Friday, January 17, 2014

Binding The Red Quilt

The red Welsh quilt is quilted and the finishing of the edge is almost complete.  The traditional finish on the edges of British quilts was a folded edge.  One of the advantages is that it makes quilts essentially reversible.  I like the look of the finish and while I've heard the technique criticized as not being as durable, I think it is. 

This is the quilt laid out, ready to finish.  Notice that there is no double line around the outside of the quilting. 

 I mark lines for this quilt top (and many of my smaller quilts) at 1/4" and another at 1/2".  I've marked them in soap here so that they'll show up. 
After I've marked the lines on the front, I fold the fabric back over the quilted area and cut the batting back to 1/4" from the edge of the quilting.  I don't mark the batting, I just cut it carefully.

After cutting the batting, I fold the fabric back to where I can see the lines and cut along the outer line which was 1/2" from the last line of quilting.  This needs to be done carefully.  The picture above shows the cut edges.  You can cut with scissors or a rotary cutter but be careful.

The above picture shows the backing fabric pinned out of the way.

Now I turn the cut edge of the front fabric along the 1/4" line BUT I don't fold it over the batting because I find it very difficult to get a straight edge.  The batting may extend out a bit but don't be concerned with that.  I put a few pins in and I baste the folded edge to the batting.  It sounds a bit labor intense but it goes quickly with a little practice.  The picture below shows what it looks like after it has been folded and basted.

Now the back is folded in against itself (not over the batting) and the edge is stitched together.  I try to make sure that a very narrow edge of the front fabric show on the back.  I always stitch from the back of the quilt.  Any batting that sticks up is pushed down with the needle as I go.  On this quilt I used a wool batting so I've been careful not to leave strands of fiber sticking out anywhere which seems to contribute to bearding. When it comes to the corners, fold them carefully and use pins as needed.  I often take small stitches on top of another stitch to sort of lock the tension so I can keep the stitches snug.  The last tip is to keep the tension pulled up on the thread as you stitch the edge.  It shouldn't be tight but snug (if there is such a term for hand sewing tension) because by gently pulling up the edge as it is stitched helps the finished quilt to lay flat.
I'll post the quilt when it's fully finished and has been washed and laid out.  It'll be interesting to see how it turns out. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Marking Small Cable Motifs on Welsh Quilts

One of the patterns that is often used on Welsh quilt is a cable or chain.  Its generally used as a narrow border pattern but its also been used as a motif.  I've used it several times and it's a nice filler motif when you need one with a little 'curve' to it

The picture above shows the cable as a motif with rounded ends rather than being connected to another part of the quilt design. I'm showing it on paper so I can show the steps for marking it.   The broken lines are part of the marking process and aren't quilted.

To get started, you need to look at the space that will be filled with the motif. This diagram shows the space created when the larger parts of the quilt design come together.  There are lots of patterns that would work here but the cable as a motif is kind of unique, even for Welsh quilts. 
 The next step is to figure out how big the motif or curved cable will be so I usually mark the general shape right on the fabric of the quilt top (as shown with the sausage shape marked with the broken line in this next picture).  On the red sateen quilt, I've been using soap slivers to mark which stay long enough to quilt and can be marked again if needed.  Soap makes a great marking tool but be sure to use soap that IS NOT a moisturizing soap which will probably have oil in it.

So now its time to mark the cable itself.

I've marked a broken line down the center of the shape and I've decided I only have room for three sections on this cable so I've also drawn 'X's on the line where the cable lines will cross the center line to give me three sections.  Now the cable is drawn using the 'X's as the guide.  You can see in the next picture that the lines of the cable have crossed on the 'X' and the ends of the cable are rounded.
This is all there is to marking a really simple motif pattern.  They can be as long as needed or just a short one like this one but remember that it's not about drawing and quilting the pattern perfectly, each section will be a little different from the others but that's what makes them interesting in the finished quilts. Very useful little pattern.  Enjoy.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Catching Up

Back again.  I recently took some pictures of the yet unfinished red Welsh wall quilt.  It should've been finished ages ago but life has been pretty fragmented and I don't function well when distracted.

Anyway, here are a couple pictures.  The picture on top shows the outer border before quilting, the lower picture shows the quilting and other details of the patterns that make up the design.  As I've said before, the color difference is due to the way the cotton sateen is woven.  The light reflects differently off the sateen when it's turned 90 degrees.  The color variation isn't usually noticeable but will show up in pictures.  The top photo is the color of the sateen in normal lighting. 

The lower picture shows a variety of patterns in one of the corners of the quilt. The challenge of combining patterns into designs seems to be getting the right mix of contrast between patterns.  I try to get a mix of straight lines and curves such as spirals (snails).  I also try to mix smaller patterns with larger ones.  In the early days of figuring out Welsh quilts, I designed and quilted a pillow top which was visually boring.  Eventually I figured out that all the patterns were the same size and even the space between the lines of quilting were the same.  It was a good lesson for me.

