Saturday, October 29, 2022

Edge-to-Edge Quilting Over Machine Appliqué: Megan's Fiesta de Talavera + Debbie's Modern Rectangular Chevron Quilt

Good morning and happy Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday!  I've been working on this post in fits and snatches throughout the week.  😉  

So, the Barnful of Quilts show in Waxhaw that I told you about in my last post went off without a hitch a couple weeks ago.  It was a perfect early autumn Saturday, the air crisp without being cold, all the trees in peak foliage and beautiful sunshine filtering into the barn to illuminate the quilts on display.  Many thanks to host and organizer of the show, Valerie Fox of Fox Family Farms, and to her co-organizer (and my client) Megan Shein and their small army of volunteers who scrubbed the barn spotless, climbed ladders to hang quilts, and saw to the myriad details that made the event a smashing success!

Megan’s Glorious Fiesta de Talavera Quilt

One quilt that I especially enjoyed seeing at the show was this machine appliquéd quilt, Fiesta de Talavera made by my client Megan.  This was one of several quilts I’ve quilted for Megan that were exhibited in the show, but it's the only one I hadn't shared yet on my blog.  Doesn’t it look fantastic hanging from the barn rafters?  

Megan's 67 x 67 Fiesta de Talavera Quilt with Denali E2E Quilting

Fiesta de Talavera is all fusible raw edge appliqué, satin stitched, done completely "in the hoop" using machine embroidery, and Megan made this quilt in a class at a local shop that specializes in machine embroidery.  The Fiesta de Talavera pattern and digital machine embroidery designs are by J. Michelle Watts for Anna's Awesome Appliqué Designs, available here on Etsy (this post contains affiliate links).  I should mention, for those who haven't done any machine embroidery -- just because it's computerized doesn't mean it is instant!  This quilt required hours and hours of cutting and stitching over weeks and weeks to create all of these intricate blocks, and once all of the embroidery was finished the blocks still needed to be sewn together the same as any other quilt top.  I'll circle back to this quilt and give you more details about it later in this post, but first I want to show you another client's completely different style of machine appliquéd quilt that I also quilted with an allover, edge-to-edge design.  We tend to associate appliqué with traditional quilt styles, but it's a useful technique for modern quilts, too.

Debbie's Stunning Rectangle Chevron Quilt

This next quilt was made by my client Debbie, who told me it was a UFO (UnFinished Object) project that she'd begun in a workshop at one point and was glad to be finally finishing and crossing off her list.  I don't know the name of the workshop or who taught it, but the the techniques involved were traditional piecing and fusible raw edge appliqué (of the skinny, lighter valued rectangular shapes).  Whereas Megan's raw edge appliqué was satin stitched "in the hoop" with an embroidery machine, Debbie's raw edge appliqué was stitched on her regular sewing machine with a blanket stitch, pivoting and turning the project under the needle at every corner.  

Debbie's 54 x 59 Rectangle Chevron UFO Quilt with Starlight E2E Quilting

Isn't this gorgeous?  Debbie's quilt was hanging in my office for a few days before she got back from vacation and was able to pick it up, everyone who saw it was oohing and aaahing over it.

So, instead of talking about just one of these quilts at a time, I thought it would be fun to share these two quilts together, both machine appliqué, both edge-to-edge quilting designs, one in a traditional floral album appliqué style and the other very contemporary and geometric.  

Although you'd never know it by looking at her gorgeous finished quilt, Megan encountered some frustration with her Fiesta de Talavera -- her beautiful palette of solid fabrics were fraying on her like crazy and shrinking away from the satin stitches that were supposed to be encasing the raw edges.  Other students in the class were mostly using batik fabrics with a much tighter weave and they weren't experiencing this problem, but Megan was getting little whiskers around her appliqué shapes no matter what she tried, and they were driving her crazy!  You know how we quilters inspect and critique our own work under the brightest lights, wearing our strongest magnifying glasses...  Even after manually restitching around some of the shapes, she was disappointed with how this project turned out and wasn't sure it was worth quilting it at all.  I am so glad she let me quilt it with an allover design instead of wadding it up in a dark corner somewhere without finishing it!

