Wednesday, February 29, 2012

If Money Were No Object

If money were no object what brand of thread would you buy? 

I would buy Superior Thread and Aurifil Thread.  I've used each brand, love the quality, love the colours, but when you are on a budget I don't love the price, especially if you are going to need a fair bit of thread for up and coming projects.  For people who are on tight budgets buying nice thread for your quilting projects can become just as big of an investment as the fabric itself. That is what I found out recently when I went to look for thread and started picking what I was going to need for me Sea Turtle project. Buy the time I went to my shopping cart my total was well over $100 and that didn't even include shipping. So I tried to cut back thinking on what I could do without and still my order was over $70. Unfortunately at this time I couldn't justify the amount since I'm currently unemployed and that was a significant expenditure.

Then the next day I got an e-mail from Connecting Threads ( announcing that they have 33 new colours of thread and the picture showed some very nice colours.  I checked with some blogger friends and a few people have used their threads and have liked them and the prices are very reasonable.  The other nice thing about Connecting Threads is if you are not satisfied with your purchase you can return it for a refund so I figured I had nothing to lose. I ordered their Beach House set which is 10 spools of thread, each spool has 1200 yards for $21.90. I also picked up some individual colours of thread at $2.49 a spool and some fabric so my order came to just over $50.00.  Shipping to Canada is $7.00 if your order is over $50.00 and free in the US which is a great deal. 

This is the Beach House set of colours.

My order arrived today and I just had to test out my new threads to see if they were worth buying.  I have to say yes they are.  I did several things with them today.  I did some piecing and that worked out nicely.  Then I sewed one of my applique designs and it did a great job of that as you can see in the picture below. (click on the picture for a closer look).

Then I wanted to test the thread on the applique finishing stitch and I really like the results of that.

I did buy some brown thread and when I go to do the quilting on the coin quilt I will use their thread and will let you know how I like it for actual quilting.  So far I have to give it a two thumbs up.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sea Turtles - Part 2

First here is my design for the Sea Turtle quilt. It took me some time before I finally got to this stage.  I had another design but I wasn't happy with it so it was back to the drawing board. This one I like and I'm looking forward to working on this quilt.

So next was testing the curve piecing for the top layer.  There is the traditional method where you take two fabrics, lay both of them right side up, have a section overlapping and in that area take your rotary cutter and cut your curve.  Then you place the right sides together along the cut curve and carefully stitch along the curve.  Here is a blog with a tutorial showing this method:

Then there is another method that I discovered in a book by Karen Eckmeier called "Layered Waves" where she basically cuts a curve, presses the edge under 1/4" and then top stitches it to her layer of fabric.

I figured it was worth testing out both methods to see which would be more suitable for my Sea Turtle quilt.  I started with the traditional method and came up with some issues fairly quickly.  I had some pieces of fabric develop waves and didn't want to lay flat as you can see at the top of the piece in the picture below. When I tried to add pieces that didn't go from edge to edge there were puckering issues as is evident on the left hand side of this piece.

Then I tried Karen's method.  The challenge here is getting the curved edges ironed under so that they lay flat and you don't burn your fingers.  A long tweezer tool does come in handy.  The end result is quite nice, the piece lays flat and I can get more curvy shapes and do all kinds of inset pieces.

Next I went and did a sample design for the reverse applique and here is what that looks like. You will have to click on the image to see the stitching since it is done in a beige thread. One other thing that I did this time was add a layer of Misty Fuse to the back of the top layer to see if it would help with the fraying that I experienced while cutting out the design when I was doing the Wild Mustang quilt.

Here is the cut out for the first curved piecing method. The Misty Fuse did make a big difference in stabilizing the fabric and kept things from fraying excessively.

This is the cut out for the second curved piecing method.  When I actually go to do this on my Sea Turtle quilt I would have to make sure that I pick a different colour thread for stitching out the design from what I use to do the top stitching of the curves.  Here I used the same thread and at times it was a bit of a challenge to figure out where to cut the fabric.

Finally I wanted to test out a new stitch for finishing the applique and on the Janome it is called a shading stitch.  I found that this stitch was easier to sew around the applique shapes than the standard applique stitch and not as intensive as a satin stitch.

My pick for the curved piecing is to use the method that Karen describes in her book.  I find it gives me more flexibility in terms of the types of curves I can create and I don't get things like puckering and waving happening with her method. I will also use this new stitch that I found called the shading stitch for finishing my applique design.

My next step is actually going to be designing the wave top layer for this project. Initially I thought it would be easy just to wing it and cut curves as I go and sew them and I would have my top.  But as I was doing my sample it became apparent that I can get myself into a rut fairly quickly and start cutting shapes that look too much alike.  Thus I figure it's best for me to design the wave top on paper first so I have a guide for my curve cutting.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Spirit of the Land - part 1

Well it looks like I have another major birthday coming up.  A friend will be turning 50 at the end of March so I need another quilt to commemorate the occasion.  Fortunately I had all the makings for another coin quilt and since it is an easy pattern I now have the top all done as well as the back put together.  Here is how they look.

I plan to quilt a leaf pattern through the coin sections of the quilt top and a selection of tree silhouettes around the border.

You may be wondering how the sea turtle quilt project is coming along.  I have been struggling with the actual design for the reverse applique.  I came up with one design but I wasn't 100% happy with it. Finally I think I have come up with something that I like and I'm just tweaking it and should be able to share with you shortly.  Also I have two different methods to test out for the curved piecing for the top layer of the reverse applique. I will also let you know how the two methods work and which one I go with.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Lone Star Quilt Along

Well I have been enticed by yet another quilting project.  I have always loved the look of Lone Star quilts but I certainly didn't want to do all that work of cutting and piecing all those little diamond shapes, that's just not me.  Then my friend Elizabeth at Sand and Sunshine
( found instructions to do it the strip pieced method. She has been working on her Lone Star for a couple of months and hers has turned out amazing. Here is the site with the instructions on how to create the Lone Star using the strip pieced method:

So the next thing was do I have the fabrics for this project since right now I'm on a restricted budget when it comes to fabric shopping due to the fact that I am still unemployed.  Time to check out the stash and sure enough I came up with a combination that I really like and I think it will make a stunning Lone Star. Here is my fabric selection.

I won't be starting this project until I have my sea turtle quilt top done since that is my first priority at the moment.  I was hoping to get more work done in it this weekend, but unfortunately I managed to sprain one of my fingers yesterday.  It is quite painful and I now have it in a splint plus I have been applying ice to it every couple of hours.  It makes it rather difficult to do things like use the rotary cutter, iron fabric, or put two pieces of fabric together accurately for sewing.  I'm hoping that having it splinted and the icing will get it healed quicker and I will be able to get back to my sewing early next week.

I also want to say thank you to Quilt Sue ( and Jayne ( who are running the Lone Star Quilt Along support group the first Saturday of every month. So if you are interested in making a Lone Star quilt, even if it is some time in the future, come out and see what everyone is doing.  You will find all kinds of useful information and inspiration.