A really easy way to add interest to a quilt design is to add small patterns to simply fill up space.  An example of this is the loops that sort of hang down between the church window pattern.  If you look closely at Welsh quilts, you'll see lots of examples of these little patterns and from what I understand, they served a double purpose... they added extra detail to the overall quilt design but also served to hold the wool batting (wadding) in place.

On the lower left of the bottom picture is a corner with a circle pattern.  The circle is repeated and an 'X' has been quilted across the center.  The double lines of the circle and the 'X' make the very simple circle more visually interesting.  A plain circle would've been boring.  It's also noticeable that the circles were marked free-hand rather than using a template.  I'm doing a lot of free-hand marking these days because I think it is more interesting which reflects a more modern attitude on my part but this attitude wasn't traditional.  Traditionally, the quality of the design was important but when Welsh quilters of the late 19th century quilted on popular floral cotton fabrics, the floral prints made it easy to get sloppy with the pattern marking and this period of quilting on floral prints has been blamed by some Welsh quilt historians for causing a decline in the standard of Welsh quilting pattern and design.  For me, I enjoy the softer lines I get with free-hand marking but it wasn't always that way.  I've had to learn to loosen up with my marking.

So, now to dig out the pink and green strippy from the cupboard and show you what Welsh quilting can look like when done in a hurry or in the dark.  It's interesting to say the least.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Technical Difficulties, New Job and the Handbook

It's a pet peeve of mine to read a blog post where the writer starts out explaining why they haven't posted but here I am, doing just that.  SORRY!

Shortly after my last post, my laptop did an update and now my picture files aren't accessible when I want to dip into them and use a picture on my blog.  I tend to let these sort of problems go too long because I'm not technically savy with computers and don't have a resident computer nerd.  Irritating but not the end of the world.  I just need time to learn how to fix it or whatever.  I'll try to get the pictures I need on the unfinished red Welsh quilt project.  Maybe it's a good thing that I was running a little slow getting it quilted.

Another distraction has been my going back to work part-time.  I'm now working a couple days a week at Gee Gee's, a quilt shop in Yelm and I really like it.  It isn't that I'm working so many hours, it's just that there's been a lot to learn above and beyond just cutting fabric and offering some quiltmaking advice.  It's my first time using a computerized register and while it's really a great system with a lot of common sense built into it, I'm still a bit slow because I don't want to make any mistakes.  I feel like the old Far Side cartoon of the kid in the classroom with his hand up, asking the teacher if he can leave because his brain is full. It's times like this when the perfectionist in  me creeps out into my life and tries to do life without mistakes which we all know is not going to happen.  Actually, I find my struggles to learn all the details about the computerized register kind of funny because I haven't worked on a register since 1973 and even then, the registers I had worked on all had gold decorative scrollwork on them... in other words, they very old and very basic.  They were the kind that when you pushed buttons, the numbers popped up in a window.  I think I missed a generation of technology.  Oh well.

Now to more important things.  Many people have commented that they'd like to have a copy of my Handbook and since I've discovered a few in a box over at the shed, I thought I'd let you all know.  You can contact me through the email on the blog information page and we'll work out the details.  I will sell it for $25 (post paid) to anyone here in the lower 48 States but I can't sell overseas due to the cost of processing but you can contact the Jen Jones Welsh Quilt Centre and order one from them which helps support the Centre.

When I wrote above that the books were in the shed, it occurred to me that it might make you think that I kept them in a leaky old building which isn't the case.  The 'Shed' is a building that my husband remodeled for a teaching studio and I did do some Welsh marking classes there but it wasn't to be.  Now I use it for getting away and fiddling with metal jewelry making and collage.  It's like going back to those long ago art classes in high school and picking up where I left off.  The little garden to the left is nice on summer evenings.  My 16 year old yellow cat, Yellow Max, still goes over and lays in the middle of the catnip plant... and nibbles a few leaves.  Maxine, our gray cat meets her friend, the black neighbor cat there also... no dogs allowed.

I'll get the Welsh quilt project back on track this week as soon as I figure out which pictures I still need.  Below is a picture of the project I started after deciding to stop teaching earlier this year.  I thought I'd just use the book to make 6" blocks when I had a few minutes but instead of it being a fill-in project, it turned into one of those projects where you just can't stop until it's done,  It's been a great way to use up fabric scraps but I still managed to buy fabric for it.  I really like the way the purple fabrics sash the blocks.
6" blocks from the book 100 MODERN QUILT BLOCKS by Tula Pink, published by D&C.  The first 15 blocks are all based on cross patterns, I repeated them until I got 49 so the throw will be 7x7squares.  I'll let my friend quilt it with her Statler  Stitcher, I'm not in the machine quilting mood.  Actually, I just don't want to take the time.  There are more important things to get back to like hand quilting the red Welsh sample.  Right?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Welsh Quilting Pattern and Design Handbook... A bit more info

I thought I'd provide a little information about The Welsh Quilting Pattern & Design Handbook that I put together in 1999 for my students. 

