Oh my, I was busy with this beautiful bee quilt created by Kim, I'm so head over heels in love with this one, I have to make one of my own. I know you may have seen this on Facebook and Instagram. But on the blog is where I'll go into more detail on the quilting process, how the quilting design came together, the things I loved, the things I didn't and would like to do better next time.....So with that, lets get to it! But first my most favorite picture of this beautiful kind Bee. I hear Kim might be doing a workshop by use, I hope so I really want to learn this process!
I really wish I had taken a before and after picture. When I tell my friends about the business I'm starting, they always say "oh so you're making quilts and selling them, I like quilts" Then I explain to the business plan for actually making a quilt is almost non existent. It's nearly impossible to pay for materials, pay for your time (at a reasonable above minimum wage for a skilled worker) and sell a quilt. I try to explain more about the quilting process, the three layers and how hard it is to actual "quilt" , putting all those layers together. And that is the part that I do. That I love, that I just can't wait to get out of bed in the morning to do. By this time I'm all wound up about the different quilting style, free motion, ruler work, fills, and I'm glowing. Sigh, but the interest on the other side just isn't there. Good luck Sue, you sound very passionate! Yep, that's ok, those are the friends that don't have a quilt from me..hehehehehe. So I started a new quilt and this time I have a before picture, sent to me by the owner. And I'll definitely get an after. Back to this bee......
Alright back to this quilt. That Bee did not have a single stitch in it. It's a collage bee and it has all sorts of layers and little good things sprinkled all over it. I knew this was going to be a hanging so no qualms at all with throwing down some thread. On this quilt I didn't want a sheen on the thread, I wanted it to be like it was just a part of the flowers, so I used So Fine 50 Wt thread. Two layers of batting were used ; one 80/20 Hobbs heirloom and one Hobbs wool. Originally I wanted to use a layer of Poly Down and Wool. The dense quilting on the poly would make it stiffer for a wall hanging. But with that stiffness you also get creases. I have a panel with poly down and wool, I folded it to take to a guild meeting and the folds were still there a couple days later. Thus the switch to 80/20. And this is a panel which makes flatness less of a concern. That gets the biggest questions out of the way - thread for the back ground and batting. All that's left is the design.
Since this is a collage quilt I really wanted to have the flower petals enhance that collage look. I also want the bee to look like it is popping off the quilt. Originally I wanted to try Trapunto, but I've never done it and while I'm definitely willing to learn new things, on a paying customers quilt just didn't feel like the correct learning environment :) I knew I didn't want to have much quilting on the bee, only what it takes to make it pop. I quilted in the ditch around the bee and then just barely inside the bee, about 1/8 in. There is no stitching at all on this bee. Just layers and layers of fused fabric. as I did want to make sure it was quilted on and wasn't going to fall off. I found other areas that I thought were interesting, like the wings. I quilted the segments of the wings to give them dimension and the words to draw your eye to look a little closer. I can't tell you how nice it is to quilt something that tells you you're "Exceptional". It really was uplifting in ways that surprised me! I was very careful to only quilt the bare minimum on the bee to give dimension. The end result was great, it did look like trapunto! I think the thickness of the fused layers, the wool and cotton batting and then the dense quilting around the bee, really accomplished the look I was after. It was hard to get photos, but that little thing looks like it's just hovering right over it. I used YLI invisible thread which worked great. I had a bit of gunk on the needle which I used an alcohol swab to clean during the quilting and then changed the needle as soon as I was done with the bee. Once done with the bee, it was a back ground fill party!!!
I've seen so many dream panels, wonderful ways of quilting. Two stood out to me Margaret Solomon Gunn at Mainly Quilts of Love
and Julia Quiltoff who you can find on Facebook
. Both of these artist have some mad crazy skills that I dream of aspiring to one day. I love how they did both of there's with a different fill in each petal. I wanted something very similar. I wanted dense fills in the center and then looser as you travel out from the center. So the center being very compact, like it's just waiting to burst open into an amazing flower and the outside a bit softer and soothing like those first petals of a flower with all their beauty. I got out my Fill book from Margaret Solomon Gunn and got busy, I have my 3/4 in grids from Deloa Jones, I have my handy marking pencil, a couple of rulers to help guide and quilting is what I did.
I used 4 different shades of thread, machine run time for this quilt is 5.03 hours. I had a couple of hours staring and thinking, marking, ripping a few stitches out. But all in all an 8 hour job. Total number of stitches - 90,940,000 - WOW almost 91 million stitches!!! Now that's a whole lot o' stitching fun!
A little more about the tools of the trade. I floated this quit , which I don't normally do on the A1. The reason I floated this was the fusible was very stiff and I was worried how it would roll on the bar. It was small enough quilt, I just floated it, all was good. When I float a quilt, that's when the painters tape come in handy. you need leave only your dominant eye open (hold a pencil up, and open one of your eyes at a time, with the dominant eye the pencil won't move) tape the bar where the edges and any key seams you want to keep in line through out the quilt. This keeps everything nice and straight. My roll of painters tape is running out. Love the green, the blue tends to come off a bit too easy for me. Rulers you can't beat the set of curves from Quilted Pineapple. That set is almost exclusively used by me for the bigger curves. I used 8 on this on I think. Deborah Pooles Rule it has become my favorite straight edge. It has 1/8 in lines on it and it's just the right size for my hand. I can control it better than most. Of course the Kelly Bean from Kelly Cline is great for going around the applique. Blue marking pencil. I actually prefer these to the purple air erase. They seem to come off easier. The purple air when they are new take for ever even with a spritz of water. And the good ol punce pad for the grid, make marking those grids so easy!!
Hopefully you've enjoyed some of the details about this quilt. If there are other areas you would me to focus on just let me know. I love to share my process of long arm quilting with anyone that is willing to listen (or read!) If you just want to look at the pictures (I get lazy all the time, just want to see some eye candy) I'll have that too! Hope everyone has a great week and don't forget to check out the linky parties on the side bar, that's where most of my inspiration comes from!!