Monday, July 24, 2023

Halo, Modern Double Wedding Ring, and Baby Moose Quilts

Hey there, Quilter Peeps!  Behold, my Halo quilt top is finally nearing completion:

Center Blocks Sewn Together, Border Blocks In Progress

I hesitate to set personal sewing goals with actual deadlines, but doesn't it look like I could get this quilt top finished by the end of this week?  Now that I've said that out loud, my house will probably be carried off to Oz by a tornado.  Or my sewing machine will blow up.  I'm not even sure which of those scenarios would be more catastrophic -- that would depend on how backed up my Bernina dealer is for repairs, and whether or not there are any good quilt shops in Oz.

For those who haven’t seen this one before, Halo is a pattern by Jen Kingwell that is sold in the pattern booklet Jenny From One Block, available on Amazon here.  (This post contains affiliate links).  If you’re local here in Charlotte, North Carolina, the QuiltPatch shop in Matthews has been offering classes for this quilt (taught by the fabulous Teresa Raleigh), but if you’re already comfortable with curved piecing you will do just fine on your own with the pattern as I did.  The Halo acrylic template set is optional but really helpful for accurate cutting of these shapes, along with a 28 mm rotary cutter (the standard 45 mm rotary cutting blades don’t work well along curved edges).

It never ceases to amaze me how much smaller a quilt gets when the blocks are actually sewn together compared to how big it looks when the individual blocks are stuck on the design wall side by side.  All of those quarter inch seam allowances really add up.  Or rather, they really “subtract up” from the size of the quilt top.  So much work for such a relatively small lap quilt!  I think this is supposed to finish at 66” square.  Well, thank goodness I wasn’t trying to enlarge it to King size this time!

I always enjoy making blocks more than sewing them together, for whatever reason.  Maybe I’m just impatient by the time I’ve finished making enough blocks.  Still, these went together without too much trouble, just careful pinning where the seams need to match up.

Making Blocks is More Fun Than Sewing Them Together

So now all 36 Halo blocks have been sewn together into the main body of the quilt top and I'm just working on those rectangular pieced border blocks.  Which, by the way, is an interesting design choice from pattern designer Jen Kingwell -- the border blocks complete the half circles that would otherwise land on the outer edges of the quilt, deemphasizing and obscuring the block construction in favor of rings and squares that seem to float on a scrappy pieced background.  The borders also enlarge the quilt to a more useful size and create outer edges that can be easily bound without fretting about losing any triangle points or turning rings into flat tires.

That’s about all I have to say about Halo for now.  So let’s have a glimpse of the most recent client’s quilt fresh off my long arm frame:

Tara Faughnan’s Double Wedding Ring for Cheryl

Now, you only get a sneak peek at this one, because this quilt is still on a UPS truck headed back to my client Cheryl in Minnesota.  This is Tara Faughnan’s Double Wedding Ring pattern, and Cheryl’s version is a massive king size made up in Cherrywood hand dyed solid fabrics.

Glimpse of Cheryl's Double Wedding Ring Quilt

I just love the color palette Cheryl created for this one!  This quilt is truly magnificent in person.  I used Hobbs Tuscany Cotton/Wool batting for Cheryl’s DWR and quilted it with YLI 40 Tex cotton thread in variegated Pastels.  Pattern designer Tara Faughnan was new to me before Cheryl sent me this quilt, but I checked out her Instagram and her online shop and I really like her work.  

Sunday, July 9, 2023

It's Easier to Get Forgiveness Than Permission: Quilting The Godfather for Marguerite

The quilt I’m sharing today was made by my friend and fellow Charlotte Quilters’ Guild member Marguerite.  It’s a project she started during the Pandemic, experimenting with using Terial Magic in lieu of traditional tearaway or cutaway stabilizers, various decorative threads, programmed stitches on her Bernina sewing machine, etc.  When I saw this unquilted top hanging forlorn and forgotten in her studio, I asked if I could quilt it for her as payback for a HUGE favor she did for me in a time of need (that’s why I call this one The Godfather, because “Some day, I will ask of you a favor…”  ðŸ˜…)  Not only did Marguerite agree to let me quilt it, but she uttered the most dangerous words imaginable...

“Just Do Whatever You Want With It!”

