Saturday, November 24, 2018

Of Thanksgiving Travel, Needlework Memories, Embroidery, and Applique

Hand Embroidered Pillows Made By My MIL circa 1959
Hello, my lovelies, and happy belated Thanksgiving to all of you in the States who were celebrating this week!  We've just returned from spending the holiday in Florida with my husband's family.  L-O-N-G drive, but well worth it.

More Needle Turn Leaves...
I shoved my Frankenwhiggish Rose needleturn applique project into my suitcase before we left and managed to get some leaves cut, prepped, and stitched down while visiting with Bernie's family, and couldn't help but notice striking similarities between my mother-in-law's throw pillows on the sofa and the project in my lap:

My MIL's Needlework, circa 1959.  This One Is My Favorite.
How cool is that?  It's the same color palette, very similar style -- could be an alternate block in the same quilt.  My mother-in-law Marlies used to do the most amazing sewing and needlework years ago.  Not anymore, due to age-related memory decline, but I asked her about these pillows and she vividly remembered making them.  

She said that she and her sisters got needlework kits like this one from their father as Christmas gifts and these pillows were given to her on her last Christmas in Germany before she emigrated to the United States to marry my father-in-law.  (They were married in 1960, so I'm guessing this was the Christmas of 1959).  Marlies told me the kit came with the pattern, materials, and yarns, and they would start working on the stitching after Christmas.  She had these pillows partially or completely embroidered before she left Germany, and finished and stuffed them sometime after arriving in Philadelphia to begin her new life as a married woman.  So they're close to 60 years old, and I LOVE THEM!

Detail of Yarn Embroidery
Isn't that gorgeous?  I wish I knew more about the pattern designer and the materials.  I can tell you that I've seen these pillows on their family room sofa for the 20+ years that I've known them, and they've definitely seen regular use over the decades, yet there's no pilling of the embroidery threads.  I wonder if it's wool or something else?  I think most synthetic yarns would have gotten all fuzzy and worn-looking by now.

My MIL Marlies, My Sons Anders and Lars, and My FIL Fred
My sons, Lars and Anders, got to spend some quality time with their grandparents, their Tante Angela, and their cousins, too.  My MIL kept asking "Where are the little ones?" whenever the boys left the room, but at 5'10" and nearly 6' tall, they are not little anymore!  

I did manage to get some other sewing done before heading out of town for Thanksgiving.  I loaded and quilted the outreach cuddle quilt for the Charlotte Quilter's Guild:

Outreach Cuddle Quilt Is Quilted!
Someone else in the guild pieced this top and there were some minor fullness issues, so I floated the quilt top and just did a freehand meander from the front side of the machine rather than a pantograph from the backside, where I wouldn't have been able to keep an eye on the trouble spots.  I mounted the quilt sideways and was able to quilt the whole thing in just two advances, less than two bobbins.  Now it just needs to be trimmed and bound. 

Pretty Sure I Put the Horizontal Spool Holder In the Wrong Place
I used a spool of variegated California Poppy YLI 3-ply 40 weight cotton Machine Quilting thread in the needle, and used the horizontal spool holder accessory for the first time since the spool was stack wound.  I am pretty sure I put that thing in the wrong place on my machine, by the way, because in order to use the upper thread break sensor with my setup the thread needs to travel BACKWARDS to the thread break sensor wheel rather than straight down.  I think that spool holder attached with sticky adhesive foam or something; not sure I can get it off and reposition it??  Anyway, I had the 40 weight cotton thread in my size 4.0 needle and used white Super Bob 2-ply polyester prewounds in the bobbin, and was able to get decent tension without too much trouble.  Still seeing slight directional tension variation indicating needle flex, but since completing this quilt I've read that going up to a 4.5 needle with the cotton thread would have helped with that.

I Love How the White Bottom Line Thread Disappears On the Back Side
Look how well the Bottom Line thread disappears on the backing side of the quilt.  The 60 weight 2-ply thread is so fine and thin that it takes on whatever color it crosses, appearing yellow when it crosses yellow fabric and blue where it crosses over blue.

I'm planning to machine bind this quilt, but that will have to wait a few days because I dropped off my main squeeze machine, the 'Nina 750QE, at my Bernina dealer for her annual Well Baby visit.  While I wait for her to return to the studio, I can continue appliqueing leaves to my Frankenwhiggish Rose blocks, pin the last rows of pineapple log cabin blocks together, and get something else loaded on my longarm frame.  

Let's have a poll -- what should I quilt next?  

Should I whip up another charity quilt top for practice quilting and try to completely eliminate the needle flex tension issues, or should I put a REAL quilt on the frame (and risk "ruining it" if my quilting savvy is not yet up to snuff)?  The only "real" quilt top that is finished and ready to load is my Paint Me A Story bear paw quilt, by the way...  

"Paint Me A Story," 65 x 65.  Do I Dare to Quilt This Yet?
I started this quilt in 2014 and I will be HEARTBROKEN if I wreck it.  But I suspect that I need to quilt real quilts if I'm going to get better at the custom quilting I most want to do...  Charity quilts are best suited to simple allover designs, not fancy ruler work and freehand fills.  Hmmm...  Let me know your thoughts in the comments.  

