Tuesday, December 30, 2008

More machine quilting practice

Here are a few more samples I have ready for January's workshop. While trying to decide what stitches to show I thought how nice it would be to include some "McTavishing", not really being sure of just how to do it, I began looking at that pattern and realized that it was kind of a combination of 2 stitches I had used in Earthbound to depict the sky and wind. One consists of curling lines , while the other is just stitching away from a point and then moving along the outside edge to a new point and then stitching back in a waving motion changing direction every so many rows.
In this sample you can see that I have used these stitches separately on each of the outer rows and combined the two together in the centre, I does indeed resemble McTavishing.

Next I lightly penciled in some simple shapes and just did some simple outlining and small stippling. Lots of possibilities here.

I did a sample of regular meandering (Don't really need a photo of that do you?) and this fun wavy circular one.

I should volunteer to do workshops more often because in doing the prep work I am learning a great deal.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Painting and Shopping

I have decided to try to take a design and create it using many different techniques, many of them new to me. This image is from a stencil, I made a few changes and I will continue to change it and add elements as I make each new piece. The idea is sort of a cross between a BOM and small journal quilts, I hope to have a number of panels that can be joined together at year's end to make an interesting piece.
I began by drawing the outline onto pre-washed cotton. I painted this using inexpensive acrylic craft paint mixed with textile medium. It is totally washable after being heat set.(although most of my pieces are not likely to ever be washed)
The next step will be to add thread painting which brings me to the shopping part of this post. I was at one of my favourite quilt shops today, The Marsh Store. I made the trip in order to pick up some Setacolour fabric paints. ( I am beginning a collection ) and of course I just had to check out some of the other wonderful things they carry. Every time I visit that shop I find that there is something else I simply must have. Today it was these "Oliver Twists" hand dyed cotton machine threads. They come packaged as a group and as you can see, this group called Forest Floor is perfect for my current project, hmmmmmmm this may be the start of another collection.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

More machine quilting

Managed to squeeze in a little play time at the machine, wanted to try some things I've never done before. Since I think that most of the women who will be attending the upcoming workshop tend to be traditional quilters, I thought perhaps some feathers were in order. These are really free form feathers and I might add, my very first. Wow! I am so pleased with how they turned out.

These leaves were done by drawing a very faint outline of the overall shape and then just free motion stitching within those boundaries. I quite like the effect, lots of possibilities with this one.

The whole purpose of the workshop is to show how to quilt using an average domestic sewing machine. Our guild members make quilts that are given to children in foster care and while we always have lots of tops being pieced, a few of our members may be a little intimidated with the thought of doing the actual quilting.
Or perhaps, they are just not sure where to start. I hope to take some of the "fear" out of the process.
I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination but I do enjoy free motion stitching and am more than happy to share what I have learned ( and am learning ) along the way.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Machine Quilting Workshop

I have volunteered to conduct a machine quilting workshop at my quilt guild in mid January. I have never done anything like this before so I have no idea what I have gotten myself into. It will be an all day workshop so I thought I'd better start planning how we might spend our time.
We will begin by making a few quilt sandwiches for practice. I have begun preparing some samples of the type of stitches I'd like to demonstrate. These are what I have so far, I'll add more as I complete them.
In the workshop we will be doing mostly free motion stitching but I thought perhaps it would be a good idea to go over marking and stitching stencil designs as well. The first example is a simple stencil, stitched & echo quilted with lots of small stippling applied all around so that the stencil design can really stand out. An important aspect of machine quilting is thread tension so I have prepared these samples using different colours of thread in the needle and bobbin. The right side was stitched with green and the reverse is the pink.

Not sure if you can tell from these pictures but the stitches are well balanced.

One of my favourite stitches to do is really a great one to use on art quilts. It provides terrific texture and is super easy to do, just go round and round in a circular motion making big and little circles........you just can't make a mistake with this one.

Not sure if there is a name for this one at left but it is another "fill" stitch that not only looks wonderful, it really is not all that difficult to master. I learned how to stitch this one this weekend. I am confident that with practice this stitch will become a favourite.

