February 24, 2017

The week that was...

I really try to post every Wednesday, but this week got away from me.

It's been a bit dramatic - one of those "Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This".  But starting on Sunday afternoon the tide changed and oh, has it ever been a week full of progress.  So much progress all at once - lots of things I've been working on coming to closure.  All "good", but a bit chaotic.

Unfortunately, not a lot done in the quilting arena - but as of today I'm going to get back on track.

So watch this space - newly finished project to be posted on Wednesday - and several more coming behind that.  There's a couple of them I'm really excited about!

See you Wednesday!

February 15, 2017

Quilt 86: Robert Kaufman "Trieste" panel (in jewel tones) - DONE!

Last week I posted about the design for this quilt.  I love the Robert Kaufman "Trieste" panel - but finding fabrics to coordinate with it hasn't been easy.  I hunted for months for a blue that would match the vibrant blue in the center of the panel - but without success.  The edge of the panel has a teal strip that goes around it - so I found a teal that went well with that strip and used that, as you see below. 
43" x 61" - quilted on the longarm ("Blustery Breeze"
groovy boards) - polyester batting
The photo above makes the colours look less harmonious than they are "in person".  Oh well - I love my digital camera, but have to admit it frequently lets me down in terms of rendering colours.

I opted for my "Blustery Breeze" groovy boards for the stitching pattern and as you can see below, it turned out well, especially with Signature Threads' "Chamois" thread (which has a matt gold colour).  The stitching is very obvious over the solid teal border, somewhat obvious over the metallic gold border, but in the center of the panel it fades into the back ground - which is EXACTLY what I want it to do.
For the backing, I went with a solid matt gold homespun (muslin) which is very close to the thread colour.  I like the effect quite a bit.
So it's done - but now the story gets a little crazy.

My friend Janet saw the panel and wanted a quilt made with it.  As I mentioned last week, she wasn't crazy about the teal border, but I explained to her my frustration with finding something that matches - and also my regret that I hadn't bought the Robert Kaufman "Trieste Medallion" print which reflects some of the panel print (it doesn't seem to be available anymore...).

Well, I can hardly believe what happened.

After finishing this quilt, I decided on my next project and was rummaging around in my stash for the bits and pieces I need to complete it.  There, hidden at the bottom of one of my fabric boxes was 2 yards of the "Trieste Medallion" print!  I HAD bought some and just forgot about it.

The next day I made a trip to the fabric store looking for backing fabric - and what's THIS?!?!  They had a vibrant blue which exactly matches the panel center!  I grabbed a couple of meters of it, knowing Janet would prefer her quilt to be made with the blue instead of the teal.

So I contacted Janet and told her all this.  She's not in a hurry, and I've got several of these panels.  So I'm going back to the drawing board.  I'm sure I'll find a home for the one I finished today.  It really is gorgeous!

February 9, 2017

"Needle Sensor Failure on Walk"

I've been merrily quilting away - having a grand time with the project I posted about yesterday. 

Suddenly the sound coming from the area of the needle wasn't the same.  Experience has taught me that's not a good thing - so I stopped and looked closely. Yup.  The stitches on top looked "wrong", and on inspecting the back, I could see a birds-nest of long threads dangling loosely.  Fortunately I stopped immediately when I heard the sound, so there was only about an inch or so to pick out.

I pulled the bobbin case out, expecting that the thread had slipped out of the little metal clip on the side (which will cause the birds-nest problem), but no... the bobbin looked fine.  Hm...   So I popped it back in, did a little test quilting on a scrap piece I use for this purpose - and well, the stitches looked fine.  So I went back into the quilt and continued working. 

Half an hour later, as I was nearing the end of the quilting, the machine suddenly jammed and the screen on the longarm showed the error message "Needle Sensor Failure on Walk".  I pulled out my user manual and checked the troubleshooting section - but there isn't any mention of this error message.  Looking at the stitching, I could see that the last 2 inches or so were "birds-nest" stitches again. 

Again I checked the bobbin case - nothing obviously wrong there.  I turned the hand wheel on the back of the machine to manually raise and lower the needle - not seeing any problem there.  So I reloaded the bobbin case - grabbed my test scrap and tried stitching... the machine was working again.

I finished the quilting without further incident but became worried that something really bad was wrong.

A search on Google gave me some clues.  Apparently that error can be caused by a number of things, including:
  • bent needle
  • foreign objects stuck in or around the bobbin case (such as a broken needle tip)
  • loose, stray threads around the bobbin case
At this point, my theory is that I've experienced that last problem - and that removing the bobbin case dislodged whatever was in there.  Just to be certain, I removed the pressure plate and had a look at workings inside.  There was a little bit of "gunk" - lint stuck to it with oil - so I wiped the area down.

That seems to have taken care of the problem.  Got my fingers crossed.

