Sunday, May 19, 2013

Quilt as desired part one


This is the last day of the Celebrate Hand Quilting spring blog hop and since I put my hand up to do a post, I've been racking my brain thinking about what I should talk about. Then it came to me, why not chat about how I choose my quilting designs.
I could talk about that subject for a long time so I decided to break it up into separate posts starting with big stitch quilting.
This style of quilting has always been around but I only became aware of it after an article in the Quilters' Newsletter Magazine in the nineties. Then a member of a local guild started doing it on her quilts and raved about how extraordinarily fast it was to quilt a whole quilt in a short amount of time.

I like to think about how I'm going to quilt a top during the making of it so I almost always have a plan by the time it's basted. This one was easy enough when it came to the blocks but the space between each block was a head scratcher.  I used Perle # 8 in white and yellow with a # 5 embroidery needle.
The blocks are quilted in the ditch to hold the coloured patches down and the centers are just radiating lines. I finally hit on the idea to fill the negative space between the blocks with a motif I drew up.

Motifs can be found in all sorts of places, look at your quilting stencils and just use parts of them or take photos of quilts at shows or off the Internet for studying later and getting some ideas. I have a few quilting books that provide some inspiration.
The next quilt is scrappy trip around the world and I again used Perle # 8 cotton.
Even though this one is queen sized, it took very little time to quilt. The quilting is a simple cross hatch across each square. I tackled it by zig zagging vertically across the rows of squares, first one way then the other which is what made it go so fast.
The borders are often the part that I plan the quilting for last, especially if the fabric is busy like this spot. It doesn't much matter what one does, the quilting isn't going to be a feature. In the end I chose a simple baptist fan which was a good contrast with all the geometric shapes in the quilt.
You may remember this pickle dish quilt which I made for a granddaughter. It was also done with Perle #8 cotton thread but I went for a pile of variegated colours to make it more fun for me.
It didn't need anything fancy but it is important to distribute the quilting evenly throughout the quilt. Too often I see quilts that have very little stitching on the borders which says to me that the quilter ran out of steam. Those quilts are often the friendly ones that wave a fair bit on the outside and look unfinished.
I had another busy fabric on this border and opted for interlocking circles that mirrored the circular patchwork. Another good option would have been to do piano lines which would have been a good contrast to the round shapes.
I got the quilting ideas for the Mariners Compass quilt from looking at some books containing those types of quilts. I liked the effect of the offset compass lines in the spires. The only consideration is that the seams have to be quilted through. In this case, it wasn't too difficult as I had used a soft wool batting.
In the quilt below, I did another very fast but fun design of all circles. I used plates, cups and egg cups to draw the circles. They were all placed randomly, some interlocking and some smaller shapes inside larger ones. This is what I'd call an all over pattern and is a good standby for scrappy quilts. The threads I used are different colours of sashiko thread and even managed a  larger stitch than what I'd used previously.
It's normal for the stitches on the back to be smaller than the front, this isn't fine hand quilting after all.
Here's the only unfinished quilt that has Perle cotton quilting. I used 1/2" masking tape to guide my stitches. I place the tape and draw around it, I can't seem to cope with tape on the quilt while I'm trying to stitch.
If I were doing this quilt again, I'd up the size of the stitches but back in the day it was hard to go big for me, I think I've gotten over that now though.
There are no size guidelines for using big stitches with a thicker thread. It's what you feel comfortable with and whether or not they'd be toe catchers. I think I do smaller than a lot of people but then again, I've seen this size of stitch done with a Perle cotton # 12 for a more elegant look.
 
This is a great technique for beginning hand quilters, it's easy to master and the bonus is that a quilt can be finished sooner. I love the relaxed look and it's been perfect for utility quilts, scrap quilts  and quilts for the kids because they turn out soft and cuddly.
 
If you'd like to see Perle quilting in action, click on this YouTube link to see Sarah Fielke demonstrating how to do it.
 
The Japanese quilt and the scrappy trip around the world can be see back in this post.

58 comments:

Ann-Mari said...

Where to start, Janet. Sooooo much inspiration. I want to go and get one of my tops, and get started on big stitch quilting right now. Love all of those quilts, thank you for sharing.

Lurline said...

A wonderful Post, Janet - hope tons of girls read it! Everything is so beautiful and will be so helpful to many!
Hugs Lurline

dutchcomfort said...

Thanks for this post Janet, I learned a lot from reading about your decisions!

I’ve learned to quilt by hand with a quilting hoop and using thimbles, but I simply can’t work that way, so I’m what I call ‘country’ stitching by hand and I love it.

Julia said...

Great post Janet.
This is a great help, and so lovely to see your quilting designs, which I seem to have trouble deciding what to do.
I will think about doing the big stitch more often...
Love your quilts!
Julia ♥

Christine said...

