Monday, May 04, 2015

Panels : cheater quilting or another way to make something beautiful?

I frequently get excited about making a quilt, or even small projects like table runners, placemats, etc., but forget the amount of time it takes to actually finish the entire process. Yes, you can send out a quilt to any number of wonderful big machine quilters who will take your pieced work of art and give it dimension and beauty. Great, beautiful quilting adds so much to the pieced top in addition to practical stability. Some will even bind it for you.

I tend to want to do the entire thing, but often am honestly in way over my head. I can't do those beautiful fans and feathers, YET... Someday, sooner than later I hope, but not yet. I have been working on quilting straight line, repeats, and getting creative using the fabric, the sewing lines and the contours of the prints, flowers, lines, shapes, etc., to do my quilting. I think it's important to be able to do that before I start all-over designs like stippling (which is one design that doesn't really appeal to me much) or other repetitive thing like stars, arrows, etc..  I love the freedom that free motion gives a quilter, and some of the quilts I have seen, well,  it's just amazing what the quilter did with the free space and design!

I am just beginning to really appreciate negative space, usually white, black or gray background for the piecing process as well as what can be done in it for quilting!

A few months ago, I picked up a panel quilt and some coordinating fabrics at the local fabric superstore and made a fun baby set. I thought that because I didn't need to piece it, that it would be a very fast project and I would finish it up in a few days.... Well, no.

The panel didn't require any piecing, since I wanted a baby or crib size, all I had to do was sandwich it, quilt and bind.

I was having trouble with my bobbin tension (not easily adjustable on most machines and I certainly didn't know how to fix it) so FMQ wasn't working. I did a little of it.... Most of which I ripped out. So I put on my walking foot and I just got creative. I let the picture be my inspiration. Talk about learning to make definition! It had a baby Elephant, Tiger, Monkey, Lion, and Giraffe (and hiding behind the Elephant was a Hippo, which appears in the coordinate fabric, so I figured it was just hiding in the quilt top!)

I started just doing contour quilting.  I started stitching along the outlines in matching color threads, and then detoured out  along the lines that gave the ears, feet, noses and stripes, a dimensional look. I found it really gave it a cool 3 dimensional feel.

I filled in the bigger areas with repeating lines, using my walking foot. Babies, I read, like the feeling of textures, so I made the elephant trunk in ¼ inch echoing lines down the full length, following the curves of the outer trunk image. Cool!

I am quite pleased! The big open sky needed something, and I found a decorative curve stitch which mimicked a cloud or wave feeling. One of the most fun parts was giving the animals 'hair, which was drawn like ribbons the 3D definition. I finally had to say ENOUGH, or I would still be doing definition on the grass or Tiger stripes, or something!

I had enough leftover material to make several burp cloths and a changing table mat. It was fun! I didn't have to design it piece it, I just got right into the quilting. I got great experience and opened up my creativity in a new way.  My  friend got something very unique that hopefully she and her baby will enjoy for years to come.

And to think,  I was actually feeling like such a cheater because it was a ready made top!