Hi! Remember me? I blog here. It’s almost halfway through June and for those of you out there with kids, this is a CRAZY month for school! I have a preschooler who’s about to graduate to Kindergarten and even the preschool is hoppin’ with stuff to do. Every once in a while I’ll hear Bronwen singing a song to herself, under her breath, and when I ask what she’s singing, she says “mommy, it’s for school!” Not to mention all the stuff on the calendar that means alotting time on this day or that day for family BBQs and graduation day.
So I’ve been busy with that and also finishing the Dr. Who quilt. My friend Amanda has been waiting patiently for it and I’m in the home stretch to hand it over. It was one of the most advanced projects I’ve ever taken on–everything was paper foundation pieced, some of the sub-units had 50 pieces!! It was quite the exercise in patience. But at least I got all 20 blocks done and have completed the assembly.
I love this quilt as you go method. I can more easily quilt each block in my machine and then assemble the top with little sashing strips. I sewed the front and backs with my walking foot and then sewed the front together by hand. I had a classic tv marathon while doing this–it was definitely Columbo time after being relegated to my sewing room for a month.
So I rolled up each row like cords of wood and took my show on the road…to the family room, anyway. Once I got each block sewn together and then each row, it was time for a border treatment that I’ve been dying to try! And I must say, for a first time effort, I think it came out pretty badass. I made a big border with two narrow strips of the same navy fabric that predominates the quilt and one wide white strip.
I took a tip from a Cindy Needham class and she said to ditch everything before quilting. I must say, I’ve not heard this bit of advice before, but I thought what the heck? It’s only a few long, straight seams down the border. So I did. Then she said to work your design from the big stuff to the small details. For me, that began with quilting the navy strips with these squares. The next step will be the feather structure.
A note about thread:
You know, I wondered for ages what everyone was talking about when they praised Aurifil thread. So I bought a spool of green 50 weight Aurifil thread from my quilt shop. It was expensive and they only carry a very select few colours. They carry lots of Sulky, YLR and Gutermann. I use those a lot–Sulky and YLR for the more novelty stuff or quilting, and Gutermann for piecing. So anyway I tried my green Aurifil in the bobbin and on top to piece something (I don’t remember what). And the jamming and breaking was absolutely crazy-making, as my mother in law would say. So I put the spool on my rack and would stare at it longingly. “Why won’t you sew? You’re such a pretty colour!”
So on a whim and taking a risk, I wanted green feathers on my border treatment for this quilt. I used lots of variegated polyester thread to quilt the blocks out and wanted the border to be just as awesome.
I wanted to take the opportunity to make a truly arresting border for this quilt as I haven’t really had much artistic license in making it because the patterns were all very specific. I was always of the belief that quilt borders were kinda like backs–just there to make the quilt larger. But not anymore!
I figured out what would make the Aurifil work in my machine, too, by the way. It works only if I use Gutermann in the bobbin and the Aurifil through the needle. Weird, I know. But at least I will get use out of this Gucci thread that I likely won’t buy again. Here’s the Aurifil feathers:
Along the navy strips I used an ivory Gutermann to do scribbling and cross hatching. The feathers were a blast! I used the same green thread to paint in the background. I found that it made the feathers stand out much more than if I’d left the background alone.
See? It really pops the feathers out, which I figure is important, as I took the trouble to quilt them. As a last bit of awesomeness I thought I needed some sparkle, since this was all quilted with cotton thread. So I wanted to use my 14 weight polyester thread and do some bobbin painting.
Check out that backbone on the feathers! I used that 14 weight variegated polyester in my bobbin and used a Sulky metallic thread in my needle. The trick to this technique is flipping your quilt upside down and delivering the heavy thread to the front! Now the spines of my feathers sparkle and I love them!
So here’s another word to the wise should you want to take on a border like this: make sure to stretch and walk around lots. I have serious body aches and sore hands from handing this quilt and all the thread painting. Honestly–it’s in my legs, hands, neck and arms. It’s a bummer. But the borders are almost done and this puppy will be ready for binding!
Have a good one and I’ll be back soon to update you on quilts and life in general.