Beautiful quilts and quilting.

Cardygirl said...

Great post, Janet!

Kathie said...

love revisiting these quilts! your hand quilting always makes me smile. I am working on doing more of it
thanks for the post about the use of the utility stitch as I have always called it even before it became popular. used in many antique quilts I have seen over the years but not with pearl cotton obviously! I too have had a hard time with using larger stitches , just can't seem to allow myself to do that! LOL
Kathie

Archie the wonder dog said...

Such an inspiring post! I'm starting to investigate thread choices for my hexy quilt (I usually use 'normal' (50wt?) thread for quilting) and had considered perle #8 (or coton a broder #16) but thought it might be too 'heavy' for the quilt. Now I've seen your gorgeous quilting photos I'm going to go back and think again! Thank you for a wonderful post xx

Judy said...

This is a great post on hand quilting! I've wanted to get back to quilting by hand and this is quite inspiring.

Carla A Few Of My Favorite Things said...

Janet, thank you so much for you post. I am just about to try big stitching for the first time. Just bought some thread yesterday. I am going to try it on a scrap quilt I made a few years ago. I will be checking out the link. Do you use a hoop when big stitching, I think I may try it without?

Sooli said...

Thanks for sharing, I usually have no problem working out my quilting plan for machine quilted quilts but I'm less sure what to do with a hand quilted project, even the correct thread to use. I have found this very interesting!

Oops-Lah said...

I do love the look of perle cotton quilting and your stitching looks fabulous. I'm assuming that you quilt with a frame? Your post was timed perfectly, as I just basted a quilt which I'm going to quilt it this way (after taking Sarah Fielke's Craftsy class).

averyclaire.org said...

Great quilting ideas! Love the big stitch quilting. Like your creativity.

Patchwork and Play said...

Thanks for sharing your expertise with us Janet! I had no idea you had made a pickledish too! I love the soft pinks in yours! I look forward to the next instalment! In fact I will need to go back and read all the other posts that "Celebrate Hand Quilting"...I need some hints about transferring designs.

Terry said...

Everything looks wonderful! :0)

Jill said...

Beautiful bright striking colors! I love the big stitch and once did a baby quilt with that technique. It is fun to quilt with pearle cotton.

Nancy said...

Great post. I just love your work.

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

I hadn't realized big stitch quilting had been around for so long as I have just been hearing about it so much the last couple years for "modern" quilting - so it isn't modern at all! I have done a couple and I prefer #12 as it isn't as thick and easier for me to stitch.

Mimi said...

I quilt by hand too and although I will never ever get 10 stitches per inch, that does not bother me at all! I love the look of my quilting and you have inspired me to realize this even more! Thanks for your great ideas on what quilt designs to choose... this is always tricky for me, but as always a 'perfect' idea pops into my head!

Maxine said...

Janet, I read your blog daily and watch for new entries. So glad you're included in the "Celebrate Hand Quilting" series. Your big stitch is beautiful. Now that I think about it, I may use the big stitch to quilt some of the many tops I have waiting to be hand quilted. I quilt in Providence Village, TX, USA.

Rosa said...

My mouth still opens.Your quilts and handquilts are just fabulous!!

From Spain

Carole~Wheels on the Warrandyte Bus said...

Thanks for this very informative post. The big stitching looks beautiful. What do you use to mark the quilting lines on your quilts?

Cheri said...

Great post, I remember a lecturer at my local guild demonstrating this years ago. I am going to have to give it a try, love the idea of using it on a scrappy quilt.

Shelley said...

wonderful post..you may have convinced this longarmer to hand stitch a quilt:)

Barbara said...

love your sense of color. Could you please share with me the name of the quilt block pattern in the first and second photos ?

Nedra said...

I'm not a hand quilter, but hope to be someday. I know the first place I want to start is with pearl cotton and large stitches because it looks doable. Thanks for the references and ideas.

Pen Pen said...

Big Stitch? That looks like my small stitch.... ha ha! Beautiful and I love the variegated threads!

Sharon said...

Great post to introduce this method to other quilters. So many people are afraid of hand quilting, they worry their stitches will be too big, I love the big stitch on scrappy quilts and the variegated threads really add some punch.

Deborah Hamilton said...

Your quilts are beautiful and I like your different stitch designs. I have only been quilting about a year, and I have wondered how to choose where to quilt based on the block design. I'm visiting from the blog hop.

taylorsoutback said...

A gem of a post Janet! Filled with such tips & clear images. Since joining Celebrate Hand Quilting the information shared by everyone is such a motivation to keep trying. Just in learning that you can experiment with threads other than the basic "hand quilting" type has been such an eye opener! And so much more.....

Rachaeldaisy said...

What an informative post! It's great to hear about your choice of quilting patterns and wonderful to see lots of your quilts too.

Janet said...