I hope to have a wide variety of samples stitched and ready for the workshop. The bonus is that I will be getting in lots and lots of practice........ and practice is the key to achieving machine quilting you can be proud of.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas project

Last night was guild night, the last one before we ring in a new year.
There was great show and tell as usual, festive treats and our "Hands on Christmas" workshops.
All of the workshops looked to be a great success. With 12 members in my group we took over 2 tables, broke out the crayons and let the creativity flow.
The results were wonderfully different from soft and subtle to beautifully dramatic. One even appeared to be sprinkled with flakes of snow as the crayon was applied to the right side of a white tone on tone cotton print. A very nice effect.
As we had only an hour to work on these last evening, the hand and machine stitching will be done later. Unfortunately I did not get pictures of every one's work but here is a sampling of what was accomplished.
I hope every one is pleased with their pieces, I think they all did a great job!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I have noticed that there seems to be a lot of blogs with "giveaways".
I thought that perhaps I could join in.
Would you like a copy of the instructions for my "Hands on Christmas" project? Just send me an e-mail at thequiltrat@yahoo.com
put the word "giveaway" in the subject line and I will send you a PDF file containing a materials list, instructions and a full size image that you can print. If I get too many e mails I may have to select them at random but I will do my best to send every one a copy who asks for one with in a few days of receiving the request.

Tomorrow evening is the guild meeting that we will be working on this project, I will try to get some pictures of our progress (if I can get permission of course) and post them. So check back in a few days. For more info about this project you can read my November 7th post titled Hands on Christmas

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Print your own fabric............printing, painting, bleaching

Well here it is again..........This is the post that caused a few problems earlier this week but since I don't give up easily I am trying it once more. Hopefully, without any glitches this time.

Sometimes you just can't find exactly what you want. Sometimes we have to "settle" but if you only need a small amount for a project then why not create a fabric to suit your needs?
The last couple of years I have entered a piece into the "Wee" Quilt Challenge. This challenge requires the use of plaids in the making of your miniature creation. Most often I want several very small pieces and either don't want to purchase a lot of plaids or find it difficult to get the plaid in the colour I want along with the scale necessary to be effective so I have enlisted the aid of my computer and inexpensive ink jet printer. The plaid used for the "hills" and the thistle in the piece shown above were created on my computer.
First I spend a little time "creating" the plaid I want, this usually involves scanning or photographing a plaid and then manipulating it on the computer. Change the size, colour and value to get exactly what you are looking for
This can apply to any fabric print you already have in your stash. In one case I had fabric with print and scale I wanted but needed a totally different colour and hue. Not only does the use of the computer allow you to acquire the look you are after but also guarantee a "one of a kind" finished piece.

I have been quite successful using Bubble Jet Set and Bubble Jet Set rinse. Just follow the directions on the bottles.
Most recently I was working on a piece and I could not come up with quite the right shade of blue but needed about a fat quarter (a little large for using the printer) so I decided to try paint. Paint is quicker and cleaner than dye plus you can see exactly what your finished colour will be right from the start. In this case I wanted a little extra "movement" so I chose a tone on tone print with the intention of using the reverse side. I created the colour I wanted by mixing my paints and diluting with water, then I wet my pre-washed piece of fabric, squeezed it until it was just damp and then immersed it into the fabric much the way you would with dyes. I continued to move the fabric about while "squishing" it so that the paint would settle in different spots and create random lines.
Here you can see what the original piece of fabric looked like, the right and wrong sides after painting. I let it dry completely and pressed with a dry iron. It worked great!
Now back to the plaids. I am currently working on a piece for the 2009 "Wee" Quilt Challenge……….(sorry no sneak previews just yet) The fabric I chose for the back looked like a good candidate for binding as well, but being a batik I wasn't sure just how well it would blend with some of the plaids on the front……..no problem I just drew a few lines……well lots of lines actually using a fine tipped fabric pen and created a plaid batik. I am quite pleased with the result.
When working on Earthbound I had exactly what I wanted for the outer border but could not quite find the right piece for the inner border. Believe it or not, the inner and outer borders are from the same piece of fabric. I simply took a small piece of that dark green and bleached it to remove some colour, what you see as the inner border is the result. Is that cool or what?
So if you are not completely happy with the fabrics you are using, get creative…….not only can you create and print your own, there are lots of ways to add, remove or change colours in existing fabrics. All it takes is a little imagination and not being afraid to experiment.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Not sure what happened but................

