Monday, February 22, 2010

100 Shirts

Yup, you're looking at about 100 cut up shirts. (There are a couple of skirts in there too.) Many of the light fabrics are already in the hand-pieced tumbling blocks quilt top I've been working on for several years.

The red/yellow color overload of the spiral project has made me want to look again at these mostly calmer colors. I've been cutting up the last of the whole shirts, while thinking what I might do with them. So many possibilities! As much as I like the spiral project, I also need a project that takes less mental effort, yet doesn't get boring---rather like the orange plaids quilt.

Very Red. Very Yellow.

It's not much progress. But I'll take it. I also redid some of the yellow triangles section. I just wasn't happy with a couple of the fabrics. Also, I've been experimenting with the triangle-making methods in Liberated Quiltmaking II (photos of my efforts soon). This book came along at just the right time!

Frankly, the brightness of the colors can be a bit of a problem in a way I didn't expect. There are days when yellow and red are just too much for me---times when I'm stressed and need calming, not stimulation.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Quilting the Plaids

With such a busy week, it's been good to have a relaxed, fun project to work on. Over the past weekend I pin basted and managed most of the machine quilting. Snatching some time one weekday evening, I finished it up.
The quilting really brings it to life and also softens the transitions a bit. Here's a close-up:
I had a few glitches here and there, but overall, this was the easiest and best-looking free-motion quilting I've done. With the spectacularly poor start to my machine-quilting efforts a few years ago, I've since tried to give myself every advantage. I can say that gloves with those little grippy dots, a teflon mat on the machine bed, a set-in table (giving a wide, very flat surface), and plenty of flat table space to the left and the back really help. Still, my Bernina and I were not working well together. I just couldn't get reasonably consistent stitch length. The cramped bed area was annoying. Never knowing when I'd run out of bobbin thread add more frustration. Every project was a high-stress affair, with aching back and genuinely bad quilting. I dreaded doing more. And frankly, that was one reason I started hand quilting.

It was also one of my motivations for getting a new machine, and this is my first free-motion quilting project using it. My Viking Sapphire 870 has five speeds, and speed 3 (a little faster than half) seems to mesh really well with how I move the quilt. It's such a relief to not have to pay attention to foot pressure on the pedal. I just press slowly (the machine has a very smooth start and acceleration) to do a neat start and then put my foot all the way down and concentrate on moving the quilt. Also, I like the spring-action foot. I set the foot lift to it's highest level and increase the tension well above (5.0) what the machine sets as the default (3.0). I love hearing the beeps to let me know I need to shorten my stitches before I run out of bobbin thread! The huge bed space really makes a difference. I actually enjoyed the machine quilting, and the lack of pain in my back was so nice.

It's a good thing this was a quilt without expectations, though. When I had an area just 6 inches by 9 inches to go, I ran out of thread. Completely out. My first reaction was "Oh no!" But then, I thought, "Oh well, what other thread do I have? How about the lavender?"

Works for me.

Next: I have the binding cut. Just need to find time to apply it.