Marguerite’s 60 x 60 Appliqué Quilt with Bee and Lady Bird E2E Quilting

I very rarely agree to select a quilting design without any input at all from the client.  My usual practice is to consult with clients about quilting designs, batting and thread options when they drop off their quilt top (or once they’ve shipped it to me), and then I make recommendations based not just on what I see but also on what drew the client to select that pattern and those fabrics, who the quilt is for, and how it will be used.  I can usually envision two dozen totally different quilting designs that would look great on every quilt top I see.  Listening to a client talk about her quilt is just as important as looking at her quilt if I want the client to be over-the-moon delighted once the quilt is finished.  But Marguerite insisted, "Just do whatever you want."

I Quilted Bugs All Over Marguerite’s Quilt, And She’s Still Friends With Me

I briefly considered custom quilting on this one: You know, this design for the sashing, that design for the corner squares, quilting some additional “ghost flowers” along the border vines and subdividing the center of the quilt with different fills in different sections.   But Marguerite does a fantastic job of her own custom quilting using rulers and free motion motifs on her hand guided sit-down long arm machine, and if she wanted it quilted that way she could have done that beautifully herself.  Moreover, in addition to saying "just do whatever you want," she'd also said "just do an edge-to-edge," so I settled on this Bee and Lady Bird design from Scottish designer Dastardly Line.  

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Aurifil 40/2 vs Forty3 Cotton Quilting Thread: Mary's My Happy Place, Ramona's Escher Connected + A Sneak Peek of Mary's Mid Century Mod Quilt

Good morning and welcome to the sultry, sweaty, swampy month of July!  Today I'm sharing two beautiful but very different quilts (and giving you a glimpse of a third gorgeous quilt) that were all quilted with "forty-weight" Aurifil cotton threads.  I'll be showing you the enormous difference between forty weight TWO-ply versus forty weight THREE-ply thread.  

When comparing two spools of thread that are labeled with the same weight but different ply, the 3-ply thread is a full 50% thicker than a 2-ply thread of the same exact weight.

There's a common misconception that if two cotton threads are both labeled "forty weight," they should be approximately the same thickness and should look and behave the same when stitched out.  In reality, that weight designation only refers to the weight and thickness of a single "ply" or strand of that thread, and the cotton threads we use for piecing and for quilting are typically either 2-ply (two strands twisted together) or 3-ply (three strands twisted together).  This explains why Aurifil's popular 50/2 cotton thread (the one on the orange spool) creates less bulky seams and performs better with smaller needles and sometimes different tension settings compared to 50 weight 3-ply threads such as Mettler, Gutermann, etc.  When comparing two spools of thread that are labeled with the same weight but different ply, the 3-ply thread is a full 50% thicker than a 2-ply thread of the same exact weight.  (This post contains affiliate links).

Aurifil 40/2 (Green Spool) Natural White Blends and Disappears Across Applique

In the photo above, I've quilted the Chantilly Lace E2E design across a client's appliqué sampler quilt using Aurifil's 40/2 cotton thread in Natural White.  This is their popular 2-ply forty weight thread that comes on a green spool and is widely available in quilt shops.  Although Aurifil 40/2 is a thicker, more pronounced thread than the Aurifil 50/2 that comes on orange spools (confusingly, bigger weight numbers indicate skinnier and finer individual strands or plies), 40/2 cotton is still what I consider a lightweight blender thread for long arm quilting.  Notice how the quilting stitches take on a greenish tint where this thread crosses green fabrics, but the thread seems to be a pale pink where it's stitched across the pink petal fabric.

Aurifil Forty3 Black Stands Out Dramatically, Even Against Busy Print Fabrics

In the photo above, I've quilted the Wishbone E2E design using Aurifil's Forty3 cotton thread in Black.  Aurifil has created this thread specifically for long arm quilters, it’s only available on giant yellow cones (not spools), and it’s not as widely available at quilt shops as their 50/2 (orange spool) and 40/2 (green spool) cotton threads.

I selected Aurifil Forty3 cotton thread for Ramona’s Escher Connected quilt because busy prints like these are notorious for rendering quilting designs all but invisible and we wanted a thread that would disappear against the black background fabric but show up more dramatically against the prints.