Original Navy Thread Choice for Megan's Quilt was Too Dark on Appliqué Fabrics

Choosing Thread for Quilting Across Appliqué

The first consideration when I'm going to be quilting an allover design across appliqué is always the thread choice.  If I had been custom quilting this, stitching around every single petal of every flower etc., then that navy thread in the photo above might have been a good choice for quilting the background so the quilting stitches would be inconspicuous, keeping all the attention on the appliqué.  But since my quilting design was going to stitch right across the appliqué shapes with just one thread color for the whole quilt, I didn't like the way that deep, dark navy looked against the yellow and pink fabrics in the applique. It was just too dark, and I thought it would detract like dark scribbles.

Final Thread Pick: Fantastico Variegated in Batik Blue

Instead of navy, I suggested Fantastico variegated thread in Batik Blue from Superior Threads.  Fantastico is a shiny, trilobal polyester thread that is designed for high speed machine embroidery, the same kind of thread as Isacord or whatever thread Megan used to do the satin stitched appliqué in her embroidery machine.  With this thread, the delicate scrollwork quilting is mostly visible on the background fabric, and much less conspicuous on the lighter appliqué fabrics.

Denali E2E Stitched in Fantastico Variegated Thread, Color Batik Blue

The key here is that the thread is similar in value (lightness versus darkness) to the majority of the appliqué fabrics, so even if it's blue stitching across pink or yellow, it's a light blue with low contrast to the fabric rather than a dark blue with really high contrast.  We chose the quilting design Denali E2E by Anne Bright because the the swirly scroll design was so similar to the style of those gold frames in the appliqué designs.  I used Hobbs 80/20 Black batting since the majority of Megan's fabrics were so dark.  We didn't want to see white batting through the needle holes if the quilt was never washed, and black batting can also help prevent thinner dark fabrics from looking washed out in the finished quilt, if light batting is showing through and dulling the colors.  (By the way, if you're local to Charlotte and you're interested in trying Hobbs 80/20 Black batting on a quilt that you're quilting yourself, I don't think any of our local quilt shops carry it but I stock it in King and Queen size packages and I'll sell it to you even if you don't hire me for the quilting!)

But Wait a Minute -- Don't Appliqué Quilts "Deserve" Custom Quilting?

Okay, I know there are purists and "Quilt Police" out there who will tell you that every appliqué quilt "deserves" custom quilting.  Hand guided custom quilting can look amazing on an appliquéd quilt, especially when all of the appliqué is painstakingly quilted around "in the ditch" and the surrounding areas are densely quilted to make the appliqué shapes pop up in high relief.  We have all seen quilts like that in shows and in magazines.  Of course Fiesta de Talavera would have looked fantastic with custom quilting!  But the quilt belongs to Megan, not the other way around!

Custom quilting around appliqué is slow and tedious work that Megan would not have enjoyed doing herself.  Although she originally planned on having this project custom quilted professionally, she wasn't in love with it when the top was finished and didn't want to spend a small fortune on custom quilting for a quilt she ended up not loving.  And I totally get that!  You know what I think?  

Quilts don't deserve anything -- it's the quilt makers who bought all the fabric and did all of the work who deserve to finish their quilt however they see fit!  

I am so glad that Megan didn't just abandon this project when she decided it wasn't up to (her own) standards to justify the additional investment in custom quilting.   It's beautiful, it's finished, and now she's working on other projects that she's much more excited about.

Megan's Fiesta de Talavera After Quilting

Depending on how the light hits the quilt, it's not always obvious that I quilted over the appliqué at all. Even when you do notice the quilting lines swirling across the applique, it seems like they belong there, like it was part of the design all along.  Here's the photo I took of this quilt right after I finished quilting it, with bright overhead lighting to create shadows that really accentuate the texture of the quilting design:

Megan's 67 x 67 Fiesta de Talavera Quilt

I was surprised by how soft this quilt turned out, despite the fused appliqué that can sometimes make a quilt feel stiff.  I didn't get a Before Quilting picture of the whole quilt top this time, but here's a picture Megan sent me of a few of the blocks when she was still working on it.  Notice her Kaffe Fassett shot cotton Swatches project on the design wall in the background -- you can see how I quilted that one for her in this blog post).  

