Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Vintage Tablecloth seen as a Wholecloth

Textiles of all kinds are seen as quilting potential.  And, as my seasoned readers know, I'm taken by the thrift, cheer and symmetry of '30's linens that I see as UFOs.  Taking center stage today is a tea cloth, embroidered in flowers, leaves and baskets brimming with all the above.  

What a great summer project!

Any quilt top or linen receives scrutiny when laid on the quilting table like this.  The light bar reveals not only color but patterns in the piecing and open spaces where quilting can go.  The fabrics dictate what type of quilting or pattern is asking to be sewn.  Fabric speaks.  I listen.

What I'm going to demonstrate today is the quilting of this lovely project, step-by-step.

The tablecloth is loaded with backing and batting, just like a quilt top.  This one was a bit squirrelly because it was made with tablecloth fabric (go figure) with a more open weave.  The embroidery designs weren't placed before stitching with perfect symmetry.  Hence, there lies the challenge to square it up and quilt it to look like it was symmetrical.  And I love this kind of challenge.  
Before loading a wholecloth project, I fold it horizontally and vertically to find dead center and mark it with a water-soluble pen made for fabric.  This is my guide for all quilting.  But like mentioned before, the designs were off a bit, so I had to measure in-between them and find a doable center.  Below you can see my mark.  On your mark, get set, go...
 I've chosen my quilting patterns and am ready to quilt.  With most projects, I use a combination of freehand and digitized methods.  It gives more options.  Mostly it's more fun.  Below, I've chosen the medallion design on my computer screen.  Medallions generally are stitched at the center of wholecloth quilts.  I've chosen this basket of flowers pattern purposely, which mirrors the baskets embroidered on each corner of the tablecloth.
The machine is stitching exactly what is on the screen exactly where I told it to stitch.
 Now that the center has been stitched, I want a circle to define the medallion, as well as serve as a spine for feathers I'll fill in freehanded.  However, a circle, as simple as it appears, is a challenge to quilt in one line.  But remember: I love challenges!  The challenge is that this particular circle is too large to be stitched within my throat depth, or what my machine can reach without turning the quilt.  No problem: design a half circle, place it exactly where you want it, the machine quilts it, advance the quilt, invert the half circle, again place it exactly where you want it, and the machine finishes quilting the circle.  Now I'm ready for feather placement...
 ...I've placed blue dots with my water-soluble pen above and below the quilted spine to corral those feathers.
 Below: the finished feather medallion around my basket of flowers.  Couldn't I find a digitized feather wreath?  Sure.  There are tons out there to purchase.  Remember what I said about the aspect of fun?  I love quilting feathers by hand.  It makes me feel I've touched the piece with my personal stamp.
 With the feather medallion done, I'm ready to move on to corner detailing.  I haven't planned this yet.  So I sit back and doodle on paper a bit.  Ah hah!  True to my inner self, I always try to balance each quilted piece.  In this project, my inner self reminded me since feathers are in the center, they need to repeat somewhere else.  You can see my hand-drawn spine design below.
The freehand quilted result.

 I want radiating rays from the center outward, so I quilt these.  Pictured is how blacklighting the area serves best to see where I'm going.  With each ray I'm adding 'sunshine and shadow': a technique used to give a wholecloth design depth.  It's more than echoing.  Here I'm using micro-stippling.  When finished, it lets the light dance on designs, making them pop.  An ergonomic tip:  proper posture is a must with micro-stippling, and at the end of the day I use a heating pad on my shoulders and back.  Before and after micro-stippling I stretch these muscles.  If this isn't done, a project like this will not get finished.
 The top half is done!
 Now to roll to the bottom half.  My happy bubble just burst.
 Here you can see the process of stitching rays as drawn and micro-stippling as you go.
The quilting of my project is complete. Now to audition for a proper hanging sleeve and label for this vintage quilt.  For the hanging sleeve, I used a strip of fabric from an embroidered vintage summer coverlet.  I stripped the rest of the coverlet into binding strips to finish this project as well as others.

The reveal will come in a future post!  No suspense intended: I'm in the final stage of binding and adding the label and hanging sleeve.
Know for now that it will be raffled in my booth at the Northwest Quilting Expo next month!  My husband doesn't want me to let it go - it's become one of his favorites! But there are dozens of vintage tablecloths ready for design implementation, hanging in my studio.

Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Harness your creativity! (And not just for quilting)...

Do you have vacation souvenirs? If you're like me, you do. And they're in closets, just like your quilt tops, awaiting fame. This post is to encourage you to bring all your creative skills (yes, you have them) to light. Get your shells, your vintage thread spools, your driftwood, your thimbles, your spoons and anything else you collect and fashion them into a wreath.
When we lived in California I started a grassroots dried floral business from home. I would wrap the florals into picks and simply stick them into a wreath made of moss or hay. Today I'm going to show you how to make a wreath of shells.

Start with a hay wreath. Purchase excelsior or moss in either natural color or green. Other supplies are a glue gun and plenty of glue sticks, greening pins, scissors, and of course, shells. Optional are fish-netting, floral wire and a small wire cutter.

Cover the table with paper and begin your project.

First, glue a greening pin into the BACK of the wreath for hanging purposes (see below). Then, with a moderate amount of glue, start gluing the moss or excelsior to the front side. You can see in the picture, below, that I've already started the process.
 I've used a full bag of moss on my 12" wreath, below. Warning: it's a messy process!
 The picture is a bit fuzzy, but I wanted to show you the fishnet I'm applying next, as shown below.
 I begin wrapping the fishnet around the wreath, securing with greening pins as I go. Surprisingly, a little of netting goes a long way.
 Flipping over to the backside, I'm showing how I've made sure the back remains flat so it can hang against the wall when my project is finished. Use your greening pins to tuck the fishnet over the moss, keeping it at bay.
 Continue to secure the fishnet...
 ...until all moss is contained and the wreath is uniformly covered.
 If you haven't done so, clean your shells of salt and sand. Allow them to dry before attaching to your  wreath.
 Audition the larger pieces for use as focal 'weights'. They will balance your wreath no matter what varieties of shells you put in-between them. You can see I've used large sand dollars, a large piece of driftwood and a good-sized star fish as my 'weights', and I'm starting to fill in with smaller shells. All I am using is glue, even though I suggested wire.  If I had a very big, heavy shell, I probably would have wired it. Glue seemed to work fine here. Gravity over time may loosen some pieces, but get the glue gun out and make some minor repairs.
 Voila! Your wreath is done. The best part is your memories aren't just in your mind or in a box in your closet. They're out on a table or hung in a special place, giving cheer and cause to remember...often.
I hope you exercise the creative skills I know you quilters have, and make a wreath of your memories soon!