Monday, 16 June 2014

Radiance challenge

I have recently read a post on Lisa Calle's blog about a challenge she set herself to learn how to quilt on her domestic sewing machine. This can be a problem for a long arm quilter. You see, once upon a time, we all did know how to quilt on our domestic sewing machines and some of us got quite good at it. Maybe we bought our long arm machines to set up in business or because the quilts we were quilting were getting larger and larger or maybe, because of a medical reason, it was just not feasible anymore to quilt on the domestic. Others just never did get on with the quilting on the domestic machine and it was either send it to get quilted by someone else or buy a long arm to get it done.
So, once we have a long arm, do we ever go back to do quilting on the domestic? I have, once, on a small wall hanging and could not believe how quickly I had "unlearned" how to do it. I hated every minute and decided to stick to the long arm in future.
Reading about Lisa's challenge got me thinking … I don't know that there are any "challenges" out there for long arm quilters, certainly not in the UK. I belong to an online group of long arm quilters, we are all fairly new to long arm quilting, some just absolute beginners. What we have in common, is that we all own Handiquilters, some have the Sweet Sixteen sit down version, but most have the Avante and one or two have the Fusion. Although we get some support from the trader, there is very little other support out there for us, so this group was set up so that we can offer each other advice and help when needed. Some of us have been getting to know each other very well and have become firm friends.
Anyhow, I just thought it might be a wonderful way to get everyone in our group involved in a group project, we can have some fun and join in Lisa's challenge, although for us, the challenge will be to quilt on our long arms, rather than on the domestic machines. I did check with Lisa first that she would be okay with this and she was quite pleased to have us on board.  Off course, the other motivation for this, is to get us all out of our comfort zones and for everyone to learn something new, so expanding the learning curve, which is after all what we are all about.
Our challenge is to produce a wholecloth  quilt, that is 18" square, in any style that we are happy with, using Robert Kaufman's Radiance fabric. This in itself will be a challenge for some, as it is a cotton/silk blend and most of us have only ever worked on cotton before. Every quilt will be made in a different colour, so some organising was involved with allocating the colours. These are some of the colours we are using:

"Radiance" fabrics by Robert Kaufman

There are now 26 of us in this challenge, I am hoping to get them shown at one of the shows in the UK, maybe raising the profile for long arm quilters locally.  We have no theme as such for the design, but as the fabric is so radiant and this is our first challenge (hoping many more will follow) we decided to make the theme "Radiance". We are still working on getting the perfect name for this group.

The design briefing is for a quilt design in any style that the quilter is comfortable with. This can be in a traditional style, modern "art" style to pictorial. My preferred style is traditional just edging on being modern and I will keep updating my blog with how my design is developing and how I will stitch it out. I have made a few sketches, shown them to family and friends and finally settled on this one:

Design in progress

I am still working on what to do for the background fill, hence a lot of doodling in those areas. Although it looks like a complicated design, it will be fairly straight forward stitching it out.

Step 1: Marking "ruler" lines onto quilt top

 The first step will be to mark all these lines out onto my quilt top. These lines will all be stitched by ruler. Rather than tracing onto my quilt top, to keep the lines accurate, I will redraw these lines with my rulers adding in the small red and blue registration marks. The blue registration marks will help me place my freehand designs in the correct position, as they will not be marked onto the quilt top. The red registration marks, are my guidance for the outside edge of the design, which is equidistant from the centre of the design.  Once my quilt top is loaded, the "ruler" lines will be the first lines that I will stitch.

Step 2: Marking freehand guidelines onto quilt top

Once I have marked out all the "ruler" lines, I will freehand mark all the scalloped edges as well as the little minaret shapes on the outside of the design onto the quilt top. I might make a stencil that I can draw around to get all the minarets the same size and dimension. These lines are important, as they will be my guide for where to stitch the design inside this border.  The design inside the border does not get marked onto the quilt top. Once all the "ruler" lines are stitched these scallops will be stitched next. I won't be stitching the design inside the border until my outline for the main design is complete.

Freehand guidelines for guiding inner border design

The next step will be to mark the outline of all the little "horns". I can stitch these freehand, but to get them to be consistent and with equal number of segments, I will trace around  the one I like the most and then make a stencil for it. These will then be marked on the top next.  Final bit of marking will be my border design. The border design is from a book by Sue Heinz, I will place this on my lightbox, with the fabric placed over the design and then just trace it onto my quilt top. I will need to take care with my placement as it is a directional design and I would like it to look good in the corners.  There is 2 ways that I can do this, either start at the corners and fudge the design to fit in the middle, or start in the middle of the border, turn the design to go in opposite directions and then work to the corners.  As I have tried both ways on paper, I know that the second way would work best on this size of border, so I will start marking in the centres.
No other marking will be done on the quilt top. This is what my quilt top will look like when the marking is done:

All the marking required on the quillt top 

Once all these are stitched out, I will make a decision as to which order I will stitch the rest of the design, but will almost certainly start with the shell shapes.

Doesn't it just look so easy when it is all broken down into small units?

There is a lot of advise out there about where to start quilting and how to keep the stitching consistent. I don't follow any rules, I will start with one section and then do the repeat of that one section until they are all stitched out, look at the quilt to see where I think I next need to go to and do that. I do try to keep the quilting balanced, I won't for example start in one corner and work my way to the opposite corner. It is just a bit of common sense I think, if one area is a lot more puffy than another, then do that first. The one rule I absolutely always follow though, is to not start with any of the background fill until ALL of the main design is stitched out.

I am itching to start sewing this design, but as I have just had surgery and are not allowed to operate any machinery, this will have to wait until I get the okay from my surgeon. In the meantime, I am really looking forward to seeing how all the other little quilts are come along.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Annelize - I'm reading your blog post by post and I'm just fascinated by how you design your quilting designs - I love it. I get quite stumped when I come to design quilting ideas for tops - and I wondered if you had any tips for me to consider? I would love to hear from you.