Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Trapunto update, Baltimore update and a winter break

Comparing machine trapunto samples
Continuing on from last post's trapunto experiments...
I have made a second machine trapunto sample in preparation for quilting my Carolina Lily quilt. 
The first sample had only one layer of bamboo trapunto batting (on right in picture above) - just in the trapunto area. 
The second sample has two layers of the bamboo (on left in picture). 
And at the back is a piece I made in a class years ago - it has a thick wool/poly batting in the trapunto area. All three have the same wool/poly batting in the final sandwich. If you click on the picture to enlarge it might be easier to compare the finish. 

The class sample has the greatest definition but it is too stiff for my liking (though is fine for a wall hanging). I am very happy with the double layer bamboo sample (on the left) as it seems a good compromise - is still reasonably soft and cuddly, and has pretty good definition too. So...am planning on using that method for my quilt. 

Baltimore Album block 24 finished...and suprisingly I did  quite enjoy all those berries. It was almost entirely back-basted needle turn applique. 

I see so many interesting techniques to try on blogs and such great applique finishes (and get a bit green with envy), so decided to give the "Perfect Circles" a go for a few of the berries. Just to see if this might suit me ...and here are the six I made:
Only made six berries this way
I have used them before and think they are a very clever technique but that is as far as I got before skulking off to back-basting and needle turn - might not make such perfect circles my way but I just enjoy needleturn more. Fun trying different methods though.

Am just back from a lovely winter break to the Snowy Mountains of NSW - staying in a house rented with a mixed family group of eight adults - some oldies and some youngies. The non-skiing group (my group) headed off for walks with and without snow shoes. 
Charlotte's Pass - so beautiful up there

Snow shoe walking Charlotte's Pass

Thredbo walk - that's me on the left
Happy stitching till next time. 

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Carolina Lily top finished

Adding the borders has turned it quite suddenly into a large quilt! Hope you like it - I am very happy with how it has come together and a bit sad to have finished. The applique handwork on the border was relaxing and wonderful to watch it evolve - bit like a vine growing in the garden !

Now for the quilting plans.
I talked in an earlier post about adding hand trapunto wreaths in the blank squares.

Well -the plan to hand trapunto has sadly been ditched. I got the wool and needles, researched the wonderful work and generous tutorials done by Tim and Janet and had a practise stitching. But the arthritis in my hands did not cooperate. The tugging/gripping action soon became quite painful on a sample block - probably poor technique on my part too. So disappointing - but I have to be realistic - I'd never get through 15 blocks like that.

So ...after a lengthy period of sulking about that...I soldiered on with plans to give machine trapunto a go. 
I want to keep the quilt soft and pliable so am trying to avoid my past experience with machine trapunto where the quilts became rather stiff and boardlike. Clearly I'd have to do a sample block or two to experiment - nuisance, but might be major regrets if I don't!

Marking the wreath and quilt grid on a sample square block of background fabric
I quake at the thought of marking quilts - have had bad experiences with marks not coming out in the past. But I can't see how to easily avoid marking for this quilt. So the practise blocks will also be a good chance to try out some new Berol pens - just to make sure they wash out. 

Trapunto batting pinned under top fabric
I'm experimenting with using some left over soft bamboo batting for the trapunto - because it is so floppy and flexible - might make the trapunto less rigid...who knows ...just a theory. As you can see this is not a tutorial - just showing what I tried :)
The batting needs to be stitched to the wreath (only the wreath will have trapunto work). I used dissolving thread - so it will disappear when the final quilting is done.  I find this thread can be a pain to adjust the sewing machine tension correctly - to avoid the thread constantly breaking. So I just hand stitched this part - just inside the quilting line on the outside outline of the wreath and also on the inner outline - quick and easy.
Hand stitched dissolving thread inside quilt line
Then - the tricky bit - trimming the batting close to these stitches on the back.
Bamboo batting trimmed close to trapunto stitching
Then I made the usual quilt sandwich with the wool/poly batting that I generally use in my quilts.
Next I machine quilted the block. I decided to only quilt a 1" grid outside the wreath as it looked enough to me - lying flat nicely despite the trapunto. 
Machine quilted ready to wash
I put the block in with a normal cold washload of "whites", normal detergent etc. Here it is dry - and Yay! the pen washed out completely - such a relief. And the dissolving thread has gone too. 

I love the look and feel of it - soft  and flexible and as close as I can get to the hand-quilted look (don't start me on how much I wish I could hand quilt! The arthritis is such a pain.)
But I can see that the trapunto is a tad wrinkly - certainly not as defined as is commonly seen. So I will do another block with  more wadding in the wreath and report back soon. Sounds tedious but it really did not take long at all - and such a breeze to make a tiny quilt!