January 4, 2015: Hand quilting batik fabric; Questions for the new year

Greetings!  I am back to hand quilting Spring Sonata.  I still had most of one border to outline quilt the vines before starting to fill in the background.  The background fabric on this quilt’s border is a batik fabric.  I don’t use batiks very much in my quilts because they seem harder to hand quilt than other fabrics.  The reason for this is the high thread count which makes it harder to push the needle in and out.  Sometimes changing needle size and or type helps, sometimes not.  The border on this quilt is probably the largest area of batik fabric I have had to quilt in any quilt I have made.  By the time I finished outlining the vines in the 4th border, I was ready to be done!  It often felt like I was trying to quilt through several layers of fabric.  Whereas I normally can easily get 9-10 and sometimes even 11 stitches per inch hand quilting regular cotton fabric, I couldn’t get more than 8 stitches per inch with this outlining.  However, now that I am quilting straight lines in relatively open spaces on the background, it is going more easily, I am back to getting 9-10 stitches per inch, and I am back to enjoying the process.  I believe the outlining was harder because the stitching is close to an appliqued seam and because most of this was curved quilting – definitely harder than straight line stitching.

Because of the difficulties doing the outlining stitching, I made a decision that I would stitch the background in straight lines so that I could enjoy the process.  I am quilting these at a 45 degree angle and I may or may not go back and quilt the other direction and make it a cross hatch – will see how I feel once I get one direction done!

Here is what this is looking like right now (click for enlargement and closeup):

1415 SS#1


I am using my hera marker to mark the lines – love that!

I had been thinking for a long time that I would quilt some leaves in the background so tried it at the tip of the first vine”

1415 replaceSS#2

You really have to look closely to see it to the right of the tip of the vine – I call it a “ghost leaf”!  I thought that if this looked good I would scatter these throughout the border, however, the leaf hardly shows up at all and I have decided it’s not worth the effort though I may put one in the same place on each border – or not!

Here’s a  closeup just to show you what I was trying to do:

1415 SS#3 ghost leaf closeup

I have to say the background quilting is going along pretty quickly so I may finish this well before the June deadline for the Vermont Quilt Festival.  That would be OK with me because the next one – Spirit of Japan – is ready to go.  I just ordered another batch of Gutermann silk thread for quilting it and here’s a shot of the threads with the quilt:

1415 SOJ basted+threads

Meanwhile, because I’ve had the week off work, I have also been able to get 8 more blocks for Joyful Noise cut out and ready to sew when I have time:

1415 JN blocks ready to go

And I have made some progress on Sweet Journeys.  Here’s the current block I’m sewing:

1415 SJ block 4

It is a variation of the “coxcombs and currants” block.  Here’s a picture of it in Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Applique ( a great reference book!):

1415 SJ block4inspiration

And here is my drawing for Block #5:

1415 SJ block5drafted

Here is the block as depicted in Barbara’s book:

1415 SJ block5inspiration


I feel like I am making good progress on my own projects after the hiatus I took to make all those place mats!

I’m going to close with some questions for the new year.  I discovered a new blog that I will enjoy reading regularly this coming year.  It was mentioned by Elizabeth Barton, the well known art quilter, on her excellent blog which she calls “Art and Quilts, Cogitations Thereon.”  The new blog is called “On Being” (onbeing.org)and is filled with wonderful pieces on all sorts of topics.  The recent one by Parker Palmer addressed questions, rather than resolutions for the new year.  The theme was “crossing the threshold” and was inspired by a poem.  Please check out this site, but, in case you don’t want to do that, here are some of the intriguing questions he suggests we ask ourselves:

What is my next challenge in daring to be human?

How can I open myself to the beauty of nature and human nature?

Who or what do I need to learn to love next? and next? and next?

What is the new creation that wants to be born in and through me?

Thought provoking questions!!!

Thank you for visiting.  Cherish each day!  Gladi



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