For some reason my last entry to this blog caused a bit of trouble. It was simply not view-able in some browsers. By removing that post the problem seems to have been corrected. I am going to try to re-post the information and see what happens.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Freezer Paper resist

Something I have been wanting to try is using Freezer Paper as a resist. I remembered seeing it done on The Quilting Arts blog. I started by cutting some snowflakes just like we did as kids except I used freezer paper. I pressed the paper (glossy side down) with a dry iron onto the right side of my pre-washed fabric to get it to "stick" and then applied paint.
Uh Oh.....I had thinned the paint with water quite a bit and when I looked at the reverse side of the fabric it was totally saturated with colour. I thought that this was probably a big mistake but decided to leave the snowflakes in place and wait until it dried completely.
To my surprise the "resist" still worked. When I lifted off the paper shapes there was indeed the image I was hoping for.
Not wanting to waste those perfectly good snowflakes I decided to see if the freezer paper would "stick" a second time.
I placed them on a dark background, pressed them in place and then simply stitched all over the paper.
I added free motion stitched snowflakes to one and little silver foil snowflakes to the other, trimmed them up and finished them as postcards to drop in the "mailbox" for the postcard exchange at our next guild meeting.

Midnight Snowflakes & No Shoveling Required
I'll be looking forward to more "playtime" to explore the possibilities using freezer paper and paints, dyes, crayons, markers...........anything messy really.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Time to Surf

If you like to spend time on the Internet looking at all things quilt related, you will definitely want to check out this new website www.quiltqua.com. Another blogger directed me to this one and I just thought it was too good not to share. Lots of excellent information under the "articles" link and look at all those quilting blogs, now if only I could sew and surf at the same time. ENJOY!

Friday, November 21, 2008


I have made several really cool discoveries this week, some of which are being applied to projects I am working on for juried shows that I plan to enter in the spring so I can't share just yet.....ah but I will .............I promise!
There is one I can share with you though.
Have you seen a product called "sew slip"? This is a thin sheet with a small round hole in it made as an aid for free motion machine quilting. The idea is that you lay this on the bed of your sewing machine, the opening is placed where the needle goes up and down and the sheet, being static "sticks" to your machine. This is supposed to reduce the "drag" on your quilt and help it glide more easily. These sheets retail for around $25 - $29.
I was skeptical about how well these sheets would work so a friend loaned me hers to try. The quilt did indeed appear to move a little more smoothly with this sheet in place.
Now the question of the day was........Could I make one of these myself?.......................Oh Yes I can and you can too!
All you need is some inexpensive clear vinyl, I used a 6 gauge. Just ask for 6 gauge clear vinyl at your local fabric store, they'll know what you are looking for. ( 8 gauge may also work but I think the 12 gauge might be too thick and therefore not as pliable )
Make yourself a pattern, a basic rectangle 18" x 12". On one end, mark a small circle 6" in from top, bottom and side.
Lay your pattern on top of the vinyl and cut it out. Carefully cut out the "hole" and you are done.
Place the vinyl on your sewing machine bed so that the hole is situated in the proper place to allow for ease of sewing. Now, I have to tell you that on one of my machines it stuck.....no problem, but on the other the vinyl could still "shift", so if this happens to you, don't worry. I took a slightly moistened paper towel and wiped my machine bed with it, then, put the vinyl back in place. It worked perfectly. I stitched for several minutes with out any shifting at all.
Since every machine is different you can now customize your own sew slip to suit your needs & you are absolutely sure that you will not be leaving behind any sort of tacky residue on your machine.
If you try it and you love it, let me know :-)

Some of my favourites

My Quilting Arts magazine arrived today......I can rarely find them on the store shelves so I finally decided to subscribe and my first issue arrived just minutes ago. I am excited because there is always something inspiring in this publication. So as soon as I finish this post , I will curl up with a fresh cup of coffee and dive into the pages.

I thought I'd show you some of the products I use most. When I hand quilt, nothing beats this leather thimble. I've tried other leather ones but did not like them and I have tried many of the metal ones with no success at all. (Can't seem to keep a metal one on my finger) The thimble-its are a great help in keeping your fingers from getting sore when "feeling" for the needle point under the quilt.
The Teflon sheet comes in handy for a great number of things, it is see through to aid in proper placement when working with fused applique. I also have a Teflon cover for my iron, which keeps it clean and I never have to worry about glues transferring where I don't want them.
This summer at the Goderich Quilt show I purchased a Sketch and Wash pencil made by Generals, I love this pencil for marking on fabric, it goes on smoothly, having to use almost no pressure and it DOES wash out. These pencils can be found at art supply stores.
For marking on dark fabric, this fine tipped white ink marker by Clover is terrific. The ink becomes more visible as it dries and stays visible until you take an iron to it at which time it totally disappears.
Those quilting gloves are by Fon's and Porter and I like them so well I have several pair. They are one of the few I have found that actually fit me properly.
The scissors are a pair of Gingher applique scissors that I have had for approximately 12 years. They have seen a lot of use, have never been sharpened and still work as good as the day I got them.
See those needles? Those are what I use when basting a quilt. They are easy to thread, very strong and the extra length makes the basting process a breeze.
The variegated threads in the photo are Sulky Blendables. These are my favourite threads to use for lots of detailed quilting. They really enhance the look of your design.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


You may have noticed that most of my work is not from patterns, magazines or books, although I do occasionally adapt a pattern, I prefer to do my own thing.