Fiesta In Progress, Before Quilting

And here is Fiesta de Talavera again, looking spectacular hanging from the rafters at the Barnful of Quilts show earlier this month:

Other Options for Traditional Appliqué Quilts

Megan's finished quilt turned out great and she loves it.  Win-win!  But I do have a sneaky trick up my sleeve for quilters who enjoy machine appliqué and want a more custom quilted look at an edge-to-edge price point!  Instead of doing all of the machine applique first and then bringing the top to me for quilting, you could bring me your plain background fabric and I could quilt it for you with an allover design, like a whole cloth quilt.  Then when you do your machine appliqué on top of the quilted fabric, match your bobbin thread to your backing fabric as it will show on the back of the quilt.  By doing the appliqué after the longarm quilting, my quilting design won't cross over any of your appliqué, and the satin stitching or blanket stitching you use for your appliqué will be doing double-duty, mimicking the look of hours and hours of stitch-in-the-ditch quilting around your appliqué!  It will give you the look of custom quilting at a fraction of the cost.

If you want to try this, I suggest experimenting on a small project first -- remember that you'll have a lot of bulk to cram into the throat space of your machine if your background fabric is already quilted and it's a giant bed quilt!

Back to Debbie's Modern Appliqué Quilt!

Quilting an allover design across appliqué might be less controversial when it's an abstract modern quilt like Debbie's.  The modern quilt movement is all about pushing the boundaries, breaking the "rules," and experimentation.  Debbie chose the Starlight E2E design by Karlee Porter and I love the way the diagonal quilting lines accentuate the subtle chevron effect of her diagonal piecing lines.

Debbie's 54 x 59 Rectangle Chevron Quilt with Starlight E2E Quilting

Debbie's batik fabrics in this quilt are so pretty, and I love how she used so many different decorative threads for the blanket stitching around her rectangular appliqué.  

Detail of Debbie's Appliqué

I had trouble getting the colors to show up right in these photos.  The colors are even prettier in person!

YLI 40 Tex Variegated Machine Quilting Cotton Thread in Paris Boutique

For whatever reason, I tend to prefer a heavier matte cotton thread over shiny embroidery thread for contemporary quilts, and Debbie agreed with me.  She chose one of my favorites, YLI Machine Quilting Cotton in Paris Boutique in variegated pinks and peaches for this quilt.  I used a lighter weight thread in color Peach Tart in the bobbin for better stitch quality, fewer tie offs throughout the quilt, and to minimize the stiffness that might have resulted from a fairly dense quilting design on top of the fusible web.  Here's the back view of Debbie's quilt:

Starlight E2E on Debbie's Quilt, Backing Side

Again, photo taken at night and the colors are a lot brighter and clearer in person, but isn't this stunning?  

Debbie's Quilt, Fresh Off the Frame

I used Quilter's Dream 80/20 batting for Debbie's quilt.  Here's what the project looked like before quilting, as Debbie was laying the blocks out in her design wall:

Debbie's Quilt Top In Progress

I am so lucky to work with so many amazing quilters who bring me such beautiful quilts!  Thank you, Megan and Debbie, for choosing me to quilt for you!

I have a HUGE backlog of client quilts that I haven't shared -- the dilemma is that the busier I am quilting, the more quilts get finished, and the less time I have to write blog posts about any of them!  Meanwhile, I did sneak another of my own quilts into my queue for quilting...

Rebecca's Christmas Gumdrop Quilt is Quilted!