February 8, 2017

Quilt 86: Robert Kaufman "Trieste" panel (jewel tones)

I'm still into the panels at the moment.  Several months ago I told you about a panel-based quilt I did for a friend.  That panel was the Robert Kaufman "Trieste" design, with coordinating fabrics.  I called that one "Persian Carpet in Gold".  When I bought that panel, I also bought a few panels of the same design in "jewel tones".  Here's one:
(click the photo above to see a larger image)
Gorgeous, isn't it?!?

I goofed and didn't purchase the coordinating fabrics - and of course, as such things happen, the coordinating print isn't available any more.  I'd have to get compatible fabrics to marry with this panel.  That wasn't easy, however, because the blues in the center of the panel turned out to be impossible to match.  The edge of the panel has teal and turquoise - which I was able to get... PRETTY close to...  And I managed to get my hands on metallic gold and red (also Robert Kaufman) which pulls those colours well out of the panel:
The teal is a great match for the panel's edging.  The turquoise not so much, but if I use it sparingly, maybe it will "fool your eye".  Now I started playing around with designs.  This is the one I almost went with:
 I like it a lot - but then liked this one better but....
Once I Photoshop'd the original panel into the design (as I did above), I knew I was in trouble.  My borders were simply to bulky and pushy.  They were going to overwelm the center panel - exactly what I didn't want.

Looking at the panel, I was sure that the gold fabric should be the first border band outside of the panel.  So I went ahead and added a 3" border with that fabric:

Yes... so far so good.  But what comes next?  After agonizing over this for several days, I finally came to the conclusion that just solid borders - nothing with a pattern or design - would work best.  What I really wanted and needed was just a frame for that center panel - nothing more.  So here's the initial design I came up with:
The simple borders work well with the complex center.

This quilt is a commission - so I felt I should stop at this point and discuss the design with my friend Janet, who is buying the quilt.

She looked at the fabrics and felt very strongly that although the teal was OK, the turquoise pushed the overall quilt too far into blue/green terrirtory.  So we removed the turquoise and replaced it with the red/metallic gold print.

And here it is all ready to be quilted:

February 1, 2017

Quilt 85: Hoffman Fabrics' "Super Nova" - DONE!

A couple of weeks ago I started telling you about an amazing panel from Hoffman Fabrics that I picked up when I was in Florida last year.  I was in my favorite US quilt shop and saw a model quilt hanging from the ceiling using that panel - with "Attic Window" blocks.  I thought it was amazing and so grabbed one of the panels so I could make one myself.

Here's a photo of the panel:

And here's my version of the Florida design I saw:

This was a pretty fast quilt project.  All I had to do was decide on how large I want the windowsills to be (the image above has them too large in my opinion, but this is what my Quilt Wizard software renders) - and then go at it.  I opted for very narrow windowsills - 2" wide, in fact!.  I think I only spent a total of 5 hours assembling the top.

Here we are, part way through.  The only tricky part was to make sure I kept the squares cut from the panel straight, so that the red windowsill was on the bottom and the black on the left of each one.  Then I attached the small (1") pearl grey edging.  The photo below shows the center blocks arranged on my bed and ready to assemble.

The resulting quilt was going to be 6' x 6' - definitely the widest I've ever done on my longarm (which sits on an 8' frame).  Fortunately, I was able to do it and get the side clamps hooked on for stability.

As I said... a tight fit.

I opted for the "Blustery Breeze" groovy boards for the quilt stitching pattern, and red thread, which would fade pretty well behind the fabric's print.  One thing I did mess up on, however, and didn't realize until I got to the end of my first end-to-end row of quilt stitching, was that I hadn't considered that the groovy boards (3 of them at 2 feet wide) were the same width as the quilt.  I should have double checked to see where the start and end of the stitching should have been - but I didn't.  So, when I got to the end of that first row... here is where the groovy board ends:

And (sigh) - here's where I am on the quilt when I ran out of groovy board:
The solution, happily, was very easy.  With as much free-motion work as I've been doing, I just free- motioned the edges as shown below:
Nobody, but nobody, is going to look at this closely enough to see that this side of the quilt was free-motioned.  Boy am I ever proud of myself for THIS!

And here we are - the finished quilt!
6' x '6 - quilted on the longarm ("Blustery Breeze" groovy board) - cotton batting
I just love it!  The camera did a good job of capturing the mind-blowing 3-D effect - but of course it's better in person.  I'm delighted with it!

(As always, double click the picture above to see a larger image)
Here's a closeup of the center block, so you can see how the red thread really does fade back into the print:

And here's the back (solid maroon):

I don't always remember to photo the backs, and then I'm sorry later, after the quilt is long gone.  Remembered this time, however!

This one is destined for "Inspirational Quilts" - my favorite quilt charity, which gives quilts to kids in hospital.  This one will be great for a teenage boy, I'm thinking.