I don’t really know what I am doing………maybe, for me that is a good thing because since I don’t know the rules, I do not restrict myself to playing by them. I get an idea and just try it out to see what may come of it.

I feel incredibly fortunate to have time in which I can play, to discover new and interesting things while completely enjoying the creative process.

Although I have always had the encouragement of family and friends, I’d quite often wonder if they were just being kind.

While helping out at our guild’s Harvest of Quilts show, I had been approached by several people expressing an interest in my work. I was simply amazed at the wonderful comments I received.........I actually have fans! How exciting is that?

I had entered a few pieces into the show and was thrilled to learn that once the ballots were counted, my work had earned 3 Viewer’s Choice awards. What an honour as there is a tremendous amount of talent among our guild members and it was evident at the show.

In the wall hanging category, my piece titled Earthbound was chosen as the 1st place winner.

In the miniature category, Glen Etive was voted as the 1st place winner

with Viking’s Bane earning 2nd place.

I hope to continue to play,share my discoveries and maybe even inspire.

Check out those one of a kind ribbons....Very cool!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Needle felting

While shopping at our guild's Harvest of Quilts show, I purchased some needle felting tools.

This past weekend, I finally had a chance to play and see what I might do with them. I had received a quick demonstration of how to use these tools at the time of purchase. Wool felting machines are now widely available but I like the fact that these tools are so portable.
Basically, you lay the roving (shredded wool) in a shape you like and then "stab" at it with the needle to get it to mesh with the fabric which is laid across that thing that resembles a scrub brush.
The colours the roving is available in are simply fabulous. I am quite sure that is what attracted me to them.
I decided that needle felting could possibly add more dimension to my work.

I began by making a cone flower............yes, that is supposed to be a cone flower!

I was not entirely impressed but I was sure it could be "enhanced" ( well I hoped)
A bit of thread painting was added and it began to take on a much more pleasing shape.

Here is a look at the back, as you can see I added a fair bit of thread.
But what to do with this?...............well of course, make a postcard.

I combined a few scraps, laid the angled cut cone flower piece on top and practiced my free motion quilting. Now I am all set for our next postcard exchange.

hmm..... How many days till spring?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Hands on Christmas

This year, as member of my quilt guild's executive I will be required to teach/demonstrate a Christmas craft at our December meeting. It would need to be something that can be done quickly, mostly by hand and require only a few supplies.
Oh No , this was going to be a challenge. Wanting to come up with something a little different, I decided that since Christmas is for kids why not play like children.
I got out my crayons and got to work. I first sketched an image I was pleased with and traced it onto off white pre-washed cotton fabric. Then I began colouring just like we did way back when.
I did try to stay within the lines.
Once it was coloured I added a few quick strokes here and there using a fine tipped pigma pen to add a bit of detail.
I then used a dry iron to "set" the crayon (although if you really try some colour can be rubbed off )
The next step was to create a quilt sandwich to make this piece ready for a little hand quilting. A variegated cotton thread was used to outline all of the holly leaves and stems.
The hand quilting will likely have to be finished at another time and most certainly the machine quilting. I machine quilted a very small stipple in the center and then just had fun doing this sort of bubble looking stitching. It kind of resembles snow don't you think?
I did add a few beads but this could be left fairly simple and used as a table topper center or go wild and junk it up with beads, baubles and ribbons for a small wall hanging. Here is what the reverse side looks like.
I guess we'll see how many members are actually interested in doing this, either way I 'm good, I mean come on now, would I really have to "teach" the use of crayons?
I hope to be able to post pictures when we work on this project so you will need to check back to view the results.
I will be conducting a machine quilting workshop in January...........how do I get myself into these things? so I thought that members who wish to finish up the machine quilting part could bring this piece and use it for practice. There will be sign up sheets at the next guild meeting for both the Hands on Christmas project as well as the machine quilting workshop.
More on the machine quilting workshop later.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

More Postcards

This past week's brief blast of the season to come inspired "Winter Trees". This is the time of year when we can have bare trees and pockets with lots of snow while other areas remain green and lush. With this one I used coloured pencils to draw a scene, added a little thread painting & free motion quilting.
The "snow" is actually a bit of white cotton batting. Who says the batting has to be in the middle?