It isn't a fancy publication and the one in the picture is well worn.  There are 79 pages of drawings and notes about how different patterns were marked.

This photo show a page where I try to explain how I divide space up, mark the double lines and then divide and mark double line again.  In the Handbook, I used the term 'outlining' for the marking of the second but I think the word 'echo' might better explain how the second line 'echoes' the first.  One of the things you have to decide is which side of the first line you wish to mark the echoing line.  Mark them all the same... for instance, if you have marked the lines that divide the outer border on the outside when you start, mark all the lines the same on the other sides of the design.  But, if you make a mistake, the world won't come to a crashing end.

These pages are about marking motifs and tips for folding paper to make templates.
These pages show how I divide up border for filling with different patterns.  The left page shows the basic division of the border space and the right page shows the divided area of the border filled with repeating patterns and motifs.
The Handbook isn't like a book off the shelf at the quilt shop but it seems to get people started and when you've become good at looking closely to Welsh quilts, it'll help you see how the designs were divided up and the patterns were marked.  
May the Welsh quilts capture your imagination.

Monday, May 27, 2013

More Welsh Pattern Marking - Zig-Zag Borders

It's been raining here in Western Washington and it's too cold and dreary to do much of anything outside.  It's good weather to quilt so I've been working on my Welsh wall quilt and it's getting close to completion.

This is where the red quilt is at today.  I have two outer borders and one short border to finish and then I'll be ready to do the folded edge finish.  The finish size will be about 20" x 31".  My favorite part of the design is the zig-zag pattern in the short border.   I first saw it about 15 years ago stitched on a red and white Welsh quilt owned by Jen Jones and I've used it a couple times.  It's a great border pattern to mix with other Welsh patterns.  (There is a basic diagram for marking the zig-zag border in my Handbook on page 47).

To start, I divided the border into sections which is marked with the vertical soap lines.  There were only four because the border is so short. The next step was to mark horizontal lines along each edge of the border (ignore the diagonal lines for a moment).   I used a 1" ruler to mark the horizontal lines, the lines can be marked along the whole length like the lower line, without any breaks in the line or the line can be marked where it crosses the section lines as the line on top shows. 

Now it's time to start dividing the border sections into triangles.  The last photo (above) shows the first diagonal lines which is drawn and the photo below shows the second set of lines. The lines of the diagonal zig-zag  should be parallel.

The zig-zag is now complete and the lines are outlined on the outside of the zig-zag, not the inside.  The outline was done on the outside because I didn't want to lose any of the design space inside the zig-zag due to the small size of the quilt. The outlining could be done on the inside but make sure it's done the same way on all the borders of the quilt.
So now, it's time to fill-in the zig-zag.  The vertical lines that fill the zig-zag can free-handed or measured. The good news is that imperfections in marking or stitching don't show up when the design is finished.  I always wash and dry my quilts when finished and the texture of the quilting hides imperfections.
The nice thing about marking with soap and hand quilting is that you aren't stitching fast as with machine quilting.  If a soap mark isn't quite where it looks right, just use it as a guide and quilt where it looks right.
I'll show the marking for the little patterns altogether in a later post.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Rainy May Day

Back again... I doubt that anyone would ever get the idea that I really enjoy blogging but I do.  I struggle with simply walking downstairs to my sewing room and turning on the laptop.  There are so many distractions and I really struggle with keeping focused now that I have another person bumping around the house when I'm trying to concentrate.  God love him, he's a keeper of a husband but I've always struggled when distracted.  It's time to develop some new coping skills...

I'm not scheduling anymore classes in quilt shops and have just a couple to finish up my existing schedule.  I've actually pieced a quilt top that wasn't a class sample... what a new thing for me to do. 

Pieced from batiks with a flying geese ruler and free-form squares, very quick.  It'll be machine quilted so my non-quilter daughter with cats can enjoy it.
I'm working very short hours at Gee Gees Quilting in Yelm which is about ten miles from home which around here is really close.  I really enjoy keeping my hand in the bigger picture of quilting and being around quilters and as a former teacher of many quiltmaking techniques, I still get to help quilters with their questions. After all, teaching isn't something you can just turn off when it seems to be part of a person's very being.

I've been part of a Tuesday quilt group for years and the blue and white Celtic applique quilt below is a Califonia king, hand appliqued, hand quilted by my quilt group friend, Opal.  It's a stunning quilt.

Below is a picture of a Dear Jane quilt that was finished recently by another group member, Julie.  The quilt is amazing and the pictures really don't do it justice.  The whole quilt was hand pieced and hand quilted.  It's truly beautiful.

The red Welsh quilt sample that I've been working on has been on hold but I plan to do some more marking, quilting and pictures this evening.  If I don't get a new post up in a day or so, please bug me about it.  I could use a poke or a shove once in awhile.  So, please, don't give up on me... I'm hoping for good conditions to hang some of my old quilts out to get pictures of them.  For now, it's raining... normal for here in May.