This first one is a birthday gift for my sister that turned into a longarm study quilt, because the quilting developed into a far more intricate design than I'd first intended and involves numerous longarming firsts for me.
I wanted to make Nicole a mini with a medallion inside a Delectable Mountains border, as she is big on mountains. I mean that literally and figuratively. She greatly enjoys hiking on them and climbing to peaks, and she loves their analogy when she's faced with personal challenges.
(I had fused the centerpiece on and played with a decorative stitch on my Viking Sapphire with a variegated gray King Tut thread to stitch it down, then trimmed the background center away from behind.)
And boy, is she working on a challenge right now, as she's getting ready for one of the hardest exams she's ever taken to obtain a certification she wants in her profession. Nevermind that she's having to cover at least two people's worth of full-time work at this time, as well as single-parenting teens!
There were a lot of firsts on this quilt: First doubled batting, first channeled arcs (the double lines), first 1/8" spacing, first mini meander and micro pebbles, first time forcing myself to move at a normal speed instead of a crawl (except for those arcs), first time doing a reduced-size binding - which ended up about 3/32" or 3.1 mm. This turned into a serious study piece!
I got a good workout with my Quilted Pineapple curved ruler set. I used the #8 on the arcs, and th3 #10 and #12 on the corner diamonds.
I'm looking forward to improving on that 1/8-inch spacing! I made myself leave in almost all my work with that, allowing picking-out of only the very worst most horrendous errors and those that I used the wrong points to line up on. You can see that sometimes I really struggled to catch that 1/8". While I do pretty well with the 1/4 line-ups, it's much harder to eyeball ruler placement for that smaller increment. The micro meander will get better pretty easily with more practice.
The binding was done in a very light ice gray with little white leaves printed on it. I cut it at 2 inches. Next time for a binding this small, I will cut it at 1.75 inches, as it turned out fat on the back. But hey, those miters all look fantastic! ;D
This is rather difficult for me to give away - I'm super detail-oriented, and can do far better than that at the domestic machine. But I also feel fondly about this, knowing years from now I'll be where I want to be on details like this at the longarm, and will get a big smile at these early trainings. :)
I made myself do all the feathers freehand, with the arcs for the inside white border all drawn in with a blue quilter's marker first. The outer design work was my own devising, I'm sure inspired by everything I've been drooling over the past few years, but that inner white border was channeled straight from Margaret Solomon Gunn. I really enjoy her books. [I need to do another study quilt using things from some of my other books by master quilters!]
The flowers popped into my head as I stared at the empty mountains, doubting my ability to pull off the smaller lots-of-leaves fill I'd intended to try. I realized I needed a larger-scale motif to play well in the overall scheme, and when I decided my first solution of 5 elongated leaves extending into the points would end up looking like a Marijuana leaf, I thought of the flowers. I just threw a piece of 1/4" tape across my little Kelly Cline notched ruler to give me a uniform point for all my flower centers (using seamlines to center it horizontally), and freehanded everything else from there with zero marking for any of the redwork.
This quilt is 23" square, with a scrap of fairly thin poly batting (don't know the brand) over Hobbs 80/20. It's also the first time I've put in hanging corners instead of a sleeve, and I'll be popping over to Home Depot to pick up some yardsticks and Command strips for this quilt and the minis Scott has requested for his office.
Quilting notes for future reference, and a tip:
I like to use several kinds of thread, depending on the effect I want on different parts of a quilt. This quilt was a little complex for thread passes, each one of which required a tension adjustment. I'm starting to get the feel for those without fourteen tons of scribbling on the side first!
- First pass was with red to SID at the base of the mountains and echo their angle outlines, so basic stability would go in first of all. This thread was Aurifil 50 wt, because that was the only cardinal red thread I had on hand. I had a ton of thread snaps to deal with on that little bit of quilting. I dreaded the fill work for the mountains. I used red SuperBob bobbin thread (So Fine pre-wound bobbins) in the bobbin case that I keep a spring in. I take off the cardboard disc that would sit against the spring.
- Second pass - salmon thread, again Aurifil 50 wt. Breaks were not quite so numerous, but still a problem. White Superbob. This thread was for SID around inner square and applique, and the echo fill for the square (next time I'll do something like McTavishing instead.)
- Third pass - White Madiera embroidery thread. Holler at me if you must, but it's the same weight and sheen as Glide 40wt thread, and I had it on hand, and I wasn't worried about it being weaker than longarm thread since this is a small wall quilt. MagnaGlide bobbin, in the case I keep dedicated for these (took the spring out). This pass did the basting around the outer edge and then all the primary quilting on the white areas, starting with the channeled arcs and pebbles, the corner diamonds, and all the feather work.
- Fourth pass - White MicroQuilter for the mini meanders inside the arcs. Boy, do I love that thread! Bobbin was a white SuperBob.
- Fifth pass - back to the red Aurifil with the red SuperBob to put in the sunflowers with their micropebble centers. I was seriously dreading all the breakage.
That order of work did a great job of stabilizing and filling in a way that worked well with the loft of the double batting. I didn't need to adjust the height of my ruler foot.
Longarm Tip for Cotton Thread:
You see, cotton thread doesn't have nearly the flexible give that poly threads have (this is why longarmers love threads like Glide so much), so it's really tough to find a good tension that keeps it making beautiful stitches without wobbles or ocassional up-loops, but if you pull the tension tight enough to get all of that stuff out of your stitches, there's more tension than its limited flexibility can handle, so it snaps pretty often. All of this is beside the fact that you have to clear the lint frequently, particularly from the bobbin area.
I found a solution, though! It's so very simple and absolutely free. When you're quilting with cotton thread on a longarm, just spritz the quilt top in your working area very lightly with plain old water! (Another quilter says you can alternately spritz the cone of thread.) It's as easy as that. You can use the tension that gets gorgeous stitches, and you magically have no thread snaps! I did all of the flower and micro-pebble work around the whole quilt in a single line of Aurifil 50wt thread. It was wonderful after expecting up to 20 breaks!
"Nicole's Mountains" is on my Q1 Finish-Along list.
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2018 Finish-A-Long Q1 Reports at Sandra's