path of quilting the regular feather plumes, and go from there, and I think you will be fine.  The effect is lighter, air-ier, and sweeter!

Click here to read about my Thread Talk post on feather plumes.

Click here to read about forming psedo-feathers.

Click here to read all of my archived Thread Talk post.

Thank you for stopping by – I have to run for now.  I have A LOT to get done before I can go to bed tonight.  I shall catch up with you later!  Love and hugs to you all.

Thread Talk from My Sewing Machine #63

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Hello Friends, I thought I would share with you a peek of another recently completed quilt that is another example of subtle contrast quilting.  I have talked about subtle contrast quilting in the past here.  I am calling my pink on yellow quilting the lemonade color scheme.

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I am not really a pink person, and oftentimes my pink threads just sit in the box.  So it is nice to be able to use my pink thread to quilt this sweet quilt.  And come to think of it, I almost always quilt with a subtle contrast color scheme now that I have discovered how slightly different color threads add to the quilting.

I hope this encourages you to go check out all your colored threads and see if you can use them in doing some subtle contrasting quilting!

Thanks for stopping by.  Hugs to you all.

Thread Talk from My Sewing Machine #60

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Hello Friends!  I thought I would spend a few moments responding to the free-motion quilting concerns you shared on my giveaway of my Learn to Machine Quilt post.  You still have till 12am EST 8/7/2014 to enter the giveaway.

1.  Runaway stitches – help!

Wendy’s 2 cents:  I remember the runaway stitches well, especially during my learning curve stage.  It still happens to me sometimes when my family startles me when I am quilting, or when Miss Baby decides to snuggle right next to me when I am trying to quilt a large quilt.  When runaway stitches happen, I would either leave them be or rip them out depending how bad they are (or how much time I have).

To minimize the running away of stitches, I would mentally brace myself when my stitching comes near a stopping point.  Then, I would slow down my stitching (very important!), and make sure I have my hands well on the quilt sandwich so that my quilt sandwich doesn’t veer in any direction — before taking a few tiny bites to tie off a particular stitching path if I am at a spot where I have to cut off my threads.

2.  Struggling with bobbin tension -help!

Wendy’s 2 cents:  I am thinking bobbin tension was raised as a concern because oftentimes quilters try to match their bobbin threads with the backing fabric they use, which oftentimes are of different colors they use for their top threads.   They then find out no matter how they tweak the settings (top and bobbin), sometimes, the bobbin threads would still show up on the quilt top.  VERY annoying, I know!

Instead of fighting, I take the easy way out.  I always use the same threads for my top and bobbin threads.  That way, I don’t have to waste my time trying to fine tune fine tuning my settings.  More often than not, my bobbin thread colors do not match my quilt backing fabric.  But the results can be visually striking on the back, as shown below.

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3.  Give your quilting some time to simmer!

French 75 Quilts left the following comment on the Learn to Machine Quilt Class giveaway post.

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Wendy’s 2 cents: Boy, truer words have never been said when it comes to evaluating your own quilting – especially for those who are braving the learning curve stage.  It is true!!!!  I have taught students who start out being really critical of their own quilting, noticing the uneven stitches here and there.  BUT after they have quilted a larger area, walked away, and come back to look at their quilting again – inadvertently, the comments are always, “It looks better than I thought”, or “It is actually not that bad.”  I don’t think that is falsely consoling oneself.  I think when we go back to look at our quilting after it “simmers”, we look at the big picture and are taken by the overall texture reflected by the light from those quilting stitches.

You can be sure I have BAD stitches in the quilting shown below…!  But you tend to see the overall big picture, don’t you?

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4.  Uneven stitching speed – help!

Wendy’s 2 cents:  My stitching speed is actually not constant.  The reason being sometimes when rounding a corner or stitching in tight spot, I have to really concentrate – and so I slow down!  So, to those who struggle with uneven stitching speed, I say as long as your stitches are even, it’s okay to vary your stitching speed.  I mean, we don’t drive at a constant speed at all times because there are always unforeseen things on the road, and so we adjust our driving speed accordingly. I think that’s the same concept.  When I first learned how to drive, a friend advised me not to drive faster than I could see.  I have applied that same principle to quilting.  I never quilt faster than I can see!

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5.  Struggling with quilting large scale – help!

Wendy’s 2 cents:  I actually think it is easier to quilt small on a domestic machine.  But it is possible to quilt large scale if — 1.  You have quilted the motif in small scale, and 2.  You are VERY familiar with the stitching path. Taking care  of those two variables first and foremost will really help in large scale quilting.

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Then, as you quilt, every so often, come out for air and survey the territory on your quilt yet to be quilted, and proceed from there.

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Then, finally, don’t be nervous.  Just…. keep calm, and quilt on!  Don’t you love that mug?  I would love to have one.  You can purchase it here.  Image below is borrow from the purchase link.

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To read previous Q&A posts, click the following:

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Thank you for stopping by!  Stop back by tomorrow for the announcement of the winner of my Learn to Machine Quilt class!  Have a blessed day, Dear Friends.

Thread Talk from My Sewing Machine #58

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Some of you are probably like me… I love the look of contrast quilting, but sometimes, I am a little hesitant to use really contrasting colors on my quilting because contrasting quilting means easily spotted mistakes!  I have in the past done some contrast quilting, as shown in the following from Out of the Nest:

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More often than not, my preferred color scheme is tone-on-tone quilting, as in Coxcombs and Berries.

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BUT…. I have been experimenting with “subtle” contrast quilting in the last 6-9 months or so, and I am REALLY liking the look!  The resulting look is such at the quilting is emphasized without being overpowering and taking over the overall look of a quilt.

Here you see a beige on white color scheme in Rising Stars:

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And more recently in a couple of “yet to be official” quilts — variegated gray on beige, and light brown on beige.