This next one I'll show in it's stages. First I made an interesting background with 2 prints and a curved seam. Then I cut out some shapes and fused them in place.
I backed this with a layer of stabilizer.

With a light variegated cotton thread, I began stitching, lots and lots of stitching. I continued until I had all of the elements covered with thread.
I then switched to a deep blue rayon thread and added yet more stitching

At this point I added the stiffener ( or batting ) and began to outline every thing with some free motion stitches, quilting was added on the stems and veins, a few curly Q's and it was finished.
See how the use of thread can bring about such a dramatic change to the look of your fabric.

What shall I call this one? How about "Thread Leaf".

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Making fabric postcards are a great way to try out ideas. They don't take a lot of time or resources. Here are a few examples of postcards I have made resulting in asking myself "what if?" What would happen if I tried to use paints, rubber stamps and ink, T shirt transfer paper, how about a technique I've been wanting to explore? Even free motion stitches can be tested on a postcard. Most of all I just give myself permission to play.

Here I used an image from a stencil. I lightly penciled in the honeysuckle and then used watered down acrylic paint (nothing fancy) just the inexpensive stuff available everywhere.
The outlines are drawn with a fine tipped sharpie. Believe it or not it is actually washable after heat setting with an iron.
This is called "Painted Honeysuckle".

So how about rubber stamps? They seem to be everywhere but I did not want to spend a small fortune to find out if this idea would work. So it was off to the dollar store in search of supplies where I picked up a few small ink pads along with a stamp. Then I looked around my home to see what I had handy that could be used to make simple shapes.
I used the stamp I had purchased and placed it randomly on the fabric. The dots are made using the head of a screw & pen tops. The shapes that resemble flowers were made using the hardware that will hang your broom or mop. Once again I got out my trusty sharpie marker and did some outlining. This piece is also washable after heat setting.
I call this one "Playing with Ink".
I find it difficult to come up with names for my quilts so making postcards can also be good practice at giving your works a title.

How about using T shirt transfer paper? It also helps with your skills at the computer. Once I have an image I am happy with, I simply tell the printer that I am using a transfer paper and it will reverse the image for me. Follow the few simple instructions that come with the paper and you can do most anything.
For this one, I printed a number of quilt blocks, cut them out and ironed them onto the fabric, did a few quilted spirals and I was done. Since they are all star blocks
I have called this one "Seeing Stars".

A friend of the family ( who is a passionate quilter) was about to celebrate 60 years of marriage. She enjoys receiving a postcard from me now and then so I thought I would just have to make one to commemorate this event. I, unfortunately did not get a picture of the finished card before mailing it but here is the image I created, then transferred onto fabric just like Seeing Stars above.

What a great way to send a "one of a kind" greeting!

Of course you can take advantage of scraps of fabric just too lovely to toss away. Here I cut a spiral and some ray shapes, fused them to a beautiful batik to create some sunshine. I then put a layer of tulle on top of this so that I need not worry about the raw edges fraying ( although that might have looked cool too!) and added the machine quilting.
This was one of my 1st postcards I think I named it "Catching some Rays".

Don't forget all those novelty prints out there. Have you ever bought some thinking that they were kind of neat but really have no idea what you will actually make out of them? Well, with some paper backed fusible web and a little imagination you will soon find use for even the strangest prints you own.

Here I have just placed a few leaves on my fabric added a couple of rubber stamp images and then used a variegated thread for the quilting. I can not remember what this one was called.

This next one is a novelty print used with a twist. I know that you can use fusible web under fabric but what if I wanted to use it on top of one and under another?????
The fish and plant life were fussy cut and simply laid on the fabric, I then layered a fusible web the size of the entire postcard on top of them. Next came a piece of drapery sheer, with a Teflon sheet I pressed the whole works with a dry iron and the result gives a cloudy appearance which I thought was quite effective. This was "Catch of the Day"

How about trying a new technique? I have seen and admired shadow applique and thought it might be a good candidate for a postcard. The pieces of stem, flower and leaves were all placed on the 6 x 4 inch fabric and then a sheer layer was laid over them. I did a straight stitch around all of the elements and then just had fun trying a new free motion quilting pattern.
This is "Morning Fog"

I enjoy being able to play and not worry so much about trying to achive a perfectly finished piece. I am always happy to find a fabric postcard in my mailbox.
Copyright Jill Buckley