Saturday, September 5, 2020

Of Butterflies for Modern Baby Clam Shells, a Veteran's Quilt, + Pantograph Patterns

 Good morning and happy Labor Day weekend to readers in the United States!  I am DELIGHTED to share that I finally finished piecing the body of my Modern Baby Clam Shells quilt top!  

I'll be adding 2" borders in the same Grunge Sky background fabric later today.  For the moment, I'm just reveling in my smooth curves and the fact that this top came out so flat and so square.  

[Note to self: Machine piecing a clam shell quilt combines Y-seams with curved seams.  Definitely doable, but it was fiddly and tedious and it took me a week to piece this little baby quilt.  Next time you need a QUICK baby quilt, stick to straight seamed patterns!]

In addition to adding narrow borders to this top, there's one more step before I'm ready to quilt it.  I want to add one or more Monarch butterflies (sentimental connection for this baby's mom and grandmother).  When I was first hunting for Monarch butterfly fabric nearly two years ago, when I started this project, I didn't see any fabric prints with Monarch butterflies that had the right aesthetic for what I had in mind.  So I found this embroidery design at Urban Threads here:

This is a large design, and if I end up using it on this quilt I will probably just embroider one 7" butterfly design in the center circle of the quilt.  I played around with the design in my Bernina Designer Plus v8 embroidery software, with an imported image of my Grunge Sky background fabric so I could fine-tune the thread colors to get the look I'm envisioning.  I want this to be instantly recognizable as a Monarch.

I have the option of deleting that scroll background entirely in my embroidery software if I don't like it.  Or, if I do use the scroll background with the butterfly design, I can also copy the scroll background and use it as a background for a quilt label or a monogram.

HOWEVER...  Another option for my butterflies has presented itself this morning!  In my Bernina users' forum on, one of the members had posted a photo of a bag project she'd recently completed.  One of the fabrics used for that bag was a butterfly print that caught my eye because I recognized a couple of Monarchs in the print AND the color palette and style of the print looked like a good match for the Moda Painted Garden layer cake prints I used in my clam shell quilt.  The maker of that bag got back to me today with the selvage information and I was able to find a yard of it for sale on eBay for $3.50.  

See what I mean?  I have to wait and at least see this fabric in person before I go ahead with machine embroidery.  I'm not sure of the scale but I think these are smaller, so I'd be appliquéing several of them onto the quilt top, probably by machine, either with a turned edge or else fused edges with a machine blanket stitch for a more "handmade" appearance.

There are pros and cons to each method.  That giant butterfly embroidery might look really cool in the center of the quilt, but I might have issues with puckering from the dense embroidery on lightweight quilting cotton fabric if I don't stabilize it adequately, hence the need for sewing out one or more test embroideries before embroidering the actual quilt top.   I may need one or more test sewouts to finalize my thread colors in real life, too, and it's not as easy to predict how the colors work together with a design like this that extensively blends several shades of orange and yellow.  The experimenting I did in my software was a good starting point, but I want to be 100% sure with a test stitch before committing to embroidering the quilt top.  It could take several tries before I have the stabilizers and thread colors just right...  And did I mention that this design has an estimated stitch time of 58 minutes, with nearly 45,000 in the design?  I could spend an entire day, or several days, just getting ready to sew this design on my quilt top before I actually stitch it out for real.  If I get too much puckering, I can go back to my software and experiment with reducing the stitch density, but I want to be sure I have enough thread coverage that the teal blue background fabric doesn't show through the embroidered design.

Then there's the question of quilting.  I had two different allover pantograph designs in mind for this quilt.  The first one is Daisies Galore from Timeless Quilting:

And the second option is Passion Vine, also from Timeless Quilting:

Now, if I've got a beautiful 7" butterfly embroidered in the center of my quilt top, I am not going to want to quilt a pantograph design right over top of the embroidery.  I think that would look bad as well as risking technical difficulties like thread breaks, skipped stitches, or even a broken needle during quilting.  So, if I embroider a giant butterfly in the middle of the quilt top, I'm going to want to finagle the pantograph in some way so that I can quilt that row AROUND my butterfly rather than THROUGH my butterfly.  

IF I had IntelliQuilter computer robotics installed on my long arm machine, I could program a No Sew Zone around my embroidered butterfly and tell the computer to quilt the edge-to-edge design all around the embroidery, without stitching over it.  But I don't have that option for now, so I'd have to be tracing the pantograph pattern from the back of my machine while peeking over at the actual quilt top to see when I'm getting close to the embroidery.  This is a dicey proposition, much like texting and driving, but I think that's what I'm going to do if I go with the embroidered design.

Whereas, if I cut out a handful of butterflies and appliqué them to my quilt top here and there, I would feel much more comfortable quilting the pantograph across the entire surface of the quilt without regard to where the appliqués are located.  

And then there's a tempting but unlikely-to-be-chosen third idea that I came across on Instagram recently.  Check out the pretty feather variations that Andrea Munro of Practical Dazzle has free motion quilted on her clam shell quilt:

That would be so much FUN, and custom quilting my clam shell quilt would make it easier to keep the quilting off any embroidery and/or appliqué.  The downside to this -- MAJOR downside -- is that it would take so much longer than an edge to edge pantograph design AND it would up the ante for the second baby quilt for the toddler's soon-to-be-born baby brother.  Remember that I want to have BOTH of these quilts finished and shipped out by next month, and the baby brother's quilt isn't even started yet.  I don't want to go overboard with the girl's quilt and then not be able to do something comparable for the baby boy.  But I just had to show you Andrea's clam shell quilt because I love it so much!

