Fall is right around the corner, back to school is just about here, and the sunbeams are streaming in at a new dazzling angle. Oliver has found his old cozy spot on the soft throw on the back of the couch every evening, rather than his summer spot, stretched out on the hardwood floor. The summer is winding down.
I was thinking of more grid-based designs using my June Tailor Grid Marker stencil that lets you mark those perfect lines with no gaps so quickly. My first favorite background or space-filler was a cross-hatch grid. Next came "Diane-shiko," the classic sashiko design but done not in circles that overlapped, but over a marked grid, lines removed when quilting is finished.
Then came Apple Core. My students embraced these designs and most could quilt them well with a bit of practice. It gave everyone such a fabulous design basic to use over and over, giving a structured look to contrast with more circular flowing designs. It's good to have structure.
But another one? I wondered what would happen on a marked 1/2" grid if only gentle wiggles were quilted on those lines, in both directions, "sort of" trying to cross both lines at the marked intersections, but not obsessing about it. What would that look like?
The design, above, was my first effort, done on a 1/2" marked grid (lines are removed after quilting) with #100 silk thread, in a very subtle variegated green. I don't like the distraction of the thread, but that is just me. Many love the little surprises when variegated is used.
I did the vertical lines first, then horizontal to avoid stretch.
It would have been easier if this had been marked "on point" with lines at a 45-degree angle to the edges of the fabric. There would be no distortion at all, no pushing or pulling of fabric as you approach an already-quilted line or intersection. Just a suggestion, as it does work ok quilted on the grain if it works for your design choice, but be careful of distortion.
Below, my second try, on a 1" grid with matching silk thread in green, next to the first sample on the 1/2" grid. This was actually a bit harder to keep the wiggles small and not revert to the arcs in my other designs like Diane-shiko or Apple core. It was harder not to create large wiggles.
However, like any machine quilting motif, repetition brings competency. After doing this for a half hour or so, I could do it rapidly with minimal goofs.
I decided the design looked just a bit like the old wool woven Houndstooth, which I have always loved. This gives a structured look with TOTAL forgiveness in quilting!
However, and you know what I am going to stress: Stitches must be even and consistent, tension correct, thread color a good choice. I honestly think the most distracting thing about poor machine quilting is uneven stitches, especially very large ones.
If you have stitches that are too large for either the type of thread or the design, the "puff" of the batt will not happen. You will lose it. It will seep out under those giant stitches.
With stitches that are too large, you tend to "see" them, not the design. Stitches look like big chicken tracks.
Slow down your hands. Speed up the machine just a bit. For some mysterious reason the most common problem I see in my classes is a combo of fast hands but slow machine speed. Work on this. Learn to move those hands smoothly and evenly, and keep the speed of the machine going fast enough to create the best looking stitch length.
Make up a sample and try this! Use something beautiful, a scrap of silk or sateen so you can see the quilting, and the final design. Once you become more proficient, try it on a quilt in an area you would normally use a grid. Let me know what you think!! I believe it would look great over prints, just like the other grid-based designs do.
And have a wonderful Labor Day holiday everyone, hope you can relax and enjoy the end of summer. Soon I'll be seeing many of you at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY in October. Please email me with any questions about the class if you have them: firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep quilting! Your work gets better every day.
Oliver claiming his spot in the "other" sink while I brush my teeth....