Quilt as Desired: Final Round

by teri on October 23, 2014

Identical blocks + different quilters = stitchy madness!

Throughout the past few days, we’ve been sharing more of the Quilt As Desired pieces created as part of a feature in our Sept-Oct 2014 issue.  And today, we’ve got more!

Background:  We created identical 15-inch paper-pieced wonky star blocks and asked some of our dearest friends (and a few staff members) to quilt a block however they wished. All we asked for were a few particulars on thread, batting, motifs, adult beverages consumed during quilting…you know, the usual 4-1-1.

Results were amazing! You can see many of the finished pieces in our September-October 2014 issue, currently on sale. Visit the links at the end of this post to see even more. Each block was quilted with different tools (standard sewing machine, varied longarms and by-hand). And each quilter used different threads, batting, layers of batting and thought processes. The results are blocks that are as unique as their quilters, which means we have a lot of learning to do from them! (Some of our quilters even braved the video camera to tell us about their approach, so it really is like a mini-class.)

Quilt as Desired Round 
Quilt as Desired Round 3
Quilt as Desired Round 2
Quilt as Desired

Sending these quilt blocks out into the quilt world, I knew that some amazing stuff would come back. What I was hoping is that at least one person would stitch by hand rather than machine. Hand stitching and hand quilting will always be part of our quilting world. The recent taking-the-quilting-world-by-storm interest in English paper piecing (hexies, etc) gives clear evidence to support this. There is something mindful and calming about having a threaded needle in hand.

So, imagine my delight in getting not one, but 3, very different hand stitched projects!

Kim Niedzwicki

First up in t he hand brigade is Kim Niedzwicki. Kim  has a blog at My G0-Go Life and maintains social media for Aurifil.

her tools

Machine: BERNINA 440 QE

Batting: Single layer of Pellon

Threads: Aurifil 50 wt. Mako for the machine quilting  and Aurifil variegated 12 wt. Mako for the hand quilting

Needles: 90/14 for the machine stitching and a Bohin Betweens for the hand stitching

Her strategy: “I was over the moon when Generation Q asked me to think inside the block…sewing for the challenge!  I am a thrillsewer and push myself to try new quilting techniques.  This block was the perfect opportunity for me to try hand quilting.   In an attempt to mesh the old and the new, I combined a hand-quilted background that was mostly freehand and very imperfect (imperfections can be beautiful) with the wonderful technology that we enjoy so much today in some whimsical free motion bubbles, swirls and lines.  The respect and admiration I have always had for hand quilters has deepened greatly.”

 

Michelle Freedman

Michelle Freedman, Advertising Manager for Generation Q.
Michelle designed our Color Carnival Row-A-Long and her personal blog, Design Camp PDX, can be found here.

her tools

Batting: Quilters Dream Fusion

Threads: Aurifil Mako and Pearl Cotton

Needles: Milliners pearl cotton and betweens for the Aurifil.

Tools: Thimble and Jill Lilly Poke-a-dot

her strategy: “The more I learn about quilting, the more I feel I have years of practice ahead of me. I have machine-quilted a dozen quilts on domestic machines, tied two by hand and have finished five on a large quilt frame/BERNINA 710 set-up. When Teri put out the call for staff to participate in the Quilt as Desired block challenge, I threw my name in the hat. Even though I am not as confident about quilting as I am with piecing, I decided that participating would be a fun and valuable experience.