Another Kitschy Christmas Quilt for Rebecca with Peppermint Palace E2E

Actually, I finished this tumbler throw quilt top back in January when the Christmas decorations had all been packed away and I'd lost all enthusiasm for anything Christmasy.  I used my AccuQuilt 6" Tumber die to cut out my fabric and sewing it together with the staggered layout was a snap, with no seams needing to be lined up.  AccuQuilt also makes 4" and 3" tumbler dies and those are better sizes if you're going for a vintage scrappy charm quilt vibe, but the 6" tumbler is better for showcasing larger scale prints (like Kaffe Fassett Collective or the Anna Maria Horner Love Always fat quarter collection that I have stashed away for another day.  Oh my gosh, I only just now had the idea of making a 6" tumbler quilt from AMH floral prints and now I'm obsessed with it!  Too many quilt ideas in my head, and too few years on this Earth to make even half of them!!).  

Since my novelty print fabrics feature treats like hot chocolate, peppermint candies, cake pops, and gingerbread men, I chose Anne Bright's Peppermint Palace quilting design and quilted it in 50 wt Masterpiece cotton thread in a sage green color called Michelangelo.  I also used this quilt to experiment with Quilter's Dream's thickest Supreme Loft cotton batting (even thicker than the Deluxe loft cotton batting I raved about in this post) and it will be interesting to see to what it looks and feels like after it's bound and washed.  I'm calling this one my Christmas Gumdrop quilt because, with the sweet treats theme of the fabrics and the quilting design, suddenly I am seeing gumdrops instead of tumblers!

I had originally put this quilt on my schedule for "Christmas in July" but then when July rolled around I kept bumping it back to make room for one more client's quilt and then another client's quilt, since I had no burning imperative to be Christmas quilting in the middle of a sweltering hot summer anyway...  You know how it goes!  But now that the temperatures are dropping and the holidays are creeping up on us again, I wanted to get this finished in time for curling up on the couch with cookies and Hallmark movies!  

Christmas Gumdrops is Quilted and Trimmed, Ready to Bind

I'm not showing you the whole thing right now because Number One, it's not that exciting, and Number Two, it's not a "finish" yet.  I got it quilted and trimmed, but I still need to embroider a label and get it bound.  That can be my "To Do" item for next week!  Speaking of appliqué quilts and custom quilting taking forever (we WERE talking about that earlier, remember?!), I am still hoping to get the custom quilting finished on my Jingle appliqué quilt before the end of the year, and that's on my calendar for the week of Thanksgiving.  Should we take bets on whether my family will end up eating cereal for Thanksgiving because mom was too busy working on her own quilt to cook anything? 

Sorry, Peppermint Patty!  Mom Didn't Finish Her Quilt In Time to Cook the Turkey!

Just kidding.  With my husband as my sous chef, (and Whole Foods holiday catering menu in my back pocket), I can pull off a decent Thanksgiving feast for the fam in about the same amount of time it would take to toast the bread, pop the corn and pass out the pretzels!  Mwahahaha!  My quilt will last so much longer than the leftovers anyway, am I right?!

I know, I know -- it's not even Halloween and I'm going on about Thanksgiving and Christmas already.  Alright, let's wrap up this neverending blog post and get on with our lives!  I'm linking up with all the usual suspects, listed on the left sidebar of my blog, and I'm getting back to work.  I have a giant box full of TWELVE amazing quilts that Nanette of Do It Right Quilter sent me all the way from Texas, needing to be checked in and design suggestions sent off to Nanette.  If you have been following Nanette's blog for any length of time, you know that her workmanship is superb -- it is such a treat for me to see these quilts in person that I've read about on her blog, and I am so honored that she sent them to me for quilting!  💕

PSST!!  I'd Love to Quilt for YOU!

By the way, if you or any of your quilty friends has a quilt top or two that needs quilting, I'd be delighted to quilt for you!  I am currently scheduling quilts for completion in February of 2023.  Click here to learn how easy it is to book a quilt with me!


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

pretty quilts - you do a great job - and the holidays already planned :)

Linda @ kokaquilts said...

Rebecca, this was such an interesting read today. I love how you explain all your reasons for what you & the quilt owner decided to do, and several points you highlight have resonated with me. First up, those solids fraying... I've had it happen too and maybe other commentators have solutions to this. And the applique/custom quilting vs E2E... entirely personal choice in MHO.
Two amazing quilts, the fabric & quilting combos really sparkle & shine.