What a great post! I struggle with choosing quilting designs. I'm not sure I always make good choices either but I always enjoy the stitching :0) You've made so many lovely quilts - I enjoyed revisiting these!!

Mary said...

What a great post, Janet! You sure don't have to sell me on the idea of hand quilting, but boy have you inspired me even more with this post. I love Baptist Fans! And I love the quilt in the first photo....a pinwheel with flair! You are amazing Janet!

Sandra White said...

I love, love your color choices. Beautiful quilting.

Every Stitch said...

Wonderful inspiring post! and thanks for the link to Sarah's video - very instructive and clear.

FlourishingPalms said...

Love seeing all your wonderful examples of big stitch (I read that same QNM article in the 90s!) and the various stitch lengths that seem to all work well. I'm a fan of big stitch, but most often use it in conjunction with free motion quilting where the big stitch is more of an embellishment, after the machine quilting is done. You do beautiful work. Thank you for sharing!

audrey said...

Wonderful post! Great information and beautiful pictures. I always love your work.:)

Mollie said...

I love all of these! I've been wanting to try some big stitch quilting and have done a bit of reading about it.

What size/type of needle do you use for size 8 perle cotton?

Do you quilt in a hoop?

How many stitches do you load on the needle before pulling thru.

A lot of questions I know ....

Shirley said...

Great post Janet, full of useful information as ever. Love your description of friendly quilts with waving borders. A lovely positive attitude towards them. Have just read Barbara Chaineys post on hand quilting and her design came from a piece of curtain fabric. Just need to look more closely at what is around. You continue to be an inspiration.

Shirley said...

Great post Janet, full of useful information as ever. Love your description of friendly quilts with waving borders. A lovely positive attitude towards them. Have just read Barbara Chaineys post on hand quilting and her design came from a piece of curtain fabric. Just need to look more closely at what is around. You continue to be an inspiration.

Kimme said...

Thank you so much Janet. Great post. Love your quilts and you've given me some great ideas for some tops that have been sitting in a pile waiting for the 'quilt as desired' ideas to happen. Can't wait for your next post :)

Born4Travel said...

Thanks for posting this. I have heard about big stitch before but you explained and demonstrated it really well. I am just new to hand quilting, so I think my stitches look like that already! :)
~Carol in MI

Linda said...

Great post, Janet! I always seem to get stumped when trying to figure out what to quilt where :)

Stephanie said...

Your posts are not just always pretty but informative as well. I love big stitch hand quilting and I have starting doing more of it and I truly enjoy it. I also love that when my stitches aren't perfectly even I can refer to them as "organic." :o)

Barb said...

wonderful to see your lovely hand quilting on these beautiful quilts.

belarmina said...

me gusta su blog!!! me quedo para visitarla
saludos

Unknown said...

What a fabulous post, full of good ideas and wonderful photos. I too am a hand quilter but have only done one quilt with perle cotton and I struggled with it. I had difficulty with needles (i.e. large enough eye, little bits of metal stripping off as I pulled it through the layers, snapping and bending), I know my stitches were too small. I bought a book called Utility Quilting and have read it cover to cover and I'm going to give it another go, especially now after reading your post. Thank you so much.

Nita said...

Oh! The stitches on the back don't have to be the same size as the stitches on the front!!! Lightbulb just went off ... thank you!

Molly said...

Always beautiful and inspiring! I've only done one quilt with the perle cotton and big stitches. Fun, I may try it again, sometime.
I would also add, when doing lines of stitches that are side by side, I've run several threads at once. Fewer times to readjust my hoop.
Your eye for color always makes me happy.

Rose Marie said...

Excellent post and wonderful hand quilting!

Carolyn DiPerri said...

Wow! Such beautiful hand quilting. I'm sorry to say I didn't know about large stitching. Thank you for sharing that. I have hand quilted quite a few quilts and can appreciate all your wonderful work.

Carolyn
http://www.homesewnbycarolyn.com

Miriam said...

Thank you for a wonderful post, Janet. I have done a couple of quilts with Perle thread, but just simple straight lines.
Thank you for all the great information on quilting designs and where to find them and use them.
I also can't cope with tape on the quilt while I stitch!
I really love the look of hand quilting. Your quilts are amazing!

natalia said...

Such interesting blocks....I love so much it! Thank you for inspiration! I follow you ... Hi from Russia!

corinne said...

Beautiful work on the quilts

Annemieke said...

This was a very nice and practical post to read, thanks!
Groetjes
Annemieke

Nanette Merrill said...

Janet you are so incredibly talented. I am so wowed by your quilting. The pickle dish is a work of art. Really.

Sew Create It - Jane said...

Great post! I love quilting with perle cotton very fast and I love the extra dimension it gives the quilt.

KaHolly said...

Bravo!! Excellent, informative post.