“I started with the easy part: I had a package of Quilter’s Dream Fusion, which is a mid-loft, 100% cotton fusible batting. I pressed it to the backing fabric and then basted it to the block on my BERNINA 350, using the #21 basting stitch. My quilting plan was to do matchstitch quilting that followed several angles of the star points. I had never done this before and though it would be a fun technique to try. I also wanted to create a ghost-star in the opposite corner so I blocked out the space for that. I was very inspired by a quilt that I had seen in Alison Glass’s booth at quilt market in Pittsburgh. I drew my quilting plan on the quilt block using a green Frixon Pen and put it up on my design wall.
“As much as I loved this plan, it didn’t feel very ‘me’. I really wanted my quilting to be representative of what I could do now, not something that imitated a technique or style I liked or aspired to learn. I switched gears and made a new plan. This one centered on the idea that I could take this project with me on a trip I had planned for Memorial Day weekend, so it had to be hand-stitched. I ironed away my design lines and packed some light grey Aurifil Mako cotton thread, two colors of pearl cotton and my needle book for the road.
“We were headed to Astoria, Oregon, which is about a two-hour drive from Portland. That night after we got settled into our hotel, I took out my quilt. My husband was watching a basketball game, the girls were immersed on their phones and I threaded-up my favorite milliners’ needle with the red pearl cotton. I outlined the star in long Sashiko-style stitches and then I stitched the center star square the same way. Next up was the Aurifil and a short, sharp needle. I loaded long spontaneous stitches onto my needle to give my quilting an energetic hand-stitched look, much like traditional kantha blankets. I had done this kind of stitching on a quilt over the winter and really loved the texture it created. I continued this way alternating the Aurifil and the pearl cotton when it felt right. It was all very intuitive – The only plan was to keep stitching!
“I got about half-way done that night and was happy with my progress. I had fallen into a stitching rhythm and took it up again in the car as we headed out the next morning. As luck would have it, my thimble fell off my finger and rolled under my seat. I didn’t have a spare one, but I did have a sheet of Jililly Poke-A-Dots in my sewing kit! I plan to keep those in my kit from now on. I have always used a thimble for hand sewing and can’t imagine sewing without one!
“In all, the stitching took about three hours to finish. I may try my original plan on a small project sometime soon. Matchstick quilting is a technique I want to try and believe I will enjoy doing. I also thought it would be fun to freemotion stars all over the block, but I am not quite there yet. I do know there are many more hand-stitched quilts in my future. It is something I find relaxing, and I love the way it adds texture and a secondary pattern to the patchwork. I can’t do 10 stitches per inch, but I can say that this was fun and would be easy for a beginner to achieve.”

Melissa Thompson Maher

Last but certainly not least and one of my favorite blocks (please don’t tell Melissa!).
Melissa Thompson Maher, Editor-in-Chief, Generation Q Magazine
her tools

Batting: Warm and Natural cotton batting

Threads: Weeks Dye Works pearl cotton

Needles: Something with a point (and an eye big enough to thread the pearl)

Tools: water-soluble blue marking pen

her strategy: “Contrast was what I was after, so I used the blue marking pen to create swirls and round edges emanating from the star points. I stitched these in big-stitch quilting stitches. Next, I wanted to play with texture, so I added in French knots in an indexed pattern in certain areas. Done in a pale gray, the knots function as a stepped-up background, yet softer than the high-contrast big-stitch quilted areas.

“What I found as I was working is that I kind of hated my plan because the blue marks were interfering with my original vision of the design. As the work went on, I actually stitched more by “feel” than by sight, using my marked lines. And I figured I’d ruined this block for certain, but stitched on (frankly, because there was no time to try some other approach). But when I sprayed away the blue marks, I liked the design again. I wonder how many other stitchers have this experience.”

So,dear Q-bies,  ”Quilt as Desired” is, as we know, is the one phrase in patterns that completely freaks us out. But it shouldn’t, because personality and process bring so much to the table. We just have to trust it. We hope this small-quilt exercise will be a source of inspiration, and more importantly, let you see that being yourself in your quilting is way more important than imitating what the quilter next to you is doing. Have fun and PLAY!

Get a closer look

Our Quilt As Desired quilts will be on display in our booth at Fall Quilt Market, beginning Saturday, Oct. 25. Please come visit us in booth #1267. And if you’ve quilted one,  please stop by and take a selfie with your quilt!

Quilt. Sew. Live. Breathe.

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