Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Daily routine won't return to our household for another couple of months as we muddle through 'the husband's' recovery. So, I've been acting as nursemaid, chauffeur, secretary, CEO, cook, housekeeper, gardener, go-fer....get the picture?? Not complaining.....things could be so much worse.

This means my creative time has been limited but I should have new subjects to discuss soon. In the meantime, I wanted to revisit our discussion about hand vs. machine quilting.

Though I love hand quilting and find it a very appropriate and often a necessary means of quilting my embellished pieces....there are times when I machine quilt. I've never put in the practice hours required to be accomplished at this task and because I'm such a perfectionist, I limit myself to stitching with the feed dogs up...using a walking foot to achieve even stitches. Really....I don't drop my dogs for anyone!!

Moonlit Meadow 23" x 17"

This photo is poor, sorry. I've tried and tried.....shooting quality photos of my work is difficult w/o a lighting system because the camera doesn't know where to's distracted by the shiny beads and can't seem to focus on the whole piece. get the idea....some of you have probably seen it in person. It's always a favorite when I teach and one of these days I'll offer it for sale.

As you can see, the design component of the quilt is beadwork.....normally, I'd bead the quilt top (in this case it's pieced) which had been stabilized with batting. Then I'd add a backing and hand quilt it.

Machine quilting around all these beads may be possible for someone extremely skilled at free motion quilting but they run the risk of distorting the beadwork. Machine quilting draws up fabric far more than hand quilting does so when the fabric shrinks, how the beadwork lays on the surface is affected. For instance, lines of beads will become cockeyed.

In this case because I knew the design would be physically heavy, machine quilting is desired since it adds stiffness to the fabric. So after piecing the quilt top and basting batting to the wrong side, I machine quilted wavy lines...through JUST THESE TWO LAYERS. Tissue paper was used beneath the batting to help it slide along the machine's bed, it easily tears off after stitching is finished.

After that's complete.....I secure the quilted piece into a Qsnap frame as described in a previous post and bead the motifs. Next, backing is added as usual. I machine quilted in the ditch between the pieced center and border to hold the layers together. Because this piece isn't large, this minimum amount of quilting is adequate to keep the front and back together.

Of course it may not offer a sufficient amount of quilting through the three layers to satisfy a judge in competition.....but I don't compete anymore so this works just fine for me.

Here are some detail views....... I personally like how the texture of the machine quilting sets off the beadwork. Quilting the piece prior to beading also gave the fabric more body, allowing it to stand up to the heavy beading.

Students in workshops are always surprised to learn that beads can be added at various stages of the construction process. One must think through the steps ahead and determine when that's best for their project. I've made pieces where beading has been added in as many as 4 different phases.

Pine Tree At Dawn 32" x 42"

Although this piece has only a minimum amount of beading on it, it was hand quilted in the traditional manner, through all three layers. I chose that method simply because the pine boughs are 3-D and I couldn't face trying to do it by machine. This is my 2010 PTA Sunrise/Sunset Challenge quilt. Our group's entire challenge will be displaying at the AQS Knoxville, TN show in July. I hope you will get the chance to see it.


Pam said...

Keep The Husband healing. I know that it is hard filling all those shoes (makebe you need to do a shoe quilt) but as you said it could have been worse.
Keep up the good work.

Robbie said...

I just love 'Pine Tree at Dawn''s a wonderful piece!!!