Meanwhile, as I wait for the butterfly fabric to come in the mail, I've got this veteran's hospice outreach top ready to load on my long arm frame.  It was pieced by another member of The Charlotte Quilters Guild.

I know that many quilters would pick a quilting design with stars for a top like this, but that's too predictable and matchy-matchy for my taste.  Instead, I've chosen this Flirty Bubbles pantograph because it reminds me of streamers and confetti at a military parade:

Like this photo of the Operation Welcome Home ticker tape parade, held in honor of veterans returning from Operation Desert Storm on June 10, 1991:

Well, folks, my Saturday is slipping away from me, so that's all you get for today!  I'm linking up with some of my favorite linky parties:


·       UFO Busting at Tish in Wonderland


·       Frédérique at Quilting Patchwork Appliqué

·       Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework

·       Slow Stitching Sunday at Kathy's Quilts


·       Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts  

        ·       Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt

If you're a machine quilter, either domestic sit-down or a long arm on a frame, be sure to link up with us here on Tuesday for Long Arm Learning!  


Plumdelice said...

That top has turned out great, brilliant piecing for it to be so smooth, flat and square.

I find looking at your pantographs gives me ideas for free motion. I've just ordered a Bernina Q16; I can't stand for too long so don't think I could manage a frame and I don't have space in any case.

I have some clamshells leftover from a recent project and I love Andrea's clamshell quilt, so I may try something like this on a small scale, say for pillows.

I have tried to respond to your email, but my reply bounced back as blocked.

Happy quilting.

piecefulwendy said...

Wow, look at that beautiful top. So glad it came out flat and square; that's always worthy of a little dance, right?! Had to giggle at your "note to self" because I can relate. If you have to hurry, keep it simple! Will be fun to see what you decide to do with the butterfly options.

chrisknits said...

The top is adorable!!! And that custom quilting would be divine, but I understand the need to get it done quickly. Which is why I need to get on the ball and start quilting my Drops Of Jupiter! I need it done by Friday! Good thing I just finished the baby sweater knitting tonight.

Karin said...

I think the appliqué method will be the most time efficient. Not that I ever done it, but I think a densely stitched embroidery might give you issues with puckering.

SJSM said...

That baby clamshell quilt is adorable. Great stitching when putting it together. I have a question about the embroidery. Doesn’t the Bernina software allow you to resize? With the software I was under the impression there was no limit to the resizing and it would change the density automatically in the resizing. You could further tweak the density of the design as you settle on the size. Another thought was make the design small just to select thread colors to test in a stitch out. Once you have the colors right enlarge the design for the final test before the real deal. I may not be considering an issue here so please enlighten me if there are issues with resizing I do know non Bernina designs say only 10% but I thought the software you could do anything.

Jenny K. Lyon said...

Okay, now you're just showing off with that flat and square clamshell! It IS a baby quilt, I'd go ETE. Soooo pretty!

Kate said...

Gorgeous baby quilt! Good luck sorting out the butterfly and quilting options. I'm not sure you can go wrong with any of your choices. But if time is a factor, the simpler option the less stressful and the more likely to meet your time deadlines. Good luck!

The Colorful Fabriholic said...

Very nice baby quilt. Your challenging curves look really good. What if you stitch out just the butterfly embroidery on stabilizer (no scroll), cut it out, and applique that onto the already quilted quilt? Your panto quilting would be under the butterfly and wouldn't interfere with it at all.

Teresa in Music City said...

Your baby quilt is adorable!!! Way to hang in there with the piecing. Daisies Galore is my favorite panto and would be so sweet on this! An easy way to avoid the butterfly with the panto is to use painter’s tape on your panto to mark off the area. Just move your machine head to each place you would stop and start and put the tape there on the panto. Easy peasy! I DO love those feathers though!

The Joyful Quilter said...

Spectacular job on the Clam Shells, Rebecca! Just so you know, quilting over embroidery designs isn't such a big deal. The advice I got was to add a new needle and go slow!! Keeping those two things in mind, the quilting turned out great.

Anne-Marie said...

Your quilt turned out so nice and flat! I've quilted over embroidery before with no issue, but it wasn't as dense as what your design seems to be. I have also quilted the Daisies Galore panto by hand. It's a nice, easy one. I like the design you've selected for the red, white, and blue quilt. I had the same mental image of it. I had to laugh because I used the flag print fabric in your quilt in a quilt of my own like 20 years ago and just gave away my remnants of it just last month.

Kathleen said...

That is one flat quilt - congrats. Well, I am thinking you don’t need to be fiddly on the quilting since you fiddled with the quilt. Now, the question is how best to accomplish that with a pantograph, but maybe you can come up with a freehand way to do this from the front and accomplish what you need. I have some other pics of quilting like this from a HQ instructor I will send you - might spur some ideas. said...

Those clam shells are beautiful! You could always embroider the butterfly on organza and then cut it out and applique it to the center of your quilt after you quilted it. It won't pucker that way. If you end up using the fabric to applique, consider using a lightweight two sided adhesive to the background and applying it with a small satin stitch zig zag. You will need some tear away; but, that works too! This was how I appliquéd the tiny butterflies in my "The Secret Place" quilt. Whatever you decide, it will be great!

Jane said...

Hi Cheeky,
I would be very worried to do an embroidery on regular quilting fabric and expect no puckering. Good luck if you do go this way.
To avoid a section of the quilt when doing E2E you can mark off the area on the film over your panto pattern. I think there is a tutorial for this on Quilt Fabrication blog, or it may be From My Carolina Home blog.
Love your enthusiasm, Jane