Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Quilting and Newton's laws of motion

The other day I was contemplating some physics - okay, that's a lie. But, there was a time, a long time ago, when I was quite embedded in physics and I was pretty good at it. Now, my applied mathematics is limited to calculating the size of a half square triangle, which I often get wrong the first time round.

But, I am a fan of Brian Cox and I'm sure he has never applied Newton's laws to quilting and creativity, so I may be the first. This is ground breaking stuff.
First law: Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.
This is me and quilting - once I get going, I keep going, but if I stop I stay stopped. What is the force that starts or stops the motion? The stopping part is easy - they are the usual trappings of life: work, kid, pets, weather, cooking dinner, and whatever excuse I can come up with... But what is the force that gets things moving?
Second law: The relationship between an object's mass m, its acceleration a, and the applied force F is F = ma. Acceleration and force are vectors (as indicated by their symbols being displayed in slant bold font); in this law the direction of the force vector is the same as the direction of the acceleration vector.
This one's a bit trickier, but it's all about force and acceleration. Basically, if the mass is constant, you need force to make it go faster. I'm considering my project as the mass, so I need to exert some force to ramp up rather than drift along at the constant speed that law one suggests.
Third law: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
So, as my creativity and productivity accelerate because of the force I exert, there is going to be an opposite reaction to compensate - how about we get take out for dinner tonight (again)?

Stop rambling - tell us how this translates to the quilts?

The blue snowflake quilt is on the frame and I started quilting it (for real) yesterday. I had a few false starts on the weekend, but this quilt is 3+ years in the making and I was a bit nervous about taking the first stitch. Free motion quilting is hard to unpick, so there is a certain amount of commitment required.

I debated the quilting design and changed my mind 100 times. I wanted something that took advantage of the Swiftquilter setup and showcased what could be done. But, there are always those limitations to consider and these are half of the design challenge.

I did a lot of doodling and reviewed Angela Walters' Craftsy class Machine Quilting Negative Space. I took away some good ideas about changing the scale of the quilting design and echoing the piecing motifs in the negative space (thank you Angela). Progress is good and although I'm never 100% thrilled with my work up close, the overall effect is working well for me. I'm 1/3 done, so a few dedicated afternoons should get this one done.

I've also started piecing the center of a quilt that will use the sunrise blocks I won from Block Lotto a few months back. I found a pattern that I originally discovered as part of a New York Beauty Quilt Along a few years ago. The patterns are here (note: they are in German, the English links seem to be broken). I've chosen number 7 and scaled it up to finish at 16 inches.

So far I've finished one quarter and am working on the second. I don't always like foundation paper piecing, but it's the best way to get good results with a design like this. This time I am rough cutting the pieces because they are quite big and it's easy to misjudge the size and placement. I made templates with a 3/8 seam allowance and free-hand cut the fabric with my rotary cutter.

Of course, sometimes I still get it wrong - like this wedge that I sewed on backwards.

I hope to have both quilts done before the end of October. There's also a sewing day Saturday scheduled with a group I belong to - perhaps I will power through the rest of my green HST quilt...

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Finished tea towel owl quilt

This little quilt has been done for a little while, but I have had some trouble finding a good spot to photograph it. How do you take photos of your finished quilts?

The lovely Helen hand quilted around the owls for me after I had a nervous breakdown trying to do it myself. And, my mom did the binding because I was too busy. I had hoped to bring it along to the show in Hamilton, but did not quite get there.

The quilt is destined for the wall - the vintage tea towel in the center was a splurge and I suspect the colors will fade with washing. It was started when Sophie organised a tea towel challenge at the beginning of the year.

You can see more posts on this project here.

Blue snowflake quilt top ready for quilting

After a few false starts, I finally settled on a layout for my blue snowflake blocks. The wide sashing and borders makes good use of the feature fabric and makes a real statement. I like that it's different than the traditional narrow sashing with wide border. There is a lot of room for quilting and I plan to make this one a showpiece for what can be done on the Swiftquilter. Of course, this is limited by my skills - improving, but by no means expert.

The usual echoing around the applique is not possible using the frame. The blocks are too big for that. So, I will need to use a fill around them to create some texture and bring out the applique. I was experimenting with tiny matchstick lines while working on our stand at the Craft & Quilt Fair in Hamilton last month. I think it might be an effective technique around the snowflakes. It is dense, which means that the other areas will also need to be quilted with at least a medium density to balance it out

This is always a nerve-wracking process. There's no unpicking dense quilting; once I get started, I can't go back. I've ordered some thread for the job (should have thought of that earlier), so I'll get started when that arrives in a week or so.

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Quilting time

After a long period of little sewing, I have managed to move forward on a few things.

Last weekend Melanie and Robyn (from Monday Moderns), my mother, and I started quilting one of the two community quilts that I picked up from the Auckland Quilt Guild at the last meeting. A few of the girls were interested in giving the Swiftquilter a try and I thought it would be a good opportunity to finish off a few quilts for the guild to give away.

After a brief intro on using the frame, we worked through some ideas for the quilting. I admit that this is the hardest part of quilting on the frame - there's a bit of forward planning required. I suppose that this is the case with all quilting. The simple block design on the little quilt made a good guide to quilt around. We ended up with some diagonal squiggles and some spiral-centered daisies in the squares and feathers and swirls in the narrow border.

The group managed to quilt about half the quilt with everyone taking turns. I finished it up during the week and then mounted another one onto the frame. I made quick work of it with an all-over pattern.

Both quilts still need binding - I have a few volunteers, so hopefully, they will be back to the guild soon to give to someone that will appreciate them.