A Pantograph and a Freehand

I like to provide options.  That is why I have a lot of pantograph options and have made samples of my freehand designs.  Sometimes it seems a bit overboard but when my customers are able to see what the quilting actually looks like it makes it easier for them to decide.

Quilt by Connie Hansen

Quilt by Connie Hansen

Connie dropped off a lap quilt.  It is for her son.  She wanted something simple.  I pulled out my pack of Sweet and Simple Pantograph designs by Meredith England.  Connie chose ‘Hearts’.

'Hearts' by Meredith England ~ Quilt Pattern by Clothworks

'Hearts' by Meredith England ~ Quilt Pattern by Clothworks

The dark blue thread sets off the quilt beautifully.

Full view of back ~ Not very exciting

Full view of back ~ Not very exciting

Sometimes the full view of backs is not very exciting.  Especially when the light is poor.  Mental note to self:  Do something about lighting!

Close-up of back

Close-up of back

Oh…now see, that is much better!

This next quilt I learned something very important.  When a quilt top is made properly it will lay really flat.  When it lays flat the top needs very little tightening which means the back doesn’t need to be extremely tight.  I have to say that sometimes I worry about quilts being pulled too tight on the machine!

Quilt by Linda Nichols

Quilt by Linda Nichols

Also, some of these blocks were pieced by hand by my friend Linda Nichols (click here for more about Linda).  We had a chuckle about thread.

I asked her what color thread she would like.  “Oh, white would be fine,” was her reply.  Then the admission, “I’ve been known to use matching thread in every block before!”

Here’s where I pause.  Often times people get stuck into several ruts of thinking on quilts.  Let me count them off:  1) stitch in the ditch is the simplest, 2) my thread shouldn’t stand out, 3) a large meander or loops is good enough.

Ah…phooey!

First of all stitch in the ditch is a pain.  Literally!  In the neck, back, shoulders, arms…it is time consuming and the result is not very nice, in my opinion.  Sometimes it is called for but most of the time it is not needed.

Second, why shouldn’t your thread stand out?  I use really nice thread.  I want people to see it as well as the quilt.  If all you use is threads that match exactly you (and anyone who sees the quilt) are missing out on so much beauty and the wonder thereof.

Third, meanders and loops, although nice at certain times can be really obnoxious too.  I’ve come across many quilts that had been quilted too densely with little loops.  It detracted from the quilt top, made it stiff and unwelcoming.

As a professional quilter I encourage people to challenge themselves!  If you have a frame and quilting machine of any variety you’ve spent at least $2,000 (if not a lot more) to quilt your quilts.  Why not push yourself and the machine to new heigths!  I guarantee that, even if it is hard at the time, you will find yourself a better quilter and more pleased with your work.

Experiment with threads.  Try a variegated thread!  Start with one in which the colors vary only slightly so it isn’t drastically over-powering.  When looking at a quilt decide on a thread that would match perfectly then go a shade lighter or darker.  Pick a color on the opposite side of the color wheel.  Then, use the same color in the bobbin.   So what if it doesn’t match the backing?  That’s the beauty of quilting.  It’s the artistic flare you’ve been looking for.

So, back to Linda’s quilt.  I got it on the frame and started quilting the flowers, leaves and swirls she chose.

Lindas quilt on the frame.

Lindas quilt on the frame.

When I realized that things were a little too tight together I started making the flowers, swirls and leaves a bit bigger.  (I’m not convinced this is the best photo but, what can you do!)  The change was subtle.  Once the quilt was unfurled it was nearly imperceptible.  Most likely only a judge would notice and that is because they would be looking for such things.

Close-up of the quilt top...once again bad lighting

Close-up of the quilt top...once again bad lighting

Such a sweet pattern!  I’ve done this on so many quilts (mostly baby quilts) and the effect is always lovely.

Close-up of the back

Close-up of the back

I’ll spare you the full view of the back.  It’s pretty plain from far away…especially with bad light!

Thank you again for stopping by!

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