Thursday, July 9, 2020

Spirit Song Progress: Blue HSTs Nearing Completion + Tentative Plan for Background Fillers

Good morning, and Happy Thursday!  I have been doing a pretty good job of squeezing in at least an hour or two at my long arm machine each day, so my Spirit Song quilting is progressing.  

I am starting to really enjoy this little motif in my little blue HSTs that I think of as a "lollipop flower."  Of course, the first couple I quilted didn't look this cute, but every time I start a new design I see it progress from "Oh, ick" to "maybe it's okay from a distance" to "meh" to "hey, NOW it's starting to look like how I drew it on my iPad!"  Note to self: Don't ever give up on a quilting design just because it comes out icky the first time I try to quilt it!

This little motif is a hybrid between total freehand for the two curly leaves and ruler-guided quilting for the "lollipop" -- the little 1/2" circle on a stick stem.  I'm using another of the rulers that I got in the kit for Lisa Calle's Rulers for Rookies class (I took this class in person at AQS Quilt Week in Paducah, but the ruler kit, panel, and instructions are available for you to learn at home via Lisa's web site here).  This ruler is the Quilter's Groove ProPebble, which comes in several different sizes, but the one I got in my class kit is designed to create a perfect half inch circle when you slide it over the hopping foot and the edge of your hopping foot moves around the inside of the big circle.  I am loving this ruler so much, I had to stop just now in the middle of writing my blog post, to order the other sizes!  (And no, I have no affiliate relationship with Lisa; I'm just a happy student/customer who is very grateful to have had the opportunity to take classes from her).  

I've added a couple strips of my NexCare Clear First Aid Tape to the back side of this ruler to reduce sliding, but I might try some of the stronger gripping HandiGrip tape from HandiQuilter instead to hold this little guy in place even better.  The hardest thing about using acrylic rulers/templates for machine quilting is making sure the ruler doesn't slide out of place when you're quilting around the edge of it.  Anyway, once again, I've discovered that Lisa's rulers have nifty little etched reference lines exactly where I need them so I don't have to do any marking at all.  I'm using the outside straight edge of the ProPebble ruler to quilt my perfectly straight stem, lining up the straight etched line in the center of the ruler with my block seam.  Then I slide the big circle around my hopping foot and line it up exactly as shown in the photo above, with the little line on the opposite end of my ruler right at that intersection of triangle points, to quilt my little circle away from the stem.  Slide the ruler off the foot, and use the straight edge to quilt back down the stem, and then I finish by quilting a free motion curly leaf on either side of my lollipop.  Voila -- cuteness!

Yes, it takes longer to slide this ruler on and off my hopping foot, stopping and starting my machine, than it would to quilt the whole motif freehand, but I am finding that mixing in some perfectly straight lines and circles here and there really elevates the look of my free motion work and makes ALL of the quilting look better to me.  Interesting!  Also, perfect circles look so cute on quilts that they are worth a bit of fussing.  Now I am thinking that, the next time I want to quilt a half inch string of pearls border, I might use this little template rather than marking the pearls with a stencil and then trying to quilt perfect circles freehand the way I've been doing on my skinny blue border for this quilt.  This matching blue thread is hiding a multitude of sins; trust me!!!

I am nearing the end of quilting everything that is getting quilted with blue thread -- both quilt borders and all of the little HSTs.  So now I'm looking forward to the next and LAST phase of quilting, which will be the background filler designs in all of the white/off white/neutral background HSTs.  As usual, I've been doodling my options on my iPad and once I came up with ideas that I liked, I printed them up, stuck them into plastic page protectors, and brought them upstairs to my studio so I can refer to them to remember which design goes where.

Although my Spirit Song quilt consists of nothing but 2" and 4" HST units and only one 16" straight set block, my quilting design was planned to emphasize the secondary design that emerges at the block intersections, creating the illusion that my quilt top is a diagonal setting that alternates two different block designs.  Those little lollipop flowers I just showed you go on the blue HSTs within Quilting Design A (above), which is the illusion block created where four of my actual blocks come together.  

In my EQ8 rendering above, you can see the actual 16" blocks that I pieced for this quilt.  My Quilting Design B is for the diamond shaped center area that is left after the corners are "removed from the equation" by Quilting Design A.  Here's how I'm quilting these areas of my quilt:

Of course, the pale aqua "thread" color was only chosen on my iPad so I could see what I was sketching.  I'll be using a blending thread color on those background fabrics, an off-white So Fine #50 or else an off-white Bottom Line #60 thread.  Haven't decided on that yet.  I might just stick with the So Fine in my needle since that's what I've been using throughout the rest of the quilt, but the lighter weight, thinner Bottom Line thread might be more appropriate for the dense, heavy quilting I'm planning to do in these areas.  I suppose I could do a little sample off to the side of my quilt to make my final decision, but often I like to live dangerously -- make a rash decision and then commit 100%, full speed ahead!

I'm linking up today's post with:


·       Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation  

·       Free Motion Mavericks at Quilting & Learning Combo OR at Lizzie Lenard Vintage Sewing


·       Whoop Whoop Fridays at Confessions of a Fabric Addict

·       Peacock Party at Wendy’s Quilts and More

·       Finished Or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts

·       Off the Wall Friday at Nina Marie Sayre

Have a great day, everyone, and happy stitching!


Kathleen said...

I so love that combination motif! I totally get how it elevates the rest of the quilting. Hooray for nearly finishing.

PaintedThread said...

Lovely colors, lovely quilting. This looks great!

Vivian said...

You are really knocking this one out! All the stitching is looking so good, this one is on its way to "heirloom"! said...

Your progress is terrific and your quilting motifs sure elevate your piecing! Well done!!!

SJSM said...

I’m liking all the variety of stitching motifs you are using. It is coming out so well.

Pat at Bell Creek Quilts said...

your quilting is awesome!

Andree G. Faubert said...

Hi Rebecca, your quilting is really coming along. Amazing what an hour or two a day can do to any skill! I love your quilt and your quilting. Do you have a special program on your ipad for drawing your quilting design over a photo? I share an ipad with hubby (and sometimes actually use it!) and this could be really useful. Thanks so much for linking up to Free Motion Mavericks. Take care.

The Joyful Quilter said...

You're making good progress, Rebecca. The completed quilt is going to be SPECTACULAR!!! (It still boggles my mind, but...) I applaud you for going to such lengths to build your skills as a longarmer.

audrey said...

Beautiful quilt. I've been admiring your fabric choices on this one.:)

Gwyned Trefethen said...

Love the swirls you created in the HST. Very effective.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rebecca, I am so delighted to find you and your inspirational blog posts. Thank you so much for sharing. I am wondering which app you are using on your iPad when you are drawing quilting ideas? I think it’s a clever idea and I’d like to give it a go! Thanks, Irene from Newmarket, Ontario

Rebecca Grace said...

Hi, Irene -- I hope you'll check back here for an answer, since your question didn't come through with an email address so I could reply to you directly. I use several different apps for practice doodling quilting designs, but the one I've been using lately to plan quilting designs for specific quilts is called Notes Plus. It's designed as a note taking app, for students or for those who have to take a lot of handwritten notes for their work. I like that I can import a photo of my actual quilt top into Note Plus, enlarge it to fill the page, and then there are lots of different options as far as "ink color" and line thickness to ensure my sketching will show up against the colors in my photo. Then I have additional pages in front of or after my sketched up quilt, maybe with other design options, or maybe with sketches on cropped images of individual blocks. And I can intersperse pages of text between or after the pictures, with information about what thread/needle/batting I'm planning to use, whether I still need to get backing fabric, etc. Hope that helps!