My quilts

The Learn It, Make It Sampler Quilt

I spent a long time to make this sample quilt (blogged here, here and here) and just couldn’t let the fact that poor quilting ruined it. So… I fixed the quilting myself.

Since I opted for wool batting (Hoobs Heirloom Wool) for this wall quilt, when I got it back from the longarmer, the quilt was lofty, did not lay flat and the blocks/applique designs did not really “pop” because the background not densely quilted. Once I realized the issue. I started ripping, and refilling/filling the background.

The quilt looked much better now! All I need is to make a sleeve and hang it somewhere. It is measured 61" x 74" and is consisted of 21 blocks:

1.    Lone Star – strip pieced, with redwork hand embroidery in the background
2.   Needle-turned as You Go Applique block from Elly Sienkiewicz’ book Precuts and Plenty, Pattern #15, page 102
3.   Dresden Plate – hand appliqued to the background
4.   Rolling Star #1 (my own drafting as shown here)
5.   Rolling Star #2 (variation)
6.   Rolling Star #3 (different color)
7.   Flying Geese
8.   Mariner’s Compass – my own drafting; paper pieced
9.   Sunburst – my own drafting; hand pieced
10.   Log Cabin
11.   Feather Star – my own drafting
12.   Baltimore applique – based on Elly Sienkiewicz’ book Baltimore Beauties and Beyond Vol. 2 Pattern #4, page115; with my own twist on the corner flowers design. Done in Appliquick + glue method and hand stitched to the background fabric.
13.   Baltimore applique – based on Elly Sienkiewicz’ book Baltimore Beauties and Beyond Vol. 1 Pattern #21, page144. Done in water soluble freezer paper + glue method and machine stitched to the background fabric.
14.   School House
15.   Cross – English Paper Piecing
16.   Keep Calm and Sew On – Machine Applique (turned edge for the pin cushion, raw edge for the letters); my own design
17.   Swans – machine applique turned edge; my own design
18.   Yankee Pride/Saw Tooth Star Variation – my own drafting
19.   Swoon – my own drafting to an 8” block
20.   Star Variation – my own drafting
21.   Hexagons – hand stitched panel to fill in the space left…

There are tons of techniques involved in making this sample quilt. So it truly a learning quilt for me! It’s truly a memorable piece of work!

Bernina Q20 and the B770 Update

The year of 2017 has pass by more than half. This year has not been smooth for me. Followed by the D&C last year, I was diagnosed with Asherman’s Syndrome (while having vacation in China!), which led me into two hysteroscopy surgeries/examinations and three months of hormones treatment. 

Quilting time has been scanty but it’s definitely a therapy for me. So far I’ve managed to finish two big quilts (the sampler quilt and that Liberty cotton lawn quilt) that I started making in 2015/2016. Stay tuned for pictures!

Just to keep myself happy, in April I upgraded my Bernina 710 to 770qe + embroidery module, and I ordered a sit down longarm, the Bernina Q20! I signed up the free classes offered by my dealer. It’s been so much fun to explore the possibilities of machine embroidery, which I had never tried before.

I set up new sewing corner for my creative adventures, and hope to produce more and more quilts and crafts here.

The Q20 arrived in May. My machine was stubborn at the beginning that a synchronization error message kept popping up, followed by a restart of the machine. After several trips to the dealer’s place, and several rounds of checkups. I finally brought it home permanently in July! It runs quite smoothly so far, with only two error messages appeared so far maybe because I left the needle down when I turned the machine off or the needle threader was not at its proper position. I could definitely say that the Q20 is very sensitive… (which may be a bad thing) but when it is running properly I am so in love with my Q20 indeed. The stitch regulators, the LED lights, and big throat space, the hefty and solid table… ah! It’s heaven! It’s also so much easier maneuvering a large quilt on the Q20. No more fighting with the throat space!  I also ventured into the new world of rulerwork but still in the learning/practising stage and trying hard not to get the straight lines shifted or off track.

A feature that I am not satisfied with the Q20 is the lower thread indicator. It’s not helpful at all as you have to enter at the beginning the total length of thread in your bobbin, which is never accurate. Therefore the machine cannot really tell the exact length of thread left in the bobbin.

One thing that I wish to be installed on the Q20 is the thread cutter. A foot lower/upper control function like my B770 would also be lovely. With such an expensive price tag, the Q20 is lacking some of the bells and whistles that a high end machine should have.

While fighting with my Q20, I worked on a FMQ sample. It’s by far the biggest practise sample I’ve ever made. It’s big enough (19.5"x38") to use as a table runner, though the color of the fabric does not really match the style of my dining room.

