Fixing the Middle and More Feathers

Thanks so much for the nice comments and positive response to my new blog!  To answer KC’s question–Yes, you can use the ironing board/steam method for handquilting.  After I steam the quilt sandwich, I just take it to the sewing machine  and machine baste it  in about an 8 inch grid.  I set my sewing machine on the slowest speed, and make big stitches–probably 3/4 of an inch, so its pretty easy to remove them as I go along.  I don’t use a hoop or a frame when I hand quilt, and this method keeps the layers very stable.  Most of the time I am hand quilting a larger quilt–like full or twin size.

So I thought I’d just share with you my thought process in changing something I didn’t like in a quilt.  That quilt with the concentric strips that I was quilting feathers on?  Well, my main reason for making that quilt was that I had seen a small picture of an antique quilt with concentric stripes that really intrigued me.  In the antique quilt I think the center square was probably just a four inch red block.  But I thought, why not put something more interesting in the center?  I didn’t want the center to be the focus, but I did think it would just make the quilt more interesting.  And of course I had grand ideas of making hundreds of these striped quilts, each with a different interesting center.   Ha!  Its a little monotonous making concentric stripes.  And also more and more difficult to keep squared up, as you will see in the first picture.  Anyway, I didn’t put much thought into what I chose for the center.  I like chickens, so I chose a chicken print.

When I showed it to my BFF, she said “I really like it except for the chicken center.”  Harumph.  I liked the chicken center just fine and that was all that mattered.  When I got it out almost a year later to start quilting it, I looked again, and thought the chicken center was just fine.  Then when I put the feathers around the center, and took some pictures I thought Ruh Roh.  That doesn’t look very good.  The feathers added some elegance to the concentric stripes, and that homey chicken picture didn’t fit anymore.

So I am going to replace it.  Thankfully, I didn’t quilt the chicken center.  So I will just carefully cut it out, and then applique a new center in its place.  I might use a little fusible around the edges if I think its necessary, but I don’t think I”ll have to do that.  I don’t like fusible that much.  Speaking of fusible, and this is totally off-topic, Melody Johnson is a quilter who has made a career out of making fantastic art quilts that are entirely fused, and she has a beautiful blog that I enjoy every day.  She is doing a ‘quilt along with Melody’ this month.  So far, I’ve just been watching, but I might jump in and fuse a few things.  Goodness knows, I’ve got more than my fair share of fusible web around this place.

Back to replacing my center.  I do this type of previewing quite often, as I am fond of large prints, and often try to place them in strategic places in my quilts.  I just fold the piece I am previewing to the approximate size I need it to be and place it on top of the quilt that I want to use it in.  Usually I do this on my design wall, but I was in a hurry this morning, so it is just placed on my unmade bed…

First I tried this understated oriental print.  Pretty.

My BFF liked this sunflower print because it was the most vibrant.

I am surprised at myself, but I kind of like this oriental print the best because it is understated, and the concentric stripes are still the ‘star’ of the quilt.

What do you all think?  You can tell me the truth.  As you can see from my interactions with my BFF, I still pretty much do what I want to do!

I got a new kind of thread to try today–trilobal polyester.  BFF has been using it (she is a professional long arm quilter) and she really likes the elegant sheen it adds to a quilt.  I thought it might work good on the New York Beauty quilt.  Most of that quilting I am doing in the ‘ditch’ so it doesn’t show much.  But in the arcs and wedges I will do a little quilting that shows.  On paper, I’ve drawn several possibilities for filling in the space.  One of the things I tried was filling in the space with feathers.  So I had to try out the new thread as soon as I got home.  I really like the way it looks, although these pictures don’t show the sheen of it too much.  Once you get the hang of these feathers, it is amazingly easy to fit them in almost anywhere!



So I’ll say so long for now.  There’s still a little time to take a few stitches  before going to bed!


2 thoughts on “Fixing the Middle and More Feathers

  1. This is so fun, to see how your quilts evolve. I like that everything is not set in concrete from the very beginning. As for the center of the one quilt, I’m liking the oriental prints best, and probably the first one – the last one seems to be “off” with the square design compared to the quilt, but hey – maybe that’s just what I’m seeing waaaaay over here. 😉

  2. Those feathers are very very nice! I love this concentric quilt, very intense and soothing at the same time. And still think the sunflower center is the best.

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