Enjoy the remainder of your long holiday weekend!  I'm linking up with:


Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

if you want practice on "real custom" quilting I think you will eventually have to jump into a quilt not for charity - no matter if the quilting isn't perfect to your standards it would be perfect for someone else as a gift so if it is a quilt you really want to keep for yourself do custom work on one that you do not want for you if you really need more practice - but keep in mind you are a perfectionist - someone else will love whatever you keep noticing mistakes on.
Sorry your MIL is having memory issues - those pillows are wonderful

Rebecca Grace said...

Of course you are right, Karen, but I am EVEN MORE neurotic about gifts being perfect than I am about things I’m keeping for myself! The best projects are the baby quilts, because I know that no one will be examining the quilt stitching when there is an adorable little baby nearby… ;-)

Vivian said...

When I saw the pictures at the top of the post, I would have sworn they were applique! Your MIL's needlework is beautiful and boy I wish the project details were still around too. What timeless designs and they coordinate perfectly with your Whig Rose project!

SJSM said...

Your MIL was a beautiful hand embroidery craftsman. What a treasure she made. Having time with the boys grandparents will be remembered. It’s good to have your relatives a car ride away.

I understand your hesitation on the bear paw quilt. You do have to jump in at some moment. Since you would rip out stitches if they aren’t perfect, can you practice the tension on the extra edge past the border? Meaning add some fabric past the quilt top but still on the batting to settle the tension issues. Then just go for it. Jump in with both feet and make it happen. Yes, you might make a small mistake. But with the patience and perfection you have it will be minimal.

I look forward to seeing how you proceed.

Shar said...

I think the bear paw would be a good project next. I've been admiring this quilt. I would love to see what you create in the white spaces.

Cynthia Brunz Designs said...

I have my spool holder attached to my Millie just like yours. I will say I don't use YLI thread because it always caused tension and breakage issues.

As to custom quilting, you just have to take the step and start. Just start with designs that you feel somewhat comfortable with.

Thanks for linking up with Oh Scrap!

chrisknits said...

The real one Girl!!! You got this, and It will help your skill for the next one. It doesn't have to be perfect, it just needs to be done!

MissPat said...

Well, I'm going to counter the other commenters and say do another charity quilt but follow Cynthia's advice and use a different thread (not YLI). I don't have a long arm so I can't speak from experience, but Cynthia has tons of experience and if she has the same machine and doesn't use YLI thread, then I'd switch thread and check it with another quilt that doesn't mean as much to you. But at some point you're going have to bite the bullet and just do it.

Quilter Kathy said...

Thanks for sharing those pillows with us! That stitching has held up beautifully over all these years of use!

Louise said...

How about doing some fancy quilting on a charity piece? You can use your rulers and fills on a small quilt to give away and if it isn't perfect, try another one. I alternate between doing really simple all over stipples on my charity quilts and practicing fancy shmancy stuff. It's all grist for the mill :)

Gretchen Weaver said...

Your MIL's pillows are lovely and so is your applique project. I'm not a long arm quilter but I'm sure the concept is the same as hand quilting. It's is practice, practice and more practice to get the stitching right. Have a good stitching week! Louise has a good idea though to practice the custom work on a crib quilt.

Debbie said...

I'll bet yo have better skills than you realize. Go for it! And just take it slow. I have started using rulers on my domestic sewing machine. I'll bet you don't examine your first quilts for mistakes, this is just a new chapter, same book.

Bonnie said...

Yes, I suspect the beautiful pillows were stitched with wool. Any other yarn would have balled or frayed or look old. And, oh yes they do look a LOT like your appliqu├ęs. Re: jumping in to custom quilting -- I'd do some ruler work and the like on charity quilts first. I do some ruler work but I still seem to have ruler slippage. I don't really have the patience for the beautiful custom work like Sue Daurio does. Sounds like you had a great Thanksgiving holiday. Time to enjoy some more quilting time.

Mary in Peoria Handmade said...

I cannot believe the beautiful condition of those pillows!! They're timeless. Love that family photo. My mom had Alzheimers and only remembered my kids as they were little when they were actually adults. It was kinda sweet. Welcome to our "likes' group. mary

LA Paylor said...

Hi Rebecca Grace, did you decide not to do the I Like Gucci post?
This was fun too.

Jean said...

What a great family photo! Very beautiful quilts and pillows. Welcome to the I like group!!

Su-sieee! Mac said...

The pillows are gorgeous. They were done with such care and precision.

Shannon said...

I vote for jumping right in! Your bear paw is lovely and your quilting will be too I'm sure! We also did the long drive to florida (from Oklahoma) for Thanksgiving but luckily I didn't have to drive so I got to knit. Those needlework pillows are just gorgeous, and in spite of being old, they have a lovely airy modern-sort of feel. So cool how well they go with your applique!

Jocelyn is Canadian Needle Nana said...

Hi, Lovely post. I was happy to see those pillows. I did lots of crewel work back in the day and it looked similar. What a great embroiderer your MIL was and a shame she can't keep it up. You are obviously a wonderful quilter yourself esp. with the machine which I suck at. Still trying to improve my skills...

Sue Daurio said...

Oh I love the quilt. But honestly don't quilt it until your comfortable, especially if you will be heart broken. Find another quilt that you like and will just be sad, not heartbroken if you mess it up. First, I don't think you'll mess it up. But YOU need to know that you won't mess it up. Nothing wrong with practice. Get some panels, quick easy and GREAT practice. I like panels cuz I'd rather be quilting than piecing. 3 out of 5 quilts hanging in my quilting space are panels :). You can do it. Get comfortable, and just go for it. You won't be sorry!

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