Face fabric and backing is cotton sateen from Fabricland. Batting contains a layer of Hobbs Heirloom Wool and a layer of Quilters Dream Angel Request Cotton. The center feather motif was stitched with Superior Threads king Tut/Gutermann Embroidery Thread (both 40 weight), and the rest was stitched with WonderFil DecoBob (60 weight). Stitch definition and drape are both great. I seldom use the fancy stitches on my sewing machine. This time for fun I tried an "x" stitch for binding. It's not bad, eh?

A Big Disappointment

My quilt has been back from the longarmer a while ago... I simply didn't have time to express how disappointed I am (just finished a long stay in China, plus a small surgery, and then back to work overwhelmed with so many projects)! All I want to do now is to take my seam ripper and rip rip rip!

So, at the beginning, we agreed that she would do light custom quilting and would use simple patterns like cross hatching, circles, swirls, etc. To me, simple does not mean rushing over something. I expect workmanship, and a well-planned simple layout. But when I received my quilt, I wonder if she is even qualified to do custom quilts. Look how horrible her swirls are:

I felt like she was learning how to do swirls on my quilt!

For sure I am gonna rip her swirls and replace with my own swirls and feathers, like this, but on a larger scale:

And her stitch-in-the-ditch is just stitch-outside-the-ditch!

And she decided that for the money she charged me, she could not spend too much time on my quilt, and so much of the background is not quilted!

The puffy background drives me nuts!

And so to save her time, she ruined my hand-sewn sunburst blocked with a big swirl in the center! 

Really, I think I can do much better myself. So today I went to a Bernina dealer, and ordered a Q20.

Do What You Love, Love What You Do

Here is a mini quilt of my original design, and the latest FO.

Size: 16"x22.5"
Techniques used: piecing, raw edge machine appliqué, turned-edge machine appliqué, a little bit of hand appliqué, and a little bit of embroidery stitches. 
Batting: Quilters Dream wool and thin cotton (2 layers together)
Thread for quilting: WonderFil Invisafil

I really like making mini quilts! It's much easier to maneuver on a domestic sewing machine, and quick to make. I can't wait to make more!

An Orphan Block and a Finished Quilt Top

2017-08-04 Update: Guess what! I entered this orphan block to the 2017 National Juried Show of Canadian Quilter's Association and it got accepted! It was displayed at the Toronto International Centre in June. Unfortunately I was in China at that time and missed the show (my first ever show entry!!!). Ben went to the show and sent me pictures... I was quite embarrassed because mine is the smallest piece and least design/workmanship involved. People who were juried into the show did a fantastic job! Their quilts are stunning!

My productivity is not bad since my last post. My sampler quilt top was finished before Christmas, and I decided to send it to a longarm quilter to finish it. I contacted Michelle from Quilted Memories for some custom quilting, and yesterday I finally brought the quilt top (with wool batting from Quilters Dream) to her place. We opted for simple fillers so the focus will be on the blocks instead of the background. This will be my first quilt that's longer-quilted. I can't wait to see the result... in two weeks!

With the epic quilt top finished (it took me over a year, on and off), I had two orphan blocks (a Baltimore Rose and a Nosegay) and decided to make a mini quilt using one of them. 

I used WonderFil DecoBob (DB115, a linen colour) on top and AuriFil 50 weight cotton as bobbin thread. The top thread is slightly darker than the background fabric, making the quilting stitches quite standout. The finished "quilt" measures 16"x16". 

The is a turned-edge machine appliqué block. I used washed-away appliqué sheets, glue sticks, and the Tweezerman cuticle sticks to prep the edges. The wash-away sheets actually would stay in the appliqués after washing, but becomes softer. To reduce bulkiness, I cut open the background fabric and pullout as much paper as possible. 

The batting includes a layer of wool and a layer of thin cotton (both from Quilters Dream). It's thick and lofty at the beginning, but the dense quilting did a nice job of compressing the background and bringing a trapunto effect to the appliqués. 

Some in-progress photos of the block... 

The finished block. The zig-zag stitches using Sulky's invisible thread and a #60 sharp needle is very much invisible, indeed. The only thing that I don't like about a size 60 needle is that my machine cannot thread through the tiny hole...

Finally a sneak peak of my sampler quilt top:

I made another Baltimore Rose block using mostly traditional fabrics to blend in more with other blocks. 

(Not So) Recent FMQ Samples

These are placemat size (about 13" x 18") samples I made back in July and August. I love the freedom of no-marking free motion quilting. Just relax and doodling on fabric! My favorite thread for dense quilting so far is WonderFil InvisaFil, paired with Size 60 Microtex needles. My favorite batting combo so far is one layer of Hobbs Tuscany Silk + one layer of Quilters Dream Angel Request Cotton (very thin batting). Love the drape and the trapunto finish! 

Unfortunately, there is something wrong with my camera lens, so you see an off-colored strike through many of the pictures.