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My favorite Aurifil thread color remains 2310 – I wouldn’t know what I would do without my 2310 spools!  But if you are wanting to try out how you like “subtle” contrasting quilting, may I suggest the following colors from Aurifil — 2843, , 2324, 5011, 2600, 4060, 2770, 2000, seen below on beige solid fabric.

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I know we are already into April in this year.  But perhaps it isn’t too late for you to try out some subtle contrast quilting?

I am eager for your feedback, and know I will love reading your comments on this post!

Thanks for stopping by.  It’s back to work I go.  Hugs to you all.

Thread Talk from My Sewing Machine #57

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Hello Friends, I hope you are well.  I am happy to share a little more about my “Roundabout Feathers”, as dear friend Joyce calls them.  Joyce gave me her permission to coin the name “Roundabout Feathers” for these fun feather wreaths with a twist!  These feathers are free-hand quilted with very minimal marking, as shown later.

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[Sorry about that little piece of lint in this following picture!]

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SO — you have this open space that is perfect for quilting something feathery!  For this particular quilt, I have A LOT of open space that I needed something feathery…. but I wanted to add visual interest to the feather wreaths, and not have all of them look identical… so I thought off-centered and concentric wreaths would do the job.

First, I looked through my piles of dishes, and found two bowls – one large, and one smaller.  You can decide what sizes work for you – just make sure one is smaller than the other.  And I then trace the circles on the open space.  The circles then form the spines of the wreaths, and are the determining factor of the placement of your wreath.

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The key is to remember the inside feathers of the inner ring MIRRORS the outside feathers of the outer ring, as shown.  You can definitely mark the orientations of the first feather on each ring before you start if the feather wreaths on your quilt are direction-specific.

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Then, you would start filling the outside of the outer ring, and inside of the inner ring with feathers!

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Then, it’s time to feather the inner feathers of the outer ring.

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For the outer feathers of the inner ring, I don’t do “full” feather lobes on some of them just to give the eye a bit of rest — instead I quilt the effect of overlapping feathers, as shown in the schematic.

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I find these roundabout feather wreaths to be very versatile.  I can place them wherever I want on an open space, and I can decide how large or small my rings would be, and thus further customizing their appearances.  I hope you can see what I mean with the pictures of the wreaths quilted in real life that I had shared with you earlier in this post.

I hope you will give these wreaths a try!  Curious mind would love to know what you think of them! :)

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Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you have a lovely week!

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Click here, here, and here to read my other Thread Talk posts on quilting feather wreaths.

Visions of Azure: Sneak Peek / Thread Talk from My Sewing Machine #55

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Happy Monday, Friends!  I hope your week got off a great start.  I look forward to visiting your blogs to see what you have going on this week.  I was able to finish off a quilt to send off before the weekend… here is a sneak peek of Visions of Azure:

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Oftentimes, my planned quilting scheme doesn’t work out when the actual quilting starts… and such was the case with Visions of Azure.  I had planned to quilt formal feathers.  But in the end, I decided that I needed an airy feel for the spinner blocks, and the feathers would end up making the overall look too stuffy.   The new quilting scheme turned out to be a fun way to quilt spinner blocks,  and I share with you the schematic in the following.

Starting from the spinner center, I quilt a curve to about the mid-way of the long side of a parallelogram, and then round off with a tip at the top of the parallelogram, before curving back down to about the mid-way of the long side of the parallelogram – at the other side, before curving back down to the spinner center.  I then echo once.

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Then, it’s a matter of filling in with fillers like tendrils, swirls etc.

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See what I mean about the airy feel when quilting my spinner blocks this way?

I look forward to be able to show you the quilt in its entirety.  Stay tuned for details.  Hugs to you all, and have a very lovely week.

Thread Talk from My Sewing Machine #54

thread-talk1From my experience, feathers are probably one of the least forgiving quilting motif.  Sometimes I look at the feathers I quilt, and I can instantly tell whether they are on or off.  I have discussed the anatomy of an “on” feather here.  And I think the key is really that curvature that we round off in forming those feather lobes.

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So, the question becomes how does one practice this almost mystical rounded curvature?  I personally don’t really like to practice for just practice.  I like to actually still achieve something when I am practicing.  I had a light bulb moment when I was quilting these “pseudo” informal feathers on my Woodland Snapshots quilt a few weeks ago.

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These pseudo feathers are much more forgiving and much easier to quilt, and I think they provide the perfect opportunity to practice that rounded curvature in the midst of the quilting process.  I hope the following schematic helps.  The basic idea is to form a feather lobe (solid line), but after the rounded curvature is formed, I would echo along the previously stitched lobe (dotted line) to return to the spine before forming the next lobe.

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The goal is to form the lobes with a curvature as gracefully round as possible.  I have shown in the following some lobes that are kind of “off”.  Hopefully you will be able to compare the shapes of your feather lobes when they are “off” and see what I mean about the rounded curvature… and more excitingly you are on your way to quilting more “on” feathers than “off”.

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Here you see more of the pseudo feathers in action.  You will notice that not all are perfect, but as a whole, these feathers are forgiving.  I gained some insights as to how to better round off that curvature when I free-hand quilt my future feathers.

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Also, I have meant to mention to you that my online “Learn to Machine Quilt” class has been made into a DVD.  For those who find it a little tedious to have to follow the class via the internet on a computer and prefer to pop the class into a DVD player – it is available for you now!

Click here to read more about the class.

Click here to purchase the class online, or DVD.  By the way, the online class (NOT DVD) is offered at 50% AGAIN!  Do take advantage of the great deal.

Click here, and here to view students’ projects from the class.  I will be posting more pictures from students in the very near future.

Thanks for stopping by!  Happy Quilting, and Happy Weekend – everyone!