Monday, April 29, 2013

"Folk Art in the Vineyard" - the quilt and the scoop...

This is what I call "Folk Art in the Vineyard," and it measures 
44 x 53.  The center 12 blocks are from a pattern by Lori Smith called "Folk Art Applique."

I drafted my own borders (Lori's were lovely, but I just can't leave things alone...).

Here are close ups of the blocks...I hand quilted in both white (on the colors) and black (to outline and quilt the background).

I just can't seem to be able to photograph this quilt and capture the black-on-black quilting.  I threw the gamma out on a couple of the pictures to try and show you, but it didn't work very well.  There is a chunky, diagonal crosshatching going on behind all the blocks, then piano key quilting on the outer borders.

Here's the bottom border, and below it a picture where I adjusted the gamma to wash the color out so you can see the quilting.

I am insane and like making these grape clusters.  Quilting around all the grapes was a challenge this time (read to the end for the saga).  I was inspired to make grapes on this due to my Dad's Muscadine grape arbor.

The corners feature a quilted arch that copies the scalloped flow of the inner border and a couple of hearts.

Now, the scoop...unfortunately, there is a scoop.  

I chose a wool batting for this quilt.  I had successfully hand quilted a larger wall hanging with a wool batt a few years ago (my "Home Sweet Home" by Blackbird Designs, from a book by the same name), and wanted to repeat the enjoyable, successful process.

That older quilt was so much fun to quilt, and the finished product has such a nice drape, and it is hanging on my family room wall.

Well, this time around was not a good experience.  My wool batt was very inconsistent in thickness...normal in some places, REALLY thick in others.  I went ahead and basted it together, thinking Hobbs wouldn't sell an inferior would "quilt out."

Well, if you've hand quilted a wool batt, you know there is a little compression you have to do as you go along with your stitching.  Well, there were places that were just downright impossible to compress easily.  

I felt like I was quilting a super loft polyester batt...something you would use in a tied comforter.  I put it aside and didn't bind it, and sort of forgot about it.  I was so disappointed in choosing the wrong batt.  I took it to Sauder Village last Sunday for the show, and after some urging from the family, I entered it in AQS-Grand Rapids...7.5 hours before the deadline, LOL.  I don't have a lot of hope for it...I think the quilting quality is not good...little stitches in some places, bigger stitches in the really thick areas.  But, I like the look of the bright colors on the clear Kona black background.

(I had a DEVIL OF A TIME getting the cat hair off of it, LOL.

All you hand quilters out there...I would love to know what batt you use.  Is there a kind of wool you like?  If you have a favorite cotton, do you pre-shrink it?  I am using a Dream Cotton "select" weight on the "Baltimore Rhapsody" quilt.  I did not pre-shrink it this time.  I have pre-shrunk that brand before...especially for high school and college quilts that were machine quilted (and I knew they would get washed a lot).

I chose the wool again because it had been such a good quilting memory before.  I wash all my fabric before using it, so I knew there would be minimal shrinkage with the wool.

Have you tried bamboo...or silk??

We put so much time into these quilts, using the right batt can make or break it for me with the hand quilting.  I used too thin a batt on my "Civil War Bride Quilt" (Dream Cotton, "request" weight).

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Falling Short...

Well, despite all the tremendous encouragement and support from all of you, I did not finish "Baltimore Rhapsody" in time to enter it in the Sauder Village Quilt Show in northwest Ohio, which opens next Tuesday.  I also will miss this Monday's deadline for registering the quilt for the August AQS show in Grand Rapids.

I am really close to finishing, I feel, so it will be finished soon.  It was. maybe, a little unrealistic, considering the other events that were on my calendar (like running a huge fundraiser dinner this past Friday night for my daughter's school music program and all my music responsibilities at the church).

Last week, I broke down the quilting tasks that remained on this clipboard, mostly to help me realize that maybe I was crazy to think I would finish it before Sunday, April 28.

Every time I quilted something, I went over a tally mark with my black pen.  Then I started timing how long it took me to do tasks, then multiplied the minutes by the numbers of elements left.  Then I stopped with the obsessive marking.  Yikes.

