Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Alex spoiled me!! I can't look at another ...

In most of my posts, you'll notice I talk about the thread I use.  It's an important factor in quilting.  The right thread makes a huge difference.

The right thread is Aurifil.  Alex Veronelli, the brand Jedi at Aurilfi, has spoiled me!  I can't look at another thread!

Over the weekend, I worked on finishing up Leona's quilt, with Aurifil thread, Cotton Mako 50wt in black.  I spent a few hours.  First, with the diagonal lines through the blocks, with a walking foot, then with feathers in the outer border.  I only had to rethread the machine once, in all those hours, because I ran out of bobbins and had to make some.  No breakage, no replacing needles, no snags, snarls, or issues.  Easy and smooth stitching, stress free.  Normally with free motion quilting, you need to stop and adjust the fabric, to make sure you are going where you need.  Some threads don't like when you stop, and they cause knots or nests on the back of the quilt.  That never happens with Aurifil in my machine.  And, once you know how Aurifil works in your machine, you don't have to test out the tension and needle.  My size 14 quilting needle and tension on 4, with the spool upright, is perfect, no matter the color.  Even with 40wt, which is thicker.  It shows more in the quilting.

So, last night, I wanted to start the Snowflakes quilt.  I wanted to use a metallic thread, and I have spools of Coats and Clark's Embroidery thread, which would give the perfect look for this quilt.

I wound 4 bobbins with Aurifil in dark blue, to match the backing.  I put a topstitch needle in, because metallic thread tends to fray, and the groove allows the thread a "safe" zone as it goes through the fabric, so it won't wear as quickly.  I figured the tension should be closer to 3.5, and threaded the silver in the top.  I sewed about 4 stitches, and realized the tension was still off.  Removed that, started again.  Went about 5 inches and the thread broke.  Rethreaded the top, looked at the bottom of the quilt, and needed to take it all out again.  Adjusted the tension and put the spool vertical.  Sewed about 1 minute, and had to stop again.  Rethread, checked bobbin, etc.  I was able to sew then, for about 10 minutes without an issue.  Then the bobbin ran out.  It wasn't full to begin with, but, I decided that was a sign.  I had enough stress.

Today, I spent 2 hours.  Rethreaded the machine, top and bottom, about 12 times.  Broke 3 needles.  Took out two sections of feathers (the design I'm stitching).  Removed 3 sections of "nests" on the back.  Adjusted the position of the spool and tension again.  Finally got into a groove, and the thread popped out of the guides.  3 times!  I decided after the last time, which would require "rethread the machine count 13" that I needed a break.

I love how the thread looks, when it behaves enough to do what I need it to do.  It's exactly the look I was hoping for.

But Alex, I'm spoiled! Please make a silver metallic thread for me!!  Pretty please??  Only Aurifil will do!

I'm an #Aurigirl for sure!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Leona's Quilt and a recent win.

Hi.  First here's the win.  I do quite a few blog hops, and I'm always surprised that I win.  This is a nice prize. Quiltmakers 100 Blocks is a magazine that has 100 fresh quilt block designs, as well as quilts using those designs.  The blocks come from some of the biggest names in the quilt world, so it's always fun to see their ideas.  I won a magazine, and was surprised to find a bundle of Fat Quarters from Northcott's Starry Night collection in the box today.  I love these fabrics, so now I have the beginnings of a project, and lots of inspiration from the magazine.

Now, about Leona's quilt.  My cousin Liz's mother-in-law was Leona.  Leona was a quilter, a member of the Long Island Quilters Guild and a quilt shop owner on Long Island.  I don't think I met her, but my parents always spoke highly of her and Larry's father.  Leona passed away last August, after a prolonged illness.  She hadn't quilted in over 6 years.

Liz invited the girl cousins to a weekend at her beach house on Rhode Island in early September.  Liz asked me to look at two quilt tops, and suggest a way to finish them.  Leona had made the tops years before, but they were only tops.  This black one had been washed, too, so there was quite a bit of fraying on the edges and in some of the seams, and there were quite a few patches that were severely faded.  Liz wanted to be able to use this top as a table cloth.  I said I would be happy to fix the faded blocks and finish it for her.

Maybe I should have taken "before" pictures, but I didn't think of it.  I went through my fabric scraps and looked for other black floral prints that would work with this.  I needed to replace about 14 patches, so I needed a variety, so it would look like the others in the quilt.  One thing I noticed is that some of the fabrics, including the border solids, are poly/cotton blends, not 100% cottons.  Most of my contemporaries would not mix fabric types in quilts, because of shrinkage in 100% cottons.  I find it interesting that Leona mixed fabrics.  My second quilt was a mix, but that was because I didn't know 24 years ago what I know now.

My friend Bernie helped me "un-sew" the patches and border.  I cut an assortment of 3 1/2" squares from the replacement fabrics, and stitched them back in, re-attached the border, basted it to the backing and batting, and quilted a simple diagonal grid in the center.  Liz had said most of Leona's quilts were tied, so I didn't want to over-quilt it.  I wish I could see more of hers.  This may have been a sample top for her shop.  Liz said Leona taught classes, so this may have been one for a class.  I did add a simple feather border.  I hope Leona would be pleased that her top is now finished, and will be treasured and used by Liz.

It measures about 42 by 60".

So, can you find the blocks I replaced?  They are in this photo.  I can only notice them because they include one fabric that is similar to one of the original fabrics, but different enough for me to locate.  Any guesses?

I'll wash this again, and send it to Liz.  For some reason, the black solid I chose for the backing and binding attracted tons of lint.  I wanted to prewash the backing, since Liz had washed the top.  I didn't want the backing to shrink after quilting, as it would distort Leona's work.  I usually don't wash my fabrics before quilting, and hadn't noticed the solids getting so "clingy".  See by the label?  I wish I knew which brand of solids I bought at JoAnn's for this.  I would not want to buy it again.

I'll let you know when Leona's other quilt is done.  I'm hoping Liz finds more and lets me finish them.  Leona deserves that, and I'm happy to help.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Latest finish

I wanted to add my latest finished quilt!

It stars Sakura Park cherry blossom fabric by Moda.  I purchased a layer cake of 10" squares.  I think it had 42 different squares, in shades of pinks, blues, greens and white.  I used the Piece of Cake pattern from quilt In A Day.  Fun, easy, and fast, and so pretty!

I used a stencil design to quilt the larger sections of the blocks, feathers in the rectangles, and cherries in the small squares, using Aurifil 50wt in white.  I used Aurifil 40wt in variegated pinks for the feathers in the border.  What I love about Aurifil is that it doesn't break!  All of those stitches, over 10 bobbins, and no breakage.  50wt white is in the bobbin, to match the backing.  I used a light pink in the needle and bobbin for the binding.  Yes, all Aurifil.  I'm totally and Aurifil girl!  I need to get more of the 40wt for sewing clothes.  I like the durability in the seams!

So pretty, and large enough for a Twin bed.  It's currently available in my Etsy store.
I love finishing quilts!