Friday, November 30, 2012


Wow, November flew past!  This month's FMQ Challenge from SewCalGal was all about spirals.  Sara Vedeler shared an excellent tutorial about them and even gave us some paper practice sheets.  I practiced on those paper sheets quite a bit, but was never satisfied with how my spirals came out.  This pattern looks simple, but I had a heck of a time trying to get my spirals to cross in the right spot, keep the lines within them evenly spaced, and get them more than somewhat round,  Mine kept coming out squished, and you'd think I never traced a line before in my life.  So, I kept putting off doing spirals at my sewing machine on actual fabric.

Add to that, a side trip to South Carolina where my whole family (sisters, brother, cousin, and their children, grandchildren and significant others) except my step-mother (who was there via Skype) was gathered.  We had 25 for Thanksgiving Dinner!  With 22 of us staying at the house, it was wall-to-wall air mattresses.  We had a blast!

Wall-to-wall air mattresses!
I have to blame it all on my niece, Amy, who had volunteered to make two t-shirt quilts and then floundered just a bit.  She happened to post on Facebook that it would be nice if Aunt Kathy were there to show her how to do it, and voila!  Road trip was planned!

Amy has done a wonderful job of piecing the quilts.  And we managed to get a few hours to sit down and play with some stitch-in-the-ditch and free-motion quilting.  My sister-in-law, Nancy, sat in on the discussion too.  I am honored that Amy thought I knew enough to help her out.  It is so cool to be able to pass on this love of quilting!  I did leave her with a quilting mantra... one that I would do well to remember too!

There is NO WRONG WAY to quilt a quilt!  No one will ever know all of the ideas you dismissed in favor of something easier.  No one will ever know that that quilting line there was supposed to be straight instead of squiggly.  No one will ever know...

I got back home to western New York with only a week to get my FMQ challenge piece done.  Yikes, our big holiday bazaar at church is this Saturday!  I had "homework" that I needed to get done before my challenge - .

First, I drew a grid.  There was no way I was going to accomplish this without it!!

So, now it's Friday night, November 30th, and I've finally managed to get one and a half pieces done. My first spirals are squished in places, and rather mis-shapened.  This is not a pattern that you can pick up overnight. 

My first go round, pun intended ;-)
I saw quite a bit of improvement on my second piece - my spirals were looking better, but my thread kept breaking.  It's getting late, and I was getting frustrated, so I decided to call it a night and post my pictures.

My second try - the spirals are getting more round and evenly spaced!
The small spirals on my second piece. 

More practice is definitely called for!  But I like the pattern, and I thank SewCalGal for sharing, and for the wonderfully detailed tutorial from Sara!

I need to figure out why my thread keeps breaking.  I don't think it's the tension.  The top thread shreds so that I end up with just a teeny thin part of it threaded through the needle with the rest of it balling up above the needle. It does this with several different types of thread, and several different types and sizes of needles.  Currently, a size 16 needle seems to work the best.  If anyone has any thoughts about what I can try to rectify the problem, I'll be happy to listen!

Until next time, remember the quilting mantra...

There is NO WRONG WAY to quilt a quilt!

Kathy R.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Not Your Normal Feathers and Flowers

When I saw the alternate challenge for October in the Free Motion Quilting Challenge, with guest teacher, Diane Loomis I thought, "That looks cool, I always wondered how to do that."  Diane shared her method of trapunto quilting.  The pattern was a heart surrounded by feathers.  Now, I love the quilted feathers.  Some of the work that's been done on the FMQ Challenge is just phenomenal, and I certainly need more practice.  But I'm getting a little bit tired of them and I've been wanting to do something different.

A very good friend of mine "poo-poos" quilting - he has other redeeming qualities.  He just doesn't see the artistic beauty and workmanship in the patterns and colors of quilts.  He also happens to be a huge Iron Man fan - not just of the recent movies, but going back thirty years.  A few weeks ago he said "The only good quilt is one with Iron Man on it."  Never one to pass up a challenge like that (you should see the dust bunnies that I made for my nephew after he said he collected them.) I started thinking about how I could incorporate Iron Man into a quilt.

STEP 1 + STEP 2 = STEP 3
Then I had a "eureka!" moment.  The trapunto method would be the perfect way to show Iron Man's armor in a three-dimensional format.  I started by going to Google Images and entering "Iron Man."  From there I narrowed it down to black and white images and came up with a half dozen or so that I thought would work.  I chose one of the simplest ones to start with.  Thanks to SewCalGal and Don Linn's April challenge I knew how to mark my fabric.  I used Don's tulle transfer method.

So, without further adieu, here is my trapunto piece, the alternate October challenge...

...definitely not your normal feathers and flowers, but it's normal according to me!  :-)

STEP 4 Figure out how to add some color to it.  On my next practice piece I will probably machine applique the red and yellow bits and use thread/quilting to add in any black highlights.  I've also considered using paint, but I don't want the fabric to be stiff, and I want it to be washable/usable.  I am open to suggestions!