I thought that all the cross-hatching was the time-consuming part.  Then I started quilting the blocks and swags, and...OMG...all that takes a lot of time.

And all those little creative hand quilting touches are so much more fun when there is not a gun to your head!

I remembered that hand quilting is my therapy...not what PUTS me in therapy.

So, tomorrow I go to drop off my quilt offerings for the Sauder show.  I am not going empty-handed, so that is comforting.  Was it tough not making my deadline...YOU BET!

I've been so down the last week and sad that I didn't finish, but then I ripped off the Wonder Woman cape and hid it in the back of the closet.  One of the quilts I am taking is this one...not exactly "Baltimore Rhapsody, but I am proud of it.

I named it "Folk Art in the Vineyard."  The center blocks are from Lori Smith's pattern Folk Art Applique, and I designed and added the two borders.  I will post more details and close-ups next time.

Thank you again for cheering me meant so much to read your comments and emails.  I really am so lucky to have all of you in my virtual quilting bee!

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Midwest quilting marathon...

I have been hand quilting EVERY SPARE MINUTE of every day...actually trying to create time at this point.  I am nearly insane, and I was so close to crazy before I started.  Part of me still thinks I can reach my deadline of April 28.  Yep, TOTALLY insane...

I started hand quilting on April 4.  It has been a push.  After basting it, I went to find the longest quilt poles for the frame Steve made me when we first met.  The quilt measures 96 x 96, and of course my longest poles are exactly 96 inches long, so, too short for this quilt...NUTS!

Off to the nice lumber place in Ann Arbor where Steve got those clear Poplar square poles for me 23 years ago.  These are 120 inches long.  I had them custom cut before I thought about how I would get them home in my small Subaru SUV...thank goodness for the moon roof.  I quickly sanded them, sealed them with clear polyurethane, and stapled "ticking" to them.

I then spent 2 days basting.  That gave me time to think about how I would quilt the beast.

I decided on a one inch diagonal grid for the center 36 square feet of the quilt (behind the 16 blocks).  I started out with one inch wide painter's tape, but was having trouble with it sticking to my quilt.  This was mostly because Weasley, my cat, is addicted to tape, and he would untape an area faster then I could stick it down.  I would get up to go to the bathroom and come back to find all tape removed.  I wish he was addicted to soap scum.

So I gave in and decided to use the clover blue pen with the lightest possible line.  I spritz with a spray water bottle as I go to remove the lines.  See all my threads hanging?  I used to leave needles threaded as I moved to another needle, but I can't do that with the cat.  I just leave the long thread tale and come back to it as I roll the quilt.

After spritzing to remove the blue lines, I let the quilted area hang loose and dry before rolling the area around the poles.  I would just shoot myself if mildew grew!  Fortunately, the cat has not discovered the lovely quilted hammock...yet...

I've actually finished the first 400 yard spool of YLI thread now...

The family is being VERY patient, as this frame with the 120 inch poles takes up the entire length (and most of the available width) of the family room.

Sorry not to post more often...I am stitching, stitching, stitching.  On Friday, I will determine whether I push forward, or give up the insane idea of having the quilt finished by April 28.  Then I will check myself into a nice NUT HOSPITAL!

In stitches (and in-SANE!), 
Teresa  :o)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Really, REALLY done and an interview...

Thank you, Ola!  You rescued my poor, weak corners!  

I thought that the corners were weak.  I had to make each corner F clef "heart" this size to keep the clef sizes in correct proportion to each other.  I was thinking of adding a flower or some fruit to build up each corner.

Ola suggested something in keeping with the rest of the swags.  She told me to go home and make paper dolls - fold some paper and start cutting/auditioning some motifs.  She's brilliant!  I love how she suggested an old technique that was often used in designing Baltimore album style quilts.

My interview from the AQS show finally showed up on YouTube's QuiltTV...nothing like a long car trip and a poor night's sleep to make one fresh and perky for an on-camera interview!

Today I am basting, basting, basting.  Did anyone watch the new PBS Masterpiece Classic "Mr. Selfridge" last night?

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)