Saturday, March 19, 2011

Quilting the swirly skies and other things...

After a couple of questions in the comments of my last post, I thought I would show my unsophisticated method of hand quilting the swirling sky of my "All Around the Town" quilt.  Some of the pictures may seem a little dark, but I have a hard time getting close-ups of hand quilting to show if I use too much flash. 

The picture above shows a blank space before I marked "a piece of spaghetti."  The picture below shows the same area with a VERY LIGHTLY penciled curly strand.
I mark it with a mechanical pencil VERY FAINTLY because I don't want to have to remove the pencil when I am through.  Here's the same curly strand after hand quilting.

Then I go back and fill in the space with some echo quilting, which I don't mark.
Similarly, here is the space right below that one.

I guess I have an overall idea in my head of how I want things to look, but I only pencil one little strand at a time.  Because I draw the doodle so faintly, if I draw too many noodles, the friction of manipulating the hoop around as I quilt can make the faint lines disappear.  After all, a pencil is just like a really compact chalk...little pieces of deposited graphite (pencil lead) can be easily rubbed away by accident (unless you bear down too hard, and then NOTHING seems to remove the pencil lines - LOL!).
Here's the area, now mostly filled in.

(I'm still in love with my new thimble...)

I quilted my daughter Riley's name on the little blue flag...I wonder if she will find it...
These little spaghetti strands are like little tubes.  It's not really what I originally had in mind.  I doodled a little on a piece of paper before I started, but then I had to consider what would work around all the applique.  
This is not really what I ended up with this time.  I like a lot of hand quilting, but get bored with stippling and cross-hatching as the only tools in my hand quilting toolbox.  Fortunately, with hand quilting, a doodled strand can just stop - I can get into the middle of a little design and not have to worry about how I'm going to get out.  I can just "knot off" or "travel" to start in another area.  In other words, I can paint myself into a corner with no big deal.  I love it...

(To "travel" is to move around between the backing and the top, down in the batting area - kind of like a submarine, moving around below the water's surface, and then popping up somewhere else.)
I quilted some defining details on the angel.  Here's a closer look.

I think this angel is related to Lady Liberty - they both shop at the same hat shop.  I should have fussy cut the face fabric...she looks like she has a big zit (acne) on her forehead.
I like this particular Sue Garmon was fun to fill it with hearts (I love trees!).

This is one of my favorite chalk marking tools.  I think it is made by Dritz.  It comes with white and colored skinny chalk sticks and a sharpener, which, as you see, I was too lazy to use last night (I was in "the zone" and didn't want to get up...).

Here's an "aerial" view of what I got done last night.  Some of you have commented that I work fast, and I guess I do.  Sometimes when I look at these close-up pictures, I wish I had slowed down a little when I see my stitches look a little funky, but then I just rationalize it all by telling myself that I AM making small stitches and a WHOLE LOT of them.  I don't let it get me down!
You'll think I'm crazy when I say this, but I'm not completely happy with the background quilting.  I have the same self-critical problem that some of you have when I am hand quilting...we all get so stuck when we are focusing on one little six inch area of our quilts. We forget the big picture and how all the elements will play together - the fabric choices, the applique and/or piecing, the quilting, the overall pattern - it all makes a delicious soup in the end, and hopefully I won't notice that the carrot chunks aren't the right size.

Happy Quilting Day!!

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)



  1. So AWESOME! That is what I think every time I see a post on your All Around The Town.. I appreciate your post on the marking of the quilt. I will have to look up a nice marking pencil for my hexie quilt.. which I'm getting closer to being ready to hand quilt. I dunno if I will be as quick as you are tho.. You really are so inspirational.. I love your quilting, love your blog :)

  2. I just love what you are doing with this quilt.

  3. Your hand quilting is to die for.. Everytime you post I turn a little greener. I have two questions..Both have probably been discussed, but when I start looking back to find my answers I get lost in looking at your close ups and forget to read everything you are sharing with us.. My questions: what method do you use to baste your quilt and what size thread do you use??

  4. Teresa Your quilting is just beautiful. I'm glad you showed how you mark as you go with a light pencil line and then echo the rest. Great post with lots of good information.

  5. Like like it!!!

    I've only tried hand quilting once and was filled with extremely anxiety after I had finished it (it was for an exchange). Mine was very simple but some of us can be very critical of ourselves.

  6. I am going to repeat myself. I am so enjoying seeing the pictures of your work!

  7. I love how you are handquilting this. With a wrap around design, I don't think you can get so meticulous of what is where as it is going to blend from one to another - I think you have accomplished that. Thank you for sharing your journey - love to see handquilting.

  8. Teresa, I'm totally in awe of your hand quilting and have so enjoyed seeing this quilt come to life. You're doing a fantastic job! I've only done a little bit of hand quilting, and since I also do counted cross stitch, I had a hard time adjusting from holding the needle the way I do when I stitch to rocking it back and forth with the hand quilting. I enjoy any kind of handwork, though. Can't wait to see the next "installment" and thank you for sharing your awesome talent with all of us in blogland!

  9. It is so fun to watch this quilt move along. What an inspiration, too!

  10. Thanks for the lesson, I still have so much to learn!

  11. You are amazing! It always just makes me happy to visit here. Thanks!

  12. Your quilting is wonderful Teresa!! It's fun seeing all the new textures you are bringing to this fun quilt :0)


  13. Wow! I just love your hand-quilting!!!!!!

  14. Thanks for all the sharing and the information, the motifs and special touches are making this quilt so special. Remember, we're hand stitching and we're not machines so we need to go easy on ourselves when we make funky stitches. The chalk pencil you're using is from Bohin, I recntly got one.

  15. Very nice quilting. Thanks for showing your process to the finished area of quilting.

  16. I was introduced to that thimble almost 20 years ago, at a quilt show. Love it. Have bought several of them, but haven't seen them in a many years. Excellent thimbles.

    Your hand quilting is spectacular. Great swirls and movement. It has been awhile, but my hand quilting focus has been Hawaiian applique'.


  17. Your hand quilting is just gorgeous!

  18. I really like your explanation. The pictures helped alot. I think many people forget that hand-quilting can be much more than straight lines so seeing what you've done on your quilt is very refreshing. Thanks!

  19. I so enjoy looking at your quilts because they inspire me to add personal touches to my own quilts. It's easy for me to get bogged down in the traditional, but I love the thought that I can add my own twist to my projects!

  20. You are inspiring me, woman!! Using the design to determine the quilting pattern is just the ticked for a beginning hand quilter!! I've got a baby quilt with appliqued hearts that wouldn't be a bad project to start on. Thanks for the wonderful ideas!!!!


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