Pamela Arbour said...

Loved your post, especially about the all over design on the applique quilt. I wouldn't have considered that before, but now you have it on my radar. I really like to do custom quilting but it is very time consuming and none of my quilts will be sold or entered into a show, so I am changing my mind about edge to edge quilting. Thanks for sharing.

Nancy @ Grace and Peace Quilting said...

Informative, educational and inspiring blog post, Rebecca! Three gorgeous quilts!!! Starlight and Denali are both beauties on your client quilts!!!

Sandy said...

Those appliqué quilts are amazing! Each so different from the other, and both looking gorgeous with your spectacular quilting and thread choices. The Gumdrop quilt looks so fun!

The Joyful Quilter said...

Lovely client quilts, Rebecca, and congrats on getting one of your own quilted, too!

Barb N said...

I got a nice cup of coffee and returned to my computer to read through your comments in this post. Thank you for helping me start the morning off with loads of creative ideas swirling in my brain :) Your choice of colors to go over the applique really worked! And your idea about whole cloth quilting for an applique quilt seems intriguing. But out of all that quilty goodness, I am particularly drawn to your Gumdrop quilt! I have those dies and had a tumbler quilting floating around in my head for some time. A Christmas version is perfect! Glad you are getting it done so you can use it this year. said...

Oh WOW! What a great finish to that applique project that was leaning toward abandonment! I love the the texture you created in the batik quilt. The quilting sets off the light/luminosity of the project so well. You are really rocking that quilting!

Frédérique - Quilting Patchwork Appliqué said...

I'm so happy that the show was a success, and thanks for sharing all these beauties! The two clients' quilts are gorgeous, what a beautiful appliqué work! I agree with your quilt choices, it's up to the quilters, and the result is very pretty. Bravo !
Thankyou for sharing and linking up ;)

LA Paylor said...

love both the quilts you worked on but especially the floral effect on the second one. I have an X quilt I am dithering over how to quilt. It's not in the stars to mail it to you, but doing it myself on the little machine isn't going to be fun.

Jennifer Fulton Inquiring Quilter said...

Fascinating read as always. Love hearing your thoughts on thread and quilting choices. The comparison between the two quilts was wonderful! Thanks for sharing on Wednesday Wait Loss.

Preeti said...

On one hand, I am jealous that you work with such exquisite beauties day after day. On the other hand, I do not want to be responsible for them :-o So, in essence, I am in complete awe of what you do, Rebecca. Kudos (and power) to you!!!

Andree G. Faubert said...

Hi Rebecca, thanks for sharing your quilted beauties with us. You did a great job and we all know that rules are made to be broken, as long as no one gets hurt :-) Good luck with your own quilt and Thanksgiving!

Gwyned Trefethen said...

I expect you need a nose to the quilt to see the frayed edges. First thing I noticed was the stunning, happy color choices. You are the master at thread selection and quilting. Your choices elevate each quilt you tackle. Your understanding of your client's wants and needs is so empathic and what makes you the go to long armer.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful quilting Rebecca! Thank you so much for our time together selecting quilting designs for my quilts! I know it took time from your quilting, and I appreciated it! Have a great week-end! The River Runs Red!

Linda said...

I really enjoyed your post. Both those quilts are stunning, please pass along my kudos to the makers. You are not only an intuitive quilter, you are a scientist when it comes to picking out thread - not just for color but also for texture! I still have YLI Great Barrier Reef on my wishlist because of the way it looks in another quilt you did recently. Love the gumdrop quilt and look forward to seeing Jingle finished. I can't wait to see Nanette's quilts! Thank you for sharing all this goodness with To Do Tuesday!

Leanne Parsons said...

I loved this post, with the two machine applique quilts is such different styles! Your quilting designs and thread choices for both were perfect. Your Christmas Gumdrop quilt is looking fabulous, too, and will be perfect for snuggling with some hot chocolate when the holidays arrive :)